Remarks by Ambassador Schulz during the Security Council VTC Meeting on the Situation in the Middle East, April 23, 2020

23.04.2020 - Speech

Check Against Delivery

Mr. President, we remain concerned at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. COVID-19 is a common threat which knows no boundaries and endangers Israelis and Palestinians alike. We therefore call on both parties to enhance their coordination and cooperation in order to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak both in Israel and in the West Bank, including East-Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

Recalling their respective responsibilities and obligations under international law and international humanitarian law, we call on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to ensure the delivery of COVID-19 related aid and to facilitate the access and movement of medical supplies, equipment, materials and personnel, in particular to the vulnerable population in the Gaza Strip.

We commend the UN for its efforts to support Israeli-Palestinian coordination and to respond to the humanitarian consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in the occupied Palestinian territories. Germany has made an early disbursement of unearmarked funding (18 Mio. EUR) to provide UNRWA with more financial flexibility to tackle pandemic-related challenges. We have also made available funding for the Gaza (19 Mio. EUR) and Syria Emergency Appeals (14 Mio. EUR). As UNRWA plays a critical role in the current pandemic, Germany is currently considering how we can support specific Covid-19-related appeals. We call upon other international donors to provide similar support to the Palestinian Authority, the UN Inter-Agency Response Plan and UNRWA.

Mr. President, we express our full support for the joint appeal by the UN Secretary-General’s Envoys to the Middle East of 11 April. The parties to the conflict and all international stakeholders must exercise maximum restraint and refrain from taking any measures that can lead to a further deterioration of the situation on the ground and risk undermining the viability of a negotiated two-state solution. Germany remains convinced that a negotiated two-state solution based on international law and on the internationally agreed parameters is the only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that meets Israeli and Palestinian security needs, fulfills Palestinian aspirations for statehood and sovereignty, ends the occupation that began in 1967, resolves all permanent status issues, and guarantees equal rights for all inhabitants.

We have to find ways to revive the political process and to resume direct and meaningful negotiations between the parties, in order to resolve the final status issues, including the issues related to borders, the status of Jerusalem, security and refugees, and achieve a just and lasting peace. Germany firmly believes that the format and the basis of such direct and meaningful negotiations must be agreed by both parties. 

That said, we consider reviving a multilateral format such as the Middle East Quartet, and using Security Council resolutions, international law and the internationally agreed parameters as basis for any discussions or negotiations, to be the most promising way to advance towards a negotiated, just and viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which is acceptable for both sides, Israelis and Palestinians alike. Unilateral actions creating facts on the ground will not lead to sustainable peace and security but to perpetual instability and insecurity.

Mr. President, we have taken note of the coalition agreement in Israel that is intended to end the stalemate following three rounds of national elections. We are extremely concerned about its provisions with regard to the “application of Israeli sovereignty” to parts of the occupied Palestinian territories. We agree with the Special Coordinator's assessment that the prospect of annexation is dangerous. 

We strongly advise any Israeli government against the annexation of occupied Palestinian territories. This would constitute a clear violation of international law and not only have serious, negative repercussions for the viability of the two-state solution and the entire peace process but potentially also for regional stability and Israel’s standing within the international community.

Germany will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, unless agreed to by both parties and we will continue to distinguish between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967. In this context, we reiterate our position that Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal under international law and severely undermine the prospects for ending the occupation and achieving a negotiated two-state-solution.

We call upon Israel to end the expansion of settlements, including the recent construction plans for Har Homa, Givat Hamatos and the area E1, the legalization of settlement outposts, and the ongoing demolition and confiscation of Palestinian structures and land. 

Having said this, we reiterate once again that Resolution 2334 needs to be fully implemented, not only with regard to settlement activities, but also with regard to acts of terror, violence against civilians, incitement, provocative actions and inflammatory rhetoric which also constitute obstacles to achieving peace. Germany condemns all attacks on Israel in the strongest possible terms, including the repeated firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. 

Mr. President, before concluding, let me add that Germany aligns itself with the statement submitted by the Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations on behalf of the European Union.

Thank you very much.

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