Check Against Delivery
At the outset, I would like to thank the Special Coordinator Nickolay Mladenov for his briefing today, and particularly for all his tireless efforts on the ground against the backdrop of extremely difficult circumstances.
Mr. President, let me start by congratulating Israel on the formation of a government and look forward to continue our close cooperation with the new government.
Germany remains steadfast in its strong commitment to Israel’s security and its right to exist, as well as for peace in the Middle East. Now is the time to engage the new government through dialogue.
We are seriously concerned, however, by the provisions in the coalition agreement as well as by remarks delivered by members of the new Israeli government on a possible annexation of occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank. We share the concerns voiced so eloquently by the Special Coordinator in his briefing this morning. We firmly believe that unilateral action in this regard would be extremely harmful to a peaceful solution to the conflict. It would have serious, negative repercussions for the viability of the two-state solution and the entire peace process, and also for regional stability and the rules-based international order as such. It would also negatively affect Israel’s standing within the international community at a time when we need closer cooperation.
As close partners and friends, we therefore strongly encourage the Israeli government not to implement any measures which would constitute a violation of international law. We will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, unless agreed to by Israelis and Palestinians; and we will continue to distinguish between the internationally recognized territory of the State of Israel and the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 in accordance with our obligations under international law.
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 must find ways to revive the political process and resume direct and meaningful negotiations between the parties in order to resolve the final status issues and to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace. The starting point for any discussion or negotiations should be the relevant UN resolutions, international law and the internationally agreed parameters. The format of such direct and meaningful negotiations must be agreed by both parties. We would support reviving the Middle East Quartet or establishing an alternative multilateral format. In the absence of such negotiations, the parties to the conflict must refrain from taking any measures that could further deteriorate the situation on the ground and undermine the viability of a negotiated two-state solution; especially where such measures would bring closer a de facto one-state reality with unequal rights for Israelis and Palestinians.
We also note with concern yesterday’s announcement by President Abbas with regard to cooperation agreements including security cooperation with Israel. We call on both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to remain committed to the Oslo agreements and its obligations thereunder.
Resolution 2334 remains the most crucial guideline and needs to be fully implemented, with regard to settlement activities as well as with regard to acts of terror, violence against civilians, incitement, provocative actions and inflammatory rhetoric.
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 for achieving a negotiated two-state-solution. We call upon Israel to end the expansion of settlements, including the latest construction plans for Efrat, Har Homa, Givat Hamatos and the areas E1 and E2, the legalization of settlement outposts, and ongoing demolition and confiscation of Palestinian structures and land.
We are also deeply concerned by the latest acts of violence and by the deaths and injuries on both sides. Germany condemns all attacks on Israel in the strongest possible terms, including attacks against Israeli security forces, and the repeated firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Israel has a right to defend itself and respond adequately and proportionally to attacks against its territory or citizens. Incidents in which innocent civilians are indiscriminately targeted or subjected to violence must be thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators of any crimes must be held accountable.
Before closing, let me say a word or two on the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic in this context. Finally, we remain concerned at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, while noting the important achievements on both sides in containing the pandemic. We reiterate our call on both parties to enhance their coordination and cooperation in order to further mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak in Israel, in the West Bank, including East-Jerusalem, and in Gaza; bearing in mind their respective responsibilities and obligations under international law, in particular international humanitarian law. We commend the UN and all of its agencies, in particular UNRWA, for their efforts to respond to the humanitarian implications of the COVID-19 pandemic in the occupied Palestinian territories. Considering the increased risks to the health of detainees posed by COVID 19, particularly Palestinian children and other vulnerable persons, we encourage Israel to consider taking appropriate action based on humanitarian grounds.