Remarks by Ambassador Christoph Heusgen in the Security Council VTC Meeting on the Middle East, June 24, 2020

24.06.2020 - Speech

Check Against Delivery

At the opening of the meeting, the Secretary-General said that we are today at a watershed moment. The Deputy Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines said that we are at a dangerous crossroads. The Minister of State of the UK said that we are at a critical juncture. I think we all share this assessment that we are at a very critical stage.

The Secretary-General in his introductory remarks also said that the annexation of occupied Palestinian territories would represent a most serious violation of international law. Germany shares this assessment. We are at a watershed moment. We are a watershed moment for Israel: for its security; for its standing within the international community; for its close relationship with the European Union and its member states. We are at a watershed moment for the prospects for a two-state solution and the implications of a potential one-state alternative. We are at a watershed moment for the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians to an own state. We are at a watershed moment for regional stability and we are at a watershed moment for the rules-based international order and the United Nations. The Secretary-General said that we are faced potentially with the most serious violation of international law. Let us remember that the respect for international law is the basis of the United Nations. This is the very foundation of the United Nations. Disrespect undermines the United Nations.

Let me remind those colleagues who think that past UN Security Council resolutions may not be relevant anymore: they remain binding international law and Resolution 2334, which, after all, is just three years old, represents binding international law. Germany is a very close partner and friend of Israel, and deeply cares about its security. Today exactly two weeks ago German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas travelled to Israel. He met with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Alternate Prime Minister Gantz and Foreign Minister Ashkenazi and he conveyed Germany's concern with regard to the annexation plans. Foreign Minister Maas also met with the Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi and Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh and confirmed how urgent it is to prevent an annexation.

Let me also repeat Germany's continued support for UNRWA.

So where do we go from here? Let me repeat the call for a return to the negotiating table. Germany supports reviving the Middle East Quartet. We call on all members of the Quartet to demonstrate flexibility in order to overcome the differences and move forward. In this respect, I listened very carefully to what U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft said and I found encouraging what she said about the openness of the U.S. to be engaged in these talks. I would urge her also to promote a meeting of the Middle East Quartet. The basis for these negotiations have to be international law and internationally agreed parameters, and we consider the two-state solution the only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, because it meets the Israeli and Palestinian security needs and fulfills the Palestinian aspirations for statehood and sovereignty.

When I say that we have to respect international law, when I referred to Resolution 2334, of course, all aspects of these resolutions have to be implemented – with regard to settlements, but also with regard to all acts of violence, violence against civilians, incitement, provocative actions and inflammatory rhetoric.

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