Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the United Nations Forum on the Question of Palestine.
We convene at a time of grave concern over the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and in Israel. Clashes and violence in occupied East Jerusalem as well as the launching of rockets from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, followed by Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, have dramatically deteriorated an already fragile situation. The fighting has claimed more than two hundred civilian lives, including children. The suffering, damage and destruction are immense.
The scenes of communal violence within Israel have been unprecedented. Continued escalation of the situation will have devastating consequences for Palestinians and Israelis, as well as for the region. Humanitarian needs are bound to rise considerably, particularly in Gaza where the situation was already desperate due to long years of closures, intra-Palestinian divisions, recurring hostilities and the Covid-19 pandemic.
The United Nations has been actively involved in mediation efforts with all sides with a view to ending the violence immediately. I echo the Secretary-General’s call on the parties to allow for the intensification of mediation efforts, which are also crucial for delivering much needed humanitarian aid to the affected people in Gaza.
I commend those Member States who have intensified their diplomatic efforts to bring the parties back from the brink. The international community must do all it can to de-escalate the situation immediately, urge the parties to end the hostilities, and chart a path toward negotiation.
This recent escalation is a tragic reminder of the urgency of a viable political path towards ending this conflict once and for all. All relevant international actors, including the Middle East Quartet, should do their utmost to revitalise the peace process, which remains the only path towards a just and lasting solution.
In the absence of such a process, we are – regrettably – bound to witness more episodes of tensions and desperation. People on both sides deserve much more than that.
The ongoing hostilities are also taking place against the backdrop of rising tensions and violence in occupied East Jerusalem, where hundreds of Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighbourhoods are under threat of eviction from their homes.
These evictions are pending final court rulings. If implemented, they would constitute a violation of international law. I join the Secretary-General in urging Israel to halt demolitions and evictions, in line with its obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law.
Parliamentarians, through their legislative power and advocacy, can play a crucial role in reinforcing the global consensus on the two-State solution, a solution in accordance with international law, relevant United Nations resolutions and bilateral agreements, based on the 1967 lines with Jerusalem as the capital of both states.
I hope this Forum today will create a shared understanding of the urgency to act resolutely on the question of Palestine.
Let me reiterate the call by the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process to the members of the Middle Quartet, key Arab and international partners, as well as to the Israeli and Palestinian leadership to intensify and strengthen efforts to return to meaningful negotiations towards a viable two-state solution.
I can assure you that the United Nations will continue to do all that we can to support a peaceful resolution of the Question of Palestine.
I wish you a fruitful discussion. Thank you.