All parties to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be open to continued dialogue
Thank you, Madam Chair, and my thanks to the Special Coordinator for his briefing and the quarterly report on the implementation of resolution 2334.
I would also like to thank Mai Farsakh and Meredith Rothbart for their remarks, their thoughts and your work on the ground. And I would also like to pay tribute to them and to all those in civil society who work to build social peace and the foundations of peace.
Madam President, the United Kingdom welcomes the recent engagement between the Israeli government and the Palestinian leadership, including the meeting between Palestinian President Abbas and Israeli Defense Minister Gantz on August 29. We call for more direct engagement and call on both sides to work together to address immediate and long-term threats to peace and stability. While appreciating the difficulties on both sides, we urge all parties to be open to a more in-depth dialogue.
The UK wants greater cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians, including on economic initiatives, to help support Gaza’s recovery, boost the Palestinian economy and improve the lives of all Palestinians living in the OPT.
However, these initiatives must be part of a political path. All parties must take action to avoid escalating tensions and avoid unnecessary rhetoric. Existing agreements must be respected and all parties must refrain from any harmful unilateral action.
Madam President, we remain concerned about the continued expansion of Israel’s settlements, as well as the demolition of Palestinian properties and the resulting displacement of protected persons, such as the demolitions and potential evictions in Silwan, Walaja and Sheikh Jarrah . We urge Israel to allow more legal avenues for Palestinian construction.
As noted previously, we have seen a worrying upward trend in the number of Palestinians killed by live ammunition by Israeli security forces throughout 2021; particularly around Beita where eight Palestinians have been killed by the Israel Defense Forces since May. We call for restraint on all sides. Israeli investigations must be transparent, comprehensive and, in cases of excessive use of force, those responsible must be held to account.
We condemn any act of settler violence against Palestinian civilians and aid workers. We are particularly concerned about the reported attack on Tareq Zubeidi, a 15-year-old Palestinian, on August 17. Communities must be protected from violence and harassment. Such incidents must be thoroughly investigated and those responsible must be brought to justice.
Madam President, we continue to call on the Palestinian Authority to adhere to international standards on freedom of expression, association and assembly and urge respect for human rights. Reforms are needed to restore public confidence.
I reiterate that the UK unequivocally condemns Hamas’s indiscriminate attacks on Israel, including the use of incendiary balloons. We call on Hamas and other terrorist groups to cease rocket attacks against Israel for good.
Finally, Madam President, turning to Gaza, the UK welcomed the speech by Israeli Foreign Minister Lapid offering positive policy suggestions to support Gaza’s economic development and greater security for Israel. A long-term solution for Gaza is needed not only to end the cycle of violence, but also to move forward towards the two-state solution: a solution to which the UK remains firmly committed.