The situation in the Middle East including the Palestinian question
July 12th, 2016
It is unfortunate that, as this issue is once again discussed by the Security Council, the international community is increasingly losing faith in the Israeli government´s commitment to the two state solution.
We are constantly seized with reports of Israel demolishing Palestinian homes and advancing plans to build new houses for Israeli settlers, conducting daily military raids on Palestinian areas, arrests and detentions, and imposing severe movement restrictions among other human rights violations.
The recent decisions by Israel to move forward with new constructions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are totally unacceptable.. We call on the Israeli authorities to reconsider the long term implications of this strategy, in the interest of peace and of a just final status agreement with the Palestinians.
On the other hand, and while condemning the terrorist acts and attacks against Israeli citizens, we are of the view that the basic motivation for such acts are the result from the protracted occupation and the ensuing policies applied in the Palestinian territories, from which derives the main security issue for Israel.
It is not reassuring the openly hard line rhetoric of many Israeli Ministers, such as calling for the annexation of the West Bank, which raises legitimate concerns about the government’s long-term intention s.
In his opinion piece published on the 3rd of July, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov mentions that the Quartet report sounds an alarm bell that we are on a dangerous slope towards a one state reality that is incompatible with the national aspirations of both peoples.
Concerning the search for a solution for this dangerous and painful conflict, after the failure of multiple attempts by the international community to broker for direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, made us aware that pushing for a quick return to negotiations, or the adoption of a Security Council Resolution will not be realistic at present, while having no real influence on the people facing this grim reality on a daily basis. In our view, we should push for practical steps that both sides need to take, to de-escalate tensions and start a slow process of rebuilding trust, which is essential for an eventual return to direct negotiations.
In that regard, the members of this Council, along with the members of the Quartet and other regional stakeholders, should urge the Israeli authorities not to build in the 92 percent of the West Bank that is outside of what Israel currently defines as the settlement blocs.
On the other hand, another confidence building measure would be to allow the Palestinians to build in parts of area C, which makes up 60 percent of the West Bank territory, in order to boost the Palestinian economy and demonstrate to the Palestinian public the possibility of change from the current distressful situation.
No third party can decide for the Israelis or Palestinians what compromises to make and what risks to take for peace, and none of us can convince them to trust each other. However, the international community must be coherent and avoid double standards, which systematically allow for Israel to violate its obligations under International Law, the most pressing being, as an occupying power, the obligation to protect the people and provide services.
The support and incentives provided by the international and regional stakeholders must not be aimed at perpetuating the status quo, but rather to provide incentives leading to the implementation of the mutual commitments already made, as well as, among others, resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).
Even if political leaders on both sides are skeptical about the two state solution and the possibility of this outcome being implemented anytime soon, with a view to de-escalating tensions in this extremely volatile region, we call upon the Israelis and Palestinians to begin applying these confidence building recommendations, in the expectation they could lead to negotiations for resolving all permanent status issues, meet Palestinian aspirations for statehood and Israeli security needs.