Some parting thoughts as I leave the post of #UN Special Coordinator for the #MiddleEast Peace Process

21/12/2020 5 comments

Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Arabs have lived with conflict for too long. The painful reality of their struggle has affected every single family for generations. Loss and displacement is part of the personal history of every single household. Palestinians have been upended from their homes, forced to seek refuge across the region. Jews have been upended from across the region, forced to seek refuge in Israel. This conflict is not just a conflict over land, for both peoples have the right to call Israel and Palestine their home. It is not only a conflict over history – personal and collective.

It is a conflict over the very right of two nations to co-exist.

In 1994, the leaders of Israel and the PLO agreed on something that has rarely been done in the troubled history of the Middle East – they agreed to end the conflict not through war, not by declaring one side a winner and the other side a loser, but through peaceful negotiations. Surely that was not an easy decision. It was a decision that faced opposition from all sides. Yet it was a decision that was so bold, so visionary, so fragile that the international community came together immediately to protect it, to nurture it and to help them advance it. 

Sadly, today that vision remains unachieved. It is a vision that has been marred by intifadas, continuing occupation and rapidly diminishing will to reach an agreement that is just and sustainable. Over the course of the past five years, I have met almost no Palestinian who doesn’t believe that negotiations are only a façade for the loss of more land. Neither have I met an Israeli who does not believe that every round of negotiations will lead to more violence and terror. 

My Security Council briefings serve as a testament to the situation on the ground.

As I depart from this office, I remain firmly convinced that the world cannot leave the situation unattended. The UN Security Council has over the years passed a set of resolutions speaking to key aspects of how the conflict can be resolved. Bilateral agreements have been signed and ratified. The Middle East Quartet has been created. In the last two years, the U.S. has put forward a vision, albeit different from the broad consensus in this Council. Despite the differences, no one in the international community has questioned the foundation that any resolution of the conflict must be based on two-States, with the appropriate security and economic arrangements, achieved through direct negotiations and facilitated by the international community.

For all our collective efforts, the only way forward out of the one-State reality that we increasingly face on the ground is through engagement between the parties and not through violence. 

Perhaps today is not the time for big international initiatives, but the time for steps – maybe small, sometimes maybe bold — that protect that goal of two-States, side by side in peace and security, and create the conditions for agreement. 

Perhaps today is not the time for grandstanding or symbolic victories.

Perhaps today is the time to admit that both Israelis and Palestinians must look inwards and see what they can do, both in coordination and independently of one another, to protect the goal of sustainable peace. In 2016, the UN, together with its partners in the Middle East Quartet, produced a joint report on what some of these steps may be. I encourage you to look at that report again as its recommendations remain valid.  

Perhaps today is the time to admit that there are real opportunities for agreement, ones that come from the fact that we face a global COVID-19 pandemic, that we all need to work together to protect our societies from radicalization, religious extremism and economic implosion and to build on the new opportunities created by the Abraham Accords in the region. 

It is not going to be easy, in fact it will be very, very hard, painstaking work to stitch back together what is necessary to allow the leaders on both sides to engage in a meaningful process.

Yet for all the goodwill in the world that the Palestinian and Israeli people can count on, rekindling the hope that the conflict can be resolved through peaceful negotiation cannot be imposed from the outside. It must come from within, from both peoples and from their freely elected leaders. 

In the absence of meaningful negotiations, I have worked on upholding the international consensus that the goal is of a two-State solution, I have warned of the dangers of the eroding status quo, supported intra-Palestinian reconciliation efforts, and, most of all, focused on preventive diplomacy. Together with Egypt, and with critical support from Qatar and others in the international community, the United Nations has played a pivotal role in preventing another devastating war in Gaza. 

I have spoken out against injustices. I have condemned terror.

I firmly believe that the goal of a just and lasting peace between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples remains achievable through negotiations that can be mediated by the Middle East Quartet and critical Arab partners.

I would like to thank Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas, their Governments, their civil servants and all interlocutors in Israel and Palestine for their open engagement with the United Nations. Surely on many occasions we have not seen eye-to-eye, however, their openness and willingness to engage has helped put the UN, in a unique position to mediate and talk to all sides of the conflict.

I want to thank the Security Council for their relentless engagement and support to our work and to the Secretary-General and the services of the Secretariat for their steadfast guidance.

Finally, I want to thank my colleagues at UNSCO for their outstanding professionalism and friendship.

UNSCO is in an excellent position to deal with the challenges of the future and to use the opportunities presented to advance the goal of a just and lasting peace on the basis of two States, in line with UN resolutions. In January, my successor Tor Wennesland should take over this mission. He is one of the most capable diplomats I have ever worked with. I wish him every success in the years ahead and hope that you will extend to him your full support, as you have done to me.

Почивай в мир, приятелю!

10/11/2020 4 comments

Днес, на 65 години, битката с коронавируса загуби Саеб Ерекат. Ветеран на преговорния прцес, Саеб до последно не загуби вярата, че израелци и палeсетинци могат да живеят в мир; че единственият начин това да се постигне е по пътя на преговорите, а не чрез насилие; а единственият начин мирът да се гарантира е, ако се разделят в две държави.

Саеб премина през всички перипети на мъчителния близкоизточен мирен процес от Мадридската конференция през 1991, през Осло, преживя кръвопролитията на две интифади, загуби близки и роднини, но не се отказа. Между “осанна” и “разпни го” от свои и от чужди, той ще остане един от патриарсите на мира и символ на вярата, че чрез преговори може да бъде постигнато решение на този братоубийствен конфликт. Дано да е бил прав, дано вярата в мира не угасне със спомена за него.

Преди две години Саеб се пребори с успешна белодробна трансплантация. Посетих го в болницата във Вашингтон, където се въстановяваше. Беше слаб, трудно говореше, но работеше непрестанно. Посрещна ни Наема, съпругата му, с която жиееха скромно в Йерихон. В дома му за последен път се срещнахме през юли.

Познавах го от повече от десет години, а през последните пет работех с него много интензивно. Не веднъж сме спорили, били сме на различни мнения, но винаги сме успявали да намерим общи решения, защото и двамата сме били водени от вярата, че само чрез диалог може да се върви напред.

Преди месец влезе в болница с COVID-19 и въпреки героичните усилия на израелските доктори в Хадаса, Саеб днес ни напусна.
Почивай в мир, приятелю! Ти се бори до последния си дъх с неравен враг, но твоята вяра в справедливостта и мира трябва да останат живи.

#България върви напред толкова бързо и успешно, колкото всички ние заедно сме готови да вървим напред

10/11/2020 Leave a comment

Преди 31 години падна Берлинската стена и дойде свободата. Всичко изглеждаше толкова лесно! Доброто победи злото. Свобода, демокрация, пазарна икономика, свободни медии— това бяха жалоните на бъдещето, което искахме. А бъдещето определихме като връщане към нормалността— Европа няма да бъде разделена, свободна и демократична България ще има своето достойно място в нея.

Издялкахме сърповете и чуковете от сградите,

изтрихме ги от знамената, но се оказа че години наред те останаха ръждясали да дрънкат в главите на много хора. И днес кънтят в главите на някои политици от т.нар. ляво и т.нар. дясно.

Бъдещето в България не дойде така рязко и слъчево, както си го представяхме. Именно тези с ръждясалите сърпове и чукове му пречиха ден след ден. Те му пречиха, но нямаше как да го спрат.

Днес, 31 години след 10 ноември, България е в Европа и НАТО, икономиката й се развива, преходът свърши. Днес световните предизвикателства са други — пандемия, популизъм, задаваща се глобална икономическа криза. Към всички тези проблеми, добавяме и онези, типично нашенските — правосъдие, справедливост, здравеопазване, образование… За съжаление за тях

вече не можем да виним миналото

или света около нас. Трябва да виним себе си. Това са проблеми, които изискват съвременните българи, които не се страхуват от света да ги решат с поглед напред, а не назад. Те са останали от годините на нерешителния преход, от далавераджийството и страха от свободата.

Берлинската стена отдавна падна. Минаха тридесет и една години… Извинения вече няма. Постигнали сме много! Честита свобода на всички, които са мечтали и работили за нея. Днес е празник. България върви напред толкова бързо и успешно, колкото всички ние заедно сме готови да вървим напред.

No more excuses!