Home > Uncategorized > Briefing to the UN Secuirty Council of the Quartet Report

Briefing to the UN Secuirty Council of the Quartet Report

Today I briefed the UN Secuirty Council wuth a focus on the upcoming Quartet report. I started by reminding the Council that over the past decades, a broad consensus has been built around the understanding that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict can only be resolved on the basis of a two-state solution. Palestinians and Israelis have accepted this vision. Countries in the region have also repeatedly endorsed this outcome.

At the beginning of June, the Secretary-General and Ministers from some 30 countries gathered in Paris to discuss how to put forward incentives that could kick-start momentum towards that goal. The underlying message from Paris was clear – we must act decisively now, or continue dealing with the damaging repercussions for years to come.
Despite all these efforts and despite the two-state vision remaining the professed goal of both sides, the conflict grinds on. Negative trends on the ground continue to jeopardise prospects for peace. Hope dwindles as the once formidable constituencies for peace erode on both sides. Extremists rise, seeking to set the agenda and shape reality. 

Radicalism feeds fear; mutual distrust breeds desperation; and ultimately all this fosters violence and terror.
Earlier this month, Israel was rocked by a brutal terror attack. On the evening of 8 June, two Palestinians opened fire in the heart of Tel Aviv, killing four Israelis and injuring nine others. Just a few hours ago, a 13 year-old Israeli girl was viciously stabbed to death by a Palestinian attacker who entered in her home in the West Bank. And on 21 June a Palestinian teenager was shot and killed on a highway by the Israeli Security Forces.

If the first two events were clearly acts of terror and the second was referred to as “a mistake” that cut short an innocent life, all three incidents clearly illustrate the environment of fear in which both Palestinians and Israelis have lived for generations. I unequivocally condemned all these tragic losses of life.

These tragedies regrettably provide political fodder for cynical advocates of divisiveness, further undermining trust between communities.

I extended my sincere condolences to the families of the victims and call on the authorities to swiftly bring to justice those responsible. 

Palestinian frustration cannot be wished away; it cannot be vanquished by aggressive security measures, arrests or punitive home demolitions. Neither is it helped when Israeli ministers openly reject the very notion of a Palestinian state or call for the complete annexation of Area C. But neither will the violence and terror, fuelled by resentment, bring about a Palestinian state. A peaceful future for both peoples cannot emerge on the back of statements that glorify terror and justify killing; mutual respect cannot come as a result of stabbings, shootings and car-rammings.
Then I moved on to reiterate that the Quartet has recognised the urgent need to reverse this destructive dynamic, and has worked with the parties as well as with key regional stakeholders to discuss how to preserve the two-state solution. Last September the Quartet expressed its serious concern about the current trends on the ground and expressed its strong support for significant steps that would help stabilize the situation, show meaningful progress towards a two-state reality, and restore belief among Palestinians and Israelis that negotiated peace remains possible. In February the Quartet noted the absence of such constructive steps and decided to prepare a report on the situation on the ground, including recommendations on the way forward.

In briefing the Council on the report, I began by thanking President Abbas, Prime Minister Netanyahu and their teams for their constructive engagement and contributions without which this report would not have been possible.

In completing our work by consensus, I noted that when drafting the text we have been guided by the belief that 

the role of the Middle East Quartet is to build bridges

to state the facts in an unbiased manner, and to engage constructively with the parties, the region and the broader international community and provide for a constructive way forward.

The report does not provide a complete review of the humanitarian, political, legal, and security aspects of the situation. It focuses on the major threats to achieving a negotiated peace and offers recommendations on the way forward.
The Quartet pledges its active support for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and reaffirms that a negotiated two-state outcome that meets Israeli security needs and Palestinian aspirations for statehood and sovereignty, ends the occupation that began in 1967, and resolves all permanent status issues is the only way to achieve an enduring peace. The Quartet however believes that important progress can be made now, on the ground, by each side independently demonstrating a sincere commitment to advancing the goal of a two-state solution.
To that end, there is an 

urgent need for both sides to comply with their basic commitments 

under existing agreements and to take affirmative steps to prevent entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict. 

I outlined the three trends that the Quartet report has concluded severely undermines hope for peace:

• Continuing violence, terrorism, and incitement;

• Continuing policy of settlement expansion and related activities in the West Bank; and

• The situation in Gaza and the lack of control of Gaza by the Palestinian Authority.

I stressed once again that these negative trends can and must be urgently reversed in order to advance the two-state solution on the ground. The report will provide more detail on these trends and expand on the reasons why we in the Quartet are concerned about them.

This main objective of the report is not about assigning blame, but rather providing a way forward to support the goal we all share of achieving a negotiated two-state solution. We hope to provide a constructive path that can help advance the two state solution on the ground and create the conditions for meaningful negotiations in the future.

The report contains recommendations to both sides, and specifically to the Palestinians and Israelis in relation to violence, incitement to violence, Israeli settlement construction and related policies, Palestinian unity and institution building. It reiterates its call from September last year to Israel to implement positive and significant policy shifts, particularly in Area C, consistent with the transition to greater Palestinian civil authority contemplated by prior agreements. As the Quartet said back then progress in the areas of housing, water, energy, communications, agriculture, and natural resources can be made while respecting Israel’s legitimate security needs.

I exprssed my hope that, based on the report, 

the two parties will engage with the Quartet 

in order to constructively move the process forward. Once the full text of the report is published, which will likely be tomorrow morning, I also encouraged the UN Security Council to welcome it and support the efforts of the Quartet.

In closing, I once again emphasized the urgent need for the parties to engage on the implementation on the recommendations in the report. The Quartet has outlined a reasonable set of steps that, if implemented sincerely and resolutely, with support from the international community, could set Israelis and Palestinians firmly along a navigable course towards establishing a comprehensive peace with historic implications for the entire region.

But I was also unequivocally clear that a permanent status agreement ending the conflict can only be achieved through direct, bilateral negotiations, the outcome of which cannot be prejudged by unilateral steps that would not be recognised by the international community.

As the Secretary-General said in Jerusalem two days ago: “No solution to the conflict will be possible without the recognition that both Palestinians and Jews have an undeniable historic and religious connection to this land. No solution can come through violence, it must be based on mutual respect and the recognition of the legitimate aspirations of both peoples. No solution can be imposed from the outside, it must be based on direct negotiations on the final status issues.”

A peaceful future is what is at stake here.

Taking bold steps to move beyond the empty platitudes, beyond the mutual accusations and beyond the deeply entrenched lack of trust, requires leadership and vision that has been starkly absent from this conflict for far too long. It is time for both sides to rise to the challenge.
I closed by saying that the Secretary-General, including through his role in the Quartet, will continue unwaveringly to support Israelis and Palestinians to overcome their divisions and to achieve a just and lasting resolution to the conflict and the establishment of a Palestinian state living side-by-side with the State of Israel in peace, security and mutual recognition.

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