The Security Council VTC Open Debate on the Situation in the Middle East Including the Palestinian Question

The Security Council held a virtual open debate that lasted for three hours, in order to discuss the situation in the Middle East and regarding the Palestinian question.

On Sunday, May 16, 2021, the Security Council held a virtual open debate that lasted for three hours, in order to discuss the situation in the Middle East regarding the Palestinian question. The meeting was attended by the Secretary General, the Observer State of Palestine, Israel, SC Tor Wennesland, SCAD, and the League of Arab States. The meeting was organized by China. It was also attended by 16 countries including Tunisia, Jordan, Algeria, the Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United Sates, Estonia, France, India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, Niger, Norway, Vietnam, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, began his statement: “We meet today amid the most serious escalation in Palestine and Israel in years. The current hostilities are utterly appalling. This latest round of violence only perpetuates the cycles of death, destruction and despair, and pushes farther to the horizon any hopes of coexistence and peace.”

He added that: “This senseless cycle of bloodshed, terror and destruction must stop immediately. All parties must respect international humanitarian law and international human rights law.”

Sir Tor Wennesland, a special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, briefed the attendees with the latest developments on the ground, stating that: “With some 181 Palestinians and nine Israelis killed as a result of Israeli airstrikes and Palestinian militant rockets, based on preliminary figures, the toll of this deadly confrontation is already too high.”

SC Wennesland reiterated: “The hostilities must stop,”

He called for de-escalation efforts to be made by the UN as: “The UN must also be able to bring in key items needed for trauma care and to adequately supply shelters given the huge Influx of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). This requires a pause in fighting to allow limited movement for a restock of supplies and to assess damages and needs including electricity infrastructure.”

He also added: “The international community has a crucial role to play. It must take action now to enable the parties to step back from the brink.”

“These cycles of violence will only stop with a political resolution of the conflict, including addressing the status of Jerusalem and other final status issues, with an end to the occupation, and the realization of a Two-State solution on the basis of the 1967 lines, UN resolutions, international law and mutual agreements, with Jerusalem as the capital of both Israel and Palestine.”

Riyad Al Malki, the Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, condemned the violence, brutality and crimes against humanity carried out by Israel. He said: “Israel is not only an occupying power; Israel is a nuclear power. It has a military arsenal, the iron dome, shelters, while our people in Gaza are besieged, trapped, with nowhere to go,”

“It is Palestinian civilians who need protection, they deserve solidarity and action.”

He called on the Security Council to: “Act now to end the aggression and the assault on our people, our homes, and our land. Act now so freedom can prevail, not apartheid.”

Last but not Least, the Permanent Observer of the League of Arab States to UN, Ambassador Maged Abdel Fatah, called upon the Security Council to respond to Israeli aggression in Palestine that violates international obligations, the UN Charter, and Human Rights.

He urged that the Palestinian people should be protected under the principles of international law, Human Security and the Responsibility to Protect principles. He assured that: “Security will only be achieved with a peace based on legitimacy.”

Maged also called on the United States of America, in particular President Joe Biden’s administration, to engage in a more active and influential way in the Middle East peace process.

He called for an engagement that dispels the impression created by the past US administration that Israelis will get everything, while Palestinians will get nothing.

Maged also recalled and praised the initiative made by President Clinton in 2000, with the support of the EU, on the Final Status Issues and the ‘Land for Peace’ initiative.

He concluded: “The League of Arab States stands ready, always, to support all fruitful effort, side by side with the United Nations and all other peace-loving powers.”

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