Thank you very much, Madam President, and thank Special Coordinator Mladenov for his briefing.
Madam President, as others have done, I would like to start by reflecting on the tragic passage of Saeb Erekat. I echo the words of my Prime Minister and Secretary of State expressing our condolences to the family of Saeb Erekat, President Abbas and the Palestinian people. Dr. Erekat dedicated his life to dialogue, Palestinian rights, and advancing the cause of peace. He will lose heavily.
With the legacy of Dr. Erekats that we need to renew our commitment to act through dialogue, to build trust and cooperation, and to avoid unilateral and inflammatory steps that undermine the cause of peace.
Madam President, as we have made clear repeatedly in this Council, the United Kingdom opposed the annexation and welcomed its suspension. Other unilateral actions that endanger the physical stability of a future Palestinian state is also unacceptable. The United Kingdom condemns the Israeli government for publishing construction tenders in the East Jerusalem settlement of Givat Hamato, an extremely sensitive area of the West Bank. The solutions are illegal under international law and remain an obstacle to peace and a threat to the two-state solution.
The UK also expresses our serious concern following the ouster of Humsa Al-Baqaia by Israeli authorities on 3 November. This act caused the displacement of vulnerable Palestinians, including 41 children, and caused unnecessary suffering. 2020 has seen the highest levels of demolition of Palestinian homes and structures since 2016. The United Kingdom calls on the Government of Israel to end this policy and provide the Palestinians with a clear, transparent path to construction in Zone C West Coast. In all circumstances, except in the most special ones, Madam President, the breaches are a violation of International Humanitarian Law.
Madam President, the United Kingdom remains deeply concerned about the situation in Gaza, especially at this time of global pandemic. We continue to urge the parties to prioritize progress towards a lasting solution to Gaza and to take the necessary practical steps to ensure Gaza ‘s reconstruction and economic recovery. We encourage actors to present long-term and sustainable proposals to address the threat posed to the security of Israel by Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other militants in Gaza. We call on Hamas and other terrorist groups to put an end to their incitement and rocket fire against Israel forever.
We note the Urgent Commissioner’s urgent call for additional funding for UNRWA this month, without which schools will be closed from the beginning of December. We especially call on states that have cut their funding significantly in recent years to support UNRWA now. And I notice that this year the UK has given over $ 65 million, and that is in proportion to previous years as well. We are sympathetic to those who argue that UNRWA needs to do more to achieve a secure and sustainable financial base; but this cannot be achieved until 1 December and until then money is needed to avoid the unnecessary addition of suffering refugees.
This week, Madam President, we have seen the first historic Ministerial visit of the Kingdom of Bahrain to Israel. The normalization agreements show that the Arab world and Israel can follow a positive path, away from hostility, and towards a more peaceful, prosperous region.
Given the dialogue, my government welcomes reports that the Palestinian Authority and the Government of Israel will return to cooperation and abide by the agreements signed. Full cooperation, on all financial, security and health issues, puts the needs and security of Israelis and Palestinians first. This is an example of the dialogue and compromise we have sought, and will be required to make significant progress towards a two-state solution. Both sides must now seize this positive momentum and show commitment to their bilateral agreements through their actions on the ground.
73 years ago this month, the United Nations decided to partition Palestine. Painful piece by piece, over many years, progress was made towards an agreed division for a two-state solution. As the region moves towards dialogue, it is also time for the parties to the Israel-Palestine conflict to stop disrupting the peace and start building it again.
Thank you Madam President.
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