Remarks by Russian Permanent Representative to UN Vasily Nebenzya on behalf of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the UN Security Council’s open videoconference on the Middle East situation, including the Palestinian issue
First of all, I would like to say that we join the condolences that were offered earlier today to Permanent Representative Djani, Minister Marsudi and all the Indonesian people over the tragic death of an Indonesian peacekeeper.
We welcome the high representatives, who are taking part in today’s UN Security Council videoconference regarding the situation in the Middle East. We would like to thank the UN Secretary-General, Special Coordinator Nickolay Mladenov, and Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit for their briefings.
Today, I am honoured to read out the remarks made by Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov, who was unable to attend this session in person. As is common knowledge, Russia is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the end of the Great Patriotic War and Mr Lavrov is taking part in the festive events.
During these difficult times, when the world is desperately looking for ways to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and overcoming its consequences, the international community must not forget about a problem that, despite decades of efforts, is still awaiting a fair solution. The Palestinian-Israeli settlement is a key to addressing many other Middle East problems and to establishing a lasting, just, long-term and comprehensive peace in this region. The Palestinian issue, which is practically a coeval of the United Nations, is requiring our special and urgent attention.
We are on the threshold, literally within a few days, of a decision that may undermine the efforts to achieve a just and stable Middle East settlement. On July 1, the Israeli Parliament can launch the process of annexation of the occupied Palestinian territories on the West bank of the Jordan River. This is likely to be one of the most serious challenges to the Palestinian cause and the region as a whole.
As a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a member of the Quartet of international intermediaries, Russia has been in favour of renouncing any unilateral actions or plans, which, as is evident from history, are unable to bring peace to the Middle East and predetermine the final settlement. This awareness is shared by the overwhelming majority of the world community.
Implementing the said unilateral plans may undermine the prospects for the two-state principle for the Middle East settlement. We do not see any alternative to this principle. Neither do we see an alternative to two states – Palestine and Israel – coexisting in peace and security. But the matter of statehood is not the only issue. The other aspects of the final status – Jerusalem, refugees, borders, water, and settlements – are also awaiting their solution, but the annexation can definitively block the way to their settlement and a direct dialogue between the Palestinians and Israelis.
Implementing the annexation plans will entail negative and even dangerous consequences for the entire Middle East region. This will directly affect Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan, the neighbours of Israel and Palestine. This will affect the fate of Palestinian refugees all over the world.
Given the importance of Jerusalem for the three world monotheistic religions, the entire Muslim Ummah and millions of other believers will end up involved in the problem. Irreparable damage will be inflicted on any prospects for the normalisation of relations between states in the region.
It is not enough to enumerate the problems that we may face. They must be foreseen, forestalled and solved. Today, international cooperation and joint steps to promote a Middle East settlement are needed as never before. Russia is ready to make every possible effort within the framework of the Quartet of international intermediaries to launch direct Palestinian-Israeli talks in the interests of achieving a settlement on the internationally recognised basis – UN resolutions, the Madrid Principles, the Arab Peace Initiative – which provides for the establishment of an independent, sovereign and territorially continuous Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, with its capital in East Jerusalem. We are also ready to have a dialogue with the key regional players in other formats and to encourage them to join the efforts of the Quartet. In this connection, we are in constant contact with the Middle East states and the Arab League.
It is extremely important to restore the Palestinian unity based on the PLO platform. For our part, we are maintaining contacts with the Palestinian representatives and giving support to our Egyptian friends in this area.
An important factor in creating an atmosphere of trust at the Palestinian-Israeli talks is to put an end to any aggressive rhetoric, the settlement activity on the occupied Palestinian territories, the destruction of Palestinian property, armed clashes, and acts of terrorism.
On June 23, Jordan and Sweden organised a videoconference in support of UNRWA. We would like to thank the organisers for their initiative. The number of participants and statements made at the conference have reaffirmed the Agency’s usefulness and stabilising role.
In conclusion, I would like to once again emphasise the importance of renouncing the annexation steps and launching, as soon as possible, a Palestinian-Israeli negotiating process to achieve a just and stable Middle East settlement and peace in the region.”