Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Middle East

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen
Acting Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
March 26, 2019


Thank you, Mr. President. Special Coordinator Mladenov, thank you for your sobering briefing. The United States strongly condemns the rocket attack on Israel from Gaza yesterday that injured seven innocent civilians, and we reaffirm Israel’s right to defend itself.

Mr. President, I think we can all agree on the need for Israelis and Palestinians to work together with the support of the international community to improve conditions in Gaza and the West Bank. But this malicious and insidious violence is a clear signal from Hamas and others in Gaza who see such cooperation and progress as counter to their aims.

Each of us around this table has a responsibility to condemn the rocket attacks, but we must also recognize that in addition to terrorizing Israeli civilians, Hamas has failed to provide for Palestinians in Gaza and most recently, cracked down violently on Palestinian protesters.

Over the last few weeks, thousands of Palestinians in Gaza came out to protest against Hamas and the dire economic and humanitarian situation in Gaza. Hamas security forces responded with sweeping arrests and violence against protesters, including women and children. Journalists were brutally beaten, and 15 local journalists were jailed. According to Amnesty International, “the crackdown on freedom of expression and the use of torture in Gaza has reached alarming new levels.”

Mr. President, we agree that many factors have contributed to the situation in Gaza, but the international community needs to shine a light on Hamas’ injustices, such as rocket attacks into Israel and encouraging and praising violence against innocent Israelis but also how they treat their fellow Palestinian brothers and sisters.

Mr. President, as you know, yesterday President Trump signed a proclamation recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, a decision of critical strategic and security importance to the state of Israel.

To allow the Golan Heights to be controlled by the likes of the Syrian and Iranian regimes would turn a blind eye to the atrocities of the Assad regime and malign and destabilizing presence of Iran in the region.

Mr. President, the US administration has made clear that there can be no peace agreement that does not satisfactorily address Israel’s security needs in the Golan Heights.

I thank you for your attention.