Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Situation in the Middle East

Ambassador Richard Mills
U.S. Deputy Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
August 30, 2021


Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Special Coordinator Wennesland, for your briefing and your continued efforts in the region.

Mr. President, the United States is deeply concerned about the risk of escalation in the region, particularly in light of the recent provocations, including the use of incendiary devices along the Gaza border – which we have just heard about from the Special Coordinator. This latest violence has made it even more difficult to deliver humanitarian relief following the violence in May. The United States urges Palestinians and Israelis to refrain from actions and rhetoric that inflame tensions and further endanger the fragile peace of the last three months. That includes incitement to violence, compensating individuals who are imprisoned for acts of terrorism, annexation of territory, settlement activity, evictions, and demolitions.

The United States is committed to a negotiated two-state solution. We firmly believe that Israelis and Palestinians deserve equal measures of freedom, dignity, security, prosperity; and U.S. diplomacy will remain focused on practical steps to advance that vision in the immediate term.

Mr. President, we welcome the August 19 agreement between the UN and Qatar to resume aid to the people of Gaza in need, including the 100,000 families who will receive $100 monthly stipends through the World Food Program starting next month. This will give many in Gaza the means to get food and other necessities to survive. We would like to thank Qatar for its generosity. This new arrangement will ensure aid reaches those most in need and is not misused by other parties. While this aid will address the most basic daily needs of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, much more must be done to facilitate relief and recovery, as well as economic development in Gaza. So, the United States calls on the UN and Member States to redouble their efforts to help Gaza recover, including by facilitating regular, predictable access in and out of Gaza, with appropriate safeguards against the risk of diversion.

In addition, following the U.S. announcement of another $136 million in humanitarian assistance to UNRWA’s operations in the region last month, the United States again urges other Member States to make financial commitments, as well. As we saw with the recent return of 290,000 students to UNRWA schools in Gaza, UNRWA services are a lifeline to many Palestinian refugees. So, we must work, collectively, to advance the Agency’s ability to sustain its core services over time – that includes making aid delivery more targeted and efficient. At the same time, the United States will continue to work with UNRWA and other donor countries to promote oversight, and to ensure that the Agency embodies UN principles like tolerance and respect.

The United States also wants to recognize the visit of the Israeli Foreign Minister to Morocco this month, as the two countries upgraded their diplomatic relations. We certainly commend efforts to normalize relations between Israel, its neighbors, and countries throughout the Middle East.

In conclusion, Mr. President, last week, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield joined President Biden and Prime Minister Bennett for their first meeting. This was an important opportunity to reaffirm our mutual commitment to Israel’s security and to forging a durable, lasting peace in the region. Together, let all of us work toward that shared commitment, and do everything we can to bring peace and prosperity to the Middle East.

Thank you, Mr. President.