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

Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
December 12, 2021


Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you, as always, Special Coordinator Wennesland, for your very useful and informative briefing.

The United States is also deeply concerned about rising tensions in the West Bank and in and around Jerusalem, especially violence perpetrated against ordinary civilians attempting to go about their lives as best they can.  We urge the authorities to condemn acts of violence and also to respond to attacks in a proportionate and reasonable manner that seeks to avoid the unnecessary loss of life.

Such episodes risk precipitating an even greater escalation of violence.  We call on Israelis and Palestinians to refrain from any actions that add to the already tense situation that we have just heard about and that would undercut efforts to advance a negotiated two-state solution.  These actions include demolitions, settlement expansion, the evictions of families from homes in which they have lived for generations, incitement to violence, and providing compensation for individuals imprisoned for acts of terrorism.

We also call on authorities to hold those responsible for violence fully accountable for their actions.  All perpetrators should face equal justice under the law.

Israeli and Palestinian civil society members have an important role to play in promoting peace.  Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield met with civil society leaders in Ramallah and was, frankly, inspired by their work – their work to advance democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity for the Palestinian people.  We also support both Israeli and Palestinian NGOs’ roles monitoring human rights abuses wherever they occur.

Let me also take note of Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed’s welcome of Israeli Prime Minister Bennett to the UAE last week.  It demonstrated that good faith engagement can build confidence and create a path to cooperation towards achieving security, prosperity, and dignity for every Israeli and every Palestinian.  We look forward to working with the United Arab Emirates when it joins this Council next month, in addition to new members Albania, Brazil, Gabon, and Ghana.

The United States remains committed to widening the circle of peace between Israel and its neighbors and expanding normalization agreements.  We encourage all those who look for peace in the Middle East to commit to constructive acts that help the Palestinians and Israelis coexist and prosper.

Finally, Mr. President, while the Unites States has contributed more than $318 million in Fiscal Year 2021 to UNRWA to help Palestinians in need, we are deeply concerned that the agency is once again facing an immediate financial shortfall. We note the broad Member State-support for the work of the Agency, most recently expressed during the UNHCR briefing to this Council and during the General Assembly’s humanitarian debate. We thank Member States contributing to UNRWA, including Qatar and Kuwait, for their recent generosity in this regard. We renew our call for all Member States to provide financial contributions to UNRWA as we work toward a financially sustainable agency that effectively delivers on its mandate and operates in line with humanitarian principles.

Finally, Mr. President, if I may, as this is the last scheduled meeting of the year, I’d like to congratulate, on behalf of the U.S. delegation, the Niger presidency. It was a very successful presidency during a very challenging month. I’d also like to bid, on behalf of the U.S. delegation, a fond farewell to our outgoing colleagues: Estonia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia, and Vietnam. You and your teams have been strong and effective colleagues on the Council over the past two years, and the U.S. delegation looks forward to continuing our close work with each of you after you leave the Council.

I’ll close by quoting the last line of one of the great U.S. plays of the 20th century: “When you speak of this experience, and you will, please remember to be kind.”

Thank you very much.