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
August 25, 2022

AS DELIVERED

Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Special Coordinator Wennesland and Commissioner-General Lazzarini, for your briefings. We also appreciate the briefing by Mr. Levy.

We welcome the continued maintenance of the ceasefire enacted on August 7 as well as the resumption of fuel shipments to Gaza to ensure that hospitals and other public services can maintain critical operations. The United States wants to reiterate its appreciation to Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, and the UN for their close engagement with all parties to prevent another escalation of this conflict. We mourn the loss of life and support timely and thorough investigation into reports of civilian casualties.

We demand terrorist organizations, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, cease attacks on Israel. These indiscriminate attacks on Israeli civilians recklessly put Palestinian lives in Gaza at risk. We condemn attacks on all civilians, including the August 14 shooting attack in Jerusalem on worshippers, near the Wailing Wall.

The United States values the role that independent NGOs play in monitoring human rights violations and abuses in the West Bank and Gaza, in Israel, and elsewhere, and firmly believes they must be able to continue this important work. Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and a strong civil society, are critically important to responsible, responsive, and democratic governance.

The United States remains concerned about escalating tensions, especially in the West Bank. We urge Israelis and Palestinians to refrain from unilateral actions including settlement activity, evictions and the demolition of Palestinian homes, incitement to violence, and disruption of the historic status quo at holy sites, which risk the resumption of violence.

Mr. President, as President Biden reaffirmed while visiting Israel and the West Bank last month, the United States believes “the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own that’s independent, sovereign, viable, and contiguous. Two states for two peoples, both of whom have deep and ancient roots in this land, living side by side in peace and security. Both states fully respecting the equal rights of the other citizens. Both peoples enjoying equal measure of freedom and dignity.”

There are no shortcuts to statehood; it is imperative that all stakeholders help to develop the conditions for and embrace a political horizon that would support negotiations for a two-state solution, which can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties.

The Negev Forum highlights what can be achieved by working together to overcome shared challenges in the region. We believe this forum can support the emergence of a more peaceful and prosperous Middle East. The United States also believes these efforts contribute to tangible progress towards the goal of advancing a negotiated peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Mr. President, the United States is committed to serving as a strong partner to UNRWA and is proud to be the Agency’s largest single donor. UNRWA plays an essential role – as we have just heard – in promoting regional stability, and it cannot do so without adequate funding. Many countries offer rhetorical support to UNRWA, but do not match their words with financial support. We encourage Member States to provide robust, reliable funding to help address the Agency’s long-term sustainability, as the Director-General has just outlined.

In conclusion, Mr. President, we call on all countries to join us in our commitment to peace and security in the Middle East. We urge all parties in this Council and around the world to support efforts and initiatives that help meet the economic, political, and humanitarian needs of both Israelis and Palestinians.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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