Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Situation in the Middle East (via VTC)

Ambassador Kelly Craft
Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
May 20, 2020


Thank you, Sven, and good morning everyone. Thank you, Nikolay, for this briefing. As always, your efforts of you and your team are to be applauded. Thank you so much again. And I know that you don’t have an easy job, and, therefore, more the reason to tell you how much we appreciate the fairness with which you work to address this conflict.

In recent Council meetings on this issue, we have highlighted the encouraging cooperation that has occurred between Israelis and Palestinians in the fight against COVID-19. Combatting the virus, as well as that cooperation, are both still important – but that’s not what I’m going to focus on here today.

Today, I want to speak about what needs to be done to move in the direction of meaningful progress in the Middle East. We listened closely to what each Council member will be saying about this matter and what they have said in February, March, and in April. So, I want to note, as I have before, that we understand that many of you have concerns with, and objections to, elements of the Trump Administration’s Vision for Peace.

But statements of concern from Council members will only get us so far. What is needed right now, if we hope to take even a first step in the right direction, is for the parties to sit down with one another. This Council cannot dictate the end to this conflict. We can only encourage the parties to sit down together to determine how they wish to make progress.

And so, for those of you who have concerns – I want to stress that this monthly briefing is not where the real problem-solving will take place. It will take place at a table at which both the Israelis and the Palestinians are seated.

And so, the question for us should not only be about our individual concerns. The question is how we each play a more proactive role in getting the parties to speak directly with one another to address their concerns. If both sides are serious about their talking, it is time for both sides to prove it. And if this Council is serious about wanting to see progress in the Middle East, then I urge each of you to look seriously at the steps you can take to encourage direct negotiations.

President Trump presented our Vision for Peace because we think it is realistic and implementable. We’ve heard this morning about President Abbas’ recent announcement. In regards to that, we as the Council need to encourage the Palestinians to see this initiative as an opportunity to realize their aspirations. But it is also a starting point, as I have said many times.

I truly believe we all want to see an end to this conflict. Moreover, we have all expressed a conviction that conversation between the parties is the only way forward. But if that conviction is sincere, then we must concentrate our efforts on bringing the parties to the table – and not on Council statements that I think we all have to admit have grown a little bit repetitive.

Let me close by quoting President Trump: “All humanity should be able to enjoy the glories of the Holy Land. This part of the world is forever connected to the human soul and the human spirit. These ancient lands should not be a symbol of conflict, but eternal symbols of peace.”

Thank you.