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
June 24, 2020


Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Secretary-General, for your opening remarks, and thank you, Mr. Mladenov, for your briefing. We appreciate all the hard work you and your team are putting in to addressing this continued conflict. I would also like to welcome the ministers and the representative from the Arab League to our virtual discussion today.

Peace between the Israelis and Palestinians is the primary reason we are gathered here today and President Trump has dedicated so much time and energy into developing the Vision for Peace.

The United States cares deeply about the people in the region and we believe that the status quo hurts both the Israelis and the Palestinians, and that no one benefits from the existing situation – a perpetual limbo of suffering, lost opportunities, reliance on foreign assistance, and repeated cycles of violence, war, and destruction.

That is why our team has dedicated three years to finding a way forward from the past failed attempts to an alternative path towards peace and resolution to the conflict. President Trump’s Vision for Peace is a genuine effort at peacemaking. It is designed to lead the sides to a realistic two-state solution, offering a viable path to Palestinian statehood, in which Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for independence and national dignity can be realized in a peace agreement with Israel.

President Trump stated on January 28th, “I was saddened by the fate of the Palestinian people. They deserve a far better life. They deserve the chance to achieve their extraordinary potential.”

It takes courageous Israeli leadership to make the tough decisions and compromises to reach a settlement. This is the path to peace we must support with respect and understanding in an effort to make this happen.

Without dismissing the hard work put in by dedicated peacemakers over the years, I think we can all agree that past efforts have not brought the sides closer to peace. There have been countless dollars spent, international conferences, and UN resolutions and statements on the issue – but little, real progress. We believe that only bold thinking at this juncture – as laid out in the Vision for Peace – will ultimately be the benefit of the Israeli and Palestinian people.

We understand that there are elements of our Vision that some believe should be adjusted, and as we’ve clarified on many occasions, it has never been our intent to impose a solution. Again, I ask that the international community, and Palestinian leadership, not dismiss our Vision out of hand and revert to past statements and arguments that have not led to real peace.

I believe it is our collective responsibility, for both the people of Israel and the citizens of a future Palestinian state, to keep an open mind and willing to break with existing paradigms, to seek resolution to this conflict.

I understand that many of you have concerns with this issue of the potential extension of Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank. At the same time, we ask that you also hold the Palestinian leadership accountable for acts they are responsible for. It does not help anyone to only look backwards and point to what could have been. The Palestinian leadership has a responsibility to pursue the prosperity of their people.

At the end of the day, is reverting to old talking points the best we can do as an international community? United Nations TV archives contain multiple gatherings such as today. I think we can do better. Actually, you know what, I know we can do better. And I think we owe it to the future generation of Palestinians and Israelis to break this cycle, and be the catalysts for change.

So again, we urge the Palestinian leadership to look closely at our Vision and engage us. As we’ve said before, our plan is not a “take it or leave it.” It is not set in stone. It is an opening offer. It is the beginning of a conversation – not the end of one.

All the diplomats lined up here today will or have presented their passionate speeches, however not addressing the core issue here: the need for Palestinians and Israelis to work together.

Whether it is condemning settlement activity or any other common criticism, the repetitive rhetoric we see in these meetings only inflames tensions, antagonizes the parties, and undercuts any chance of real, lasting peace. The hard truth isn’t that there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is wrong as a matter of international law will not bring about peace. This is a complex political problem that can only be solved by negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

The United States, under the leadership of President Trump, is addressing this core issue by offering the beginning of a conversation. And I reiterate, the beginning of a conversation. We remain open to speaking with anyone about how to bring the parties to the table, and we both urge and welcome any and all engagement.

Thank you.