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

Rodney Hunter
Political Coordinator
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
September 29, 2020


Thank you, Mr. President.

Mr. President, with your permission I will lead off today by offering our condolences to the people of Kuwait, for the death of their emir, Sheik Al Sabah. The Emir was a peacemaker in every sense of the word, and we are grateful for his years of dedicated service to the people of Kuwait, and to making the region a more stable, prosperous, and peaceful place. His leadership during Kuwait’s two-years in this Council were particularly noteworthy and appreciated. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Kuwait and with his family today.

Mr. President, again, thank you, and thank you Special Coordinator Mladenov for your briefing today. As always, we appreciate your and your team’s hard work to address this issue.

Last month, we opened our remarks by highlighting the most significant step towards peace in the Middle East in over 25 years – the agreement to normalize relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. For the second month in a row, we are pleased to draw the Council’s attention to yet another momentous step on the path toward peace in the Middle East: on September 11, Bahrain and Israel agreed to normalize relations.

President Trump’s bold diplomacy and rejection of the old, conventional wisdom, enabled him to broker these agreements – the Abraham Accords – the first such agreements between Israel and Arab countries since 1994. I want to emphasize what President Trump has highlighted about these agreements: in Israel’s entire history, there have previously been only two such agreements. Now we have achieved two in a single month’s time, and we are hopeful there will be more to follow.

To commemorate these breakthroughs, President Trump hosted a historic signing ceremony on September 15 at the White House, where the Israeli Prime Minister and the foreign ministers of the UAE and Bahrain, signed the Abraham Accords Declaration. Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain have committed to the exchange of embassies and ambassadors, as well as cooperation in a broad range of fields including education, healthcare, trade, energy, and security.

President Trump’s leadership, vision, and expertise made this momentous event possible. He built trust with our regional allies and reoriented their strategic calculus by identifying shared interests and common opportunities, moving them away from a vested interest in perpetuating the same old conflicts. Instead of just talking about peace month-after-month, Security Council meeting after Security Council meeting, the United States led the way through action, and we achieved tangible results.

We began this year by laying out the President’s Vision for Peace: a comprehensive, fair, and realistic plan for Israel and the Palestinians to live peacefully, side by side. The Abraham Accords will allow further exploration of that vision. Both the Vision for Peace and the Abraham Accords demonstrate the United States’ and Israel’s commitment to peace, prosperity, and security throughout the Middle East.

Despite these achievements, however, Palestinian terrorists fired a barrage of rockets on September 15 and 16, just as Israel and its new Arab partners were commemorating their historic peace deals. We deplore and we reject such violence, which has only brought misery and suffering for far too long.

So, we now call on Palestinian leaders, who owe it to their people to reject violence, to embrace the opportunities for broader peace that the Abraham Accords offer, and to work with Israel to resolve their longstanding issues. And we hope that other Arab states can build on the Accords while also encouraging the Palestinians to hold direct talks with Israel.

Tomorrow, we will be co-hosting with the UAE an informal briefing with Security Council members to discuss these peace agreements. This briefing will provide the opportunity for candid discussion about how these agreements could serve as a springboard to break the deadlock on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

We encourage members of the Security Council to embrace the opportunities presented by the Abraham Accords, and we hope you will join us in publicly supporting these historic breakthroughs.

Thank you, Mr. President.