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
November 18, 2020


Thank you, Madam President, and thank you Special Coordinator Mladenov for your briefing today. We are grateful for your efforts to keep this Council aware of the latest developments on the ground.

We also offer our sincere condolences to the Palestinian people, and to you, Ambassador Mansoor, on the passing of Saeb Erekat. May he rest in peace, and may the region continue to move toward more peaceful days, and may the Palestinians and Israelis soon resume long overdue peace talks. Toward that goal, we welcome the Palestinian Authority’s recent announcement that it will resume security cooperation with Israel and begin accepting tax revenues again.

The Abraham Accords have made peace all the more possible. We are witnessing the accumulating fruits of the Accords with each passing day. It is no overstatement to say that the Accords have triggered a wave of commercial, educational, and cultural interactions in the Middle East that are without recent precedent.

Entrepreneurs from the Accord countries are already developing partnerships, including on innovative food and agriculture initiatives. Earlier this month, the first flight from Israel traveled to Dubai, carrying Arab and Jewish Israelis, opening a new chapter for tourism and citizen diplomacy.

Israel and Bahrain are also finalizing aviation agreements to allow regular flights between their nations starting in January. And just today, the first Bahraini commercial flight landed in Israel carrying senior officials who will work with Israel to deepen their cooperation, including through the reciprocal opening of embassies by the end of the year.

In addition, Israel and Sudan continue to make progress on various economic initiatives and partnerships and have recently indicated they will begin cooperating in agriculture, water, and the common fight against COVID-19. These and other positive developments stem from President Trump’s bold diplomacy and a genuine readiness in the region to transform hostility into peace.

Forty-three years ago, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat became the first Arab leader to officially visit Israel. As we recall this courageous step and its legacy, we are reminded of the powerful dividends that come with peace. It is clear that the Abraham Accords have created a real momentum, and it is with my sincere hopes that the Palestinians will seize this moment. The U.S. Vision for Peace provides a flexible framework for negotiations. The Vision’s recommendations are not written in stone. Its outcomes are not fixed. It is an invitation to resume the path toward peace. It is rooted in good faith, good intentions, and reality. There are two places set at this table.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are quickly putting decades of diplomatic failure behind us. The time is long overdue for these monthly meetings to be repurposed by replacing counterproductive rhetoric that only serves to perpetuate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with Member States encouraging the parties to sit down for realistic, direct negotiations to resolve their differences.

Today’s meeting, and future monthly meetings, would serve the region better if the focus was on grave threats that affect millions of people. The economic and the political crisis in Lebanon has driven much of its population into poverty, with no prospects for progress as long as Iran continues to sponsor the terrorist organization Hizballah.

Millions of Syrian refugees and IDPs face the hard months of winter that are approaching, and countless Yemeni children are malnourished because the Houthi rebels disrupt the delivery of urgently needed aid. These humanitarian catastrophes and conflicts should be our primary focus at meetings such as this.

I urge the support for the Palestinians and the Israelis in their efforts to settle their decades-long dispute by encouraging them to take these very great steps, and let’s put these monthly meetings to better use.

Thank you, Madam President.