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

Ambassador Cherith Norman Chalet
Acting Deputy Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
March 30, 2020


Thank you, Mr. President and thank you, Mr. Mladenov, for your briefing. As always, and especially under these difficult circumstances, we are grateful for the continued efforts of your team to fairly address the longstanding conflict.

I understand that in the current environment, much of our attention rightly remains focused on minimizing the impact of COVID-19 on communities around the world. We also recognize that this is not the time for a complex discussion of the granular details of the Trump administration’s Vision for Peace. There will be another day to address these important matters, as well as how we can secure a future of dignity and prosperity for all Israelis and Palestinians. But today, while my comments will be brief, I do want to shine a light on recent engagement between the Israelis and Palestinians that is encouraging, constructive, and that, in a small way, speaks to the power of dialogue – the kind of dialogue we have all been urging the parties to engage in for many months now.

In recent days, we have seen close coordination between Israeli and Palestinian authorities as they seek to prevent widespread harm from the presence of COVID-19 among their peoples. According to OCHA, representatives from both the Israeli and Palestinian ministries of health have been coordinating regularly to mitigate the spread and impact of the coronavirus. They have been meeting regularly for conversations about recent developments. And they have been sharing best practices with one another to help those in their care stay safe and healthy.

This kind of dialogue, though just one example, is a model of collaboration and cooperation. It is a tangible demonstration of the good that comes – and the human lives that can literally be saved – when leaders come to the table just to talk with one another – to recognize one another’s dignity, and to do the hard work of laying out a path to a safer, healthier, more prosperous future. So, when this disease passes, when we have escaped its grip – which I know we will – each member of this Council will be able to point to the cooperation we’re seeing now and say that dialogue between the Israelis and Palestinians is possible. We will be able to say that achieving mutually beneficial solutions is possible.

I want everyone to take note of what we’ve seen in recent days, and to remember it. Because when COVID-19 has passed, the need for dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians will be just as great as it was before. And the Council will have an important role to play in reminding both sides that in a time of trial, it was dialogue that saw them through to the other side. We continue to believe that a comprehensive and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians is in reach, and we are committed to increasing our efforts until that future is safely in their hands.

Thank you very much.