Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Situation in the Middle East (Is/Pal)

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
May 26, 2022


Note: I shall now make a statement in my capacity as Representative of the United States.

Let me start by thanking Special Coordinator Wennesland, for your briefing. We strongly support your continued close engagement with all parties as we work to foster dialogue. And thank you to Robi Damelin and Daniel Munayer for your briefings on reconciliation efforts between Israelis and Palestinians. This work is vital to building confidence with one another. And as our civil society briefers reminded us, dialogue is essential to understanding and cooperation, and we welcome efforts to increase collaboration between the parties. And Ms. Damelin, I really appreciate the fact that you reminded us of the importance of hope – hope for a future and hope for peace.

To this aim, the United States was pleased to participate in the recent meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, and we welcome the tangible announcements, including a joint commission on water and working-level discussions related to financing and taxation. These types of discussions play an important role, and we fully support these efforts.

But even as we push for dialogue and cooperation, we must also call out any and all violence. The string of recent terrorist attacks against Israelis has been horrific. After the attack in El’ad earlier this month, 16 children will never see their parents again. We know that feeling. We deplore these terrorist attacks. Violence is never the solution.

We also mourn the heart-wrenching killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on May 11. Shireen was a widely respected veteran reporter who I had the pleasure of meeting. She was a role model to many aspiring journalists, particularly to women and girls. And her work was followed closely by those who care about the region. We strongly condemn her killing. And we call for an immediate, thorough, transparent, and impartial investigation. And upon the conclusion of an investigation, we expect full accountability for those found responsible.

In the region and around the world, journalists play a fundamental role in the free flow of information, ideas, and opinions. Their work is essential to inclusive and tolerant societies. We will continue to prioritize media freedom and defend journalists’ ability to do their job without fear or threats of violence or unjust detention. Shireen’s killing is a tragic loss and an affront to press freedoms everywhere.

Compounding this loss was the violence at Shireen’s funeral procession on May 13 – and we have directly shared our concern with Israel regarding the troubling footage of Israeli police intruding into the procession. Every family deserves to be able to lay their loved ones to rest in a dignified and unimpeded manner. The violence following Shireen’s killing and funeral only adds to the increasing tensions we witnessed during the convergence of Ramadan, Passover, and Easter last month. This included multiple terrorist attacks against Israel and rockets fired from Gaza and Lebanon, which we also condemn in the strongest terms.

We appeal to all sides to work cooperatively to lower tensions and honor Shireen by redoubling efforts to promote peace. It is important to refrain from unilateral actions that exacerbate tensions and jeopardize a negotiated two-state solution. This includes the situation in Masafer Yatta and other evictions, which we continue to monitor closely and voice our concerns about. And when such actions violate the law, the perpetrators, whether Israeli or Palestinian, should be held accountable by the relevant authorities.

Colleagues, I’d like to now shift our focus to how Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression in Ukraine is impacting food insecurity in the region. As we’ve made clear in this Council, Russia is actively impeding Ukrainian farmers and blocking food exports. We know this is having a particularly devastating impact on the Middle East and Africa.

This makes the work of UNRWA, which supports vulnerable populations on the ground, more critical than ever. Member States must keep this in mind as we approach next month’s pledging conference. Too often, supportive statements by governments for UNRWA are not accompanied by financial contributions. We strongly encourage States to join us in funding UNRWA, so it can ensure those in need receive support to cope with rising food prices, so it can continue to provide education and health care to Palestinian refugees.

At the same time, we invite Member States to join us in promoting UNRWA’s efforts to strengthen its effectiveness and financial sustainability. And we will continue to work with UNRWA to bolster the Agency’s accountability, transparency, and consistency with humanitarian principles, including neutrality.

Only in this spirit of cooperation among Member States – but especially between Israelis and Palestinians – can we pursue equal measures of freedom, security, and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians alike.