Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Situation in the Middle East

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
March 25, 2021


Let me start by thanking Special Coordinator Wennesland for your informative briefing. Today, I’d like to talk about three aspects of the Middle East peace process: First, the United States’ continued support for Israel. Secondly, our desire to see both Israelis and Palestinians take steps toward a two-state solution. And thirdly, our goal of delivering aid to the Palestinian people.

First: President Biden has been a strong and consistent supporter of Israel throughout his career. As I have. The United States will continue to steadfastly stand by Israel, especially when it is unfairly singled out by one-sided resolutions and actions in international bodies.

I want to note that while we focus each month on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in these meetings, there are other issues in the region that are threats to international peace and security and deserve more of this Council’s attention.

Let me be clear: not all criticism of Israel is illegitimate. But too often, that criticism veers dangerously into anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism, as with all forms of hate, works directly against the cause of peace. So, we will vigorously oppose one-sided efforts.

After all, as many of us recognized last week, we have a shared obligation to address the disturbing resurgence of all kinds of prejudice and hate around the world – including anti-Semitism.

Second, under President Biden’s leadership, the United States has recommitted to the vision of a mutually agreed two-state solution, one in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state. We believe this vision is the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a democratic and Jewish state, while upholding the Palestinian people’s legitimate aspirations for a state of their own and to live with dignity and security.

Our approach is to advance freedom, security, and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians in tangible ways in the immediate term. That’s important in its own right. But these gains will also advance the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution, consistent with international law and in line with relevant UN resolutions. It is essential that both sides take concrete steps to advance the two-state solution.

The United States calls on the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority to refrain from all unilateral actions that make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve, whether settlement activity, home demolitions, incitement to violence, or providing compensation for individuals imprisoned for acts of terrorism. We call for an end to all acts of violence, including acts of terrorism, as well as incitement to violence and acts of provocation and destruction.

Since January, our diplomatic engagement has been guided by the premise that sustainable progress toward peace must be based on active consultations with both sides. To that end, our administration will take steps to re-open diplomatic channels of communication that were halted during the last administration. Our engagements all have the same aim: to build support for a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Third and finally, we are particularly concerned that the pandemic has put a serious strain on both the economic and humanitarian needs of Palestinians. So, we were encouraged to see Israel’s initiative to vaccinate Palestinian workers. We urge Israel and the Palestinian Authority to continue cooperation on ensuring COVID vaccines reach more in need.

For our part, President Biden is restoring U.S. assistance programs that support economic development and humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people. Specifically, the United States is pleased to announce today $15 million in humanitarian assistance to support the most vulnerable communities in the West Bank and Gaza.

With this assistance, the U.S. Agency for International Development is supporting Catholic Relief Services’ COVID-19 response efforts in health care facilities and for vulnerable families in the West Bank and Gaza. In addition, this assistance will support emergency food assistance programming to communities facing food insecurity, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This urgent, necessary aid is one piece of our renewed commitment to the Palestinian people. The aid will help Palestinians in dire need, which will bring more stability and security to both Israelis and Palestinians alike. That’s consistent with our interests and our values, and it aligns with our efforts to stamp out the pandemic and food insecurity worldwide.

The United States looks forward to continuing its work with Israel, the Palestinians, and the international community to achieve a long-sought peace in the Middle East.

Let us strive to achieve that peace and prosperity for all.

Thank you, very much.