Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
April 25, 2023
Thank you, Special Coordinator Wennesland, for your informative briefing. As we heard earlier, Israel marks the somber holiday Yom HaZikaron. We join our Israeli friends in commemorating the loss of those killed in past wars and terrorist attacks. And we unequivocally condemn terrorist attacks and all violence against civilians.
This has already been a painful year for both Israelis and Palestinians, and we must all do everything in our power to reverse these worrying trends.
Just this month, an already tense situation nearly boiled over into a broader regional conflict. Thankfully, we were able to avoid that. But these stakes underscore the imperative for all parties to exercise restraint in action and rhetoric to prevent further escalation of violence.
We condemn this month’s rocket attacks by Palestinian militants from Gaza and Lebanon, as well as attacks launched from Syria, which endangered civilians. Using Lebanon as a launchpad for rocket attacks against Israel only puts the Lebanese people at risk and increases the potential for further conflict. And the barrage of missiles out of Lebanon also endangered UNIFIL personnel who sought cover and protection from potential harm.
The United States recognizes Israel’s ability – like any other country – to exercise its inherent right of self-defense. We also are deeply upset by the incidents in the al-Aqsa Mosque during the convergence of Ramadan and Passover. All sides must respect and maintain the historic status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites – in word and in practice.
We were pleased that the final week of Ramadan passed relatively peacefully, and I hope all those celebrating had a joyous Eid with their families and loved ones, just as I hope those celebrating Passover and Easter were able to enjoy the holidays.
Colleagues, good-faith dialogue remains, without a doubt, the best path to stability. It remains essential. The United States applauds efforts taken by the parties – along with the United States, Egypt, and Jordan – to de-escalate tensions and build further trust through direct talks in Aqaba and Sharm el-Sheikh. These meetings and the commitments the parties made were important first steps. Now, we call on the parties to fully implement these commitments and look for opportunities for further confidence-building measures.
The United States also remains concerned by the financial constraints the Palestinian people face. And we urge our partners to take further actions to meet needs on the ground. We welcomed the inauguration of expanded operating hours at the Allenby Bridge border crossing, which will allow for easier travel by Palestinians and facilitate the transportation of goods.
But as many of you know, UNWRA – a program that provides education, health care, and relief and social services to the Palestinian refugees – will likely run out of funding this summer. Over the past two years, the United States has helped improve the lives of millions of Palestinians through hundreds of millions of dollars in contributions to UNRWA. But we are also concerned by UNRWA’s potential financial shortfall.
If the international community does not step up, the consequences for regional stability will be grave. And if the international community does not step up, people will lose access to basic needs, and we cannot allow this to happen. All those who can give must give. Now is the time to make meaningful contributions to UNRWA and pursue further efforts toward the long-term stabilization of its finances.
The United States believes Israel and Palestinians deserve equal measures of security, prosperity, and freedom, and we will continue to work towards these goals in tangible ways. We will continue to support a two-state solution and promote dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. And we will continue to support all efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Let us do everything possible to ensure that the days, and the months, and years ahead are brighter, more hopeful, and more peaceful for all. Thank you.