Security Council Briefing: Middle East

Statement by Karel J.G. van Oosterom,
Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations in New York

New York, 19 November 2018

Thank you very much, Mr. President.

First of all, let me thank Mr. Mladenov for his informative briefing and for the tireless efforts of him and his team, working under sometimes very difficult circumstances.

Mr. President, today I will address three points:

  • Situation in Gaza and escalation of violence;
  • Developments in the West Bank; and
  • Way forward.

1. Situation in Gaza

My first point, on Gaza. We are deeply concerned by the flare-up of violence that we witnessed at the beginning of last week. We welcome the efforts of the UN, Egypt and others, that led to an agreement to restore calm. Now, it is up to the parties to maintain this restoration of relative calm.

All parties must exercise maximum restraint. They must refrain from any action that could provoke escalation, that would put civilian lives at risk, and that would jeopardize recent efforts towards reducing tensions and towards a long term truce.

We reiterate that all parties must comply with their obligations under international law: we condemn the indiscriminate firing of rockets.

And we reiterate that Israel must ensure that all its responses are proportionate and necessary at all times, in line with its obligations under international law.

It has been said many times: the recent escalation cannot be seen in isolation. It reminds us that a sustainable solution for Gaza is needed. The humanitarian and economic situation in Gaza must therefore be improved.

The opening of crossings and easing restrictions on the movement of goods and persons in and out of Gaza are also needed in this regard, while taking Israel’s legitimate security concerns into account.

We continue to express our full support for the efforts of the UN and Nikolay Mladenov to improve the situation in Gaza. And we welcome the recent improvement in electricity supply.  

Mr. President, the Kingdom of the Netherlands remains committed to doing its part. Let me give three examples:

  • An additional contribution to UNRWA of 6 million euro’s for this year;
  • Our continued investment in the Gas for Gaza project;
  • And, through our trilateral meetings on water, energy and crossings.

A sustainable solution also includes the need for intra-Palestinian reconciliation, which should result in the return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza.

2. Developments in the West Bank

Mr. President, my second point: developments in the West Bank. Rising tensions and an increase of violent incidents in the West Bank, leading to the loss of life on both sides, are highly concerning.

The suspension of the demolition of the community of Khan-al-Ahmar is a positive development. However, the demolition plan must be withdrawn definitively, for it to no longer pose a threat to a two-state-solution.

Also in this regard: we are very concerned about new settlement announcements for East-Jerusalem and Hebron. We reiterate that settlements are illegal under international law and are a violation of Security Council resolution 2234. 

3. Way forward

Mr. President, this brings me to my third point: the way forward. The current situation is a painful reminder of the lack of progress on the peace process. Yet, the goal we all agree on is to bring an end to the conflict.

Now, positive steps are needed, for the parties to return to the negotiation table and to restart a genuine peace process leading to a two-state solution, based on well-known parameters.

This is the only way to a sustainable solution, fulfilling the aspirations of both sides.

Thank you very much, Mr. President.