Security Council Briefing: Middle East

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

New York, 30 May 2018

I join others in thanking Mr Mladenov for his accurate briefing and dedicated work in very challenging circumstances.

Yesterday’s events show how great the risk of escalation is in the absence of progress on the political, economic, humanitarian dimensions. The current situation is simply not sustainable.

Madam President,

Allow me to focus on three elements of the current crisis:

  1. The escalation of yesterday
  2. The crisis in Gaza
  3. Developments on the West Bank

First, the escalation we witnessed yesterday,

In the early hours of 29th of May Palestinian terrorist groups fired mortars towards Israel.

These mortars landed in civilian areas, one of them in the playground of a kindergarden.

Luckily no-one got hurt. The Kingdom of the Netherlands condemns these indiscriminate attacks from Gaza into Israel. These attacks are unacceptable and must stop immediately.

This was the beginning of a day of attacks and counterattacks, the heaviest since the hostilities in 2014.

Yesterday’s events showed again how fragile the situation is and how quickly things can spiral out of control.

It follows upon weeks of protests, with more protests announced. To prevent new escalation, again, we call on all parties to exercise restraint, and prevent incidents that put the lives of both Palestinians and Israeli civilians at risk.

Civilians on both sides of the fence should not live in fear.

This brings me to my second point, the crisis in Gaza,

The crisis in Gaza has been discussed in the Chamber several times this year.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands welcomes the consensus in this Council that this situation is most concerning and needs to be addressed.

Now, the challenge before us is to come to a consensus on how this Council should act.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands welcomes the initiative taken by Mr. Mladenov to come up with a plan to fast track urgently needed projects for water, energy and health.

For this approach to succeed, a combined effort of the international community, and cooperation of all parties is needed.

The crises should not be treated as an excuse to delay further action.

On the contrary, they are reason to double the efforts to improve living conditions on the ground.

In this regards we reiterate our support for an appropriate public expression by the Council on the current crisis.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands welcomes the initiatives taken by members to address parts of the puzzle. We thank Kuwait in particular for its efforts in this regard.

We should be able to come to an expression that does justice to our shared concerns.

A political solution is needed. For a sustainable solution for the humanitarian crisis and security of Palestinian and Israeli civilians. The Kingdom of the Netherlands supports the Egyptian initiatives to achieve a return of the Palestinian Authorities as legitimate government in Gaza, and its constructive role in maintaining calm between the parties. 

This brings me to my third point: the worrisome developments in the Westbank.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands is deeply concerned by the intention of the Israeli authorities to enforce the demolition of all structures in the community Khan als Ahmar.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands stresses that Area C is of critical importance for the viability of a future Palestinian state in the context of a two state solution, and recalls that demolitions and confiscations of homes and humanitarian and the obstruction of delivery of humanitarian assistance are contrary to Israel's obligations under international law.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands condemns the announced plans to approve new settlement expansion.

The continued Israeli settlement activity is illegal under international law and remains an obstacle to peace - as reaffirmed by UN Security Council Resolution 2334.

In conclusion:

This week has shown that on both sides steps are taken that undermine the viability of the two-state solution.

This week’s events are an alarming reminder that the current status quo is unsustainable.

We call upon all sides to reverse these trends and take positive steps that contribute to the possibility of sustainable peace, and we call upon all parties to make the two-state solution possible.