I would like to thank Special Coordinator Tor Wennesland for his briefing.
As other colleagues have already pointed out, this year marks the commemoration of the Oslo Accords. However, the road to peace based on the two-state solution promised in Oslo is facing ever-greater obstacles.
First and foremost is the worrying increase in settlements. Switzerland points out that these settlements are illegal under international humanitarian law and run counter to several Security Council resolutions. Resolution 2334 – and I quote – “reiterates [the Council’s] demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem”. The same resolution adds that the settlements are “a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace”. We also condemn the coercive environment leading to the forced displacement of Palestinian communities. The lack of protection for Palestinians from settler attacks, threats and intimidation – which, according to OCHA, have increased significantly this year – is particularly alarming. Israel, as the occupying power, must refrain from taking any measures that would introduce permanent changes in the Palestinian territory.
It is alarming to note that the security situation continues to deteriorate throughout the occupied territory. In Gaza, the risk of implosion is once again high, while neither side seems ready for a genuine de-escalation. The violent clashes along the separation barrier and the air strikes bear witness to this. Switzerland calls for the lifting of the closure, which has been imposed on the Gaza Strip for almost 16 years, also in light of the worrying deterioration in the humanitarian situation. In addition, the immediate reopening of the Erez crossing point is necessary to allow some 20,000 Gazans to go to work in Israel.
At the same time, the increase in tensions in the West Bank, particularly following Israeli operations in Jenin, Jericho and Nablus, or linked to the proliferation of armed groups, are also worrying. Switzerland reiterates its appeal to all parties to respect their obligations under international law and to protect civilians. It recalls the obligations of the Israeli authorities with regard to the use of force.
As Sukkot approaches, we urge the relevant authorities to minimise the risk of tensions around the holy sites, to respect the status quo on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount and Jordan’s custodial role. We call on the leaders of all parties to refrain from any unilateral measures, provocative acts or inflammatory language, which heighten tensions, as demonstrated again in recent weeks.
Switzerland welcomes the ministerial meetings of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) and the Peace Day Effort initiative held last week in New York. We note that there is a consensus on the need to relaunch the peace process.
Switzerland remains convinced that only a two-state solution, negotiated by both parties in accordance with international law and internationally agreed parameters, including Security Council resolutions, can lead to a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. This is the objective agreed 30 years ago in Oslo. In this respect, Switzerland remains ready to support any initiative, including through its good offices.