I would like to thank Special Coordinator Tor Wennesland and Deputy Commissioner-General Leni Steinseth for their presentations and for their work.
Switzerland welcomes the exchanges of the last few days between the parties, which aim to promote de-escalation. Concerned by the deterioration of the security situation and by the real risk of escalation, we welcome the fact that the Security Council has managed today to find consensus on a Presidential Statement, which we fully support.
Switzerland remains concerned, however, about the announcement made by the Israeli government on 12 February to build nearly 10,000 new housing units in settlements and to retroactively legalize ten outposts in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. We call on Israel to desist from these unilateral measures, which risk further exacerbating tensions and endanger a negotiated two-state solution. This also includes the demolition of the village of Khan Al Ahmar located in a strategic area necessary for the contiguity of the Palestinian territory. Switzerland calls on the occupying power to respect its obligations under international humanitarian law, including issuing building permits to the Palestinian population.
We condemn the attacks on civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, as well as the attacks in recent weeks in settlements in East Jerusalem. Switzerland expects the parties to respect their obligations under international law and to strengthen measures to protect civilians. Accountability is also essential to prevent such violence.
The increasing humanitarian needs in the region make UNRWA's services all the more essential today. By providing health, education and social net services, UNRWA is making a significant contribution to stability in the region. It is essential that UNRWA can continue to provide effective and efficient assistance in accordance with humanitarian principles, including neutrality. To this end, Switzerland calls for adequate and predictable financial support for the agency.
In the current volatile context, Switzerland is concerned about the increasing weakening of the Palestinian Authority, including as a result of measures taken by Israel. Switzerland reiterates its call for elections to be held throughout the Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. This is an indispensable step for the restoration of the legitimacy of the institutions as well as the re-establishment of the political unity essential for a two-state solution.
With the religious holidays of Ramadan, Pesach and Easter just weeks away, we reiterate our call on all parties to actively engage in strict adherence to the historic status quo on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Preventing further loss of life and reversing negative trends on the ground remains a priority.
Switzerland is ready to support peace efforts aimed at restoring a political horizon based on a two-state solution, including with its good offices.