I would like to thank the Assistant Secretary-General, Mohamed Khaled Khiari, for his detailed presentation. This account is a reminder of the ever-increasing cost of a lack of political will. We must all do better.
I would like to make three main points:
Firstly, in the face of the current spiral of violence, de-escalation and the protection of civilians must be the priority. The number of civilian victims of the conflict continues to rise. In particular, more than 40 children have died since the beginning of the year. This is unacceptable and must stop. The Presidential Statement last February raised hopes of a resumption of dialogue. Switzerland calls on the parties to implement their commitments made in Aqaba and Sharm el-Sheikh. Switzerland also calls on the leaders of all parties to refrain from any provocation, such as this morning’s visit by Israel’s national security minister. The historic status quo on the Haram al-Sharif / Temple Mount, including Jordan’s role as custodian of the Holy Places, must be respected. Furthermore, Switzerland considers East Jerusalem to be occupied territory. The final status of the city, in particular as the capital of two states, must be negotiated between the parties.
Secondly, Switzerland is concerned about the acceleration of settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including through the development of infrastructure. We recall that settlements are illegal under international law. They also contravene several Security Council resolutions and constitute a major obstacle to peace based on a two-State solution. They contribute to fuelling the spiral of violence that we see every day. Israel must refrain from taking measures that would introduce permanent changes, in particular demographic and administrative changes, in the occupied territory. In East Jerusalem, the eviction of the Sub Laban family illustrates the threat to some 150 other families. We also condemn the coercive environment that has led in recent weeks to the forced displacement of the communities of Baq’ah and Khirbet Widady. The lack of protection for these people in the face of increasing attacks by settlers is also particularly worrying.
Finally, we deplore the weakening of the Palestinian Authority and its consequences for security and the provision of basic services. We encourage security coordination between the Palestinian Authority and Israel that enables civilians to be protected. Switzerland also reiterates its call for elections to be held throughout the Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. This would help to restore the legitimacy of the institutions and the political unity essential to a two-state solution.
To this end, Switzerland encourages the parties to return to the path of dialogue and genuine peace talks, addressing the root causes of the conflict.