Thank you for organizing this open debate, and thank you to the Special Coordinator for the Peace Process, Mr. Tor Wennesland, for his detailed presentation.
2022 was the deadliest year for Palestinian civilians in the West Bank since the United Nations began keeping track of cases in this conflict. Deadly attacks in Israel also add to the climate of tension and the risk of escalation is real.
Switzerland expects all parties to take the necessary measures to protect civilians and persons hors de combat. It calls for investigations into allegations of disproportionate use of force by the Israeli security forces. Noting the high number of violent incidents by settlers, Switzerland also calls on Israel to respect its obligations under international humanitarian law towards the occupied population.
Switzerland deplores the number of children among the victims of violence and violations of international law. We welcome the dialogue launched by the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. We call on all parties to continue that dialogue and to take measures to protect children.
My country welcomes the willingness of the new Israeli Government to pursue normalization agreements with Arab States. We call for ensuring that the Palestinians benefit from this new dynamic as well. Furthermore, we encourage the Israeli government to pursue positive economic measures – in particular the increase in construction permits in Area C and work permits in Israel – to improve the situation of Palestinians.
However, Switzerland is concerned about the stated intentions of the new Israeli government to expand the settlements, including through infrastructure investment. As this Council has already stated, settlements including outposts – such as Homesh – are a violation of international law. They also represent an obstacle to peace and endanger the two-state solution.
In the same spirit, Switzerland would like to reiterate, as did all members of the Security Council at the emergency meeting on 5 January, that respect for the status quo on the Haram el Sharif/Temple Mount is a key element for peace and stability in the region. My country is also concerned about the increasing number of attacks against Christians, such as the desecration of the Protestant cemetery on Mount Zion, founded by the Swiss Samuel Gobat. We call for concrete measures to support the peaceful coexistence of all communities in Jerusalem.
Switzerland is concerned about the weakening of the Palestinian Authority, particularly due to the withholding of taxes that are owed to it and the prolonged absence of elections. We recall in this regard that the decisions of the General Assembly reflect the will of the international community and must not be subject to retaliatory measures. My country also reiterates its call for elections to be held throughout the Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. This would contribute to the legitimacy of the institutions and restore the political unity essential to a two-state solution.
Switzerland calls on the leaders of all parties to refrain from unilateral measures or inflammatory language that could fuel the conflict, provoke further violence and undermine peace efforts.
We encourage the parties to address the root causes of the conflict and restore a political horizon for a negotiated two-state solution, in accordance with international law and internationally agreed parameters, including Security Council resolutions.
Switzerland stands ready to facilitate the resumption of a credible dialogue in this regard.
Thank you for your attention.