October 23, 2018

Secretary-General’s message to United Nations International Meeting in support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace

It is my pleasure to send greetings to the participants in the United Nations International Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace, held in Nicosia under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.


You gather as the international community strives to reinvigorate the political process towards Israeli-Palestinian peace. The Quartet remains firmly committed to the goal of a two-State solution. I strongly support a reinforced role for the Quartet. I highly commend President Obama’s stated commitment to strengthening and deepening partnerships between the United States, the parties and international partners to help achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians and between Israel and the Arab States.


I am very disturbed by the situation in the Gaza Strip. More than three months since the end of hostilities, life in Gaza remains extremely difficult. The near total ban on imports and exports, except for basic needs such as food and blankets, is preventing broader humanitarian assistance, economic recovery and long-term development. Measures that increase hardship and suffering are unacceptable and must stop immediately. I call on Israel to provide adequate entry of fuel, cash and materials that are urgently needed to repair schools, clinics, sanitation networks and shelters.


Yesterday I transmitted to the Security Council a summary of the report of the Board of Inquiry regarding certain incidents affecting United Nations personnel, premises and operations that occurred during the hostilities in Gaza. I am now carefully reviewing the recommendations contained in the report. In my letter transmitting the summary to the Security Council, I highlighted my deep and abiding concern for the civilians of the Gaza Strip and Israel, and their right to live in peace and security, free from the threat of violence and terrorism.


Much needs to be done to stabilize Gaza, as set out in Security Council resolution 1860: a durable and fully respected cease fire, including open crossings; the prevention of illicit supply of weapons; and reunification of Gaza and the West Bank within the framework of the legitimate Palestinian authority. I strongly support the continued efforts of Egypt to promote Palestinian reconciliation through dialogue, and urge participants in this process to redouble their efforts to overcome their differences. I also continue to support efforts to secure the release of Corporal Shalit in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners.


In the West Bank, while there is improved security action by the Palestinian Authority in accordance with its Roadmap obligations, the Israel Defence Forces have continued to conduct military operations. Clashes between settlers and Palestinians have intensified, with Palestinians killed and injured in these incidents. The Israeli Government continues settlement activities, which contravene its Roadmap obligations and the basis for the two-State solution. Israel is required to freeze settlement activity and must cease unilateral steps altering the status of Jerusalem. Yet more land is being earmarked for settlement expansion. And Palestinian towns and villages are separated from their land by the route of the barrier, often deep within the West Bank, contrary to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice. These policies and activities deepen the impact of occupation. If they remain in place, it will be virtually impossible for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations to produce tangible results.


Israeli-Palestinian negotiations must be resumed on all core issues without exception, as agreed by the parties and as called for in Security Council resolution 1850. The parameters for peace remain unchanged: the establishment of two States living side by side in peace and security on the basis of the principle of land for peace and a just and comprehensive regional peace consistent with Security Council resolutions. The Arab Peace Initiative, to which members of the League of Arab States recommitted themselves at their recent summit in Doha, remains an indispensable part of this process.


For my part, I shall remain closely engaged in the effort to create a viable Palestinian state and comprehensive regional peace. I am fully committed to working with the parties, partners in the region, and all concerned towards achieving a negotiated political settlement of the conflict. Please accept my best wishes for a successful meeting.