May 18, 2021

Statement by the Permanent Representative of Cyprus Ambassador Sotos Zackheos during the Security Council Open Discussion on the Crisis in the Middle East

Mr. President,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Cyprus Government. We have also aligned with the statement delivered by Spain on behalf of the European Union.

The Government and the people of Cyprus express profound concern and sorrow at the worsening situation in the Middle East and condemn violence and any actions resulting in innocent victims, be they Israelis or Palestinians.

We express full sympathy and solidarity to President Yasser Arafat, whom we consider the legitimate leader and representative of the Palestinian people and we call upon the Israeli troops to withdraw immediately from Ramallah and the Palestinian territories. We also call for an immediate cease-fire and for resumption of a dialogue in order to rescue the peace process. In this respect, we join the entire international community in calling for the immediate and full implementation of resolutions 1397 and 1402 of the Security Council.

Mr. President,

We urge Israel to desist from actions the thrust of which is the collective punishment and humiliation of the Palestinian population and to avoid disproportionate response to violence. We condemn the extra judicial executions of Palestinians, which are illegal under international law. We also believe that actions against medical and humanitarian institutions and personnel are absolutely unacceptable. We call for full adherence to international law and international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention. In this regard, we express our opposition to the illegal Israeli settlement activity.

We are particularly alarmed at reports of an impending operation against Palestinians who have sought refuge in the church of Nativity. We urge for the resolution of this issue in such a way that would respect the sanctity of this most important religious site. The same goes for all other religious sites, which have unfortunately fallen victim to attack and unwarranted destruction due to the hostilities. We call on Israel, as the occupying power to abide by its international obligations and to exercise maximum restraint.

Let me also underline that we strongly condemn any and all forms of terrorism, for which there is no justification and we support the right of Israel and all states of the region to live in peace and security.

Mr. President,

The Cyprus Government will support any international initiative and effort aiming at preventing the conflict escalating further and we urge those who have the power to do so, to assist in achieving an immediate cease-fire and the return of the parties to the negotiating table. In this respect, we will support an increased and urgent role by the Quartet (EU, US, UN and Russia) and we call for the parties to cooperate fully with Special Envoy Zinni, and others, for the implementation of the Tenet Work Plan and the Mitchell Report recommendations. We fully support the establishment of a third party monitoring mechanism.

We welcome the resolution of the Arab League Meeting in Beirut and we reiterate our support for a just and lasting settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict, based on resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) of the Security Council. A solution which will put an end to the occupation of Arab lands, and to the plight of the Palestinian people ensuring the fulfillment of their legitimate rights, including their right to an independent state. The solution of the Middle East problem will bring stability to this sensitive region of the world, will ensure normal relations, and the safety and security of all countries of the region and will put an end to violence, strengthening the forces of moderation and cooperation.

Finally, allow me to reiterate Cyprus’ unwavering support to the pursuit of peace in the region. The Government and people of Cyprus with traditionally strong bonds of friendship with both the Palestinian and Israeli people stand ready to play a constructive role towards the achievement of this goal. It is in this context, that my Government has offered to host later this month, in Nicosia, the next meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, which we hope will contribute in its own way to building the necessary bridges of understanding between the Palestinian and Israeli people.

Thank you, Mr. President.