Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, during the UN Security Council Open Debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the Question of Palestine, Monday, 29 April 2019

Mr President,

Please allow me to take this opportunity to thank Ms Rosemary DiCarlo for her briefing regarding the situation in the Middle East, including the situation in Palestine. I would also like to thank Ms Nada Majdalani and Mr Gidon Bromberg for their interesting briefings on the work of EcoPeace Middle East.

Mr President,

This Council deals with the maintenance of international peace and security on a daily basis. It is our primary responsibility that all of the peoples of the world are able to live without the threat of the scourge of war and the ability to live in larger freedom. In carrying out this mandate, this Council must act in a fair and balanced manner.

In responding to violations of international law and the Charter of the UN we must act in a consistent manner, wherever these violations may occur. We, however, jeopardise the integrity and credibility of this Council when we act, or rather do not act, when it comes to the matter of Palestine.

Mr President,

This Council must act decisively, as it does on other matters on its agenda, to ensure that there is a resolution to the conflict through a negotiated process. We must reaffirm that there can be no sustainable solution to the crises in the Middle East that does not include two independent States, one for the people of Palestine and one for the people of Israel.

The only credible solution is one that must be built on the two-State solution, with the 1967 borders and East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian State and where Palestinians and Israelis can live side by side in peace and security. The Security Council must make every effort to bring both parties to the negotiating table in order to find this solution.

The guidelines for these negotiations have to be based on the already established international legal framework, which include United Nations General Assembly and Security Council Resolutions, the Madrid Principles, the Arab Peace Plan and the Quartet Roadmap, to name but a few.

Mr President,

Unilateral actions by Israel, including their refusal to renew the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) and their continued withholding of tax revenue that it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority have done nothing but exacerbate the security and humanitarian situations in Palestine.  

As long as the situation remains unresolved and the territories remain occupied, we run the risk of changing facts on the ground. The recent unilateral developments related to the Occupied Syrian Golan are a case in point. Final status issues cannot be pre-empted by changing the conditions and facts on the ground and must be negotiated by the parties.  

Mr President,

We commend the German presidency for highlighting issues of women during this month. When discussing issues in the Middle East, it is also important to focus on the impact of the conflict on Palestinian women. A recent study indicated that the Occupation disproportionately impacts the daily lives of Palestinian women.

In conclusion, Mr President,

The UN cannot abdicate its responsibility and outsource its core mandate of maintaining international peace and security. The UN, its membership and this Council cannot sit back and wait for a solution to be presented to it. This is not and has never been the role of the UN.

We must do all we can to carry out this vital responsibility.

I thank you.


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