Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, during the UN Security Council Meeting on “the Situation in the Middle East”, Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Mr President,

We thank you for convening this meeting. My delegation also thanks the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Mr Nickolay Mladenov for his briefing.

Mr President,

At the outset, South Africa would like to remind the Council of the UN decisions and its own decisions taken in resolution 242 of 1967 calling for Israel to withdraw its armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict. South Africa would like to express its unwavering support for the two-state solution, and the agreed peace processes aimed at ensuring two viable states with the possibility of coexisting side by side to the mutual benefit of all peoples in the region. We also express our grave concern about the continued disregard for the prevailing and long standing Middle East Peace Process, such as the systematic foreclosing of the final status issues particularly with regard to the borders, and the status of Jerusalem.

Mr President,

South Africa believes that the continued expansion of settlements violates international law, undermines the prospects for peace, and contravenes the decision of the Security Council, effectively damaging its credibility. If the Council cannot uphold its own decisions, it begins to lose its effectiveness of purpose.  We, continue to call on the implementation of Resolution 2334 (2016), and note that overt violations of UN Security Council Resolutions usually evokes stricter measures on the party responsible for the infringement.  

Mr President,

South Africa believes that the Council ought to work towards restoring the trust in the legitimate peace process that has been pursued for decades, and prevent the further development of antagonism between the parties. The rockets fired into Israel from Gaza in recent days and the deadly Israeli responses are clear indications that as long as the impasse continues, instability will be perpetuated and more lives will be lost.

We further call for written reports by the Secretary-General on this matter, in accordance with Resolution 2334 (2016) and we look forward to the circulation of a written report ahead of the next reporting period in September. Furthermore, we also express our concern at the continued human rights violations in the occupied territories, and emphasize those violations only contribute to the festering hatred between the Palestine and Israel. We believe instead of antagonistic gestures such as the building of further barriers and walls, closing of schools and killing of civilians, the Council should encourage gestures of hope and building of trust between the parties, which have long since been lacking.

Mr President,

South Africa proposes that the Council should also re-consider its long delayed visit to the region. In this regard, Should some members of the Council be unwilling to participate in the visit, the Council should consider a ‘mini-mission’, which could include those members interested in being part of the visit. We believe a visit to the region will be a clear indication that the international community has not washed its hands of the core and oldest conflict in the Middle East. Similarly to the Council’s other field visits, it will also offer Council members an opportunity to meet relevant actors on the ground, including government and civil society role-players.

In Conclusion Mr President, South Africa remains firmly convinced that dialogue is the only viable option that can effectively address the issue of self-determination for the people of Palestine and call on this Council to implement its own resolutions, including resolution 2334. For South Africa, we remain hopeful and would continue to urge both sides to resume the peace process, for a comprehensive, just and lasting resolution of the Palestinian issue. As we approach the 75th anniversary of the United Nations and simultaneously the 75th anniversary of the UN Security Council, we should recall and implement relevant Security Council resolutions, establishing the state of Israel, which we did and the state of Palestine which we are failing to establish.

I thank you

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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