Media Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa, at the Media Stakeout following the UN Security Council Briefing & Consultations on the situation in the Middle East, including the Question of Palestine, 21 December 2020

Ladies and gentlemen of the media,

I would like to address you in my national capacity as Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations.

The Security Council just concluded its last meeting of the year on the situation in the Middle East, including the Question of Palestine. The Council was briefed by Special Coordinator, Nickolay Mladenov.

Before I address the details of the Council meeting on Palestine, I am pleased to announce that the Security Council agreed and issued this morning a Presidential Statement, S/PRST/2020/13, on cooperation between the Security Council and the International Court of justice. This follows the open debate that took place last week Friday, 18 December 2020 on promotion and strengthening the rule of law.

This is a significant statement as it:

i) Reaffirms the importance closer of cooperation between the Security Council and the ICJ

ii) Emphasises the complimentary role of the two organs in the settlement of disputes and maintenance of international peace and security

iii) Emphasises the importance of capacity building in the legal field with respect to settlement of disputes and express the appreciation of the Council for the efforts of the Court to expose young women and men through training and assist countries, especially developing countries, to develop their capacities to resolve conflicts; and finally

iv) Commemorates the 75th Anniversary of the UN and the hundredth anniversary of the Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice, which are viewed as significant milestones.

I thank all delegations for their support and constructive engagement on this PRST.

Now turning to the Question of Palestine.

South Africa is fully committed and dedicated to the Palestinian people and their existential struggle for their fundamental freedoms, human rights and their right to self-determination.

The only viable resolution to the conflict in the Middle East is a political process between the parties, on equal footing, based on internationally agreed parameters that take into account the rights, needs and aspirations of the Palestinian people.

No peace plan or initiative can have any merit or succeed if all parties to the conflict are not included in such a political process as equal partners from the very beginning.

While the recent spate of bilateral agreements which diluted the provisions of the Arab Peace Initiative was premised on the cessation of illegal annexation plans by the Government of Israel, plans continued and increasing settlement activity continue and contradicts the stated purpose of the so–called normalisation agreements.

Further, the annexation plans and settlement activities are in violation of international law and the agreed parameters for negotiations to end the occupation.

Instead, following the signing of these agreements there has been increased illegal settlement activity and destruction of Palestinian agricultural land.

While formal annexation may have been suspended, de facto annexation continues through these illegal practices.

South Africa reiterates that settlement activity is illegal under international law and UN Security Council resolutions, particularly Resolution 2334 (2016).

The Security Council should ensure compliance with all its resolutions and that all countries that fail to do so, have the requisite counter measures placed against them in terms of the UN Charter.

South Africa will continue to work with all like-minded countries to support international efforts aimed at the establishment of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state, existing side by side in peace with the State of Israel within international recognised borders, based on those existing on 4 June 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in line with all relevant UN resolutions, international law and internationally agreed parameters.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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