Statement by Ambassador Wittig on the Middle East in the Security Council's Open Debate
(check against delivery)
I wish to thank USG Lynn Pascoe for his comprehensive briefing.
Germany aligns herself with the statement to be delivered by the Delegation of the European Union on behalf of the Union
For too long, the peoples in the Middle East have suffered from conflict and confrontation. They aspire to peace, freedom and a decent living. It is our longstanding conviction that good governance, the rule of law and religious tolerance form the basic pillars upon which durable stability and prosperity are based.
It is time to finally make decisive progress towards a peaceful solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A just, lasting and comprehensive solution is needed if we want to prevent the conflict from continuing to overshadow the lives of millions of people and from being a catalyst for extremism and violence. A continuation of the current impasse is not an option.
The aim is clear: We want to see the State of Israel and a sovereign, independent, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side-by-side in peace and security. This objective is shared by practically the entire international community and has repeatedly been endorsed by the parties themselves. We remain convinced: There is no viable alternative to the Two-State-Solution.
There is also broad international consensus about the key parameters of a solution: Borders based on the 1967-lines with agreed territorial swaps. Jerusalem as the future capital of two states. An agreed just, fair and realistic solution to the refugee question and arrangements that ensure the security both collective and individual of the Israeli and Palestinian people. The EU has repeatedly expressed its views on these issues.
Progress towards this goal is urgently needed. I would like to make four points which we believe are fundamental to making progress:
Firstly: Sustainable peace can only be achieved through negotiations. We urge both parties to return to direct negotiations and to engage in substance on final status issues. Negotiations which are being led with the aim to achieve a framework agreement within the twelve months period defined by the Middle East Quartet.
Secondly: Both sides must work hard on creating an atmosphere conducive to progress. This includes abiding by international law and previous commitments, particularly by the provisions of the Roadmap. As the EU has consistently and repeatedly made clear: The continuation of settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territories is illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace. It must stop. At the same time, the Palestinian side must refrain from incitement and violence.
Thirdly: Palestinian State Building needs to be continued. Sustainable peace will have to rest on two pillars: (1) A negotiated settlement and (2) viable institutions for the future State of Palestine. We congratulate the Palestinian National Authority on the progress achieved so far in institution building, including on implementation of the Fayyad Plan.
Fourthly: Gaza. If we are to prevent further isolation and radicalization of the population in Gaza, the policy of closure must end. Recent decisions by the government of Israel to ease access to and exports from Gaza are steps into the right direction. These decisions need to be fully implemented. Import and export flows should return to pre-2007 levels. Complimentary measures are necessary to allow for the economic recovery of Gaza while addressing Israel’s legitimate security concerns. In this respect, we call for the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1860 (2009). We remain seriously concerned about the fate of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who has been in captivity for much too long. He must be released without further delay.
Germany commends the tireless efforts and valuable services delivered by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and will this year continue its support for UNRWA by contributing an additional amount of 8 Million USD.
Finally: Strong support by the international community is crucial for progress in the peace process. What is needed is an even more active role of the Middle East Quartet. We welcome the Quartet meeting of principals in Munich, scheduled for 5 February, and expect a strong political signal in this regard. Active backing from the Arab States is necessary to create an atmosphere conducive to progress.
We need to send a clear and unambiguous message that we stick to our shared vision of two states living side by side in peace and security. We need to be clear about the parameters of such a solution and about our willingness to support its implementation as required.
The international community stands ready to invest considerably in a peaceful settlement and to help shape the way forward. But only the parties themselves can make the crucial compromises and lay the foundations for a better future. It is up to them to take the decisive steps and commit themselves unambiguously.
With regard to Lebanon, we call on all parties to abide by their obligations under resolution 1701 (2006).
I would like to recall that the decision to establish the Special Tribunal has been made following a request by Lebanon and on the basis of negotiations between Lebanon and the UN. It has been created in order to bring stability to the country and to end impunity, by prosecuting, I quote, " persons responsible for the attack of 14 February 2005 resulting in the death of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and in the death or injury of other persons". The reasons for establishing the Special Tribunal remain valid. Germany calls on all parties to support the important work of the Tribunal, to respect its independence and to refrain from political interference and coercion. The successful conclusion of the work of the Special Tribunal is essential for the long-term stability in Lebanon. Germany will continue to support the Tribunal.
Regional efforts that aim at stabilizing the situation are welcome. At the same time, we cannot compromise when it comes to justice.
Thank you, Mr. President