Thank you President, and thank you Special Coordinator Wennesland for your thoughtful briefing.
The UK is gravely concerned by increasing instability in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Since 14 November, four Israelis have lost their lives in terror attacks in the city of Ariel and in Jerusalem, including a 16 year old. There is no justification for this violence. During this time, two Palestinian minors have also been killed in the West Bank, including a 15 year-old. 141 Palestinians have now been killed by Israeli Security Forces since 1 January – the most in a single year since UN records began in 2005. In the same period, 31 Israelis have also lost their lives. Each life lost is a tragedy for all communities, particularly the families affected. So this ongoing conflict needs to be resolved for the sake of all Israelis and Palestinians alike.
The UK stands ready to support the new Israeli administration and the Palestinian Authority to deescalate and address the root drivers of conflict. The UK remains fully supportive of Israel’s right to self-defence. But Israeli Security Forces should show maximum restraint in the use of force, and investigate all Palestinian deaths.
We urge both parties to engage in meaningful dialogue, refrain from escalatory actions, and work to restore trust and a pathway towards peace and a resolution of this conflict. The UK shares the concern of others at scenes of settler violence perpetrated against Palestinians in Hebron in recent days. Settler violence must end, and we call upon Israel to hold those responsible to account.
We condemn the demolition by Israel of a primary school in Masafer Yatta. Mr. President, all children have a basic right to access education safely, and we call on the Government of Israel to uphold these rights.
Finally, I urge Israel and the Palestinian Authority to accelerate efforts to improve the economic and humanitarian conditions in the West Bank and Gaza. I welcome ongoing dialogue to address PA Clearance Revenues and call for the parties to honour their recent AHLC commitments.
The UK remains a firm supporter of a two state solution, based on 1967 lines, with Jerusalem as a shared capital, as the only way to ensure a lasting peace between the parties.
Thank you President.