Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, during the UN Security Council Briefing on the situation in the Middle East, including the Question of Palestine, Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Mr President,

Please allow me to begin by thanking Mr Mladenov for his briefing on the situation in the Middle East, particularly the question of Palestine and Mr Pierre Krahenbuhl for his briefing on the status of UNWRA.

Mr President,

The security and humanitarian situation in all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory continues to be of great concern to my delegation.

This escalation of violence in Gaza has only worsened the already dismal humanitarian situation that has persisted for years.

It cannot be denied that the grave situation in Gaza is a direct result of the illegal Israeli blockade and occupation of the area. This has shattered any prospect of normal economic and social development for the two-million Palestinian people trapped in what has been called an open-air prison.

In this regard, South Africa reiterates is call for the complete lifting of the illegal Israeli blockade which continues to cause untold humanitarian, social and economic suffering for the Palestinian people.

We would like also like to acknowledge the efforts of all parties, particularly Egypt and the United Nations, through the Office of the Special Coordinator in brokering a ceasefire agreement in Gaza earlier this month.

My delegation reiterates that violence in all its forms and from all quarters is unacceptable and calls an all parties to adhere to their commitments under the ceasefire agreement in order to prevent a further escalation of violence in Gaza.

Mr President,

The cumulative impact of unilateral actions have had a destructive impact on the the lives of all who live in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and has further hindered the prospect of the long-standing aspiration for peace in the Middle East, based on established parameters.

Key amongst these actions is the continuation of illegal settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in direct contravention of a decision of this Council. Resolution 2445 is clear in stating that any settlements built on occupied land have no legal validity and are a flagrant violation of international law. The blatant paralysis in addressing systemic violations damages the credibility of this Council. My delegation, once again, reiterates its call for the full implementation of all General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, particularly resolution 2334 of 2016.

As we have just heard from Mr Krahenbuhl, UNWRA, which is tasked by the UN to assist Palestinian refugees in the region, is having immense difficulty in carrying out its mandate due to a lack of funding. This, in turn, also negatively impacts on the quality of life Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Mr President,

In conclusion Mr President, it must be unequivocally stated that any proposed peace plan should not allow Palestinian statehood to devolve into an entity devoid of sovereignty, territorial contiguity and economic viability. Doing so would severely undermine previous peace-making efforts, accelerate the demise of the two-state solution and fatally damage the cause for a durable peace for both Palestinians and Israelis alike.

As many in this Council today and on many other occasions have stated, the only credible solution to the situation in the Middle East is that of a two-state solution, within the 1967 borders and East Jerusalem as the capital of an independent Palestinian state. Every effort must be made to bring all sides to the negotiating table, to allow them to find a long-term, peaceful solution. This Council must do its part to support the parties in this endeavour and not condone any violations of its resolutions.

I thank you.

Source: Department of International Relations and Cooperation