Statement by the delegation of Ukraine at the UNSC Open Debate on the Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question

Statement by the delegation of Ukraine at the UNSC Open Debate on the Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question

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Statement by the delegation of Ukraine at the UNSC Open Debate on the Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question

(April 18, 2016)

From the outset, I wish to thank the Chinese Presidency for convening this Open Debate. We fully share the importance of a regular review of the situation in the Middle East by the UN Security Council.

Mr. President,

Ukraine consistently supports the Middle East peace process and the principle of a two-state solution with Israel and Palestine coexisting in peace and security.

In this regard, we are deeply concerned about the latest wave of attacks and widespread violence that has been seen since September 2015 and resulted in more than 200 casualties on both sides. The rising death toll among civilians cannot and should not be tolerated and serves as an irrefutable proof that the status-quo is just not sustainable. It is obvious that absolutely no terrorist act can be justified; yet we strongly believe that all sides must demonstrate a genuine restraint and refrain from a disproportionate use of force that could only stir up the violence and lead to increased casualties — all that can play into extremists’ hands, who are trying to undermine the fragile prospects for peace.

We are convinced that the establishment of a stable, peaceful and democratic Palestinian State is in Israel’s long-term security interests. However, the ongoing process of settlement expansion and legalization of outposts could undermine the efforts of the international community to achieve a tangible progress in the peace process.

On the other hand, we fully understand the aspirations of the people of Israel to live in peace within secure borders. Therefore, the inability of the Palestinian authorities to prevent acts of violence regularly perpetrated against Israeli citizens is of serious concern.

Let me stress our conviction that palpable progress in the peace process can only be achieved through mutual compromises and concessions reached at the negotiation table. We firmly believe that only a negotiated settlement leading to an Israeli and a Palestinian States living side by side in peace and security is realistic. For the Israelis, it means a life free from violence and everyday fear of terror. For the Palestinians, finally, a chance to live freely in a state of their own.

Mr. President,

Everybody seems to share a common vision that there is no alternative to the peace process. Supporting the efforts of the Quartet and regional countries aimed at achieving a settlement of the conflict, Ukraine stands for an early resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. We believe that direct talks between the parties is the best way for peaceful solution as no unilateral steps will solve key problems of the peace process.

At the same time, it is quite obvious that it is not enough to just demand action from the Israeli and the Palestinian sides. The ultimate success depends on a genuine commitment by all interested parties. Diplomatic efforts must be redoubled to contain and de-escalate the latest wave of violence and unlock Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

In this light, we believe that the French initiative to convene an international conference aimed at recreating the momentum for the resumption of talks deserves serious consideration.

I can also assure you that Ukraine remains steadfast in its support of any effort to restore the hope that a two-state solution can be achieved through negotiations.

Mr. President,

Speaking of a wider Middle East regional security we cannot but underscore the importance of the ongoing efforts to resolve conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

The Syrian crisis is probably the gravest regional crisis and one of the biggest security challenges the world has faced recently.

We are convinced that the final point of destination of the Syrian political process is the establishment of a credible, inclusive, non-sectarian governance transition body, followed by a new constitution and elections.

At present, we are going through a critical juncture in the efforts to reach a long overdue settlement in Syria. The ongoing second round of intra-Syrian talks in Geneva gives a hope, but at the same time underscores the challenges that lay ahead.

Where are we after the two rounds of talks? Unfortunately, the situation has not changed profoundly. We see the Syrian regime continuing its obstructive approach on each of the three pillars that form the settlement of the current Syrian crisis — the cessation of hostilities, the political transition and the humanitarian access. This casts a serious doubt on the long-term commitment of the government to engage in a credible political process.

Speaking of Yemen, we are cautiously optimistic and encouraged by the fact that the UN-brokered ceasefire that started on April 10 is holding despite minor violations. This certainly creates a conducive environment for the talks in Kuwait that set off today.

Obviously, this is just the first step and there is still a long way to go to see the conflict in Yemen ending in a sustainable settlement. Yet this step is critically important.

Still, without a meaningful dialogue during this round of talks the results may be disastrous. The only party that would benefit from this would be terrorist groups that are increasingly active in Yemen. Therefore we believe that it is also important that this opening is seized to intensify efforts to drive back Daesh and Al-Qaida in Yemen.

There is no doubt regarding the strong interlink between the deterioration of humanitarian situation, escalation of sectarian tensions in Yemen and the spread of violent extremist ideologies. While peace process and national dialogue are indispensable elements, to effectively tackle the terrorist threat focus must also be placed on improving the dire humanitarian conditions in this war-torn country.

Mr. President,

A rapidly evolving threat of violent extremism surpasses the boundaries of any region. It benefits from existing conflicts and continues to destabilize the countries across the Middle East.

We must address the underlying root causes that lead to this challenge in the first place. Therefore, to prevent further spread of violent extremism we need to work harder on the unprecedented humanitarian crisis unfolding in this part of the world. Recent refugee crisis in Europe is yet another reminder that we cannot turn a blind eye on the catastrophic humanitarian crisis unfolding in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Yemen.

I hope that the tireless efforts of the wider international community and this Council will bear results and the vicious circle of violence in the Middle East will finally be broken.