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Ministry for Foreign Affairs

The Situation in the Middle East



Statement by
Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson

Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations

The Situation in the Middle East

Sixty-second Session of the General Assembly

30 November 2007

First of all allow me to thank the Secretary General for his report, contained in document A/62/327 on the situation in the Middle East.

Iceland fully supports the ongoing bilateral talks between Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas and welcomes the revitalization of the Middle East Peace Process following the international meeting which took place in Annapolis. We strongly urge the parties to use this new momentum to move the peace process forward with the aim to reach a comprehensive peace settlement within the time frame established. The Quartet and members of the international community must renew their efforts to actively assist and support the parties in their endavours.

While we take due note of these positive developments, we underline that they must be matched by concrete progress and confidence building on the ground. 

Iceland is deeply concerned about the continued violence in the Middle East  which has grave implications for the humanitarian situation and continues to undermine confidence building efforts, be it in Lebanon, Iraq or Palestine.  The vicious cycle of violence in Palestine on both sides must be broken -  for the sake of the Peace Process and the security of the two populations, whether they live in Gaza, Nablus or Sdrot.

Iceland remains deeply concerned at the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza, where the vast majority is currently dependent on food assistance from UNRWA and other international organizations. We call upon the Israeli authorities to ease access in and out of Gaza for both humanitarian reasons and for commercial flows. The opening of the crossings in and out of Gaza is essential to ensure the viability of the Palestinian economy and improve the living conditions of the inhabitants.  With the renewal of the peace process ways should be sought to bring about reconciliation in order to bring Gaza back into the picture and secure the reunification of Palestinian territory which is necessary for a sustainable peace.

Furthermore, it needs to be ensured that necessary security measures do not entail collective punishment in violation of international humanitarian law. 

Settlements in East Jersualem and in the West Bank are contrary to international humanitarian law and we call upon Israel to cease all settlement activities, dismantle all the so called illegal outposts and comply otherwise with its obligations under international law, including humanitarian law, with respect to the alteration of the character and status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jeruasalem.

This applies also to the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territority, including East Jerusalem.  In this context, we would like to recall the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the construction of the wall. 

Progress in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is essential in achieving lasting stability and peace in the Middle East.  Final status issues must be on the agenda in the upcoming negotiations.  I would encourage political leaders to ensure that the will for peace among a great many people on both sides is reflected in the political process.  This requires political courage and true leadership.  It requires restraint when restraint is most difficult.  It requires a determination to outflank the spoilers on both sides, who would wish to sacrifice the real prospects of a peaceful and fulfilling life for millions to a distant mirage of some unattainable utopia. 

The preparedness of the international community to support the parties, including through timely presentation of bridging proposals is essential.   In this regard I would like to call attention to Security Council Resolution 1325 and the importance of equal participation of  women in peace processes for achieving, maintaining and promoting sustainable peace.  The international community needs to find ways to involve women in the Peace Process in a consistent and structured way.  There already exists a forum of influential women from both sides, with international figures, the International Women´s Commission for Just and Sustainable Israeli Palestinian Peace (IWC).  We would like to use this opportunity to urge the parties as well as the Quartet to consider how the peace process can benefit from influential and effective groups like the IWC.



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