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Security Council – Open debate on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”

Statement delivered by Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, at the Security Council Open Debate on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question” —

Madam President,

Italy remains convinced that a just and lasting peace between Israel and Palestine needs to be based on the two State solution, as the only achievable objective of direct negotiations between the two Parties. This is also consistent with the position that the European Union has been holding for years. In addition to the efforts by all relevant international actors, including those of the UN Special Coordinator and of the Quartet, we have followed with optimism the latest attempts by the United States to reach out to the parties, which we trust can pave the way for concrete outcomes. In that spirit, the positive involvement of regional actors is of paramount importance, as well as that of the rest of the international community. Against this background, we are open to considering new diplomatic schemes aimed at achieving a negotiated solution, provided that they remain within the boundaries of the Oslo framework. However, constructive efforts could be derailed by unhelpful steps on the ground: unilateral actions are to be avoided by all parties if mutual confidence is to be restored. In the meantime, we strongly support all possible practical collaboration between the parties in fields such as access to water and energy, sanitation, security, in order to improve living conditions of all Palestinians. In this context, we commend initiatives beneficial to all parties involved, such as the Red Sea-Dead Sea Project.

Madam President,

Turning to the recent developments in Lebanon, Italy encourages the Lebanese Authorities to keep working towards the consolidation of the institutions and of the economy. Following the election of President Aoun and the establishment of the new Government under Prime Minister Hariri, we encourage all Lebanese political parties to spare no efforts to reach an agreement to hold parliamentary elections by the end of 2017. That will be a crucial step to restore the full functionality of the State institutions. Let me recall, Madam President, the importance that Italy attaches to full implementation of Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701 by all Parties in Lebanon, as a cornerstone for enduring national and regional stability.

The gradual process of consolidation of the Lebanese institutions still requires the full support of the international community, and especially the active role of the United Nations. UNIFIL is an example of how valuable the United Nations work in the Middle East can be. In times of widespread conflicts, UNIFIL has managed to provide its area of operations with stability and security. Also by enhancing interaction with the population through specific activities, UNIFIL has brought substantial calm to southern Lebanon and ensured, so far, the long overdue tranquility for Israel at its northern border. Furthermore, as the Syrian conflict increased, UNIFIL and UNDOF have contributed to shelter Israel and Lebanon from the war and have proved to be a shield against the non-State actors active in the area, whose actions continue to pose a serious risk of escalation, particularly in the Syrian Golan. Averting such escalation must continue to be a key priority of the International community. This is especially felt by countries, like Italy, that contribute to the manning of UN stabilization missions there.

Madam President,

violence continues to plague Syria and cause tremendous suffering to the Syrian people. It is our collective responsibility to revitalize the chances for peace. In this regard the G7 discussions last week, and then in the G7 enlarged to some key regional stakeholders, were timely. In both occasions, convened by Minister Alfano, all countries conveyed a strong message of support to the political process and to the efforts of UN Special Envoy de Mistura, calling for a swift implementation of resolution 2254. The G7 meetings also welcomed efforts aimed at establishing a nationwide ceasefire but expressed concern at the violations of the same ceasefire. An effective cessation of hostilities must remain our objective and our priority, as they feed into the Geneva process, by creating an environment conducive to the political talks.

Madam President,

Accountability for gross and systematic violations committed in Syria is also paramount to prevent additional brutality and continued flouting of international norms. All those responsible for such breaches of international law will be held accountable. In this framework, we fully support the OPCW Fact Finding Mission investigation on the Khan Shaykhun attack and we call upon the Syrian government and all parties to cooperate fully with the OPCW to allow a prompt conclusion of its investigation.

Madam President,

I would like to conclude mentioning two issues that have a regional dimension: the fight against ISIS and the plight of refugees and migrants.
Daesh is on the defensive and losing territory, but two main challenges are now looming: stabilizing liberated areas, also in order to prevent the resurgence of Daesh, and countering the remaining threats of this transnational terrorist network, including the one of foreign terrorist fighters.

Finally, the issue of people on the move in the Middle East. Being at the forefront of the migration emergency in the Mediterranean sea, and deploying countless resources to provide migrants and refugees with life-saving assistance, Italy appreciates the immense efforts by those countries in the region, such as Lebanon and Jordan, that bear the burden of hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees and that, consequently, need the unwavering support of the international community. Any solution to a sustainable peace in the Middle East will need to address promptly and pragmatically also the plight of these people, based on the two pillars of security and solidarity.

I thank you.