Discorso pronunciato dal Vice Rappresentante Permanente dell’ Italia presso le Nazioni Unite, Ambasciatore Inigo Lambertini, all Open Debate in Consiglio di Sicurezza sulla situazione in Medio Oriente, inclusa la questione Palestinese.—
I will begin my statement by reaffirming to this Council our extreme concern over the spiral of tension and violence in Jerusalem and in all of the West Bank. We mourn the tragic loss of lives among the Palestinians, with several youth killed during the recent clashes, and we reaffirm the right to peacefully demonstrate.
On the 14th of July, Italy condemned the terror attack that took place that same day in the Old City of Jerusalem. There is no justification for murders nor for glorification of violence, and therefore we welcome President Abbas’ clear condemnation of that attack. The deaths of the two policemen in the Old City of Jerusalem and those of the three Israelis in the Halamish settlement in the West Bank are also tragic.
While taking note of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s assurances that no changes to the status quo of the Holy Sites will be introduced, and stressing the special role of Jordan with regard to those Sites, we call on all parties to do their utmost to defuse the escalating violence, restore calm and uphold the status quo in the Holy Places in Jerusalem, in word and in practice. The decision by the Israeli government to remove the metal detectors goes in the right direction. We call on Israel to further coordinate with Jordan all measures concerning the Holy Places, including with regard to the enhancement of security. We also stress the importance of maintaining security cooperation between Israel and Palestine.
Let me now reiterate our full adherence to Italy’s long established position on the Middle East peace process, including with regard to the 1967 lines and to East Jerusalem as set out in the relevant conclusions of the Council of the European Union, and our unwavering support to all efforts to resume peace talks between Israel and Palestine. We believe 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.
Many obstacles need to be overcome on the road to peace. Among them, violence, as sadly confirmed by the most recent events I alluded to earlier on, and settlements deserve special consideration.
Italy has clearly expressed its concern for the intensified expansion of Israel’s settlements, following the recent approval by the Israeli Authorities of a plan to build almost a thousand housing units in a settlement in East Jerusalem. We believe that the Israeli decision runs against the two-State prospect and undermines the chance of assuring a future of peace and security to the parties.
The dire situation in Gaza deserves our utmost attention. The most recent report by the UN Country Team provides an alarming description of the “de-development” of the Gaza Strip in the last decade. Italy supports President Abbas as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian leadership, and we uphold the goal of increased pressure by the Palestinian authority on Hamas in order to retake control over the Gaza Strip and restore the whole Palestine under a single, democratic and legitimate authority. While doing so, the humanitarian consequences on the people living in Gaza must be taken into account as a priority, particularly in the health sector.
Against this demanding background, I find it appropriate to acknowledge some positive, though limited, progress. First of all, we have always believed that technical collaboration between the parties in the delivery of basic services is critical, not as a substitute for peace, but to crucially improve living conditions for all Palestinians. Therefore, it is significant that the two agreements on electricity and on water have been signed in the last days. We encourage the parties to keep working on cooperation at the ground level and to devise new joint initiatives in those areas. Secondly, we welcome the recent meeting of the envoys of the Middle East Quartet and we wish to reaffirm the contribution that the Quartet can play in order to create an environment conducive to the resumption of peace talks.
Turning to Lebanon, Mr. President, Italy commends all Lebanese parties for reaching a historic agreement on the new electoral law. We are convinced that the renewal of the Parliament next year will be a milestone in terms of strengthening Lebanon’s institutions. This will hopefully create better conditions for increasing the State presence and authority across the country, as requested by relevant Security Council resolutions. In this regard, I wish to stress the essential work carried out by UNIFIL in the South of Lebanon, faithful to its mandate, as a crucial player for the stability of the country and of a geographical area plagued by conflicts. While reiterating Italy’s firm support to the Lebanese authorities, I would finally like to acknowledge the unwavering commitment by Prime Minister Hariri and his Government to the full implementation of Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701, as also proven by their steady cooperation with the United Nations representatives and UNIFIL.
I would like to conclude by mentioning the liberation of Mosul from Daesh, undertaken by the Iraqi Government and security forces with the support of the Global Coalition, as a sign of hope in a geographical area marked by multiple crises. This result represents a landmark in the joint fight against terrorism in the Middle East and points to future achievements in the region.
While the military fight against Daesh is not over and the need to ensure protection of human rights must still be upheld, our attention should now also turn to stabilizing the territories once under the control of Daesh. Humanitarian assistance and restoration of essential services are crucial to underpin the military victory and allow the return of internally displaced persons. In perspective, reconciliation in Iraq and political transition in Syria remain the keys to prevent any resurgence of ISIL. In this regard, I wish to emphasize the need to uphold and protect the rights and freedoms of all ethnic and religious communities in the region, including the Christian communities.
I thank you.