Speech

Explanation of vote by Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations on Israel-Palestine

Explanation of vote by Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations on Israel-Palestine.

Mr President, The United Kingdom welcomes the adoption of resolution 2334 today - the first Security Council resolution on the Israel-Palestine issue in over seven years.

The adoption of this resolution is, first and foremost, a clear reinforcement of the international community’s conviction that a two state solution remains the only viable route to sustained Arab-Israeli peace.

As the Quartet Report in July highlighted, the foundations of peace - trust and goodwill - are being corroded for all sides because of violence, incitement, demolitions, and settlement activity.

Ultimately, as long as terrorists are treated as martyrs, peace will be distant. The scourge of anti-Semitic, racist and hateful language must be excised from the region. It is critical that the Palestinian leadership implement the recommendations of the Quartet Report and continue their efforts to tackle terror and incitement, strengthen institutions, and develop a sustainable economy. And the UK will continue to provide the Palestinian Authority with professional support in helping develop its security institutions.

But good will alone will not secure peace. Today’s resolution is a sober recognition that the two state solution is slipping away. By undermining the prospects for a contiguous Palestinian state, settlement construction is corroding the possibility of a two state solution. Since the Oslo process in 1993, the population of settlements has doubled to 570,000, including 85,000 settlers deep in the West Bank. The Quartet Report warns of sliding into “a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict”. That is no future at all.

The UK is a dear and close friend of the State of Israel. We reject all efforts to de-legitimise or undermine Israel. The movement for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions – rooted as it is in a culture of prejudice and hostility to Israel – is a barrier to peace. And my government will never support any resolution that advances the cause of boycotts or de-legitimisation in any way.

It is because of our steadfast and stalwart commitment to Israel’s security and its existence as the Jewish homeland that we voted for today’s resolution, and worked tirelessly to secure a balanced final text. We believe that Israeli settlement activity represents a clear and present danger to our shared vision of two states for two peoples. The United Kingdom’s longstanding view is that settlement expansion is illegal, and this is not in Israel’s long-term interests.

Today’s resolution also takes important and balanced steps to support peace through:

First of all, calling for immediate steps to prevent incitement and all acts of violence against civilians, including terror. And it also calls for a strengthening of efforts to combat terrorism, including through existing security coordination, as well as clearly condemning all acts of terrorism;

Second, Mr President, this resolution Calls upon both parties to act on the basis of international law and to refrain from provocative actions in order to build trust and create the conditions for peace;

And third, this resolution Calls upon all parties to exert collective efforts to launch credible negotiations on all final status issues, urging the intensification and acceleration of international and regional efforts to support a comprehensive peace.

We have long held that for negotiations to be successful, they will need to lead to a safe and secure Israel living alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state; based on 1967 borders with agreed land swaps; Jerusalem as the shared capital of both states; and a just, fair, agreed, and realistic settlement for refugees.

In closing, Mr President, we recognise that the passing of this resolution will not change the situation on the ground overnight. 2017 will not be an easy year for the Israel-Palestine issue: fifty years since the Six Day War and the subsequent occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem; and one-hundred years since my country issued the Balfour Declaration. However, we must all uphold our responsibility, as this Council has finally upheld its responsibility today, in order to deliver the long-term security that Israelis deserve, and the statehood and end to the occupation that Palestinians are calling out for.

Thank you.