The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the parties (CMP7) to the Kyoto Protocol was held in the sunny city of Durban, South Africa.

 

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Statements and Speeches

Statement by Mr. Mahlatse Mminele, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of South Africa to the UN, at the Security Council Open Debate on the Middle East Including the Palestinian Question

18 April 2016

Mr President,

Thank you for convening this debate. 

We join others in thanking the Secretary-General H.E. Mr Ban Ki-moon for his report.  Unfortunately, the reports we receive every month confirms that the situation in Palestine is deteriorating day-by-day while the international community, including this Council, remains unwilling or unable to deal with the matter.

South Africa aligns itself with the statement by the representative of Iran on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and we wish to make the following additional comments.

Mr. President,

Let me start by reiterating South Africa’s condemnation of all forms of violence regardless of who the perpetrators are and to again urge all parties to engage in dialogue.  Unfortunately, the situation on the ground in Palestine/Israel today has set back earlier gains and should the parties agree to re-start the negotiations, they will have to again focus on basic elements of peace aimed at creating an enabling environment for negotiations.  We have consistently warned that the situation on the ground will change to such a degree that the future of a two-state solution becomes more and more elusive. Unfortunately, we are perilously close to that scenario being a reality.

Mr President,

Notwithstanding this grim picture, a small glimmer of hope remains.  We noted that Israel and Jordan were able to reach an agreement to monitor Israeli activity around the Temple Mount/al-Haram-al-Sharif. This agreement is timely and we hope that it will de-escalate tensions and prevent violence, especially with Passover approaching.  It is essential that the importance of these holy sites to a variety of major religious groups be respected equally by all parties.  South Africa rejects the use of holy sites to incite violence.  Since there is no progress on negotiations, including on the status of Jerusalem and its holy sites, it is imperative to maintain the so-called post-1967 status quo.  Although far from ideal, we believe these measures will contribute to the limiting provocations and reducing violence.

Mr. President,

The Council’s failure is clearly demonstrated in the continued expansion of the Israeli settlements, which is illegal under international law.  Israel’s expropriation of land continues unabated. On 15 March 2016, Israel announced the appropriation of 579 acres (234 hectares) of land in the occupied West Bank near Jericho, the largest seizure of West Bank land in recent years.

The building of these settlements is not only contrary to international law, but they are an obstacle to a two state solution and to peace. We sincerely hope that all Council members will uphold their Charter responsibility and put an end to the illegal expropriation of land.

South Africa stands ready to work with the parties and the broader international community, including members of the Security Council, to advocate for the immediate cessation of settlement activities by Israel in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

I thank you.