Sir Vincent Fean writes:
Every month, the UN Security Council discusses developments in the Middle East, including Palestine/Israel. As a permanent member of the Security Council, the UK makes a statement at each session.
The latest statement can be found here and is reproduced below.
Remarkably, the 27 July statement condemns Israeli Government policy on several fronts, with much less of the “balancing” language so often used to portray the occupation as a struggle between equals rather than repressive control of one people by the army of another.
Some examples: our Government is “alarmed” by the killing of 153 Palestinians so far this year – more than the entirety of Palestinians killed in 2022, which itself was a record year. The Government is “appalled” by the unprecedented scale of illegal settlement advancement – the Israeli Government has announced 13,000 new settlement housing units so far this year, more than in the whole of 2022. Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney was right to say in 2021 that settlements = annexation.
Our Government urges Israel to “protect Palestinian communities … particularly from rising settler violence”. The reality is that violent settlers feel empowered to attack neighbouring Palestinians, knowing that National Security Minister Ben Gvir and Finance Minister Smotrich back them and tell the Israeli army to protect them.
Our Government is “concerned by the forced eviction of the Ghaith-Sub Laban family from their home in the Old City of Jerusalem”, where they have lived for decades, to make way for Israeli settlers with no connection to that land.
Our Government is equally “concerned by the provocative visit and inflammatory language” used by Minister Ben Gvir at the Haram Al-Sharif / Temple Mount on 27 July. Inflammatory means inciting violence.
Put those words together: alarmed, appalled, urges protection, concerned, provocative, inflammatory, undermine peace… all directed at the occupying power which is in breach of its responsibilities. Will there be consequences from our Government when Israel disregards these warnings from a friend? My question is rhetorical; we know the answer.
Finally, an issue on which we can hope our Government will act, not just speak: the UN Agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, is in dire financial need now. This Government statement says rightly that UN Security Council members (but not only UNSC members) must sustain UNRWA’s vital services to Palestinian refugees in the camps in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. We must hope that in addressing this fundamental humanitarian need, our Government will back up its commendably decisive words with action.
Sir Vincent Fean was UK Consul-General, Jerusalem (2010-14). He is a trustee of the Balfour Project.
Statement by Ambassador Barbara Woodward at the UN Security Council meeting on the Middle East.
All Palestinians and Israelis deserve to live in peace: UK statement at the Security Council
Statement by Ambassador Barbara Woodward at the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East.
I would like to start by thanking ASG Khiari for his briefing today.
I have three brief points to make.
First, we are alarmed by rising violence across the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which this month culminated in Israel’s operation in Jenin.
153 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli Security Forces in the West Bank since January, more than the entirety of those killed in 2022. We support the Palestinian Authority’s independent role in securing Area A of the West Bank, as agreed in the Oslo Accords.
We urge Israel to support the Palestinian Authority in this endeavour and work collaboratively to ensure the safety and protection of civilians across the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We reiterate our condemnation of all indiscriminate attacks on civilians, including recent terror attacks in Tel Aviv and Kdumim.
We are appalled by the unprecedented scale of settlement advancement in Area C of the West Bank, which we urge Israel to reverse. Settlements are illegal under international law, raise tensions, and undermine the prospects for a two-state solution.
We also urge Israel to uphold its responsibility to protect Palestinian communities in Area C, particularly from rising settler violence that has recently led to violence in Turmusaya and the relocation of the Palestinian Bedouin community of Al-Baqa.
We are concerned by the forced eviction of the Ghaith-Sub Laban family from their home in the Old City of Jerusalem. We urge Israel to desist from further settlement expansion, demolitions and evictions.
Third, the UK is concerned by the provocative visit and inflammatory language used by Israeli ministers at the Haram al-Sharif, the Temple Mount, today. We reaffirm our support for the historic status quo and Jordan’s role as custodians.
The UK calls for all actors to respect the sanctity of the holy sites and avoid actions which undermine the cause of peace.
Finally, the UK underlines our firm support to UNRWA, which has a stabilising impact on the region. We call on members of the Council to ensure critical funding gaps are filled, so that vital services continue to be provided to Palestinian refugees.
All Palestinians and Israelis deserve to live in peace and security and this can only be achieved through a two-state solution.