UK Statement at the UN Security Council, 18 Jan 2023
Last year saw large numbers of Palestinians and Israelis killed, worsening rates of settler violence, and the emergence of new Palestinian militant groups. Unfortunately, 2023 has also started with violence and instability. In this context, the UK Minister of State, Lord Ahmad, visited Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories earlier this month. There, he underlined the UK’s support for a two-state solution and urged the parties, supported by the international community, to do all they can to de-escalate, restore calm, and rebuild trust.
To this end, Mr President, first, the parties must demonstrate through their statements and their policies a genuine commitment to peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians and to a two-state solution. This is the only way to end the conflict, preserve Israel’s Jewish and democratic identity and realise Palestinian national aspirations. The UK opposes all unilateral actions that will make peace harder to achieve, whether taken by the Palestinian or Israeli side, including the Government of Israel’s measures against the Palestinian Authority, announced on 6 January.
Second, the UK calls upon all parties to continue to uphold the historic Status Quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites. During his visit, Lord Ahmad visited Haram Al Sharif/Temple Mount. He emphasised the UK’s unwavering commitment to the Status Quo and to working with the parties to ensure the safety of all who visit. We value Jordan’s important role as custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem.
Third, we urge the leaders on both sides to promote a culture of peaceful coexistence. The desecration of 30 Christian graves in a Protestant cemetery on Mount Zion this month speaks to the dangers of increasing division along ethnic and religious lines. We are grateful to all sides for their swift condemnation of these shocking acts. As a defender of freedom of religion or belief for all, the UK urges respect for all burial and holy sites, which must be treated with dignity.
Finally, Israel must exercise maximum restraint in the use of live fire when protecting its legitimate security interest. In the first three weeks of this year, 14 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces, including 3 children.
Restoring stability and securing peace is still possible, but requires effort from all sides in a process towards a two-state solution. The UK stands ready to support these important objectives.