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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

U.S. UNITED NATIONS REPRESENTATIVE POWERS MAKES REMARKS ON UN RESOLUTIONS CONDEMNING ISRAEL

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Samantha Power
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations 
New York, NY
November 25, 2014
AS DELIVERED

Like everyone in this assembly hall, we are deeply concerned about the volatile situation in the Middle East. The United States has made an enormous effort, especially over the last year and a half, to work with the parties in trying to pave the road towards achieving a negotiated final-status agreement allowing two states to live side-by-side in peace and security.

In this context, the United States remains profoundly troubled by the repetitive and disproportionate number of one-sided General Assembly resolutions condemning Israel – a total of 18 this year. This grossly one-sided approach damages the prospects for peace by undermining trust between parties and damaging the kind of international support critical to achieving peace. All parties to the conflict have direct responsibilities for ending it, and we are disappointed that UN Members continually single out Israel without acknowledging the responsibilities and difficult steps that must be taken on all sides. These unbalanced, one-sided resolutions set back our collective efforts to advance a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the Middle East, and they damage the institutional credibility of the United Nations.

Of these annual resolutions, which unfairly single out one country and consistently lack balance, three are particularly troubling to the United States: the “Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat;” the “Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People;” and the “Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories.” These resolutions renew mandates for UN bodies established decades ago, wasting valuable resources and reinforcing the perception of systematic UN bias against Israel. All member states should evaluate the effectiveness of supporting and funding these bodies.

I do want to add that our continued opposition to the resolution on “Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and the Occupied Golan,” which will come up for a vote in this Assembly next month, should not be understood to mean that we support settlement activity. On the contrary, we reject in the strongest terms Israeli settlements in territories occupied in 1967. Settlements are illegitimate, and they damage Israel’s security and the hopes for peace.

Continued settlement activity is contrary to Israel’s stated goal of negotiating a permanent status agreement with the Palestinians and is inconsistent with Israel’s international commitments.

During the past year, we have been deeply concerned by Israel’s advancement of plans for thousands of additional housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. We have made clear that such action only draws condemnation from the international community, poisons the atmosphere not only with the Palestinians but also with the very Arab governments with which the Israeli government says it wants to build relations, and undermines the prospect for a peaceful negotiated agreement with the Palestinians.

Both sides took unhelpful steps that undercut the most recent round of final status negotiations. The scale and timing of Israel’s settlement activities contributed significantly to the erosion of trust between the parties.

The United States is in full agreement about the urgent need to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, based on the two-state solution and an agreement that establishes a viable, independent, and contiguous state of Palestine, once and for all. We’ve invested a tremendous amount of effort and resources in pursuit of this shared goal, and we firmly believe that the parties need to resolve the conflict through direct negotiations. If the parties are willing and ready to take that step, we stand ready to support them and to continue our efforts to advance the cause of peace.

In closing, while the United States unequivocally rejects Israeli settlements in territories occupied in 1967, they do not justify the repetitive, disproportionate, and one-sided General Assembly resolutions condemning Israel, which do not advance our collective efforts to advance a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

Thank you.