Middle East, including the Palestinian Question
On 26 October, the Council held the quarterly open debate on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question” via VTC. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov briefed. He expressed concern about the decision by Israel to approve the construction of nearly 5,000 housing units in the West Bank. Mladenov also appealed to the Palestinian Authority to resume security and financial cooperation with Israel, noting that the lack of cooperation had worsened the threat of COVID-19 in the area.
On 25 August, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov briefed on “The Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question” (S/2020/837). Mladenov noted that the Secretary-General had welcomed the agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel to normalise relations between them and to stop Israeli plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.
On 21 July, Council members held the quarterly open debate on “The Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question” in open VTC format (S/2020/736). The briefers were Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov; Daniel Levy, President of the US/Middle East Project; and Khalil Shikaki, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah.
On 20 May, Security Council members held an open VTC, followed by a closed VTC, on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question” (S/2020/430). Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov briefed. He told Council members that: “The continuing threat of annexation by Israel of parts of the West Bank would constitute a most serious violation of international law, deal a devastating blow to the two-State solution, close the door to a renewal of negotiations, and threaten efforts to advance regional peace and our broader efforts to maintain international peace and security”.
On 23 April, Council members held an open VTC on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov briefed. He expressed concern about threats of annexation of part of the West Bank by Israel and maintained that such a course of action would have a devastating impact on the possibility of a two-state solution (S/2020/341).
On 11 February, the Council held a briefing to discuss US President Donald Trump’s newly released “Vision for Peace” for Israel and Palestine. Secretary-General António Guterres, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon, and UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov were among the participants. Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs and of Defence Philippe Goffin presided over the meeting. On 24 February, the Council received its regularly scheduled briefing from Mladenov. He shared his considerable concern over the increase in violence, in particular a series of confrontations that began on 23 February at the Gaza border between Israeli Defense Forces and alleged members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, involving the firing of rockets from Gaza. Israel responded with strikes on Palestinian Islamic Jihad targets south of Damascus. Mladenov called for an end to rocket firing. After the briefing, Council members continued the discussion in closed consultations. Following consultations, the president of the Council read press elements that had been agreed on by Council members.
On 21 January and 22 January, the Security Council held an open debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question (Resumption 1). Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, and Ursula Mueller, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, briefed. Both DiCarlo and Mueller spoke about the negative impact of the increase in Israeli settlements and the demolition of Palestinian structures. Member states spoke on various topics, ranging from the need for the Security Council to act in support of the two-state solution to regional developments such as protests in Iran.
On 20 November, the Council held a briefing on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. Nickolay Mladenov, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, briefed. Tania Hary, Executive Director of the Gisha Legal Centre for Freedom of Movement, also briefed. Members then held consultations. Just prior to the meeting, Ambassador Karen Pierce (UK) made a statement to journalists on behalf of the EU members of the Security Council (Belgium, France, Germany, Poland and the UK) in which she reiterated their common position on Israeli settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territories, stressing that all settlement activity is illegal under international law.
On 28 October, the Council held its quarterly open debate on Israel/Palestine. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov opened his statement by saying that there had been no progress towards the realisation of a two-state solution. He said that while there were severe humanitarian problems, the core of the crisis is political and there must be a political solution. The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, Naledi Pandor, presided over the open debate.
On 20 September, the Security Council held its monthly meeting under the agenda item, “the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov briefed the Council on the lack of implementation of resolution 2334 (2016). Riad Malki, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Observer State of Palestine, participated in the meeting along with Permanent Representative and Ambassador of Israel Danny Danon. It was the first meeting attended by new US Ambassador Kelly Knight Craft, who said that Israel will “always have a friend” in her.
Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov briefed the Council on 27 August by videoconference from Jerusalem. He worried that the peace process was experiencing a complete deadlock and tensions were rising.
On 23 July, the Council held its quarterly open debate on the situation in the Middle East. Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo briefed. She urged member states to make a conducive environment for peace talks. Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump’s special envoy and Special Representative for International Negotiations, spoke on behalf of the US and urged member states to reserve judgement on Trump’s proposed peace plan, though still not saying when it may be released. The representative of Senegal also participated in his capacity as Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and used the meeting to condemn the recent demolition of Palestinian homes. This was echoed by many speakers. While most spoke about the Palestinian question, the representative from Israel focused his remarks on Iran and what he called the “duty to preserve the forces of order by confronting the forces of chaos”.
Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov gave his tenth report on the implementation of resolution 2334 on 20 June. It was an oral presentation only, which remains a contentious issue for member states. Mladenov noted that during the reporting period there was the largest settlement advancement in two years. Mladenov was worried about the fiscal viability of the Palestinian Authority under the continued withholding of tax revenue by Israel. He noted serious movement and access constraints in Gaza on the staff of UN agencies and NGOs.
The permanent missions of Indonesia, Kuwait and South Africa organised an Arria-formula meeting on 9 May entitled “Israeli Settlements and Settlers: Core of the Occupation, Protection Crisis and Obstruction of Peace”. Present at the meeting were Indonesia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Retno Marsudi; the Foreign Minister of the Observer State of Palestine, Riyad al-Maliki; the US special representative for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt; and many other representatives from both Council members and the wider UN membership. Four panellists spoke about the history and legal ramifications of Israeli settlements. At the end of the meeting, Marsudi said that a summary would be written to assist the Council in further deliberation on the issue.
The Council held its quarterly open debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, on 29 April. Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo briefed. She spoke on many issues, including the plight of women in Gaza. Additionally, Gidon Bromberg and Nada Majdalani, the Israeli and Palestinian co-Directors of the NGO EcoPeace Middle East, briefed on the difficult environmental situation in Gaza, especially concerning water. Many UN members also participated, including Israel and the Observer State of Palestine. Often repeated topics included the situation around the Golan Heights, the worsening financial crisis for the Palestinians, and the humanitarian situation of the Palestinians.
There were two meetings on Israel/Palestine in March. On 8 March, Council members met under “any other business” to discuss an ongoing disagreement between Israel and Palestine on tax collection, as requested by Indonesia and Kuwait. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov took part in the meeting and stressed that the actions being taken could have economic and security implications as well as an effect on any political dialogue. On 21 March, Trump announced via Twitter that it was time for the US to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and officially did so in a presidential proclamation on 25 March. On 26 March, Mladenov presented his ninth report on implementation of resolution 2334 (2016) to the Council. He presented a written report, S/2019/251; the first since June 2018. Several members publicly thanked the Secretariat for the second written report.
On 20 February, the Security Council held a briefing, followed by consultations, on the Middle East (Israel/Palestine). Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov briefed the Council via video teleconference. He reviewed developments on the ground and said that a heavy toll is being exacted on Palestinian society by unilateral measures, unceasing violence, and financial pressures. Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Ursula Mueller also briefed on this issue for the first time in several months. She urged progress toward a political solution and for member states to increase support for the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan.
On 22 January, the Security Council held its quarterly open debate on the Middle East (Israel/Palestine). Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov briefed the Council via video teleconference. Mladenov urged continued attention to “dangerous dynamics” on the ground, especially highlighting the impact of Israeli settlements. He also stressed the importance of intra-Palestinian reconciliation efforts.
On 18 December, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov briefed the Council that settlement activity had continued in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and that this is a major obstacle to peace and a violation of international law. He also “warn[ed] of the dangerous escalation of terrorist attacks, clashes, and violence in the West Bank”.
At the request of Bolivia and Kuwait, Council members received a briefing on 13 November under “any other business” on the recent violence between the parties. Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Miroslav Jenča briefed. He recounted the developments of the previous three days, culminating in the 13 November ceasefire. He further emphasised the need for the parties to maintain this ceasefire, spoke about the dire economic and humanitarian situation in Gaza, and reiterated the need to promote political dialogue between the parties based on a two-state solution. On 19 November, the Council held its monthly meeting on the Middle East (Israel/Palestine) (S/PV.8405). Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov provided the briefing (via video teleconference from Jerusalem), which was followed by statements from Council members. Mladenov called for calm in light of the escalation of violence that had occurred between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza from 11 to 13 November. He further observed that continued settlement-building undermined the prospects for peace.
On 18 October, the Security Council held its quarterly open debate on the Middle East (Israel/Palestine) (S/PV.8375 and Resumption 1). Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov, and Hagai El-Ad, an Israeli human rights activist who serves as the Executive Director of B’Tselem, briefed the Council. Mladenov, who briefed via video teleconference, expressed significant concerns about the current situation, which he said is “sliding into a one-State reality of perpetual occupation and violence that does not serve peace.”
On 20 September, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov briefed the Council during the monthly meeting on the Middle East (Israel/Palestine) on the quarterly report on the implementation of resolution 2334. Mladenov said that in the preceding quarter no steps had been taken by Israel to cease settlement activity. He also described the continuing violence along the fence separating Gaza and Israel. While criticising Hamas and other groups for firing rockets into Israel, he expressed concern at the continued use of live fire by Israel.
On 22 August, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo briefed the Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. The briefing was followed by consultations. DiCarlo noted that the UN had worked with Egypt and other regional and international actors to prevent another outbreak of fighting in Gaza. She called on the parties to enable humanitarian supplies to reach the Gaza, saying that such “supplies should not be held hostage to political and security developments”. She thanked member states who had taken measures to help address the shortfall in funding facing the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and called on others to enhance their support.
On 24 July, the Council held its quarterly open debate under the agenda item “the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov briefed via video teleconference. He emphasised the need to de-escalate tensions over Gaza to avoid the outbreak of another Gaza War.
On 1 June, the Council voted on but failed to adopt two competing and starkly different draft resolutions on the situation in Gaza and how to protect Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The first, a Kuwaiti draft was vetoed by the US, received ten affirmative votes, and then four abstentions (Ethiopia, the Netherlands, Poland and the UK). The second draft was proposed by the US initially took the form of a text containing 31 proposed amendments to the Kuwaiti draft resolution. The US cast the sole affirmative vote for its resolution; three members (Bolivia, Kuwait and Russia) voted against the draft, while the remaining members abstained. On 19 June, the US withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council, citing anti-Israel bias. On 19 June, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov presented the sixth quarterly report on the implementation of resolution 2334 and for the first time a written report served as a basis for the briefing. Previously, reporting was done only orally.
On 15 May, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov briefed the Council via video teleconference in a meeting requested by Kuwait, focusing on developments in Gaza, where over 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces the day before. On 23 May, Mladenov provided the scheduled monthly briefing on Israel/Palestine via video teleconference. He described plans for addressing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Consultations followed the briefing. On 30 May, at the request of the US, Mladenov briefed the Council on rocket and mortar fire by militants from Gaza into Israel on 29 May, to which Israel had responded by firing rockets on militant sites in Gaza.
On 26 April, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov briefed at the quarterly open debate on the Middle East.
On 26 March, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov presented the fifth report on the implementation of resolution 2334. During the reporting period, Israel advanced 22 plans for some 1,500 housing units in Area C settlements and around a dozen units were approved for construction.
On 14 February, Council members received a briefing via video teleconference under “any other business” from Special Coordinator Nickolay Mladenov on the situation in Gaza, requested by Bolivia and Kuwait. On 20 February, the Security Council held its monthly meeting under the agenda item, “the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”. Mladenov briefed the Council, following opening remarks from UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also addressed the Council. On 22 February, Kuwait, Bolivia, France and Sweden hosted an Arria-formula meeting entitled, “Prospects for the two-State solution for peace”. A statement was delivered on behalf of former US President Jimmy Carter by Ambassador Richard Murphy, followed by briefings by former UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry, former Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees Karen AbuZayd, and Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council Jan Egeland.
On 25 January, the Council held its quarterly open debate under the agenda item, “the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nikolay Mladenov briefed via video teleconference from Jerusalem.
On 18 December 2017, the Council voted on a draft resolution, tabled by Egypt and drafted with the Palestinians, in reaction to the 6 December declaration by US President Donald Trump that the US would recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move its embassy there from Tel Aviv. The resolution was drafted following bilateral discussions between the Palestinian delegation and various Council members. The draft obtained 14 affirmative votes but was vetoed by the US. Following the US veto, Yemen, which serves as Chair of the Arab Group, and Turkey, Chair of the Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, sent a letter to the President of the General Assembly requesting the resumption of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly on “Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory” under “Uniting for Peace”. Yemen also presented a draft resolution that was very similar to the draft that was vetoed by the US. On 21 December, the General Assembly adopted the resolution with 128 votes in favour, 9 votes against, 35 abstentions and 21 absences. On 22 December, Ukraine and the US co-sponsored an Arria-formula meeting on “Humanitarian aspects of missing and captive persons in Gaza”. On 18 December, Special Coordinator Mladenov briefed the Council on the fourth report on the implementation of resolution 2334 on Israeli settlements. He said housing construction in occupied Palestinian territory has continued, with significantly more units advanced and approved in 2017. Overall, he said that the conflict has not seen significant positive moves towards peace during the reporting period, 20 September to 18 December 2017.
On 20 November, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov briefed the Council in the regular monthly meeting under the agenda item “the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question” (S/PV.8108). The briefing was followed by consultations.
On 18 October, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Miroslav Jenča briefed the Council in the quarterly open debate on the Middle East.
On 25 September, Special Coordinator Mladenov briefed the Council on the quarterly report on the implementation of resolution 2334 on Israeli settlements. He reported that during the preceding three months, Israel had not stopped settlement activities, as called for by resolution 2334 and that in occupied East Jerusalem, plans were advanced for more than 2,300 housing units in July, 30 percent more than for the whole of 2016.
On 22 August, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Miroslav Jenča briefed the Council on the situation in Israel/Palestine. The meeting was followed by consultations.
On 25 July, the Council convened for its regular quarterly open debate on the Middle East (S/PV.8011 and Resumption 1). Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov briefed, focusing on the increased tensions around the Haram al-Sharif compound in Jerusalem and related violence. A day earlier, Mladenov briefed Council members on the same issue under “any other business”, at the request of Egypt, France and Sweden. He also briefed under “any other business” on 12 July on the situation in Gaza, at the request of the Secretariat.
On 20 June, the Council held its monthly briefing under the agenda item, “the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov briefed on the implementation of resolution 2334 on Israeli settlements, adopted on 23 December 2016, which requested the Secretary-General to report on its implementation every three months. Council president Bolivia also invited three other briefers, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War and Israel’s occupation of Palestinian and Arab territories. They included Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit; Lakhdar Brahimi, who will be representing the Elders, an independent group of global leaders working together for peace and human rights; and Michael Doran, a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute.
On 26 May, the Council held its regular monthly briefing on the situation in the Middle East, focusing on Israel/Palestine, with the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nikolay Mladenov. The meeting was followed by consultations.
On 20 April, the Security Council held its regular quarterly open debate under the agenda item “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.” Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov briefed. Ahead of the meeting, on 10 April, the US circulated a concept note with potential topics that could be highlighted in lieu of focusing the debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
On 24 March, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nikolay Mladenov, during the regular monthly meeting on the Middle East, briefed the Council on the implementation of resolution 2334, on Israeli settlements. He reported that no steps had been taken to comply with the resolution.
On 16 February, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nikolay Mladenov briefed the Council via video-teleconference in the regular monthly meeting on the Middle East.
On 8 January, Council members issued a press statement condemning in the strongest terms the terrorist attack in Jerusalem that day in which four Israelis were killed and 15 injured. On 17 January, the Council held its quarterly open debate on the Middle East, with Special Coordinator Nickolay Mladenov briefing. At the request of Bolivia, Mladenov also briefed Council members under “any other business” on 25 January on Israeli settlements following Israel’s approval of 2,500 new housing units in the West Bank a day earlier.
The Council held its regular monthly meeting on the Middle East on 23 November. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov briefed.
On 14 October, elected member Malaysia, along with Angola, Egypt, Senegal and Venezuela, hosted an Arria-formula meeting entitled “Illegal Israeli Settlements: Obstacles to Peace and the Two-State Solution”. On 19 October, Special Coordinator Nickolay Mladenov and OCHA head Stephen O’Brien briefed the Council at its regular quarterly open debate on the Middle East, with a focus on Israel/Palestine.
On 29 August, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov briefed the Council in the regular monthly meeting, which was followed by consultations.
On 6 May, Egypt, together with Angola, Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela, held an Arria-formula meeting on the protection of the Palestinian civilian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which was open to all member states. On 25 May, Special Coordinator Niklolay Mladenov briefed the Council during the regular monthly meeting on the Middle East, which was followed by consultations).
On 18 April, the Council held its quarterly debate on the Middle East, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefing on his trip to the region in late March (S/PV.7673 and Resumption 1). Ban said that the demolition of Palestinian homes and businesses in the West Bank were continuing at an alarming rate and plans for more illegal Jewish settlements cast doubt on Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution. He also reported on the six-month surge in deadly violence in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, triggered by individual attacks perpetrated by Palestinians, which he condemned. He also reported that the Middle East Quartet was moving forward on a report that would review the situation and threats to a two-state solution, and provide recommendations on how to move forward.
On 24 March, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov briefed the Council in the regular monthly meeting, where he warned that amid escalating violence, the international community must move beyond mere condemnations and send a clear message to both sides that a two-State solution was the best road to peace, but acknowledged that the possibility of a two-state solution was diminishing. He also reported that the Middle East Quartet, stepping up efforts to break the political impasse, have begun work on a report that would review the situation on the ground, identify dangers to a two-State solution and provide recommendations on the way forward.
There were three briefings under “any other business” in February, all at the request of Venezuela. DPA briefed on illegal settlements and the demolition of Palestinian houses on 5 February and on Israeli settlements in the occupied territories and international protection to Palestinian people there on 16 February. OCHA head Stephen O’Brien briefed on the humanitarian situation and the situation of Palestinian children on 25 February. Following the 5 February briefing, Venezuela circulated a draft press statement on the issues discussed. However, consensus could not be reached and the statement was not issued. On 18 February, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman briefed the Council during the regular monthly meeting on the Middle East, which was followed by consultations.
On 16 December, the Council held its regular monthly meeting on the Middle East. Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Miroslav Jenča briefed, stating that the current circumstances and bloodshed on an almost daily basis should not be accepted as the new normal. He condemned all terrorist acts but emphasised a need to address primary elements motivating Palestinian anger. He noted that Israeli statements on commitments to a two-state solution have yet to be followed by actions demonstrating the sincerity of that commitment, and meanwhile in Gaza Palestinian militants fired 10 rockets towards Israel over the past month and Israel conducted four airstrikes. He concluded that “we continue to look to the Security Council for any additional guidance on developing a new peace architecture for resolving the conflict.”
Special Coordinator Nickolay Mladenov briefed the Council from Jerusalem via video teleconference during the regular monthly meeting on 19 November (S/PV.7562). According to the briefing, over the past month, Palestinians had carried out 35 reported attacks, that left six Israelis dead and 36 injured while in clashes across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, 11 Palestinians had been killed and more than 3,500 injured. In Gaza, he said, the security situation had been relatively calm. While current conditions made a return to negotiations a challenging prospect and required Israel to make substantial policy changes on the ground, the Middle East Quartet remained the principal international entity to support negotiations towards a comprehensive and just resolution of the conflict, he added. Mladenov also requested that the Council provide any additional guidance on new peace architectures.
On 16 October, at Jordan’s request, the Council was briefed by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Tayé-Brook Zerihoun on the escalation of tensions and violence in the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, including the killing of Israelis and Palestinians. The occupation and diminishing prospects for achieving Palestinian statehood had transformed simmering Palestinian anger into outright rage, Zerihoun said, compounded by dire economic circumstances and expanding settlement activities. On 21 October, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefed Council members in consultations via video teleconference from Amman in an emergency meeting on the situation and his visit to the region, which included meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. On 22 October, Spain’s foreign minister José Manuel García-Margallo presided over the ministerial-level quarterly open debate on the Middle East (S/PV.7540 and Resumption 1). Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson briefed saying that 47 Palestinians and seven Israelis had been killed, and more than 5,000 Palestinians and 70 Israelis injured since the beginning of October. The crisis would not have erupted, he said, if Palestinians had hope of a viable state of their own. The de-escalation of violence together with urgent and real progress towards a negotiated two-state solution are crucial, he said.
Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov briefed the Council from Jerusalem via video teleconference during the regular monthly meeting on 15 September. He remarked that frustration, fear and violence have continued to spiral, undermining belief in finding a way out of the impasse. The situation on the ground remains precarious despite efforts by Israel in recent months to ease some restrictions in the West Bank and Gaza, he said. Sporadic rocket and missile exchanges between Israel and Gaza continue, as do clashes between Palestinians and Israeli settlers in the West Bank. August saw the highest number of demolitions since June 2010, with 142 Palestinian-owned structures demolished and more than 200 Palestinians displaced. On 17 September, Council members issued a press statement that expressed grave concern regarding escalating tensions in Jerusalem, including clashes in and around the Haram al-Sharif compound, and called for upholding the compound’s historic status quo.
On 19 August, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman briefed the Council in the regular monthly meeting on the Middle East. Feltman said the risk of escalation in Israel and Palestine is palpable and that a comprehensive approach on the ground, in the region and with the international community is needed to restore confidence, before returning to realistic negotiations. On the Israeli side, that should reflect significant policy shifts to enable Palestine’s sovereignty, economy and security to grow while on the Palestinian side, unity is critical, he said. On recent events, he briefed that violence continued, including incidents that resulted in Palestinian casualties as well as attacks on Israelis and Israeli security forces. Israel’s practice of demolishing homes and structures also continued.
On 20 July, Security Council members Jordan and Malaysia convened an Arria-formula meeting on Gaza intended to draw attention to the fact that since the 51-day Israeli offensive “Operation Protective Edge” against Gaza one year ago, little or no recovery or reconstruction has taken place, and that the situation of civilians in Gaza is unsustainable. The speakers were Vance Culbert (in person) and Wafaa Karfana (via a pre-recorded video message) of the Norwegian Refugee Council, an organisation that works on community protection in Gaza; Tania Hary from Gisha, an Israeli organisation focused on protecting the freedom of movement of Palestinians, especially Gaza residents; Sara Roy from the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University; and Ardi Imseis (via pre-recorded video message) who spoke as an independent expert on accountability issues and was formerly a legal officer for UNRWA—the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. On 23 July, New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully presided over the Council’s quarterly open debate on the Middle East. Special Coordinator Nickolay Mladenov reported that the current situation on the ground was not sustainable and the two-state solution remained under threat, including from settlement construction, security incidents, occupation-related violence and lack of Palestinian unity, he said. In the absence of a political process, the rise of violent extremist and terrorism in the region presented further danger. Mladenov also stressed the need to end unilateral activities in the West Bank, including settlement construction, so-called legalisation of outposts, demolitions and evictions.
On 24 June, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman briefed the Council in the regular monthly meeting on the Middle East. Feltman cautioned that “accepting a fatalistic narrative on the…conflict will only accelerate a deterioration of the situation.” He remarked that the Secretary-General was encouraged by the recent reaffirmations by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of his commitment to “the idea of a sustainable two-State solution”, but that such a pledge must be translated into action, including a halt to unilateral activities in the West Bank. Feltman reported the situation in the West Bank remained tense and that homes there continued to be demolished. In Gaza, progress on reconstruction remained too slow, with additional funding needed before September. He also expressed hope that the Commission of Inquiry’s report would contribute to bringing justice to victims of the 2014 conflict.
On 19 May, in his first monthly briefing to the Council as Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov warned that given the vicious tide of terror and extremism in the region, it was even more critical for Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate a two-state solution and end actions that imperil an agreement. He called on the new Israeli government to take credible steps, including a freeze of settlement activity, and reiterated the necessity of continued security cooperation. He also reported on growing tensions in the West Bank, and the slow pace of reconstruction in Gaza.
On 21 April, Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Judeh presided over the Council’s quarterly open debate on the Middle East. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefed. Ban urged the incoming Israeli government to reaffirm commitment to the two-state solution and take credible steps to foster an environment conducive to meaningful negotiations, including a freeze of settlement activity. He also welcomed an agreement reached to allow the transfer of more than $470 million in tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority and called for progress in Palestinian reconciliation and alleviation of the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Ban also expressed concern that clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians continued in the West Bank. In their interventions, speakers agreed on the urgency of resolving the conflict through a two-state solution and called for action on the part of the Council, including possibly through a resolution to move negotiated progress forward. Most speakers also called for an end to settlement activities in the West Bank and for alleviating the situation in Gaza. Many also stressed the need to ensure Israel’s security. On 28 April, under “any other business”, Council members discussed the 27 April letter from the Secretary-General that transmitted a summary of the findings of the UN Board of Inquiry into a number of incidents that occurred in Gaza and southern Israel between 8 July and 26 August 2014, affecting or involving UN personnel, premises and operations.
In his final briefing as Special Coordinator, Robert Serry on 26 March briefed the Council in the regularly monthly Middle East meeting. He urged the Council to take the lead on the issue and to present a framework for negotiations as perhaps “the only way to preserve the goal of a two-state solution”, noting that during his tenure, the Council had passed only two resolutions on the matter, neither of which had offered a strategy. He recalled that all three stalled negotiations, had been followed by wars in Gaza, called for a new strategy that prioritised Gaza and warned that persistent illegal settlement activity could kill the prospects for peace. On recent events, he briefed on Israel’s 17 March elections, expressing concern at remarks by the Prime Minister, which raised serious doubts about Israel’s commitment to the two-state solution, and he urged the incoming Israeli Government to seize the opportunity of a fresh mandate to quickly demonstrate that commitment.
On 18 February, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman briefed the Council in the regular monthly meeting on the Middle East (S/PV.7386). Feltman remarked that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians continues to threaten further escalation, which could potentially have irreversible consequences for both parties and for the two-state solution. He also reported that the Palestinians are facing acute fiscal challenges that must be urgently addressed and that in February, the Israeli government announced that, for a second month, it would withhold the transfer of the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in retaliation for the Palestinian accession to the ICC. Feltman also reported that the Middle East Quartet met on 8 February to prioritise the urgent resumption of negotiations and a strengthening of its engagement to prepare for a revival of the peace process. Turning to Gaza, he stated that the Secretary-General continues to be very concerned about the fragile security situation, the volatile political dynamics and the persistently slow pace of reconstruction.
On 15 January, the Council held its regular quarterly open debate on the situation in the Middle East (S/PV.7360). Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen briefed the Council, warning that “the increasingly antagonistic and virulent nature of the discourse between the two sides should be cause for serious concern among those seeking to foster an environment conducive to a return to constructive dialogue”. He stressed that the international community must uphold its responsibility to play a role in moving the parties forward towards the two-state solution. On Gaza he noted that the ceasefire agreement between the parties remains perilously fragile, and there are no indications that a return to talks under Egyptian auspices is on the immediate horizon.
The Council issued a press statement on 12 December 2014, expressing their sorrow at the death of Palestinian Minister Ziad Abu Ein, which occurred after a demonstration in the village of Turmus Ayya (SC/11699). The Council was briefed on Israel/Palestine by Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry on 15 December 2014 (S/PV.7399). It was his last regular monthly Middle East briefing of 2014, a year that he described as “dramatic”, as serious efforts to achieve a negotiated settlement stalled, there was a devastating 51-day war in Gaza and violence and tension increased throughout the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, where he described the situation as “explosive”. On 30 December, the Council held a meeting to vote on a draft resolution (S/2014/916) put forward by Jordan, calling for an end to the Israeli occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories by the end of 2017 (S/PV.7354). Argentina, Chad, Chile, China, France, Jordan, Luxembourg and Russia voted in favour; Lithuania, Nigeria, Republic of Korea, Rwanda and the UK abstained; and the US and Australia voted against.
On 17 November, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen briefed the Council at the regular monthly meeting on the Middle East (S/PV.7312). Toyberg-Frandzen briefed on the tensions surrounding access to the holy sites in Jerusalem and recent violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank. He also reported on an increase in demolition of Palestinian buildings, continuing Israeli settlement expansion and reconstruction efforts in Gaza. On 19 November, the Council issued a press statement, proposed by the US, on “the despicable terrorist attack in a synagogue in Jerusalem” that occurred a day earlier in which four innocent civilians worshipping and a police officer were killed (SC/11660). In the statement, Council members strongly condemned all such acts of violence, expressed concern about increased tensions, which have affected both the Israeli and Palestinian people, and urged all sides to take immediate steps to restore calm. They also encouraged Israeli and Palestinian leaders and citizens to work together to lower tension, reject violence, avoid all provocations and seek a path toward peace.
The Council met for its quarterly debate on the Middle East on 21 October (S/PV.7281). Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefed following a trip to the region, which included his first visit to Gaza since this summer’s conflict and his participation in a Gaza reconstruction conference held in Cairo on 12 October. He addressed the reconstruction efforts and the immediate need for humanitarian relief in Gaza. He urged an end to the nearly 50-year occupation of the enclave, the full lifting of the blockade against it and for a solution to Israel’s legitimate security concerns. Council members also met informally at expert-level on 15 October to discuss a draft resolution circulated on 30 September by Arab Group representative Jordan, which calls for a comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the full withdrawal of Israel from all of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 by November 2016, for an independent Palestinian state, a resolution of the status of Jerusalem as the capital of two states and a resolution of the problem of the Palestine refugees. On 29 October, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman briefed the Council at an urgent public meeting on rising tensions in East Jerusalem and continuing Israeli settlement expansion, held at the request of Jordan (S/PV.7291).
On 16 September the Council was briefed on the situation by Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry, during the monthly meeting on the Middle East (S/PV.7266). Serry characterised the situation in Gaza as worryingly fragile and advocated that the calm brokered in Cairo be solidified through continuing talks under Egyptian auspices to resolve outstanding issues.
On 6 August, Council members discussed a draft resolution on Gaza, put in blue by Jordan, under “any other business”. The draft was discussed several times over the course of the month but has not been put to a vote. Since the Jordanian draft went into blue, two other proposed drafts have been discussed—one drafted by France, the UK and Germany, and another drafted by the US. On 18 August Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry briefed the Council, warning that “the slide towards a state of permanent conflict and hopelessness must be halted at once,” and that the restive situation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, together with the Gaza crisis serve as a bleak warning of what the future may bring if the current negative trend towards a one-state reality is not reversed. The briefing was followed by consultations. On 20 August Council members discussed the Gaza conflict again under “any other business” following the 19 August collapse of an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire. Afterwards, elements to the press were read in which members of the Council expressed grave concern at the return to hostilities, called upon the parties to prevent the situation from escalating and to reach an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and offered full support to the Egyptian initiative.
The Council met several times in July to address the conflict in Gaza. On 1 July, Council members issued a press statement condemning in the strongest terms the killing of three Israeli teenagers and urging parties to refrain from steps that could further destabilise the situation. The following day, a Palestinian teenager from East Jerusalem was abducted and killed in an apparent retaliatory attack. Council members responded with another press statement expressing sorrow and condemnation for the killing and calling for immediate calm. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefed on 10 July and two days later Council members issued a press statement that called for de-escalation; reinstitution of the November 2012 ceasefire; respect for international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians; and support for the resumption of direct negotiations. The Council met again on 18 July in a debate at which Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman briefed. On 20 July, Council members met in consultations, after which agreed elements were read to the press that reiterated many of the views expressed in the 12 July press statement, as well as emphasising the need to improve the humanitarian situation, expressing serious concern at the growing number of casualties and calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities. On 22 July, the Council held its regular quarterly open debate on the situation with the Secretary-General briefing by video teleconference from Ramallah, and over 40 member states participated. The Council convened again on 28 July (S/PV.7225) to adopt the first formal Council outcome—a presidential statement—on Israel/Palestine since early 2009 (S/PRST/2014/13). The statement, among other things, called for respect of international humanitarian law; expressed support for an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire into the Eid al-Fitr period and beyond; called on parties to engage in efforts to achieve a durable ceasefire; emphasised that civilian and humanitarian facilities be respected and protected; and called for the full implementation of resolution 1860. On 22 July, Jordan, acting on behalf of the Arab League, circulated a draft resolution that also called for an immediate ceasefire but entailed a more comprehensive response to the crisis than the presidential statement. It called for renewed efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace based on the vision of two states based on pre-1967 borders; for the lifting of Israeli restrictions on the movement of persons and goods; for all parties to abide by international humanitarian law; and for the cessation of military reprisals, collective punishment and excessive use of force against Palestinians. Council members met to negotiate the text and a revised version was circulated on 25 July. While negotiations were continuing, at press time a vote on the text had not yet been scheduled. On 31 July the Council met for an urgent meeting on the humanitarian situation in Gaza, a day after Israel’s shelling of an UNRWA shelter. Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos and Comissioner-General of UNRWA Pierre Krähenbühl briefed the Council via video teleconference and telephone, respectively (S/PV.7232). The briefing was followed by consultations.
On 23 June, the Council held a briefing and consultations on the situation in the Middle East (S/PV.7204). Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman briefed the Council. That same day, the US blocked a press statement put forward by Jordan that condemned the killing of Palestinians by Israeli forces during a security sweep.
On 20 May, the Council held a briefing and consultations on the situation in the Middle East (S/PV.7178). Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernández-Taranco focused his remarks on the failure of the nine-month long US-brokered peace talks between Israel and Palestine and said without a credible political horizon the Oslo paradigm is in jeopardy—in reference to the two-state solution. He added that parties could not be rushed back to the table without proper parameters in place.
On 29 April, Special Coordinator Robert Serry briefed the Council during its quarterly open debate on the Middle East. His comments focused on recent developments related to the nine-month long US-brokered peace talks between Israel and Palestine that had collapsed and ended without a comprehensive agreement or any agreement to continue talks.
On 18 March, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman briefed (S/PV.7140) the Council on the need to open a political horizon for the two-state solution was becoming more urgent as conditions on the ground continue to worsen.
On 25 February, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman briefed the Council, followed by consultations. He reported that US Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to forge a framework proposal as a basis for continued negotiation is reaching a defining moment and potentially will provide a credible horizon to achieve the two-state solution.
On 20 January Jordan’s foreign minister presided over the Council’s quarterly open debate on the Middle East. The Secretary-General briefed and said, in reference to the US framework for the peace process, that the year 2014 would be decisive in helping Israelis and Palestinians draw back from a perilous and unsustainable status quo.
On 16 December, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry delivered the latest monthly Middle East briefing to the Security Council. Serry reported on developments related to the 29 July resumption of direct final-status negotiations and reiterated that momentous and sustained efforts would be necessary to conclude negotiations successfully within the nine-month deadline set for achieving a comprehensive settlement.
On 19 November, the Council was briefed by Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, followed by consultations. Feltman reported that ongoing direct talk between the parties were tackling substantive issues but were strained and had suffered a setback with the Israeli announcement of new settlement building. Feltman said it was the UN’s view that settlement expansion cannot be reconciled with the vision of a two-state solution and without progress soon, the two-state solution may be irreparably damaged.
On 22 October, the Council was briefed by Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, prior to its quarterly open debate on the Middle East. Feltman urged taking advantage of the opening presented by resumed talks between Israel and Palestine to achieve the two-state solution. He also addressed developments in Lebanon, Syria and the Golan Heights.
On 17 September, UN Special Coordinator Robert Serry briefed the Security Council, stressing that the renewed peace process “should not be neglected, even against the backdrop of turmoil elsewhere in the neighborhood.” Separately, on 27 September the Quartet issued a statement reaffirming its determination to lend effective support to the new round of talks which had resumed on 29 July 2013.
On 20 August, the Council held a briefing and consultations on the situation in the Middle East. Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernández-Taranco provided the briefing, focusing his remarks on recent developments in the peace process between Israel and Palestine and the situations in Syria and Lebanon.
On 23 July, the Council was briefed by Special Coordinator Robert Serry prior to its quarterly open debate on the Middle East. Serry focused his comments on US diplomatic efforts toward the resumption of direct talks between Israel and Palestine which have been largely suspended since 2008 with the exception of brief talks in late 2010. He also underscored that the humanitarian and security situation in Gaza should not be forgotten, particularly in the wake of the current transformations in Egypt. Serry also briefly addressed developments in Syria, Lebanon, the Golan Heights and Egypt.
On 25 June, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernández-Taranco gave his regular monthly briefing to the Council. He reported that safeguarding the two-state solution was imperative to regional stability, but that a rush to negotiations without buy-in from both Israel and Palestine would be counter-productive. He also said that the Palestinian economic crisis cannot be resolved without progress on the political track.
On 22 May, Special Coordinator Robert Serry briefed the Council at its regular monthly meeting on the Middle East followed by informal consultations. Serry reported on US efforts to reengage Israel and Palestine in direct talks and on the 29 April visit of Arab leaders to Washington, D.C. to reaffirm the importance of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. Serry also expressed concern about rising tensions around the sensitive issue of Jerusalem due to Israeli restrictions on access by Palestinians to holy sites. On 15 May, representatives of Palestine, Jordan and the Arab League met the President of the Council, Togo, requesting that the Council pronounce itself as actively engaged in efforts to revive the peace process. The request was brought to Council members’ attention under “any other business” during 16 May consultations. However, there was no outcome following the 22 May briefing.
On 24 April the Council held a quarterly open debate on the Middle East (S/PV.6950 and Resumption 1). In his briefing to the Council, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman highlighted the destabilising effects of the conflict in Syria. He identified the need for “quick, concerted action” on Syria and added that “Action must also be taken on the Israeli-Palestinian issue… There is now an opening to develop a meaningful initiative to achieve the negotiated two-State solution.” Following Feltman’s briefing, Palestine, Israel, the Permanent Observer of the League of Arab States and 41 other nations made statements.
On 25 March, Special Coordinator Robert Serry briefed the Council. He asserted that it was time for “concerted action” to support a “serious international initiative” including through the Middle East Quartet (comprising the UN, the EU, Russia and the US).
On 26 February, the Council received a briefing from Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman on the situation in the Middle East. Feltman said there was heightened risk across multiple fronts in the region. On Israel/Palestine, he said there were no hopes of negotiations on the horizon and characterised 2013 as the year which could preserve or extinguish hopes for the two-state solution. Regarding Syria, he said the destructive military spiral threatens to pull Lebanon into its vortex. Feltman also said efforts by the Security Council and its members could make a difference while there is still time to do so. Closed consultations followed the briefing where it seems Morocco suggested elements to the press expressing concern about the circumstances surrounding the detention and death on 23 February of Arafat Jaradat, a Palestinian man in Israeli custody. No agreement was reached.
On 23 January the Security Council held its quarterly open debate on the Middle East. Following a briefing by Special Coordinator Robert Serry (Netherlands), who reiterated the need for “concerted action…to salvage the two-state solution”, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki along with more than 40 states made statements in either their national capacity or on behalf of regional organisations or groupings. This was the first time the observer mission of Palestine addressed the Council as a state since the General Assembly conferred non-member observer state status to Palestine on 29 November.
In a 3 December letter to the Council, Palestine reiterated that new settlement activity announced by Israel on 30 November in response to Palestine’s successful effort to achieve non-member observer state status at the UN through a 29 November General Assembly resolution would be a breach of both the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the Rome Statute of the ICC. On 19 December, the Council received its regular monthly briefing on the Middle East from DPA head, Jeffrey Feltman, who noted that recent events “should remind us…how much the momentum for the two state solution has slipped.” Several Council members made remarks to the press following the subsequent consultations expressing strong opposition to the planned expansion of the settlements and reiterating the indispensable role the Security Council should play in the Middle East peace process.
The Council held emergency consultations and a private meeting on Gaza on 14 November when hostilities between Gaza and Israel began to escalate. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman briefed the Council, followed by statements. Council members then met in consultations on Gaza on 19 and 20 November. On 21 November, following Egyptian-brokered ceasefire agreement, Council members issued a press statement welcoming the ceasefire, calling on the international community to contribute to improving the living conditions of those in the Gaza Strip, deploring the loss of civilian life, and reiterating the importance of achieving a comprehensive peace. On 27 November, the Council received the regular monthly briefing from Special Coordinator Robert Serry. In other developments, on 29 November, the General Assembly adopted a resolution conferring non-member observer state status on Palestine.
On 15 October, the Council held its quarterly open debate on the Middle East. In his remarks, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman asserted “the window of opportunity for taking constructive action to preserve the two-state solution may now be becoming more limited.”
Briefing the Council on 17 September, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry, said that the parties have not yet engaged in meaningful dialogue and the viability of the two-state solution was at risk. During the general debate of the General Assembly on 25 September, US President Barack Obama only made a general reference to a just peace between the parties. On 27 September, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu focused his comments on Iran with no specific references to the peace process. On the same day, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas indicated that Palestine intended to seek upgraded status at the UN—from “permanent observer” to “non-member observer state”—via a resolution in the General Assembly.
On 22 August the newly appointed Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman (US), briefed the Council for the first time in his new capacity at its monthly Middle East meeting. Feltman said the two-state solution remained the best available option to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, he expressed concern over the stalemated peace process, especially in light of the approaching one-year anniversary of Palestine’s application for UN membership. He also briefed on recent developments including the financial crisis facing the Palestinian Authority, continuing settlement construction, and the 5 August incident on the Egyptian/Israeli border in the Sinai. The Sinai attack had also been brought to Council members’ attention during 7 August DPA “horizon-scanning” briefing. Seperately, at the end of August, Security Council members formally responded to the February 2012 invitation from the Palestinian Observer Mission, saying that the Council would not be able to undertake a visiting mission to the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
On 25 July the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process briefed the Security Council prior to its quarterly open debate on the Middle East. He reiterated his warning that negative trends regarding the peace process, the Gaza blockade, the solvency of the Palestinian Authority, and Israeli settlement policy consistently undermined the common goal of a negotiated two-state solution. In remarks to the press after the debate, the Arab Group expressed concern over the diminishing chances for peace, deplored the Council’s unwillingness to react to the deteriorating situation and encouraged the Council to visit Palestine to inspect the facts on the ground as “the least the Council can and should do.” On 2 July the High Commissioner for Human Rights briefed Council members in consultations saying the settlement of Israeli citizens in the occupied territories is prohibited by international law and that settlement activity is linked to discriminatory policies and practices applying only to Palestinians.
On 19 June, DPA briefed the Council reporting several developments that posed a challenge to creating any positive environment for peace talks including: announcements of new Israeli settlement construction, increased clashes between Israeli settlers and Palestinians, hunger strikes by Palestinian prisoners held by Israel and significant exchanges of fire between Israel and Gaza in late June along with serious security incidents on the Egyptian-Israeli border. DPA also noted that the closure of Gaza was entering its sixth year. In other developments, the Quartet met on 15 June in Brussels.
The Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process briefed the Council on 29 May and highlighted the recent quiet contact between Israelis and Palestinians as an opportunity, citing a recent exchange of letters between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on their mutual positions for renewing direct talks. However, he also said that the situation was fragile and the implication of a stalled peace process is moving towards a one state reality.
The Security Council was briefed by DPA on the peace process before its quarterly open debate on the Middle East on 23 April. In other developments, the Quartet met on 11 April in Washington, D.C. and issued a statement noting the increasing fragility on the ground and welcomed plans for dialogue between the parties. On 3 April the ICC said that it was unable to proceed with an investigation of the 2008-2009 Gaza War as it did not have the authority to determine if Palestine was a “state” for the purposes of the Rome Statute. This decision was in response to the January 2009 declaration by the Palestinian Authority recognising the ICC’s jurisdiction in its territory.
On 27 March, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process briefed the Council reporting that prospects for direct negotiations remain slim and that without a political horizon the state-building efforts of the Palestinian Authority are at risk. In other developments, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution establishing an independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of Israeli settlements on the rights of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem. On 12 March, the Quartet met in New York and called on the parties to remain engaged and avoid provocative actions. It also expressed concern over the significant exchange of fire from 9-13 March between Gaza and Israel.
On 28 February, DPA briefed the Council reporting on the stalled peace process; the recent Israeli approval of settlements and demolitions of Palestinian homes particularly in East Jerusalem and Area C of the West Bank; Fatah-Hamas reconciliation; the continued exchange of rocket fire from Gaza and Israeli airstrikes. On 8 February, the Secretary-General briefed Council members in informal consultations on his recent visit to the region. (He was in Jordan, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories between 31 January and 2 February.)
On 24 January, DPA briefed the Council at its quarterly open debate on the Middle East on Israeli and Palestinian efforts to renew direct negotiations and adhere to the timeline proposed by the Quartet on 23 September 2011. DPA reported that other than a series of exploratory talks held in Jordan in January there had been little progress. On 18 January, the head of OCHA briefed Council members in informal consultations on the humanitarian impact of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
On 20 December, DPA briefed the Council reporting that the peace process was dangerously uncertain and that Quartet envoys had met separately with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators on 14 December. In remarks to the press that same day, EU Council members (France, Germany, Portugal and the UK), IBSA Council members (India, Brazil and South Africa), Lebanon on behalf of the Arab Group and South Africa on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement delivered statements critical of Israeli settlement policy.
On 21 November, the Special Coordinator on the Middle East Peace Process, briefed the Council and reported on recent diplomatic activity by the Quartet to restart direct peace talks and emphasised that without a credible process the two-state solution could not be taken for granted. On 11 November, the Security Council’s Admissions Committee reported that it was unable to reach a unanimous recommendation on Palestine’s application for UN membership.
On 24 October, the Council held its quarterly open debate on the Middle East following a briefing by DPA that focused on the Quartet’s efforts to break the stalemate in the peace process and the prisoner swap agreement between Israel and Hamas. Other issues raised by member states during the open debate included Palestine’s bid for UN membership.
On 28 September the Security Council, in a closed formal meeting, decided to refer Palestine’s application for admission to the UN to its standing Committee on the Admission of New Members. On 23 September, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas formally submitted the membership application to the Secretary-General. It was transmitted to Council members the same day. Also on 23 September, the Quartet issued a statement noting Palestine’s application, setting out a timeframe for Israelis and Palestinians to resume direct negotiations and reach an agreement by the end of 2012. On 27 September, the Council was briefed by DPA. On 2 September, the Secretary-General received and made public the report of the Panel of Inquiry into the 31 May 2010 Gaza flotilla incident.
On 25 August the Council was briefed by DPA onthe Palestinians’ intention to approach the UN in September to seek recognition. On 20 August, the Quartet issued a statement on the unsustainable situation in Gaza and the risk of escalation and called for restraint from all sides. A 16 August Quartet statement expressed concern at Israel’s recent announcement regarding settlements.
The Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process briefed the Council prior to its quarterly open debate (S/PV.6590). On 11 July, the Quartet met in Washington, D.C. in an effort to restart the peace negotiations but was unable to agree to a statement.
On 23 June, DPA briefed the Council on the impasse in the Israeli/Palestinian peace process (S/PV.6562), reporting that US President Barack Obama’s 19 May speech offered important ideas to move forward.
On 19 May, the Special Coordinator on the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry briefed the Council reporting that there was no credible initiative underway to resolve the impasse in the peace process. In other developments, on 20 May the Quartet endorsed US President Barack Obama’s 19 May speech.
On 21 April DPA briefed the Council prior to its quarterly open debate (S/PV.6520). During 8 April informal consultations, Lebanon proposed that the Council approve elements to the press on the escalation of violence in Gaza and southern Israel. The Council was not able to agree on the matter. In other developments, a 15 April meeting of the Quartet scheduled to be held in Berlin was postponed. This followed a 14 April announcement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he would outline a peace plan in front of a joint session of US Congress in May and a 12 April comment by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that there would be a renewed push for comprehensive peace as part of an American policy towards the fast changing region.
On 22 March DPA briefed the Council followed by informal consultations where European Council members stressed that they were looking for stronger language from the Quartet on parameters as this could be key to persuading the Palestinians to go back to the negotiating table. Russia also brought up its proposal for a Council visiting mission to the Middle East. On 28 March Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria wrote a letter to the Security Council endorsing Russia’s proposal of a visiting mission to their countries and encouraged a revitalised Security Council role in achieving a comprehensive solution. In other developments, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on 25 March urging the General Assembly to reconsider the Goldstone Report and submit it to the Security Council with the recommendation of referring the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory to the ICC. The Human Rights Council also adopted a resolution following-up the report of the independent international fact-finding mission on the Gaza flotilla incident.
The Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process briefed the Council and called for credible and effective international intervention in the peace process. On 18 February, a draft resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity was vetoed by the US (the first use of the veto by the Obama administration and the first US veto since 2006). The other 14 members of the Council voted in favour. In the days leading up to the vote, the US proposed a three pronged package to the Palestinians in lieu of the resolution: a presidential statement broadly along the lines of the draft resolution, taking up the 8 February Russian proposal for a visiting mission to the region and stronger language on 1967 borders coming out of the next ministerial-level Quartet meeting. The incentives were not sufficient for the Palestinians to withdraw the draft resolution originally tabled on 18 January with 122 co-sponsors. At the time of the vote a month later the draft had a very different and much smaller set of 79 co-sponsors (18 countries, mainly European joined the list, while some 61 others, mainly from NAM, dropped out). Some states formally withdrew sponsorship. However, it seems that much of the reduced number was due to the fact that the US raised a procedural objection to the co-sponsorship list claiming that many states had not followed the correct procedure in attaching their names to the draft.
19 January 2011
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe briefed the Council before its regular open debate, noting growing tensions evidenced by a significant increase in rockets and mortars being fired from Gaza into Israel and Israeli incursions and airstrikes into Gaza.
31 December 2010
Abbas announced the time had come for a new peace plan which should be framed by the Quartet and based on UN Security Council resolutions.
21 December 2010
A draft resolution was submitted to the Council by Lebanon on behalf of the Arab Group addressing Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory and peace negotiations.
15 December 2010
Abbas briefed the Arab League in Cairo which subsequently announced that resumption of talks would require assurances of a serious offer to end the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The US House of Representatives unanimously passed a non-binding resolution calling on the US to not recognise a unilaterally declared Palestine and veto any UN Security Council resolution to establish or recognise Palestine outside of a negotiated agreement.
13 December 2010
US Middle East Envoy George Mitchell returned to the region to discuss the situation with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
5-6 December 2010
Turkish and Israeli officials met in Geneva in an effort to repair relations. However, the process collapsed after the Israeli foreign minister intervened and rejected compromise on the issue.
A US plan for a 90-day partial settlement moratorium in exchange for a package of US incentives was abandoned after its rejection by Israel.
23 November 2010
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe briefed the Council stressing the importance of a return to Israeli-Palestinian talks, and calling on Israel to halt all illegal settlement construction and to fulfill its Roadmap obligations.
22 November 2010
The Israeli Knesset passed a bill requiring a two-thirds majority in parliament before withdrawal from East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights and a national referendum if that majority is not satisfied.
26 September 2010
The Israeli settlement moratorium expired without any extension and building in settlements restarted.
21 September 2010
A Quartet statement was issued that strongly supported direct talks and commended the Israeli settlement moratorium and urged its continuation.
17 September 2010
Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry briefed the Council on the direct Israeli-Palestinian talks and reaffirmed the UN position that Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories is illegal under international law.
2 September 2010
Direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations resumed in Washington, D.C. with a one-year time limit. (Previous direct talks were terminated after Israeli incursions into Gaza in December 2008.)
20 August 2010
The Quartet issued a statement that negotiations should resolve all final status issues leading to a settlement that ends the occupation which began in 1967 and results in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state. It also noted a one year time-frame for negotiations.
17 August 2010
Assistant-Secretary-General Oscar Fernandez-Taranco briefed the Security Council.
2 August 2010
The Secretary-General announced his Panel of Inquiry into the 31 May Gaza flotilla incident (S/2010/414) which the Council welcomed on 3 August (SC/10001). The Panel held its first meeting in New York on 10 August.
29 July 2010
The Arab League offered its endorsement of direct Israeli-Palestinian talks conditioned on a clear time frame, specific terms of reference and a monitoring mechanism.
21 July 2010
21 June 2010
The Quartet welcomed the shift in Israel’s blockade of Gaza and urged that all goods to be delivered through land crossings.
20 June 2010
Israel announced an adjustment to the Gaza blockade—shifting from a positive list (goods that are allowed) to a negative list (goods that are banned)—after growing international pressure from the US, EU, and the UN in the weeks following the Gaza flotilla incident.
2 June 2010
The Human Rights Council adopted a resolution condemning the 31 May Gaza flotilla incident and calling for an independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the incident (A/HRC/RES/14/1).
1 June 2010
The Council adopted a presidential statement calling for an impartial investigation into the 31 May Gaza flotilla incident.
31 May 2010
Israeli naval forces boarded a six-ship flotilla in international waters. The flotilla’s intent was to break the Israeli naval blockade and deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza. A confrontation on the Mavi Marmara resulted in nine civilian deaths, all Turkish nationals including one dual US-Turkish national.
18 May 2010
Special Coordinator Robert Serry briefed the Council on the start of US-mediated proximity talks and the need for a different and more positive strategy towards Gaza.
14 April 2010
The Security Council held an open debate after the briefing by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, who said that a crisis of confidence between the parties had prevented a resumption of peace talks (S/PV.6298 and resumption 1 ).
24 March 2010
The Secretary-General briefed the Council on the meeting of the Quartet in Moscow, his own visit to the region and his intention to attend the Arab League Summit in Libya in late March.
19 March 2010
The Quartet met in Moscow.
5 March 2010
Speaking to the press, the president of the Security Council expressed Council “concern at the current tense situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem”.
18 February 2010
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe briefed the Council expressing concern regarding stalled negotiations and urged Israel and the Palestinian Authority to accept US Special Envoy George Mitchell’s proposal for proximity talks.
27 January 2010
Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernández-Taranco briefed the Council followed by an open debate on the Middle East.
25 January 2010
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced a committee had been formed to investigate Human Rights violations.
22 January 2010
Israel reimbursed for damage to UN facilities during the conflict, resolving the financial aspects arising from a UN Board of Inquiry investigation. Israel did not accept legal responsibility for the incidents.
20 January 2010
US Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, George Mitchell, travelled to the region to meet Israelis and Palestinians in a continued effort to get the parties back to the negotiating table.
25 November 2009
Israel announced a ten-month slow-down in settlement activity. However, it excluded East Jerusalem and also permitted natural growth in existing settlements.
5 November 2009
The General Assembly endorsed the Goldstone Report in resolution 64/10 and requested the Secretary-General to report on implementation of the resolution “with a view to considering further action…including [by] the Security Council.”
16 October 2009
The HRC endorsed the Goldstone Report’s recommendations.
7 October 2009
The Council held closed consultations at the request of Libya to discuss the Goldstone Report.
29 September 2009
The Goldstone report was formally presented to the Human Rights Council but a decision on a Palestinian draft resolution endorsing the Goldstone report’s recommendations in full was deferred to its next session in March 2010.
22 September 2009
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attended a tri-lateral meeting with US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
17 September 2009
The Council was informed during its regular monthly briefing that President Abbas had signaled his intention to hold elections in January 2010.
15 September 2009
The UN released its report on the Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (the Goldstone Report).
14 August 2009
In Gaza, over one hundred people were injured and 28 deaths resulted from fighting between Hamas and an armed radical group that had criticised Hamas for failing to attack Israel more vigorously and for not imposing strict Sharia law.
26 June 2009
The Quartet meets in Trieste, Italy.
5 May 2009
The Secretary-General submitted a summary of the report of the UN Board of Inquiry into nine incidents involving UN facilities and personnel in Gaza between 27 December and 19 January.
22 April 2009
Israel released the results of internal investigations into its role in Gaza. Some mistakes were acknowledged but the investigations found that the Israeli army acted according to international law during its operation in Gaza.
3 April 2009
The Human Rights Council announced the appointment of Richard Goldstone to lead the fact-finding mission to investigate human rights and humanitarian law violations related to the recent conflict in Gaza.
24 March 2009
In Israel, the Labour party joined the government coalition led by Benjamin Netanyahu.
19 March 2009
Israeli newspapers published accounts by Israeli soldiers alleging mistreatment of Palestinian civilians.
16 March 2009
A group of eminent international judges and investigators called on the Secretary-General to establish a UN commission of inquiry to investigate serious violations of international humanitarian in the conflict and recommend on prosecution of those responsible.
13 March 2009
After a meeting of experts in London, the UK, the US, Canada Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway agreed on a programme of action to stop the flow of weapons to Gaza.
10 March 2009
The committees established on 26 February began work in Cairo.
2 March 2009
An international donors’ conference on reconstruction in Gaza was held in Sharm el-Sheikh. $4.48 billion was pledged, to be paid over the next two years.
27 February 2009
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that reconciliation will not mean progress unless Hamas accepts Israel’s right to exist and previous peace agreements.
26 February 2009
Thirteen Palestinian groups including Hamas and Fatah agreed to form five committees to address security services in Gaza and the West Bank, the formation of a unity government, reform of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, the holding of elections, and reconciliation.
12 February 2009
The Secretary-General announced that a Board of Inquiry, led by Ian Martin and composed of four members, had begun its work investigating incidents involving death and damage at UN premises in Gaza between 27 December and 19 January.
10 February 2009
Parliamentary elections took place in Israel. President Shimon Peres asked the leader of the opposition Likud party, Benjamin Netanyahu, to form a new government.
29 January 2009
The UN launched an appeal for $613 million for Gaza’s relief and reconstruction.
21-25 January 2009
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes visited the Middle East following the ceasefire.
21 January 2009
Israel’s full troop pullout from the Gaza strip was completed. The Palestinian Authority recognised the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and requested it to investigate war crimes by all sides during the conflict.
20 January 2009
The Secretary-General visited Gaza and said the UN would work with any united Palestinian government to rebuild.
18 January 2009
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Egyptian President Hosni Moubarak co-headed by a summit between Arab and European leaders with the aim to consolidate the ceasefire.
18 January 2009
Hamas agreed to a one-week ceasefire.
17 January 2009
Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire.
16 January 2009
Israeli tanks redeployed to the periphery of Gaza City.
16 January 2009
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed a bilateral accord with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni aimed at preventing arms smuggling into Gaza.
16 January 2009
15 January 2009
Israeli tanks entered Gaza City and UNRWA was hit by Israeli shells.
14 January 2009
Ban Ki-moon began a mission to the Middle East to strengthen diplomatic efforts to obtain a ceasefire. He met with officials in Cairo, Amman, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Ankara and Damascus and attended the Arab-European summit held in Sharm el-Sheikh on 18 January and the Arab Economic Summit held in Kuwait on 19 January.
12 January 2009
At a news conference on 12 January Ban laid out key points for settling the crisis: agreement on an immediate ceasefire with, at a minimum, a halt to rocket attacks by Hamas militants and withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza; international cooperation to stop the smuggling of weapons into Gaza; full re-opening of border crossings into Gaza; and reconstruction after violence ends.
10 January 2009
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met Egyptian President Mubarak in Cairo. Egypt said it would not accept foreign troops on its side of the border with Gaza to stop arms smuggling.
9 January 2009
Three Hamas leaders went to Cairo to hold negotiations in view of reaching a ceasefire agreement with Israel.
8 January 2009
The UN suspended food deliveries in Gaza after a UN truck came under Israeli fire which led to the death of two UNWRA staff.
6 January 2009
French President Nicolas Sarkozy met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and together they proposed a three-point plan to solve the crisis.
6 January 2009
Israeli ordinance struck a UN school housing displaced persons in the Jabaliya refugee camp, killing between thirty an