Council Briefing on the Occupied Palestinian Territories
Tomorrow (18 January) Council members are scheduled to be briefed by Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, in informal consultations on the humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).
On 10 January, Morocco requested a briefing on the humanitarian impact of the Israeli settlements in the OPT. While it appears there was support for such a briefing by the majority of Council members, some of the EU Council members indicated it might be better to have a more general briefing. It seems the US was particularly cautious about a briefing focused solely on the settlements. On 6 January, Ambassador Riyad Mansour, the Permanent Observer of Palestine, had said that he would like to see the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) brief the Council on settlement activity. (OCHA had released a fact sheet on the humanitarian impact of Israeli settlement policy earlier in the month.)
South Africa, which holds the Council presidency this month, met with the US and Morocco over the past week and it seems today’s agreement was reached to have a general briefing by OCHA in a closed meeting.
Though the briefing will not be particularly focused on the Israeli settlements, this issue is expected to be of interest to many Council members as it continues to be the main obstacle to resuming direct talks between Israel and Palestine. Other issues of concern will likely be the humanitarian impact of the Gaza blockade, increased reports of settler violence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and tension resulting from rocket attacks from Gaza and Israeli air strikes.
The Council’s next open debate on the Middle East is scheduled for next Tuesday, 24 January.