What's In Blue

Israel/Palestine: Arria-formula meeting

Tomorrow (22 February), Council president Kuwait, Bolivia, France and Sweden, will host an Arria-formula meeting entitled, “Prospects for the two-State solution for peace”. A statement will be delivered on behalf of former US President Jimmy Carter by Ambassador Richard Murphy (a former US Assistant Secretary of State for Near East and South Asian affairs), 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 (UNRWA) Karen AbuZayd, and Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council Jan Egeland. Council members are invited to make statements after the briefings, and interaction with the briefers is encouraged. The meeting will be open to attendance by other UN member states and observers, and accredited NGOs and media, without the right to make interventions.

The meeting takes place in the context of growing tension between the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority and rising concerns that prospects for a two-State solution are diminishing. It is expected to allow for a comprehensive assessment of the impact and implementation of resolution 2334 (2016) one year after its adoption and on the overall prospects for peace under the current circumstances. According to a concept note circulated by the organisers, this should include:

• reflections on the feasibility of a two-State solution and on why it remains the primary objective of the international community;
• reflections on whether viable alternatives to the two-State solution exist and on the potential for a credible collective process to advance a solution; and
• examination of states’ obligations in accordance with international law, including international humanitarian law and the relevant Security Council resolutions.

The concept note highlights the political and legal significance of resolution 2334, which reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution. The concept note regrets that the provisions of the resolution continue to be violated, with an increase in Israeli settlement activities throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This reality, in conjunction with several other worrying trends in the past year—tensions regarding Jerusalem; a sharp deterioration in the humanitarian situation, particularly in Gaza; the financial difficulties facing the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA); and the shrinking space for civil society, particularly human rights defenders and civilian protesters—are raised in the concept note as challenges to the prospect of a two-State solution.

The Council’s monthly meeting on the Middle East (Israel/Palestine) (S/PV.8813) was held yesterday. Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, said that he would redouble efforts to seek full UN membership for Palestine (it already has non-member observer state status as per General Assembly resolution 67/19 of 2012). He called for an international peace conference by mid-2018 that would include the participation of both parties, the permanent members of the Security Council, and the Middle East Quartet. The importance of pursuing a two-State solution was emphasised by Secretary-General António Guterres, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov, and the great majority of Security Council members in their statements.

In the consultations after the meeting, the US Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt and Jared Kushner, a senior advisor to US President Donald Trump, interacted with members during an interactive session that lasted well over one hour. They reportedly emphasised the US administration’s commitment to resolve the Israel/Palestine conflict and said that they were working on a peace plan that would be presented in due course.

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