October 18, 2017
The Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question

Statement of H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the
United Nations

Security Council Open Debate on
The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question

New York, 18 October 2017

 Mr. President,

The Holy See wishes to thank the Presidency of France for holding this open debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question.

The region of the Middle East continues to be the epicenter of multiple armed conflicts driven by various causes and by interests of a multitude of actors who participate in them in one way or another.

Among these conflicts that have been of deep concern for the international community for the last seventy years are the unachieved Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The Palestinian Question remains prominent among all the problems affecting the Middle East. Its resolution will have a beneficial cascading effect on the other crises in the region, thus favoring the advent of a durable peace and mutual respect among the diverse components and stakeholders in the Middle East.

For this reason, the Holy See reaffirms once again, as it has since 1947, its unwavering support for the right of both Israel and Palestine to live in peace within secure and recognized borders in an atmosphere of mutual respect and cooperation. The Holy See reiterates its support for the two independent States solution, convinced that it is the only option that would allow for the peaceful coexistence of Israel and Palestine.

The Holy See calls on the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to show a determined political will to reach a solution and give their peoples the precious gift of living in peace and security. Such determination would involve refraining from provocative actions, incitement or inflammatory rhetoric, in order to de-escalate tensions on the ground, rebuild trust and create the conditions necessary for negotiations. The impartial support of the international community is needed to assist the two parties in negotiating with confidence and respect for mutual rights, helping them to realize that sincere negotiation is the most effective way toward an honorable and mutually beneficial outcome.

The Holy See encourages all efforts that favor open dialogue, mutual respect and peaceful coexistence; as such, it acknowledges with satisfaction the recent agreement among the Palestinians which seems to indicate a firm will towards reaching a durable solution.
The Holy See wishes to reaffirm the historic status quo of Jerusalem, in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions, and rejects any unilateral measure aimed at changing it. My Delegation believes that the Holy City should be a place of convergence and peace and that the followers of the three monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam — indeed, all people of goodwill — should be guaranteed free and unhindered access to the Holy Places.

Mr. President,

The war in Yemen continues to provoke a humanitarian disaster of apocalyptic proportions. Involved players must allow humanitarian access and assistance and respect international humanitarian law, in particular the safety of the civilian population and infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals and water supplies. The interested parties, internal and external of Yemen, must realize that there is much more to gain in sitting at the negotiating table than continuing what is becoming a protracted internecine conflict. They must undertake without delay the steps necessary to reach a ceasefire to pave the way for negotiations.

Turning to Syria, since the beginning of the crisis the Holy See has called for an immediate end to the violence and for a peaceful resolution through a Syrian-led political process, steered by a unified international vision based on relevant Security Council resolutions, including the relevant negotiations and conferences.  All efforts should ensure Syria’s unity and territorial integrity, guarantee the safe return of refugees and internally displaced persons, and consolidate support for the pluralistic nature of the Syrian Nation.

Mr. President,

My Delegation wishes to convey the deep appreciation and strong encouragement of Pope Francis to all who tirelessly toil to find fair political solutions to the conflicts in the Middle East and to assist in every way the victims of untold violence. Given the continuing overwhelming humanitarian needs, the Holy See continues to join its voice to the appeals for increased funding to help refugees and impacted host countries, in particular Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt.

The rights of every citizen everywhere in the Middle East must be respected. In this regard, the rule of law, including respect for religious freedom and equality before the law based on the principle of citizenship regardless of one’s race, ethnic origin or religion, is fundamental for the achievement and maintenance of the peaceful and fruitful coexistence among individuals and communities in the region and beyond.

For 2017 to be the start of an era of peace for all the peoples of the Middle East, all concerned parties in the conflicts in the region, their foreign allies and the entire international community must spare no effort to silence the clamor of war and to start serious negotiations to achieve lasting political solutions to the problems, both recent and ongoing, in the Middle East.

Thank you, Mr. President.