April 26, 2018
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, 26 April 2018


Mr. President,

The Holy See thanks the presidency of Peru for convening this quarterly debate on the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

The situation in the Middle East remains a matter of grave concern for international peace and security. Issues ranging from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the crises in Syria and Yemen have dominated much of our discussion in the Security Council over recent years. The combined effects of long-standing and unresolved disputes have been threatening to destabilize the whole region, with enormous consequences for international peace and security: the challenges of governance; the youth bulge and high rates of unemployment; the collapse of State institutions; the violation of human rights and international humanitarian law; sectarian strife; geopolitical rivalry; the threat of terrorism and violent extremism; the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including the use of chemical weapons; a massive influx of refugees and migrants; and humanitarian crises.

Mr. President,

The humanitarian situation in Syria remains marked by unparalleled suffering, destruction and disregard for human life. As Pope Francis said last week, “There is no good war or bad war”. He appealed to political and military leaders to “choose another path, that of negotiations, which is the only one that can bring about peace and not death and destruction.” [1]

The lives of millions of Yemenis have been devastated by what the Secretary-General has rightly called “a stupid war.” The events in Yemen have been labelled as the world’s largest humanitarian catastrophe and it is entirely man-made. The international community must give much greater attention to this conflict, where civilians are paying a huge price in a senseless war that has been overshadowed by other conflicts in the region.

Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Holy See joins with the great majority of the Delegations here today to reiterate its strong support for the Two-State solution as the only viable way of fulfilling the aspirations for peaceful co-existence among Israelis and Palestinians alike. Every Israeli and Palestinian has the right to live in peace and security. What is needed now is a renewed commitment for negotiations toward a Two-State solution. To have the best chance of success, peace talks must take place in an atmosphere free from violence. The ongoing violence simply underlines how overdue a just and lasting resolution is.

Concerning Jerusalem, the Holy See would like to recall once more the obligation of all Nations to respect the historical status quo of the Holy City, in accordance with the relevant UN Resolutions. Only an internationally guaranteed status can preserve Jerusalem’s unique character.

Mr. President,

This bleak picture of the region leads my Delegation to renew the appeal of Pope Francis,  who, while considering the responsibility of the UN Security Council to search for a unified and effective response for a lasting peace in Syria and in other regions of the world, encouraged, “all those with political responsibility so that justice and peace may prevail”.[2] In this regard, the Security Council remains a key actor in ensuring that all such efforts will be guided by applicable international law. The sheer range and scope of the challenges we face should galvanize all those who value peace and human rights to resolute action, so that those most affected by conflict and insecurity will not be left behind.

Thank you, Mr. President.

1. Pope Francis, Address after the Regina Coeli, St. Peter’s Square Rome, 8 April 2018.
2. Pope Francis, Address after the Regina Coeli, St. Peter’s Square Rome, 15 April 2018.