january 22 2020
Statement on The Situation in the Middle East Including the Palestinian Question

Statement by Monsignor Fredrik Hansen, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i.

of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See


Security Council Open Debate on

The Situation in the Middle East,

including the Palestinian Question

New York, 21-22 January 2020


Mr. President,

The Holy See joins other Delegations in thanking the Permanent Representative of Viet Nam for convening today’s Open Debate.

In his recent address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, Pope Francis underlined anew his concern for the Middle East, where since the start of this year worrying news continues to arrive. We are witnessing a deterioration of the situation in the whole region, from the heightening of tensions between Iran and the United States to the crises in Iraq and Lebanon, “setting the groundwork for a vaster conflict that all of us would want to avert”.[1] It is of the utmost importance that the support and the commitment of the international community keep the flame of dialogue alive and that these challenges be addressed with a holistic approach.

In particular, the Holy Father has affirmed that steadfast and effective engagement is needed to counteract “the pall of silence that risks falling over the war that has devastated Syria over the course of the last decade. It is imperative – Pope Francis stressed – to devise suitable and far-sighted solutions capable of enabling the beloved Syrian people, exhausted by war, to regain peace and to begin the reconstruction of the country”.[2]

Moreover, silence and indifference, as Pope Francis has warned, risk to worsen the conflict in Yemen, which is suffering one of the most serious humanitarian crises of recent history.[3]

The Holy See and Pope Francis continue to uphold a particular attention to the Holy City of Jerusalem, to its vocation as a city of peace, “one called to be a symbolic place of encounter and of peaceful coexistence where mutual respect and dialogue are cultivated”.[4] Indeed, the appeal to maintain the status quo of the holy sites of Jerusalem, dear to Jews, Christians and Muslims in virtue of their religion and important for the cultural heritage of the whole human family, is one that has been repeatedly made, also by this Organization.[5] Furthermore, the Pope used his traditional January address “to reiterate the urgent need for the whole international community to reconfirm, with courage and sincerity, and in respect for international law, its commitment to support the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.”[6] The sad alternative, as the Secretary-General’s December Report starkly points out, is that “the situation is destined to steadily worsen,”[7] diminishing even further the viability of the two-State solution based on the 1967 lines.


Mr. President,

What Pope Francis recently stated with regard to Israel and Palestine could apply to the wider region, and indeed across the world at the threshold of the 75th anniversary celebrations of this Organization, “where so many people – struggling but not discouraged – still await a time of peace, security and prosperity”.[8]

In closing, allow me to assure the international community of the Holy See’s steadfast commitment to peace and its support for all initiatives that strive to ensure the advancement of negotiated solutions. To this end, the Holy See encourages all parties to promote open and constructive dialogue based on the principles upon which this Organization was built 75 years ago.


I thank you, Mr. President, for your kind attention.




[1] Cfr. Pope Francis, Address to the Members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See for the Traditional Exchange of New Year’s greetings. 9 January 2020.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Appeal of King Mohammed VI and His Holiness Pope Francis on Jerusalem/Al Quds, the Holy City and a place of encounter, Rabat, 30 March 2019.

[5] Cfr. S/2019/938

[6] Pope Francis, Address to the Members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See for the Traditional Exchange of New Year’s greetings. 9 January 2020.

[7] S/2019/938

[8] Pope Francis, Urbi et Orbi, Christmas Message, to the city [of Rome] and to the world. 25 December 2019.