SC: The Situation in the Middle East

4/22/2011 // Deputy Permanent Representative Ambassador Tine Mørch Smith presented Norway's statement to the UN Security Council on April 21, 2010. Ambassador Smith addressed the Council on the issue of "The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question".

President,

This debate comes at a time of momentous developments across the Middle East and North Africa. The popular uprisings in the region are ushering in a period of great opportunity. We are hopeful that the people of the Middle East are heard in their rightful demands for political participation and human rights. Our message to the regimes and the people is clear - autocratic rule and popular repression belong to the past, democracy and freedom is the future.

In the midst of these historic changes I would like to take this opportunity to report on another and no less historic event in the history of the Middle East peace process. At the meeting of the international donor group for the Palestinians in Brussels last week (the Ad-hoc Liaison Committee), the World Bank, the IMF and the United Nations reported to the donor community that the Palestinian Authority is above the threshold for a functioning state. The three organizations have concluded, after following closely the Palestinian institution-building process for years that the Palestinian Authority’s delivery of public services to its population and the implementation of reforms, now compare favorably with those of many middle income countries. The IMF even reported that Palestinian reforms have come so far that not only is the public financial management system ready to support the functions of a state; it has even become a model for other developing countries. At the same time the PA has reduced its dependence on donor budget support by almost 50%. In other words, Mr. President, we have a functioning Palestinian state-structure.

This remarkable progress over these last few years could not have happened without the determination and hard work of Prime Minister Fayyad and his cabinet, the cooperation and support of the Government of Israel, and the unwavering financial support of the international donor community. This tripartite cooperation within the AHLC framework has greatly contributed to the success of Palestinian state-building efforts.

There are however challenges that needs immediate attention. The Palestinian state-building agenda is rapidly approaching its limits in terms of what it can achieve within the political and physical space available to the Palestinian Authority.As long as Israel maintains control in Area C, which constitutes sixty percent of the West Bank, economic growth will not be sufficient to enable the PA to become sustainable. To break this cycle and secure future sustainability of the PA, Israel needs to take further steps to dismantle restrictions and measures in Area C, allow access to land and water in these areas, and to allow a coherent trade strategy.

Mr. President,

As noted time and time again by the international community, the Palestinian state-building track, and the political negotiating track are interdependent. Progress on one track can only go so far without progress on the other. For all practical purposes the state-building process has been completed. The road towards the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, however, goes through negotiations. But time is running out. We are only a few months away from the internationally recognized deadline for negotiating a framework agreement on permanent status and a subsequent comprehensive peace treaty. Now is the time for both parties to come back to the negotiating table and show, through decisive action, that this conflict can be ended and the Palestinians have their own independent, democratic and viable state.

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