A debate on the situation in the Middle East and the Palestinian question on the UN Day, the 24th of October is highly symbolic.
The bid for Palestinian statehood goes back to the UN partition plan of 1947, and even further. In 1949, Norway voted in favour of admitting Israel as a Member State to the UN. We then based our decision on the declarations and explanations provided by Israel. Israel had persuasively explained why recognition and membership should not await resolution of the outstanding final status issues.
Since then, Norwegian policy has been based on the vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. Norway therefore stands ready to recognize a Palestinian state. Meanwhile, we support all international efforts leading to a comprehensive agreement on the outstanding final status issues, including the recent Middle East Quartet’s efforts to resume substantive talks between the two parties.
Norway has consistently stood by Israel and its inherent right to self-defence in accordance with international law. We have also supported the Palestinian right to statehood and the building of the Palestinian Authority.
At its last meeting in September, the donor support group to the Palestinian Authority affirmed the success of Palestinian institution building. The performance of such Palestinian public institutions was scrutinised by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations. Their joint conclusion was that the Palestinians are fully capable of running a state. Prime Minister Fayyad has succeeded in what he promised two years ago: establishing the necessary institutional foundation for achieving international recognition of Palestinian statehood.
In September, President Abbas reiterated in front of the UN General Assembly, the need to resolve the final status issues through negotiations. Moreover, he ensured the General Assembly of the Palestinian Authority’s commitment to comply with the UN Charter, relevant UN resolutions, democracy, the rule of law, and human rights.
We take note of the Palestinian application for UN membership, which is now being considered by the Security Council. We await the result of the Council deliberations. If, in due course, the Palestinian authorities decide to go to the UN General Assembly, Norway will consider all legitimate demands put forward. Recognition of statehood and accession to UN membership are issues that are best addressed in the main UN bodies here in New York.
A main obstacle to an effective Palestinian state and full institution building remains the occupation and the continued building of Israeli settlements on the occupied land. Norway is deeply concerned by the grave effects on peace and security of recent plans such as the Mordot Gilo and the Givat Hamatos, as well as other planned settlement expansions. Such measures are rapidly changing the territories around Jerusalem, in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank. They undermine negotiations, and may soon render the two-state vision unattainable. The UN Secretary General, the General Assembly and the International Court of Justice have all rejected the legality of such unilateral actions.
Norway welcomes the agreement on the release of Gilad Shalit, and exchange of prisoners. The family’s long wait is now over. Norway’s position all along has been that Shalit’s imprisonment was unacceptable, and we have been amongst the countries actively working for his release. We expect this agreement to have implications for the situation in the West Bank and Gaza over the next few weeks.
Thank you President