SC: The situation in the Middle East

10/19/2016 // Statement by Norway's Ambassador and Permanent Representative Geir O. Pedersen to the Security Council's Open debate on The situation in the Middle East, 19 October 2016.

President,

ISIL has lost much of its power and more than half of its territories in Iraq. We are presently witnessing the beginning of the operation to liberate Mosul. Thanks to the joint efforts of the Iraqi forces and the international coalition against ISIL, which Norway is part of, their so-called caliphate is crumbling.

It is three months since the UN called for 48-hour pauses in fighting in Aleppo as a bare minimum. Since then another ceasefire in Syria has broken down, and a Security Council resolution to end the bombardment of Aleppo has been vetoed. This is highly disappointing.

It is unacceptable that the fighting continues, that Eastern Aleppo is being destroyed and that civilians, hospitals, medical personnel and schools are being routinely attacked. The bloodshed and bombing must stop. And the massive violations of international humanitarian law must end. Once again, we underscore that the Syrian regime is obliged under international humanitarian law to provide immediate, full, unhindered and sustained humanitarian access to all parts of Syria.

We expect the Security Council to fulfil its responsibility and ensure an end to this conflict. The regional countries as well as international actors have a particular duty to secure a credible political process and to ensure that resolution 2254 is fully implemented. We welcome the resumption of meetings between regional and international actors at ministerial level. 

Norway firmly supports UN’s efforts in Syria on both the political and the humanitarian track. All actors must work together to ensure that life-saving aid reaches the millions in need.

The Syria Humanitarian Response Plan for 2016 is only 37 % funded. Many donors have delivered on the pledges they gave in London in February, but the humanitarian needs are increasing. Donors must deliver on their promises, and more countries need to contribute. Norway has disbursed 80 % of its pledge of 280 million USD for 2016 and we intend to deliver on our pledge of 1.16 billion USD over the next four years.

President,

The Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC)-meeting in New York on 19 September was the most constructive meeting in years. The recent agreement on transfer of authority of the electricity sector to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and on electricity debts was important. It proves that economic cooperation between the parties can yield positive results.

We urge the parties to continue resolving other outstanding fiscal issues and to agree on key infrastructural projects. The PA will not be able to close the current financial gap by itself. Continued budget support is needed, also to enable reform.

The rationale of the Gaza reconstruction mechanism (GRM) is to prevent unintended use of the building materials entering Gaza. However, the current volume of imported construction materials remains insufficient to meet the needs. An increase in the flow of cement through the GRM is urgently needed. The entry of construction materials through other channels is undermining the efforts to address dual use and security problems in Gaza. 

Israelis and the Palestinians have to address the most imminent threats to the two-state solution. Every announcement of a new settlement and every act of violence corrodes the prospects for the two-state solution, and must stop immediately.

Our own contribution through the AHLC is to underpin the efforts to realise the two-state solution and to advance the Palestinian institutions and economy in preparation for independence. 

Thank you.


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