UAE urges international community to support Palestinians

In statement, UAE notes 'positive' peace developments but stresses UN obligation to uphold Jerusalem's legal and historical status quo

Norway's representative in the Palestinian Territories Tor Wennesland speaks during a meeting of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA in Amman on February 17, 2009. The meeting discussed the recent Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip and UNRWA's financial situation. AFP PHOTO/KHALIL MAZRAAWI (Photo by KHALIL MAZRAAWI / AFP)

At a meeting of the UN Security Council this week, the UAE stressed the need for Israel to assume its responsibilities in accordance with international law and relevant UN resolutions, including providing protection for Palestinian civilians.

The council met on Tuesday for its quarterly debate on the situation in the Middle East, which included addressing the Palestinian question and Israel’s plans to use occupied land for new settlements.

The UN Special Envoy to the Middle East Tor Wennesland of Norway was joined by Daniel Levy, president of the US/Middle East Project, Gilad Erdan, the Israeli envoy to the US and UN, and Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian political and civil society leader.

Several delegations that are not members of the council submitted written statements to the council, including the UAE.

According to state news agency Wam, the UAE in its statement noted "recent positive developments to advance peace in the Middle East".

But the statement also underscored the UN’s obligation to uphold the legal and historical status quo of Jerusalem, giving Palestinians the freedom to practice religious traditions, while recognising Jordan's historical role as the custodian of the holy sites.

The UAE further called for “avoiding any measures that would exacerbate tension in the city of Jerusalem or affect the historical arrangements related to Al Aqsa Mosque, in particular".

Mr Wennesland voiced his objections to Israel’s proposed construction project near East Jerusalem, stating it would “sever the connection between the northern and southern West Bank, significantly undermining the chances for establishing a viable and contiguous Palestinian state as part of a negotiated two-state solution".

“I reiterate that all settlements are illegal under international law and remain a substantial obstacle to peace,” he said.

The UAE supported this position, calling for an end to the construction and expansion of settlements, the confiscation and demolition of Palestinian property, and the forced displacement of residents, Wam reported.

The statement also called for the continuation of the ceasefire between Israel and Palestine, stressing the importance of de-escalation in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Demonstrating their long-held pledge to improve the lives of Palestinians, the UAE contributed more than $883 million in aid from 2013 to 2021, including through UNRWA, and urged other nations to do the same, “especially in light of the difficult humanitarian and economic conditions exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic".

In “a welcome development”, Mr Wennesland reported that Palestinian and Israeli officials have registered 4,000 undocumented Palestinians in the West Bank and that they will receive identity documents.

During his statement to the council, Mr Erdan took exception to the presence of Ms Ashrawi, noting that she has condemned the Abraham Accords. He accused her of having affiliations with a platform that spread anti-Semitic propaganda.

“The council could instead give a platform to Israeli and Palestinian entrepreneurs working to create coexistence,” Mr Erdan said.

Representatives from France, the US, the UK, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ireland, Estonia, Niger, Tunisia, India and Russia were also present.

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Updated: October 21st 2021, 4:52 AM