UN Security Council:The Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
Explanation of vote as delivered by Gerard van Bohemen, Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations, 23 December 2016.
Thank you Mr. President.
Today is a significant day for this Council, as the applause ringing around this chamber earlier this afternoon attests.
I was so very pleased that in this last meeting for the year we are able to adopt a very positive step in this very difficult issue.
The applause reflects the pent up frustration that this Council has been unable for so long to pass a resolution on the Israeli-Palestine issue despite regular reports from the Secretary-General and his special coordinator that the two-State solution was slipping away and that urgent action was necessary to arrest it.
As I noted earlier, the focus of resolution 2334 is on settlements, the primary threat to the viability of the two-State solution. However as others have pointed out, the resolution also includes welcome elements on the need to stop violence and incitement, and lays the groundwork for a return to negotiations.
There is no question that ongoing Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories is a significant obstacle to a return to negotiations and a grave threat to the very viability of a future Palestinian state.
As my Foreign Minister said earlier this month, these settlements violate international law. And these settlements have created enemies where there should have been neighbours.
Every settlement creates false hope for the settlers that the land will one day be part of a greater Israel. Every settlement takes land away from Palestinians needing homes or farmland or roads.
Today’s resolution provides important signals to the parties and to the international community about the way forward.
It reaffirms the central importance of preserving the two-state solution, as the only model we have for achieving a negotiated peace. The resolution also prepares the ground for a return to negotiations as soon as possible.
The resolution reaffirms though the United Nations’ most powerful organ that settlements in the occupied territories are contrary to Israel’s obligations under international law and a major obstacle to peace.
It condemns the acts of violence, provocation, terror and incitement that have driven the two sides apart and hardened feelings of hostility and mistrust on both sides.
The reporting mechanism this resolution establishes should provide a firm foundation for this Council to continue to encourage the parties towards negotiations on a viable two-State solution.
We recognise there is much more that this resolution might have done. This Council must stand ready to provide additional support to the parties, including by setting out the parameters for negotiations when the time is right.
But today we focused on what is achievable right now, and that is what we believe today’s text represents.
I thank you.