Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 28, 2022
Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you, Special Coordinator Wennesland, for your briefing.
I want to start by condemning, in the strongest possible terms, the terrorist attacks in Jerusalem last week. I echo Secretary Blinken in expressing our condolences to the families of the men who were killed and wish all those injured a speedy recovery. We stand with the Israeli people in the face of these heinous attacks.
Let me be clear: There is no justification for violence directed at civilians. That includes the November 15 terrorist attack in a settlement that killed three Israelis. And the violence committed by settlers in Hebron on November 19. Anyone who commits a violent act – Israeli or Palestinian – must face equal justice. It must be clear that no individual or group is above the law.
Colleagues, the United States is deeply concerned about the sharp escalation in violence and tension between Israelis and Palestinians. This has been the deadliest year in the West Bank since 2004. Nearly 150 Palestinians and 28 Israelis have been killed. Amid these heightened tensions, it is all the more critical that Israelis and Palestinians refrain from unilateral actions, including settlement activity, evictions and the demolition of Palestinian homes, incitement to violence, such as payments to the families of terrorists, and disruption of the historic status quo at holy sites.
These actions only take us further away from a negotiated two-state solution, which remains the best way to ensure Israel’s future security and prosperity and fulfill Palestinians’ desire for a state of their own. Israelis and Palestinians equally deserve to live safely and securely, and enjoy equal measures of freedom, justice, dignity, and prosperity. As we have said many times, there is no shortcut to the vision of two states. This can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis. It is incumbent on both parties to work in good faith toward this goal.
And while the international community cannot impose peace on the parties, we have an important role to play in improving the well-being of Palestinians, the security of Israelis, and the stability of the larger region. These efforts can help create the conditions for meaningful negotiations aimed at resolving the conflict. Unfortunately, most UN actions related to Israelis and Palestinians are not designed to advance direct negotiations, let alone achieve peace. They are only intended to denigrate Israel.
Indeed, the UN system is replete with anti-Israel actions and bodies, including biased and disproportionate resolutions against Israel across the UN system. The lopsided focus on Israel at the United Nations, including the open-ended Commission of Inquiry and the recent request for an advisory opinion at the International Court of Justice, has brought Israelis and Palestinians no closer to peace.
Instead of grandstanding and pursuing unproductive measures, we hope the UN will start focusing on the kinds of concrete steps that can improve the lives of Palestinians and Israelis, and preserve the viability of two states living side-by-side in peace and security.
Thank you, Mr. President.