Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Situation in the Middle East

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
March 22, 2022


Thank you, Madam President, and welcome back. Thank you, Special Coordinator Wennesland, for your briefing. We fully support your continued and close engagement with all parties to promote dialogue and peace.

The United States remains committed to widening relations between Israel and its neighbors. One way we can that is by deepening cooperation among the participants in the Abraham Accords and other countries that have normal relations with Israel. On that front, we are encouraged by Israeli IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi’s meetings in Bahrain with his counterpart. And we welcome the meeting between Turkish President Erdogan and Israeli President Herzog in Ankara. These visits demonstrate that good-faith engagement can build mutual confidence and create a path toward a greater security and prosperity.

In addition to these visits, we welcome the efforts by the signatories of recent normalization agreements to bolster their relationships through working groups and initiatives. These will help further develop trade, cultural, and people-to-people ties. And offer new opportunities and hope for people across the region.

The United States also believes that normalization agreements can enhance regional cooperation. But let me be clear: Normalization is not a substitute for serious engagement between Israelis and Palestinians. That is why the Biden Administration has made a point of intensifying dialogue with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Deputy Assistant Secretary Hady Amr just visited Israel and the West Bank to discuss Israeli-Palestinian relations. He highlighted the need to improve the quality of life for Palestinians in tangible ways – and reaffirmed that Israelis and Palestinians alike deserve equal measures of security, freedom, and prosperity. We encourage all those who look for peace in the Middle East to commit to constructive acts that help Palestinians and Israelis coexist and prosper.

While we work toward long-term peace, we also remain deeply concerned about present day tensions, including violence, in the West Bank and in and around Jerusalem. The United States strongly condemns the recent terrorist attacks in the Old City that injured two Israeli policemen and, once again, we deplore continuing attacks by Israeli settlers on ordinary Palestinians. We urge the authorities both to condemn acts of violence and to fairly pursue justice for these acts. Individuals – regardless of who they are or where they come from – who commit unlawful acts of violence should be held accountable.

As the holy week* of Ramadan and the Passover and Easter holidays approach, we must aspire to peace, recognizing the heightened religious sensitivities during this time. All sides must refrain from unilateral actions that exacerbate tensions and undercut efforts to advance a negotiated two-state solution. In that spirit, we welcome the recent meetings between Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Foreign Minister Lapid, and reiterate the importance of upholding the status quo on the Holy Esplanade.

I’ll close by noting that the humanitarian situation in Gaza remains serious. Humanitarian relief, reconstruction, and recovery needs are acute, and food insecurity could worsen in the coming weeks due to the rising price of food, fuel, and other commodities. In this dangerous environment of scarcity, we encourage all member states to provide assistance, including through UNRWA, to help meet the needs of vulnerable Palestinians in Gaza.

Thank you, Madam President.