Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Representative to the United Nations, at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Situation in the Middle East

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August 21, 2023

Thank you, Special Coordinator Wennesland, for your briefing.

The United States remains deeply concerned by violence in the West Bank and Israel, and we express our condolences to those injured or killed in the past month.

We strongly condemn Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israelis, including this morning’s shooting attack near Hebron, the August 19th attack outside Huwara that killed a father and son, and the August 5th attack in Tel Aviv that killed an Israeli police officer.

We condemn the reckless launch of rockets by militants in the West Bank – a deeply troubling event. And strongly condemn the terror attack by settlers in Burqa on August 4th that killed a 19-year-old Palestinian. We note Israel has made several arrests and expect accountability and justice to be pursued with equal rigor in all cases of violent extremism, whether the perpetrators are Palestinian militants, or extremist Israeli settlers.

The escalating violence underscores the need for the parties to take immediate steps to de-escalate and restore calm. We encourage Israeli and Palestinian security forces to increase their cooperation to improve the security situation in the West Bank. And we urge all parties to take proactive measures to counter all forms of violence and incitement to violence, and refrain from actions that inflame tensions including settlement activity, evictions, the demolition of Palestinian homes, terrorism, incitement of violence, and payments to the families of terrorists.

I would also like to take a moment to urge Hamas to return the remains of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin and release the two Israelis who are currently held captive by Hamas in Gaza.

Colleagues, the United States remains deeply concerned by the damage in the Jenin camp – including to UNRWA installations – as a result of the July Israeli security force operation. At this perilous moment, it is imperative UNRWA can continue its life-saving work.

I want to thank those who have generously supported the UNRWA flash appeal. We must all make meaningful and early contributions. UNRWA faces a funding shortfall and all too often, supportive statements by governments are not accompanied by contributions.

We strongly encourage Member States to join us in funding UNRWA so people in need can receive support and cope with rising food prices, and so UNRWA can continue to provide education and health care. At the same time, we will continue to insist UNRWA strengthen its effectiveness and financial sustainability. And we will continue to bolster the Agency’s accountability and transparency.

The United States also remains deeply concerned by Hizballah’s provocative actions along the blue line, which represent an increasing threat to Lebanon’s peace and security, as well as Israel’s.

We are committed to extending a robust UNIFIL Mission that can perform its duties independent of the Lebanese Armed Forces. As part of mandate renewal discussions, we must address the activities of Green Without Borders, which has provided support and cover for Hizballah’s operations in southern Lebanon along the blue line.

The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Green Without Borders and its leader last week for these activities and related actions. And we made clear when announcing those sanctions, we will continue to support Lebanese civil society groups protecting Lebanon’s natural environment while relentlessly pursuing Hizballah and their support networks.

And we will continue to remain vigilant about Iran’s support for Hizballah and other militia groups carrying out destabilizing activities in the region.

Colleagues, the United States continues to promote efforts to lower tensions and restore goodwill. We continue to support a two-state solution. And we continue to believe good-faith dialogue is the best path to stability and appreciate our partners in the region who join the United States in facilitating discussions between the parties.

Today, I want to acknowledge the appointment of the Saudi Ambassador to Jordan as non-resident Consul General in Jerusalem. We stand ready to be supportive of any and all efforts that will bring us closer to a two-state solution.

The bottom line is this: Israelis and Palestinians deserve equal measures of security, prosperity, and freedom. And we will continue to work towards these goals in tangible ways in the immediate term.

So let’s keep at it. Let us work together. And let us do everything in our power to advance a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Thank you very much.

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