Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC briefing on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question

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June 17, 2023


We thank Special Coordinator Wennesland for a briefing on the implementation of UNSC resolution 2334 on Israel’s settlement activity on the occupied Palestinian territories. We closely followed the remarks by President of the Arab American Institute Dr. James Zogby.

We listened with concern to the assessments of Tor Wennesland regarding the turbulent situation in the West Bank that unfolds as Israel keeps enhancing unilateral steps to create irreversible facts on the ground, first of all by building settlements and proceeding with forceful evictions of Palestinians, demolitions of their houses, and confiscation of property which comes along with the decision of Israeli leadership to legalize outposts on the occupied Palestinian territories.

Since the beginning of the year, we repeatedly witnessed outbreaks of violence both in the West Bank and Gaza, and along Israel’s perimeter. In the recent two months only, this escalation victimized more than 100 people, including a Russian national and his family members. The latest raid by Israel’s Defense Forces in Jenin on 19 June (during which 7 Palestinians were killed) resulted in violence and clashed of Israeli settlers and Palestinians, which led to deaths and injuries of civilians on both sides.

Alongside with using force in the occupied Palestinian territories, Israeli authorities go on with their efforts to expand and legalize the settlements. In May, plans were announced to erect more than 600 housings in West Bank’s settlements. Besides, Israelis were officially granted access to the territory of Homesh outpost that was evacuated back in 2005. This month, the Israeli government made a decision to simplify the paperwork required to receive clearance for the construction of more than 4,500 housing units in the West Bank, which constitute a violation of the international law. Demolition of Palestinian homes continues. In May approximately 200 people including 80 children were evicted, 30 constructions were destroyed, alongside with a school in Bethlehem that had been built at donors’ expense. We are particularly concerned over the regular provocations and violations of the status quo of Jerusalem’s Holy Sites.  More specifically, Israeli National Security Minister I.Ben-Gvir undertook another visit to Al Aqsa mosque compound, and Prime Minister B.Netanyahu held a field meeting at an archaeological site on the Temple Mount.


Further deterioration in the area of Palestinian-Israeli conflict against no feasible prospects for revitalizing the Middle East peace process cannot but raise concern. Recurrence of violence in the occupied Palestinian territories that takes place as Israel’s unilateral actions erode the international legal framework for the settlement, reminds us of the danger of having a vacuum in the negotiations process.

We must admit that the situation will remain highly explosive unless the sides make mutually acceptable arrangements on all issues of final status on the basis of the universally recognized international legal basis for the Middle East settlement and the two-state solution, which we unvaryingly support.


Lately, we have seen some positive momentum in the Middle East. It is regrettable that the Palestinian aspect remains outside these processes. Collective diplomacy as regards the Palestinian-Israeli settlement in fact has stalled. Largely, this has been caused by a unilateral decision of the United States and the European Union to freeze the activities of the Quartet of international intermediaries for the Middle East peace process.

Foreign Minister S.Lavrov’s initiative to hold a consultative meeting among Russia, the Arab League, and a group of regional states who are actively involved in the Middle East file that he proposed after hosting a UNSC debate on Middle East (Palestine) in his capacity as President of the Security Council, remains relevant and prominent.

Let me make an important clarification. Our proposal does not suggest creating new formats or mechanisms. The goal is to recommit and give an impetus to implementing the prior international decisions in this area, including UNSC and UNGA resolutions, the Arab Peace Initiative, the Madrid Principles including “land for peace” and the two-state formula, according to which Palestine and Israel are to co-exist in peace and security. Russia is committed to the idea of having a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with the capital in Eastern Jerusalem. Our position is consistent and does not undergo any opportunistic changes.

We believe that the discussion we want to initiate would help to synchronize approaches and efforts of the leading stakeholders at the Middle East track, i.a. with regard to overcoming the internal Palestinian division, and would facilitate creation of conditions for resuming direct Palestinian-Israeli dialogue on the whole range of final status issues.

Thank you.

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