Security Council Quarterly Open Debate 15 January 2015 Statement on “The Situation in the Middle East, Including the Palestinian Question” By H.E. Mr. Ambassador Ismael A. Gaspar Martins Permanent Representative of the Republic of Angola to the UN Mr. President, Distinguished Excellency Minister of Foreign Affairs Munoz, I have the honour to express my great satisfaction to see you presiding over this session of the Council. I thank Assistant Secretary Jens Toyberg-Frandzen for today’s briefing on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. I would like to begin my statement by saying that Angola maintains relations with the State of Israel as well as with the Palestinian Authority. Our relations with Israel are based on the universal principles of international law and mutual interests of both sides. A rather fruitful cooperation has evolved over the years, in several sectors, namely, agriculture, health, aviation, construction, fishing and telecommunications. Likewise, Angola has friendly and historical relations with Palestine, and for a long time we host a diplomatic representative of Palestine in our capital. These relations reflect Angola’s solidarity with the Palestinian people in their quest to fulfill their legitimate national aspirations to self-determination, in a free and independent State. We are pleased that the international community has pledged 5.4 billion US dollars for the reconstruction of Gaza and commend Egypt and Norway for spearheading this effort. This is of utmost urgency to improve the living conditions of the Palestinians, in order to see some fundamental changes in the dynamics of the conflict. In this connection, we call upon Israel to reverse the policy of withholding customs revenues. It is also crucial that the Palestinians unite for an effective governing structure, and we are pleased to note the critical steps that have been taken recently to create a unity government. This Government of national consensus needs to be consolidated and assume tis responsibilities for the effective management of security and public services, and become a viable counterpart for effective result-oriented negotiations with Israel. The “two state solution” must not just continue to be a refrain, it must be an objective to reach through productive negotiations. Mr. President, The political situation in the Middle East is, indeed, extremely worrying. The continuing conflict in Syria, with appalling humanitarian consequences, the persistent instability in Iraq, with the exacerbation of ethnic and religious divisions, and the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza, need to be forcefully addressed by the Security Council. These are factors that have been feeding the rise of extremisn, with radical groups such as ISIS and the Al-Nusra front in the Middle East, as intolerance and hatred in the name of religion. The challenges to deal with these trends are immense and we must all join forces to find the appropriate solutions in the framework of the dialogue of civilizations and respect of cultures. Mr. President, We strongly believe that the peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be far reaching step for the achievement of stability in the Middle East. Being fully aware of the complexities of the issue, we are of the view that a two state solution is the only viable option for a comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians, for which both sides need to make significant compromises. We further believe that there should be an end to the occupation of Palestinian territories, allowing the Palestinian people to exercise their right to self-determination, towards peace and sustainable development. We would like to address at this point the issue of Israel’s ongoing settlement activity. We all agree and it has been consistently stated by the international community that settlement activity constitutes a violation of international law and that it is counterproductive for a two state solution and serves as an incitement to violence, as reflected in the recent events in Jerusalem. We hereby appeal to the Government of Israel to consider a new approach in these policies as a demonstration of its willingness to compromise and of a constructive cooperation for the attainment of a peaceful settlement. The humanitarian situation in Gaza is especially worrying and even though there is a temporary Gaza reconstruction mechanism in place, urgent funding is required to rebuild critical services, including important electricity and water supply infrastructure. Let me conclude, Mr. President, by reiterating that we strive to contribute to the establishment of a forum for dialogue and productive discussion. Mr. President, I hope this will not be a “dialogue of the deaf” where one does not listen to the other. The march in Paris sent a ray of hope that such dialogue is still possible when the images of Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abass marching together for the defense of the common cause of peace in the world and against terrorism. It is time to reverse the manifestations of death, violence and inhumanity.