2. On behalf of my delegation, I warmly welcome Your Excellency Foreign Minister Mr. Murray McCully to the Council, and I thank you for chairing this meeting.
3. Malaysia is appreciative of New Zealand’s untiring efforts to propel the Council to take urgent action on the Palestinian question. We share your view on the crucial role of the Council to create the necessary conditions for peace, and to push the parties to restart the dialogue process in order to salvage the two-state solution.
4. My delegation is also grateful to His Excellency Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, for his presence and briefing today.
5. My delegation decides to take the floor today, in view of the worsening situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and the continuing apathy in the Council to address the situation. In particular, we wish to highlight the expansion of settlement activities, which constitute the biggest threat to peace and a two-state solution.
6. Over the years, we had heard repeated warnings from the Secretary-General and the Special Coordinator Mr. Mladenov about the expansion of settlement activities that threaten to bury the two-state solution. In the past few months alone, hundreds of Israeli settlements kept growing, despite their undeniably illegal nature under international law, clear recommendations of the Quartet report, and widespread condemnation by the international community.
7. In addition, we also see attempts by the Israeli authorities to retroactively legalise outposts, in another systematic attempt to change the realities on the ground. For far too long, such actions had persisted with impunity, as we continue to restrict our response to mere verbal disapprovals, without any effective measures to halt the illegal activities.
8. The expansion of settlement activities and the legalisation of outposts are accompanied by increasing demolitions of Palestinian homes and structures, the confiscations of Palestinian lands, and increasing settlers’ violence.
9. In 2015, on average, four cases of settlers’ violence against Palestinian civilians were reported per week. In one recent incident, Israeli settlers unleashed dogs to attack a Palestinian man, while in another, Israeli settlers pumped sewage onto land belonging to Palestinian farmers, damaging trees owned by the Palestinians.
10. Even young Palestinian girls were not spared from settlers’ violence, as they were harassed and beaten by Israeli settlers. In most cases, there is no recourse to justice. In the case of a Palestinian family who owns olive orchards and agricultural lands in the occupied West Bank, his family was prevented from working their land close to an illegal Israeli settlement. Trees on their lands were damaged and poisoned by the settlers. Despite submitting complaints to the Israeli police 86 times, no action has been taken to hold the settlers to account or to provide redress.
11. Settlers’ violence can no longer be treated as one-off, isolated incidences. It is clear that the settlers are becoming emboldened as a direct result of the Israeli government’s policy on settlement expansion and the impunity allowed to them.
12. Settlement expansion occurs at the background of severe restrictions on the natural growth and development of Palestinian communities. We are all aware of the near impossible prospect of obtaining permits from Israeli authorities to enable Palestinian families to expand their homes to accommodate their natural growth in Area C of the occupied West Bank.
13. Thus, many Palestinians had to resort to building homes without permits, only to later face Israeli demolition orders and costly fines. Unable to afford the unjust fines, which could go up to tens of thousands of dollars, many were forced to demolish their own homes. We saw one such case just last week.
14. As one Palestinian who had to destroy his own home in East Jerusalem stated: “The first hammer blow feels like you're hitting yourself. It's not easy to demolish your dream.”
15. In another incident, a Palestinian father had to demolish a room for his three small children, to avoid exorbitant demolition fines issued by the Israeli municipality, after spending 12 years in a failed attempt to fight the demolition order in the Israeli court.
16. These examples are part of a brutal and systematic attempt by Israel to break the spirit of the Palestinians and to make their life in the occupied East Jerusalem unbearable so that they would eventually leave.
17. We agree with the Secretary-General that it is disturbing that any opposition to Israel’s settlement expansion to protect the legitimate rights of Palestinians, is now labelled by Israel leadership as ethnic cleansing. This is truly provocative and reflects nothing more than a feeble attempt to defend the indefensible – an incorrigible attitude to stay the destructive course of harvesting Palestinian despair and misery.
18. Clearly, doing nothing is not an option for the Security Council, as an organ entrusted to maintain international peace and security. We must take urgent effective actions to halt and reverse illegal settlement activities, which are fuelling radicalisation due to widespread frustration and anger among the occupied Palestinians. We must discourage Israel from wallowing in their repressive policies. We must not allow our plea to fall on deaf ears. We must have the courage to nurse our bleeding conscience.
19. To maintain international attention on this issue, Malaysia, together with like-minded members of the Council, is planning to hold an Arria-formula meeting in October, focusing on the issue of settlements.
20. Malaysia also welcomes the upcoming meeting of the Quartet-Plus in New York, as a follow-up to the international ministerial conference in Paris last June. We continue to support the French initiative, which complements the efforts of the Middle East Quartet. We look forward to concrete actions being taken by the relevant parties, backed by the international community, to re-create the much-needed political horizon for a two-state solution.
21. In concluding, I reiterate Malaysia’s call for the Council to use the various tools at its disposal to create the necessary conditions for peace and to influence the parties’ behaviours in order to salvage the two-state solution.
22. We stand ready to engage constructively with other Council members in this regard.
23. I thank you, Mr. President.