Thank you, Under Secretary-General Pascoe, for your briefing.
Earlier this month, Secretary of State Clinton hosted the most recent Quartet meeting in Washington, at which the Quartet principals welcomed plans for dialogue between the parties and discussed ways to support them. We have worked closely with our international partners, including the Quartet, to support the parties as they take steps to re-engage and rebuild communications. We should all support that effort, help to create a conducive climate, and avoid any initiatives that distract from the pursuit of peace.
On April 17, we saw the beginning of a dialogue, when senior Palestinian officials delivered the first letter in an exchange with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. In a joint statement issued following the meeting, the parties said, and I quote, “Both sides hope the exchange of letters will help find a way to advance peace." The United States shares that hope and views the exchange as a positive step that builds on the Jordanian-hosted talks and the statements by the Quartet since last September.
In its most recent meeting, the Quartet also focused on the importance of fostering continued international support for the Palestinian Authority’s important institution-building efforts. In order to realize a future where Palestinians live in a sovereign state of their own, we must vigorously support the difficult steps needed to build the institutions and capacities of a future Palestinian state.
We welcome the actions taken by the parties to resolve the outstanding issues related to tax and revenue collection, and urge their prompt conclusion. While the parties address these difficult issues, the international community must continue to play a vital role in support of their efforts. The United States echoes the Quartet's call for continued international support for institution-building by the Palestinian Authority, including for contributions toward the $1.1 billion required to meet the Palestinian Authority’s 2012 recurrent financing requirements. This funding is essential to preserve and build on the Palestinian Authority’s institutional gains and to expand economic opportunities for the Palestinian people.
As we look to improve the financial situation on one side, we must do our utmost to promote an atmosphere of cooperation on both sides. International partners should urge the parties to refrain from provocative and unhelpful actions, including in Jerusalem, that undermine trust, cause delay, or threaten to derail prospects for a negotiated settlement. Lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians requires both parties to take meaningful steps.
Provocative actions, including rocket fire from Gaza, should be unanimously condemned. Such attacks are unacceptable and serve as a constant reminder of the serious threat posed to civilians by the illegal trafficking of weapons to Gaza.
The Palestinians must continue efforts on security cooperation, strengthening public institutions, and ending incitement. Any Palestinian government must accept the principles established by the Quartet that are the building blocks of an independent Palestinian state: renouncing violence, recognizing Israel, and accepting previous agreements.
We likewise urge Israel to continue and to step up its efforts to deter, confront, and prosecute anti-Palestinian violence and extremist hate crimes. Let me also reiterate that we do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. We continue to oppose any effort to legalize outposts. The fate of existing settlements must be dealt with by the parties, along with the other permanent-status issues.
I will now turn to the situation in Syria, where the threat to international peace and security is both urgent and grave.
The scale of the Assad regime’s murderous campaign is shocking. Ten thousand Syrians killed; tens of thousands injured and imprisoned; widespread torture; and an ever worsening crisis of displaced persons and refugees. The conflict is also destabilizing Syria’s neighbors. In Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, there are already tens of thousands of Syrian refugees. Turkey and Lebanon have recently seen deadly violence spill across their borders. The United States continues to support the international humanitarian response to the crisis in Syria, providing more than $33 million in assistance, much of it channeled through UN agencies and programs We will continue to support those in greatest need.
Two days ago, this Council authorized a UN supervision mission in Syria, charged with monitoring compliance with the full set of commitments and obligations laid out in Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan’s Six-Point Plan. We welcome the positive statements from various Syrian opposition figures and groups about this new mission, understanding how desperate the Syrian people are for assistance and, ultimately, for political change. Syrians have said they hope this mission can help restrain the regime’s brutality and that it will help them uphold their rights to express themselves freely. But we are all sober in our expectations. The regime’s long track record is one of dependable deceit and deception. Thus, this UN mission is unusually risky and dangerous. The Syrian regime should make no mistake: we will be watching its actions day and night. We will work to ensure there will be consequences should the Syrian regime continue to ignore this Council’s decisions, press ahead with its murderous rampage, and flout the will of the international community.
Let me conclude by reiterating the United States’ appreciation to the United Nations personnel—both military and civilian—who will comprise this new mission. The United States urges the Government of Syria to seize this chance for a peaceful political solution to the crisis – before it’s too late.
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