The U.S. actively and whole-heartedly supports improving the economic and social condition of the Palestinian people. As one of our top priorities, along with our European and international partners, we are engaged in scores of programs in the West Bank, in Gaza and with Palestinian refugees to achieve real improvements in people's lives.
Since the Council last considered this issue, the state of Israel has taken significant steps to facilitate these efforts, lifting check-points and barriers. This, combined with sound fiscal policies by the Palestinian Authority, international support, and improving security and rule of law, have led to impressive economic growth in Ramallah, Jenin, and other Palestinian cities. More and more Palestinians in the West Bank are finding jobs, starting businesses, and reversing the economic stagnation that followed the outbreak of the Intifada in 2000.
We have also seen a steady, positive trend in Gaza access since Israel's June 20 announcement of its new policy, and we expect that trend to continue. Increased access is having early positive effects. The greater scope and quantity of higher-quality goods entering Gaza markets -- as well as the expectation that more goods will enter -- is driving down prices and reducing demand for tunnel products. As UN reports have pointed out, much more needs to be done, and UN member states should do everything in their power to promote an atmosphere of cooperation to positively encourage these trends.
The U.S. government has also been working tirelessly to bring about a just and fair resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These times are especially delicate as we are working closely with Israelis, Palestinians, regional and European leaders to shift from proximity talks into direct negotiations. We are gratified by the outpouring of support for our efforts to facilitate the start of direct talks as soon as possible.
In light of these realities, we are perplexed at the draft resolution on the condition of Palestinians under occupation that has emerged from negotiations within this Council. Support for a two-state solution means supporting both parties; treating both fairly and with respect; expressly acknowledging the positive steps of both and being sure not to criticize only one side, when both sides have shortcomings that could be constructively criticized.
Yet the resolution presented with little advance notice today is still fundamentally unbalanced, criticizing the economic impact of Israeli security measures while ignoring that many of these are a result of the targeting of Israeli civilians by terrorist groups; making assumptions about territorial and land status issues that are properly the subject of negotiations; and failing to give any credit to Israel where some credit is clearly due.
We vote against this resolution with deep regret -- but as friends of both parties, respecting both parties, we have no other option. The U.S. remains committed to working with the Quartet and with regional states to move both parties forward towards the achievement of two states, living side-by-side in peace and security. The focus of the international community should be on helping both parties maintain progress toward that shared objective.
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