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Statement by Finland – United Nations Security Council Open Debate on Middle East

Ministry for Foreign Affairs
17.5.2021 15.30
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Statement by H.E. Mr. Jukka Salovaara, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations, New York, 16 May 2021

Mr. President,

Finland aligns itself with the statement by the European Union.

The grave escalation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the major upsurge in violence in and around Gaza, must stop. A ceasefire needs to be implemented without any delay in order to avoid further casualties and making this conflict even more difficult to solve.

We need now determined actions by both Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Instead of use of force, we need to see negotiations between the parties of the conflict. In this situation, it is also important that the Security Council can act according to its mandate and support efforts to maintain international peace and security in the Middle East.   

The recent escalation of violence follows days of tension and clashes in Jerusalem, including at the holy sites, and increasing violence in towns in Israel and the West Bank.

Finland strongly condemns all violence against civilians, including the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel by Hamas and militant groups in the Gaza Strip, directly harming civilians.

While Finland recognizes the legitimate right of Israel to protect its citizens against any attacks, Finland underlines that the Israeli military operation must be proportionate and in line with international humanitarian law. Civilians need to be protected at all times. Security belongs to all.

The priority in the conflict at hand must be to protect all civilians and in particular children. All efforts should be directed at avoiding civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure, supporting de-escalation, implementing an immediate ceasefire and ensure safe and unhindered humanitarian access.

After the implementation of the ceasefire, we will need actions at the level of religious and political leaders, including community leaders, on both sides. Incitement of hatred and violence needs to be stopped immediately. Human rights, including religious rights of everyone in the region need to be respected by all.

This most recent upsurge of violence clearly shows once again that Israel and Palestine should return to negotiations on equal grounds in order to find a permanent solution to their conflict.

Finland shares the view that a negotiated two-state solution - based on parameters set out in the EU Council Conclusions of July 2014 - that meets Israeli and Palestinian security needs and Palestinian aspirations for statehood and sovereignty, ends the occupation that began in 1967, and resolves all permanent status issues is the only sustainable way to end the conflict.

Israeli settlement activities are illegal under international law and weaken the prospects for a two-state solution.

 
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