Celebrating the Abraham Accords and Encouraging Normalization
In a recent statement at the UN Security Council meeting on the Middle Eastern Peace Process, UK Ambassador Barbara Woodward addressed several key issues, emphasizing the need for de-escalation in the ongoing tensions between Israel and Palestine.
Anniversary of the Abraham Accords
Ambassador Woodward began by commemorating the third anniversary of the signing of the Abraham Accords on September 15. She highlighted the UK’s celebration of the accords’ success and expressed unwavering support for encouraging more countries to normalize their relations with Israel. Furthermore, she stressed the UK’s commitment to ensuring that such normalization efforts translate into tangible benefits for the Palestinian people.
The UK’s Diplomatic Efforts
Ambassador Woodward then turned her attention to the recent diplomatic efforts made by the UK. From September 11 to 13, the British Foreign Secretary visited both Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs).
Push for De-escalation and Elections
During his visit, the Foreign Secretary engaged with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. He made a resounding call for de-escalation of tensions in the region and underscored the importance of conducting long-overdue elections in the OPTs. Additionally, he reaffirmed the UK’s unwavering commitment to a two-state solution, viewing it as the only path towards a secure Israel coexisting alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state. The 30th anniversary of the Oslo Accords served as a poignant reminder of the collective responsibility to pursue lasting and sustainable peace.
Support for UNRWA and Funding Crisis
Ambassador Woodward also touched upon the funding crisis faced by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). During the Foreign Secretary’s visit, the UK proudly announced an additional ten million pounds to help address this crisis. She emphasized the importance of ensuring that funds pledged by other states during high-level discussions are swiftly made available and called for sustained efforts to put UNRWA on a more secure financial footing.
Concerns Over Settler Violence and OCHA Report
In her address, Ambassador Woodward highlighted a recent UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) report, revealing that 1,105 Palestinians have been displaced from their communities since 2022. A growing concern is the escalating settler violence in the OPTs, which often goes unchallenged and places Palestinians at risk of forced displacement. The UK called on the Israeli government to address this threat urgently.
Ending the Cycle of Violence
Ambassador Woodward concluded by acknowledging the tragic loss of lives in 2023, with at least 193 Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces in the West Bank and 31 Israelis losing their lives to terrorism. She emphasized the imperative need to break the cycle of violence and work collectively toward a more peaceful and stable future in the region.