Explanation of Vote by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on the Resolution on the Situation in the Middle East, including the question of Palestine, in the Security Council Chamber
Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, NY
February 18, 2011
Thank you, Madame President.
The United States has been deeply committed to pursuing a comprehensive and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. In that context, we have been focused on taking steps that advance the goal of two states living side by side in peace and security, rather than complicating it. That includes a commitment to work in good faith with all parties to underscore our opposition to continued settlements.
Our opposition to the resolution before this Council today should therefore not be misunderstood to mean we support settlement activity. On the contrary, we reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. For more than four decades, Israeli settlement activity in territories occupied in 1967 has undermined Israel's security and corroded hopes for peace and stability in the region. Continued settlement activity violates Israel's international commitments, devastates trust between the parties, and threatens the prospects for peace.
The United States and our fellow Council members are also in full agreement about the urgent need to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, based on the two-state solution and an agreement that establishes a viable, independent, and contiguous state of Palestine, once and for all. We have invested a tremendous amount of effort and resources in pursuit of this shared goal, and we will continue to do so.
But the only way to reach that common goal is through direct negotiations between the parties, with the active and sustained support of the United States and the international community.
It is the Israelis' and Palestinians' conflict, and even the best-intentioned outsiders cannot resolve it for them. Therefore every potential action must be measured against one overriding standard: will it move the parties closer to negotiations and an agreement? Unfortunately, this draft resolution risks hardening the positions of both sides. It could encourage the parties to stay out of negotiations and, if and when they did resume, to return to the Security Council whenever they reach an impasse.
Madame President, in recent years, no outside country has invested more than the United States of America in the effort to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace.
In recent days, we offered a constructive alternative course forward that we believe would have allowed the Council to act unanimously to support the pursuit of peace. We regret that this effort was not successful and thus is no longer viable.
The great impetus for democracy and reform in the region makes it even more urgent to settle this bitter and tragic conflict in the context of a region moving towards greater peace and respect for human rights. But there simply are no shortcuts.
We hope that those who share our hopes for peace between a secure and sovereign Israel and Palestine will join us in redoubling our common efforts to encourage and support the resumption of direct negotiations.
While we agree with our fellow Council members--and indeed, with the wider world--about the folly and illegitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, we think it unwise for this Council to attempt to resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians. We therefore regrettably have opposed this draft resolution.
Thank you, Madame President.