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Kabinettssekreterare Annika Söders anförande vid plenarmöte i FN:s generalförsamling om Palestina

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FN:s generalförsamling 24 november 2014
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Mr President,

Sweden fully aligns itself with the statement made by the European Union but would like to take the opportunity to make a few additional remarks.

Let me say upfront that the Swedish recognition of the State of Palestine aims at making the parties less unequal and to improve the prospects for a negotiated final status agreement. We are taking sides for peace, not for one party. And we are joining 134 other states.

Our decision is built on human rights and engagement in finding a peaceful solution since Count Bernadotte in the 1940s, our early contacts with PLO through Olof Palme and the, successful work with Egypt and Sweden to start a dialogue with the US and PLO in 1988. And the many Swedes that went to experience Kibbutz life in the 1960s and onwards. We have a longstanding relation with Israel.

Now, young people in both Palestine and Israel need to see that there are alternatives to violence. Our hope is that the recognition will strengthen constructive and moderate forces on both sides, will contribute to an end of the occupation and help to stop a development towards a one state reality.

It is critical times. The recent vicious circle of violence – the devastating Gaza war and the recent increase of provocations, violence and terrorist attacks in Jerusalem – is a painful warning signal of urgency. Sweden condemns the horrific terrorist attack on Jewish worshipers in Jerusalem last week. All actors have to unite to prevent the political conflict to turn into a spiral of violence with also religious dimensions. If not, the prospects of reaching a two-state solution that meets the aspirations of both parties would be gone. The lack of progress fuels new acts of violence in the immediate area, but also in the wider Middle East.

There are no acceptable excuses for provocations, terrorist attacks, rockets towards civilians or other violent actions. The Israeli settlement expansion, the demolitions, land confiscation, forcible transfer and resettlements in Palestine – which is not in accordance with international law – are making a negotiated final status agreement on a sustainable two state solution not only more difficult, but soon almost impossible.

The conditions in Gaza are unacceptable and unsustainable and a return to the situation before the Gaza war is not an option. Status quo means that the two-State solution is fading away during the rapid deterioration of the situation on the ground, both in Gaza and in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

The borders of Gaza must be opened for construction material, goods and people. The trade possibilities must increase. The inhabitants of Gaza need to see immediate improvements of their living conditions so that they don’t lose hope about the future and the faith in the international community.

Against this backdrop, the time has come for a more active involvement by the international community. The UN Security Council, the USA, the EU, the Arab League and the Quartet must assist the parties with clear parameters and with a defined time frame aimed at the realisation of a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement of the conflict. The goal is that Israel and Palestine could live side by side in peace and security within recognised borders, based on the pre-1967 borders.

The international community has a responsibility to protect and to reassure constructive and moderate actors in Palestine, which adhere to non-violence, recognition of Israel, recognition of previous agreements. Sweden will certainly contribute.

On today’s occasion it is high time to turn words into concrete actions on the ground. At this moment it is important to support President Abbas, strengthen the Palestinian Authority and the Consensus government in the West Bank and in Gaza. Sweden has recently adopted a new five year development strategy for Palestine with a total amount of 200 million USD, an increase with 50 percent. Just this week we will deposit the annual contribution to the Palestinian Authority through the PEGASE-mechanism with an amount approximately of 6 million USD.

This year it is 65 years since UNRWA was established to support millions of Palestinians forced to flee their homes. Sweden has been, and will continue to be, one of the main supporters of UNRWA and this year we have contributed with approximately 50 million USD to the agency. We are proud to exercise the chairmanship of its AdCom.

Mr. President,

Let me end by saying that we expect both the Palestinian and Israeli leaderships to do their utmost to ensure that both peoples soon may live in prosperity, peace and security.

Only with peace can true and full security be obtained.