US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield addressed a Security Council Briefing on the Situation in the Middle East Wednesday.
'The United States looks forward to working with the new Israeli government to advance the interests and values that have been at the heart of our relationship for decades. And we look forward to continuing to improve ties with the Palestinian people and leadership," Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield said.
"Colleagues, as I’ve said repeatedly, the United States remains firmly committed to a two-state solution. Two states – living side by side in peace and security – is the best way to ensure equal measures of freedom, prosperity, and democracy for Israelis and Palestinians.
"Such a peace can only be achieved through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. And divisive actions, by both sides, will only drive the parties further apart. Efforts are best focused on de-escalating tensions. De-escalation that, as much as ever, is badly needed.
"We are very concerned by the situation in the West Bank and the potential for further instability. And we condemn recent terrorist acts in the West Bank and remain deeply troubled by the number of casualties, which only seems to be increasing. Urgent, tangible measures must be taken to prevent further loss of life; to facilitate increased economic growth.
"Let me be clear: We continue to oppose unilateral actions that endanger stability and the viability of a two-state solution. This includes actions to the historic status quo at the Haram al-Sharif Temple Mount; this includes settlement building and the legalization of outposts; and this includes annexation, acts of terrorism, and incitement.
"The United States will also continue to promote the protection of fundamental rights and democratic values, including freedom of expression. But despite the region’s serious challenges, there is also a cause for optimism.
"Just look to last week’s meeting of the Negev Forum Working Group in Abu Dhabi, which brought together 150 representatives from across the Middle East to expand and deepen normalization. This was the largest gathering of Israeli and Arab government officials since the Madrid Conference in 1991, and it presents a real opportunity to bolster security, peace, and economic prosperity for all the people of the region.
"We will continue to find ways to engage* the outcomes from the Negev Forum tangibly improve Palestinian lives. We agree with the Special Coordinator’s point that the Forum could provide new avenues for advancing the Israeli-Palestinian track.
"And I would also like to urge the return of two captive Israelis held in Gaza and the remains of others, including that of the Goldin family, to help alleviate their pain.
"In closing, I urge Member States to work with us to strengthen UNRWA’s long-standing financial stability. This means increasing financial contributions to an organization that is a critical lifeline for Palestinians; that helps Palestinians cope with ever rising food prices; and that ensures Palestinian refugees can receive education and proper health care.
"Colleagues, this is a delicate moment for the future of peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Let us do everything in our power to reduce tensions and keep the hope of a two-state solution alive. Let us do everything in our power to advance regional peace and integration. And let us do everything in our power to support the region’s most vulnerable," the ambassador concluded.