Linda Thomas-Greenfield
Linda Thomas-GreenfieldREUTERS/Mike Segar

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield addressed a UN Security Council Briefing on the Situation in the Middle East today (Wednesday).

"The United States remains deeply concerned by the sustained violence in Israel and the West Bank. 2022 was the deadliest year since the Second Intifada. And 2023 is on track to surpass this staggering level of violence," Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield began.

"The United States is troubled by the escalation of violent attacks by Palestinians against Israelis and by violent attacks against Palestinians by Israeli settlers in the West Bank. We reject all such acts of violence, as well as incitement to violence. And let me also underscore that accountability and justice should be pursued with equal rigor – and resources – in all cases of extremist violence," she said.

"We continue to urge the parties to de-escalate, and to refrain from unilateral actions and unhelpful rhetoric that only serve to inflame tensions, especially as we approach the confluence of religious holidays in April.

"That’s why the United States joined the meeting in Aqaba on February 26, and the follow-on meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh on March 19th, with Israel, the Palestinians, and Jordan, and Egypt. We applaud the commitments of the parties and the steps taken to restore calm. These meetings are an affirmation that both sides can seek calm and find a way forward.

"The United States will continue supporting these efforts – and all efforts – to restore calm and promote peace. We call on the members of this Council, and regional partners, to join us. And as the holy month of Ramadan and the Passover and Easter holidays approach, a time of heightened religious sensitivity, we urge all parties to maintain peace. This should be a time of fellowship and observance of faith, not a moment to fuel conflict.

"Colleagues, the United States continues to believe that a two-state solution remains the best way to ensure Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side in peace and security. And even though prospects for a two-state solution feel remote at the moment, we must preserve a horizon of hope.

"The road ahead will not be easy. But if the parties commit to peace and dialogue, a brighter future is possible – one of equal measures of freedom, security, and prosperity for all," she concluded.

Notably absent from the ambassador's speech was any reference to Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich's speech in Paris this week in which he stated that "the Palestinian people are an invention that is less than 100 years old." as well as the Israeli Knesset's passage of an amendment to the 2005 Disengagement Law removing the restrictions on Jews returning to the destroyed communities of northern Samaria.

Both moves were strongly condemned by the US State Department yesterday (Tuesday).

State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said that the Biden Administration found Smotrich's remarks "to not only be inaccurate but also deeply concerning and dangerous."

"The Palestinians have a rich history and culture," Patel said.

Patel also said that "the United States is extremely troubled that the Israeli Knesset has passed legislation rescinding important parts of the 2005 Disengagement Law, including the prohibition on establishing settlements in the northern West Bank."

Patel claimed that Homesh, one of the four communities is "illegal" even under Israeli law because it was "built on private Palestinian land."