[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]
The peaceful resolution of the question of Palestine is arguably the single most important objective for peace and stability in the world.
For its part, the continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the Palestinian occupied territory came to be the most important obstacle for concrete progress in negotiations leading to a just and durable solution to this question.
It is therefore only natural that the Security Council deals with this issue in a manner consistent with its primary responsibility for international peace and security. We welcome an increased engagement of the international community, including through the Security Council, in this matter.
The draft resolution that we had before us today restated that all Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of peace on the basis of the two-State solution. It recalled Israelís obligations under the road map endorsed by Security Council resolution 1515 . It also called for the immediate resumption of credible negotiations.
Brazil co-sponsored the draft resolution not only because we fully agreed with its content, but also because we firmly believe it could help us achieve the two-State solution and therefore contribute to the long term security and stability of the whole region, including Israel. In seeking to advance the peace process, we also have in mind Israelís right to live in security, free of attacks and threats to its existence. Brazil and Israel are good friends and important partners, both bilaterally and through MERCOSUR.
We also co-sponsored the draft resolution because its adoption would have sent some key urgent messages. First, that continued disregard for international obligations relating to settlement construction poses a threat to peace and security in the region. Second, that halting settlement activities should be seen not as a concession but as the lawful conduct under international law. Thirdly, that unilateral action shall not prevail. Upholding international law is always in the interest of peace. The Security Council cannot settle for less.
Distinguished members of the Council, Brazil has supported over the years the fulfillment of the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for a cohesive, secure, democratic, and economically viable State within the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side and in peace with the State of Israel.
As we have strengthened our diplomatic relations with all countries in the region, we deepened our commitment to stability in the Middle East, our condemnation of all forms of terrorism and our conviction that the peace process must be accelerated. Brazilís recent recognition of the Palestinian State is fully consistent with our willingness to contribute to a just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine. As explicitly indicated at that time, that decision did not mean abandoning the conviction that negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians are indispensable. On the contrary, we see it as a stimulus to further negotiations. Only dialogue and peaceful coexistence with all neighbors can truly advance the Palestinian cause.
Many years of negotiating efforts produced a substantial basis upon which progress can be achieved. It is our hope that the more intensive schedule of meetings of the Quartet indicates a willingness to take concrete steps that lead to an agreement on the final status issues by September.
We believe that the inclusion of more countries in the peace process, including development countries -- developing countries from outside the region and with good relations with all parties, would bring a breath of fresh air to the peace process. Brazil stands ready to participate [in] and support those efforts. We have been giving our contribution to the Palestinian Authorityís State-building efforts, including through bilateral and IBSA [India, Brazil and South Africa] cooperation.
In times of unprecedented potential for change in the Middle East, it is even more urgent that progress be made on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Now more than ever, the brighter the perspectives for Palestinian statehood, the greater the chances that the region will advance more steadily towards stability and democracy. Halting the construction of settlements would be a clear signal of political will to engage in serious negotiations.
To achieve an agreement, difficult political decisions will be required. Brazil is confident that the Israeli and the Palestinian leadership will display statesmanship and will be ready to make the painful concessions needed for the next generations to enjoy the benefits of peace.
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