I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States, to introduce this annual resolution on 'Assistance to the Palestinian people'.
The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia*and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the EFTA country Liechtenstein, align themselves with this statement.
The EU remains gravely concerned about the difficult living conditions and the humanitarian situation affecting the Palestinian people, in particular women and children, throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, including in Area C, and in particular in the Gaza strip, which have been further aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The political and security situation in Gaza remains volatile, and the humanitarian situation continues to be a matter of grave concern. The European Union expresses strong support for the work undertaken by UN Special Coordinator for the Peace process, Nickolai Mladenov. We commend his efforts to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
The immediate priority must be to reduce the tensions and avoid another conflict in Gaza. The return of the Palestinian Authority to the Gaza strip is indispensable to improve durably the conditions and the humanitarian situation.
But to ensure lasting results, a fundamental change of the situation in Gaza is crucial. We call once again upon all parties to take urgent steps in line with UNSC Resolution 2334 leading to a fundamental change in the humanitarian, political, security and economic situation in Gaza, including through an end to the closure policy, full opening of crossing points, and humanitarian access, while addressing Israel's legitimate security concerns.
The EU will continue to support UN and Egyptian efforts towards the reunification of Gaza and the West Bank under one single and legitimate Palestinian Authority. The EU will continue to work with our partners, the Israelis and the Palestinians, with regional actors, and with our international partners, to that end.
In this context, the EU is determined to sustain its assistance in support of the Palestinian people, including Palestine refugees. The European Union and its Member States are collectively the largest contributors to UNRWA's budget. We were among the first to answer the Agency’s call for additional funds during the last three years' extraordinary financial crisis, and this year we have also provided additional support to the Agency’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are and will continue to be strong, reliable and predictable supporters of the Agency, whose role remains crucial also for the stability of the region.
We would like to thank all parties and the rest of the membership for joining consensus again this year, and for rallying behind the principles and objectives outlined in this resolution.
* The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.