30 November 2012By Ambassador Sir Mark Lyall Grant, Permanent Representative of the UK Mission to the UN
Good evening ladies and gentlemen,
As you know the United Kingdom abstained on the resolution just adopted by the General Assembly on the status of Palestine. In my explanation of vote I explained why and my Foreign Minister has issued a statement which explains that. In our view the focus now should be very much on the future and that is why we are encouraging the United States to show decisive leadership in energizing the parties to restart direct negotiations. And the United Kingdom, supported by other Europeans and the full international community stands four square behind those efforts. We are committed to the creation of an independent Palestine through negotiations between both parties. That is the only way that sustainable peace will be achieved in the region and we will now be devoting our energies to achieving that objective. Thank you.
Q: You seem to be saying that you sought an assurance that Palestine wouldn't try to join the ICC or take a case there. What would you say to the people of the idea of the depoliticized ICC or accountability? Does it make the ICC a political chip in this process?
A: No, we are very strong supporters of international justice and particularly the International Criminal Court. But we did seek assurances that Palestine would not take any steps during a peace process, which could undermine the chances of those peace negotiations being successful. We were in intensive dialogue, as I said, with the Palestinian delegation in the run-up to today's events in order to try and ensure that those assurances were made because that might have affected our vote. On the day we did not receive those assurances, which is why we abstained in the vote.
Q: The Turkish foreign minister asked a question which I thought was interesting: He said, if not now, when? For 65 years the Palestinians have been delayed to have their own state. What would you say to that question?
A: Well we strongly agree with the sense of urgency that the Turkish Foreign Minister was setting out today. We believe that the window for the two-state solution is closing and that is why we are encouraging the United States and other key international actors to grasp this opportunity and use the next 12 months as a way to really break through this impasse that has lasted now for 60 years and have a negotiated solution which brings about an independent State of Palestine.
Q: ...in a few months, or six months, or whatever, after the election of Israel?
A: Well we didn't believe that the timing was ideal for the Palestinians to bring this resolution to the vote now so soon after the American elections. But we would have been prepared to vote in favour of it had we received the assurances that we were requesting that this would lead to an immediate and unconditional return to negotiation by the Palestinians and that they would not take steps which would undermine the chances of a rapid resumption of negotiations.
Thank you very much.