Security Council Republic of Austria - The Palestinian Question

Security Council Republic of Austria - The Palestinian Question

Austria has been actively involved in the Middle East since its modern government was formed in 1945. Austria’s history with Jewish people is a longstanding issue for the country. During World War II, over 65,000 Jews were sent to concentration camps. Only 2,000 survived. The UN established the state of Israel with GA resolution 181. This created two states in the territory, one for Palestinians and one for Israelis. Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948. Immediately thereafter, neighboring Arab states declared war on Israel. Austria formally recognized Israel on March 5, 1949. Israel was attacked again in 1967. In the ensuing conflict, Israel seized more territory than allocated by Resolution 181. Austria had military observers in the region during the conflict. The Madrid Conference of 1991 was an attempt at establishing a permanent Palestinian state, though Israel still occupied much of the land. In 1993, the Oslo Accords gave the Palestinians a chance at self-rule. This included the territory called the Gaza strip. The Palestinian Authority retained control over this territory until internal divisions between the Fatah and Hamas parties created a rift between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in 2006. Hamas is considered by many, including the EU and the USA, to be a terrorist organization, and they do not recognize the state of Israel.

In 2007, the Annapolis Accords were signed, which created a roadmap towards peace. It called for a two state solution with Israel withdrawing its settlers from Palestinian territory. At the beginning of 2009, Israel made military incursion into the Gaza Strip as a response to Hamas launching rockets into Israeli cities. Austria recognizes that the continued conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is a source of bitter division in the region.

Since the inception of its modern government, Austria has remained committed to human rights and neutrality. It played an assisting role in some of the negotiations between Israel and Syria, as well as Egypt and Israel. Austria placed troops in the Golan Heights in 1974 as a part of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) and continues to supply forces and materiel to this day. It also supplies the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO); currently 6 Austrian soldiers are participating in this mandate to ensure ceasefires in the Middle East are abided by. Austria has been involved with the region for decades. In the latest conflict between Israel and the Gaza Strip, Austria called for the immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops. As Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger stated before the Security Council, “Austria has repeatedly condemned the rocket attacks by Hamas from Gaza on Israel, and we respect the right of Israel to safeguard the security of her citizens. But we also believe that the military operations under way are clearly disproportionate and continue to inflict an unacceptable toll on Palestinian civilians.” Austria voted in favor of Security Council resolution 1860 calling for an immediate end to the conflict that was occurring at that time. Austria is dedicated to peace between Israel and Palestine.

While Austria recognizes Israel’s right to exist, it also firmly remains committed to the rights of Palestinians as well. Austria calls for a unilateral and durable ceasefire between the two states. Austria also calls for a unified Palestinian state. Austria has offered economic assistance to Palestine to rebuild after the incursion of Israel. Austria firmly believes in the roadmap to peace established in the Annapolis Accords, especially the two-state solution with a divided Jerusalem as the capitol of both states. Austria calls for Israel and Palestine to return to their commitments agreed upon in 2007. Austria strongly opposes the blockade imposed by Israel on humanitarian assistance. Austria has condemned and will continue to condemn all actions by either party that results in the injury or violation of human rights of civilians. Austria fully supports Security Council resolutions 1850 and 1860, though would like to see additional clauses added condemning the violation of human rights. Austria believes that negotiation, not direction action, is the way to solve this conflict. Austria remains committed to one of the foundational principles of the United Nations, diplomacy.