Israeli-Palestinian joint activity to halt the spread of coronavirus is akin to the type of cooperation and dialogue necessary to resolve the conflict between the two parties, US Deputy Ambassador to the UN Cherith Norman Chalet told the UN Security Council on Monday.
Recent engagement between the Israelis and Palestinians “speaks to the power of dialogue – the kind of dialogue we have all been urging the parties to engage in for many months now,” she told the Security Council as it held its monthly meeting on the Middle East peace process.
At the end of January, just before the global coronavirus outbreak, the US had launched a new peace process to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within a four-year time table, Chalet said.
“This is not the time for a complex discussion of the granular details of the Trump administration’s Vision for Peace,” Chalet said, adding that the “close cooperation” between Israelis and Palestinians could provide a blueprint for the renewal of peace talks once the crisis has passed.
“Israeli and Palestinian ministries of health have been coordinating regularly to mitigate the spread and impact of the coronavirus,” Chalet said. Their representatives “have been meeting regularly for conversations” and have shared “best practices with one another to help those in their care stay safe and healthy,” she said.
This kind of cooperation demonstrates that human lives “can literally be saved when leaders come to the table just to talk with one another,” Chalet said.
“When COVID-19 has passed, the need for dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians will be just as great as it was before,” she said.
“The council will have an important role to play in reminding both sides that in a time of trial, it was dialogue that saw them through to the other side,” Chalet said. “We continue to believe that a comprehensive and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians is in reach, and we are committed to increasing our efforts until that future is safely in their hands.”
The informal meeting was held via a video conference that was not open to the public. After the meeting concluded, some of the remarks were published.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov also praised the Israeli-Palestinian cooperation in the battle against COVID-19.
“The coordination that has been put in place, and the joint commitment to tackle the threat to both populations is exemplary,” he said.
“The UN Country Team, led by the Deputy Special Coordinator and the World Health Organization, is working closely with all partners and the authorities to ensure coordinated assistance to the health networks dealing with the spread of the virus in the West Bank and to support preparedness in Gaza,” Mladenov said.
In a statement to the media, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said: “Even in this new and difficult environment, we continue to take part in the ongoing diplomatic work within the family of nations.”