Health and environment ministers meet their PA counterparts for the first time in years

US envoy pledges to “fiercely advocate” return of bodies of IDF soldiers detained by Hamas

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the Biden administration “will continue to advocate fiercely” for the return of the two civilians and the bodies of two IDF soldiers who have now fallen in captivity in Gaza.

Speaking at the monthly UN Security Council meeting to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Thomas-Greenfield recalls a meeting she held last month with Leah Goldin, Hadar’s mother, one of two soldiers whose bodies are held by Hamas.

“Over the past seven years, the Goldins have advocated endlessly for his return. When I met her, I promised her that I would do everything possible to support her efforts to have her son return. No parent – no one – should have to go through such a miserable experience, ”said the US envoy.

“The United States will continue to advocate fiercely for the return of Israeli soldiers killed in action to Gaza, as well as the return of Israeli civilians detained there. And we will continue to push for decency, for humanity, for equality and for peace for all, ”adds Thomas-Greenfield.

Regarding the Palestinian Authority, Thomas-Greenfield expresses concern over recent reports that the Palestinian Authority “acts to restrict Palestinian freedom of expression and harass activists and civil society organizations. This is unacceptable. “

She said she was particularly troubled by the death of Palestinian activist Nizar Banat while in Palestinian Authority detention and added that “the circumstances of his death must be fully investigated and those responsible must be held accountable. acts ”.

The envoy expresses the United States’ commitment to a two-state solution and its opposition to “efforts to unfairly distinguish Israel in UN forums.”

She said Washington opposes certain actions by Israel and the Palestinians, such as “settlement activities, annexation of territories, evictions, demolitions, incitement to violence and compensation of individuals. imprisoned for acts of terrorism “.

As for the searing city of Jerusalem, Thomas-Greenfield says the United States hopes to cooperate with Israel and the Palestinian Authority to keep calm on the Temple Mount and in Sheikh Jarrah, where Palestinian families face deportation by the Israeli authorities.

The envoy highlights the decision taken earlier this month by the Biden administration to sign a “cooperation framework” with the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.

“UNRWA and its staff are relentlessly committed to meeting the needs of Palestinian refugees, but the agency needs operational and management improvements,” said Thomas-Greenfield. “The United States has zero tolerance for manifestations of anti-Semitism, racism or other forms of hatred in United Nations agencies, and that includes UNRWA. This is why our framework for cooperation – the strongest to date – sets expectations and includes criteria to increase the transparency and accountability of UNRWA, in accordance with United Nations principles, including neutrality.

The Ambassador notes the subsequent US contribution of $ 136 million in humanitarian assistance to UNRWA, bringing the total for the year to $ 318 after those numbers were significantly reduced by the Trump administration.

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