Mr. Jeffrey Feltman, Under Secretary-General (USG) for Political Affairs, briefed the Council on the situation in the Middle East, focusing on developments in
Israel/Palestine and the status of negotiations, a brief update on the situation in Lebanon (brief because the Council was expected to receive an update on Lebanon
the following week), and on the crisis in Syria. His discussion of Israel/Palestine highlighted settlement plans in the West Bank, Israeli search-and-arrest operations,
violence between settlers and Palestinians, the continuing demolition of unlicensed Palestinian infrastructures, UNRWA’s financial woes, the deteriorating
humanitarian and socioeconomic situation in Gaza (including Israel’s temporary halt of the import of construction materials into Gaza), and resumed violence in
Gaza in the form of rockets launched, retaliatory strikes, and incursions into Gaza after Israel’s discovery of a tunnel into Israel. The briefing on Lebanon focused
on the attack targeting the Iranian embassy, the lack of political progress on forming a new Government, the fleeing of Syrian refugees, the tense situation in Tripoli,
and Hizbollah’s violation of the disassociation policy in Syria. Finally, the update on Syria emphasized the protection and assistance needs of civilians (including
Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk), the continued call for a political solution, and the need for a halt to the flow of arms and foreign fighters into Syria.
The briefing offered no reference to women, peace and security.
The USG missed many opportunities to address women, peace and security concerns in several crisis situations across the Middle East. There is no mention of
women’s critical role in conflict resolution, mediation and peacebuilding processes (in all three countries), nor of their participation in political reform, especially in
stalled discussions within Lebanon. The USG calls for negotiations around a political solution to the Syria crisis, but does not accordingly stress the importance of
women’s participation and representation in such a process. He also calls for a halt to the trafficking of arms into Syria, but does not reference the link between the
proliferation of illicit arms and resulting aggravated violence against civilians, in particular women and children.
In relation to the most recent MAP on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question (August 2013), the USG does address attacks against
civilians, and does call for investigations and accompanying accountability for violations of international law. However, there is no reference to women, peace and
security in particular, and so his briefing does not mention women’s role in the peace process, nor does it call for an end to violence that targets women and girls.
Furthermore, it offers no gender analysis of the crisis in Syria, nor of the spillover effects into Lebanon.
The previous briefing on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, S/PV.7047, similarly offers little attention to women, peace and security
concerns. However, because the previous briefing was part of a larger open debate, women, peace and security was addressed within the comments of several
Member and participating States. The most recent meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, that did not include a broader
open debate, S/PV.7032, again affords minimal attention to the women, peace and security agenda, with the exception of two references to sex-disaggregated data.