ACCESSIBILITY AT UNOG A A A A The United Nations in the Heart of Europe

UNITED NATIONS OFFICE AT GENEVA COMMEMORATES INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE

Secretary-General’s Statement Says that Political Will and Courage is Needed to Achieve the Two-State Solution
29 November 2012

The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was commemorated today at a Special Meeting held at the United Nations Office at Geneva.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay chaired the meeting and read out the message of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.  In the message, the Secretary-General said that achieving the two-State solution, to which both Israel and the Palestinians had committed, was long overdue.  What was needed now was political will and courage, as well as a sense of historic responsibility and vision for younger generations.  Final status issues could only be solved through direct negotiations.  However, much work lay ahead to create the conditions that would allow the resumption of credible and meaningful negotiations and preserve the viability of the two-State solution.

Secretary-General Ban’s message, which he was reading out at the same time at a commemorative event at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, said it was crucial to sustain the ceasefire concluded last week that ended more than one week of devastating violence in Gaza and southern Israel.  There must be no rocket fire from Gaza and Palestinian unity that supported a negotiated two-State solution was essential for the creation of a Palestinian State in Gaza and the West Bank.  At the same time, continued settlement activity in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, was contrary to international law and the Roadmap, and must cease.  Amid these many challenges to the realization of their legitimate aspirations for statehood, the Palestinians had decided to seek Non Member Observer State status in the General Assembly.  This was a matter for Member States to decide.  It was important for all concerned to approach this responsibly and constructively. 

A statement read out on behalf of Mahmoud Abbas, the President of Palestine, said Israel could not continue to be permitted to act as if it was a State above the law without consequence.  This was a matter of urgency because, in the midst of turbulent crises throughout the region, the critical situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, was totally unsustainable and risked further destabilization.  Palestinians remained committed to the two-State solution and their hand remained extended in peace.  This was why they had embarked on the multilateral, peaceful, political initiative that would be considered by the General Assembly this afternoon to accord Non Member Observer State status to Palestine in the United Nations.  Their preference remained full membership in the United Nations, which was their legitimate, legal and historic right, and they hoped that the Security Council would one day soon positively recommend their application to the General Assembly. 

The Special Meeting was also addressed by representatives of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People; the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories; the League of Arab States; the Organization of Islamic Cooperation; the Non-Aligned Movement; the African Union; and non-governmental organizations accredited to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.  

Messages or statements for the Day were received from the Presidents of Senegal, Maldives, Turkey and Sri Lanka; the Prime Minister of Thailand; and the High Representative on behalf of the European Union.

Secretary-General’s Message

NAVI PILLAY, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, reading out the message of BAN KI-MOON, United Nations Secretary-General, said it had been 65 years since the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 181, proposing the partition of the mandate territory into two States.  Achieving the two-State solution, to which both Israel and the Palestinians had committed, was long overdue.  During his recent trip to the Middle East following the dangerous escalation of violence in Gaza and Israel, the Secretary-General said he saw yet again the disastrous consequences -- in particular for the civilian populations -- of the absence of a permanent resolution of the conflict.  With the Middle East continuing to change rapidly and profoundly, it was more urgent than ever for the international community and the parties to intensify efforts towards peace.  The outlines of an agreement had long been clear, laid out in United Nations Security Council resolutions, the Madrid principles -- including land for peace -- the Road Map, the 2002 Arab Peace initiative and existing agreements between the parties.  What was needed now was political will and courage, as well as a sense of historic responsibility and vision for younger generations.  Final status issues could only be solved through direct negotiations.  However, much work lay ahead to create the conditions that would allow the resumption of credible and meaningful negotiations and preserve the viability of the two-State solution.

It was crucial to sustain the ceasefire concluded last week that ended more than one week of devastating violence in Gaza and southern Israel, the Secretary-General’s message said.  There must be no rocket fire from Gaza.  The issues that had been pending since the adoption of Security Council resolution 1860 in January 2009 must be resolved decisively: ending the closure, preventing the illicit trafficking of arms and achieving intra-Palestinian reconciliation.  Palestinian unity that supported a negotiated two-State solution was essential for the creation of a Palestinian State in Gaza and the West Bank.  It remained essential that the Palestinians overcame their divisions, based on the commitments of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the positions of the Quartet and the Arab Peace Initiative.

Continued settlement activity in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, was contrary to international law and the Roadmap, and must cease.  Unilateral actions on the ground would not be accepted by the international community.  Allowing proper development and planning in Area C was also necessary, instead of demolitions and land confiscation.  Israel continued to build the wall on West Bank land, contrary to the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice.  The Secretary-General said he was also concerned about rising settler violence resulting in Palestinian injuries and property damage. 

Amid these many challenges to the realization of their legitimate aspirations for statehood, the Palestinians had decided to seek Non Member Observer State status in the General Assembly.  This was a matter for Member States to decide.  It was important for all concerned to approach this responsibly and constructively.  The goal remained realizing the just and lasting peace for which generations of Palestinians and Israelis had been longing -- a peace that would end the occupation that started in 1967, end the conflict and ensure that an independent, viable and sovereign State of Palestine lived side by side with a secure State of Israel. 

Statements

The Representative of Senegal, reading out the message of MACKY SALL, President of Senegal, (Senegal chairs the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People) said that in his address to the General Assembly last September, he had renewed the firm support of Senegal and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People to the creation of a viable and independent Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living in peace with the State of Israel.  Realising this vision would offer the people of the region, including the Israeli people, a chance to co-exist peacefully.  On 21 November, the President of Senegal said he had deplored recent Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip, including its continuation of illegal practices on the occupied Palestinian territories, including the confiscation of territories, the construction of 797 new homes in settlements, and activities to modify the demographic character and the multi-religious heritage of Jerusalem.  The President of Senegal invited the occupying power to respect international humanitarian law in the occupied territories in order to create conditions that allowed the resumption of negotiations, and urged the Quartet to shoulder their responsibility in this regard.  The President of Senegal called on all Member States to support the Palestinian request for status of the Observer State of Palestine to the United Nations, until it received full membership to the United Nations. 

The Representative of Sri Lanka, reading out the statement of the Chair of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, PALITHA KOHONA (Sri Lanka), said the continued demolition of homes and the resultant displacement of Palestinians, the blockade of Gaza and the consequent reliance on illegal smuggling simply to survive, led to one deeply troubling conclusion that these practices would amount to a strategy to either force the Palestinians off their land or to so severely marginalize them as to establish and maintain a system of permanent occupation.  The Committee called on Israel, consistent with its international law obligations, to adopt the recommendations of the Special Committee among others, relating to the arrest, detention and sentencing of Palestinian children, the demolition of Palestinian homes, the violence against Palestinians by Israeli settlers, and the blockade of Gaza.  Similarly, the Committee called on Palestinian armed groups to comply with international humanitarian law and cease the indiscriminate firing of rockets and mortars into Israel.  The international community must not lose sight of the overarching goal of the two States living side by side in peace and security.

The Representative of the United Arab Emirates, reading out the statement of NABIL ELARABY, Secretary-General of the Arab League, thanked the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for its efforts seeking to give the Palestinian people their right to self-determination and a Palestinian State.  The 29th of November had been selected as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People because on that day in 1947, the United Nations General Assembly had adopted a resolution which called for the creation of two States, Israel and Palestine.  Unfortunately, there was still no Palestinian State and the Palestinian question had still not been resolved.  The Palestinian people lived in a great plight as Israel refused peace efforts and continued its policy of settlements in order to absorb the Palestinian territories.  Israel also protected the attacks of Israeli settlers on Palestinians and held 4,000 Palestinian prisoners.  Israel was trying to create a new de facto State and was taking unilateral measures.  The Arab League reaffirmed its full support for the Palestinian position to establish an independent Palestinian State and underline the importance of the cessation of building settlements.  It was unacceptable to continue negotiations in vain with no results while Israel stalled for time.  The entire world must shoulder its responsibility towards the Palestinians.  The Arab League called on the General Assembly to accept Palestine as a Non Member Observer State until it received full membership. 

The Representative of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, reading out the message of the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, EKMELEDDIN IHSANOGLU, said they were meeting today under a very dangerous political climate for the cause of Palestine and Al Quds Al Shareef.  Indeed Israel, the occupying force, had intensified its illegal policies with the aim of isolating Jerusalem from its Palestinian neighbourhood, changing its demographic nature and killing its identity through the continuous construction of settlements, the apartheid wall, confiscation of properties, restriction of movements and desecration of Islamic and Christian holy places.  Israel had also continued its violations and attacks which had made it impossible for the Palestinian people to exercise their legitimate rights.  Israel’s escalating military aggression and the illegal blockade it imposed on the Gaza Strip were not only a collective punishment against 1.5 million Palestinians in the Strip, they also represented the continuation of a war crime against humanity, which must stop.  Palestine’s accession to full membership of the United Nation’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) last year was an international recognition of Palestinians’ rights.  The Organization of Islamic Cooperation absolutely supported the Palestinian political efforts and endeavour to obtain recognition for the State of Palestine at the United Nations.

The Representative Iran, reading out a statement on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said they must all work together to put an end to the continued systematic and gross violations of the rights of the Palestinian people; stop the harsh deterioration of their living conditions; ensure Israel’s commitment to its legal obligations under international law as the occupying power; put an end to Israel’s illegitimate policies, foremost among those its settlement policies; halt its attempts for a systematic process of altering the Arab-Islamic identity of the city of Al-Quds, denigrate its sanctities, tamper with its history and change its demographic composition by emptying it of its Palestinian population, seizing their land and homes by force and replacing them with colonial settlers in clear violation of international law, international humanitarian law and the Fourth Geneva Convention, halt its continued building of the apartheid wall and stifling siege against the Gaza Strip and all other practices that ran counter to its obligations under international law  and international humanitarian law.  The Non-Aligned Movement strongly condemned the latest military campaign against the Palestinian people and called on the international community, including the Security Council, to pursue serious efforts to end Israel’s impunity and realize justice for the victims and reaffirmed the obligations of the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions regarding penal sanctions, grave breaches and responsibilities.

The Representative of the African Union, reading out the statement of NKOSAZANA DLAMINI-ZUMA, Chairperson of the African Union, said this day was an occasion for the international community to reflect on the situation in the occupied territories.  Even the most impartial observer could only conclude that there had been a deterioration in the situation on the ground with regard to the intensity of the aggression and attacks by the occupying power.  The continuing building of settlements and their painful consequences on the peace process was part of the daily life of Palestinians.  Indiscriminate attacks and collective punishment were used by Israel with all impunity.  The international community could no longer accept these practices.  African Heads of State this year had reaffirmed their total support for the Palestinian people and an independent State under the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.  They held Israel responsible for the deadlock with its continued building of settlements on the Palestinian territories.  Israel must cease building new settlements.  African Heads of State had also condemned Israel’s policy of the Judicization of Jerusalem and the inhuman practices against Palestinian prisoners and detainees.  In light of this inacceptable situation, the United Nations should take all necessary measures to establish a global and lasting peace.  International bodies should exert pressure on Israel to become part of the peace process and to respect human rights.  The admission of Palestine as a State by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization must be welcomed and the African Heads of State invited all States which had suspended their contributions to UNESCO to resume them.  They also expressed support for the Palestinian State to receive full adhesion to the United Nations.  Palestinian national unity was also at the heart of the struggle of the Palestinian people.  All should assume their responsibility to reach a settlement to the conflict in the Middle East.

The Representative of the NGO World Young Women’s Christian Association, reading out a statement on behalf of  Non-Governmental Organizations accredited to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People which includes World YMCA, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and General Arab Women Federation, said they shared this statement with deep pain, anger and disbelief at the violence they had just witnessed this month in Gaza, and the impact on civilians, especially women and children, in Palestine and the whole region.  It was only by addressing the fundamental cause of this conflict - the occupation by Israel - that genuine peace could be achieved.  The non-governmental organizations asked for real accountability of all parties involved in this crisis.  They called on the United Nations, the United States and the Arab League to demonstrate the courage to take measures to end the occupation.  They also called on the Government of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the international community to take meaningful and profound steps towards ending occupation and to implement the agreed upon United Nations resolutions.  The non-governmental organizations urged the international community to remain in solidarity with the people of Palestine and provide the necessary humanitarian support to the victims of the violence and to ensure continued efforts to secure lasting peace.

The Representative of Palestine, reading out the statement of MAHMOUD ABBAS, President of the Palestinian Authority, said on this sixty-fifth anniversary of the General Assembly’s adoption of resolution 181 (II) (1947), which partitioned Mandate Palestine into two States, Israel and Palestine, they continued to look to the United Nations and appeal to the international community to uphold this covenant to their people to allow them to live in freedom and dignity in their homeland and to act in the interest of peace and security in the region.  He recalled that in the resolution, Israel’s admission to the United Nations in 1949 was accompanied by two conditions:  Israel’s commitment to the partition resolution and the establishment of the Palestinian State, as well as to resolution 194 (III), calling for the return of Palestine refugees to their homes and just compensation.  He reiterated urgent calls to the international community to compel compliance by Israel, the occupying power, with its legal obligations, relevant resolutions and international commitments.  Israel could not continue to be permitted to act as if it was a State above the law without consequence.  This was a matter of urgency because, in the midst of turbulent crises throughout the region, the critical situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, was totally unsustainable and risked further destabilization.  Palestinians remained committed to the two-State solution and their hand remained extended in peace.

President Abbas’s statement said this was why they had embarked on the multilateral, peaceful, political initiative that would be considered by the General Assembly this afternoon to accord Non Member Observer State status to Palestine in the United Nations.  Their preference remained full membership in the United Nations, which was their legitimate, legal and historic right, and they hoped that the Security Council would one day soon positively recommend their application to the General Assembly.  In the interim, he appealed to Member States for their principled support of the draft resolution today in support of the Palestinian people, in recognition of their State and as an investment in peace.  This was indeed a positive, constructive effort aimed at preserving the two-State solution.
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