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

29 November 2017

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

Michael Møller, the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, chaired the meeting and read out the message of António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, who stressed that the two-State solution recognized by resolution 181 was the only premise for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and that the resolution of this conflict would also create momentum for greater stability throughout the region. The Secretary-General encouraged the Palestinian and Israeli leaders to tangibly demonstrate their stated commitment to a negotiated peace and create the conditions for a return to meaningful negotiations. The recent positive developments on intra-Palestinian unity should be harnessed by all to move the process in the right direction; the Secretary-General stood ready work with all stakeholders, including the Middle East Quartet and countries in the region, to support a serious political process, drawing on all relevant United Nations resolutions, international law and agreements, that would realize a two-State solution, end half a century of occupation, and resolve all final status issues.

State of Palestine, reading out a statement on behalf of Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the State of Palestine, said that Palestine had never stopped its peaceful, political, diplomatic and legal efforts to achieve its freedom. Twenty-four years had passed since the Oslo Agreement was been signed, which was supposed to deliver an independent State of Palestine in five years, but Israel had continued to refuse to recognize a State of Palestine or even the right to self-determination for the Palestinian people. There was a dire need for resolute measures to be taken to put an end to the Israeli occupation and other violations which represented war crimes and crimes against humanity. Ending the status of Israel as a State above the law would pave the road to peace and save the future generations from oppression and exile, and would build a lasting peace between Palestine and Israel. Palestine remained committed to a two-State solution according to the pre-1967 borders, but if peaceful efforts failed to reach a solution, the Palestinian people would not disappear, they would not accept humiliation and unfairness as their future, they would continue their legal struggle to establish their rights.

The Special Meeting was also addressed by Senegal on behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People; Sri Lanka on behalf 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; the League of Arab States; the Organization of Islamic Cooperation; Venezuela on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement; the African Union; and the World Young Women’s Christian Association in a joint statement with the Young Women’s Christian Association of Palestine.

Messages or statements for the Day were received from the Heads of State of Jordan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Turkey, Brazil, Qatar, India, Malaysia, Maldives, Bangladesh, Egypt and Pakistan.

The Special Meeting was organized in observance of General Assembly resolution 32/40B of 2 December 1977.

Secretary-General’s Message

MICHAEL MØLLER, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, opened the meeting and read out the message of ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, United Nations Secretary-General, in which the Secretary-General stressed that the question of Palestine was inextricably linked with the history of the United Nations and was one of the longest unresolved issues on the Organization’s agenda. Seventy years since the adoption of General Assembly resolution 181, a sovereign and independent State of Palestine had yet to emerge alongside the State of Israel. The two-State solution recognized by that resolution was the only premise for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The resolution of this conflict would also create momentum for greater stability throughout the region, stressed the Secretary-General in his message.

Mr. Guterres, in his message, further recalled that during his visit to Israel and Palestine last August, leaders on both sides had restated their commitment to a negotiated peace, and he encouraged them to tangibly demonstrate this commitment and create the conditions for a return to meaningful negotiations. The recent positive developments on intra-Palestinian unity should be harnessed by all to move the process in the right direction. The Secretary-General reiterated his readiness to work with all stakeholders, including the Middle East Quartet and countries in the region, to support a serious political process, drawing on all relevant United Nations resolutions, international law and agreements, that would realize a two-State solution, end half a century of occupation and resolve all final status issues. Now was the time to end the conflict by establishing an independent Palestinian State, living side by side in peace and security with the State of Israel.

Statements

A Representative of Senegal, speaking on behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said that it was worth reflecting that while the General Assembly continued to reaffirm annually with overwhelming support the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, regrettably today, there was still much to be done for the Palestinian people, including the Palestinian refugees, to enjoy their universal human rights. The international community must act to ensure a future where the Palestinian and Israeli people lived peacefully and in security, and that another generation did not have to endure this tragedy. Fifty years of occupation and conflict had immeasurably deepened the divisions and mistrust between Palestinians and Israelis and compounded the conflict. The two-State solution was in peril, gravely diminished by the occupation and colonisation but also by violence and mistrust between the parties. This situation was being exploited by extremists, whose violence imperilled the two-State solution further.

Nevertheless, a ray of light had emerged this year in the efforts to promote the intra-Palestinian reconciliation. The unity among the Palestinian political leadership and the bridging of the divide between Gaza and the West Bank were welcome steps towards addressing many critical issues, including the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, and unifying and strengthening Palestinian engagement in the peace process. The Israeli authorities should seize the opportunity to respond constructively to this reconciliation by undertaking decisive measures that could enable peace. It was critical that Palestinian reconciliation was followed by an outcome-oriented and definitive peace process, based on the longstanding terms of reference in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid principles, Arab Peace Initiative and Quartet Roadmap. In this connection, the Committee lent its support to the ongoing efforts aimed at relaunching the Peace process, namely by the United States, the Russian Federation and Egypt.

A Representative of Sri Lanka, speaking on behalf 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, said this International Day of Solidarity was a reminder of the urgent need to find a just and peaceful solution to the question of Palestine, and most importantly, to address the plight of the Palestinian people, particularly its children, and to provide for their humanitarian needs. Earlier this year in Amman, civil society representatives, victims and witnesses of Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian People, as well as Palestinian and United Nations officials, had briefed the Special Committee on the situation of human rights within the occupied Palestinian territories and the occupied Syrian Golan. Those testimonies had once again brought to the attention of the Committee the daily violence and humiliation suffered by Palestinians. Settlement expansion had had a direct impact on the escalation of violence in the occupied territories, and had largely contributed to the increase in the number of civilian casualties that included infants.

The Special Committee remained deeply concerned about reports that dozens of families of Palestinians killed had been denied the right to a proper and dignified closure on the basis of ‘security concerns’. It was also deeply concerned about State-sanctioned land seizures, retroactive legalization of outposts, demolition of Palestinian homes and livelihood structures, restrictions of movement or access to livelihoods, and lack of accountability for settler violence. The cumulative impact of those measures on the human rights of the Palestinian people was a matter of serious concern. An emerging issue of particular concern brought to the attention of the Special Committee was the shrinking democratic space for civil society, particularly local Palestinian and Israeli organizations, working to promote human rights in the occupied territories. The Special Committee’s report this year also covered the situation in Gaza, where Israel’s land closure and naval blockade had now entered its eleventh year, and the situation of human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan and the impact of settlement expansion. The Chair of the Special Committee reiterated the call for a just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine and an end to the suffering of the Palestinian people. Both parties to the conflict must create the necessary environment to facilitate peace, and there was an urgent need for mutual confidence-building measures in support of efforts to resume dialogue and substantive negotiations. Israel must protect the Palestinian civilian population in the occupied territories and desist from actions that were contrary to the established rules of international law and practice.

A Representative of the League of Arab States read out the statement of AHMAD ABUL GHEIT, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, in which he recalled that in November 1917, the disastrous Balfour Declaration had been proclaimed to create a Jewish State in Palestine, and in November 1947 the United Nations General Assembly had issued resolution 181 to divide Palestine into two States, an Arab State and a Jewish State. The State of Israel had been established, but the Arab Palestinian State had not; there could be no justice and peace until it was created. In November 2012, Palestine had been given observer State status to the United Nations. The League of Arab States would continue to support all Palestinian and Arab diplomatic and legal efforts to consolidate the legal status of Palestine until it received full membership in the United Nations. Last October, Palestinian factions had agreed to resolve their differences under the auspices of Egypt, and the reconciliation augured well for peace. After 50 years of occupation, Israel continued its policies aimed at destroying the two-State solution and any peace possibilities. It continued with its building of settlements on Palestinian lands despite international condemnation. Israeli violations in all occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, continued, as did its illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip for more than 10 years. Israel had a long history of showing contempt for and refusing to comply with United Nations resolutions; despite this, Israel was working to gain non-permanent membership of the Security Council in 2019-2020 which would spell disaster for the Palestinian people. All peace-loving countries must stand united to stop that from happening. The deadlock in peace negotiations was fraught with serious consequences and it was hoped that the United States could support the goal of an independent Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital and that it could work on this goal with the European partners.

A Representative of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, reading out a statement by the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said that the commemoration this year coincided with the centenary of the Balfour Declaration that had represented the beginning of the historical injustice whose ramifications continued to be felt by the Palestinian people who, for decades, had suffered occupation, oppression, expulsion and ethnic cleansing. It was also 70 years since the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of resolution 181 on the partition plan of Palestine. However, the State of Palestine was yet to achieve its independence and the Palestinian people remained deprived from exercising their legitimate national rights. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation reiterated the historical, legal, political and moral responsibility of the international community to find a just solution to all aspects of the Palestinian question, which also involved the necessity of ending the Israeli occupation, as well as the full recognition of the State of Palestine, ensuring justice for the Palestinian people, and establishing their sovereign independent State on the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as it capital, and finding a just solution to the issue of the Palestinian refugees.

The international community should take practical and effective measures that would put an end to the Israeli violations and illegal practices aimed at changing the geographical and demographic situation in and around East Jerusalem, which were null and void under international law. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation was following with deep concern the continuation of the policy of building and expanding Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and called for the international condemnation of settlement building to be translated into practical and effective measures in the implementation of the Security Council resolution 2334 as part of the overall framework of supporting efforts and chances of achieving peace. The international community should continue to support the Palestinian reconciliation, while the continued Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, tantamount to collective punishment and resulting in grave humanitarian consequences for the Palestinian people, must stop.

A Representative of Venezuela, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, recalled that the Non-Aligned Movement had, historically, always adopted a firm attitude of solidarity with the Palestinian people and their cause - a clear and unambiguous position that recognized the inalienable rights of this people. The Non-Aligned Movement rejected the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine and condemned massive, flagrant and systematic violations of human rights and international law committed by the occupying power. Israeli’s constant illegal practices continued to hinder peace efforts, while the occupation had subjected the Palestinian people to suffering for decades and deprived them of their human rights. Israel the occupying power continued with human rights violations and acts of aggression against the Palestinian people throughout the Palestinian territory, including in the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, in violation of international law. The continued illegal Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories remained a matter of grave concern; the international community must take urgent action and practical measures to compel the occupying power to put a definitive end to this destructive policy, immediately cease its settlement activity, including in East Jerusalem, and abide with its international obligations, including under the relevant United Nations resolutions and the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Non-Aligned Movement condemned illegal Israeli practices seeking to change the demographic composition, legal status and geography of the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, and reiterated its strong solidarity with the Palestinian people and the commitment to the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and an independent Palestinian State, with Jerusalem as its capital.

A Representative of the African Union delivered a statement on behalf of MOUSSA FAKI, President of the African Union Commission, saying that the international community had failed to achieve a peaceful solution to the conflict which would allow an entire people to exercise their right to self-determination. The African Union continued to condemn all illegal actions of Israel, including the construction of the separation wall and the building of settlements, and deplored Israel’s persistent violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people collectively and individually. The African Union continued to express its support for the peaceful settlement of the conflict in accordance with the principles of international law which would guarantee the creation of an independent Palestinian State within the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital. In the face of the regional and international efforts, Israel continued to establish illegal settlements and had turned it into an illegal policy; international condemnation for this policy had not changed Israel’s actions. The signing in October of a reconciliation agreement and a transfer of power in the Gaza Strip by 1 December to the Palestinian Authority was a very positive step which reaffirmed the unity of leadership within the future Palestinian State. The Palestinian parties must manage to smooth over their remaining differences. This was an important turning point, a chance that must not be wasted nor subjected to pressure. A constructive and positive attitude was needed in the peace process which would lead to a lasting settlement to this conflict that had lasted too long.

World Young Women’s Christian Association, also speaking for the Young Women’s Christian Association of Palestine, said that the Israeli occupation had created a reality of struggle, insecurity and fear for the Palestinian youth, who were restricted inside their own country and deprived of the right to free movement. Every day, a new martyr was announced, another house was demolished and someone was arrested, even children. How many people needed to die until Palestinians attained their freedom? The Member States of the United Nations had a legal and moral responsibility to ensure that resolution 181 which called for an independent Palestinian State was fulfilled. This year marked the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, the seventieth anniversary of the Partition Plan, a half-century of one of the longest military occupations in modern history, and more than 10 years of the siege on Gaza. As one of the world’s largest youth organizations, the non-governmental organization supported the application of United Nations Security Council resolution 2250 on meaningful and inclusive youth participation in building a sustainable future which promoted justice, respect and security. All governments and civil society organizations should support Palestinians’ right to self-determination and defend their right to resist the occupation in creative and non-violent ways; demand that Israel complied with international law, and ended the military occupation of the State of Palestine; and end illegal settlement expansion and stop the annexation of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The international community had legal, ethical, and moral obligations to act. Solidarity demanded more than reports, letters, or statements; it demanded personal and collective action and the commitment to work for justice and sustainable peace.

A Representative of the State of Palestine read out the statement of MAHMOUD ABBAS, President of the State of Palestine, in which he recalled that 70 years ago, on 29 November 1947, the General Assembly had adopted resolution 181 according to which Palestine was unjustly divided. Within a few months, Israel had forced one third of the Palestinian people from their land and destroyed more than 400 villages and towns, which paved the way for its occupation by force of more than three quarters of Palestine. In 1967, Israel had occupied the rest of the Palestinian territory, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Seventy years later, the Palestinian problem remained without a solution, and the Palestinians were still waiting for their freedom and independence. Palestine had never stopped its peaceful, political, diplomatic and legal efforts to achieve its freedom. Twenty-four years had passed since the Oslo Agreement was signed, which was supposed to deliver an independent State of Palestine in five years, but Israel had continued to refuse to recognize a State of Palestine or even the right to self-determination for the Palestinian people. Israel continued to violate agreements it signed with its colonizing settlement activities on occupied Palestinian lands, violating United Nations resolutions and international law, and destroying hopes for peace and a two-State solution. In light of this, there was a dire need for resolute measures to be taken to put an end to the Israeli occupation and other violations which represented war crimes and crimes against humanity. Palestine urged the international community to deliver its commitments and reject the illegal situation, which was the result of Israel’s policies in occupied Palestine, including East Jerusalem, and to stop providing it with aid and support which solidified the status quo. Ending the status of Israel as a State above the law would pave the road to peace, save the future generations from oppression and exile, and would build a lasting peace between Palestine and Israel.

In his statement, Mr. Abbas said Palestine remained committed to its obligations under the Roadmap created by the Quartet, and it had supported other peace efforts, however, the Israeli Government had deliberately destroyed all efforts, preferring to continue with its settlements and colonisation of Palestinian lands instead of working for peace. Israeli steps taken to try and make its military occupation permanent would lead to an escalation of the situation. Palestine remained committed to a two-State solution according to the pre-1967 borders, but if peaceful efforts failed to reach a solution, the Palestinian people would not disappear, they would not accept humiliation and unfairness as their future, they would continue their legal struggle to establish their rights. Palestine would continue with the reconciliation of the Palestinian groups. At the centennial anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, millions of Palestinian refugees were still living in exile, waiting for a just solution to their plight. Palestine called on the world to provide international protection for the Palestinian people and to implement United Nations resolutions to help put an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands.



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