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

29 November 2018

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 said that the question of Palestine had become one of the most intractable challenges for the international community, and they all knew only too well the tragic results.  Demolitions, illegal continued settlement expansion and construction, forced evictions and collective punitive measures would not bring peace.  The same went for violence and incitement, and similarly, unilateral steps would not resolve final status issues or the conflict.  Only constructive negotiations, in good faith, and adhering to the long-established and agreed parameters for a two-State solution, would bring the desired, long-lasting solution.  The Secretary-General called on all actors, and first and foremost the leadership of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, to take bold steps and restore faith in the promise of resolution 181, of two States living side-by-side in peace and security, fulfilling the legitimate national aspirations of both peoples, with borders based on the 1967 lines and Jerusalem as the capital of both States, East Jerusalem being the capital of the Palestinian State.  It was the only way to achieve the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.  It was the only option for a comprehensive and just peace.

State of Palestine, reading out a statement on behalf of Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the State of Palestine, said that the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Human Rights Council and other United Nations organs and bodies, including the International Court of Justice, had adopted strong and principled resolutions in favour of the just Palestinian cause.  However, Palestine deeply regretted the lack of implementation of these resolutions, which had compounded the conflict over the many decades and inflicted grave hardships on the Palestinian people. This unjust situation had deepened convictions that there was indeed a double standard when it came to resolutions regarding Israel, as those resolutions were not being implemented and Israel was being allowed to continue behaving as though it was a State above the law, with complete impunity and with grave consequences.  Palestine called on all States that believed in the two-State solution and recognized the State of Israel, to recognize the State of Palestine as well. Palestine also appealed to States to uphold their obligations not to recognize the illegal situation created by Israel’s policies and measures in the occupied State of Palestine, including East Jerusalem. 

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 and Government of Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Namibia, Qatar, Turkey and Sri Lanka. 

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

Statements

MICHAEL MØLLER, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, reading out the message of ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, the United Nations Secretary-General, said more than 40 years ago, the General Assembly had established an International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People to remind all of their collective, unfinished task of resolving the question of Palestine.  Over the decades, this had become one of the most intractable challenges for the international community, and they all knew only too well the tragic results.  Demolitions, illegal continued settlement expansion and construction, forced evictions and collective punitive measures would not bring peace.  The same went for violence and incitement, and similarly, unilateral steps would not resolve final status issues or the conflict.  Only constructive negotiations, in good faith, and adhering to the long-established and agreed parameters for a two-State solution, would bring the desired, long-lasting solution.  Containing the situation was not sufficient.

The Secretary-General called on all actors, and first and foremost the leadership of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, to take bold steps and restore faith in the promise of resolution 181, of two States living side-by-side in peace and security, fulfilling the legitimate national aspirations of both peoples, with borders based on the 1967 lines and Jerusalem as the capital of both States, East Jerusalem being the capital of the Palestinian State.  It was the only way to achieve the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.  It was the only option for a comprehensive and just peace.  The Secretary-General called on the international community to intensify its engagement and reiterate its commitment to assist Palestinians and Israelis in reaching the two-State solution.  Today, in particular, all hearts were heavy with the suffering of the people in Gaza.  He urged Israel to lift restrictions on the movement of people and goods, which also hampered the efforts of the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies, without jeopardizing legitimate security concerns.  He also called on Hamas and other militant groups to halt their military build-up in Gaza, including the indiscriminate launching of rockets and incendiary devices directed at Israel.

Mr. Guterres said the violence during demonstrations at the Gaza fence was a matter of great concern.  He noted that Palestinians in Gaza had legitimate grievances and the right to demonstrate peacefully.  Hamas and the leaders of the demonstrations had a responsibility to prevent violent actions and provocations.  Israel had a responsibility to exercise maximum restraint and to not use lethal force, except as a last resort against imminent threat of death or serious injury.  He was encouraged by the recent reduction of violence in Gaza.  The United Nations would not waver in its commitment to the Palestinian people. 

Senegal, reading out the statement of the President of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said that to date, 139 Member States had officially recognized the State of Palestine.  At the same time, the illegal occupation of its territory had persisted for 51 years and the Palestinian people were still pursuing their objective to recover their inalienable rights, including the right to self-determination.  In the West Bank as well as Jerusalem, the expansion of settlements continued unabated, in violation of international law and United Nations resolutions.  This was accompanied by the demolition of infrastructure, houses and other structures belonging to Palestinians, while entire villages, like the Bedouin hamlet of Khan el-Ahmar, were threatened by displacement, affecting the subsistence livelihood of their inhabitants.  The restrictions on freedom of movement as well as the wall were other obstacles to the daily life of millions of Palestinians, as was the disproportionate use of force against the civilian population, which left victims, including children.  In the Gaza Strip, the illegal blockade, which had already been in place for 11 years, continued to isolate the civilian population and inflict it with all sorts of deprivations, which exacerbated the despair and tensions.

The Committee called on all actors to take the appropriate measures without delay to mitigate the disastrous humanitarian situation in Gaza and give the civilian population its dignity back.  It was also imperative for all parties to respect the cease-fire.  The drastic reduction of the resources of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East was endangering the continuation of essential programmes which benefited 5.3 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the occupied Palestinian territories.  Reiterating its gratitude to all Member States that had increased their support to UNRWA, the Committee echoed the Secretary-General’s remarks and called for the reinforcement of efforts in order to provide UNRWA with sufficient, predictable and sustainable funding, which would allow it to pursue it mandate helping Palestinian refugees. 

Sri Lanka, reading out the statement of the President of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, said today marked the seventy-first anniversary of the adoption of resolution 181 by the United Nations General Assembly and the fortieth anniversary of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.  Both were stark and painful reminders that the urgent need to find a just and peaceful solution to the Question of Palestine, continued to elude the international community.  The Palestinian people suffered a daily cycle of violence and hardships and every aspect of their life continued to be impacted by the unlawful occupation.  The Committee remained concerned about the continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories; the blockade and closure of Gaza; the lack of accountability; the detention of children and the use of administrative detention; and the hostile environment faced by civil society, particularly local Palestinian and Israeli organizations working to promote human rights in the occupied territories.  Settlement expansion and the demolition of Palestinian homes and destruction of their private property had resulted in the displacement of thousands of Palestinian people in a one-year period, of whom half were reported to be children.  This also had a direct impact on the escalation of violence in the occupied territories and had contributed to the increase in the number of civilian casualties, including children.  Demolitions largely carried out on the pretext of lack of building permits were also carried out for punitive reasons. 

The Committee was concerned about the excessive use of force by Israeli security forces against demonstrators in Gaza since the end of March, that continued to date.  As of 31 October, the Committee was informed that 228 Palestinians had been killed, including 43 children and over 24,362 had been injured.  The Committee strongly condemned the excessive use of force by Israeli security forces.  The blockade and closure of Gaza that entered its twelfth year, remained the most significant obstacle to sustainable recovery and economic development.  It had a significant negative impact on the most basic human rights of Gazans, including their right to health, education and freedom of movement.  This situation was further exacerbated by UNRWA’s unprecedented funding crisis.  The Committee underscored the urgent need of reviving the peace process and reiterated support for the two-State solution based on 1967 borders and joined international calls for a just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine and an end to the suffering of the Palestinian people.

League of Arab States, reading out the statement of the Secretary General of the League of Arab States, said the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People came today against the backdrop of dangerous developments affecting the Palestinian cause, as the Israel occupation authorities continued their policies and plots to derail all hopes and efforts to reach peace, and their violations and discriminatory policies against the Palestinian people, in stark challenges to legitimate international decisions, the latest being the “Jewish Nation State law”, fuelled by unprecedented American decisions against the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.  Arabs refused to accept any agenda aimed at emptying the Palestinian cause from its content.  What the Palestinian people needed now was to translate the international solidarity with the Palestinians into pragmatic steps to end the occupation power’s intransigence and refusal to implement international decisions by increasing pressure and implementing an international blockade of the illegal Israeli settlement framework that was threatening any chance of reaching a two-State solution.  States that had not yet recognized the State of Palestinian should also take this important and necessary step.

Peace was still the lofty aim that the Palestinian people, Arab States and the whole world were looking forward to on the basis of a two-State solution as the only way to ensure the stability of the Middle East.  A Palestinian reconciliation was also very important to face all dangers and challenges as a united block.

Organization of Islamic Cooperation said the meeting today was an opportunity for all to take a sober reflection of the effects of the Israeli colonial settlement practices, apartheid policies, Judaization and forced displacement of the Palestinian people.  This commemoration came at an extremely difficult for the Palestinian people and their cause.  Palestinians saw no genuine political horizon because of the continuous violations by Israel, the occupying force, of international law and relevant United Nations resolutions.  Even the Administration of the United States was taking decisions that showed its complete bias in favour of the occupying force.  The ultimate aim should be to entrench peace, security and stability in the region, while redressing the historical injustice to which the Palestinian people were victims, and ensuring respect for and implementation of United Nations resolutions, the principles of international law and relevant international instruments.  The express aim was to make concrete progress toward the two-State solution, and redress the historical injustice caused to the Palestinian people across the ages. 

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation supported and stood in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle to achieve their inalienable national rights, including the right to return, to self-determination, and to establish their independent State within the borders of 4 June 1967, with Eastern Jerusalem as its capital, and to find a just solution for Palestinian refugees in line with the United Nations General Assembly resolution 194.

Venezuela, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Non-Aligned Movement had historically recognized the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, and rejected the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine and other Arab territories.  The Non-Aligned Movement expressed its grave concerns about the illegal, unilateral and arbitrary decision made by the Government of the United States to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and accordingly its decision to move its embassy there as this would further consolidate Israel’s control and unlawful de facto annexation of Jerusalem, which was in direct contravention of United Nations Security Council resolutions.  The Non-Aligned Movement condemned the flagrant, massive and systematic violation of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by the occupying power. 

The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was a solemn occasion for renewing the commitment of the Non-Aligned Movement to search for a fair and lasting solution to the Palestinian cause and to achieve peace in the Middle East.  The Non-Aligned Movement demanded the immediate cessation of Israeli military incursions into Palestinian territories, and that the human rights of the Palestinian people and the Geneva Conventions were respected.  The Non-Aligned Movement called upon the international community to provide urgently needed assistance in an effort to alleviate the dire humanitarian crisis being faced by the Palestinian people. 

African Union, reading out the statement of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, said that more than 40 years after the proclamation of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories had never been as alarming as it stood now, and it continued to undermine or even damage international relations.  They continued to see the failure and even the indifference of the international community to achieve a peaceful solution to the conflict, which would enable an entire people to exercise their just and legitimate right to self-determination.  The African Union deplored this unacceptable situation and could only unequivocally condemn all the disproportionate Israeli actions targeting civilians, the Judaization policy of Jerusalem, the apartheid wall, as well as the illegal expansion of settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and its neighbourhood.  The African Union also deplored the persistence of Israel in violating the human rights of the Palestinian people collectively and individually. 

The African Union was committed to a peaceful settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict, in accordance with the principles of international law and relevant United Nations resolutions, to ensure the establishment of an independent Palestinian State on the basis of the June 1967 borders, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif (Jerusalem) as its capital.  It had strongly registered its objection to the decision of the United States to consider Al-Quds as the capital of Israel and relocating its embassy there, which was a major obstacle to peace. 

World Young Women’s Christian Association and its member association World Young Women’s Christian Association of Palestine, said that resolution 181 demanded that Palestinians have the right to national independence and a sovereign State, and yet after more than 70 years, Palestinian people continued to be forcibly displaced from their homes and lands, and robbed of their right to self-determination.  Member States of the United Nations had a legal and moral responsibility to ensure that this resolution became a reality.  Gaza continued to live under Israeli siege.  There were over 8,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails, living in the most inhuman conditions, and child detention continued in record numbers.  The ongoing Israeli policy of forced transfer and displacement through home demolitions and evictions along with the revoking of residency rights directly affected women’s sense of security and freedom.  The organizations supported Palestine’s right to self-determination, and affirmed the role of women and young women in peace building and conflict resolution at all levels.  They urged the United Nations to implement its own resolutions on Palestine. 

State of Palestine, reading out a statement by MAHMOUD ABBAS, President of the State of Palestine, conveyed greetings from the State of Palestine and the Palestinian people to all of their friends around the world joining in the commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.  He reaffirmed their profound appreciation and gratitude to all countries extending invaluable support for the just cause of our people, including through their support to the annual resolutions on the question of Palestine at the United Nations, and the maintenance of their principled positions on the basis of international law and the relevant United Nations resolutions, despite all the pressures and attempts to undermine these legal and moral positions. The United Nations had rightly defended the Palestinian cause, placing it as a priority on the agenda of the international community, and had extended a helping hand to the Palestinian people.  The General Assembly, the Security Council, the Human Rights Council and other United Nations organs and bodies, including the International Court of Justice, had adopted strong and principled resolutions in favour of the just Palestinian cause.  However, Palestine deeply regretted the lack of implementation of these resolutions, which had compounded the conflict over the many decades and inflicted grave hardships on the Palestinian people. This unjust situation had deepened convictions that there was indeed a double standard when it came to resolutions regarding Israel, as those resolutions were not being implemented and Israel was being allowed to continue behaving as though it was a State above the law, with complete impunity and with grave consequences.

Despite signing a peace accord with Israel in 1993, despite the Palestine Liberation Organization’s recognition of the State of Israel in 1993, despite Palestine’s fulfilment of its obligations under the agreements signed and the establishment of national institutions respecting the rule of law, despite the recognition accorded to Palestine as a State by 139 countries and the upgrading of its status to an Observer State in 2012 and its accession to more than 100 international treaties and organizations, and despite fostering a culture of peace and combatting terrorism, Israel, the occupying power, still denied the Palestinian people their right to freedom and independence in their own land and refused to reciprocate recognition and persisted with its colonial schemes with the theft of Palestinian land and transfer of its settlers in grave breach of the Geneva Conventions, the most recent of which had been the plans to demolish the village of Khan Al Ahmar and imposition of the “Jewish Nation State” law. Until when would Israel be dealt with as a State above the law, and when would the international community uphold its obligations in this regard?  Palestine called on all States that believed in the two-State solution and recognized the State of Israel to recognize the State of Palestine as well. Palestine also appealed to States to uphold their obligations not to recognize the illegal situation created by Israel’s policies and measures in the occupied State of Palestine, including East Jerusalem.  Palestine was fully committed to international law, relevant United Nations resolutions, and the two-State solution on the pre-1967 borders, and remained ready to give every opportunity to regional and international efforts, based on long-standing terms of references, to achieve a just peace.  But if efforts failed to achieve such a solution, the Palestinian people would continue their legitimate struggle for the realization of their inalienable rights and to strive for equal rights for all in historic Palestine without discrimination.


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