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

29 November 2019

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

Tatiana Valovaya, 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 resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remained one of the most intractable challenges facing the international community. Regrettably, over the past year, there had been no positive developments, and the situation on the ground continued to deteriorate. The intensification of illegal settlements, demolitions of Palestinian homes and the pervasive suffering in Gaza must stop. The establishment of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, had no legal validity and constituted a flagrant violation of international law, as stated in Security Council resolution 2334. These actions threatened to undermine the viability of establishing a Palestinian State based on relevant United Nations resolutions. At the same time, the indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars towards Israeli civilian populations must cease.

The Secretary-General called on Israelis and Palestinians, and all their supporters, to take steps that would restore faith in the two-State solution. Only constructive negotiations between the parties, in good faith, with support from the international community and adhering to long-standing United Nations resolutions and long-agreed parameters, would bring about a just and durable solution, with Jerusalem as the capital of both States.

State of Palestine, reading out a statement on behalf of Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the State of Palestine, said that for over 70 years, the Palestinian people had been martyred and imprisoned while defending their history, their homeland, and their holy sites. State of Palestine had accepted the path of negotiations, dialogue, political engagement and peaceful popular resistance as the means to resolve all final status issues and to achieve a peace agreement that led to independence, ended occupation and ended the conflict. However, all the while, Israel, the occupying power, had only pursued delaying tactics and bad faith actions since the conclusion of the Oslo agreements and to this very day. Moreover, the Israeli Prime Minister had expressed his rejection of the two-State solution and actively pursued annexation and settlement activities in Palestinian occupied land to undermine this solution.

The President of the State of Palestine rejected the declaration by the United States Secretary of State that Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, did not contravene international law. Such unlawful statements and decisions by the United States only emboldened the Israeli Government in perpetuating its occupation and in accelerating its settlement activities and in further committing crimes as determined by the Rome Statute. It was time for concrete measures to provide protection to the Palestinian people and to fulfil their right to self-determination, freedom, and independence on the land occupied in 1967, and with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The Special Meeting was also addressed by Afghanistan 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; Azerbaijan on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement; the African Union; and the World Young Women’s Christian Association and the Young Women’s Christian Association of Palestine, representing 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 Heads of State and Government of Qatar, Turkey, Jordan, Indonesia, Brazil, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India, Namibia and Egypt.

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

Statements

TATIANA VALOVAYA, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, reading out the message of ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, the United Nations Secretary-General, said that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remained one of the most intractable challenges facing the international community. Regrettably, over the past year, there had been no positive developments, and the situation on the ground continued to deteriorate.

The intensification of illegal settlements, demolitions of Palestinian homes and the pervasive suffering in Gaza must stop. The establishment of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, had no legal validity and constituted a flagrant violation of international law, as stated in Security Council resolution 2334. These actions threatened to undermine the viability of establishing a Palestinian State based on relevant United Nations resolutions. At the same time, the indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars towards Israeli civilian populations must cease.

The Secretary-General called on Israelis and Palestinians, and all their supporters, to take steps that would restore faith in the two-State solution. There was no viable alternative. It was a dangerous illusion to think that the conflict could be managed or contained in perpetuity. Only constructive negotiations between the parties, in good faith, with support from the international community and adhering to long-standing United Nations resolutions and long-agreed parameters, would bring about a just and durable solution, with Jerusalem as the capital of both States. What was needed, first and foremost, was leadership and political will. The efforts of civil society and those on all sides who sought to bridge the gap between Israelis and Palestinians also needed to be supported.

On this International Day of Solidarity, all should reaffirm their commitment to upholding the rights of the Palestinian people. The United Nations would not waver in its commitment to the Palestinian people as the Organization strove to achieve their inalienable rights and build a future of peace, justice, security and dignity for Palestinians and Israelis alike.

Afghanistan, reading out the statement of the Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said that they met to express their commitment to fully implement resolution 181, adopted 72 years ago, when the General Assembly decided to partition Mandate Palestine into two sovereign adjoining States. Despite this resolution, only one State had seen the light, while the other was yet to gain full independence and sovereignty. It was discouraging that they must gather every year to remind the world that the promise of the United Nations remained unfulfilled. The Palestinian people had endured 52 years of an illegal occupation which denied their inalienable right to self-determination, statehood and independence, and millions of Palestinians still endured dispossession and exile as the right of return of the Palestinian refugees also continued to be denied. The occupying power must cease all illegal settlement activities and Member States must distinguish in their dealings between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. Israeli politicians had openly declared their intention to annex occupied Palestinian territory, a move which the international community must firmly reject.

The Palestinian people did not need only sympathy with their plight and solidarity with their just cause, but real political support and credible political prospects for the independence of their State. The goal remained a just and lasting solution of two States living side by side in peace and security, within the pre-1967 borders, and with East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine.

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, said they were present today bound by a common purpose to seek ways to a peaceful and equitable solution to the question of Palestine. In June this year in Amman, civil society representatives, victims and witnesses had briefed the Special Committee on the situation of human rights within the occupied Palestinian territories and the occupied Syrian Golan. These testimonies had brought to the attention of the Committee the daily cycle of violence and hardship, where every aspect of life continued to be impacted by the unlawful occupation. The Committee had noted with concern the escalation of human rights violations, including violence from settler expansion and the grave humanitarian crisis in Gaza from the ongoing blockade and closure. Earlier this month, the Committee presented its fifty-first report, pursuant to General Assembly resolution 73/96. The report provided an update on a number of issues of concern, notably the continued expansion of Israeli settlements, the destruction and confiscation of Palestinian property, increased settler violence, continued use of administrative detention of Palestinians, including children, the exploitation of natural resources, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the lack of accountability for violations.

In Gaza, where half of the 1.9 million population were children, 29 children had been killed during demonstrations and 4,387 injured, within a year from September 2018. In the West Bank, six children were killed with 1,238 injured in the same period. The report also covered the deteriorating situation in Gaza, where the Committee was concerned about the excessive use of force against demonstrators that had resulted in 138 Palestinians killed and 15,901 injured. The Special Committee joined the international calls for a just and lasting resolution of the question of Palestine, based on the two-State solution and an end to the suffering of the Palestinian people. Both parties to the conflict must create the necessary environment to facilitate peace. The Special Committee reaffirmed its steadfast support of the cause, as the people of Palestine strove to gain their legitimate rights and aspirations.

League of Arab States, reading out the statement of the Secretary General of the League of Arab States, said the League of Arab States participated in this annual commemoration to stress the importance of the Palestinian cause to the Arab nation. The world had witnessed movements in recent years by the American Administration which were said to be aimed at establishing peace, but it quickly became clear that this alleged peace reflected the views of the Israeli right wing in forcing a solution on the Palestinians which affirmed the reality of the occupation and its legality. The American Administration, with the aim of forcing the Palestinian side to accept this solution, had undertaken a series of illegal measures, the latest of which was the statement by the American Secretary of State that the United States no longer considered the settlements in the West Bank to be in violation of international law. The League of Arab States strongly condemned this unfortunate change in the American position which could encourage Israeli settlers to carry out more barbaric violence against Palestinian inhabitants. Settlements continued to be settlements that were illegal. This move was the latest of the unilateral American measures, which gave the green light to Israel’s plan to obliterate the two-State solution. However, the United States blatant bias to Israel had not changed international support for the Palestinian cause and the two-State solution.

Organization of Islamic Cooperation said the present commemoration was taking place under a grave situation, with the serious escalation witnessed recently in the Gaza Strip due to the military aggression perpetrated by the Israeli occupying forces, which had resulted in dozens of martyrs and wounded people. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation called on the international community to rise up to its responsibility and provide international protection to the Palestinian people. The occupied city of Al-Quds was also experiencing grave developments, as a result of persistent policies of Israel, the occupying power, aimed at achieving an alteration of the legal, historical and political status of the holy city, seeking to cut it from its Palestinian background. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation reaffirmed its rejection of the declarations made by the United States Secretary of State to the effect that the Israeli colonial settlements did not conflict with international law. This was a blatant violation of international legality and resolutions of the United Nations.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation reaffirmed its emphatic rejection and full denunciation of the Israeli Prime Minister’s declaration as to his intention to impose Israeli sovereignty on all areas in the Jordan alley, in the north of the Dead Sea, and the settlements in the West Bank. This was a grave escalation and a blatant aggression on the Palestinian people’s historical rights aimed at undermining international efforts in favour of the establishment of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in accordance with the two-State solution and in line with United Nations resolutions. The situation was further aggravated because of the illegal decision of Israel to continue withholding the revenues of Palestinian taxes.

Azerbaijan, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Non-Aligned Movement had historically maintained a firm and solidary stance toward the Palestinian people and their just cause, which rejected the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. In the final document of the eighteenth summit of the Non-Aligned Movement held this year in Baku, the Non-Aligned Movement had stressed the urgent need to continue providing political, economic and humanitarian support to assist the Palestinian people and to bolster their resilience and efforts aimed at achieving their legitimate national aspirations, including their inalienable right to self-determination and freedom in their independent State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, on the basis of the pre-1967 borders in line with international law and relevant United Nations resolutions, and underscored the need to address recent critical political developments and the continued deterioration of the situation on the ground, which were dangerously undermining the prospects for the realization of a peaceful and just solution for the question of Palestine.

The Non-Aligned Movement condemned the flagrant, massive and systematic violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by Israel, the occupying power as recently reported by the Independent Commission of Inquiry of the Human Rights Council. It reiterated its grave concern about the plight of thousands of Palestinian civilians. The ongoing illegal Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory continued to be a matter of grave concern. The Non-Aligned Movement condemned any action which would legitimize the occupation and illegal settlements.

African Union said that more than 40 years after the proclamation of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, in United Nations General Assembly resolution 32/40 B, the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories had never been as alarming as it stood now, and it continued to deteriorate and to undermine or even damage international relations. The African Union was deeply concerned and disappointed that the United States Government continued to provide its blind support to Israeli illegal settlements, thus defying international law and the entire international community, which largely condemned the recent declaration of the United States Government considering the said settlements as legal. All had reached a point where they could question and even doubt any genuine role that the current United States Administration could play in finding any solution to the situation in the Middle East.

Disproportionate Israeli actions targeting civilians, the Judaisation policy of Jerusalem, the apartheid wall, as well as the illegal expansion of settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and its neighbourhood must be stopped. The persistence of the Israeli authorities and its allies to ignore all United Nations resolutions and decisions and to openly violate the human rights of the Palestinian people collectively and individually should not be tolerated any more. The African Union restated the steadfastness of its position in support of the just Palestinian cause and the continued efforts of the Union to achieve a comprehensive and durable peace for the Palestinian people. The disrespect of Israel and its allies to regional and international efforts, and their disregard for the moral and legal principles shared by the entire international community were unfortunately established facts. The failure of the international community as a whole to protect the fundamental rights of an entire population was also another sad fact.

World Young Women’s Christian Association and its member association Young Women’s Christian Association of Palestine, representing non-governmental organizations accredited to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said last week, Israeli authorities closed several Palestinian organizations in occupied East Jerusalem, including a television station, the Education and High Education Directorate in Jerusalem, and the Islamic Orphanage School in the old city. Israeli police raided the offices of these institutions and closed them for six months, supposedly for planning to hold activities under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority. Israeli forces also continued to strike the besieged Palestinians in the Gaza Strip that had been under blockade for over 12 years. Only this month, attacks by Israeli forces had left 34 dead and 111 injured. The last few months had witnessed escalating conflict and violence and more and more women and children were being arrested with no charges, and were subjected to extreme physical and psychological violence. It was estimated that 413 Palestinian residents were being held in administrative detention.

The World Young Women’s Christian Association and the Young Women’s Christian Association of Palestine supported Palestine’s right to self-determination and reaffirmed the role of women and young women in peace building and conflict resolution at all levels. They expressed deep concern about the continued violations of Palestinian rights, as well as unilateral decisions that aggravated tension in the Middle East, like recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by moving embassies there, or stating that Israeli settlements built in the West Bank were not inconsistent with international law. The World Young Women’s Christian Association and the Young Women’s Christian Association of Palestine called for the end of the Israeli occupation and supported the Palestinian right to establish their independent sovereign State.

State of Palestine, reading out a statement by MAHMOUD ABBAS, President of the State of Palestine, said that for over 70 years, the Palestinian people had endured many tragedies and crises. They had suffered sacrifice, pain and displacement; they had been steadfast and struggled; and they had been martyred and imprisoned while defending their history, their homeland, and their holy sites. They remained undeterred in their struggle and journey and in their belief in their national aspirations and goals, in accordance with United Nations resolutions.

State of Palestine had accepted international legislation and international law as the arbiter for resolving the conflict. It had accepted the path of negotiations, dialogue, political engagement and peaceful popular resistance as the means to resolve all final status issues and to achieve a peace agreement that led to independence, ended occupation and ended the conflict. However, all the while, Israel, the occupying power, had only pursued delaying tactics and bad faith actions since the conclusion of the Oslo agreements and to this very day. Moreover, the Israeli Prime Minister had expressed his rejection of the two-State solution and actively pursued annexation and settlement activities in Palestinian occupied land to undermine this solution. His Government had persisted in the efforts to alter the identity and character of East Jerusalem, the capital of the Palestinian State. It had promulgated discriminatory and racist laws, and had isolated, through its blockade, Gaza from the rest of the country and from the world.

Once again, they were witnessing the United States Administration violating international law, proving it was unqualified to be an honest broker. Two weeks ago, the United States Secretary of State declared that Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, did not contravene international law. This position was rejected by the State of Palestine and by the international community at large. Such unlawful statements and decisions by the United States only emboldened the Israeli Government in perpetuating its occupation and in accelerating its settlement activities and in further committing crimes as determined by the Rome Statute.

The international community needed to immediately assume its responsibilities to put an end to this Israeli aggression against Palestinian land, Palestinian existence and Palestinian future. It was time for concrete measures to provide protection to the Palestinian people and to fulfil their right to self-determination, freedom, and independence on the land occupied in 1967, and with East Jerusalem as its capital. Despite decades of disappointment and setbacks, State of Palestine remained committed to a multilateral order that respected and ensured respect for international law.


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