Question of Palestine home
Department of Public Information (DPI)
18 December 2006
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
ISRAELI, PALESTINIAN ADVOCATES DECRY LACK OF INTERNATIONAL LEADERSHIP TO PUSH
FOR PALESTINIAN STATEHOOD, CALL FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE CONFERENCE
(Reissued as received from a UN Information Officer.)
KUALA LUMPUR, 16 December -- This morning’s participants during the second day of the United Nations Asian Meeting in Support of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People agreed that the only answer to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was a two-State solution based on the 1967 borders and the mutual observance by both sides of international law. The former Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Palestinian Authority, Nasser Al-Kidwa, said a Palestinian State was the obvious and only solution.
The speakers’ messages this morning were infused with a sense of urgency. Speakers warned against regionalizing the conflict and urged the parties to act before it was too late. “It is necessary to move now to permanent settlement negotiations”, former Deputy Speaker of Israel’s Knesset Naomi Chazan said.
She said both sides were failing to take responsibility for their obligations and blamed weak leadership. “Public opinion in Israel wants negotiations, wants a peace agreement. We need to force recalcitrant leaders to forge an agreement. The international community is running short of patience for our conflict”, she said.
“The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been both regionalized and internationalized”, she said, as she called for an international peace conference to end the conflict.
Director of the Conflict Resolution Programme of the Carter Centre Matthew Hodes also lamented the lack of leadership. “Visionary leadership is missing in the region, and in the rest of the international community. American leadership is essential. There are no assertive or courageous efforts to resolve the conflict”, he said.
Plenary II: Realizing a Shared Vision of Peace between Israelis, Palestinians
NAOMI CHAZAN, Professor and former Deputy Speaker of the Knesset (Meretz), Tel Aviv, said the goal was as clear today as always. “We have now to ask ourselves what strategies can we develop to promote our objective as early as possible. For too long, the major ingredients of a just solution have been there, but, I fear we have been making some false and distorted linkages and it is necessary today for an international mobilization effort before it is too late – we are on the brink of losing the possibility of achieving the goal unless we act very decisively and conclusively now.”
She criticized the unclear goals set out by the international community. “There has been total ambiguity in the efforts of the diplomatic community. The goal has not been clear; the Oslo Accords do not mention a Palestinian State. The Road Map does not specify what the concept of a free Palestinian State means. The first objective is to specify the substance: an independent Palestine in the 1967 borders, and the return of refugees. The goal of human security cannot be achieved without achieving these conditions”, she said.
“It is necessary to move now to the permanent status negotiations”, she said. She pointed out the need to jump-start the process. “Both Palestinians and Israelis have become prisoners of their own extremists. One has to find a formula for getting the process started, maintaining the fragile ceasefire; implementing a prisoner exchange and a major alleviation of the humanitarian situation, and the beginning of serious efforts to convene a major international conference.”
“Negotiations 10 years ago were hopeful, but since then, the situation on the ground has deteriorated. The loss of hope is becoming the dominant mood. The focus must be on the prevention of a further deterioration in the area: specifically, the expansion of the wall and the settlements. We have directions from the past that should be preserved but there is a need to be more objective about the process”, she said.
“There are two new impediments from the past years alone that further complicated the situation: domestic political insecurity on both sides”, she said. “The focus of the strategy must be how to make leaders go in the direction we want them to go; how to make them do this against their will. The second impediment is that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been both regionalized and internationalized.” She warned against sidelining the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“I will not rest until there is an independent and viable Palestine alongside Israel”, she said. It is impossible to make progress if people, leaders and civil society do not speak with each other. The political and humanitarian sides are linked but are failing to work together”, she said.
“International involvement and bilateral negotiations go together. Each side has an acute awareness of its own suffering and an underdeveloped sense of their own responsibility. The two sides are entwined in the same destiny”, she said.
An international conference was needed now, she warned. “Do not underestimate the current situation. The rate of the disintegration of law and order is alarming.”
MATTHEW HODES, Director, Conflict Resolution Program, the Carter Centre, Atlanta, spoke of the role of US foreign policy. “Democracy cannot be imposed”, he warned. “American foreign policy is using negotiations as a reward”, he said, “and tends to only negotiate with the parties that agree with them. Their credibility in the region is low.”
“A lot of attention has gone to the humanitarian situation, but no progress will be made unless there is a viable Palestinian State”, he said. He defined the basic elements of a peaceful settlement: borders, statehood, the sharing of religions sites and the rights of refugees – but difficult structural impediments blocked the solution.
“Visionary leadership is missing in the region, and in the rest of the international community. American leadership is essential. Of the main leaders with interest in this conflict, there are no assertive, real or courageous efforts to resolve the conflict”, he said.
“The flaw in the Road Map is lack of a destination”, he said. He pointed out that preconditions, which had featured heavily in attempts to negotiate a resolution, were not part of a successful negotiation.
“There are signs of hope. The efforts of the Arab League represent a possibility for the negotiation of peace. The release of the Iraq Study Group’s report is also an indirect sign of hope because it highlights the Israeli-Palestinian issue and it will shape debate on the conflict in the years to come”, he said. “Victimhood and legitimacy do not belong to one side only”, he said.
PANG SEN, Vice-President and Director-General of the United Nations Association of China, Beijing, said mutual trust and realistic expectations were required to move forward with a successful peaceful solution. He encouraged the parties to agree to the UN resolutions and the principle of land for peace. Mr. Pang said China had been trying to play a larger role in the Middle East peace process. China now had diplomatic relations with Israel and relations have been developing fast.
China now has diplomatic relations with Israel and relations have been developing fast. “ China is in a position to play a more effective and larger role in the region”, he said. “The international community is fully aware of the plight of the Palestinian people. The UN has established bodies to study the issue and propose specific measures and actions, such as the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and the Division of Palestine. Both sides should adhere to a ceasefire, refrain from violence and begin rebuilding mutual trust. It is critical that the UN resolutions are implemented”, he said.
NASSER AL-KIDWA, Former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Palestinian Authority, warned that the current window of opportunity was small and rapidly diminishing with the construction of the wall and settlements. “We still have an opportunity to achieve a two-State resolution, but without a precise definition of a final outcome, we are going to have more of the same”, he said referring to the peace process of the 1990s. He warned that if the opportunity for a two-State solution is missed Palestinians will have to explore other options such as a bi-national State.
Using adjectives to describe a future Palestinian State like “viable” and “democratic”, he said, was a way to evade the issue of 1967 borders. “There is no other solution, and no substitute to the phrase expressing what we need: a two-State solution based on the 1967 borders, and the upholding of international law and especially humanitarian law.”
The most obvious mechanism for this outcome is the UN, he said. “But the United States of America does not want a clear legal framework in place”, he said, so, a UN solution via the Security Council did not seem promising. The Quartet offered another mechanism for achieving this. An international peace conference was another possibility, he said. Mechanisms and processes were no substitute for a clearly defined final outcome, he warned.
He urged the Palestinian side to come up with a clear strategy and a position anchored in international law. “The Palestinian side has to end the practice of targeting civilians in Israel, to uphold the right of the Palestinian people to resist occupation, because this is upheld by international law, and to offer a permanent ceasefire”, he said.
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