Speakers expressed concern regarding the deadlock in the peace process. They condemned Israeli settlements and the escalation of violence, exemplified by the brutal Gaza war, as well as violence in Jerusalem provoked by Israeli actions regarding holy sites, which threatened to ignite a religious war. The year 2014, designated as the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, instead brought them more death and privation. Speakers deplored the suffering of civilians in Gaza, while calling for the lifting of the blockade, meaningful reconciliation and the speeding-up of Gaza’s reconstruction and disbursement of pledged aid. Parliamentarians stressed that they had a special responsibility to ensure that their Governments actively promoted the peaceful realization of a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the conflict and upheld international law while ensuring accountability. In the meantime, the United Nations continued to play an important role in supporting the peace process while implementing its humanitarian, human rights, development and advocacy mandates.
Parliamentarians called upon the peoples of the world to support the just struggle of the Palestinians while pledging to do their utmost to promote the recognition of Palestine, following the examples of the parliaments of France, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and other States, which would help to build the momentum for peace. Support was expressed for a Security Council resolution that would stipulate an end to the occupation under agreed international parameters, clear timelines and benchmarks. Parliamentarians were also duty-bound to promote dialogue between the two sides. Speakers stressed the need to use parliamentary diplomacy to bring about the necessary advances in the peace process and raise awareness of the deteriorating situation.
Multiple speakers called upon parliamentarians to pressure their Governments to implement United Nations resolutions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, live up to their obligations under international law, hold Israel accountable for human rights violations and safeguard the inalienable rights of the Palestinians.
2. The Meeting consisted of an opening session, two plenary sessions and a closing session. The themes of the plenary sessions were: “Briefings by United Nations officials on international humanitarian and human rights law applicable to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the responsibilities of States” and “Action by parliamentarians to uphold international law and advance Israeli-Palestinian peace”.
3. Meeting participants included parliamentarians from 16 national parliaments, including those of Israel and Palestine, 1 regional parliament, 3 interparliamentary organizations, representatives of 18 Governments, 2 intergovernmental organizations, 2 United Nations bodies and 11 civil society organizations (see annex II).
4. The Chair’s summary of the Meeting (see annex I) was published soon after its conclusion and is available from the website of the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat, as are the full-text papers of the speakers who provided a copy for distribution (see www.un.org/depts/dpa/qpal/calendar.htm).
6. A statement was delivered on behalf of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, by his representative at the Meeting, the Assistant Secretary-General a.i. for Political Affairs, Jens Toyberg-Frandzen. In his statement, the Secretary-General said that, on the question of Palestine, parliamentarians had a special responsibility to ensure that their Governments actively promoted and supported the realization of a peaceful and just solution to the conflict and upheld obligations under international law, including humanitarian and human rights law. He emphasized that the settlement activities of the Government of Israel ran contrary to efforts to bring about the two-State solution. Through interaction with Governments, parliamentarians could help to ensure that international obligations were upheld.
7. The Secretary-General went on to call for a de-escalation in Jerusalem and welcomed Israeli assurances of respect for the status quo of holy sites. While commending the international community’s generous pledges for reconstruction in Gaza, he called for funds to be disbursed without further delay. While recognizing that the two-State solution was long overdue, he said that a just and lasting peace could still be achieved if the parties, supported by the international community, demonstrated the requisite collective political will.
8. The Chair of the Committee saluted the efforts of the parliamentarians of France, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom and other States that had voted for the diplomatic recognition of the State of Palestine and called upon other parliaments to follow suit. Turning to Gaza, he called upon parliamentarians to work to close protection gaps and combat impunity for war crimes, which fuelled recurrent conflict. He also called upon donors to honour their aid pledges made at the Cairo International Conference on Palestine, held in October 2014, and to push Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza. Parliamentarians could also contribute to reconciliation by supporting their Palestinian colleagues, he said.
9. He stressed that another round of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations on the same basis as before was not the solution. He expressed support for the Security Council setting a deadline for the lifting of the Israeli occupation and the defining of the final parameters. Given that settlements were inimical to peace, he called upon parliamentarians to align national legislation with international law on the illegality of settlements.
10. The Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, said that the solidarity of parliamentarians reflected the sentiments of their peoples, who supported an independent State of Palestine. He called for global solidarity with the more than two dozen imprisoned Palestinian parliamentarians. He identified an apparent paradox: although 2014 had been designated as the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Palestinian people suffered from extremely difficult conditions, in particular following the Gaza war. Thousands of Palestinians, including women and children, had died, and homes and infrastructure, including United Nations installations, had been destroyed.
11. He warned that the recent provocations against the Al-Aqsa Mosque could escalate into a religious war. Saluting the parliaments of Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom — and soon France — for recognizing the State of Palestine, he expressed the hope that other countries would follow suit. He also expressed the hope that the new momentum thus generated would help to relaunch the peace process towards a two-State solution. He outlined the two clear choices remaining: a negative and destructive path pushed by Israeli extremists or that proposed by President Mahmoud Abbas, requesting the Security Council to adopt a resolution that would set a clear schedule and parameters for the end of the Israeli occupation.
12. The Secretary-General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Martin Chungong, noted that the admission of Palestine as a member, in 2008, had offered a unique neutral and discreet platform for more constructive dialogue between Palestinian and Israeli parliamentarians, including within the context of its Committee on Middle East Questions. Experience with other conflicts had proved that parliamentary dialogue and diplomacy were a valid and effective track for peace. The parliamentary track set the tone for peace and created an atmosphere that was conducive to peace.
13. He said that the priorities of the IPU included supporting peace, maintaining active dialogue and respecting human rights. The IPU remained engaged in an active capacity-building programme for the secretariat of the Palestinian Legislative Council to help to build a functioning democracy. He called upon the international community not to accept the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a permanent feature of the geopolitical landscape in the Middle East, but instead to work incrementally to create conditions for peace, until the parties were ready for it.
14. The Secretary-General of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union, Nour Eddine Bouchkouj, renewed his organization’s unconditional support for the creation of a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital. He condemned the crimes committed against Palestinians and their holy sites by settlers who were protected by soldiers. Noting that Jerusalem had witnessed an unprecedented escalation by Israeli extremists at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, he said that the Union condemned such acts and supported all measures taken by the Palestinian Authority and the international community to bring to justice the perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He called upon the International Court of Justice to bring the perpetrators to justice.
15. He called upon the Palestinian people to maintain their struggle to attain all their rights, which would be attainable only in the context of national unity and support for the legitimate authority. He expressed gratitude to the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and its Al Quds Committee and the Bayt Mal Al Quds Agency, presided over by King Mohammed VI, for their support. The Union saluted European parliaments and countries that recognized the Palestinian State and called upon others to do so to build the momentum for peace.
16. The President of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly and Chair of the Senate of Pakistan, Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari, said that creating the right atmosphere for dialogue was imperative to moving towards peace, but dialogue should be based on agreed international parameters and have clear timelines and benchmarks. He noted that parliaments institutionalized non-violent means for addressing conflicts and were thus able to contribute to conflict prevention and creating consensus. He called upon parliamentarians to raise their collective voice in all international forums to protect the rights of Palestinians and ensure respect for international human rights and humanitarian law, and commended the parliaments of France, Sweden and the United Kingdom for their leadership.
17. Speaking in his national capacity, as Chairman of the Senate of Pakistan, he said that Pakistan fully supported Palestinian statehood and was one of the co-sponsors of General Assembly resolution 67/19, by which Palestine had been granted observer State status. He expressed full support for the application of Palestine for full membership of the United Nations. The parliament of Pakistan had passed resolutions condemning the genocide by the Israeli forces during their aggression in Gaza in July and August 2014 through the excessive and indiscriminate use of force. Pakistan also had declared a day of national mourning. Pakistan also had strongly condemned recent Israeli actions in Jerusalem, such as the closing of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, denying worshippers access, and the storming of the mosque by soldiers and settlers. He stressed that Palestinian rights were being decimated on a daily basis and Palestinians had no recourse to justice or the rule of law. He emphasized that it was up to parliamentarians, as opinion makers, to bring those facts out forcefully.
A. Plenary session I
Briefings by United Nations officials on international humanitarian
and human rights law applicable to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:
the responsibilities of States
19. The Assistant Secretary-General a.i. for Political Affairs, Jens Toyberg-Frandzen, expressed alarm over the escalating tensions in Jerusalem and violent attacks that were affecting also parts of the West Bank and Israel. He noted that incitement was adding to tensions, which, if left unchecked, could turn into a religious conflict that reverberated far beyond the region. Israeli settlement expansion and the increase in demolitions of Palestinian buildings were further contributing to the tensions on the ground. Calling for a de-escalation, he said that it was essential for words to be translated into concrete actions on the ground. He noted that the situation in Gaza remained fragile, with tremendous needs for recovery and reconstruction. Although reconstruction had begun through the temporary international mechanism facilitated by the United Nations, the Palestinian Government of National Consensus should be fully empowered to assume its security and governance responsibilities in Gaza for a timely and organized implementation of reconstruction efforts. He stressed that donors should honour the pledges that they had made at the Cairo conference. He cautioned that, to date, there had been little progress in the implementation of the reconciliation agreement.
20. The overall situation on the ground attested to the need to resume peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians to end the cycle of violence and reverse the trend towards a one-State reality. He called upon the parties to avoid unilateral steps in an effort to convince each other that they were partners for peace and to find a way back to meaningful negotiation. He noted that, recently, several European countries had taken steps to support a sovereign Palestine. The United Nations was committed to working with the parties and international partners for an end to the occupation that had begun in 1967 and for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace, in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions, the Road Map and the Arab Peace Initiative. The international community must urgently call upon and support both parties to return to meaningful negotiations towards a final status agreement.
21. The Director of the Representative Office in New York of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Richard Wright, pointed out that UNRWA was the largest United Nations agency, with 30,000 employees serving 5.1 million refugees and a budget of around $1.3 billion. He pointed to its humanitarian and advocacy mandate to protect and provide relief to Palestine refugees and stressed that UNRWA had brought violations of refugees’ human rights to the attention of the “duty bearers”. Palestine refugees had been paying a disproportionately heavy price during the conflicts in Syria and Gaza. UNRWA had condemned the attacks on its shelters during the Gaza war that had resulted in 45 deaths, as well as incidents where weapons were found in UNRWA schools, as violations of the sanctity and inviolability of United Nations premises. He noted that the Secretary-General had established a board of inquiry into those incidents.
22. UNRWA was also concerned about the increased use of live fire in its camps in the West Bank and about the threat of forced displacement of some 7,000 Bedouin herders and their families, 70 per cent of whom were refugees, notably those residing in the sensitive E1 area. Regarding Syria, UNRWA remained concerned about inadequate access to the Yarmouk camp, a besieged area of 16,000 to18,000 people, where UNRWA was able to deliver only 20 per cent of the food and hygiene items that the trapped population needed.
23. Speaking via video link, the Head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Ramesh Rajasingham, said that Palestine was not a typical place to find humanitarian workers. Palestinians would have been able to support themselves were it not for major protection gaps and restrictive measures. The Gaza crisis in the middle of 2014 had led to the displacement of 500,000 people living in UNRWA shelters and other dwellings. Hospitals, the power plant, water systems and 20,000 houses had been destroyed or damaged, and 100,000 people still had no homes. He stressed that providing relief was becoming critical with the advent of winter, as was responding to the United Nations annual funding appeal for $950 million, given that those agencies were currently the only source of assistance to Gaza.
24. He identified major protection concerns, such as the movement and access of people and goods. The Territory was fragmented between Gaza and the West Bank, and the Israeli air, sea and land blockade of Gaza had rendered Palestinians extremely vulnerable. The sea blockade had impeded fishers, and the land buffer had made it impossible for Palestinian farmers to gain access to 30 per cent of arable land. Exports from Gaza were severely restricted. As a result, 80 per cent of Gazans needed humanitarian assistance, up from 10 per cent in 2000. In the West Bank, there were concerns over access and an absence of a fair planning and zoning regime in Area C. Some 20,000 demolition orders had been issued, leading to displacement. To ease the humanitarian situation, Israel should end demolitions and displacements until a fair and inclusive zoning process was put in place, cancel plans to relocate Bedouins, stop settlement growth and allocate State land for the benefit of Palestinians instead of for settlements. In Gaza, lifting the blockade, with full consideration of legitimate Israeli security concerns, would drastically reduce humanitarian needs.
25. 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 and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations, Palitha Kohona, highlighted numerous instances in the Occupied Palestinian Territory where international law and the international community had failed. Perhaps the most significant violation of international law and practice was that relating to the Israeli settlements. The conflict between Israel, Hamas and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza in mid-2014 was the third in six years. On each occasion, there had been suggestions of excessive use of military power and violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. The seven-year Gaza blockade had been described as a collective punishment, which was contrary to established international legal norms. Administrative detention without charge or trial was permitted only exceptionally under international law, but had become the norm in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Ill treatment of detainees, including women and children, was a serious issue. The International Court of Justice advisory opinion on the wall remained unimplemented.
26. He said that the Special Committee had urged the General Assembly to adopt measures to address the Israeli record of non-implementation of Security Council and Assembly resolutions and non-cooperation with United Nations mechanisms. The Committee urged the international community to investigate the business activities of companies that profited from Israeli settlements. The Special Committee had also called upon civil society to exert pressure on corporations to cease their business activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the occupied Syrian Golan and to adopt clear guidelines for corporate responsibility.
27. In the ensuing discussion, a parliamentarian from Indonesia said that a meeting of such as the current one would be justified every week, given the urgency of achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace. The world could not afford to have a situation in which a State took on the role of an outlaw.
28. A legislator from France asserted that recognition of the State of Palestine was a mechanism for reactivating the peace process. While the resolution being taken up by the National Assembly of France the following week would not be binding on the Government, it would be an invitation to other elected bodies around the world to act in a similar way and build momentum for peace.
29. A parliamentarian from Jordan wished to know what additional steps the United Nations could take when a Member State so egregiously refused to implement successive resolutions. Another parliamentarian from that country urged more legislatures to recognize the State of Palestine in order to build momentum for peace.
30. A legislator from Morocco suggested that meeting participants should contemplate ways of pressuring Israel against persisting with its provocative actions in and around holy sites.
31. A parliamentarian from South Africa explained how his Government had engaged diplomatically and financially to advance the legitimate cause of the Palestinian people.
32. A parliamentarian from Mexico highlighted the activities of a friendship group in that body and sought to know what more could be done to end acts bordering on genocide against the Palestinian people.
33. A legislator from Brazil, stressing that dialogue required the commitment of both parties, asked whether Israeli parliamentarians had been invited to the meeting.
(b) The role of parliamentarians in incorporating international obligations into national legislation;
(c) The role of parliamentarians in promoting diplomatic recognition of the State of Palestine;
(d) The contribution parliamentarians can make during the budget process;
(e) Oversight over the executive branch: ensuring implementation of international law;
(f) How parliamentarians can work with the United Nations and other entities; and
(g) Coordination of efforts by parliamentarians at the national, regional and international levels: best practices.
35. A member of the Palestine National Council, Abdelrahim Barham, highlighted two issues of particular relevance for Palestinian parliamentarians. First was that the Council wished to recognize and thank the 135 countries, plus Sweden, that had recognized the State of Palestine. He called upon parliaments to hold votes and demand that their Governments recognize Palestine, as some European countries had done in recent days. That would help to solve the impasse of the peace talks and reach the two-State solution, with a viable, contiguous Palestinian State, which risked becoming un-implementable, as a result of Israeli actions, such as settlements, the wall and the “Judaization” of Jerusalem, all in contravention of international law. Second, he recalled that 22 Palestinian parliamentarians were being held in Israeli jails as administrative detainees in violation of their immunity, which Israel had recognized. Administrative detention was illegal and arbitrary, he stressed. He called upon parliaments to put pressure on the Knesset for the release of those Palestinian members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
36. A member of the executive board of the Meretz party, Uri Zaki, said that the recent upsurge of violence, including the Gaza war and the escalation in Jerusalem, was the direct consequence of the vacuum created by the collapse of the most recent round of negotiations. Alarmingly, religion was increasingly a part of the conflict. He called upon members of parliaments to fill the vacuum. He stressed that the Meretz Party supported the Palestinian efforts to obtain statehood recognition. It believed that it was not only a Palestinian cause but also in the true national interest of the State of Israel. The continuation of that occupation was the biggest existential threat to the State of Israel as a democratic national homeland of the Jewish people. That occupation should end with a permanent status agreement whose terms were already known: borders on the basis of the lines of June 1967, a solution for Jerusalem that should make it the capital of two nations, an agreed-upon solution to the refugee problem and security arrangements that would secure both sides from military and other threats. That duty fell upon the Israelis and the Palestinians, as well as on members of the international community and members of parliaments around the world.
37. A member of the Israeli Knesset from the Arab Movement for Change, Ahmed Tibi, said that he had come from Jerusalem, where renewed acts of aggression by extremist Jews at the Al-Aqsa Mosque were occurring. He had come from Israel, a State that refused to treat the Arab minority as equals and where racism was growing. He recalled that the current Government was drafting a law denying the rights of 20 per cent of the Israeli population. He reminded the Israeli Prime Minister that the Arab minority were not immigrants; they were born in the country. He called upon the parliamentarians present to call for the release of their 22 Palestinian colleagues who were being detained in Israeli jails. He concluded by warning that Jerusalem would either be the path to peace or the cause of war.
38. A member of the European Parliament from the Greens /European Free Alliance, Karima Delli, stated that parliamentarians had a responsibility to hold their Governments accountable for the respect of international law and the recognition of the State of Palestine. To achieve peace, the recognition of the State of Palestine was the first step, and an urgent one. She welcomed the recent votes by the parliaments of Ireland, Spain and the United Kingdom and upcoming votes in the parliament of France and the European Parliament in support of Palestinian statehood and expressed the hope that others would follow. Speaking from the United Nations, the place where colonialism had been put to an end in most countries, she recalled that Palestine was among the last countries in the world living under a colonial occupying Power. She reminded Israel that its legitimate need for security would be guaranteed by a lasting peace rather than by a permanent state of war. She decried the double occupation (territorial and economic) of Palestine. She called upon fellow parliamentarians to do what the citizens had elected them to do: uphold international law to end colonialism and war.
39. A member of the parliament of Sweden and Vice-Chair of the IPU Middle East Committee, Monica Green, recalled that, in 1948, Folke Bernadotte had been appointed as the first official Palestine mediator of the United Nations. He had succeeded in achieving an initial truce during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, but he had been assassinated days before presenting his second plan for a political solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict to the United Nations. Bernadotte believed that a peaceful solution to the conflict was possible, as did she, she said, given her belief in dialogue and a peaceful process. The Government of Sweden had recognized the State of Palestine. Some said that that announcement was premature - that it would make the peace process more difficult. However, her own concern was rather the opposite - that such a step might be too little too late. Sweden’s recognition, she said, was aimed at making the parties to the conflict less unequal. It was aimed at supporting moderate Palestinians, providing a positive injection into the dynamics of the Middle East peace process and sending a clear and convincing signal to younger generations that there was an alternative to violence and an alternative to the status quo. Turning to the humanitarian situation, she highlighted the children and women in Gaza as being the most affected groups. Lastly, speaking as Vice-Chair of the Middle East Committee of the IPU, she assured participants that the IPU and the Committee were deeply concerned about the situation and called upon the global community to work together in promoting trust and a dialogue between the two sides, in providing good conditions for a peaceful process and in securing democracy and human rights, both regionally and globally.
40. The Chair of the Democratic Party faction in the People’s Representative Council of Indonesia, Nurhayati Assegaf, recalled that massive human rights violations continued to occur in Palestine and that Israel had been repeatedly violating international law through its unilateral actions, including by restricting access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem in recent weeks. She reiterated that the position of Indonesia on the question of Palestine was one of unwavering support of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, and that recognition by Indonesia of the State of Israel would be contingent upon the independence of the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital. She called upon Israel to act in accordance with international law.
41. She then highlighted five roles that parliamentarians could play in support of the Palestinian cause. First, parliamentarians should persistently voice their objections to Israeli violations of international law and the occupation and should express their strong support for the resumption of negotiations. Second, as long as the occupation continued, members of parliaments should keep the question of Palestine alive and bring it to the attention of the international community. In the same vein, she encouraged Palestine to join international organizations to make its presence felt. Third, parliamentarians should continue to underline that Israel’s violations of human rights and humanitarian law, including the expansion of settlements, the building of the separation wall and the blockade of the Gaza Strip, were not acceptable. Fourth, parliamentarians should play a crucial role by encouraging the recognition by parliaments and Governments of the State of Palestine. Lastly, each member of parliament could play a personal role, becoming an agent of change for the Palestinian struggle.
42. A member of the Senate of Ireland, Averil Power, informed the participants that, in 2013, she had visited the West Bank and Gaza with a group of parliamentarians from Ireland and seen the impact of the occupation and blockade. She had returned to Ireland angry about what she had witnessed and was determined to use her role as a parliamentarian. She was doing her utmost so that Ireland would soon join Sweden in formally recognizing the State of Palestine. She emphasized that Ireland had traditionally been vocal in its support for the Palestinian people and proactive in lobbying on their behalf internationally. The history of occupation of Ireland made its people naturally sympathetic to the plight of others, but the Irish also knew that violence begets violence and that it took real leadership to achieve peace. She urged leaders from both sides to put aside their mutual contempt and distrust and learn to work together. She cautioned that recognizing Palestine would not, by itself, bring peace to the region. However, it was a strong statement of support for the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination. It was also important to bolster moderate Palestinian and Israeli forces and help them to work for peace.
43. Turning to the Security Council, she recalled that, had it done its job in 1967, it would have demanded that Israel withdraw from occupied territories and would have applied whatever sanctions were necessary to make it withdraw, as had been done when Iraq occupied Kuwait in 1990. Unfortunately, Security Council had chosen not to do so and Palestinians had been living under Israeli military occupation for almost 50 years. Lastly, turning to the European Union, she said that the Union had to enforce the human rights clauses in the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement and leverage its economic power. As a parliamentarian from Ireland, she intended to put pressure on the Government of Ireland to push for far stronger action from the Union and urged her fellow parliamentarians from Europe to do the same.
44. A member of the House of Representatives of Malta, Carmelo Abela, recalled that, 40 years prior, on 22 November 1974, the General Assembly had defined the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. It was also on that day that the Assembly had invited the Palestine Liberation Organization to participate in its proceedings as an observer, as the representative of the Palestinian people. Those rights, as set forth by the General Assembly, had continued to be reaffirmed every year without fail for the past 40 years. Parliamentarians, national parliaments and interparliamentary organizations could and must play a supportive and proactive role in promoting the inalienable civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people. He called upon his fellow parliamentarians to further raise awareness of the serious and deteriorating situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Gaza and East Jerusalem. Likewise, he urged parliamentarians to urgently engage with their colleagues on both sides - Israeli and Palestinian - to discuss common concerns and to more vigorously promote a political solution. Lastly, recalling the historic role of Malta as Rapporteur of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, he reiterated his country’s commitment to the two-State solution.
45. A member of the Jordanian Senate, Hasan Abu Nimah, assured the participants that Jordan supported for the rights of Palestinians and peace between Israelis and Palestinians from all components of the country’s population, while recalling the root causes of the situation, including the refusal by Israel of the Arab Peace Initiative and the exile of Palestinian refugees. He stated that the region was under threat and that parliamentarians had a shared responsibility to hold Israel accountable for the current situation threatening peace in the region. The siege of Gaza and attacks on holy sites in Jerusalem, including the Al-Aqsa Mosque, were not tolerable. Jordan would continue to support Palestinian rights and international law, peace, security and stability for the region.
46. A member of the House of Representatives of Malta, Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici, stated that Malta strongly believed in the two-State solution as the road towards a good future for the region. Malta did not believe that violence would achieve anything. It was clear that peace would be achieved by dialogue and talks. He stressed that solutions could not be achieved through imposition. He expressed some disappointment with the attendance numbers, as he had expected more representatives to participate in the meeting and to voice their ideas and concerns, because only through pressure from the international community, such as that which parliamentarians were exerting through the present forum, would they be able to find a lasting solution to the question of Palestine. If the two-State solution could not be achieved in the near term, then at least a solution to the plight of the Palestine refugees should be provided.
47. A member of the Jordanian House of Deputies, Falak Al Jama’ni, stated that, while international law was clear, its implementation was lacking, especially because of the inaction by the permanent members of the Security Council. She called for the ending of double standards in the implementation of United Nations resolutions. She urged parliamentarians to uphold their political and moral responsibility to pressure their Governments to implement United Nations resolutions and end the Israeli occupation. She warned that the conflict was the direct and indirect cause of all conflicts in the region and would cause more extremism until it was solved. Israel needed to be held accountable, especially for respect of human rights and justice for the Palestinian people, which continued to be ignored.
48. A member of the House of Deputies of Jordan, Khamis Atieh, said that, in the current International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Palestinians deserved to have the international community stand with them, the people who had suffered since 1948 from deportation and exile. He deplored the Israeli occupation and the “Judaization” of Jerusalem, which was changing its historic character. He believed that Israel did not want peace and was dragging the entire region into war, as it had dragged Gaza in a horrible conflict, attacking schools and United Nations infrastructure and killing 500 Palestinian children. He said that the participants should adopt a call for the lifting of the Gaza siege. Israel needed to be compelled to end its occupation of the Palestinian Territory and respect international law.
49. The Vice-President of the People’s National Assembly of Algeria, Chiheb Seddik, stated that Algeria supported Palestinians at all costs and in all forums. In his country, everybody was certain that Israel did not want peace because it was surrounding all Palestinian cities with settlements. Occupation was the law of the jungle, where the stronger won: that was the strategy of Israel, carried out with the help of its allies. Although 2014 had been declared the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, he wondered what had been achieved, if not more killings of Palestinians. The United Nations had a permanent responsibility with regard to the Palestinian issue, given that, in 1947, it had allowed the creation of the State of Israel but not that of a Palestinian State. He called for making 2015 the year of consciousness, for the United Nations to take responsibility for and to correct its failure. He compared the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians with the Nazi treatment of Jews in the Second World War. He said that Jews needed a wake-up call and he called for 2015 to be the year of Jewish consciousness.
51. The Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, expressed thanks to the participants for the strong presence and statements of support to continue the struggle to achieve their rights. He saluted the three young staff members of the Mission of the State of Palestine who had taken the place of absent United Nations interpreters. He took note of the high sense of justice held by so many people in all corners of the world, who conveyed the message that the occupation must end and the inalienable rights of the Palestinians needed to be realized. He said the event had exceeded the expectations of the organizers. He highlighted a photographic book of the history of Palestine, which would be presented to the international community to mark the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
52. The Chair of the Committee said that it was important to address the explosive situation on the ground so that Israelis and Palestinians could live in peace. On behalf of the Committee, he reiterated sincere appreciation, not only to all the national parliaments represented and the European Parliament, but also to the interparliamentary organizations such as the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Member States and the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union, which strove to make many voices send one, unified and stronger message of the primacy of international law so that Israeli and Palestinians could coexist in peace.
Summary of the Chair
2. Speakers at the opening session underscored the important role of parliamentarians with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Many noted that their collaboration with the United Nations on peace, security and human rights issues was growing. Parliamentarians stressed that they had a special responsibility to ensure that their Governments actively promoted the peaceful realization of a comprehensive, just, and lasting solution of the conflict and upheld international law.
3. In his message, the Secretary-General of the United Nations stressed that the two-State solution was long overdue. The parties, supported by the international community, should demonstrate the collective political will to end the conflict. Israeli settlement expansion ran contrary to the two-State solution. Parliamentarians, through interaction with their Governments, could help to ensure that international obligations were upheld. He voiced serious concern about rising tensions in East Jerusalem and called for an end to incitement and for de-escalation by both sides. Deploring the suffering of the people in Gaza in the aftermath of the brutal war of mid-2014, he called upon donors to disburse, without further delay, generously pledged funds for the reconstruction of Gaza.
4. The Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and Permanent Representative of Senegal to the United Nations, Fodé Seck, called upon all parliaments to follow the example of Sweden, as well as of the parliaments of France, Spain and the United Kingdom and recognize the State of Palestine. Parliamentarians should ensure that Governments lived up to their commitments in terms of accountability for the violations of the law of war and protection of civilians. It was necessary to break the vicious cycle of “rebuild and destroy” exemplified by Gaza. He urged donors to honour their Gaza pledges and compel Israel to lift the Gaza blockade. He voiced support for a Security Council resolution which would legislate an end to the Israeli occupation and called upon parliamentarians to align national legislation with international law by affirming the illegality of Israeli settlements.
5. The Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations and Representative of the State of Palestine, Riyad Mansour, expressed appreciation for the solidarity of parliamentarians, reflecting the sentiments of their peoples, who supported an independent State of Palestine. He called for global solidarity with the more than two dozen imprisoned Palestinian parliamentarians. He commended the movement in European parliaments calling upon Governments to recognize the State of Palestine. He expressed the hope that new momentum building in the international community could help to relaunch the peace process towards salvaging the two-State solution and making it a reality. He outlined a stark choice between a negative destructive path fuelled by Israeli extremists or the one of exerting all necessary political, diplomatic and legal efforts aimed at achieving peace, including through the adoption of a Security Council resolution that would set a clear time frame for the end of the Israeli occupation.
6. The Secretary-General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Martin Chungong, recalled that Palestine was a full member of the IPU. The Organization offered a unique platform for a constructive dialogue between Palestinian and Israeli parliamentarians. Parliamentary diplomacy was an effective tool for peace, as were building a functioning democracy and respect for human rights. In that regard, he informed the participants of IPU efforts to facilitate the release of Palestinian parliamentarians from Israeli prisons and a capacity-building programme by the IPU for the secretariat of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
7. The Secretary-General of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union, Nour Eddine Bouchkouj, reiterated his organization’s support for the creation of a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital. He condemned the criminal acts by settlers, in particular against Christian and Islamic holy sites, and voiced support for all efforts to bring the Israeli perpetrators to justice. He called upon the people of the world to support the just struggle of the Palestinians and for all parliaments to recognize Palestine.
8. The President of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly, Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari, said that parliamentarians should raise their collective voice in all international forums so that the rights of the Palestinians were protected and international human rights and humanitarian law were respected. Creating a conducive atmosphere for dialogue was imperative to attaining a peaceful resolution to the long-running conflict. The way forward should be based on agreed international parameters with clear timelines and benchmarks.
9. The first session of the plenary featured briefings by representatives of the Department of Political Affairs, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories. The representative of the Department of Political Affairs expressed alarm over the escalating tensions in Jerusalem that were also affecting parts of the West Bank and Israel. Those tensions, if left unchecked, could turn into a religious conflict that reverberated far beyond the region. Israeli settlement expansion and the increase in demolitions of Palestinian buildings were further contributing to the tensions on the ground. In addition, the situation in Gaza remained fragile, with tremendous needs for recovery and reconstruction. The Palestinian Government of National Consensus should be empowered to assume its responsibilities in Gaza. The overall situation on the ground attested to the need to resume peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians to end the cycle of violence and reverse the trend towards a one-State reality. The United Nations was committed to working with the parties and international partners for an end to the occupation that began in 1967 and for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace, in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions, the Road Map and the Arab Peace Initiative.
10. The representative of UNRWA pointed to the agency’s humanitarian and advocacy mandate to protect and provide relief to Palestine refugees and stressed that it had brought violations of refugees’ human rights to the attention of the “duty bearers”. Palestine refugees had been paying a disproportionately heavy price during the conflicts in Syria and Gaza. Besieged refugees in Yarmouk, near Damascus, had received just 20 per cent of the food that they needed. UNRWA facilities had come under attack during the Gaza war, and there was an increasing use of live fire by Israel in UNRWA camps in the West Bank.
11. The representative of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs pointed out that massive destruction of housing and critical infrastructure in Gaza during the war of mid-2014 meant that 100,000 displaced Palestinians were facing the winter under severe conditions, with the United Nations as their only lifeline. The reconstruction effort in Gaza had begun but the pace remained slow, and there had been little progress in empowering the Palestinian Government of National Consensus on the ground. It was imperative for donors to answer the Gaza emergency appeal. The humanitarian situation in Palestine was a human-caused emergency. A fair planning and land-use regime for Palestinians in areas under Israeli control, an end to demolitions and forced relocations of Bedouins, the moving of the separation wall to the Green Line and the lifting of the Gaza blockade were needed to improve the humanitarian and human rights situation dramatically and reduce the assistance needed by the Palestinian people.
12. The representative of the Special Committee stated that he was appalled by the scale of death and destruction in Gaza. He urged the General Assembly to address Israeli non-compliance with United Nations resolutions and called upon the international community to investigate companies that had illegally profited from settlements and called upon civil society to exert pressure on such corporations.
13. The Meeting continued with the second session of the plenary, which was focused on action by parliamentarians to uphold international law and advance Israeli-Palestinian peace. Parliamentarians from the Palestine National Council, the Knesset, the parliaments of Algeria and Brazil, the European Parliament, the People’s Council of Indonesia, the parliaments of Mexico and Morocco, the Senate of Ireland, the parliament of Jordan, the House of Representatives of Malta, the Senate of Pakistan and the parliaments of Sweden and South Africa, as well as a member of the executive board of the Meretz party (Israel), addressed the participants. Speakers stressed the need to use the leverage of parliamentary diplomacy to bring about the necessary advances in the peace process and raise awareness of the deteriorating situation. Speakers praised the recognition of the State of Palestine by the Government of Sweden. Some speakers also pointed to the United Nations as the natural locus where the question of Palestine should be resolved and a just peace for both sides achieved.
14. Several parliamentarians expressed full support for Palestinian statehood and pledged to do their utmost to ensure the diplomatic recognition of the State of Palestine by their national Governments and support Palestinian rights and international law. Calls were made for the release of and solidarity with 22 Palestinian parliamentarians being held in Israeli jails without trial. Several parliamentarians drew attention to renewed acts of aggression against the Al-Aqsa Mosque, while a member of parliament highlighted growing racism in Israel against Arabs. The recent upsurge of violence was described as a result of the collapse of negotiations and the absence of a political horizon and hope. Parliamentarians had a responsibility to push for a just final status agreement, the contours of which were known. It was pointed out that diplomatic recognition of the State of Palestine could help to move the peace process forward by making the parties less unequal. Parliamentarians were also duty-bound to promote dialogue between the two sides, by securing respect for democracy and human rights. Parliamentarians also had a responsibility to hold their Governments accountable for the respect of international law. They should pressure their Governments to implement United Nations resolutions and end the Israeli occupation. The European Union had to enforce the human rights clauses in its agreement of association with Israel and leverage its economic power. It was stressed that parliamentarians should persistently voice their objection to Israeli violation of international law and the occupation. It was the responsibility of parliamentarians to hold Israel accountable for the grave situation in Jerusalem and Gaza that was threatening peace in the region. Parliamentary resolutions condemning the Israeli aggression in Gaza in July and August 2014 were recalled.
15. It was said that parliamentarians and national parliaments as well as interparliamentary organizations must play a proactive role in promoting the realization of Palestinians’ inalienable rights, peace and security and stability for the region, and further raise awareness of the deteriorating situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It was stressed that they should urgently engage with Israeli and Palestinian parliamentarians to promote dialogue. One speaker called upon the participants to adopt a call to lift the Gaza blockade. Another proposed making 2015 the year of consciousness for the United Nations to take responsibility for its failures regarding the question of Palestine. He said that Israelis needed a wake-up call regarding their mistreatment of Palestinians and he called for 2015 to be the year of Jewish consciousness.
16. In the closing session, the Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations expressed thanks to the participants for their strong presence at the Meeting and for their statements of support for the ongoing struggle to achieve Palestinian rights. He took note of the high sense of justice held by so many people in all corners of the world, who conveyed the message that the Israeli occupation must end and the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people must be realized. The Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People summed up the major concerns expressed by the participants regarding the stagnated peace process, the alarming situation on the ground and the continued violations of international law by the occupying Power. He called upon the parliamentarians to apply Security Council and General Assembly decisions at the national level and to push their executive branches to live up to their obligations under international law. Parliamentarians should continue and invigorate their efforts to create the necessary international climate conducive to the achievement of a permanent and just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.