Ladies and gentlemen,
At the last Council debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, we had marked the one-year anniversary of the last war on Gaza. At the time, three months ago, we noted the continued construction of illegal Israeli settlements, the confiscation of Palestinian land and the demolition of Palestinian houses and orchards, and called upon this august Council to come together and take action to ensure implementation of its resolutions regarding the Question of Palestine. We also warned that ongoing violence in a land so sacred to many peoples and faiths is particularly troublesome.
Today, the situation in Jerusalem is reverberating throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel, and has reached a point of conflagration that, sadly, validates our darkest fears and predictions. The despairing Palestinian youth in Jerusalem and the West Bank are driven to acts of violence, as the only way they feel they will be heard. Israeli communities are acting out of fear, engendering a mob mentality that is adding a dangerous dimension to this current upsurge in violence.
Erecting walls between ethnically different neighbourhoods will not solve any of the problems that led to the current situation; indeed, cementing the borders of illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem will only exacerbate the conflict. The only sustainable way out is a path towards a comprehensive solution of the whole Question of Palestine, based on enforcing relevant Security Council resolutions. This means the end of the Israeli occupation in all its facets, the emergence of a sovereign and independent State of Palestine with borders based on the 1967 line and East Jerusalem as its capital.
Unless we, the United Nations, and this Council can provide both peoples with a blueprint of hope for a just solution, for an end to this seemingly endless battle, for a future where both can live in peace and dignity, we will be complicit in the further deterioration of the conflict, which from month to month, from year to year becomes ever more difficult to solve.
Three months ago, we spoke of a new international awareness that 20 years of on-off bilateral negotiations have not yielded the expected result and that a comprehensive solution of the Question of Palestine may need multilateral efforts.
The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People therefore welcomes the efforts by the enlarged Middle East Quartet to provide such a multilateral framework. We also reiterate our position that the Arab Peace Initiative, offering a comprehensive peace including normalizing relations between Israel and the entire region, continues to be a historic opportunity to bring peace to the Israeli and Palestinian peoples as well as their neighbours near and far. We urge Israel to seriously consider this initiative, before the developments on the ground could sweep it aside.
In this, the 70th year of our organization, and the 40th of our Committee, the urgency for the Council to shoulder its responsibility towards the Palestinian people in achieving their inalienable rights could not be greater. Failure to do so would have severe consequences far beyond Jerusalem, far beyond Israel and Palestine. If the nations of the world, united through our organization and in this Council, want to succeed in fighting violent extremism in the Middle East and elsewhere they must, this Council must find and implement a solution to the Question of Palestine, in the formula of “two States, living in peace and security along each other”. In the meantime, as an immediate priority, the Council should act urgently to ensure that the status quo of the holy sites in Jerusalem is maintained. The proposal to station international observers holds promise as a first step towards easing tensions and restoring stability.
The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People reaffirms its commitment to the principle of a peaceful resolution of the conflict, based on these premises.