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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
18 December 2014





INTERNATIONAL MEETING
ON THE QUESTION OF JERUSALEM


Strengthening international support for a just and lasting solution
of the question of Jerusalem

Ankara, 12 and 13 May 2014




Executive summary

The International Meeting on the Question of Jerusalem was jointly organized by the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the Government of the Republic of Turkey and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). It was aimed at raising awareness of the question of Jerusalem and at discussing strengthened international support for a just and lasting solution. During the deliberations and plenary interventions, the participants expressed great concern about Israel’s attempts to “Judaize” Jerusalem, underscored the ongoing deterioration of the socioeconomic situation and also called for greater involvement by the international community in holding Israel accountable and in preventing Jerusalem’s separation from the peace process.

While affirming Jerusalem’s unique character and sacred role for the three monotheistic religions, experts at the Meeting focused on specific Israeli practices that could be considered “ethnic cleansing”. They also pointed to recent attempts to disrespect Al-Aqsa Mosque and other religious sites, which became an object of military activities and recurrent provocations. In addition, they flagged Israel’s development of false narratives and usurpation of identity to justify land appropriation.

Experts stated that Jerusalem was a badly damaged city, that 77 per cent of non-Jewish households were poorand that Israeli authorities clearly intended to restrict Palestinian growth and development through the continued building of settlements, the construction of the separation wall and the expansion of a very complex and harsh system of closures. Other tools of the Israeli settlement policy (e.g., national parks and archaeology) contributed to the economic asphyxiation of Jerusalem.

The disastrous state of the health and education sectors contributed to the obliteration of the Palestinian identity, which was compounded by an Israeli strategy of “de-Palestinization” that included separating Jerusalem from the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, freezing land registration, revoking residency status, constructing settlements and building roads to serve Israeli settlers exclusively.

Several experts highlighted that Jerusalem’s unique character could catalyse the promotion of peace in the Middle East, but noted that Israel’s intransigence and impunity were preventing it. They urged the international community to undertake increased efforts to conduct multitrack diplomacy, to include civil society actors, and to strengthen its presence in Jerusalem in order to break the status quo and establish accountability for Israel.

All experts agreed that Jerusalem was an integral part of the peace negotiations and that the ultimate goal was a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital. Donors and international agencies were called upon to plan for East Jerusalem as such and to urgently find ways to support Palestinian entrepreneurship in the city. Finally, it was noted that if the occupation were made costly for Israel (including divestment from projects benefiting the occupation), its leaders might return in good faith to future negotiations, whose format should be reviewed and restructured to ensure balanced positions.



I. Introduction

1. The International Meeting on the Question of Jerusalem was held in Ankara on 12 and 13 May 2014, under the joint auspices of the Government of Turkey, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (the Committee) and in accordance with the provisions of General Assembly resolutions 68/12 and 68/13. The theme was “Strengthening international support for a just and lasting solution of the question of Jerusalem”.

2. The Government of Turkey was represented at the Meeting by its Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoðlu, and other government officials. The OIC delegation was led by its Secretary-General, Iyad Ameenn Madani. The Committee was represented by a delegation comprising Abdou Salam Diallo (Senegal), Chair; Zahir Tanin (Afghanistan), Vice-Chair; Desra Percaya (Indonesia), Vice-Chair; Wilfried I. Emvula (Namibia), Vice-Chair; Christopher Grima (Malta), Rapporteur; and Riyad Mansour (State of Palestine).

3. The Meeting consisted of an opening session, three plenary sessions and a closing session. The themes of the plenary sessions were: “The status of Jerusalem in international law”; “The current situation in Jerusalem”; and “The role of the international community in promoting a just solution”.

4. Presentations were made by 13 experts. The Meeting was attended by 70 Member States, the State of Palestine, the Holy See, four intergovernmental organizations, 23 local and international civil society organizations and three United Nations entities.

5. The summary of the Chair on the outcomes 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 texts of the papers of the experts who provided a copy for distribution.1



II. Opening session

6. The Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey, Ahmet Davutoðlu, delivered a statement. He said that Jerusalem was a great city where history coincided with metaphysics and that those who did not understand Jerusalem would make it a place of destruction. Jerusalem was a symbol of humanity and a token of various prophets and sultans. All had united in Jerusalem as great leaders of humanity. Although seen as prophets of different religions, they were also seen as part of a shared tradition.

7. Minister Davutoðlu added that Jerusalem was not just a political issue and that its protection and safeguarding was something owed to the human conscience. Getting rid of such an inheritance would be acting not just against the people of Palestine, but against the history of humanity. Also, Jerusalem should not be seen as an area of conflict, but rather as an area of peace, representing the humanitarian conscience as a whole. There was a responsibility to protect that conscience and to convey that message to future generations.

8. Referring to the construction of the separation wall, the Minister added that no issue could be an excuse or apology for making Jerusalem a separate place from humanitarian conscience. He went on to say that there was no need to be politicians, diplomats or experts on the issue, but just to be human. It was important to fulfil an ethical responsibility and to act against restrictions on the access of worshippers to Al-Aqsa Mosque.

9. The Minister described Jerusalem as an important cultural inheritance, emphasizing that it could not be reduced to a single religion or ethnicity. Jerusalem under the dominance of Muslims had been open to all faiths and religions. In this regard, because unilateral decisions would be “dynamite” in the Middle East peace process, unilateral actions with regard to Jerusalem had to be rejected.

10. The Minister stated that, according to international law, Jerusalem was a territory under occupation, and those living within the city had been suffering since 1948. There was now a need to show solidarity with the Palestinians, protecting justice and law. The Minister said that the United Nations should play a more active role, reminding participants of the establishment in 1948 of the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, which had three members: France, Turkey and the United States of America. It was important to reinvigorate this Commission, and to have other forums take up the issue of Jerusalem, as the current situation represented a serious threat to international peace and security. He called for an annual meeting on Jerusalem and said that Turkey would always be supportive of OIC and United Nations initiatives on Palestine.

11. The Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Iyad Ameen Madani, reiterated the OIC’s firm position that Jerusalem formed an integral part of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 by Israel. He similarly renewed OIC’s commitment to the defence of the Palestinian people along with its support for international efforts to end the Israeli occupation and ensure the city’s return to Palestinian sovereignty, as the capital of the Palestinian State. The Secretary-General put particular emphasis on the United Nations’ responsibility for the Palestinian cause.

12. OIC had been following with deep concern Israeli policies and their various undertakings designed to alter the city’s geographic and demographic character, obliterating its Arab identity and religious and historical status. The continued construction and expansion of Israeli settlements, both within and around Jerusalem; the recurrent aggressions against the city’s Islamic and Christian sanctuaries; the confiscation and demolition of properties, including forced eviction; and the attempts to impose Israeli sovereignty on the Al-Aqsa Mosque through unjust and illegitimate laws were all said to pose a threat to security and stability in the whole region.

13. It was a duty to face up to Israel’s “apartheid” policies, expressing loud and clear views that in today’s world, there was no more room or tolerance for “apartheid” States. Things were now at a critical political juncture, concretized by the impasse reached in the peace negotiations at the end of a nine-month period after Israel, the occupying Power, had shut all the doors to any possible progress towards a just and comprehensive political settlement.

14. The immensity of Israeli violations of international law commanded a different brand of international intervention. It was not acceptable that Israel continued to conduct itself as if it were a State above the law. It was therefore an international responsibility for all States and institutions to deal with these violations on the basis that they constituted a threat to international peace and security.

15. Palestine’s access to the United Nations as a non-Member Observer State should form an appropriate foundation on which to build in favour of moving towards the achievement of a two-State solution, and in support of the continued international efforts to invigorate the peace process. However, Palestinians needed the efforts of the international community to accompany them in the peace process and to permanently end the political division. In conclusion, Secretary-General Madani called for an annual meeting on the question of Jerusalem, and agreed to co-sponsor and co-host any future meetings given the importance of the issue.

16. A message was delivered on behalf of the Secretary-General of the United Nations by his representative at the Meeting, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert H. Serry. In his message, the Secretary-General noted that the Meeting was taking place two weeks after the deadline for United States-brokered talks between Israel and Palestine to reach a comprehensive agreement.

17. The Secretary-General stated that the current political stalemate posed great risks to the prospects of a two-State solution, and continued inaction could result in further instability. He warned that the parties should realize that not making a choice in favour of peace and co-existence within the two-State framework was the most detrimental choice of all. He called upon the parties to refrain from unilateral steps that aggravated the situation and diminished the prospects for a resumption of the talks.

18. The Secretary-General said that settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, were illegal under international law and constituted a significant obstacle to achieving peace. He also pointed out that demolishing Palestinian houses and other property was a contradiction of Israel’s obligation to protect civilians living under its occupation. At the same time, continuing violence and attacks against civilians, including rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into Israel, were deemed unacceptable While acknowledging the generous pledge of the Government of Turkey of $ 1.5 million to address shortages of key medicines, he noted with grave concern the humanitarian situation in Gaza and urged the complete opening of all crossings into the Strip.

19. The question of Jerusalem was perhaps the most divisive of the core issues, and the Secretary-General was particularly troubled by mounting tensions around the city and access to its holy sites. He stated that Jerusalem inspired faith and longing for Muslims, Jews and Christians and must be open and accessible to all. Only through a negotiated solution could Jerusalem emerge as a capital of two States, with arrangements for the holy sites that would be acceptable to all.
20. Meanwhile, all parties should refrain from attempts to establish facts on the ground that altered the character of the Old City, or to allow provocations. The time was now opportune for the parties, with the support of the international community and the United Nations, to take action to realize their commitment to a two-State solution, to end the occupation and conflict, in pursuit of lasting peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians.

21. The Chair of the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Abdou Salam Diallo, expressed sincere appreciation and gratitude to the Government of Turkey and the OIC for their support and for co-organizing the Meeting with the Committee.

22. The Chair noted that 2014 was the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, aimed at raising awareness of the main issues and obstacles to a meaningful continuation of the peace process. He strongly reaffirmed that the Committee was firmly wedded to a two-State solution and was very grateful for the prodigious diplomatic engagement by United States Secretary of State John Kerry.

23. All parties to the conflict had been called upon to act responsibly and create an appropriate climate for negotiations, to resolve all final status issues and to bring an end to the Israeli occupation comprising a total Israeli withdrawal from the territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem.

24. Despite the international community’s calls on Israel to stop settlement activity, the expansion of settlements continued at an alarming rate in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, accompanied by the demolition of Palestinian homes and the expropriation of Palestinian land, in violation of Articles 49 and 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Any measure designed to expand or consolidate settlements was illegal. In conclusion, the Chair stated that as Member States of the United Nations, it was important to remember the collective responsibility over Jerusalem, given the successive General Assembly and Security Council resolutions dealing with that issue.

25. The Minister for Waqf and Religious Affairs and Representative of the State of Palestine, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, expressed deep gratitude to the Government of Turkey, as well as the United Nations and OIC, for organizing the Meeting at a time when the Palestinian people everywhere were remembering the pain felt since the “Nakba” in 1948.

26. Looking back at history, Minister Al-Habbash said that Jerusalem had been established by the Palestinians some 5,000 years ago as the “City of Peace”. Since that time, many peoples and States had passed through Jerusalem, which had been occupied by many armies. However, what remained unchanged was the presence of the Palestinians, both Muslim and Christian.

27. Without Jerusalem, Palestinians would lose their history and the reason for their existence. Jerusalem was an integral part of the religious heritage of Palestinians, whatever their religious conviction. The city represented the spirit of all Palestinians, a soul that gave them life and energy to go on living. Without it, the Minister said Palestinians would be dead, stating that a Palestinian State without Jerusalem would be a dead country.

28. Recalling the fall of Jerusalem to Israel in 1967, the Minister said the city had lived in sadness and suffering ever since. Palestinians in Jerusalem and surrounding areas suffered daily repression and aggression; however, that would not lead them to abandon the city or stop them from staying. According to international law, Jerusalem would be occupied territory until it became free again and was restored to the Palestinian people, the only ones who held sovereignty over the city under the United Nations General Assembly resolution 67/19 of 29 November 2012.

29. Peace would not happen without Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine. Although many painful concessions had been made for the sake of peace, in exchange Israel persisted in denying the existence of the Palestinian people. The world must realize that in order to protect peace, war must be prevented, and the reasons for war must be eliminated. The world must urgently compensate the Palestinian people for all the pain they had experienced.

30. The Minister said that the United Nations and the international community must now provide practical support to the Arab Peace Initiative, based on a two-State solution which might become unmanageable or impractical in the future. He added that Palestinians were not fighting Judaism, emphasizing that the real problem was not one of religion, but one of occupation. Jerusalem was a city of peace for the whole of mankind and must not remain under occupation, he concluded.

31. The Minister for Jerusalem Affairs of the State of Palestine, Adnan Al-Husseini, delivered a keynote address. He said Jerusalem had a special character and was referred to with love and passion, two characteristics lacking today in this “modern hostage city”. In 1967, the Israeli army raised the Israeli flag on the top of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, sending the message that it “belonged” to them. Fortunately, the message was not received, and the Arab world strongly insisted that the flag be removed despite Israel’s victory on that day.

32. According to Minister Al-Husseini, since 1993, negotiations had been a waste of time and had served Israel’s expansion policy. It was a territorial war. Palestinians far from Jerusalem had been deprived of the right to enter the city, and there had been collective and individual expulsion of Palestinians, up to 600,000 families since 1967, in contravention of international law.

33. Colonization was happening, and Israeli settlers had come to threaten and expel Palestinians, both Muslims and Christians. They were also threatening the demographic nature of Jerusalem in order to create their own space in the holy city. Some 50,000 Palestinian homes were under threat of destruction under the pretext that they “did not comply with the law”. The international community, particularly the United Nations under Chapter VII of its Charter, must act to stop that destructive process and find a binding solution. The Minister called for international intervention, with pressure placed on Israel, in accordance with international standards, emphasizing that there was a solution to the problem.

34. The Minister went on to say that Palestinians living in Jerusalem had no civil rights. If they were to go to another country for seven years they would not have the right to come back, whereas Israelis could travel anywhere for as long as they wanted without any repercussions for their residency status. The practice referred to as the “Absentee Property Law” threatened Palestinian existence in Jerusalem. It was meant to appropriate the properties of people who were not in situ. Such laws should be revised.

35. The Minister said that the destruction of Jerusalem’s component parts was continuing on a daily basis, changing the nature of the city, despite the fact that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) considered it a city of cultural heritage under threat. He called on UNESCO to play its role and to disregard external factors, stating that if Israel really wanted peace it would not be amputating the city of Jerusalem and transforming Palestine into an “archipelago”. He concluded by thanking the European Union for its approach regarding products made in Israeli settlements and said that the city of Jerusalem would continue to fight until peace had been achieved.

36. The Director of the Hashemite Fund for the Restoration of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, Wasfi Kailani, delivered a message on behalf of Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan, Adviser to the King of Jordan for Religious and Cultural Affairs. The Prince said the inalienable rights of the Palestinians had been constantly marginalized and violated by the Israeli occupation, as reflected in numerous United Nations resolutions. It was important to realize that Israel’s aggression vis-à-vis those rights was part of a greater move to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian State and to keep the status quo. Israel’s actions in Jerusalem were aimed at creating a Jewish reality while eroding the Palestinian way of life.

37. Jordan, as the custodian of the holy places in Jerusalem, was playing an important role. True problems, including the “Judaization” of Jerusalem’s heritage, the destruction of homes, the violence of fanatical Israeli groups and the building of the separation wall, must be properly addressed to support Palestinian rights, as expressed by King Abdullah II of Jordan during the general debate of the sixty-seventh session of the General Assembly, in 2012.

38. The Prince stated that at a recent conference held in Amman, entitled “The Road to Jerusalem”, participants had invited the European Union and the United Nations to look carefully at aspects of “Judaization” and avoid the development of erroneous versions of history. The Prince went on to say that the veto of the United States was one of the main obstacles to peace and that it encouraged Israel to flout United Nations resolutions. He concluded by expressing Jordan’s intention to appeal to the Security Council to live up to its responsibilities.

1 See http://unispal.un.org/databases/dprtest/ngoweb.nsf/f12fded4d0597000852573fc005b9471/8cda78ab0a8f099e85257cc100712a11?OpenDocument.


III. Plenary sessions

A. Plenary session I
The status of Jerusalem in international law

39. The speakers in plenary session I addressed the following sub-themes: “International regime for Jerusalem and United Nations’ efforts to implement it”; “The Holy Places”; and “United Nations resolutions on Jerusalem”. The session was chaired by the Assistant Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for Al-Quds and Palestine, Samir Bakr.

40. The Chairman of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, Mahdi F. Abdul Hadi, expressed concern about the “tsunami colonization” and never-ending “Judaization” of Jerusalem. Looking at the bigger picture, there was a division, segmentation, annexation and “Israelization” of the West Bank, which had been turned into an aggregate of cantons, with only 17 per cent of the land devoted to Palestinians. What could be done to overcome this cantonization and allow the normal functioning of life, breaking through the separation wall and the isolation?

41. It was not enough to just say this was Israel’s doing. The question was whether United Nations Security Council resolution 242 (1967) and General Assembly resolution 181(II) would be implemented; to date neither of them had been recognized by Israel. The United Nations should revisit its resolutions and its position on the question of Jerusalem and not just deal with de facto realities. The land and society were fragmented, and there should be a way to stop Israel from dividing Jerusalem. Another serious issue was the myth of the “holy basin”, allegedly located in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan, next to the Old City. Israel had started to refer to it during the 2000 Camp David Summit. However there was no such thing; the notion was a simple creation of Israel.

42. Currently, there were four major components shaping the question of Jerusalem:

43. Chairman Hadi concluded by stating that political will was needed to change Israeli policies and practices aimed at fragmenting and dividing Palestinian society. Israel enjoyed control and power; it was time to make it apply binding United Nations resolutions. Lastly, he suggested that the international community should establish a Commissioner for Jerusalem and that the League of Arab States should do the same.

44. The former Apostolic Delegate for Jerusalem and Palestine, Archbishop Antonio Franco, said that the question of Jerusalem had always been at the centre of the Holy See’s concerns and was one of its most important international priorities. The reason was obvious: Jerusalem was the holy city of the three monotheistic religions and so had a unique value not only for the region, but also for the entire world, as it enshrined their most important holy sites.

45. Another basic reality was that two peoples claimed the city as their own and wanted it as their capital. That second aspect was of a more political nature, although it had many delicate moral aspects. The Holy See, while asserting no competence in strictly political matters, such as territorial disputes between nations, affirmed its right and duty to remind the parties of the obligation to resolve controversies peacefully, in accordance with the principles of justice and equity within the international legal framework.

46. With regard to the religious dimension of Jerusalem, the Holy See always had a specific and direct interest. The popes had always called for the protection of the identity of Jerusalem and had consistently drawn attention to the need for international commitment to protect the city’s unique and sacred character. The Holy See wished to preserve the uniqueness of Jerusalem’s most sacred parts, the holy places, so that in the future neither of the parties to the conflict could claim them exclusively for themselves, as they were part of the world’s patrimony. For the Holy See, holy places were not museums or monuments for tourists, but places where believers lived among others with their culture and their charitable institutions, whose sacredness had to be safeguarded in perpetuity.

47. The Archbishop claimed that to safeguard Jerusalem’s religious and human dimensions from every political contingency, the Archbishop claimed that only a special statute, internationally guaranteed, could ensure the historical, material and religious character of the holy places, as well as free access to them for residents and pilgrims alike, whether local or from other parts of the world. The United Nations could be the international guarantor of such a special statute. The Archbishop pointed out that there would be no lasting peace in Jerusalem until all concerned parties learned to acknowledge and respect its unique identity and mission. Finally, he stated that during a forthcoming official trip to the region, Pope Francis would visit Jerusalem with a message of hope, and he would support and encourage current efforts to bring about peace and reconciliation.

48. The Qadi and Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, said that Jerusalem in particular and Palestine in general were issues that concerned the Arab and Islamic world as well as the whole world. Jerusalem was a special place, a holy city which hosted the third most important mosque in the world and represented an important pilgrimage location.

49. The city had been subjected to many Israeli attacks and attempts to “Judaize” its character. Since the first days of the 1967 war and the occupation of the Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, Israel had been demolishing and destroying many aspects of the city, particularly the Moroccan quarter in the Old City and all access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

50. Israelis were trying to marginalize Palestinians and stamp out their identity through a policy of fait accompli and a large apparatus of measures. For instance, they surrounded the Al-Aqsa Mosque with settlements and attempted to get rid of the Palestinian population of the Old City. The Israeli authorities were also undertaking excavation work, digging tunnels under and around the Mosque. The Mufti talked about 60 excavations sites in the area surrounding the esplanade of the Haram Al-Sharif.

51. The Mufti went on to say that Israeli incursions into the Haram Al-Sharif were frequent, totalling 35 through the past month, including attempts by Israeli politicians such as Knesset member and Deputy Speaker Moshe Feiglin and Israeli Minister of Tourism Uzi Landau. Furthermore, Israeli settlers had tried to annul the religious status of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which belonged to Jordan, the present Trustee for the Holy Places, and wished to replace it with an Israeli trustee. They had also recently attacked the guardian of the Al-Aqsa Mosque as well as worshipers who had come to pray inside the Mosque.

52. The demolition of houses was described as another clear aspect of how Palestinians were being prevented from preserving their land and managing the buildings in these areas. Israelis were reducing Palestinian citizenship to residency status in Jerusalem, effectively confiscating their identity. Lastly, Palestinians were not protected from Israeli attacks, which even affected Muslim cemeteries. In conclusion, the Mufti called upon all Islamic and Arab countries, as well as all Member States of the United Nations, to protect Jerusalem and its heritage on a political, religious and historical level.

53. The Director of the Hashemite Fund for the restoration of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, Wasfi Kailani, talked about the legal situation and gave specific examples of Israeli violations aimed at changing the status quo in Jerusalem, Haram Al-Sharif and its surroundings.

54. Mr. Kailani said that the legal situation of Jerusalem was that of an occupied city, with all resolutions and decisions well known and well documented. Concerning the situation of the holy sites and their surroundings, the city was suffering a “Judaization” process, the evacuation, expulsion, cantonization and division of specific neighbourhoods as well as an attempt to divide the Al-Aqsa Mosque itself. Speaking of house demolitions, during the first five months of 2014, about 234 houses had been demolished, a number that could be added to the 14,000 demolitions that had taken place since 1967. There were around 900,000 inhabitants in Jerusalem, with about 300,000 Arab Jerusalemites. However, between 2008 and 2010 the building of the separation wall had forced 100,000 people into exile and left another 100,000 people with the choice of staying inside or outside the city.

55. A total of 50,000 settlement units had been built since the last round of negotiations, which had begun on 29 July 2013, including 119 around the Al-Aqsa Mosque, apart from the Jewish quarter of the Old City. On a regular basis, the Al-Aqsa Mosque was raided by Israeli soldiers, preventing worshippers from gaining access to the Mosque, which sometimes provoked clashes. The Al-Aqsa Mosque was the most targeted place in Jerusalem today.

56. The Mosque was crucial and so sensitive not only because it was one of the three holiest sites in Islam, but also because all Waqf properties were connected to it: 101 mosques, 42 Waqf schools and about 100 churches. There were also 50 Waqf families, including 3,000 properties which were now threatened and could be confiscated by the Israeli authorities. In the Old City, the Israeli municipality had developed a network of “public parks” in East Jerusalem in order to acquire more land. Sometimes, the authorities also referred to the Haram Al-Sharif as a public park, not as a holy site.

57. The official definition of the Haram Al-Sharif, as shared with the United Nations, was 144 dunams and 111 square metres above ground and 60 dunams below ground, including 42 wells and cisterns. The Israeli definition merely included the two shrines, considering them to be the only structures built by Muslims. Areas surrounding the shrines were seen as remains of the Temple, indicating a risky and false Jewish narrative. Some other threats to the Al-Aqsa Mosque were the tunnels that had been built around it over the past 60 years. It was quite certain that some of them penetrated the walls of the Mosque. To date, no one knew where those tunnels ended.

58. The Moroccan Quarter of the old city had once included about four schools and about three mosques, as well as prestigious families who lived there. It had been completely destroyed during the 1967 war; however, the demolition of what remained of its gateway had begun in 2004. Going back to pre-1967 days and the status of the Western Wall, it had once been three metres wide by 22 metres long. Yet it was now some 90 metres wide by 100 metres long, and had been expanded day after day. From 1929 to 1933, there had been a legal case before a commission appointed by the Government of the United Kingdom, which had concluded that the Western Wall area was owned by and not separate from the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

59. Regarding the threat of dividing the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Mr. Kailani stated that Knesset members and rabbis were frequently encouraging Israeli extremists to break into the Mosque and attempt to pray there, thereby altering the status of the holy sites. School campaigns were also developed and implemented to promote a Jewish-only narrative regarding the Haram Al-Sharif and normalize the idea that one day the Al-Aqsa Mosque would be demolished and the Temple rebuilt. On 1 January 2012 the Israeli Government allowed Israeli soldiers to tour the Mosque. Since that time 60 to 100 soldiers entered the compound on a regular basis with their weapons in a very provocative manner. In addition, Israeli soldiers were also now locking Muslim worshipers inside the Mosque while allowing Jewish extremists to visit Haram Al-Sharif.

60. There was a clear Israeli fantasy to erase the Al-Aqsa Mosque, rebuild the Temple and advance the “Judaization” of the Old City through the conversion of mosques into synagogues, the removal of Ottoman ceramics as well as other Arabic symbols, and the confiscation of Muslim graves and their conversion into Jewish graves. Churches were also the target of regular attacks. Mr. Kailani concluded by stating that those were just some of the realities, and that there was no knowledge in different parts of the world of what Jerusalem was really suffering.

61. The former and first Ambassador of Turkey to the State of Palestine, ªakir Özkan Torunlar, recounted his experience of living in Jerusalem for almost four years, during which he had witnessed almost all of the illegal aspects of the occupation. Despite the dozens of resolutions adopted by the international community, the occupation still continued with all the dark stains on the lives of the Palestinians, Christians and Muslims, who lived in the city of Jerusalem.

62. Checkpoints, house demolitions, the prevention of Palestinian politicians from carrying out their duties, the seizure of the properties of Jerusalemites by court decisions based on false documents, the arrest and the detention of representatives of the Palestinian Legislative Council, “price tag” attacks on holy places, the razing of cemeteries and defacement of tombstones, the limitations placed on the very human needs of Jerusalemites, including the number of ambulances, the refusal to allow new classrooms for Palestinian children and the imposition of an Israeli curriculum in Palestinian schools were only a few of the forms of harassment displayed by Israeli authorities to the international community and its diplomatic representatives, who reported almost everything back to their capitals.

63. The Ambassador pointed out that the separation wall, which had been illegally erected and which divided Jerusalem, split apart families. He also singled out, inter alia, the prevention of activities at Al Quds University, the continued closure of the Orient House, the 24/7 closed-circuit television surveillance of the Muslim and Christian quarters of the Old City, the harassment of Christian Jerusalemites during Easter processions, and family deportations. The renewal procedure for resident permits constituted another impediment for Jerusalemites. According to article 9 of the 1994 Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty, the special role of Jordan was recognized; however, there was no awareness as to what extent Israel would allow Jordan to play this special role. Almost on a daily basis, Israeli settlers, accompanied by the Israeli police, entered the Haram Al-Sharif to perform rituals and to sing. When Muslims praying inside the compound resisted the presence of settlers, they encountered disproportionate reactions, including rubber bullets and tear gas, in contravention of international law even if the occupying authority was claiming a right of self-defence.

64. The question was whether the occupier sincerely wanted a two-State solution or not. As long as the leading coalition partners in the Israeli Government individually denied the possibility of a two-State solution, the chance of the State of Palestine to exist would be rather slim. Following the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006, the Quartet had developed a set of principles, including, among others, the recognition of Israel. Many diplomats privately stated that it was absurd from an international law perspective to require that a political party recognize a State. This should not be used as a precondition unless applied to all parties on both sides.

65. Turkey was a leading country in support of Palestinian rights in requesting the upgrade of Palestine’s status at the United Nations in 2012. The reason was that all mediation efforts until then had failed, while the occupation continued to increase its presence on the ground. The granting of non-Member Observer State status to Palestine triggered a game change that could be noticed through the recent US-led efforts and the European Union guidelines preventing the funding of Israeli institutions and companies operating in the settlements. In addition, Palestinian unity, complemented by democratic elections, would contribute to the freedom of the Palestinian people.

66. In the ensuing discussion, Nour Olwan, representing the Migratory Letters Campaign, said that many speeches had been made about Israel’s many activities in Jerusalem. What was going on in Palestine was worse than a war; there were settlements, checkpoints, destruction and inhumane living conditions experienced daily. Problems in Jerusalem were often highlighted, but there was a need for plans and solutions; mere support was not enough.

67. The Chairman of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, Mahdi F. Abdul Hadi, said that there were many layers to the current crisis, the situation and the issues in Israel and Palestine, as well as many contradicting narratives on the table. The first layer was not to fall into the trap of the Jewish Zionist narrative that shakes and distorts history and the facts, and to clarify the Muslim and Christian Arab narrative. The second layer was to succeed in establishing public awareness of the facts, figures and accurate information about Jerusalem. This would keep the question of Jerusalem on the world’s conscience. He added that the United Nations, the League of Arab States and OIC should be visible and present in the city and should not abide by de facto Israeli rules and control.

68. Wilfried I. Emvula, Permanent Representative of Namibia to the United Nations and Vice-Chair of the Committee, said that there were those who heard about the plight of Palestinians only from meetings or through the reports of rapporteurs, United Nations special representatives and envoys. However, many of those people did not really understand what was happening in Palestine, as they did not experience it. There should be more meetings attended by a delegation of Palestinian supporters who could illustrate the Palestinian cause and tragedy. The Vice-Chair also advised Palestinians to organize meetings and visits to capitals around the world in order to appeal to people’s humanity. Finally, he stated that more should be done, especially in this year of solidarity.

69. Mr. Hadi said it was time to expose Israeli violations of human rights and build consensus on strategies to boycott its institutions, universities, goods and relationships and to isolate Israel. It was also important that the 132 countries that had voted in favour of upgrading Palestine’s status at the United Nations translate that vote into full recognition on the ground. A representative from the Embassy of the State of Palestine in Ankara, Fadi F. Husseini, said everyone was in agreement about the importance of Jerusalem and of visiting the city and that a meeting such as this one should be convened in the city next year.

70. The Director of the Hashemite Fund for the Restoration of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, Wasfi Kailani, said that the plenary had been focused on traumatic aspects of Jerusalem and the serious situation. All presentations had been dramatic and had reflected the truth. However, that did not necessarily mean that no good efforts were being made on the ground by different parties. There was a need to find and suggest larger solutions that would aim at ending the occupation. There was a need for tools to exert pressure, mainly by the Security Council, and this was the responsibility of the Member States of the United Nations.



B. Plenary session II
The current situation in Jerusalem

71. The speakers in plenary session II addressed the following sub-themes: “Measures taken by Israel”; “Land expropriation and settlements”; and “Social and economic issues”. The session was chaired by the Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations in New York and Vice-Chair of the Committee, Zahir Tanin.

72. The Director General of the Applied Research Institute-Jerusalem, Jad Isaac, said that Jerusalem was the epicentre of the Middle East conflict. Its unique position in Christianity, Islam and Judaism should have been a blessing that could catalyse the promotion of peace. However, it had turned out to be a curse because of Israel’s zero-sum game approach. As of 1967, 37 communities in West Jerusalem had been depopulated and forced to leave to East Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Ramallah. Israel had adopted a strategy of “de-Palestinization”, separating Jerusalem from the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, declaring it an annexed part of Israel, freezing land registration, constructing settlements, building roads to serve settlers, expropriating Palestinian land, and obliterating Palestinian cultural and historical names, along with imposing heavy taxes, providing poor education and carrying out constant land grabs.

73. Mr. Isaac said that Israel had started to obliterate the Jerusalem Governorate, which had once been the most important in the region, unilaterally declaring the borders of the city of Jerusalem. An armistice line had divided the city between east (3,825 dunams) and west (15,595 dunams) in 1949, and in 1967 Israel had continued to increase the superficies of West Jerusalem, also taking land from Bethlehem to expand the municipal boundaries to 124,574 dunams.

74. Over the years, Israeli settlements had expanded 367 times more than Palestinian communities. During the period from 31 July 2013 to 31 March 2014, which had corresponded to the last round of negotiations, there had been plans and tenders to build 17,388 units in settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Settlement construction was six times higher than what was needed for natural growth. Through this approach, Israel was building facts on the ground. Israel had also begun using the environment as a pretext for the confiscation of Palestinian lands, and suddenly most of the green areas appeared to be located around the “Holy Basin”. These were biblical parks that had been created in Jerusalem to continue the “de-Palestinization” of the city. In addition, Israel was linking all the settlements together and building the separation wall to segregate Jerusalem from Bethlehem, and had attempted to expand Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries once more through the inclusion of the “Gush Etzion”, “Ma’ale Adumim” and “Pizgat Ze’ev” settlements. More than 50,000 settlement units were already planned for construction by 2020.

75. Palestinian rural areas were becoming “human warehouses”, and Palestinian Jerusalemites were forced to live outside the municipal boundaries. Ethnic displacement had been taking place with the development of the separation wall and increased demolitions of Palestinian-owned houses. According to the 2008 Jerusalem Plan, the municipal authorities sought to reduce by half the presence of Palestinians in Jerusalem, limiting the areas where they would be authorized to build. Israelis extended the “apartheid” system not only to housing, but also to health and education. Economically, the Jerusalem municipality spent only 2 per cent of its budget to support Palestinian infrastructure. Palestinians paid 27 per cent of municipal taxes, yet they received only 5 per cent of municipal services. Settlers moving to Jerusalem enjoyed a five-year “Arnona tax” (housing tax) exemption. Thereafter, they paid reduced rates, a privilege awarded only to settlers, and never to Palestinians. The poverty rate among Palestinian Jerusalemites was around 77 per cent.

76. Palestinians, other Arabs, Muslims and Christians should never accept Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem. Israel’s attempt to divide the Al-Aqsa Mosque might trigger a religious war, with far-reaching consequences. The international community had a responsibility to prevent the continued “de-Palestinization” of Jerusalem and to protect the rights of Palestinians in Jerusalem. Jerusalem was a global issue and should be under the umbrella of the United Nations, with full support and a mandate from the “super-Powers”. It was also important to dispel the myths which Israel had adopted as narratives.

77. Knesset member Mohammad Barakeh (Hadash/al-Jabha Party) said that 15 May 1948, the day of Israel's Declaration of Independence, was regarded as the date of the “Nakba”. In commemoration, numerous demonstrations and political events had been planned to stress the effects of the “Nakba”, which had practically transformed all of Palestine into “a State of deported people”. While Israel's Declaration of Independence claimed to be in accordance with United Nations resolutions, it stated that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel, in contravention of those resolutions, which provided for Jerusalem to be under a special international regime. Since 1967, Israel had de facto imposed its laws and sovereignty on East Jerusalem.

78. On 30 June 1980, Israel had decided to impose a constitutional law proclaiming Jerusalem as its capital. In practice, this had amounted to an annexation of East Jerusalem. The Knesset had ratified the law by a general vote, which stipulated that the Government was obliged to put to a vote any decision concerning East Jerusalem. That law could be rescinded only through a general vote by the people or 80 of the 120 Knesset members. It hermetically sealed off any potential to negotiate the fate of Jerusalem, because it would be virtually impossible for any Israeli Government to muster a two-thirds majority to amend a constitutional law. Mr. Barakeh also briefly mentioned the basic law proposal entitled “Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People”, which, according to him, was one of the most dangerous laws. He added that Israel had “become Jewish” because of two factors, the expulsion of Palestinians and the automatic citizenship granted to newly arrived Jewish immigrants. Turning to the issue of the exercise of religious rights, the Knesset member stated that Israel proclaimed that it respected all faiths and holy sites in accordance with its laws. However, in practice, that was far from being the case; Israel contradicted the principles, ideas, precepts and rules declared in its own laws.

79. There had been an attempt by Israel to destroy the political, economic and cultural life in East Jerusalem, with a view to transforming the city into a society that was weak and unable to face challenges. Three kinds of “terrorist” groups were working towards such transformation, operating in three different areas, under the sponsorship of the Israeli authorities and external contributions. The first kind of group operated outside Jerusalem through the confiscation of property to limit the question of Jerusalem to title holders, transactions and disputes. The second type of group was attempting to appropriate the religious/holy sites. The third type of group acted like terrorists cells to make the Arabs living in Jerusalem “pay the price”. Such groups also targeted Muslim and Christian holy sites. Mr. Barakeh hoped that the forthcoming visit of Pope Francis to the region would be an occasion to shed light on this crucial issue.

80. Mr. Barakeh stressed that there must be initiatives to give a new impetus to popular resistance in Jerusalem. Therefore, it was important to address the absurdity of the age-based regime concerning access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It was also imperative to set up a social and financial system aimed at supporting the inhabitants of East Jerusalem. There was a need to strengthen the international and Arab presence, as well as academic life, in Jerusalem. Without education, the Palestinian identity would be completely wiped out.

81. In conclusion, Mr. Barakeh stated that Israel was attempting to transform Jerusalem into an issue between two religious groups. It was trying to invent a new narrative to create two opposite religious sets of facts. However, Jerusalem was and remained a political issue, including the question of sovereignty and the question of the continuation of the occupation. All sorts of programmes and work agendas could be designed to ensure the protection of Jerusalem. However, a solution could not be reached without a clear position from the United States, which must set up a balance of interests in the Middle East and adjust its unwavering support of Israel.

82. The Coordinator of the Assistance to the Palestinian People Unit of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Mahmoud Elkhafif, said the Unit had been mandated in the early 1980s to assess the impact of Israeli policies on the Palestinian economy. Since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Unit’s involvement had been on technical cooperation to build the capacity of PA and, eventually, that of the Palestinian State. Jerusalem was a crucial element of the Unit’s activities.

83. The recent study by UNCTAD on the Palestinian economy in East Jerusalem, entitled “Enduring annexation, isolation and disintegration”, had been the first of its kind. It had been very difficult to analyze what had happened since 1967 in Jerusalem because of the unavailability of maps and numbers. One recommendation had been to work on the economic and social situation in East Jerusalem and to fill the gap.

84. The first point of the study was that Jerusalem was special not only from a cultural, historic and religious point of view, but also from an international one. Jerusalem was crucial for many people around the world.

85. The second point of the study concerned the changes on the ground. Mr. Elkhafif explained that it was important to identify the symptoms of this problem, not for the sake of criticizing, but for ensuring an appropriate analysis.

86. Since 1967, the borders of Jerusalem had been changed by the municipality, creating a greater Jerusalem and categorizing the population. For example, Palestinian Jerusalemites were classified as permanent residents with the right to live and work in Israel; however, their permits could be revoked at any time. Over the years, about 50,000 Palestinians had lost their Jerusalem residency status in that manner. There were restrictions on housing, with only 15 per cent of the annexed zone designated for Palestinian houses, three times less than that for the homes of Israeli settlers. In 2010, more than 200,000 settlers were living in 16 settlements and suburbs within the barrier, a population almost as large as that of the Palestinians living in the city. Also, given the restrictions on the movement of Palestinians to and from Jerusalem (about 55,000 Palestinian no longer had access to the city), the economy of East Jerusalem had lost many consumers and access to cheap production. The economic cost was around $1 billion in capital loss for the Palestinians, who constituted 30 per cent of Jerusalem’s population but received only 7 per cent of the municipal budget. The building of the barrier had also drastically redefined the city’s border and made its study even more difficult.

87. In addition, there were no Palestinian banks in East Jerusalem. Palestinians were not willing to borrow money from Israeli banks, and investment by Palestinians in Jerusalem was extremely difficult. As a result, most East Jerusalemites deposited their savings (around $200 million) in Palestinian banks in the West Bank, without getting loans or credit from them. This created a lack of competitiveness as well as an inability to produce. Unemployment and poverty were much higher in Jerusalem than in Israel. The poverty rate in East Jerusalem was 77 per cent for non-Jewish households, compared with 25 per cent for Israeli households. East Jerusalem was also confronted with a lack of recreation and cultural services, with only 45 parks, compared with 100 in West Jerusalem.

88. In response to the question of what could be done, Mr. Elkhafif put forth the following course of action:

89. In conclusion, Mr. Elkhafif said that it was very important to plan for the city as the capital of the State of Palestine, and that it should be taken seriously. Another crucial issue pertained to data collection. Here, the international community had a role to play, since tPA had no access to East Jerusalem.

90. Wendy Pullan, Head of Research and Director of the Martin Centre for Architectural and Urban Studies of the Department of Architecture of the University of Cambridge, talked about Jerusalem as a city that was very asymmetrical, where great inequalities prevailed. Jerusalem must be addressed in terms of its major urban issues. Drawing attention to a multinational and multidisciplinary project entitled “Conflict in cities and the contested State”, which she had directed, Ms. Pullan said the project allowed for comparisons, albeit to a limited degree, between Jerusalem and other divided cities. That could be useful in a variety of ways.

91. Regarding the urban question, it was first of all important to realize that cities were built on the frontline of cultures, producing clashes between different groups but also providing opportunities for diversity. After nearly 50 years of occupation and conflict, Jerusalem was a badly damaged city; any desirable long-term settlement would depend on the urban healing of the city. Similar practices were being employed by Israel across Jerusalem, but they often developed in different ways, including through settlement activities and land expropriations. Various Israeli authorities were involved, including the Government, settler organizations, the military and private enterprises. It was also important to note that there was little clear Israeli policy in the public domain, creating “strategic confusion”, which was, in and of itself, very effective.

92. However, there was a great consistency of pattern and purpose in what was going on in Jerusalem concerning the current programme to increase Israeli contiguity and control. The emphasis was intended to be on the long term. It was important to realize that settlements were connected not only to other areas of concern such as the holy places, but also to issues of transport, archaeology, heritage, parkland and tourism, all of which contributed to a successful Israeli settlement programme. Taking this into consideration, Ms. Pullan proposed to look at three areas of settlement and land expropriation that were all connected in terms of practices: 93. In conclusion, Ms. Pullan noted that, based on frontier urbanism, there was a use of civilians to form radicalized frontiers supported by urban spaces and structures, with people staring at each other and with no possibility of interchange or access. Strong psychological and symbolic factors were also at work here, dealing with visibility and uncertainty. For the international community, there was an issue of comprehension; it was an extremely complex place, and decisions were often taken lightly. There was a tendency to describe the situation as a temporary problem, requiring temporary strategies. However, the international community must look at the long term; the city had been damaged and unequal for too many years. Lastly, a simple redivision on the basis of the 1967 borders was not realistic. Ms. Pullan said there was a need for new and creative solutions as divided cities did not flourish.

94. In the ensuing discussion, responding to a question from the Chair, Knesset member Mohammad Barakeh said that Palestine’s accession to international conventions had come a bit too late. However, the decision to accede stressed a number of important elements, namely, a different basis for negotiations, the recognition of the State of Palestine and of the Israeli occupation. Mr. Elkhafif stressed that the accession of the State of Palestine to international conventions was a legitimate issue. Mr. Isaac stated that the United States mediator was not impartial and regretted the move from a peace agreement to a framework agreement.

95. Ms. Pullan reiterated her point about the separation wall; while it had indeed caused heavy suffering, local people had proved tremendously resourceful in learning to overcome challenges. The wall was just one part of a very complex and harsh regime. Other elements such as the settlements would be more difficult to address in the long term.

96. The Ambassador of Chile to the State of Palestine, Francisco Javier Bernales, expressed his interest in knowing who were the owners of the properties that Jewish groups purchased either to keep or to convert into Jewish businesses. Mr. Hadi enquired whether Palestinians were in a position to ask the Committee or the General Assembly to challenge Israelis on all the measures presented by Ms. Pullan. Türkkaya Ataöv of the International Progress Organization asked whether a common statement could be prepared to state what could and should be done to alter the present situation, and called on the international community to provide more active support to the Palestinians. Usha Kula, a Malaysian lawyer, asked whether Ms. Pullan could elaborate and explain whether there was a difference in the urban frontier between East and West Jerusalem. Nabil Idries Sublaban of the Early Childhood Resource Centre called on the Committee to invite more women, children and youth representative as witnesses of the daily hardships faced by Palestinians.

97. The Minister of Jerusalem Affairs of the State of Palestine, Adnan Al-Husseini, shared a list of recommendations that had been discussed by some participants in the international meeting. The recommendations welcomed the call made by the Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs to the Turkish people to visit Jerusalem; called on the international community, academic and media institutions, schools and universities to be aware of the “Judaization” of Jerusalem’s narrative; called on the United Nations to put an end to the threat posed by the accelerating pace of “Judaization” measures; and addressed several issues related to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islamic and Christian holy sites.



C. Plenary session III
The role of the international community
in promoting a just solution

98. The speakers in plenary session III addressed the following sub-themes: “The question of Jerusalem in the permanent status negotiations”; “International approaches to resolving the question of Jerusalem”; “The role of the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and other intergovernmental organizations” and “The role of non-State actors, including parliamentarians and civil society”. The session was chaired by the Chair of the Centre for Strategic Research, Ali Resul Usul.

99. The President of the Palestinian Economic Council for Research and Development and Senior Adviser to President Mahmoud Abbas on negotiations with Israel, Mohammad Shtayyeh, said that 1947, 1948, 1967 were three important dates. With the partition plan in 1947, Jerusalem had been considered to have the special status of corpus separatum under the trusteeship of the United Nations. With the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, the city had been divided into two parts, and in 1967, when Israel had occupied it, Jerusalem had measured only 6 square kilometres. Since then, Israel had expanded Jerusalem’s boundaries to 75 square kilometres. It had also extended its laws and regulations to the city, and started to change the reality of Jerusalem in three different respects: first, in terms of the demographic composition, aiming for as few Palestinians and as many settlers as possible; secondly, in terms of land confiscation and expropriation; and finally, in terms of the “Judaization” of the city. Another landmark in the history of Jerusalem was related to the 1993 Oslo Accords, which considered the city to be part of the five final status issues. The Accords also included an important clause stating that no one should prejudice the final status of the Palestinian territory.

100. Israel, realizing that Jerusalem was a crucial element of the negotiations, had decided to create a de facto situation vis-à-vis the city. By 27 March 1993, a total military closure had been imposed. No Palestinian was allowed to go to Jerusalem except those who had managed to obtain a permit, a practice that persisted today. In addition, by 2002, Israel had started to build the separation wall. The “de-Palestinization” of the city had begun, manifested also through the closure of Palestinian institutions.

101. The peace talks had started in Madrid in 1991 and were supposed to end at Camp David in 2000. At Camp David, no agreement was reached because of the Israeli demands. For instance, the Israelis offered Palestinian sovereignty over the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the esplanade along with Israeli sovereignty under the Mosque, the Western Wall and the city. For Bill Clinton, there was sovereignty below and above ground; he added that what was Arab would become part of the State of Palestine and what was Jewish would become part of the State of Israel.

102. When the peace talks had started in Madrid in 1991, there were 190,000 Israeli settlers. Today, that number was 631,000, including 268,000 settlers in the vicinity of Jerusalem. This showed that the colonization programme was intended to create a situation on the ground and further complicate the question of Jerusalem.

103. During the most recent peace talks, the Head of the Israeli delegation, Tzipi Livi, had indicated readiness to discuss Jerusalem, but another member had emphasized that the city was and would remain the “eternal capital” of the Jewish people. Jerusalem was not just a question of borders. In the spirit of compromise, the Palestinian delegation had proposed that Jerusalem be an “open city”, with West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine and one municipal umbrella to provide services to the people. To reach this proposal, it was important to redefine the city of Jerusalem. What were its borders (1947, 1948 or 1967)? The Israelis refused to discuss 1948 Jerusalem.

104. The mediators from the United States had stressed that the aim of the negotiations was a Palestinian State with its capital “in” Jerusalem, following an Israeli narrative. That formulation therefore failed to specify that the Jerusalem of 1967 (East Jerusalem) would be the capital of Palestine. This was important, since the city’s 1967 and post-1967 boundaries included areas that were not genuinely part of Jerusalem. The United States formulation, therefore, allowed for a deal that gave Palestinians artificial parts of Jerusalem but not the Old City, which included the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

105. According to Mr. Shtayyeh, there would be no State of Palestine without Jerusalem as its capital. He emphasized that Palestinians were not in a position to sacrifice their sovereignty over the city, just as they would not be able to relinquish their sovereignty over territories occupied in 1967. It was to be hoped that East Jerusalem, as the capital of a Palestinian State, would not remain only a “song for Arab singers”, but become a reality. Palestinians sought to break the status quo, while the Israelis wished to maintain it. The status quo could be broken either through reconciliation, by internationalizing the question of Palestine or by leading massive resistance against the Israeli occupation, making it “too costly”.

106. Desra Percaya, Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the United Nations and Vice-Chair of the Committee, said that his country did not have, and would not open, diplomatic relations with Israel until there was an independent State of Palestine. As the occupying Power, Israel must act in accordance with international law, protecting civilians and refraining from changing the status of Jerusalem. The issue of Jerusalem could not be separated from the peace process, and in the long run, finding a just solution for the city was part and parcel of a comprehensive settlement of the Palestinian question. On the basis of the previous presentations, there was full evidence of Israel’s systematic efforts for the permanent annexation of East Jerusalem.

107. In relation to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, there was an important element with respect to Palestine, which was the issue of self-determination. There had been numerous General Assembly and Security Council resolutions in that regard, as well as the creation of specific committees. The Economic and Social Council, as well as the International Court of Justice and the Human Rights Council, among other organizations, had also discussed the issue of Palestine and Jerusalem. In addition, the role of the Secretary-General was primordial in the promotion of a peaceful resolution to the conflict. OIC and the Non-Aligned Movement also had an important role in this regard.

108. The primary responsibilities of all of those organizations and bodies were, first of all, to uphold the rules of international law and the principles of the peaceful settlement of disputes, the non-use of lethal force and the right to self-determination; to keep the issue of Palestine alive and high on the international community agenda; to act as a persistent objector to the facts created by Israel on the ground; and to strengthen the international alliance against the Israeli occupation, including non-State actors. Much had been done, but the question was whether this had been effective. The reality in the field showed that, unfortunately, there was a lack of enforcement to make Israel comply with United Nations resolutions and abide by international law.

109. The Vice-Chair stated that the double-standard policy was very strong in the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Furthermore, in the negotiation process there was asymmetry between Palestine and Israel. The role of the United States as an impartial mediator was also questionable.

110. For that reason, it was important to increase the efforts of the international community towards multitrack diplomacy. The way forward was not only for Governments, but for everyone, including civil society organizations and ordinary people. Both the United Nations and OIC too often worked independently on the issue. There was a need to synergize and to strengthen alliances with non-State actors. Women and youth were critical, in every country. Furthermore, there was a need to establish the presence of OIC in Jerusalem. The creation of a strong narrative that would have appeal for many was also very important. A narrative of revenge would not be compelling. Awareness must be increased all over the world in order to shift the focus to activities that had a genuine impact on the ground. It was important that the international community move beyond statements, broaden its constituents and increase its critical mass of pro-Palestinians with concrete actions in the field.

111. Mohamed Taj-Eddine El Houssaini, Professor of International Relations at University Mohamed V in Rabat, said there was a political and religious conflict between Israel and Palestine, with attempts by Israel to annex and “Judaize” the city. Jerusalem would forever be the third holiest site for Muslim pilgrims. Israel was trying to move from the issue of sovereignty to a religious framework by all possible means, using fictitious symbols to trap the narrative.

112. Israel had managed to obtain several political gains throughout the different stages of the negotiation process. However, its strategy generally sought to accomplish a “fait accompli”. It had managed to establish the settlements and said that Jerusalem was the “eternal capital” of Israel. In order to settle the question of Jerusalem, it was important not to go backwards on what had been achieved, but to move forward, aware of the challenges. The asymmetry of the conflict had also been compounded by the unprecedented economic crisis, which had turned a unipolar world into one of multiple centres of power competing against one another. Moreover, with the Arab Spring, which had become a “cold winter”, the Israelis would pay a heavy price.

113. How could the international community face down Israel’s intransigent position, and how could international organizations deal with the situation? There were two scenarios: one of hope and one of despair. The hope was based on international legitimacy and international law, and the possibility of internationalizing the question of Jerusalem. On the other hand, continuing the status quo, with the occupation, oppression and hegemony of Israel, would lead to despair. The “hope scenario” called for reversion to the pre-1967 borders and a division of Jerusalem. During all the negotiations, Israel had attempted to postpone the question of Jerusalem until the bitter end, as it opposed any division of the city. It had even refused to allow Yasser Arafat to be buried in Jerusalem. As for the “despair scenario”, at this time there was no difference between the political parties in Israel; all of them wanted to retain Jerusalem as a unified city. However, a change in the position of the United States must also be noted. It was important to realize that the Congress of the United States had voted to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem; this was a dangerous development.

114. Israel was the party benefiting from the delays, and it was important to cite the physical expulsion of Palestinian citizens, the confiscation of their identity as citizens of Jerusalem, and their replacement with Israeli settlers. The question of the boycott, disinvestment and sanctions movement was important, and international organizations should take this into consideration, especially the failure of the Security Council in advancing the peace process. Many groups such as the Non-Aligned Movement or the League of Arab States could follow the path of the European Union. It was also crucial to reformulate the strategy to protect the holy sites and to better use the media to denounce “apartheid”. There was a need for a body mandated to examine how United Nations resolutions could be implemented. To date, none of these resolutions had been applied.

115. Since January 2014, in Marrakech, under the auspices of King Mohammed VI, more than 30 resolutions, some of them immensely important, had been passed. Financial support and political will would be needed if they were to go into effect. Emphasizing the importance of reconciliation among Palestinians, Mr. El Houssaini concluded that as long as Palestinians remained divided, the result would be disastrous for the question of Jerusalem and the conflict in general.

116. The Vice-President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean , Mohammad Halaiqah, reminded participants that this conference was being held in the wake of a recent event that had taken place in Jordan, entitled “The Road to Jerusalem”, which had involved a large number of international experts. A number of recommendations had been made that confirmed the rights of Muslims to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque and to support Palestinians. He asserted that the international community was perceived as failing to carry out its duty. While the voice of Jordan was quite clear, Arab and Muslim, with the obvious exception of Turkey, had been silent. He said that this conference should be a point of departure.

117. Mr. Halaiqah pointed out that Jerusalem was an issue fundamental to reaching a just and lasting peace in the region, which, unfortunately, was confronted with political dilemmas and had seen the recent failure of the negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis. Highlighting the role of parliamentary diplomacy, he said that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean had always been committed to contributing to the Palestinian cause. There was a special ad hoc group in the Assembly dealing with this issue and working to facilitate dialogue between the parties with the aim of achieving a just and permanent peace in the Middle East. On several occasions, often at the request of the United Nations, Assembly parliamentarians had visited the region, including the Gaza Strip. Last November, a high-level Assembly delegation had visited Amman, Ramallah and Jerusalem to meet with Israelis, Palestinians and United Nations officials. Moreover, two high-level missions from the Assembly had visited both Cairo and Moscow, in March and April 2014. At both locations, and in coordination with the United Nations, the Middle East peace process had been discussed with senior officials and with Nabil El Araby, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States.

118. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean was committed to Jerusalem and was convinced that the main issue revolved around sovereignty. United Nations resolutions were very clear about the division of the city; however, the religious dimension could add to the radicalization of positions and to an inability to reach an agreement. The continuous Israeli assaults on the Al-Aqsa Mosque were not acceptable and further complicated the prospects of peace. There would be no real security for any States in the region until the Arab-Israeli peace process proved successful. In this context, the Syrian crisis posed another great challenge to security around the Mediterranean.

119. In recent months, Israeli and Palestinian leaders had shown their willingness to work together with the Government of the United States. Unfortunately, direct negotiations had stopped. The Assembly was ready to offer new avenues to pursue the ideal of peace in the region.

120. The Managing Director of the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey, Güven Sak, spoke about the economy of Jerusalem. He addressed the actions of the Turkish business community and suggested ways forward for common work. He said that Jerusalem needed good jobs and inclusive growth. At the time of the Oslo Accords, East Jerusalem had represented 15 per cent of the Palestinian economy; nowadays, it represented 7 per cent. A way to support Palestinian entrepreneurship in Jerusalem must be found, although doing business in Palestine was not easy under the Israeli occupation.

121. Ten years ago, the Ankara Forum process had been established between the Palestinian, Israeli and Turkish business communities. The objective had been to focus on network coordination activities and negotiations to find ways to improve the private sector in Palestine. The Forum had started an industrial zone project in 2010 near Jenin in cooperation with the Governments of Germany and Palestine.

122. In 2013, there had been a total of 890,000 residents in Jerusalem, 39 per cent of them Palestinians, 98 per cent of whom lived in East Jerusalem and one third of whom were below the age of 29. The gross domestic product per capita of East Jerusalem was eight times lower than that of Israel. Seventy-nine per cent of non-Jewish Jerusalemites lived below the poverty line. They were much poorer than the people living in West Jerusalem. Seventy-five per cent of business owners in East Jerusalem had seen their revenues decrease in the past two years. The international community could not afford to wait for a political settlement to invest in Jerusalem, as economic conditions there would only continue to deteriorate.

123. There were three areas that could be considered for investment in East Jerusalem and to improve the living conditions of the people: tourism, housing and information and communications technology (ICT). In general, it was important to identify the constraints on the number of good jobs, and if those constraints could not be removed, as was the case in Jerusalem, it was a question of finding mechanisms to go around them. There was a need to improve all aspects of the tourism industry in East Jerusalem, from increasing the number of available hotel rooms to ensuring that there were English-speaking guides and taxi drivers. Cheap housing was also needed in East Jerusalem, where most Palestinian families lived in cramped conditions, but they could build on only 13 per cent of the land. Those conditions must be improved. Considering that there were 141 million Arabic-speaking users on the Internet, the growth in the market for Arabic language content provided opportunities for ICT investment in Palestine. There were already a few start-ups in the West Bank, and such momentum could be brought to East Jerusalem.

124. When it came to strengthening companies in Palestine, Mr. Sak said it was important to find mechanisms for sharing risks with investors who could take difficult business decisions. It was possible to find funds from private investors and venture capital companies. It was important to focus on the creation of good jobs in East Jerusalem, which required good companies in order to flourish. There was also a need to focus on private sector-based economic activity. The occupation was definitely a major constraint specific to Palestine, and in order to offset the constraints, the Palestinian Government must be active in supporting economic activity and market-based risk-sharing mechanisms. Jerusalem should also be seen as a corporate social responsibility project for the entire international community.

125. In the ensuing discussion, Mr. Isaac said that, while any economic activity was welcome in Palestine, experience had proved that Israel used Palestinian willingness to develop, for example, in the tourism sector, in order to ensure Israeli control. Whatever the effort, it must be ensured that no harm would be done to the Palestinian cause. The Ambassador of the State of Palestine to Turkey, Nabil Maarouf, said that some of the recommendations received during the course of the Meeting were extremely valuable, and expressed hope that they would be reflected in the outcome document and translated into Arabic and English. With regard to the visit by the Pope, he said it would be timely to include a recommendation on the historic nature of that visit. The Pope should request that access to Jerusalem be made easier for both Christians and Muslims. Mr. Shtayyeh said there was a need for both a public investment programme and a private sector one. He said it must be mentioned that President Mahmoud Abbas had announced a special fund for the Palestinian private sector in Jerusalem, and it was hoped that the fund would give rise to ideas not only for job creation in Jerusalem, but also for creating economic linkages between Jerusalem and the other parts of the Palestinian territory.


IV. Closing session

126. Emrullah Isler, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey, expressed his gratitude to the United Nations and OIC for their cooperation in organizing the Meeting. The situation that prevailed in Jerusalem reflected the conscience of mankind. Jerusalem was special because of its holiness to the three monotheistic religions, but it could not be mentioned without talking about the suffering of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. They were continuing their fight against the historic injustice that had begun in 1948, but they had thus far been prevented, under the pretext of several obstacles and excuses, from enjoying independent statehood. The objective of the Government of Turkey was for the Palestinian people to live in an independent sovereign State with East Jerusalem as its capital. Among the clearest examples of Turkish support was the Government’s recognition of the State of Palestine in 1988 as well as its contribution to ensuring that the General Assembly accepted Palestine as a non-Member Observer State in 2012. Turkey would continue to make every effort to guarantee a just position for Palestine as a member of the international community. International partners, particularly Islamic States, must also maintain their support for Palestine in that area; this was a moral and political obligation.

127. The Palestinian question could not be settled before the question of Jerusalem, and the Arab-Israeli conflict could not be settled before the Palestinian question was settled. There was hope that peace and reconciliation would prevail, and that Jerusalem would become a centre and symbol of peace and international understanding. Jerusalem did not belong to one people or to one religion. The citizens of the whole world, whatever their religion or culture, must consider Jerusalem a common heritage of humankind as a whole. The Republic of Turkey would support any initiative by the United Nations and OIC along those lines. It would also pursue efforts to create a Jerusalem in which all factions could live together in an atmosphere where peace and understanding prevailed, as in the past.

128. The Assistant Secretary-General of OIC, Samir Bakr, expressed his deep and sincere thanks to the Government and the people of Turkey for hosting the Meeting, saying it bore witness to their joint efforts in support of Jerusalem. Mr. Bakr also paid tribute to the investment of the United Nations with regard to the status of Jerusalem. The question of a Palestine that included East Jerusalem would remain a priority in the Organization’s political negotiations and the key to peace and security in the region. Finally, Mr. Bakr also paid special tribute to the Committee for its untiring efforts for a just solution to the Palestinian question.

129. Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, expressed the appreciation and thanks of the Palestinian people and their leadership to the Republic of Turkey for hosting the Meeting, and to OIC and the Committee for their collaboration in organizing it. He also thanked all the other Governments, organizations and individuals who had helped make the Meeting a success, including the experts who had made presentations on Jerusalem. The story of the Palestinians, their pain, struggle, frustration and anger had been correctly transmitted. The pain of Palestinians was so immense that it had to be told to further educate everyone about what the Palestinian people were enduring. The international community must understand that the occupation could no longer be tolerated. All friends of Palestine needed to step up to the plate to end the conflict.
130. The Meeting had been crucial to enlarging the base of partners. Palestinians were resisting as much as they could in every place, including Jerusalem. It was their duty, and they would continue doing so. Their efforts would be intensified further, especially once the split in the two wings of their political system was brought to an end. National unity was a need and a must. Moreover, no one could blame the Palestinian Authority, under the leadership and wisdom of President Mahmoud Abbas, for not negotiating in good faith on the basis of international legitimacy. The other side was not interested in peace, as it continued its colonization programme and settlement activities during the nine-month negotiations and continued to put new conditions on the table. No one was blaming the Palestinians for the failure of the negotiations that had collapsed owing to the intransigence of the other party.

131. More than five years ago, the Palestinian leadership had started a process to create an additional tool to protect the Palestinian cause at the diplomatic, political and legal levels. This had materialized through bilateral recognition of the State of Palestine. Those who had recognized the State of Palestine had invested in peace and the two-State solution. More than 130 countries had done so before the United Nations bid. Within the General Assembly, the overwhelming majority had recognized the reality of the State of Palestine. This had opened doors for Palestine to join international treaties and conventions. Palestine was at a crossroads and appeared more equipped. It had put all necessary efforts into the request of the international community for an end to the occupation; however, the other side had not acted accordingly. The world was ready for peace, including Governments, parliamentarians, media experts and civil society. It was also time for settlers and their financial supporters to be treated as criminals. Finally, Mr. Mansour stated that the occupation should be made costly for Israel, so that its leaders would finally negotiate in good faith in order to end the conflict.

132. Abdou Salam Diallo, Chairman of the Committee, delivered the closing statement. He said that it had been a privilege for the Committee to co-host the meeting and to better understand the current situation in Jerusalem. He expressed his gratitude to the Republic of Turkey and OIC for their cooperation.

133. The latest information on the status of Jerusalem and the complications endured daily by its faithful Palestinian residents had been heard during the Meeting. The specific measures employed by the occupying Power had also been highlighted, as had the international community’s role in promoting a just solution. A number of speakers had presented some constructive ideas on the way forward. Describing the situation in Jerusalem as grave, Mr. Diallo said every Israeli action that led to the construction of new settlements represented a violation of international humanitarian law. The international community as a whole was exasperated by the provocations of Israel and right-wing activists, especially in respect of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Such provocations served no one and simply must stop.


Annex I

Summary of the Chair

1. The International Meeting on the Question of Jerusalem was held on 12 and 13 May 2014 in Ankara, Turkey. The Meeting was jointly organized by the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the Government of the Republic of Turkey and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The objective of the Meeting was to raise awareness of the question of Jerusalem and discuss strengthened international support for a just and lasting solution. The Meeting was attended by 72 Member States, two Observer States, four intergovernmental organizations, three United Nations system entities, and 23 local and international civil society organizations. Thirteen expert speakers addressed the Meeting.

2. All speakers in the opening session affirmed Jerusalem’s unique, sacred role for three religions and rejected the ‘“Judaization”’ of the Holy City. The Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey, Ahmet Davutoðlu, censured those who would negate the City’s inheritance. He recalled that Jerusalem under the dominance of Muslims had been open to all faiths and religions. He stressed that Jerusalem was not just a political issue, but represented an important cultural inheritance that could not be limited to a single religion or ethnicity. He rejected Israel’s unilateral decisions concerning Jerusalem. In accordance with international law, the City was a territory under occupation. The Minister said that the United Nations should play a more active role, suggesting that the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, established in 1948 with three members (France, Turkey and the United States of America), should be reconvened and that other fora should also take up the issue of Jerusalem, as the status quo represented a serious threat to international peace and security. He called for an annual international meeting on Jerusalem and offered Turkey’s support. The Secretary-General of OIC, Iyad bin Ameen Madani, emphasized that the Holy City of Al-Quds formed an integral part of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967. He expressed deep concern about Israeli policies in occupied Jerusalem, the expanding settlements, “Judaization” and the confiscation of land. Israel’s immense violations of international law represented a blatant defiance of the international community and required a different brand of international intervention. All States and institutions had a responsibility to confront these violations as a threat to international peace and security. International efforts should lead to an end of the Israeli occupation and ensure the City’s return to Palestinian sovereignty. The Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Mr. Abdou Salam Diallo, recalled that the General Assembly had mandated 2014 as the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People to raise awareness of the main issues and obstacles to the peace process. The Committee was wedded to a two-State solution, and parties had been called upon to act responsibly, to create an appropriate climate for negotiations and to resolve all final status issues. He criticized Israel’s settlement policies, including in East Jerusalem, accompanied by the demolition of homes and the expropriation of Palestinian land. He recalled the collective responsibility of Member States of the United Nations, given successive General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on Jerusalem. The Minister of Waqf and Religious Affairs and Representative of the State of Palestine, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, stressed that Jerusalem was an integral part of the Palestinian religious heritage. Since its occupation in 1967, Palestinians in Jerusalem and surrounding areas had suffered daily repression and aggression. There would be no peace as long as the State of Palestine was not established under international law with Jerusalem as its capital. The real problem was not one of religion, but one of occupation of territory. The international community had to provide practical support to the Arab Peace Initiative, which was based on a two-State solution; otherwise, it might become impossible or impractical in the future. The Minister of Jerusalem Affairs of the State of Palestine, Adnan Al-Husseini, pointed in his keynote address to the continuing daily destruction of Jerusalem as a Palestinian city, with the intention of changing the city’s nature. Since 1993, negotiations had not resulted in anything; to the contrary, Israeli expansion had doubled, settlers threatened Palestinian inhabitants, and the Israeli authorities had expelled thousands of families. The international community had to intervene and apply pressure on Israel to find a binding solution.

3. In his message, the Secretary-General of the United Nations warned that the current political stalemate in the talks between Israelis and Palestinians posed great risks to the prospects of a two-State solution. Continued inaction could result in further instability. Failing to resume negotiations would lead further down the path of a one-State reality. Emphasizing that settlements and house demolitions were illegal under international law, the Secretary-General was particularly troubled by mounting tensions around Jerusalem and access to its holy sites, stating that Jerusalem must be open and accessible to all. Through negotiations, Jerusalem should emerge as the capital of two States with arrangements for the holy sites acceptable to all. In his message, the Director of the Hashemite Fund for the Restoration of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, Wasfi Kailani, said that the inalienable rights of the Palestinians were being marginalized and violated by the Israeli occupation. It was important to realize that Israel’s aggression was part of a greater move to prevent the Palestinians from realizing their self-determination and their rights. Since 1967, the imposition of a new status quo on the territory had been witnessed, changing the situation and eroding the lives of Palestinians in Jerusalem.

4. The Meeting then explored the status of Jerusalem under international law. It was emphasized that Jerusalem, as the holy city of the three monotheistic religions, was a treasure for all humanity. At the same time, it was an occupied city. Despite many adopted resolutions, the occupation continued. Israel was trying to Judaize the city, marginalizing Palestinian inhabitants and stamping out their identity. In the past five months, 234 Palestinian houses had been demolished. Presentations highlighted specific Israeli practices that could be considered ethnic cleansing. Jerusalem was completely cut off from the West Bank; it could not be reached without Israeli permission. Presenters spoke of the attempts to disrespect the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which was under the custodianship of Jordan, the present Trustee for the Holy Sites. The Al-Aqsa Mosque had become an object of military activities, and soldiers restricted access to it, making the Mosque the most targeted place in Jerusalem. Twenty tunnels had been dug around the Mosque, Israelis had expanded the Western Wall, and extremists were being urged to break in to pray, changing the status of the Holy Sites. Another serious problem was that Israel had sought to develop false narratives, such as the “Holy Basin”, to justify land appropriation. A presence of Muslim and Arab organizations in the city was lacking, as was a continuous and legitimate presence of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

5. The Meeting then reviewed the current situation in Jerusalem, including measures taken by Israel and the socioeconomic situation of Palestinian residents. It was stated that after nearly 50 years of occupation and conflict, Jerusalem was a badly damaged city. Various Israeli authorities were involved in municipal decisions, along with settler organizations and military and private enterprises, creating a strategic confusion that masked a very effective policy. There was an intention to restrict Palestinian growth and development. Presentations clearly showed the patchwork of settlements placed very close to Palestinian towns, inhibiting growth. The wall was the most visible aspect of the Israeli policies, and was accompanied by a very complex and harsh system of closures resulting in ethnic displacement. A line of settlements was built parallel to it like fortresses. National parks were part of the Israeli settlement policy, used very effectively as part of the land expropriation programme. Archaeology was another tool, as seen in the claim that the remains of King David’s city were near the al-Aqsa compound, in the neighbourhood of Silwan, even though most archaeologists disagreed. The access of Muslims to the Al-Aqsa Mosque was restricted to men having reached a certain age. At the same time, the most extremist of the settlers were allowed to live in East Jerusalem; they terrorized their Palestinian neighbours and were responsible for recent assaults on Muslim and Christian holy places. The Knesset played its part by having ratified a law which stipulated that the Government was obliged to put to a vote any decision concerning East Jerusalem, a hurdle impossible to overcome in the Israeli legislature.

6. The Israeli policies also affected the socioeconomic situation of the Palestinian population. The poverty rate in East Jerusalem was estimated at 77 per cent for non-Jewish households. The health and education sectors in East Jerusalem were in a disastrous state, which was leading to an obliteration of the Palestinian identity. Since 1967, some 50,000 Palestinians had lost their residency status. Owing to restrictions on movement, the economy of East Jerusalem had lost many consumers, and since there were no Palestinian banks in East Jerusalem, financial transactions there were extremely difficult. It was pointed out that Israel had adopted a strategy of “de-Palestinization” of the City, which included separating it from the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, freezing land registration, constructing settlements and building roads to serve settlers exclusively. One speaker urged that ways be found to support Palestinian entrepreneurship in Jerusalem, focusing on the creation of good jobs and private sector-based economic activity in order to address the endemic poverty and the deteriorating way of life. Although constraints existed, mitigating measures had to be found. Risk-sharing mechanisms with investors that would take difficult business decisions, for example, a Jerusalem venture capital fund, could be one such measure. Better coordination among donors and international agencies was essential, particularly on data collection and analysis for meaningful socioeconomic studies. Planning for the city as the capital of Palestine, including financing options, needed to be pursued seriously.

7. Meeting participants also discussed the role of the international community in promoting a just solution and international approaches to resolving the question of Jerusalem. It was highlighted that Jerusalem’s unique position in Christianity, Islam and Judaism could catalyse the promotion of peace in the Middle East, but that Israeli intransigence was preventing it. Participants agreed that Jerusalem was a global issue and that the international community, including the United Nations, should resume its responsibilities as laid out in the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. To date, however, Israel had been able to defy United Nations resolutions without repercussions. Speakers all agreed that Israel, as the occupying Power, had to act in accordance with international law, protecting civilians and not changing the status of Jerusalem. The principle of self-determination set out in the Charter of the United Nations was important with respect to Palestine. One speaker proposed “an international convention on the protection of the Holy Sites”, as there was need for a common body with a mandate to look at how existing resolutions could be more effective. The question of Jerusalem could not be separated from the peace process, and a lasting solution to that question would be part and parcel of a comprehensive settlement of the Palestinian question. There was a need to increase efforts in multitrack diplomacy. The issue was not one exclusively for Governments, but for all actors of the international community, including civil society organizations. Intergovernmental organizations, such as the United Nations and OIC, should synergize their initiatives and strengthen alliances with non-State actors, parliamentarians, women and youth in every country. It was also important to establish a permanent presence of the international community, including the United Nations, OIC and other organizations in Jerusalem.

8. Participants called for the protection of Jerusalem’s identity. They also called on academic and media institutions, schools and universities to maintain the internationally accepted narrative of Jerusalem and not to give in to efforts to Judaize its history. There was a need for international commitment to protect Jerusalem’s unique character, such as a special statute, internationally guaranteed, that could ensure the historical, material and religious character of the Holy Sites, as well as free access to them for residents and pilgrims alike. Participants suggested that the international guarantor of this mandate could be the United Nations. Presenters called on the United Nations to abide by international law and not to submit to Israeli policies. It should uphold the civil rights of all Jerusalemites, such as the rights to citizenship, housing, education and freedom to worship. The presentation of the various reports by the United Nations and other international organizations should be strengthened by inviting eyewitnesses. Many speakers also emphasized the importance for Muslims and Christians of visiting Jerusalem to express their right to freedom of worship, to preserve their sacred sites, to support the people of Jerusalem and to help them develop their community. Participants pointed to the new status of Palestine as a United Nations Observer State, which provided a huge opportunity to advance Palestine’s case through international legal instruments.

9. Palestinian participants emphasized that there would be no State of Palestine without Jerusalem as its capital. Palestinians were not in a position to sacrifice their sovereignty over the City. They demanded a breaking of the status quo in the City. That could be done through reconciliation, by internationalizing the question of Palestine, or by making the occupation too costly. The main obstacle was Israel’s continued settlement policies, creating facts on the ground and complicating the issues. When peace talks had started in 1991, the number of Jewish settlers had been190,000. Today, it was 631,000, including 268,000 in Jerusalem. In the current round of talks, the American mediators stressed that the aim was a Palestinian State with its capital in Jerusalem. However, that formulation failed to specify in which part of present-day Jerusalem it would be. This was important, given that the boundaries after 1967 included parts that were not considered part of Jerusalem by the Palestinians. In a spirit of compromise, the Palestinian delegation to the current round of talks had proposed an open city, with West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, and free access for all. This had been rejected. Israelis were moving towards a religious framework to justify their policies, and sought to postpone the talks on Jerusalem, as it opposed any division and benefited from the delay. Jerusalem needed a serious intervention, and progress would depend on making Israel’s occupation more costly to Israel. The current format of negotiations had to be reviewed and reformatted. A clear and balanced position was needed from the United States, as unswerving support for Israel emboldened it to continue its illegal policies.

10. Speakers in the closing session expressed their appreciation to the Government of Turkey, OIC and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for their support in organizing this important Meeting on Jerusalem. The Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, Emrullah Isler, said that his Government would continue to make every effort to guarantee a fair and just resolution of the question of Palestine. Turkey would continue to make every effort to guarantee the just position of the State of Palestine as a member of the international community. He hoped that Jerusalem would become a centre and a symbol of peace and international understanding, as the City did not belong to one people or one religion. He reiterated Turkish support for any initiative by the United Nations and OIC in this regard. The Assistant Secretary-General of OIC, Samir Bakr, said that the Meeting bore witness to joint work in solidarity and support of Jerusalem. OIC recognized that the question of Palestine would remain a priority in its work as the key to peace and security in the region. The Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine, Riyad Mansour, said that the growing international recognition of the State of Palestine had enlarged the base of partners for ending the Israeli occupation. Palestine was now better equipped to continue its resistance. The international community had encouraged the Palestinians to negotiate an end to the occupation, but the good faith of the Palestinian leadership had not been reciprocated. Israel had even accelerated its settlement expansion, showing its real intentions. He called upon the international community to establish accountability for Israel, to make it pay a price for the continued occupation. Governments, parliaments, corporations and academics should divest from projects benefiting the occupation. Settlers should be declared criminals and prosecuted under national legislation. If the occupation were made costly for Israel, its leaders might return in good faith to future negotiations. The Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Abdou Salam Diallo, lauded the dignity of the Palestinians from Jerusalem in the face of their daily challenges. He welcomed the fact that constructive ideas had been presented. The Chairman concluded by saying that the situation in Jerusalem was grave and the international community was “exasperated” by the provocations of Israel, and such provocations had to stop. He hoped that with the help of the international community, peace would prevail in Palestine.

Annex II

List of participants
Speakers
Mahdi F. Abdul Hadi Chairman
The Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs

Jerusalem
Mohamed Barakeh Member of the Knesset
Jerusalem
Mohamed Taj-Eddine Professor of International Relations,
University Mohamed V El Houssaini
Rabat
Mahmoud Elkhafif Coordinator
Assistance to the Palestinian People Unit

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
Geneva
Antonio Franco Archbishop
Former Apostolic Delegate for Jerusalem and Palestine

Rome
Mohammad Halaiqah Vice-President
Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, Malta
Amman
Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein Qadi and Mufti of Jerusalem
Jerusalem
Jad Isaac Director-General
Applied Research Institute Jerusalem
Wasfi Kailani Director
Hashemite Fund for the Restoration of Al-Aqsa Mosque

and the Dome of the Rock
Amman
Wendy Pullan Director
Martin Centre for Architecture and Urban Research, Department of Agriculture,

University of Cambridge
Cambridge
Güven Sak Managing Director
Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey
Ankara
Mohammad Shtayyeh President
Palestinian Economic Council for Research and Development, Senior Adviser to President Mahmoud Abbas on negotiations with Israel

Jerusalem
ªakir Özkan Torunlar Former Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey
to the State of Palestine
Delegation of the Committee on the Exercise of the
Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People
Abdou Salam Diallo Permanent Representative of Senegal to the United Nations
Chair of the Committee
Zahir Tanin Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations
Vice-Chair of the Committee
Desra Percaya Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the United Nations
Vice-Chair of the Committee
Wilfried I. Emvula Permanent Representative of Namibia to the United Nations
Vice-Chair of the Committee
Riyad Mansour Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations
Representative of the Secretary-General
Robert Serry United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process
Delegation of the Government of Turkey
Ahmet Davutoðlu Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey
Ömer Önhon Deputy Undersecretary for the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific
Ümit Yalçýn Director-General for the Middle East
Ali Resul Usul Chair of the Center for Strategic Research
Mekin Mustafa Kemal Ökem Deputy Director-General for the Middle East
Mehmet Küçüksakall Head of the Department, Deputy Directorate General for the Middle East
Korhan Kemik Head of the Department, Deputy Directorate General for the Middle East
Dilan Bilgin Second Secretary, Deputy Directorate General for the Middle East
Erdinç Tor Second Secretary, Deputy Directorate General for the Middle East
Necati Erbil Ertürk Third Secretary, Deputy Directorate General for the Middle East
Ömer Uzun Attaché, Deputy Directorate General for the Middle East
Delegation of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation
Iyad bin Ameen Madani Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation
Samir Bakr Assistant Secretary-General for Palestine and Al Quds Al Sharif Affairs
Shaher Saeed Mohammad Adviser
Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations

Awawdeh
Khaled Wafi Protocol Officer
Governments
AfghanistanAmanullah Jayhoon
Ambassador to Turkey
Arash Elham
Embassy in Turkey
ArgentinaJuan José Arcuri
Ambassador

Analia Verónica Carreras
First Secretary

Embassy in Turkey
Azerbaijan Dursun Hasanov
Undersecretary

Embassy in Turkey
BangladeshDir. Arif Rahman
Second Secretary
Embassy in Turkey
Belgium Marc Trenteseau
Ambassador to Turkey
Bosnia and HerzegovinaJasna Martincevic
Third Secretary

Embassy in Turkey
Brazil Diogo Mendes de Almeida
Second Secretary and Chargé d’affaires

Embassy in Turkey
BulgariaDobromira Kirova
Political Section
Embassy in Turkey
Chile Francisco Javier Bernales
Ambassador to the State of Palestine
Sebastian Marin Labbe
Chargé d’affaires
Embassy in Turkey
Congo Siméon Ewongo
Chargé d’affaires
Embassy in Turkey
CroatiaLovorka Ostrunic
Envoy Undersecretary
CubaAlberto Gonzalez Casals
Ambassador to Turkey
Czech RepublicVáclav Hubinger
Ambassador to Turkey
DjiboutiAden Houssein Abdillahi
Ambassador to Turkey
EcuadorArturo Cabrera
Envoy
Egypt Hazem Fawzy
First Secretary
Embassy in Turkey
FranceCatherine Corm-Kammoun
First Secretary
Juliette Part
Trainee
Embassy in Turkey
GhanaPerpetua O. Dufu, Chargé d’affaires,
Embassy in Turkey
GreeceKyriakos Loukakýs,
Ambassador

Evangelos Kalpadakis, First secretary
Embassy in Turkey
GuineaDaouda Bangoura
Ambassador
Lai Konate Daouda
Chief of Protocol
HungaryZoltán Fehér
Deputy Head of Mission
IndonesiaDesra Percaya
Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the United Nations
Nahari Agustini
Ambassador to Turkey

Ary Aprianto
First Secretary
Permanent Mission to the United Nations
Dyah L. Asmarani
First Secretary
Embassy in Turkey
IraqTalal Jameel Saleh Al-Obaidi
Ambassador to Turkey
Sudad Khidir Al-Byati
Undersecretary
Abdulraazaq Rabca A. Al-Nacmi
Second Secretary
Khalid Abdulsattar Al-Ogaidi
Attaché
Embassy in Turkey
Iran (Islamic Republic of)Alireza Bikdeli
Ambassador to Turkey
Italy Ludovico Serra
First Undersecretary
Embassy in Turkey
Japan Hideyuki Kawai
Second Secretary
Embassy in Turkey
Jordan Amjad Adaileh
Ambassador to Turkey
Janti Glazoga
Embassy official
Embassy in Turkey
Kenya Lindsay Kiptiness
Chargé d’Affaires a.i.
Andrew Mujivane
Second Secretary for Political & Consular Affairs/Deputy Head of Mission
KuwaitJasem Al-Najem
Undersecretary
Embassy in Turkey
Kyrgyzstan Elvira Koenalieva
Attaché
Embassy in Turkey
LebanonRabie Narsh
Chargé d’affaires
Mansour Abdallah
Embassy in Turkey
LibyaMohamed Alabedi
Deputy Ambassador to Turkey
LithuaniaKêstutis Kudzmanas
Ambassador to Turkey
Luxembourg Arlette Conzemius
Ambassador to Turkey
Stéphane Putz
Political Consultant
Embassy in Turkey
MalaysiaAmran Mohamed Zin
Ambassador to Turkey
Nuryante Mohd Yazid
Minister Counsellor
Embassy in Turkey
MauritaniaMohamed Ahmed Lahweirth
Ambassador to Turkey
Abdellahi Nourad
First Counsellor
Emin Kaymak
Embassy in Turkey
MexicoJoel Enrique Viveros Galindo
Second Secretary
Embassy in Turkey
MoldovaEugeniu Buga
Consultant to the Ambassador
Embassy in Turkey
MongoliaBatkhishig Badamdorj
Ambassador to Turkey
Montenegro Ramon Bralic
Ambassador to Turkey
Morocco Lotfi Aouad
Ambassador to Turkey
Mohamed Taj-Eddine El Houssaini
Professor of International Relations
Mohammed Zerrouki
Minister Counsellor
Otman Samsam
Counsellor
Embassy in Turkey
New Zealand Annie Cawthorn
Second Secretary
Embassy in Turkey
NorwayLise Albrechtsen
Chargé d’affaires,
Embassy in Turkey
Oman Abdullah Altouqi
First Secretary
Embassy in Turkey
PakistanMian Atif Sharif
First Secretary
Embassy in Turkey
Peru Jorge Abarca del Carpio
Ambassador to Turkey
Jose Zapata, Counsellor
Embassy in Turkey
PolandAndrzej Mojkowski
Counsellor
Michal Nobis
Embassy in Turkey
Portugal Luis Quartin Graҫa
Deputy Head of Mission
Embassy in Turkey
Qatar Alshafi Salem
Counsellor
Embassy in Turkey
Republic of KoreaKim Eun-Jeong
Director, Middle East Division I
Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Kim Mi Eun
Third Secretary, Middle East Division I, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
RomaniaAmbassador Radu Onofrei
Ambassador to Turkey
Russian FederationValery Stolbov
Undersecretary
Embassy in Turkey
RwandaCaesar Kayizali
Ambassador to Turkey
Saudi Arabia Adel Siraj Merdad
Ambassador to Turkey
Abdullah Mohammed Al Ghamdi
Minister Plenipotentiary
Embassy in Turkey
Senegal Moustapha Mbacke
Ambassador to Turkey
Moustapha Sokhna Diop
Deputy Head of Mission
Ba Mamadou Boye
Counsellor
Embassy in Turkey
Serbia Ljiljana Belojevic
Minister Counsellor
Deputy Head of Mission
Dragana Blagojevic
Third Secretary
Embassy in Turkey
SloveniaTatjana Kovaҫiҫ
Second Secretary
Sara Jud
Intern
Embassy in Turkey
SomaliaMohamed Mursal Sheikh Abdirahman
Ambassador to Turkey
South Africa Soraya Jacobs
Counsellor
Embassy in Turkey
South Sudan Nuer Stephen Rett
First Secretary
Embassy in Turkey
Sudan Ibrahim Elsheikh Abdelrazig
Embassy in Turkey
SwedenLars Thomas Leonard Wahlund
Ambassador to Turkey
SwitzerlandDidier Chassot
Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission
Embassy in Turkey
TajikistanMykhemumol Velish
Embassy in Turkey
TunisiaMohamed Salah Tekaya
Ambassador to Turkey
Ali Cherif
Counsellor
Anis Hajri
Counsellor
Embassy in Turkey
Turkmenistan Akmammedov Murat Bas
Clerk
Embassy in Turkey

Uganda
Santa M. Laker Kinyera
Counsellor
Embassy in Turkey
Ukraine Serhiy Korsunsky
Ambassador to Turkey
Vasyl Bodnar
Minister Counsellor
Embassy in Turkey
United Arab EmiratesMohammed Rashid Al Absi
Head of Department of International Organizations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ahmed Mohamed A. Mutawaa
Chargé d’affaires
Noura Said Al Mansouri
Third Secretary
Embassy in Turkey
VenezuelaCatalina Espinoza
First Secretary
Embassy in Turkey
YemenÝmad Bamatraf
Third Secretary
Embassy in Turkey
Non-Member States having received a standing invitation to participate as Observers
in the sessions and the work of the General Assembly and maintaining Permanent Observer Missions at Headquarters
Holy SeeArchbishop Antonio Franco
former Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine
Antonio Lucibello
Nuncio to Turkey
State of PalestineMahmoud Al-Habbash
Minister of Waqf and Religious Affairs
Adnan Al-Husseini
Minister of Jerusalem Affairs
Nabil Maarouf
Ambassador to Turkey
Fadi F. Husseini
First Secretary
Embassy in Turkey
Ahmed Jamal Bawatneh
Ministry of Waqf
Intergovernmental Organizations
European Union Lara Scarpitta
League of Arab StatesMohamed El Fatah El Naciri
Ambassador to Turkey
Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean Mohammad Halaiqah of Jordan
Vice President and President of the First Standing Committee on Political Cooperation
Shadi Obeidat

Administrator, Jordanian Senate
Mourad Youssry, Deputy to Secretary-General for Assembly Affairs
United Nations organs, agencies and bodies
Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace ProcessElpida Rouka
Chief, Regional Affairs Unit
The United Nations Resident CoordinatorshipMustapha Sinaceur
Deputy Resident Coordinator
Halide Çaylan
United Nations Coordination Specialist
Ahmet Parla
United Nations Information Center, Ankara
Selim Barkan
United Nations Syria Coordination Assistant
Selim Giray
United Nations Coordination Assistant
Civil society organizations
Ankara UniversitySeval Balci
Erkan Yavaº Yilmaz
Cansu Relief and Solidarity AssociatonCemalettin Lafҫi
Assistant to the General Manager
Murtaza Özkanli
Assistant to the General Manager
Ankara
Directorate for Religious AffairsMehmet Görmez
Chairman
Ankara
Early Childhood Resource CenterNabil Idries Sublaban
General Director
Jerusalem
Migratory Letters Campaign – PalestineNour Olwan
Activist
Gaza
Human Rights Commissions for Minorities, BangladeshMazharul Islam
Chief Executive Officer
Liton Sorder
Personal Executive to CEO
Dhaka
International Progress OrganizationTürkkaya Ataöv
Vienna
International Strategic Research Organisation Ýhsan Bal
Ankara
Journalists’ AssociationNazmi Bilgin, Chair
Ankara
Kimse Yok Mu Solidarity and Relief Association Ýbrahim ÇÝÇEK
Central Anatolia Regional Coordinator
Ankara
Middle East Strategic Studies Centre Şaban Kardaş
Chair Ankara
One Voice MovementObada O.A. Shtaya
Senior Youth Leader
New York
Palestinians without FrontiersHamza I. Abu Shnab
International Relations Officer
Belal N. Rayyan
International Relations Officer
Gaza
Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management AgencyFuat Oktay, Chairman
Ankara
Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic CountriesSavaş Alpay
General Director
H. Hakan Eryetli
Head, Information and Statistics Division
M. Fatih Serenli
Director, Education and Technical Cooperation Branch
Nebil Dabour
Head, Research Department
Ankara
Tamkeen Arab Group and Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee RightsRania Madi
Permanent Representative Geneva
Turkish Centre for International Relations and Strategic Studies Celalettin Yavuz
Vice-President
Ankara
The Turkish Economic and Social Studies FoundationSabiha Senyücel Gündoðar
Ankara
Turkish Red CrescentAhmet Lütfü Akar
President
Turkish Red Crescent
Mehmet Güllüoðlu, Director General
Ankara
Union of Municipalities of TurkeyHayrettin Güngör
Secretary-General
Gülfem Kiraҫ Keleº
Head, International Relations Department
Bora Avci
Expert, International Relations Department
Cemal Baº
Expert, International Relations Department
Ankara
United Cities and Local
Governments, Middle East and
West Asia
Mehmet Duman
Secretary-General
Mohamed Almahli
Project Officer
Istanbul
World Council of Churches Manuel Abundio Quintero Perez
International Coordinator
Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel
Geneva
Yunus Emre FoundationHasan Kocabiyik
Strategy Development Director (on behalf of the Foundation Chairman)
Ankara





















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