Mr. Diallo (spoke in French): At the outset, I wish to condemn in the strongest possible terms the murderous 18 July bombing of a bus carrying Israeli tourists at Burgas airport in Bulgaria. That cowardly attack on innocent people provided a stark reminder of the level of commitment we must demonstrate against terrorism and its sponsors.
I would also like, on behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, to thank you, Mr. President, for this opportunity to address the Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, and in particular for the outstanding manner in which you have conducted the Council’s work during the month of July.
With all the acute crises and upheavals that are taking place in the region, it would be wrong to underestimate the threats posed to international peace and security by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The current situation of neither war nor peace is unsustainable. Rather than focus on conflict management, we must strengthen our efforts to seek a long-term solution.
In that respect, it is high time to return to genuine negotiations. Unfortunately, the ongoing settlement activities constitute a major obstacle on the path to peace. Moreover, the creation of a committee by the Israeli Government with the sole purpose of finding arguments to legitimize the occupation and settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory has not helped to build confidence among the parties concerned. I recall that the deliberate policy of establishing illegal settlements is inevitably accompanied by the destruction of Palestinian homes. Is it possible to truly measure the human tragedy of those who have suffered the double heartbreak of the occupation and the loss of their homes?
A negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be based on international law. The Committee calls on Israel to demonstrate its good faith by recognizing the 1967 borders, which are the basis of a peaceful settlement under resolution 242 (1967), and by adopting minimal confidence-building measures, including a halt to the illegal settlement activities and the release of Palestinian prisoners.
The Quartet should stay focused on ensuring respect for the timetable it promulgated last year. At the same time, without Palestinian reconciliation centred on the leadership of President Abbas, there will be no two-State solution. We call on all key international and regional actors to redouble their efforts in support of Palestinian unity.
The debilitating financial crisis affecting the Palestinian Authority has reached unprecedented proportions. Generous support from donors will be needed to continue to support Palestinian State-building efforts. It is also time to take a fresh look at Palestine’s application for admission to membership of the United Nations. It deserves to be evaluated on its merits, expeditiously and with an objective and open mind.
For its part, our Committee has continued to contribute constructively towards our shared goal of two States living in peace and security. The international meeting we convened in April sounded an early warning about the critical situation of Palestinian prisoners, and we are pleased to note that other entities of the United Nations system have engaged on the issue since then.
Our International Meeting on the Question of Palestine in Paris in late May, followed by the Meeting of Civil Society in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace in early June, focused on the role of women and youth in support of peace and on the use of social media. The sense of frustration with the current situation conveyed by participants served as a timely wake-up call that the status quo should not be taken for granted.
Our most recent Asia and Pacific Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace, held in Bangkok earlier this month, focused on obstacles to achieving peace, in particular the settlements, and discussed regional strategies to ensure compliance in that context with international law. It was also felt by participants that the Security Council and the high contracting parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention must honour their obligations. The Human Rights Council’s fact-finding mission was welcomed and seen as a first step towards abiding by the principle of accountability.
In conclusion, the Committee will continue to work within the framework of its mandate to mobilize all stakeholders in the international community in order to uphold the principle of two States living side by side in peace and security and within secure and internationally recognized borders.