About the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People
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2. The Temporary Chairman invited the Committee to consider nominations for the posts of Chairman, Vice-Chairmen and Rapporteur of the Committee.
3. Mr. Daou (Mali) nominated Mr. Diallo (Senegal) for re-election to the office of Chairman, Mr. Tanin (Afghanistan) and Mr. Núñez Mosquera (Cuba) for re-election to the two offices of Vice-Chairmen, and Mr. Borg (Malta) for re-election to the office of Rapporteur.
4. Ms. Rafti (Cyprus) seconded the nominations.
5. Mr. Diallo (Senegal), Mr. Tanin (Afghanistan), Mr. Núñez Mosquera (Cuba) and Mr. Borg (Malta) were elected by acclamation.
6. Mr. Diallo (Senegal) took the Chair.
7. The Secretary-General said that he was very concerned at the lack of progress towards peace between Israel and the Palestinians. He had repeatedly expressed his regret, both publicly and in one-on-one conversations with leaders, that Israel had not frozen settlement activities. Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory were illegal under international law, contravened the Road Map obligations of Israel, undermined confidence, prejudged the outcome of the permanent status negotiations and hampered efforts to bring the parties back to the negotiating table. He deplored the recent demolition of the Shepherd Hotel in East Jerusalem, expressed concern at continued house demolitions and evictions of Palestinian families in other parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which heightened tensions, and once again called on Israel to freeze all settlement activities.
8. It was necessary to move beyond the current stalemate and return the parties to meaningful negotiations aimed at resolving all permanent status issues and achieving an historic agreement. The target dates supported by the Quartet for reaching an Israeli-Palestinian framework agreement on permanent status and for completion of the Palestinian Authority’s two-year state-building programme were only eight months away. The Quartet and the Arab Peace Initiative had important roles in that regard. He looked forward to fruitful discussions with his Quartet counterparts in Munich on 5 February 2011, as well as with the Follow-Up Committee of the League of Arab States.
9. The Palestinian people had the right to an independent and viable State of Palestine, living side by side with the State of Israel in peace and security. Similarly, there should be no doubt about the legitimate right of Israel to exist in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders and to be fully integrated into the region, as suggested by the Arab Peace Initiative. A way needed to be found for Jerusalem to emerge as a capital of two States, with arrangements for the holy sites acceptable to all. There was no place for irresponsible rhetoric that called into question these fundamentals, sought to delegitimize the heritage of others or incited hatred and violence.
10. The past year had brought renewed confidence within the international community in the ability of the Palestinians to govern themselves. The Palestinian Authority had made major strides in strengthening its institutions and had continued to deliver improved governance, transparency, economic opportunity and security to the Palestinians in areas under its control. It deserved recognition as a dependable partner. He was encouraged by the World Bank’s assessment that the Palestinian Authority was well positioned for the establishment of a State at any point in the near future and called on donors to continue their crucial support for the Palestinian state-building plan.
11. The situation in and around Gaza continued to give cause for concern. Although the levels of overall violence had declined in 2010, the recent escalation of rocket attacks by Palestinians and Israeli air strikes had the potential to spiral out of control. The shootings of unarmed Palestinians in the vicinity of the Gaza border were also unacceptable. His representative on the ground and his colleagues were working hard to promote calm. While Israel’s legitimate security concerns were not in doubt, all parties were urged to demonstrate responsibility, de-escalate tensions and fully ensure the protection of civilians. The provisions of Security Council resolution 1860 (2009) should be fully respected. The residents of Gaza and southern Israel deserved to live in an atmosphere free from fear of rocket and air attacks.
12. Gaza’s civilian population deserved better living conditions. Frustration over the humanitarian situation and the lack of opportunity was especially acute among Gaza’s young people. In that regard, while the Israeli measures to ease the closure were a step in the right direction, much more needed to be done to bring about full-scale reconstruction and recovery. The continuing efforts of the United Nations towards that end would hinge on continued support from donors for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.
13. Regrettably, yet another year had passed without progress towards intra-Palestinian reconciliation. Efforts to move forward on that important issue needed to be pursued further. Expressing regret that Israeli Staff Sergeant Gilad Shalit was still in detention, he said that he would continue to call for his release. Turning to the critical issue of Palestinian prisoners in Israel, he said that their release by Israel, as called for by the Palestinian Authority, would serve as a significant confidence-building measure.
14. He expressed the hope that the current year would see a decisive upsurge in efforts to bring an end to the conflict and 43 long years of occupation, through the creation of a State of Palestine living side by side with Israel in peace and security, and through the achievement of a comprehensive peace in the region that was consistent with Security Council resolutions, previous agreements, the Madrid framework, the Road Map and the Arab Peace Initiative. The Committee could make a positive contribution to that mission. For his part, he would continue to pursue a just and lasting peace using all the means available to him.