(United Nations Headquarters, New York, 20 April 2017)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I wish to thank the United States, on behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, for the opportunity to address the Security Council on the issue of the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict which has at its heart, the need to address the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to self-determination.
It is clear that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains among the primary threats to international peace and security. It presents a litmus test for the credibility of the United Nations, including this Council. Indeed, while the decade-long blockade in Gaza shows no sign of ending, this year marks 70 years of the General Assembly resolution 181 partitioning the Mandate Palestine into two States. It also marks 50 years of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. But the passage of time has neither diminished the gravity, nor the urgency of resolving this issue. How many more generations of Palestinians and Israelis must pay the price of the occupation and at what point will we say enough?
The status quo is unsustainable and urgent steps are needed to reverse negative trends on the ground that are eroding the two-State solution on the basis of the 1967 lines that this Council has endorsed and which constitutes the only viable path for Palestinians and Israelis to realize their national aspirations in line with international law. The Committee notes the ongoing efforts by Egypt, France, Jordan, the Russian Federation, the United States and other Member States, as well as the reiteration by the League of Arab States, most recently at the Arab Summit in Amman, of its Peace Initiative to resolve the question of Palestine. It emphasises that any new efforts should maintain the two-State solution.
To stand the test of time, any viable solution will require a just peace: a set of conditions under which Palestinians and Israelis can live side-by-side, in peaceful coexistence, inside secure borders and in charge of their own destiny. These conditions require respect for basic human rights – the right to live in dignity; and freedom of movement and expression. Use of force and violence of any type, by anyone, or its incitement, has no role in the search for peace and must be rejected. The Committee also believes in the utmost imperative of achieving intra-Palestinian unity.
The Committee reiterates the international consensus that illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are a major obstacle to the attainment of a just peace on the basis of the two-state solution. The announcement on 31 March by the Government of Israel of the construction of the first new settlement in two decades, at Emek Shilo, deep inside the West Bank can only be seen as blatant defiance of UN resolutions and disregard for international law. The Committee notes with regret the spike in illegal settlements and other activities cited in the report of the Secretary-General on the Implementation of the Council’s resolution 2334 (2016) and expresses its expectation that future reports would be in a written format and include recommendations that, inter alia, hold to account those in violation of the resolution and compel compliance with the provisions of the resolution.
The Committee would also like to draw the Council’s attention to the shrinking space for human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including access restrictions on Israeli citizens who speak in favour of peace, as reported by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territory. Given the continuing forced transfers, including of Bedouins, evictions, demolitions and the obstruction of humanitarian assistance in the occupied territory, the Committee calls upon Israel to meet its obligations as an occupying power, and to desist from imposing demographic changes in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Madam President, Excellencies,
Current issues requiring the Council’s imminent attention should not eclipse the urgency to resolve the question of Palestine and its occupation. General Assembly resolution A/RES/71/23 states that, “achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement of the question of Palestine… is imperative for the attainment of comprehensive and lasting peace and stability in the Middle East.” The overwhelming support demonstrated by the UN membership to realize the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people has been echoed during the course of all Committee activities, most recently during the February 2017 Committee Roundtable in Nicaragua with members of the Palestinian diaspora in Central and South America.
In this 50th year of the illegal occupation, we owe a just peace in Palestine not just to the Palestinian people but to our own citizens and future generations.
Thank you for your attention.