The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was commemorated today at the Palais des Nations, with speakers underscoring the obligation of the international community to help the Palestinian people achieve their national rights and expressing support for a two-State solution within the framework of international law.
Sergei Ordzhonikidze, the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, who chaired the meeting, read out the message of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. In his message, the Secretary-General said the International Day came at a time when the Palestinian people continued to suffer the indignities and violence of occupation and conflict and at a time when a new beginning had been made in efforts to achieve a two-State solution to the conflict. Recalling the recent meeting held under the auspices of the President of the United States in Annapolis aimed to conclude a peace treaty, he emphasized that implementation of pledges made at that meeting between the parties was of paramount importance.
The Secretary-General called for final status negotiations to begin in earnest to address all the issues: Jerusalem, refugees, borders, settlements, security and water. Without implementing long-standing commitments under the Road Map and the Agreement on Movement and Access, the diplomatic process could not succeed. If peace was built on hope, not despair, the world must also reach out to the people of Gaza, he said. They had suffered more than anyone else from conflict and poverty. Now that the Palestinian leadership had embarked on a new quest with Israel to end the conflict and secure a better future for their children, the international community should show its solidarity with the Palestinian people -- and the Israeli people too -- by giving its unyielding support to their efforts and not resting until the goal was achieved, the Secretary-General’s statement concluded.
Many speakers emphasized the importance of the recent conference held under the auspices of the United States' President at Annapolis, expressing hope that it would generate enough momentum and lead to effective permanent status negotiations, resulting in a two-State solution. Some emphasized that the implementation of pledges made at that meeting between the parties was of paramount importance.
A statement read out on behalf of Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian National Authority, said that the meeting represented a very important juncture and opportunity for launching serious peace negotiations within a set time frame under the auspices of and with the participation of the international community, including the members represented by the international Quartet.
Speakers noted that the International Day's observance underscored the necessity of bringing an end to the long suffering of the Palestinian people. A number of speakers also expressed the need for the international community to pressure Israel to implement its obligations under the Road Map and the agreements signed with the Palestinian side. Moreover, speakers called on the United Nations to take full action to bring about an end to the occupation of Palestine and a fair and just solution of the conflict in accordance with the resolutions it had adopted over the years.
Contributing statements were representatives of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, the League of Arab States, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Non-Aligned Movement, the African Union, non-governmental organizations accredited to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and the Palestinian National Authority.
Messages of solidarity were sent from the President of Turkey and the President of Senegal.
The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is commemorated in accordance with General Assembly resolution 32/40B of 2 December 1977.
SERGEI ORDZHONIKIDZE, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, read out the message of United Nations Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. In his message, the Secretary-General, said the International Day came at a time when the Palestinian people continued to suffer the indignities and violence of occupation and conflict and at a time when a new beginning had been made in efforts to achieve a two-State solution to the conflict. Recalling the recent meeting held under the auspices of the President of the United States in Annapolis aimed to conclude a peace treaty, he emphasized that implementation of pledges made at that meeting between the parties was of paramount importance.
The Palestinians had been deprived of their inalienable right to self-determination for 60 years, the Secretary-General stated. Palestinian society had been increasingly fragmented -- territorially, by settlements, land expropriation and the barrier in the Occupied Palestinian Territory; socially and economically, by closure; and politically, between Gaza and the West Bank. The process launched at Annapolis must change the lives of Palestinians and secure their independence and freedom. The process must end the occupation and create an independent and viable State of Palestine, at peace with itself and its neighbours. It also must deliver on the vital interests of Israelis: a Palestinian State that was a true partner and not a source of terrorism; secure and recognized borders; and a permanent end to the conflict, he added.
The international community could not close its eyes to the profound doubt and mistrust on either side about the will and capacity of the other to achieve these goals, the Secretary-General’s message continued. Despite several diplomatic landmarks, conditions on the ground had become harder, not easier, for most Palestinians, and for many Israelis too. Israel faced genuine security threats, and Israeli civilians had died and been wounded in rocket attacks. Palestinian civilians had been killed and injured in Israeli military operations. Recalling that indignities, injustices and fear on both sides had made it difficult to build faith in the political process, the Secretary-General called on the international community to abandon piecemeal approaches and address all aspects of the conflict.
The Secretary-General called for final status negotiations to begin in earnest to address all the issues: Jerusalem, refugees, borders, settlements, security and water. Without implementing long-standing commitments under the Road Map and the Agreement on Movement and Access, the diplomatic process could not succeed. If peace was built on hope, not despair, the international community must also reach out to the people of Gaza, he said. They had suffered more than anyone else from conflict and poverty. The unity of Gaza and the West Bank under the legitimate Palestinian Authority would also have to be restored for a peace agreement to be sustainable. The vision of an end of occupation, an end of conflict and two States living side by side in peace was a vision of justice, security and peace. It was still achievable. But it would only happen if all involved took responsibility for contributing what they could, the message continued.
Now that the Palestinian leadership had embarked on a new quest with Israel to end the conflict and secure a better future for their children, the international community should show its solidarity with the Palestinian people -- and the Israeli people too -- by giving its unyielding support to their efforts and not resting until the goal was achieved, the Secretary-General’s statement concluded.
VICTOR CAMILLERI, Permanent Representative of Malta, reading a statement on behalf of PAUL BADJI, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, recalled that the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, defined by the General Assembly as the right to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty, and the return of Palestine refugees to their ancestral homes and lands, represented not only a political issue and an essential part of a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They also represented an enduring human story, both individual and collective, one of suffering, sacrifice and perseverance in the face of adversity, which found few parallels in modern history. The Palestinians remained in limbo, dispersed, exiled, or internally displaced, stateless, and suffering from the occupation. Over the years, the occupation had been accompanied by an increasingly disproportionate and arbitrary use of military force against the civilian population, taking of Palestinian land for the construction of settlements and more recently – the separation wall, repeated acts of collective punishment and grave violations of international humanitarian law. Moreover, an already impoverished and overcrowded Gaza Strip had been choking in recent months under an increasingly suffocating Israeli blockade. Designated a “hostile territory” by Israel, Gaza experienced shortages of everything, including life-saving medicines.
The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People urged the Palestinians to unite behind President Mahmoud Abbas, the elected leader of the Palestinian people, and to respect the legitimate institutions of the Palestinian Authority, he stated. The Palestinians yearned for peace, freedom and justice now. It was in the common interest of the international community and it was their moral obligation to help the Palestinian people achieve their national rights. The Committee was encouraged by the latest diplomatic efforts aimed at revitalizing the peace process. In this connection, the Committee was hopeful that the Annapolis conference would generate the much-needed momentum and lead to effective permanent status negotiations, resulting in a two-State solution. It was also important that the members of the Quartet and their regional partners assisted the parties by engaging themselves in this crucial endeavour. Today’s observance of the International Day of Solidarity offered an opportunity to reaffirm the commitment of the international community to work tirelessly to advance the cause of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.
PRASAD KARIYAWASAM, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka, speaking in his capacity as Chairman of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, said after 40 years, the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory still continued to deteriorate. The inhabitants of the West Bank were subjected to severe restrictions of their right to freedom of movement which were implemented through more than five hundred checkpoints, roadblocks and other types of physical obstacles as well as the system of permits. Moreover, there were 149 settlements in the West Bank inhabited by some 480,000 settlers. It was recalled that on 24 September the Israeli army announced new land confiscation for a road east of Jerusalem which would further cut the city off from the rest of the West Bank. The West Bank was increasingly being fragmented into ever smaller parts which rendered the viability of a Palestinian state less and less likely.
The situation of human rights in the Gaza Strip was even more dire and it was facing a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian crisis, he added. Gaza had been cut off from the rest of the world since June when all the crossings in and out of it had been closed. Furthermore, the situation in Gaza deteriorated further when it was declared "hostile territory" or "enemy entity" by Israel. The international community needed to take urgent measures to remedy the current situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory through a peaceful, just and lasting solution that would lead to the end of the occupation and would enable the Palestinian people to exercise their right to self-determination in a viable Palestinian state.
SAAD ALFARARGI, Representative of the League of Arab States, noted that it had been 40 years since the occupation of Arab lands and since the onset of the negative effects on the daily lives of the Palestinian people. The ruthless daily military attacks by Israel against the Palestinian people, the confiscation of land, and the building of the apartheid wall violated international human frights and humanitarian law, as well as the opinions of the International Court of Justice. These actions also made it impossible to establish a viable Palestinian state and this yielded a very negative result on the ground. The international community must hold Israel accountable for its actions and must compel Israel to respect the international legitimacy of a Palestinian state.
The Israeli practices had led to an economic, social and humanitarian crisis never witnessed before, he stated. These blatant violations to international laws included Israel declaring Gaza a “hostile territory”. The indiscriminate and excessive use of force against civilians and their property amounted to collective forms of punishment as mentioned in the report of John Dugard, the Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian People. The Israeli military incursions in the West Bank and confiscation of land were also a violation to the Geneva Conventions. The peace process was an indivisible process which could only be achieved with the full withdrawal of Israel from the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The Arab peace initiative provided a realistic solution to sensitive issues but Israel continued to procrastinate. The League of Arab States called on the international community and the Quartet to take immediate steps to resume the Road Map peace process. The League of Arab States had participated in the Annapolis Conference in good faith as a step to pave the way to further the peace process and in order to avoid further suffering by the Palestinian people. This must be followed by genuine and useful negotiations with deadlines.
BABACAR BA, Representative of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, delivering a message on behalf EKMELEDDIN IHSANOGLU, Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said that this year's International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people coincided with a period when Israel's aggression and violation of intemationa1 1aw in various parts of the occupied Palestinian territory was on the increase. In Jerusa1em, for instance, Israel had gone ahead to demolish the Maghariba Gate passage connecting the Al Aqsa Mosque. It had also made several excavations which threatened the Mosque's foundations and had confiscated large tracts of Palestinian land in order to expand the illegal settlements which were built in gross violation of international law. The city of Jerusalem continued to be cordoned off through the racial segregation wall and military barriers that prevented Palestinians and worshippers from gaining access to the City and their places of worship. In addition to all these, Israel continued its incursions into many parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which it continued to besiege and on whose crossings it exercised control, thereby preventing movement of Palestinians to and out of the Gaza Strip.
The international community must therefore put pressure on Israel to implement its obligations under the Road Map and the agreements signed with the Palestinian side, Mr. Ihsanoglu’s message stated. This required that Israel stopped its aggression and lifted the restrictions it had imposed on the Palestinian people. It also required that Israel should immediately stop the building of the racial wall and all colonial settlement projects and plans, stop all measures at variance with resolutions of international legitimacy in the occupied City of Jerusalem, including excavations, demolition of homes and attempts to Judaize, and abide by the provisions of the Road Map to open Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem. It must be recalled that the issue of Palestinian refugees was at the core of the conflict.
JUAN ANTONIO FERNÁNDEZ PALACIOS, Permanent Representative of Cuba, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the position of the Non-Aligned Movement was sustained in the unequivocal recognition of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, the rejection of the illegal Israeli occupation of the Arab territories, and condemnation of the flagrant, massive and systematic violations of the human rights and the humanitarian international rights committed by the occupying power. It was recalled that during the 15th Summit Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement in Havana in September 2006, the Heads of States and Governments of the Movement adopted a declaration on Palestine reaffirming the strong commitment of the Movement to continue supporting the Palestinian people to the end of the Israeli occupation, and called for support for a peaceful solution to the conflict, as well as the right of the Palestinian people to exercise its right to free determination. At the same time, Heads of States and Governments of the Non-Aligned Movement condemned the continuous and increasing military aggression of Israel against the Palestinian people and reaffirmed the necessity to support, in all circumstances, and defend their humanitarian international rights.
Within the framework of the Human Rights Council, the Non-Aligned Movement had supported the call for the two special sessions on the question of Palestine, he noted. The Non-Aligned Movement was supportive of keeping an item on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories on the Council's agenda. The Non-Aligned Movement demanded the unconditional return of all Arab territories occupied by Israel and reaffirmed the illegal character of all the established Israeli settlements in the occupied Arab territories from 1967. These were the premises to obtain the total benefit of all the human rights for all the inhabitants of the region of the Middle East.
KHADIJA RACHIDA MASRI, Permanent Observer of the African Union, paid homage to the United Nations which, through its relevant bodies, had been making notable efforts to defend the legitimate interests of the Palestinian people. These efforts contributed to the international awakening on the need for finding and for actively encouraging an overall, equitable and durable solution to the Palestinian question. The legitimacy of the fight of the Palestinian people for their dignity and self-determination was not the subject of any doubt in Africa and for this reason, the entire continent admired the courage, sacrifices and the self-control of the Palestinian people and their complete devotion to this cause. The African Union was always and remained until today very worried by the insupportable practices of the Israeli authorities which did nothing but increase the intensity of the situation and which violated the most fundamental rights of the Palestinian people. The African Union firmly condemned Israeli measures of repression, the inhuman aggressions and the acts of State terrorism perpetrated against defenceless Palestinian civilians, such as targeted assassinations as well as the hate crimes and massacres such as those perpetrated by the Israeli forces in Beit Hanoun and Ramallah at the beginning of this year.
The Palestinian people did not spare any effort or sacrifice to conform, within its powers, to the relevant recommendations and resolutions of the international community to start a dialogue with the Israeli authorities and others, she added. Nevertheless, all these efforts ran up against the obstinacy of the Israeli authorities who continued to deny the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and to be unaware of the relevant decisions and resolutions expressing the will of the international community. Israel continued the construction of the separation wall whereas the situation in Palestine required the construction of bridges of dialogue, comprehension and agreement. Israel continued the expansion of the establishment of settlements in and around occupied Palestinian territories and the city of Jerusalem and continued the imprisonment and the detention of the Palestinian people, in particular young people, women and elderly people.
JULIETTE SAYEDGH, of the General Arab Women Federation, recalling that in 1977 the General Assembly had declared 29 November to be observed as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People and that in 1998 the United Nations confirmed its responsibility with respect to the question of Palestine until it was resolved in a satisfactory manner in accordance with international legitimacy, asked how the United Nations was carrying out this responsibility today. It was further recalled that after 40 years of occupation by Israel of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, 70 percent of the Palestinian people were forcefully displaced from their land and about 6.8 million Palestinians were refugees and half million internally displaced.
Economic and social conditions were catastrophic and the nutritional and health situation was deplorable, she said. Until a change took place, the situation in Gaza and other areas would continue to worsen due to the decline in both public and private investment and the economy's productive capacity, which was endangering the prospects for any growth. The continued violence in Gaza affected all Palestinians particularly women and girls. It was urgent for the United Nations to take full action to bring about an end to the occupation of Palestine and a fair and just solution of the conflict in accordance with the resolutions it had adopted over the years, including Security Council Resolution 1325.
THOMAS GETMAN, of World Vision, noted that World Vision had long recognised that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was one of the most enduring causes of poverty in the region. The conflict had significantly affected humanitarian work in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, with children killed, communities in Area Development Programmes severely damaged and isolated, and humanitarian efforts hindered. While the conflict itself was mired in political, economic and religious complexities, the reality was that the children in this region needed the international community’s help now. The ongoing conflict had robbed generations of Palestinian and Israeli children of peace, security, and, most of all, hope that fullness of life was possible. The politics of the conflict had exacerbated poverty, which was rampant in the West Bank and especially Gaza where 80 per cent of families were dependent on food aid. All children in the region lived in fear of violence and were negatively affected by this enduring conflict.
World Vision, along with other international non-governmental organizations, was increasingly concerned by the isolation and consequential steady deterioration in the living conditions of Gaza’s civilian population, he said. This isolation could generate imminent, total economic collapse and the subsequent dependency of most its people. Furthermore, while World Vision condemned indiscriminate attacks and other human rights violations and abuses against civilians by all parties, it was particularly concerned by the designation of Gaza by the State of Israel as a “hostile territory”. World Vision was encouraged by the fact that the alienated parties were talking after several years of a collapsed peace process. Whatever decisions were made post-Annapolis, there was an urgent need to translate commitments into improvements in the daily life of Palestinians living under military occupation.
ANIS AL-QAQ, Ambassador of Palestine to Switzerland, reading a statement on behalf of MAHMOUD ABBAS, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian National Authority, said the annual commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People by the United Nations was a testament of the importance and centrality of the question of Palestine in relation to international peace and security. The United Nations General Assembly adopted this date for the commemoration of this occasion in 1977 as a reminder of its resolution in 1947 on the partition of Palestine. It was also decided to underscore the necessity of bringing an end to the long suffering of the Palestinian people, who paid a high price without having committed any crime. Generation after generation had not known the sense of freedom and had not enjoyed the least of what other peoples on earth were enjoying. The time had come to put the past behind us and to begin a new era without occupation and animosity; an era based on logic and rights not on the logic of force.
The historical conference, which was held in Annapolis two days ago, was a very important juncture and opportunity for launching serious peace negotiations within a set time frame under the auspices of and with the participation of the international community, including the members represented by the international Quartet, Mr. Abbas’s statement said. The conference was aimed at bringing an end to the conflict and achieving a peace that would bring an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, providing for a just and agreed upon solution to the issue of the Palestine refugees on the basis of United Nations General Assembly resolution 194, and guaranteed the establishment of an independent State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, living in peace and security with its neighbours, including Israel. The wide international participation in the Annapolis Conference was a manifestation of the extent of attention given by all the peoples of the world to peace in the region.
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