Statement to the Security Council by H.E. Mr. Fodé Seck,
Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People,
on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
Allow me to begin by condemning, on behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the aggression by the so-called “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (or Da’esh in Arabic) against the Yarmouk Palestine refugee camp in Damascus. As their Syrian brothers and sisters of all communities, Palestinians in Syria have experienced increasing degradation and suffering. They are now caught in the midst of a violent confrontation, which is reducing them to live in miserable conditions and become victims of secondary displacement. They deserve our fullest attention and all our support.
The situation in Syria only highlights that Palestine refugees throughout the region have lived in precarious legal and humanitarian conditions since 1948, and are among the weakest communities.
For this reason, I wish to pay tribute to the work of UNRWA and other United Nations agencies, who remain in Syria and other host countries and work in the midst of war to provide basic assistance for victims of the conflict.
Since last summer’s war inflicted upon the people of Gaza, the situation in the coastal strip has remained dire. Our Committee organised a Seminar at the United Nations Office in Vienna, on 31 March and 1 April, entitled “Speeding up relief, recovery and reconstruction in post-war Gaza”. This event brought together experts, officials of UN agencies working in Gaza and representatives from the State of Palestine and other Member States to review the urgent requirements for Gaza’s reconstruction, particularly in the energy and water sectors. We took note that the tri-partite Temporary Reconstruction Mechanism continues to be implemented, even if the tempo is still too slow.
The Seminar clearly determined that relief operations are having a positive effect but that reconstruction continues to be hampered through impediments to the arrival of essential construction and humanitarian supplies. The international community has an obligation to address urgent basic needs and restore the livelihood, the dignity and hope of Gaza’s people. Participants called upon the donor community to urgently disburse the pledged funds. Israel was called upon to lift the Gaza blockade to allow the full development of Gaza’s life and restore hope to its people.
The State of Palestine has continued with its strategy to achieve full sovereignty and statehood through peaceful, including legal means. On 1 April, Palestine became a State Party to the International Criminal Court.
Israel, the occupying power in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, has as of today only partially reversed its policy of withholding the Palestinian tax revenues that it is obligated to disburse under international agreements it has signed. I call upon Israel to reverse this measure completely and fully return the Palestinian funds.
Israel should refrain from taking such punitive measures, which cause suffering and despair to thousands of Palestinian families depending on Government salaries and benefits.
I am also obliged to refer to the continued settlement activity in the West Bank, the ongoing evictions of Palestinians and dispossession of their property in occupied East Jerusalem. These activities constitute a violation of the rights and dignity of Palestinians and should cease immediately.
The Committee took note of the recent elections in Israel and calls upon the incoming Israeli Government to return to the negotiating table, to work with its Palestinian partner and the international community to bring closure to one of the most egregious and unjust situations of the 20th century, which has deprived a people of a life in freedom and security in its ancestral land. A comprehensive, just and lasting solution of the Question of Palestine will create the conditions for a new Middle East and open avenues for unprecedented cooperation benefiting all the peoples of the region precisely at a time when other pressing threats loom on the horizon.
As this year we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, and mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, I make a plea to this Council for it to come together and take action to ensure the implementation of its resolutions regarding the Question of Palestine within an established time-frame.
The Committee reaffirms its commitment to the principle of a peaceful resolution of the conflict, based on the two-State solution and the exercise of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people in a sovereign, viable and independent State of Palestine with its capital in East Jerusalem, living side by side in peace and security with Israel.