12 May 2010
Briefing by Ambassador Dr. Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, to the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM):
• At the political level, as announced at the start of this week, the United States launched proximity talks between the Israeli and Palestinian sides, with Senator George Mitchell conducting the talks between the two sides. As is well-known, despite ongoing illegal Israeli policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, the Palestinian leadership reluctantly agreed to the proximity talks, after being strongly urged to seize this opportunity for peace that has been enhanced by active American engagement and to finally put to the test Israel’s intentions and commitment to peace based on the two-State solution on the basis of the 1967 borders.
• The Palestinian side, with support of the Arab countries, has insisted that the talks must focus on core issues and we have also maintained that Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, must cease completely in order for there to be a full resumption of the peace process and direct negotiations between the two sides. We are encouraged by the firm and unanimous position taken by the international community against Israel’s illegal settlement colonization in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in East Jerusalem, which is to be the future capital of the state of Palestine. This international consensus demanding the immediate cessation of all Israeli settlement activities, including so-called “natural growth”, was recently reflected in the strong statements made on this serious issue by all the delegations that partook in the open debate of the Security Council last month, and we thank the Chair and all the members of the Movement for their principled statements and support
• Of course, we hope that progress can be made through the proximity talks and we will continue to update NAM on developments. Regrettably, however, despite the launching of the talks, the situation on the ground remains difficult and tense as a result of the Israel’s continuing violations, provocations and incitement. This has included illegal settlement activities as the occupying Power continues with settlement construction already underway, continues its illegal and destructive construction of the Wall, and Israeli officials persist in their declarations to continue the settlement campaign. We will keep monitoring this critical issue and, if necessary, will go to the Security Council to uphold its responsibilities and to bring an end to this grave breach of international law that it is seriously harming the contiguity and integrity of the Palestinian Territory and threatening the prospects for peace and stability in the Middle East.
• As indicated in our latest letter to the President of the Security Council, the current period has also included a rise in Israeli settler violence and terror against Palestinian civilians and their properties. Settlers have burned another mosque, desecrated holy books, uprooted hundreds of olive trees, burned orchards, beat young Palestinian boys, deliberately unleashed sewage on Palestinian villages and farmlands, and committed other acts of violence, intimidation and incitement. At the official level, Israeli leaders, including the Foreign Minister, also continue to foment incitement, particularly against the Palestinian leadership.
• Great concern also remains regarding the Israeli military order by which the occupying Power has granted itself the power to detain, imprison and deport Palestinian civilians arbitrarily and en masse. At least five people have been illegally deported from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip and to Jordan. We express appreciation to the NAM for the communiqué adopted by the Members regarding this aggressive, illegal order as well as for the OIC statement and Arab Group letter. We met last week with the Secretary- General to discuss this worrying development and will continue to follow this serious issue to ensure appropriate and timely action when necessary.
• At the same time, the illegal Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip continues. It is an obscene and gross form of collective punishment of the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza and continues to severely impact social, economic, humanitarian and psychological conditions. Reflective of the occupying Power’s blatant impunity, this nearly 3-year blockade continues to be imposed despite the repeated calls for its termination by the international community, the Secretary-General, the General Assembly and by the Security Council in resolution 1860, and the Palestinian people continue to be obstructed from reconstructing their homes, institutions and communities and from recovering from the grave trauma inflicted on them. This is unjustifiable, causing the impoverishment and disfigurement of our society, and must be unequivocally condemned. We will continue to call on the international community to act to compel Israel to end this blockade and to comply with its obligations under international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.
• The reality is that the prevailing environment is not conducive to the successful resumption of the peace process. Nevertheless, the Palestinian leadership continues to extend its hand for peace, in a display of its true and full commitment to a peaceful settlement of this conflict as the means to end the suffering and oppression of our people and to advance the realization of their inalienable rights.
• In this regard, Palestinian State-building efforts continue in implementation of the comprehensive plan launched by Prime Minister Fayyad in August 2009, which is aimed at developing national institutions and strengthening the foundations of our State. This plan has become a very important, positive component of the Palestinian efforts towards the achievement of our legitimate national aspirations. We are proud and grateful that this plan has strong support from the international community and grateful to NAM countries for their support in this regard.
• Connected to and consistent with this State-building program, a diplomatic initiative has also recently been launched by the Palestinian leadership to broaden recognition of Palestine as a State by those countries around the world that have not yet done so. Nearly 100 countries recognize the State of Palestine, the majority extending recognition following the 1988 Declaration of Independence by the Palestine National Council. Of course, the majority of those countries are NAM countries and we are proud of that. The legal basis for this recognition stems from resolutions 181(II), 242 and all other relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions calling for realization of the two- State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of the 1967 borders. We believe that broadening this recognition is totally consistent with the State-building efforts being undertaken on the ground and with the international consensus regarding the parameters for a final peace settlement.
• In this regard, it is undeniable that there is a firm international consensus regarding the right of the Palestinian people to exercise self-determination in an independent, contiguous and viable State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side with Israel in peace and security on the basis of the pre-1967 borders and the need for a just solution for the plight of the Palestine refugees on the basis of international law and UN resolutions. This international unanimity is a clear reflection of the long-standing recognition of the Palestinian people as a nation and the recognition of their inalienable rights, including to independence and statehood in their homeland. What is obstructing the freedom of our people is the 43-year Israeli occupation and that must be brought to an end to allow for the independence of the Palestinian State and to allow for peace to become a reality in our region.
• As we work to strengthen the foundations of our State on the ground, we will also pursue this diplomatic initiative throughout all regions of the world. We encourage NAM countries that have not yet recognized Palestine as a State to respond positively to this initiative, and we appeal to those countries that have extended recognition to Palestine to assist us in this important endeavor as we continue to strive to end the Israeli occupation and to achieve our independence.
• Another recent development in line with Palestinian efforts to advance realization of their rights and to rise against the hardships, collective punishment and illegal practices imposed by Israel on the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is the Palestinian boycott of all settlement products. The Palestinian market has regrettably been a captive market for the occupying Power over the decades and it has been decided by the leadership that this unjust situation should no longer continue. We reject the continued distribution and sale in our market of any goods manufactured or grown in these illegal settlements on confiscated Palestinian land and with natural resources, including water, exploited from our land. We urge NAM countries to also be vigilant in this regard. It is imperative that all means of support — political or financial — for the illegal Israeli settlement campaign in the Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, be ended immediately. In addition to prohibiting the import of settlement goods, it is also imperative that companies and nationals from around the world be strongly dissuaded from doing business with those companies in the settlements or serving the settlements. This is, of course, in line with the principled and clear position taken by NAM in recent years, especially after the 2004 ICJ Advisory Opinion.
• In this regard, we must express our deep disappointment at the acceptance of Israel as a full member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), despite our appeals. Such a development, which will boost Israel’s international and economic standing, can only further embolden lsrael’s impunity for it continues to be treated like a normal member of the international community, despite its existence as an occupying Power and its constant violation of international law and outright defiance and disregard for the international community. Without consequences and accountability, it is highly unlikely that Israel will ever be compelled to abide by the law and UN resolutions and truly change course for peace. We believe this is a serious issue with many implications for the rights and future prospects for the Palestinian people, and we appeal to all NAM members to continue to give frill and proper consideration to all such relevant matters.