(United Nations Headquarters, New York, 29 April 2014)
I would first like to congratulate you on the able manner in which you direct the work of the Council. I would also like to thank Special Coordinator Robert Serry for his comprehensive briefing.
The UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People salutes the tireless diplomatic efforts of the international community, in particular those lead by the U.S. administration in recent months. The negotiations were the best chance in recent years to find a negotiated solution.
While the deadline established nine months ago is now upon us, the Committee notes with concern the apparent lack of progress and the revising of expectations downward . Once again, the talks have been compromised by the illegal settlement activities, which increased by 130% and the non-compliance with the commitment to release prisoners who, under Oslo agreements, should have been released a long time ago.
Support for the peace process was the main theme of the United Nations International Meeting our Committee held in Quito, on March 25 and 26. We continue to support the search for a comprehensive settlement on the basis of agreed terms of reference, including the 1967 borders. Committee calls upon the parties to honour their commitments, to show willingness to cease all illegal activities and refrain from raising new demands which only arouse distrust.
The Committee held last week a roundtable with leading international law experts to discuss the implementation of various measures, in particular regarding the legal status of Palestinian prisoners and solutions available to Palestine considering its accession to the Geneva Conventions, the Hague Conventions and other international treaties. The discussions we have had on these issues will enrich the work of the Committee and, hopefully, those of the Council. The Council would agree that settlement activity is a violation of international law and a violation of its decisions. The Committee would ask the Council, guarantor of peace and international security, to ensure respect for international law and its own resolutions. We ask the Council to urge the occupying power to end its arbitrary detention and mistreatment of prisoners, released prisoners and provide medical care to Palestinian detainees.
While continuing to support the peace process, the Committee appreciates the legitimate Palestinian initiatives to promote human rights and accountability, initiatives which, unfortunately, have faced immediate threats of economic retaliation from Israel and the largest scale confiscation of Palestinian lands in recent years.
However, the international community seems amorphous regarding the continuing illegal settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory. The resolution on the settlements that the Human Rights Council has adopted is, from this point of view, a first step to rectify this imbalance. The international community should apply relevant international standards in a more uniform manner.
We are particularly concerned by the proliferation of provocative acts by extremists and Israeli political leaders around the Holy Places of Jerusalem. Measures that restrict the freedom of worship further exacerbate tensions. The Israeli actions aimed at changing the legal status and physical, demographic and cultural characteristics of occupied East Jerusalem, the future capital of the Palestinian State, are prohibited by international law. To shed light on this situation, our committee, in cooperation with Turkey and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, will organize in Ankara on 12 and 13 May an International Meeting on the question of Jerusalem.
Our Committee condemns attacks against civilians on both sides and under any pretext whatsoever. We welcome the recent agreement on inter-Palestinian reconciliation and look forward to see it implemented in good faith by both parties.
Finally, I would like to say that according to resolution A/RES/68/12, the Committee continues its program of activities for the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. It is in this context that, on 9 and 10 March this year, in the Egyptian capital, a joint meeting was held between the League of Arab States and the Committee. It has resulted in the reiteration through the Cairo Declaration of strong solidarity of the region with the Palestinian cause.
Madame President, thank you.