Question of Palestine home || Permalink || About UNISPAL || Search

Les Réunions internationales des parlementaires de l’ONU en soutient à la paix israélo-palestinienne considèrent le rôle de législateur en confirmant le respect des lois internationales - Communiqué de presse Français
Follow UNISPAL RSS Twitter

Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
General Assembly
21 November 2014



General Assembly
GA/PAL/1318

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Committee on the Inalienable Rights
of the Palestinian People
Parliamentarians Meeting (AM & PM)
21 November 2014
International Meeting of Parliamentarians in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace
Considers Lawmakers’ Role in Upholding Respect for International Law




Parliamentarians from around the world joined diplomats and United Nations officials at Headquarters today to discuss ways of advancing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process towards a two-State solution, a goal Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said could still be achieved if the parties, supported by the international community, demonstrated collective political will needed to implement the existing constructive proposals.

Describing the relationship between the United Nations and parliamentarians as “crucial”, Mr. Ban said, in a message delivered by Jens Toyberg-Frandzen, Assistant Secretary-General ad interim for Political Affairs, that legislators had a special responsibility to ensure that their Governments actively promoted and supported the realization of a peaceful and just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and upheld obligations under international law, including humanitarian and human rights law.

The suffering of the people in Gaza persisted in the aftermath of the summer’s brutal conflict, he said, commending the international community for its generous pledges of support for reconstruction and add that those funds needed to be disbursed without further delay.

Convened by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People within the framework of the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the meeting had as its central theme “The role of parliamentarians in ensuring respect for international law”.

In his opening statement, Fode Seck (Senegal), Chairman of the Committee, said Palestine constituted a gaping “black hole” on the map where international law and human rights seemingly did not apply, and economic development moved in reverse. There was a large body of international law which provided the road map; what was needed now was to mobilize the political will worldwide to ensure its implementation, he said. “This is where parliamentarians can play a key role by pushing Governments to take a more active approach.”

Indeed, he said, lawmakers provided a crucial two-way link between their constituencies and national Governments, and they were becoming important players on international matters. In the Middle East, it was time to break the vicious cycle of “rebuild and destroy”, and parliamentarians could start by ensuring that Governments lived up to their commitments in terms of accountability for the violations of the “laws of war” and protection of civilians.

Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, said the solidarity of parliamentarians reflected the sentiments of their peoples who supported an independent State of Palestine. This year was unique, not only because it was designated as the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, but also because the Palestinian people suffered from extremely harsh conditions during the conflict this summer in the Gaza Strip. Thousands of Palestinians, including women and children, died, and homes and infrastructure, including United Nations installations, were destroyed.

The recent desecration attempts on the Al-Aqsa Mosque could escalate into a religious war, he warned, stressing that all efforts should be made to avoid the trap laid by Israeli extremists. Saluting the parliaments of Sweden, United Kingdom, Spain — and soon France — for recognizing the State of Palestine, he expressed hope that other countries would follow suit. The new momentum would help to relaunch the peace process towards a two-State solution. There were two clear choices remaining: a negative destructive path pushed by extremists or the one proposed by President Mahmoud Abbas requesting the Security Council to adopt a resolution that would set a clear schedule for the end of the Israeli occupation.

Martin Chungong, Secretary-General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, said the Union was pleased to accept Palestine as a member, offering a unique platform for a constructive dialogue between Palestinian and Israeli counterparts. Decades ago, the Union had set up a committee on the Middle East recognizing that there could be no peace without dialogue. The Union’s role was not to take sides or point fingers, but to build bridges.

The road to Israeli-Palestinian peace was bumpy and at times it had been very difficult to maintain that trust gained by both sides, he said. During the most turbulent times, when peace looked like a mirage, the Inter-Parliamentary Union stood there to help show the way.

Nour Eddine Bouchkouj, Secretary-General of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union, renewed his organization’s unconditional support for the creation of a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital. Noting that Jerusalem had witnessed an unprecedented escalation of violence on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, he said the Union condemned such acts and supported all measures taken by the international community to bring to justice the perpetrators of those crimes.

Calling on the Palestinian people to maintain their struggle to attain all their rights, he expressed gratitude to the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Committee on Jerusalem, and the Jerusalem Fund for their support. The Union saluted parliaments and countries that recognized the Palestinian State and called on others to do so to build the momentum for peace.

Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari, President of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly, said that 44 member countries of that body included those that had suffered directly from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Creating the right atmosphere for dialogue was imperative to attaining a peaceful resolution for the long-running dispute. That dialogue should be based on the agreed international parameters with clear timelines and benchmarks. The international community should redouble its efforts to reignite hope among the Palestinians, he said, recalling their right to be protected. International human rights and law respected, he added.

Speaking in his national capacity, Mr. Hussain Bokhari said that Pakistan was a strong supporter of Palestinians’ rights, especially their inalienable right to self-determination. It was shameful that the international community witnessed the carnage in Gaza, when Israel used excessive and disproportionate force. Pakistan strongly condemned Israeli actions in Al-Quds-Al Sharif, with the closing of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, he said, adding that the inviolability of all holy places in East Jerusalem must be maintained.

The meeting then convened a plenary session, during which, United Nations officials briefed participants on international humanitarian and human rights law applicable to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the responsibilities of States.

Plenary

During the plenary this morning, United Nations officials briefed the participants on international humanitarian and human rights law applicable to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the responsibilities of States.

Mr. TOYBERG-FRANDZEN said incitement through rhetoric had fuelled the alarming spike in tensions in the region. It was also worrying that the violence in Jerusalem appeared to be spreading to parts of the West Bank and Israel. Escalating tensions impeding access to the holy sites had contributed significantly to the uptick in violence. Attacks against religious sites, if left unchecked, could turn the conflict into a religious one with reverberations far beyond the region. Welcoming recent conciliatory statements by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and United States Secretary of State John Kerry, he said words must be translated into concrete actions on the ground.

Further contributing to mounting tensions in Jerusalem were Israel’s continued settlement activity and the increase in demolitions of Palestinian buildings. The situation in Gaza remained fragile, as ceasefire talks between Israel and the Palestinians, facilitated by Egypt, had been postponed reportedly until the end of November. There were a few signs of positive developments, with reconstruction having started through the temporary Gaza mechanism, led by the Palestinian Government of National Consensus. The United Nations was actively assisting in facilitating implementation, he said, urging donors to honour their pledges made at the Cairo Conference.

There had been only little progress on implementing the agreement that established the Palestinian Government of National Consensus, he said, adding that it must be empowered to assume its rightful security and government responsibility in Gaza. Calling for a return to talks in order to end the cycle of violence, he said Israeli and Palestinians must exercise prudence and avoid unilateral steps, adding that the two-State solution was the only viable scenario.

RICHARD WRIGHT, Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Representative Office in New York, said the Agency continued to serve 5.1 million people displaced by the conflict with a budget paid entirely in voluntary contributions by Member States. Although the Agency had no mandate to seek a political solution, it had one to protect and provide relief to Palestinian refugees until a fair and just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was found. Among its activities, UNRWA brought violations of international law in the territories to the attention of duty-bearers and sought solutions on behalf of the refugees.

In Gaza, during the summer attacks, UNRWA shelters had been hit by munitions, resulting in 45 deaths, he said, adding that the Agency had publicly condemned the Israeli Defence Forces. At the same time, the Agency immediately condemned the finding of weapons in its schools. The Secretary-General had established a Board of Inquiry to ascertain what had happened. The increasing use of live ammunition was a source of concern, as was the fate of Bedouins in the West Bank, who suffered forced displacement and lasting damage to their traditional way of life. In Syria, where 560,000 Palestinian refugees were registered, there had been widespread displacement by the ongoing conflict and the Agency had not been able to supply dietary and medical supplies.

Speaking via video-link from East Jerusalem, RAMESH RAJASINGHAM, Head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said the crisis last summer had led to the displacement of half of million people in UNRWA shelters and other dwellings. Hospitals, power plants and water systems had been destroyed, and 100,000 people still had no homes. Providing relief was becoming challenging with the advent of winter, he said, stressing the urgency of the ongoing funding appeal for $950 million.

Among the major protection concerns were movement and access of peoples and goods. The Territory was fragmented between Gaza and the West Bank and the Israeli air, sea and land blockade had rendered Palestinians extremely vulnerable; the sea blockade had impeded fishermen and the land buffer had made it impossible for Palestinian farmers to maintain their livelihoods. That put them in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. In the West Bank, there were concerns over access as well as planning and zoning, as Palestinians could not develop their lands. In other areas, settlement communities placed restrictions. The situation in East Jerusalem was equally dire, as families there were unable to get permits, but they nevertheless built homes, which the Israelis demolished. In order to ease the situation, Israel should lift the restrictions, end demolitions and displacements, and stop settlements. In Gaza, lifting the blockade with full consideration of legitimate Israeli security concerns would have a visible impact on the ground.

PALITHA T.B. KOHONA, Chairman of Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, expressed hope for the “soothing balm” of permanent peace. International human rights and humanitarian law applicable to the conduct of armed conflicts had played a vital role in the protection of civilians, and the responsibility of the United Nations had been becoming more vital in view of current developments. The Special Committee had highlighted instances where international law and the international community had simply failed, a case in point being the settlement activities. By altering facts on the ground, settlements made a final solution all the more difficult and added to the hopelessness and resentment of the people.

The Special Committee had been appalled by the level of violence and destruction in Gaza during the summer. That conflict had exacerbated the plight of Palestinians already reeling from the seven-year blockade. Detentions, permitted only in exceptional cases under international law, had become the norm in the occupied territories. In the occupied Syrian Golan, companies were engaged in illegal exploitation of resources. As the occupying Power, Israel was responsible for upholding the rights of the people under its jurisdiction. Parliamentarians had a special role to play by underlining the urgency of adhering to international law and conventions.

In the ensuing discussion, a parliamentarian from Indonesia said a meeting of this nature would be justified every week, given the urgency of achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace. The world could not afford to have a situation where a State took the role of an outlaw.

Recognition of the State of Palestine was a mechanism for reactivating the peace process, asserted a legislator from France. While the resolution being taken up by the French National Assembly next week would not be binding on the Government, it would be an invitation to other elected bodies around the world to act in a similar way and build momentum for peace.

A parliamentarian from Jordan wanted to know what additional steps the United Nations could take when a Member State so egregiously refused to implement successive resolutions. Another from that country urged more legislatures to recognize the State of Palestine in order to build momentum for peace.

The meeting should contemplate ways of pressuring Israel against persisting with its provocative actions in and around holy sites, suggested a legislator from Morocco. A parliamentarian from South Africa explained how his Government had been engaged diplomatically and financially to advance the legitimate cause of the Palestinian people.

A member of Mexico’s parliament, highlighting the activities of a friendship group in that body, sought to know what more could be done to end acts bordering on genocide against the Palestinian people. A legislator from Brazil, stressing that dialogue required the commitment of both parties, asked whether Israeli parliamentarians had been invited to the meetings.


* *** *


For information media • not an official record



Follow UNISPAL RSS Twitter