Ladies and gentlemen,
As we mark one year after the latest war on Gaza, the gravity of the situation on the ground scarcely needs revisiting. The reconstruction of the coastal strip, where over 2,100 Palestinians were killed and the homes of over 100,000 people destroyed, has barely begun amidst a continued and almost complete blockade. And even if tomorrow morning the gates to Egypt and Israel, and the sea lanes to Asia, Africa and Europe, were to open, full reconstruction even to just the pre-2014 levels would take years and require the full support of the international community.
In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, settlement construction, land confiscation and demolition of Palestinian houses and orchards are continuing. In a region enmeshed in overt ethno-religious wars, ongoing violence in this land so sacred to many peoples and faiths is particularly troublesome.
Yet, amidst this stark reality, there is a new international awareness that 20 years of on-off bilateral negotiations have not yielded the expected result and that a comprehensive solution of the Question of Palestine is of utmost urgency.
The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People therefore welcomes recent efforts to rescue the two-State solution, including those by the European Union, the Middle East Quartet and those of the League of Arab States, as well as the French initiative for a Security Council resolution. The Arab Peace Initiative, offering a comprehensive peace including normalizing relations between Israel and the entire region, continues to be a historic opportunity to bring peace to the Israeli and Palestinian peoples as well as their neighbours near and far.
All this illustrates the realisation of the international community that the situation cannot continue as is, and that the choice is either full peace or constant strife. And in making the choice for peace, one thing is clear: the only way forward is a concerted action by the international community to foster conditions for a successful political process.
However, negotiations are just one required piece of the puzzle. There needs to be generous support for accountable Palestinian institutions, for their humanitarian and development needs, and, most importantly, practical steps to enforce international law. At the same time, Palestinians need to make progress on reconciliation to strengthen their stance and work to rebuild Gaza.
As this year we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, and mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of our Committee it is time for a fundamental shift in the international community’s approach to resolve this conflict. It is time for this Council to come together and take action to ensure enforcement of its resolutions regarding the Question of Palestine within a pre-established time-frame. It is time for a complete halt to any settlement construction in Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which is hampering prospects and confidence in the possibility of a solution.
As the Council discusses ideas and strategies, may it keep its focus on the strategic goal: the end of the Israeli occupation, the emergence of a sovereign and independent State of Palestine within the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and the return of the refugees. Negotiations or any additional strategies being considered have value as long as they lead to this ultimate goal crystalized in the formula of “two States, living in peace and security along each other”.
The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People reaffirms its commitment to the principle of a peaceful resolution of the conflict, based on these premises.