Category Archives: Palestine and the UN

‘Historic’ moment: Palestine takes reins of UN coalition of developing countries

“Palestine and its citizens have first-hand experience of some of the most challenging and dramatic global issues we face” said Mr. Guterres in his remarks at the annual ceremony for handover of the rotating Chairmanship of the G77.

Egypt was the previous Chair of the bloc, a coalition of 134 developing countries, along with China.

The decision to elect Palestine as 2019 Chair of the G77 was taken in September 2018 by the foreign ministers of the Groups’ member States.

A month later, the UN General Assembly approved a resolution that enabled Palestine – a non-member Observer State at the world body – additional privileges and rights, such participating in international conferences held under its auspices, for the duration of its role as G77 Chair.

“You are well-placed to take up the chairmanship of this important group of countries,” Mr. Guterres said today.

As multilateralism continues to come under “intense pressure from many sides”, the UN chief underscored the importance of the G77 and China’s continued support.

“The Group of 77 and China has demonstrated strong leadership throughout 2018 and proved once again to be a central force in demonstrating that multilateralism is the only way to address our shared challenges,” said Mr. Guterres.

He credited the Group and the prior Egyptian presidency as having been “at the heart” of the progress made in challenges that ranged from climate change to rising inequality and fast changing and new technologies.

He singled out Egypt’s “highly effective” leadership and advocacy on finance for developing countries to meet their climate action commitments.

He called the group “instrumental” in achieving both: a comprehensive agreement that deals with migration in all its dimensions, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration; and a Development System to eradicate poverty, implement programmes on a national level and to position development “at the centre of UN activities”.

“You help to keep the United Nations focused on the issues that count for the most vulnerable, and we owe you a debt of gratitude for your extremely constructive role”, the Secretary-General said.

Palestine and its citizens have first-hand experience of some of the most challenging and dramatic global issues we face –UN chief

With climate action at the forefront, Mr. Guterres laid out how critical a year 2019 will be for ending poverty, reducing inequalities, and transiting to more inclusive and sustainable economies.

“If we do not put policies and commitments in place to launch a decade of climate action by 2020, it will be too late to avoid catastrophic climate change with unforeseeable consequences” he argued. “Many of the Group of 77 countries would be among the first and worst to suffer.”

He urged the G77 to bring “solutions and commitments” to, among others, the Climate Summit in September and enumerated other upcoming events in need of the bloc’s support, including the General Assembly’s High-Level Political Forum; the high-level meeting to review progress made on the SAMOA pathway for small island developing States to help lay foundations for progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and the Second High-level UN Conference on South-South Cooperation in Buenos Aires, Argentina, this coming March.

“I anticipate that the G77 and China will have a central role in all these negotiations and processes, and I urge you to consider them in an integrated, coherent and unified way” urged the UN chief.

Mr. Guterres recalled that last week he informed Member States about the serious financial challenges facing the Organization and appealed to the G77 to support his proposals to the General Assembly over the coming months aimed at putting the UN on “sound financial footing,” saying “we must press on and keep up the momentum won over the past weeks and months.”

“In this period of transition and change, we count on the continued engagement and support of the Group of 77 and China,” concluded the Secretary-General.

On Monday, the UN chief met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas before handing over the Chairmanship, when he offered his congratulations, wished the Group a successful year and reiterated that the two-State solution is the only viable option to sustainable peace.

Triumph of multilateralism

Calling the work of the outgoing Egyptian Chair, “impeccable”, General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, underscored the importance of the G77, which represents 80 per cent of the world’s population.

“Not only is the work of the Group vital to defending the interests of the global South and promoting economic and social equality in the world, but it must now do so in a more complex international context” that is growing more polarized, she said.

Dubbing it “an historic moment”, Ms. Espinosa recalled the years it took to get to this point and the critical role the General Assembly played.

In 2012, the Assembly accorded non-Member observer status to Palestine, which, among other things, gave it the right to make statements, submit and co-sponsor proposals and give explanations of vote.

“That today we can celebrate this handover of the Presidency of the Group of 77 and China is without a doubt a triumph of multilateralism and a demonstration of the important role of the most democratic and representative organ of the United Nations”, she stated.

For his part, President Mahmoud Abbas said Palestine would use its chairmanship to preserve the multilateral international order and strengthen ties with its UN partners.

“People are the real treasure for nations,” he said, “and real and sustainable development can only be achieved when opportunities are enhanced to ensure for all people, full and free participation in all relevant matters in life”.

He stated that under the guiding principle of “unity in diversity”, the G77 focus on the least developed countries, small island developing States, middle income countries, and peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation, “so as to ensure no one is left behind.”

From: https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/01/1030522

Palestine and the United Nations: 70 years on

alestine’s story at the United Nations began on 29 November 1947, with the UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) adoption of Resolution 181. The so-called “Partition Resolution” proposed, for first time in history, to divide a homeland into two states. Seven full decades since the adoption of this resolution, the Palestinian people, whether in exile or under occupation, has continued to suffer the consequences of the lack of international action in order to fulfill their inalienable rights.

Israel’s Membership at the United Nations

Israel became a member of the UNGA on 11 May 1949 through UNGA Resolution 273. Its membership, as established in the resolution, was conditioned:

Noting furthermore the declaration by the State of Israel that it “unreservedly accepts the obligations of the United Nations Charter and undertakes to honor them from the day when it becomes a Member of the United Nations”, Recalling its resolutions of 29 November 1947 [Resolution 181] and 11 December 1948 [Resolution 194] and taking note of the declarations and explanations made by the representative of the Government of Israel before the ad hoc Political Committee in respect of the implementation of the said resolutions, The General Assembly … Decides to admit Israel to membership in the United Nations. ”[1]

To this day, Israel violates the conditions it accepted in order to become a full member of the UN, as it has failed to honor UNGA Resolution 181 (on two states) as well as UNGA Resolution 194 (on the right of return of Palestinian refugees).

The PLO enters the United Nations

“Today I have come bearing an olive branch and a freedom-fighter’s gun. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand. I repeat: do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.” Yasser Arafat, 13 November 1974[2]

On 12 December 1973, the UNGA approved resolution 3102 (XXVIII)[3], calling for national liberation movements to be invited to participate as observers in the ‘Diplomatic Conference on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law Applicable in Armed Conflicts’. This was the entry point for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to participate in various international conferences.

On 14 October 1974, the UNGA adopted resolution 3210 (XXIX)[4] recognizing the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people, inviting them to the meetings held by UNGA on the Question of Palestine. On 13 November 1974, President Yasser Arafat became the first representative of a nation that was not a full member of the organization to address the General Assembly. A few days later, the UNGA adopted Resolution 3237 granting observer status to the PLO.

The PLO Declares the State of Palestine, recognizes UNSC Resolutions

On 15 November 1988, the Palestine National Council (PNC) declared the State of Palestine (under Israeli military occupation) on the territory within the 1967 border (Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem). This declaration is often referred to as ‘Palestine’s historic compromise’, due to the acceptance of Israel over 78% of the land that was Palestine prior to 1948. The PLO also publicly endorsed international law and UN Resolutions. A few weeks later, President Arafat was invited to address the UN General Assembly but the United States refused to grant him an entry visa. In an unprecedented move, the UN overwhelmingly voted to move its session outside of the US,[5] welcoming President Yasser Arafat to address the organization in Geneva.[6]

President Arafat’s address called upon Israeli leaders to accept international mediation: “I have come to you in the name of our people to extend my hand so that we may establish a real, just peace. It is from this premise that I call on the leaders of Israel to come here, to come here, under UN auspices to create this peace. I also tell them that our people want dignity, freedom and peace. They want peace for their state just as they want it for all the countries and parties to the Arab-Israeli conflict.”[7]

After this meeting, the UNGA took note of the Declaration of Independence of the State of Palestine, through resolution 43/177[8], deciding to use the designation “Palestine” instead of “Palestine Liberation Organization” in the United Nations System.

Palestine is admitted to the UN General Debate

On 7 July 1998, the UNGA adopted resolution 52/250[9] “Participation of Palestine in the Work of the United Nations”. This resolution paved the road for Palestine to become a standing agenda item in the UNGA General Debate every year. Palestine was given the platform to speak during the UNGA General Debate for first time in 1988, during its 53rd plenary session. During his speech, President Arafat reminded the assembly that “the Palestinian people… this great people did not commit a crime; they did not commit aggression against anyone nor did they occupy the land of any other people. However they were the victims of aggression. Their land was occupied and they were dispersed and compelled by military force to a life in diaspora and exile … it is not admissible for Israel to continue dominating the Palestinian people”.

Palestine as a “Non-member State”

During the UNGA General Debate of 2011, the issue of Palestinian statehood and full membership in the organization received important international support. With a wave of international recognitions of the State of Palestine, President Mahmoud Abbas delivered his now famous speech of 23 September 2011: “The time has come for my courageous and proud people, after decades of displacement and colonial occupation and ceaseless suffering, to live like other peoples of the earth, free in a sovereign and independent homeland (…) I would like to inform you that, before delivering this statement, I submitted, in my capacity as the President of the State of Palestine and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, to H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, an application for the admission of Palestine on the basis of the 4 June 1967 borders, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital, as a full member of the United Nations.”[10]

Although the full membership of Palestine still has not been approved, in 2012 Palestine achieved an upgrading of its status in the organization through UNGA Resolution 67/19. This resolution granted Palestine “non-member state” status, as a state on the 1967 border with East Jerusalem as its capital. This resolution passed with the vast majority- 138 votes- in favor and only 9 against.[11]  Resolution 67/19:

Decides to accord to Palestine non-member observer State status in the United Nations, without prejudice to the acquired rights, privileges and role of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the United Nations as the representative of the Palestinian people, in accordance with the relevant resolutions and practice…”

The resolution also emphasized that the Government of the State of Palestine is the PLO:

Taking into consideration that the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, in accordance with a decision by the Palestine National Council, is entrusted with the powers and responsibilities of the Provisional Government of the State of Palestine…”[12]

The Holy See has the same status as Palestine in the UN. In 2015, the UN voted in favor of raising the flag of its non-member states[13]. Since then both flags have been raised at the entrance of the UN buildings.

The UN Security Council and Palestine:

The UN Security Council (UNSC) has conducted extensive discussions on the issue of Palestine, without translating discussion into concrete measures to address the ongoing and systematic violations of the UN Charter by Israel. The UNSC has passed several important resolutions, including on the inadmissibility of acquiring territory by the use of force, against the annexation of East Jerusalem and Israeli measures to declare Jerusalem as its capital, calling for the application of International Humanitarian Law in the Occupied Territory, as well as several resolutions on the illegality of Israeli settlements, including the latest UNSC Resolution 2334, passed on 23 December 2016:

“[The UNSC] Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace”. [14]

Conclusion: UN must take concrete action in Palestine  

Since the UN General Assembly decided to divide Palestine, 70 years ago, the Palestinian people has suffered one of the greatest injustices seen within the international system. Denied the political right to self-determination and return, the national liberation cause of the Palestinian people was initially treated as a “humanitarian issue” by the international community. Only in 1970s was the collective voice of Palestinians heard at the UN, through the PLO.

Since then, many resolutions have been passed, reaffirming the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people as well as condemning Israeli crimes and violations; yet no action has been taken. Israel is even allowed to continue violating the conditions upon which it was granted its full UN membership. At the same time, Palestinians continue to be denied their right to be protected, have their own independent state, and return to their homeland.

Some action has been taken at the level of the UN – Human Rights Council, including the presence of Item 7 on the situation of Human Rights in the Territories Occupied by Israel since 1967, and the decision taken in March 2016 to issue a list of companies involved in Israel’s occupation and colonization of Palestine. The list is expected to be published before the end of the year, despite lobbying efforts from some parties that aim at perpetuating Israel’s impunity and the systematic violation of Palestinian rights.

In order to salvage the prospects of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, as well as protect the credibility and mission of the United Nations, members of the international community must develop specific mechanisms of implementation and accountability concerning systematic violations of International Humanitarian Law, Human Rights Law and UN resolutions.


[2] Full address by President Arafat available at https://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/cahier/proche-orient/arafat74-en

[5] 154 States voted in favor of moving the session. Only two countries voted against (Israel and the US) with one abstention (United Kingdom). The South African Apartheid regime, vetoed from participating in UNGA, also opposed the move.

[6] “UN votes to move session to Geneva” in New York Times, December 3, 1988. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/1988/12/03/world/un-votes-to-move-session-to-geneva.html

[7] Full address by President Arafat available at http://www.jmcc.org/Documentsandmaps.aspx?id=362

[8] UN General Assembly Resolution 43/177 http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/43/a43r177.htm

[11] Canada, Czech Republic, Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Panama and the United States of America voted against the Resolution.

UNESCO registers Hebron, Ibrahimi mosque on World Heritage in Danger list

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted to inscribe Hebron’s Old City and Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque in the occupied West Bank on the World Heritage in Danger list on Friday, despite diplomatic efforts by Israel and the United States to block the move.

The resolution, filed by the Palestinian Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Tourism, Hebron municipality, and Hebron rehabilitation committee, argued that Hebron’s Old City urgently needed protection from Israeli violations in the area that harmed the exceptional international value of the site.
Friday’s vote asserted that Hebron’s Old City and the mosque will be registered in UNESCO’s World Heritage List, and also stated that the two sites are to be recognized as being in danger, meaning that each year UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee will convene to discuss their case.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stated that the resolution’s passing was “due to Palestinian diplomacy and the support of our friends in the world,” and added that it was passed “despite the pressure exercised on many states by Israel and the United States,” according to Palestinian news agency Wafa.
The Palestine Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a press release that UNESCO had made “the only logical and correct decision,” describing the move as a “victory for tolerance and diversity.”“This vote celebrated facts and rejected the shameless high-profile political bullying and attempts at extortion,” the ministry said, and argued that Hebron’s Old City and the mosque have been “under threat due to the irresponsible, illegal, and highly damaging actions of Israel, the occupying power, which maintains a regime of separation and discrimination in the city based on ethnic background and religion.”“Inscribing Hebron as World Heritage under threat rejects the exclusionary ideology that fought this inscription based on prejudice and the rejection of others,” the statement continued, and expressed gratitude for member states that approved the decision for “(promoting) tolerance, preserving world heritage, and (rejecting) the toxic tirades of exclusivity and exclusion.”
A statement released by the Palestinian Minister of Antiquities and Tourism Rula Maaya stressed the importance of the “historic event” that she said confirmed the Palestinian identity of Hebron and the Ibrahimi mosque, which “by its heritage and history, belongs to the Palestinian people.”
Maaya said the recognition would help protect the site from the “ongoing Israeli violations and continued attempts to Judaize the site,” and said the vote also represented a rejection of Israeli claims over the Ibrahimi mosque, which is known to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs.
The minister also claimed the inscription would benefit the Palestinian tourism sector by drawing visitors to the site, and would also attract development projects geared towards preserving Hebron’s cultural heritage and rehabilitating tourist infrastructure.
Palestinian authorities have planned to introduce the site for consideration on UNESCO’s World Heritage List for years, but recently decided to fast track the site’s application owing to routine Israeli violence in the Old City, which Palestinians have claimed threatens the integrity of the Ibrahimi Mosque, and instead propose the area as an endangered site.
Hebron’s Old City, which is under full Israeli military control, is home to some 30,000 Palestinians and around 800 Israeli settlers who live under the protection of Israeli forces. The Ibrahimi Mosque, where the Prophet Abraham is believed to be buried, has been a focal point of violence for decades, as the site is holy to both Muslims and Jews and has been a prime site for Israeli settler activities in the area.
The holy site was split into a synagogue and a mosque after US-born Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinians inside the mosque in 1994. Since the split, Muslim worshipers have been denied access to the site during Jewish holidays and vice versa in effort to prevent violence from erupting.

After 50 years of Israeli occupation, ‘now is the time’ to create Palestinian state – UN chief

5 June 2017 – Marking 50 years since the start of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, which resulted in Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territory, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today reiterated a call for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

“Now is the time to end the conflict by establishing an independent Palestinian state, living side by side in peace and security with the State of Israel,” Mr. Guterres said in his statement on the 50 year occupation.

The occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Syrian Golan, which displaced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and Syrians, has imposed a heavy humanitarian and development burden on the Palestinian people, he said.

Among them are generation after generation of Palestinians who have been compelled to grow-up and live in ever more crowded refugee camps, many in abject poverty, and with little or no prospect of a better life for their children, he added.

Ending the occupation that began in 1967 and achieving a negotiated two-state outcome is the only way to lay the foundations for enduring peace that meets Israeli security needs and Palestinian aspirations for statehood and sovereignty, he stressed.

“Now is not the time to give up on this goal” but is the time to return to direct negotiations to resolve all final status issues on the basis of relevant UN resolutions, agreements and international law, Mr. Guterres said.

He warned that continued settlement construction and expansion, violence and incitement and the illicit arms build-up and militant activity in Gaza risk creating a one-state reality that is incompatible with realizing the legitimate national and historic aspirations of both peoples.

He recalled that in 1947, the world recognized the two-state solution and called for the emergence of “independent Arab and Jewish states” on the basis of UN General Assembly resolution 181.

On 14 May 1948, the State of Israel was born, but almost seven decades later, “the world still awaits the birth of an independent Palestinian state,” he said, offering once again to work with all relevant stakeholders to support a genuine peace process.

source: un.org

UN Censored report: Israel has established an ‘apartheid regime’

The report accused Israel of imposing an apartheid regime on Palestinians.  The United States called on the United Nations to withdraw a report, The secretary-general António Guterres issued his orders to  to withdraw the report. The head of the United Nations’ West Asia commission, Rima Khalaf asked him to review his position, but he insisted. Rima Khalaf, resigned over what she described as the pressure to withdraw the report.

The full report:

Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian

 

Statement by H.E. Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, Before the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) at the 34th Session Held in Geneva

 

27 February 2017

Your Excellencies,

 

Distinguished Members of the Council,

UN Secretary-General, President of the UN General Assembly, High Commissioner for Human Rights, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, President of the Human Rights Council Session, Representatives of Member States, International Organizations and Civil Society,

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honored today to attend this session of your distinguished and esteemed Council, recognizing the significant efforts that you are making in defending human rights and preserving the superiority of the principles for which this Council has been established. I am addressing you today to share with you the reality of human rights conditions in the occupied State of Palestine, which are tragic, as Israel, the occupying power, continues to violate the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and places itself above international law. Israel continues to flout the UN Charter and Fourth Geneva Convention.

 

Mr. President,

Seventy years have passed since the Israeli military forces dispossessed over half of the indigenous population of Palestine in 1948 from their homeland, and destroyed and obliterated the traces of more than four-hundred Palestinian villages and towns. Fifty years have passed since the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, in 1967. In light of this tremendously serious situation which is constantly witnessing grave escalations in systematic and widespread human rights violation of the Palestinian people, there is a need now, more than ever, for the UN and its agency, and in particular the Security Council, to take on their full responsibilities.

 

Today we reiterate our demand for the establishment of an international protection system for the Palestinian people, which will put an end to Israeli violations of Palestinian basic rights, compel Israel to cease confiscation of Palestinian land, and stop seizure of underground water resources. The system of international protection must also call on Israel to cease the continued arrest of Palestinian civilians, home demolitions, and guarantee a peaceful and secure life for Palestinian children. In addition, a binding mechanism must be developed with a clear and definitive timeline, which includes Israeli withdrawal from occupied Palestinian territory, ending the belligerent military occupation, and eliminating the effects of the Annexation Wall and illegal settlements.  This will lead to an independent Palestinian State on the pre-June 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital. The State of Palestine will live in peace, security and stability side by side with Israel.

 

Mr. President,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

You all know that Israel continues its violations and illegal practices, besieges Palestinian cities and villages, holds thousands of Palestinian political prisoners in its prisons, and has recently announced the further construction of thousands of settlement units on our land and enacted a new law in the Knesset legalizing the theft of Palestinian land – a very dangerous precedent, which we, and the international community vehemently reject. The confiscation of Palestinian land by Israel will leave no room for our people to establish a state, and in fact establishes one state with two systems, known as Apartheid – the primary source of incitement and violence.   Consequently,  what is required is the prompt implementation of UN Resolution 2334.

 

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Palestine today is a fact and with deep roots within the international community. In 2012 the international community recognized Palestine as an observer state in the UN, and since acceded to and joined international treaties and agencies. One-hundred-thirty-eight states have recognized the State of Palestine, the most recent being the Holy See, and a special ceremony was held at the UN Headquarters in New York to raise the Palestinian flag. Accordingly it is impractical for the sake of peace and justice to discuss temporary solutions or merge the question of Palestine within the framework of regional affairs as the current Israeli government has attempted to do.

In this respect we call on countries that have recognized Israel and believe in the two-state solution to defend and support this solution by recognizing the State of Palestine.

 

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our hands are still outstretched for the achievement of a comprehensive and just peace and we are continually open to dialog and are ready to responsibly and positively deal with peace efforts and initiatives, the latest of which was the Paris International Peace Conference. We stand against all forms of terrorism in our regions and the whole world.

 

We also reiterate our readiness and willingness to cooperate with all countries, including the US Administration of President Trump, toward the achievement of peace on the basis of International law and international resolutions. Peace in the world can be secured by realization of the two-state solution, Palestine and Israel, living side by side on the pre-1967 borders in peace and security. The creation of the State of Palestine will undermine the driving force of terror and extremism, and we are a part of the international system combating terrorism.

 

Thus, we warn concerned parties not to take steps that contribute to strengthening the Israeli occupation of the State of Palestine. This includes the support to the Israeli settlement enterprise, attacks against holy places, or moving embassies to Jerusalem. East Jerusalem is occupied territory and it is the capital of the State of Palestine. We do not recognize the annexation of Jerusalem and the holy city must be open to all followers of the three monotheistic religions.  On this point I want to stress our position and rejection to the use of religion to achieve political ends.

 

Bearing this in mind, we call on the High Commissioner for Human Rights to issue a list of companies that violate human rights.  We would also like to stress the importance of enhancing the human rights monitoring mechanisms of the Council through those means articulated under relevant agenda items regarding the conditions of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, specifically agenda item 7, a basic and permanent item on the Council’s agenda.  This procedure is in line with the historic responsibility of the UN toward finding a just and permanent solution for the Palestinian cause.

 

On the national level, we continue to build our national institutions on the bases of the rule of law. We are continually bolstering the Palestinian economy toward sustainable development across all sectors, while sparing no effort to provide assistance to our refugees in Syria and Lebanon for the sake of their survival and resilience in light of conflicts in their host countries.  In this respect we are grateful to UNRWA for its assistance to Palestinian refugees.

 

In addition, we are working toward the unification of our land and our people. We are bearing the responsibility of our people in the Gaza Strip and we working toward reconstructing what the Israeli occupying forces have destroyed, and taking necessary measures to lift the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. Further, we are preparing to hold general elections as soon as possible and we have a timeline for mid-May for municipal elections.

 

Our national institutions are working to anchor the rule of law by ensuring that our national legislation is in harmony with international law, and thereby fulfilling our commitments to international treaties and conventions.  I am proud to declare that Palestine has submitted its first report on the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (known as CEDAW), highlighting the significant role of Palestinian women and their sacrifices and resilience in the state building process. The State of Palestine will fulfill all of its obligations and further submit human rights reports in the coming months.

 

Palestine has further submitted reports on environmental quality, anti-corruption, and cultural diversity pursuant to our international obligations, and in a manner that promotes and protects the rights and dignity of our people on the land of Palestine.

 

Once again I wish the Council success and the achievement of human rights across the world, and especially contribute to the restoration of human rights in occupied Palestinian. May the Council succeed to put an end to the ongoing violations of these rights, which will restore respect for human rights internationally.

 

Mr. President,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Palestine will remain the greatest test for this Council, and its success in defending human rights in Palestine will determine the sustainability of human rights across the world. We must not fail this test.

 

I wish you all health and prosperity; and I wish the Council success in its current session.

 

Peace be with you.

Palestinian Authority welcomes passing of UNESCO resolution sharply criticizing Israeli policies

Following a controversial UNESCO vote that saw the adoption of a draft resolution that sharply criticized Israeli policies around the Al-Aqsa Mosque, while supposedly rejecting Jewish ties to the holy site — referred to by Jews as the Temple Mount — was received warmly by the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement released Thursday. Meanwhile, the resolution also criticized Israeli policies at the Ibrahimi Mosque in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, the Bilal ibn Rabah Mosque/Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, and strongly condemned Israeli military campaigns in the besieged Gaza Strip, while urging an end to the near decade-long Israeli blockade on the Palestinian enclave. The resolution was passed after 24 countries voted in its favor, six voted against, and 26 abstained from the vote, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz. While the resolution did not outrightly reject Jewish ties to the Al-Aqsa Mosque/Temple Mount, it was highly critical of Israeli policies in and around the site and Israeli attempts at changing the status quo, which prohibits Jewish worship at the site, and referred to the site only by its Islamic name “Al-Aqsa/Haram al-Sharif,” and did not mention the Jewish name “Temple Mount.”

However, the resolution did make clear that UNESCO recognizes the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem for the “three monotheistic religions” — Islam, Judaism, and Christianity — and highlighted the significance of the holy sites in Hebron and Bethlehem for all three religions.“The only way to be treated like a normal state is if it starts acting like one”The PA statement said that the decision to adopt the UNESCO resolution reflected the “continued commitment of the majority of member states to confront impunity and uphold the principles upon which UNESCO was founded.” The statement continued to express the PA’s disappointment with several countries — mainly European — which had changed their votes that were initially in favor of the resolution, after what the statement referred to as Israel’s “PR bullying.”“Rather than spending millions to spin its illegal colonization into normalcy and distort reality, Israel, the occupying power, must understand that the only way to be treated like a normal state is if it starts acting like one, by ending its occupation of Palestine and seizing its irresponsible and illegal actions in the occupied land of the State of Palestine, especially East Jerusalem,” the statement read. The statement added that Palestinian activities at the UN and on the international level would not be “deterred by distortions and smear campaigns,” and would continue pressuring the international community to take responsibility and act on Israel’s violations of international law “which have continued with impunity for half a century.”Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the decision, calling it “delusional” and adding that “to say that Israel has no connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall is like saying that China has no connection to the Great Wall of China and that Egypt has no connection to the Pyramids.””With this absurd decision, UNESCO lost the little legitimization it had left. But I believe that the historical truth is stronger and the truth will win” headded.

However, the resolution mainly focused on Israeli policies around the holy site that UNESCO and rights groups have claimed increase tensions between Palestinian worshippers and Jewish visitors, while sparking fears in Palestinians that Israel could further deny their right to access Al-Aqsa. Netanyahu did not release a comment responding to any of the criticisms presented by the UNESCO resolution.
Israeli excavations in and around the Old City
The resolution also criticized Israel’s continued excavations around the holy site, saying that UNESCO “deeply deplores the failure of Israel, the occupying Power, to cease the persistent excavations and works in East Jerusalem particularly in and around the Old City.” Some rights groups claim that these excavations often seek to promote Jewish heritage and attachment to the occupied city, while erasing Palestinian history, in order to promote claims of Jewish ownership and further displace Palestinians, particularly those living in neighborhoods around the Old City. Israel frequently permits excavations and archaeological digs in occupied East Jerusalem, specifically around the Al-Aqsa mosque, that threaten the structural integrity of Palestinian homes and holy sites in the area. Palestinians have routinely reported their homes being damaged as a result of Israeli construction. In the past, tunnels have partially collapsed and caused holes to open up above them, threatening Palestinian homes, roads, and a local mosque.
The right-wing settler organization Elad is behind much of the excavations in occupied East Jerusalem, as the group is one of the main financiers of the archeological digs around the Old City, and also runs the City of David National Park which was established to promote Jewish connection to Jerusalem, while neglecting Palestinian history. The park is the only tourist site in Israel run by a private organization, according to the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ)The Elad group is also a strong force in the Israeli settler movement in East Jerusalem, leading a takeover of 25 buildings in the neighborhood of Silwan last year, which constituted the largest incursion of Israeli settlers into a Palestinian neighborhood in the past 20 years, ARIJ reported.
Israeli settler raids on Al-Aqsa

The resolution strongly condemned Israeli settlers entering Al-Aqsa and praying in an attempt to challenge longstanding international agreements that prohibit Jewish worship at the site. The Israeli incursions routinely erupt into clashes with Palestinian worshipers who have long held fears that the Israeli government has sought to change the status quo at the site and further restrict Palestinian access. Following Israel’s illegal annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel has maintained a compromise with the Islamic trust that controls the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to not allow non-Muslim prayer in the area. Jordan, which runs the Waqf organization administering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, has custodianship rights over Muslim holy places in Jerusalem under its 1994 peace treaty with Israel.Israeli forces regularly escort Jewish visitors to the site, however, leading to tension with Palestinian worshipers and residents of the area.Tensions around the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound were a main contributor to the unrest that began last October, after right-wing Israelis made frequent visits to the site during a succession of Jewish holidays.

In the resolution, UNESCO “firmly deplored” the routine and continuous “storming of Al-Aqṣa Mosque by Israeli right-wing extremists and uniformed forces,” and urged Israel, as the occupying power to “take necessary measures to prevent provocative abuses that violate the sanctity and integrity of Al-Aqṣa Mosque.” The resolution went on to “deeply decry” Israel’s treatment of Muslim worshippers at the site and the detention and injury of Jordanian Waqf employees, while condemning Israeli employee incursions into the holy compound, particularly “Israeli Antiquities” officials who frequently ban Waqf employees from accessing the site, while prohibiting much-needed renovations from being carried out. The besieged Gaza StripIsrael came under heavy criticism in the resolution for its deadly military campaigns on the small Palestinian territory, saying that UNESCO “deplores the killing and injury of thousands of Palestinian civilians, including children, as well as the continuous negative impact in the fields of competence of UNESCO, the attacks on schools and other educational and cultural facilities, including breaches of inviolability of UNRWA schools.”
UNESCO also sharply criticized Israel’s near decade-long blockade of the coastal Palestinian enclave, which “harmfully affects the free and sustained movement of personnel and humanitarian relief items as well as the intolerable number of casualties among Palestinian children, the attacks on schools and other educational and cultural facilities and the denial of access to education.” UNESCO went on to demand that Israel “immediately ease this blockade.”A 51-day Israeli offensive in 2014, termed “Operation Protective Edge” by Israeli authorities, resulted in the killings of 1,462 Palestinian civilians, a third of whom were children, according to the United Nations.The Gaza Strip has suffered under an Israeli military blockade since 2007, when Hamas became the de facto ruling party in the territory.
Residents of Gaza suffer from high unemployment and poverty rates, as well as the consequences of three devastating wars with Israel since 2008.
Residents have continued to experience trauma in their daily lives following the 2014 Israeli offensive, as reconstruction efforts have moved at a glacial pace and with some 75,000 Palestinians still displaced after losing their homes in 2014.The UN has warned that the besieged Palestinian territory could become “uninhabitable” by 2020, as its 1.8 million residents remain in dire poverty due to the Israeli blockade that has crippled the economy.
source: https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=773560

Statement by Foreign Minister of the State of Palestine, before the United Nations Security Council

Statement by H.E. Dr. Riad Malki, Foreign Minister of the State of Palestine, before the United Nations Security Council, Open Debate on the Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestine question, New York, 26 January 2016 (Delivered by Ambassador Dr.Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations):

Mr. President,

I congratulate the friendly country of Uruguay on its election to the Security Council and thank Your Excellency, Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa, for convening this important debate under Uruguay’s presidency.

I thank the Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, for his important briefing to the Council on the current situation.

Today, I also extend our congratulations to other new non-permanent members – Egypt, Japan, Senegal and Ukraine, wishing them success in fulfilling their responsibilities under the Charter. We renew our deep appreciation to Chad, Chile, Jordan, Lithuania and Nigeria for their skilled service and principled positions on so many critical issues, including the question of Palestine, during their tenure.

I express our appreciation to all of the Ministers joining us here today, underscoring the attention and concern ascribed to the Palestine issue and situation in the Middle East as a whole. Among the esteemed Ministers present is Minister Mankeur Ndiaye of Senegal, which also plays an important role as Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, a responsibility undertaken by Senegal for the past 40 years, for which we are most grateful.

Mr. President,

We gather again in the Security Council – which for seven decades has been entrusted with the responsibility of upholding international peace and security – to address one of the longest-standing issues on the UN agenda, namely the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East. Every day that passes with this institution failing to shoulder its Charter duties means the death of more innocent civilians, more destruction of property, lives and the prospects for peace, and more hopelessness, representing a continual and growing threat to international peace and security.

While Palestine has figured prominently on the UN agenda since its establishment, the plight of our people tragically persists and peace continues to evade us. Neither support nor solidarity for Palestine have been lacking, but rather the political courage and will to implement the countless resolutions of the Security Council and General Assembly in the face of Israel’s total intransigence and disrespect for all of its obligations, including international humanitarian law (IHL) and human rights law. The failure to hold Israel, the occupying Power, accountable and to compel its compliance with the law has caused immense suffering for the Palestinian people, among them millions of refugees, exacerbating an-already deplorable security, humanitarian and socio-economic situation, compounding the crisis manifold and undermining the foundations of a just and lasting solution.

In the past seven years alone, we have repeatedly come to address this Council and have traveled from capital to capital, presenting as well as supporting ideas, texts, initiatives and urging action. Since the adoption of resolution 1860 (2009) following the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip in December 2008-January 2009, the Council has failed to take any action to redress this injustice. And in this period, at least 2,500 more Palestinians, among them hundreds of children and women, have been killed in repeated Israeli wars on Gaza and in military raids in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, tens of thousands of civilians have been wounded, thousands have been arrested, detained and abused by the occupying forces, and an inhumane blockade and vast destruction have been continuously inflicted on Gaza. At the same time, Israeli settlement construction in Occupied Palestine, especially in Occupied East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, has continued unabated at the expense of peace and the viability and contiguity of our State, and Israeli settler terror against Palestinian civilians has reached unprecedented levels and has inflamed religious sensitivities, particularly regarding Al-Haram Al-Sharif and Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The world has witnessed on live television the perpetration of war crimes against the Palestinian people and yet no action has been taken. As we speak, Palestinians, the majority youth, are being killed daily in the streets, many extra-judicially executed, by occupying forces and settlers, and Israel continues its policy of collective punishment, including the demolition of homes, withholding of the bodies of martyrs, and widespread arrest and detention raids, and its suffocating blockade on Gaza continues to obstruct desperately-needed reconstruction, to deprive our people of all the basics of a dignified life, and to deepen despair. There is no justification for such violence and oppression against the defenseless Palestinian civilian population. IHL provisions, primarily the 4th Geneva Convention, prohibit such actions and obligate the occupying Power to ensure, inter alia, the safety and well-being of the civilians under its occupation, not the other way around.

Claims that such violence and crimes are necessary to ensure Israeli security are offensive and must be rejected. All peoples are entitled to security; it is not exclusive to Israel and cannot be achieved by illegal and aggressive actions that only fan the flames of violence and intensify anger and tensions. These unlawful actions must be stopped. We cannot allow the international community to turn a blind eye to the horrors being endured by our people, nor can we accept continued refusal to end the impunity and immunity that have been granted to Israeli officials, occupation forces and terrorist settlers, making these repeated, widespread and systematic crimes possible. We cannot accept the reasoning of those who keep demanding security for the occupying Power, while failing to demand security for the occupied people, who are entitled to and assured of such security under international law. The UN must act to ensure protection for our people in line with international law and its own resolutions, including Security Council resolutions specifically calling for protection for the Palestinian people, and precedents and relevant studies before the Council must be considered.

Mr. President,

Israel must choose between occupation and peace. It is clear from the policies of successive Israeli governments that the colonial agenda has trumped the peace agenda in Israel, and it is equally clear that without international intervention, this situation cannot be reversed.

The continuation and expansion of the settlement regime are a destructive reality we witness every day, even if the world doesn’t always see or hear the bulldozers. Just last week, Israel audaciously declared 370 acres south of Jericho as so-called “State land”, constituting one of the largest illegal land expropriations in years. Recently, Israeli plans to construct more than 65,000 new illegal settlement units throughout Occupied Palestine were also exposed. These plans, which include thousands of units in Occupied East Jerusalem and surrounding areas, including the so-called “E-1” area, would sever East Jerusalem from its Palestinian environs. Moreover, hundreds more units are being constructed in the so-called “Givat Eitam” illegal settlement, referred to as “E-2”, in the south of Bethlehem, just to name a few of the more glaring examples.

It is an understatement to say that any settlement unit built anywhere in our occupied land brings us a step closer to the end of the two-State vision. The international community must directly address this and send an unequivocal message to Israel now, before it is too late. It cannot ignore these facts or the fact that the Israeli Foreign Ministry recently released a document inconceivably claiming that settlements are “legal” under international law. The illegality of the Israeli settlement regime has been reaffirmed by the Security Council in several resolutions, the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions, the International Court of Justice, the Human Rights Council, successive Special Rapporteurs and international fact-finding missions, and nearly every single State around the world, with the exception of Israel. No one can deny that the forced transfer of Palestinian civilians and the transfer of Israelis to the occupied territory are grave breaches of IHL and war crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Israel’s arguments rely on absurd interpretations of very clear legal texts and on historical distortions and empty pretexts used for decades to justify colonialism and apartheid, which are two among the most condemned phenomena in history. Yet, Israel persists in spreading both, in word and deed.

The most striking aspect in the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s document is not the absurd argument made in defense of the indefensible, but rather the fact that it reconfirms Israel’s total commitment to the colonial settlement regime at the expense of the law and of peace. The question therefore is not what we hope Israel will do to end the settlement regime it continues to plan, develop, expand, defend, and commit vast resources to, but rather what the international community will do in fulfillment of its own obligations, as spelled out by the principles of international law, the UN Charter, the relevant Conventions, including the 4th Geneva Convention, and the ICJ Advisory Opinion, notably in relation to third party responsibility. This must be considered and acted on as a matter of priority and urgency. 

Mr. President,

The inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including to self-determination and freedom are non-negotiable, and cannot be subject to the occupying Power’s good will or lack thereof. No State can, under the pretext of supporting dialogue among the parties, evade its own responsibility to uphold international law. This is a time for action and responsibility; our region and the world cannot afford the looming breakdown that would lead to more chaos and suffering. Those who believe the occupation is sustainable or that we will surrender to it are mistaken. We remain relentless in pursuit of our independence and rights. We call on this Council to play its role and fulfill its responsibilities: End this oppression, end the occupation and help make peace and justice a reality for all the peoples of this region. This is your duty and it cannot be delegated, delayed or dismissed. Silence and inaction are the accomplices of occupation and enemies of peace.

Today we must ask: Have we all done everything in our power and exhausted all means, only to reach the point of failure? Is there no way ahead? We continue to believe another path is possible, that peace is possible and that confrontation and war are not inevitable. We have demonstrated a firm commitment to peace, but it has no chance of leading to a lasting solution without decisive international action in support of the two-State solution on the pre-1967 borders and of measures that hold accountable those who are destroying it. In this regard, we are all aware that the Israeli settlement enterprise in all its manifestations is the most formidable obstacle to the peace we seek.

While we appreciate the strong positions expressed by all Security Council members and the international community at large against Israeli settlement activities, these positions must be translated into action. And this action must start here at the Security Council. It must involve measures by all States and go beyond not rendering aid or assistance to holding Israel accountable for its actions. There are important ideas raised by recent international reports, including by NGOs, which can help identify a way forward. International mechanisms are also necessary, including the convening of an international conference with the main objective of ending the occupation and achieving peace and establishment of an international support group to advance this goal. Only with proper monitoring and accountability can we hope to turn the tide and have a chance at reaching the shores of safety. The priority should be lasting peace not temporary calm.

Mr. President,

I came here today to again appeal for such action on behalf of the Palestinian people, who are entitled and demanding their freedom, and on behalf of all those who seek and promote peace and justice. Those needing pretexts not to act will always find one: they will try to make us address consequences rather than causes, tell us to wait until the next election, or to understand there are more pressing issues, until everything collapses. In recent months, several States have taken initiatives and shown leadership and understanding for the urgency to act and prioritize this matter among the many other priority issues they are cooperatively working to resolve. It is time for a collective process for Palestinian-Israeli peace. It is time for the Security Council to reflect the expressed will of its members and the international community it is mandated to represent. Excuses, mild positions and half measures will not suffice. The international will is being tested, and failure is not an option.

I thank you Mr. President.