Statement by H.E. Ambassador Dr. Rivad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, before the 68m Session of the United Nations General Assembly’s Special Meeting Dedicated to the Life and Memory of His Excellency Nelson Mandela, 19 December 2013:
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It was with profound sadness that the people of the State of Palestine learned of the passing of His Excellency Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela on Thursday, 5 December 2013. Along with the rest of the world, the leadership and the people of the State of Palestine mourn his passing and we express to our brothers and sisters in South Africa our deepest sympathies during this most difficult time.
No words can justly describe the profound impact that President Mandela has had on humanity. In all of his roles, whether it was as the African National Congress (ANC) leader, freedom fighter, statesman or Nobel Peace Prize laureate, he will forever remain engrained in the memory of humankind for decades to come, joining other heroes of the last century such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. The impact of his fight for racial equality during a decades-long struggle against South Africa’s apartheid system was so great that it reverberated around the world. He will forever be an icon of freedom as well as the most vivid example in modern times of the power of forgiveness and reconciliation after brutal oppression. He gave hope and his legacy will continue to give hope to many people, including those who are still struggling under harsh circumstances throughout the world that nothing is forever and that justice will always prevail.
The Palestinian people are among those people who have taken inspiration from President Mandela’s successful struggle against apartheid in their struggle to end Israeli occupation. President Abbas ordered that flags be lowered to half-mast across the State of Palestine and declared a day of mourning on the Friday following the death of President Mandela. President Abbas stated the passing of President Mandela “is great loss for all the peoples of the world, and for Palestine” hailing him as a “symbol of freedom from colonialism and occupation.” It is without a doubt, that we will always be grateful that President Mandela was an ardent supporter of the Palestinian cause and a champion for Middle East peace. Rightly so, President Abbas described President Mandela as “the most courageous and important of those who supported us.”
Among many treasured memories of President Mandela, the Palestinian people will always cherish his address to the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on 4 December, 1997, in which he stated that “The UN took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system. But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.” We will always be proud and honored that President Mandela stood alongside us in our quest for freedom and independence.
The Palestinian people’s reverence for President Mandela was displayed throughout the Occupied State of Palestine in various forms of memorial services, which included candlelight vigils and prayer services. In a special service at the Holy Family Church in Ramallah in honor of the President Mandela, a PLO Executive Committee Member in attendance noted that for Palestinians, President Mandela remains an embodiment of the conscience of the world, and an expression of genuine leadership that combines humility and service with the courage and determination needed to speak truth to power and to strive for peace and justice. It is without a doubt that Mr. Mandela’s legacy of peace, reconciliation and the oneness of humanity will continue to live on and inspire many lives, not only in the State of Palestine, but around the world.
Even though, President Mandela may be gone, his spirit lives on and will continue to inspire the Palestinian people and assure them that justice will prevail. Injustice cannot sustain itself forever. Justice was bestowed in South Africa and it will be bestowed in Palestine- for as the great Mandela once stated “it always seems impossible until it is done.”
On behalf of the people of the State of Palestine, I, once again, convey to the people of South Africa our heartfelt condolences. May the cherished memories of President Mandela provide comfort to all South Africans and all mankind during these days of grief and sorrow.
I thank you, Mr. President.