2 July 2019 – Israeli colonization and provocations in Occupied East Jerusalem

Excellency,

I am compelled to once again draw attention to ongoing provocations, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric concerning the holy sites in Occupied East Jerusalem. In light of recent events and the heightening volatility of the situation, we again appeal for responsible action to uphold international law and the relevant Security Council, General Assembly and UNESCO resolutions and avert a dangerous destabilization, with all of its attendant consequences.

We condemn in the strongest terms all illegal policies, practices and measures being carried out by Israel, the occupying Power, in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory as well as acts of provocation and incitement against the Palestinian people and holy sites in Occupied East Jerusalem. This includes Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which is being targeted by an endless and reckless barrage of illegal measures and provocative rhetoric and actions, including ongoing Israeli excavations, which are directly threatening the sanctity and stability of this holy site.

In this regard, we must refer to the recent “inauguration ceremony” of an underground tunnel and path – the so-called “Pilgrim Road” – towards Al-Haram Al-Sharif, beginning in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in Occupied East Jerusalem. We condemn this illegal measure, which comes following a series of other such illegal measures in Silwan, which has been heavily targeted by illegal Israeli settlement activities, including home demolitions, evictions and land confiscations across the years. Furthermore, it is deplorable that the officials of the right-wing Israeli government were accompanied in this illegal act in occupied territory by US government officials who have not only lent their support to such unlawful activities, but appear to be actively partnering with Israel, the occupying Power, in promotion and pursuit of its illegal and destructive colonization schemes, including such acts which present a threat to international peace and security.

Such provocations and illegal actions can neither be ignored nor accepted, regardless of whoever commits them, and must be roundly condemned and stopped. Immediate steps are required by the international community collectively and by all law-abiding States individually, to reassert the primacy of international law, to reinforce the historic status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem, and to ensure the necessary protection to these sacred places. We call in particular on the United Nations Security Council to uphold its Charter duties and demand respect for its relevant resolutions, including resolutions 476 (1980), 478 (1980) and 2334 (2016).

Absent serious measures of accountability, it is clear that Israel, the occupying Power, will persist in carrying out such illegal measures in Occupied East Jerusalem, further exposing its systematic intent to illegally and forcibly alter the character, status and demographic composition of Jerusalem, in grave breach of international humanitarian law, in grave violation of the relevant UN resolutions and absolute disrespect of the July 2004 ICJ Advisory Opinion. Without enactment of firm consequences, there can be no hope of bringing a halt to such destructive actions and of salvaging the ever-diminishing two-State solution on the 1967 borders.

The fact is that Israel is incessantly destroying the viability of the two-State solution and imposing a de facto one-state situation. Despite the calls and appeals of the international community, Israel is entrenching its occupation, flouting international law and mocking the international consensus on a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the relevant UN resolutions, the Madrid principles and the Arab Peace Initiative with reckless abandon. The occupying Power, now with the outright support of a Permanent Member of the Security Council, is escalating the situation to a breaking point at which it will become impossible to reverse the negative trends on the ground.

In this regard, we recall the warning by UN Special Coordinator Nikolay Mladenov, when presenting the tenth report of the Secretary-General on resolution 2334 (2016),  and his  call for “affirmative steps to be taken immediately to reverse negative trends on the ground that are imperiling the two-State solution”. Without such steps, we will all be confronted with a new reality imposed by the occupying Power, but one that cannot be accepted and that all will be compelled to deal with in accordance with international law and human rights and not might over right.

We thus reiterate our plea for the international community to remain firm in adherence to its clear, legal position on the status of Jerusalem. States must unequivocally reject all breaches and violations of that status, demand the halt and rescinding of all unilateral, provocative and illegal decisions and measures, and demand full respect for the applicable provisions of international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, and all relevant UN resolutions, which have repeatedly affirmed that “any decisions and actions which purport to have altered, the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded”.

Silence by the international community following this recent provocative act and the series of other illegal measures in Occupied East Jerusalem that we have continuously drawn attention to, including in my letter of 11 June 2019, is unacceptable and indefensible. Action must be taken to protect the sanctity of Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which houses the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque, and all other holy sites in this City, which is of highest importance to the three monotheistic religions. Action is vital to avoid a religious conflagration. Equally imperative is action to protect the presence and rights of the Palestinian people in the City, which are at increasing and grave risk.

We call for serious efforts to enforce the law and uphold the obligations prescribed by UN resolutions, including General Assembly resolution ES-10/19 on the status of Jerusalem, which demanded, inter alia, that “all States comply with Security Council resolutions regarding the Holy City of Jerusalem, and not to recognize any actions or measures contrary to those resolutions”. It is time to stop the impunity that Israel, the occupying Power, has for too long enjoyed and exploited to the detriment of the Palestinian people, the prospects of Palestinian-Israeli peace, and peace, stability and security in the region.

After all these years it must be clear that words of condemnation alone will not be sufficient to address this critical and dangerous situation. International action, in line with legal, political and moral duties towards the Palestine question, is urgently needed. We call on the Security Council in particular to shoulder its responsibilities and speak with one voice and act forthwith to uphold its resolutions with a view to bringing a halt to the occupation’s crimes, averting a further destabilization, and salvaging the possibility for a just and peaceful solution to this conflict to be realized.

This letter is in follow-up to our 668 letters regarding the ongoing crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which constitutes the territory of the State of Palestine.  These letters, dated from 29 September 2000 (A/55/432-S/2000/921) to 11 June 2019 (A/ES-10/813-S/2019/—), constitute a basic record of the crimes being committed by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people since September 2000. For all of these war crimes, acts of State terrorism and systematic human rights violations being committed against the Palestinian people, Israel, the occupying Power, must be held accountable and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.

I should be grateful if you would arrange to have the text of the present letter made available to the members of the Security Council for their immediate, valuable consideration and also distributed as an official document of the Security Council.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.

Dr. Riyad Mansour

Ambassador, Permanent Observer

of the State of Palestine to the United Nations