Archives for October 2019

Statement by H.E. Dr. Riyad Mansour, Minister, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, before the United Nations Security Council, “The Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestine Question”, 28 October 2019

Mr. President,

I wish to begin by expressing our congratulations and appreciation to the Republic of South Africa for its most able leadership of the Security Council in this month of its presidency.

We thank the UN Special Coordinator and Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Nikolay Mladenov, for his briefing on the current situation in Occupied Palestine, including East Jerusalem.

Mr. President,

Every month, we come before the Security Council appealing for it to act to ensure implementation of its resolutions on the Palestine question, certain that only such action can bring us all back from the brink, stopping the senseless, painful human suffering being caused by this man-made crisis and salvaging the prospects for a just peace. Yet, every month we are compelled to listen to reports of a worsening situation, as Israel, the occupying Power, intensifies its illegal occupation and colonization of our land and a political horizon for a peaceful solution remains obstructed.

It cannot be that the role of this august Council is reduced to that of a gathering for the airing of grievances, statements of sympathy and solidarity, as important as they are, and helpless hand-wringing. The Palestinian people and global community at large expect, and await, more. The Security Council’s Charter mandate to maintain international peace and security surely requires more.

As the calls to preserve multilateralism against current threats grow, shoring up the Security Council’s role in the peaceful resolution of conflicts must be front and center. This requires urgent action to uphold and enforce international law, aimed at halting violations, deterring future violations, and fostering an environment conducive for the pursuit and achievement of peace.

In the case of Palestine, the Council’s relevant resolutions – from resolution 2334 (2016) to all the resolutions preceding it – provide a solid basis for such action. The international consensus is firm, and attempts to alter or negate it have failed. Indeed, we have often heard that, when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there is no need to reinvent the wheel; international law is clear, the parameters of a just solution are clear, and there is no alternative to the vision of two-States based on the 1967 lines and in accordance with international law, the relevant UN resolutions, the Madrid principle of land-for-peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet Roadmap.

But, in the absence of serious action to give tangible meaning to this consensus, the alternative is rapidly unfolding before our eyes and it is one of an apartheid State in control of the lives of millions who are being oppressively, violently and unjustly deprived of their fundamental rights, even the right to live as free and equal human beings.

Mr. President,

After over 52 years of this illegal occupation and the cruel exile imposed on millions of Palestinians for over seven decades, it is clear that he failure to achieve a solution is not for lack of attention to the conflict or lack of resolutions; it is for lack of genuine efforts to uphold the rules, decisions and humanitarian commitments repeatedly pledged.

As concluded by the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in his latest report, “no occupation in the modern world has been conducted with the international community so alert to its many grave breaches of international law, so knowledgeable about the occupier’s obvious and well-signaled intent to annex and establish permanent sovereignty, so well-informed about the scale of suffering and dispossession endured by the protected population under occupation, and yet so unwilling to act upon the overwhelming evidence before it to employ the tangible and plentiful legal and political tools at its disposal to end the injustice.”

Without accountability, the deplorable situation we have faced will surely only worsen, paving the way for more suffering and insecurity for all, with innocent civilians, among them children and women, bearing the heaviest and most heartbreaking weight of the international community’s negligence.

Indeed, despite decades of global attention, none of Israel’s violations in Occupied Palestine have stopped. Whether the colonization or de facto annexation of our land by all means, the settlements and wall being the most insidious; the inhumane 12-year blockade and collective punishment of 2 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, inflicting devastating poverty and despair; the killing and injury of defenseless Palestinian civilians by the occupying forces and extremist settlers; the destruction of homes and properties and forced displacement of Palestinian families, especially in Occupied East Jerusalem, with 140 homes demolished in the City in 2019 alone, rendering homeless 238 Palestinians, more than half of them children; the dangerous provocations and assaults at holy sites; the imprisonment and detention of thousands of our civilians; or the blatant theft of our natural and financial resources – all continue unabated.

The fact is that the occupying Power has been led to believe it has carte blanche to act as a State above the law, going so far as to openly threaten to annex our land in flagrant breach of the universal prohibition on the acquisition of territory by force. With or without a formal government, Israeli politicians and candidates shamelessly compete as to who can be more brutal and punishing to the Palestinians and who can cater more to extremist Israeli groups, who will never be satiated, as evident in their daily terror campaign against our civilians, incitement, and rabid land grabs.

Nothing else could be expected in the absence of consequences for such grave violations by this most protracted foreign occupation in modern history. Only accountability can change this.

Mr. President,

We thus once again appeal to the Security Council and all States to act. We urge you to mobilize the political will to fulfill your obligations by taking practical measures, in line with international law and the relevant resolutions, the guarantors of just and sustainable peace and security.

The Security Council must shoulder its responsibilities and act immediately in line with its resolutions to bring about a halt to this occupation’s crimes, avert further destabilization, protect innocent civilians, and salvage the chances for peace. States, inter-governmental organizations and civil society must also uphold their respective roles and responsibilities.

Should Israel continue to defy the Council and will of the international community, it must bear the consequences of its violations. All legitimate political and legal tools and measures available – including sanctions and prosecution in courts – must be pursued to ensure accountability.

This must include action pursuant to the call for distinction in resolution 2334 (2016) and other relevant resolutions, including, inter alia, resolution 478 (1980) on Jerusalem and resolution 465 (1980), in which the Council clearly called on all States not to provide Israel with any assistance to be used specifically in connection with its settlements in the territories occupied since 1967.

We urge States to take concrete steps in this regard, in both multilateral and bilateral frameworks, in conformity with their legal obligations and affirmed support for the two-State solution. We reiterate our call for release of the database on businesses engaged in activities related to the illegal settlements, which was mandated by the Human Rights Council and will help States to uphold their obligations.

States also have a duty of non-recognition of any decisions or measures altering or purporting to alter the geographic, demographic, character or status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, in violation of the law, including the 4th Geneva Convention. All such decisions and measures must be deemed unlawful, null and void and should incur consequences if not rescinded. Also, the legal and historic status quo at the holy sites in Occupied East Jerusalem, including Al-Haram Al-Sharif, must be respected, as well as Jordan’s custodianship for the Muslim and Christian holy sites.

Lastly, we reiterate our call for continued principled support for the rights of the Palestinian people, including to self-determination and freedom. Until they are realized, we continue our appeals for humanitarian assistance to alleviate the plight of our people, including Palestine refugees, and to ensure that they are not left behind. We recognize with deep gratitude the generous international support in this regard through UNRWA and urge strong backing for renewal of its mandate, an important expression of responsibility and solidarity and an indispensable source of hope and stability until a just solution for the Palestine refugees is realized based on resolution 194 (II).

Only such determined, collective and coordinated action can move us from deadlock to progress towards finally bringing an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967, fulfilling the Palestinian people’s right to independence in their sovereign, contiguous, democratic State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace and security, the cornerstone for peace and security in the Middle East, as per the longstanding international consensus.

For the sake of peace, the benefit of all peoples of the region and the authority of international law, we must together act to change course, restore hope and attain a just and comprehensive peace. Failure to do so will have far-reaching repercussions, unraveling decades of efforts and resources invested for our shared, noble goals of peace, stability and human dignity. We must not let another generation suffer this injustice.

I thank you, Mr. President.

21 October 2019 – Israeli Settler Aggressions at Al-Aqsa Mosque and against Palestinian Civilians

Excellency,

I am compelled to draw your urgent attention to ongoing and escalating aggressions by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people in their land and their homes in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, actions which continue to cause immense human suffering and to aggravate tensions, risking further destabilization of this situation, which continues to pose a threat to international peace and security.Violent attacks against civilians, destruction of property, and appalling acts of incitement and provocation, including at holy sites in Occupied East Jerusalem, are being perpetrated by the Israeli occupying forces and extremist Israeli settlers in violation of international law, including humanitarian and human rights law, and in grave violation of Israel’s obligations under the relevant United Nations resolutions, including Security Council resolution 2334 (2016), which specifically calls for an end to Israel’s settlement activities and an end to all acts of violence, provocation and incitement.

Such violations have no doubt been bolstered by the Israeli government’s rising threats of annexation and incessant acts of settlement colonization, the engine of this illegal occupation. Of gravest concern have been the repeated aggressions by Israeli settlers at Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which houses Al-Aqsa Mosque, and continues to be a flashpoint for such aggressive, illegal behavior. This has involved repeated attacks against Palestinian worshippers and other acts of provocation and incitement, including mounting rhetoric for takeover of the holy site by radical Jewish extremists.

This Sunday, 20 October, witnessed yet another such violent incursion by approximately 400 extremist settlers at the holy site, who provoked Muslim worshippers at the site with their inflammatory rhetoric and hostile behavior. It is estimated by the Islamic Waqf that more than 2,700 settlers have carried out incursions at the holy site since the Jewish holiday of Sukkot began last week. And, yet again, they were accompanied and protected by Israeli occupying forces, who also attacked the worshippers and prevented them from entering the holy site. 

At a time of heightened awareness in the international community about the need to protect religious sites and worshippers from such extremist attacks, it is shocking that this occurs on a near daily basis at Al-Haram Al-Sharif without consequence for the perpetrators and with little to no regard for the great risks posed by such provocative and violent actions despite our repeated warnings. We thus warn once again about the dangers of outbreak of a religious conflict that would have far-reaching implications for regional and international peace and security, and call once again for full respect of the historic and legal status quo at this holy site and for full respect of all relevant UN resolutions.

I must also draw attention to continuing intimidation and assaults by extremist Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians in the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. OCHA has reported at least 243 incidents where Israeli settlers have killed, injured or damaged Palestinian property thus far in 2019. Escalating attacks are being carried out in the context of our olive harvest season, which is a central economic, social and cultural event for the Palestinian people every autumn and which is routinely exploited by Israeli settlers to harass and attack Palestinians and assert their illegal presence and control.

Under the watch of occupying forces, armed and fanatic settlers have been attacking defenseless Palestinian farmers and families across the occupied West Bank, from areas in the north in Jenin and Tulkarem, to Nablus and Ramallah, to the areas in the south in Bethlehem and Al-Khalil (Hebron). Recent attacks have involved the physical assault and injury of Palestinian civilians, including children, the burning and uprooting of more than a hundred olive trees, and the stoning and vandalizing of homes and vehicles, terrorizing the population and destroying livelihoods. Rather than protecting the occupied civilian population, as obliged under IHL, the occupying forces have done nothing to stop the settler attacks, instead detaining Palestinians, including children, as well as international supporters, and forcing farmers to leave their lands, preventing harvest of their crops.

Coupled with the rise in destruction of Palestinian properties – estimated by OCHA to be 40% higher than the same period in 2018 – the coercive environment caused by this illegal occupation is becoming unbearable for our civilian population. Following the demolition of 10 residential buildings, comprising 70 homes, in the Sur Bahir/Wadi al-Hummus area of Occupied East Jerusalem, recent weeks witnessed the demolition of another 31 Palestinian homes and structures in the occupied West Bank, rendering homeless another 52 civilians, including refugee families, and affecting 98 others. The occupying Power also continues to destroy humanitarian assistance, such a donor-funded solar panel in Al-Khalil (Hebron), maliciously and systematically deepening the de-development of Palestine.We call on the international community to act now, in line with international legal obligations, including in line with UN resolutions, to prevent attacks on innocent civilians, to ensure their protection and ensure the protection and sanctity of the holy sites, and to avert escalation of this already volatile and dangerous situation. Action must be taken, collectively and individually, to hold Israel accountable for all violations perpetrated in the context of, and as a result of, this illegal occupation.

Failure to ensure accountability will only continue to embolden the occupation’s contempt of international law and the international community, including as represented by the Security Council, with grave repercussions on the Palestinian people, the Israeli people, and the prospects for a peaceful solution. We call on the Security Council to act forthwith to address this continuing threat to international peace and security and to implement its relevant resolutions. A clear message must be sent to Israel, the occupying Power, that it must comply with international law or face consequences.

This letter is in follow-up to our 675 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 12 September 2019 (A/ES-10/826S/2019/739), 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.

Signature_English

Dr. Riyad MansourAmbassador,

Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine

to the United Nations