30 December 2014 – Statement by H.E. Ambassador Dr. Riyad Mansour before the United Nations Security Council, Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestine Question

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Mr. President,

I come before the Security Council on behalf of the leadership of the State of Palestine and the Palestinian people, a long-suffering, yet proud and dignified people, who remain steadfast and fully committed to the achievement of their inalienable rights, justice and their legitimate national aspirations, including to self-determination, freedom and independence, and who remain committed to the pursuit of political, diplomatic, peaceful and non-violent means for the achievement of these objectives, for which there is overwhelming and longstanding global support.

Mr. President,

We have endured the passage of yet another year that has inflicted on the Palestinian people more loss and tragedy and the deterioration of the situation on all fronts due to the illegal, destructive and oppressive actions of Israel, the occupying Power.  It has been a year that has witnessed the breakdown of yet another political process – despite the genuine efforts of the United States with the full support of the League of Arab States and all other major stakeholders, and the good faith efforts and cooperation of Palestine – and the deepening of another political impasse due to brazen Israeli intransigence, creating a totally unsustainable situation, roundly acknowledged by all.

Despite all this, the Security Council has once again failed to uphold its Charter duties to address these crises and to meaningfully contribute to a peaceful and lasting solution in accordance with its own resolutions.

As the Security Council has looked on, in this year, our people under Israeli occupation endured the further theft and colonization of their land, the demolition of their homes, daily military raids, arrest and detention of thousands of civilians, including children, rampant settler terrorism, constant affronts to their human dignity, and repeated incursions at our holiest sites in Occupied East Jerusalem in particular and extreme provocations and incitement, bringing tensions to an all-time high and threatening to ignite a religious war and completely destabilize the situation on the ground.

The brutalization of the Palestinian people reached a new apex of savagery with the Israeli military aggression waged against the besieged and blockaded Gaza Strip in July and August of this year.  The Israeli occupying forces launched tens of thousands of missiles, bombs, artillery shells and live ammunition against the defenseless Palestinian civilian population in an inhumane, barbaric and criminal onslaught that killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, the majority civilians, including children and women; injured and maimed more than 11,000 people; displaced hundreds of thousands; terrorized the entire population; and caused vast destruction of homes, vital civilian infrastructure, hospitals and schools, including more than a hundred UN facilities, the majority UNRWA schools,  as well as mosques and churches, agricultural properties, and industries.

All of this was perpetrated wantonly and willfully by Israel, creating widespread devastation, human trauma and a massive humanitarian disaster.  Gross human rights violations and grave breaches of international humanitarian law – war crimes – were undoubtedly committed by Israel, the occupying Power.

And in the Diaspora, the millions of Palestine refugees who remain exiled from their homeland continued to endure instability and vulnerability due to crises and conflicts in the region that have inflicted on them further displacement and loss, with the tragedy in Syria in particular engulfing lives and futures of so many Palestinians.

This was the year that brought us to this day, a year that deepened the decades-long suffering and injustice borne by the Palestinian people and that took us farther and farther away from realization of the just, lasting and comprehensive peace we have long sought on the basis of international law and the relevant UN resolutions.

Mr. President,

It was in this grave context that the Palestinian Government, under the leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas, undertook in early September the initiative that has now been brought before the Council.  It was an initiative meant to mobilize the Security Council to act to diffuse this volatile situation, to reaffirm the basis for justly resolving the conflict and redressing this historic injustice, and to provide a political horizon forward that could restore hope to our people that the 47-year Israeli military occupation of their land and their oppression would soon come to an end, by delineating a time frame for this end, and that justice, freedom and peace were within reach.

Mr. President,

We sincerely thank all of the countries that took a principled stand and voted in favor of the draft resolution and thank also all of the friendly countries that supported us throughout this long process.

We express special gratitude to the Member States of the Arab Group for all of their support and thank Jordan for its efforts on behalf of the Group as the Arab representative on the Security Council, including its tabling and sponsorship of the draft and its call for the vote.  We also thank France for its serious efforts and responsible engagement throughout this process and for its support. I also wish to thank H.E. Mr. Jean Asselborn, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg, for his presence at today’s meeting and his country’s support.

We deeply regret, however, that the Council was unable to adopt this draft resolution, despite four months of efforts, patience and flexibility and our serious attempts to engage and despite the fact that the draft reflected the longstanding international consensus on a solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  In clear terms, firmly rooted in the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, this draft resolution reaffirmed the well-known parameters for a just and lasting solution and set forth a clear timeline for negotiating a final peace agreement, with strong support by major stakeholders, including the concept of an international conference, as well as a timeline for bringing the illegitimate Israeli occupation to a complete end and for achieving the independence of the State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, on the basis of the pre-1967 borders, living side by side with Israel in peace and security, and just solutions for all core issues, including the plight of the Palestine refugees.

Yet, the result of today’s vote shows that the Security Council as a whole is clearly not ready and willing to shoulder its responsibilities in a way that would allow for the adoption of a comprehensive resolution and allow us to open the doors for peace and for a just and lasting solution based on international law.  It also shows that the Security Council is out of step with the overwhelming global consensus and calls for an end to the Israeli occupation, an end to this prolonged conflict, and achievement of the long-overdue the independence of the Palestinian people.

In contrast to the result of today’s vote, it is clear that both inside and outside of the Security Council there is a global consensus on the two-State solution on the pre-1967 borders and that the annexation of East Jerusalem is illegal and not accepted by any country.  There is also a global consensus on the illegality of Israel’s settlement activities in all manifestations and the illegality of the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip and the need for their immediate end.  And, there is clearly a global consensus on the legitimacy of the national aspirations and rights of the Palestinian people and the responsibility of the international community in helping to bring them to fulfillment.

So, we must ask: why is it so difficult for the Security Council to act on this global consensus and demand an end to Israel’s illegal actions, an end to the Israeli occupation – which the Council has called for repeatedly from resolution 242 (1967) forward – and the implementation of the two-State solution in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions, the Madrid principles and the Arab Peace Initiative?  Why have the efforts of the Arab Group, with the full support of the NAM and the OIC and all other friends worldwide, to legislate this consensus through the Council as a contribution towards bringing an end to this conflict through peaceful, political, diplomatic and non-violent means repeatedly blocked?  Why are we facing another Security Council failure as the situation unravels and international peace and security is further threatened?

Mr. President,

Considering the unsustainable and precarious situation that now prevails and the need to act responsibly on behalf of our people to address their needs and national aspirations, the Palestinian leadership must now consider its next steps.  We are grateful for the support of all brotherly and friendly countries in support of the just cause of Palestine and in support of this continuing journey to fulfill the inalienable human rights of our people and make peace a reality, despite the many challenges and obstacles.

Accordingly, we reiterate in this Council chamber the absolute imperative to hold Israel, the occupying Power, accountable for its violations of international law, including humanitarian and human rights law, and its violations of UN resolutions.  Such contempt must not continue to be excused or tolerated.  There can be no excuse for denial of the right to self-determination of another people, as loudly reaffirmed in the General Assembly this month with the vote on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination receiving the overwhelming support of 180 Member States.

The message is clear worldwide: it is high time to end this abhorrent Israeli occupation and impunity that has brought our people so much suffering and that has caused so many crises, sown so much instability and anger throughout our region, and continues to seriously undermine regional and global peace and security. This message has been strongly conveyed in the numerous resolutions adopted once again this year by the General Assembly on all aspects of the question of Palestine.  It has also been strongly reaffirmed in the recent Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention convened by the Depositary, Switzerland.  And, it has been and continues to be reaffirmed in the motions by numerous European parliaments calling for recognition of the State of Palestine and in the fact that 135 countries already recognize our State, the most recent recognition affirmed by Sweden.  And, this message continues to be conveyed loudly by civil society the world over, with massive displays of support for the just cause of Palestine and the rights of the Palestinian people and the calls for a just and lasting solution.

It is thus most regrettable that the Security Council remains paralyzed and unable to act to uphold its own responsibilities in this regard, with all of the implications this has for peace and security in the Middle East and beyond.  The repeated requests for us to “wait”, while our people are suffering, while our people are besieged, while our land is being colonized, and while the two-State solution is being destroyed and the prospects for peace are evaporating, must understand that such requests are not viable under these circumstances.

Those eager to save the two-State solution must act and cannot continue to make excuses for Israel and to permit, and thus be complicit in, its immoral and illegal behavior.  The Security Council must act.  We will therefore continue to call on the Council to uphold its Charter duties and will spare no effort in this regard in the coming New Year.  The time has come for the international community to act collectively and firmly to end the occupation that began in 1967 and to allow for the independence of the State of Palestine, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital, and a just solution for the plight of the Palestine refugees on the basis of resolution 194 (III), and for the ultimate realization of justice, freedom and peace.  The Palestinian people and the world can no longer wait.  That message, despite the regrettable outcome today, is especially clear.

Mr. President,

In closing, I wish to thank you, Mr. President and the friendly delegation of Chad, for your speedy response to the call for convening this meeting and vote and to reiterate our deepest gratitude to all Council members who righteously and honorably supported the draft resolution.  We also take this opportunity to express our appreciation to the non-permanent members of the Security Council that will end their tenure tomorrow – Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg, Republic of Korea, and Rwanda – and congratulate them on their efforts and service on the Council over the past two years.

I thank you, Mr. President.