On 5 June, the Palestinian people somberly marked the 48th year of the Israeli military occupation. As this belligerent foreign occupation of our land and subjugation of our people inconceivably approaches a half-century of duration, we call on the international community to affirm the illegality of the Israeli occupation, a cruel and devastating occupation that has gravely violated every provision of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (Fourth Geneva Convention), the body of international humanitarian law governing situations of foreign occupation. That law stipulates that occupation is a temporary situation, not an indefinite situation imposed to facilitate the occupying Power’s unlawful oppression and forced displacement of the occupied civilian population and the colonization and de facto annexation of the occupied land.
After nearly five decades of this Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip since 1967, the time is way overdue for the international community, including the Security Council, to unequivocally demand that the occupation be ended forthwith in all of its manifestations and to act collectively and responsibly to ensure this. The obligations of the international community in this regard, as well as towards enabling the realization of the long-denied inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including to self-determination and independence, and the attainment of a just, lasting and peaceful solution to the question of Palestine in all aspects, are very clear based on international law, the principles of justice and equity and the relevant United Nations resolutions. In this respect, we also underscore the abiding relevance of the Madrid principles and the Arab Peace Initiative and the need for their swift implementation for the achievement of a comprehensive, durable and just peace.
These objectives have become more urgent, not less, with the passage of the decades and the accumulation of wrongs perpetrated by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people and the consequent trampling of human rights and thrashing of the credibility, primacy and efficacy of international law and the international system, including in specific of the Security Council. While these laws continue to be gravely, systematically and grossly breached by Israel, it has appallingly never been held accountable, permitted to act with absolute impunity as a State above the law without consequence, with devastating impact on the Palestinian people and the compounding of this injustice and conflict with each passing day, making the prospects for peace ever more elusive.
The most recent glaring example in this regard is the failure to list Israel as a violator of child rights in the Annual Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) despite the fact that it so clearly meets the criteria. We fear that this regrettable failure to hold Israel to the same standards to which all other States are held will only further undermine the credibility of the UN system and the CAAC mechanism, intended to protect children in situations of armed conflict, and further embolden Israel’s impunity, resulting in more suffering, trauma and grief for innocent Palestinian children and their families.
The fact is that Israel, the occupying Power, has not for a minute ceased its illegal policies and measures in Occupied Palestine, including East Jerusalem. Despite the repeated appeals and calls of the international community, including in the context of United Nations resolutions, Israel not only continues apace, but has intensified and broadened the scope and scale of its violations, with grave consequences. Rather than acting in good faith to end this illegal occupation, Israel continues to deliberately cause more suffering for the Palestinian people and to entrench its occupation and destroy the contiguity and viability of the Palestinian land and the prospects for realizing the two-State solution for peace.
This is evidenced in the past year’s military aggression against the Gaza Strip, where the Israeli occupying forces killed, injured and maimed thousands of Palestinian civilians, including children, women and elderly persons, and caused wanton and massive destruction to homes and vital civilian infrastructure, in addition to the continued imposition of a crippling, dehumanizing and illegal blockade. And this is also evidenced in the deteriorating situation in the West Bank, where Israel’s settlement colonization activities and land grab have continued non-stop, including the forced displacement of thousands more Palestinians, primarily Bedouin families and particularly in the areas of Occupied East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, the confiscation of huge tracts of land and the destruction of hundreds more Palestinian homes and properties to facilitate the expansion of Israeli settlements and the wall, in addition to the continuing detention, arrest, imprisonment and torture of thousands of Palestinian civilians, including children, and the unrelenting violence, terror and provocations by extremist Israeli settlers, including towards holy sites, foremost Al-Aqsa Mosque.
We will continue to document these Israeli crimes in our determined pursuit of accountability. Accordingly, I intend to follow-up the present letter with a brief review of the grave breaches perpetrated in the recent period by Israel, the occupying Power, to be included in this ongoing criminal record. After nearly fifty years of occupation and nearly seventy years since Al-Nakba, we will not relent in our calls and efforts for the upholding of international law and the protection of our people towards the realization of justice, the fulfillment of their inalienable rights and legitimate national aspirations, including to independence in their State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and the attainment of a comprehensive and lasting peace, which we have for so long sought and which is so urgently needed for both regional and international peace and security. We call on the international community, including the Security Council, to respond to the appeals of the Palestinian people and their leadership at this critical moment in time.
This letter is in follow-up to our 543 letters regarding the ongoing crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which constitutes the State of Palestine. These letters, dated from 29 September 2000 (A/55/432-S/2000/921) to 11 May 2015 (A/ES-10/679 S/2015/327) constitute a basic record of the crimes being committed against the Palestinian people. Israel, the occupying Power, must be held accountable and the perpetrators be brought to justice.
I should be grateful if you would arrange to have the text of the present letter distributed as a document of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly, under agenda item 5, and 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