28 April 2017 – Illegal Settlements and the Hunger Strike

Palestine Letters 170428

Excellency,

Regrettably, conditions in the Occupied State of Palestine, including East Jerusalem, continue to deteriorate and tensions continue to rise, as Israel, the occupying Power, persists with its illegal practices, in breach of international law, including humanitarian and human rights law, causing hardships and suffering to the Palestinian civilian population and undermining the contiguity and viability of the Palestinian territory.

Yet another provocative announcement was made this week by the Israeli Housing Ministry regarding plans for the illegal construction of more Israeli settlements on our land. This includes the decision by the so-called “Jerusalem Municipality” to advance a plan to build approximately 10,000 settlement units on land belonging to the Palestinian village of Qalandiya. Further plans reported include: the expropriation of more Palestinian land in Ras Al-Amud in Occupied East Jerusalem to build a so-called information and visitor center to serve the Jewish Cemetery adjacent to Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound; a plan to expand the “Shilo” settlement to accommodate settlers evacuated from the “Amona” settlement that was built on private Palestinian land; and the establishment of a new settlement installation near the “Adam” settlement northeast of East Jerusalem. [Read more…]

Statement by Ambassador Dr. Riyad Mansour before the United Nations Security Council, Open Debate on the Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestine Question, New York, 20 April 2017

Mme. President,

At the outset, I congratulate you on your assumption of the Security Council Presidency, confident of the United States’ skilled guidance of the Council’s important work. I also express our appreciation to the United Kingdom for its leadership of the Council in the month of March.

I thank the UN Special Coordinator and Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Nikolay Mladenov, for his briefing to the Council.

Before making my national statement, I wish to note that, while the State of Palestine is Arab Group Chair for April, the Council of Arab Ambassadors has decided that Jordan, in its capacity as Host and President of the 2017 Arab Summit, shall deliver today’s statement on behalf of the Group. We align ourselves with that statement, as well as the NAM and OIC statements.

Mme. President,

We meet at a time of simmering crises, rising tensions, and declining optimism about prospects for Middle East peace. At the heart of the instability in our region remains the Palestine question, a grave injustice that continues without remedy, causing misery to millions, and that continues to pose a threat to international peace and security.

The persistence of this injustice also continues to fuel perceptions of bias and double-standards and to be exploited by extremist elements to justify their vile actions and as a recruitment tool. There can be no discussion of countering extremist terror and stabilizing the region without recognizing this fact, as well as the imperative of addressing the root causes of our region’s conflicts, in order to fully resolve them and allow us to enter a new era in the Middle East.

That said, it is beyond clear: The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is about the denial of a people’s inalienable rights and a prolonged foreign occupation; it is not a conflict arising from incitement or terror. A territorial solution and fulfillment of rights are what will solve the conflict – ending the Israeli occupation of our land and realizing Palestinian national aspirations and rights, including to self-determination and freedom and a just solution for the Palestine refugees, in conformity with international law, the relevant UN resolutions, the Madrid principles and the Arab Peace Initiative.

Mme. President,

The Security Council has a role and responsibility to foster such a just and peaceful solution, consistent with its Charter mandate. Resolution 2334 (2016) is the most recent articulation of the Council’s positions, decisions and determination in this regard and reflects the longstanding international consensus on this issue.

We reiterate: Resolution 2334 is not anti-Israel; it is anti-settlements, anti-violence, anti-violation of international law, and is thus actually and clearly pro-peace and pro-two-States – Palestine and Israel – and was globally welcomed as such. The resolution provides the most viable path to preserve the two-State solution on the 1967 lines and create the necessary conditions to end the occupation, justly resolve the conflict in all aspects, and make Palestinian-Israeli peace and security a reality.

We call once again for full respect of resolution 2334. In this connection, we welcome the Secretary-General’s report pursuant to the resolution, as orally delivered on 24 March 2017. Yet, we reiterate the expectation for written reports to ensure proper documentation of implementation of the resolution’s provisions and of the developments promoting or obstructing its objectives.

Also, while the report rightly reiterated the call for complete cessation of illegal Israeli settlement activities; reiterated the call for cessation of violence and incitement; reaffirmed the global consensus on the two-State solution and noted ongoing international efforts to promote it; and reflected on the worrying reality on the ground; we believe further analysis, based on international law and the context of the occupation, as well as recommendations to rectify the negative trends, are required in future reports to assist the Council in upholding its duties. We await the next report in June, coinciding with the marking of 50 years of the occupation.

Mme. President,

We condemn Israel’s disrespect of Security Council decisions, as evidenced in its flagrant violations of resolution 2334. Thousands of violations have been deliberately carried out, including the advancement of at least 6,000 more settlement units in the months since the resolution’s adoption – even the establishment of a new settlement – along with other violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. Settlement activities are eroding the two-State solution based on the 1967 lines and must stop immediately in all manifestations, as demanded by the Council. The colonization, fragmentation, and annexation of our land will never bring peace.

Here, we also recall the clear affirmations by the Council that “it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations”; and reiterate as well the call upon all States “to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967”. Actions consistent with these provisions are more urgent than ever.

Each day, as more violations entrench the occupation, hope and potential for a solution are gravely diminished. At the same time, Israel’s contempt diminishes the Council’s own stature and credibility, seriously compromising its ability to act with authority in other crises around the world.

How can this situation be acceptable to anyone, least of all Council members? Security Council resolutions must be implemented without exception. As in any other case, Israel must comply with Council demands and its legal obligations, or be held accountable. It cannot continue to be absolved of responsibility for its crimes and violations, its perpetuation of the conflict, and its obstruction of peace.

Mme. President,

I must turn now to the human dimension of this conflict and the endless suffering being caused to the Palestinian people, young and old, by this illegal and brutal occupation at the hands of the Israeli occupying forces and extremist Israeli settlers.

As we meet today, more than one thousand Palestinians are on hunger strike in non-violent protest of their captivity, inhumane treatment and torture by Israel. This hunger strike, led by Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian parliamentarian and leader, jailed for 15 years now, aims to call attention to the plight of the over 6,500 Palestinians imprisoned or arbitrarily detained, including men, women, youth, children and elected officials, and to secure legitimate rights being denied to them by Israel, in grave breach of the 4th Geneva Convention.

We call for international solidarity with our prisoners in this peaceful effort to compel Israeli compliance with the law and respect for their human rights and to avert the dangerous consequences of deterioration of this situation. We believe that the ICRC can play a positive, facilitating role and urge all necessary efforts in this regard. Moreover, we stress that the release of our prisoners and detainees is indispensable for peace, one of the most important indicators of the readiness to end the oppression and occupation and create peace and coexistence.

Today, we must also remind the Council of the appalling situation of captivity of 2 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip under Israel’s illegal blockade in an act of massive collective punishment, a crime against humanity. For nearly 10 years, an entire population has been imprisoned, denied freedom of movement, access to livelihoods, access to basic supplies, even vital medicines, deprived of clean water and energy, and forced to live in the ruins of war, as even reconstruction continues to be obstructed and at least 40,000 people remain displaced from the destruction caused by the 2014 Israeli aggression. We caution that hope is fading and despair rising in Gaza, and reiterate our call for an end to the blockade and for respect by Israel of its obligations as an occupying Power under international humanitarian law.

Mme. President,

Our calls for respect of international law go hand in hand with our readiness to engage in negotiations to achieve peace. The Palestinian leadership has clearly committed itself to negotiations and has acted in good faith in over two decades of peace processes. We are insistent, however, on international law as the foundation and guarantor of peace. Resolution 2334 fully recognized this and the Palestinian leadership is committed to respect of that resolution.

We are engaging with all efforts to advance a just solution. This includes engagement with the new US administration of President Trump. Several Arab leaders have met with the President since the Arab Summit, reaffirming their commitment to peace, in line with the Arab Peace Initiative, which marked its 15th anniversary last month, was remarkably renewed again, and still awaits reciprocation by Israel. President Abbas will also soon travel to Washington, ready to engage in political dialogue with the US and all other concerned partners, including the Quartet, to launch a credible political horizon, on a clear basis and in a set timeframe, that will lead to a solution that ends the Israeli occupation and achieves the independence of the State of Palestine, with its capital East Jerusalem, based on the two-State solution on the 1967 lines, whereby the Palestinian and Israeli peoples can live side by side in peace and security.

At the same time, internally, we continue to pursue the development and strengthening of our national institutions and to also seek to heal the divisions in the Palestinian political system. We hope that ongoing reconciliation efforts will come to fruition, recognizing the imperative of unity for achievement of our legitimate national aspirations.

Mme. President,

Failure to justly resolve the Palestine question, the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict, has brought us to several regrettable milestones in this year: the 50th year of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip and other Arab territories in June of 1967; 100 years since the Balfour Declaration; 70 years since the General Assembly’s decision to partition Mandate Palestine by its resolution 181 (II), which led to the Nakba of the Palestinian people that continues to this day; and 10 years of Israel’s inhumane blockade of Gaza.

The status quo is far beyond unsustainable. This is starkly shown by the prisoners’ hunger strike; the immense despair in Gaza; the high tensions in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as Israel’s settlement and wall construction, demolition of Palestinian homes, violent military raids and arrest campaigns, and Israeli settler terror and provocations against our civilians continue unabated; and the painful tragedies being endured by our refugees throughout the region.

It is an explosive situation requiring immediate action to uphold the law, reverse the deterioration on the ground, and avert further crises. We thus call again for responsible, collective efforts to advance a genuine peace process to achieve, without delay, the end of the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and the just, lasting and comprehensive peace we have long sought. We appeal to the international community, with the Security Council at the forefront, to heed our appeals and to act urgently on their obligations in order to restore hope in the possibility of peace and to actually make it a reality.

I thank you, Mme. President.

13 April 2017 – Palestinian Prisoners Day

Excellency,

Today, I write to bring your attention to the critical plight of thousands of Palestinian civilians being held captive in jails and detention centers of Israel, the occupying Power.

On Monday, 17 April, Palestinians all over the world, including those living in the occupied State of Palestine, including East Jerusalem, will observe “Prisoners’ Day” in solidarity with the more than 6,500 Palestinians, including 53 women and 300 children, currently imprisoned by Israel, among them nearly 700 being held in administrative detention without charge. These Palestinians are among the more than 800,000 Palestinians, including children, kidnapped and imprisoned by the occupying Power across fifty years of occupation since 1967 in its nearly daily military raids and arrest and detention campaigns, targeting the entire population, men, women and children, with male youth especially vulnerable.  Regrettably, Israel’s arrest campaigns have intensified in the past two years and continue unabated, effectively turning every part of Palestine into some form of prison, detention camp or interrogation facility. [Read more…]

31 March 2017 – New Illegal Israeli Settlement

Excellency,

Hope for a just and comprehensive peace between Israel and the State of Palestine is rapidly diminishing as Israel, the occupying Power, continues with its systematic policies of settler colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing in the Occupied State of Palestine, including East Jerusalem.  It is absolutely urgent that the international community, particularly the Security Council, act to bring Israel into compliance with international law and United Nations resolutions, including, inter alia, resolution 2334 (2016).

In another sharp rebuke to international efforts to bring about a political horizon for peace, Israel continues in its unapologetic rejection of peace and continues, with brazen intent, to pursue its illegal schemes with another announcement for more illegal settlements to be built in Occupied Palestine.  In fact, yesterday’s announcement by Israel’s so-called “security cabinet” was different from its previous announcements of illegal settlement building in existing settlements.  This announcement was for an entirely new illegal settlement – one in the heart of Palestine – aimed at placating the extremist settlers from the illegal settlement of “Amona”.

According to Israeli NGO Peace Now, the decision taken yesterday includes three major advancements of illegal settlements in the Occupied West Bank.  It includes, “the establishment of a new settlement, deep in the West Bank and for the first time since 1991; the publication of tenders for nearly 2,000 housing units; and the declaration of almost 1,000 dunams as “public lands,” otherwise termed “state lands,” that will enable the ‘retroactive legalization’ of 3 outposts, “Palgei Maim”, “Givat Haroeh”, and “Adei Ad”, all located north of Ramallah and deep in the West Bank.” These latest announcements are not only a violation of Security Council resolution 2334 (2016), but also are in grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, notably Article 49 and Article 33, as well as a war crime under the Rome Statute of the ICC, which stipulates that an occupying Power is prohibited from transferring, directly or indirectly, parts of its own population into the occupied territory.

It is clear by its continuing actions and policies, that Israel has no reservations about blatantly disrespecting world opinion or international law, as it continues with its expansion and building of illegal settlements throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.  Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, an Executive Committee Member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, stated that this latest announcement proves that Israel’s right-wing pro-settler government, under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “is more committed to appeasing its illegal settler population than to abiding by the requirements for stability and a just peace.”

The Palestinian leadership strongly condemns this recent Israeli announcement, which comes less than one week from the Report of the UN Secretary-General Pursuant to Security Council resolution 2334 (2016), which was delivered to the Council in an oral briefing on 24 March 2017 by the UN Special Coordinator and Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Nickolay Mladenov.  In the report, it was clearly stated, inter alia, that even though resolution 2334 (2016), in operative paragraph 2, demands “that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem,” Israel has taken no such steps in this regard during the reporting period.  The report noted that on the contrary, since the adoption of resolution 2334 (2016), there was a notable increase in statements, announcements and decisions related to settlement construction and expansion. In this regard, we welcome the reaffirmation today by the Secretary-General, through his spokesperson, that reiterated the findings in his report and stated again the obstacle to peace that illegal settlements pose and stated that he “condemns all unilateral actions that, like the present one, threaten peace and undermine the two-state solution.”

Israel’s reckless actions, which have continued and been deliberately escalated since the adoption of resolution 2334 (2016), are exacerbating tensions and risking further destabilization of the fragile situation on the ground.  It is high time the international community go beyond condemnation or expressing outrage to Israel’s illegal practices of colonization.  Urgent and concrete action is required. The international community must not allow Israel to continue to act above the law without consequences.  The fact that the occupying Power has been allowed to maintain its occupation and subjugation of an entire nation of people for 50 years has been in large part because the international community has yet to take the required and necessary actions to bring a halt to Israel’s crimes.

We therefore call for immediate action and follow-up to Israel’s violations, including its violation of resolution 2334 (2016).  The time has come for the members of the international community to choose between the pursuit of peace and justice or allow for more unilateral, illegal Israeli moves which will only bring further destabilization and bloodshed.   It is way overdue for the world to stand up to the occupying Power and demand an end to its brutal military occupation and an end to its blatant disregard for the human rights of the Palestinian people and their land and allow them to live as a free people in their own independent State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

This letter is in follow-up to our 607 previous 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 23 March 2017 (A/ES-10/XXX-S/2017/XXX), 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 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

23 March 2017 – Israel Continues to Violate Security Council Resolution 2334

Excellency,

I write to you in follow-up to our numerous, previous letters regarding the illegal policies and constant provocations and incitement by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. Over the past couple months, and after the adoption of Security Council resolution 2334 (2016), Israel’s reckless actions have continued and been deliberately escalated, exacerbating tensions and risking further destabilization of the fragile situation on the ground.

In fact, since the adoption of Security Council resolution 2334 (2016), the Israeli Government has been adamant, in word and deed, to send a message to the international community that it has no intention to abide by the resolution or for that matter the provisions of international law in its entirety. While the resolution calls on both parties to act on the basis of international law, including international humanitarian law, and their previous agreements and obligations, to observe calm and restraint, and to refrain from provocative actions, incitement and inflammatory, the occupying Power continues to do the complete opposite. It is blatantly acting in contempt of the Security Council, in violation of resolution 2334 (2016) and the principles of international law enshrined therein, and taking us farther away from peace and closer to the brink of an all-out confrontation. [Read more…]

7 February 2017 – Israeli Illegal So-Called “Regularization Bill”

Excellency,

ColonizationI write to you once again with great alarm about the illegal actions and provocative measures that continue to be perpetrated by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. Day after day, we are witness to Israel’s absolute contempt for Security Council resolutions and its hostile opposition to, and in fact destruction of, the two-State solution in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions and on the basis of the 1967 lines. [Read more…]

1 February 2017 – Israeli Settlement Crimes and Provocations

Excellency,

I write to you today to convey our alarm at the decision by the Government of Israel, the occupying Power, to proceed with plans for the construction of another 3,000 units in Israeli settlements established in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, in direct, grave contravention of international law and United Nations Security Council resolutions and in defiance of the international community. [Read more…]

27 January 2017 – Additional Israeli Illegal Settlement Activities and Provocations

Excellency,

In our second letter this week, we are compelled to write to Your Excellency to place on record our unequivocal condemnation of Israel’s continued building and expansion of illegal settlements in the Occupied State of Palestine, including East Jerusalem. Clearly, with its continuation of  its insidious colonization of  confiscated and stolen Palestinian land, Israel, the occupying Power,  is sending a crystal clear message that it is determined to continue to arrogantly and aggressively defy the will of the international community, violate international law, including humanitarian and human rights law, as well as international criminal law as articulated in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as well as  defy the resolutions of the  United Nations, including the Security Council’s most recent adoption of  resolution 2334 (2016).  [Read more…]

24 January 2017 – Illegal Israeli Settlement Activities and Provocations

Excellency,

I regret to inform you of the continuing grave breaches being perpetrated by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, in flagrant contempt for international law and defiance of the international community and with devastating consequences on the two-State solution and the prospect for peace. [Read more…]

20 January 2017 – Israeli Crimes Against the Palestinian People

Excellency,

I write to draw your immediate attention to the critical situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, in which more Palestinian civilians, including children, continue to be killed, including by extrajudicial execution, and severely injured as a result of the excessive use of force by Israeli occupying forces. [Read more…]