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.

Statement by Ambassador Dr. Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, before the United Nations Security Council, Open Debate on the Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestine Question, New York, 17 January 2017:

Mr. President,

On behalf of the State of Palestine, I extend our warm congratulations to the friendly country of Sweden on its election to the Security Council and thank you for convening this important debate under Sweden’s presidency.

We thank the United Nations Special Coordinator and Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Nikolay Mladenov, for his briefing at the outset of this debate.

Today, I also extend our sincere congratulations to the other newly-elected members of the Council – Bolivia, Ethiopia, Italy and Kazakhstan, wishing them all success, confident in their commitment to upholding their Charter responsibilities. [Read more…]

Statement by H.E. Ambassador Dr. Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, before the United Nations Security Council, Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestine Question, 23 December 2016

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Mr. President,

I thank you for convening this important meeting and express the State of Palestine’s sincere appreciation for the principled efforts you’ve exerted in both your national capacity as well as in Spain’s capacity as President of the Security Council for this month.

The Council’s action, while long-overdue, is timely, necessary and important. The resolution adopted reaffirms the Council’s decades-long position that Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem (1) have no legal validity; (2) constitute flagrant breaches under international law, namely the Fourth Geneva Convention, and (3) constitute a major obstacle to peace, gravely diminishing the viability of the two-State solution based on the 4 June 1967 borders and the possibility of realizing it. [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, 19 October 2016

Mr. President,

At the outset, I extend Palestine’s congratulations to the Russian Federation on its presidency of the Security Council and our appreciation for convening of this important debate today.

I also thank Mr. Nikolay Mladenov, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and UN Special Coordinator, for his briefing and ongoing efforts, including to draw the Council’s attention to the critical issues before us.

I also reiterate our deep appreciation to the five Security Council members that co-chaired last week’s Arria-meeting on Israeli settlement activities, allowing for the Council to hear expert presentations about the stark reality and dangers of the ongoing illegal colonization of Palestine, both on the ground and on the prospects for peace. We thank Malaysia, Egypt, Angola, Senegal and Venezuela for this timely and important initiative.

Mr. President,

Reflecting on that meeting and the firm positions reaffirmed by all Council members, along with many recent Government statements in response to Israeli settlement announcements, it is clear that the settlements issue is not, as cynically claimed by some, a “one-sided, Palestinian” issue. As affirmed in every statement, the illegality of settlement activities and the threats posed to the two-State solution and peace prospects, are matters of international law and involve all States concerned with a peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and peace and security in the Middle East. [Read more…]

Statement by Ms. Reem Mansour, Legal Adviser, Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine to the United Nations before the Sixth Committee, agenda item 81: Status of the Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and relating to the protection of victims of armed conflicts, 71st h Session of the United Nations General Assembly, New York, 7 October 2016:

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Distinguished Delegates,

My delegation aligns itself with the statement made by Tunisia on behalf of the Arab Group.

We are discussing this issue at a critical moment as we witness the immense suffering of millions of civilians in conflicts around the world, particularly in the Middle East, where civilians are bearing the highest toll of armed conflict in all forms, including foreign occupation. This toll has compelled the largest movement of refugees since World War II with grave humanitarian, social, economic, psychological and security consequences for the children, women and men whose fate it is to become a refugee, as well as consequences for the countries in conflict, receiving countries and the international community as a whole.

The Palestinian people know too well the pain and tragedy of such turmoil and dislocation as they continue to suffer the injustices of the 1948 Nakba, including 5.5 million Palestine refugees constituting the most protracted refugee crisis in the world, and to endure the brutality of Israel’s illegal, belligerent occupation for nearly a half century. Their suffering persists due to the failure to achieve a just solution to the conflict, despite countless UN resolutions, but also due to the international community’s failure to uphold international humanitarian law (IHL) in the face of grave breaches and to ensure the protection of civilians until such a solution has been realized.

The intent of the drafters of the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocols was clear: to ensure protection to civilians in situations of armed conflict and minimize their vulnerability and suffering.  Yet, the tragedy of civilians in armed conflict persists due to the lack of respect for IHL in too many circumstances and the failure to hold accountable the perpetrators of violations and grave breaches, including Israel, the occupying Power, which continues to cause harm and suffering to the Palestinian people with absolute impunity. The Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocols provide a necessary and fundamental framework for parties in armed conflict, including in situations of foreign occupation, by providing protections to civilians and imposing restraints on military conduct. The State of Palestine is deeply committed to ensuring respect for and adherence to international humanitarian law (IHL). Yet, more efforts must be focused on ensuring better compliance with the law so that civilians affected by armed conflict are protected and their suffering minimized to the extent possible. Efforts must also be made to ensure that the restraints provided for by the law are in fact obeyed by militaries. The State of Palestine believes that the international community must continue to work together to promote greater compliance with international humanitarian law so that civilians are afforded the utmost protection in times of war.

We have repeatedly appealed for protection for the Palestinian people, not just in the recent period but over the decades as our people have endured immeasurable oppression and cruelty under Israel’s occupation, including killing and injury of civilians in military raids, airstrikes and bombardments and terror attacks across the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, detention, imprisonment, abuse and torture, forced displacement and transfer, an illegal blockade and other severe measures of collective punishment. This deplorable situation is corroborated by numerous UN reports, including the Secretary-General’s annual reports on Children and Armed Conflict, which document the devastating impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian children and their extreme vulnerability. Yet over the decades and despite the calls for protection, Palestinian civilians have been deprived of effective protection from such systematic violations and crimes.

The international community has clear responsibilities, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the 4th Geneva Convention, which must be upheld.  Protection should not be viewed as unreasonable or unimaginable by any party that respects the law and human rights and seeks peace.  Civilians – children, women and men – must not be used as cannon fodder and all efforts must be made to spare them the atrocities of war and protect their lives. As a State Party to the Geneva Conventions and the Additional Protocols, the State of Palestine requests the Government of Switzerland, in its capacity as the Depositary of the Geneva Conventions, to convene a meeting of the High Contracting Parties to consider further measures to enforce the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, including measures to provide protection to the Palestinian people due to the grave breaches of the provisions of the Conventions being committed by Israel, the occupying Power, and to asses and evaluate the implementation of the Declaration adopted by the Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the 4th Geneva Convention of 17 December 2014.

Moreover, the State of Palestine reiterates its call on the international community to consider providing the Palestinian people with protection in Occupied Palestine, including East Jerusalem, until the end of occupation and the independence of the State of Palestine. In this connection, we also highlight the essential role that can be played by humanitarian organizations, as well as civil society, in providing a protective civilian presence.

For the Palestinian people, this call is more urgent than ever in an unsustainable and dangerous situation still requiring sustained international attention and action.  We implore the international community to rise to the challenge and act to protect civilians and uphold human rights in Palestine and everywhere else in the world where innocent civilians are suffering in conflicts and to restore credibility to IHL and strengthen it for the benefit of the international community as a whole.

Thank you.

Statement by Ms. Reem Mansour, Legal Adviser, before the Sixth Committee, Agenda item 84: The rule of law at the national and international levels, 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly, New York, 7 October 2016. 

Distinguished delegates,

My delegation aligns itself with the statement made by the Islamic Republic of Iran on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

Over the last few years, the State of Palestine has extremely developed on the legal front, taking major strides through its accession to around 50 international legal instruments. Palestine’s decision to accede to these important international treaties and conventions is rooted in our understanding of the value and significance of the rule of law at the national and international levels. Ensuring equal access to justice for all is essential for translating the principles of the rule of law into effective mechanisms to provide protection, redress and accountability for serious crimes and human rights violations. [Read more…]

Statement by H.E. Dr.Rami Hamdallah, Prime Minister of the State of Palestine, before the UN Summit to Address Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants, United Nations General Assembly, 19 September 2016, New York

Excellency Mr. Peter Thompson, President of the 71st Session of the General Assembly,

Excellency Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, President of the 70th Session of the General Assembly,

Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations

Excellencies Heads of State and Government, Ministers, Ambassadors

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honored and humbled to join you today in this important Summit as the representative of the Palestinian people, a people whose majority population is comprised of refugees, constituting nearly a quarter of the world’s refugee population, over 40% of the globe’s long-term refugees, and the most protracted refugee crisis in contemporary history. [Read more…]

Excerpts from a letter to the international community from Rafat Badran, the father of a young Palestinian boy, Mahmoud Badran, who was brutally murdered by the Israeli occupying forces on 21 June 2016:

Mahmoud Badran1Last Friday, my wife Amal and I lived our greatest nightmare when we buried our precious son Mahmoud. He was 15 years old.

A few days earlier, he was enjoying an evening of relative normalcy, an occurrence all too rare in the life of a Palestinian child. It was the Holy Month of Ramadan, and after spending time celebrating with our family, Mahmoud, along with his friends and cousins, ventured out to a local village pool. After swimming for several hours, the group piled into the car to return home, smiling and fatigued, relishing some relief from the pervasive and cruel conditions of Israeli military occupation. And then suddenly, Israeli soldiers riddled the car Mahmoud was riding in with bullets, hitting several of the children. Four of them are still recovering from their wounds. Mahmoud was killed. [Read more…]

Statement by H.E. 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, 12 July 2016:

Mr. President,

At the outset, we congratulate Japan on its skilled leadership as President of the Security Council and express appreciation for the convening of this important open debate. I also thank the United Nations Special Coordinator, Mr. Nikolay Mladenov, for his valuable briefing to the Council.

Mr. President,

The Security Council is meeting against the backdrop of an extremely volatile and tense situation on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and ongoing deadlock in the efforts to create a viable political horizon to resolve for once and for all this deadly, destructive and tragic conflict. It is also meeting against the backdrop of ongoing regional and international initiatives aimed at salvaging the two-State solution and the prospects for peace and charting a way forward for their realization. Regrettably, however, for various reasons, none of those initiatives have come to fruition and the political will to act responsibly and boldly – in line with international law and relevant United Nations resolutions, in the interest of justice and human rights, and for the sake of peace and security – remains perilously absent.

The Arab States continue to stretch their hand in peace, supporting the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including to self-determination and independence, while also striving to open a new era of peace, stability and security in our region. For over 14 years, the Arab Peace Initiative has offered a bold path forward and yet Israel, the occupying Power, remains intransigent, belittling this most significant initiative and failing to reciprocate time and time again and obstructing the revival of a political horizon on its basis. [Read more…]

Statement by H.E. Ambassador Dr. Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, before the United Nations Security Council, Open Debate on the Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestine question, New York, 18 April 2016:

Mr. President,

At the outset, I express the State of Palestine’s congratulations to China on its skilled leadership as the presidency of the Security Council this month and express appreciation for the convening of this important open debate. I also thank the Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, for his briefing on the current situation and for his continuous efforts to address this longstanding issue on the UN agenda in the interest of peace and justice.

Mr. President,

Since our last debate in January, we have addressed the Security Council on a near weekly basis regarding the critical situation in Occupied Palestine, including East Jerusalem, as a result of Israel’s illegal and destructive policies and measures. In each communication to this august Council, we have tried to draw urgent attention to the grave breaches of international humanitarian law and human rights violations being systematically committed by the occupying Power, including its occupying forces and terrorist settlers. We have equally appealed for urgent action, in line with international law, to compel Israel to halt its crimes and violations, which are inflicting widespread suffering on the Palestinian civilian population, further inflaming tensions and destabilizing the situation, destroying the two-State solution and sabotaging the chances for a peaceful solution. [Read more…]