29 October 2014 – Statement by Ambassador Dr. Riyad Mansour before the United Nations Security Council Emergency Meeting on the Situation in Occupied East Jerusalem

Mme. President,

I thank you for your swift response to our urgent appeal and to the formal request by Jordan, the Arab representative on the Security Council, to convene this emergency meeting to address the critical situation in Occupied East Jerusalem, which clearly has bearing on the crisis situation in the rest of Palestine as well as in the region and far beyond.

Mme. President,

Jerusalem, the Holy City for the three monotheistic religions, was and remains the key to peace.  The City is the heart of Palestine and has historically been the religious, political, social, economic and cultural center for the Palestinian people for centuries.  And, Jerusalem, a theater for both conflict and peace, has always maintained an Arab and Islamic identity, and it will remain so.

Yet, Jerusalem is under siege, as Israel, the occupying Power, continues the reckless attempts to change its character, falsify its history, alter its demography, and negate Palestinian rights and connection to Jerusalem.  Israeli provocations and incitement, particularly at Al-Haram Al-Sharif, home to the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque and Qubbat Al-Sakhra (Dome of the Rock), are further inflaming this volatile situation, aggravating religious sentiments, deepening mistrust, and threatening to ignite yet another cycle of violence, including instigation of religious conflict. Such illegal Israeli actions are severely exacerbating the conflict and obstructing a peaceful solution, with grave implications.

We have thus been instructed by President Mahmoud Abbas to bring this crisis situation to the urgent attention of the Security Council, in full recognition of its Charter duty for the maintenance of international peace and security.

Mme. President,

In countless official letters conveyed to the Security Council and in repeated statements in this Chamber, we have urged that serious international attention be given to the crisis in Occupied East Jerusalem due to Israel’s illegal policies, practices and provocations.  We have repeatedly appealed to the Security Council to uphold its resolutions on Jerusalem – including resolutions 446 (1979), 452 (1979), 465 (1980), 478 (1980) and 672 (1990) – as an urgent contribution to reducing tensions and stabilizing the situation on the ground and as a long-term contribution to the efforts to achieve a peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

We recall in specific the Council’s determination that all measures by Israel, the occupying Power, “to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and in particular the recent “basic law” on Jerusalem, are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith”.  Moreover, we recall the Council’s determination that “the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East”, and the calls by the Council on Israel “to cease, on an urgent basis, the establishment, construction and planning of settlements in the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem”.

Yet Israel continues to do exactly the opposite.  While the rest of us are seeking peace and trying any and every initiative aimed at ending this nearly-50 year military occupation and salvaging the two-State solution on the basis of the pre-1967 borders, Israel is instead expanding and entrenching its illegitimate control over Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of Occupied Palestine through countless unlawful policies and measures.

Moreover, Israel not only denies that East Jerusalem is occupied and refuses to recognize Palestinian rights, presence and history in the City, but actively seeks to negate those rights and to characterize Jerusalem as a solely Jewish and Israeli city, ignoring its centrality for the Arab countries and Muslim ummah, for whom Al-Quds Al-Sharif is the first qibla and third holiest site, as well as its centrality for Christianity.

Mme. President,

Since the occupation began in 1967, Israel, the occupying Power has never ceased its unlawful attempts to create facts on the ground to alter Palestine’s demography, character, legal status and geography.  It has targeted Occupied East Jerusalem in specific with such illegal measures and has openly permitted and supported the illegal actions of its settlers and extremists in the City.

Israeli settlement activities have persisted unabated, with construction and expansion of settlements and the Wall and recurrent announcements about plans for the construction of thousands more settlement units, including the latest declaration this week regarding the construction of another 1,000 units, which was preceded by an announcement regarding the construction of more than 2,600 units in the City earlier this month, which was preceded by the issuance of military orders for the confiscation of 1,000 acres of Palestinian land in the Bethlehem area, and so forth.  Every day the territorial contiguity and integrity of our State is being fragmented and undermined by such illegal actions, seriously diminishing the viability of the two-State solution.

The occupying Power has also continued with the confiscation of properties, including the seizure last week of 35 Palestinian homes by extremist settlers in the Silwan neighborhood of Occupied East Jerusalem.  Such actions have forcibly displaced hundreds of Palestinian families from the City, in addition to their displacement by other illegal measures, including the demolition of Palestinian homes, revocation of Palestinian residency and the threats to forcibly transfer thousands of Palestine refugee Bedouins and the consequent violations of their human rights.  Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem also suffer from raging violence, discrimination and racism against them by Israeli extremists, who persist in their attacks against Palestinian civilians, including killing, assaults and kidnapping attempts on children, as well as attacks against Muslim and Christian holy sites, vandalizing and desecrating several mosques and churches in the City.

Israeli occupying forces and Jewish extremists also continue incursions into Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and continue to attack Palestinian worshippers.  Israeli officials, including the Prime Minister and members of his cabinet, persist in their grotesque competition over who can more provoke Palestinian and Muslim sensitivities, spewing dangerous rhetoric, incitement and hate speech at an alarming rate.  Provocative attempts also continue attempting to pass legislation to change the status quo over this Holy Site.  At the same time, Israel continues its excavations and tunneling in the City, including near and under the Holy Sites, threatening their integrity, foundation and sanctity.  Stringent restrictions on access to the City, affecting both Palestinian Muslims and Christians, severely impede freedom of worship and of movement, and the closure of Palestinian institutions in the City also continues.

We strongly and unequivocally condemn all of these illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of Occupied Palestine.  Such illegal policies and measures, along with the deplorable, illegal blockade of our people in the Gaza Strip, who are gravely suffering the disastrous impact of the recent criminal Israeli war against them, atop all the other measures of collective punishment imposed by Israel on our people, have created an explosive situation, which if left without remedy will further unravel with grave consequences.

Mme. President,

That this situation is illegal, unsustainable and destroys the prospects for peace is not merely a Palestinian perspective or position.  It has been deemed as such by this Council, based on the Charter principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and the relevant provisions of international law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention, which strictly prohibits colonization activities among other prohibitions on the occupying Power.  The positions of the International Court of Justice and the General Assembly as a whole are also very clear in this regard.  Moreover, the international consensus is firm on the illegality of the Israeli settlement enterprise and on the status of Jerusalem, including non-recognition of Israeli claims to sovereignty over East Jerusalem and consensus on the fact that East Jerusalem is occupied territory and remains an integral part of the Palestinian territory belligerently occupied by Israel since 1967.

The international community, foremost the Security Council, must send a clear message and stand firm by its established positions and the international consensus. The Council must uphold its responsibilities to bring an end to this illegal situation, recognizing its broad and dangerous political, religious and security dimensions.

Israel, the occupying Power, must be demanded to cease immediately and completely its illegal settlement activities throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and to cease all provocations and incitement at the Holy Sites in Occupied East Jerusalem and against the Palestinian people and their leadership.  Israel must be compelled to comply with international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, and commit to the path of peace. Failing to do so, it must be held fully accountable for its crimes and obstruction of peace.

Mme. President,

Jerusalem is a painful reflection of Israel’s entrenchment of its occupation and its total and rejection of peace.  Yet, deeply committed to peace, we remain insistent that Jerusalem become a reflection of our collective determination to achieve a two-State solution on the pre-1967 borders, with an independent, sovereign, contiguous and democratic State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side with Israel in peace and security.

We therefore reiterate our appeal to the members of the Security Council and the international community to support our initiative and to adopt a resolution reaffirming the fundamental parameters of the two-State solution and delineating a time frame to bring an end to the Israeli occupation and to achieve the independence and inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.  Such a resolution would constitute a major contribution to the efforts to salvage the prospects for peace and to accelerate its realization, wherein we can ultimately witness a new reality with Jerusalem as a shared capital of peace and a new era for our peoples and the region as whole.

I thank you, Mme. President.