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, 18 October 2017:

Mr. President,

I congratulate you on assuming the Security Council Presidency and on France’s able guidance and leadership of the Council this month.

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

Mr. President,

We meet at a moment of significant and rapidly evolving dynamics as we witness important steps being taken for healing the painful Palestinian political division and achieving genuine reconciliation and national unity in Palestine.

In this chamber, we must reaffirm our abiding gratitude to Egypt, a member of this august Council and a fraternal Arab country, for the efforts exerted to help bring about the recent agreement signed by the leaderships of Fatah and Hamas in Cairo, on 12 October, and to support its implementation to restore the unified, legitimate Palestinian authority to the Gaza Strip, based on past agreements and the Palestine Liberation Organization’s political platform, and to ensure the effective functioning of the Palestinian national consensus government in Gaza in all aspects, including government institutions and at all crossings.

Reunification of our people, land, and political system are among our highest national priorities. We are fully aware of its centrality to achievement of our national aspirations for independence and the realization of our people’s inalienable rights and justice. We are thus undertaking the necessary steps with due responsibility, in response to the calls of our people, first and foremost, as well as the regional and global calls, for unity.

The international community’s endorsement of these important developments and offers of cooperation are vital for ensuring their success. Of course, this must include efforts that result in the speedy lifting of the illegal, inhumane Israeli blockade imposed on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip for more than a decade. This must also include meaningful steps to expedite the reconstruction and recovery urgently needed to reverse Gaza’s de-development and restore humanity and hope to our people there, especially our youth, for whom hope and opportunity are in such short supply these days.

We therefore welcome all statements supporting Palestinian reconciliation, as well as Egypt’s role in this regard, including the 28 September Quartet Envoys press statement and the statements and efforts by the UN Special Coordinator and UN system as a whole, along with other regional and international partners, to support the current efforts, with a view to alleviating Gaza’s dire humanitarian and socio-economic conditions and empowering the Palestinian Government to fulfill its duties there.

Mr. President,

Palestine is doing its part. Internally, regionally and internationally, we are upholding our obligations and implementing our responsibilities, in line with international law, including humanitarian and human rights law, fully respecting our accession to the core international legal instruments, and in line with the relevant UN resolutions.

We are doing so to the extent of our capacity and in spite of the enormous constraints, obstacles, hardships and setbacks being imposed on us by the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian land, including East Jerusalem, for over fifty years since 1967. This includes our active efforts for the implementation of Security Council resolutions, including resolution 2334 (2016), a landmark resolution comprising the keys to a peaceful, just solution. In word and deed, we are complying with the resolution’s provisions and Council’s clear demands.

As President Mahmoud Abbas reaffirmed, yet again, before the General Assembly on 22 September, we remain – despite the great odds – committed to the two-State solution on the pre-1967 borders and to securing its attainment based on the relevant UN resolutions, Madrid principles, Arab Peace Initiative and Quartet Roadmap.

We continue to rely, and insist, on peaceful, political, legal means to bring an end to the Israeli occupation of our land and oppression of our people and to finally realize the Palestinian people’s rights and national aspirations, including to live in freedom, dignity and prosperity in their independent State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and a just solution for the Palestine refugees.

We continue to call for an end to all Israeli settlement activities in Occupied Palestine, in line with resolution 2334 and all relevant provisions of the law. Consistent with the international consensus and calls in this regard, we are adamant that only an end to the Israeli colonization of our land and reversal of these illegal actions can salvage the two-State solution on the 1967 lines and advance the cause of peace and security.

We thus also continue our appeals to all States to back their calls for a complete and immediate end to Israel’s settlement campaign and their commitment to the two-State solution with practical measures, including in regard to distinction, as called for in operative paragraph 5 of resolution 2334. Israel is the occupying Power – and not in any way the sovereign – in the Palestinian territory since 1967, including East Jerusalem, and must be treated as such.

Since Israel persists with its flagrant violations – as documented, inter alia, in three reports by the Secretary-General thus far on the implementation of resolution 2334 – such measures by States and organizations, and by the Council itself, are essential, for ensuring accountability and for saving the small potential left for achieving the two-State solution. Continued contempt by the occupying Power cannot be cost-free.

We have committed to non-violence and have for years acted on this commitment, as evident in our constant political and diplomatic engagement in the search for a just solution, our documented efforts on the security front, our calls for the cessation of provocations, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric, and our clear rejection of terrorism in all forms and manifestations.

We have recognized the State of Israel on the 1967 borders, and did so over two decades ago despite the Israeli Government’s refusal, to this very day, to recognize the State of Palestine, or even, at the minimum, recognize the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and independence.

And, in spite of Israel’s intransigence and illegal behavior, we have continued to engage in good faith with all regional and international initiatives for peace, even under the most difficult of circumstances. Looking back just over the past year, we have welcomed and cooperated with efforts by the Arab League, France, Egypt, Russia, China, and the United States. We continue to do so based on our commitment to a just, lasting, comprehensive solution, and have repeatedly reaffirmed our readiness to resume negotiations based on the longstanding terms of reference to achieve that solution.

Mr. President,

So, we must all ask: Why then has there been no progress in implementation of resolution 2334? What negative trends continue on the ground destroying the two-State solution? Why has a political horizon not been forged and negotiations on all final status issues not been revived?

It is not because this conflict is unsolvable or intractable, as some Israeli officials wish for us to believe; the Security Council has decreed repeatedly, clearly and with authority the fundamental parameters of the solution. The answer is clear: it is because of the contempt by Israel, the occupying Power, of international law and of this Council’s resolutions.

Despite the clarity of the Council’s demands, Israel persists with its torment and collective punishment of our people, with its arrests and imprisonment, with its colonization of our land – with settlement activities advancing at four times the rate of last year alone and theft of land and demolition of Palestinian homes and properties continuing unabated forcibly displacing thousands, and with the obstruction of all peace efforts. It does all of this unapologetically, systematically and shamelessly.

It is astounding that a State can openly and proudly declare its intention to continue violating UN resolutions and committing war crimes and actually boast about such violations, making a mockery of the Security Council, the rule of law and the international system as a whole. This is all being done blatantly by the same State, Israel, that has the audacity to present itself as a candidate for this Council.

As we hear arrogant Israeli declarations deriding resolution 2334 and the non-stop, reckless advancement of settlement and annexation plans in Occupied Palestine, especially in and around East Jerusalem and Al-Khalil, further entrenching this occupation, we cannot but question the international community’s role in fostering and allowing such impunity. Without question, lack of accountability for such defiance and violations is at the core of this ongoing injustice.

And, as we witness continuing inflammatory rhetoric regarding East Jerusalem and Al-Haram Al-Sharif, fueling religious sensitivities, and witness escalating provocations, incitement and racism against the Palestinian people and leadership by the Israeli Government, fomenting even deeper hatred, violence and terror by the Israeli occupying forces and extremists settlers against our civilians, in grave breach of international law and against all standards of decency and morality, we cannot help but ask: When will enough be enough?

When the Israeli Prime Minister himself declares that “There was not and will not be a better government for settlement than our government”[1]; and that “We are here to stay forever… there will be no more uprooting of settlements”[2]; and when the Agriculture Minister boasts “There is not and will never be two States between the Jordan and the sea”[3]; and when a Knesset Member of the Jewish Home Party states “[The goal is to] erase the paradigm of Palestinian statehood both on the ground and as a concept”[4]; and when Minister Lieberman declares “I don’t know what a [settlement]freeze is, take the data and go over it. Only this year we approved 8,500 [settlement] housing units in the first half. What freeze are you talking about? Look at the facts”[5]; and when a Likud Knesset member calls Palestinians “vile human animals” and threatens “If it were up to me, I’d enter the terrorists home last night and take him and his family with him and execute them all. Yes, just like that, with no shame”[6]; you must know that they not only say what they mean, but they are doing exactly what they say.

In words and deeds, the Israeli Prime Minister and his governing coalition are opposed to peace, dismissive of international law, and are working day and night to entrench the occupation and make the two-State solution impossible, destroying the contiguity and viability of the Palestinian State and the chances for peace. So, why – when Israel repeatedly proves its mal-intentions – does the international community continue to give it the benefit of the doubt?

And, when the Israeli Prime Minister and cabinet claim there is no partner for peace, deny Palestinian rights, and attempt to undermine or vilify Palestinian reconciliation, including with hypocritical demands of Palestinian factions, why is this permitted when the proof is so clearly to the contrary?

Mr. President,

It is high time for the Security Council to stand against such ridicule of international law and the Charter prohibition of the acquisition of territory by force. The Council must stand firmly for its resolutions and demand full respect and implementation, without exception. Israel, which has so methodically and deliberately trampled the Council’s calls and decisions, cannot remain exempt from the law. It must be compelled to comply or face the pressure and accountability that is triggered by non-compliance in all other situations.

The Palestinian Government is upholding its obligations, including in respect of this Council’s resolutions. In the absence of Israeli respect, the Security Council and all States must step up their efforts to uphold their duties and obligations. No peace initiative will succeed otherwise.

A people’s freedom and independence are dependent on this, as are justice and peaceful coexistence. As many have said in this chamber, the question of Palestine remains a litmus test of the rule of law and the credibility and authority of the Security Council. We continue to hope, and believe, that the time has arrived for genuine collective action to rise to this test, to make a peaceful, just and lasting solution possible and, ultimately, sooner rather than later, a reality.

I thank you, Mr. President.

 

[1] Benjamin Netanyahu, 19 June 2017

[2] Benjamin Netanyahu, 29 August 2017

[3] Uri Ariel, 12 September 2017

[4] Bezalel Smotrich, 6 September 2017

[5] Avigdor Lieberman, 12 July 2017

[6] Oren Hazan, 22 July 2017