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, 24 July 2018

Mr. President,

On behalf of the State of Palestine, I wish to congratulate the Russian Federation on their successful presidency of the Council and express appreciation to Sweden for their able leadership of the Council’s important agenda for this month. We also thank Special Coordinator and Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Nikolay Mladenov, for his briefing and efforts.

Mr. President,

During this month, the United States of America and the Republic of France proudly celebrated the anniversaries of their independence. The US declaration of independence states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. The French declaration of human and citizen rights states that all men are born and remain free and equal in rights.

These truths and rights are universal and inalienable and must be recognized for every nation in the world with no exception.

But during this same month, Israel, the Occupying Power, chose to continue its oppression against the Palestinian people, children, youth, women and men, further entrenching its illegal and belligerent military occupation and committing more crimes and human rights violations. For seven decades, the Palestinian people bore witness to decisions, made under the pretext of “security” and religious edicts, denigrating their rights and national aspirations and dismissing international law and global consensus. They continue to endure colonization, forced displacement, arbitrary detention, unlawful killing and injuring, on a daily basis regardless of what they do or do not.

In the occupied besieged Gaza Strip, the Palestinian people continue to endure an ever-worsening humanitarian crisis and a rapid decline in the socio-economic situation as a devastating effect of Israel’s ongoing occupation, illegal and inhumane blockade and repeated military aggressions.

This dire humanitarian situation has caused an explosive pressure on the infrastructure and loss of livelihood among the entire population of the Gaza Strip. Their coping capacities have been severely depleted, as have been the hopes and dreams of an entire generation of youth. They have been peacefully protesting the unbearable conditions they have been facing. However, Israel persists with its willful killing of Palestinian civilians and disregard of human life. Therefore, it is imperative that the international community act urgently to prevent further assaults against Palestinian civilians and lift Israel’s more-than decade long blockade.

In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, our people have to endure the cruelty and violence of the Israeli occupation, including its persistent policy of forced displacement and transfer and demolition of homes and destruction of livelihood, as Israel’s illegal settlement campaign persists unabated. Most recently, Israel has advanced its plans to forcibly transfer the Bedouin communities of Abu Nuwar and Khan al Ahmar. The known purpose of such plans is to facilitate the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the area, in grave breach of international law and numerous UN resolutions, including Security Council resolution 2334 (2016).

When hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced into exile in 1948, the first thing they built beneath their tents were schools, to preserve hope and to arm future generations with knowledge. This year, school opened early in Khan Al Ahmar to prevent the looming threat of demolition of yet another community of refugees that faces the prospect of being forcibly displaced yet again. One generation after the other, our people, despite their resilience and steadfastness, are confronted with the same fate and we have repeatedly appealed to the international community to address this critical matter. Regrettably, in the absence of concrete international action, the occupying Power remains undeterred, persisting unabated with its crimes in full view of the world, without any fear of consequence.

Mr. President,

These violations are yet an additional evidence, if any was needed, of the imperative of providing international protection to the Palestinian civilian population. In this regard, we look forward to the Secretary General’s report and his recommendations on ways and means to provide international protection to the Palestinian people, including international protection mechanism, pursuant to General Assembly resolution ES-10/20.

Mr. President,

Israel’s occupation of our land is not a temporary control over a territory as a result of a conflict; it is an orchestrated effort over decades to seize Palestinian land in violation of two cardinal principles of the UN Charter, the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the inadmissibility of the acquisition of land by force. It is not even a hidden plan; it is articulated every day by Israeli leaders and conducted openly in defiance of international law and UN resolutions.

Israel, the occupying Power, is enacting one law after the other to consolidate this regime instead of dismantling it. We have just celebrated 100 years since the birth of the South African anti-apartheid leader and former President Nelson Mandela, and honored his legacy and struggle against oppression and injustice, and pledged that struggle for equality, dignity and justice continues. This is the time Israel chose to adopt its “Jewish nation state law”, which has transformed a situation of de facto Apartheid into a situation of Apartheid by law.

This brings “separate but equal”, the basis for racial segregation in the U.S.A. from the past ages to our present, and this time again, it will be separate and unequal.

Israel’s ultimate goal is not achieving peace and the two-State solution. 14 years ago, the International Court of Justice considered that the construction of the wall and its associated regime creates a “fait accompli” on the ground that could well become permanent, in which case, and notwithstanding the formal characterization of the wall by Israel, it would be tantamount to de facto annexation.

Is there any doubt left that this is what Israel is pursuing: annexation at the expense of our State and of peace? In the words of a US peace envoy Frank Lowenstein, instead of transferring power to the Palestinian side, Israel has transferred it to Israeli settlers. This is a government of settlers, for the settlers and by the settlers. Israeli officials would proudly recognize it as is. Why can’t the rest of the world acknowledge it and act accordingly?

Some may think that the Palestinian tragedy is not that grave to deserve such attention, and they illustrate their argument by examining each single event in isolation from the other. My advice to them is to look at the greater picture; this is about the denial of rights of an entire nation, a mass displacement and replacement of a people, coupled with a policy of confinement for the Palestinians and expansion for Jewish Israeli settlers.

Isn’t such a policy grave enough to deserve international attention? We say, it is grave enough that it deserves long-overdue international action. The only question that remains is when the world’s patience, tested repeatedly, will be finally exhausted and will it be before it is too late to salvage peace?

Some say that the old ways do not work anymore, that the path we have took to achieve peace was flawed and thus they want to bring plans that ignore the terms of reference of the peace process and its declared objectives. We agree that old ways do not work anymore but let us determine what does not work. Interim solutions do not work. Postponing consideration of core issues does not work. Ignoring international law does not work. Lack of accountability for violations does not work. Lack of a binding timeframe does not work. Absence of international guarantees does not work.

What works is a peace plan centered on the established international terms of reference for a peaceful solution, in line with the relevant UN resolutions, Madrid principles, Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet roadmap, advanced through a collective process that secures international mobilization and holds the parties accountable. The Palestinian leadership pledges its commitment to peace, commitment to international law, commitment to the two-State solution, and commitment to non-violence.  We also reaffirm our readiness to cooperate with all international and regional efforts to advance a just peace, as called for by Security Council resolution (2334).

Mr. President,

Reunification of our people, land, and political system are among our highest national priorities. We will spare no effort to achieve unity. We reaffirm our gratitude to Egypt for the efforts exerted to achieve this aim.

Mr. President,

The Security Council affirmed repeatedly, as a general principle, that ending impunity is indispensable to achieve peace. We are, by contrast, living proof of how accurate this statement is. Every single state has the power and the duty to help advance peace by upholding its own responsibilities. We call on all States to respect and ensure respect for international law, and we commend the Irish Parliament for its decision to ban settlement products that come from stolen Palestinian land and resources. Peace is not for the parties alone to achieve. Peace needs for each and everyone of us to do our part.  We want peace, and look forward to a collective process that can yield peace. And we stand ready to be held accountable for our statements and actions on the basis of international law. Can the other side commit to the same?

Thank you Mr. President.