Statement by H.E. Ambassador Dr. Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, before United Nations Security Council, Vote on the Draft Resolution on the Status of Jerusalem, 18 December 2017

I thank you, Mr. President, and express our appreciation to Japan, in its capacity as Security Council President, for convening this important meeting.

We are grateful to you and all the Security Council members who have recognized the urgency of this matter and the need for serious follow-up and action in light of the recent provocative decision announced by the United States of America, contrary to the relevant United Nations resolutions regarding the Holy City of Jerusalem and in total disrespect of the longstanding legal, political and historic status of the City.

We are grateful to the Arab Republic of Egypt for its efforts in leading this process in the Security Council and for its submission of the draft resolution.

Mr. President,

The total rejection of this decision and the international consensus on Jerusalem are beyond clear. The message has been unequivocal: all Security Council’s resolutions concerning the status of the Holy City of Jerusalem and the rest of the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967 are legally binding and must be respected, without question and without exception. This includes the Council’s last legislation in this regard, resolution 2334 (2016), which constitutes a roadmap for all those who want to achieve peace in the region.

This has been powerfully reaffirmed in the statements made on the 8th of December in this chamber; in the principled statements by governments, organizations, civil society around the world; in the declarations of the Arab Ministerial Council, held in Cairo on 9 December, and the Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), held in Istanbul on 13 December; and today in the overwhelming support of Council members for the draft resolution just voted upon.

In spite of the veto, the firm support of Council members for the draft resolution is a clear reaffirmation of the international consensus on the Holy City of Jerusalem and the determination that recent decisions contravening relevant resolutions have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded. We appeal to all States to heed the call not to establish diplomatic missions in the Holy City and not to recognize any measures or actions in violation of the relevant resolutions, as well as for intensification of international and regional efforts to aimed at achieving a just, lasting, comprehensive and peaceful solution, based on the relevant UN resolutions, Madrid principles, Arab Peace Initiative and Quartet Roadmap, and an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967.

Indeed, this vote by countries representing every region of the world reinforces this global stance in respect of such fundamental principles and positions, recognizing Jerusalem’s special status, sensitivity and centrality to peacemaking as one of the core final status issues to be resolved. Yet, regrettably, one State has stood today in opposition to the rest of the world on this matter.

We reject the faulty reasoning given for opposing such principles, which, until this moment, have been universally-respected – including by the US – with the only exception being Israel, the occupying Power, which has flagrantly violated all relevant resolutions and only acted in total contempt of this Council. It is reprehensible that the US has chosen to disregard international law and abandon decades of its own policy, choosing to side with the occupation, at the expense of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and against the prevailing wisdom and consensus on the Palestine question as a whole and the parameters for its just solution.

With this veto, the US has missed an opportunity to rectify its wrongful decision of 6 December, remaining on the wrong side of history. Nevertheless, we reiterate that this decision has no legal effect on the status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, as resoundingly reaffirmed today.

What this decision has clearly done, however, is affect the US standing as a peace-broker. With glaring bias, it has undermined its role in any future peace process. It is indeed a tragic irony that, while we had all been patiently awaiting a “peace plan” from the US, the administration instead decided to further obstruct peace and delay its realization.  This underscores yet again the failure of the old formulas and the imperative of a collective process going forward.

Mr. President,

That Security Council’s resolutions are binding and remain valid until implementation is fact. A veto cannot “negate” adopted resolutions. No veto in the past has been able to do so, and no veto in this era ever will either.

It is truly paradoxical that the same State casting its veto today asserts the Council’s authority in all other cases, demanding respect of resolutions on every other issue, aside from Palestine. But we refuse to accept that Palestine be the exception to every rule, and the international community has concurred, speaking in one voice, insisting on respect for the applicable laws and resolutions, knowing that they constitute the foundation of peace.

Yet, once again, the veto has been blindly cast, which has in turn emboldened Israel’s impunity, permitting it to deepen its occupation and effectively aiding and abetting this sin. No veto can conceal these facts, nor can it legitimize any provocative, unilateral decisions or actions in violation of Security Council resolutions.

Moreover, no one can deny that such provocations fuel the unending cycle of tensions and, as concerns Jerusalem, aggravate religious sensitivities among billions of Muslims as well as Christians around the world. Everyone knows these actions divide, rather than heal, make peace more elusive, and threaten to transform this conflict into a devastating religious conflict, with grave consequences, only benefiting the forces of extremism and terror.

We caution once more against such recklessness, and call for full respect of the historic status quo at the Holy Sites, including at Al-Haram Al-Sharif, and of the special custodial role of Jordan in the protection of the Muslim and Christian Holy Sites. We will continue all efforts and coordination in this regard to ensure such protection and to rebuff all provocations and illegal measures undermining the historic status quo.

Mr. President,

Aside from diminishing their belief in the international system, in the good-faith of those who claim to seek peace, and in the potential for peace based on the two-State solution, nothing has changed for the Palestinian people since this unilateral, unlawful decision. Jerusalem remains the heart of Palestine. It is our political, religious, cultural capital, our people’s history, heritage and daily lives and aspirations are intimately woven with that of the Holy City.

Moreover, East Jerusalem remains occupied and an integral part of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 and is the capital of the State of Palestine, as recognized by the majority of States around the world.  These are facts.

Naturally, however, despair has deepened as doubts intensify that the law will ever be upheld and that peace is possible. If not reversed, that despair will have devastating effects on our collective ability to avert further destabilization and to forge a lasting peace.

We thus call again on all peace-loving nations around the world to stand firm for the rule of law and in support of the steadfast Palestinian people defending their land, identity, holy sites and their natural place in history and geography and to oppose injustice, oppression and subjugation.

Mr. President,

While the world will be celebrating in the coming days Christmas and the birth of Jesus Christ, lights will remain turned off in the land of Jesus Christ, and celebrations will not take place in Jerusalem, Bethlehem or Nazareth as joy has been stolen from us by a decision that in the name of realism has denied reality and violated the rights of an entire nation and insulted the feelings of believers around the world.

Protests have erupted against this decision not in Palestine alone but across the globe in defense of justice, freedom and dignity, and in rejection of colonialism and unilateralism. In Palestine, thousands have demonstrated against the US decision and were faced with killing, repression, arrest and oppression by the Israeli occupying forces. 11 Palestinians have been killed, 3,500 wounded and hundreds arrested, including children. We convey our condolences to the families of the martyrs and hope for swift recovery of the wounded and for the freedom of the imprisoned, and we wonder how many more sacrifices are needed so our people can finally enjoy the same rights enjoyed by all nations on earth. We will never accept occupation and oppression as a permanent reality and will remain determined to achieve our independence and restore our rights and dignity.

The time is past due for our people to achieve their rights, including to self-determination, and to finally live in freedom, dignity, peace and security in their independent State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, side by side with all the peoples of the region and the globe. We urge you to continue to firmly stand on the side of right. Those who want peace do not recognize illegal actions and measures but rather recognize the rights of the Palestinian people as enshrined in international law and UN resolutions, and recognize the State of Palestine, and stand with freedom, the key to ensuring that peace can finally prevail in the land of peace.