Statement by H.E. Ambassador Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, before the General Assembly Debate on Agenda Item: 16 “Culture of Peace”, 3 December 2015, New York

Mr. President,

Peace is impossible in the absence of respect for international law.  Peace is impossible in the absence of respect for human rights. Peace is impossible in the absence of freedom. Peace is impossible in the absence of respect for our common humanity and inherent dignity.  These are harsh facts reaffirmed every single day in the international community, as we witness the many dilemmas and challenges plaguing our world today and preventing the flourishing of a genuine global culture of peace.

Mr. President,

The State of Palestine is fully committed to peace.  The establishment of a just, viable peace and true coexistence are among the top priorities of the Palestinian Government, guiding our course of national and international action and efforts over the many decades.  Peace has been our strategic choice, political choice, and moral choice and the Palestinian people and their leadership have exerted endless efforts and sacrifices to realize it.

Indeed, we chose the path of compromise decades ago for the specific aim of achieving peace and justice. And, despite the fact that this has regrettably been to no avail and despite the many setbacks and painful tragedies endured since, we remain committed to this path, for the sake of peace.  This remains our chosen path for resolving all core final status issues of the question of Palestine.  It is our chosen path for bringing an end to the Israeli foreign military occupation of the Palestinian land and subjugation of the Palestinian people since 1967 and securing a just, lasting and comprehensive peace that will end the grave injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people, including the Palestine refugees, from the 1948 Nakba until this day.

This injustice and conflict have confounded and undermined the United Nations since its inception and tragically remain unresolved, undermining the organization, our international system and the efforts to establish a real culture of peace in the international community. Yet the Palestinian people remain patient and resilient in pursuit of their inalienable rights, including to return and self-determination, and pursuit of freedom and peace, based on international law, the United Nations Charter and relevant resolutions. And, that patience and resilience is greatly strengthened by the near-consensus support for Palestine and solidarity with the Palestinian people from around the international community, whose commitment to justice for Palestine is clearly fundamental to the commitment to realizing peace in the Middle East and globally.

Mr. President,

In the past year, Palestine’s commitment to peaceful, legal means of conduct and resolution of conflict was further reaffirmed in the decision to accede to the core humanitarian and human rights law instruments, as well as to other international treaties, including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.  We retain a deep conviction in the primacy of international law and its centrality for a peaceful, stable and just world.

We are firm in our conviction that waging war, entrenching occupation, imposing settlements and walls and blockades, and denying the rights and humanity of the other will never bring peace and security.  Such policies may illegally establish a specific reality on the ground, but they neither establish a right, nor negate the rights enshrined in international law.  Moreover, such policies, devoid of legitimacy, cannot enforce peace and security and are incapable of suppressing the legitimate aspirations of a people for freedom and their rights.

Mr. President,

We insist that a just peace is the only remedy for the conflict and the violence, deprivation and instability it engenders. As affirmed in our application for UN membership on 23 September 2011, the State of Palestine is a peace-loving nation and seeks to promote friendly relations and a culture of peace with its neighbors and all members of the global community.  As we witness the extreme distress in the Occupied Palestine, including East Jerusalem, due to the illegal, destructive actions of Israel, the occupying Power, as well as in the region as a whole, it is clear that we do not have the luxury to further delay peace and allow extremists and peace-rejectionists to gain more ground. The Palestinian people can no longer delay realization of their rights or accept empty excuses to rationalize the ongoing violations and indignities, while the occupying Power is appeased, not even held accountable for its most flagrant, shameful crimes, and while the prospects for peace are further disfigured and destroyed.

Time is running out and the window of peace is rapidly narrowing. There is unanimity that the situation is unsustainable and a solution must be achieved without delay and is critical for regional and international peace.  To allow the continuation of this conflict and the deepening of the human suffering and injustices caused by it are totally contradictory to the purposes and principles of the Charter, the international laws that guide and bind us, and the requirements for building a lasting peace between the Palestinian and Israeli peoples and in the region.

In the quest to establish a global culture of peace, the question of Palestine must remain a priority on the international agenda. The international community must urgently act to compel Israel, the occupying Power, to bring an end to its occupation of Palestine and oppression of the Palestinian people, and compel it to respect international law without exception. Moreover, civilians must be protected and human rights must be respected; these are vital matters that cannot be postponed until the end of conflict. We implore thus the international community once again, foremost the Security Council, to uphold the responsibilities to redress the root causes of this conflict, which continues to threaten international peace and security. Establishing a culture of peace requires tackling even the most difficult of issues, not allowing them to fester with untold consequences; it requires upholding political, legal and moral obligations and we appeal to the General Assembly to do its part to promote this path as a matter of urgency.

I thank you Mr. President.