Statement by H.E. Ambassador Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, United Nations Security Council, The Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestine Question, Vote on Draft Resolution on Protection of Palestinian Civilians, 1 June 2018

Mr. President,

We congratulate the Russian Federation on its Presidency of the Security Council and express our sincere thanks for your ready response to the request to convene today’s meeting.

We also wish to recognize Poland for its skilled leadership of the Security Council last month, including the meetings held to address the Palestine question and the important debates on international law and the protection of civilians, so relevant to the grave crises we face at this moment. We will never forget their gesture of asking for a moment of silence to honor the innocent Palestinians killed by Israeli forces.

Mr. President,

We express our deep appreciation to the fraternal country of Kuwait for its tabling of the draft resolution just voted upon by the Security Council and for the Kuwaiti delegation’s tireless efforts to ensure the Council’s serious consideration of our repeated calls for international protection for the Palestinian people. We commend them for the comprehensive and transparent process undertaken to advance this issue, along with other Council members. We regret, however, the extreme mal-intent by one Council member aimed at undermining this process and undermining the Council’s credibility and authority.

We are grateful to all of the countries that voted in favor of the draft resolution, despite the veto cast today by the United States that has regrettably prevented adoption of the draft and despite the tensions and confusion caused.

We express deepest appreciation to Kuwait, Bolivia, China, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, France, Kazakhstan, Peru, Sweden and the Russian Federation for standing firmly on principle; for responding to the urgency of the situation; and for standing unequivocally on the side of international law when it comes to Palestine, including on the serious matter of the protection of civilians.

Indeed, today’s vote sends important messages that must be recognized, including the following:

There is a severe protection crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and particularly in the Gaza Strip, due to Israel’s illegal policies and practices, including its use of force against Palestinian civilians, including peaceful protesters, and its blockade on Gaza, among other oppressive and punitive measures against our people.

  1. Israel’s killing and injuring of Palestinian civilians will not be tolerated and cannot be excused, and the occupying Power must fully abide by its obligations under international law.
  2. The Palestinian people are entitled to protection in accordance with international law, including humanitarian and human rights law, and with the Security Council’s obligations and commitments for the protection of civilians in armed conflict.
  3. Immediate steps must be taken towards ending Israel’s closure and restrictions on the Gaza Strip and ensuring the sustained opening of the crossing points for the normal movement and access of persons and goods. This entirely illegal, inhumane and suffocating Israeli blockade must end.
  4. Maximum restraint is required by all parties, as well as immediate steps to stabilize the situation and reverse the negative trends on the ground.
  5. It is time to seriously consider measures for guaranteeing the safety, protection and well-being of the Palestinian people, including through the establishment of an international protection mechanism.
  6. The Palestinian leadership has long called for such measures and we are grateful that, despite all of the pressures, this issue has been given due consideration by the Security Council and has received the overwhelming support of Council members.

Your votes today refute the premise that Palestinian people are the exception to the rules and principles of international law, instead reaffirming that they are entitled to the rights and legal protections to which all peoples are entitled, reinforcing the universality of international law and its application to this conflict.

It is a clear rejection of attempts to pursue a might-over-right strategy in this situation, and a clear message that no one is exempt from the law, not even Israel, regardless of the exceptionalism it has for too long enjoyed.

Mr. President,

Of course, the final outcome of today’s vote is extremely disappointing, but unfortunately not surprising. While we sincerely hoped – and exerted all efforts to ensure – that the Security Council would uphold its Charter duties and act responsibly to address the protection crisis being endured by the Palestinian people, we never underestimated the obstacles in this regard.

We deeply regret the Council’s continued paralysis on our issue due to the recurrent, negative and biased position of one permanent member.  We deplore the use of the veto to continue shielding Israel from censure and accountability for its crimes against our people and wrongly preventing the Council from upholding its Charter duties and acting responsibly for the maintenance of international peace and security, including by actions aimed at saving civilian lives.

Moreover, we strongly reject the cynical attempts today to delay, undermine and thwart action on this initiative in a manner denigrating the serious work of the Council and the efforts to genuinely address the critical matters raised in the draft resolution in accordance with international law and the relevant resolutions.

We also firmly reject the attempt once more today to frame our situation as one of terrorism; it is not. It is about the denial of an entire people’s human rights and their oppression and dehumanization every single day and for decades.  This is a political, territorial, rights and justice issue.

And we cannot accept the lecturing accusations that the draft presented by Kuwait was in any way biased.  The draft, which was negotiated for over two weeks, realistically addresses all of the factors of the current crisis, including violence on both sides. If anything, however, the draft did not go far enough in addressing the nightmare the Palestinian people are living under this criminal Israeli occupation.

What we are facing can be described in just a few words declared this week by the Israeli Minister Yuval Steinitz: “I do not exclude the possibility of conquering Gaza and to eliminate it once and for all”.

This is the reality of the constant aggression, threats and existential crisis that the Palestinian people are enduring under Israel’s occupation, which the current US administration regrettably refuses to see or understand or in any way fairly and properly address.

Mr. President,

We will continue our calls and efforts to secure protection for the Palestinian people to ensure their safety and well-being.  At the same time, we will continue to seek accountability and pursue justice for the victims through all available legal means, including through the ICC.

We await the dispatch of the Commission of Inquiry established by the Human Rights Council and the findings following a thorough, independent and transparent investigation. We will not relent in pressing for answers, including: Why were these Palestinian children, women and men killed and injured so wantonly and willfully by the Israeli occupying forces under the direct command of Israel’s highest political and military leaders, and who is to be held responsible?

And, in spite of today’s outcome and the paralysis gripping Security Council, we will not stop calling for Council action and for the implementation of all of its relevant resolutions, including resolution 2334 (2016), because it is its duty and obligation to act to address such gross violations and threats to international peace and security and to ultimately contribute to bringing an end to this injustice and ensuring a just, lasting and peaceful solution to this conflict.

Mr. President, I wish to end my statement with a message to our people:

Be assured that we will continue to exert every effort to ensure that your plight, your voice, your needs and demands will be heard and addressed by the international community. We will not relent in calling for respect of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and for collective action to bring an end to your suffering, an end to the occupation, to ensure justice, and to fulfill our legitimate national aspirations.

We will continue to work in the Security Council with Kuwait and all friendly countries, as well as in the General Assembly and all other appropriate venues, with the support of our brothers and sisters in the Arab Group, the OIC and the NAM and of all friendly from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, indeed, of all peace-loving countries. And, we will remain determined to defend and advance our just and noble cause for the realization of the rights of our people and for the achievement of a just and lasting solution, whereby our people can live in freedom, independence, dignity, peace and security in their State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

I thank you, Mr. President.