Statement by H.E. Dr. Riyad Mansour, Minister, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, before the United Nations Security Council, “The Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestine Question”, 28 October 2019

Mr. President,

I wish to begin by expressing our congratulations and appreciation to the Republic of South Africa for its most able leadership of the Security Council in this month of its presidency.

We thank the UN Special Coordinator and Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Nikolay Mladenov, for his briefing on the current situation in Occupied Palestine, including East Jerusalem.

Mr. President,

Every month, we come before the Security Council appealing for it to act to ensure implementation of its resolutions on the Palestine question, certain that only such action can bring us all back from the brink, stopping the senseless, painful human suffering being caused by this man-made crisis and salvaging the prospects for a just peace. Yet, every month we are compelled to listen to reports of a worsening situation, as Israel, the occupying Power, intensifies its illegal occupation and colonization of our land and a political horizon for a peaceful solution remains obstructed.

It cannot be that the role of this august Council is reduced to that of a gathering for the airing of grievances, statements of sympathy and solidarity, as important as they are, and helpless hand-wringing. The Palestinian people and global community at large expect, and await, more. The Security Council’s Charter mandate to maintain international peace and security surely requires more.

As the calls to preserve multilateralism against current threats grow, shoring up the Security Council’s role in the peaceful resolution of conflicts must be front and center. This requires urgent action to uphold and enforce international law, aimed at halting violations, deterring future violations, and fostering an environment conducive for the pursuit and achievement of peace.

In the case of Palestine, the Council’s relevant resolutions – from resolution 2334 (2016) to all the resolutions preceding it – provide a solid basis for such action. The international consensus is firm, and attempts to alter or negate it have failed. Indeed, we have often heard that, when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there is no need to reinvent the wheel; international law is clear, the parameters of a just solution are clear, and there is no alternative to the vision of two-States based on the 1967 lines and in accordance with international law, the relevant UN resolutions, the Madrid principle of land-for-peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet Roadmap.

But, in the absence of serious action to give tangible meaning to this consensus, the alternative is rapidly unfolding before our eyes and it is one of an apartheid State in control of the lives of millions who are being oppressively, violently and unjustly deprived of their fundamental rights, even the right to live as free and equal human beings.

Mr. President,

After over 52 years of this illegal occupation and the cruel exile imposed on millions of Palestinians for over seven decades, it is clear that he failure to achieve a solution is not for lack of attention to the conflict or lack of resolutions; it is for lack of genuine efforts to uphold the rules, decisions and humanitarian commitments repeatedly pledged.

As concluded by the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in his latest report, “no occupation in the modern world has been conducted with the international community so alert to its many grave breaches of international law, so knowledgeable about the occupier’s obvious and well-signaled intent to annex and establish permanent sovereignty, so well-informed about the scale of suffering and dispossession endured by the protected population under occupation, and yet so unwilling to act upon the overwhelming evidence before it to employ the tangible and plentiful legal and political tools at its disposal to end the injustice.”

Without accountability, the deplorable situation we have faced will surely only worsen, paving the way for more suffering and insecurity for all, with innocent civilians, among them children and women, bearing the heaviest and most heartbreaking weight of the international community’s negligence.

Indeed, despite decades of global attention, none of Israel’s violations in Occupied Palestine have stopped. Whether the colonization or de facto annexation of our land by all means, the settlements and wall being the most insidious; the inhumane 12-year blockade and collective punishment of 2 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, inflicting devastating poverty and despair; the killing and injury of defenseless Palestinian civilians by the occupying forces and extremist settlers; the destruction of homes and properties and forced displacement of Palestinian families, especially in Occupied East Jerusalem, with 140 homes demolished in the City in 2019 alone, rendering homeless 238 Palestinians, more than half of them children; the dangerous provocations and assaults at holy sites; the imprisonment and detention of thousands of our civilians; or the blatant theft of our natural and financial resources – all continue unabated.

The fact is that the occupying Power has been led to believe it has carte blanche to act as a State above the law, going so far as to openly threaten to annex our land in flagrant breach of the universal prohibition on the acquisition of territory by force. With or without a formal government, Israeli politicians and candidates shamelessly compete as to who can be more brutal and punishing to the Palestinians and who can cater more to extremist Israeli groups, who will never be satiated, as evident in their daily terror campaign against our civilians, incitement, and rabid land grabs.

Nothing else could be expected in the absence of consequences for such grave violations by this most protracted foreign occupation in modern history. Only accountability can change this.

Mr. President,

We thus once again appeal to the Security Council and all States to act. We urge you to mobilize the political will to fulfill your obligations by taking practical measures, in line with international law and the relevant resolutions, the guarantors of just and sustainable peace and security.

The Security Council must shoulder its responsibilities and act immediately in line with its resolutions to bring about a halt to this occupation’s crimes, avert further destabilization, protect innocent civilians, and salvage the chances for peace. States, inter-governmental organizations and civil society must also uphold their respective roles and responsibilities.

Should Israel continue to defy the Council and will of the international community, it must bear the consequences of its violations. All legitimate political and legal tools and measures available – including sanctions and prosecution in courts – must be pursued to ensure accountability.

This must include action pursuant to the call for distinction in resolution 2334 (2016) and other relevant resolutions, including, inter alia, resolution 478 (1980) on Jerusalem and resolution 465 (1980), in which the Council clearly called on all States not to provide Israel with any assistance to be used specifically in connection with its settlements in the territories occupied since 1967.

We urge States to take concrete steps in this regard, in both multilateral and bilateral frameworks, in conformity with their legal obligations and affirmed support for the two-State solution. We reiterate our call for release of the database on businesses engaged in activities related to the illegal settlements, which was mandated by the Human Rights Council and will help States to uphold their obligations.

States also have a duty of non-recognition of any decisions or measures altering or purporting to alter the geographic, demographic, character or status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, in violation of the law, including the 4th Geneva Convention. All such decisions and measures must be deemed unlawful, null and void and should incur consequences if not rescinded. Also, the legal and historic status quo at the holy sites in Occupied East Jerusalem, including Al-Haram Al-Sharif, must be respected, as well as Jordan’s custodianship for the Muslim and Christian holy sites.

Lastly, we reiterate our call for continued principled support for the rights of the Palestinian people, including to self-determination and freedom. Until they are realized, we continue our appeals for humanitarian assistance to alleviate the plight of our people, including Palestine refugees, and to ensure that they are not left behind. We recognize with deep gratitude the generous international support in this regard through UNRWA and urge strong backing for renewal of its mandate, an important expression of responsibility and solidarity and an indispensable source of hope and stability until a just solution for the Palestine refugees is realized based on resolution 194 (II).

Only such determined, collective and coordinated action can move us from deadlock to progress towards finally bringing an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967, fulfilling the Palestinian people’s right to independence in their sovereign, contiguous, democratic State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace and security, the cornerstone for peace and security in the Middle East, as per the longstanding international consensus.

For the sake of peace, the benefit of all peoples of the region and the authority of international law, we must together act to change course, restore hope and attain a just and comprehensive peace. Failure to do so will have far-reaching repercussions, unraveling decades of efforts and resources invested for our shared, noble goals of peace, stability and human dignity. We must not let another generation suffer this injustice.

I thank you, Mr. President.