Statement of H.E. Riad Malki, Foreign Minister of the State of Palestine, at the tenth Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly, Vote on Draft Resolution on the Status of Jerusalem, 21 December 2017

Mr. President of the General Assembly,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We requested the convening of the Tenth Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly to further the international consensus expressed by peoples and governments around the world, and by an overwhelming majority of the Security Council in its vote on a draft resolution reaffirming the legal, political and historic status and character of Jerusalem and rejecting all attempts to alter this status and character as null and void.

Let me seize this opportunity to thank the Arab Group and the Member States of the OIC and NAM for their request to convene this emergency session following the veto, which prevented the Security Council from performing its duties in regards to the maintenance of international peace and security despite the support of 14 Council members for the draft resolution tabled by the Arab Republic of Egypt. Under these circumstances, the General Assembly has the competence to undertake this responsibility in accordance with resolution 377 (V), “Uniting for Peace”.

This request for this session also comes in accordance with the decisions of the Arab Ministerial Conference held in Cairo on 9 December, upon the request of the State of Palestine and of the Kingdom of Jordan as the custodian over the Holy Sites in Jerusalem, and of the OIC Summit held in Istanbul on 13 December under the presidency of Turkey. It is also in full conformity with the prevailing international consensus regarding the dangerous implications of the United States decision regarding Jerusalem for peace and security at the regional and international levels.

We are gathered here today not because of any animosity towards the United States, but because of a decision that can only be characterized as an affront to the natural rights of the Palestinian people in the Holy City of Jerusalem, as well as to the Arab world and all Muslims and Christians across the globe and the special historic, religious and cultural status of Jerusalem.

We reaffirm today that this status remains unaffected by the US decision; this decision has no legal effect. Rather, it is the US standing as a peace broker that has been undermined after it has failed in the test of Jerusalem despite our cautioning and that of the entire world not to take this test lightly, including in light of the high risks of fueling religious sensitivities and contributing to transforming a solvable political conflict into a global religious war.

We must ask who does this decision serve exactly? It serves an Israeli government committed to its colonial agenda and the forces of extremism and terror in our region and the world. Who can believe there can be any credibility to a peace plan from which Jerusalem is excluded? Was there any credible voice for peace expressing support for this decision? How did States, regional and political blocs, parliaments, the UN Secretary General and Muslim and Christian religious authorities and institutions react to it? Doesn’t the United States wonder why it found itself so isolated in taking this decision which was rejected by friends and foes alike, and why even its closest allies could not turn a blind eye to this egregious decision?

The answer is crystal clear: Jerusalem is the cradle of civilizations and the land of the three monotheistic religions and the path of the messengers, and the doorway to heaven and the city of the Holy Sepulcher and the Al Aqsa Mosque, the first Qibla and the third holy shrine in Islam. It will withstand the siege it endures and all attempts of seizure and subjugation. Jerusalem is the dividing line between peace and war in the Middle East and beyond. That is why international law and consensus on it are so unequivocal and why States are mindful and respectful of its unique status and of the historic status quo regarding the holy sites including Al-Haram Al-Sharif.

The United States once again has missed an opportunity to revise its unlawful and provocative decision and to join once again the international consensus and end its isolation on this matter. Yet, instead, it has decided to continue ignoring the dangerous implications of its decision and the international community’s calls to abide by international law and UN resolutions that guide our world and prevent the fueling crises and provide the foundational terms of reference to achieve just and peaceful solutions.

Mr. President,

The State of Palestine respects the sovereignty of States insofar as this sovereignty is aligned with the rule of international law. What it cannot accept is the use of the principle of sovereignty as a pretext to violate international law and the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and to deny our existence and rights in our land.

We stand here today, united with the countries of the world for freedom, justice and peace, undeterred by vetoes, intimidation or threats, because in facing challenges we must all rely on and abide by international law and not on religious sermons whose purpose is to provide cover to colonialism and the acquisition of territory by force.

We are stunned that Israel, the occupying Power, does not yet grasp the fact that the States in this forum represent nations that have suffered for long decades from colonialism, Apartheid, oppression and aggression and are not easily deceived by colonial objectives, regardless of the pretexts are used to justify them, whether based on security, religion or nationalism, because these are all justifications overridden by the struggle of peoples. Moreover, these countries and their peoples are steadfast and constant and will not forget the support provided by Palestine to their struggle in their darkest hours until they achieved freedom and independence.

These States also recognize and uphold the rationale behind the establishment of the international system over 70 years ago in the aftermath of the Second World War, one based on the pursuit of justice and the emergence of a collective will, as enshrined in the UN Charter and international instruments. This international system is undergoing a critical and unprecedented test, and Palestine remains one of the fundamental elements of this test.

Indeed, various international bodies have recognized and repeatedly reaffirmed our rights and our just cause, including the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Human Rights Council, the International Court of Justice and the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. We are confident that today States will rely in their voting decisions on these expressions and articulations and on the clear rationale that prevailed to ensure the advancement of the human civilization.

Mr. President,

History will take note of the names and place them in its records, the names of those who stood for right, and those who spoke against it. We only seek justice and peace, undeterred by the oppression, injustice and subjugation that our people, children, women, men and elderly, continue to endure. Our ordeal extends from the Balfour Declaration a hundred years ago, to the Nakba seventy years ago, to the occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip fifty years ago, to the present day. And despite walking the via dolorosa for a century we continue to pursue peace at every juncture.

But peace and colonialism cannot coexist. Those who choose peace must abandon colonialism, and those who choose colonialism are enemies of peace. Israel does not hide its policies and intentions. The decision of the mediator to display bias by recognizing what is illegal and ignoring what is legal necessitates action in the context of the relevant international and multilateral mechanisms under the umbrella of the United Nations, as we have done in the Security Council and today in the General Assembly, on the basis of international law and in accordance with the terms of reference of the peace process that embody the international will to end the occupation and the conflict and to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive solution providing peace and security for all peoples in the region.

No one can have a monopoly over the peace process and the Question of Palestine remains the responsibility of the international community as a whole, including the United Nations, until it is resolved in all its aspects through the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, a long-overdue covenant that remains unfulfilled. These rights are not subject to the goodwill of the occupying Power, and States cannot evade, even in the name of promoting dialogue among the parties, their own obligations under international law. This includes the obligations not to recognize the situation created by illegal Israeli actions, not to render aid or assistance to the maintaining of this situation, and to distinguish between the occupied territory and the territory of the occupying Power, and, moreover, to hold accountable the parties for their violations. It must also include support to the Palestinian people and their legitimate struggle to achieve freedom and independence, including by recognizing the State of Palestine on 1967 borders.

Mr. President,

The steadfastness of our people in their land is legendary, and their aspirations to freedom and dignity are legitimate, and their hope to ensure security and prosperity for their sons and daughters and future generations resurrects every single day. But the brutality of the Israeli occupation is stealing their dreams and future. It is enough to observe what our people have endured in the last few days, from the killing by a sniper of a crippled man who had lost his two legs in bombings on Gaza, to the shooting in the face of a child, to a young unarmed man besieged by a battalion of Israeli soldiers, to the kidnapping of a brave girl in the middle of the night from her parents’ arms. When does the dispossession, oppression and destruction end and when will our Nakba be finally over, allowing us to finally live in freedom and dignity, security and peace in our homeland and the land of our ancestors?

As the world celebrates Christmas and the birth of Christ, the lights are turned off in the land of Christ, in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth, in response to the attempts to erase the Palestinian, Arab, Islamic and Christian identity of Jerusalem and in reaffirmation of the unity of our people and cause.

History’s stance on colonialism, Apartheid, settlements and walls is unequivocal and Palestine cannot remain hostage to the ills of a past era rejected by humanity. The Palestinian people remain steadfast in the Holy Land, preserving the unbroken, uninterrupted organic relationship between the people, its land and its history, and defending universal values and human principles that you have come here today to uphold and defend.

I thus appeal to you to vote in favor of the draft resolution in defense of justice that cannot neither be ignored nor denied, and to side with the longstanding principles enshrined in international law and your own resolutions and in rejection of falsifications, intimidation and threats. Those who aspire to peace will cast today a vote for peace.

I thank you, Mr. President.