11 December 2019 – Illegal Israeli Settlement Activities and Annexation Threats

Excellency,

I write to draw the international community’s attention once again to escalating illegal Israeli policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, that are continuing to inflict hardship and suffering on the Palestinian civilian population and undermining peace prospects, making them more remote than ever.

In the period since my last letter, more Palestinian families have lost their lands and their homes to the occupation’s unrelenting colonization and de facto annexation, especially in and around Occupied East Jerusalem; more civilians have been arrested, imprisoned and tortured; more innocents, including children and women and including peaceful protesters, have been killed and maimed by occupying forces and extremist settlers; and more families have been devastated by the inhumane siege on Gaza and other measures of collective punishment imposed by the occupying Power. With that, the Palestinian people’s hopes that this illegal occupation will end and that their rights, including to self-determination and freedom, and that a just peace can soon be realized have only further diminished.

Such rising despair is stoking already high tensions and exacerbating an already toxic, dangerous environment. We urge the international community to give this situation the urgent attention that it requires, commensurate with the political, legal and moral responsibilities and commitments to ensure a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In this regard, as the Security Council prepares to consider its last quarterly report of 2019 on implementation of resolution 2334 (2016) and on the heels of the General Assembly’s overwhelming adoption of its resolution on the “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine”, it is unquestionable that lack of implementation and lack of accountability for the ongoing grave violations by Israel, the occupying Power, have hastened the situation’s steep deterioration. Emboldened by lack of accountability and continuing appeasement, Israeli government officials continue to pursue unlawful policies and destructive actions, even boasting of their intent to breach international law.

Last week, the Israeli Prime Minister threatened annexation once again, declaring on 5 December that Israel has the “full right” to annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank, if it so decides, blatantly dismissing the international prohibition on the acquisition of territory by force. Also, last week, the Israeli government announced plans to establish a new Israeli settlement in the heart of Al-Khalil (Hebron) in the Old City on Shuhada Street. There the city’s central market and its thriving economic and social life had once existed, but from which Palestinians were forcibly driven out and banned from accessing after a 1994 massacre of 29 Palestinians by an extremist Israeli settler, who shot and killed them during morning prayers at the Ibrahim Mosque in the city.

Such provocative and illegal plans cannot go unchallenged. They must be roundly condemned and Israel, the occupying Power, must be demanded to respect its legal obligations, including under the Fourth Geneva Convention and the relevant Security Council resolutions, and to halt all of its settlement activities and de facto annexation measures immediately and completely. This is imperative for de-escalating tensions, stemming the deterioration of the situation and salvaging peace prospects.

It is clear, as flaunted by Israeli Ministers, that this latest colonization scheme aims at creating a contiguous bloc of settlements in the Old City that will double the Israeli settler population there. At least 700 Israeli settlers have already been illegally transferred to the city among more than 200,000 Palestinians residing there. This Palestinian population continues to live under the most oppressive and coercive conditions imposed by the Israeli occupying forces and the majority of those settlers, who are known to be religious extremists and fanatics.

In fact, after the 1994 massacre, most of the Palestinian families were subsequently expelled from their homes on Shuhada Street and their shops were shuttered and welded shut by the occupying forces. Many of the empty homes were then seized by extremist settlers and some of the homes still occupied by Palestinians were later seized by force. While Israelis and internationals may freely access the area, the few Palestinian families that still live there must cross through military checkpoints to access their own homes and routinely endure harassment, intimidation and violence by extremist settlers. This situation has been thoroughly monitored and documented by the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), UN-OCHA and by numerous human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch and the Israeli organizations B’tselem and Breaking the Silence, among others.

Such provocative, illegal plans expose once again the glaring fact that, although the massacre was perpetrated by an Israeli settler, who continues to be glorified and revered by extremist settler groups, it was the Palestinian population that was punished and remains without redress and justice as the occupying Power continues to act with total impunity, shamelessly exploiting the international community’s ongoing failure to hold accountable.

While recognizing the very clear and overwhelming rejection by the international community of such illegal policies and actions, as attested to most recently in the Security Council on 20 November with the near-unanimous reaffirmation of the relevant Security Council resolutions and the Charter principles as regards Israel’s illegal settlement activities and annexation threats, it is clear that such statements are not enough.

We reiterate the urgency of concrete action and measures to hold Israel accountable for its flagrant contempt of the Council and continuing violations against the Palestinian people and in their land. Such violations are causing profound human suffering and destroying the viability and possibility of actualizing the two-State solution on the pre-1967 borders, in accordance with United Nations resolutions, the Madrid principles and the Arab Peace Initiative, and contradict the longstanding international consensus on the parameters for just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace and security.

We call once again on the international community, and particularly the Security Council, to uphold the obligations in this regard. The Security Council must implement its resolutions without exception, including resolution 2334 (2016), which called, inter alia, for the immediate and complete cessation of all Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, as well as the cessation of all acts of provocation, incitement, violence and terror against civilians. The Council cannot continue to neglect its Charter duties when it comes to the Palestine question. A future of peace, security and stability for the Palestinian and Israeli peoples and the Middle East region as a whole is dependent on this.

This letter is in follow-up to our 677 letters regarding the ongoing crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which constitutes the territory of the State of Palestine.  These letters, dated from 29 September 2000 (A/55/432-S/2000/921) to 18 November 2019 (A/ES-10/–/2019/–), constitute a basic record of the crimes being committed by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people since September 2000. For all of these war crimes, acts of State terrorism and systematic human rights violations being committed against the Palestinian people, Israel, the occupying Power, must be held accountable and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.

Signature_English

Dr. Riyad Mansour

Ambassador, Permanent Observer

of the State of Palestine to the United Nations

12 September 2019 – Israeli Threats of Annexation

Excellency,

In direct violation of the Charter of the United Nations and its very purposes and principles, in blatant contempt of the United Nations Security Council, and in grave breach of international humanitarian law, Israel, the occupying Power, persists with its illegal colonization measures and direct threats to annex the Palestinian land it has been militarily occupying for more than 52 years.

Following earlier, repeated, provocative threats to annex Israeli settlements illegally established in the Occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Israeli Prime Minister has made yet another cynical, menacing threat. On 10 September, in the context of his frenzied electioneering and relentless inflammatory rhetoric against the State of Palestine and the Palestinian people, the Prime Minister declared his intention, if elected, to apply Israeli sovereignty to and annex the Jordan Valley in the Occupied West Bank, calling the area “Israel’s eastern border”.

The international community cannot remain silent in the face of such direct threats and blatant plans of aggression. International law must be upheld and defended. Israel must be reminded that it is NOT the sovereign in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and has no sovereign rights in our land whatsoever.

Israel is the occupying Power and is bound by the obligations prescribed by international humanitarian law, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention, and the relevant Security Council resolutions, all of which it continues to deliberately and systematically violate. After more than 52 years, it is beyond an understatement to say that this belligerent occupation is illegal in every manifestation, existing and persisting only on the basis of gross violations of international law.

Israel’s attempts to illegally and forcibly alter the demography, character, identity and legal status of the Palestinian territory occupied since June 1967, including East Jerusalem, are rejected and without any legal effect. That territory remains occupied, a fact repeatedly and unequivocally affirmed by the Security Council and General Assembly, the International Court of Justice, and the international community in nearly in its entirety. Nothing has changed this fact and all actions by Israel to assert its control, jurisdiction and sovereignty in our land, including threats and measures of colonization and annexation, are illegal and null and void.

The international prohibition on the acquisition of territory by force is inviolable. There can be no exceptions. The Security Council has been patently clear on this across the decades and its resolutions remain valid and must be respected. The Council has reaffirmed this in numerous of its resolutions, including, inter alia, resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 465 (1980), 476 (1980), 478 (1980) and as recently as resolution 2334 (2016), whereby the Council underscored that “it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regards to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations”.

Regrettably, however, the historic lack of accountability in this regard has enabled and fostered Israeli impunity. The international community’s inaction and failure to impose even minimal consequences, let alone sanctions, for Israel’s blatant defiance of the Security Council and violations of international law, including war crimes, have only heightened the occupying Power’s erroneous conviction that it is a State above the law, exempt from international rules and norms.

Recent decisions and actions by the current US administration – in total disregard of the law, UN resolutions and the longstanding international consensus on the two-State solution on the 1967 border – have only further emboldened Israel’s impunity. Actions vis-à-vis Occupied East Jerusalem and the Occupied Syrian Golan have been most glaring in this regard. Although roundly condemned globally, such actions, blind support and dismissiveness of international law have clearly fueled today’s unprecedented levels of crimes, rhetoric and incitement. Indeed, the Israeli Prime Minister’s declaration that he will “await to apply sovereignty until release of the President’s [Trump] political plan”, linking the two schemes, proves the extent to which such policies have reinforced a permissive environment wherein Israel believes it can wantonly violate the law and never be held accountable.

All of this has been to the detriment of the Palestinian people, who continue to be forcibly deprived of their inalienable rights, including to self-determination, freedom and independence; to the detriment of the diminishing prospects for achieving a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and to the detriment of peace and security, regionally and globally. It is a vicious cycle that has harmed the Security Council’s credibility and authority and the international rules-based order. As has often been stated in the Security Council chamber, we must reiterate: the Palestine question remains a litmus test for the viability and efficacy of international law and international system as a whole.

It is beyond time to stop this impunity and stop this insanity, which can only compound this already-disastrous conflict and lead to more human suffering and loss. The international community must act in accordance with its obligations and long-held consensus on the parameters of a just, lasting and comprehensive solution in accordance with international law, the relevant resolutions, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet Roadmap. Continued inaction is unjustifiable, unacceptable and unconscionable.

It is beyond time to hold Israel, the occupying Power, to account for its violations of international law. The political will must be mobilized to impose consequences for continued contempt and non-compliance with UN resolutions. Such crimes, provocations and incitement as we witness today cannot be tolerated or excused. Israel’s blatant threats and plans of annexation make international action even more urgent.

We call on the Security Council to defend, uphold and act forthwith to implement its relevant resolutions. States too must act to uphold their obligations and responsibilities in line with international law and the relevant resolutions, including resolution 2334 (2016), which explicitly called on all States to distinguish in their relevant dealings between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967. Serious and practical measures must be taken.

The Security Council cannot allow for the prohibition on the acquisition of territory by force, a cornerstone of the international legal order, to be trampled, permitting the further trampling of the rights of peoples, further destabilization of the region and further unraveling of the international system and its foundational principles. The dangers of this situation should not be underestimated. We call for unequivocal condemnation of Israel’s threats and violations and immediate action and concrete measures to bring an end to this impunity. Only such action can ever bring an end to this illegal occupation, bring an end to this injustice, and make a just and lasting peace a reality.

This letter is in follow-up to our 674 letters regarding the ongoing crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which constitutes the territory of the State of Palestine.  These letters, dated from 29 September 2000 (A/55/432-S/2000/921) to 9 September 2019 (A/ES-10/—S/2019/—), constitute a basic record of the crimes being committed by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people since September 2000. For all of these war crimes, acts of State terrorism and systematic human rights violations being committed against the Palestinian people, Israel, the occupying Power, must be held accountable and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.                

Dr. Riyad Mansour

Ambassador, Permanent Observer

of the State of Palestine to the United Nations

23 July 2019 – 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”

Mr. President,

We thank the Peruvian Presidency for convening this important meeting and for your able leadership of the Security Council’s agenda.

We also thank Under-Secretary-General Rosemary Di Carlo for her briefing on the situation, one that regrettably worsens every day that action to ensure justice is delayed and that a political horizon for a peaceful solution remains obstructed.

Mr. President,

We have come to this chamber time after time, appealing to, calling on and imploring on the Security Council to act – to alleviate the human suffering, to salvage peace prospects and to contribute to making that peace a reality. We remain convinced that such action – in line with international law, the Council’s resolutions and its Charter responsibility for international peace and security  – is the only way to bring an end to this grave injustice.

Respect for the law and human rights and establishment of justice are the only way forward. Those who would tell us otherwise are setting us up for decades more of suffering and insecurity for all – Palestinians, Israelis and the entire region.

After more than 52 years of Israel’s illegal occupation of our land, its gross, violent denial of our people’s rights and their constant dispossession and displacement, it is past high-time to redress this situation, justly and permanently. This is a blatant situation of belligerent, colonial foreign occupation – attested to by any measure of the law and by this Council, the General Assembly, the International Court of Justice, countless regional and global organizations, academia, and the international community in nearly its entirety – and it must be brought to an end. [Read more…]