29 October 2020 – Israeli-U.S. Agreement and Illegal Israeli Settlements

Excellency,

Israel, the occupying Power, continues its violations and aggressions against the Palestinian people, entrenching its illegal colonial occupation, causing immense human suffering, and destroying the prospects for a just peace. With every passing day, it is trampling international law, mocking the international consensus, and dismantling the two-State solution on the pre-1967 borders. Regrettably this is being done with the full support and complicity of the current United States administration.

When it comes to the Palestine question, this US administration persists with its disrespect for international law and the resolutions and authority of the UN Security Council and absolute disregard for the rights of the Palestinian people. Following the provocative declaration made by the US Secretary of State in November 2019 that the Israeli settlements established in the Occupied Palestinian Territory are “not per se inconsistent with international law”, and following the issuance by the US President of his so-called “Vision for Peace”, which, inter alia, attempts to legitimize Israel’s theft and colonization of the Palestinian land, the US and Israel yesterday signed agreements extending further US recognition and support to the illegal Israeli settlement regime and ongoing annexation attempts.

The agreements signed directly violate UN resolutions, including Security Council resolution 2334 (2016) and all that preceded it, which affirmed the illegality of Israel’s settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and called upon all States not to recognize them as legitimate and not to render any assistance to the occupying Power in their maintenance. Moreover, this constitutes yet another step undermining the viability of the two-State solution and taking us yet farther away from the potential of a just, secure and lasting peace.

While being presented as mere “scientific cooperation” agreements, these agreements are cynically intended to bolster Israeli sovereignty claims in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, as well as the  Occupied Syrian Golan, by specifically extending US-Israeli cooperation to include the Israeli settlements, which had been excluded from previous such agreements. Not hiding the unlawful intentions in this regard, Israeli Minister Zeev Elkin provocatively declared yesterday that the agreements were “a big achievement for Israel’s sovereignty” and “another step towards international recognition of our rights” in the West Bank.

In this regard, we remind that Israel is not the sovereign in any part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in East Jerusalem, the annexation of which is illegal, null and void, and without any legitimacy. Israel is the occupying Power and it is bound by the rules of international law, including international humanitarian law and specifically as proscribed by the Fourth Geneva Convention, and by the relevant UN resolutions, which it is obligated to respect in accordance with the Charter.

We further recall in this regard the provisions of Security Council resolution 2334 (2016), by which the Council, inter alia, unequivocally:

  • Reiterated “its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard”;
  • Underlined “that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations”;
  • Called upon States “to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967”.

These are the demands of the Security Council, not simply the Palestinian narrative, and must be respected without exception. Moreover, these demands and the relevant resolutions remain at the core of the international consensus on the fundamental requirements and parameters for a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as reaffirmed yet again by one State after another at the Security Council debate held on 26 October 2020.

Here, we recall the ultimate aim of the international community’s efforts and Security Council legislation on this matter, an aim that was reaffirmed in resolution 2334 and continues to be reaffirmed in all relevant resolutions: to bring an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace on the basis of the relevant UN resolutions.

That objective is being gravely undermined every single day by the destructive policies and measures being enacted by Israel, the occupying Power, in the occupied State of Palestine, including East Jerusalem, in violation of international law and the rights of the Palestinian people, including their inalienable right to self-determination, and by support being given to this illegal occupation, which only allows it to continue expanding and entrenching itself, only further delaying the realization of a just solution and the fulfilment of Palestinian rights and freedom.

We call on the international community, including the Security Council and General Assembly of the United Nations, to act on their legal obligations and responsibilities to bring an end to this injustice. We call on the Security Council to uphold its Charter duties and live up to its determination to examine practical ways and means to secure the full implementation of its resolutions, including in regards to ongoing efforts to convene an international peace conference for this purpose. We also recall the Council’s determination, as affirmed in resolution 2334, “to support the parties throughout the negotiations and in the implementation of an agreement”.

In this context, we stress that creating an environment conducive to peace requires respect for the law and accountability. We call on all States not to recognize the illegitimate situation imposed by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and not to render any aid or assistance in this regard. Moreover, we appeal for lawful countermeasures to ensure accountability. Only through consequences for the violation of the law and international consensus can we ever hope to bring a halt to these crimes and salvage the prospects for peace. We recall here the Human Rights Council’s database of businesses linked to the Israeli settlements, and reiterate our call for countries to, among other lawful measures, ban the import of settlement goods illegally produced in Occupied Palestine and with the exploitation of our natural resources.

We urge vigilance in regards of the obligation to differentiate between Israel and the territories it continues to occupy. Agreements signed between States and Israel must not cover any of the territories occupied by Israel since 1967. In this context, we also expect that the quarterly report of the UN Secretary-General on the implementation of Security Council resolution 2334 refer not only to steps taken in respect of this demand, but also in its violation. This is essential for ensuring an accurate reflection of the reality we are dealing with and ensuring the accountability that has been too long missing and that is a pillar of justice, without which peace is not possible.

I should be grateful if you would arrange to have this letter distributed as an official document of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly, under agenda item 5, and of the Security Council.

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

Dr. Riyad Mansour

Minister, Permanent Observer

Statement by H.E. Riad Malki, Foreign Minister of the State of Palestine, before the Security Council Open Debate, 26 October 2020

Mr. President,

At the outset, I wish to thank Your Excellency Deputy Minister Vershinin for presiding over this meeting and for the leadership role of Russia in the pursuit of Middle East peace. Let me also thank my brother Mohamed Ali Nafti, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Tunisia, and H.E. Dang Minh Khoi, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Vietnam, for participating in this meeting. I also wish to thank Mr. Mladenov for his briefing and efforts.

Mr. President,

It is time to drop the old talking points.

It is ridiculous to claim that the Palestinians “never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity”, when in fact the PLO signed an agreement with Israel just months after the start of the first ever negotiations between the two sides, despite all the shortcomings of those accords, which history has proven.

It is preposterous to consider that Israel’s right to security could justify its occupation and oppression of an entire nation for decades, or justify denying us our right to self-determination and to a sovereign and independent State, and or justify denying our own right to security.

It is absurd to claim that it is the Palestinian side that does not want negotiations, when Israel is the one trying, on the ground every single day, to illegally preempt the negotiations on all final status issues.

It is ludicrous to claim that the obstacle to peace is Palestinian intransigence, when our positions are actually aligned with the international consensus and the resolutions of this Council, while Israeli positions and policies are flagrantly in breach of international law and UN resolutions.

The parties identified final status issues that should be negotiated based on internationally-agreed terms of reference and parameters by 1999. Here is Netanyahu’s stance on these issues: Jerusalem, including occupied East Jerusalem, shall be Israeli. Illegal settlements shall remain in place. Refugees shall remain refugees. Israel shall continue to control our borders. Israel shall control all of the Jordan Valley and with it most of our natural resources. These positions are contemptuous and unlawful, and they translate into a simple truth: Israel does not want to end its illegal occupation, it wants to make it permanent. And we are the ones labeled ‘intransigent’?

It is time to abandon the failed recipes of the past.

We cannot allow Israeli unilateralism to prevail while the world continues calling for bilateral negotiations.

It is no longer enough to call on parties to negotiate, this call must be accompanied by measures to incentivize respect for obligations and to dissuade from illegal unilateral actions.

It is no longer enough to say settlements are illegal, one must ensure accountability, distinction and non-assistance.

It is no longer enough to speak of a two-State solution, it must be accompanied with the recognition of the State of Palestine and support to its sovereignty over the territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem.

We could have tried to find answers to Israel’s violence through violence, to be heard and considered relevant. We did not.

We could have adopted a disruptive behaviour, since constructive behaviour is underrated these days. We did not.

We could have contributed to transforming this political conflict into a religious one, fueling it so we are not the only ones to feel its flames. We did not.

Despite decades of Israel’s oppressive policies, and of measures aimed to bring us to our knees, politically and financially, President Abbas called in his message to the General Assembly, as he has before this Council, the UN Secretary-General to undertake, in cooperation with the Quartet, mandated by this body to advance peace, and the Security Council, preparations to convene an international conference, with the participation of all concerned parties, early next year, to engage in a genuine peace process, based on international law, UN resolutions and the relevant terms of reference.

This call is the ultimate demonstration of our commitment to peace and to a path based on inclusion not exclusion, legality not illegality, negotiations not diktats, multilateralism not unilateralism. I know many of your countries have already expressed support to President Abbas’s initiative and we look forward to continue working with all of you to see it materialize, including through meetings of this Council, such as this one held during Russia’s presidency. 

Mr. President,

Israel decided, only under pressure, to freeze its plans for formal annexation of areas beyond occupied East Jerusalem. But it has not renounced its decades-long policy aiming to control maximum Palestinian land with minimum Palestinians, in other words maximum Palestinian geography with minimum Palestinian demography. Its de facto annexation continues with the advancement in recent days of 5000 settlement units deep into the West Bank, including in and around occupied East Jerusalem. The international community must act to salvage peace, or we will all bear the consequences.

As long as Israel does not bear the cost of occupation, and instead continues reaping its benefits, it will never negotiate in good faith. The international community must address the shortcomings of the past, by linking its relations with the parties to their respect of their obligations under international law and the peace process, by helping them reach an agreement and implementing it and by enforcing a binding timeframe.

The international peace conference can generate the necessary momentum and mobilize the international community at large to help the parties negotiate a peace agreement that will forever change our region. Anything else is volatile, and it is futile.

Two-third of our people were forced into exile, and we did not surrender. Tens of thousands were killed, and we did not surrender. Hundreds of thousands were displaced, and we did not surrender. The equivalent of half of our male population, over 800,000 Palestinians, was arrested and we did not surrender. What makes anyone think we would surrender now?

Israel often wonders why we enjoy such international solidarity. It is because former colonial powers and liberation movements alike know these colonial policies well: violence, subjugation, intimidation, mass arbitrary imprisonment, discrimination, humiliation, fragmentation of the land, confinement of the occupied people, expansion of illegal settlements, exploitation. They cannot support such actions. History has taught them better.

The international consensus, UNRWA’s mandate and role, the Palestinian people’s resilience have all been sorely tested. And yet they prevail. It is now time to take the initiative. There isn’t a people too many in the Middle East, there is an independent state missing. You cannot solve the Middle East equation by denying this fundamental factor. You cannot end this conflict without freedom for the Palestinian people, and our freedom will never be compatible with Israeli soldiers in our streets, Israeli drones in our skies and Israeli control over our borders.

Ask Maher Al-Akhras who has been on hunger strike for over 90 days to denounce, at the peril of his life, the most arbitrary form of detention, the so-called administrative detention, ask Amer Snobar, barely 18, and beaten to death yesterday by Israeli soldiers who had apprehended him and kept hitting him on his head and neck with the butt of their rifles until he could no longer breathe, ask the mother of the child killed on his way to school, the athlete whose leg was amputated after a sniper acted as if he was playing a videogame, the owner of a house built by years of sweat and destroyed in an instant, and the farmer whose crops were burnt by settlers, they will all tell you “we will not coexist with occupation”. We want to end occupation, so we can coexist, so we can know justice, so we can be free, so our region can know true peace and security.

Thank you Mr. President.

15 October 2020 – Israeli Settlements and Other Violations

Excellency,

I write to draw your attention to the critical situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, due to the ongoing and escalating illegal policies and practices of Israel, the occupying Power, perpetrated against the Palestinian people.

Most letters circulated in the recent period by the Security Council mention the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting its severe and multidimensional effects. The evolving situation has brought forth several important lessons which stress the principle of collectivity and shared humanity.

Regrettably, however, this is not the case in Palestine, where Israel, the occupying Power, continues to exploit the pandemic, aggressively advancing its settlement colonization and annexation schemes, entrenching its 53-year military occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. As the international community focuses its collective efforts on mitigating the dire impact of the pandemic on people, societies and economies globally, Israel has instead seized it as an opportune moment to further trample the law and further harm the Palestinian civilian population under its illegal occupation. Despite Israel’s claim to desire peace and stability, such dangerous and illegal actions prove otherwise, clearly pointing to its true desire: more Palestinian land.

Just this week, on 14 and 15 October, the Israeli government approved the construction of another 5,000 settlement units in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, primarily in areas deep inside the West Bank. Such duplicity cannot be ignored as Israel persists with its violations and further undermines the two-State solution on the pre-1967 lines, paving way for an apartheid one-State reality, while it simultaneously disguises itself as a regional partner who believes in advancing peace and stability, attempting to promote its standing in the international community based on false credentials.

The international community must explicitly demand once again that Israel immediately cease all of its illegal settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. Settlement activities constitute a flagrant violation of international law amounting to grave breaches, i.e. war crimes. Israel must be demanded to  abide by its legal obligations, including under the Fourth Geneva Convention, as reaffirmed in Security Council resolution 2334 (2016), or suffer the consequences of its rogue behavior.

To Israel, “suspending” its annexation plans obviously does not mean that it intends to abide by international law as it continues to pursue all measures aimed at the colonization and annexation of our land. Annexation has not stopped, it is happening every single day with every settlement expanded, every home demolished and every Palestinian family forcibly displaced.

While many in the international community have directly called on Israel to permanently abandon its annexation plans, the occupying Power continues to ignore these calls, proceeding apace with its illegal schemes, swallowing up more Palestinian land by the day. The lack of accountability has undoubtedly enabled and emboldened such grave breaches, which are destroying the two-State solution and constitute the main obstacle to peace.

Home demolitions and forced evictions are continue to be everyday occurrences for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. According to OCHA, Israel demolished more than 500 Palestinian buildings in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since the start of 2020, with a total of 134 structures demolished in in East Jerusalem alone. Disregarding international law and the sensitive urgency of the pandemic, Israel has intensified its inhumane practice of home demolitions and forced evictions, rendering hundreds more Palestinians homeless.

Israel uses the pretext of ‘construction without a permit’ to justify its illegal policies. Yet, as repeatedly reported by UNSCO, Israel, breaching all of its legal obligations as the occupying Power, makes it nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain such permits, as the objective is to deliberately restrict Palestinian development and dispossess Palestinian families, creating a coercive environment that forces them to leave their land. Moreover, as highlighted by Special Coordinator Nikolay Mladenov during his last Security Council briefing on the Question of Palestine, many Palestinians are actually forced to demolish their own homes in order to avoid the heavy demolition fees imposed by the Israeli government.

The fact is that while Israeli settlers enjoy the Israeli government’s full support for the illegal expansion and construction of settlements and outposts in occupied territory that facilitates the illegal transfer of these settlers to our land, Palestinian civilians cannot construct a single room or home in their own land without obtaining the nearly-impossible permit from Israeli authorities. Moreover, not only do Israeli occupation forces take part in attacks on Palestinian civilians through home demolitions, forced evictions, military raids, and other crimes, they also protect armed and fanatic settlers in carrying out attacks against Palestinians throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Aided and abetted by the occupation forces, Israeli settler violence has escalated in the recent period, including the destruction of Palestinian-property, vandalism, uprooting trees, and direct attacks against civilians.

As October marks the start of the olive harvest season in Palestine, our people face the constant threat of settler violence. In the past week, Israeli settlers perpetrated numerous attacks against Palestinians and stole olive harvest across the West Bank. In the village of al-Jabaa settlers attacked Palestinian farmers and destroyed 300 trees in two attacks. More than 1 million productive trees have been destroyed by the Israel occupation since 2000, according to a 2019 UNCTAD report. Needless to say, the majority of the complaints against such attacks are rarely investigated by Israel.

Along with the spike settler violence, Palestinian access to farmlands continues to be undermined by the Israeli military’s severe restrictions on the freedom of movement, particularly due to the Wall, military checkpoints, and randomly erected roadblocks. Occupying forces routinely block agricultural roads to obstruct the movement of farmers during the olive harvest season, impairing the livelihoods of thousands of families. Furthermore, settler violence and military restrictions equally undermine the central role of olive harvest in Palestinian culture, society and history.

Israel’s inhumane policy of administrative detention also continues to endanger Palestinian, including children and women. Incarceration of civilians without trial and without charge is a routine practice by the occupying Power that has inflicted untold suffering on  the Palestinian people. At least 350 Palestinians are being administratively detained among the nearly 5,000 being imprisoned by Israel. Governments, human rights groups, and other international organizations have called for the release of Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons without being charged, tried, or convicted.

The case of Maher al-Akhras, a 49-year old Palestinian man and father of six children who has been on a hunger strike for more than 80 days since his arrest and administrative detention by Israeli occupation forces in July, is one such case requiring immediate attention. According to Israeli rights group B’Tselem, al-Akhras is “on the verge of death” as he protests his unlawful incarceration.

As the occupying Power, Israel is responsible for the lives and wellbeing of prisoners, whether held in Israeli prisons in the Occupied Palestinian Territory or in Israel, which violates the Fourth Geneva Convention due to the illegality of transferring prisoners outside of occupied territories. Given the pandemic’s impact and the increase in transmission rates in the region, Israel must heed the international community’s call and release vulnerable prisoners, particularly women, children, older persons and those with pre-existing medical conditions, and must release administrative detainees, including Mr. al-Akras, whose life is in present danger.

Turning to the situation in the Gaza Strip, we once again sound the alarm about the deplorable humanitarian and socioeconomic conditions there due to Israel’s 13-year blockade that has inflicted such severe deprivation, hunger and misery on its two million inhabitants. Israel regularly bans the entry of fuel shipments, using punitive measures that endanger the livelihood of millions of vulnerable people. As previously stated by many States, United Nations agencies, and international organization, Gaza’s overburdened health care system cannot cope with additional suspensions or reductions of power sources while facing the threat of COVID-19. In this regard, according to a WHO report, COVID-19 cases in Gaza have risen by 84 percent, compounding the hardships and fears being faced by the Palestinian people, who are prevented by the occupation of accessing international tools and capabilities to deal with the challenges and consequences posed by the pandemic.

In this context, we must reiterate our appreciation for the assistance being extended to the Palestinian people from across the globe and in spite of the challenging circumstances facing countries in this era of COVID-19. This includes in particular the vital assistance being provided through UNRWA, OCHA, UNICEF, WHO, WFP and other UN agencies and humanitarian organizations on the ground and direct assistance by the international donor community.

Considering Israel’s half century old occupation and incessant violations, the Palestinian people are sadly not surprised at the escalation of crimes and exploitation of this time of pandemic by the occupation. This is the direct result of lack of accountability for an occupation that has only expanded its territorial control by the day over the last 53 years. Given its complete departure from the two-State solution, Israel’s calls for “peace” should not be trusted until the international community sees a correlation in Israeli behavior with international law, the relevant UN resolutions, including resolution 2334, and the internationally-agreed parameters for a just solution, which remain at the core of the international consensus. Until then, the international community, including the Security Council, must hold the occupying Power accountable, rather than rewarding its dangerous behavior with silence and inaction, while ignoring the pain and suffering endured by the people living under its military rule.

I should be grateful if you would arrange to have this letter distributed as an official document of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly, under agenda item 5, and of the Security Council.

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

Dr. Riyad Mansour

Minister, Permanent Observer

Statement of H.E. President Mahmoud Abbas President of the State of Palestine UN General Assembly General Debate of the 75 th Session 25 September 2020

In the name of God, the Merciful,
H.E. Mr. Volkan Bozkir, President of the General Assembly
H.E. Mr. António Guterres, Secretary General
Ladies and Gentlemen, Heads and Members of delegations,

I wondered while preparing this statement what more could I tell you, after all that I have said in previous statements, about the perpetual tragedy and suffering being endured by my people – which the world is witness to daily – and about their legitimate aspirations – which are yet to be fulfilled – to freedom, independence and human dignity, as enjoyed by the peoples of the world.

Until when, ladies and gentlemen, will the question of Palestine remain without a just solution as enshrined in United Nations resolutions? Until when will the Palestinian people remain under Israeli occupation and will the question of millions of Palestine refugees remain without a just solution in accordance with what the United Nations has determined over 70 years ago?

Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Palestinian people have been present in their homeland, Palestine, the land of their ancestors, for over 6000 years, and they will continue living on this land, steadfast in the face of occupation, aggression and the disappointments and betrayals, until the fulfilment of their rights. Despite all they have endured and continue to endure, despite the unjust blockade that targets our national decision, we will not kneel or surrender and we will not deviate from our fundamental positions, and we shall overcome, God willing.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have accepted the rule of international law and UN resolutions, and we have done so in spite of the historic injustice that we have borne from 1917 to the present day, and even though these resolutions only acknowledged as Palestinian the territories occupied in 1967. Yet, the Israeli occupying Power, with the support of the present US administration, wants to substitute this basis for a just solution with the US ‘Deal of the Century’ and the planned annexation of over 33% of the land of the State of Palestine, in addition to the annexation of occupied East Jerusalem, including Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. We have rejected this deal, as did the international community, as it contravenes international law and
UN resolutions, which recognized, inter alia, the existence of the State of Palestine in 2012 as part of the international order.

We have always sought a just, comprehensive and lasting peace, and we have agreed to all the initiatives presented to us. I have personally dedicated my life to achieving this desired peace, notably since 1988, followed by the Madrid Conference and the Oslo Accords in 1993, and to this very day. We accepted and remained committed to the Arab Peace Initiative, as it provides for peace, security and coexistence once the occupation ends. We did all of this for peace.

What did Israel, the occupying Power, do in return? It violated all agreements signed with us, undermined the two-State solution through its oppressive practices of killing and maiming, arrests, home demolitions, asphyxiating our economy, and systematically acting to alter the character and identity of occupied Jerusalem, attacking its Muslim and Christian holy sites, notably Al-Aqsa Mosque, and pursuing its settler colonialism on our land and against our people, ignoring the Arab Peace Initiative for peace and actively attempting now to kill another opportunity for peace through reckless unilateral measures.

Finally, it announces normalization agreements with both the UAE and Bahrain, in violation of the Arab Peace Initiative, and the terms of reference of a comprehensive, lasting and just solution in accordance with international law. The Palestine Liberation Organization has not
given a mandate to anyone to speak or negotiate on behalf of the Palestinian people and the only path to lasting, comprehensive and just peace in our region requires ending the occupation and securing the independence of the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders with East
Jerusalem as its capital.

In this regard, I call on the Secretary-General of the United Nations to undertake, in cooperation with the Quartet and the Security Council, preparations to convene an international conference with full authority and with the participation of all concerned parties, early next year, to engage in a genuine peace process, based on international law, UN resolutions and the relevant terms of reference, leading to an end the occupation and the achievement by the Palestinian people of their freedom and independence within their State, with East Jerusalem as its capital, on the 1967 borders, and resolving all final status issues, notably the question of the refugees, based on resolution 194.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Those who believe the Palestinian people can coexist with the occupation or be subdued by pressure and diktats are under an illusion, as are those who are being misled to believe that they can circumvent our people, who bear this struggle and are its only address. Let everyone know there will be no peace, no security, no stability and no coexistence in our region while
this occupation continues and a just, comprehensive solution to the question of Palestine, the core of the conflict, remains denied.

In Palestine, ladies and gentlemen, there is a living nation, creative, civilized, peace-loving, aspiring passionately to freedom. A nation that has been able – despite the occupation that besieges our lives – to build an active and modern society, that believes in democracy and the
rule of law and has been able to preserve its national existence and identity despite all the political and philosophical differences between its diverse components. Here we are, despite all the obstacles that you know too well, preparing ourselves to hold parliamentary elections, followed by presidential elections, with the participation of all factions and political parties.

We will continue creating life and hope under the flag of national unity and democracy. We will continue resisting all attempts and plans to erase us, and we will secure our rightful and natural place among nations and exercise the rights granted to us by international legitimacy, including our right to resist this occupation in accordance with international law.

We will continue building the institutions of our State and consolidating them on the basis of the rule of law. We will continue combating international terrorism, as we have done for years past. We will remain faithful to peace, justice, human and national dignity under all circumstances. I salute the great Palestinian people that bravely pursues the struggle for freedom and independence. I salute our martyrs, prisoners and wounded. I salute Jerusalem and our people who remain steadfast in its holy sites. I salute our people in the besieged Gaza Strip. I salute our people in the refugee camps everywhere. I salute all those who stand with us and with our rights from all countries, nations and organizations.

Peace be upon you.

17 September 2020 – Israeli Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem

Excellency,

I write to draw your attention to the critical situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, due to the ongoing and escalating illegal policies and practices of Israel, the occupying Power, perpetrated relentlessly against the Palestinian people.

As the COVID-19 pandemic remains the most dangerous challenge affecting all of our countries and peoples and requiring an unprecedented global response, Israel insists instead on carrying on with its illegal policies and practices, compounding the vulnerability and needs of the Palestinian civilian population under its illegal occupation, compromising their ability to confront the pandemic, and further destabilizing the already-volatile situation on the ground. Violent attacks against Palestinian civilians, destruction and appropriation of property, forced evictions and displacement, expansion of illegal settlements, massive arrest campaigns, and acts of incitement and provocation, including at holy sites in Occupied East Jerusalem, continue to be perpetrated on a daily basis by the Israeli occupying forces and extremist Israeli settlers.

While some may have normalized these actions against our people and land, there is nothing normal or humane about them and all constitute grave breaches of international law, including humanitarian and human rights law, and violations of Israel’s obligations under the relevant United Nations resolutions, including Security Council resolution 2334 (2016), which specifically calls for an end to Israel’s settlement activities and an end to all acts of violence, provocation and incitement and moreover an end to the Israeli occupation of our land since 1967, including of East Jerusalem.

While the international community focuses on mitigating the severe effects and consequences of COVID-19, the Israeli government is exploiting this period to escalate its violations to accelerate its settlement colonization and annexation schemes and further entrench its military occupation. Such unlawful and aggressive behavior is deepening the suffering of Palestinian civilians, including children, women and elderly, against the backdrop of the worries and fears caused by pandemic, and is taking us farther and farther away from the a viable and just solution to this grave injustice. Those who speak of peace and coexistence cannot continue to ignore the reality of all of these illegal actions that actually preclude the possibility of peace and coexistence and only perpetuate conflict and suffering.

The following are just some of the countless grave violations perpetrated by the occupying Power in the recent period:

On 19 August, a 16-year-old Palestinian boy, Mohammed Damer Matar, was shot and detained by Israeli occupying forces in the occupied West Bank. The next day, 20 August, the occupying forces contacted Mohammed’s family informing them that he had been killed. While the circumstances in which the boy was killed remain unclear, his body has not been returned to his family and his remains are being held by the Israeli authorities at the Abu Kabir Forensic Medical Institute in Tel Aviv. This inhumane practice of necroviolence by which the occupying Power seizes and withholds the bodies of Palestinians it has murdered constitutes a blatantviolation of international humanitarian law and human rights law. Israeli human rights organization and legal center Adalah reports that Israel is the only country in the world with such a policy of confiscating human remains. This cruel, immoral policy severely impacts the families of Palestinians killed by the occupying forces, tantamount to collective punishment as they are prohibited from burying their loved ones in accordance with cultural and religious rituals.

On 24 August, Israeli occupying forces demolished two Palestinian homes in occupied East Jerusalem under the pretext of construction without a permit. Shortly after, occupying forces issued demolition orders to two Palestinian homes in Al-Maniya near Bethlehem under similar pretexts. As the occupying Power, and as repeatedly reported by UNSCO, Israel makes it nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain construction permits, restricting and impeding the development and wellbeing of the occupied Palestinian population and using this as a pretext to continue the seizure and demolition of their homes. Israel’s punitive home demolitions and forced displacement and dispossession of Palestinians is in flagrant violation of international law and has not ceased even in this time of pandemic, rendering hundreds more Palestinians homeless.

According to a report published by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on 26 August, Israel has persisted with its demolition of Palestinian homes despite an announced “moratorium”. As per the report, home demolitions have risen nearly 40% above the 2019 monthly average. A total of 33 people were displaced as a result and over 350 others had their livelihoods or access to services affected. A total of 388 structures have been demolished or seized as of the end July 2020. According to a statement released by European Union missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah, a total number of 107 residential units and 46 other units (shops, storerooms etc.) were demolished in 2020 in East Jerusalem alone as of 31 August. Moreover, Israel forces Palestinians to destroy their own homes or risk hefty military demolition fees. As a result, poor and vulnerable Palestinian families resort to self-home demolitions, which highlights a new level of human rights violations being committed against the Palestinian people.

In addition to punitive home demolitions, holy sites and houses of worship also remain in the crosshairs of Israel’s brutal policies and practices. An Israeli court issued a demolition order for the Qa’qa Bin Amr Mosque in Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem, again cynically citing lack of a construction permit. Not only is this a violation of international law, it is also a violation of relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions which prohibit any attempts to alter the character, demographic composition and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem and of the protections afforded by international law to religious sites.

Despite Israeli lockdown measures to halt spread of the coronavirus, violence perpetrated by extremist Israeli settlers has also continued unabated in Occupied Palestine, including East Jerusalem. Under the watch of occupying forces, armed and fanatic settlers continue to attack defenseless Palestinian civilians across the occupied West Bank. OCHA has reported recent incidents of settler violence targeting Palestinian civilians and vandalizing Palestinian-owned property, including the uprooting or destruction of 650 trees and saplings and damage to at least 16 dunums of crops, harming the sustenance and livelihoods of Palestinian families. A 21-year-old Palestinian man also died during this period after being struck by a vehicle driven by an Israeli settler south of Tulkarem.

Such incitement, intimidation, harassment, provocation, vandalism, and other criminal acts are perpetrated daily by Israeli settlers in order to assert their illegal presence on, and control of, Palestinian land, with little to no interference from the occupying authorities. Settler violence is without doubt a crucial part of the occupation’s strategy to accelerate its displacement and dispossession of the Palestinian people, paving way for Israel to exploit more land and resources, coupled with its dangerous desire and plans for annexation.

At the same time, Israel persists with all of its repressive measures against Palestinian civilians, including massive arrest campaigns and raids. On 8 September, Israeli occupation forces arrested more than 50 Palestinians in Al-Khalil area, including in Yatta, al-Dahriyeh, Bani Naim, Arroub refugee camp, Beit Ummar, Sair and Sourif. On 15 September, occupying forces arrested 15 Palestinians, including three children, in multiple raids in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Issawiya and al-Tur. On 16 September, occupying forces detained 12 Palestinians, including a mayor, from various parts of the occupied West Bank. More than 3,000 Palestinians have been arrested as of the start of 2020 until the end of August and continues to carry out violent military raids and arrest campaigns, with utter disregard for the state of emergency declared in the West Bank due to the pandemic and disregard for the well-being of the Palestinian civilian population under its full control, in grave violation of international humanitarian law.

On 13 September, the Israeli government approved the construction of nearly 1,000 new settlement units in the illegal settlement of “Efrat”, near Bethlehem. As reaffirmed by the UN Special Coordinator in briefings to the Security Council, and as detailed in our previous letters, Israeli settlement construction, expansion and annexation threats have continued unabated. Israel’s obsession with devouring Palestinian land for illegal settlement activities is in blatant violation of international law and relevant United Nations resolutions and further shatters the contiguity of Palestinian land, destroying the viability of the two-State solution on the pre-1967 borders. This reality has to be confronted by those who profess commitment to the solution of two States on this land and requires immediate measures of accountability.

Simultaneously, the inhumane, illegal Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip continues to inflict misery on the Palestinian civilian population there. Gaza’s sole power plant was forced to completely shut down due to the occupying Power’s suspension of fuel shipments. The over 13-year blockade has forced Gaza’s two million inhabitants to live in deplorable humanitarian and socioeconomic conditions, with repeated military strikes and suffocating movement restrictions being Israel’s preferred policies. Coupled with an electricity crisis that provides a supply for only a few hours a day, Gaza’s overburdened health care system cannot cope with additional suspensions or reductions of power sources while facing the threat of COVID-19.

Preventing the passage of relief consignments, such as fuel and electricity, is a violation of international humanitarian law and further undermines Gaza’s medical facilities and the delivery of other vital civilian needs. As the occupying Power, Israel is obligated to ensure access to appropriate medical equipment and care to effectively address the needs of the millions of people under its control. Moreover, other punitive measures, such as closing down the fishing zone and repeated assaults, must be addressed as the occupying Power bears responsibility to adhere to international law without exception.

Faced with all of the above, we remain grateful for the assistance being extended to the Palestinian people from across the globe and in spite of the challenging circumstances facing countries in this era of COVID-19. This includes in particular the vital assistance being provided through UNRWA, OCHA, UNICEF, WHO, WFP and other UN agencies and humanitarian organizations on the ground and by the international donor community.

Yet it remains the occupying Power’s obligation first and foremost to fully respect and abide by international law and international humanitarian law and to ensure the well-being of the occupied population. Regrettably, Israel has abandoned its legal obligations as an occupying Power and continues to exploit the pandemic by entrenching its 53-year brutal occupation and pursuing its evident annexation intentions. We reiterate our appeal to the international community to give this matter due and urgent attention and to act to ensure accountability.

The failure to hold Israel accountable has greatly emboldened its impunity, allowing the prolongation of this illegal, colonial foreign occupation for decades without upholding even the most basic tenets of international law. The negative, dangerous and dark trends created by the illegal occupation must be reversed through accountability to enable the Palestinian people to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination, and to ultimately bring an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and an end to this historic injustice with a just resolution of the Palestine question in all its aspects in line with international law and the relevant UN resolutions.

I should be grateful if you would arrange to have the text of the present letter made available to the members of the Security Council for their immediate, valuable consideration and also distributed as an official document of the Security Council.

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

Signature_English

Dr. Riyad Mansour

Minister, Permanent Observer

17 August 2020 – Israeli Colonization and Human Rights Violations in Palestine

Excellency,

In light of recent developments, I must write once more to draw the international community’s attention to the countless crimes that continue to be perpetrated by Israel, the occupying Power, in Occupied Palestine. With absolute impunity, Israel carries on with its illegal colonization and annexation measures in our land and with its repression of the Palestinian people through measures of collective punishment, dispossession, displacement and other violations of their rights. That the status quo is unsustainable and highly volatile is an assessment the international community has long agreed on.

We are thus compelled to reiterate: Israel’s “suspension” of plans to annex parts of the West Bank should neither be cause for relief, nor applause, by the international community. It is perverse to reward “not committing the crime of annexation”, when respect for the law is obligatory upon all and, when in reality, the crime is being committed as we speak. This is reflected not only in the occupying Power’s ongoing rhetoric and declarations of intent, most vocally by the Israeli Prime Minister, but by the occupying Power’s actions on the ground, which indicate no sign of halting and reversing the seizure and colonization of Palestinian land, as repeatedly demanded by the international community, including the Security Council, most recently in its resolution 2334 (2016), and as obligated by international law.

What was stressed in the Security Council on 21 July in this regard bears repeating, “Refraining from de jure annexation must of course carry no reward; avoidance of criminality is normative not prize-worthy”. (Briefing by Daniel Levy)

Those who believe otherwise are mistaken and fail to understand that stopping colonization and annexation is not an end in itself. Rather it is a primary condition for bringing an end to this illegal occupation and realizing Palestinian self-determination, independence and sovereignty in their land, two central pillars for a just solution that can ultimately restore the rights of the Palestinian people, including the Palestine refugees, and serve as the cornerstone for true peace and security in our region.

This conviction has long been at the core of the international consensus on the matter, based on international law and recognition of the root of this conflict – the denial of an entire people, the Palestinian people, of their human, national and territorial rights – and what it will take to justly and sustainably resolve it. Occupation and colonization, oppression and apartheid must never be normalized.

The fact that Israel carries on with its colonization schemes in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem – systematically establishing facts on the ground blatantly aimed at annexing our territory, in grave breach of international law and rejection of the international consensus, based on international law and as enshrined in the relevant UN resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative – should be cause for concern and action, not complacency or complicity. Just a brief look at the developments of the past week since our last letter reaffirm this stark reality.

Absent accountability, Israel has forged ahead with its settlement plans in the so-called ‘E-1’ area to the east of Occupied East Jerusalem, seeking to build thousands of settlement units on the lands of al-Tur, Anata, al-Eizariya, Abu Dis and Hizma villages. If implemented, such measures would completely sever the eastern area of Jerusalem from its natural Palestinian environs; encircle and besiege these areas, where approximately 1 million Palestinians live and which constitute the only significant land reserve they have economic and urban development, with a ring of illegal settlements; and cut off the northern and southern West Bank. Such actions threaten the contiguity of the Palestinian State and the viability of the two-State solution on the pre-1967 borders and must be stopped.

These illegal actions have been accompanied by more demolition of Palestinian homes, displacing Palestinian families and seizing their lands. In just one example, on 10 August, occupying forces demolished three Palestinian homes and a water tank used by village residents for drinking and watering crops in the areas of Jenin and Bethlehem. In Occupied East Jerusalem, three Palestinian brothers and their families were rendered homeless after the occupation authorities demolished their three-apartment building in the Silwan neighborhood under the pretext of construction without permit. In the Sheikh Jarrah area of the City, two other Palestinian families were ordered to tear down their homes also for lack of permit, or otherwise be forced to pay high costs if the demolition was undertaken by the occupation authorities. These neighborhoods have been systematically and fiercely targeted by the occupation and so many other families are threatened by demolition orders and the revocation of residency rights.

Also, 20 Palestinian families in the northern village of Farasin have received demolition orders. This includes the Amarneh family, who have lived in a cave home for over a year after repeatedly failing to receive permits to build a home in Farasin. Now, this cruel occupation wants to evict Ahmed Amarneh and his family, including  a pregnant wife and young daughter, from their home because it has “allocated” this land for the construction of more illegal settlements. If not stopped, this family will be tragically added to the thousands of Palestinians rendered homeless and forcibly transferred from their lands by the Israeli occupation, which continues apace with its decades-long policy of displacing the Palestinian people from their land and replacing them with Israeli settlers, in other words ethnic cleansing.

At the same time, the Israeli occupying forces have continued their violent military raids of Palestinian cities, towns, villages and refugee camps, causing more civilian casualties. This includes the murder of a young woman in Jenin on Friday, 7 August. Dalia Samoudi, age 23 and a mother of two young children, was shot and killed insider her home as she ran to close the window to protect her children from the tear gas and ammunition being shot by Israeli occupying forces that had raided the area.

Israel also continues to launch airstrikes at the Gaza Strip, further terrorizing and traumatizing the 2 million Palestinians besieged there by Israel’s illegal and medieval blockade.  Israeli helicopter gunships and tanks attacked several sites in Gaza early on 12 August, causing destruction to infrastructure, including an UNRWA school, and agricultural lands. These strikes and repeated threats by Israeli officials for further attacks on Gaza are escalating tensions and deepening the fears of the civilian population of yet another barbaric military aggression by the occupying Power.

We urgently appeal to the international community to assume its responsibilities towards this unlawful situation and protracted protection crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. The Security Council and General Assembly must uphold their Charter duties and all States must uphold their legal, political and moral obligations to bring an end to this injustice. That begins with holding Israel accountable for its crimes against the Palestinian people, foremost the violation of their right to self-determination through the continued imposition of this illegal occupation.

As repeatedly demanded by the international community, the Israeli occupation must be brought to an end and the Palestinian people must realize their right to self-determination and independence in their State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and all other of their inalienable rights, including to return. This is the key to justice, to an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and to the peace and security long sought in the Middle East.

This letter is in follow-up to our 691 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 6 August 2020 (A/ES-10/xxx-S/2020/xxx) 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. 

I should be grateful if you would arrange to have this letter distributed as an official document of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly, under agenda item 5, and of the Security Council.

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

Dr. Riyad Mansour

Minister, Permanent Observer

6 August 2020 – Israeli Violations and Escalation of Settlement Activities

Excellency,

I write to you in follow-up to our recent communications regarding the grim situation being faced by the Palestinian people, including refugee community, in Occupied Palestine, including East Jerusalem, due to the continuing and escalating illegal policies and practices of Israel, the occupying Power, and its extremist military and settler forces, even in this time of global pandemic and rising cases of COVID-19 infection and the needs and instability this is causing.

As we have cautioned, most recently in our letter of 24 July, that Israel has ‘refrained’ from formally annexing parts of the West Bank on 1 July, as the Israeli Prime Minister and his cohorts have repeatedly threatened, should not distract the international community from the reality of what is being done on the ground by this illegal occupation. We reiterate the need for both vigilance and urgent, collective action to bring a halt to these crimes and to the terror being perpetrated daily against our people by the Israeli occupying forces and settlers.

As witnessed in recent days, the Israeli Prime Minister continues to push for and threaten annexation, insisting that “it’s [annexation] not off the table, the option still exists” and that the Israeli government is carrying on with its discussions with the United States to implement this illegal plan. Confiscation of Palestinian property, demolition of Palestinian homes, and other military orders and measures continue to be carried out by the occupying forces in preparation for annexation. This includes recent military orders for the demolition of homes, structures and water wells of a Palestinian village in north of West Bank, Farasin, west of Jenin, which, if carried out, would result in the dispossession and displacement of 200 people. Moreover, Israeli settler leaders and gangs continue their provocative demands for annexation and incitement against the Palestinian people, terrorizing them in their homes, places of worship, and all over their land.

Israeli settlement activities continue unabated, with the occupying Power advancing plans for the construction of 1,000 more settlement units in the illegal settlement of “Givat Hamatos” and in the so-called ‘E-1’ area, east of Occupied East Jerusalem. Moreover, the siege and relentless acts of dispossession in Silwan, Al-Issawiya and Wadi al-Joz neighborhoods of the City continue, with home demolitions and pending orders gravely impacting the lives of countless Palestinian families, including children, as Israel continues its attempts to ethnically cleanse the City. It is obvious that all such actions are being taken to consolidate Israel’s illegal annexation of Jerusalem and further its plans to annex more Palestinian land, in grave breach of international law, including the 4th Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute of the ICC.

We reiterate: any annexation – whether of the Jordan Valley, the ‘E-1’ area and/or the settlements, or of one or several so-called ‘settlement blocs’ – is illegal and must trigger consequences, including lawful countermeasures, i.e. sanctions, against the occupying Power. There is no other way to deter and bring a halt to such illegal actions and to reign in Israel’s impunity. There is no other way to compel compliance with international law and the relevant United Nations resolutions, including resolution 2334 (2016), and to salvage the internationally-endorsed two-State solution on the pre-1967 borders from Israel’s systematic attempts to destroy it. The Security Council and General Assembly must act and all States are required to uphold their legal obligations and responsibilities in this regard.

At the same time, absent accountability, the human cost of this illegal occupation also continues to rise. Palestinian civilians, including children, continue to be arrested, savagely interrogated, detained and imprisoned without charge. This includes the 22 July arrest of the Director of the Yabous Cultural Centre, Ms. Rania Elias, and her husband, the Director of the Jerusalem Society for Music Education, Mr. Suhail Khoury, and the raid of their home and premises in Occupied East Jerusalem and seizure of their passports, documents, computers, phones. Although they were released after interrogation, such actions attempt not only to intimidate Palestinians and mar reputations, but also to undermine efforts to preserve and sustain our cultural heritage in Occupied East Jerusalem, where dozens of Palestinian institutions and organizations have been closed by the occupying Power.

We must also draw attention to the recent detention of Mahmoud Nawajaa, the General Coordinator of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, who was arrested in an Israeli raid on his home near Ramallah on 30 July. Nawajaa was blindfolded, seized and taken away from his wife and three young children in the middle of the night and remains in captivity without charge, along with the thousands of other Palestinians being unlawfully imprisoned, who must be released by the occupying Power, which remains responsible for their safety and well-being, including in this time of pandemic.

Palestinians also continue to be killed and injured by the occupying forces and the bodies of those killed continue to be held by Israel, preventing families from honoring them with a dignified burial. This includes Ahmed Erekat, who was murdered by Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint on 23 June and whose body remains in captivity along with the bodies of 63 other Palestinians slain by the occupying forces and whose families continue to grieve their loss and their inability to lay them to rest.

Palestinian freedom of movement also continues to be violated by Israel’s racist and discriminatory permit regime and by its network of illegal settlements, the wall and bypass roads, along with other arbitrary restrictions on movement, affecting access to health care, even in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, to education, to food and water, and to livelihoods. This form of violation even includes the prevention of travel of newborn babies with their mothers across borders. This illegitimate occupation further persists with its collective punishment of the Palestinian civilian population in innumerable other ways, none more inhumane than the blockade on the Gaza Strip, which has now entered its 14th year and continues to gravely impact every single aspect of the lives of the two million Palestinian children, women and men who live there. This is compounding the already-dire humanitarian crisis, making ever more urgent the need for support to UNRWA to enable the continuity of its lifesaving assistance to the Palestinian refugee community there, which comprises the majority of the population, along with the vital aid being provided by other UN agencies and humanitarian organizations.

Added to all this is the constant harassment, intimidation and violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers across Palestinian towns and villages. This terror campaign is escalating as extremists have been emboldened by the Israeli government’s constant annexation threats and the support for annexation by the US plan. Incidents of arson, vandalism, damage to trees and theft of agricultural produce are on the rise, in addition to attacks on Palestinians civilians, including women, children and farmers. Among many incidents include those that occurred in Al-Bireh and Battir which reflect these dangerous trends and the stoking of religious tensions by the occupying Power.

On 27 July, part of a mosque in the city of Al-Bireh, located adjacent to Ramallah, was set on fire in an attack by extremist Israeli settlers. Flammable liquid was poured through a smashed window and the fire charred walls and other property inside and mosque’s walls were vandalized with graffiti which included derogatory language such as “Siege for Arabs, not for Jews” and “the Land of Israel for the people of Israel”. Days earlier, 12 cars in the nearby village of As-Sawiya were also vandalized and the words “The nation of Israel lives” was graffitied on a nearby wall along with a Star of David.

In the village of Battir, which is located south of Occupied East Jerusalem and known for its ancient agricultural terraces and which has been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List and on the World Heritage in Danger List in 2014, and in nearby Beit Jala as well, armed settlers are carrying out incursions, attempting to seize Palestinian land. Armed with weapons and dogs, settlers have erected tents – an act typically signifying the establishment of a so-called ‘settlement outpost’. According to the Israeli NGO “Kerem Navot”, settlers have established 37 such outposts in this way across the West Bank in just the past five years. Moreover, settlers continually harass village residents, including women and children, and have been swimming in water cisterns that provide drinking water for the town, as well as pounding on the doors of the residents of Battir and demanding they present land ownership documents. As reported by Israeli media, the extremist settler leading these incursions is on record as declaring: “I want all of Battir to go to hell… the State of Israel belongs to the Jewish people”.

The settlers clearly seek to take over this land due to its elevation overlooking the area and because its seizure would separate two Palestinian villages (Battir and al-Walajeh), while creating geographic continuity instead between the illegal settlement of Har Homa (Jabal Abu Ghneim) and Jerusalem. In this way, settlers are literally and physically trying to clear a path for the colonization and annexation of this land, creating facts on the ground and risking wider confrontation, all with the protection and support of the occupying forces and all in breach of international law.

As these aggressions on their lands, homes and their very existence in their homeland persist, the Palestinian people, while having little means to repel such attacks, remain steadfast. While relying on this resilience for decades to withstand and survive this oppressive and violent occupation, their main hope lies in the power of international law to bring an end to the crimes being perpetrated against them, to bring an end to the Israeli occupation and blockade of their land, to bring an end to this grave injustice.

On behalf of the Palestinian people and their leadership, we thus call once again upon the international community, including the Security Council and General Assembly of the United Nations, to uphold international law and to act now to ensure accountability and ensure the protection of the Palestinian people and their rights and land from this illegal occupation. We implore you to act now to stop colonization and annexation and to salvage the prospects for a just solution, in accordance with the international consensus based on the relevant resolutions, that fulfills the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including the Palestine refugees, allowing them to finally realize the freedom, justice and peace they have been for so long unjustly and cruelly denied.

This letter is in follow-up to our 690 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 24 July 2020 (A/ES-10/xxx-S/2019/xxx) 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. 

I should be grateful if you would arrange to have the text of the present letter made available to the members of the Security Council for their immediate, valuable consideration and also distributed as an official document of the Security Council.

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

Dr. Riyad Mansour

Minister, Permanent Observer

24 July 2020 – Escalating Israeli violations in Occupied Palestine

As the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, continues to deteriorate, I am compelled to write in follow-up of our recent letters regarding the crimes being perpetrated by Israel, the occupying Power, as it forges ahead with its expansionist policies in the West Bank, cementing its illegal occupation and escalating its aggression against the Palestinian people, their land and their rights.

That Israel “refrained” from formally annexing large parts of the West Bank on 1 July should not be cause for relief among the international community. As stressed by Mr. Daniel Levy, President of the US/Middle East Project, in his briefing to the Security Council on 21 July, “Refraining from de jure annexation must of course carry no reward; avoidance of criminality is normative not prize-worthy”.

It is clear the occupying Power has opted, for now, to go with its tried-and-tested colonization playbook and carry on with its incremental, yet persistent, confiscation and annexation of Palestinian land. The fact is that Israel’s decades-long colonization of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, has been – and continues to be – implemented gradually, in “installments”, with the aim of mitigating, or even silencing, international pushback, even as the occupation gravely breaches international law and shreds the prospects for a two-State solution on the pre-1967 borders as envisaged by the international consensus.

Since the occupation began, successive Israeli governments have pursued a strategy aimed at appropriating as much Palestinian geography with as little Palestinian demography as possible through a two-pronged approach of settling the land while expelling Palestinian civilians. This remains the case, and will continue to be so, unless the international community responds with consequences for such illegal actions.

We reiterate that whether annexation is implemented partially or totally, gradually or in one fell swoop, de facto or de jure, the international community must stay alert and take serious, tangible action, in respect of international law and relevant UN resolutions, including Security Council resolution 2334 (2016).

Here it is imperative to recall that, already in 2004, the International Court of Justice warned that “the construction of the wall and its associated régime create a ‘fait accompli’ on the ground that could well become permanent, in which case…it would be tantamount to a de facto annexation.” This 9 July marked 16 years since that finding; yet the Wall has only expanded in size, as have Israel’s illegal settlements in our land, which the Wall was clearly established to incorporate into Israel. This constitutes acquisition of territory by force, which is absolutely prohibited under international law.

In this period, Israel has continued to “prepare the ground” for annexation by escalating its settlement activities, destruction of Palestinian property, and forcible transfer of Palestinians residing in areas earmarked for annexation. On 6 July, Israeli occupying forces handed demolition orders against 30 Palestinian homes in the Issawiya neighborhood of East Jerusalem. On the same day, Israel announced plans to build 164 units in the so-called “Neve Daniel” settlement in southern Bethlehem. The occupying Power also continues its harassment and intimidation of Palestinian officials, including the Governor of Jerusalem, Mr. Adnan Ghaith, who has been repeatedly arrested since assuming his functions and remains detained as of this writing.

Acts of settler violence have also risen. This includes the case of settlers trespassing the land of a Palestinian farmer and digging it up to build a swimming pool for themselves and the seizure of yet another hilltop and establishment of yet another settlement “outpost” north of the city of Nablus on land privately owned by Palestinians from the nearby town of Asira al-Shamaliya. All of this is being done under the watch, and with the direct protection and assistance, of the Israeli occupying forces, as part of the systematic theft and colonization of Palestinian land.

The occupying Power also continues its attempt to erase Palestinian presence, culture and heritage through the illegal appropriation and theft of heritage sites, particularly in the Old City of Jerusalem, in Bethlehem, and in Al-Khalil (Hebron) at Al-Ibrahimi Mosque. This week witnessed the theft of baptismal font dating back to the Byzantine era from Bethlehem, adding to the long list of artifacts and heritage stolen by the occupation. Pillage is a war crime and Israel must be held accountable.

Awareness that Israel is forging ahead at full speed to destroy the two-State solution has led politicians, academics, think tanks, public figures, civil society actors, and people of conscience from around the world to warn about the dramatic consequences that the destruction of this solution would have. Below are excerpts of just some of the many recent statements in this regard:

On 29 June, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet stated that “any attempt to annex any part of the occupied Palestinian territory will not only seriously damage efforts to achieve lasting peace in the region, it is likely to entrench, perpetuate and further heighten serious human rights violations that have characterized the conflict for decades. I am deeply concerned that even the most minimalist form of annexation would lead to increased violence and loss of life, as walls are erected, security forces deployed and the two populations brought into closer proximity. The existing two-tier system of law in the same territory will become embedded, with devastating impacts on the lives of Palestinians who have little or no access to legal remedy… The shockwaves of annexation will last for decades, and will be extremely damaging to Israel, as well as to the Palestinians.”

On 29 June, the World Council of Churches issued a statement warning that “the planned annexation of Palestinian territories by the Government of Israel would be a serious obstacle for the achievement of justice and peace between Israelis and Palestinians. It will undermine even more the rights of Palestinians, reducing their mobility, their access to land and livelihoods, to adequate infrastructure and basic services. It will increase forced displacement, and it could prevent humanitarian organizations’ access in order to provide basic services and the necessary lifesaving interventions.”

On 2 July, Amnesty International warned that moves towards further annexation of Palestinian land “would mean a continuation of Israeli settlement expansion. It would also further entrench policies of institutionalized discrimination and mass human rights violations that Palestinians face in the OPT as a result of the occupation, including systematic denial of civil and political rights of Palestinians, as well as violations of other rights such as freedom of movement, equality and non-discrimination.”

On 9 July, Israeli human rights NGO Yesh Din issued a legal opinion concluding that “Continued creeping legal annexation, let alone official annexation of a particular part of the West Bank through legislation that would apply Israeli law and administration there, … could mean strengthening the argument, which already is being heard, that the crime of Apartheid is not committed only in the West Bank. That the Israeli regime in its entirety is an apartheid regime. That Israel is an Apartheid state.”

As we have repeatedly cautioned, the absence of accountability has enabled Israel’s colonization and annexation of Palestinian land, rapidly leading to its imposition of a one-State reality of apartheid that must be urgently averted. Israel’s crime spree in Occupied Palestine must be stopped, and only collective action can achieve this. It is high time for the international community to impose lawful, targeted and immediate sanctions on the occupying Power in response to its grave breaches of international law, to deter further violations against the Palestinian people, promote justice, and create the conditions for peace.

As sagely stated on 7 July in an open letter by Christian Clergy from the Bethlehem Area, “While support for a two-state solution among the international community remains strong in rhetoric, there has been no tangible or coordinated action to block steps toward de jure annexation of the West Bank, let alone gross violations of human rights that have paved the way to it over the past 53 years. In allowing Israel to use its control over Palestinians to separate people and land, and in failing to hold Israel accountable to human rights violations in the Occupied Territory, the international community has rendered the vision it is purportedly promoting an impossibility.”

We are grateful for the many reaffirmations from around the world on the need to end impunity and ensure accountability, including by the Belgian parliament on 26 June, the leader of the Labour Party in the United Kingdom on 27 June, thirteen members of the US Congress on 30 June, the Chilean Senate on 1 July, the Dutch parliament on 2 July, eleven European foreign ministers on 14 July, Mexican parliamentarians on 22 July, among many others.

In this regard, on 16 June, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967 also stressed “Should Israel proceed with any form of annexation after 1 July – even if it is ‘annexation-lite’, consisting of several settlement blocs instead of the announced 30 per cent of the West Bank – the European Union must lead the world in imposing accountability measures. Any amount of annexation is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations, and a fundamentally illegal act.”

Moreover, we welcome the letter signed by over 40 international women leaders on 1 July in response to an appeal by Palestinian women for action to stop annexation and end the Israeli occupation, as well as the principled voices of 1.6 million global citizens who signed an Avaaz petition entitled “Palestine must live”, standing against annexation and calling for justice and peace.

In this time of existential crisis, Palestinians, like the rest of the world, are also struggling to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its severe health, social and economic impact. As of this date, the State of Palestine has confirmed 10,923 cases of the virus – 75 of which are in the illegally blockaded Gaza Strip – and 67 deaths as a result of the virus. Despite limited resources and severe restrictions and hardships imposed by the occupation, our national institutions are exerting all efforts to respond to this crisis.

Yet, Israel continues to hamper our efforts to combat the virus, making a severe crisis even worse. In Al-Khalil, one of the hardest hit areas in Palestine, the occupying Power once again destroyed a coronavirus testing clinic. Additionally, the occupying Power continues to jeopardize the lives of Palestinian prisoners, including children, who are being detained in its jails in this time of pandemic. We must draw urgent attention to the plight of a prisoner, Kamal Abu Waer, age 46, who suffers from cancer and has also been infected by the virus and is in critical health. The Palestinian leadership calls for the necessary medical treatment and for his immediate release. We hold Israel responsible for the well-being of all Palestinians being unlawfully held captive by the occupation and call for their release.

As our people continue to suffer this belligerent, illegal occupation in all its forms, we appeal once again to the international community, including the Security Council, to speak up and take responsible action. We appeal to all States to stand firmly in defense of international law and in respect of the resolutions adopted across the decades on the Palestine question, to protect human rights, to salvage the prospects for a just peace based on the two-State solution, and to preserve the international rules-based order that is under such serious threat. We are at a critical moment with so much at stake and the time for united action is now.

This letter is in follow-up to our 689 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 26 June 2020 (A/ES-10/xxx-S/2019/xxx) 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. 

I should be grateful if you would arrange to have the text of the present letter made available to the members of the Security Council for their immediate, valuable consideration and also distributed as an official document of the Security Council.

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

Dr. Riyad Mansour

Minister, Permanent Observer

Statement by H.E. Minister Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, before the United Nations Security Council, Open Debate on the Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestine Question, 21 July 2020

Mr. President,

We appreciate your presence among us today, which highlights the importance of the matter at hand especially at this critical juncture. We also express our appreciation as to Mr. Mladenov and to the briefers, Mr. Shikaki and Mr. Levy, for their important presentations.

Mr. President,

As we celebrate Nelson Mandela Day, we must honor, through action, the struggle Mandela dedicated his life to. As highlighted in the important vision presented by the Secretary-General in his statement on this occasion, Mandela devoted his life to fighting inequality and injustice, regardless of its sources, and in solidarity with all its victims.

This included solidarity with the Palestinian people, with Mandela stressing “We know too well our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”. There is a reason why those who have fought against colonialism and Apartheid remain the strongest advocates of the Palestinian cause. They recognize the similarity of our chains, but also our common aspiration to freedom, and we are proud to have them by our side in our ongoing just struggle.

Mr. President,

In times of war and times of peace, Israel has relentlessly entrenched its control over Palestinian land and Palestinian lives. Immediately after the start of the 1967 occupation, it initiated its first illegal settlements. In 1980, even as it concluded a peace agreement with Egypt, it unlawfully annexed Jerusalem. In 1993, as we concluded the Oslo Accords, it decided to speed up its settlement activities, with the number of settlers now being 7-fold what they were at the time. During the 2nd Intifada, it built a wall to cement its de facto annexation, as pronounced by the ICJ.

Regardless of what the Palestinian people did, and of what the international community said, Israel never changed course. Whether there were negotiations or not, violence or not, international efforts or not, it pressed on, and impunity from accountability under the law guaranteed that the benefits of occupation would far outweigh its cost. Its strategic objective has never changed: grabbing maximum Palestinian geography with minimum Palestinian demography.

In a week from now, we will commemorate 40 years since the unlawful annexation of East Jerusalem. Since then, Israel has launched a full-fledged war against Palestinian presence in the City. It is a cold-blooded and systematic endeavor through a well-oiled machinery of illegal laws, policies and practices. Discriminatory zoning and planning has isolated Palestinians within 13% of their own City, the area of East Jerusalem already built-up in 1967. The occupying Power has created a coercive environment with constant home demolitions, revocation of residency cards, preventing family reunification, all designed to achieve the forcible transfer of Palestinians. It has closed down Palestinian institutions, continues preventing elections and regularly arresting the Palestinian Governor of Jerusalem.  Its settlers have besieged the City from inside out. It is a slow, silent and yet violent process of dispossession and annexation.

Since then, Israel has not declared its annexation of any other part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It feared the consequences of such action, especially given the strong international reaction to its decision, including by this Security Council, as witnessed in 1980 and again in 2017. It kept waiting for a crack in the international system to formalize what it had illegally advanced on the ground. It finally thought it had reached this long-awaited moment, where it could reveal its true and not so well-hidden intentions.

However, something happened in these last few weeks that, if furthered, may allow us to shift course towards peace. The firm positions expressed by so many governments, including Security Council members at Ministerial level, intergovernmental organizations, including the Arab League, EU, NAM, OIC, parliamentarians, civil society actors, legal scholars, independent human rights experts, the Elders, women leaders and peoples of conscience worldwide demonstrated the global commitment to justice and international law and human rights. It is a formidable international front against annexation and occupation and for peace that must be sustained.

Stopping annexation is a critical battle that we must win, but we should not forget the war that Israel has been waging for decades. Israel may abandon declaring de jure annexation, but it will not abandon its annexation plans. They are being implemented as we speak, one military order at a time, one demolished house at a time, one confiscated parcel of land at a time, one Palestinian family displaced at a time, one settlement unit at a time. 

The Prime Minister, the soldier, the settler, the bureaucrat, the parliamentarian, the judge in the military court, they all conspire towards that objective Israel has pursued obsessively: grabbing maximum Palestinian geography with minimum Palestinian demography.

The world cannot unsee what Israel has so starkly revealed. It has no intention whatsoever to end its 53-year occupation and make peace. Israel wants its illegality to be considered an irreversible reality, asking for recognition instead of displaying contrition. We tell Israel: what is irreversible, as Mandela said, is our march to freedom.

A people that has been uprooted from their homeland, dispossessed, exiled, occupied, colonized, annexed and deprived of their fundamental human rights cannot continue to be blamed for their plight and inability to bring an end to it, while they continue, against all odds, to seek a solution through the most peaceful, legitimate means, until now to no avail.

The South African Nobel Peace Laureate Chief Lutuli declared “Who will deny that thirty years of my life have been spent knocking in vain, patiently, moderately, and modestly at a closed and barred door? What have been the fruits of moderation? The past thirty years have seen the greatest number of laws restricting our rights and progress, until today we have reached a stage where we have almost no rights at all”.

We could, 27 years since the signing of the Oslo Accords, almost repeat what he said word by word. But we believe that the international community can and must reward moderation and sanction extremism before it is too late.

Mr. President,

Who are the rejectionists? Those adhering to UN Security Council resolutions or those violating them? Those accepting the two-State solution on the pre-1967 borders or those destroying it? Those calling for international involvement, including through the Quartet and other multilateral efforts, to foster peace and hold the parties accountable, or those who seek endless “talks” with no results? Those who have presented maps and clear positions on all final status issues or those fleeing and violating any commitment?  

Who are the delusional ones? Those seeking just and lasting peace that ensures the rights, dignity and security of all, or those who believe that Palestinians must accept, after a century of struggle for freedom, to live in Bantustans and surrender to perpetual injustice? Those who pursue an end of occupation to allow for peaceful and normal relations in the region, or those who believe it is possible to achieve acceptance by the region and security while denying the rights of an entire nation and undermining regional peace and security? Those advocating respect for international law and UN resolutions, or those who use religious extremism, supremacist theories, and unhinged nationalism to justify violating them.

Mandela’s legacy is under threat in many parts of our world, and nowhere is this more true than in Palestine. 40 years ago, this Council stated, after the annexation of Jerusalem, its determination to examine practical ways and means, in accordance with the Charter, to secure the full implementation of its resolutions, in the event of non-compliance by Israel. Time for action by all is long overdue, and indispensable to ensure the triumph of freedom and dignity, justice and peace.

The law matters. Principles matter. Accountability matters. This is the lifeblood of the international community and the basis for peaceful relations and stability and security worldwide. Palestine is no exception.

I thank you, Mr. President.

Statement by H.E. Riad Malki, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine, before the United Nations Security Council’s Monthly Briefing on the Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestine Question, Quarterly Report of the Secretary-General on Resolution 2334 (2016), 24 June 2020

Mr. President,

Excellencies, Members of the Council,

We often use the image of a crossroad to explain how significant a moment in history is. It means your next decisions and actions will determine the course of history and the fate of nations. There is no doubt this is such a moment 

For now, the driver is Israel and it will not stop at the crossroad to assess the implications of its choices because it is drunk on power, propelled by infinite impunity, motivated by one single thought that it has been under the influence of for decades: grabbing maximum Palestinian land with minimum Palestinians.

Israel is under the illusion that this is the destination and, once it reaches it, it will be able to enjoy the view. It ignores that the road cannot end there and continues downhill towards an escalation of the conflict due to an oppressive regime combining colonialism and Apartheid. It does not care that humanity has been down this road before, and that former colonial powers and liberation movements alike have all reached the same conclusion: such a regime cannot prevail and will only lead to more injustice, instability and insecurity.

As many times before, Israel seems determined to ignore that big red STOP sign the international community erected to save lives. Israel thinks, as has been its experience so far, that it will not be fined or arrested. It believes that Security Council resolutions are binding for others; international courts have jurisdiction over others; sanctions are for others. Israel judges, but cannot be judged. The only true bias towards Israel is the one shielding it from accountability and emboldening it by considering its illegal actions as so-called “realities” that need to be endorsed rather than reversed.

Israel is testing the resolve of the international community, thinking its colonial appetite will prevail over the collective international will to advance regional peace and security and to preserve the rules-based multilateral order. We must prove it wrong.

The international community remains committed to the rule of international law and to the international consensus on a just solution for the Palestine question. It opposes annexation in no uncertain terms, as reaffirmed in recent weeks by statements made from capitals from every corner of the globe. The global position also remains unwavering on the illegality of Israel’s policies, including settlements. This wide international front, reflected in the gathering in the Jordan Valley just two days ago with broad Palestinian and international mobilization, in the UNRWA Ministerial meeting held yesterday, and in this High-Level Security Council meeting, is strong and remains our best hope.

Mr. President, Members of the Council,

Israel needs to know that annexation will have immediate and tangible repercussions. That is why we have called on the international community to adopt effective measures, including sanctions, to deter annexation and all other unlawful policies that have prepared the ground for it. It must also be made clear that annexation will irreversibly impact Israel’s relations with Palestine and the region. The Oslo accords were supposed to transform us into peace partners, but regrettably Israel continued waging a war against Palestinian lives and rights. It has violated the spirit and letter of the agreements, and with annexation, is taking a decision that will defeat their very purpose. These accords were supposed to pave the way for an end of occupation and a final peace agreement. They cannot survive annexation.

As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the UN Charter, let us honour the UN purposes and principles: respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction, the suppression of acts of aggression and the prohibition of the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. Annexation, whether partial or total, gradual or immediate, is the ultimate breach of the UN Charter and cannot go unchallenged.

From a legal perspective, annexation is not only unlawful, it is a crime under the Rome Statute. From a political perspective, it will ruin the chances for Israeli-Palestinian and regional peace. From a security perspective, it is utter nonsense as it replaces internationally-recognized borders that can be defended with a system of military control and subjugation that only fuels conflict and violence. It is, as stated in the Secretary General’s report, calamitous for Palestinians, Israelis and the region. The only explanation for it is an extremist ideology rooted in denial of the Palestinian right to this land, disregard for international law and negation of history.

It is this ideology that has undermined negotiations time and time again, with Israel using negotiations as cover for its continued colonization. This ideology fostered a narrative that Palestinians should be grateful that Israel was ready to give them back any part of their own land, fragmented and besieged enclaves, Bantustans, that Palestinians may even be allowed to call a “State”. Genuine negotiations must aim at ending occupation to achieve peace, not at perpetuating occupation and calling it peace. 

We remain committed to peace. We have presented our position in writing on all final status issues to the Quartet. Did the Quartet receive anything from Israel yet? We have never retracted any proposal we have made to find a compromise, unlike Israel which says we must renegotiate all over again with each new government. We have accepted the longstanding terms of reference and international law as the basis for negotiations, while Israel has rejected and violated them. We accepted the pre-1967 borders, agreeing to an historic compromise encompassing only 22% of Mandate Palestine, and yet Israel has spared no effort to undermine these borders. The entire world recognizes the significance of the Arab Peace Initiative and the promise it holds for our region. Where is the Israeli peace initiative? Even with the US plan, Israel said it is ready to take immediately whatever parts of our land the plan unlawfully grants it, while expressing readiness to negotiate the rest indefinitely.

That is why we call for an international peace conference and a multilateral mechanism that will help advance peace by holding the parties accountable, ensuring negotiations are neither a smoke screen nor a time-wasting exercise while Israel finalizes its colonial plans, but rather that negotiations are the path to just and lasting peace.

While Israel spares no effort to erase the pre-1967 borders, the Green Line, the world must consolidate them, including by recognizing the State of Palestine and by making any unilateral encroachment over the Green Line a red line. Every State has the power to help us change course before it is too late; the power to help end the Israeli occupation and salvage the two-State solution;  the power to save lives; the power to preserve our global order. In fact, they have a legal and moral obligation to use this power through non-recognition and non-assistance to illegal actions, distinction, and accountability. Upholding their obligations is the only path to ensure Israel abides by its own.

At the end, allow me Mr. President to thank you for convening this important meeting. I also wish to express our appreciation to the Secretary General for his report and relentless efforts and those of his envoy to advance peace. If Security Council resolutions, including 2334, were implemented, peace would be a reality tomorrow.

Allow me also to seize this opportunity to thank the Secretary General of the Arab League and the Ministers for their participation today, as a clear signal of the urgency and gravity of the matter. I also wish to thank your country and Council members, past, present and incoming, for their consistent, principled stances, including against annexation. Allow me finally to thank the countries and the groups, including the Arab group, which has been fully mobilized in the lead up to this meeting, the OIC, NAM, the EU, that continue working to advance freedom, justice and peace, conscious of how this could transform our region and the world.

Mr. President,

The Secretary General in his report highlighted the urgency of reversing this dangerous trajectory we are on. We are at a crossroad and to reverse course, before it is too late, the international community must take hold of the steering wheel.

Thank you, Mr. President.