13 March 2020 – Escalation of Illegal Israeli Annexation Measures and Settler Violence

Excellency,

As the situation on the ground regrettably continues to deteriorate, I am compelled to write in follow-up of the critical matters and concerns raised in our recent letters following the announcement of the US administration’s plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Since then, the situation in Occupied Palestine, including East Jerusalem, has been seriously aggravated as Israel, the occupying Power, escalates the pace of its illegal annexation and colonization schemes and its aggressions and inflammatory rhetoric against the Palestinian people. This has led to increased tensions, recurrent violence endangering Palestinian civilian lives, and further loss of Palestinian land to this illegal occupation.

Following a series of Israeli announcements last month of provocative and unlawful plans to construct more than 17,500 settlement units throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in areas in and around Occupied East Jerusalem and Bethlehem, on 27 February Israel approved plans for yet another 1,739 settlement units. Most of that construction is planned in settlements deep in the Occupied West Bank. It is clear that as the international community is focused on efforts and cooperation to confront the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Israel is exploiting the situation to expedite its long-planned de facto annexation of Palestinian land, in grave breach of international law and further shredding the contiguity of our territory, the two-State solution on the pre-1967 borders and the prospects for peace.

Moreover, on 9 March, as part of its ongoing threats to carry out the notorious “E-1” settlement project, Israeli officials have brazenly announced the construction of a new “Palestinian-only” apartheid road near the illegal settlement of “Maale Adumim”. That road would connect with the existing apartheid road between the Palestinian villages of Anata and Za’ayyem that was built by the occupying Power in 2019, and would ultimately prevent Palestinian access from the southern part of the West Bank to Jericho and the Jordan Valley to the east.  All of this entails the seizure of large swathes of Palestinian land and would obviously facilitate Israeli colonization plans for the area. This is being done in absolute contempt of the constant international calls to cease such actions and the warnings that if implemented these measures would gravely undermine the territorial contiguity of Palestine.

As stated by the Israeli NGO Peace Now in relation to this reckless and illegal move: “The planned road would allow Israel to cut the West Bank in half, build up E1 and the West Bank barrier, and shut down the possibility of developing a viable Palestinian state. The only roads Israel paved for Palestinians in its 52 years of control over the Territories were designed to allow Israel to build settlements or barriers that block existing Palestinian routes. There is no desire here to improve Palestinian transport, only to expand the settlements.”

Such measures are yet further evidence of the occupying Power’s agenda to entrench its occupation and obstruct the physical viability of the two-state formula. Moreover, this intention has been explicitly expressed countless times, including on 19 February by Israeli Minister Bazelel Smotrich, who provocatively stated: “As you know we oppose the idea of a Palestinian state and we will fight with all our power against its establishment. As you know there is no such thing as Palestinian people so that there can be a Palestinian state. Not today, not tomorrow, not in this or that border, not by this name and not by other names…”

Similarly, on 27 February, his colleague Naftali Bennet wrote on his Facebook page: “No to a Palestinian state of any kind (including “demilitarized”). Yes to construction and imposing sovereignty!”On 3 March, the Israeli Prime Minister then repeated his pledge to annex all Israeli settlements and the Jordan Valley in front of a cheering crowd of supporters of his right-wing agenda, further stoking incitement and extremist fervor in this regard. In this regard, it is relevant to note that, in a survey of young Jewish Israelis aged 18-24 published by Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz on 1 March, it is reported that 40.2% of them support the annexation of all of the West Bank, and 29.6% of them support a peace deal based on a two-State solution.

Such Inflammatory rhetoric and pursuit annexationist measures – flagrantly challenging international law and the international community – have been non-stop and markedly escalated in recent weeks. No doubt, Israeli officials have only been further emboldened following presentation of the US plan and ongoing steps by the current US administration appearing to assist Israel in stripping Palestinians of their rights and identity, such as in a recent State Department report that has removed the reference to Palestinians in Occupied East Jerusalem, instead referring to them as “Arab residents” of the City.

Moreover, such escalating rhetoric and aggression against the Palestinian people has led to heightened tensions and violence, with extremist Israeli settlers calling for the full and immediate annexation of the West Bank and escalating their daily terrorist attacks against defenseless Palestinian civilians across the occupied West Bank, including in East Jerusalem. Such attacks continue to be carried out under the protection of Israeli occupation forces and, in many cases, with their support all over the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

In recent days, Israeli settlers have repeatedly raided Mount Al-‘Arma near Nablus in the occupied West Bank in an attempt to forcibly seize the area with the active participation of the Israeli army. Palestinians in Beita-Nablus have organized peaceful, civilian sit-ins aimed at protecting their land and stopping the settlers from taking over the hilltop. In doing so, they have been met with repeated assaults from Israeli forces that were equipped with around 40 military vehicles and two bulldozers and with violent attacks by Israeli settlers.

The latest victim of such violence by the occupation was a young Palestinian boy, Mohammed Hamayel, age 15, who was shot in the head and killed by Israeli live fire at Mount Al-‘Arma. At least 16 other Palestinian were injured in the attacks. During a similar incident in the same village on 28 February, Israeli occupation forces injured over 100 Palestinians, including children.

At the same time, the Bethlehem area, which is the epicenter of Palestine’s COVID-19 outbreak and under strict measures of quarantine, has been targeted by Israeli settlers, who have exploited the cordoning off of the area, uprooting at least 1,200 olive and vine trees as part of their ongoing environmental terrorism. When news of suspected cases of COVID-19 at a hotel in Bethlehem appeared, Israeli social media users applauded the news with provocative comments and incitement against the Palestinian people, including such statements as: “amazing, I wish it kills them all”, “finally, good news” and “I wish success to corona”.

This utter disregard for Palestinian lives is without doubt the result of years of systematic dehumanization of the Palestinian people by the Israeli occupation authorities, from the Prime Minister on down. It has created a culture of incitement and hate prevalent among supporters and enablers of the Israeli occupation, especially among extremists.

Here, I must also bring to your attention, a report published on 6 March in the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, which revealed harrowing testimony by Israeli army snipers who were involved in army violence unleashed against peaceful Palestinians protesters demanding an end to the Israeli blockade during the “Great Return March” in Gaza. Such violence has resulted in the killing of over 300 Palestinian protesters with tens of thousands more injured or maimed for life.

In the report, one of the soldiers is quoted as he boasts about the numbers of knees of Palestinians that he shot: “From the point of view of hits, I have the most. In my battalion they would say: ‘Look, here comes the killer.’ When I came back from the field, they would ask, ‘Well, how many today?’ You have to understand that before we showed up, knees were the hardest thing to rack up. There was a story about one sniper who had 11 knees all told, and people thought no one could outdo him. And then I brought in seven-eight knees in one day. Within a few hours, I almost broke his record.”

He then brags about breaking the “knee record” during a demonstration that took place on the day the US embassy in Jerusalem was inaugurated on 14 May 2018: “On that day, our pair had the largest number of hits, 42 in all. My locator wasn’t supposed to shoot, but I gave him a break, because we were getting close to the end of our stint, and he didn’t have knees. In the end you want to leave with the feeling that you did something, that you weren’t a sniper during exercises only. So, after I had a few hits, I suggested to him that we switch. He got around 28 knees there, I’d say.”

He goes on to say: After some time there, in a debriefing, I said: ‘Let me just once take down a kid of 16, even 14, but not with a bullet in the leg – let me blow his head open in front of his whole family and his whole village. Let him spurt blood. And then maybe for a month I won’t have to take off another 20 knees.’”

Such shocking and repulsive rhetoric is further damning evidence of war crimes committed in cold blood against Palestinian civilians and of their constant and total dehumanization by this illegal, barbaric occupation. These crimes will continue unabated, as they have over decades, unless the international community, with the Security Council at the forefront, moves beyond declarations of regret and concern to decisive action, including measures of accountability. There must be a cost to the defiance of international law. This is a moral and legal imperative.

Urgent efforts must be taken to bring about the achievement of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, without which the basic rights of Palestinians will continue to be trampled on and their lives constantly endangered. Palestinian statehood and the chances of peace must be salvaged, and annexation deterred with immediate action.

In this regard, we draw attention to a letter, published by The Guardian on 27 February 2020, by 50 former European ministers stressing that: “Peace to Prosperity is not a roadmap to a viable two-state solution, nor to any other legitimate solution to the conflict. The plan envisages a formalisation of the current reality in the occupied Palestinian territory, in which two peoples are living side by side without equal rights. Such an outcome has characteristics similar to apartheid – a term we don’t use lightly.” Such cautionary words are most striking and important, but they require concerted, collective follow-up and action by the international community to be given meaning and to contribute to upholding international law salvaging the prospects for peace.

As stated by United Nations Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk, “Criticism without consequences guarantees that settlement expansion and annexation will continue. I call upon the international community to review its extensive menu of sanctions and countermeasures to stem this march towards further illegality. Settlement products should not enter the international marketplace. Agreements, existing and proposed, with Israel should be reviewed. The current investigations at the International Criminal Court should be supported.”Lastly, at this critical juncture, we must also appeal to the international community for continued vital humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people. We urge in particular support to UNRWA to continue uninterrupted its indispensable assistance to Palestine refugees. According to a report issued on 28 February, UNRWA stands before an unprecedented financial crisis and, up to now, there are no funds for emergency programs in Gaza and the West Bank, despite an unanticipated additional need of $10 million to fund UNRWA’s immediate response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Agency could soon be forced to cancel programs and services, with dire impact on humanitarian conditions and stability in the refugee community. This can only be urgently averted with the support of the international community.

This letter is in follow-up to our 682 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 February 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 distributed as a 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

of the State of Palestine to the United Nations

26 February 2020 – Escalation of Illegal Israeli Settlement Construction

Excellency,

I am compelled to write to you once again as Israel, the occupying Power, persists in rabid pursuit of its illegal colonization schemes in the Occupied State of Palestine, emboldened in its impunity and further exploiting the situation following presentation of the US plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

Following the Israeli announcement just last week of plans to construct more than 14,000 settlement units throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in particular in and around Occupied East Jerusalem and Bethlehem, severing the continuum of these cities and further isolating them from the rest of their natural Palestinian environs, the Israeli Prime Minister made yet another brazen settlement announcement on 25 February.

Yesterday, Netanyahu pledged to build 3,500 new illegal settlement units in the so-called “E-1” area, aiming to connect the illegal “Maale Adumim” settlement with Occupied East Jerusalem. These plans are not only in grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, thus constituting war crimes, but also threaten to completely sever the northern and southern parts of the West Bank and further isolate East Jerusalem, completely undermining the Territory’s contiguity.

Together, these are premeditated and clear steps whose intention is to deal a final and decisive blow to the practicability of the two-state formula and yet further evidence of Israel’s agenda for permanent occupation. As stated by Israeli NGO Peace Now, “Last time they tried to promote construction in E1 the world was shaken. This is a strategic area for the two-state, solution and building a settlement in E1 means that Israel is officially choosing to risk perpetual conflict instead of resolving it. It is no less than a national disaster that must be stopped before it is too late.”

This string of Israeli announcements are a clear indication that Israel sees the US administration’s plan as a green light pursuing its expansionist annexationist ambitions, which Israeli officials, including candidates running in the election that will take place in less than one week, are scrambling to unilaterally implement on the ground.

Settlement plans in and around East Jerusalem that had previously been frozen as a result of international pressure and outrage, are now boastfully relaunched, with the extremist, rightwing Israeli government exploiting the current circumstances, including international inaction, to move forward with these illegal plans. As long as there is no accountability for its actions, Israel will clearly continue its contempt of the will of the rest of the international community and continue to trample the law and the chances for a just solution.

Such intentions were borne out once again, on 24 February, when the joint US-Israel “committee” formed to “map out” areas of the Occupied West Bank slated for illegal annexation toured the settlement of “Ariel” and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu provocatively stated: “The process will be completed as quickly as possible; there is no artificial impediment… We are determining here lines that have historic implications. Therefore, the work will be done as quickly as possible, and we will not stop for anything.”

Extremist Israeli settlers have been equally emboldened, calling for the full and immediate annexation of the West Bank and escalating their violent attacks on Palestinian civilians. On 21 February, under the protection of Israeli occupation forces, around 4,000 Israeli settlers aboard dozens of buses and cars raided the Palestinian villages of Laqba and Al Burj in the Jordan Valley and gathered on land belonging to the Latin Patriarchate in Tayasir, terrorizing the local population.  

This utter disregard for Palestinians’ inalienable rights is the result of years of systematic dehumanization of the Palestinian people, who are treated by the occupation as undeserving of basic human rights and dignity. In Israel’s latest demonstration of unhinged cruelty and barbaric treatment of Palestinians, images were caught on video on 23 February of an Israeli military bulldozer dragging the body of a dead Palestinian man in Gaza. Reacting to the video, Israeli Minister Naftali Bennett then tweeted “this is how it should be done, and this is how it will be done”. Mohammed Ali al-Naim, age 27, had previously been shot dead by Israeli forces. Two Palestinian men who tried to retrieve the dead body were also injured by Israeli forces and ended up in hospital.

In a further demonstration of such utter contempt for Palestinian lives, the Israeli Prime Minister chose to visit to Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, the same week marking the 26th anniversary since a terrorist Israeli settler, Baruch Goldstein, used an army-issued automatic rifle to fire on hundreds of Palestinian worshippers, murdering 29 Palestinians while as they were performing a dawn prayer during Ramadan in Al-Ibrahimi mosque, and injuring 150. That terror attack was followed by Israeli soldiers killing an additional 21 Palestinians who protested the massacre.

It should be recalled that These horrific acts led the Security Council to adopt its resolution 904 (1994), calling for “measures to be taken to guarantee the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilians throughout the occupied territory, including, inter alia, a temporary international or foreign presence”. It is not a coincidence that the mandate of the presence that was established – the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) – was terminated by Israel just last year as it obviously seeks to forge ahead with its illegal plans in the City and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Without genuine international efforts to hold Israel accountable for all of its violations and crimes, the occupying Power’s impunity will only escalate. This is being blatantly exhibited by the contemptuous declarations of Israeli officials and by the incessant series of illegal actions on the ground that are aggravating already high-tensions and risk further destabilization of the situation.

It is past time for the international community, with the Security Council at the forefront, to answer such defiance by Israel, with a firm resolve for peace and rejection of all illegal actions and provocations. It must be unyielding in its response to the occupying Power and this requires immediate action. As stated by the UN Special Coordinator Nikolay Mladenov in his briefing to the Security Council on 24 February, “Today, it is not enough to reaffirm the internationally agreed parameters on how the conflict can be resolved.” This must include tangible measures now to save the viability of the two-State solution and the possibility for Israeli-Palestinian peace before it is too late.

We urge the international community to act now with concrete measures to uphold international law and to actualize the longstanding international consensus for a just solution as enshrined in the relevant UN resolutions.  As stated by Pope Francis on 23 February, “inequitable” solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would only be a prelude to new crises, which we must collectively act to avert.

This letter is in follow-up to our 681 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 20 February 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.

Signature_English

Dr. Riyad Mansour

Minister, Permanent Observer

of the State of Palestine to the United Nations

20 February 2020 – Illegal Israeli Settlement Activities

Excellency,

In follow-up to my recent letter of 14 February 2020 regarding the relentless crimes by Israel, the occupying Power, in Occupied Palestine, including East Jerusalem, I must draw your attention to Israel’s continuing illegal settlement activities, land grab and annexation schemes.

Such illegal decisions and measures are further undermining the viability of the two-State solution on the pre-1967 borders and the horizon and prospects for a just and lasting solution.  Moreover, as Israel’s extremist right-wing government persists not only with such aggressive and oppressive policies, it also persists with its inflammatory rhetoric and incitement, ratcheting up tensions and threatening further destabilization of this already fragile situation.

On 18 February, Israel announced that it plans to construct yet another illegal settlement, comprising 9,000 units and a shopping centre, in Occupied East Jerusalem between the Palestinian neighborhoods of Kafr Aqab, Qalandiya and Al-Ram. If implemented, this would entail the demolition of dozens of Palestinian homes and the forcible transfer of hundreds more Palestinian civilians and further undermine contiguity of the Palestinian land. This provocative scheme was followed by the announcement today of plans to construct 2,200 additional settlement units in the illegal “Har Homa” settlement in the Palestinian neighborhood of Jabal Abu Ghneim in Occupied East Jerusalem, as well as another 3,000 units in the illegal settlement of “Givat Hamatos”, which would completely sever the connection between Occupied East Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

If implemented, these provocative and destructive plans would constitute further grave breaches of international law, including international criminal law as articulated in the Rome Statute, flagrant violations of United Nations resolutions, including Security Council resolution 2334, and blatant disrespect of the international community’s will as articulated inter alia in the numerous statements made in the Security Council only last week. The international community must be firm in demanding a halt to all such illegal activities by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the reversal of all policies and attempts aimed at forcibly, unilaterally and unlawfully prejudging the outcome of negotiations.

It is clear that, before the eyes of the world, the Israeli government is doing everything in its power to bury the two-State solution and any chance for a just peace. As stated by Israeli NGO Peace Now, “Netanyahu wants to strike another deadly blow to the prospect of a two-state solution. The planned [9,000-units] settlement neighborhood drives a wedge in the heart of the Palestinian urban continuity between Ramallah and East Jerusalem, thus preventing the establishment of a viable Palestinian state with capital in East Jerusalem.”

The Israeli Prime Minister continues to boast about his criminal intentions and defiance of the international community, declaring today: “I established Har Homa when I was first prime minister in 1997, against the wishes of the entire world, and I am happy to see it expand. For years, governments opposed building there and in Givat Hamatos, and now we are building there”.

It must be noted here that these illegal settlement plans were drawn up years ago, and, given international pressure and the sensitivity of Jerusalem, were shelved pending emergence of a more permissive political environment. Undoubtedly, such conditions have been amply offered by the current US administration and its unjust, reckless “plan” for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has clearly emboldened Israeli leaders to accelerate their expansionist, annexationist agenda.

In this regard, the US administration regrettably continues to exacerbate tensions, including with the decision to appoint the US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, as head of the joint US-Israel “committee” assigned to “map out” areas of the Occupied West Bank slated for illegal annexation.

It is astounding and deeply tragic that – despite the passage of more than a half-century of Israel’s occupation and the passage of more than seventy years of the dispossession, displacement and oppression of the Palestinian people in an ongoing and cruel Nakba – not only has the international community failed to sufficiently mobilize to redress this unlawful situation – from its root causes to the crises we witness today – but is passively witnessing a further deterioration of the situation and the compounding of the conflict. This regression of conditions on the ground and the prospects for achieving a just solution is unquestionably due in part to the lack of accountability for these illegal actions, permitting Israel’s illegal occupation to continue cost-free.

In this regard, it is deeply regrettable that some States have undertaken steps in recent days to shield Israel from criminal accountability at the International Criminal Court, obstructing the Palestinian people’s recourse to the justice they seek and deserve. Attempts to deny the applicability of international law to the Palestine question will only serve to perpetuate the occupying Power’s widespread criminal conduct and imperil the credibility of international law worldwide, to the detriment of humanity as a whole.

The dehumanization of the Palestinian people, and exceptionalism with which they are treated, as though they do not deserve justice or the protections of the law, must end. It must be understood that Palestinians, like their fellow human beings, are a people who cannot endure decades of violent oppression, domination and control by the Israeli occupation without voicing their rejection of this and demanding accountability for the grave injustices they are enduring.

It is not normal that a Palestinian boy should not be able to buy a sandwich without facing a threat to his life. There is nothing normal about the fact that on 15 February, on his way home from school with his sisters, 8-year old Malek Issa was shot in between the eyes by Israeli occupying soldiers after he stepped out from a restaurant in the East Jerusalem village of Issawiya. His skull and face were fractured, causing a hemorrhage in his brain, and leading him to lose his left eye. There is nothing normal about expecting the Palestinians to accept the barbaric and horrendous circumstances in which they have been forced to live under this illegal occupation.

We call yet again on the international community, including the Security Council, to uphold the responsibilities to redress this monumental injustice. Action must be taken to hold Israel accountable for all of its crimes before it is too late and peace prospects evaporate. It can no longer suffice to condemn or simply be appalled by Israel’s illegal actions; practical measures are necessary to bring an end to Israel’s occupation and to truly advance the establishment of a just and lasting solution. The Security Council must uphold its Charter duties and implement its own resolutions, without exception, as the first and most vital step for signaling to the occupying Power that its defiance will no longer be tolerated. The viability of the two-State is dependent on this as is the prospect for Palestinian-Israeli peace and security.  

This letter is in follow-up to our 680 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 14 February 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 distributed as a 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

of the State of Palestine to the United Nations

14 February 2020 – Israeli Provocations and the U.S. Plan

Excellency,

I write to draw your attention to recent critical developments and rising tensions, including in particular as a result of the relentless crimes, provocation, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric of Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people, their rights and their leadership.

On 28 January 2020, US President Donald Trump proposed a plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the provisions of which breach international law and the internationally-endorsed terms of reference and parameters for the achievement of a just, comprehensive and lasting solution, as enshrined in the relevant United Nations resolutions, and undermines the inalienable rights and national aspirations of the Palestinian people, including to self-determination and independence.

The plan attempts to legitimize Israel’s illegal occupation, colonization and annexation of Palestinian land, deeming crimes such as the settlements, the wall and forced displacement of thousands of Palestinians as mere ‘realities’ that must be accepted; endorses Israel’s illegal annexation of Occupied East Jerusalem; and validates further annexation schemes, effectively dismantling the two-State solution and turning the rules-based order on its head.

Insisting on an adherence to international law and the principles of equity and justice and respect for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, the State of Palestine, the League of Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the African Union and many other countries and organizations around the world have rejected this plan, stressing that it is unacceptable as a basis for peace and would only prolong the conflict and the injustice.

This message was firmly conveyed by President Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, in his address to the Security Council, on 11 February 2020, and was echoed by the overwhelming majority of Council members that reaffirmed the global consensus consistent with the longstanding, internationally-endorsed terms of reference and parameters for a just solution in accordance with international law, the relevant UN resolutions, the Madrid principles and the Arab Peace Initiative.

It is obvious that the unveiling of this unjust, provocative plan has emboldened the extremist right-wing Israeli government to intensify its illegal policies and measures, including threats and plans to annex large parts of the West Bank, including all Israeli settlements and the Jordan Valley, in grave breach of international law and with zero regard for consequences. Incitement and inflammatory statements every single day by Israeli officials illustrate that the occupying Power has abandoned all restraint and aims to only fuel an already burning fire through illegal actions and decisions over the coming weeks. Among such provocative statements, all made in the aftermath of the presentation of the US plan, are the following:

Deputy Minister Avi Dichter (28 January 2020): “Now we have the duty to immediately apply the Israeli sovereignty on all the Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria. The Jordan Valley will be our eastern border. The basic law which states that the entire united Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, was recognized today also by the United States of America. We must not wait for the moves of the Palestinian Authority.”

Minister Zeev Elkin (28 January 2020): “For sure it is a historic day and an undeniably historic period. Applying Israeli sovereignty immediately to at least 30% of Judea and Samaria (including the Jordan Valley and all areas of jurisdictions of Israeli communities) yes and yes! Establishing a Palestinian state in the heart of the country that will be a terror state and lead anti-Israeli incitement, emphatic no and no!”

Minister Naftali Bennett (29 January 2020): “Now the battle moves from the White House in Washington to the cabinet room in Jerusalem. We should not postpone this until after the elections, and should not agree to partial sovereignty—we should take everything now. In the coming days the order to apply sovereignty over the entire settlement areas should be brought to the cabinet table.”

Member of the Knesset Ayalet Shaked (29 January 2020): “…it is forbidden to accept the existence or the creation of a Palestinian state. Our starting point is that the creation of an Arab State in Judea and Samaria is dangerous and irresponsible.”

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (30 January 2020): “I say to the prime minister: if you return from Washington and ask to convene the Knesset plenum to capitalize on the historic willingness of the US administration to apply Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria—I will convene the plenum at once! No matter the criticism, no matter how many harsh attacks, the right thing will be done.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (14 February 2020): “Irrespective of Palestinian acceptance or rejection, we are getting American recognition over parts of our homeland, while the Palestinians must make considerable concessions just to enter talks!”

Such reckless declarations by Israeli officials and pursuit of such schemes underscore yet again the true nature of Israel’s colonialism, expansionism and lawlessness, the fuel of this more than half-century illegal foreign occupation. Israel’s lip service to peace has always been only a tactic, never a long-term objective. Such statements prove again that Israel’s professed commitment to the two-State solution is only a facade. The occupying Power has systematically enlarged and entrenched its extremist settler population in order to impose its vision of ‘Greater Israel’ on all of historic Palestine, working diligently to further its annexation of large areas of land in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in flagrant disrespect of the United Nations Charter, UN resolutions and all relevant provisions of international law.

Moreover, Israeli officials are aggressively transforming their provocative words into criminal action plans for formal annexation, with the Prime Minister brazenly announcing that Israel is “already in the process of mapping the territory that according to the Trump plan will be part of the State of Israel…This won’t take a lot of time and we’ll complete this.”

Such policies, combined with decades of “de facto” annexation of Palestinian land by the occupying Power, decades of failure by the international community to hold Israel accountable in that regard, and the current license for illegality presented by the Trump plan, are destroying the two-State solution and the essence of previously signed agreements. They have paved the pathway to an apartheid situation that no people would tolerate.

The international community must not remain silent in the face of such blatant crimes, and the urgency of action cannot be overstated. On 11 February, Middle East peace envoy Nickolay Mladenov warned the UN Security Council that unilateral steps and plans for annexation “would have a devastating impact on the prospect for a two-state solution. They would close the door to negotiations, have negative repercussions across the region, and severely undermine opportunities for normalization and regional peace… In the absence of a credible path back to negotiations,” he added, “we all face a heightened risk of violence.”

In this regard, we are also compelled to draw your attention to the dangerous escalation of Israeli violence against the Palestinian people following the announcement of the Trump plan. Since late January, killings, injuries, imprisonment of Palestinian civilians and attacks against the blockaded Gaza Strip have intensified and continue unabated.  In the recent period, Israel’s use of willful and lethal force against Palestinian civilians has resulted in the tragic killing of five Palestinians, among them Badr Nafla, age 19, Yazan Abu Tabekh, age 19, Tareq Badwan, age 24, Mohammed al-Haddad, age17, and Shadi el-Banna, age 45. It is clear that, to Israel, Palestinian lives, their aspirations, their human dignity, do not matter.

We call on the international community to put an end to this travesty of justice. Here we recall the appeal by President Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, during his address to the Security Council on 11 February, “I tell the world: be careful not to kill the hope of the Palestinian people. I came here to preserve hope, don’t take that hope away from us.”

We are grateful to all States, including the members of the Security Council, and the international organizations that have, at this critical moment, reaffirmed their principled positions on the need for serious and immediate efforts to uphold the UN Charter, international law, and the relevant resolutions as the most viable and direct path to achieve a just, lasting, comprehensive and peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to the Palestine question as a whole.

Statements alone, however, will not bring an end to the endless humiliations and aggression that the Palestinian people continue to endure, nor will they prevent Israel from further advancing and actualizing its settler colonial ambitions. Beyond statements, the international community has a duty to act, including the Security Council and the General Assembly, in accordance with their resolutions and the permanent responsibility of the United Nations until a just solution is achieved. Accountability is imperative.

All colonization and annexation must be stopped and reversed. States must not recognize as legitimate changes resulting from illegal Israeli policies and measures and acts of aggression in Occupied Palestine. An end must be brought to this illegal Israeli occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip – the territory comprising the State of Palestine on the pre-1967 borders – and the Palestinian people must exercise their long-overdue right to self-determination, independence and sovereignty and must realize justice.

For the sake of the Palestinian people, the Israeli people, the prospects for their peace and coexistence and for Middle East and global peace and security, as well as for the sake of preserving the credibility and authority of the United Nations and the rules-based order against the threats they face, the international community must salvage the foundations of peace. This is a collective responsibility.

This letter is in follow-up to our 679 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 10 January 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. 

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

Dr. Riyad Mansour

Minister, Permanent Observer

of the State of Palestine to the United Nations

Statement by H.E. President Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, Delivered before the United Nations Security Council on The Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestine Question on 11 February 2020

Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I come before you to appeal on behalf of 13 million Palestinians for a just peace, nothing more, nothing less. I come before you to reaffirm the Palestinian position of rejection of the US-Israel deal, supported by the positions of the League of Arab States, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and African Union, which all categorically rejected this deal, in addition to the statements by the European Union, Russia, China and Japan and the countries of the world, as well as, and I want to particularly mention them, the statements by the Secretary-General, all reaffirming commitment to the international terms of reference and United Nations resolutions.

This broad rejection of the deal stems from the unilateral positions contained in it, and the fact it clearly violates international law, United Nations resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative; ignores the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination, freedom, independence in their own State; and attempts to grant legitimacy to illegal measures such as the settlements and expropriation and annexation of Palestinian land.

I stress here that this deal or any part of it should not be considered as an international basis or reference for negotiations as it constitutes a US-Israel preemptive deal aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause. The fact alone that it denies Palestinian sovereignty over East Jerusalem warrants its rejection. The fact that it transforms our people and land into fragmented, isolated communities warrants its rejection. The fact that it deprives us of control over our land, borders, water, and airspace warrants its rejection. The fact that it erases the question of Palestine refugees warrants its rejection.

This plan destroys the basis on which the peace process was launched. It disregards the signed agreements based on the vision of two States on 1967 borders. It will not bring security or peace to our region. We therefore cannot accept it and will confront its implementation on the ground.

Here is the conclusion of the plan that was presented to us (shows conceptual map), and the “State” that it gives us, and that looks like Swiss cheese. Who among you would accept such a State?

This deal, ladies and gentlemen, contains diktats, consecrates occupation and annexation by military force, and would lead to an Apartheid system, an anachronistic reality being implemented today in Palestine. It rewards occupation instead of holding it accountable for the crimes it has committed for decades against our people and land.

I want to express our gratitude for the positions expressed by countries, regional and international organizations, parliaments, and Members of the Security Council that have risen along our side to defend the international consensus, based on international law and relevant UN resolutions. I also want to thank Israelis – yes Israelis – who expressed rejection of this deal in various ways. 300 Israeli officers have declared rejection of the deal, they say we now fight for justice (shows the petition). We also salute the demonstrations in Tel Aviv against this deal. We also express appreciation to the members of US Congress and Senate as well as US organizations and free voices that have expressed such rejection, and we value their commitment and their support to peace and to international legitimacy (shows letters by 107 Members of Congress and by 12 Senators, including 3 Presidential candidates).

And we salute our Palestinian people, and Arab and Muslim peoples and all peace-loving nations around the world. Palestinians have come out in thousands, hundreds of thousands, in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, despite freezing temperatures, to say no to this unjust plan. So it is not as some may say that it is only Abu Mazen and a couple of people who reject the plan. Hundreds of thousands took to the streets to say no; tens of thousands around the world also came out to say no. To those who still insist that this deal is fair, we say it is not.

I come before you today to say that peace between the Palestinian and Israeli peoples is still possible and achievable. I have come here to build an international partnership to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace, which remains our strategic objective.

This deal does not constitute an international endeavor. It came from one country with the support of another with the aim of imposing it on the world and against international legitimacy as enshrined in hundreds of United Nations resolutions, including tens of Security Council resolutions. This deal is unacceptable.

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen Members of the Council,

I must ask: why the insistence to unilaterally draft this US-Israeli plan, despite the fact that we were in a dialogue with the US administration all of 2017 and discussed all final status issues, including in a long dialogue between President Trump and myself. We spoke at length about the international legitimacy, the vision of two States. He told me he was ready to immediately announce that he adhered to this vision. We spoke of the 1967 borders, Jerusalem, security and all other issues that were not settled in Oslo.

I was pleased with this dialogue with him, only then to be surprised by the announcement of Jerusalem “undivided capital of Israel” and the transfer of the US embassy and calls to the rest of the international community to follow suit; the closure of the PLO office in Washington; the cutting of assistance to us, $840 million worth of aid; the termination of funding to UNRWA. I don’t know who gave such dreadful advice. The President Trump I know is not like that, and I don’t know where these actions came from.

Let me recall that the Madrid Peace Conference, the Oslo Accords, the Washington negotiations, as well as the Annapolis Conference for peace, were all on the basis of the international terms of reference and United Nations resolutions and called for negotiations on all final status issues, including Jerusalem, which was an issue for negotiation not imposition or preemption, and not a grant to be given to Israel. No, this is an occupied territory. Who has the right to give it away? This Council is the highest authority in the world and we accept your rulings and decisions.

All throughout, ladies and gentlemen, we remained committed to implementation of all agreements concluded with Israel, and acted responsibly, and that is why we achieved the respect of the world. 140 countries have recognized the State of Palestine and we have become an integral part of the international system as an observer State. We have not been able to become a Member State because of the prospect of a US veto. We joined over 120 Conventions, agencies and organizations, and we, the observer State, chaired the Group of 77 and China for the year 2019. We do exist.

And we continue building the national institutions of our State based on the rule of law and the international standards for a modern, democratic State, as well as on transparency and accountability, including fighting against corruption. Indeed, our country is at the forefront of the efforts to fight corruption, and this young State still under occupation is corruption free and those who say otherwise can come and see for themselves. I invite the Security Council to send a fact-finding mission to Palestine on this and all matters.

We have worked to empower women and youth and spread the culture of peace among our people, all our people. We tell them we reject war and terror, violence and terror worldwide, and we have concluded protocols with 83 countries first and foremost with the United States, as well as Canada, Russia, Japan, and others, to fight terrorism. We are not terrorists. And, regardless of what we endure, we will remain committed to the fight against terrorism.

We held elections three times, as we believe in democracy, but Israel refuses to let us organize elections. Why? Because they prevent us from organizing elections in Jerusalem, despite the fact that we held elections there in 1996, 2005 and 2006. Now as Jerusalem is being considered the “undivided capital of Israel” we are being prevented from holding elections there. That is not acceptable. East Jerusalem is ours and West Jerusalem is theirs, and both countries can cooperate together.

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen Members of the Council,

They say we missed the opportunities for peace. This is not true. Abba Eban happened to say one day that “Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”. Where did he come up with this, I do not know. And Kushner is repeating it. What is the opportunity that we have missed? Don’t use such silly slogans.

We have accepted all United Nations resolutions, starting with Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, all the way to 2334, adopted three years ago by your Council. We became an active actor on the international arena. In 1993, we concluded the interim Oslo Accords and remained committed to all its provisions and to the exchange of letters between us and Israel, which provide for mutual recognition. In Oslo we recognized the right of Israel to exist, as stated by Yasser Arafat, and Rabin recognized the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. What opportunities did we miss?

We were receptive to the efforts of successive US administrations and engaged with them, as well as with international initiatives and all invitations for dialogue and negotiations. Yet, at no point in these efforts was the bare minimum of justice for our people based on international law and United Nations resolutions ever presented. And, now, this current government representing the occupying Power is actively undermining all international efforts.

We have dealt with every opportunity seriously as peace is in the interest of our people and of the peoples of the world.

Several countries invited us, Russia, Japan, Belgium, Netherlands, to meet with Netanyahu on their soil and Netanyahu never honored such an invitation. I went three times to Moscow and Netanyahu never came. So who does not want peace?

So tell me what opportunities have we missed?

At the same time, Israeli governments and Israeli settlers continue destroying any prospect for peace, accelerating their colonial settlement activities all over the occupied West Bank, constructing settlements unchecked, alter the character of occupied Jerusalem, pursuing their aggression against Muslim and Christian holy sites, expropriating land, and continuing their war and blockade against our people in the Gaza Strip. They are unfortunately backed by the might of the United States, which has undertaken a number of decisions in breach of international law that have been rejected by the rest of the world and also by US Congress members and many organizations working for peace, including American Jewish organizations. 

The US Congress, in its decision number 326, opposed the policy announced by US Secretary of State Pompeo and of the US President on annexation and settlement activities and reaffirmed the two-State solution and the right of our people to self-determination. These are not solely our positions, but the positions of the US Congress.

I must also stress that we refuse to forgo political solutions for economic assistance, that invention they pursued in Bahrain, Warsaw, and elsewhere, saying they will give us 50 billion dollars, but where is the political solution? We refuse that. A political solution comes first. And if it is followed by economic assistance that is fine, but economic assistance is not the primary issue. We thank all countries that support us and without conditions to build our Palestinian institutions that will carry us towards our independent State with God’s will.

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen Members of the Council,

In these difficult times and before it is too late, I want to address President Trump to tell him the US plan cannot achieve peace and security by erasing international legitimacy. Who can erase international legitimacy? In this highest body, who can ignore this? The plan presented by President Trump does that and denies the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people, and removes East Jerusalem from under Palestinian sovereignty, and will not lead to the implementation of the vision of two independent sovereign States, Israel and Palestine.

I therefore appeal to President Trump to show fairness and justice, to support the implementation of United Nations resolutions, to preserve the chance of achieving genuine peace between Palestinians and Israelis. There can be no imposed peace.

Let us achieve peace together, and we managed to do so without intervention in Oslo and without knowledge of any State, and whoever says I knew, I challenge them. We reached an interim agreement and were ready to honor it for five years until we concluded a final peace agreement, but they assassinated Rabin. Why did they assassinate Rabin? May he rest in peace.

From this chamber, I call on the Quartet, composed of the United States, the Russian Federation, the European Union and the United Nations, as well as the members of your august Council, to convene an international peace conference, with a view to implementing United Nations resolutions, first and foremost resolution 2334, as well as the vision of two States and the Arab Peace Initiative, that we insist on as part and parcel of the international legitimacy, and of resolution 1515, through the establishment of an international mechanism with the Quartet and any other countries to oversee negotiations between the parties. But in all honesty, we will not accept the United States as sole broker as we have tried this before.  

I call on the international community in its entirety to pressure Israel, the occupying Power, to end its occupation practices and policies that aim to annex Palestinian land. What right do you have to annex our land? You will destroy the chances of peace.

In this historic moment, I extend my hand for peace once again before it is too late, and I hope to find a real partner for peace in Israel, any person who believes in peace, so we can achieve genuine peace that will bear fruit for the present and future generations of Palestinians and Israelis and for the countries and people of the world.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our Palestinian people can no longer withstand the Israeli occupation of our country, and the situation as a whole is explosive. To prevent that, we need to renew hope for our people. Do not deny hope to our people and the peoples of the region to live in freedom, independence and peace, and the hope that the free world will rise for its rights. Do not kill that hope for our people.

I want to show you a map of Palestine and the changes that have occurred on the ground since 1917, 1937, 1947, 1948 until 2020. What I see breaks my heart. Is this what we deserve? Is this what the Palestinian people deserve? Why were we there and now find ourselves in these islands? (shows maps)

On this occasion, I address the Israeli people to tell them that the pursuit of occupation, settlements, military control over another nation will not bring security or peace. We only have one choice, to be partners and neighbors, each in our independent sovereign State. Let us uphold together this just choice before it is too late.

I reiterate that our conflict is not with the followers of the Jewish faith. We are not against Jews. We Muslims are not against Jews. The Muslim that says I am against the Jews is an infidel. If one says he is against Jews or the Torah, he is an infidel, not a Muslim. We are not against Jews; we are against whoever oppresses us regardless of their religion. And, our struggle is not against Jews, but against those who occupy our land. We will therefore continue to pursue our struggle, during which we have endured great sacrifices with thousands of martyrs, prisoners, and wounded, in order to end this occupation and achieve our independent State. We reaffirm that our people will not kneel. We want our rights, and we salute all those who help us achieve them. We will not surrender to this occupation, however long it takes and no matter what sacrifices we have to endure.

And I conclude by saying once again: I am ready to resume negotiations, as I have always been, if there is an Israeli partner ready to negotiate, under the auspices of the Quartet, and based on the international terms of reference, and I am serious in what I say. I am ready to remain here in the house of international legitimacy to start these negotiations immediately.

Let me also state once again that we will not resort to violence or terrorism, despite the aggression against us. We are believers in peace and in fighting violence, and we are ready to cooperate with any country to fight terrorism. We are against terrorism and violence, by whomever, and we will resort to peaceful popular resistance.

Look at what is happening now in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, thousands have taken to the streets to say no to the deal. It is not my position alone, the entire Palestinian people say no to the deal.

Finally, I tell the world: be careful not to kill the hope of the Palestinian people. I came here to preserve hope, don’t take that hope away from us.

I thank you, Mr. President.

10 January 2020 – Escalating Illegal Israeli Settlement Activities

Excellency,     

I regret that I am once again compelled to draw your attention to the illegal colonization campaign being carried out in Occupied Palestine by Israel, the occupying Power.

In every decision and action concerning the Palestinian land, Israeli government and military officials persist in flagrant disrespect of international law and the authority of the Security Council and are even seemingly undeterred by the specter of an investigation by the International Criminal Court, blatantly challenging both the rules-based order and the international community as a whole.

At the most fundamental human level, such actions continue to inflict immense hardship and suffering on the Palestinian civilian population, including thousands upon thousands of families who have been cruelly dispossessed of their land, homes, properties and livelihoods and forcibly displaced. Moreover, these actions severely undermine peace prospects, making the two-State solution on the pre-1967 borders more remote than ever and a one-State, apartheid reality more inevitable, to the detriment of all who live on this land.

From the start of 2020, the Israeli government has continued the same destructive trends as in 2019, escalating settlement activities with the obvious aim of not only entrenching its illegal occupation but annexing our land, an unlawful objective publicly declared by various Israeli officials, including the Prime Minister and members of his Cabinet. As typical of this ruthless occupation, the latest plans for the construction of thousands more illegal colonial settlement units in our land were revealed as the Palestinian people were in the midst of holiday celebrations, undermining spirits and hopes for the new year.

As per this most recent announcement, Israel, the occupying Power, is planning the construction of at least 2,000 more settlement units in Occupied Palestine. These settlements will result in the unlawful transfer of thousands more Israeli settlers to our land and further confiscation and exploitation of our natural resources, all in grave violation of international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, and countless United Nations resolutions, including Security Council resolution 2334 (2016), which demanded an immediate and complete cessation of all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

As part of this illegal campaign, Israel, the occupying Power, has also continued its demolition of Palestinian homes in further grave breach of international humanitarian law, which prohibits the destruction of civilian property. Just this week, demolition orders were issued to 12 Palestinian homes in the Isawiyeh neighborhood of Occupied East Jerusalem, which has been most heavily targeted by this illegal policy. If carried out, these demolitions will render yet dozens more Palestinians, including women and children, homeless. In 2019, it was documented that the occupation authorities destroyed or seized 617 homes and structures in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, forcibly displacing 898 Palestinians. In addition to homes, demolished properties included many donor-funded humanitarian projects, agricultural structures, water pipes, wells and solar panels, with the majority located in so-called “Area C” of the West Bank, openly targeted by Israel for annexation.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who is leading this frenzied, illegal colonization campaign, has continued to openly threaten annexation, bragging about his intentions to annex the settlements and the Jordan Valley and with the support of the United States of America. In this regard, in total contempt of international law and the repeated calls of the international community to cease these illegal actions, he recently declared: “We are going to bring US recognition for our sovereignty in the Jordan Valley [and] in all the settlements, those in the blocs and those that are beyond it”.

His threats, which have escalated with every round of the ongoing Israeli election campaign, are being loudly echoed by others Israeli officials, including the so-called “Minister of Defense”, who is in full collaboration with settler leaders and is a settler himself and who recently mocked the United Nations, saying “I am not the United Nations… I have a policy of fully supporting the settlements”. Such comments, and more so their illegal plans and schemes, have been undoubtedly emboldened by the absolute political support and diplomatic protection of such impunity by the current US administration.

In this regard, it is stunning that the US Ambassador to Israel is actively promoting the illegal positions and objectives of the occupying Power in full complicity with its crimes. He is on record as stating just this week, using Biblical terminology to refer to the occupied West Bank, “when we came into office the lingering issues included three of significant importance: the status of 1) Jerusalem, 2) the Golan Heights and 3) Judea and Samaria. We have approached them in ascending order of complexity.”  Following the declarations of the US administration in December 2017 on Jerusalem, in March 2019 on the Occupied Syrian Golan, and in November 2019 on Israeli settlements, the meaning of such statements is starkly clear in encouraging and supporting Israeli settlement activities and annexation plans.

All Israeli colonization measures in Occupied Palestine, including East Jerusalem, must be condemned and neither threats nor attempts at annexation should go unchallenged. Such actions constitute flagrant breaches of international law, including the Charter of the United Nations, and direct violations of United Nations resolutions, including numerous Security Council resolutions that have explicitly demanded the cessation of such illegal policies and practices.

It is the duty of the Security Council and the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to act to uphold the rule of law, ensure accountability, and bring a halt to this illegal behavior, which is depriving our people of its patrimony and rights, including the inalienable right to self-determination, forcibly displacing them from their land, causing widespread human suffering and humanitarian need, and undermining the chances for a peaceful solution. Moreover, it is the duty of the International Criminal Court to ensure accountability for such war crimes, which these colonization activities, perpetrated across more than five decades incessantly and systematically, clearly constitute.

Absent consequences, it is clear that Israel, the occupying Power, will persist with such crimes, irreversibly dismantling the two-State solution and destroying the foundations of a peaceful solution. The Palestinian leadership therefore reiterates its call upon the international community, at the forefront the Security Council, to act urgently to address this illegal situation in accordance with international law and the resolutions adopted by its highest organs.

Only accountability can end such impunity, deter future violations and salvage the prospects for a just peace that will allow the Palestinian people to finally live freely and equally in their homeland, side by side with all of their neighbors in peace and security.

 This letter is in follow-up to our 678 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 11 December 2019 (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.

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

Signature_English

            Dr. Riyad Mansour

            Minister, Permanent Observer

            of the State of Palestine to the United Nations

Statement by H.E. Dr. Riyad Mansour, Minister, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, before the United Nations Security Council, “The Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestine Question”, 18 December 2019

Madam President,

I congratulate you for assuming the Presidency of the Security Council during this month. We thank the UN Special Coordinator, Mr. Nikolay Mladenov, for his presentation of the report of the Secretary General, and the briefer for her testimony.

Madam President,

As Christians around the world prepare to celebrate Christmas, Palestinian Christians joined them in decorating trees, singing carols, and praying for peace in the holy land and across the globe. But the reality of occupation did not spare them, even in this special period of the year. Palestinian Christians from Gaza were barred by Israel from celebrating Christmas in Bethlehem and Jerusalem, the two twin cities separated for the first time in history by a shameful wall.

As Palestinians prepare to welcome another year, their ordeal is nowhere close to an end. They continue to fear for their lives, for their families, for their homes and for their future. And yet, they find everyday the courage to persevere. They remain steadfast in the face of adversity and carry the hope to live and thrive on their own land, in dignity and freedom.

Madam President,

Allow me to draw here a map of our reality. Two words can summarize it: “Confinement” for Palestinians. “Expansion” for illegal Israeli settlements. The members of the Council may have in mind when I say the word confinement, and rightly so, the two million Palestinians besieged in the Gaza Strip. But Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have also been confined to the areas where they already lived in 1967.

In the so-called Area C, which represents 60% of the West Bank, and includes the resource-rich Jordan Valley, only 1% has been planned for Palestinian development, while 70% of that area is included within the boundaries of the regional councils of illegal Israeli settlements. Similarly, only 13% of East Jerusalem is zoned for Palestinian construction, much of which is already built-up, while 35% of land in East Jerusalem has been confiscated for Israeli settlement use.

The purpose of this policy is crystal clear: Acquiring maximum Palestinian land with minimum Palestinians. Illegal annexation of Palestinian land is not an unexpected result of the Israeli occupation, it is its overarching objective.

Madam President,

The Security Council adopted three years ago its resolution 2334, reaffirming the international consensus regarding just and lasting peace based on international law and identifying the obligations of the parties and of the international community at large. Had there been enforcement and accountability, I assure you the report of the Secretary General today would be extremely different. But instead, Israeli exceptionalism and impunity continued, emboldening Israel to pursue and entrench its illegal occupation, to the detriment of the Palestinian people’s inalienable rights. Peace requires fulfilment of these rights and certainly not acceptance of their continued denial.

Madam President,

This morning, the General Assembly is adopting the resolution on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including the right to their independent State. This resolution garners the support of over 90% of the UN membership. Is this support an expression of a bias against Israel? Can resolutions about Palestinian rights, the peaceful settlement of the conflict, a shared Jerusalem, or against Israeli settlements be characterized as anti-Israel?

The General Assembly’s resolutions regarding Palestine are firmly rooted in the UN Charter, international law, human rights and the resolutions of this very Council. And yet, it is cynically called biased and one-sided, with Israel’s representative calling the Assembly, i.e. the countries comprising it, “morally bankrupt”. The General Assembly is more universal and representative today than at any point in history, so Israel can not celebrate resolution 181 and commend the General Assembly for adopting it 70 years ago, while dismissing all other resolutions adopted since. Israel’s very selective approach to UN resolutions and international law, claiming rights and dismissing obligations, should never be condoned nor encouraged.

The claim that the UN passes a disproportionate number of resolutions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a distortion that dismisses key facts and context. Any reference to the number of resolutions adopted by the General Assembly on the Palestine question must be seen in the context of the paralysis of the Security Council when it comes to this conflict. There lies the real imbalance, the real bias.

In the past decade, out of 636 Security Council resolutions, only 2 were adopted on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. TWO – 1860 (2009) and 2334 (2016). Likewise, out of 271 Security Council Presidential Statements in the past decade, only 3 PRSTs concerned Palestine/Israel. THREE. 

So claims that the UN is singling out Israel through an inordinate number of resolutions is selective and misleading at best, biased at worst, because such claims ignore the situation in this Council, where the opposite is true and any effort to address Israel’s blatant contempt of international law, the authority of the Council and its resolutions, including 2334, as just conveyed once again in the Secretary-General’s report, is obstructed.

The Security Council did not adopt any resolution regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict under Chapter VII – even though more than 50% of the resolutions adopted regarding other conflicts in these past 10 years have been under Chapter VII and even as the situation demonstrates the necessity for such endeavor.

The fate of the region lies to a great extent in the capacity of the international community to demonstrate that the international will to achieve peace is stronger than the Israeli will to colonize Palestinian land. We call on the Council and all States to act now to advance accountability and justice, freedom and peace, for the sake of the Palestinian people, the Israeli people, and future generations, for the sake of regional and global peace and security and the international rules-based order.

Madam President,

Before concluding, I wish to take a moment to convey our deep appreciation to the members of the Security Council whose terms will soon end and to recognize their service with principle and distinction throughout their tenures. We congratulate and thank Kuwait, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Peru and Poland.

Thank you, Madam President.

Press Release (Arabic), 13 December 2019

بيان صحفي

13 ديسمبر 2019

الجمعية العامة تعتمد بأغلبية ساحقة قرارات لصالح فلسطين

إعتمدت الجمعية العامة للأمم المتحدة اليوم بأغلبية ساحقة (بناء على توصية اللجنة الرابعة التابعة لها والمعنية بالمسائل السياسية الخاصة وإنهاء الإستعمار) قرارات تتعلق بوكالة الأمم المتحدة لإغاثة وتشغيل لاجئي فلسطين في الشرق الأدنى (الأونروا)، وباللجنة الخاصة المعنية بالتحقيق في الممارسات الإسرائيلية التي تمس حقوق الإنسان للشعب الفلسطيني وغيره من السكان العرب في الأراضي المحتلة.

وحول القرارات المتعلقة ببند وكالة الأونروا، إعتمدت الجمعية العامة قرار “تقديم المساعدة إلى اللاجئين الفلسطينيين” وهو قرار تمديد ولاية الأونروا، بأغلبية )170( دولة لصالح القرار، ومعارضة (2) إسرائيل والولايات المتحدة، وإمتناع (9) دولة عن التصويت،.

كما إعتمدت الجمعية العامة قرار “النازحون نتيجة لأعمال القتال التي نشبت في يونيو/حزيران 1967 وأعمال القتال التالية”، بأغلبية (162) صوتاً لصالح القرار، ومعارضة (7) دول من ضمنها  إسرائيل والولايات المتحدة وكندا، وإمتناع (11) دول عن التصويت.

كما تم إعتماد قرار “عمليات وكالة الأونروا” بأغلبية (167) صوتا لصالح القرار، ومعارضة (6) دول من ضمنها إسرائيل والولايات المتحدة وكندا، وإمتناع (7) دول عن التصويت.

وإعتمدت الجمعية العامة قرار “ممتلكات اللاجئين الفلسطينيين والإيرادات الآتية منها” بأغلبية (163) صوتا لصالح القرار، ومعارضة (7) دول، من ضمنها إسرائيل والولايات المتحدة وكندا، وإمتناع (12) دول عن التصويت.

وبخصوص القرارات المتعلقة ببند اللجنة الخاصة المعنية بالتحقيق في الممارسات الإسرائيلية التي تمس حقوق الانسان للشعب الفلسطيني وغيره من السكان العرب في الأراضي المحتلة، إعتمدت الجمعية العامة قرار “أعمال اللجنة الخاصة المعنية بالتحقيق في الممارسات الإسرائيلية التي تمس حقوق الانسان للشعب الفلسطيني وغيره من السكان العرب في الأراضي المحتلة” بأغلبية (81) لصالح القرار ومعارضة (13) دول، من ضمنها إسرائيل والولايات المتحدة وكندا، وإمتناع (80) دولة عن التصويت.

كما تم إعتماد قرار “المستوطنات الإسرائيلية في الأرض الفلسطينية المحتلة، بما فيها القدس الشرقية، والجولان السوري المحتل” بأغلبية (156) صوتاً لصالح القرار، ومعارضة (6) دول من ضمنها إسرائيل والولايات المتحدة وكندا، وإمتناع (15) دول عن التصويت.

وإعتمدت الجمعية العامة قرار “الممارسات الإسرائيلية التي تمس حقوق الإنسان للشعب الفلسطيني في الأرض الفلسطينية المحتلة، بما فيها القدس الشرقية” بأغلبية (157) صوتاً لصالح القرار، ومعارضة (9) دول من ضمنها إسرائيل والولايات المتحدة واستراليا وكندا، وامتناع (13) دول عن التصويت.

وصرح الدكتور رياض منصور، المندوب الدائم لدولة فلسطين لدى الأمم المتحدة، أن هذه التصويتات بأغلبية ساحقة في الجمعية العامة والتي زادت عن نسبة التصويت الذي سبق في اللجنة الرابعة، يؤكد أن العالم بأغلبيته المطلقة لا يزال ملتفاُ حول المواقف العادلة لشعب فلسطين وقضيته وملتفاً حول القانون الدولي والشرعية الدولية، وهذا ما نثمنه عالياً كشعب فلسطين وقيادته.

11 December 2019 – Illegal Israeli Settlement Activities and Annexation Threats

Excellency,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Signature_English

Dr. Riyad Mansour

Ambassador, Permanent Observer

of the State of Palestine to the United Nations

12 November 2019 – Extrajudicial Assassinations Perpetrated by Israel

Excellency,

I write to urgently draw the international community’s attention to Israel’s escalation of military aggression against the Palestinian people under its occupation, particularly in the besieged Gaza Strip. This most recent unlawful military aggression risks the outbreak of another deadly and destructive cycle of violence, endangering the lives of millions of innocent civilians.

This must be averted at all costs and international law, including humanitarian and human rights law, must be upheld to protect civilian life and prevent the further deterioration of this already volatile and dangerous situation.

This latest escalation began in the early morning hours of today, 12 November, when Israeli occupying forces carried out an extrajudicial assassination of a Palestinian man in an airstrike targeting his home in the Shuj’aiya neighborhood of Gaza City, which also killed his wife and seriously injured his four children and also injured a woman in a neighboring home. That attack was followed by several other missile strikes on different locations in the Gaza Strip, killing another three Palestinians and injuring more than 30 other Palestinian civilians at the time of the writing of this letter.

These attacks are causing widespread fear and trauma throughout the entire civilian population being inhumanely held captive under Israel’s illegal occupation and blockade, with nowhere to escape or shelter from the onslaught. Life in Gaza has come to a standstill, with schools, universities and institutions shuttered, as the defenseless Palestinian civilian population braces for the possibility of another full-scale deadly, military aggression and campaign of terror by the occupying Power that will only bring more death, destruction and misery to so many innocents.

The Palestinian leadership condemns these criminal attacks, as well as all attacks that preceded it, including the cold-blooded murder of a 22-year old Palestinian man yesterday by Israeli occupying forces in the Arroub refugee camp in Al-Khalil (Hebron). This constant perpetration of violence by Israel, its occupying forces and settlers, against Palestinian civilian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, must be stopped. We reiterate our call for the immediate protection of the Palestinian people in accordance with international law, including the relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, and the lofty commitments repeatedly made by the international community to protect civilians in all cases.

There cannot be one standard for the entire world and an exception made for Israel, which continues to violate human rights and impose a protection crisis on the Palestinian people under its illegal occupation with absolute impunity. A clear message must be sent to the occupying Power that it is bound by the same rules of international law that all other States are bound by without exception.

Today’s criminal attack, which was planned by Israeli government and military constitutes wanton killing officials at the highest level with deliberate intent to cause death and injury, including to women and children, a grave breach of international law, a war crime. Those responsible for this crime and all the other war crimes that have been, and are being, perpetrated against the Palestinian people by Israel, the occupying Power, must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law, including under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

In closing, we reiterate our unequivocal condemnation of all acts of violence, provocation, incitement and terror against civilians.

This letter is in follow-up to our 676 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 21 October 2019 (A/ES-10/–/2019/–), constitute a basic record of the crimes being committed by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people since September 2000. For all of these war crimes, acts of State terrorism and systematic human rights violations being committed against the Palestinian people, Israel, the occupying Power, must be held accountable and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.

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

Signature_English

Dr. Riyad Mansour

Ambassador, Permanent Observer

of the State of Palestine to the United Nations