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.

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.

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.

Statement by H.E. Minister Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, Security Council open high-level video conference on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, 27 May 2020

Mr. President,

Allow me at the outset to thank the Estonian Presidency for convening this important high-level debate and for placing at the center of its Presidency the lessons of the Second World War, which served as the foundations for the establishment of the multilateral rules-based order. At a time when this order is threatened, it is important to remember why it was built and what the alternative would be.

We thank the Secretary-General for his report and for his central role in helping preserve this order at this critical juncture, including when it comes to the defense of international law and the protection of civilians.

Mr. President,

I must address the situation of the Palestinian people, which OCHA characterizes “as a protracted protection crisis driven by lack of respect for international law, and a lack of accountability for violations”, and let me do so by stating some hard truths.

  1. There is no right to security of the occupying Power at the expense of the security and protection of the occupied people, or at the expense of a people’s right to self-determination. There is no right to security that justifies permanent occupation or the illegal acquisition of land by force and its colonization. There is no right to security that justifies a blockade imposed on two million people for 13 years and the oppression of an entire nation. International law draws a clear line between legal action and war crimes and crimes against humanity. Allowing any country to blur this line places civilians in harm’s way and undermines peace and security.
  2. Are the Palestinian people entitled to the protections availed by the UN Charter, international humanitarian law, international human rights law? The answer must be yes. Is anyone under the illusion that Israel, the occupying Power, has any respect for its obligations under these instruments? Israel has demonstrated time and time again its contempt for the rule of international law and for Palestinian rights and lives. Can one rely on Israeli courts to ensure the occupied people of the protections they are entitled to? The Israeli NGO B’Tselem, explaining its decision to no longer cooperate with the military law enforcement system, stated that it reached “the realization that there is no longer any point in pursuing justice and defending human rights by working with a system whose real function is measured by its ability to continue to successfully cover up unlawful acts and protect perpetrators”. So Israel cannot be trusted to ensure accountability for violations planned at the highest level and perpetrated with the virtual guarantee of total immunity.
  3. The ICC was established to fill the gap left when national courts are unwilling or unable to hold perpetrators of grave crimes accountable and fail to deliver justice. The situation in Palestine corresponds exactly to this reality. Attacks and threats against the Court for fulfilling its mandate are intolerable and should be strongly rejected. The efforts to prevent the Court from exercising its jurisdiction in the Occupied Palestinian Territory aim at effectively denying Palestinian victims – millions of civilians – any avenue for justice while guaranteeing to Israel that there will be no accountability for its crimes, thus enabling their recurrence.
  4. While some misguidedly state that Israel suffers from being singled-out in the UN, the reality is that Israeli exceptionalism, which has effectively guaranteed its total impunity for actions deemed as grave violations of the law by the international community, is the main reason for the perpetuation of its violations and crimes.
  5. The Security Council and the General Assembly have called for international protection of the Palestinian people, and the Secretary-General made concrete recommendations in this regard in his report of 14 August 2018, and yet the Palestinian people continue to be denied this most elementary right, as the occupying Power has granted itself veto power over any effective action to provide protection for the Palestinian civilian population. The international community cannot continue tolerating this situation.
  6. Now with the threat of further unlawful annexation looming, and as existing violations and crimes against the Palestinian people continue unabated, the price of impunity continues rising, and the Palestinian people continue paying it. This must change. The cost of occupation should fall on the occupying Power, not the occupied people, and only when this cost outweighs the benefits of occupation, will Israel be compelled to respect the law and work for peace.
  7. The fate of the Palestinian people cannot be left to the mercy of the occupying Power. The international community cannot abdicate its obligations, especially as Israel systematically breaches its own. We call on the Council to fulfill its mandate under the Charter, and we call on all States that believe in the rule of international law, to uphold the law in a situation where its breach has been condemned and yet tolerated for too long, prolonging this illegal Israeli military occupation and its crimes against our people and preventing the achievement of peace. Third parties have the obligation to respect and ensure respect for international law, including by not recognizing the situation created by illegal actions, not rendering aid or assistance in maintaining the illegal situation, and by holding the State, entities, companies and individuals responsible for such violations accountable.

Mr. President,

In his report on protection of civilians in armed conflict, the Secretary-General identifies respect for the law and accountability for serious violations as the two most pressing challenges to strengthening the protection of civilians. He rightly notes that the normative framework and the tools to uphold it already exist. What is needed is the political will to use these tools to enforce the law. The international community displaying such political will not only help end the prolonged suffering of the Palestinian people, but will also help achieve peace in our region and beyond. Impunity is the enemy of peace. Accountability is the only path towards it.

I thank you.

29 April 2020 – Letter by Ambassador Dr. Riyad Mansour to the President of the Security Council

Excellency,

During the recent VTC meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question, held on 23 April, the Israeli Representative once again accused me of antisemitism. This accusation is too grave, even when used in such outrageous and untruthful manner, to be left unanswered.

Such accusations have been repeatedly used to taint legitimate criticism of Israel’s violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory with the aim to silence or delegitimize anyone speaking out and must be directly challenged. This has become a systematic policy that has even targeted Security Council members, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, as well as international figures, who – in upholding their moral, legal, political and/or humanitarian obligations – dare to denounce Israel’s violations of the Palestinian people’s rights and its colonization of their land.

Israel has blatantly dismissed resolutions adopted by the Security Council and the General Assembly,  the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, and statements, including by its closest allies, as stemming from antisemitism instead of acknowledging that such legislations, decisions
and declarations reflect on facts and are grounded in the rules that were created to save successive generations from the scourge of war by preventing and deterring violations, regardless of the identity of the victim and of the identity of the perpetrator.

Antisemitism is one of the most despicable forms of racism, that has culminated in one of the greatest tragedies of our time. Our multilateral rules-based order has been established in response to the horrors of the Second World War, including the Holocaust. The UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions, the International Court of Justice, international criminal law, all were designed in response to these tragedies and to prevent their recurrence and the human suffering
and turmoil they caused. 

We honor the victims by upholding the rule of international law, not undermining it. We honor them by denouncing war crimes, not by using their memory to shield perpetrators. We honor them by ensuring accountability, not by perpetuating impunity.

Antisemitism and all other forms of discrimination and racism must be condemned and confronted wholeheartedly, never justified or overlooked. We all need to fight antisemitism while rejecting the instrumentalization of the accusation of antisemitism to shield illegal actions from criticism and accountability. 

We pay tribute to all those, from every creed, race, color, and background who have fought for justice anywhere and everywhere, including in Palestine. We will remain steadfast in our struggle against the ills of oppression, occupation, dispossession, discrimination and injustice and will not be silenced by those who accuse us in a failed attempt to justify the crimes they are responsible for. Let them know that when it comes to our stance for justice, we stand undeterred.

History has taught us what it means to live in a world without rules. What it means to be able to allow anyone to justify widespread and systematic denial of rights. What it means to look away when others are suffering from injustice and oppression. The representatives here at the UN have a particular duty to uphold that collective memory so that the words of our UN Charter can live on, including our determination “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small”. 

I have dedicated my life to the fight for justice, equality and freedom for the Palestinian people and beyond and to the fulfilment of that very pledge of the Charter. I have fought racism in all its ugly forms. I have served this multilateral rules-based order with commitment and principle. I doubt that my accuser can say the same. 

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
of the State of Palestine to the United Nations

Statement of Solidarity and Appreciation to the City of New York from 167 UN Member States and Permanent Observers upon the initiative of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

As the world faces its gravest test since the founding of the United Nations, and countries grapple with the devastating consequences of COVID-19, we all recall the very reasons for joining this Organization. The existence of the United Nations stems from our understanding that global peace, prosperity and security cannot be achieved without global solidarity. COVID-19 stands as undeniable evidence that now, more than ever, we must work together to overcome the challenges we face.

New York City has been the home that has welcomed and nurtured collective action against global challenges. It is in New York City that multilateralism has found its most comprehensive expression. It is in New York City that the headquarters of the United Nations stand as our collective voice for peace, prosperity and solidarity.

Today this great city of New York is facing one of its biggest challenges in decades. COVID-19 has hit the City hard. Thousands of innocent lives have been lost. Thousands are struggling with the disease. The thriving, vibrant life of New York City has been disrupted.

We are fully confident that New York will overcome this crisis. New Yorkers will triumph over this challenge and will emerge stronger, more resilient. The heart of the City will beat stronger with determination, with achievement, with hope and with the promise of a better tomorrow.

We, members of the United Nations, stand in full solidarity with New York City and its great people.

We extend our deep appreciation and gratitude for the Heroes and Sheroes of New York City, who put their lives at risk every day, to save our own. Without the dedication and courage of New Yorkers: leadership, healthcare workers, police, fire fighters, and brave essential workers, this time of uncertainty would have been far more difficult. We salute them all.

We offer our deepest condolences for the loss of life that New York City has endured from the virus. Those who passed will remain in our hearts and prayers. Our thoughts and prayers are also with those who are battling this vicious disease.

We, the representatives of our Nations to the UN, have come to know the spirit of New York City. We know the strength of its people. We know that New Yorkers will win over this vicious enemy. We share our commitment, and stand in unity with the City of New York as we collectively work to defeat this unconventional enemy. And we will defeat it.

THANK YOU NEW YORK CITY

April 19th, 2020

Member States and Permanent Observers that have extended support to the Statement:

  1. Afghanistan
  2. Albania
  3. Algeria
  4. Andorra
  5. Angola
  6. Argentina
  7. Armenia
  8. Australia
  9. Austria
  10. Azerbaijan
  11. Bahamas
  12. Bahrain
  13. Bangladesh
  14. Barbados
  15. Belgium
  16. Belize
  17. Benin
  18. Bhutan
  19. Bolivia (Plurinational State of)
  20. Bosnia and Herzgovina
  21. Botswana
  22. Brazil
  23. Bulgaria
  24. Burkina Faso
  25. Burundi
  26. Cabo Verde
  27. Canada
  28. Central African Republic
  29. Chad
  30. Chile
  31. China
  32. Colombia
  33. Comoros
  34. Congo
  35. Costa Rica
  36. Cote d’Ivoire 
  37. Croatia
  38. Cuba
  39. Cyprus
  40. Czech Republic
  41. Denmark
  42. Djibouti
  43. Dominican Republic
  44. Ecuador
  45. Egypt
  46. El-Salvador
  47. Equatorial Guinea
  48. Eritrea
  49. Estonia
  50. Fiji
  51. Finland
  52. France
  53. Gambia (Republic of The)
  54. Georgia
  55. Germany
  56. Ghana
  57. Greece
  58. Grenada
  59. Guatemala
  60. Guinea
  61. Guyana
  62. Haiti
  63. Honduras
  64. Hungary
  65. Iceland
  66. India
  67. Indonesia
  68. Iran (Islamic Republic of)
  69. Iraq
  70. Ireland
  71. Israel
  72. Italy
  73. Japan
  74. Jordan
  75. Kazakhstan
  76. Kenya
  77. Kuwait
  78. Kyrgyzstan
  79. Lao People’s Democratic Republic
  80. Latvia
  81. Lebanon
  82. Lesotho
  83. Liberia 
  84. Libya
  85. Liechtenstein
  86. Lithuania
  87. Luxembourg
  88. Madagascar
  89. Malawi
  90. Malaysia
  91. Maldives
  92. Mali
  93. Malta
  94. Marshal Islands
  95. Mauritius
  96. Mexico
  97. Micronesia (Federated States of)
  98. Monaco
  99. Mongolia
  100. Montenegro
  101. Morocco
  102. Namibia
  103. Nauru
  104. Nepal
  105. Netherlands
  106. New Zealand
  107. Nicaragua
  108. Niger
  109. Nigeria
  110. North Macedonia
  111. Norway
  112. Oman
  113. Pakistan
  114. Palau
  115. Panama
  116. Papua New Guinea
  117. Paraguay
  118. Peru
  119. Philippines
  120. Poland
  121. Portugal
  122. Qatar
  123. Republic of Korea
  124. Romania
  125. Russian Federation
  126. Rwanda
  127. Saint Lucia
  128. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  129. Samoa
  130. San Marino
  131. Saudi Arabia
  132. Senegal
  133. Serbia 
  134. Sierra Leone
  135. Singapore
  136. Slovakia
  137. Slovenia
  138. Solomon Islands
  139. Somalia
  140. South Africa
  141. Spain
  142. Sri Lanka
  143. Sudan
  144. Surinam
  145. Sweden
  146. Switzerland
  147. Syrian Arab Republic
  148. Tajikistan 
  149. Thailand
  150. Timor – Leste
  151. Tunisia
  152. Turkey
  153. Turkmenistan
  154. Uganda
  155. United Arab Emirates
  156. United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  157. United Republic of Tanzania
  158. Uruguay
  159. Uzbekistan
  160. Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of
  161. Viet Nam
  162. Yemen
  163. Zambia
  164. Zimbabwe

Permanent Observers:

  1. The European Union
  2. The League of Arab States
  3. The State of Palestine

Statement by H.E. Minister Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, before the United Nations Security Council, Debate on the Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestine Question, New York, 23 April 2020

Mr. President,

We congratulate the Dominican Republic on its leadership of the Security Council in these turbulent days. We also commend China for its stewardship of the Council in March.

We thank UN Special Coordinator Nikolay Mladenov for his briefing and for his efforts and those of Humanitarian Coordinator Jamie McGoldrick and their team in Palestine at this critical time, including in support of our collective efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

On behalf of the Palestinian Government and people, I convey our deepest condolences to all bereaved families and countries on the tragic loss of life caused by this virus, and reaffirm our solidarity with all afflicted, wishing the restoration of health and stability to all.

We recognize the leadership of UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed in response to the pandemic. We commend their efforts to mobilize the UN system, with WHO in the lead to address the health impact of the pandemic, along with all relevant UN agencies that are helping alleviate the pandemic’s vast economic, social, humanitarian and security impacts, including on women, children and youth, refugees and displaced persons.

This includes the valiant efforts of UNRWA in support of the Palestine refugees, alongside the other UN agencies and humanitarian organizations assisting the Palestinian people, helping protect them from the ravages of the pandemic, while alleviating the needs and hardships caused by Israel’s illegal occupation and the historic injustice they have been forced to endure for so long. We appeal for urgent international support to UNRWA to ensure continuity of its essential work.

Today, we also underscore the Secretary-General’s wise call for a global ceasefire, which President Mahmoud Abbas has endorsed on behalf of the State of Palestine. This must include a call on Israel, the occupying Power, to cease its war against the Palestinian people; stop its denial of their right to self-determination; stop its colonization and de facto annexation of Palestinian land; end its immoral blockade on the Gaza Strip; and release the thousands of Palestinians, including children, that it has imprisoned, who are at great risk of contagion in crowded, unsanitary prisons.

Israel must be unequivocally called upon to respect its legal obligations under the 4th Geneva Convention, and accountability for violations is imperative. Only in this way can human lives be saved and can the potential for peace and justice ever be realized.

We recognize that so many are now suffering and that fears about our individual and collective futures are at an all-time high. The Palestinian situation in this pandemic is, however, unique and painfully acute. Our coping capacities have been depleted by 53 years of this illegal occupation and its constant dispossession, deprivation and oppression of our people. This crisis will only exacerbate an already volatile situation.

Thus, the state of emergency declared on 5 March remains in place with a view to stopping the virus’ spread, which would be disastrous, especially in Gaza where the health system is near collapse and an outbreak would gravely endanger lives, especially in the refugee camps. Despite limited resources and the severe restrictions imposed by the occupation, our Ministries and relevant national institutions are exerting all efforts to protect our population and respond to the vast humanitarian and socio-economic repercussions of this crisis and are doing so with the support of UN agencies and generous assistance of countries the world over, for which we are grateful.

Regrettably, however, even the extreme challenges posed by this pandemic to all have not convinced the occupying Power to stop its crimes. Instead, Israel carries on with its illegal policies and practices, business as usual. Whatever technical coordination has been achieved between the two sides in recent weeks to combat COVID-19 has been undercut by incessant violations. This is not politicization of the matter, as alleged by the Israeli representative; these are the hard facts.

Most flagrant of these violations has been Israel’s annexation push. Officials and extremists openly vow to annex parts or all of the West Bank and brag about plans to commit this crime and to do so in full coordination with the current US administration. Shockingly, annexation became the centerpiece of the recent negotiations to form the new Israeli government.

While world leaders have been calling for negotiations to resolve all final status issues to end the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and achieve a just and lasting peace, we are certain they did not mean negotiations between Netanyahu and Gantz to determine what Palestinian land they would steal and illegally annex.

Yet, as revealed by the cynical agreement reached in these past days, the Israeli government is forging ahead, in breach of the Charter and all other relevant provisions of international law, in blatant contempt of the Security Council, and undeterred by the international community, believing only the support of its main patron State matters.

This should leave no doubt as to the extent that Israeli impunity has been emboldened by the US plan unveiled on 28 January and its dismissal of the internationally-endorsed terms of reference and parameters of a just solution based on international law, UN resolutions, the Madrid principles and the Arab Peace Initiative and the framework of two States on the pre-1967 borders.

We reiterate: the US plan will not bring peace. This plan – and Israel’s decision to proceed with annexation – will destroy the two-State solution and entrench Israel’s military control over the Palestinian people and land.

As stressed in the Secretary-General’s last report on resolution 2334 (2016), “Unilateral steps are detrimental to peace… Israeli officials have repeatedly stated their intention to annex Israeli settlements and other parts of the occupied West Bank. If implemented, such steps would not only constitute a serious violation of international law, but they would also effectively end the prospect of the two-State solution and close the door to negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians”. The result, we all know, will be a one-State reality of apartheid, guaranteeing more conflict, harming generations more of Palestinians and Israelis and the entire region.

Such an outcome must be averted at all costs. The international community must repudiate and demand a halt to all annexation measures. Do not fall prey to the pretexts crafted by Israeli officials – now the excuse of the pandemic – to divert attention from these crimes. Do not be fooled by the naming of the new government as a “national emergency government”. Congratulatory words that ignore that annexation is central to this government’s program effectively bless such crimes.

In this regard, we recognize the many strong statements issued – by Arab, European, African, Asian and Latin American States and organizations, as well as by Special Envoys of concerned States and by the UN – opposing Israeli annexation plans and demanding a halt. But, the years have proven that statements alone will not compel Israel’s respect for the law, nor avert its looming destruction of the two-State solution as annexation is unfolding on the ground as we speak.

We urge the international community to act immediately, enforcing concrete and practical measures to hold Israel accountable for its perverse impunity. There must be consequences. There must be deterrent action. Only such action – by this Council, by the General Assembly, by the Quartet, in international judicial bodies, by parliaments and governments and by civil society – can ensure accountability towards halting violations and salvaging the prospects for a just peace and security based on the global consensus.

Without a halt to these violations, no efforts to create a credible political horizon towards attainment of a just, lasting and comprehensive solution will ever succeed.

The real concerns and worries raised worldwide by this horrible pandemic cannot be used as an excuse to ignore human rights violations and look the other way, as Israel would wish everyone do. On the contrary, this pandemic has only further highlighted the absurdity, immorality and illegality of such crimes and the urgency of bringing them to an end, right now.

When people everywhere are being instructed to shelter at home, how can Israel, justify destroying homes? When people everywhere are desperately seeking medical care, how can Israel justify destruction of clinics and humanitarian assistance and medical neglect of prisoners? When the Secretary-General, joined by Pope Francis and leaders around the world, appeals for a global ceasefire, how can Israel justify its entrenchment of occupation and pursuit of annexation?

Now is the time to cease those violations and reverse the negative trends on the ground, not escalate them in such a flagrant, provocative way. Now is the time to heed the global calls for respect of international law, including the 4th Geneva Convention, and the relevant UN resolutions.

Now is the time to become more humane, more giving, not more brutal and more insatiable, imposing apartheid and never-ending conflict. 

Now is the time to see the other as equal, as deserving of freedom and safety and security and prosperity as yourselves.

Now is the time to recognize our common humanity and shared future, to revive hope and trust. Now is the time to recognize that no injustice will last forever.

Israel has a choice. It may feel emboldened to blindly and arrogantly move ahead with annexation. But, should it choose to go down this illegal, destructive path, then it should not be surprised at the chain of events that will unfold. Many countries have already forewarned that annexation will not go unchallenged and that there will be consequences.

Those who are principled, who respect international law and the authority of the Security Council and General Assembly as pillars of the rules-based international order, will not stand idly by while the law and human rights of an entire people are so flagrantly breached and while the foundations for a just peace are destroyed, setting dangerous global precedents.

And, the Palestinian people will never forgo their inalienable human rights, including to self-determination and independence and to exist as a free and equal people, living in dignity, security and prosperity in their homeland. Even if the two-State solution  is destroyed, it will not end their quest for freedom and justice. The Palestinian people and leadership remain resilient.

We must join together to uphold international law and insist on its respect without exceptions. It is time for an international peace conference to finally resolve the Palestine question and end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is time to bring this illegal occupation to an end. It is time for justice and for the Palestinian people to know freedom and dignity in their independent, sovereign State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, to live side by side in peace and security with all of their neighbors, joining together to meet all the challenges before us and create a better, brighter future for all of our peoples.

I thank you, Mr. President.

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.

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.