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 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.

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.

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


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. 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.

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”, 28 October 2019

Mr. President,

I wish to begin by expressing our congratulations and appreciation to the Republic of South Africa for its most able leadership of the Security Council in this month of its presidency.

We thank the UN Special Coordinator and Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Nikolay Mladenov, for his briefing on the current situation in Occupied Palestine, including East Jerusalem.

Mr. President,

Every month, we come before the Security Council appealing for it to act to ensure implementation of its resolutions on the Palestine question, certain that only such action can bring us all back from the brink, stopping the senseless, painful human suffering being caused by this man-made crisis and salvaging the prospects for a just peace. Yet, every month we are compelled to listen to reports of a worsening situation, as Israel, the occupying Power, intensifies its illegal occupation and colonization of our land and a political horizon for a peaceful solution remains obstructed.

It cannot be that the role of this august Council is reduced to that of a gathering for the airing of grievances, statements of sympathy and solidarity, as important as they are, and helpless hand-wringing. The Palestinian people and global community at large expect, and await, more. The Security Council’s Charter mandate to maintain international peace and security surely requires more.

As the calls to preserve multilateralism against current threats grow, shoring up the Security Council’s role in the peaceful resolution of conflicts must be front and center. This requires urgent action to uphold and enforce international law, aimed at halting violations, deterring future violations, and fostering an environment conducive for the pursuit and achievement of peace.

In the case of Palestine, the Council’s relevant resolutions – from resolution 2334 (2016) to all the resolutions preceding it – provide a solid basis for such action. The international consensus is firm, and attempts to alter or negate it have failed. Indeed, we have often heard that, when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there is no need to reinvent the wheel; international law is clear, the parameters of a just solution are clear, and there is no alternative to the vision of two-States based on the 1967 lines and in accordance with international law, the relevant UN resolutions, the Madrid principle of land-for-peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet Roadmap.

But, in the absence of serious action to give tangible meaning to this consensus, the alternative is rapidly unfolding before our eyes and it is one of an apartheid State in control of the lives of millions who are being oppressively, violently and unjustly deprived of their fundamental rights, even the right to live as free and equal human beings.

Mr. President,

After over 52 years of this illegal occupation and the cruel exile imposed on millions of Palestinians for over seven decades, it is clear that he failure to achieve a solution is not for lack of attention to the conflict or lack of resolutions; it is for lack of genuine efforts to uphold the rules, decisions and humanitarian commitments repeatedly pledged.

As concluded by the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in his latest report, “no occupation in the modern world has been conducted with the international community so alert to its many grave breaches of international law, so knowledgeable about the occupier’s obvious and well-signaled intent to annex and establish permanent sovereignty, so well-informed about the scale of suffering and dispossession endured by the protected population under occupation, and yet so unwilling to act upon the overwhelming evidence before it to employ the tangible and plentiful legal and political tools at its disposal to end the injustice.”

Without accountability, the deplorable situation we have faced will surely only worsen, paving the way for more suffering and insecurity for all, with innocent civilians, among them children and women, bearing the heaviest and most heartbreaking weight of the international community’s negligence.

Indeed, despite decades of global attention, none of Israel’s violations in Occupied Palestine have stopped. Whether the colonization or de facto annexation of our land by all means, the settlements and wall being the most insidious; the inhumane 12-year blockade and collective punishment of 2 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, inflicting devastating poverty and despair; the killing and injury of defenseless Palestinian civilians by the occupying forces and extremist settlers; the destruction of homes and properties and forced displacement of Palestinian families, especially in Occupied East Jerusalem, with 140 homes demolished in the City in 2019 alone, rendering homeless 238 Palestinians, more than half of them children; the dangerous provocations and assaults at holy sites; the imprisonment and detention of thousands of our civilians; or the blatant theft of our natural and financial resources – all continue unabated.

The fact is that the occupying Power has been led to believe it has carte blanche to act as a State above the law, going so far as to openly threaten to annex our land in flagrant breach of the universal prohibition on the acquisition of territory by force. With or without a formal government, Israeli politicians and candidates shamelessly compete as to who can be more brutal and punishing to the Palestinians and who can cater more to extremist Israeli groups, who will never be satiated, as evident in their daily terror campaign against our civilians, incitement, and rabid land grabs.

Nothing else could be expected in the absence of consequences for such grave violations by this most protracted foreign occupation in modern history. Only accountability can change this.

Mr. President,

We thus once again appeal to the Security Council and all States to act. We urge you to mobilize the political will to fulfill your obligations by taking practical measures, in line with international law and the relevant resolutions, the guarantors of just and sustainable peace and security.

The Security Council must shoulder its responsibilities and act immediately in line with its resolutions to bring about a halt to this occupation’s crimes, avert further destabilization, protect innocent civilians, and salvage the chances for peace. States, inter-governmental organizations and civil society must also uphold their respective roles and responsibilities.

Should Israel continue to defy the Council and will of the international community, it must bear the consequences of its violations. All legitimate political and legal tools and measures available – including sanctions and prosecution in courts – must be pursued to ensure accountability.

This must include action pursuant to the call for distinction in resolution 2334 (2016) and other relevant resolutions, including, inter alia, resolution 478 (1980) on Jerusalem and resolution 465 (1980), in which the Council clearly called on all States not to provide Israel with any assistance to be used specifically in connection with its settlements in the territories occupied since 1967.

We urge States to take concrete steps in this regard, in both multilateral and bilateral frameworks, in conformity with their legal obligations and affirmed support for the two-State solution. We reiterate our call for release of the database on businesses engaged in activities related to the illegal settlements, which was mandated by the Human Rights Council and will help States to uphold their obligations.

States also have a duty of non-recognition of any decisions or measures altering or purporting to alter the geographic, demographic, character or status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, in violation of the law, including the 4th Geneva Convention. All such decisions and measures must be deemed unlawful, null and void and should incur consequences if not rescinded. Also, the legal and historic status quo at the holy sites in Occupied East Jerusalem, including Al-Haram Al-Sharif, must be respected, as well as Jordan’s custodianship for the Muslim and Christian holy sites.

Lastly, we reiterate our call for continued principled support for the rights of the Palestinian people, including to self-determination and freedom. Until they are realized, we continue our appeals for humanitarian assistance to alleviate the plight of our people, including Palestine refugees, and to ensure that they are not left behind. We recognize with deep gratitude the generous international support in this regard through UNRWA and urge strong backing for renewal of its mandate, an important expression of responsibility and solidarity and an indispensable source of hope and stability until a just solution for the Palestine refugees is realized based on resolution 194 (II).

Only such determined, collective and coordinated action can move us from deadlock to progress towards finally bringing an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967, fulfilling the Palestinian people’s right to independence in their sovereign, contiguous, democratic State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace and security, the cornerstone for peace and security in the Middle East, as per the longstanding international consensus.

For the sake of peace, the benefit of all peoples of the region and the authority of international law, we must together act to change course, restore hope and attain a just and comprehensive peace. Failure to do so will have far-reaching repercussions, unraveling decades of efforts and resources invested for our shared, noble goals of peace, stability and human dignity. We must not let another generation suffer this injustice.

I thank you, Mr. President.

Statement by H.E. Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, Delivered before the United Nations General Assembly 74th Session on 26 September 2019

In the name of God, the most Merciful and Beneficent

Excellency, Mr. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, President of the United Nations General Assembly,

Excellency, Mr. Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations,

Ladies and Gentlemen, Heads and Members of Distinguished Delegations

Peace, Mercy and Blessings of God be upon you.

A week before the recent Israeli elections, Israel’s Prime Minister, Netanyahu, came out to arrogantly announce that should he prevail in the election, he would annex and apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley, northern Dead Sea, and Israel’s colonial settlements despite the fact that all these areas are occupied Palestinian territory. We reject entirely and completely this illegal plan. Our response, if any Israeli Government is to proceed with this plan, all signed agreements with the government of the occupation and any obligations therein will be terminated, in line with the previous decisions we have taken in this regard. And, it is our right to defend our rights by all possible means, regardless of consequences, while remaining committed to international law and combating terrorism, and our hands will remain extended for peace.

In this regard, I thank all leaders, countries, and international organizations that condemned and rejected this declaration and Israel’s illegal settlement activities as a whole, which constitute serious violations of UN resolutions and grave breaches of international law.  Moreover, all have reaffirmed that the Palestine question remains a central question for the international community.

I ask you, ladies and gentlemen: what would you do if someone tried take the land of your country and tried to erase your presence in it? It is time for the international community to uphold its responsibilities to bring an end to this Israeli aggression and arrogance.

I had hoped to come to you this year to proclaim together the end of this occupation, the Israeli occupation of my homeland, Palestine. But, regrettably, I stand before you today bearing the same miseries and pain that has been endured for so long by my people, who, despite all that they have suffered of injustice, oppression and occupation – still hold on to the hope of achieving their freedom and independence, as all other nations of the world.

I ask you once again: hasn’t the time come for the emancipation of the Palestinian people and their freedom from this injustice, oppression and occupation?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Your august Assembly granted the State of Palestine observer State status in the United Nations in 2012. We are grateful for this legal and moral stance, and we thank you for your principled position in support of our collective, just demands to end the Israeli occupation of the land of the State of Palestine and to actualize its full and complete independence on the 4 June 1967 borders, along with a just and lasting solution to the question of the Palestine refugees, whose plight has been tragically prolonged, in conformity with the relevant UN resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative, which affirmed the two-State solution: the State of Palestine and the State of Israel.

We also convey our deep appreciation to all countries and peoples that continue to provide support and solidarity to our people and our country, politically and economically, aimed at ending the occupation and building our national institutions, in addition to their continued support to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), pending a just and comprehensive solution to the plight our refugees in line with international law.

We are proud that the State of Palestine, despite the obstacles and policies imposed by the Israeli occupation and those behind it, has become a full member in, and a State party to, over 110 international instruments and organizations. It has received the recognition of 140 States from around the world, and is chairing the Group of 77 and China this year. It continues to competently assume its responsibilities at the regional and international levels, as a resilient and constructive member of the international family, and deserves to be a full member of the United Nations and all of its bodies and agencies.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We accepted international legitimacy and international law as the framework and judgement to resolve our cause, and we have strived for and continue to seek a just and comprehensive peace. But, the international law that we have accepted and held firm to and the peace that we strive for are now severely endangered as a result of the policies and practices of Israel in our occupied land and its reneging on signed agreements since the Oslo accords in 1993 to the present. The responsibility for defending and preserving international law and peace is incumbent upon you.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In East Jerusalem, the occupying Power is waging a reckless, racist war against everything Palestinian, from the confiscation and demolition of homes, to assaults on clergy, to the eviction of our citizens from their homes, to attempts to violate the sanctity of the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque and Church of the Holy Sepulchre, to the legislation of racist laws, to the denial of access by worshippers to the holy places.

I caution against these policies and reckless measures, which will lead to dangerous consequences with unfathomable implications. Who can accept the continuation of such daily aggressions against our people or accept the continuation of such grave violations of international law?   

We are confident that the international community will not accept Israel’s arbitrary decision to withhold our revenues, and to confiscate a part of it, which is deepening the suffering of our people and preventing us from fulfilling our financial obligations towards them and also exacerbate the economic crisis our country is enduring due to a lack of resources and the decision by some parties and countries to suspend their commitments towards us.

Yet, the Palestinian people will not surrender to the Israeli occupation regardless of the circumstances, and no matter the pain, and will remain steadfast on their land, resisting occupation by all available means, foremost peaceful popular resistance. This is our legitimate right and our national and moral obligation. Let everyone know that occupation cannot bring peace or security or stability for anyone.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

What is unfortunate and shocking is that the US administration – a permanent member of the Security Council that is responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security and uphold UN resolutions – is supporting the Israeli aggression against us, reneging on its international political, legal and moral obligations. The US administration has undertaken extremely aggressive and unlawful measures, declaring Jerusalem as the so-called “capital of Israel” and moving its embassy there, and in blatant provocation to the sensitivities of hundreds of millions of Muslims and Christians, for whom Jerusalem is a central part of their religious faith.

Jerusalem will remain the eternal capital of Palestine regardless of any such schemes or actions.

The US administration did not stop there, but also decided to close the representation of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington, and some its officials have claimed that the Israeli settlements on our occupied territory are “legitimate”. Moreover, it immorally and inhumanely terminated all of its contributions to UNRWA.

Then, it somehow speaks of the so-called “Deal of the century”, and peddles deceptive and illusive economic “solutions”, after it destroyed by its policies and measures all possibilities to achieve peace.

This US policy has emboldened the government of the Israeli occupation to renege all signed agreements with us and its commitments towards peace, depriving the peace process of any credibility, pushing large segments of the Palestinian people to lose hope in the possibility of long-awaited peace, and jeopardizing the two-State solution.

This has led many to seriously question: if the two-State solution has become impossible because of Israel’s policies, then why don’t we pursue a one-state solution where all citizens can be fairly treated and are equal in rights and duties?

Here, I must ask you: How can I answer these questions raised by the people? How can one fulfill reciprocal commitments that the other side is not abiding by? And despite all of this, I remain committed to the two-State solution.

From our side, we have never missed an opportunity to hold serious negotiations with the Israeli side. We have constructively engaged with all initiatives proposed and based on UN resolutions and international law. However, regrettably, we have not found an Israeli partner, and found instead obstacles and challenges imposed by the Israeli government that continues to refuse to come to the negotiating table.

Despite all this, ladies and gentlemen, I renew the call for the convening of an international peace conference in line with the initiative I presented before the Security Council in February 2018.  This peace conference should include permanent members of the Security Council, the members of the Quartet as well as relevant Arab and international stakeholders, to adopt a plan based on the international consensus, UN resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative, within a defined timeframe, to end the occupation, achieve the independence of our State and end the conflict. We cannot accept that the shepherding of peace be monopolized by one country.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

From the outset, we have believed in democracy as a foundation for the building of our State and society. We have enshrined this in our constitution and exercised this on the ground. We conducted general elections in 1996, 2005 and 2006, in addition to regular local elections.

However, this democratic process was paralyzed by the coup by Hamas in 2007, which is an unbearable situation. Therefore, I have decided, upon my return from this international gathering, to announce a date for the holding of general elections in Palestine – in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. I call on the UN and the relevant international organizations to monitor these elections, and I will attribute full responsibility to those who may attempt to prevent it from happening on the date determined.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We once again reaffirm our condemnation of terrorism in its all forms and sources. In this context, we strongly condemn the terror attacks against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Arab States, particularly the recent attacks against oil facilities in the Kingdom. We reaffirm our unwavering support to our brothers.

In conclusion, I salute all our Palestinian people in Palestine, in the refugee camps and diaspora and across the world and express our pride in them. I tell them: we are confident that this occupation, like all occupation that preceded it, will inevitably end; that the dawn of freedom and independence is coming; and that the oppression and aggression they have endured for so long will not last. A right is never lost as long as someone strives to claim it.

We salute our honorable martyrs, courageous prisoners and wounded heroes, and salute their resilient families who we will not give up on their rights. We salute to those remaining steadfast in our beloved homeland. The date of our freedom and the independence of State with its eternal capital Al-Quds is soon approaching.

I thank you, Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen