Statement by H.E. Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine, at the UN Security Council Debate on the Middle East including the Question of Palestine, 22 April 2021

Mr. President,

I wish to begin by congratulating Viet Nam on its skillful presidency of the Security Council this month. I also thank Special Coordinator Wennesland for his briefing and engaged efforts on the ground, including in regards to the Palestinian elections process and the humanitarian situation.

Mr. President,

The Palestinian people in the occupied territory have overwhelmingly registered to participate in the upcoming elections, clearly demonstrating their thirst and desire for democracy. These elections are vital for Palestinian democracy and unity and must not be jeopardized. Our people are entitled to freely express their will, without foreign intervention. In this context, we urge your help in preventing any Israel actions that might obstruct these elections, notably in occupied East Jerusalem. We have witnessed in recent days alone the arrest of several candidates, and the impeding or disbanding of meetings of parties and civil society. Such unlawful and irresponsible actions must stop at once.

We have, with the support of regional actors, notably Egypt, and international partners, been able to address all the internal challenges needed to hold these elections, with the understanding that the international community will help provide the necessary guarantees for these elections to proceed unhindered. We have reached the moment of truth. The ability of Palestinians to campaign, run for elections and vote throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in East Jerusalem, is enshrined in international law and in previous agreements. There is also a well-established precedent observed in all prior elections in 1996, 2005 and 2006 and it must be respected.

Mr. President, 

The Palestinian people, like many nations around the world, are suffering from the horrific impact of the Coronavirus, and we are grateful for the international community’s support, including through COVAX. However this suffering could have been alleviated had Israel, the occupying Power, upheld its obligations. Israel, which does not lack the means to provide such relief, including through vaccination of the people under occupation, has chosen to only vaccinate those who are in interaction with Israeli citizens, namely Jerusalemites and Palestinian workers, and not the others. It has also refused to provide coronavirus relief to the Gaza Strip and is using the pandemic response as a political bargaining chip, pursuing its unlawful policy of collective punishment and its inhumane blockade affecting over 2 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Mr. President,  

The latest report of the Secretary-General pursuant to resolution 2334 (2016) underlined the “continued Israeli settlement expansion, particularly into highly sensitive areas, which entrench the Israeli occupation, erode the possibility of a contiguous, independent and viable Palestinian State and further threaten the prospect of achieving a two-State solution”. This threat must be taken seriously and addressed immediately. What we are witnessing today in Jabal Abu Ghneim, in Sheik Jarrah and in Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem, in Bethlehem, in Al-Khalil (Hebron), in Nablus and all across the West Bank with Israel’s frenzied settlement drive, eviction of Palestinian families and demolition of Palestinian homes and properties, is altering the landscape and demography of our territory dramatically and illegally. The impact on the viability of the two-State solution on the pre-1967, to which the international community remains committed, can no longer be ignored.

The Israeli objective is blatant: to unlawfully seize maximum Palestinian land with minimum Palestinians. It is to erase the 1967 borders that are indispensable for the realization of the two-State solution. Israel has prevented us for over 50 years from building on two-thirds of the Palestinian land occupied in 1967, while at the same time building and expanding its illegal settlements, entrenching its illegal occupation instead of ending it.

The result today is Palestinian bantustans, isolated and disconnected by Israel so it can push its double narrative, that this is disputed territory while it is in fact occupied, and that it should be divided based on where Israeli Jews and Palestinians live, thus moving forward with its unlawful annexation of our land handing a deadly blow to the two-State solution and any chance for peace.

This is the Israeli plan that is now presented loud and clear, in a shameless and unapologetic manner. It even attacks those who dare criticize its colonial policies, including Security Council members and the ICC, accusing them of antisemitism for challenging Israeli actions that violate international law, the same law we are all expected and obliged to respect without exception.

Mr. President,

We are in dire need for an international plan of action to defeat this colonial plan, which runs counter to the law and counter to Palestinian rights and Israeli interests, and which undermines regional and international peace and security. The foundation and parameters of this plan exist; it is the international consensus enshrined in the internationally-endorsed terms of reference, including relevant UN resolutions. This international consensus has prevailed despite the passage of time and Israel’s attempts to negate it, and we welcome the positions of the new US administration that are consistent with international law and the resolutions of this Council, as well as its decision to resume assistance to the Palestinian people, including for the Palestine refugees through UNRWA, and the steps to restore diplomatic ties.

To move forward we need more positive and proactive collective action, including :

  1. reinvigorating the Quartet, which has resumed its meetings and empowering it to monitor and accompany final status negotiations, and to intervene to ensure that the parties observe their commitments and obligations, as well as mobilizing this Council and the international community to assist in advancing freedom, peace and security, including through the convening of an international peace conference.
  2. Ensuring all States observe their obligation of non-recognition and non-assistance to Israel’s illegal actions, distinction between the territory of Israel and the occupied territories, in line with relevant resolutions, including resolution 2334, and of recognition of Palestinian rights and Palestinian statehood and support to them.
  3. Ensuring an end to impunity, which is the only way to explain the persistence of violations despite repeated condemnations including by this Council.  War crimes hinder peace, holding perpetrators accountable does not. The premise that peace can be achieved  in the absence of justice contradicts all logic. It is time for accountability and deterrence, to save human lives, give justice to the victims, and salvage the prospects for peace.

Mr. President,

We know only too well that there are many challenges ahead of us and understand there are other priorities and crises around the world that may plead for delayed action, but there is one strong argument for immediate and resolute action. Those who think that time plays in our favour should go to Jerusalem and Hebron and see what settler colonialism means. They should go to Gaza mutilated by 14 years of an inhumane blockade. They should go to the Jordan Valley and see how our resources are being stolen. They should hear from the families who are suffering endless dispossession and oppression, traumatized across generations, yet still believing in and yearning for freedom in their homeland and the security and prosperity that only peace can bring.

The map the Israel is drawing with its bulldozers, cranes and military might is one of perpetual conflict and apartheid. We have a collective map for peace. It should not be relegated to drawers and presentations. It has to find its way to our reality, now. Waiting means allowing Israel to finalize its plans to only lament once they have sealed our fate. The 4 June 1967 borders are the demarcation line between peace and conflict. We must consolidate and defend them so peace can prevail.

I thank you, Mr. President.