29 November 2011
General Assembly
GA/PAL/1214

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Committee on the Inalienable Rights

of the Palestinian People

337th Meeting (AM)


On International Day of Solidarity, Palestinian Rights Committee Told 64 Years


after Partition Plan, ‘History Once Again Knocking at United Nations Door’

 


Leadership of Both Sides Must Show Courage to Seek Agreement, Secretary-General

Urges; Palestinian Envoy Says ‘We Are an Accepted Reality as a State in UN System’


The need to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had taken on greater urgency with the historic transformations taking place across the region, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said today on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.


Delivering the Secretary-General’s message at a special meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, she stressed that the establishment of a Palestinian State, living in peace next to a secure Israel, was “long overdue”.


“The Israeli and Palestinian leadership must show courage and determination to seek an agreement for a two-State solution that can open up a brighter future for Palestinian and Israeli children,” she said, noting that such a solution must end the occupation that began in 1967, while meeting legitimate security concerns.


Both parties had a particular responsibility to cease provocations and create a conducive environment for meaningful negotiations, she emphasized.  In that context, Israel’s recently intensified settlement activity in East Jerusalem and the West Bank — which was contrary both to international law and the Road Map — posed a major obstacle and must cease.  Palestinian unity that supported a negotiated two-State solution was also essential for the creation of a Palestinian State.


Highlighting the historic achievement of the Palestinian Authority during the past year, she said it was now institutionally ready to assume the responsibilities of statehood, should a Palestinian State be created.  But Israel’s current suspension of customs and tax transfers owed to the Palestinian Authority posed a risk to those gains, and those revenues must be transferred without delay.


She noted that, with trust between the parties continuing to fade, “a glimpse of hope” came from their engagement with the Middle East Quartet ( United Nations, United States, European Union and Russian Federation).  Both sides should seek to develop serious proposals on borders and security, and to discuss them directly with each other, with active Quartet support, in the context of a shared commitment to reach an agreement by the end of 2012.


In his opening remarks as Chair of the Committee, Abdou Salam Diallo ( Senegal) underlined the international community’s obligation to show solidarity with the Palestinian people in light of the permanent responsibility of the United Nations towards the question of Palestine. “Sixty-four years after the Partition Plan was adopted on 29 November 1947, history is once again knocking at the door of the United Nations,” he said.


He argued that it was high time for the Organization’s principal organs, and all Member States that supported the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, to shoulder their responsibilities with regard to their application for United Nations membership.  At the same time, the Quartet should once again re-launch a credible negotiation process, while ensuring that the parties refrained from provocative measures and met their obligations under the Road Map and international law.


Echoing the calls for Israel and the Palestinian leadership to step forward to overcome the current deadlock, Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser said that all efforts must be made to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians on the ground.  He paid particular tribute to the efforts of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the role of civil society at large, urging all Member States to solidify their valuable contributions to UNRWA, in light of the effects of the global economic downturn.


Reading out a message from President Mahmoud Abbas, Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, said the Palestinian leadership’s decision to apply for United Nations membership “is our legitimate right”.  The move was not unilateral, as it included a call for the recognition of a Palestinian State along the 1967 borders on the basis of what had been stipulated in relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid Principles, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet-backed Road Map.  He stressed that such recognition would not be a substitute for negotiations but serve as a complement to them, provided that Israel intended to negotiate on the basis of the 1967 borders.


In remarks at the close of the meeting, Mr. Mansour recalled that Palestine had achieved admission to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  “According to international law, we are an accepted reality as a State within the United Nations system and we are grateful for that,” he said, expressing hope that next year’s celebration would mark its victory in having achieved full United Nations membership.


Also speaking today were José Filipe Moraes Cabral ( Portugal), as Security Council President, and Palitha Kohona ( Sri Lanka), Chairman of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, on behalf of Sri Lanka’s President.


Also making statements were the representatives of Egypt (reading a message from the Head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement) and Kazakhstan (reading a statement on behalf of the Foreign Affairs Minister of Kazakhstan and Chairman of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation).


The Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States read a message from the Secretary General of the League.  The Permanent Observer for the African Union also spoke.


A representative of the Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights spoke on behalf of civil society organizations active on the question of Palestine.


Background


The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People met today to observe the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.


Statements


ABDOU SALAM DIALLO ( Senegal), Committee Chairman, said that when the Committee met to observe the first International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, little did anyone think that 33 years later their efforts to return to their homes and live in their own State would remain unrealized.  Although decades had passed, little progress had been made towards a comprehensive, just and lasting solution.  “Despite their historical oppression, the Palestinian people have never given up their identity and their attachment to their land, nor have they lost sight of their goal of regaining their rights to freedom and independence,” he said.


He said that because the right to self-determination was non-negotiable and inalienable, it had never been on the agenda of the Israeli-Palestinian permanent status negotiations.  In fact, negotiation was the only a means to determine the modalities of the exercise of that right and the independence of Palestine, which in no way contradicted Israel’s legitimate right to exist, as the Palestinians had recognized many years ago.


It seemed unacceptable to want to link those negotiations to Palestine’s application for admission to the United Nations, he said, asserting that the Palestinians, who were subjected to a blockade in the Occupied Territory and caught in a process that had remained at an impasse for 20 years, needed active solidarity more than ever in order to survive and preserve their hopes.  That obligation to show solidarity was all the greater given the permanent responsibility of the United Nations towards the question of Palestine.


“Sixty-four years after the Partition Plan was adopted on 29 November 1947, history is once again knocking at the door of the United Nations,” he said, arguing that it was high time for the Organization’s principal organs and all Member States that supported the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, to shoulder their responsibilities with regard to their membership application.


He said the Quartet ( United Nations, United States, European Union and Russian Federation) should once again re-launch a credible negotiation process while ensuring that the parties refrained from provocative measures and met their obligation under the Road Map and international law.  To that end, the Gaza blockade should be lifted, the perpetrators of human rights abuses held accountable, and prisoners illegally held by Israel should be released.  The reconciliation efforts of the Palestinians should also be supported.  He appealed to donors to increase their assistance to the Palestinian Authority, underlining that urgency in light of the freeze imposed by the Israeli Government on Palestinian Authority revenues.


NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER, President of the General Assembly, underscored the Assembly’s commitment to achieve comprehensive peace in the Middle East and reaffirmed the international community’s shared responsibility in that regard.  The question of Palestine had been central during the Assembly’s current session, with several significant events unfolding since September, including the historic transmission by President Mahmoud Abbas of the application of Palestine for membership to the United Nations.  He recalled his circulation of that application among the Assembly’s Member States, and noted that the issue had since been considered by the Security Council.


He further recalled that a little more than a month ago, on 18 October, an exchange of prisoners had been praised by the entire international community.  That positive development showed the importance of negotiation and mediation in the peaceful settlement of disputes.  At the same, the diplomatic Quartet had accelerated its efforts to allow for a relaunch of negotiations.  “We all hope that these efforts will be fruitful and will lead to a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine as soon as possible,” he said.  Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization must step forward to overcome the deadlock, and all efforts must be made to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians on the ground.


Among other developments, he noted that Israeli construction had continued in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, with the ongoing confiscation of land and the eviction of Palestinians.  In that context, he paid tribute to the efforts of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the role of civil society at large.  Those parties had sought, under extreme political pressure, to aid the growing Palestinian population, and he urged all Member States to solidify their valuable contributions to UNRWA, particularly in light of the effects of the global economic downturn.


Once again underlining the role of the General Assembly on the question of Palestine, he called for States to work towards a solution to the conflict in which the two States would live side-by-side in peace and security.


ASHA-ROSE MIGIRO, Deputy Secretary-General, delivering a statement on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said the establishment of a Palestinian State, living in peace next to a secure Israel, “is long overdue”.  The need to resolve the conflict had taken on greater urgency with the historic transformations taking place across the region.  “The Israeli and Palestinian leadership must show courage and determination to seek an agreement for a two-State solution that can open up a brighter future for Palestinian and Israeli children,” she said.


Such a solution must end the occupation that began in 1967, and meet legitimate security concerns.  She said that Jerusalem must emerge from negotiation as the capital of two States, with arrangements for the holy sites acceptable to all.  And a just and agreed solution must be found for millions of Palestinian refugees scattered around the region.


“While there are many challenges to this goal, let us recognize an important, indeed historic, achievement of the Palestinian Authority during the past year,” she continued, noting that the Palestinian leadership was now institutionally ready to assume the responsibilities of statehood, if a Palestinian State was created.  That had been affirmed by a wide range of members of the international community at the meeting of the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee in September.  President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad were to be commended for that remarkable success.  Such efforts should continue and be supported, she added.


In that regard, she said that the current suspension by Israel of customs and tax transfers owed to the Palestinian Authority risked undermining those gains.  The revenues must be transferred without delay. “Above all else, a political horizon is vital.  It is a matter of deep concern that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are not taking place, while trust between the parties continues to fade,” she said, ”a glimpse of hope” came from the parties’ engagement with the Middle East Quartet.  Both sides should seek to develop serious proposals on borders and security, and to discuss them directly with each other, with active Quartet support, in the context of a shared commitment to reach an agreement by the end of 2012.


She went on to say that the parties had a particular responsibility to cease provocations and create a conducive environment for meaningful negotiations.  In that regard, Israel’s recently intensified settlement activity in East Jerusalem and the West Bank was a major obstacle.  “Settlement activity is contrary to international law and the Road Map, and must cease,” she said, adding that the international community would not accept unilateral actions on the ground.


For its part, the Palestinian Authority should also find ways to help de-escalate the situation and improve the prevailing divisive climate, and be ready to engage directly in the search for a negotiated solution, she said.  It was also crucial for the Palestinians to overcome their divisions, based on the commitments of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the positions of the Quartet and the Arab Peace Initiative.  Palestinian unity that supported a negotiated two-State solution was essential for the creation of a Palestinian State in Gaza and the West Bank.


The United Nations remained strongly committed to the population in Gaza and to implementing all aspects of Security Council resolution 1860 (2009).  While Israel had taken steps to ease the closure, there remained a need to remove the numerous remaining measures that severely restricted the movement of people and goods and hampered the ability of the United Nations to support Gaza’s economic recovery and reconstruction.  “Today we must also remind those in Gaza who fire rockets at Israel, or continue to smuggle weapons, that these actions are both unacceptable and completely contrary to Palestinian interests,” she said, declaring:  “Rocket fire from Gaza into Israel must end, and Israel must exercise maximum restraint.”


She called the recent prisoner exchange that saw the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and an Israeli soldier a “significant humanitarian breakthrough” that should be followed by further steps to consolidate calm and end the closure of Gaza.


Amid many challenges to the realization of their legitimate aspirations for statehood, the Palestinian leadership had submitted an application for membership in the United Nations, she said, adding that that was a matter for the Member States to decide.  Whatever view one took on that issue, sight should not be lost of the ultimate goal of reaching a negotiated peace agreement on all final status issues, including borders, security, Jerusalem and refugees.


She urged all stakeholders, on the International Day, to reaffirm commitment to translating solidarity into positive action.  The international community must help steer the situation towards a historic peace agreement.  Failing to overcome mistrust would only condemn further generations of Palestinians and Israelis to conflict and suffering.


JOSÉ FILIPE MORAES CABRAL (Portugal), delivering a statement as President of the Security Council, said that throughout the past year that 15-nation body had remained seized of the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.  The Council had received regular briefings on those issues by officials in the Department of Political Affairs and had likewise held several open debates.  Also during the past year, the world had witnessed historical developments taking place throughout that region.  Indeed, the winds of change blowing through North Africa and the Middle East had emphasized the need for a comprehensive agreement to be reached between Israelis and Palestinian which resolved all issues.


He noted that the Council had called on the parties to settle all outstanding issues in support of the two-State solution.  Council members had acknowledged that such a comprehensive peace agreement could only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties, including a fair, just solution to the refugee issue.  Members had also expressed concern about the settlement issue, reiterating that continued construction might undermine the broad effort to restart negotiations.  The Council had also expressed concern about Israel’s withholding of Palestinian tax revenues and had urged that such revenues be transferred to the Palestinian Authority on a regular schedule.  Council members had also taken note of the reconciliation agreement between Palestinian factions.


Turning to activities outside the Council, he said the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and representatives of the Quartet had met to consider the Palestinian State-building programme and had unanimously acknowledged that the essential elements of a functioning State had been achieved in the areas that had been assessed.  In September, Council members had received the application for Palestinian Statehood from President Abbas, which was now before the body.  When that application had been presented, the Quartet had issued a statement acknowledging the submission and recalling its previous statements, which had stressed that negotiations should lead to an agreement that ended the occupation and created a contiguous and viable Palestinian State living side by side with Israel and its neighbours.  That statement had reaffirmed the Arab Peace Initiative and outlined a timeframe for the resumption of negotiations without preconditions.


He said that Council members continued to view the situation in Gaza with concern and had expressed the need for the sustained flow of people and goods, as well as humanitarian assistance, throughout that area.  The Council had also reiterated that unilateral actions by either party would not be recognized by the international community and it had acknowledged the Quartet’s call on the parties to refrain from provocative actions that could undermine negotiations.  The Council had also continued to express support for the work being carried out by the UNRWA.  The Council would remain seized of the question of Palestine and the situation in the wider Middle East and would continue to consider the issue on a regular basis while upholding its duties under the Charter. He reaffirmed the Council’s commitment to the goal of achieving a lasting peace in the Middle East and ensuring the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to a viable State.


RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, reading a message by Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian Authority, expressed profound thanks and appreciation to all participants in today’s activities.  He recalled that when resolution 181 had been adopted in 1948 to partition Palestine into two States, only one — Israel — had been established on an area that was larger than what had been outlined in that text.  The war of 1967 had led to the occupation of the remaining territory of historical Palestine.  Subsequently, the Security Council had adopted resolution 242 (1967), which was based on two principles, namely, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and the call for peace in return for withdrawal from the territory.


Following those events, he said, the historical injustices inflicted upon the Palestinian people were reflected in myriad ways, including, among others, the fact that some 5 million Palestinians had been displaced; the incremental and ongoing expansion of the colonial settlement occupation in the West Bank; the movement to “Judaize” East Jerusalem through “ethnic cleansing” of the Palestinian, Christian and Muslim presence there; the continued construction of an “apartheid wall”; and the unjust siege on the Gaza Strip.  “Although the United Nations had made efforts to address the tragedy of our people, Israel continued to reject [those efforts] as if it is a State above the law,” he said.


He said that the Palestinian side had for years expressed its readiness to reach a solution to the conflict with Israel that ensured relative justice and conformed to international resolution and initiatives through the establishment of a Palestinian State on only 22 per cent of the territory of historical Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital and to reach a just solution to the plight of Palestinian refugees in accordance with relevant General Assembly resolutions.  “We have entered into direct and indirect negotiations with Israel for many years since the Oslo Accords in 1990 […] but Israel has continued its settlement activity and has not responded to or has disregarded all international statements and declarations, which had declared and still declare that settlement activities are illegal and an obstacle to peace,” he said.


The Palestinian leadership’s decision to apply for membership in the United Nations “is our legitimate right”, he declared.  The move was not unilateral, as it included a call for the recognition of a Palestinian State along the 1967 borders on the basis of what had been stipulated in relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid Principles, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet-backed Road Map.  Moreover, such recognition would not be a substitute for negotiations but rather a complement to them, provided that the Israeli Government had the intention to negotiate on the basis of the 1967 borders.


“It is unjust to impose sanctions upon us because we have gained membership in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and Israel has no right to seize and confiscate the proceeds of the customs duties and tax revenues which belong to the Palestinian people, he said, declaring:  “we don not want and we do not seek to de-legitimize Israel by applying for membership in the United Nations but to de-legitimize its settlement activities and seizure of our occupied lands, which Israel deals with as if they are disputed, rather than occupied, territories”.


He said the Palestinian leadership regretted and found greatly disquieting the selective application of international law and United Nations resolutions demonstrating disregard by the strong for legal norms while the weak paid the price.  On the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, he affirmed that while they were a people clinging to their land, they would remain in it.  “And we have faith that every person with a conscience in this world, and every person respecting the United Nations Charter, will support and contribute to enabling our people to exercise their right to self-determination and the achievement of the independence of their free and sovereign State,” he said.  That State would be democratic and pluralistic, and free of all forms of discrimination.  It would be a State at peace with Israel and the rest of the countries in the region.  It would be a State whose time for independence had come after 64 long years.


PALITHA T.B. KOHONA, Chairman of the Special Committee to investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, reading a statement on behalf of the President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, said that peace ensured security, a fundamental factor, which underscored the urgency of resolving the Middle East conflict that challenged the values and aspirations of humanity.  This year’s International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People came at a fundamentally changed time, with noteworthy developments, including the application for admission to full membership to the United Nations by the Palestinian Authority.  Palestine had successfully been completing its State-building programme, which had been widely endorsed by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the United Nations and others.


He said now was the time for collective resolve and action to usher in an independent and viable State within secure borders in peace and security.  It was a matter of profound disappointment that that had not yet happened.  There was currently a window of opportunity, and the best use must be made of it before it was too late. Rather than more desultory discussion, it was time for decisive action, which was in the best interest of the security and well-being of the entire region.  It was Sri Lanka’s best hope and wish to see the dawn of a Palestinian State flourishing in peace, harmony and prosperity in the near future.


MAGED A. ABDELAZIZ, speaking on behalf of Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces of Egypt, in his role as Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, renewed the full support of Egypt and the entire Movement in the Palestinians’ search to fulfil their rights, including the right to self-determination.  The establishment of the Palestinian State had acquired special momentum this year in light of the statement by President Abbas on 23 September before the General Assembly.  The Committee played an important role in guaranteeing support in the Security Council for Palestine’s United Nations membership application.  To date, that application had gained the support of 132 of the Organization’s Member States and the “movement” looked forward to further support in that regard.


He stressed that the international community must work together to put an end to the deterioration of Palestinians’ living standards and to guarantee the legal obligations of Israel as an occupying Power.  In that regard, he noted its attempt to change the facts on the ground by changing the characteristics of East Jerusalem and violating the sanctity of sacred locations, as well as its continued construction of the separation wall, among other violations of international law.  The Quartet must do more to urge Israel to end settlement policies, to consider the borders of 4 June 1967 as the basis of negotiations, and to establish a timeframe, as well as a monitoring mechanism, to allow for the establishment of a Palestinian State as soon as possible.  He paid tribute to the Committee’s efforts to mobilize support for the Palestinian people and to enhance cooperation with regional parliaments.


BYRGANYM AITIMOVA (Kazakhstan), reading a statement on behalf of Yerzhan Kazykhanov, Foreign Affairs Minister of Kazakhstan and Chairman of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), condemned Israel’s continuing illegal and intensified settlement construction campaign and human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian territory.  Palestinians were justified in resorting to the United Nations to exercise their inalienable right of self-determination and to establish their independent State on the Palestinian Territory, within the lines of 4 June, 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital.


“ Palestine is at the heart of the OIC,” he said, and pledged to make all efforts to end the Israeli occupation.  The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was a good opportunity to reiterate the existing overwhelming international support for an end to the occupation, to address the fundamental security concerns of the region, to find a just solution to the refugee issue and to stop the suffering and the hardship of Palestinians.  He also backed the recent UNESCO decision to admit Palestine as its full member.


YAHYA MAHMASSANI, Permanent Observer of the League of Arab States, reading a message from Nabil el-Araby, Secretary-General of the Arab League, said today’s celebration took place during grave times caused by Israel’s intransigent position and its rejection of calls to end its settlement policies in East Jerusalem and other Palestinian areas.  Despite international consensus on the two-State solution, which would establish a contiguous Palestinian State, Israel continued to contravene all international human rights law.  It was swallowing Palestinian lands in a manner that threatened the two-State solution to an extent that removed any possibility of resolving the situation.  It continued to “Judaize” East Jerusalem, changing its historic characteristics.  Its insistence on a new condition — the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state — reflected the total lack of political will on the part of the Israeli Government to enter into serious negotiations.  Its insistence on besieging the Gaza Strip and its practices, which brought to mind those of apartheid South Africa, continued to undermine the lives of 1.5 million Palestinians, as they had since 1948.


He stressed that the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem were occupied territories under international law, and all violations of that law by Israel were null and void.  Efforts by the Security Council and the Quartet, particularly by its more influential members, such as the United States, must go further.  For its part, the Arab League reasserted its full support of the Palestinian side as stipulated by President Abbas before the General Assembly in his request for the establishment of an independent Palestine and the reiteration of commitment to reaching a settlement in accordance with international law and negotiations, provided that settlement activities ceased.  Palestinian freedom was the real key to establishing regional and international stability.  An independent, sovereign Palestinian State would remove regional concerns that threatened international peace and security.  Palestine’s membership application represented a political and diplomatic option based on international legitimacy, and the time had come for the Palestinian people to live like other people on Earth.


TÉTE ANTÓNIO, Permanent Observer for the African Union, recalled that the African continent retained historical ties to the Palestinian people, and in that light, all African Union summits adopted resolutions in support of Palestine.  He stressed that there was no military solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; the only way to achieve peace was through direct negotiations between the parties on all outstanding issues.  There, he stressed that such negotiations might be bolstered by the full implementation of all resolutions and decisions taken by United Nations bodies on the question of Palestine, many of which remained unfulfilled.  He expressed the African Union’s full support for the Palestinian people and its belief in the two-State solution, which would lead to just and lasting peace throughout the wider Middle East.


PETER MILLER, representative of Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights, said the United Nations and Governments worldwide had failed to implement international law and achieve a just resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.  He was deeply concerned over the United States $3 billion worth of annual, unconditional military aid to Israel in spite of Israel’s “many systematic and continuing human rights violations”, saying that confronting the “deeply negative role of the United States in perpetuating injustice and enabling Israel to continue to violate international law” was a key challenge for the United Nations and the international community.  He welcomed Palestine’s admission to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  Noting that 75 per cent of the world’s population supported its inclusion, he called for greater support from the global community for the United Nations and UNESCO in light of pressure placed on those bodies by the United States.


He said the challenge for the United Nations was to implement existing universal legal rights to protect Palestinians; universal rights were endangered when “powerful nations can pick and choose” to whom they applied.  The Russell Tribunal had reconvened with three sessions on Palestine and had concluded that Israel engaged in the crime of apartheid.  Palestinian rights could no longer be “held hostage by the domestic politics of the United States,” he said, adding that Israel’s violations of international law demanded international condemnation.  The Quartet had failed, and he urged the United Nations to work towards serious and honest negotiations between Israel and Palestine, and to find the political will to impose on the situation solutions rooted in international law.


Closing Remarks


The Chair then acknowledged the receipt of messages from a number of Heads of State and Government, Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Governments and organizations, saying they would be published in a special bulletin of the Division for Palestinian Rights.  Those messages demonstrated the unwavering support of the international community for the establishment of peace in the Middle East and the realization by the Palestinian people of their inalienable rights, on the basis of relevant United Nations resolutions and international law.


Mr. MANSOUR expressed gratitude for the expressions of solidarity with the Palestinian people from all corners of the world.  Their collective effort, together with the struggle of the Palestinian people, had led to the moment on 23 September when Palestine had submitted its application to join the community of nations.  Subsequently, admission to UNESCO had been achieved and the State of Palestine had been recognized by a major United Nations agency, opening the door to formal recognition of Palestine’s existence as a people and State.


“According to international law, we are an accepted reality as a State within the United Nations system and we are grateful for that,” he said, stressing that the Palestinians would succeed — and hopefully soon — in ending Israel’s occupation of their lands and achieve independence, as well as in achieving full membership in the United Nations.  He hoped that the celebration next year would mark that victory and the raising of Palestine’s flag at the United Nations.


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