|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
International Community Will Not Accept Unilateral Actions, Secretary-General
Tells Palestinian Rights Committee, Urging Parties to End ‘Provocations’
Following are Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the opening of the 2012 session of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, in New York on 13 February:
Allow me to congratulate you, Mr. Chairman, and your distinguished colleagues on your election to the Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
I have recently returned from Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. I vowed to spare no effort to help Israelis and Palestinians arrive at a new and better future. I encouraged the parties to re-engage in earnest towards the resumption of permanent status negotiations. I remain hopeful by the start of direct contacts facilitated by His Majesty King Abdullah of Jordan, under the framework of the Quartet. This can pave the way for serious negotiations towards an agreement for a two-State solution.
Concrete steps on the ground are required to restore confidence and trust. The parties have a particular responsibility to cease provocations and create a conducive environment for direct talks. Israel’s continued settlement activity is a major obstacle and prejudices final status issues. Settlement activity is contrary to international law and the Road Map. It must cease. Unilateral actions on the ground will not be accepted by the international community. I am also troubled by the increase in settler violence.
I continue to follow with concern the situation of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and the use of administrative detentions, including prolonged detentions without charges.
For its part, the Palestinian Authority should also find ways to de-escalate the situation, improve the divisive climate, including by combating incitement, and engage directly in the search for a negotiated solution. During my visit, I was encouraged by the impressive development of institutions fundamental to the functioning of a future Palestinian State. It is crucial to build on this progress and expand the reach of these institutions.
I call on the donor community to continue to assist this important process, especially when these advances are at risk due to the persistence of the conflict, fiscal challenges facing the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian divide.
The United Nations has consistently supported Palestinian reconciliation within the framework of the commitments of the Palestine Liberation Organization and under the leadership of President [Mahmoud] Abbas, as well as the Quartet principles and the Arab Peace Initiative. Palestinian reconciliation and negotiations with Israel need not be mutually exclusive.
Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in Gaza remains a priority for the United Nations. Ordinary Gazans, particularly young people, deserve better living conditions and freer movement. I reiterate my call for immediate steps towards lifting the closure of the Gaza Strip, in line with Security Council resolution 1860 (2009). The full opening of legitimate crossings for the import of construction materials is critical for Gaza’s economic recovery and would enable badly needed reconstruction activities. Exports, a critical component of any economy, should be allowed to resume at scale, including transfers to the West Bank and Israel.
All of these policy changes can be implemented with due consideration for Israel’s legitimate security concerns, while making a significant difference in the lives of ordinary people in Gaza. I also must reiterate my condemnation of the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Militants must stop their indiscriminate attacks against Israeli civilians. At the same time, I call on Israel to show maximum restraint. All must respect international humanitarian law.
The status quo is unsustainable. All efforts must be made towards a positive change. The parties should do their utmost to resolve all permanent status issues, end the conflict and establish an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian State living side by side in peace with a secure Israel. This should be done in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions, the Madrid framework, previous agreements, the Road Map and the Arab Peace Initiative.
It is time to realize the legitimate rights and aspirations of the people of Palestine and the people of Israel. For my part, I will continue to do everything in my power to help the parties achieve this goal. I encourage this Committee to do likewise.
* *** *For information media • not an official record