International Meeting on Israeli-Palestinian Peace Stresses Need to Build Consensus for Establishing Palestinian State
International Meeting on Israeli-Palestinian Peace Stresses Need to Build Consensus for Establishing Palestinian State
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
International Meeting on Israeli-Palestinian Peace Stresses Need
to Build Consensus for Establishing Palestinian State
As Istanbul Meeting Concludes, Participants Back Fayyad State-Building Plan,
‘Cautiously Welcome’ Resumed Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations through Proximity Talks
(Received from a UN Information Officer.)
ISTANBUL, Turkey, 26 May — A United Nations meeting in support of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process stressed the importance of the two-year State-building plan put forward by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, aimed at developing institutions and strengthening the foundation for the future State of Palestine, and considered that the entire international community should be ready to recognize the new State, based on the 1967 borders, including through a Security Council resolution, once statehood had been declared by the Palestinian Authority at the appropriate time.
The Meeting, whose title echoed that of the Fayyad Plan – Ending the occupation and establishing a Palestinian State — was organized by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. Among other things, the participants were informed about a recent diplomatic initiative launched by the Palestinian Authority with a view to achieving international support for Palestinian statehood at the end of the scheduled implementation of the Fayyad Plan in August 2011.
These were among the concluding remarks framed by the organizers at the two-day Meeting. The participants at the event, including renowned experts on the Middle East, representatives of United Nations Members States and observers, civil society, academic institutions and the media, also cautiously welcomed the Israeli-Palestinian “proximity” talks, and stressed the urgency of achieving tangible progress in improving the situation on the ground, to create a climate favourable to negotiating all permanent status issues.
Emphasizing that the continued involvement of the international community was crucial for moving forward the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on all core issues, the participants were also of the view that the both Israel and the Palestinians must adhere to their commitments and obligations in line with international law and the Road Map, and refrain from any provocative acts that might undermine the present opportunity provided by the United States-mediated talks.
Throughout the Meeting, participants expressed serious concerns about Israeli actions on the ground that had delayed the start of the talks and were putting their continuation in jeopardy. They were alarmed by Israel’s ongoing policy in East Jerusalem, which aimed at altering the legal status of the City and its physical, demographic and cultural character. They condemned the illegal expansion and consolidation of Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, as well as the illegal and provocative measures against Palestinian residents, including house demolitions, evictions, land confiscation and residency rights revocations.
For their part, the Organizers stressed that such acts constituted a clear violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, as well as the relevant Security Council resolutions. They also emphasized that a negotiated agreement on the status of Jerusalem should take into account the political and religious concerns of all. The organizers reiterated that any agreement that did not include East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian State would not lead to sustainable Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Alarm was also expressed over the new Israeli military order that had come into effect last April, whereby any Palestinian residing in the West Bank could be labelled as an “infiltrator” and could be deported on orders of Israeli military command. Several Palestinians had already been deported from the West Bank on the basis of those orders, and the organizers stressed that tits was a grave breach of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The objective of the Meeting was to provide a forum for exchanging views on the current state of the peace process, and for discussing proposals, ideas and options on how to advance the Palestinian State-building agenda. Participants discussed, among other things, lessons learned from previous negotiations and other conflict situations; the role of third-party mediation; Jerusalem as a key to Israeli-Palestinian peace; the Palestinian Authority’s programme for ending the occupation and establishing the Palestinian State; and building an international consensus for establishing such a State on the basis of the pre-1967 borders.
The organizers shared the assessment of Robert Serry, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, in his keynote presentation that there was no alternative to the two-State solution. For Palestinians, it was the only political way forward to genuine self-determination and freedom, and the only framework to bring about the unity of the West Bank and Gaza, a resolution of the refugee issue and an end to the daily restrictions of occupation. For Israel, it provided for keeping its democratic character and its identity while gaining security and legitimacy in the region.
The Meeting began its work in the morning with a plenary session on the theme “The Palestinian Authority programme of ending the occupation and establishing a Palestinian State.” The discussion also touched on matters regarding the current situation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, advancing the Palestinian State-building agenda, and creating socio-economic underpinnings for advancing Palestinian State-building.
The first expert, BASSAM AL-SALHI, General Secretary, Palestinian People’s Party, Member, Palestinian Legislative Council, said that one of the main obstacles to Israeli-Palestinian peace was the structure of negotiations, which had historically been rife with imbalances and preconditions. They were based on the fact that the Israelis were generally allowed to set the ground rules, so as long as there was an occupying Power and representatives of that Power running the talks, “they will be doomed to failure, whether they are direct or indirect.”
Another problem with the traditional negotiations structure was that the international terms of reference were watered down. New language was created and the overall framework was dictated by the desires of Israel. More serious and dangerous was that negotiations generally did not discuss settlements, negative policies or other Israeli measures and actions that effected qualitative changes on the ground. For example, he said that Gaza had been separated from the West Bank, a move that had met Israel’s strategic aims. Of course, things had become worse when Palestinian factions had fractured. Also exacerbating the situation was the continued construction of the separation wall, which was turning parts of the West Bank into bantustans. Israel was also continuing its policy of changing the character of Jerusalem, he added.
In the face of all this, he said, we have to pursue negotiations that build on the reality on the ground. Currently there was a distortion of the facts and the international community continued to act as if the realities did not exist, he added. In addition, Israel must be made to abide by international law, United Nations resolutions and the respective Geneva Conventions. Those were among the ways to change negotiations from “failure to a serious matter.” Another option was perhaps adopting a binding resolution on any final settlement agreement.
“We should also exploit the power of the United Nations as an international Organization; it should not be divorced from playing a role in this process,” he continued. Also, perhaps it was time to re-examine the structure of the Palestinian Authority, which had been created as an entity to work towards ending the occupation, not one that continued indefinitely. Further, the new United States administration should make a real attempt to change its position on the Middle East from that of the Bush years.
If some of those measures were not taken, to shape more equitable and realistic negotiation structures, he feared that Israel would eventually carry out a plan to create a new Palestinian State with temporary borders. His major concern was that Israel might undertake a unilateral solution by creating completely separate entities in the West Bank and Gaza and then turning over their administration to regional or international players.
Baroness JENNIFER TONGE, Member of the House of Lords, said she had wanted to start her presentation with some good news, and while it had been difficult to find, “there is a bit” as the Palestinian economy in the West Bank, while still hamstrung by checkpoints and restrictions on movement of goods and people, was showing slight signs of life. Some 28 of the 36 companies there had reported profits in 2010 and there had been an increase in the number of trucks leaving with exports. Private sector credit from banks last year was up to about $1.56 billion, from $1.18 billion in 2008.
In addition, she noted that unemployment was down slightly and that President Abbas had passed a law banning trade in settlement products, which was also helping. “The people in the West Bank are not starving and they have good hospitals and schools, even if, on accession, it takes days to access them and they are often short of supplies, power and water,” she said. But at the same time, the Palestinian people were frustrated and humiliated everyday because of the checkpoints, settler-only roads, arbitrary arrests, destruction of their crops due to sewage runoff from settlements, and chronic shortages of water, which was controlled by the Israelis.
She went on to express particular concern about the treatment of children, citing a recent report for Defence of Children International, which revealed that 335 Palestinian children were being detained in Israeli prisons as of the end of April 2010, including 32 children between 12 and 15 years old. The report also highlighted a raft of abuses committed against Palestinian children detained in the Israeli military court system including forced confessions, sexual assaults and other physical and verbal abuse. She also said that during a little–reported visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territory in January by 60 members of European Parliaments, she had been struck by the huge numbers of cases of post-traumatic stress disorder, and high prevalence of malnutrition and water borne diseases.
Turning to the situation in the Gaza Strip, “the only good thing that can be said about that open prison – for that is what it is – is that once inside, there is no harassment from Israeli soldiers or settlers.” Moreover, truckloads of food and essential supplies operated at the whims of Israeli border control, and as a result, very little construction had taken place some 18 months after Israel’s “brutal and disproportionate” offensive in Gaza. Essential repairs to the power station and sewage treatment facility had been obstructed by Israeli bureaucracy, and, except for commodities brought in by tunnels from Egypt, the people would be starving. Even that was threatened by Egypt’s actions to seal off the tunnels.
With a generation of Palestinian children growing up to be weak, undernourished, under- educated adults with their hearts filled with hatred and bitterness because they had no prospects of a decent future, she asked: “Is it in Israel’s long-term interest to allow this to happen? Why, why does Israel pursue [such] policies, supported as they are by the EU and the US?” Israel would never be secure while the Palestinians had memory. Yet, while Israel’s polices were roundly and often loudly condemned, very little action was taken against it.
Everyone knew how powerful the Israeli lobby was in the United Kingdom and the United States and all the arguments about strategies interests and security. “But surely we would have more security and less propaganda for extremists if we gave the Palestinians more political support,” she said, calling on delegates attending the Meeting to press for action even when their Governments would not. Echoing the preamble of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which began “We the people of the United Nations”, she said perhaps it was time for people to take matters in their own hands, as they had done to bring down apartheid in South Africa. The United Nations had been “emasculated,” so it was time for people to act. Calling for support for divestment and boycott campaigns against Israel, she said, “If our Governments will not act, then we the people of the United Nations must.”
RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, said that the Palestinian Authority had come into being as a result of the 1994 Oslo Accords. Whether people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory agreed with that agreement or not, the Palestinian Authority had subsequently became a part of the daily life of the Palestinian people. It had been established to carry out, within five years, final status negotiations with Israel. Parallel to that was the role of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to also negotiate for the end of the occupation and lead to the establishment of an independent State. Those two structures should not cancel each other out, but should work together towards that end.
The creation of the Palestinian Authority had been followed by a series of meetings, tentative agreements and unfulfilled obligations. For example, the 2007 Annapolis Conference had not delivered then United States President George W. Bush’s promise to help usher in a Palestinian State by the end of 2008, largely because of the actions of the Israeli Government, which had constructed more settlements than ever that year. Going forward, he said, it made sense to remove obstacles to increase chances of success.
That was why, from the very beginning of United States President Barack Obama’s administration, the Palestinians had said they would not go back to negotiations if settlement activity continued and blockades remained in place. So no new rounds of negotiations had begun, he continued, but the current proximity talks would not transform into direct negotiations unless all settlement activity was halted, including natural growth and in East Jerusalem. “It remains to be seen whether all of us, especially the Americans, can create conditions to move forward under these terms,” he said.
With all those obstacles in mind, he said Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad had come up with a creative plan to end occupation and proceed to the establishment of a Palestinian State within two years. “I believe this plan is a form of resistance to the occupation that is related to the life of our people,” he said, because it set out national goals and priorities in all spheres, including providing social services and building more schools and hospitals. “So you see, the Palestinian people resist occupation in so many different ways, including by making our neighbourhoods clean and securing our cities,” he said.
Continuing, he said Prime Minister Fayyad’s plan had carried out some 1,000 projects with more to come next year. Of course, Israeli authorities were going to fight him tooth and nail, but the plan would succeed. Here, he stressed that the plan made it clear that the effort to end the occupation was not the domain of the big Powers, including the Quartet and the United States. The Palestinian people were not merely standing around “waiting on the big guys” to do things for them. “We do not accept this notion. We the Palestinian people have a role in the process; in fact, the key role in bringing about a settlement,” he declared.
He went on to note that the Prime Minister’s plan contained diplomatic dimensions. That was critical because more than 100 nations recognized the State of Palestine, including some 25 in Western Europe, as well as in Latin America and Asia, among others. Palestinians had strong representation in those countries and it was time for those Governments to reaffirm their recognition. “If you do this, you will be supporting the plan by saying the State of Palestine is a reality,” he said. Such reaffirmed recognition would help pave the way at the appropriate time with the agreement of all concerned parties, to the adoption of a resolution in the Security Council to recognize the State of Palestine based on the borders of 1967.
“Ending occupation and creating a sovereign Palestine is the business of everyone. This is a collective responsibility and we are inviting everyone to be a part of this process.” All of you are partners with us, he said, adding that with such a collective approach, he believed that a reality would be created by which Israel would comply with such a consensus. “And if they do not, then collectively, we have to resort to other measures, including going the Security Council.” He hoped his delegation would not have to go to the Council regarding settlements and the current situation in Jerusalem, “but if we have to, we will. And we have to go to frame the parameters of a [final settlement], we will,” he declared.
GUVEN SAK, Director of the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey, shared personal stories and views about the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including on the new plan for institution-building. He said that over the past seven years he had seen progress on the ground. He had also seen the boycott against settlement products take hold and move from “mere reaction to policy.” He said Prime Minister Fayyad’s plan was a reason for optimism because it aimed for progress in areas such as infrastructure and social services. It would also raise the level of investor confidence, in Turkey and elsewhere.
He went on to say that his organization was supporting projects in areas such as capacity-building, investment, and other concrete projects, such as the Jenin Industrial Estate. That was a private sector development initiative dealing with land development, skills development infrastructure and regulatory services. It aimed to create an “island” in the West Bank, but a well-connected one with no security threats and unimpeded access from nearby cities such as Haifa and regional airports.
His organization was actively pursuing Turkish companies and others who saw investing in Palestine as a corporate social responsibility to participate in the project. “It’s good for everybody, it creates jobs for Palestinians, addresses some security concerns, and increases investor awareness,” he said, adding that the project also fostered institutional dialogue across all sectors. Wrapping up, he said that the two–State solution presupposed the capacity to actually build such a State on the Palestinian, side, so efforts to bolster the capacity of institutions should start now. “There is will to carry out the process on the Palestinian side,” he said.
THOMAS NEU, Field Director, Carter Center Field Office, Ramallah, said that those intimately familiar with the Palestinian question tended to be sceptical of both verbal and statistical descriptions of the unique situation. All too often, such descriptions were crafted to serve as ammunition in an unrelenting war of words, “so we must be careful to ground our statements in realities that can be verified, or at least sourced.” He had lived and worked in Jerusalem for the past 30 years and the statistics used in his presentation were derived from the last United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report, which he recommended to the participants.
Providing a snapshot of the current realities, he said that statistics could often be misleading in the Palestinian context. For example, while the living standards in the Occupied Palestinian Territory might not seem terribly low in relative terms, it was ranked 110th when compared with 182 countries. But the picture became more muddled when geographical considerations, spatial constraints and trends over time were considered. He said there were huge differences that were immediately different in the living standards in Ramallah and Gaza and between the West Bank and other areas such as the Jordan Valley and Jerusalem.
Other figures were more straightforward – though not at all encouraging. For example, the average poverty rate in households throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory in 2007 was about 35 per cent (24 per cent in the West Bank and 56 per cent in Gaza). Further, chronic malnutrition was also on the rise, affecting some 10 per cent of children under five (8 per cent in the West Bank and 13 per cent in Gaza). He went on to note that the fragmentation of the West Bank had severe economic complications, especially since East Jerusalem, once an integral part of that area’s economy, was nearly completely isolated from it by the separation wall.
As for the Gaza Strip, which was one of the most densely populated areas in the world, and no longer under Israeli of Palestinian Authority control, everyone was already familiar with the grim statistics regarding electricity, sewage and housing. Less well-known however were the serious socio-economic trends that had less immediate impact but would take decades to reverse. For example, there was a steady decline in the quality of schools and the range of opportunities for education. There was also a severe lack of employment opportunities, especially for young people. There was even said to be a change in marriage behaviour, as young people with no job prospects got married early, had children and supported them through external aid. “Gazans are not starving thanks to foreign donors, but they are being forced into unending and unwanted dependence on those donors,” he said.
He went on to note the impact of the divisions between Palestinian factions, which had exacerbated discord in the region and constituted a grave threat to peace. It was clear from all that that ending the occupation and achieving inter-Palestinian reconciliation were necessary preconditions for statehood, which, in turn was the only way to guarantee the restoration of human rights, personal security, economic recovery and sustainable development. “The ongoing realities of occupation, fragmentation and political polarization have created a situation in which the Palestinian people face internal as well as external threats,” he said, underscoring that the Carter Center was complementing the work of donor organizations by promoting a Peace Programme that focused on human rights, conflict resolution and democracy.
In the afternoon, the Meeting held a session on the theme “Breaking the deadlock: Creating a political climate conducive to the advancement of the peace process.” The discussion covered building an international consensus for establishing a Palestinian State on the basis of the pre 1967 borders, and the roles of the United Nations and non-State actors.
The first panellist, CHINMAYA GHAREKHAN, former Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of India for West Asia and the Middle East, and former United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East (UNSCO), said that if only the United Nations had had the “good sense” years ago not to break up Palestine, this meeting would not nave needed to be held. But now, after years of conflict and pleas for help, trying to put the territory back together was proving very difficult. He believed that an international consensus existed about the need to establish a Palestinian State based on the 1967 borders.
He questioned the role of the diplomatic Quartet in crafting a final settlement. That was not their mandate, and he believed that the issue required input from regional actors and organizations. At the same time, the international community should weigh in on the parameters of any agreement and should likewise press for such an agreement to be implemented. He also believed that there must be a just resolution of the refugee issues. As for the status of Jerusalem, various formulas existed on how to deal with that issue. But no matter how contentions Jerusalem was – and any decision would be somewhat painful for both sides – it was not beyond human ingenuity to come up with a sound solution.
Peace processes like Oslo had come and gone, the Road Map had literally led nowhere, and the Annapolis promise remained unfulfilled, he said, adding that he would take a “wait and see” position on the newly-launched proximity talks. One thing that was making a difference was the recently initiated boycott of settlement goods. The fact that that exercise in activism had taken hold and was really making a point should open everyone’s eyes to the importance of non-violent resistance. Over the years, non-violence had become something of a “bad word;” something associated with unfair compromise or weakness. But in fact, it was more difficult than violence. “Non-violence takes a lot of determination, a lot or restraint and a lot of will power,” he said, urging the participants to consider the importance of such initiatives, especially their economic impact.
NABIL FAHMY, Founding Dean of the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the American University in Cairo, said that despite his scepticism about the recently launched proximity talks, Palestinians and Israelis had, for the time being, agreed to indirect negotiations. One must hope for their success even though this would require more wishful thinking by the international community and, at the very least, stakeholders must take steps to assert and reaffirm the basis for the negotiations. That would facilitate the process and reaffirm that the basis for peace was a Palestinian State based on the pre-1967 borders.
With that in mind, he said the Quartet, the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and others must reiterate the basis for the negotiations, including, among others, security arrangements between Palestinians and Israelis that safeguarded both parties from attacks by the other side. Further, the City of Jerusalem must be the capital of two States and an agreement would have to be reached by the two sides. As for the international community, he suggested that the parties should report, after the four-month time period, to the United Nations - either the Security Council or the General Assembly - on the status of the talks. At that time, the appropriate United Nations body should reaffirm the 1967 borders.
Mr. Fahmy said that if the parties decided to press ahead with negotiations, perhaps the General Assembly, as the United Nations’ most representative body, should endorse any plan to carry the talks forward. If it looked as though direct negotiations were about to begin, he suggested that the Assembly might also consider changing the political status of Palestinian representation at the United Nations, bringing it more in line with that of other States actors. It would also be vital for the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Arab League, as well as civil society, to better promote the Arab Peace Initiative.
MENSUR AKGÜN, Director of the Global Political Trends Centre at Istanbul Kültür University, said that global civil society was actively working with parties on the ground in the Middle East to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and address the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people. He suggested to all the civil society actors in the room to look for more creative ways to influence Governments – especially the United States, which had been mentioned countless times during the Meeting – to mediate discussions among the parties.
Civil society organizations could challenge embargoes, raise public awareness, and facilitate mediation and confidence-building, among other things. However, they could not, he said, replace State action. Indeed, they could only assist and motivate States and inter-governmental bodies like the United Nations carrying out political or humanitarian initiatives. He said that, while he did not want to isolate any country for its inaction, the United States, which continued to use its Security Council veto to block international consensus on Palestinian sovereignty, bore a particular responsibility.
As such, he argued that to a large degree, civil society was implicitly responsible for the inaction, reluctance and one-sidedness of the United States. “We have tried to mediate, facilitate, and provide humanitarian assistance, … but we have to admit that we have failed to demonstrate the American public the human suffering of the people in Gaza and the West Bank. We converted those people into statistics,” he said. Further, he said that the main stakeholder, the Arab world, had failed to transform its economic power into “soft power” to persuade change. Ultimately, civil society needed a new channel to be involved in the political process.
NILS BUTENSCHØN, Director of the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights at the University of Oslo, said that he would differ from the other speakers on what non-State actors were, particularly with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He would focus on the role, constraints and challenges of the major Palestinian non-State actors at the core of the conflict: the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. While it might appear strange to put the Palestinian Authority in that category, its role in the peace process must be viewed with that in mind. While Israel had received its designation as a State in 1948, the other key players remained non-State actors, thus Israel’s negotiation position was a much more powerful one.
He said that while Palestinian statehood was not an explicit aim of the Oslo Accord, many had believed that such a State could be developed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory step by step, replacing the occupying Power and most of its military forces, settlements and infrastructure in a way that would be acceptable to Israel and its security doctrine. Others had warned that that view was much too optimistic, and indeed the asymmetry in Israeli-Palestinian relations had not changed in 17 years. Moreover, the conflict was nowhere near a peaceful resolution, the occupation had not ended and the Palestinian national movement had failed as a unified force. The Palestinian position in East Jerusalem was under immense pressure and the Gaza Strip was under siege and totally cut off from the West Bank.
Continuing, he said that the Palestinian non-State actors faced the same fundamental dilemma that all similar actors faced when dealing with State authorities: there was no winning strategy. If such non-State actors entered into political negotiations, they had little or no leverage to negotiate with a recognized Government. Still, the lesson of history seemed to be that only when the Palestinians were relatively unified and pressed for their rights with legally and morally acceptable means were they able to mobilize the kind of power that matched the combined strength of Israel’s economic, political and military power.
“It may seem elusive, but what I’m talking about is the moral power of the Palestinian cause,” he said, adding that while that power might be difficult to locate or define in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, most of that power was in the hands of the Palestinians. Now that left an enormous responsibility at the doorstep of the custodians of the “precious resource” - the PLO, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. If they were able to combine their efforts as their people wanted them to do and mobilize the enormous energies of the Palestinians in a responsible way, the aim of Palestinian statehood could still be reached.
SAVIOR BORG ( Malta), Rapporteur of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, read out the Concluding Remarks by the Organizers of the Meeting.
SEDAT ÖNAL, Deputy Director General of Middle Eastern and African Affairs in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Turkey, said that the Meeting had contributed to raising public awareness about the state of the unsustainable situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and to the overall effort to bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and lower tension throughout the Middle East.
For its part, Turkey believed that, as the region entered another critical period, it would be necessary for local and international stakeholders to pursue holistic, multi-dimensional and comprehensive responses. It also required a firm commitment to a policy of constructive engagement as opposed to one of isolationism. The initiation of the proximity talks had been a positive step, but at the same time, the confidence of both parties to proceed with further talks must be restored. To that end, the ongoing resolve of the international community was essential, so that, in the end, a sovereign, viable Palestinian State could be achieved.
RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, said that Turkey was a very important regional force, with an extensive relationship with Palestinians, Israelis and the Arab world. It also had a strong relationship with the wider international community, including the United States. The Committee had chosen to host the Meeting in Turkey because that country’s pragmatism could help influence the situation. It was also important to note that at this historical moment – when the situation in Jerusalem was becoming untenable and when the United States-mediated proximity talks were getting underway - Turkey was a member of the Security Council. On that body, Turkey had proven its dedication to seeking responsible solutions on a range of international issues.
Continuing, he said there was a likelihood that the Palestinian delegation would be going before the Security Council in the coming months, whether to get that 15-nation body to take action regarding the situation in Jerusalem and the expansion of Israeli settlements there. More positively, those delegations might be headed to the Council to get a resolution passed recognizing the sovereign State of Palestine. Turkey could help on a number of issues Palestinians considered vital: pressing for humanitarian assistance in Gaza; promoting Palestinian reconciliation; and helping to build regional solidarity.
Finally, he said that as the four-month timeframe for the proximity talks wound down, national, regional and international solidarity would be crucial to ensure that those negotiations were carried out seriously and that Israel stood by any agreement that was reached. “We as Palestinians are tired of business as usual,” he said, adding that in the coming months he hoped that the international resolve to see the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian State would be mobilized.
ZAHIR TANIN, Head of the Delegation of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said, “We know that there are large obstacles lying ahead in the peace process. We know what those hurdles are and we know that crucial provisions of international law and the United Nations resolution are not being upheld.” All stakeholders were acutely aware of what needed to be done to bring peace, as articulately described in the Concluding Remarks by the Organizers of the Meeting. Some of the issues that had been discussed over the past two days were extremely sensitive, politically and emotionally, but none of them could be neglected and excluded from the permanent status negotiations if a lasting peace was to be achieved. The international community had legal and moral responsibilities to restore long-lost justice. “The Committee reiterates that the root cause of the conflict is the occupation by Israel of the Palestinian Territory, which had lasted for more than four decades,” he said.
Recalling his opening statement, he said that what was more important than the deliberations was to translate all the ideas and suggestions into reality. “Our Committee will always be at your disposal for this endeavour. The Committee will continue to work to raise awareness of the question of Palestine based on the mandate given it by the General Assembly of the General Assembly of the United Nations,” he said. He also announced that the next meeting organized by the Committee would be the United Nations African Meeting on the Question of Palestine, which would be held in Rabat, Morocco, on 1 and 2 July 2010.
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