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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

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New York, 5 February 2013 - Secretary-General's remarks at opening of the 2013 session of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People

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 am honoured to join you today to restate my commitment to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts towards achieving the legitimate aspirations of both peoples.  Last November, the General Assembly voted to accord Palestine with the status of non-member Observer State.  This moment has resonated deeply within the United Nations, and underscored the urgency for achieving the two-state solution. There is no substitute for negotiations to this end.

Negotiations must result in an agreement ending the conflict and the occupation that began in 1967 and leading to two States -- Israel and Palestine -- living side-by-side in peace, security and mutual recognition of each other’s legitimate rights, including self-determination.

Each state must uphold commitments to ensure equal civil rights for all its citizens and to respect human rights and human dignity. Jerusalem must emerge through negotiations as the future capital of two states. As provided in the roadmap, there should be an agreed, just, fair and realistic solution to the refugee issue.

This is the essence of our vision of the two-State solution. 

The international community, including our Arab partners, is ready to renew their collective reengagement towards these goals, but it will be meaningless if the parties themselves do not make serious commitments to advance the peace process.

Israel held elections on the 22nd of January. We look forward to engaging the next Israeli government in the common pursuit of peace. This is no time to be idle.

I am dismayed by the dramatic increase in Israeli settlement activity. I was also deeply disappointed by the announcement of new construction plans in the “E1” area, and urged the Government of Israel to heed international calls to rescind these plans.   

Settlement activity is a major obstacle to the two-State solution and must cease immediately.  I repeat that all settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law and cannot prejudge the outcome of final status negotiations. 

Achieving the two-State solution requires the economic and financial viability of the Palestinian Government. The full, timely and predictable transfer of Palestinian tax and customs revenues by Israel in accordance with the Paris Protocol provisions is essential. 

I am relieved by the recent decision of the Government of Israel to transfer the revenues that had been withheld in December. I thank the European Union and our Arab partners for their contributions, and reiterate my call on donor countries to continue to fulfil their pledges and further increase their support.

Preserving stability in Gaza and making a significant difference in the lives of its civilian population continues to be our priority.  I reiterate my call for immediate steps towards lifting the closure in line with Security Council resolution 1860. 

After the November violence, Israel has recently allowed a limited amount of construction material into Gaza. This coupled with the extension of fishing access to six nautical miles has illustrated Israel’s commitment to sustaining the fragile ceasefire agreement.

However more work needs to be done to improve the situation in Gaza and to address Israel’s legitimate security concerns. This means continuing to thwart militant attacks from Gaza and stopping the smuggling of weapons into the area. 

The fragile ceasefire provides an opportunity to address the underlying contributors to instability in Gaza outlined in Security Council resolution 1860 and to implement the resolution in full, which includes Palestinian reconciliation.

Palestinian reconciliation within the framework of the PLO commitments is an essential step for achieving the two-State solution and durable peace.  The peace process and reconciliation are not incompatible; efforts must be made on both fronts.

I wish to express my appreciation to the Egyptian government for its facilitation efforts. But for real progress to be made, Hamas must make clear where it stands on the central issues at stake.

Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The status quo is unsustainable, and unacceptable.  Both parties must live up to their commitment to a negotiated two-State solution consistent with Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 and resolve all the core issues, namely territory, security, Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, and water. 

We cannot afford another year without tangible results.  

For my part, I assure you that I will continue to do everything in my power to achieve our common goal.  I believe this Committee, through its activities, can make a unique contribution. 

Thank you very much.


Statements on 5 February 2013