14 December 2017
387th Meeting (PM)

Text Reaffirming Special Status of Jerusalem Could Be in Security Council by Monday, Permanent Observer Tells Palestinian Rights Committee

A draft Security Council resolution reiterating the special status of Jerusalem — and rejecting any attempts to declare Israel’s capital or to establish an embassy there — would likely be submitted as early as Monday, the Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine told the Palestinian Rights Committee today.

On the heels of the announced United States recognition of the city as Israel’s capital, Riyad H. Mansour briefed the Committee on a series of urgent meetings convened by the group of Arab Foreign Ministers, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and others in the wake of the 6 December announcement by the President of the United States.  Thanking those States that had requested the recent emergency Security Council meeting on the matter, he described the decision by the United States as reckless and irresponsible.

Noting that previous Council resolutions made clear that all such unilateral actions relating to Jerusalem were “null and void”, he said the city was widely viewed as a final status issue that the parties must deal with at the level of peace talks.  Egypt’s Permanent Representative had been working in recent days to begin drafting a resolution reflecting the principled position of the 14 Council members that were opposed to the United States decision, he said.  Consultations on that text were under way and could be “in blue” by tomorrow evening for possible adoption on Monday, he added.

Emphasizing that the draft would reaffirm previous Council resolutions, he emphasized that it “will not name names” nor condemn any single Member State.  The text would instead declare any action aimed at changing the legal status of Jerusalem to be null and void, and call upon all States to refrain from placing their embassies in the city.  Expressing hope that the single country that had “created the problem in the first place” would abstain from voting on the draft, he said it was nevertheless unlikely, adding that its delegation would probably cast a veto against it.

He went on to state that on 19 December, the General Assembly was slated to vote on a draft resolution submitted by its Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural) relating to the situation of the Palestinian people living in occupied East Jerusalem.  “Help us to cross 180 votes in support of that draft resolution,” he said, noting that its adoption would mark a major step in defending the rights of the Palestinian people as well as the status of Jerusalem.

Turkey’s representative then briefed the Committee on the outcome of an emergency OIC summit convened in Istanbul on 13 December to address the announcement by the United States.  Leaders in attendance had adopted resolutions, a declaration and a communiqué, while also condemning Washington’s unilateral decision.  The communiqué called upon the Security Council to assume its responsibility to reaffirm Jerusalem’s legal status, end the occupation of Palestinian land and implement all Council resolutions on the Palestinian question.  The Summit had also declared East Jerusalem the capital of the State of Palestine and invited all countries to recognize it as such, he said, stressing that the General Assembly must take up the issue if the Council failed to act.

Several delegates then took the floor to express their solidarity with the Palestinian people and their rejection of the unilateral decision by the United States regarding Jerusalem.  Many urged Washington to rescind the decision, underlining the need to preserve Jerusalem’s special legal status and to establish a State of Palestine on the basis of the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The representative of Bangladesh cited the risks posed by the unilateral decision, warning that the announcement could “inflame the Muslim world” and heighten tensions in an already volatile Middle East.

Other speakers, including Indonesia’s representative, stressed the need to rally behind the very important cause of the Palestinians and to preserve the dignity of the United Nations.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s representative outlined three steps:  moving to the General Assembly if the Security Council was unable to respond; imposing economic measures aimed at changing the behaviour of the occupying Power; and seeking an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on current developments.

Venezuela’s representative condemned the “hasty, rash and thoughtless” decision by the President of the United States and welcomed the Committee’s prompt response.  He said the Non‑Aligned Movement was working alongside the Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine on the draft resolution to be tabled in the Council next week.

A representative of “United Cities France” said his organization intended to deliver a political message to the Government of France about the situation in Jerusalem.  The decision by the United States — as well as that country’s withdrawal from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) — raised fundamental questions about the very nature of diplomacy and international law, he said, warning that the Jerusalem issue could have “catastrophic” consequences that reached far beyond the city itself.

Fodé Seck (Senegal), Chair of the entity formally known as the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, called attention at the meeting’s outset to a statement issued by the Bureau on behalf of the Committee.

The statement emphasized that the decision by the United States constituted a flagrant violation of both Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, and urged the United States to reconsider its position, he said.  Recalling that Senegal had been among the 8 Council members requesting last week’s emergency meeting, he said 14 of the 15 Council members had unanimously disagreed with the decision.  The Committee therefore called upon all its own members and observers to continue to demonstrate their support for, and solidarity with, the Palestinians in all international and multilateral forums.

Turning to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), he said it provided essential services to Palestinian refugees across several countries, and urgently needed $49 million before the end of 2017 to carry out its functions.  Despite lacking those funds, UNRWA had decided not to cease its functions in light of recent events, he said.  He appealed to Committee members as well as new and traditional donors to urgently close the funding gap and provide contributions to the Agency’s work in 2018.

In other business, Rapporteur Carmelo Inguanez (Malta) outlined a Committee delegation’s recent visit to Dar-es-Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania, intended to mobilize engagement for the two‑State solution and raise awareness about life for the Palestinian people under the Israeli occupation.  As part of that mission, the delegation had met with several high‑level Government officials and held a public lecture at a local university, he said, drawing a link between the United Republic of Tanzania’s history of anti‑colonial activism and the collective international responsibility to support the Palestinian people.

He went on to describe the recent consultations between the Chair of the Committee’s Working Group on Civil Society and the Co‑Chairs of the Israel‑Palestine NGO Working Group.  Participants had agreed to organize several meetings in 2018, and outlined various activities organized by the Committee around the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, observed on 29 November.

A representative of the Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church spoke on behalf of all non‑governmental organizations involved in that initiative, saying countless individual groups had issued their own statements condemning the decision by the United States and affirming the international character of Jerusalem.  The city should remain open, shared by all States and all peoples, he emphasized, adding that its status should be resolved as part of the peace process.

Also speaking today were representatives of India, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Morocco and Cuba.

For information media. Not an official record.