RABAT, Morocco, 26-27 June (United Nations Information Centre) — The fifth International Conference on the Question of Jerusalem opened in Rabat, Morocco, on 26 June with a call by King Mohamed VI of Morocco and Chairman of the Al-Quds Committee for a greater rallying of diplomatic efforts to secure binding international resolutions that protected the city and safeguarded its spiritual, cultural and legal character.
Convened under the theme “The Question of Jerusalem after 50 years of Occupation and 25 years of the Oslo Accords”, the Conference aimed to provide an opportunity for Member States to manifest their positions and share opinions, particularly in view of recent developments. It also aimed to give a voice to youth from East Jerusalem to present their plight to the international community and favour identifying actionable solutions to the challenges confronting them as a vital component of the city’s future.
The Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Nacer Bourita, delivered a message on behalf of the King of Morocco, which called on “the influential global powers”, particularly the United States, as well as regional ones, “to play their role in a responsible and equitable manner in their respective sphere of influence”. He said that Jerusalem “needs action on the ground to promote development in social and humanitarian fields to help Palestinians resist policies of displacement, eviction and expulsion applied against them”.
King Mohamed VI stressed that the conflict “could be resolved if delusions and nostalgia for the past are abandoned” and if “a sense of realism and confidence” prevailed. He called for a “rational approach to history” and said that “the international community is duty-bound today to pool efforts at a faster pace to reach a negotiated, safe and fair settlement” that should be achieved through “an orderly process based on a realistic vision and a specific timeline”.
He highlighted that the International Conference on Jerusalem was taking place in “a context marked by serious developments, namely the decision by the United States of America to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move its embassy there on the 14 May 2018” and noted that Morocco had rejected the move. He said that the resolve to hold the session of the Conference as planned “attests to the international awareness of the importance of overcoming all difficulties hindering the settlement of the conflict”.
The opening session of the Conference continued on Wednesday, 27 June, with statements by Miroslav Jenča, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs; Samir Bakr, Assistant Secretary-General for Palestine Affairs of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC); Mohammed Shatayyeh, Minister of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction and Representative of the State of Palestine; and Fodé Seck, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
In his statement, Mr. Jenča said “the Committee has worked tirelessly to help realize the inalienable rights of the Palestinian People, including self-determination”, and “has been a leading voice in supporting the two-State solution”. He underlined the importance of Jerusalem and recalled that the Secretary-General of the United Nations had stated that “Jerusalem is a final-status issue that must be resolved through direct negotiations between the two parties on the basis of relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions”. Mr. Jenča stressed that it was more important today than ever “to take effective concerted action, as decades of convergence and global consensus are eroding”, noting that “recent developments in Jerusalem, taken against international consensus and the resolutions of the UN Security Council, risk to embolden antagonistic voices on both sides and to further weaken any hopes to reach a peaceful and sustainable solution”.
Mr. Bakr delivered a message from the Secretary-General of OIC calling on the international community to “intervene responsibly and effectively to protect the vision of the two-State solution by engaging a multilateral political process on the basis of international legitimacy and the Arab peace initiative”. He reiterated that the OIC rejected the United States decisions to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to transfer its Embassy to the city and called on the United States “to abide by international law to achieve the comprehensive peace on the basis of the two-State solution”. He regretted “the failure of the Security Council to shoulder its responsibility in putting an end to Israeli crimes and violations”. He welcomed the resolution by the United Nations General Assembly on 13 June to ensure international protection for the Palestinian people. He also welcomed the United Nations Human Rights Council’s resolution on 18 May to establish an international independent committee to investigate Israeli violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and called for the rapid implementation of this decision.
Speaking on behalf of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Mr. Shatayyeh said that negotiations “need a fair mediator that doesn’t exist today”. He said that successive negotiations since Madrid in 1991 had failed because four United States presidents since that time did not exert pressure on Israel and because the United States Government had failed to be a fair mediator. He reiterated that “the components of the solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict were well known and agreed by the majority of the world” and that what was needed now “is a clear reference to end the occupation and establish the Palestinian State on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem East as capital and a just solution for the refugees”. He reiterated the eight-point plan presented by President Abbas to the Security Council and added that the Palestinians “welcome an international conference and a mechanism to end the conflict on the basis of the international law and international legitimacy”. He said that Palestinians had never refused to negotiate. However, right now, there were only “bad ideas” that would not herald peace. He said that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had maintained partnerships with various Palestinian political parties since 1969, and was now open to partner with others, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, provided that they accept the two-State solution, abide by international law, and embrace peaceful popular resistance, a unique legitimate authority and the holding of elections to revive Palestinian democracy.
Mr. Seck said that “the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the transfers of certain embassies to Jerusalem violate Security council resolutions and risk favouring illegal Israeli actions, especially the illegal annexation of East Jerusalem”. He recalled that the United Nations had condemned “all measures aiming at changing the demographic composition, the character and the future status of occupied Palestinian territories since 1967, including Jerusalem”. Mr. Seck said that “as members of the international community, we have the duty to provide moral and material support, as well as political help, to the Palestinians in East Jerusalem through diplomacy and by promoting rights-based development”.
The Conference will continue on 28 June.