New York

10 February 2015

Deputy Secretary-General's remarks, on behalf of the Secretary-General, at the opening of the 2015 Session of the Committee on the exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People

I have the honour to deliver the following message to the Committee from the Secretary-General.  As the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People marks its 40th year, I commend this body for its important and resolute work. 

The General Assembly designated 2014 the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.  The aim was to catalyse global action on the Question of Palestine in the then promising context of direct peace negotiations brokered by the United States.  Instead, the year was a grim one for Palestinians and Israelis, and all those who seek peace.  Talks broke down and violence escalated.  Last summer, hostilities between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza claimed the lives of nearly 2,200 Palestinians and 72 Israelis.  Today, Gaza remains a desolate place under blockade and with much human suffering.  I urge donors to fulfil pledges made at last October’s Cairo conference for the reconstruction of Gaza.

In 2014 violence also engulfed the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Israel.  The levels of incitement and hostility  in and around Haram al Sharif/ Temple Mount rose to alarming levels, threatening to inflame religious tensions in the region and beyond.

I regret that the parties have since taken unilateral steps that have deepened mutual distrust and distanced them from a prospect of negotiated settlement. I urge both parties to refrain from any action that could further exacerbate the situation and to demonstrate the necessary leadership for reaching and implementing the difficult decisions that lie ahead.

Together with the Israelis and the Palestinians, the international community holds the responsibility for what has been a collective failure to advance a political solution. The United Nations system, the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Human Rights Council, this and other concerned Committees, must work to revive negotiations for a two-State solution.  At a time when the entire region is facing the threat of terrorism and violent extremism, resolving this conflict is clearly a serious matter for international peace and security. 

Member States and regional groups, including the League of Arab States, have intensified the search for a way out of the impasse.   With the Quartet and other stakeholders engaged, we may have a better chance in 2015 to address issues that seem intractable. All good forces must now be mobilised.

As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of our Organization, I call on this Committee to exert all efforts to enable the Palestinian people to exercise their inalienable rights.

I reiterate the commitment of the United Nations to help achieve a just and durable peace between Israel and Palestine, resolving the conflict by ending nearly half a century of occupation and establishing a sovereign and independent State of Palestine – living side-by-side with Israel in peace and security.