New York

29 November 2017

Deputy Secretary-General's remarks at Special Meeting on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People [as prepared for delivery]

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
I will begin my remarks with a message from the Secretary-General.
 
The Question of Palestine is inextricably linked with the history of the United Nations and is one of the longest unresolved issues on the Organization’s agenda.  Seventy years since the adoption of General Assembly Resolution 181, a sovereign and independent State of Palestine has yet to emerge alongside the State of Israel. I remain convinced that the two-state solution recognized by that resolution is the only premise for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The resolution of this conflict would also create momentum for greater stability throughout the region.
 
Last August, during my visit to Israel and Palestine, leaders on both sides restated their commitment to a negotiated peace. I encouraged them to tangibly demonstrate this commitment and create the conditions for a return to meaningful negotiations. The recent positive developments on intra-Palestinian unity should be harnessed by all to move the process in the right direction.     I reiterate my readiness to work with all stakeholders, including the Middle East Quartet and countries in the region, to support a serious political process, drawing on all relevant UN resolutions, international law and agreements, that will realize a two-state solution, end half a century of occupation and resolve all final status issues.  Now is the time to end the conflict by establishing an independent Palestinian State, living side by side in peace and security with the State of Israel.
 
Thank you, I will now move on to my own remarks.
 
For 70 years, we have gathered every 29 November to express our unwavering support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and independence, and for the establishment of a Palestinian State to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict once and for all.
 
We must continue to collectively strive to reach this goal. We must focus on reversing the current negative trajectory and promoting confidence among Palestinians and Israelis that a peaceful future is possible.
 
Ending illegal Israeli settlement activity and demolitions in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is crucial to the viability of a future Palestinian State and to realizing the legitimate national and historic aspirations of both people. Eliminating violence and incitement is essential to building trust.
 
Gaza remains squeezed by crippling closures and in a state of constant humanitarian emergency, with two million Palestinians struggling with crumbling infrastructure, an electricity crisis, a lack of basic services, chronic unemployment and a paralyzed economy – all taking place amid an unfolding environmental disaster.  This unsustainable reality demands urgent humanitarian, economic and political measures to support the Palestinian population.  We must not leave women, children and youth behind.
 
Recent headway in advancing Palestinian unity, particularly the full return of the Gaza crossings to the control of the Palestinian Authority on 1 November, is a landmark development in the implementation of the intra-Palestinian agreement signed in Cairo on 12 October. It is vital that all stakeholders work collectively and determinedly to maintain the positive momentum. Reconciliation is a key step in reaching the larger objective of a Palestinian State.  The Palestinian Government should provide Palestinians living in Gaza a much-needed sense that Palestine is – and must remain – one, and enable Gazans to uphold their human dignity and begin rebuilding their lives.
 
Ending the occupation and achieving a two-state solution is the only path to enduring peace between Israelis and Palestinians. There is no other option. It is the only way to achieve the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.  On this International Day of Solidarity, let us reaffirm our commitment to making the vision set out 70 years ago a reality. 
 
Thank you.