New York

29 June 2017

Secretary-General's message to opening of June Forum to Mark Fifty Years of Occupation of the Palestinian Territory

[Delivered by Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General]

I send my warm greetings to everyone gathered to mark 50 years since the start of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, which resulted in Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Syrian Golan, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and Syrians.
The occupation has imposed a heavy humanitarian and development burden on the Palestinian people. Generations of Palestinians have grown up in crowded refugee camps, many in abject poverty, and with little or no prospect of a better life for their children.
Fifty long years of occupation have fuelled recurring cycles of violence and retribution. They send an unmistakable message to Palestinians that their dream of statehood might never be realised. They signal to Israelis that their desire for peace, security and regional recognition remains unattainable.
Ending the occupation is the only way to lay the foundations for enduring peace that meets Israeli security needs and Palestinian aspirations for statehood and sovereignty. It is the only way to achieve the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.
It is time to return to direct negotiations to resolve all final status issues on the basis of relevant UN resolutions, agreements and international law. It is time to end the conflict by establishing an independent Palestinian state, side by side in peace and security with the State of Israel.
Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will remove a driver of violent extremism and terrorism in the Middle East and open the doors to cooperation, security, prosperity and human rights for all.

I repeat my offer to work with all relevant stakeholders to support a genuine peace process.