SPECIAL BULLETIN ON

THE COMMEMORATION OF THE

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY

WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE

2008


CONTENTS

 I.

Commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

II.

Texts of statements made and messages delivered on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, 2008

Paul Badji (Senegal), Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People

Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann (Nicaragua), President of the sixty-third session of the General Assembly of the United Nations

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations

Jorge Urbina (Costa Rica), President of the Security Council for the month of November 2008; message delivered by Jorge Ballestero, Minister Counsellor and Political Coordinator to the Security Council

Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian Authority; message delivered by Riad Malki, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Palestinian Authority

H.M.G.S. Palihakkara (Sri Lanka), Chairman of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories

Felipe Pérez Roque, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, on behalf of the Chairmanship of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries; message delivered by Ileana B. Núñez Mordoche, Deputy Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations

Sam Kutesa, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uganda, in his capacity as Chairman of the Thirty-fifth Session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers; message delivered by Francis K. Butagira, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Uganda to the United Nations

Jakaya Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania, in his capacity as Chairman of the African Union; message delivered by Augustine Mahiga, Permanent Representative of the United Republic of Tanzania to the United Nations

Amre Moussa, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States; message delivered by Yahya A. Mahmassani, Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States to the United Nations

Edwin Makue, General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches, on behalf of civil society organizations active on the question of Palestine

Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations

Closing statement by Paul Badji, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People

III.

Messages received on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

A.

Messages from Heads of State or Government

Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan

Abdelaziz Bouteflika, President of Algeria

King Hamad Bin Issa Al-Khalifa of the Kingdom of Bahrain

Fakhruddin Ahmed, Chief Adviser (Prime Minister) of the Caretaker Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, President of Brazil

Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam

Sergey Stanishev, Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria

Blaise Compaoré, President of Burkina Faso

Wen Jiabao, Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China

Kim Yong Nam, President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s

Assembly of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt

General Lansana Conté, President of the Republic of Guinea

Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of the Republic of Indonesia

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran

King Abdullah Bin Al Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Choummaly Sayasone, President of the Lao People's Democratic Republic

Michel Suleiman, President of Lebanon

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Prime Minister of Malaysia

Modibo Sidibé, Prime Minister of the Republic of Mali

General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania

Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius

Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, President of Mexico

King Mohammed VI of the Kingdom of Morocco

Hifikepunye Pohamba, President of the Republic of Namibia

Daniel Ortega Saavedra, President of Nicaragua

Asif Ali Zardari, President of Pakistan

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Republic of the Philippines

Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar

Abdoulaye Wade, President of the Republic of Senegal

Kgalema Motlanthe, President of the Republic of South Africa

Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

Somchai Wongsawat, Prime Minister of Thailand

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, President of Tunisia

Abdullah Gül, President of Turkey

Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates

Nguyen Minh Triet, President of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam

Ali Abdullah Saleh, President of the Republic of Yemen

   B.

Message from a Government

Republic of Guyana

  C.

Messages from Ministers for Foreign Affairs

Phandu T.C. Skelemani, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Botswana

Adriana Mejía Hernández, Deputy Minister for Multilateral Affairs of Colombia

Hirofumi Nakasone, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan

Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgham, Secretary of the General People’s Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya

Walid Al-Moualem, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Syrian Arab Republic

  D.

Messages from intergovernmental organizations having received a standing invitation to participate as observers in the sessions and the work of the General Assembly and maintaining permanent offices at Headquarters

European Union

Organization of the Islamic Conference:  Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General


I.   COMMEMORATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY
WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE

On 24 November 2008, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was observed at United Nations Headquarters, New York, and at the United Nations Offices at Geneva and Vienna, as well as in several other cities, in accordance with the provisions of General Assembly resolution 32/40 B of 2 December 1977.

All States Members of the United Nations and specialized agencies and observers were invited to attend the special meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

At the meeting, statements were made by Paul Badji (Senegal), Chairman of the Committee; Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann (Nicaragua), President of the sixty-third session of the General Assembly; Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations; and Jorge Urbina (Costa Rica), President of the Security Council for the month of November 2008, whose message was delivered by Jorge Ballestero, Minister Counsellor and Political Coordinator to the Security Council.  The Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Palestinian Authority, Riad Malki, read out a message from Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation   Organization   and   President   of   the   Palestinian   Authority.    Also, H. M. G. S. Palihakkara (Sri Lanka) made a statement in his capacity as Chairman of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories.

In addition, Ileana B. Núñez Mordoche, Deputy Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations, delivered a message from Felipe Pérez Roque, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, on behalf of the Chairmanship of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries; Francis K. Butagira, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Uganda to the United Nations, read out a message from Sam Kutesa, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uganda, in his capacity as Chairman of the thirty-fifth session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers; Augustine Mahiga, Permanent Representative of the United Republic of Tanzania to the United Nations, read out a message from Jakaya Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania, in his capacity as Chairman of the African Union; and Yahya A. Mahmassani, Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States to the United Nations, delivered a message from Amre Moussa, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States. Edwin Makue, General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches, on behalf of civil society organizations active on the question of Palestine, also addressed the meeting.

Closing statements were made by Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, and Paul Badji, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People received messages from 30 Heads of  State, 8 Heads of Government, 1 Government, and 5 Ministers for Foreign Affairs, as well as from the European Union and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

The special meeting was followed by the screening of a film entitled La terre parle arabein the Dag Hammarskjöld Library auditorium.
 
A Palestinian photo exhibit, “The Palestinians: 60 years of struggle and enduring hope”, was presented under the auspices of the Committee in cooperation with the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations.

  At the United Nations Office at Geneva, a special meeting was held on 24 November. The meeting was chaired by Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Under-Secretary-General and Director General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, who opened the meeting by reading the statement of Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations. The Permanent Representative of Senegal to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Babacar Mbaye, spoke on behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.  The Deputy Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Anizan Siti Hajjar Adnin, read the message of the Chairman of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories.  Statements were also made by Saad Alfarargi, representative of the League of Arab States; Babacar Ba, representative of the Organization of the Islamic Conference; Jorge Ferrer Rodríguez, representative of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries; Kadija Rachida Masri, representative of the African Union; and Helene Yinda, NGO representative.  Ibrahim Khraishi, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations Office at Geneva, read a statement on behalf of Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian Authority.

At the United Nations Office at Vienna, a special meeting was held on 26 November.  Norma Goicochea, Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations Office at Vienna, opened the meeting and spoke on behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.  Antonio Maria Costa, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna, delivered the statement of the Secretary-General.  Dr. Helmut Böck, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations at Vienna, read a message on behalf of the host country and Norma Goicochea, Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations Office at Vienna, spoke on behalf of the Chairman of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries. Other speakers included:  Hans Köchler, an NGO representative; Mikhail Wehbe, Permanent Observer of the League of Arab States to the United Nations Office at Vienna; W. Shahbaz, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations Office at Vienna, on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference; and Suleiman Jasir Al-Herbish, Director-General, OPEC Fund for International Development. Zuheir El-Wazer, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations Office at Vienna, read out a message on behalf of Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian Authority.  Representatives from 31 Member States and Permanent Observer entities, as well as officials of the host country, non-governmental organizations, other invited guests and United Nations staff members attended the meeting.

A short documentary on Palestine was shown at the end of the meeting.

II.  TEXTS OF STATEMENTS MADE AND MESSAGES DELIVERED ON THE
OCCASION OF THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH
THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE, 2009

Statement by Paul Badji (Senegal), Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise
of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People

[Original: French]

Today, the Committee is holding a solemn meeting to observe the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, in accordance with the provisions of General Assembly resolution 32/40 B of 2 December 1977.

It is my honour and pleasure to bid a warm welcome to His Excellency Mr. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, President of the General Assembly; His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations; Mr. Jorge Ballestero, representing the President of the Security Council; His Excellency Mr. H. M. G. S. Palihakkara, Chairman of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories; His Excellency Mr. Riad Malki, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Palestinian Authority, representing Palestine at this special meeting; and Mr. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs.

To all of you – ambassadors, permanent representatives and observers, ministers plenipotentiary and representatives of States Members of the United Nations, representatives of intergovernmental organizations, high dignitaries of international diplomacy, representatives of non-governmental and civil society organizations, and guests who have responded in large numbers to the Committee’s invitation to participate at this solemn meeting – I convey my most cordial greetings and wish you all a warm welcome.

I shall now make a statement on behalf of the Committee.

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People is holding a solemn meeting today to observe the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, in accordance with the provisions of General Assembly resolution 32/40 B of 2 December 1977. The tradition of organizing solemn meetings, such as today’s, goes back 30 years. Every year, members of the international community in their diversity and from throughout the world come together on this day to voice their enduring support for the aspirations of the Palestinian people to fully enjoy its inalienable rights.

The inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, as defined by the General Assembly, are the right to self-determination without external interference, the right to independence and national sovereignty, and the right of displaced and uprooted Palestine refugees to return to their homes and recover their property. The exercise of these rights represents an important element of any comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This year’s observance assumes particular meaning in view of its convergence with the sixtieth anniversary of the dispossession of the Palestine refugees. Six decades later, Palestine refugees remain unable to return to their homes, which may be only a short distance away. Sixty long years have elapsed since hundreds of thousands of Palestine refugees were compelled to leave their homes. Subsequent generations have swelled the ranks of the 1948 refugees. The number who are registered with and in the care of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is today more than 4.6 million. The situation of some 1 million refugees currently living in the Gaza Strip is of particular concern.

Over the years, the principal organs of the United Nations have adopted innumerable resolutions on the question of Palestine, most of which remain to be implemented. Moreover, for 41 years the Palestinian people have lived and continue to live under occupation and remain dispersed, internally displaced, stateless, exiled and otherwise in uncertainty with regard to their present and future.

As has been rightly noted by many observers, we are on the brink of a major man-made humanitarian disaster in Gaza, to which even the United Nations has been prevented from delivering emergency humanitarian aid. The shortage of fuel, of which Israel is the sole supplier, has plunged Gaza into darkness and cold with the onset of winter. Chronic malnutrition is on the rise and there has been a progressive deterioration in food security affecting at least 70 per cent of the population. According to UNRWA, the ongoing closure of checkpoints in and out of Gaza, whose population has reached 1.4 million people, is both a physical and a mental punishment of the population.

At this point, allow me to pay tribute to the dedication of the staff of United Nations agencies and programmes, who work tirelessly in the field so as to bring the Palestinian people the vital help they sorely need. These problems are only likely to be compounded by the current world financial crisis. The situation in the Gaza Strip represents a growing threat to peace.

In the West Bank, some 630 checkpoints and the separation wall impede the free movement of Palestinians and erode the institutions of the Palestinian Authority. Palestinians in the West Bank are also subject to daily raids and arrests by Israeli troops. The number of Palestinians in Israeli prisons is well in excess of 10,000. Palestinian prisoners are held on Israeli territory in violation of international law.

Moreover, despite Israel’s obligations under the Road Map, settlements continue to be built, undermining the political process. Of late, the unprecedented level of violent acts perpetrated by settlers against Palestinians and their property has been particularly worrying. The Committee has repeatedly condemned acts of violence, in particular those against civilians, be they Palestinian or Israeli. It has called for a cessation of rocket attacks against Israel, as well as incursions, air strikes and other disproportionate measures of collective punishment undertaken by Israel against the population of Gaza, which are explicitly prohibited under article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The Committee urges the immediate opening of the checkpoints between the Gaza Strip and Israel, in particular for the sick requiring urgent treatment unavailable in Gaza and for humanitarian aid and other needs of the population there.

It also urges the international community to support the Palestinians and Israelis in their pursuit of peace. The Palestinian issue should be the world community’s top priority in the maintenance of peace. The Committee and the international community have placed great hopes in the revival of the peace process, to which the Annapolis meeting, held a year ago, was expected to give significant impetus.

However, instead of being closer to the creation of a Palestinian State, we have seen the completion of 57 per cent of the separation wall; the recent authorization of new settlements, particularly in and around East Jerusalem; a 25 per cent increase in the destruction of Palestinian homes; excavation near the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound; a 12 per cent increase in checkpoints and other obstacles to movement in the West Bank; systematic arrest campaigns throughout the West Bank and an unprecedented increase in Israeli settler violence.

Recently, Israeli and Palestinian leaders alike have said that very little time remains to find a two-State solution. The Committee urges the international community to maintain the momentum created by the Annapolis meeting by supporting and facilitating the regular contacts the conference established between the two sides. We have high hopes that significant progress can be made in the permanent status negotiations thanks to that new impetus. Any progress in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiating process will be difficult without Palestinian unity. The international community and the principal regional actors should do all they can to bring the Palestinian people together.

A prerequisite to progress in the negotiations should be appreciable change in the situation on the ground in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. Only concrete changes will establish a climate conducive to facilitating permanent status negotiations towards a comprehensive, just, lasting and permanent agreement on all outstanding issues. At the very least, all entry points into the Gaza Strip should be opened immediately and all settlement activity and the demolition of Palestinian homes should cease. The international community should take more determined steps to protect the Palestinian people, ensure respect for international law throughout the region and uphold the relevant United Nations resolutions, in particular Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002) and 1515 (2003).

The pursuit of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace settlement must be based on the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which must be revived. Months of continuous negotiations have not yet bridged the gap between lofty rhetoric and the stark reality in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.

Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann (Nicaragua), President of the sixty-third session
of the General Assembly of the United Nations
[Original: English]
It is with mixed emotions that I join you today to observe the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People at this event organized by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. As you know, solidarity is a concept that is central to my work as President of the General Assembly. I want to thank the Committee for its dedicated efforts to rally our solidarity with the Palestinian people, pursuing the mandate entrusted to it by the General Assembly.

Today we recall that, 61 years ago this month, the General Assembly adopted the historic resolution 181 (II), calling for the creation of a Jewish State and an Arab State. The State of Israel, founded a year later in 1948, is now celebrating 60 years of its existence. Shamefully, there is still no Palestinian State to celebrate. All explanations notwithstanding, this fact makes a mockery of the United Nations and gravely hurts its image and prestige.

As I stated in my first address to the General Assembly last September, I believe that the failure to create a Palestinian State as promised is the single greatest failure in the history of the United Nations. It has been 60 years since some 800,000 Palestinians were driven out of their homes and away from their property, forced to become refugees and an uprooted and marginalized people.

We cannot avoid the bitter irony that next month we mark the sixtieth anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which enshrines the right to self-determination of these very same people. We are witness to decades of the terrible conditions endured throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, yet the promise – the right – of the Palestinian people to a homeland remains as elusive as ever.

As I speak here today, almost 1.5 million Palestinians are enduring an unprecedented blockade in the Gaza Strip. I heard this morning that these measures have been somewhat relaxed but I do not know how real or extensive that relief is. All border crossings into Gaza are closed, blocking even the delivery of emergency humanitarian relief supplied by the United Nations. Lack of fuel is plunging the population into darkness and cold. Basic medicines are running out. Malnutrition is chronic and the coping mechanisms of the people are being exhausted.

In solidarity, I urge the international community to raise its voice against this collective punishment of the people of Gaza. We must call for an end to this massive abuse of human rights. I call on Israel, the occupying Power, to allow humanitarian and other supplies to enter the Gaza Strip without delay.

The situation in the West Bank is often overshadowed by the humanitarian crisis facing Gaza. We cannot overlook, however, the existence of over 600 checkpoints and other obstacles to freedom of movement within the West Bank. We must denounce the resumption of house demolitions during the cold months and the unabated settlement expansion that is still being officially authorized. The unprecedented rise in violent attacks by settlers against the Palestinian population must also end.

Although different, what is being done to the Palestinian people seems to me to be a version of the hideous policy of apartheid. That cannot and should not be allowed to continue. This untenable situation highlights the urgent need for the resumption of a genuine peace process that can yield tangible results in the foreseeable future. So far, the endless negotiations between two very unequal partners have not borne fruit. What we need is a renewed sense of solidarity to inspire political will, courage and a broader perspective on the conflict. This should include the revival of the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002.

The international community should spare no effort in assisting Israelis and Palestinians alike to reach a solution that will fulfil the goal of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. The United Nations has an ongoing responsibility to resolve the question of Palestine in all its aspects and in accordance with international law. Let us be sure that this does not become a permanent, never-ending responsibility.

The enmity between our Palestinian and Israeli brothers and sisters is a bitter and self-perpetuating tragedy. We must find new ways to defuse this enmity and to enable both peoples to reassert their historic bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood. I urge the international community to defuse the political deadlock that cynically perpetuates this hatred, isolation and abuse. Our solidarity must prompt concrete action to realize those elusive rights that most of us can take for granted.
Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations

[Original: English]
It is a pleasure to join you for this annual observance. Every year on this day, we express our solidarity with the Palestinian people. For my part as Secretary-General, I underscore my commitment to doing my utmost in the search for a just, lasting, comprehensive and urgent settlement of the question of Palestine.

The Palestinians have been deprived of their inalienable rights, including the right to self-determination and statehood, for more than 60 years. Israelis live with an ever-present sense of insecurity. There is only one way to address such legitimate rights and fears — a peace agreement that results in an end to occupation, an end to conflict and the creation of a State of Palestine living side by side in peace with the State of Israel.

The Israeli and Palestinian leaders relaunched bilateral negotiations a year ago at Annapolis. They agreed to try to reach a peace treaty by the end of 2008. I regret that this goal appears unlikely to be achieved. However, the parties have succeeded in creating trust and a framework where none existed only two years ago. We must not diminish that achievement.

I commend the commitment made by President Abbas and Foreign Minister Livni during the recent Quartet meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh earlier this month to continue talks into next year and to seek a full and final settlement. The present negotiations have been promising and substantial. This must be an irreversible process, not an open-ended one, and it must resolve the issues of permanent status for Jerusalem, settlements, borders, refugees, security and water.

My biggest concern in the immediate period ahead is the situation on the ground. In the West Bank, the determined efforts of the Palestinian Authority led by Prime Minister Fayyad have achieved progress in the security sector and institution-building. The cities of Hebron, Jenin and Nablus are safer places today than they were just a few months ago. I hope these efforts continue in a manner that ensures deepening respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Israel must do more to enable and empower these Palestinian efforts. I strongly call on Israel to adhere to its commitments under the Road Map, reaffirmed at Annapolis and again at Sharm el-Sheikh, to cease settlement activity, remove outposts and open Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem.

Israel must also refrain from unilateral actions in Jerusalem, such as demolitions and evictions, that undermine trust or alter the status quo. I recognize Israel’s security concerns but the improved environment of security cooperation must lead to an easing of closures in the West Bank in order to increase stability and to give a much-needed boost to the Palestinian economy.

The situation in the Gaza Strip remains of major concern. I call for immediate measures to ease the near-blanket closure of Gaza, which leads to the worrying deprivation of basic supplies and human dignity. And I unreservedly condemn the rocket fire.

The way forward is for all parties to respect the calm brokered by Egypt and to reach out to the civilian population of the Gaza Strip instead of wrongly punishing them. I call on Israel to allow sufficient and predictable supplies to reach the population, to ensure access for humanitarian workers and to facilitate stalled United Nations projects.

I also reiterate my profound concern at the ever-deepening Palestinian divide. I call on Hamas and, indeed, all Palestinian factions to work urgently to reunify the Gaza Strip and the West Bank within the framework of the legitimate Palestinian Authority. This should be done in a manner that allows the peace process to move forward. At this crucial time in their quest for freedom and statehood, the people of Palestine deserve to have their leaders put nation above faction and the pursuit of peace above all other considerations.

I commend the efforts of the international community, including leaders in the region who are working hard to support the parties. At this time of uncertainty and change, the role of the international community is vital. I will be urging the new administration of the United States to be actively engaged in this process from the outset as a matter of utmost priority. I will also press the Quartet to assume the full measure of its responsibilities and to continue showing a firm political commitment. Quartet members are actively considering having another meeting before the end of this year. I will continue to advocate that more attention be given to the Arab Peace Initiative.

I continue to urge donors to be generous and to fulfil the pledges made at the Paris Donors Conference in support of the Palestinian Authority. Above all, I will ensure that the United Nations plays its full role in the quest for peace, even as it continues to provide assistance in the humanitarian, economic and social areas.

We have seen many difficulties in the past year, but it has also been a crucial time in setting the stage for peace. 2009 must be the year that these preparations bear fruit. Let us all work constructively, tirelessly and consistently to help the parties make this happen. The Palestinian people need and deserve no less.

Jorge Urbina (Costa Rica), President of the Security Council
for the month of November 2008; message delivered
by Jorge Ballestero, Minister Counsellor and Political
Coordinator to the Security Council
[Original: English]

I would like to convey to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People my sincere gratitude for the invitation to address this solemn meeting in my capacity as President of the Security Council for the month of November.

We are gathering on this day, as we have done since 1978, to commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. This year, the international community has witnessed a series of constructive efforts and initiatives undertaken by relevant actors in the region and beyond. The  Council hopes sincerely that these initiatives will advance the process towards the achievement of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on the attainment by the Palestinian people of their inalienable rights and in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions, including those of the Council, and the Charter of the United Nations.

The annual observance of this day as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People provides an opportunity to reaffirm the Council’s role in support of the parties in their efforts to realize a two-State solution with the establishment of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian State, living in peace and security side by side with Israel.

The Council, of course, remains seized of the situation in the Middle East, including – again, of course – the Palestinian question. The Council holds debates on that situation and continues to receive monthly briefings from the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the Department of Political Affairs. While some progress has been made in the peace process in the past year since the Annapolis Conference and the resumption of direct, bilateral negotiations between the Israeli and Palestinian sides, the situation on the ground continues to be a matter of serious concern to the Council.

The Council reiterates that, to make progress in the peace process and improve the situation of the Palestinian people on the ground, the parties must avoid actions that undermine confidence and prejudge the outcome of negotiations.

At the same time, the Council would like to highlight the efforts of the Palestinian Authority to reform the security sector and the cooperation between the two sides in this regard, taking as an example the progress in security seen in the city of Jenin and the recent deployment of Palestinian security services in Hebron. The Council hopes for continued cooperation in order to extend this progress to other major Palestinian population centres.

The Council underlines in particular the importance of the Paris Conference of December 2007 in terms of mobilizing donors and investors to  provide financial and political support to the Palestinian Authority. In this regard, the Council also stresses the importance of the Bethlehem and Berlin conferences held this year.

Regarding the seriousness of the humanitarian situation the Palestinian people is enduring in the Gaza Strip, the Council remains profoundly concerned by the rapid decline of socio-economic conditions as described by numerous United Nations agencies and programmes on the ground. We continue to support all steps that have been taken to provide the emergency and humanitarian assistance necessary to relieve the suffering of Palestinian people and we call for these measures to be implemented without obstruction.

Since the early part of this year, we have seen a reduction in the level of violence on the ground, mainly as a result of the period of calm that began in June, and in this regard we recognize the efforts of Egypt in facilitating this understanding between the parties. We hope this period of calm will continue and be consolidated, despite recent incidents of violence. I would like to stress that for the Council both parties need to exercise the utmost restraint and refrain from any measures that could destabilize the fragile situation and incite a deadly escalation of violence, including attacks on Palestinian and Israeli territory.

The Council welcomes with great satisfaction the briefing to the Quartet by the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators on 9 November, during which they reaffirmed their commitment to ongoing bilateral negotiations to conclude a peace agreement resolving all outstanding issues, including core issues, without exception, as specified in previous agreements. The parties also reaffirmed a number of mutual understandings on the principles governing their negotiations and requested the continued support of the international community. We also note the Quartet statement earlier this month on the possibility of holding an international meeting in Moscow next year, after further consultations with the parties, as an important step towards reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement in the near future.

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate the Council’s support for existing initiatives aimed at achieving a two-State solution with Palestine and Israel living side by side in peace and security on the basis of the 1967 borders, and to reaffirm the importance in this regard of the relevant Council resolutions. The Council recognizes the role of the Quartet as well as the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative issued by the League of Arab States. They represent key regional elements in the peace process and the Council encourages continued active efforts in this regard.

In conclusion, I would like to assure the Committee of the commitment of the Council in supporting and contributing to the advancement of all efforts aimed at achieving peace and stability in the region, as well as the Council’s intention to work closely with the parties in the important period ahead, on the basis, once again, of the relevant Security Council resolutions.
Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Executive Committee
of the Palestine Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian
Authority; message delivered by Riad Malki, Minister for Foreign Affairs
of the Palestinian Authority

[Original: Arabic]

On behalf of the Palestinian people and their leadership, the Palestine Liberation Organization, the sole legitimate representative of our people, I wish to extend our warmest and friendliest greetings, coupled with deepest gratitude and appreciation, to all those who join us in commemorating this occasion, which was designated by the General Assembly as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People in their legitimate struggle to end the occupation and to exercise their right to self-determination, in accordance with resolutions of international legitimacy and the consensus of the entire world.

We highly appreciate the significant role of participants in supporting our efforts to enable our people to realize their goals. We are certain that these efforts contribute in clear and effective ways to enhancing international solidarity with our just cause and enlarge the circle of international support for the aspirations of our people to freedom and independence as well as to the establishment of their State, which would live in peace, security and mutual respect with its neighbours and which would uphold the values of justice, equality, democracy, pluralism in the expression of opinions, beliefs and religions, and the peaceful transition of authority, as an embodiment of the declaration of independence which was adopted by the Palestinian National Council at its meeting in Algiers in 1988.

Participants’ support for our people bolsters our deep conviction in the justice of our cause and our trust that the immense sacrifices by the Palestinian people, generation after generation, have indeed generated deeper international understanding of and solidarity with our cause and objectives, which have been legitimized by man-made laws and divine teachings. We could even venture to say that there is no one who could challenge this massive solidarity with our rights and that, however long it takes, the occupying Power will eventually have to yield to the demands of the international conscience, which this Committee exemplifies in the best possible way.

Our people continue to endure excruciating pain and unbearable suffering. Not only does the continued occupation deprive our people of their political right to live in a free and secure homeland but the brutal practices and measures deny them their human rights and strip them of their inalienable rights guaranteed under international law, including humanitarian and human rights law, especially those rights related to the right to life, the protection of property, the right to a livelihood and the right to leave behind humiliation and deprivation.

Israel, the occupying Power, continues its expansionist policies, persisting in the settlement and colonization of our land at an accelerated pace, in addition to continuing to build the annexation and expansion wall, which separates brother from brother, father from son, patient from doctor, student from teacher and farmer from the land.

The occupying Power also continues to carry out its brutal and inhumane policies through military incursions into our cities, towns and villages, extrajudicial assassinations; it is killing the children of our people and imprisoning thousands of them in its oppressive jails. It also persists in its intensification of collective punishment through its punitive blockade of the Gaza Strip, preventing almost 2 million Palestinian civilians from receiving the necessary food, medicine, fuel and education — the minimal requirements of a dignified life.

In addition, the occupying Power continues to impose more than 600 checkpoints and roadblocks between our cities and villages, impeding the movement of our people. At times, this brings life, including internal commercial activities, to a near standstill. The impact of all of these measures has been disastrous for the future development of our country.

With regard to Jerusalem, the capital of our future independent State and the cornerstone of any just and lasting solution, the occupying Power is doing all it can to Judaize the city by measures aimed at suffocating the population, compelling them to leave and surrounding their neighbourhoods with settlements. All such practices endanger the Arab, Islamic and Christian character of the city. In spite of the ruthlessness of the occupation and its deliberate daily affronts to our people’s rights and human dignity, we are determined, without hesitation, to continue with our strategy, which is based on negotiation and dialogue as the only path towards resolving the conflict and achieving an outcome guaranteeing freedom and sovereignty for one party and security and recognition for the other.

In defining our goals, we are not making any new demands. All that we are asking for is the implementation of relevant United Nations resolutions, namely: the withdrawal of Israel from the territories it occupied in 1967; a just and agreed solution to the refugee question on the basis of General Assembly resolution 194 (III); and two States for two peoples, living side by side in peace, security and mutual respect.

We remain committed to the Arab Peace Initiative, which was broadly welcomed by the international community, and we consider it to be the way forward for accomplishing a comprehensive regional peace that gives Israel recognition and normalization with the Arabs in exchange for withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories and implementation of the two-State solution. However, we do not see a clear response from the other side to this courageous initiative. We have also been committed to the Annapolis process and have fulfilled our obligations in that regard. We have worked and continue to work very hard in cooperation  with the Quartet to harmonize our actions with those principles. We have also undertaken serious in-depth negotiations with the Israeli side to reach a settlement on all final status issues. Yet we have been unable to reach a satisfactory solution on any of those issues.

That is not the result of bad fortune. It is rather the result of intentional obstruction of the peace process and a determination on the Israeli side to impose a solution that does not guarantee the return of our land, the rights of our refugees or the possibility of establishing a contiguous and viable State. What we mean by a just and lasting solution that will end the violence in the region once and for all is not a partial solution; that would only create a fertile environment for a continuation of the conflict. If we do not all exert the efforts necessary to contain the conflict and eliminate its causes, it could become more intense and deadly and, God forbid, could spread within the region.

It is imperative in this connection that I thank all the parties that have sponsored or supported the peace process. However, we must pay particular tribute to the United Nations, acknowledge its particular role and express our gratitude and appreciation for its work as the primary international organization that has defended our cause and kept it alive. It has extended the hand of help to our people and adopted the legal rules and recommendations that constitute foundations that cannot be bypassed in any just, lasting and comprehensive solution. We call on the United Nations to continue its central role until the rights of the Palestinian people have been fully realized.

We reiterate to all participants our appreciation and gratitude for their dedicated and sincere efforts and their unshakable solidarity with the cause of our people. We also reaffirm our commitment to remain steadfast in our belief in peace, for which all the peoples of our region are striving, asking almighty God to bestow upon us a future where we can all enjoy peace, security, stability and prosperity.

H. M. G. S. Palihakkara (Sri Lanka), Chairman of the Special
Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights
of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories

[Original: English]

It  is  a  great  pleasure  to  participate  in  the  present  meeting under your leadership, Mr. Chairman. Please allow me to offer my compliments to you regarding your guidance of the important Committee you lead.

As we mark this important Day of Solidarity, peacemaking remains the most ubiquitous theme for discourse in the many United Nations forums. However, the elusive nature of  peace is no more apparent than  in  the conflict in the Middle East, as the agreed goal of Palestine and Israel coexisting, securely and peacefully, as two States remains unfulfilled.

The Annapolis Conference gave new impetus to direct negotiations towards a achieving two-State solution by the end of 2008. However, as noted by many, including the Secretary-General this morning and of course our Special Committee, those goals appear unreachable within the time frames set. We nevertheless derive some optimism from the fact that parties continue to engage in dialogue at different levels and that facilitators remain active in supporting and driving such processes.

In particular, we appreciate the constant and untiring efforts deployed by the Secretary-General and the United Nations in that regard. That will naturally help prevent negative developments overshadowing or overtaking the dialogue that is so vital to the goals we all strive for, namely the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people through the two-State solution.

Meanwhile, the Special Committee remains deeply concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories. The report it submitted to the current session of the General Assembly records the facts of this situation. The Palestinian economy continues to shrink in the West Bank as a result of the closures, checkpoints, ongoing construction of the separation wall and the increase in the number of settlements and settlers. The effects of those activities on the population are worrisome. Not only are the freedom of movement of Palestinians and their enjoyment of their basic economic and social rights severely curtailed, but also the continuing reliance on humanitarian aid and support runs the risk of creating a society afflicted with dependency. Such a society, of course, would not be able to sustain and provide for itself in the future.

The deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza, with more than 70 per cent of the population living below the poverty line, is deeply distressing, particularly the suffering endured by women and children. The policy of isolating and sanctioning Gaza has resulted in an ever-worsening humanitarian crisis, not only increasing dependence on humanitarian assistance in the short term, but also creating an environment of physical destruction and psychological scars that will deprive Palestinians of their enjoyment of human rights for generations to come.

The ceasefire that took effect on 19 June 2008 gave rise to some optimism that after a year of heavy restrictions, fuel and other essential goods might enter the Gaza Strip. However, since the ceasefire, there has been no significant improvement in the humanitarian situation in the Strip. However, in November, more than four months into the ceasefire, Israeli troops entered the Gaza Strip. Rocket attacks have started again, as have Israeli army incursions inside the Strip.

As usual, it is the civilian population that pays the highest price. Crossings into the Gaza Strip have been closed. Fuel has not been allowed into Gaza for its power station. No food has been allowed in for the United Nations aid distribution centres on which most Gazans rely. Journalists are not being allowed into Gaza. Hospitals and water-sanitation structures are also affected by the lack of electricity and fuel. There are news reports this morning of the opening of certain crossing points, which we hope will ease the situation and endure.

The key question remains whether the political process will lead to tangible results in terms of the enjoyment of human rights of the Palestinian people. The Special Committee would like to recall that the protection of human rights is an essential element if the peace effort is to sustain itself and eventually succeed. Respect for and the protection of the rights of the Palestinian people cannot be put on hold. On this day of solidarity, the parties concerned and the international community must recommit themselves to pay immediate attention and take immediate measures to address and rectify this situation.
Felipe Pérez Roque, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba,
on behalf of the Chairmanship of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries;
message delivered by Ileana B. Núñez Mordoche, Deputy Permanent
Representative of Cuba to the United Nations
 
[Original: Spanish]

I am honoured to address again the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the Cuban people, on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People this 29 November.

Once again, we would like to show our solidarity with the Palestinian people and to reflect on the tragedy of that people in the context of the illegal occupation of its territory by Israel. We reaffirm our resolve to redouble efforts to peacefully, justly and comprehensively resolve the question of Palestine, including the adverse situation of its refugees, in accordance with the rules and principles of international law and relevant United Nations resolutions.

Last year, the Palestinian people solemnly commemorated the sixtieth anniversary of the General Assembly’s adoption of resolution 181 (II) in 1947, which partitioned historic Palestine and led to the injustice and tragedy imposed upon its people in 1948, known as the nakba. Over three quarters of the historic Palestine was forcibly seized, 531 Palestinian towns and villages were destroyed and 85 per cent of the population was expelled or displaced. As a consequence, some 4.6 million of Palestinian refugees are still scattered throughout the Middle East.

For four decades, Israel has carried out deliberate and unlawful policies and practices aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and nature of the Palestinian territories. It has de facto annexed those lands by implementing its illegal settlement policy and, since 2003, by illegally building a wall in the West Bank, including in and around East Jerusalem.

On this important date, it is imperative to reaffirm the support that the Non-Aligned Movement has given to the fight of the Palestinian people to regain its inalienable rights, a position that we have strongly defended through the years. The Movement reiterates its concern at the growing deterioration of the political, economic, social and humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory as a result of Israel’s continued illegal policies and practices, including serious human rights violations and ongoing war crimes, which have resulted in great suffering and hardships for the Palestinian people.

The Non-Aligned Movement has systematically raised its voice in numerous international forums to support the Palestinian people in their just claim for a sovereign and independent State, with East Jerusalem as its capital. The conferences of heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement have reaffirmed that commitment at the highest level.

At the fifteenth NAM ministerial conference, held last July in Tehran, the non-aligned countries again reviewed the serious situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and deeply deplored the suffering of its people under the prolonged and brutal Israeli military occupation. Likewise, they rejected the ongoing deprivation of their inalienable rights, including the right to self-determination and the return of the Palestinian refugees to their territories, as well as the full enjoyment of their sovereign and independent State.

Faced with the especially critical situation in the Gaza Strip, NAM has reiterated its call for an end to the unlawful closure of Gaza and the collective punishment of the entire Palestinian civilian population. It is imperative to halt the wave of violence in that territory, including its spread into the West Bank, and to promptly open the borders with Gaza, enabling the movement of goods and people and the alleviation of the dire humanitarian crisis.

Our Movement reiterates the need and urgency to put an end to the prolonged and illegal Israeli occupation of all of the Arab territories occupied since 1967 and to establish an independent and sovereign Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Israel continues to flout the rules of international law and systematically and with impunity fails to comply with over 100 resolutions of various United Nations bodies, including more than 60 resolutions of the Security Council. The international community must not delay the search for a comprehensive and definitive solution to this issue because the Palestinian people has suffered and waited for too long for justice and freedom.

In the search for peace, the Arab peoples can always count on the total solidarity of the Cuban people. Allow me to reaffirm the aspiration of Cuba to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace for all Middle East peoples, without exception, that allows the Palestinian people to exercise its right to self-determination and sovereignty in its independent State, based on the borders prior to 4 June 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

I take this opportunity to reiterate the expression of my highest and most distinguished gratitude, and to reaffirm the resolute support and solidarity of the Cuban Government and people to the fulfilment of your important duties as Chairman of the Committee.

Sam Kutesa, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic  of Uganda,
in his capacity as Chairman of the thirty-fifth session of the Islamic
Conference of Foreign Ministers; message delivered by
Francis K. Butagira, Permanent Representative of the
Republic of Uganda to the United Nations

[Original: English]
The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People has continued to provide an opportunity for the international community to focus its attention on the fact that the question of Palestine is still unresolved and that the Palestinian people are yet to attain their inalienable rights as defined by the General Assembly. The observance of this day today comes at a time when Palestinians continue to live under occupation and conflict, but also at a time when several initiatives have been made in an effort to resolve the Palestinian question.

The United Nations has responsibility towards the question of Palestine until that issue is resolved. The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) has a strong attachment to the issue of Palestine and is deeply committed to its just and peaceful settlement. Its position, and the basis and principles for resolving the conflict, have been clearly spelled out in its communiqués, declarations and resolutions.

The OIC remains steadfast in its support for and solidarity with the Palestinian people. To this end, the OIC is ready to work with the international community in assisting the Middle East peace process to reach its objective of establishing a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East in accordance with relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, the Arab Peace Initiative, the Road Map and the commitments of the Annapolis Conference.

The OIC supports the resumption of direct negotiations between the leaders of Palestine and Israel and the establishment through peaceful negotiations of a sovereign, independent and viable State of Palestine, living side by side with the State of Israel.
There is a need for renewed intensification of efforts by the international community, including the Quartet, to support the Annapolis process negotiations between the two sides and the full implementation of the road map towards ending the occupation of the Palestinian territory. The outcome of the Annapolis Conference presented a great opportunity for a permanent two-State solution but a lot still remains to be done in following that through.

Jakaya Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania,
in his capacity as Chairman of the African Union;
message delivered by Augustine Mahiga, Permanent Representative
of the United Republic of Tanzania to the United Nations

[Original: English]

This day in the calendar year has been designated by the United Nations as a special event to express with heightened symbolism our collective concern and support for all the inalienable rights which the Palestinian People have been fighting for every day in the history of their nation. Our substantive solidarity must also be a daily preoccupation and a moral obligation of the whole international community. We must accompany and support their legitimate struggle under the banner of the United Nations until their aspirations and rights are fully realized.

The Palestinian people are entitled, like all of us here today, to enjoy the sovereign status of a nation State in the international community that they have been fighting for throughout their struggle. They have been struggling heroically to exist as a nation State. Palestinians have all the historical and cultural attributes of a nation. What they need is a homeland to translate their national aspirations into statehood. Their legitimate claims were further attacked in 1967 by the occupation of the territory that they rightly claim to be theirs.

On that score, we support the two-State solution to establish a Palestinian State side by side with the State of Israel. We reaffirm our commitment to and urge a peaceful solution to this complex problem, which has remained elusive for decades. We trust that all the stakeholders in the peace process, including the United Nations, will continue to work relentlessly towards the overdue settlement of the Middle East problem. The current opportunity for a solution in the ongoing peace initiative in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine should not be lost again. Violence should not be allowed to derail the peace process. Violence can only be counterproductive and lead to more violence. We urge all parties to exercise maximum restraint against the military actions and reprisals that have characterized the situation in the Middle East over the past six decades.

The demand for self-determination by the Palestinian people is the most fundamental right and must find expression not only in the establishment of a Palestinian State, but also in the entitlement to and respect for all other human rights embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The catalogue of Palestinian human rights violations assembled by human rights bodies and experts is reprehensible and morally repulsive as it reveals violations and indignities against Palestinians that are totally unacceptable by any human rights benchmark. As we prepare to observe the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights next month, we must rededicate ourselves to protecting and respecting the human rights of the Palestinians and other victims of human rights violations throughout the world.

The member States of the African Union have remained firm and consistent in their support of the Palestinian people. Tanzania, as a member and current Chair of the African Union, wishes to salute the Palestinian people on this day and to convey our support to their leaders in their historic endeavour to find a lasting peaceful solution to the Palestinian cause and a just peace throughout the Middle East.
Amre Moussa, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States;
message delivered by Yahya A. Mahmassani, Permanent Observer
for the League of Arab States to the United Nations

[Original: Arabic]

Today’s observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is being held in the shadow of the Israeli occupation and the blockade of the Palestinian people in all its many forms, including the Israeli State’s intensified settlement policy and land seizures in the Gaza Strip, the construction of the separation wall, the consolidation of measures tantamount to collective punishment, daily incursions into the cities and villages of the West Bank, the destruction of homes and the uprooting of olive trees, all of which defy all Arab and international efforts towards a peace process leading to an independent Palestinian State.
 
All those continuing measures, the intensity of settlement activity in the West Bank and attacks against Palestinian villagers by Israeli settlers under the protection of the Israeli army have made the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations unproductive. The League of Arab States has reaffirmed several times that the current negotiations between the Israeli and the Palestinian sides must be serious if they are to lead to a serious peace process. As long as Israel continues to build settlements, excavate in the West Bank and in and around East Jerusalem and carry out population transfers in Palestine, the establishment of a genuine Palestinian State will be gravely jeopardized.

The 1 September 2008 report of the Archbishop of South Africa, Desmond Tutu, who headed the investigation into abuses by the Israelis in Beit Hanoun, mandated by the Human Rights Council, has confirmed that the bombardment and blockade carried out by the Israeli authorities are a humiliation of the international community and that Israeli military activities in Beit Hanoun violated international humanitarian law and human rights law and are, in fact, war crimes.

There is great fear over the tension and the attempts by Israel to Judaize the city of Jerusalem and alter its historical and demographic characteristics. The League of Arab States has warned of the danger of such activity and has asked the Quartet and the Security Council to take urgent steps to make sure that Jerusalem is protected because it is an occupied territory. The 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, which establishes the importance of protecting the sacred heritage of mankind, must be implemented. Israel must protect Jerusalem. That is a fundamental final status issue. That city is important to many different believers and any infringement and attempts against it or the Al-Aqsa Mosque must be banned.

Regrettably, none of the hopes and efforts to revitalize the peace process after the Annapolis Conference has borne fruit. It has not been possible to achieve any progress in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. We are once again in the same old vicious circle. Conditions today are not conducive to the revitalization of the negotiations, since there are too many obstacles, a lack of clarity and a dearth of vision on the part of the Israeli side, which has not adopted the path of peace.

The Arab side remains committed to the Arab Peace Initiative, based on international legitimacy, which aims at achieving a just and lasting solution to this conflict and providing peace, security and prosperity for all the people of the area. For many decades, these people have suffered instability, bloodshed and wars. The Arab side seeks a complete and comprehensive peace that restores the Palestinian people’s inalienable rights and guarantees stability and security for all in that unstable part of the world.

The international community, in particular the Security Council, must assume its weighty responsibilities if we are to arrive at a serious peace process that restores the rights of the Palestinians and rolls back all Israeli practices and violations. The occupation has already wasted so many opportunities for peace.

Finally, I would like to thank you, Sir, all the members of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and all the organizations of civil society that work in the field of human rights for your efforts to support the Palestinian people, to help them retrieve their inalienable rights, to roll back the Israeli occupation and to establish their State on their national soil.

Edwin Makue, General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches,
on behalf of civil society organizations active on the question Palestine

[Original: English]

I thank you, Sir, very much for your work as the Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and for having granted us this honour to address this meeting today as we observe the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. I will use this opportunity to link my experience under apartheid in South Africa with what I have recently observed with regard to the situation in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza.
 
Under apartheid in South Africa, we experienced a system of discrimination and oppression, where racial hatred was very rife. Apartheid in South Africa used ideology and laws making use of the police and the army to criminalize black people in our beloved country. Such criminalization led to detentions and imprisonments, resulting in a whole range of political prisoners, people placed under house arrest, the banning of political organizations and legitimate political leaders.

Apartheid also used the law so that the final interpretation of the law could only rest with the apartheid rulers. Of the laws that we have had, the 1913 and 1936 Land Acts created bantustans in our country, separating black people from each other and from our white counterparts, resulting in the majority of the people occupying only 13 per cent of the land. We had various racial departments, such as the Department of Native Affairs, the Department of Coloured Affairs and the Department of Indian Affairs, to control the movement and the influx of people in various parts of the country. This was further solidified through the introduction of a Group Areas Act, confining people to particular group areas based purely on race. We had a duplication of the education departments in our country and a duplication of social services, which put a tremendous strain on the treasury. These inequalities of apartheid are very often expensive.

But these inequalities also show a lack of respect for human rights. We have been denied the right to vote; the franchise was granted to one of the great leaders of the world, former President Nelson Mandela, only when he voted in 1994, way beyond the age of 60.

Job descriptions resulted in particular jobs being available only to particular parts of South  African  society.  It was none other than one of the founding fathers of apartheid, Dr. Hendrick Verwoed, who in 1954 made the statement that the black child must learn that we can only be a drawer of water or carrier of wood. It was the same Hendrick Verwoed who drew the linkages between apartheid in South Africa and Israel. The apartheid system in South Africa also used our faith in Christianity, Puritanism, Calvinism and national fundamentalism to protect and promote its ideological position.

We, however, had an anti-apartheid movement inside South Africa and we were fighting for a non-racial South Africa and not just for a South Africa with black rights. Our President, Nelson Mandela, said in 1994 that never shall it be that this nation will again experience the oppression of one person by another. Our struggle for liberation was an affirmation of our struggle to affirm the human dignity and equality of all people and the human rights of all people. This resistance that we engaged in was a resistance of all people of South Africa opposed to apartheid, particularly as it found expression in the early 1980s through the black local authorities, the Tricameral Parliament and the South African Indian Congress, structures that were primarily based on enhancing the principle of separating the people of South Africa. We made it very clear that separate can never be equal.

We believed in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights in the same way that we drew courage from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, because it is in those instances that an affirmation was given that apartheid was a crime against humanity. The international apartheid movement, where ordinary peaceloving and justice-serving people demonstrated the rejection of the injustices and diabolical nature of apartheid, served as a beacon of hope and strength for many of us when we were suffering under the pain and the injustices of apartheid. We appreciate how ordinary people in the anti-apartheid movement placed pressure on their Governments to act against the apartheid regime.

It is important that we underline, as civil society organizations, the inextricable link that we see between our work and that of democratic Governments. We will encourage Governments to seek ways in which we can further cooperate with each other in our common search for peace and justice wherever such qualities may be absent in the world, and we hope that they will do so. In our struggle in South Africa, we have learned the importance of caring for others as an element of affirming our common humanity. When we talk about ubuntu, we are saying that we recognize that we can be persons only because of the way we treat other people.

Unfortunately, we see a glaring lack of such compassion in the situation of the Palestinian people. The international movement responded to the call from oppressed South Africa for boycotts, divestment and sanctions. Churches, trade unions and arts and culture movements protested against apartheid policies and actions. Corporations broke ties with apartheid capital. The focus of many on the support provided to our own Government was what resulted in an end to the system. The South African apartheid system did not give up on its own. It was because of international pressure and divestment that the system became bankrupt both politically and economically.

We want to believe that the United Nations played a very important role in our liberation in South Africa. We urge the United Nations to do the same because apartheid, as practised by the authorities in Israel, is being experienced at this time in human history. The  United   Nations   adopted   the   International  Convention  on  the  Suppression  and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid in 1973. Having grown up under apartheid myself, I believe that the same Convention applies to the apartheid now being practised by the Israeli Government.

As I indicated earlier, the similarities between apartheid in Israel and South Africa were spelled out by Hendrik Verwoerd when he said that Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid State. The apartheid State of South Africa and the United States Government have collaborated with and defended Israel. We in civil society are worried about the more than $3 billion donated to the Israeli Government, which frees up money for the Israeli Government to continue its war against the innocent people in Gaza and the West Bank.

I had the opportunity to visit the occupied territories as an election observer of the South African Government during the 2005 election and I also visited the area in November 2006. I observed indescribable human rights violations, worse than what we experienced in apartheid South Africa. I witnessed how settler communities are being set up and how the Palestinian people are gradually being alienated from their land. I learned of house demolitions in Nablus, Hebron, Tulkarem and many other communities and from reports that we receive through the work that we are doing with the World Council of Churches in that area, it is apparent that such violations continue to happen as we speak.

There are great parallels between apartheid in South Africa and what we are seeing in the occupied territories of the West Bank, although they may not be identical. The most painful part for me, as a person of faith, was when I saw how Palestinians are being denied access to their holy sites by the apartheid wall and the roadblocks, which are not only preventing Palestinians from visiting relatives and friends, but also denying children free access to education by forcing them to go through checkpoints in order to get to school.

I also noted how multinational companies, such as Caterpillar, are using their armour-plated vehicles in the house demolitions. Therefore, the Campaign to End the Occupation is calling for divestment from those companies that are supporting the injustices perpetrated against the people of Palestine. In addition, we have noted that equipment from Motorola is being used by the Israeli Defense Forces for observation and communication. The main purpose is to separate the Israeli people from the Palestinian people and the Palestinian people from one another.

There is a need for international and United Nations engagement. We believe that something must be done about the wall; about the 1967 borders, which are closing in; about the increase in the number of political prisoners; about the fact that many Palestinians do not have freedom of movement; and about the fact that children are being subjected to terror by the Israeli security forces when they fly over areas such as Gaza, breaking the sound barrier and causing fear that is traumatizing many children in a situation that is desperate, as preceding speakers have said.

We want to encourage the United Nations to look at how international law can continue to be applied so that, one day, the people of the occupied territories of the West Bank can also celebrate freedom and be recognized in the communities of the world, as happened with us, the peoples of South Africa. We are grateful for that and, as civil organizations, recommit ourselves to a just peace and an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza. As I speak, our movement is growing and we thank the members of the Committee for giving us the opportunity to tell them about our activities.

Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine
to the United Nations

[Original: English]

Allow me, on behalf of the Palestinian people and their leadership, to thank you, Sir, and, through you, the members of the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for organizing the commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, as it has in previous years. I would also like to extend our gratitude to the Division for Palestinian Rights for all the things it does to make this commemoration the successful event that we all know.
Allow me also to express our thanks to all those who have attended this commemoration, spoke on this occasion and sent messages, statements and letters – of which there are about 50 so far, if my count is accurate – including Heads of State or Government, foreign ministers and international, regional and civil society organizations. We thank all of them.

We believe that the content of those messages, as well as this commemoration itself, gives our people strength to continue with our struggle with more determination to put an end to Israel’s occupation of all the land that it occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem; to establish our own Palestinian State on that land, with East Jerusalem as its capital; and to find a just and agreed upon solution to the refugee question on the basis of resolution 194 (III).

We thank the Committee again and we welcome this massive international support and the words that came from the minds and the hearts of everyone here, especially people such as the President of the General Assembly. These kind words resonate with us, the Palestinian people. With all this support, we hope that maybe next year or even sooner we will be celebrating the birth of the Palestinian State. I thank everyone very much.

I am sure that we have additional things to do this afternoon. We will begin the debate on the question of Palestine and this evening we have, I believe, an exhibit that we will all, hopefully, attend. It includes pictures of Palestine and, if I am not mistaken, there will also be a reception. We hope that all of our friends who are here and not here will be with us during the course of this debate and all of the activities today and tomorrow. Above all, we hope that they will show the resolve of the international community through massive support for our draft resolutions and continue to preserve the near-consensus that we enjoy in the support for those draft resolutions.
Closing statement by Paul Badji, Chairman of the Committee on the
Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People
[Original: French]

I thank the representative of Palestine for his words, which resonate in our hearts and minds. We thank him for all the work he carries out and his immeasurable contribution to the work of this Committee.

Before adjourning this solemn meeting, I would like to thank all of those who have contributed to the success of this event. I would, in particular, like to thank the officials of the Division for Palestinian Rights, the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management, the Department of Public Information, the Office of Central Support Services and all those working quietly and efficiently in the wings, not least among whom are the interpreters. The translators and the conference room officers also have our deep gratitude.

I would like to remind members that a Palestinian cultural exhibit, jointly organized by the Committee and the Observer Mission of Palestine, will be opened this evening at 6 p.m., as Ambassador Mansour just mentioned. It will be in the lobby of the General Assembly Building, by the visitors’ entrance. This year’s exhibit is entitled “The Palestinians: 60 years of struggle and enduring hope”. Everyone is invited to attend this event, which will be followed, of course, by a reception hosted by the Committee on this occasion.

At the end of this meeting, at 1 p.m., in the auditorium of Dag Hammarskjöld Library, everyone is invited to a film screening. The film is entitled The Earth Speaks Arabic. I have seen this movie and I recommend that no one pass up the opportunity to see this story told, as it will undoubtedly be an enjoyable experience.

I would like to close this meeting by thanking everyone for their active participation.


III.   MESSAGES RECEIVED ON THE OCCASION OF THE INTERNATIONAL
DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE

A.  Messages from Heads of State or Government
Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan

[Original: Farsi]
(Unofficial translation)

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I would like to express, on behalf of the Government and people of Afghanistan, our support for and solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Afghanistan expresses its great concern about the growing deterioration of the political, economic, social and humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian territory, resulting in great hardship for the Palestinian people.

We reiterate our firm position for the realization of the two-State solution with the establishment of a viable, independent, democratic Palestinian State, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.

Abdelaziz Bouteflika, President of Algeria

[Original: Arabic]

Every year on this day, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, upright and honourable people around the world express their support for a long-standing cause and their appreciation for a people that continues to suffer under an arrogant and tyrannical occupation that has stripped it of its land and left it fragmented. Part of that people lives in exile, sustained by dreams of returning to the homeland, while the rest is divided in its own homeland by checkpoints and barriers and subjected to racial discrimination.

The iniquitous Israeli occupation looms over the Palestinians no matter what they do. They have acted in accordance with international opinion. They have attended conferences and meetings around the world and have signed the resultant agreements and documents, including those of Oslo and Annapolis. They have agreed to the principle of land for peace, to an end to the blockade in exchange for a ceasefire, and have given credence to international pledges that their dreams would be realized through the declaration of a Palestinian State by the end of 2008, which is imminent.

Those dreams have been transformed into a nightmare for the imprisoned and abused inhabitants of Gaza, who are denied access to every border crossing and are dying a slow death, along with the world’s conscience.

The independent, sovereign and viable Palestinian State talked about by the sponsors of the peace process has not moved away from the world of ideas to become a reality. Israel wants that State to be a shadow of a state with its lines of communication cut, its land non-contiguous, scarred by Israeli settlements that will only create conflict and divided by separation walls that prevent Palestinian families from having contact with one another and hinder their movement. It wants that State to be disarmed and without sovereignty while Israel controls its access to the outside world and supervises its domestic and foreign policy. Such is the State that Israel wants for the Palestinians.

Peace in the Middle East will never be realized without the establishment of a Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital, a unitary and united State with all the components of sustainability, enjoying full sovereignty and exercising control over its resources and borders.

The peace which we all want will not be complete without the return of Arab lands stolen by the Israeli occupation, including the Syrian Golan Heights and the Shab`a farmlands and Kafr Shuba in South Lebanon.

We reiterate Algeria’s unwavering support for the Palestinian cause. I also reiterate our support for all good faith initiatives aimed at the establishment of an independent, sovereign Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital and the honourable and dignified return of the Palestinian refugees to their homes.

I would be remiss if I did not reiterate our gratitude and appreciation for efforts made by the United Nations to aid the Palestinian people in their struggle to reach a solution that ensures the restoration of their legitimate rights in accordance with internationally recognized resolutions.

King Hamad Bin Issa Al-Khalifa of the Kingdom of Bahrain

[Original: Arabic]

The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is observed every year on the anniversary of the adoption of General Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947 concerning the partition of Palestine. It represents international recognition of special responsibility for the historical injustice suffered by the Palestinian people and the justness of its cause. Since that day, the Palestinian people have suffered 50 years of unbroken brutal occupation of Palestinian land and a human, economic and social tragedy that is felt daily in lives weighed down by occupation, tyranny and siege.

The media and reports by international and humanitarian organizations have documented the suffering of the Palestinian people caused by the collective punishment inflicted daily by the Israeli occupation authorities in the form of a suffocating blockade, arbitrary arrests, destruction of homes, levelling of cultivated fields and the blockade of humanitarian aid, as well as the construction of the separation wall that has turned Palestinian territories into a series of isolated non-contiguous “cantons”. Such reports reflect the extent of Palestinian suffering, which includes increased mortality rates, caused by shortage of medications and lack of basic equipment at hospitals and clinics, electrical power outages in the Gaza Strip caused by Israel withholding fuel and continued construction of illegal settlements on Palestinian land. Those practices constitute flagrant violations of international agreements and international humanitarian law and, in particular, the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel bears responsibility for the consequences of that inhumane collective punishment and we call on the international community to intervene to put a stop to such inhumane practices.

Given the political landscape in the Middle East, the only way to establish security and stability in the region is to restore to the Palestinian people its inalienable rights, including the right to self-determination and the establishment of an independent State on their land with Jerusalem as its capital and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. That will come about only by bringing pressure to bear on Israel to comply with the relevant United Nations resolutions.

The Kingdom of Bahrain has long stressed the necessity of continuing the Middle East peace process and calls on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to continue peaceful efforts to reach a just and comprehensive peace agreement along the lines of the Annapolis understandings and based on the relevant internationally accepted terms of reference, above all United Nations resolutions, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Road Map. In this context, we express our unshakeable conviction that moving the Middle East peace process forward to the desired conclusion will require the leaders of the States in our region to demonstrate courage and wisdom to settle their peoples’ differences and conflicts in accordance with international legitimacy, create a climate conducive to ending the conflict in the region and enable its peoples to make progress towards comprehensive and just peace.

It gives us pleasure on this day to pay heartfelt tribute to the struggling Palestinian people and express the solidarity of the Government and people of the Kingdom of Bahrain with our Palestinian brothers. We reaffirm our commitment to achieving a peaceful, comprehensive and just resolution of the situation in the Middle East that will enable all its peoples to map out a promising future in which both present and future generations enjoy security, peace and prosperity.

Fakhruddin Ahmed, Chief Adviser (Prime Minister) of the Caretaker
Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

[Original: English]
On this International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People we reaffirm our commitment to supporting the just and legitimate struggle of the Palestinian People for self-determination and statehood. We have no doubt that the Palestinian people have been subjected to unfathomable injustice and flagrant violation of human rights for decades. Bangladesh remains resolute in condemning indiscriminate use of force by the aggressors against the Palestinian people.
 
         The Palestine crisis has been a sad episode in the history of mankind and it remains a source of contention and violence in the Middle East. Loss of innocent lives and immeasurable sufferings of an entire nation mark this crisis. We sadly observe that despite many peace initiatives, a free and independent homeland still remains illusive to the Palestinian people.
 
         The most significant and relevant aspect of the international community’s expression of solidarity with the Palestinian people is the fulfillment of their fundamental right to a homeland, free of foreign occupation. We hope that the parties concerned would be sincerely implementing the relevant United Nations General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, the Arab Peace Plan and the Middle East Road Map.
 
         On this auspicious day, we reiterate our demand that the international community take serious steps to alleviate the plight of the Palestinian people and bring the peace process back on track.

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, President of Brazil
[Original: English]
 On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Brazilian Government reiterates its firm commitment and support for the endeavours of the Palestinian people to fulfil their legitimate aspiration to self-determination.

        The Brazilian commitment to these objectives has been renewed in recent high-level visits of Brazilian authorities to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, as well as visits of Palestinian National Authority representatives to Brazil.

        The current situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is a matter of deep concern. The international community’s attention should be drawn in particular to the plight of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, who have been undergoing a prolonged humanitarian crisis. It is of utmost urgency for the parties involved in the peace process to find a solution to this issue.

         Brazil has expressed its condemnation of all acts of violence and all forms of terrorism which have already claimed too many innocent lives. We have also called upon the Israeli Government to cease all military operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories without delay.

         As a developing nation, home of millions of Arab immigrants, Brazil has offered its contribution to mitigate the Palestinian suffering through the provision of humanitarian assistance. We have also increased our cooperation with the Palestinian people in the last year, including a substantial financial contribution of US$10 million at the 2007 Paris Conference.
 
         A multidisciplinary Brazilian delegation on technical cooperation visited Ramallah last June. It identified as priority areas for cooperation the fields of health assistance, education and agriculture. Other areas in which technical cooperation can be provided include election management, social assistance and sports.

         In the spirit of burden-sharing, Brazil has received, at UNHCR’s urging, 108 Palestinian refugees who fled Iraq after the 2003 invasion and were living in the Rweished camp in the Jordanian desert. The resettlement operation in Brazil, in 2007, resulted in the complete closing of the camp and provided the refugees with an opportunity to rebuild their lives, while awaiting political conditions to exercise their right of return.

          As a participant in the Annapolis Conference, Brazil supported that initiative as a way to address all main issues on the path to a two-State solution. In spite of limited results reached, Annapolis was an opportunity to resume substantive dialogue between the parties. The momentum should not be lost. We welcome, in this sense, the continuing meetings between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.
 
         Positive developments in the region – the talks between Israel and Syria, the evolving stabilization of Lebanon, the truce in the Gaza Strip – demonstrate that difficulties can be overcome and the construction of a comprehensive peace can be achieved.

         A negotiated two-State solution can only be reached by urgently addressing the underlying causes of the conflict and through negotiation among all interested parties. It is the only way for a just and comprehensive agreement to ensure a lasting peace in the Middle East. The political process should take into account all relevant Security Council resolutions; the Quartet road map; the Madrid terms of reference; the principle of land for peace and the Arab Peace Initiative adopted by the League of Arab States Summit in March 2002 in Beirut. We oppose all actions intended to jeopardize the results of the negotiations on the final status of the international borders between Israel and the future state of Palestine.
 
         Brazil is fully committed to the creation of a free, democratic and economically viable Palestinian State, according to the legitimate aspirations of its people, living side by side in peace and security with the State of Israel, as established in Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002) and 1515 (2003), and within internationally recognized borders.

         Brazil strongly encourages all Palestinian political groups to pursue the path of dialogue with a view to strengthening the Palestinian institutions. Brazil is prepared to contribute to those efforts convinced that only mutual confidence can create a lasting basis for dialogue and cooperation among nations.

Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam

[Original: English]

I am pleased and honoured to send my very best wishes to all Palestinians on this International Day of Solidarity.

         The observance of this day continues to remind the international community of its obligation to assist the Palestinians and to support a permanent solution to the conflict that they have endured for over 60 years.
 
         It is also an anniversary that commemorates the suffering of the Palestinian people in their long struggle to regain their lost homeland.
 
         It involves, however, far more than a simple one-day tribute. Today it is central to a complex international process that has been undertaken to achieve a peaceful and lasting settlement of all matters relating to the State of Palestine.

         In this, the work of the Quartet in moving the peace process forward is extremely important in order to define and implement the two-State solution that is now the basis for negotiation.

         I give my full support to this process.

        At the same time, I deeply commend the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East in providing assistance to the most vulnerable of the Palestinian people for many years. I thank them for their commitment and dedication.
 
        My Government and the people of Brunei Darussalam join me in expressing our long-standing and continued solidarity with the Palestinian people in their just aspirations for peace and statehood.
Sergey Stanishev, Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria

[Original: English]

First of all allow me to express my gratitude for the opportunity to participate in the present forum  commemorating  the  International  Day  of  Solidarity  with  the  Palestinian People. I am convinced that such an event is a good opportunity for exchange of information, views and stands related to the solution of the Palestine question and the achievement of peace in the Middle East.

         The current situation in the Palestinian territories and the region as a whole shows that the time for tough decision-making is ripe. It is evident that armament and bombings in the name of peace are more of a hindrance to its achievement. The prosperity of all peoples living in this region cannot be deferred due to the lack of political will for a new approach towards the peaceful resolution of the conflict by means of negotiations. The security of the countries in the region is mutually binding. Israel’s security implies security for all its neighbouring Arab States; and vice versa, the security of the Arab States means security for the State of Israel.
 
        The Madrid Conference for Peace in the Middle East, which started in 1991, laid the foundations of the Arab-Israeli peace negotiations. A number of significant agreements were reached. They should undoubtedly be qualified as a victory of the moderate forces and the proponents of peace on both sides of the barricade. The first steps towards overcoming the lack of trust were taken. The gradual formation of a new climate in the Arab-Israeli relations began. However, if we are to be realistic, we must admit that this is by no means a smooth process. We still witness the ebbs and flows and at times a practical stalemate and bloodshed in this process. The difficult humanitarian situation in the Gaza strip is strongly disconcerting.
 
         Regardless of this, however, there is not and cannot be any alternative to attaining peace in the Middle East. More and more political leaders in the region are becoming aware of this fact. The question posed is not whether peace has a future but how it can be achieved. The politicians bear great responsibility – to find mutually acceptable solutions to the problem. Compromises are inevitable. They can no longer be deferred. The contrary would mean further destabilization of the region, which is not in the interest of either Israel or the Arab States and the Palestinian Authority.

         Peace in the region is feasible but as history has proved, the situation in the region is very dynamic and this historical chance might be passed up.
 
         The attaining of inter-Palestinian unity is one of the main challenges facing the Palestinian Authority and a chief prerequisite for continuing the peace negotiations with Israel. We express our sincere hope that President Mahmoud Abbas’ efforts, with the joint support of the Arab League and particularly countries like Egypt, Qatar and Jordan, will be crowned with success.
 
         The carrying on of the Palestine-Israeli negotiations can be guaranteed only by the adoption of three basic principles, namely: confirmation of Israel’s right of existence, alongside the right of existence of an independent and viable Palestinian State; the rejection of violence and terrorism; and recognition of the hitherto reached treaty obligations, including the road map, as the sole internationally recognized framework for the emergence of a viable, credible Palestinian State.

         The road that lies ahead of both countries will be long and arduous. The survival and future prosperity of the peoples in the region demand that it be trodden to the end.

         A vital part of the efforts for resolving the conflict is the Arab peace initiative, recognizing the right of existence of the State of Israel, within the framework of the formula “Peace for Land” and the normalization of the relations between the Arab States and Israel in exchange for Israel’s withdrawal from all Arab territories occupied in 1967.  For the first time in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the Arab States clearly demonstrated awareness of the existing reality and a readiness to promptly resolve the conflict with Israel. The peace process in the Middle East could acquire an irreversible pattern only after the signing of the Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty.

         As a country whose interests lie in the lasting improvement of the situation in the Middle East, Bulgaria strives to take part in the European Union’s efforts in creating a viable Palestine State. Now more than ever, the Palestinian Authority needs support in the setting up of its efficient security forces and establishing the rule of law. Bulgaria is making its modest contribution to this effect by undertaking the training of Palestinian police force staff in Sofia.

         Bulgaria stands for a comprehensive all-embracing, lasting and just solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict based on the relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly, President Bush’s initiative for the peaceful coexistence of both countries (Israel and Palestine), the Road Map that was endorsed by resolution 1515 of the United Nations Security Council.

         Despite the current stagnation in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the hope for a long-term resolution of the conflict is not just an illusion. According to a poll conducted recently by the Harry Truman Institute of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, about 81 per cent of the population in the occupied territories and 63 per cent of that in Israel support the signing of the Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty. This is a historical chance, which should not be passed up by the politicians.

Blaise Compaoré, President of Burkina Faso

[Original: English]
On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, allow me to express, on behalf of the Government of Burkina Faso and on my own behalf, my warmest congratulations and sincere encouragement as you strive to accomplish your mission.

Every year, the observance of this day offers all those who seek peace and justice the opportunity to renew their commitment to the exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

We continue to believe that only the creation of a Palestinian State within secure and internationally recognized borders will ensure a lasting settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and, consequently, comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

This day of commemoration should inspire the search for ways and means to effectively implement the relevant agreements signed voluntarily by Israelis and Palestinians.

We invite the parties concerned to show courage and mutual trust in order to create a spirit of dialogue – the only option to ensure stability in that region of the world.

True to its ideals of peace, justice and freedom and to the principle of peaceful coexistence between peoples, Burkina Faso supports the efforts of your Committee and of the international community as a whole, with a view to reaching a just, equitable and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

      
Wen Jiabao, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China

[Original: Chinese]
(Unofficial translation)
         On the occasion of the special commemorative meeting in observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I wish to express, on behalf of the Chinese Government, my warm congratulations.
 
         The Palestine question is the core of the Middle East issue. China firmly supports the restoration of the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people and supports the Middle East peace process. China hopes that Palestine and Israel will adhere to the road of peaceful negotiation and achieve the full establishment of an independent State of Palestine at an early date on the basis of relevant United Nations resolutions and the principle of land for peace, so as to realize the vision of two States, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace.

         An early settlement of the Palestine question is the pressing wish of the people of all countries in the Middle East, as well as the common aspiration of the international community. As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, China will continue to support the United Nations in playing an important role on the Middle East issue and will work together with the international community to make unremitting efforts in pursuit of the settlement of the Palestinian question and for peace, stability and development of the Middle East region.

Kim Yong Nam, President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s
Assembly of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

[Original: Korean]
(Unofficial translation)

[Addressed to the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine
Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian
Authority, Mahmoud Abbas]
On the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I extend firm solidarity to you and the friendly people of Palestine, struggling to regain legitimate national rights including the right to an independent State, with Al Quds as its capital.
 
         Today the Palestinian people are waging an unyielding struggle to accomplish the just cause in the face of continued aggression, blockade and expansion of settlements by Israel.
 
         I take this opportunity to express firm conviction that the just cause of your people to regain legitimate national rights and seek a fair solution to the Palestinian issue will win a sure victory.
Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt

[Original: Arabic]
 On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, it gives me pleasure to send you this message on behalf of the people and Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt. We reaffirm our complete solidarity with and support for the fraternal Palestinian people in its struggle to restore and exercise all its inalienable rights, foremost of which is the legitimate right to self-determination and to establish an independent, sovereign, viable Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital, on the basis of a two-State solution and in accordance with all relevant internationally agreed terms of reference, including United Nations Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, the principles of international law, the Madrid terms of reference and the Arab Peace Initiative. We similarly reaffirm our full support for regional and international efforts to realize the aspirations of the Palestinian people.

With regard to the goal of establishing an independent Palestinian State, we highly appreciate the efforts of your Committee and the unshakeable commitment it represents on the part of the international community to support efforts towards that lofty goal, help the Palestinian  people  to  regain  all  its  legitimate  inalienable  rights,  and  find  a  just  and permanent solution to the problem as part of a comprehensive and just solution to all aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

On this occasion, I should like to emphasize that the resolution of the Palestinian problem will require intensified international efforts to ensure agreement on the six final-status issues and translation of the Annapolis commitments into reality as soon as possible, thereby ensuring the establishment of an independent, viable Palestinian State and ushering in a comprehensive peace that includes full Israeli withdrawal to the borders of 4 June 1967 from all occupied Arab territory in Palestine, the Syrian Arab Republic and Lebanon.

We believe that the international community should work hand in hand with your Committee to ensure that Israel ends its illegal occupation and ceases its unlawful practices on occupied Palestinian land and, in particular, its constant targeting of defenceless Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, its intensified settlement activities, its continued construction of the separation wall and all its other violations of the principles of international law, international humanitarian law and the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

In closing, I should like to reaffirm Egypt’s firm commitment to continue working towards Palestinian national reconciliation and achieve permanent and comprehensive peace in the Middle East on the basis of international legitimacy and the principle of land for peace. We also reiterate our enduring support for the work of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and your efforts to mobilize international support for the restoration of those rights and the establishment of an independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital.

General Lansana Conté, President of the Republic of Guinea
[Original: French]
On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I would like to express, on behalf of the people and the Government of Guinea, our sincere appreciation for the work done by the Committee under your able leadership and to reiterate our full cooperation.

The people and the Government of Guinea are confident that, with the support of the international community, the courageous efforts led by the Palestinian people will contribute significantly to their welfare and to peace and stability in the region.

On behalf of the Government of Guinea, I would like to reaffirm our continued support of the Palestinian people and Government in their historic struggle for the creation of an independent Palestinian State living peacefully, side by side with Israel.

Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India

[Original: English]
On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, we reaffirm our abiding support to the friendly people of Palestine in their struggle for their homeland.  We salute their courage and sacrifice.
 
         We recall the highly successful State visit of the President of the Palestinian National Authority, His Excellency Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, to India in October this year. This visit provided us an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the Palestinian cause and to review the developments in the region. We were also happy to reaffirm our continuing desire to assist the Palestinian people in their efforts aimed at economic and social self-reliance.

         India has always supported a comprehensive, lasting and just settlement of the Palestinian issue through a negotiated solution leading to the creation of a sovereign, independent, viable and united State of Palestine living within secure and recognized borders, side by side at peace with Israel. We hope that the momentum created in 2007 and 2008 for finding such a solution will continue to be maintained.
 
I take this opportunity to convey my greetings and best wishes to the friendly people of Palestine.
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of the Republic of Indonesia

[Original: Indonesian]
(Unofficial translation)
On behalf of the people and the Government of Indonesia, I wish to send fraternal greetings to all our Palestinian brothers and sisters on this solemn occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
 
        As is the case every year, I am privileged to take this opportunity to reaffirm our unbending support of the Palestinian people and of their legitimate efforts to achieve self-determination and an independent and sovereign State of Palestine.

        This occasion is always a solemn one for us, to express how much we care about the Palestinian people and to stand behind them in order to rally our unwavering support for their cause.  

In this connection, I am pleased to inform that on 14 July 2008, Indonesia, together with South Africa, co-organized the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership (NAASP) Ministerial Conference on Capacity Building for Palestine in Jakarta. It was attended by representatives of 60 countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America.

       Together, those countries pledged to provide technical assistance to the benefit of well over 10,000 Palestinians. The capacity-building programme scheme is designed to provide technical skills and training for Palestinians, based on their needs assessment, in preparing for their self-governing State of Palestine.
 
        Nationally, Indonesia pledged training programmes for 1,000 Palestinians over the next five years.
 
        It is the hope of Indonesia that many other Governments will contribute to this cause. If we do, not only will Palestinians eventually enjoy the prize of peace, they will also enjoy the national development that will be needed to nurture and sustain it.

        It remains the strong belief of Indonesia that resolving the Palestinian question is crucial to resolving the other problems in the Middle East.
 
        We therefore encourage the parties concerned to the Annapolis Conference to work seriously on fulfilling the target date for the realization of its goals. Without strong commitment to achieving the Annapolis goals, the target date agreed upon will just pass by without any of the changes that Palestinians are waiting for.
 
         We encourage peace among Palestinians themselves and the continuation of confidence-building measures between the Palestinian Authority and the Government of Israel.

         We call on the international community, having put its hands on the plough of peace, not to look back until the prize is won.

         I also wish to reiterate the commitment of Indonesia to contributing to the achievement of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on relevant resolutions of the Security Council, including resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002) and 1515 (2003).
 
         On this observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I wish to reassure Palestinians of the enduring support of the Indonesia people.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
[Original: English]

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

“Oh God, hasten the reappearance of the expected Imam (Imam Al-Mahdi), and grant him success, happiness and victory, and help us to be among his true followers
and those who attest to his rightfulness.”
 
Without any doubt, the question of Palestine is one of the major problems of humanity after the Second World War. The occupation of the Palestinian territory from the view point of its root causes is something eccentric and unprecedented, and from the viewpoint of its content and form is so painful, considered as a human being’s tragedy that constitutes a dark page of our contemporary history.
 
         A part of the European continent was the spotlight of the Second World War, where almost 60 million people from different nationalities perished. But when the war was over, another country and nation in the Asian continent was victimized in the name of sympathizing with the families and relatives of certain victims of the war and compensating them. The victim was a country and a nation that is located thousands of kilometres away from the epicentre of the Second World War.  The common sense of humanity does not understand at all the rationality behind the justification for committing such a great crime.

         In this connection, certain rational questions can be raised. What is the relationship between the issue of some alleged victims of the Second World War and the Palestinian People? Assuming that such a tragedy happened; where did it happen and what linkages can be identified between the aforesaid tragedy and the Palestinian people and their respective territory? Therefore, the philosophy behind the occupation of Palestine is null and void in principle and consequently, there remains no reason for the continuation of the occupation of the Palestinian territory.
 
         The question is whether a 61-year-old record of depriving hundreds of thousands of people from residing in their own homeland, committing massacre, demolition of houses, imposing food and medicine embargo, abduction and imprisonment of civilian people, threatening the neighbouring countries, causing two wars in 1967 and 1973 as well as the 33-day war against Lebanon in 2006, assassination of civilians and political and religious figures and elites, breaching agreements, disregard of international protests and condemnations, blackmailing  Western countries, open and covert interferences in the political, economic as well as cultural affairs of other States, sowing the seeds of discord and all-out violations of human rights including the killing of children and women and destroying farms etc., is not sufficient enough for the international community to declare the Zionist occupiers as an illegitimate regime and bestow the people of Palestine their right to determine their own destiny through holding a general  referendum and sending the occupiers back to their own homes? In a similar manner, the opportunity also should be provided for the return of millions of the Palestinian refugees, the real owners and inhabitants of Palestine. This is the only way that the long-lasting oppression, an old wound on the body of humanity, would be brought to an end. There is no doubt that if some bullying powers were not behind the Zionist regime, today the land of Palestine would have returned to its real owners.

         The Zionist regime has disgraced all those powers which, on the one hand, claim to be advocates of democracy, freedom and human rights, and on the other hand, lay their unconditional support behind this regime. It is evident that the support for this regime means support for the occupation, massacre, assassination and violation of human rights. But it would not take long for the supporters of the Zionist regime who are accomplices in the crimes of this regime to stand trial and be chastised for these crimes.
 
         The Islamic Republic of Iran is alongside all other nations and States who support the Palestinian people and calls on all to support a final solution to end this immense historic tragedy: holding a general referendum with the participation of all Palestinians regardless of their religion and the place they live – either inside Occupied Palestine or outside this Territory – with the aim of enabling them to determine their desired system of Government and  put an end to this historical oppression.
 
        Oppression would not last long and on the basis of historical and divine traditions the oppressors are doomed to failure. The issue of Palestine is the distinguishing line between the oppressors and false claimers on the one hand and oppressed and enlightened free people of the world on the other. The world community would witness the collapse of the Zionist regime from within and the freedom of Palestine in the near future (Insha’Allah).

King Abdullah II Bin Al Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

[Original: English]
On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, we have the honour to express our thanks and our highest consideration for you and for your Committee, which has worked so earnestly to defend the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. We in Jordan believe that this day should be used to alert the international community about the plight of the Palestinians, who continue to live under occupation. Although deprived of its fundamental rights, the Palestinian people aspires to exercise its legitimate rights and, in particular, to establish an independent State on its national territory.

Over the past year, your distinguished Committee has continued to support efforts to establish peace in the region. It has persistently called on the international community to fulfil its duties and responsibilities by supporting the Palestinians, addressing their humanitarian plight and improving their difficult living conditions.

Coordinated efforts are required in order to ensure that the Palestinian people can enjoy its legitimate rights. As the world marks the International Day of Solidarity, the Palestinian people is living in tragic conditions because of the blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip, which prevents the entry of basic humanitarian aid.

We greatly value the Committee’s efforts to foster cooperation between the Governments and peoples of the world in addressing the issue of Palestine and to raise awareness of the enormity of the harsh economic and social conditions that the Palestinians endure.

It was an honour for my country to host the Committee’s round-table discussion earlier this year. The meeting sought to address challenges, remove obstacles to Palestinian economic development and garner international support to build and strengthen the Palestinian economy.

It goes without saying that by supporting and monitoring the rights of Palestine refugees, the Committee has played a significant part in keeping the issue at the forefront of the international community’s priorities. The United Nations International Conference on Palestine Refugees, which was held in Paris earlier this year, consolidated the United Nations valuable and effective role in that area. By marking the sixtieth anniversary of the Nakba and Palestinian diaspora, the Committee underlined the importance of finding a just and permanent solution to the Palestinian issue, which is one of the most long-standing crises on the agenda of the United Nations.

We believe that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict lies at the core of the unrest in the Middle East. If peace and security are to be achieved in the region as a whole, a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue must first be found. Every effort must therefore be made to back negotiations between the two sides. The two-State solution would fulfil the Palestinian people’s right to an independent State on its national territory, while also ensuring security and acceptance for Israel. It would lead to a just and comprehensive peace as called for by the Arab Peace Initiative.

We appreciate the manner in which the Committee has followed developments in the region and maintained a clear position, both through its programme of work and in forums such as the Security Council. We share your deep concern at the continuation of Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank and, in particular, in East Jerusalem. Such activities threaten bilateral negotiations and make the establishment of an independent Palestinian State less and less likely.

It should be stressed in this connection that the unilateral measures undertaken by Israel must cease. Settlement expansion must immediately be halted, checkpoints removed, border crossings opened, and travel restrictions on Palestinians lifted. Such measures  increase  tension  and  suffering  and  tighten the stranglehold on the Palestinian people. They do not help to create the conditions for tangible and substantive progress in the peace process.

In conclusion, we should like to wish you every success in the Committee’s work. We hope that the Committee will help to foster peace and security in the Middle East through the establishment of a just and permanent solution to the Palestinian issue. We look forward to working together towards that lofty goal.
Choummaly Sayasone, President of the Lao People's Democratic Republic
[Original: English]

As the world community commemorates the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic takes this opportunity to pay tribute to the oppressed people of Palestine and reiterate its consistent and firm support for the just and legitimate struggle they are waging to recover their inalienable rights, above all the right to self-determination and the establishment of a sovereign, independent State on Palestinian soil.

         This year’s observance coincides with the sixtieth year of Palestinian dispossession. This anniversary underlines the importance and urgency of finding a solution to the question of Palestine and of addressing the plight of the Palestinian refugees. In this regard, it is with grave concern to note that the continuing occupation of Palestine for more than four decades has become a permanent source of instability, violence and bloodshed in Palestine. The construction of the wall and the settlement activities undertaken at an accelerated pace by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories, especially in East Jerusalem and the West Bank since 2007 have further exacerbated the crisis.

        All of this has happened despite the commitments made pursuant to the Road Map and in spite of the outcome of the Annapolis Conference and in spite of the international resolutions which reaffirmed the illegality of the settlement activities and call on the Israeli occupation authorities to put an end to such activities and to dismantle the settlements that have been erected. Clearly, the increased settlement activity is threatening the vision of a two-State solution as enshrined in United Nations Security Council resolutions and other relevant United Nations resolutions.

         On this International Day of Solidarity, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic reaffirms its unwavering support for the cause of the Palestinian people to achieve their legitimate rights and for  a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the region to be achieved through implementation of the Quartet road map, which envisages a sovereign, independent, viable State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security with the State of Israel.

        Finally, the Lao PDR would like to take this auspicious occasion to extend its warmest regards and best wishes to all members of this august Committee for their devotion and hard work in accomplishing their tasks.

Michel Suleiman, President of Lebanon

[Original: Arabic]

On this day we look back at painful episodes in the history of the Palestinian people and the Arab world. We remember the Nakba and how the Palestinians were expelled from their land. Their suffering, which began at that point, has continued to the present day. This International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People comes at a time when their plight is increasingly difficult. Most of the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 remain under occupation. The occupying Power continues to engage in settlement activities. It is steadily encroaching on parts of Jerusalem, splitting the West Bank with the apartheid wall and checkpoints between quarters and villages. Israel continues to blockade and bomb the Gaza Strip, depriving its inhabitants of energy, electricity, water and basic necessities, and has imprisoned over 11,000 Palestinians.

On this occasion of solidarity, we should like to reiterate some fundamental Arab positions. First and foremost, Israel must withdraw from all of the Arab territories which it occupies. A Palestinian State must be established, with Jerusalem as its capital. The refugees must be allowed to return to their land and homes in accordance with international resolutions and their natural right to return and to live a life of dignity. We should like to stress once again the importance of Palestinian national unity, which is vital if the Palestinians are to continue their struggle and achieve their legitimate goals in the face of Israel’s plans. Joint Arab action is required in order to support the Palestinian people as it seeks to recover its rights.

We hope that silence on the plight of the Palestinians will be replaced with international consensus as to the justice of their cause and that the international community will make a serious commitment to bring pressure to bear on the occupying Power to comply with international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. That would be a first step towards a just, permanent and comprehensive solution to the Middle East crisis and the Palestinian issue. The Palestinian people could then exercise its legitimate national rights and, in particular, the right of return and the right to establish an independent State with full sovereignty over all of the territories occupied in 1967.

The international community and the United Nations must urgently seek justice for the unjustly treated Palestinian people, which has suffered and been in exile for so long, and for the other Arab peoples who have been affected by the Israeli occupation and its military operations that have for several decades created a state of insecurity throughout the region. Justice can be done by reviving the relevant peace initiatives, foremost among which is  the  Arab Peace Initiative that was approved unanimously by  the Arab leaders in Beirut in 2002. The Arab Peace Initiative is based on the Madrid terms of reference, the principle of land for peace and the return of refugees to their homes. It would lay the foundations for a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, a region whose people yearn for stability.
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Prime Minister of Malaysia
[Original: English]
I wish to express on behalf of the Government and people of Malaysia our sincere greetings to His Excellency Mahmoud Abbas, President of Palestine, and the people of Palestine on this International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
 
         The Annapolis Conference held in November last year brought a glimmer of hope for an end to the sufferings of the Palestinian people. But the situation in the Occupied Territories has continued to worsen. The unrelenting expansion of illegal Israeli settlements continues unabated. Even more grievous are the intensification of attacks on Palestinians by settlers. The Israeli authorities have failed to prevent or stop these attacks.
 
         The basic human rights of Palestinians on all fronts have deteriorated. Their rights to life, to live in dignity, adequate food, housing, health, education as well as freedom of movement have been severely threatened. The international community has a duty to work together towards the restoration of the rights and dignity of the Palestinian people.
 
         We should demonstrate particular concern about the impact that the occupation has on youth and children because they represent the future of Palestine. Crushing their hopes and dreams and violating their human rights and dignity will have serious repercussions on the prospect of realizing a durable peace in the Middle East.
 
         This persistent pattern of willful violations of international law and abuses of human rights by Israel is not consonant with the intention of a Government that has declared its commitment to achieving peace with Palestine and its Arab neighbours. The United Nations must send a clear and unequivocal message that the violations of international law by Israel and its actions against the Palestinian people cannot be tolerated.
 
         The most recent attacks on Gaza by the Israeli forces and the closing of all entry points into Gaza are a cause for great concern. Israel’s continued refusal to allow humanitarian assistance to be delivered into Gaza needs to be overcome in order to avoid a human catastrophe with disastrous consequences. Malaysia calls upon the international community, especially the United Nations Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly and the influential powers, to demonstrate their political will and pressure Israel to release its stranglehold on Gaza and to return to the negotiating table.

         There must be an urgent, peaceful solution to the situation regarding Palestine. The international community should not deny the Palestinians the support they need and the peace they deserve.

         I wish to pay tribute to all Palestinians in their just struggle to live free and in dignity in a State they can call their own. The Palestinian people can count on Malaysia’s strong support in their efforts to create an independent and sovereign State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital and in their quest to achieve a just solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees.

Modibo Sidibé, Prime Minister of the Republic of Mali

[Original: English]
On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I am pleased to transmit to you and to the Palestinian people, on behalf of the people of Mali and on my own behalf, my warmest greetings. I would like to take this opportunity to commend the Committee’s laudable efforts under your leadership and to reaffirm the continued support of the people and Government of the Republic of Mali for the just and noble cause of the Palestinian people for the establishment of an independent, sovereign Palestinian State.
General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, President of the Islamic
Republic of Mauritania

[Original: Arabic]
The leadership and people of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania stand shoulder to shoulder with the Palestinian people as it asserts its legitimate right to freedom and seeks, in accordance with the principles and resolutions of international law, to end the injustice and oppression that have been inflicted on it for 60 years.

The Palestinian people are being subjected to blockade, hunger and disease. Because of those shameful conditions, all people of good conscience must support the Palestinians in order to bring peace and security to the Middle East, a region that contains the most significant sources of tension in the world today.

In view of the importance of the region, the natural resources of which are vital to the world economy, a solution to the conflict would be of the utmost value in restoring stability and peace. A lengthy period of instability has impaired the region’s development and integration into the international economic system.

The leadership and people of Mauritania will continue to assert the principles and resolutions of international law, which clearly state that the Palestinians must be allowed to establish their own independent State with Jerusalem as its capital. We call upon all peace-loving States and parties to take prompt action in implementing the relevant United Nations resolutions.

Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius

[Original: English]
On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I wish to convey to you and the people of Palestine the best wishes of the Government and people of Mauritius. We also reaffirm our support for your legitimate quest for a sovereign and independent Palestinian State.
 
         We are convinced that a lasting and comprehensive settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is an essential step towards peace in the Middle East. As we celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is unacceptable that the Palestinian people are still denied of universally recognized human rights.
 
         Mauritius fully supports the creation of a Palestinian State, coexisting with the State of Israel within secure and recognized borders. We believe that the aspiration of the Palestinian people to statehood can only be realized through dialogue and negotiations. It is more than ever vital that all parties refrain from any action that could put in jeopardy the peace and progress achieved so painstakingly.

         The Quartet road map to Israeli-Palestinian peace and the Arab Peace Initiative remain the most promising avenues for advancing the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. The momentum generated by the Annapolis Conference, held November last, the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the ceasefire agreement in Gaza and the exchange of prisoners give us hope that a peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict may finally be reached.
 
         On this International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, we commend your constant commitment to advancing the peace process and reiterate our unwavering solidarity with the Palestinian people.
Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, President of Mexico

[Original: Spanish]
On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I should be grateful if you would convey to the Palestinian people this message of appreciation and friendship from the people and Government of Mexico. My Government continues to support the international community’s efforts to maintain dialogue and negotiation in the Middle East, in accordance with the road map and the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.

Mexico remains convinced that a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict can be found only through political dialogue between the parties. The solution must recognize the right to exist both of the State of Israel and of a politically and economically viable Palestinian State. Lasting peace can be established only if the peoples of both States live side by side within secure and internationally recognized borders, in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions, in particular resolutions 1397 (2002) and 1515 (2003).

In this spirit, the Government of Mexico wishes the Committee, under your chairmanship, every success in its activities.
King Mohammed VI of the Kingdom of Morocco

[Original: Arabic]

Praise be to God, Peace and Blessings be upon His Prophets and Messengers.
 
         On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, it gives me great pleasure to express my appreciation to all those who support the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, particularly their right to establish their independent State, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital, living side by side with the state of Israel, in peace, security and concord.

         The messages I have sent your esteemed Committee clearly show that the Palestinian question is one of the foremost priorities of the Kingdom of Morocco. My country has long been calling for justice for the Palestinian people who yearn, like all other peoples, for life with dignity in an independent homeland which reflects their identity as well as their cultural characteristics.

         I wish to avail myself of this opportunity to commend the praiseworthy action of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in support of this steadfast t people, who  long  for  freedom, independence  and stability. Thanks to its remarkable work, the Committee has always enjoyed the esteem and respect of peace-loving people across the globe.
 
         I should like to stress, in this regard, that the only way peoples in the region, including the Palestinians, can put an end to this protracted conflict is by striving to achieve peace. Accordingly, dialogue must prevail and the parties should return to the negotiating table, respect international legality and signed agreements, and respond positively to goodwill efforts and constructive initiatives, particularly the Arab peace initiative, which aims to achieve a lasting, comprehensive and final solution to the Middle East question.

         I wish, in this respect, to call on our Palestinian brothers to close ranks and to rise above all causes of dissent and division which impede the achievement of the strategic objective of setting up a democratic State. That is, indeed, the foremost objective and its achievement hinges upon unity and national reconciliation.

         As Chairman of the Al-Quds Committee, I shall continue to strive untiringly to support all efforts aimed at preserving the Arab and Islamic character as well as the cultural and historical features of Al-Quds Al-Sharif, a place for tolerance and coexistence between the revealed religions.

         I should like, on this occasion, to appeal to the international community and to donor States and institutions to continue to support the Palestinian people. We have to keep hope alive in the hearts and minds of Palestinians and to shore up their confidence in international legality so they may pursue their peaceful struggle and contribute to building strong national institutions which can rise to challenges, ensure life with dignity for all Palestinians and enable them to enjoy freedom, independence and sovereignty.
Hifikepunye Pohamba, President of the Republic of Namibia
[Original: English]
On behalf of the Government and the people of the Republic of Namibia, I would like to express our appreciation to Your Excellency, and through you, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, for organizing this commemorative International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

        The people of Namibia have followed with grave concern the ever deteriorating political and security situation in that region. In this connection, I wish to reiterate Namibia’s unwavering support and solidarity with the people of Palestine. We encourage the Palestinian people to persevere and carry on with the liberation struggle until their inalienable rights to self-determination have been realized, in keeping with relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly.

         As we restate our solidarity with the people of Palestine, we continue to support the full and unconditional implementation of the Road Map and the establishment of an independent and sovereign State of Palestine.
Daniel Ortega Saavedra, President of Nicaragua

[Original: Spanish]
Every year on this date, with renewed hope, the international community strengthens its call for a solution to the problem of Palestine, which is at the root of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and for the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

The Palestinian people yearn for peace and long to live in harmony with their neighbours as a free and independent State. This cannot be achieved as long as the Israeli occupation continues and the Palestinian people, who are putting up a heroic fight under very difficult conditions, are not able to exercise their legitimate ancestral rights and recover their occupied territories.

The unacceptable situation of our Palestinian brethren has become worse still since the illegal construction of the wall, which slices through Palestinian territory, isolates individual cantons and separates East Jerusalem from the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory, thereby creating serious physical, economic, cultural and social devastation.

Nicaragua believes that immediate measures must be taken to build trust so as to give a boost to negotiations between the parties and thereby make progress towards finally achieving a just peace based on the recognition and existence of two free and sovereign States.

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People plays an important role in this regard. Bearing in mind that the Palestinian people continue to need the support and active assistance of those who are committed to peace, the Government of Nicaragua has requested, and has received, full membership of the Committee.

My Government calls for a politically just solution to the Palestinian problem based on the various resolutions adopted by the United Nations, in particular the resolution that establishes the right of return of the Palestinian refugees and those that call for Israel to withdraw from the Arab territories occupied in 1967, in accordance with the principle of land for peace established at the Peace Conference on the Middle East held in Madrid and the Arab Peace Plan, which provides for the creation of an independent Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The Government of Reconciliation and National Unity and the people of Nicaragua support the Palestinian people’s just cause as a matter of principle and, together with the rest of the international community, believe it is necessary to step up international efforts aimed at finding a peaceful solution culminating in the creation of a Palestinian State. This is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.
Asif Ali Zardari, President of Pakistan

[Original: English]
On this International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, Pakistan shares the concerns of the international community about the continued suffering of the Palestinian People, who have been waiting for a long time for peace in their territory and realization of their right of self-determination. Although many initiatives have been taken by the international community in the recent past for establishment of durable peace in the Middle East, unfortunately and much to our disappointment, none has culminated in the resolution of the Palestinian problem.
 
         The lingering issue of Palestine has become a source of grave and persistent threat to international peace and security. Millions of Palestinians have been dispossessed of their homeland for over 60 years and have been denied their right to an independent State much in disregard of international law and United Nations resolutions. This has led to a major humanitarian crisis, thousands of deaths and widespread destruction, arousing frenzy and frustration and creating distrust and animosity.  Inability on the part of the international community to promote a just and durable solution has unfortunately allowed international law to be violated with impunity. Non-compliance and non-implementation of the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and the United Nations General Assembly have on the one hand eroded the prestige and standing of the United Nations bodies and on the other hand, added to the frustration of the Palestinians.

         Pakistan has a natural and historical affiliation with the cause of Palestine which is reflected in Pakistan’s active participation in all the initiatives taken for a just and lasting resolution of the problem, including the Annapolis Conference, the Paris Donors’ Conference and the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership Ministerial Conference on Capacity-Building for Palestine. Pakistan has a deep commitment to a just, peaceful and lasting settlement of the issue. The framework for such a solution already exists in the relevant United Nations resolutions, the Quartet’s Road Map, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Annapolis Conference recommendations.

         On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Government and people of Pakistan reiterate their commitment to support their Palestinian brethren in their struggle till the establishment of an independent, viable and sovereign State of Palestine with pre-1967 borders and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Philippines

[Original: English]
On behalf of the Philippine Government and the Filipino people, I am pleased to extend my felicitations to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People on the occasion of the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on 24 November 2008.

The Philippines has always hoped to see a Palestinian State coexisting in peace and security with her neighbours.  This is the reason behind our continued and staunch support for all United Nations initiatives aimed at finding a just, durable and peaceful resolution of the Middle East conflict, most especially, the revival of the peace process.

The Philippines would like, once again, to call on all parties involved to find common ground and to work together to attain the aspirations for peace of the Palestinian people.  We wish to see the day when the Palestinian people could live freely and happily in a State they could call their own in peace and harmony with their neighbours.

Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar

[Original: Arabic]

In the name of God the merciful and compassionate

I should like to express our gratitude and appreciation to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for organizing this observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. I hereby reaffirm the solidarity of our Government and people with the Palestinian people in its legitimate struggle, as well as our commitment to continue our support for that just cause until it is resolved in all its aspects, which will entail the end of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, and the establishment of an independent Palestinian State alongside the State of Israel.

Conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and, in particular, the Gaza Strip, have considerably deteriorated. Israel, the occupying power, persists in its violations of international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention and the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the separation wall, that contradict the spirit and objectives of the peace process.

Israel continues its illegal settlement campaign in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, with a view to altering the demographic composition of the Palestinian   territories   occupied   since  1967  and   hindering   the   establishment   of   a geographically contiguous Palestinian State. It has imposed a blockade and harsh restrictions on the free movement of people and goods between the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. It has destroyed the geographic contiguity, integrity and unity of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip by setting up barriers, checkpoints and roadblocks. It has increased its military attacks, incursions and air raids against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and, in particular, the Gaza Strip, which Israel continues to blockade by closing border crossings.

The November 2007 Annapolis Conference offered a fresh opportunity for direct negotiations between the Palestinian National Authority and Israel and for the two sides to agree on action to achieve a two-State solution by the end of 2008. We hope that the new United States administration will redouble its efforts and that the resulting political initiative will produce tangible results towards the exercise by the Palestinian people of its legitimate rights to self-determination, freedom and independence.

Finally, the State of Qatar has repeatedly expressed its support for peace in the Middle East as a strategic choice based on the Madrid terms of reference, the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Road Map, and it emphasizes that peace and security in the region can only be achieved with the end of Israeli occupation of all Arab Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese territory, and the establishment of an independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital.

Abdoulaye Wade, President of the Republic of Senegal

[Original: French]
On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I would like to once again state my unwavering support for the just cause of the Palestinian people in their legitimate quest for a sovereign, viable State, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Besides being a tradition, this day serves as a reminder to our Committee and to the international community as a whole of our duty to support the Palestinian people without fail until its noble objective has been realized.

The freedom and right to a separate and recognized existence are inherent to a people’s destiny.

In spite of trials and tribulations, and obstacles on the path to peace, a people’s destiny will always be fulfilled. And so it will be with Palestine.

This is why, while welcoming the commitment and leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas, I once again urge all the constituents of the Palestinian people, especially Fatah and Hamas, towards national reconciliation and true unity around a common ideal: the creation of the State of Palestine, which we so sincerely desire.

In its dual role as Chair of this Committee and of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Senegal remains prepared to support national reconciliation efforts in Palestine.

I would again call on the State of Israel, as the occupying Power, to observe international humanitarian law in the occupied territories and to renounce its policy of fait accompli, including evictions of Palestinian families, closures and illegal settlements.

Violence in any form, carried out by anyone for any reason, cannot resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Only the path of negotiation can end this long and painful human tragedy and lead to the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian State, peacefully coexisting with the State of Israel, within secure and internationally recognized borders.

In that vein, I reiterate the appeal I made in Dakar at the Islamic Summit Conference for a negotiated, lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I would like to reiterate to Palestinian and Israeli leaders that I am prepared to do my part to achieve that objective.

I formally ask the development partners to continue providing financial support to the Palestinian Authority to help it deal with the enormous economic, humanitarian and security challenges it currently faces.

Likewise, the international community must pursue the peace process through the Quartet, on the basis of the Annapolis process and the Arab Peace Initiative.

In reaffirming our Committee’s unswerving support for the Palestinian people, I strongly hope that, before the next International Day of Solidarity, we will witness, with relief and joy, the full exercise of its inalienable rights over the land of Palestine.
Kgalema Motlanthe, President of the Republic of South Africa

[Original: English]
On behalf of the people of South Africa, I extend warm greetings to all Palestinians and to the Palestinian leadership on this occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

         Correctly, this is the day on which world attention is focused on the Middle East peace process.

         Accordingly, we believe that this day should not just make us pause and think about the Palestinian struggle, but that, after this reflection, it should enable all peace-loving nations to move with speed towards the resolution of the Middle East conflict.

         As we gather today to contemplate the question of Palestine, and whilst the international community is increasingly focusing on the growing threat of global terrorism, Palestinians have become less secure and less free in their own cities and villages.

        On this day, South Africa joins the international community in reaffirming our commitment to the Palestinian people and their struggle for liberation and self-determination.
 
        The South African people have stood steadfast in their support for the rights of the Palestinian people to have a State of their own.
 
         Our Government has consistently supported the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in line with the will of the international community, as embodied in resolutions such as United Nations resolutions 242, 338, 465, 681, 1397 and 1515.

         We reiterate the call for an end to the collective punishment of ordinary Palestinians in Gaza and we join the international community in urging Israel to abandon all settlement activities and the construction of the separation wall, as well as security checkpoints in the West Bank.

         Nothing can justify the suffering of innocent men, women and children, 70 per cent of whom today live below the poverty line.

         It is our hope that a negotiated settlement could be forged in which Palestinians and Israelis each have their own State and live together in peace as neighbours.

          The entire Palestinian leadership must work tirelessly for unity and rally the people behind a common programme for a peaceful and prosperous Palestine, living in peace with its neighbours inside internationally recognized borders.
 
         It is abundantly clear that only a united leadership can at once bring the aspirations of the people of Palestine to fruition and engage Israel in a manner which addresses her security concerns.

         The humanitarian crisis in Palestine weighs heavily on our conscience – peace is desperately urgent.
Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

[Original: English]
This year’s observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestine People is of special significance as the year 2008 marks 60 years of Palestine dispossession. The people and the Government of Sri Lanka recall this event with profound sadness.

         My association with the cause of the Palestinian people dates back to over 30 years. I am deeply concerned at the continued suffering of the Palestinian people and the deteriorating situation in the occupied territories over the last four decades.

         On behalf of the people and the Government of Sri Lanka, I wish to reaffirm our unequivocal support for the people and the Government of Palestine to achieve their inalienable rights, including the right to Statehood, and to convey our sincere good wishes for their well-being. The recent visit of His Excellency Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority to Sri Lanka, provided us with an opportunity to further strengthen our solidarity with the Palestinian people.
 
         I hope that the ongoing efforts of the international community will enable the continuation of the political dialogue between the parties leading to the achievement of a two-State solution, Palestine and Israel living side by side, within internationally recognized borders.

Somchai Wongsawat, Prime Minister of Thailand

[Original: English]

The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People offers the international community a chance to reflect on the question of Palestine and to express their goodwill and support to the Palestinian people who have endured suffering for decades.

         On behalf of the Royal Thai Government and the people of the Kingdom of Thailand, I wish to encourage all parties concerned not to give up hope of achieving peace. I believe that peace, in itself, is both a means and an end, and only through the peaceful means based on United Nations resolutions, the Quartet’s Road Map and the Arab Peace Initiative that the freedom and inalienable rights of the Palestinian people can be restored. The Middle East conflict is a complex and deep-rooted issue that needs time and the efforts of all parties concerned.

         On this solemn occasion, I wish to reaffirm Thailand’s solidarity with the international community in supporting the rights of the people of Palestine to self-determination and the legal right to their homeland. Hope must never be abandoned because as long as we do not lose hope, there is always a way to achieve peace, and that is when all our efforts would bear fruit.
Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, President of Tunisia
[Original: Arabic]

As Tunisia, along with the other peace-loving nations of the world, observes the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, it affirms its faith in the values of truth and justice and its commitment to internationally recognized instruments and the principles of international law. It reiterates its steadfast support for the valiant Palestinian people and its complete solidarity with it in its legitimate struggle to regain its national rights, establish an independent State and achieve its aspirations to live in security, peace and stability.

Tunisia commends the initiative taken by the United Nations with the aim of drawing the attention of the international community to the suffering of the fraternal Palestinian people and encouraging the relevant parties to make an effective contribution to the ending of that suffering. It expresses its concern over the continuation by the Israeli authorities of its settlement policies in Palestinian territory and its inflammatory measures against the Palestinian people.

Tunisia stresses that such practices impede negotiations and undermine regional peace and stability. It calls on the international parties to make every effort to induce Israel to remove the obstacles that are preventing the resumption of the peace process. It calls on the international community and, in particular, the influential parties and the Quartet, to intensify their efforts to advance the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, with a view to ensuring a just, comprehensive and permanent solution to the Palestinian problem that is based on international legitimacy, the relevant Security Council resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative.

Tunisia is committed to peace as a strategic choice. In keeping with its steadfast support for the just Palestinian cause, it reiterates its call to the United Nations and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People to follow up their efforts and intensify their noble work to translate those rights into reality, in order to enable the Palestinian people to realize their legitimate aspirations to freedom and dignity.

Tunisia affirms its commitment to continue working for the success of all efforts and initiatives aimed at achieving a just and comprehensive resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict that ensures security and stability for the entire Middle East.
Abdullah Gül, President of Turkey

[Original: Turkish]
(Unofficial translation)
On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I wish to reaffirm our support on behalf of the Turkish people for the just cause and legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people and express our appreciation for the efforts of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in pursuance of this aim.
 
         The retrieval by the Palestinian people of their inalienable rights and the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are a prerequisite for the establishment of a longed-for atmosphere of peace, tranquility and stability in the Middle East.
 
        Turkey has long been supporting actively the efforts towards a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. Our country is of the view that the only viable way forward is to keep the peace process alive on the basis of two States living side by side in peace and within secure and recognized borders as stipulated in the Road Map, Arab Peace Initiative and the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.

         In this vein, Turkey is also determined to maintain, in the period ahead, its material, moral and political support to help our Palestinian brothers overcome the dire conditions and distress they currently face.

         In the light of the work of your Committee, while underlining, once again, the continuation of our support for the just cause of Palestine and our solidarity with the Palestinian people, I would like to reiterate my sincere wishes for the well-being and prosperity of the Palestinian People.

Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates

[Original: Arabic]

On behalf of the Government and people of the United Arab Emirates, I have the honour to assure you and your distinguished Committee of our gratitude and deep appreciation for your principled positions and earnest efforts. You have worked to raise international awareness of developments in the Palestinian issue, including the dangers posed by Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories and by its blatant violations of the Palestinians’ human rights.

This year, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People coincides with the sixtieth anniversary of the Nakba, the occupation of Palestine and the expulsion of  the Palestinians  in 1948.  For  the  past  six  decades, the  Palestinian people have been subjected to war crimes of every sort. Year after year, the Israeli occupation forces have perpetrated human rights violations that fly in the face of all of their obligations under international law, United Nations resolutions and international humanitarian law.

The Annapolis conference that was held in November 2007 created international political momentum. There were high hopes that the resumption of Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations would lead to an agreement on the outstanding final status issues and pave the way for the establishment of a Palestinian State before the end of 2008. However, our hopes and those of the international community were soon dashed. Because of the prevarication and bad faith shown in the course of the year by the Government of Israel, the occupying Power, negotiations stalled. The Government of Israel intensified its military operations in the air and on land in the Palestinian territories. It carried out attacks and abuses of every sort in Palestinian towns and villages. In particular, it has since July 2006, and in full view of the world, imposed a fuel, food and medicine blockade on the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip. Such closures, restrictions and starvation constitute the worst form of collective punishment. Most importantly, the Government of Israel has persisted in its systematic campaign of destroying homes, property and vital infrastructure. It has confiscated Palestinian land while expanding settlements and the roads connecting them. In the West Bank, the construction of the Separation Wall has continued. The city of Jerusalem is being cut off, in order to destroy the territorial contiguity of the Palestinian nation and change the legal and political situation on the ground, thereby unilaterally determining boundaries within the territories occupied in 1967. In so doing, Israel is completely ignoring all the relevant United Nations resolutions, as well as bilateral agreements with the Palestinian side which are grounded in international law.

We in the United Arab Emirates are disappointed that the international community has remained silent and ineffectual. We believe that Israel’s policies and practices reflect its underlying aggressive intentions at the regional level. Indeed, they constitute one of the main reasons for the continuation of the Arab-Israeli conflict to the present day. We should like to stress two points: that Israel should withdraw from all the Palestinian and Arab territories that it has occupied since 1967, and that an independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital should be established on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative and the vision of the Road Map. We believe that these two factors are fundamental for a just, comprehensive and permanent solution in the Middle East. We therefore request the international community, and in particular the Quartet, to exert every available form of effective pressure on Israel to withdraw immediately from all of the territories it occupies, and cease its glaring violations of international law and resolutions. Israel must also put an end to its violations of the human rights of Palestinians, which contravene the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (1949).

We should also like to insist once again that the Security Council and other parties concerned must take swift action to create an effective mechanism to remove all of Israel’s restrictions on the movements of the Palestinian people and grant them the necessary protection. That protection should  include  complete  and unconditional  access to all such basic necessities as food, medicine and fuel. If the international community continues to ignore the deteriorating humanitarian, social and economic situation of the Palestinian people, the resulting frustration and despair will lead to greater violence, instability, tension and insecurity not only in the Palestinian territories but in the region as a whole.

In conclusion, we should like on this anniversary to reiterate our complete and continuing support for the Palestinian people’s struggle for its national rights, including the right to self-determination. We call on the international community, and in particular donor States and other active States, to redouble their support and their economic, development and emergency assistance to the Palestinian people and its national Government. In so doing, they can make it possible to rebuild the institutions and the economic, social and security infrastructure that have been destroyed. Such assistance will alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians, which has steadily increased, and enable them to enjoy all their fundamental rights, including the right to a life of dignity.

Nguyen Minh Triet, President of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam

[Original: Vietnamese)
(Unofficial translation)

On  the  occasion  of  the  International  Day  of  Solidarity  with  the Palestinian People  on 24 November, I would like to extend to Your Excellencies, and through Your Excellencies to the Palestinian people, greetings of solidarity and warmest congratulations.

         Viet Nam has consistently supported the just cause of the struggle of the Palestinian people for their inalienable rights. Viet Nam is of the view that the Arab-Israeli conflict, of which the Palestinian question is the nucleus, can only be solved through peaceful negotiations aimed at a comprehensive and just solution on the basis of respecting the legitimate interests of all parties concerned, especially the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to establish an independent State of Palestine in their homeland. Viet Nam supports the regional and international efforts that will bring the Middle East peace process forward and urges the parties concerned to work together to realize the achieved agreements, thus contributing to peace and stability in the region.

         On this occasion, the Vietnamese Government and people reaffirm the strong support for the just cause and the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people. We firmly believe that the struggle of the Palestinian people, with the strong support of the international community, will achieve full victory.
Ali Abdullah Saleh, President of the Republic of Yemen

[Original: Arabic]
I have the honour to address you on this momentous annual occasion, which is replete with the lofty political, moral and human dimensions that have prompted the Organization, since its inception, to support the struggles of oppressed peoples and their aspirations for freedom, independence and peace. One such group is the Palestinian people, which has suffered injustice and oppression for some 60 years as a result of the continuing occupation and the inhumane practices used by the Government of Israel against that people. Those practices include economic embargo, starvation, the division and confiscation of land, the destruction of homes and the construction of the apartheid wall in full view of the world, all of which affirm that the Government of Israel has no regard for international norms and treaties. Israel has ignored internationally binding United Nations resolutions and, in particular, Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).

The horrific practices to which the defenceless Palestinian people is subjected under Israeli occupation demonstrate pointedly that the peace process, and regional and international efforts to implement the Road Map, lie in tatters. Whether at the level of States, organizations or other agencies, the international community must fulfil its duties and responsibilities by lifting that burden from the Palestinian people. The Palestinians must be allowed to enjoy freedom and self-determination alongside the other peoples of the world. Such freedom is enshrined in the revealed religions, international conventions and human rights principles.

The Republic of Yemen takes this opportunity to salute the stalwart heroism of the Palestinian people in confronting the State terrorism of the Israeli Government. We reiterate our complete support for the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people against Israeli occupation and for their rights, freedom and independence; for the establishment of a Palestinian State on the national territory with Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with Security Council resolution 242 (1967); and for the right of return of all Palestine refugees in accordance with General Assembly resolution 194 (III).

We also call on the United Nations and the international community and, in particular, the members of the Security Council, to assume their responsibility to end Israel’s obduracy. They should exert pressure on Israel to comply with and implement all relevant international resolutions, agreements and understandings, the most recent of which was the Road Map. A just and comprehensive peace could thus be achieved in the Middle East, ending a lengthy period of conflict. The peoples of the region could then enjoy peace, security and prosperity, free from hatred and wars.

We hope that the forthcoming Middle East peace conference will mark a genuine turning point towards the establishment of a just and comprehensive peace in the region. We also hope that the United States of America, as the principal sponsor of the peace process, and the other parties, including the United Nations, will act with transparency and impartiality. Those actors should exert pressure on the Government of Israel to comply with its obligations and implement all the relevant international resolutions and agreements in a timely manner and without delay.

In conclusion, I am confident that the United Nations, an Organization founded on the principles of justice and fairness, will live up to its responsibility and enable the Palestinian people to gain its freedom and legitimate rights. We hope that the Organization will act promptly to lift the unjust Israeli blockade that has been imposed on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, the effects of which have been so far-reaching.

Message from a Government
Republic of Guyana

[Original: English]

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Government and people of Guyana wish to reiterate their solidarity with the people of Palestine in their just struggle for the full realization of their inalienable rights, including their right to a homeland of their own and to peacefully exist in an independent State.

         Guyana remains convinced that with goodwill, resolve and mutual respect a solution to the question of Palestine is possible. Guyana especially calls on both Israel and Palestine to redouble their efforts to pursue through peaceful means negotiations for a mutually beneficial settlement of this long-lasting conflict.

         Guyana remains fully supportive of the cause of the Palestinian people and, as a member of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, will continue to support all efforts towards a definitive solution to this issue.


C.  Messages from Ministers for Foreign Affairs

Phandu T.C. Skelemani, Minister  for Foreign Affairs and International
Cooperation of Botswana
[Original: English]
On the auspicious occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, it gives me pleasure to convey on behalf of the Government and the people of the Republic of Botswana and on my own behalf this message of solidarity. I wish to reaffirm my Government’s unwavering commitment to the attainment by the Palestinian people of their inalienable right to se1f-determination as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and in the various relevant General Assembly resolutions. The Palestinian people have indeed been denied their basic right to live in dignity, stability and security for a long time.
 
         The question of Palestine, as well as the situation in the Middle East as a whole remains a source of great concern to the international community. We believe that the United Nations Security Council, as the custodian of international peace and security, should do everything in its power to find a durable solution to this long-standing dispute which poses a threat to international peace and security.

         My Government remains committed to supporting the international community’s efforts to peacefully and amicably resolve the conflict in the Middle East.

Adriana Mejía Hernández, Deputy Minster for Multilateral  Affairs of Colombia

[Original: Spanish]
On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, in accordance with the provisions of General Assembly resolution 32/40 B (1977) and by virtue of the ties of friendship and cooperation that exist between our peoples and Governments, allow me to reiterate to you the Republic of Colombia’s solidarity with the Palestinian people and their leaders.

Colombia hopes that the observance of this symbolic day will serve as a reminder that dialogue is the best way to ensure harmony in the region.

I wish to take this opportunity to reaffirm Colombia’s commitment to finding a just, lasting and peaceful solution to the conflict in the Middle East, one that will allow all peoples and States in the region to live in peace within safe and internationally recognized borders and enable the Palestinian people to exercise their rights and achieve economic and social well-being.

Hirofumi Nakasone, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan

[Original: Japanese]
(Unofficial translation)
On behalf of the Government of Japan, I would like to express my sincere congratulations on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
 
        Although the outlook for the Middle East peace process remains unclear, I hope that the peace negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides will continue, building upon the outcomes that have been achieved up to this point. I believe that the international community must make maximum efforts to realize the creation of a viable Palestinian State which can live in peaceful coexistence and mutual prosperity with Israel.
 
         Based upon this view, Japan will make further active and constructive efforts to contribute to the peace process. Japan, as a major donor country over many years, will continue to extend assistance to the Palestinian people. We are steadily implementing the assistance totalling $150 million announced last December. With regard to the “corridor for peace and prosperity” initiative, a mid- and long-term effort for economic development through regional cooperation in the Jordan River Rift Valley, Japan is firmly committed to advance the project through close cooperation among the four parties of Palestine, Israel, Jordan and Japan.
 
         Japan will actively engage in the international efforts to reduce tension, restore and maintain stability and create a spirit of cooperation in the region, in order to achieve a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East.

         Japan will assume a non-permanent membership of the Security Council from next January. We are determined to take the opportunity to address in a more proactive manner various issues which have significant impact on international peace and security, including the issue of the Middle East peace process.

Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgham, Secretary of the General People’s
Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Coopertion
of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
[Original: English]
Today, the world marks the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, an event established by the General Assembly in 1977. Yet every day, the Israeli entity perpetrates grave violations of the rights of the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, including killings, imprisonments, torture and house demolitions. The blockade  that  has been  imposed on  the Gaza  Strip for over  a  year has compounded the tragedy and suffering of the Palestinian people. The shortage of medicine, health services and fuel may lead to a humanitarian disaster.

We in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya strongly condemn Israeli actions against the Palestinian people, who face the Israeli destruction machine alone. Such actions are a violation of international law. We believe that the continuation of repressive policies will only cause further complications and lead to an escalation of violence in the region.

We should like to take this opportunity to commend the staunch determination of the Palestinian people in confronting occupation. We call upon the international community to play its part in supporting that people’s legitimate struggle for its rights.

Joint international efforts are required in order to put an end to the Palestinian tragedy. Pressure must be brought to bear on the Israeli entity to end the policies of repression, killing, terrorism, abuse and blockade to which the Palestinians are subjected. The world has looked on with deep concern as Israeli measures aimed at the complete removal of the Palestinian presence have gathered momentum. In the latest of those steps, Israeli bulldozers brutally dug up and razed the Islamic cemetery of Ma’man Allah. The site is intended for the construction of a so-called museum of tolerance, a strange and paradoxical contradiction between the name and what it denotes. In the same way, the Israeli authorities decided to confiscate the homes and property of Palestinian citizens in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, in central Jerusalem. Their intention is to expand West Jerusalem at the expense of East Jerusalem and to divide Arab quarters in the city. The occupying Power continues to dig tunnels under Islamic and Christian holy sites, particularly in the area of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The crimes committed every day by the Israeli authorities against the defenceless Palestinian people constitute collective punishment, war crimes and crimes against humanity. They violate international humanitarian practices and conventions. The perpetrators should be tried before international courts and given the harshest sentences.

As we mark the International Day of Solidarity, we urgently call on all people of conscience to stand alongside the steadfast Palestinian people as it struggles to recover its rights and land. We are convinced that the regional conflict requires the solution given in our leader Muammar Al-Qadhafi’s White Book. A single democratic State should be established in which Christians, Muslims and Jews can live in security, peace and prosperity, with equal rights and duties.

Walid Al-Moualem, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Syrian Arab Republic
[Original: Arabic]

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestine People, it gives me pleasure to express our profound appreciation for the role that you and your esteemed Committee play in organizing this important annual international event, which reminds the international community of the tragedy of a people which is held hostage and has been subjected to unremitting oppression, violence and terrorism by the Israeli State, and systematic death and destruction at the hands of the Israeli occupation authorities for 60 years.

We value highly your sincere efforts in solidarity with the Palestinian people in its struggle to regain its legitimate national rights, including its right to self-determination and to establish an independent State on its national soil with Jerusalem as its capital, and the right of return in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions.

As we observe the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestine People, the Israeli occupation authorities continue to perpetrate all kinds of unprecedented crimes against this people. They have seen fit to target places of worship, schools and peaceful homes. They have broken all bounds in respect of the appropriation and devastation of land, murder of hundreds of Palestinian women, ageing persons and children and destruction of infrastructure. Their brutal siege of the Gaza Strip denies its inhabitants access to necessary food, medicine and fuel. Over 200 people have died because they were unable to obtain medical care in the Strip and were not allowed to travel abroad for treatment. Israel’s barbaric practices have also resulted in the deaths or arrests of elected Palestinian leaders in flagrant disregard for international law and norms. Israel continues to detain over 11,000 Palestinian prisoners.

Those Israeli practices continue and grow ever more vicious under the cover of support for Israel from certain States on such specious pretexts as self-defence or the so-called struggle against global terrorism. It is particularly regrettable that, largely because of pressure exerted by the current United States administration, the Security Council has been unable to adopt a draft resolution that is supported by many United Nations States Members and calls for an end to the settlement building on occupied Palestinian territory and, in particular, Jerusalem, which effectively deprives Palestinians of sufficient land for the establishment of a viable State.

Israel has also flouted over 600 resolutions adopted by the United Nations and its various agencies which demand that it should withdraw from occupied Arab lands in order to establish a just and comprehensive peace in the region. Israel continues to construct the racist separation wall and encroach on other people’s land, implementing a policy of fait accompli in disregard of internationally recognized resolutions.  As a result, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have become huge prisons where the most basic requirements of daily life are lacking and the norms of human dignity do not apply.

The Syrian Arab Republic has always believed and continues to believe that a just and comprehensive peace is possible if Israel complies with United Nations resolutions and, in particular, Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), as well as resolution 497 (1981) concerning the occupied Syrian Golan; if the peace process that began in Madrid in 1991 is revived; and if the Arab Peace Initiative, adopted by the Arab Summit in Beirut in 2002 and reaffirmed by subsequent Arab Summits, most recently the Damascus Summit of March 2008, is accepted.

Permit us to use your podium to call on the international parties community to shoulder its responsibility towards the Palestinian people and the peace-loving peoples of the world, and to act in earnest to stop the Israeli machine of oppression, destruction and terrorism and its violations of all international agreements and norms.

We highly appreciate the efforts of your Committee and call on you to continue your support for the Palestinian people in its struggle to liberate its land and regain all its rights, including the right of return, and we assure you that the Syrian Arab Republic will be forthcoming with any support necessary to enable you to carry out that noble task.

D.  Messages from intergovernmental organizations having received a standing invitation
   to participate as observers in the sessions and the work of the General Assembly
  and maintaining permanent offices at Headquarters
European Union
[Original: English]
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilization and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Armenia, align themselves with this declaration.
 
         On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the European Union would like to reaffirm its commitment to a solution set out in the Road Map and approved by both parties to create an independent, viable, sovereign and democratic Palestinian State, living in peace and security side by side with Israel and its other neighbours.
 
         The European Union welcomes the efforts of both parties to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of United Nations Security Council resolutions 242, 338, 1397 and 1515, as well as on the “land for peace” principle and on the previous understandings reached between both parties.
 
         From that perspective, the European Union underscores the importance of the negotiating process started in Annapolis. It also reiterates the involvement of regional and international partners for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace solution in the Middle East. The European Union lends its full support to the ongoing negotiations process and invites the parties to maintain constructive dialogue so as to reach a solution that is acceptable to everyone, as soon as possible.

         To consolidate the progress achieved so far, the parties must renew their efforts to meet their previous commitments, especially those set out in the road map and the Agreement on Movement and Access. They must avoid any actions which could jeopardize the prospects of arriving at a fair and lasting solution in accordance with international law.

         The European Union supports the economic development of the future Palestinian State by maintaining its humanitarian and financial assistance. From this perspective, the European Union would like to highlight the importance of the Paris Donors’ Conference on 17 December 2007, which performs an essential role in supporting the political processes initiated in Annapolis. The aid mobilized by the international community at the Paris Conference is a sign of the international   community’s   confidence   in   the   reforms   that   the  Palestinian  Authority  has undertaken. From now on, it is important to closely monitor the results of this Conference so that the pledges made in Paris actually translate into financial aid. The European Union also commends the Conference in Support of Palestinian Civil Security and the Rule of Law, which was held in Berlin on 24 June 2008.
 
_________________
* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilization and Association Process.

Organization of the Islamic Conference: Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General

[Original: Arabic]
(Unofficial translation)
The twenty-ninth of November of each year offers an occasion to reassert the solidarity of the international community with the Palestinian people, in accordance with United Nations General Assembly resolution 32/40 B of 1977 and in expression of the United Nations commitment to support the rightful struggle of the Palestinian people to regain all their inalienable rights.

         It is a pleasure for me here to express the deep appreciation of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and its Member States for the role played by the United Nations and its various organs and committees in advocating the Palestinian issue and in extending their consistent support and assistance to the Palestinian people in their just struggle for the recovery of all their legitimate national rights. Particular mention here needs to be made of the efforts put in by the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and the remarkable efforts that Your Excellency has contributed in this area.

         This year, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People comes at a time when the Israeli aggressions have gained further intensity and spread to all the Palestinian areas. Israel has indeed escalated its aggression against the city of Al-Quds/Jerusalem in a drive to alter its Arabo-Islamic identity through a continued Judaization attempt and through repeated aggressions against its sanctities, disfiguration of its history, and efforts to alter its demographic structure by emptying it of its indigenous inhabitants through the forcible dispossession of Palestinians of their land and evicting them from their homes for the establishment of foreign settlers in their stead. The city of Al-Quds/Jerusalem has recently witnessed a massive expulsion of Palestinian families after their homes were confiscated in the suburb of Sheikh Jerah in occupied East Jerusalem. Moreover, Israel is continuing with its actions to isolate the city of Jerusalem from its Palestinian environment through the erection of separation walls and military barriers and through denying its access to the Palestinian citizens.

         Recently Israel has escalated its aggressions in the holy sites in the city of Al-Quds. It allows the Jewish extremists to enter the blessed Mosque of Al-Aqsa and to perform prayers there and this is bound to ignite feelings and lead to increased tension. This has been accompanied by Israel’s confiscation of a private building and properties of Islamic endowments and building a Jewish synagogue on their site right in the middle of the Islamic Quarter, adjacent to  the  Holy  Mosque  of  A1-Aqsa.  In  addition  to  all  these  violations, the  Israeli  occupation authorities are undertaking excavation works underneath the Holy Mosque of Al-Aqsa. These excavation works, which have caused cracks in the walls of the Mosque and which now endanger its very foundations, are undertaken in blatant violation of international law which prevents the occupying State from tampering with, damaging, or altering the existing religious and historical places in the territories they occupy. Further still, the Israeli Government has authorized the bulldozing of the Ma’manillah cemetery to build a museum on its site, a museum they have called the “museum of tolerance”, built on the vestiges of tombs and graves in total disregard of the dead people’s honour and of the inadmissibility of such violations on graveyards and on the properties of trusts and endowments. Such practices are unacceptable and totally invalid; they represent a flagrant violation of the resolutions of international legitimacy and international law. Indeed, the city of Al-Quds/Jerusalem represents a central issue for the Muslim nation and any interference with its Islamic and Christian sanctuaries is bound to engender a serious escalation in the region.

         In addition, Israel is persisting with its settlement policy and the confiscation of Palestinian land for the construction and expansion of settlements in a ceaseless violation of international law and of the decision of the International Court of Justice. Israel also continues to lay an oppressive siege on the Gaza Strip and to deprive the people there of fuel, electricity and vital commodities in terms of medicine and food, so much so that a humanitarian catastrophe could be in the offing. The exactions perpetrated by Israel in the Gaza Strip illustrate its determination to persist on the path of aggression and violation of international law.

         We have called for this unjust and oppressive siege to be lifted and voiced the view that it penalizes all Palestinians and imposes on them a collective punishment which is prohibited by all international and humanitarian laws as well as by the Fourth Geneva Convention and which leads to starving them and denying them the basics of human life. From this platform I call again for this unjust siege to be lifted and for humanitarian assistance to be extended to the Palestinian people.
 
         The failure to achieve a fair solution to the Palestinian issue, which is the core of the conflict in the Middle East, has come to represent a destabilizing factor in the region and a threat to international peace and security. The international community must act seriously and urgently to impress upon Israel to discontinue its violations and to abide by the terms and conditions of the peace process and respect and implement the agreements and understandings reached within its framework.

         In this context, we launch an appeal to the incoming United States Administration to accord the Middle East conflict the interest it deserves and to build on what has been reached in terms of agreements and understandings for the achievement of a comprehensive peace agreement in the Middle East, based on the resolutions of international legitimacy and the principle of land for peace and the Arab Peace Initiative to ensure an end to the Israeli occupation which started in 1967 and enable the Palestinian people to recover their inalienable national rights to freedom and to the establishment of their independent State with East Jerusalem as its capital.

         In conclusion, I wish to reaffirm the solidarity of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Islamic Ummah with the Palestinian people in their strive to recover their legitimate and imprescriptible national rights, including their right to return, their right to freedom, to self-determination and to the establishment of their own independent State on their national fathers’ land with East Jerusalem-Al-Quds as its capital.

         I wish your meeting every success in the achievement of its noble goals.
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