UNITED NATIONS OFFICE AT GENEVA COMMEMORATES
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
26 November 2014
The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was commemorated today at a Special Meeting held at the United Nations Office at Geneva.
Michael Møller, Acting Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, chaired the meeting and read out the message of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. In the message, the Secretary-General said the last 12 months had been another sombre, sad and sorry year for Palestinians, Israelis and all who sought peace. Over the course of 50 brutal days this summer, the world witnessed a ruthless war in Gaza – the third such conflict in six years. The Secretary-General was deeply troubled by the situation in Jerusalem and the West Bank, where extremists on both sides were dictating the agenda. The Secretary-General feared deeply that with each passing day the people of the region were losing any sense of connection – any sense of empathy – any sense of mutual understanding of their common humanity and common future. He called on the parties to step back from the brink: the mindless cycle of destruction must end and the virtuous circle of peace must begin.
A statement read out on behalf of Mahmoud Abbas, the President of Palestine, regretted the lack of implementation of the countless United Nations resolutions regarding the question of Palestine which deepened the widespread conviction that there was indeed a double standard when it came to United Nations resolutions regarding Israel, allowing Israel to continue behaving as though it was a State above the law. He described barbaric Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip this summer, calling for the military occupation of Palestine’s land and people to end. Mr. Abbas said that Palestine had presented, through the Arab Group, a draft resolution to the Security Council to set a timeframe for ending the Israeli occupation. Palestine was deeply appreciative of positive developments in the Western world where the popular sentiment had reached the official political levels, wondering whether Israel understood all of the messages in that regard.
The Special Meeting was also addressed by representatives of Cuba, which chairs the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People; Sri Lanka, which chairs the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories; the League of Arab States; the Organization of Islamic Cooperation; Iran on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement; the African Union; and the World Young Women’s Christian Association, a non-governmental organization accredited to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
Messages or statements for the Day were received from the Heads of State of Senegal, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Qatar, Maldives and Brazil and also from Cuba, Saudi Arabia and the European Union.
MICHAEL MØLLER, Acting Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, opened the meeting and read out the message of BAN KI-MOON, United Nations Secretary-General. In his message the Secretary-General said the last 12 months had been another sombre, sad and sorry year for Palestinians, Israelis and all who sought peace. Over the course of 50 brutal days this summer, the world witnessed a ruthless war in Gaza – the third such conflict in six years. The Secretary-General spoke of his two visits to the region in recent months; first, to help end the fighting, and second to see the aftermath and support the massive reconstruction efforts. In his message the Secretary-General repeated his condemnation of the Hamas rocket attacks that indiscriminately targeted Israeli civilians, which had brought nothing but suffering to all sides. He also repeated his speech made in Israel, that the scale of the destruction by the Israeli military had left deep questions about respect for the principles of distinction and proportionality, and generated wide calls for accountability. Much more must be done to protect civilians and abide by international human rights and humanitarian law.
Long-term stability depended on addressing the underlying causes of the conflict. That meant lifting the closure on Gaza, ending the half century occupation of Palestinian land and addressing Israel’s legitimate security concerns. The Secretary-General urged all donors to continue their strong support to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and for the reconstruction of Gaza. The Secretary-General also said he was deeply troubled by the situation in Jerusalem and the West Bank, where extremists on both sides were dictating the agenda. He called on all parties to stand up to those forces, exercise restraint and respect the status quo governing those holy sites. He also denounced Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. The Israeli and Palestinian people faced a shared fate on shared land; there was no erasing the other. However, the Secretary-General said he feared deeply that with each passing day the people of the region were losing any sense of connection – any sense of empathy – any sense of mutual understanding of their common humanity and common future. For the International Day of Solidarity, the Secretary-General said he called on the parties to step back from the brink. The mindless cycle of destruction must end. The virtuous circle of peace must begin.
Cuba, representing the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said today’s gathering was deeply affected by the last conflict in Gaza, the third Israeli war on Gaza since the Palestinian legislative elections in January of 2006. A minute of silence was held to remember the loss of 1,486 civilian lives in Gaza this summer, including 513 children and 269 women, with the number of deaths still rising from the after effects of the war. A further six civilian lives were lost on the Israeli side.
As the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People drew to a close it was timely to review positive developments. First, on 11 April Palestine officially acceded to the four Geneva Conventions, as well as 10 other international treaties and conventions. It was a historic move in the face of the ongoing harassment and violence against Palestinian civilians by Israeli settlers and military forces, which included the razing of homes, the displacement of civilians, the imprisonment of children, the uprooting of olive trees and the destruction of agricultural livelihoods. Second, several European Governments and parliaments had decided to take bold initiatives to end the occupation of Palestine. The new Government of Sweden recognized the Palestinian State on 30 October, becoming the one hundred and thirty-fifth country in the world to do so. The House of Commons of the United Kingdom and the Irish Parliament held votes that overwhelmingly recognized the State of Palestine in a non-binding motion, and the parliaments of France and Spain would hold similar votes soon.
The third positive development was the long-awaited breakthrough of the forming a Government of National Unity by Palestinian political factions, which held its first cabinet session in Gaza on 9 October. Fourth, was the global solidarity with the Palestinian people demonstrated in the wake of the Gaza destruction resulting in US$5.4 billion pledged in Cairo on 12 October. Reconstruction efforts in Gaza had now begun. This year marked a changing tide, which the Committee hoped would end with Palestine’s accession as a full Member State to the United Nations. The status quo was unacceptable, new solutions had to be found to give the Palestinians the necessary means to succeed in their aspirations.
Sri Lanka, representing the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, said the Palestinian question remained prominent on the world’s agenda this year, as has been evidenced by numerous parliamentary activities. The Special Committee, as it expressed in its report, was appalled by the humanitarian impact of the recent escalation of violence resulting in large scale destruction, devastation and displacement in Gaza, including of United Nations facilities. It was the Committee’s fervent hope that along with the ceasefire, there would be solid political progress on the ground leading to a lasting peace accord and the establishment of a fully sovereign and secure State of Palestine, existing side by side with Israel.
The challenges the Palestinian people faced in their day to day existence and simultaneously being asked to launch reconstruction activities were enormous and the Committee called on the international community to honour its pledges made in Cairo last month for the reconstruction of Gaza. The Committee also hoped that Israel would implement, in good faith, the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism brokered by the United Nations. The Committee reiterated its call to end the illegal blockade of Gaza which was the cause of extensive deprivation and welcomed the partial lifting of the restrictions within the framework of the Security Council resolution 1860. The Committee was concerned that the tensions in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, and the renewed provocations around the Holy Site in Jerusalem, if not addressed, could ignite another round of deadly violence and a tragic loss of lives. Sustainable peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians alike can only be achieved by addressing the burning causes of the conflict, concluded the representative.
A representative of the League of Arab States said Israel continued to defy international public opinion and international law, as seen in the massive crimes perpetuated against Gaza this summer, which were war crimes and acts of genocide. The occupying forces of Israel continued their colonization and settlement policies in order to try and take over the Palestinian territory and were protecting the activities of settlers. The League of Arab States denounced Israeli attacks against churches, mosques and other religious places. It highlighted the fate of the 5,000 Palestinian prisoners who were kept in inhuman conditions in Israeli jails. The League also denounced what it described as the "racist and ugly" face of the current right-wing Israeli Government. The international community must press on Israel the need to abide by international law and indeed initiatives that had been approved by the entire world to establish a Palestinian State pursuant to the agreed 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital. The League of Arab States supported the idea of convening a conference of States Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention. The League also supported the approach for the Security Council to set a deadline for the withdrawal of Israel from all occupied territories. Finally, the League urged all countries that had not yet recognized the Palestinian State to do so.
A representative of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation said despite the international consensus on recognizing the Palestinian State at the General Assembly on 29 November 2012, Israel, the occupying force, continued to undermine every opportunity that came around so as to abort the progress of any serious negotiations through its persistent aggressive policies. Israel’s persistence in its policy of imposing new faits accompli to transfigure the demographic character of the occupied Holy City of Al Quds or Jerusalem, altering its identity, aggressing its Islamo-Christian sanctuaries and attempting to isolate it from its Palestinian natural environment, was a violation of international law.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation renewed its call for an early meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and to take practical and effective resolution to ensure the Convention’s application to the Occupied Palestinian Territories including Eastern Al-Quds/Jerusalem, particularly in light of the General Assembly’s decision of 29 November 2012 and Palestine’s accession to a number of international agreements and conventions. The challenges imposed by the Israeli occupation called now, more than ever before, for a firm and effective international move commensurate with the gravity of the developments and the size of the responsibility placed on the international community’s shoulders to reinforce the foundations of peace, security and stability in the region and to lift the ongoing and historical injustice being meted upon the Palestinian people.
Iran, representing the Non-Aligned Movement, said it was greatly disappointed that while the question of Palestine had been on the United Nations agenda since its inception the people of Palestine were no closer to realizing their rights or freedom. The Non-Aligned Movement extended its full support to the State of Palestine and its ongoing efforts for independence and underscored the need to continue providing political, economic and humanitarian support to assist them in all ways, including achieving their legitimate rights. The Non-Aligned Movement strongly condemned the criminal military aggression by Israel this summer which shocked the whole world. Israel had committed grave human rights violations, war crimes and crimes of terror against the Palestinian civilians. There was an urgent need to address the critical situation of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. The Non-Aligned Movement welcomed the newly established Commission of Inquiry, not least as a means to end impunity. It expressed deep disappointment at Israel’s continued non-cooperation with the Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories. Despite repeated calls for a solution in conformity with international law the Israeli occupation of Arab lands continued – and the failure to resolve that problem continued to undermine the credibility of the international system and rule of law. The Security Council should no longer remain on the side-lines in the quest to find a solution for the occupied Palestinian territories, especially when the situation continued to deteriorate so dramatically. It had serious responsibilities in line with the United Nations Charter.
A representative of the African Union said different reports from various sources on Israeli aggression in the occupied Palestinian territories demonstrated a common practice against civilian homes with total indifference to the ensuing carnage and contempt for the lives of the Palestinians as they attempted to flee. The African Union deplored the Israeli operations of July and August, which killed thousands of Palestinian civilians, were indiscriminate and disproportionate and caused huge devastation to Palestinian homes and infrastructure. The representative recalled the Special Session of the Human Rights Council held last July which led to a Commission of Inquiry. The African Union called on Israel to cooperate fully with the Commission, and allow all humanitarian workers to enter Gaza.
The illegal settlements had the most egregious effect on the peace process and a peaceful Middle East required the full withdrawal of Israel from the occupied Palestinian territories, including the occupied Syrian Golan Heights and occupied areas in south Lebanon. The African Union Executive Council this year restated its unfailing support for the Palestinian people and the establishment of an independent State on the basis of the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. The Executive Council also called on the Security Council to take the necessary measures to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict to ensure lasting peace in the Middle East. In conclusion, the African Union called for a return to peace in the Middle East, asking for the weapons to fall silent and be replaced by dialogue.
A representative of the World Young Women’s Christian Association (World YWCA), a non-Governmental Organization accredited to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said the Israel military occupation, with its ongoing policies of colonialism, apartheid and now genocide in Gaza, ‘shoot to kill’ policies in Jerusalem and attacks on the Al Aqsa Mosque had seriously violated the Palestinian People’s human rights, sense of dignity, freedom and security. World leaders, led by the United States, tried once again to facilitate a peace process which led to the confiscation of more land and more settlements and no peace. The World YWCA highlighted the situation of Palestinian women, who were not only routinely harassed, intimidated, and abused by soldiers at checkpoints and gates, but were now being attacked on public transport and denied access to worship at Al Aqsa along with men. The Association called on Governments and civil society to take various measures, such as joining the global boycott movement towards freeing all detainees and ending the siege on Gaza. For peace to have a chance, justice must be guaranteed, otherwise there would continue to be an increase in violence that would put all at risk, especially the most vulnerable: women and children.
Palestine, reading out the statement of MAHMOUD ABBAS, President of the Palestinian Authority, said since its inception, the United Nations had defended the Palestinian cause, keeping it a priority on the agenda of the international community. The United Nations had extended a helping hand to the Palestinian people. Palestine was grateful for the strong and principled resolutions adopted by the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Human Rights Council and other United Nations organs and bodies, including the International Court of Justice. However, it regretted the lack of implementation of the countless resolutions regarding the question of Palestine. That regrettable reality deepened the widespread conviction that there was indeed a double standard when it came to United Nations resolutions regarding Israel, which were not implemented, allowing Israel to continue behaving as though it was a State above the law.
This past summer Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip endured a barbaric Israeli aggression that killed and injured the people, including children, caused massive destruction and flattened homes atop entire families, inflicting horrific devastation that had been condemned by all. That injustice and the military occupation of Palestine’s land and people must end. Palestine reiterated its urgent calls to the international community to act forthwith to compel Israel, the occupying Power, to comply with its legal obligations, relevant United Nations resolutions and international commitments and to cease completely its violations of international law and its illegal, aggressive and destructive policies and practices. In that regard Palestine had presented, through the Arab Group, a draft resolution to the Security Council to set a time-frame for ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land that had lasted for too long.
Mr. Abbas called for an end to the Israeli settlement campaign, the demolition of Palestinian homes, the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and properties, and the forced displacement of the Palestinian people. Construction of the apartheid annexation wall must be ceased, he said, and Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli jails must be released. The unjust, inhumane blockade imposed on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip must be completely lifted. The reconstruction of Gaza must be undertaken in the most expeditious manner. Mr. Abbas called for an end to all illegal actions and measures aimed at Judaization of East Jerusalem and altering or erasing Palestinian and Christian and Muslim presence in and the identity of the Holy City must be halted, including the Israeli attempts to establish temporal and spatial presence in Al‐Aqsa Mosque and Al‐Haram Al‐Sharif.
Palestine had expressed its readiness for decades to make a historic compromise in order to reach a solution to the conflict with Israel through the establishment of a Palestinian State on only 22 per cent of the territory of historic Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and to reach a just and agreed upon solution to the plight of Palestine refugees. Palestine remained committed to the two‐State solution. Finally, Palestine was deeply appreciative of positive developments in the Western world where the popular sentiment had reached the official political levels. Sweden moved ahead bravely in this regard with its recognition of the State of Palestine, and Mr. Abbas said he hoped that other European countries would follow suit. He also recognized the important and overwhelming motions in support of recognition of the State of Palestine by the parliaments in the United Kingdom, in Ireland, in Spain and the upcoming votes in France and other European countries in this regard. Did Israel, the occupying Power, understand all of the messages in that regard?
For use of the information media; not an official record
Document Type: French text, Press Release, Statement
Document Sources: Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), General Assembly, United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG)
Subject: Inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, Palestine question, Public information, Solidarity day
Publication Date: 26/11/2014