1 December 2021
Thank you for this opportunity to deliver remarks at this plenary meeting on “the question of Palestine” and “the situation in the Middle East”.
These two items are deeply intertwined. We have seen time and time again how the spill over effects of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute undermine the stability of the broader region.
I reiterate what I have said before: the lack of progress on this issue, despite it having been on the United Nations’ Agenda since 1948, is disheartening. At stake is not only the region’s peace and security, but our ability to come together as a global community and resolve international disputes, in line with the founding vision of the United Nations.
That is why we cannot give up hope. We must maintain the credibility of this great institution and push for positive dialogue and engagement between the parties involved.
These efforts should be informed by international human rights law, international humanitarian law, and by the values of the United Nations Charter.
Throughout these efforts, we must match our words with action.
Year after year we speak of the appalling humanitarian crisis in Palestine, especially the Gaza strip. But words are insufficient. Words cannot substitute for the lack of running water, electricity, proper sanitation, and decent living conditions that millions of Palestinians endure.
Words can express how Covid-19 has exacerbated these challenges but they cannot resolve them.
Words cannot save Palestinian people suffering from decades of occupation, arbitrary arrests, and the use of excessive force against them.
Words cannot restore their demolished homes or halt the proliferation of illegal settlements on their land.
These issues can only be resolved when we take action to resolve them: by providing humanitarian assistance; by ending this conflict; by upholding the human dignity of the region’s inhabitants.
Much remains to be done. Currently over half of the region’s five million Palestinians are dependent on aid. Eighty percent of the population of Gaza is direly in need of assistance. They cry out for access to even basic amenities and services.
Similarly, Palestinian refugees dispersed across the Middle East desperately need our help.
While I am happy to acknowledge the resumption of funding to UNWRA, which provides much needed humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugees, I once again note that funding is insufficient to last for the rest of the year.
UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in need. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall.
As I have said before, many services to the refugees, including girls’ education, vaccination rollouts and humanitarian assistance are in jeopardy.
Let us come together and ensure that there are enough finances to meet the humanitarian needs of Palestinians.
Today marks 74 years since the General Assembly adopted Resolution 181. We recall that this resolution provided the legal foundation for the formation of the State of Israel – and a State of Palestine for the Palestinian People.
Yet, until now we have not achieved the establishment of a state for the Palestinian people in line with international law.
As long as the Palestinian people are deprived of statehood, as long as illegal settlements continue to be built on land that Palestinians are justly entitled to, as long as Palestinian families are forced to flee the violence and injustices against them and they cannot return home – anger and bitterness will fester. This will contribute to a cycle of violence that has gone on for far far too long.
Let us all come together as an international community and reiterate our commitment to protect the rights of the Palestinian people.
Let us grant them what they have been justly demanding for so long: dignity, statehood, and respect.
That is how we will resolve this conflict. That is how we will secure peace in the Middle East.
I thank you.