SEVENTY-FOURTH SESSION, 24TH MEETING (AM)
14 NOVEMBER 2019
Morocco’s Delegate Highlights Initiatives to Defend Holy City’s Status, Historic Role of Jordan’s Royal Family as Custodian
Delegates expressed concern today over Israel’s attempts to change the status of holy sites in Jerusalem, as the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) concluded its general debate on that country’s practices that affect the human rights of people in occupied Arab lands.
Morocco’s representative rejected Israel’s efforts to undermine the status of Al‑Quds, recalling that King Mohammed VI of Morocco and Pope Francis agreed during their meeting earlier in 2019 that the special status of Jerusalem as a multi‑religion city must be maintained. Morocco and Jordan are engaged in various initiatives intended to defend the Holy City against attempts to change its status, he added, pointing out that Jordan’s royal family is the historic custodian of Jerusalem’s holy sites.
The observer for the League of Arab States also rejected the Judaization of Jerusalem, warning that such a process will deepen and prolong the conflict. In similar vein, Iran’s representative expressed concern about Israel’s measures to alter or eliminate the presence of Jerusalem’s Palestinian Christians and Muslims, with the support of the United States.
Israel’s representative, however, dismissed those concerns, emphasizing that the very fact that the draft resolution under discussion does not refer to the Temple Mount by that name, but only by its Arabic name, is outrageous and proves Palestinian intentions to sever Jewish ties to Jerusalem.
Delegates warned that Israel’s violations diminish any prospect for peace, with Algeria’s representative emphasizing that the peace process is blocked because Israel unscrupulously continues its illegal actions, such as its blockade of the Gaza Strip, its construction of settlements, violence against civilians, forcible displacement, property confiscation, plunder of natural resources, extrajudicial executions and detention of children.
Indonesia’s representative described Israel’s illegal settlement activities as a key driver of human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, expressing concern about increased settler violence, as well as the further deterioration of socioeconomic conditions and the prospects for peace.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Jordan, Israel and Iraq, as well as the observer for the State of Palestine.
The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 15 November, to take action on outstanding draft resolutions and conclude its work for the seventy‑fourth session of the General Assembly.
IBRAHIM MODIBBO UMAR (Nigeria), associating himself with the statement delivered on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement, reiterated his delegation’s support for all General Assembly resolutions on Israeli practices in the occupied territories. He also expressed concern over the effects of settlement expansion on the prospects for a negotiated two‑State solution and urged Israel to stop demolitions, evictions, restrictions on movement and other infringements of Palestinian rights, while calling upon that country to halt and reverse all settlement activity. Noting the alarming humanitarian situation reported in the Gaza Strip, he called for an end to Israel’s blockade of the enclave. He went on to express deep concern over the deteriorating situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory on a range of fronts, according to the reports before the Committee and called for the reversal of all negative trends. Reiterating his delegation’s support for the Special Committee, he called upon Israel, Palestine and others in the region to work together in pursuit of a viable two‑State arrangement.
MOHAMED ELHOMOSANY (Egypt), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, said no progress or positive development is expected in the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict. Recalling that all peace proposals and initiatives have stressed the need to establish a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital, he said escalating Israeli practices in the occupied territories have resulted in Palestinian children being subjected to bullets during demonstrations, adding that they have also endured arrest, detention and interrogation. The financial crisis afflicting the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) exacerbates the impact of the restrictions imposed by Israel, he noted, pointing out that the situation in the Syrian Golan is also deteriorating, with Israel planning to expand its settlements and hold illegal elections there.
IDO BROMBERG (Israel) recalled claims that Israel has disobeyed more than 100 United Nations resolutions, while saying the resolutions are built upon each other, self‑referencing and adopted by a pre‑declared majority. Citing the Jordanian‑Israeli General Armistice Agreement of 1949, he said that when his country took control of the West Bank in 1967, it did not cross any agreed or accepted international border, and therefore did not take land from any sovereign Palestinian entity. He emphasized that Palestinians have not acknowledged the Jewish people’s right to self‑determination, despite claims to the contrary, and pointed out that Palestinian textbooks contain maps that exclude the Israeli territory from any configuration.
If the Special Committee were truly interested in Palestinian human rights, it would address all factors affecting those rights, including the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, he continued. Recalling that more than 360 rockets were launched into Israel from the Gaza Strip over the past three days, he stressed that launching rockets at Israeli civilian centres from behind Palestinian civilians is a war crime rather than a defensive action. Such tactics by Palestinian militants place the people for whom they claim to fight at risk, he said, underlining that Israel does everything in its power to avoid civilian casualties, in accordance with international law. He went on to point out that since the signing of the Oslo Accords, Israel has made several offers to the Palestinians with a view to ending the conflict only to be rebuffed. The disputed issues will only be resolved through direct negotiations and not through unilateral attempts to pre‑determine the results via international institutions, he, emphasized.
MOHAMMAD KURNIADI KOBA (Indonesia), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, expressed his delegation’s full confidence in the Special Committee’s report, despite the “sad norm” of the panel’s not having been allowed to visit Palestine. From the report, it is clear that illegal settlement activities are a key driver of human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, he said, expressing concern over increased settler violence, as described in the Secretary‑General’s report, as well as the further deterioration of socioeconomic conditions and the prospects for peace. Calling for international action to end the perpetuation of the situation, he condemned Israel’s use of excessive force in Gaza and called for an end to the blockade. Emphasizing the need for that country to demonstrate full respect for its obligations under international law, he said Israel must be held accountable for its illegal actions. As for Palestinian actions of concern, he condemned all violations while underlining that Palestinian actions cannot be compared to those of the occupying Power.
MOHAMMAD REZA SAHRAEI (Iran), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, noted that the Special Committee’s report contains disturbing findings as to how the Israeli regime treats the Palestinian people, with 180 Palestinians killed and more than 19,000 injured between September 2018 and August 2019. Emphasizing that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands is at the epicentre of all conflicts in the Middle East, he said the Palestinians are denied their right to self‑determination under the pretext of “one Jewish State”. Israel has also taken measures to alter or eliminate the presence of Jerusalem’s Palestinian Christians and Muslims, with the support of the United States. Calling upon Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza and end all practices considered as collective punishment — including restrictions on movement and the demolition of homes, among other measures — he condemned illegal settlement expansion and land confiscation in Palestinian lands and in the Syrian Golan, the latter being an integral part of Syria. All those practices “constitute a flagrant violation of international law, the United Nations Charter, relevant United Nations resolutions and the Fourth Geneva Convention”, he declared. The General Assembly has a vital responsibility and should play an important role in resolving the conflict, he said, stressing his delegation’s support for the self‑determination of the Palestinian people and the establishment of a Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital.
RAJEEL MOHSIN (Pakistan), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is marred by the denial of fundamental rights, including those of movement and assembly. Noting that such tactics are not limited to those territories alone, he said they are staples of every occupier aiming to obliterate a people’s identity and erase their abiding ties to their homeland. “The situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is almost identical to that in Indian‑occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” he said, citing arbitrary arrest and administrative detention, including of children, as a norm there as well. Since India’s attempt to annex occupied Jammu and Kashmir on 5 August, it imposed a total curfew and lockdown lasting more than 100 days, turning that state into the world’s largest open‑air prison, he said. He went on to observe that resolving the question of Palestine is critical to lasting peace in the Middle East and expressed Pakistan’s commitment to the Palestinian cause.
RAHMA SAMAI (Algeria), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the statement to be delivered on behalf of the League of Arab States, recalled that, despite international calls for an end to the occupation, Israel continues to enact coercive policies against the Palestinian people. The peace process is blocked because Israel unscrupulously continues its illegal actions, such as the blockade of Gaza, settlement construction, violence against civilians, forcible displacement, property confiscation, plunder of natural resources, extrajudicial executions and child detentions, she said. Describing the situation in occupied Arab territories as a thermometer for measuring international justice, she also expressed concern over violations of holy sites in Jerusalem. Emphasizing that those with influence have allowed the situation to persist, she called upon the international community to support the Palestinian people, in accordance with international law and relevant United Nations resolutions.
YOUSSEF EL MEZOUAGHI (Morocco) called for an end to the violence against the Palestinian people, describing it as a flagrant violation of international law undermining the prospects for a two‑State solution. Rejecting attempts to undermine the status of Al‑Quds, he recalled that King Mohammed VI of Morocco and Pope Francis agreed that the special status of Jerusalem as a multi‑religion city must be maintained during their meeting in 2019. Morocco and Jordan are engaged in various initiatives intended to defend the Holy City against attempts to change its status, he said, noting that Jordan’s royal family is the historic custodian of the holy sites. Morocco contributes more than $1 million every year to an agency charged with protecting Al‑Quds and has provided artists and architects to restore the sites, he reported. People living in Jerusalem benefit further from social outreach programmes to which Morocco contributes, he added. Calling upon donor countries to step up their support for UNRWA, he underlined Jordan’s support in its capacity as one of the main host countries for those refugees.
JORGE ARTURO REYES HERNÁNDEZ (Venezuela), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the increase in settlements condemns Palestinians to living in isolation and poverty. He also expressed concern about the climate of complete impunity surrounding Israel’s incursions against Palestinian demonstrations in the West Bank. The confiscation of land and demolition of homes in the Occupied Palestinian Territory reflects a volatile reality that hinders negotiations for a resolution of the conflict, he said, reiterating that settlements are a key factor behind violations of the freedom of movement, violence by settlers and the confiscation of assets. The aim is to alter the legal and demographic character of the territories, he observed, emphasizing the need to curb Israel’s settlement expansion in the Syrian Golan since they are also aimed at changing its demographic character. The Security Council must demand Israel’s compliance with its Charter obligations, he stressed, warning that greater international paralysis could open the door to unilateral measures.
HENRY JONATHAN VIERA SALAZAR (Ecuador), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, emphasized that children must never be the target of violence, nor be encouraged to participate in violence. Urging the United Nations system to mobilize international support for the Palestinian people, he said it should also increase the necessary contributions for sufficient, predictable and sustainable financing of UNRWA. He went on to call upon the Security Council to take concrete action, reiterating Ecuador’s support for the legitimate right of Palestinians to self‑determination.
NASRIA ELARJA FLITTI, observer for the League of Arab States, associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, noted that unarmed demonstrators are subjected to violence in the occupied territories. During the Great March of Return, she recalled, many children were victims of Israel’s use of excessive force, she observed, reiterating her delegation’s condemnation of that country’s actions in the Syrian Golan as well. Palestinians are living under the yoke of violence and instability, with no hope for a secure life, she said, emphasizing that the solution to the Palestinian question must involve ending Israel’s colonization. Delays in implementing United Nations resolutions will lead to further suffering, she cautioned, citing Israel’s systematic settlement policy, including forced evacuations and illegal demolitions. Stressing the need for a just solution to the conflict, and for a Palestinian State based on the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet Roadmap, she also rejected the Judaization of Jerusalem, warning that such a process will deepen and prolong the conflict.
Right of Reply
The representative of Jordan, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, took issue with Israel’s reference to the Jordanian‑Israeli Armistice, emphasizing that it is not possible to ignore international agreements on a whim.
The representative of Israel, noting that his country is ranked thirtieth on the world democratic index, pointed out that Palestinians can approach the Supreme Court in Israel and seek support from Israeli non‑governmental organizations. Any attempt to undermine its democratic nature is false, he added. Rejecting claims that his country is attempting to change the status of Al‑Quds, he said the very fact that the resolution under discussion does not refer to the Temple Mount by that name but only by its Arabic name is outrageous and proves Palestinian intentions to sever Jewish ties to Jerusalem. The Arab view of justice is aimed at preventing the Jewish people from seek self‑determination, with no regard for their own historic responsibility for the plight of their people, he said. Recalling the expulsion of Jews from Arab countries in 1948, he said Jewish refugees did not have an UNRWA or Special Committee to investigate their status, although they are also victims of the Arab‑Israeli conflict. Jewish people are a minority in the world and in the United Nations, he added, pointing out that only in Israel are they a majority.
The observer for the State of Palestine rejected the distortions made by the representative of Israel. Noting that the Special Committee’s efforts to expose that country’s actions are openly ridiculed, she emphasized that the international community must not remain silent while Israel belittles international law, pointing out that Palestinian children have lost their lives since the last meeting of the Special Committee. Its reports are fact‑based and the result of efforts by principled Israeli organizations that are under increasing pressure as the Government of Israel continues its aggression against human rights defenders, she said. Criticism is on the side of international law, which Israel violates through occupation, colonization and de facto annexation, she added. It is the height of audacity for Israel to refer to United Nations resolution 181 when it continues to destroy minimal prospects for a two‑State solution, she emphasized. Stressing that the right to self‑determination does not only apply to the Jewish people, she said the reports barely touch on the dismal reality of Palestinians under occupation, adding that nothing under international law can validate Israel’s actions. Regarding that country’s standing as a democracy, she underlined that a democracy does not privilege one part of its population as superior to all others, behaving like an apartheid State. In closing, she emphasized that the support and solidarity of the international community are invaluable to the Palestinian people.
The representative of Iraq expressed support for the statements by Jordan and the State of Palestine. Reaffirming the international community’s moral obligation to exert greater pressure in response to the aggressive actions and violations documented by the Special Committee, he called for solidarity with the Palestinian people and condemned the use of military power against civilians, including women and children, as well as the lack of access to the territories for humanitarian workers.
The representative of Israel said the Special Committee has demonstrated bias, recalling that it did not approve a draft resolution condemning the firing of rockets into Israel by Palestinians. Different standards are applied for Israelis and Palestinians, he added, noting that the Palestinian narrative is indulged while Israel has demonstrated its ability to compromise. Israel will not help those who seek to discredit it as a nation, he reiterated.
Document Sources: General Assembly Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization)
Country: Algeria, Ecuador, Egypt, Holy See, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)
Subject: Holy places, Human rights and international humanitarian law, Jerusalem
Publication Date: 14/11/2019
URL source: https://www.un.org/press/en/2019/gaspd712.doc.htm