United Nations Office at Geneva Commemorates International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People – Press Release

The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was commemorated today at a Special Meeting held at the United Nations Office at Geneva.

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Tatiana Valovaya, the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, chaired the meeting and read out the message of António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, who said that on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory — including East Jerusalem — continued to pose a significant challenge to international peace and security. Persistent violations of the rights of Palestinians along with the expansion of settlements risked eroding the prospect of a two-State solution. The overall goal remained two States living side-by-side in peace and security, fulfilling the legitimate national aspirations of both peoples, with borders based on the 1967 lines and Jerusalem as the capital of both States.

The Secretary-General further called on the parties to engage constructively to end the closure of Gaza and improve the living conditions of all Palestinians under occupation. He commended the generous donors who supported the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and called for Member States to provide timely and predictable funding to allow the Agency to conduct its vital work. He called on all to reaffirm their unwavering commitment to the Palestinian people in their quest to achieve their inalienable rights and build a future of peace, justice, security, and dignity for both Palestinians and Israelis.

A Representative of the State of Palestine, reading out a statement on behalf of Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the State of Palestine, said that decades ago, the international community had determined its vision for peace, which was the two-State solution based on the 1967 borders. All States which believed in the two-State solution and had recognised Israel were called on to also recognise the State of Palestine. Either international will prevailed, and with it the two-State solution, or it was left hostage to the occupier’s will. International auspices were a necessity to achieve peace.

Mr. Abbas said the State of Palestine was ready to work with the international community, including the Quartet and the Security Council, to salvage the two-State solution based on the 1967 borders before it was too late. The State of Palestine would spare no effort to uphold its commitments under international law and would continue working to unify its land and people. The question of Palestine would remain the litmus test for the credibility of the international community, and the effectiveness of the order that it established for upholding international law, maintaining international peace and security, prohibiting the acquisition of territory by force, and supporting the right of people to self-determination.

The Special Meeting was also addressed by Senegal on behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People; Sri Lanka on behalf of 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; Azerbaijan on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement; the African Union; and the World Young Women’s Christian Association and the Young Women’s Christian Association of Palestine, representing non-governmental organizations 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 and Government of India, Brazil, Egypt, Malaysia, Turkey, Bangladesh, Namibia and Morocco.

The Special Meeting was organised in observance of General Assembly resolution 32/40B of 2 December 1977.

Statements

TATIANA VALOVAYA, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, read out the message of ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, United Nations Secretary-General, who said that on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory — including East Jerusalem — continued to pose a significant challenge to international peace and security. Persistent violations of the rights of Palestinians along with the expansion of settlements risked eroding the prospect of a two-State solution. As the international community strived to re-start Israeli – Palestinian dialogue, he was encouraged by recent engagements between senior Israeli and Palestinian officials. However, containing the situation was not sufficient. The overall goal remained two States living side-by-side in peace and security, fulfilling the legitimate national aspirations of both peoples, with borders based on the 1967 lines and Jerusalem as the capital of both States.

The Secretary-General called on the parties to avoid unilateral steps that would undermine the chances for a peaceful resolution of the conflict based on international law and relevant United Nations resolutions. He further called on the parties to engage constructively to end the closure of Gaza and improve the living conditions of all Palestinians under occupation. He commended the generous donors who supported the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and called for Member States to provide timely and predictable funding to allow the Agency to conduct its vital work. He called on all to reaffirm their unwavering commitment to the Palestinian people in their quest to achieve their inalienable rights and build a future of peace, justice, security, and dignity for both Palestinians and Israelis.

Senegal , reading out the statement of the Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said that the realisation of Palestinian rights remained unfulfilled, and the Palestinian people continued to experience increasing levels of dispossession, violence and insecurity under the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory. The question of Palestine remained unresolved, and Israel continued to expand its illegal settlements, creating a volatile situation. The international community’s work was more relevant than ever, and it could not cease its collective efforts to achieve a just peace based on international law and resolutions adopted in the United Nations. Among actions taken by the Committee, it had in quarterly statements to the Security Council consistently condemned Israel’s further expanding its settlement enterprise, which was a flagrant breach of international law.

Further actions had included the Committee, ahead of the planned Palestinian elections, calling for Israel to allow elections in East Jerusalem and also organising a virtual event to highlight the contribution of Palestinian women as agents of change and their crucial role to bring about a just and sustainable solution. In October, the Committee had joined the High Commissioner for Human Rights, several Experts and other organizations expressing concern at Israel’s decision to designate six Palestinian civil society organizations as “terrorist organizations.” On the Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Committee reaffirmed its commitment to the cause, and would continue to spare no effort in advocating for a just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine. The Committee would continue to serve as a torchbearer until a just, lasting and comprehensive solution whereby two States, Israel and Palestine, lived side-by-side in peace and security, with East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine, and with freedom and dignity enjoyed by all.

Sri Lanka, reading out the statement of the Chair of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, said regrettably, the international community was yet to witness a resolution of the question of Palestine. The Palestinian people had been deprived of their inalienable right to an independent, sovereign and united State of Palestine. The Special Committee had last month presented its fifty-third report pursuant to General Assembly resolution 7596, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it had not been able to undertake its annual mission to the region. Information contained in the report was based on testimony, briefings, and submissions received by the Committee during its reporting period. The main areas of concern related inter alia to the escalation of hostilities in Gaza, freedom of expression in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Palestinian rights, and the situation of Palestinian refugees.

A significant part of the report was dedicated to the human rights of Palestinians in relation to the right to health. Based on the information received, the occupation had weakened health facilities, and made the occupied Palestinian territory a vulnerable place in which the pandemic could thrive. Only 16 per cent of Palestinians eligible for vaccination had received two doses. Information had been received that 150,000 Palestinian workers had been vaccinated by the Israeli authorities, yet the cost was recovered by Israel from the taxes imposed on the Palestinians. The COVID-19 pandemic continued to have a substantial impact on women and girls during the reporting period, as help lines for survivors of gender-based violence reported a 70 per cent increase in calls received. The international community needed to foster conditions where genuine negotiations were possible, and support mutual confidence-building measures on both sides, in support of efforts to resume dialogue and substantive negotiations.

A representative of the League of Arab States reading out a statement on behalf of the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, said that the latest developments had made the world more aware of the legitimate struggle of the Palestinians. In Gaza, a destructive military campaign had been launched last May, killing 259 people, including 66 children. The Israeli Government was a racist government which did not believe in the two-State solution or in the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination. Unfortunately, the overwhelming consensus on a two-State solution was unable to change that conviction into a practical reality. The application of a two-State solution would not be possible forever, as its prerequisites were being undermined on the ground deliberately. The alternative would put the occupation in a political, moral and existential dilemma. It was time to move on to a stage away from temporary solutions, to a final settlement.

The international community was called upon to provide all forms of support to the Quartet so that it resumed its role and fulfilled its mandate with regard to international peace and security. An international peace conference was called for, representing the international will and the global conscience that refused the continuation of the last colonial regime in the history of humanity. The League of Arab States expressed its appreciation to all the free people of the world standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people, supporting their just cause. The just Palestinian cause would continue to be the cause of all free people in the world until the Palestinian people recovered their freedom and independence.

Organization of Islamic Cooperation reiterated its rejection and condemnation of the Israeli occupation measures and illegal practices to impose new facts on the ground, expelling Palestinian citizens from their homes in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, among other acts. It was necessary to put an end to Israeli practices which constituted a violation of the resolutions of international legitimacy, fuelled violence, extremism and racism, and ignited a religious conflict with unpredictable repercussions. The principle of State sovereignty should not be a pretext for consolidating the Israeli colonial occupation and legitimising its policies which violated international law and United Nations resolutions.

Israel continued to defy the international community by implementing the policy of building and expanding settlements in the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967. Its conduct constituted a violation of international law and United Nations resolutions. The plight of Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli detention centres continued to be an issue of a denial of justice, and a crime embodied in inhumane practices. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation called on the United Nations to assume its responsibilities toward holding Israel accountable for its crimes and continuing violations of international law, and to end its occupation of Palestinian land. Calling on countries that had not yet recognised the State of Palestine to do so, it was added that there was a need for the international community to sponsor a political solution based on the agreed references.

Azerbaijan , speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was a solemn occasion for renewing commitment in the search for a fair and lasting solution to the Palestinian cause and to achieve genuine peace and security in the Middle East. The Non-Aligned Movement stressed the urgent need to continue providing political, economic and humanitarian support to assist the Palestinian people and to bolster their efforts aimed at achieving their legitimate national aspirations, including their inalienable right to self-determination and freedom in their independent State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital on the basis of pre-1967 borders in line with international law and United Nations resolutions.

A just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine remained a responsibility of the United Nations, and the Non-Aligned Movement was deeply concerned about the vulnerability of Palestine refugees, underlining the importance of support to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. Ongoing Israeli settlement activities continued to be a matter of grave concern, and there was a need for urgent action to mobilise the international community to compel Israel, the occupying power, to cease all illegal settlement activities and abide by its obligations under international law. The international community needed to take concrete measures to honour its legal and moral responsibility and defend the legal system that was being put at risk, ensuring that impunity did not become the norm.

African Union , speaking on behalf of the African Union Commission, said more than 40 years after the proclamation of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory had never been as alarming as now, which undermined and damaged international relations. The situation was further exacerbated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The international community could no longer sustain the current status of failure and indifference to achieve a peaceful solution to the conflict. Disproportionate Israeli actions targeting civilians, and the illegal expansion of settlements in occupied East Jerusalem, inter alia, must be stopped.

The African Union Commission’s position remained steadfast in support of the just Palestinian cause and the continued efforts of the Union to achieve a comprehensive and durable peace for the Palestinian people. Africa would always support the Palestinian people in their legitimate struggle to end the Israeli occupation and establish its independent State. The failure of the international community as a whole to protect the fundamental rights of an entire population was a sad fact. However, the international community should continue to believe in multilateralism and the commitment of leaders to bring an end to the conflict, in conformity with a shared global vision rejecting oppression and indifference to the misfortunes of others. The international community’s collective conscience rejected impunity, especially for the most serious violations of international humanitarian law.

World Young Women’s Christian Association and its member association, Young Women’s Christian Association of Palestine, said that the Member States of the United Nations had a moral and legal obligation to implement the recognition of Palestine as an independent State and end the occupation. Living under military occupation had made life unbearable for Palestinians, and the economy of Palestine continued to suffer due to the occupation. There was a scarcity of job opportunities for Palestinians, and the occupation exacerbated violence against women. The 14-year siege on Gaza was a blockade which had devastated its economy, restricted the movement of Gazans, and limited the provision of electricity, affecting medical services and hospital operations.

Israel was striving to undermine Palestinian non-governmental organizations which carried the weight of sustainable development in the absence of a fully functioning authority in Palestine. Designating six well-respected and long-serving organizations as “terrorist organizations” criminalised those organizations and cut off funding and support they received. The World Young Women’s Christian Association and the Young Women’s Christian Association of Palestine demanded that human rights and international law be respected, affirmed and protected for all and supported Palestine’s right to self-determination. Women and young women’s leadership was essential to promoting non-violence and achieving lasting peace and justice, and the international community was called upon to, inter alia, hold accountable Israel for the continued violations of human rights in accordance with international law and the relevant international conventions.

State of Palestine , reading out a statement by MAHMOUD ABBAS, President of the State of Palestine, thanked all those around the world who had expressed their solidarity with the Palestinian people. Decades ago, the international community had determined its vision for peace, which was the two-State solution based on 1967 borders. The vision was enshrined in United Nations resolutions, which had also identified the terms of reference and the basis for a settlement to the conflict, and mechanisms to achieve it within a defined timeframe. Cautioning States which had established trade or diplomatic offices in Jerusalem, or bought products from settlements, the President noted that all such actions were in violation of international law, and encouraged the Israeli occupation authorities to persist in the commission of crimes against the Palestinian people. The international community had long rejected Israel’s policies of colonial annexation and settlement expansion, its violation of the rights of Palestinian people, and other issues. That stance needed to be accompanied by concrete measures that translated international consensus on the ground, allowing Palestinian people to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the region.

All States which believed in the two-State solution and had recognised Israel were called on to also recognise the State of Palestine. Israel’s rejection of the two-State solution in practical terms meant allowing Israel to finalise annexation through its illegal actions and its altering of the facts on the ground. That was why alternatives had been put forward in a speech to the General Assembly. Israeli authorities were jeopardising the two-State solution and entrenching a reality of racial discrimination, a reality of apartheid. Either international will prevailed, and with it the two-State solution, or it was left hostage to the occupier’s will. International auspices were a necessity to achieve peace. The State of Palestine was ready to work with the international community, including the Quartet and the Security Council, to salvage the two-State solution based on the 1967 borders before it was too late. The State of Palestine would spare no effort to uphold its commitments under international law, and would continue working to unify its land and people. The choice today was clear, peace or apartheid. Could the world tolerate a new apartheid? The question of Palestine would remain the litmus test for the credibility of the international community, and the effectiveness of the order that it established for upholding international law, maintaining international peace and security, prohibiting the acquisition of territory by force, and supporting the right of people to self-determination.

 

Produced by the United Nations Information Service in Geneva for use of the information media;
not an official record. English and French versions of our releases
are different as they are the product of two separate coverage teams that work independently.


2021-12-01T10:03:09-05:00

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