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11/29/2022 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/29/2022 09:48

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

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

Tatiana Valovaya, 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 was deeply saddened by the growing number of Palestinian civilians who had lost their lives in the spiral of violence engulfing the occupied West Bank. He urged all parties to take immediate steps to reduce tensions and break the deadly cycle, and to engage to end the closures of Gaza and improve the living conditions of all Palestinians. The United Nations' position was clear: the occupation needed to end. The United Nations was committed to realising the vision of two States - Israel and Palestine - living side by side in peace and security, with Jerusalem as the capital of both States.

State of Palestine, reading out a statement by Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, said another year had passed for the Palestinian people while they were still languishing under the Israeli occupation; a year described by the United Nations as the deadliest year for the Palestinian people in the West Bank since the second intifada. The entire world had witnessed Israel's assassination of the Palestinian journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, the voice of Palestine and an icon of the Arab media, who was assassinated by the Israeli occupying forces in cold blood. The Israeli occupier, persisting in its aggression, could not be expected to choose justice and peace. Instead, the international community must mobilise its efforts to put pressure on Israel to end its occupation and stop its crimes.

The Special Meeting was also addressed by 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 Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Jordan, Malaysia, Maldives, Qatar and Sri Lanka.

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 was deeply saddened by the growing number of Palestinian civilians who had lost their lives in the spiral of violence engulfing the occupied West Bank. He urged all parties to take immediate steps to reduce tensions and break the deadly cycle. The long-standing drivers of conflict - including the ongoing occupation, settlement expansion, home demolitions and evictions - heightened anger, despair, and hopelessness. Meanwhile, Gaza continued to endure debilitating closures and humanitarian crises. The Secretary-General reiterated his call for the parties to engage to end the closures of Gaza and improve the living conditions of all Palestinians.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East remained a vital lifeline for Palestine refugees, and Mr. Guterres commended donors for their support, urging all to step up and provide sufficient funding to enable the agency to deliver on its mandate. The United Nations' position was clear: the occupation needed to end. The United Nations was committed to realising the vision of two States - Israel and Palestine - living side by side in peace and security, with Jerusalem as the capital of both States. Together, the world needed to support the Palestinian people in their quest to achieve their rights and to build a future of peace, justice, security, and dignity for all.

Sri Lanka , reading out a statement 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 , said 2022 marked the forty-fifth anniversary since the General Assembly established the Day of International Solidarity with the People of Palestine in 1977. Today the world stood in solidarity with the people of Palestine to seek ways for a peaceful solution to the question of Palestine and to address the plight of the Palestinian people. The Special Committee undertook its annual visit to Amman, Jordan in July 2022, in the context of increasing violence. The Special Committee heard the testimonies of experts, high-level officials, United Nations organizations, and representatives from civil society from the occupied Palestinian territory. The Special Committee also interacted with the Palestinian refugees, highlighting the daily violence and suffering of the Palestinian people at the hands of the unlawful occupation.

The Special Committee was informed that in the first half of 2022, 60 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank, and the Committee remained deeply concerned that families of Palestinians killed continued to be deprived of closure with proper and dignified burials. The Committee appealed to the occupying powers to act with restraint and ensure that the human rights of all in the occupied territory were protected. The sea and air blockade surrounding the Gaza Strip and closures combined with the pandemic continued to stifle the local economy. The Special Committee acknowledged the work done by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East for over seven decades, and noted the need for funding for the agency to continue to fulfil its mandate. The Committee joined hands with the international community and called for a just solution to the question of Palestine and for an end of the suffering of the Palestinian people. On this International Day, the Special Committee continued to be encouraged by the courage and strength of the people of Palestine.

League of Arab States, reading out a statement on behalf of AHMED ABOUL GHEIT, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, said in 1977, the General Assembly decided to hold on 29 November of every year an International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. This was a significant opportunity to recall the righteousness of the cause and the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination. This year, the prospects for a fair and lasting peace based on the two-State solution was stuck in a gridlock, under threat from the Israeli occupation. The Israeli occupying forces continued to kill Palestinians in cold blood in the West Bank, encroach on Palestinian territories, and carry out extrajudicial killings. More than 6,000 Palestinian people were being held in Israeli prisons and there was also the unfair blockade of the Gaza Strip, which deprived people of a decent life. Today Israel had still not implemented any of the hundreds of resolutions on the question of Palestine.

The international community needed to shoulder its responsibility, put an end to the occupation, and hold Israel to account for its daily crimes against the Palestinian people, said Mr. Aboul Gheit's statement. The League of Arab States was in favour of a diplomatic mobilisation of Palestine, to grant Palestine the rank of a fully-fledged member of the United Nations, allowing them to be an active member on the international stage. It was inconceivable that Israel could benefit from this, while Palestine remained an observer member. Despite the current impasse, the international community needed to advocate for fair and lasting peace. The Arab League commended the States that stood true to international law; the Australian Government had come back on its decision to recognise West Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The Arab League warned all States against measures which might lead to the transfer of their missions to occupied Jerusalem, as this would be illegal, and encouraged all States to follow in Australia's steps.

Organization of Islamic Cooperation said the annual ceremony was an expression of support for the Palestinian people for their struggle towards the restoration of their legitimate rights, and the rejection of the policies of colonial settlement, forced displacement, and racial discrimination practiced by the Israeli occupation. The meeting took place against a deteriorating situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including the city of Al-Quds, resulting from the escalation of attacks and crimes committed by Israel, which claimed the lives of more than 200 Palestinians since the beginning of this year, and injured hundreds. There were also repeated violations taking place by extremist settler groups protected by the Israeli occupation forces. Al-Quds, the capital of the State of Palestine, was an integral part of the Palestinian land occupied in 1967. Israel's measures aimed at changing its geographical and demographic status needed to end, and the legal and historical status of Islamic and Christian holy sites needed to be preserved. Without deterrence or accountability, the illegal practices of land confiscation policy, colonial settlements construction, and acts of provocation and terrorism committed by Israeli settlers against the Palestinian people would continue.

Israel's colonial plans aimed at undermining the vision of the two-State solution needed to come to an end, and Israel needed to be held accountable for violations and crimes committed daily against the Palestinian people. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation reiterated the need to ensure that Israel would abide by its obligations under international instruments and release all prisoners. Peace could not be realised in the Middle East without a comprehensive and lasting solution to the cause of Palestine, in accordance with international law, relevant United Nations resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative. International actors needed to engage in a multilateral political process to end the Israel occupation, provide protection for the Palestinian people, and enable them to exercise their rights.

Azerbaijan, reading out a statement on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was a solemn occasion for renewing the commitment to a fair and lasting solution to the Palestinian cause and to achieve genuine peace and security in the Middle East. The Non-Aligned Movement had historically maintained a firm and solidary stance toward the Palestinian people and their cause, which rejected the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. In the Final Document of the 2019 Baku Summit, the Non-Aligned Movement stressed the urgent need to continue providing support to the Palestinian people and to bolster their efforts aimed at achieving their legitimate national aspirations, including their right to self-determination and freedom in their independent State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital on the basis of the pre-1967 borders, in line with international law and relevant United Nations resolutions. A lasting solution to the question of Palestine remained a permanent responsibility of the United Nations.

The Non-Aligned Movement expressed deep concern about the critical situation and vulnerability of Palestine refugees due to the instability and crises throughout the region, and underlined the importance of action, including through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. The ongoing illegal Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory continued to be a matter of grave concern, and the Non-Aligned Movement stressed the need for urgent action to mobilise the international community, to compel Israel to cease all illegal settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and to abide by all of its obligations under international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention and the relevant United Nations resolutions. Any action which legitimised the occupation was condemned. The international community needed to take concrete measures to honour its legal and moral responsibility and ensure that impunity did not become the norm.

African Union said more than 40 years after the proclamation of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories continued to deteriorate and damage international relations. The indifference by the international community and the United Nations could no longer be sustained. The persistence of Israeli authorities to openly violate the human rights of the Palestinian people should not be tolerated. Africa would always support the Palestinian people in their legitimate struggle to end the Israeli occupation and establish their independent State. The African Union Assembly reaffirmed its commitment to the peaceful settlement of the conflict in accordance with international law, calling for the establishment of a Palestinian State based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Peace in the Middle East required a full Israeli withdrawal from all occupied territories. The African Union Assembly implored African countries to end all forms of dealings with the illegal Israeli colonial settlements. The disrespect of Israel and its allies to international efforts and their disregard for the moral principles shared by the international community were established facts. The failure of the international community to protect the Palestinians was also another sad fact. However, the world needed to continue to believe in multilateralism and the ability of leaders to end the conflict. The world needed to act collectively and put an end to practices which belonged to another era.

World Young Women's Christian Association and its member association, 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, said the United Nations had moral and legal obligations towards the Palestinian people, and needed to break the silence over the perpetration of injustice in Palestine and the oppression of the Palestinian people. The partition plan or resolution 181 (II) of the General Assembly was intended to establish an Arab State and a Jewish State and was adopted on 29 November 1947. Yet decades later the Israeli occupation continued to deny Palestinians their basic rights. Palestinian people continued to suffer under the eyes of the whole world, while millions of Palestinians continued to live as stateless refugees across the world. It was time that the international community, which created Israel on Palestinian land, be brought to justice. It was time for the young Palestinian generation to enjoy peace. The reality in Palestine had been documented profusely by several organizations which had been deemed by Israel to be terrorist organizations. They continued to see hope in youth and to promote their active participation at local and international levels to achieve peace and justice.

State of Palestine, reading out a statement by MAHMOUD ABBAS, President of the State of Palestine, extended gratitude to all those around the world who believed in the cause and all the peoples that had expressed their solidarity with the Palestinian people and supported their struggle, and to States which supported the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. The solidarity had kept the cause of Palestine alive and present despite the passage of time and the succession of generations. Another year had passed for the Palestinian people while they were still languishing under the Israeli occupation; another year of killing, siege, arrest, forced displacement, settlements, land confiscation, and military checkpoints. Another year that witnessed more violence and incitement by the Israeli occupation, including Israeli officials and members of the Israeli Knesset, as demonstrated by the recent Israeli elections. A year described by the United Nations as the deadliest year for the Palestinian people in the West Bank since the second intifada.

The entire world had witnessed Israel's assassination of the Palestinian journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, the voice of Palestine and an icon of the Arab media, who was assassinated by the Israeli occupying forces in cold blood. This was Israel and its occupation, summarised in this crime which summarised the suffering of Palestinian people for more than seven decades. This was the case of the Palestinian people with this Israeli occupation, which considered itself above the law. The Israeli occupier, persisting in its aggression, could not be expected to choose justice and peace. Instead, the international community must mobilise its efforts to put pressure on Israel to end its occupation and stop its crimes.

Decades ago, the international community determined its vision for peace, and that vision was the two-State solution based on the 1967 borders. This vision was enshrined in the resolutions of the United Nations; it had determined the obligations of the parties as well as the obligations of third parties not to recognise illegal unilateral actions by Israel in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, ensure respect for international law, and provide international protection for Palestinians. The States that established trade or diplomatic offices in Jerusalem should be cautioned as they were in violation of international law. Through such actions, these countries contributed to the suffering of the Palestinian people. The international community had long rejected Israel's policies of colonial annexation and settlement expansion; this supportive international stance needed to be accompanied by concrete measures that translated the international consensus into a reality. Alternatives and proposals had been put forward to the General Assembly. The Israeli colonial system and all its violations, including against the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, had been referred to the International Court of Justice.

The two-State solution could not be left hostage to the occupier's will. An international conference needed to be convened under the United Nations to achieve comprehensive peace which would lead to ending the occupation, realising the freedom of the Palestinian people and their independence in their own State, with Jerusalem as its capital. State of Palestine would spare no efforts in upholding commitments under international law, empowering youth and women and reviving the national economy. More efforts would be extended to put the Palestinian house in order and to achieve reconciliation and end the division. Palestine thanked Algeria and Egypt for their sincere efforts to achieve the Palestinian reconciliation. The Palestinian people would not tolerate oppression and injustice and would continue to pursue their struggle against the colonial occupation of their land and people. The destiny of Palestinian people was to live in freedom and dignity on the land of Palestine and this goal would be achieved.

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