403rd Meeting (PM)

State of Palestine Calls for ‘Responsible and Serious’ General Assembly Action to End Occupation, as Palestinian Rights Committee Approves its Annual Report

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People approved its annual report today, as the State of Palestine made a powerful call for the General Assembly to take “responsible and serious” action to end Israel’s occupation, nearly 74 years after its historic passage of resolution 181, partitioning Palestine and leaving its people to an unjust fate.

“Only accountability can alter the downward trajectory of the situation on the ground” towards support for Palestinian rights, including to self‑determination, emphasized Feda Abdelhady-Nasser, Deputy Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, noting that recent events have highlighted the seriousness of the situation.

Citing the colonization and annexation of Palestinian land, apartheid policies against Palestinians, including refugees, and the deprivation of all their fundamental human rights, she said the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has made a critical situation more difficult, as reflected in the grave humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip.

She said that, in its letters to the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Secretary-General, her delegation has reflected the escalating intensity of crimes being committed by Israel and extremist settlers - attacks, arrests, detentions and imprisonment, among them.  The killing of children, in particular, has become a routine practice of the occupation forces, emboldened by impunity and right-wing rhetoric, she added.

Meanwhile, Palestinian homes, land and property continue to be seized and destroyed and the Palestinian people displaced, she said.  “This is happening every day,” she pointed out, drawing attention to events in Sheikh Jarra and Silwan, where Palestinian families are under threat of expulsion or home demolition, as extremist settlers attempt to ethnically cleanse them from East Jerusalem.

Moreover, Israel continues to defy resolution 2334 (2016) and the 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, in contempt of international demands, she stressed, noting that, meanwhile, Palestinian civilians protesting the annexation of their lands are attacked with lethal force.  Casualty numbers in the occupied West Bank town of Beita speak to the violence, she added.

She went on to underline the persistence of incitement and incursions at holy sites, notably at the Aqsa Mosque compound, endangering its sanctity.  Israel continues its occupation and military siege of Gaza, once again in excessively forcible response to civilian protests at the Gaza border fence, she said, citing Israel’s use of live fire just last week against protesters at the fence, which injured 51 civilians, including 22 children.

While for some that behaviour may have become normalized, it is “absolutely abnormal, inhumane and immoral”, and in breach of international law, she insisted.  It is time to implement United Nations resolutions and give meaning to the important principles and decisions therein, she said, stressing that it is also time to support an International Criminal Court investigation into crimes perpetrated in the Occupied Palestinian Territory as a crucial step towards justice for the innocent victims.

Against that backdrop, she urged States that have not yet joined the Committee to support its efforts and to advance shared principles and goals in a spirit of dialogue.  The basis of the solution is long-known and is reflected in the international consensus, despite routine cynical attempts to dismantle it, she said.  That consensus endures amid the constant calls to end the occupation and achieve a two-State solution on the pre-1967 lines, in accordance with international law and United Nations resolutions, to realize Palestinians’ fundamental rights, including to self-determination, and a just solution for refugees, in accordance with resolution 194.

“This would be a true cornerstone of peace and stability in the Middle East,” she stressed.  She urged the Committee to continue its efforts, welcoming its cooperation with the Secretary-General and other United Nations entities, and ensuring a meaningful role for the Organization in seeking a just solution.  She encouraged partnership with the League of Arab States, Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Non-Aligned Movement and the African Union, as well as with civil society groups.

Cheikh Niang (Senegal), Chair of the Committee, said that it conducted a significant number of activities during the reporting period, with most events livestreamed on United Nations Web TV and social media.  He added that his statements highlighted the deterioration of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, called for a halt to Israel’s activities, and for progress towards a just and comprehensive solution to the conflict.  On 10 February, the bureau met with the President of the General Assembly to exchange ideas on greater cooperation in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and on financing for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

In March, he continued, the Committee conducted outreach meetings advocating for the long-overdue realization of Palestinian rights and reinvigoration of the peace process, with participants including representatives of the European Union, Russian Federation, China, France and Mexico.  He noted that on 7 April, a virtual event on refugees featured a briefing by UNRWA and remarks the General Assembly President, and on 18 April, the Committee sent a letter to the President of the Security Council, asking Israel to comply with its obligations and allow elections in East Jerusalem.

Later, on 10 May, the Committee expressed grave concerns about violence at the Aqsa Mosque compound and called for Security Council action to salvage prospects for peace, he said, recalling that, on 18 May, a forum was held on the full implementation of Security Council resolution 2334 (2016).  On 20 May, the Chair addressed a General Assembly plenary meeting calling for consolidation of the ceasefire agreed by Israeli and Palestinian forces.  On 1 July, the Committee and OIC held an international conference themed “Forced demographic change in Jerusalem — grave breaches and a threat to peace”.  Closed consultations with six representatives of civil society organizations were held on 3 August, focusing on how the international community can hold Israel accountable for violations of Palestinian rights, he said, adding that the question of re-establishing the United Nations Centre against Apartheid was also addressed.

The Chair announced that the next consultations will be held in November or December.  The 2021 commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People will be observed on 29 November, followed by the 1 December General Assembly plenary meeting on the Question of Palestine, with the only resolution in discussion addressing the peaceful resolution of the situation.

Further, the Chair announced that five civil society organizations requested accreditation, with two conforming to requirements:  Cuban Association of the United Nations based in Cuba, and the Al-Quds Foundation for Medical Schools in Palestine based in the United Kingdom.

For information media. Not an official record.