Permanent Observer Briefs Palestinian Rights Committee on Situation in Occupied Territory Situation, Submissions Guidelines for Opinion Case to World Court
Vice-Chair, Rapporteur Elected by Acclimation
The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People today elected its Vice-Chair and Rapporteur, as the Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine updated the Committee on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and gave a briefing on the guidelines for opinion case submissions to the International Court of Justice.
By acclimation, the Committee unanimously elected Ahmad Faisal Muhamad (Malaysia) as Vice-Chair and Rapporteur.
Mr. Muhamad (Malaysia), speaking after his election, stressed that the hardship and agony suffered by the Palestinian people has persisted for far too long. His Government will continue to stand in solidarity with them and remains convinced that the internationally recognized two-State solution with East Jerusalem as its capital and based on pre-1967 borders can be realized if the international community — especially the Security Council — exerts all efforts to ensure its full implementation. “You can count on Malaysia’s commitment and support towards the work of this Committee and the realization of the Palestinian people’s inalienable rights to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty,” he said.
Riyad H. Mansour, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, spotlighted the recent events in the Occupied Palestinian Territory; Israel’s latest acts of aggression; the desecration of holy sites, including Christian ones during Easter; the massive onslaught against Palestinian prisoners, some of whom have engaged in a hunger strike; and the aggression of extremist settler groups. While the international community is reacting appropriately, more must be done to implement relevant Security Council resolutions, end the Nakba and uphold the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, national independence, sovereignty and return.
Turning to opinion case submissions in relation to General Assembly resolution A/77/247, which requested an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory, he noted that there is a 20-page template and a bank of 27 lawyers willing to work on a pro-bono basis to assist countries on their submission. The aim is to have a tremendous amount of information for the Court so that the entire question of Palestine can be heard and receive a useful opinion, he underscored.
Several delegates then took the floor to share that they are working actively on their submissions.
In other business, Cheikh Niang (Senegal), Chair of the Committee, outlined its recent and upcoming activities which include a special meeting and a special commemorative event on 15 May in the General Assembly Hall of United Nations Headquarters. For the first time in history, the United Nations will commemorate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Nakba, he noted.
At the outset, the Committee decided to defer the consideration of requests for the accreditation of civil society organizations to its next meeting.
The Committee will reconvene at a date and time to be announced.
RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, first provided the Committee with an update on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. The Security Council held eight meetings over the last four months, given Israel’s most extremist Government in its history – one which includes ministers who have been convicted in Israeli courts of supporting terrorism organizations. Although the international community is reacting, more must be done to implement the Council’s resolutions, end the Nakba quickly; and implement the right to self-determination and Statehood while upholding the rights of the refugees.
Drawing attention to the Israeli Government’s latest acts of aggression, he spotlighted Jericho being under siege for the last 10 days, incidents in Ramallah and the desecration of holy sites, including Christian ones during Easter. There has also been a massive onslaught against Palestinian prisoners whose health have been neglected, he pointed out, reporting that some have engaged in hunger strikes such as Khader Adnan who died on 2 May after an 86-day strike. In light of these events, the State of Palestine has detailed these latest crimes in its letter to the Secretary-General.
Also detailing the aggression of extremist settler groups against Palestinians near the town of Nablus, he reported that car and homes had been torched by Israeli settlers with Israeli armed forces watching and taking no action. There was also a “night of hell” in the Gaza strip from the Israeli army’s aggression, he continued, voicing his gratitude to Egypt and the United Nations for facilitating a ceasefire.
On the upcoming 15 May commemoration of the Nakba at the United Nations, he stressed that the aim is to tell the Palestinian people’s story and lift their hopes as they maintain their efforts to live a life of dignity. With performances by 35 to 40 artists, along with music, lighting, staging and testimonials by Palestinians and Israelis, the organizers hope to have at least 1,000 people from outside the United Nations attending this event. For their part, Member States should use this occasion in their own ways and in their own countries. “The Nakba is not something that should be acknowledged as a normal day,” he stressed, underscoring: “It is something to be remembered in a sophisticated way.”
Detailing the history behind the General Assembly’s request for an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory, he informed the Committee on guidelines for the submission of materials. There is a 20-page template with condensed legal arguments and references that delegates and groups can use, he noted, adding that there are also 27 lawyers willing to help countries a pro-bono basis on their submissions by the 25 July deadline. Countries can then see each other’s submissions and have until 25 October to make another submission.
The aim, he stressed, is to have a tremendous amount of information so that the entire question on Palestine can not only be heard by the highest Court, but also receive a useful opinion which helps achieve the inalienable rights of the Palestinians, the return of refugees and Statehood. Observing that the events in Ukraine have made it seem like the Organization is driven by one issue, he stressed: “The issue of Palestine cannot be ignored and is strong and alive on the agenda of United Nations.”
The floor then opened up for comments and questions from Committee members and observers as they voiced their gratitude and support.
The representative of Indonesia underscored the need for the Committee to continue its efforts to “get the highest political attention in this house” and ensure as much publicity as possible on the Nakba. He then shared that Jakarta will be submitting an advisory opinion and reiterated its continued and steadfast support.
The representative of Lebanon, thanking the State of Palestine for its support, confirmed that his country is also preparing a submission to the Court.
The representative of Egypt asked if Member States will be allowed to make statements during 15 May meeting in the General Assembly.
The representative of South Africa delegate shared that his Government has already started working on its submission to the Court.
The representative of Namibia, similarly, noting that her Government is working on its submission, echoed the need for a strategy on publicity and mobilization ahead of 15 May commemorative event.
The observer for the League of Arab States, stressing that the symbolic event commemorating the Nakba will breathe new life into the Palestinian issue, said its Secretary-General will deliver an address. Through its legal department, the League of Arab States is preparing a request for an advisory opinion, she reported.
CHEIKH NIANG (Senegal), Chair of the Committee, responding to questions and comments, noted that he sent a letter detailing how commemorations will be organized. While there will be no statements at the Nakba commemorations, Member States can share their statements with the Secretariat to be posted on the United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine website. He then underscored the moral duty of the Committee’s members to participate by submitting for an advisory opinion from the Court.
“If we don’t do it at our level, I wonder who else will do it,” he said, emphasizing: “This is a very important milestone for the Palestinian cause.” He also called for new and innovative ways to mobilize the international community, especially in light of its inertia in the face of unabated and horrendous crimes against the Palestinian people. “We need to do something — we need to have the kind of stance when apartheid was being fought,” he stressed.
Mr. MANSOUR echoed the Chair’s call for submissions, emphasizing that they would not only send a strong message to the Court but also help in rendering an opinion. Once an advisory opinion is obtained, it can be studied and analysed so that further actions — including any requests made of the Assembly — can be decided.
ELIO TAMBURI, Director of the Division of Palestinian Rights of the Department of Political Affairs, added that the 15 May event is going to follow the format of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, in which the Committee will acknowledge the States that have submitted statements.
Mr. NIANG then briefed the Committee, noting that it organized a closed-door legal seminar in Geneva, Switzerland on the illegality of the occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory on 7 to 9 February, which was attended by international legal experts, Palestinian diplomats, Government officials and Bureau representatives. He also led a Bureau delegation to the League of Arab States’ high-level Conference, “Jerusalem: Resilience and Development”, on 12 February. Later that month on 28 February, the Committee received an annual briefing from the Division for Palestinian Rights to familiarize new Member States’ delegates with the Committee’s mandate and programme of work, as well as a presentation by the Department of Global Communications’ special information programme on the question of Palestine.
He also reported that the Committee organized a virtual event on 15 March on the margins of the sixty-seventh session of the Commission on the Status of Work to discuss the enduring impact of the Nakba on the lives of millions of Palestinians as a result of their displacement and dispossession. On 16 and 17 March, the Bureau attended the forty-ninth session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and participating in the meeting of the “Committee of Six on Palestine”.
As well, the Bureau held on 11 April its annual meeting with the President of the General Assembly to discuss the deteriorating situation in Gaza, the International Court of Justice advisory opinion, Israel’s occupation and relentless violations of the status quo at the Holy Sites in Jerusalem and the Council veto initiative, he continued. It also held on 24 April a meeting with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the State of Palestine to exchange views before the Council’s quarterly open debate on the situation in the Middle East.
At the Council’s open debate on 25 April, he noted that he delivered a statement on the Committee’s behalf expressing dismay at the political dynamics and rising tensions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, appealing to the Council to protect the Palestinian people in the face of constant human rights violations by the occupying Power. On 27 April, the Committee held closed consultations with civil society representatives from the State of Palestine, Israel and the United States entitled “The ongoing Nakba in Gaza: blockade, dispossession and denial of rights”. During these consultations, speakers reminded all about the “ongoing Nakba” which began in 1948, but has since become “normalized injustice”.
The Bureau also issued press statements condemning, on 24 February, the violence perpetrated by Israel forces in Nablus and, on 5 April, the intrusion and violence against Palestinian worshipping at a Holy Site in Jerusalem, he reported. Upcoming Committee activities include a special meeting and special commemorative event on 15 May. For the first time in history, the United Nations will commemorate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Nakba as requested by General Assembly resolution 77/23. This event will bring to life the Palestinian journey and will aim to create an immerse experience through live music, photos, videos and personal testimonies. The Bureau will also hold a follow-up meeting with the Council’s 10 elected members on 9 May to continue exchanging ideas on supporting a resumption of peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine.