H.E. Mr. Zahir Tanin
Vice Chairman of the Committe on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People
Before the Security Council
The Situation in the Middle East, Including The Palestinian Question
In my capacity as Vice-Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, allow me to congratulate you on the exemplary manner in which you have been steering the work of the Council during this month. I would also like to express my appreciation to H.E. Ambassador Emanuel Issoze-Ngondet of Gabon for his efficient presiding over the Council during the month of March.
On behalf of the Committee, I would like to express my appreciation to the United Nations Secretariat for the monthly briefings on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. Briefings such as this serve a useful practical purpose as they reflect the latest developments on the ground, as well as the efforts by various stakeholders in the international community to move the peace process forward.
Sadly, Mr. President, as we meet here today, there appears to be little hope for a serious turnaround in the all too familiar patterns of events on the ground. Violence continues to affect the lives of Palestinians and Israelis. Our Committee has condemned the use by Israel of its military might against the occupied Palestinian people, be it the bombing of areas in Gaza, incursions into Palestinian cities in the West Bank and Gaza, or dispersing non-violent protestors in front of the separation wall built illegally on Palestinian land. Our Committee has also been unequivocal in condemning the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Palestinian groups from Gaza into Israel. Violence from either side has to stop.
Our Committee also considers it alarming and totally unacceptable that the Government of Israel continues to flagrantly dismiss numerous calls by members of the international community, including the Quartet, for halting the illegal settlement activity in the Occupied West Bank and especially in East Jerusalem. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s latest statements in that regard send a clear message to the international community that the Israeli strategy is to continue to build in Jerusalem in violation of international law. At the same time, the occupying Power has continued to displace Palestinian residents in East Jerusalem through illegal house demolitions, evictions and residency right revocations.
Our Committee is also seriously concerned about the new Israeli military order that went into effect yesterday threatening thousands of residents in the West Bank with deportation. This order is part of the Israeli policy of consolidating and perpetuating its occupation of Palestinian land through forced displacement of the population. Implementing this order would constitute a breach of the Forth Geneva Convention, in particular its Article 49, which prohibits forcible transfers as well as deportations of protected persons, individual or mass, from the occupied territory.
It is absolutely clear that, by creating such facts on the ground, the occupying Power is undermining efforts at restarting the political process and is pre-determining the outcome of the sensitive permanent status negotiations on the status of Jerusalem. This approach renders any such negotiations devoid of purpose. In the same vein, Israel’s actions and policy on the issue of settlements are a serious threat to the concept of achieving a permanent settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of a two-State solution. It is obvious, Mr. President, that these illegal and provocative actions of the Israeli leadership are also directly undermining current efforts at resuming the political process between the parties.
Our Committee fully supports the demand by the Middle East Quartet that Israel freeze all settlement activity, dismantle outposts and refrain from illegal house demolitions and evictions in East Jerusalem. I would like to emphasize here that these are NOT pre-conditions for resuming the negotiating process. These are Israeli obligations under the Road Map, as endorsed by this Council. It is hoped that the ten-month freeze of settlement expansion declared by the Israeli Government would be comprehensive, extended to East Jerusalem and retained indefinitely.
I would like to inform the Members of the Council that, at the end of March, our Committee convened its annual United Nations Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People. Its goal was to draw the attention of the international community to the Programme of the Palestinian Authority entitled “Palestine: Ending the occupation, establishing the State” – the programme that has become known as the Fayyad Plan. This programme might be understood as the Palestinian answer to Israeli settlement-building by creating unilaterally positive facts on the ground. Unlike Israel’s settlement activity, the Palestinian Authority’s programme is consistent with international law, welcomed and supported by the international community, and promotes rather than impedes prospects for a peace agreement. The plan reflects the Palestinian determination to empower themselves by taking their destiny into their own hands and shouldering their share of responsibility through building state institutions under the Israeli occupation with a view to ending it.
This forward-looking programme of the Palestinian Authority deserves the full attention of and tangible support by the international community. The Palestinian Authority has proven its ability to transform international support into concrete government-administered programmes, as demonstrated by the reform of the law and order sector and improved transparency at all levels and in all sectors of its activity. The Fayyad Plan is a logical continuation of these efforts.
It has to be borne in mind that this programme is not being implemented in a political vacuum. It is now, and will be in the foreseeable future, critically affected by developments in the political process. In fact, its success is determined by the measure of progress in the political area. On the international level, support needs to be built for the broad recognition of an independent Palestinian State. At the end of the projected two years of the plan, this recognition could be enshrined in a Security Council resolution, clearly determining the borders of the Palestinian State based on the pre-1967 lines.
Our Committee has come out strongly in support of the Palestinian Authority’s State-building programme. We would like to encourage the Members of the Security Council to support the realization of this plan, which has already been endorsed by the United Nations Secretary-General, the Quartet and the League of Arab States. By putting the weight of its authority behind this plan, the Council will create the necessary political framework for ending the occupation and implementing the two-State solution with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security.
Thank you, Mr. President.
The Situation in the Middle East, Including The Palestinian Question