Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Public Forum Closing Remarks by H.E. Mr. Zahir Tanin Head of Delegation Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Public Forum is drawing to a close. The delegation of the Committee is grateful for the very informative presentations by the invited speakers and enjoyed the lively exchange of views during the discussions. My special thanks go to the two moderators, Ms. Phyllis Bennis and Dr. Sylvia Tiryaki, who so ably steered us through the session.

Dear Friends,

The Palestinian people have suffered too much and for too long. All of us in every capacity — Governments, the United Nations and civil society — must each play our own role to bring justice back to them.

Today the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People was able to learn from you – from your analyses of the situation on the ground, and about your efforts to bring peace and justice to Jerusalem. We’ve heard about your tireless advocacy work, your relentless protests, your personal sacrifices and your invocations of international law.

I would like to assure you that we will take your messages back to New York – to the members of the Committee, and through them, the wider membership of the United Nations.

You should know that the Committee stands behind your efforts and encourages you to keep working towards a just and lasting peace. We support all your efforts to broaden the movement, to involve more organizations and individuals in your efforts. And we will continue to work with you. Wherever possible, we will provide you with a platform, like this Public Forum here in Istanbul, to widen your outreach, your networking and coordination. We will keep cataloguing your actions and analyses in the UN Division for Palestinian Rights’ “NGO Action News”. In that regard, please keep the Division updated about your activities, new initiatives and campaigns, including your work with other stakeholders, such as trade unions or parliamentarians.

Also, wherever possible, we will be inviting your representatives to report directly at Committee meetings or to speak at events organized under the Committee’s auspices. And of course, we are always happy to hear about your ideas to enhance our future cooperation.

The important thing is that we all stay connected and work together towards our common goal: the exercise by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights, the right to self-determination, the right of return of the Palestine refugees, and an independent State with East Jerusalem as its capital.

I thank you once again for your participation in this meeting and with you a safe journey back.

With that, I declare closed the United Nations Public Forum in Support of the Palestinian People.

Public Forum Opening Remarks by H.E. Mr. Zahir Tanin Head of Delegation Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear friends,

On behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, I would like to warmly welcome you to the United Nations Public Forum in Support of the Palestinian People.

Many of you also attended the United Nations International Meeting in Support of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process, which just concluded yesterday. Among the topics discussed at that gathering was the question of Jerusalem, as a key to Israeli-Palestinian peace. Since this issue is of utmost concern to us all, it will also be the focus for this meeting of civil society.

Jerusalem arouses global passions in a way that few other locales can. And yet those passions, instead of creating a bastion of cross-cultural understanding and harmony, are changing one of the world’s great cities from a symbol of spiritualism and co-existence into one of injustice and suppression.

The international community has never recognized Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem following its occupation in June 1967. Also our Committee views East Jerusalem as an integral part of the Palestinian Territory occupied by Israel. We regularly point out and criticize Israeli policies of creating facts on the ground and changing the demographic composition of the city.

Since 1967, Israel has built more than 50,000 homes for Israelis in East Jerusalem. Compare that to 600 homes for Palestinians, the last of which were built 35 years ago. Since they cannot build legally, Palestinians are being forced to build without permits, which often leads to Israeli demolitions of their homes. And when it comes to real estate in the holy city of Jerusalem, an Israeli can buy a home anywhere. But a Palestinian cannot.

As we all know, East Jerusalem is home to a wealth of religious, archaeological and cultural sites. But we are seeing control of many of these sites falling into the hands of extreme settler groups. As a result, the Christian, Muslim and Palestinian aspects of the city are being swept under the rug. And because of Israeli restrictions, Palestinian Muslims and Christians are losing access to the historical mosques and churches to which they are emotionally attached.

The Committee considers that a negotiated solution on the status of Jerusalem, which takes into account the political and religious concerns of all sides, should be an integral part of a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and lasting peace in the entire region. It should include internationally guaranteed provisions to ensure the freedom of religion and of conscience of its inhabitants, as well as permanent, free and unhindered access to holy places by the Palestinian people and peoples of all religions and nationalities.

Any agreement that does not include East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian State will not lead to sustainable Israeli-Palestinian peace. Also, Government-sanctioned settlement construction, transfer of settlers, house demolitions, evictions of Palestinian residents and other action aimed at altering or purporting to alter the legal status and physical and demographic character of the city, constitute violations of international law and must be ceased and rescinded.

It is my hope that today’s Public Forum will give you, as members of civil society, the chance to share your views on the situation in the city and to discuss on how to move forward on the topic of Jerusalem, and thus, on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in general. You will hear presentations on what is happening in the city today, including on home demolitions, forced evictions, settlements, the revocation of residency rights and IDs, and security concerns, including rising crime rates. A specific emphasis has been put on the role of non-State actors in promoting peace in Jerusalem, including through interfaith dialogue and people-to-people diplomacy.

Today’s meeting is part of our Committee’s programme of cooperation with civil society by providing venues and opportunities for organizations and individuals to come together to exchange views and broaden their international networks in support of the Palestinian people. Also, the Bureau of the Committee periodically holds consultations with civil society representatives to seek their input and new ideas as to how the Committee’s work could be improved. Moreover, the Committee continues to receive, with high appreciation, valuable analyses, statistics and other important information on the situation on the ground from academic institutes, think tanks and other organizations, which are extremely useful for our activities.

The Committee commends civil society organizations for their efforts to uphold international legitimacy with regard to the question of Palestine through advocacy and the mobilization of public opinion and for their initiatives aimed at alleviating the plight of the Palestinian people. The Committee also encourages civil society organizations to broaden their base, involving trade unions and other large organizations, and to focus and harmonize their advocacy efforts at the local, national, regional and international levels.

I would like to inform you that Phyllis Bennis, a Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC, and Sylvia Tiryaki, Deputy Director of the Global Political Trends Center here at Istanbul Kültür University, will moderate today’s Public Forum. On behalf of the Committee, I would like to thank Ms. Bennis and Dr. Tiryaki for agreeing to that role. I am sure we will have constructive and lively deliberations.

Thank you very much.

CLOSING SESSION Statement by H.E. Mr. Zahir Tanin Head of the Delegation Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People

Excellencies,

Distinguished speakers,

Ladies and gentlemen,

The United Nations International Meeting in Support of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process is drawing to a close. On behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, I would like to thank all participants for their contribution to the successful holding of this Meeting. I would like to once again register our sincere appreciation to the Government of Turkey for hosting this timely and important event and for the generous hospitality extended to all of us. The Committee looks forward to continuing and expanding this excellent cooperation we have with Turkey towards the common goal of finding a solution to the question of Palestine.

The Committee has convened this Meeting to garner support for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Our special thanks go to the distinguished speakers for sharing with us their valuable insights and expertise. We know that there are still large obstacles lying ahead in the peace process. We clearly know what those hurdles are. We know that crucial provisions of international law and United Nations resolutions are not being upheld. We are all actually aware of what needs to be done to bring peace, as articulately described in the concluding document just presented. Some of the issues we have discussed during the past two days are extremely sensitive, politically and emotionally, but none of them can be neglected and excluded from the permanent status negotiations if a lasting peace is to be achieved.

The international community has legal and moral responsibilities to restore the long-lost justice. The Committee reiterates that the root cause of the conflict is the occupation by Israel of the Palestinian Territory, which has lasted for more than four decades. Palestinians have suffered for far too long. Years of occupation have also affected the lives of Israelis. This unacceptable situation must be urgently redressed to allow both Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security.

As I said in my opening statement, what is more important than the deliberations is to translate all the ideas and suggestions into reality. Our Committee will always be at your disposal for this endeavour. The Committee will continue to work to raise awareness of the question of Palestine based on the mandate given by the General Assembly of the United Nations. I would like to announce that our next meeting will be the United Nations African Meeting on the Question of Palestine, which will be held in Rabat, Morocco on 1 and 2 July. Invitations are currently being sent out.

I would like to inform you that related documents and all other information about this Meeting will be available on the “Question of Palestine” website maintained by the Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat. A list with the respective links has been distributed by the Secretariat. I would also like to invite you to visit the new Facebook page that the Division has recently launched, which will help you keep updated on all of our activities.

Before concluding, I would like to express our Committee’s sincere appreciation to the staff of the United Nations Secretariat , the Division for Palestinian Rights, the Conference Services team coming from Vienna, all interpreters, the press officer, the staff of the Sheraton Hotel, and staff of the Intra servicing company. The successful holding of the Meeting would have been impossible without their professional assistance.

Thank you all once again.