H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, Vice President of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and Head of the Delegation of the Committee, today chaired the first day of the UN African Meeting on the Question of Palestine in Rabat, Morocco. Ambassador Tanin will chair the two-day meeting, which is convened by the Committee under the theme of â€œStrengthening the support by African States for a just and lasting solution of the question of Jerusalem.â€
The meeting was opened by on Mr. Taib Fassi-Fihri, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation for Morocco, who welcomed the participants and expressed pride at his countryâ€™s being the host for this yearâ€™s African Meeting on Palestine. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also had a statement, which was delivered on his behalf by Bader Al-Dafa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for West Africa. In it the Secretary-General stressed the importance of a negotiated peace in which the question of the permanent status of Jerusalem would have to be resolved.
In his opening statement, Ambassador Tanin called for a resolution of the status of Jerusalem that would allow East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state. He asserted that unilateral attempts to annex or otherwise influence the status of Jerusalem would prevent the finding of a sustainable negotiated solution. He said that any solution would have to include provisions ensuring the freedom of religion of inhabitants, and unhindered access to holy sites. He condemned any action taken in contravention of the Geneva Conventions and called for the parties to the convention to take action in those instances.
The opening session also included a keynote presentation by Mr. Ahmed Qurai, a representative of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Following that, the first plenary which included presentations by experts and a further discussion on the issue of the status of Jerusalem. The Meeting will continue on Friday with two additional plenary sessions before closing at the end of the day on Friday.
Before the opening of the Meeting, Ambassador Tanin and the rest of the Delegation called on Mr. Fassi-Fihri to express their gratitude to Morocco for hosting the Meeting and for its long-time support of the Palestinian people.
Mr. Fassi Fihri, Ambassador Tanin and Mr. Ahmed Qurai later held a press conference that stressed the need for a fair and just resolution to the question of Jerusalem in any sustainable negotiated peace in the Middle East.
For the full report of the first day, click here.