Thursday, April 24, 2014

Closing statement of Ambassador Tanin as Chair of UN African Meeting on Palestine

Statement by

H.E. Zahir Tanin

Head of the Delegation of the

Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights

of the Palestinian People

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

As the United Nations African Meeting on the Question of Palestine is drawing to a close, allow me, on behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, to express our sincere appreciation to all the participants. Our special thanks go to the distinguished panelists for sharing with us their valuable insights and expertise. Their presentations reminded us that despite the efforts of major international stakeholders and the declared intentions of the parties, the peace process has not yet moved forward. At the same time, facts continue to be created by the occupying Power on the ground threatening to render the two-State solution unattainable. Of particular concern, as repeatedly stated at this Meeting, is the situation in East Jerusalem.

The Committee appreciated very much the participation of Palestinian and Israeli experts, parliamentarians, politicians and representatives of civil society pointing out that the majorities in both societies support the two-State solution, including a just and viable solution for Jerusalem. The other participants in the Meeting, including the speakers from Africa and other international experts confirmed that the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict remained a matter of utmost concern not only for Governments and politicians, but for broad sections of the population on all continents. The question of Jerusalem, in particular, is prone to spark emotions among millions of people, no Government can neglect, because of the city’s status as a spiritual center of the three religions.

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 main message sent out by this Meeting should be one of encouragement. Encouragement to our Palestinian and Israeli friends, to the politicians, parliamentarians and decision-makers to continue on the path to peace, to address, as matter of priority, the concerns of their own constituencies, in order to prepare the ground for the acceptance of the bold decisions that need to be taken and implemented, if peace shall ultimately be achieved between the two peoples. Internal divisions will have to be overcome, extremists isolated, and voices of reason and reconciliation strengthened.

The message of our Meeting should also encourage the international community to continue its efforts, at the political, economic and humanitarian levels, in support of the peace process. Speakers called upon the Members of the Middle East Quartet, in particular the United States, to stay engaged in order to achieve a breakthrough in the negotiations. Being in Morocco, the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative was emphasized, and Arab States encouraged to pursue it vigorously for the benefit of all peoples in the region. And the international community is called upon to continue its direct assistance to the Palestinian people, to alleviate the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza suffering from the three-year long Israeli blockade and to support the state-building efforts of the Palestinian Authority.

Our Committee was created some 35 years ago by the General Assembly to remind the international community of its 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.

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of the Committee and all participants in this Meeting, allow me to reiterate our sincere appreciation to the Government of Morocco for allowing us to gather in such a hospitable place to have these important deliberations. We enjoyed very much the cooperation and services received from the staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. We very much look forward to continuing this excellent cooperation with the Moroccan Government.

Before I conclude, I would like to express the Committee’s sincere appreciation to the Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat, the conference services team from the United Nations Office at Vienna and Geneva, interpreters, press officers, technicians, the staff of the Tour Hassan Hotel and all others for their contribution to the successful holding of the Meeting.

I would also like to inform you that the documentation of this Meeting will be posted on the web site maintained by the Division for Palestinian Rights, and a report of this Meeting will be published, in due course, as a publication of the Division.

I wish you all a safe journey back home.

I now declare closed the United Nations African Meeting on the Question of Palestine.