Friday, October 24, 2014

Concluding Statement of the Organizers, UN African Meeting on Palestine

Concluding statement of the Organizers

Concluding statement of the Organizers

1. The United Nations African Meeting on the Question of Palestine was convened by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in Rabat on 1 and 2 July 2010. Participants in the Meeting included internationally renowned experts, including Israeli and Palestinian, representatives of United Nations Members and Observers, parliamentarians, representatives of the United Nations system and other intergovernmental organizations, representatives of civil society, academic institutions and the media.

2. The objective of the Meeting, at this time of intensified efforts at resuming the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, was to promote broad international support, including by African States, for a solution of the conflict based on a shared vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. The Meeting discussed the current status of Jerusalem, including the religious and cultural significance of the Holy City, and its status in international law and United Nations resolutions as a city occupied since 5 June 1967. The Meeting considered the question of Jerusalem in the context of the permanent status negotiations. Participants in the Meeting also looked into the importance of building an international consensus on a just and viable solution of the question of Jerusalem and the role of African States and other actors in that regard.

3. The Meeting was opened by H.E. Mr. Taïb Fassi-Fihri, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Kingdom of Morocco. In his statement, he underlined that the United Nations, in conformity with the text and spirit of its Charter, could not be just an international forum to follow up the development of the Palestinian cause or denounce the ongoing aggressions by the Israeli authorities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It had to take full responsibility by playing a pioneering role for an effective and coherent mobilization of necessary efforts towards ending the tragic conflict that negatively affected the interests of all parties and represented a real threat to international security and stability. He also emphasized the active efforts made by

CPR/AFMQP/2010/19

His Majesty King Mohammed VI, Chairman of the Al-Quds Committee, to preserve the legal status of Al-Quds and maintain its spiritual identity, and to provide all kinds of support to the Makdesi population in order to promote their living conditions in the areas of housing, social work, health care and education, whether directly or by means of the Bayt Mal Al-Quds Al-Sharif Agency, where Morocco remained the major contributor and sponsor.

4. In the course of the Meeting, the participants reviewed the current status of the political efforts to revive a meaningful political process between Israelis and Palestinians. Speakers stressed the importance of a comprehensive peace on the basis of the relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, the Madrid terms of reference, the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Road Map, and deplored recent developments on the ground, which were seriously complicating the ongoing efforts to advance negotiations. The participants examined the current situation in and around Jerusalem and underlined the imperative of a just and viable political solution of the question of Jerusalem as a permanent status issue. They discussed the support of African countries for a permanent settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by promoting the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people through the United Nations system as well as through regional mechanisms, including the African Union, the League of Arab States, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and various civil society initiatives in the region.

5. The Organizers welcomed the support by the participants for the two-State solution, with the State of Israel living side by side in peace and security with an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Hope was expressed for early progress in the negotiations, that would lead to consider all permanent status issues, including settlements, borders, Jerusalem, refugees, water and security. There was consensus that for any peace efforts to be successful, it was imperative to find a just and viable political solution of the question of Jerusalem.

6. Noting that the question of Jerusalem remained a key permanent status issue in any future Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, the Organizers note that Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem has never been internationally recognized. In that context, the Organizers concur with the 8 December 2009 conclusions by the Council of the European Union, as well as the 19 March 2010 statement by the Middle East Quartet, reaffirming that the annexation of East Jerusalem had not been recognized by the international community and that the status of Jerusalem was a permanent status issue that had to be resolved through negotiations between the parties.

7. The Organizers reiterate that the presence of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, is illegal under international law. They call on Israel to immediately cease settlement construction, including the so-called “natural growth”, and to dismantle settlement outposts. Of particular concern were plans for the expansion and consolidation of large settlement blocks in and around East Jerusalem, especially in the so-called “E-1” area, which cut off the City from the rest of the West Bank, thereby undermining and prejudging the outcome of permanent status negotiations. Pointing out that the moratorium on settlements announced by the Government of Prime Minister Netanyahu only provided for a temporary and partial freeze on settlement construction in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the Organizers join the participants in the Meeting in calling for a permanent and complete halt to all settlement activities, including in Occupied East Jerusalem, which has been excluded from the moratorium. The Organizers emphasize that there will be no international recognition of any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed upon by the parties.

8. The Organizers express serious concern about illegal Israeli practices aimed at altering the status and demographic character of East Jerusalem, including the continued house demolitions, eviction of Palestinian residents, revocation of Palestinian residency rights, settlement construction and transfer of settlers. They underline that such unilateral actions constitute violations of international law and impede all efforts at re-launching meaningful permanent status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Moreover, the Organizers deplore all discriminatory Israeli practices against Palestinians in East Jerusalem, including restrictions on access to and residence in East Jerusalem, construction of the wall in and around East Jerusalem and the further isolation of the City from the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The continuation of such illegal and unhelpful practices calls into question the credibility of the stated Israeli commitment to negotiations towards a two-State solution. The Organizers call upon Israel to ensure that provocative steps are not taken in the City, particularly at this delicate stage when the goal must be to build trust and support political negotiations. The Organizers call upon the United Nations, in particular its Security Council, to take, as soon as possible, responsibility for the situation in East Jerusalem and to take the necessary decisions, in consultation with the interested political groupings, to prevent its further deterioration.

9. Drawing attention to the historical, cultural and religious significance of the Holy City, the Organizers wish to remind about the importance of recognizing that religious sites in the West Bank have a special spiritual significance to many people worldwide, including Jews, Muslims and Christians. In that context, the Organizers express regret at the inclusion, earlier this year, of a number of many sites in Jerusalem, including the Tomb of the Patriarchs (Al-Haram Al-Ibrahimi) and Rachel’s Tomb (Masjid Bilal or Qubbat Rakhil), in the list of Israel’s “National Heritage Infrastructures”. They also express serious concern at the continued Israeli excavations in and around the Al-Haram Al-Sharif compound in East Jerusalem and called for an end to all acts of provocation and incitement, in particular at or near the City’s holy sites, which are likely to fuel tensions in the entire region. They stress the need to find a solution to the question of Jerusalem that would take into account the concerns of both sides, while ensuring access to the City’s holy sites by the people of all religions.

10. The Organizers join the participants in welcoming the recently renewed international efforts at re-launching the Middle East peace process, including the initiatives by United States Special Envoy George Mitchell. The Organizers are worried that these serious efforts can be undermined by recent developments on the ground, including the announcement by the Israeli Government of 1,600 new housing units in the “Ramat Shlomo” and the most recent case, involving the approval by a Jerusalem municipal planning body of a plan to demolish 22 Palestinian homes in the Al-Bustan area of the Silwan neighbourhood in East Jerusalem to make room for an Israeli tourist centre. These actions constitute clear violation of the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

11. The Organizers have been deeply concerned about the fatal Israeli attack of 31 May on the international flotilla, heading towards Gaza with humanitarian aid. The Organizers strongly condemn this attack in international waters, and consider it a violation of international law. They fully support the call of the United Nations Secretary-General for establishing an international investigative panel to look into the incident. At the same time, the Organizers are of the view that the incident could have been avoided, had Israel lifted its blockade of Gaza, which for more than three years has been suffocating the 1.5 million people living in the Gaza Strip, while preventing them from rebuilding their lives in the aftermath of the comprehensive destruction caused by the Israeli attack on Gaza 18 months ago. The Organizers deplore the continuing blockage of many items and materials vital for humanitarian relief and reconstruction efforts and the obstacles faced by patients trying to leave the Gaza Strip in search of treatment for serious and chronic illnesses. While noting the recent slight easing of the restrictions on Gaza, the Organizers stress the need for concrete action to lift the siege completely and promptly to allow the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and people through the crossings.

12. The Organizers remind Israel, the occupying Power, of its responsibilities under international humanitarian law, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention, which stipulates that Israel, as a High Contracting Party, is obliged to protect the Palestinian civilian population under its occupation and to act within the ambit of international law. The applicability of the Convention to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, has been repeatedly confirmed by the Conference of the High Contracting Parties, as well as by the United Nations General Assembly, Security Council and the International Court of Justice. Reiterating the need for a full implementation of Security Council resolution 1860 (2009), the Organizers call on Israel, the occupying Power, to immediately lift the blockade and to open all crossings in accordance with the 2005 Agreement on Access and Movement and to completely implement the other provisions of the Agreement.

13. The Organizers also urge the Palestinian leadership, the leaders of all factions and all Palestinians to strive for national reconciliation as an essential condition for ending the occupation, achieving a just and lasting solution of the question of Palestine and the establishment of a viable, contiguous, sovereign and democratic Palestinian State. The Organizers express appreciation for the Egyptian efforts in achieving such reconciliation as soon as possible.

14. Despite the current stagnation in the peace process and the many negative developments on the ground, the Organizers express firm belief that there is no alternative to continuing negotiations and to the two-State solution. But time is of essence. The Organizers also express their appreciation for the immediate and continued engagement of the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council, Governments, national parliaments and inter-parliamentary organizations, regional and international organizations, and civil society organizations, including from the African region, to achieve a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They emphasize that a critical condition for achieving a permanent settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, occupied since June 1967.

15. The Organizers encourage the international community, including the countries of Africa, to strengthen their support for the peace process, in particular at a time when it faces unprecedented challenges. They reiterate the permanent responsibility of the United Nations towards the question of Palestine, until it is resolved in all its aspects based on the relevant United Nations resolutions. In that context, the participants commended the Committee for organizing meetings, like this one in Rabat, that mobilize Governments and public opinion in different regions in support of a comprehensive, just and lasting solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

16. The Organizers commend the action of African Governments, intergovernmental organizations, and civil society in support of Israelis and Palestinians in their quest for a peaceful settlement of the conflict and urge them to continue their moral and political support of the Palestinian people. They encourage the African countries to continue to support action on these issues at the regional and international levels, including at the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement, the African Union, the League of Arab States, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and other intergovernmental mechanisms.

17. The Organizers commend the active and constructive role played by Morocco, an Observer in the Committee, for its tireless efforts to assist the Palestinian people in achieving its inalienable rights. They express their deep appreciation to His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco, Chairman of the Al-Quds Committee of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, for his tireless efforts and timely actions to preserve the religious and civilizational character of Al-Quds Al-Sharif. They also praised His Majesty’s constructive initiatives in support of Palestinian issues, including that of Jerusalem. Recalling the International Forum on Jerusalem, which was convened in October 2009 in Rabat by the Al-Quds Committee and the Yasser Arafat Foundation, the Organizers applaud the Kingdom of Morocco for its constructive contribution to international efforts towards finding a solution to the question of Jerusalem, which would ensure the peaceful co-existence of peoples of various religions in the Holy City. They endorse the appeal made by His Majesty King Mohammed VI at the Forum for the establishment of an “International Coalition” of Governments, international organizations and civil society actors in favour of preserving the legal status of Jerusalem as a space for dialogue and peaceful coexistence.

18. The Organizers expressed their profound gratitude to the Government of Morocco and its Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation for hosting the Meeting, for the assistance and support extended to the Committee and the United Nations Secretariat in its preparation, and for the warm reception and generous hospitality extended to them.

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.

Security Council Debate on the Situation in Afghanistan

Statement by H.E. Mr. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

at the Security Council Debate on

the Situation in Afghanistan

NEW YORK

Mr. President,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, let me thank you, Mr. President, for convening this meeting, and congratulate you on your work as president of this Council for the month of June. I would also like to thank the Secretary-General for his most recent report, and SRSG Staffan di Mistura for his briefing today, his first in his new role.

Mr. di Mistura and the leadership and staff of UNAMA have made exemplary efforts in Kabul. In less than three months, Mr. di Mistura has proven himself to be admirably able to bring all stakeholders, including regional actors, together around issues and principles of common concern. We are grateful to him, and I look forward to working with him and his colleagues closely in the coming years.

Mr. President,

This meeting comes less than a week after this august Council’s visit to Afghanistan, which I had the honor to be part of. Let me thank you all, and particularly Ambassador Apakan of Turkey for his work in leading the Mission. The Council’s visit came at a crucial time for Afghanistan. It was an opportunity to assess the current situation, and to prepare for the future. More importantly, it was also an opportunity to better understand the hopes, fears and expectations of the Afghan people. As was evident last week, Afghans are focused in particular on the increased role of their government in the reconstruction and stabilization process; on their expectations from the international community; and on how to address the insurgency. Our success in the coming years will depend on our ability to further involve Afghans in these crucial issues.

Mr. President,

Seven months ago, President Karzai presented a comprehensive national agenda to reengage the Afghan people and enable them to take increased responsibility for the governance, development and security of their country. This has subsequently been endorsed by the international community in London and since.

Mr. President,

The Afghanistan we saw last week has made visible progress in the past months towards meeting its commitments, progress that is also reflected in the report before us today. The Afghan National Army and Police, now operating with increased operational capability, are on schedule to reach their combined target size and strength. In partnership with the international forces, we have begun to take back the initiative from the Taliban in some key parts of the country. zahirtanin_sec

In addition, the Afghan government is increasingly focused on efficiency and effectiveness, cracking down on corruption and promoting rule of law. President Karzai recently called for initiatives to prevent nepotism in the awarding of high-level contracts, and to require businessmen related to high-level officials to disclose their assets.

The Government of Afghanistan has also taken steps to prioritize development, particularly in the agricultural sector, in an effort to ensure a sustainable economy, and is investing in minerals and human resource development to promote long-term prosperity.

Further, last month’s Peace Jirga brought together a broad and representative cross-section of Afghan society around the common desire for security, peace and justice. This Jirga marked an important step towards building an inclusive and unified Afghan approach to peace and reconciliation, and identified concrete steps to be taken in that direction.

At the same time, the Afghan-led parliamentary elections process is well underway, with 2577 candidates, including 406 women, standing for 249 seats. There is a broad commitment from the newly restructured Independent Electoral and Electoral Complaints Commissions, as well as civil society and the candidates themselves, to ensure that this is a transparent, fair and credible process, one which learns from the lessons of the past. In this regard, we appreciate the assistance of the United Nations and the international community in providing financial and logistical support, and in helping us to guarantee the security which is essential for a credible election. This election will be an important step on the path towards strengthening the engagement of people in the establishment of the democratic system.

Mr. President,

Three weeks from now the Government of Afghanistan will convene the International Kabul Conference on Afghanistan, which will allow us to renew the partnership between the international community and the Afghan government and people, crystallize our shared strategy and begin to implement concrete action plans. It will be co-chaired by Afghanistan and the United Nations, and attended at the Foreign Ministerial level and by representatives of countries, international and regional organizations, and financial institutions. This is not a pledging conference, but a chance to detail the objectives reflected in President Karzai’s inaugural platform and the London Conference outcome.

Mr. President,

Afghans have great hopes, and great expectations, from our international friends and allies. They are well aware that Afghanistan would still be under the bloody reign of the Taliban and Al Qaeda without the support and assistance of the international community. But they are nevertheless disturbed by the ongoing debates among and between our international allies, and concerned that sustainable progress may be difficult to achieve if we do not show patience, fortitude and long-term commitment.

This renewed partnership between Afghanistan and the international community must embody a recognition that trust and responsibility are equally important for all partners, rather than being the sole preserve of any one of us. We must continue to work together jointly to meet our own expectations and those of our partners.

To build the confidence and trust of the Afghan people, efforts should be geared towards:

– first, by ensuring that the transition strategy is implemented in practice, through capacity-building, empowering Afghans, and avoiding waste;

– second, by reengaging the people in the transition process;

– third, by ending the negative perceptions that have favored the enemy;

– and fourth, by ensuring visible progress in both the short and long term.

The Kabul conference and the subsequent parliamentary elections will be opportunities to achieve some of these goals, but our efforts should continue and intensify across the board.

Mr. President,

The Afghan people have suffered from violence and conflict for over thirty years, and they understand that most of our current enemies are not driven by ideology. My government has made it a priority to undertake a process to end the insurgency and consolidate security throughout the country.

The Peace Jirga outcome document recommended several steps to be taken towards an inclusive Afghan peace process that will weave Afghan fighters and enemy leaders back into the fabric of Afghan social, economic and political life. The Government of Afghanistan has already started to implement many of these recommendations. We are creating a high-level council to oversee the implementation of the peace and reconciliation process. We have also begun to review detention records with a view to releasing Taliban who are being held without adequate evidence, and have requested this Council to extend the review process of the Consolidated List as we prepare to submit a preliminary delisting request.

However, let us be clear: we will not sacrifice the progress that has been made, or the principles on which our Constitution is founded. We will begin negotiations with any disenchanted Afghans who are ready to distance themselves from Al Qaeda and to participate in a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.

Mr. President,

Partnership with the Afghan people has been critical to the progress made thus far, and will be critical to the success of the current transition strategy. As you noticed last week, there is intense interest, and some concern, among the Afghan people. But at the same time, there is also strength of resolve, both in the Afghan government and in civil society, and the pride that Afghans feel in their historic nation. We are eager to build a government and society that will do justice to that pride. The international community has been a true and steadfast friend to the Afghan people in this struggle, and we look forward to a partnership that is closer, more concrete and more focused.

I thank you.