Sixty years ago today, on November 29, 1947, the United Nations voted to create two states, one Arab and one Jewish, out of the former British mandate of Palestine. The world body played an integral role in fashioning the original two-state solution that the international community so desperately seeks today. However, not only did the UN today choose not to celebrate this proud moment, but it actually performed rites of mourning — dutifully organizing annual ceremonies around the globe, as called for under Arab-sponsored resolutions, that somberly commemorated “Palestinian Solidarity Day,” featuring carefully screened speakers who repeatedly slammed Israel.
In Geneva, for example, the UN’s “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” saw the UN European Headquarters play host to about 150 people. Following is a brief summary of how co-existence and peace was promoted today at the UN.
Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s speech was delivered by his Geneva representative. He recalled the “indignities and violence of occupation and conflict” that Palestinians continue to suffer. “The UN has fewer priorities than seeing this conflict resolved. We all know the reasons why the Palestinians have been deprived of their inalienable right to self-determination for 60 years. Palestinian society has been increasingly fragmented – territorially, by settlements, land expropriation and the barrier in the Occupied Palestinian Territories; socially and economically, by closure; and politically, between Gaza and the West Bank.”
“The process must also deliver on the vital interests of Israel: a Palestinian State that is a true partner and not a source of terrorism, secure and recognized borders, and a permanent end of the conflict … Israel faces genuine threats, and Israeli civilians have died and been wounded in rocket attacks… Palestinian civilians have been killed and injured in Israeli military operations.”
He attributed the “grave humanitarian situation” in Gaza to Israeli policies such as restrictions on supplies and movement of people. He called on donors to support the PA to rebuild, reform and perform during the upcoming Paris conference of donors.
Peace, justice and security will only be achieved with the end of the occupation, he said. The secretary-general ended with a statement of solidarity with both the Palestinian people and the Israeli people.
Representative of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable rights of the Palestinian People, Ambassador Victor Camilleri of Malta
Ambassador Camilleri recalled the sufferings, sacrifices and resistance of the Palestinian people in face of adversity having “no similar cases in human history.” Exceptionally for the day’s speakers, he condemned “all attacks, both Israeli and Palestinian, including Palestinian attacks from Gaza.” He also mentioned that the internal breakdown in Gaza has worsened the situation in this territory.
Chairman of Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam of Sri Lanka
Ambassador Kariyawasam listed violations committed by Israel — occupation, confiscation of Palestinian land, construction of the wall, cutting off resources, violation of the 2004 ICJ advisory opinion, incarceration of thousands of Palestinian prisoners including 400 children, military incursions in Gaza, deaths of civilians, denial of access to hospitals, and collective punishment in Gaza. Israeli policies in Gaza led to the complete isolation of the territory since June.
League of Arab States, Ambassador Saad Alfarargi
Ambassador Saad Alfarargi denounced the “ruthless daily attacks by Israel,” its “oppressive policies” vis-à-vis Palestinians and the construction of the “apartheid wall” in violation of the ICJ Advisory Opinion. International organizations including the UN and NGOs constantly report on Israeli practices that led to humanitarian crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. He referred to the report by John Dugard, UN expert on Palestine, to emphasize the excessive, indiscriminate and non-proportional use of force by Israel against the Palestinian people.
Organization of the Islamic Conference, Ambassador Babacar Ba
“Despite innumerable resolutions in the General Assembly, Security Council and Human Rights Council, the Palestinians continue to face military incursions; extra-judicial and targeted assassinations; restriction on movement; and demolition of houses and infrastructure.”
“This year’s solidarity day with the Palestinian people coincides with a period when Israel’s aggression and violation of international law in various parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territories is on the increase.”
‘The city of Jerusalem continues to be cordoned off through the racial segregation wall and military barriers … .”
“Peace efforts in the region have always been obstructed by Israel’s intransigence and lack of commitment to the terms of reference of the peace process. Those terms are the resolutions of international legitimacy….”
Non-Aligned Movement, Ambassador Juan Antonio Fernandez Palacios of Cuba
In the framework of human rights, the Non-Aligned Movement has supported the convening of special sessions. In this respect, the Non-Aligned Movement praised the existence of a special item on Palestinian rights. The Palestinian situation is not like any others and requires therefore a specific treatment by the council until the end of the occupation.
The Non-Aligned Movement condemned the fact that, 60 years after Resolution 181 has been adopted, the creation of a Palestinian state continues to be an impossible target precisely because “Israel continues to violate international law and international resolutions.”
African Union, Ms K. R. Msri
The representative assured the AU’s full support and admiration for Palestinians in their legitimate fight for dignity and right to self-determination well as for their sacrifices and abnegation to defend their cause. The AU also referred to UN reports (UN report of October 24, 2007 on the deteriorated situation in Gaza) and resolutions to implore the Israeli government to stop its “indiscriminate acts and violations of international humanitarian law.”
Thomas Getman, International Relations Director, World Vision
Thoman Getman called on a minute of silence for children that bear the consequences of the conflict. He called on the audience to think about “the first child that each of us saw in terrible situation because of the Israeli occupation.; for me it was 20 years ago in Hebron, a 9-year old child trying to find his textbook in the ruins of his house destroyed by a bulldozer.”
Dr. Juliette Sayegh, General Arab Women Federation (on behalf of the NGOs accredited to the CEIRPP, the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People).
“The situation of the Palestinian people is worse than ever as evidenced by official UN reports.” The 60th anniversary of the “Nakba” was the “forceful removal of around a million Palestinians from their land.” She presented data to emphasize the terrible living conditions of the Palestinian people. In that respect, she recalled Palestinian children unable to go to schools as schools are being targeted by Israeli army “making education a danger for children.”
The ceremony ended with the Palestinian representative reading a statement made by President Mahmoud Abbas: “Peace cannot be achieved with the construction of the apartheid wall nor by settlements, nor by preventing people from coming to holy places in Jerusalem including Christians, nor by allowing fanatic settlers to attack Palestinians and put fire on their crops.”
— With reporting by UN Watch’s Ophelie Namiech.