Palestinian question - 8706th Security Council Meeting - Part 2

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22-Jan-2020 03:22:26
Speakers decry Israel’s unilateral actions to legitimize presence on occupied Arab lands, as Security Council concludes Middle East debate.

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Speakers in the Security Council today roundly denounced unilateral moves by Israel to legitimize its presence on occupied Arab lands, with several rejecting such actions — and United States recognition of them — as a blatant trampling of sovereignty and glaring violation of international law.

The representative of Bangladesh, speaking for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), was among those challenging Israel’s de-facto annexation of Palestinian lands. Its recent illegal decision to set up so-called nature reserves in the West Bank must be prevented, she said, likewise calling for full withdrawal from the occupied Syrian Golan to pre-1967 borders and welcoming the International Criminal Court decision to open an investigation into Israel’s crimes.

Indeed, Palestinian hopes for resuming negotiations have waned as Israel plans to transform large swaths of Area C into nature reserves, said the Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States. Its illegal decisions, recognized by the United States, undermine a two-State solution in attempting to name Al Quds as the capital of Israel and validate its sovereignty over illegal settlements. She pressed the Court to open its investigations, as conditions were met to launch such an inquiry.

In 2019 alone, Israel demolished 617 Palestinian structures and evicted 889 people in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, added Sudan’s representative on behalf of the Arab Group. He called on Israel to withdraw from the Syrian Golan, in line with Council resolution 338 (1973), and halt actions aimed at changing the demographic character of various territories.

These actions “slam the door shut” to any settlement, warned Saudi Arabia’s delegate, insisting that Israel withdraw from Lebanon’s territory and the Syrian Golan, and rejecting any statement aimed at legitimizing Israeli settlements — a point echoed by Azerbaijan’s representative on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, who condemned the United States President’s 21 March 2019 statement “recognizing the Golan Heights as part of Israel”. The international community must not remain on the sidelines, said Malaysia’s delegate, stressing that his country will open an embassy accredited to Palestine in Amman and is working with the Government of Jordan in this regard.

Lebanon’s delegate similarly said that the new Government is counting in the support of friends amid Israel’s breaches of Lebanese sovereignty and territorial integrity, particularly air violations. She pressed the Council to implement its resolutions — whether on Palestine, Lebanon or other parts of the region — if the Middle East is to know justice and peace.

More broadly, speakers expressed serious concern about heightened tensions in the Gulf, with several calling for diplomacy and dialogue over aggressive posturing. Japan’s delegate noted that his country’s Prime Minister recently returned from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Oman, while Pakistan’s delegate pointed to visits by his country’s Foreign Minister to Riyadh and Washington, D.C. The positive reactions received could constitute a first step towards broader regional engagement, he said, observing that competing external interests have lent a sectarian hue to regional rivalries.

On that point, Iran’s delegate accused the United States of engaging in destabilizing acts in the Middle East, most recently assassinating Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad — “a clear manifestation of State terrorism”. Washington, D.C., is well aware that Mr. Soleimani played a decisive role in fighting Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) in Iraq and Syria, and worked to stabilize the region. The most effective way to ensure regional peace is for the United States to withdraw its forces from the region. Qatar’s delegate meanwhile condemned the “campaign of accusation and slander” by those imposing a blockade against her country, blaming it as a source of instability.

In Syria, several delegates decried the protracted suffering of civilians in the north-west. Portugal’s representative, on behalf of 27 member States of the European Union, said that the presence of United Nations-listed terrorist groups must be collectively addressed, without violating international humanitarian law. Turkey’s delegate underscored the need for sustained, unimpeded and safe humanitarian access, while the speaker for Ireland said the situation should be referred to the International Criminal Court.

To many of these points, Israel’s delegate recalled Iran’s missile exports and open calls for the destruction of his country as evidence of its subversive intensions.

Speaking to a tacit sense of deflation, Costa Rica’s representative called for a reflection on the kind of United Nations its members want. The Council has spent decades discussing the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. “This sad state of affairs is, without a doubt, one of the greatest failures of this house,” he said. It is high time to find lasting definitive solutions, he said, calling for resumed negotiations leading to a two-State solution.

The Vice‑Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People also spoke today.

Also making statements were representatives of Brazil, Liechtenstein, Kuwait, Egypt, Nigeria, Cuba, United Arab Emirates, Maldives, Morocco, Ecuador, Canada, Bahrain and Sri Lanka, as well as an observer for the Holy See.

The meeting began at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 1:29 p.m.

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