Statement by Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, Before the United Nations Security Council, 5 March 1997:

(Original: Arabic)

Mr. President,

The Government of Israel, the occupying Power, decided on 26 February 1997 to build a new colonial settlement in the area of Jabal Abu-Ghneim in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. This area is situated within the territory which Israel annexed and considered to be a part of the extended municipal boundaries of the city of Jerusalem. This has been done in an illegal manner and in blatant violation of International Humanitarian Law and relevant Security Council resolutions. The Israeli decision provides for the building of 6500 housing units on an area of 1850 dunums which were confiscated during 1991 and 1992, and which will bring around Twenty Five thousand new Israeli settlers. This colonial settlement will isolate the Arab quarters of Jerusalem from the southern part of the West Bank, completing an old Israeli plan of building several settlements around those quarters to completely isolate the quarters from the rest of the West Bank, thus creating new fact on the ground. The Israeli government took this decision despite the efforts of the Palestinian side in this regard and despite the positions and advice of a number of its friends as well in flagrant defiance of the position of your august Council, which tried to prevent the taking of such a decision and to avoid the ensuing great dangers.

This Israeli measure follows a series of Israeli measures and actions regarding Jerusalem, which constitute a clear policy aiming at the continuation of the judaization of the city of Jerusalem, changing its legal status and its demographic composition. These measures have included the destruction of a building belonging to Burj Al-Laqlaq Society inside the walled old city in an attempt to revive a settlement plan in this holy place. We have raised this matter in our letter addressed to the president of the Security Council on 27 August 1996 contained in document (A/51/310.s/1496/699). The Israeli authorities also opened on 23 of September 1996 the entrance to the tunnel in the vicinity of Al-Haram Al-Sharif, creating further changes in the nature of the city. In this instance, Israel refused, as usual, to abide by the Council's resolution 1073 (1996), which in its first operative paragraph called for the immediate cessation and reversal of all acts which have resulted in the aggravation of the situation, and which have negative implications for the Middle East peace process. The Israeli authorities also declared in the second week of December its intentions to implement a plan for the building of a colonial settlement composed of 132 housing units for Jewish settlers in the heart of East Jerusalem. If implemented, this plan would place the new colonial settlement inside the original and recognized boundaries of East Jerusalem in the Arab populated quarter of Ras Al-Amoud, which would also overlook Al-Haram Al-Sharif and Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Israeli authorities are continuing also their attempts to deprive the Palestinians of Jerusalem of their natural and inherited right to live in their city as did their ancestors, Israel has considered them foreigners and pursued all kinds of illegal maneuvers and measures to deprive them of what it calls "residents rights". This includes, for example, its attempts to enforce this measure on all those who live temporarily outside Jerusalem or those who have acquired a second citizenship.

Further, Israel has for a long time been enforcing the isolation of East Jerusalem from the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, as well as shutting the Palestinian people out of the City, despite the fact that it is the economic, cultural and religious center of the Palestinian people. This constitutes another Israeli attempt to impose a de facto situation with regard to Jerusalem and constitute a blatant violation of the rights of the Palestinian people and in defiance of the will of the international community.

Mr. President,

All the above mentioned constitute a flagrant violation of several Security Council resolutions on the question of Jerusalem, which is an issue of central importance to the Palestinian people, the Arab world and Islamic Ummah. Since Jerusalem is the First Qiblah and Third of the Two Holy Sanctuaries, and it is of great importance to the followers of the three religions and to the whole international community. The Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 252 (1968), 271 (1960), 298 (1971), 478 (1980) and 672 (1990), have stated clearly that all actions and measures taken by Israel to alter the legal status and the demographic composition are null and void and have no legal validity, and have called upon Israel to cease all such actions and measures. The international community has declared its absolute rejection of the Israeli positions regarding Jerusalem, and has always affirmed that East Jerusalem is part of the territories occupied since 1967. In addition, it has never recognized Israeli sovereignty over West Jerusalem. We call upon the international community to protect and uphold its will and to restrain Israel from continuing to ignore this will and from its persistent violation of International Law.

Mr. President,

The Israeli violations which are being conducted in Jerusalem come against the background of the resumption by this Israeli government of its colonial settlement campaign in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The government has taken a number of decisions and actions resulting in actual building in many places. We have drawn your attention to this matter and to the extreme danger emanating from it in several letters addressed to your august Council. Once again, the Israeli policy that has been affirmed by the guidelines of the present Israeli government clearly and grossly violates the Fourth Geneva convention of 1949, which your august Council has repeatedly affirmed, in many of its resolutions, specifically in 24 resolutions, reaffirming its applicability to all the territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem. The policy also violates several Security Council resolutions specifically dealing with settlements, which include resolutions 446 and 452 of 1979 and 465 of 1980. We once again reaffirm the illegality of the colonial settlements and reject any attempt of the government of Israel to distinguish between old and new, and we also reject all the repercussions of new buildings, including Israel's confiscation of more land, the establishment of bypassing roads and the theft of water and confiscation of our natural resources.

Mr. President,

The historical change that followed the signing of the Declaration of Principles in 1993, and the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1995 between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, have resulted in positive changes in the Middle East area. The fruits of peace began to appear on the horizon for the peoples of the Middle East in particular and for the whole world in general. Unfortunately, this Israeli government started to pursue policies that counter the spirit and logic of the peace process, and started to take decisions and actions that are in gross violation to the agreements reached. Such policies aim at continuing to alter the situation of the City of Jerusalem, as well as continuing with the colonial settlement campaign in the occupied territories. It was agreed in the Declaration of Principles that the issue of Jerusalem and the settlements, inter alia, will be negotiated in the final stage. It goes without saying that this implies that all parties should not create any new facts on the ground, which would preempt the negotiations and render them useless. The Israeli policies and actions cannot continue if the peace process is to continue and succeed, since such policies and actions would guarantee the destruction of the process.

The government of Israel has to understand that it is not possible to return to the practices and behavior of the occupier without creating dangerous repercussions. It must also understand that it is not possible to continue the occupation and the confiscation of land while continuing the peace process at the same time, and it is not possible to occupy the City of Jerusalem and acclaim its sole ownership while establishing and maintaining peaceful and natural relations with its neighbors and the whole world. The city of Jerusalem does not accept Israel's pure ownership, and there will be no peace in the region without the attainment of Palestinian and Arab rights in the holy City.

Mr. President,

The General Assembly has ended the deliberations of its 51st session with a clear position regarding all issues related to the question of Palestine and the Situation in the Middle East, including Jerusalem and the issue of settlements. The General Assembly has adopted 19 Palestinian resolutions with an overwhelming majority, which honestly reflects the position of the international community represented in the General Assembly resolutions. We believe also that the Security Council must take this into consideration.

Israel, the occupying Power, has to cease from building the colonial settlement in Jabal Abu-Ghneim and to promptly cease all settlement activities and the confiscation of land, as well as any actions that would result in changing the facts on the ground especially in occupied East Jerusalem. Further, we believe that the Security Council has to intervene and take necessary actions to guarantee the respect of its relevant resolutions and of international law and to save the peace process. All such goals fall within the responsibilities of the Council in order to preserve international peace and security, in accordance with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations. The Security Council has since the start of the peace process, and in accordance with its duties and responsibilities, intervened in several occasions to save and support the process, and we appreciate this and hope that the Council will pursue this role once again. I thank you Mr. President.