Statement by Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, Ambassador, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, before the United Nations Security Council, 15 September 2003:

 

 

Mr. President,

 

Last Thursday, the threats of Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people and the Palestinian leadership reached a new level with the decision by the so-called Israeli security cabinet to remove Yasser Arafat and to request the Israeli army to draw up a plan for the expulsion of the elected President of the Palestinian Authority.   At this critical juncture, it must be firmly and unequivocally stated that the land of Palestine and its people are not the property of the occupying Power and that carrying out such an action or even the constant repetition of this threat would be considered an assault on the Palestinian national dignity, it would mean the end of the Palestinian Authority and would signal the demise of any peace process between the two sides.  In addition, it should be recalled that international law, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, is clear in its prohibition of such a war crime. 

 

We believe that the international community must take decisive and swift action in order to prevent the occupying Power from carrying out such an illegal and insane act.  For this reason, we specifically called on the Security Council, as did the Arab Group through its Chairman, the Permanent Representative of Sudan, to take the immediate necessary measures in this regard.  We appreciate that members of the Council engaged themselves with the matter last Friday and we urge you today to take action on the draft resolution before you.  The negative and hostile Israeli reaction to the press statement read on your behalf by the President of the Council, as well as to positions by the whole international community, reaffirms the need for a stronger step to be taken by the Council in response to this existing danger. 

 

Mr. President,

 

            Mr. Sharon and his government indeed represent a threat to the stability of the region. They reject real peace and insist on the use of force and a military solution.  Mr. Sharon has publicly said, for those who want to hear, that he does not want a lasting and permanent settlement and rather only seeks a long-term transitional arrangement.  The vision of Mr. Sharon clearly is the imposition of a number of walled and separate Bantustans, constricting the whole Palestinian people on less that half of the West Bank and slightly more than half of the Gaza Strip.  The Palestinians could find a way to connect these Bantustans and call it a Palestinian state if they wish while Israel keeps the rest of the Palestinian land and continues its colonization and gradual annexation.  We can add to all that the rejection of dividing Jerusalem between the two sides and the rejection of any rights of Palestine refugees. 

 

This is the fact, and everything Mr. Sharon has said or done has been in line with such a vision and in its service.  That is why the expansionist wall is being built- to wall the above-mentioned Bantustans and to terminate any potential for a real settlement. That is also why settlement activities are continuing, including the illegal transfer of Israeli settlers to our land.  And that is why Israel continues with its military escalation and destruction and why it has worked so vigorously to reverse the situation to pre-Oslo conditions ten years after its beginning. 

 

But achieving such a racist and dreadful vision requires two main things.  The first is breaking down the Palestinian national movement and the destruction of its leadership, since it would never accept such schemes.  That is why we see such a vicious campaign against Yasser Arafat, the national leader of our people, and the attempts to get rid of him.  That is also why Israel did not give anything to the former Prime Minister Mr. Mahmoud Abbas since it was understood that he too would never accept the schemes of Mr. Sharon and his government.  And that is also why a welcome was not extended to the Prime Minister designate, Mr. Ahmed Qurei, all proving what Israel truly wants is the destruction of the national leadership. 

 

The second thing is the undermining of international legitimacy and the disappearance of relative United Nations resolutions and even the deletion of the heritage of negotiations between the Israeli-Palestinian sides on a reasonable settlement from the international conscious.  All coupled with the intensive efforts to destroy any real international initiatives to salvage the situation.  That is why the Mitchell recommendations were destroyed and buried and that is why the Road Map was emptied of its contents on the way to burial. 

 

What happened in reality to the Road Map? The Israeli government tried to stall its presentation, in which it did succeed for a while.  Then when the Road Map was presented it was never accepted by the Israeli government.  What occurred was that the Israeli government accepted the steps in the Road Map and it attached fourteen reservations or concerns to the Road Map, effectively undermining most of it.  In spite of that, the United States of America promised to take these concerns into consideration during its implementation.  On the other hand, the Palestinian side accepted the Road Map without reservations.  

 

Then the time came for both sides to take the first essential step set out in the Road Map. For the Palestinian leadership to issue an unequivocal statement reiterating Israels right to exist in peace and security and calling for an immediate and unconditional cease fire to end armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere. And for the Israeli leadership to issue an unequivocal statement affirming its commitment to the two-state vision of an independent, viable, sovereign Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside Israel, as expressed by President Bush, and calling for an immediate end to violence against Palestinians everywhere. 

 

In the summit at Aqaba the Palestinian leadership, represented by then Prime Minister Abbas, did implement the first stated step.  He even went a step further than the text of the Road Map.  The Israeli leadership, however, represented by Mr. Sharon rejected taking the first stated step.  Mr. Sharon mumbled something about a Palestinian state but he did not declare his commitment to a Palestinian state which is independent, viable, and sovereign.  This was perfectly in line with his vision and not with the vision outlined in the Road Map. He further refused to declare an immediate end to violence against Palestinians everywhere. 

 

What is left then for the Palestinian side from the Road Map?  A Palestinian state, as the one Mr. Sharon desires, and an Israeli rejection of the cease fire and a return to the Israeli logic that it is the Palestinian side that only has to take the necessary steps.  We found ourselves in a situation that has nothing do with the Road Map, especially in light of the attempts to sidetrack the role of the Quartet and to reduce the monitoring mechanism agreed upon in the Road Map to something that has nothing to do with neither the monitoring nor the mechanism. 

 

            In spite of that, and with a lot of effort, the Palestinian government and the Palestinian leadership with the assistance from the Arab Republic of Egypt and other countries were able to obtain a unilateral declaration by all Palestinian groups to cease all acts of violence.  And indeed, there was a very high degree of compliance with such a declaration or hudna.  What did the Israeli government do?  It continued with its confiscation of land and settlement activities and continued with the construction of the expansionist wall and it did not even exert a serious effort to remove the so-called unauthorized outposts.  Moreover, Israel also maintained checkpoints, siege and all policies and measures destroying the socio-economic conditions of the Palestinian people.   It continued with the killing of Palestinians, including extra-judicial executions, and it continued its attacks, destruction and arrests. It continued with all of this despite the repeated warnings by many parties until all of this led to the suicide bombing in West Jerusalem on August 19th.  That was followed by the extrajudicial execution by Israel of Mr. Ismail Abu Shanab and the demise of the hudna. 

 

Since then the insane escalation continued and the occupying forces committed at least eight extrajudicial executions, which undoubtedly constitute war crimes that should be condemned and stopped.  On the other hand, Hamas carried out two suicide bombings in West Jerusalem and Tel Aviv that constitute terrorist attacks that should also be condemned and stopped. 

 

What is shocking about all of these events is that some, in spite of their detailed knowledge of these events and in spite of their presumed role as mediator, have accepted the logic and positions of Mr. Sharon and his government almost entirely and have been repeating the Israeli arguments and lies.  This is not only painful but it is highly irresponsible and if continued will lead to horrendous consequences.

 

All of this must stop before it is too late. There must be a complete departure from violence and the logic of military solution. We must return to the negotiating table and the Road Map must be revived and implemented in a real and honest way. But, for this to happen, we cannot continue the old way.  It is high time to admit that the essential problem is the position of Israel, insisting on colonization and rejecting putting an end to the occupation of the Palestinian land and failing to accept an independent sovereign State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.  Without changing that, there is no peace process and there could be no implementation of the Road Map or any other initiative.  Such change in turn, when it takes place, will open the road to the implementation by the Palestinian side of its obligations, including the cessation of all violence and the provision of real security.  It is high time to face reality and to stop covering the Israeli positions or running away from confronting those positions while hoping that the process will remain alive, even if in appearance only.  It is high time to stop inventing other reasons for the current crisis, such as the internal Palestinian situation or other issues despite their importance. 

 

The revival of the Road Map requires new and serious implementation, beginning from the very first step coupled with facing realities and not allowing either side to escape their responsibilities.  The Security Council could and should play an important role in this respect.  It has to provide strong support for the Road Map and to officially order the two sides to comply with its provisions and to implement them.  We must also, through the Quartet and maybe also with the help of the Security Council, build the agreed-upon monitoring mechanism and have a real international presence - maybe even international troops - as the U.N. Secretary-General has proposed in the past and as France is currently proposing.  Such bold steps are the required ones for ending the current tragic situation and returning to the path of peace. 

 

Mr. President,

 

I would like to go back to affirm the responsibility of the Security Council vis--vis the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.   Vis--vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Situation in the Middle East.  It has been almost nine months since the last time the Security Council dealt with the situation, that is to say since the last U.S. veto last December.  During this period, the conditions have dramatically deteriorated to a much more dangerous situation.  We believe that regardless of what happens in the peace process, the Security Council has the responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, the responsibility of defending the Charter and international law, as well as defending its own relevant resolutions and not allowing the violation of those resolutions.

 

I want to specifically refer to the Councils resolutions affirming the illegality of the Israeli settlements and demanding the cessation by the occupying Power of such activities.  Now there is also the expansionist wall which imposes a new and decisive challenge to the Council.  The so-called wall is not being built in accordance with the armistice line of 1949, also known as the 1967 border.  It is being built on the Palestinian land and involves the de facto confiscation of thousands of dunums of our land and the destruction of the lives of thousands of Palestinians.  The continuation of such a wall will effectively end the vision of two States.  The wall must be stopped and must be brought down.  We will call on you to take the necessary measures in this regard at a later stage. 

 

However, we must now take the necessary measures to prevent the looming combustion of the situation and to ensure that no harm will be inflicted on our President. Once more, this needs to be undertaken in compliance with international law and in respect for the national dignity of our people and their democratic choices and finally in preservation of the option of peace.