Statement by Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, Ambassador and Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, before the Resumed Tenth Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly on ďIllegal Israeli Actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, 19 September 2003:

 

(Original Arabic - Check against delivery)

 

Mr. President,

 

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† We are here today faced with the 26th U.S. veto in the Security Council specifically on the Palestinian question.¬† We are faced with the decision by an occupying Power ďto removeĒ an elected leader of a people, without the Security Council being able to take any action.¬† We are faced with a Member State of the United Nations, whose government is insane, violating the Charter of this international organization and its resolutions day and night in blatant contempt and direct challenge of the whole international community but with the support and protection of the superpower.¬† We are faced with the most oppressive military campaign committed by an occupying Power against an entire people, including the longest series of war crimes under the guise of combating terrorism.¬† We are faced with the colonization of what remains of our Palestinian land that has continued for more than 36 years, in what constitutes the biggest war crime in modern history.¬† This has continued with verbal opposition from some and sincere opposition from others, but without anyone being able to end it.¬†

 

Are we going to do something to confront all of this?  Will the international community find the collective will - in the absence of the will of the superpower - to ensure respect for international law and the resolutions of the United Nations and to achieve the minimal degree of justice?  This is my deepest and most earnest hope.  I can sincerely say, however, that our Palestinian people, along with the millions of people in the region, have begun to lose hope and to lose confidence in the usefulness of all of this.

 

Mr. President,

 

            We come today with the belief in the collective will of the Member States united for peace.  We come to deal with the situation resulting from the inability of the Security Council to fulfill its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security due to the exercise of the veto by one of its permanent members during the vote by the Council on the 16th of this month on the draft resolution, which, inter alia, aimed at preventing the Israeli threat to the safety of the President of the Palestinian National Authority and thus, preventing the grave consequences that might ensue.  We express our gratitude and appreciation to you, Mr. President, for your response to the request by the Arab Group and NAM to resume the tenth emergency special session.  We also express our thanks and appreciation to all the countries who will try with us to remedy what happened in the Security Council.

 

Mr. President,

 

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† On the 11th of this month, 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 ďto remove Yasser ArafatĒ and to request the Israeli army to draw up a plan for his expulsion from his land and country.¬† This was followed by statements by Israeli officials, affirming that killing President Arafat was an actual option, and other statements saying that the implementation of the cabinetís decision would not take place now but at a time to be determined by Israel.¬† We strongly condemn and reject all of this as illegal and insane and consider it to be an assault on the Palestinian national dignity and the democratic choice of our people.¬†

 

These threats prove once again the intentions of the government of Mr. Sharon to attack the Palestinian national leadership and to destroy it after exhausting our people and destroying their socioeconomic condition.  Any carrying out of the Israeli threats would be considered a terrorist act and would lead to the end of the Palestinian Authority and the actual demise of the peace process.  We express our appreciation to most of the nations of the world and its organizations for their firm and complete condemnation of the Israeli threats and we call upon you to reaffirm this today with the aim of preventing these threats and having them revoked.

 

Mr. President,

 

            Indeed, Mr. Sharon and his government 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.

 

The second thing is the undermining of international legitimacy and the disappearance of relative United Nations resolutions - 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.

 

Mr. President,

 

            This political position comes against the backdrop of the bloody Israeli military campaign against our people, which has continued now for nearly three years.  During this time, it has inflicted horrific human and material losses among our people to the extent that the humanitarian situation has deteriorated to a catastrophic level.  Throughout this campaign, the Israeli occupying forces have committed actions that are prohibited under The Hague Regulations, the Fourth Geneva Convention and Additional Protocol 1, including innumerable war crimes. They have committed acts of willful killing, including extrajudicial executions, committed wanton destruction of property, imposed collective punishments and committed extensive destruction of infrastructure and homes and prevented the freedom of movement of humanitarian organizations, including United Nations agencies, and emergency rescue personnel, including ambulances. They uprooted and razed thousands of dunums of agricultural land, including harvests and trees, and imposed a siege and closure on all population centers.  As they have committed all of the above, the occupying forces have used all types of heavy weaponry, including war planes, helicopters and tanks.

 

Mr. President,

 

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention and the parties to the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court have a clear responsibility with regard to those who commit war crimes.¬† We call on those countries to issue indictments and to bring to justice those Israelis that have committed war crimes against the Palestinian people.¬† Foremost among these individuals are General Shaul Mofaz, the Chief of Staff of the Israeli army and the current Defense Minister, and General Moshe Yaíalon, the current Chief of Staff, and all the commanders of the Israeli military units that have committed war crimes.¬† Throughout the years many crimes and massacres have been committed against the Palestinian people from Deir Yassin to Kafr Qassem and Khan Yunis and also those that have been directly linked with an individual named Ariel Sharon - Colonel Sharon in the massacre of Qibya and Defense Minister Sharon in the massacre in Sabra and Shatilla and Prime Minister Sharon in the massacre in the Jenin refugee camp.¬† The international community must ensure that such crimes and massacres are not repeated.

 

Mr. President,

 

            As if crimes are not enough, the Israeli government is trying to depict what has happened and is happening as if it is about a battle against terrorism.  What is painful is that some have accepted this and even accepted the hijacking by Israel of the agenda to combat international terrorism and to deviate it in the direction of an open war against the Arabs and Muslims to serve its narrow political interests.  It seems that those have also forgotten that Israel was the first to introduce terrorism to our region, from the assassination of U.N. mediator Count Bernadotte, to the massacres against our people, to the sinking of the USS Liberty, to the downing of a civilian Libyan airplane, to the bombardment of Arab civilian targets such as the Beirut airport, Bahr al-Baqar school in Egypt and most of Quneitra in the Occupied Syrian Golan, to the assassination of many Palestinian leaders and cadres in Beirut, Tunis and Europe, to the deliberate bombardment of the U.N. building in Qana in Southern Lebanon, to the threat to the safety and freedom of the elected Palestinian President.  The list is too long and time too limited to go further.

 

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† In all cases, we are all against terrorism and on our part we have been very clear in our condemnation of actions committed by Palestinian groups in contravention of international law, specifically the suicide bombings that have targeted civilians in Israel.¬† Moreover, we have constantly stated that these do not serve the national interest of the Palestinian people or the realization of their goals.¬† But matters do not begin or end here.¬† The main issue is the Israeli occupation of our land and the settler colonialism of this land and the rejection by Israel of our right to the State of Palestine and its national independence.¬† Why donít the Israelis get out of our land and then they can build all the walls they want on international borders? Why donít they at least stop the colonization of our land and the illegal transfer of colonial settlers to it?¬† It is important to mention that the first suicide bombing occurred 27 years after the onset of the occupation and after Israel had actually transferred at least 350,000 colonial settlers to the Occupied Territory and settled them in more than two hundred settlements and after it had declared the annexation of Jerusalem.¬† Indeed, all of this was done before and not in reaction to any of the suicide bombings.

 

            Why are the Israelis even after the beginning of the bombings committing all this killing and destruction and committing such war crimes?  Does this benefit the battle against suicide bombings?  And, why has Israel committed all of this systematic oppression and committed all of the crimes it did before that and for more than a quarter of a century?  What our people do not understand also is the readiness of some to so quickly and enthusiastically condemn the suicide bombings, which kill Israeli civilians, but would not condemn the war plane bombings or the tank shelling, which kill Palestinian civilians in even greater numbers, at least not with the same quickness and enthusiasm.  This is not right, legally or morally.  In all cases, these bombings must cease, but also Israeli war crimes and all other types of violence must cease on the way to ending the occupation.  This is the key to everything.  If this occupation continues, the Israeli violence and crimes and violations will continue to maintain the occupation and, in turn, the Palestinian violence will continue, whether the legal resistance against the occupation or whether the illegal actions, such as suicide bombings in Israel.

 

This is not our option. There should be a complete cessation of violence and the logic of military solutions.   We must rely on the political solution that restores hope and we must return to the negotiating table.  This is our option and we are saying here also that the Road Map should 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. 

 

 

Mr. President,

 

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The revival of the Road Map will require new and serious implementation beginning with the very first step, coupled with the decision to face up to the realities and prevent both sides from evading their responsibilities.¬† The Security Council could Ė and indeed, should - play an important role in this respect.¬† It must provide strong support for the Road Map and officially order the two sides to comply with its provisions and to implement them.¬† We must also, through the Quartet and perhaps also with the help of the Security Council, build the agreed-upon monitoring mechanism and have a real international presence Ė maybe even international troops. Such bold steps are required if the current tragic situation is to be brought to an end and a return to the path of peace is to be ensured.

 

Mr. President,

 

At this time, it is incumbent on the international community and on us here at the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly to 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. 

 

Thank you, President.