Statement by Ambassador Dr. Riyad Mansour, before the United Nations Security Council, Open Debate on the Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestine Question on 22 October 2013
The Security Council must be aware of the vastly negative impact that unlawful Israeli policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem – the territory that constitutes the State of Palestine – are having on the ground and on the Palestinian conviction in the fairness of the political process and the potential for its success. Illegal and provocative Israeli actions, whether by the Government, its occupying forces or its extremist settlers, are raising deep doubts about Israel's true intentions in the negotiations, reinforcing the notion that it is only using this period to further entrench its settlement enterprise and de facto annexation of Palestinian land, while simultaneously attempting to ease international pressure in this regard.
Over the past months, Israel has continued its settlement activities in grave breach of international law, in total contradiction to the objectives and spirit of the negotiations, and in flagrant disregard for the global calls for cessation. Moreover, it has done so with full knowledge that these illegal actions are further undermining the contiguity of the Palestinian Territory and viability of the two-State solution and aggravating already-high tensions.
Since resumption of negotiations, Israel has advanced approval of over 3,000 settlement units and the confiscation of hundreds more dunums of Palestinian land, in addition to a barrage of provocations and incitement, including by cabinet officials and Knesset members. In this regard, we refer to a report by the Israeli NGO Peace Now, which exposed, among other things, a 70% rise in the construction in settlements in the first half of this year.
Such illegal actions and tactics must be rejected by the international community and it must remain vigilant in its calls for a full halt to all Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. The international consensus on this issue must remain firm. We further call on all States to pursue measures to cease and prohibit any support to settlement activities in fulfillment of their obligations under international humanitarian law.
We also recall here the responsibilities undertaken by the Quartet members and highlight the call made in its 27 September statement for "all parties to take every possible step to promote conditions conducive to the success of the negotiating process and to refrain from actions that undermine trust or prejudge final status issues", stressing the need for actions by all concerned parties consistent with and supportive of this call.
In addition to the illegal measures being carried out in connection with Israel's settlement campaign – whether construction of settlements and the wall, confiscation of land, forced displacement of civilians, demolition of homes, or the constant terror, violence and destruction being perpetrated by Israeli settlers – Israel, the occupying Power, also persists with its collective punishment and systematic human rights violations against the Palestinian people. Military raids, excessive force against civilians, including peaceful protesters, arrest and detention of more civilians, including children, and abuse and mal-treatment of the thousands of Palestinians who remain captive in Israeli prisons and detention centers continue unabated. Moreover, the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip remains of grave concern as Israel's illegal blockade, now well into its sixth year, continues in collective punishment of the entire population, exacerbating poverty, widespread socio-economic ills and despair.
We thus reiterate to the international community two calls in specific: We call for the protection of the Palestinian civilian population in accordance with humanitarian law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention, an obligation long-acknowledged yet unfulfilled. And, we call for lifting of this inhumane blockade on our people and for the sustained opening of the Gaza Strips crossings to allow for the normal movement of persons and goods, in accordance with humanitarian law as well as past agreements between the parties.