Agenda Item 36: Question of Palestine
New York, 25 November 2013
Thank you Mr President,
Last week, the State of Palestine cast its first ballot in a General Assembly vote. It was a symbolic step, by a nation determined to become a full member of this organization. It was one step of many towards recognition. No matter how long it takes, nor how hard the path is, the Republic of the Maldives will walk shoulder to shoulder with our Palestinian brothers and sisters.
The vast majority of the UN membership supports Palestine in this journey, and the work of this organization will continue to support the aspirations of their people, manifested here today in the work of the Secretary General and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. My delegation appreciates the Secretary General for the compilation of his report in accordance with General Assembly resolution 67/23, and we thank the Committee of for its report A/68/35.
Next Friday marks the ‘International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People”. I wish to reiterate the solidarity of my Government and that of the people of Maldives to the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination. The Maldives will remain steadfast in the support of Palestine and we will not falter in our condemnation of the serious injustices being committed in the occupied territories. The political and the religious authorities of both sides need to ensure that the cultural and religious rights of all people are respected. The right to live free from fear and abuse is respected.
It has been 66 years, since the General Assembly adopted resolution 181 (II) partitioning Palestine, yet we still find ourselves in this hall today expressing our concerns on how little progress has been made. The situation has become a never ending conflict that takes place not only on the battlefield but on city streets and in homes of the innocent.
The Secretary General’s report notes that during the last reporting period a total of 338 Palestinians were killed, including 232 Palestinian civilians and 8 Israelis. Attacks by setllers on Palestians and their property has become a daily occourence. These figures not only represent an increase in the violence of an ongoing conflict, but also demonstrate the true nature of this conflict. Though this is a warzone, it is not a war. It is an occupation. It is the disenfranchisement of a nation to exist, and of a people to be free. It is the theft of their economic right to prosper, and their right to hope for a brighter future.
We have not given up hope. My government welcomed the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in August with the active mediation of the United States. In this regard, my delegation commends the Arab Peace Initiative, the government of Egypt, the United States and the United Nations for their exemplary leadership. My delegation is fully in line with the principle position that permanent settlement of the question of Palestine could be reached only by ending the occupation that began in 1967, achieving the independence of the State of Palestine on the basis of the pre-1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital and achieving a just and agreed solution to the Palestine refugees issue on the basis of General Assembly resolution 194 (III).
The unfortunate reality, is that a comprehensive solution, is still years away. We believe in a two state solution, but expert after expert has told us here at the United Nations that the window for such a solution is closing. It is being closed by new settlements changing the demographics of Palestine. It is being closed by an economic embargo meant to leave a people destitute. And it is being closed by a refusal to grant Palestinians access to Palestinian land.
Discriminatory practices by the occupying power has had a devastating effect on the most vulnerable people and have had dire impacts on social and economic sectors as well as on Palestine’s natural resources and its environment. The 1993 Oslo Accords stipulated that Area C of the West Bank was to be transferred to the Palestinian Authority by 1998. That has not happened. The World Bank released a report last month, which testifies that this refusal is costing the Palestinian economy 3.4 billion US dollars.
The occupation is one that inherently leads to Palestine being poor and dependent on foreign aid. The occupation makes it a breeding ground for extremism. And the occupation stands in the way of every measure that would afford them an ounce of dignity and is perpetuating a cycle of opression that has already lasted generations.
There has to be a way forward. There has to be compromise. Despite the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the 9th of July 2004, the occupying power continues with the illegal construction of the wall in the occupied West Bank and around occupied Jerusalem. The wall is estimated to be twice the length of the 1949 Armistice line and would isolate and entrap 11,000 Palestinians, who would then be dependent on the occupying power granting permits to them to live in their own homes.
Underground and surface water resources are almost exclusively controlled by the occupying power. The report of the Committee says that “approximately 1 million Palestinians in 492 communities in the West Bank access or consume 60 litres of water per capita per day or less, significantly below the World Health Organization recommendation of 100 litres per capita per day. Israeli settlers in the West Bank consume approximately six times that amount water consumed by Palestinians”.
The expansion of settlements is detrimental to the peace process and undermines the basis for a future Palestinian State. And yet, the government of Israel has approved the construction of approximately 24,000 residential units in the occupied territories and has retroactively legalized others. Under international law all settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory, including that in East Jerusalem are illegal. The Government of Israel, however, continues to issue construction tenders for housing units that will stop the development of the Palestinian people. Further, they refuse to act when illegal construction takes place on the private property of Palestinians. The Republic of Maldives strongly condemns these actions. We further condemn the unjust demolition and evictions that took place in Area C, resulting in the displacement of some 907 individuals, including 458 children. In the interest of pursuing meaningful negotiations and a lasting peace it is up to the occupying power to cease all illegal activity in the occupied territories.
The Maldives commends the efforts made by the Palestinians to advance their State-building programme despite a serious budget deficit and restrictions imposed by the occupying power. The Maldives believes, unequivocally, in the need for an independent, free and sovereign Palestine. We also believe in the right of Israel to security, safety and peace. It is occupation that is the problem for both nations. It is occupation that perpetuates hatred, fear, and violence. We, the Member States of the United Nations, beat this drum year after year and we make little progress. The ancestors of these two nations, built pyramids in less time than we have taken to find a just and lasting solution to this question. Generations have lived under oppression and fear. It is our hope that this is the last generation, the one that will see the end of this journey.
Thank you Mr President.