Ending benefits reaped only by Israel is key to ending ‘gratuitous occupation’, says Palestinian ambassador to Committee on Palestinian Rights, urging global action – Occupied Palestinian Territory

408th MEETING (morning)


The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People approved its annual report today, as the Ambassador of the State of Palestine urges the international community to use the tools at its disposal to pressure Israel and the hold accountable for its crimes against the Palestinian people.

“Only if the occupation is made more costly can we mark an end, contrary to the reality of all these years of wanton occupation from which only Israel reaps the benefits and continually bestows privileges within the community. community, including in this organization,” said Feda Abdelhady-Nasser, Deputy Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations.

Citing Israel’s military aggression and acts of repression and persecution, she said the situation in occupied Palestine, including East Jerusalem, has continued to deteriorate since the Committee met in July 2021. Israel, the power occupation, is intensifying its human rights violations and abuses against the Palestinian people, she said, noting that her delegation has regularly documented this in letters to the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Secretary-General.

In recent weeks, another criminal Israeli military attack against the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza left 49 Palestinians dead, she said. These attacks have caused further destruction, adding to the thousands of people who remain displaced and exacerbating the dire humanitarian conditions caused by Israel’s 15-year illegal blockade of Gaza. Since the start of the year, at least 85 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank, as occupation forces continue to loot towns, villages and camps, forcibly entering homes and attacking anyone who protests the illegal occupancy.

She said 4,500 Palestinians are currently being held in Israeli prisons, including hundreds in administrative detention without charge. Every day, Palestinian homes and properties are destroyed and Palestinian families are displaced, while Israeli settlements and so-called military outposts and installations are continuously built on their occupied Palestinian territory.

In addition, Palestinians and their holy sites continue to be subjected to provocations and acts of incitement, she said, pointing out that over the weekend extremists again attacked the compound of the Aqsa Mosque, entering for the first time since the occupation began in 1967 through the Lion’s Gate – the entry point for Muslim worshippers. Extremists have practiced religious rituals banned under the historical and legal status quo, she said, warning that such illegal actions, if continued, threaten to ignite a religious war with dire consequences.

She went on to say that following Israel’s designation of six humanitarian and human rights organizations as terrorist organizations, Israeli soldiers broke into the offices of seven of these organizations, destroying furniture and equipment, then summoning representatives for questioning, threatening them with imprisonment if they continue their work. The targeted organizations work to support Palestinian women, children, farmers and prisoners and advocate for the human rights and welfare of the Palestinian people, she stressed.

Citing a statement made today by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, she reiterated that Israel is ‘increasingly limiting ‘the eyes and ears of human rights on the ground’ “. States must demand that Israel cease its harassment, intimidation and aggression, and rescind the terrorist designation against them or face the consequences of its unlawful actions, she urged.

Highlighting the deplorable situation of Palestinian political prisoners, including children, she drew attention to the critical condition of Khalil al-Hayya, a 40-year-old Palestinian on hunger strike for 171 days to protest his illegal incarceration. by Israel without trial or any charge.

“What is happening to him and thousands of other Palestinian prisoners and millions of Palestinians under Israel’s colonial occupation and apartheid regime is not normal and cannot be justified under any circumstances. The international community has many legitimate, effective and non-violent tools, and they should be used to pressure Israel in the face of its flagrant non-compliance, she said.

Calling attention to the continued exclusion of the State of Palestine from “its rightful place in the international community”, she said that the Palestinian leadership had decided to move forward with its demand for admission to the United Nations, which was submitted in September 2011. She asked for the support of the Committee, in particular those who are members of the Security Council and who have a central role to play in this regard.

The State of Palestine will continue to seek all legitimate means to hold Israel accountable for all its crimes, protect the Palestinians and ensure the humanitarian assistance they need, she said, calling for political and financial support for United Nations Relief Agency for Palestine Refugees. in the Middle East (UNWRA) to ensure the well-being and dignity of Palestinian refugees until a just solution is found.

Gréta Gunnarsdóttir, Director of the UNRWA Representation Office in New York, also briefed the Committee, noting that 5.7 million Palestinian refugees are currently covered by the Agency’s protection mandate. The Office provides education to approximately 540,000 students in 700 schools, health services to nearly 3 million refugees in 143 primary health care centers and a social safety net to approximately 400,000 people. However, it is currently experiencing crises in all its areas of intervention except Jordan.

In Gaza, the security situation remains highly volatile following the recent escalation, and she noted that Agency staff must always be prepared for conflict because, during active hostilities, its schools are the only places to displaced people may flee for their safety. In addition, rising commodity prices have made Gaza residents extremely dependent on UNRWA, but continued price increases and currency devaluation have impacted the Agency’s ability to respond to growing needs.

Turning to the situation in the West Bank, she said the environment in the refugee camps had deteriorated significantly in 2022, with nearly all conflict-related indicators pointing to record levels of violence. The security situation on the ground has hampered UNRWA operations due to tear gas incidents and access restrictions such as road closures.

She went on to note that the Agency’s work in Lebanon faces multiple crises such as inflation and food and fuel shortages, and that the rising cost of living has affected refugee access. to the services of the Office. Levels of poverty, unemployment and desperation are rising among Palestinian refugees in Lebanon faster than the Agency can provide services, but UNRWA remains the lifeline of this community due to its limited access to public services. in Lebanon because of its legal status. In addition, in Syria, Palestinian refugees are among the country’s most vulnerable populations, and funding is needed for emergency cash and food assistance and for the rehabilitation of Agency facilities damaged by the conflict that has lasted for 11 years.

Regarding the upcoming renewal of UNRWA’s mandate, she noted that Palestinian refugees felt they had been abandoned by the international community. Noting a funding shortfall of more than $100 million for the Agency’s program budget in 2022, she warned that the entire operation is at risk unless funding issues are addressed. She called on Member States to increase their financial contributions, facilitate the rapid disbursement of pledges already made and provide additional top-ups so that the Agency can get through this year.

Several delegations, including those from Sri Lanka, Cuba and Turkey, echoed support for UNWRA and called for adequate, predictable and sustainable funding for the Agency. Committee members also heard expressions of support for a two-state solution and the renewal of the Agency’s mandate this fall. The representative of South Africa, noting that the situation in Palestine clearly resembled the apartheid system in his country, said that he hoped that the Committee would urgently address the questions of financing and bring them to the entire membership of the United Nations.

Neville Gertze (Namibia), Vice-Chair of the Committee, providing an update on its activities, said that since its last meeting in July, the Committee had co-hosted its annual conference on the question of Jerusalem entitled “Palestinian Youth in Occupied East Jerusalem” with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), where an OIC representative from Jeddah and the President of the seventy-fifth session of the General Assembly, by videoconference, delivered statements.

Also in July, Cheikh Niang (Senegal), Chairman of the Committee, traveled to Amman, Jordan, to open the two-day communication strategy workshop held on July 25 and 26, a- he declared. The workshop brought together 21 Palestinian government officials and equipped participants with the skills to develop a comprehensive suite of strategic communications tools to help it communicate and engage more effectively with its audience.

He went on to say that while in Jordan on July 25, Mr. Niang met with Mohammed Hindawi, Director of the Negotiations Coordination Office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to discuss Jordan’s support to UNRWA. He also met with Ghulam Isaczai, Acting United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Jordan, to brief him on the activities of the Committee, including the workshop on strategic communication.

On August 4, the Office met with the Permanent Representative of Albania and on August 25, the Secretary-General to express deep concern about other pressing global issues and conflicts, the international community has diverted its attention from the issue of Palestine. He said that the Secretary-General had assured the Bureau that the Palestinian question and the Middle East peace process remained high on the United Nations agenda.

The Vice President then announced that this year’s commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People would be held on November 29 and would be followed, on November 30, by the plenary session of the General Assembly on the “question of Palestine”, which will also examine the four resolutions on the subject, including the three resolutions that the Committee has re-biennialized in 2020.

Also speaking today were representatives of Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.

* The 407th meeting was not covered.

For news media. Not an official record.