Timing of Massacre ‘Not an Accident’ as Global Community ‘Busy with Another Big Issue’, Says Permanent Observer, Stressing Palestinians ‘Need to See Action’
Also speaking were the representatives of Tunisia, China, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Cuba, Nicaragua and South Africa. Discussion Preventing escalation and restoring calm is the immediate priority, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said today to the 25-member entity, known formally as the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, which the General Assembly established in 1975. Venezuela’s delegate also looked forward to the day when Palestine will be a full-fledged member of the United Nations, as he paid tribute to the long heroism of its people, who have withstood colonial aggression, military brutality and the criminal apartheid of the occupying Power for 75 years since the nakba. The time has come to adopt measures to provide international protection to the Palestinian civilian population, he said. The representative of Syria pointed to the Security Council’s silence in the face of Israel’s actions, adding that as a result, the region is witnessing unprecedented levels of tension and instability. Reaffirming that “the Palestinian cause is a central one”, he supported all efforts aimed at implementing Security Council and General Assembly resolutions pertaining to the Palestinian issue and ending the continuing, systematic crimes perpetrated by Israel. Condemning this morning’s attack in Nablus, a city that is supposedly under the control of the Palestinian Authority, he noted that so far 10 people, including children and the elderly, have died, with many fighting for their lives. The timing of the Nablus massacre was not an accident, he said, adding that Israel knew that “the international community will be busy with another big issue” and assumed nobody will pay attention. Despite the Council presidential statement adopted two days ago, which emphasized the need for humanitarian access, the Israeli occupying forces did not allow ambulances access this morning, he said. Feda Abdelhady-Nasser, an observer for the State of Palestine thanked Committee members for their solidarity, adding that the Palestinian people are grieving yet again today, part of a painful, ongoing grief for all the devastation inflicted on generation after generation. Mr. Mansour also took the floor again, apologizing for having to leave the meeting earlier, as he was meeting with the President of the Security Council regarding the crime committed in Nablus today. He also detailed ongoing preparations relating to the proceeding before the International Court of Justice and urged all those willing and able to submit written interventions to the Court to do so before the deadline of 25 July. “On a morning like today”, the representative of Namibia said, “I really do not feel it appropriate for me to congratulate any one of us for being re-elected or making statements”. The brutal attack in Nablus this morning is another reminder of the persistent misery that the occupying Power inflicts on its people, he said, calling on the Committee to “continue to be bold” in pursuit of its mandate in a manner that remains realistic and rooted in international law. As news came in of an Israeli security forces operation in Nablus that killed 10 Palestinians, speakers at the first formal meeting of the Palestinian Rights Committee in 2023 appealed for an immediate end to the deadly cycle of violence. The Committee re-elected Pedro Luis Pedroso Cuesta (Cuba), Arrmanatha Christiawan Nasir (Indonesia), Neville Melvin Gertze (Namibia) and Jaime Hermida Castillo (Nicaragua) as Vice-Chairs. It will fill the vacant posts of Rapporteur and one Vice-Chair at a later time. The Committee will reconvene at a date and time to be announced. The representative of the League of Arab States noted the double standards within the United Nations when it comes to the situation in Ukraine versus the situation in Palestine. Pointing to the multiple meetings convened on Ukraine, including the one later today, he said the attitude towards Palestine is different. This makes it essential to support Palestine in various international forums such as the International Court of Justice, he said, calling on Committee members to collect evidence and legal precedents. Also stressing the importance of international recognition for Palestinian statehood, he said the Committee must convince more countries to recognize the State of Palestine. In other business, the Committee adopted its programme of work for 2023 (document A/AC.183/2023/L.3). Jordan’s delegate expressed concern about “attempts to obfuscate reality”, noting that two days ago in the Council, the representative of Israel demonized Palestinian children as terrorists. He was trying to justify Israel’s legitimate right to kill Palestinian children, he said, also expressing concern about media reports that portray Israel as the victim. Condemning attempts to erase the Muslim, Christian and Arab identity of Jerusalem, he reaffirmed his country’s custodianship of the holy sites. This risks further destabilizing the Palestinian Authority at a time when it is already struggling with a dire fiscal crisis, he said, urging all donors to support the resilient and high-performing work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Calling for the courage to make the difficult choices, he said each new settlement is another roadblock on the path to peace. At the same time, nothing justifies terrorism, he said. The speaker for Lebanon noted how the occupation has deprived Palestinian people of their land and their identity while the representative of Türkiye condemned Israel’s legalization of nine outposts in the West Bank, as illegal “even under Israeli law”. The representative of Indonesia said that it “may not be an exaggeration” to say that that occupying Power’s actions are creating a “hell on Earth” for the Palestinian people. Cheikh Niang (Senegal), speaking upon his re-election as Committee Chair, said the devotion to the Committee demonstrated by those present reflect their countries’ respective commitment to the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. Israel’s continued occupation and illegal practices — including settlement activities, creeping annexation and deliberate demographic change — constitute a serious threat to the sovereignty of the Palestinian State. Further, elevated violence across the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, is concerning, and recent weeks have been marked by alarming violence, confrontation and military action that includes children among the victims, he said. He went on to welcome the Security Council’s recent adoption of a presidential statement condemning Israeli settlement activities, urging the organ to turn this message into effective action and address the suffering that has continued for too long. He also stressed that the peace process must be relaunched, and that all pending matters must be discussed, including the status of Jerusalem, refugees, security and the situation in Gaza. Meanwhile, all parties should refrain from unilateral actions that undermine resuming the peace process. Calling on Israel and the international community to uphold the rights of the Palestinian people — namely the right to live in freedom and dignity in a sovereign State — he also urged Member States to continue supporting UNRWA. Drawing attention to the extremist Israeli Government that took office in December, he said its actions have triggered several Council meetings. Also condemning settler terrorism, he said the Palestinian people live in daily fear of being attacked by settlers who have been armed by the current Government. If principles such as the right to self-determination and the inadmissibility of acquisition of land by force are applicable to other situations in the world, they should also be applicable to Palestine, he declared. “We will work with you, Mr. Secretary-General, but we need to see action,” Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, said during his address to the Committee. Describing the anger and frustration among the Palestinian people, he said it is increasingly difficult to convince them that Security Council resolutions will be implemented. They keep seeing the Organization adopting appropriate documents but “they don’t see teeth to these resolutions”, he said. Expressing alarm and grief about the attack in Nablus earlier today, Committee members took the floor to reaffirm support for the two-State solution and the rights of the Palestinian people. Noting the clash in Nablus this morning and the fragile situation in Jerusalem, he stressed that the demographic and historical character of Jerusalem and the status quo at the holy sites must be upheld. He also expressed concern about Israel’s recent punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority following the General Assembly resolution seeking an International Court of Justice advisory opinion on the occupation. Egypt’s delegate condemned the killing of innocent civilians, the use of live munitions against children, the demolition of Palestinian homes and the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip for more than 15 years. He reiterated his country’s full support of the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights — including seeking an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice. A day will come when the Committee will celebrate the accession of the Palestinian people to long-due freedom and independence, he said.