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Closing session of the International Conference on the question of Jerusalem
“Preserving the cultural and religious character of Jerusalem”

Press Release
Convened by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) in partnership with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)


CHEIKH NIANG, Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Permanent Representative of Senegal to the United Nations, remarked how, over the past two days, Palestinian, Israeli and international experts on the status of cultural and religious sites in Jerusalem had outlined the challenges and put forward recommendations for the preservation of the Holy City’s rich heritage as a step for safeguarding any hope for the two-State solution. Interventions stressed that the issue of preservation was a political question and vital for settling the conflict.

The Conference had highlighted the need for the international community to stand together and support the consensus on the question of Jerusalem. It was the sixth consecutive conference on Jerusalem organized by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People with support of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. Taking into account the urgency of situation in East Jerusalem, the timing of the event was opportune. Mr. Niang expressed gratitude for support to the United Nations Office in Geneva and thanked partners in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for co-sponsoring the conference as well as for their continuous support to the peaceful settlement to the question of Palestine.

RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, in expressing his appreciation to all speakers and participants at the Conference, stated that every idea allowing for additional voices in advancing the just cause of dealing with the conflict and putting it to an end was appreciated and welcomed. People were encouraged to join this cause. He underlined the strategic alliance with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation as well as with the World Council of Churches. Indeed, new partners were welcome.

Conferences were not held just for abstract and theoretical discussions. Experts need not be convinced of the just cause of Palestinians. Palestinians paying full taxes and only receiving 10 per cent of services, reminded of the first Intifada and how Palestinians refused to pay taxes. Such examples reminded of the heroism of people, like all together praying at the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque and refusing to pay what was unjust. Similar with churches in Palestine, such as when the Church of the Holy Sepulchre refused to pay taxes, it was a remarkable lesson.

The countries that did not yet recognize Palestine were asked to provide their own ideas on how two-State solution could be achieved. The 2018 Jerusalem Conference in Rabat was concerned with President Trump’s unilateral decision to move the US Embassy and recognize Jerusalem. It had been a strong message to the whole world that the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People was not to be silent on this, as the Security Council had been resolved that such a move was a violation of international law, and the decision null and void. Palestinians were a small nation but were tough and resilient. After fifty years of occupation, its people were showing remarkable lessons of resilience. The 350,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem were not accepting a ruthless occupying power. Those refusing to leave East Jerusalem were resisting all policies of the occupying power. People like that deserved to be supported, and they deserved for outside efforts to be redoubled. This year, the United States was trying to push a dead initiative of economic ideas. Yet, gatherings such as this Conference were sending a message that the issue would not move forward without tackling the political aspect.