United Nations Office at Geneva Commemorates International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was commemorated today at a Special Meeting held at the United Nations Office at Geneva.
Tatiana Valovaya, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, chaired the meeting and read out the message of António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, who said this International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People came during one of the darkest chapters in the history of the Palestinian people. Palestinians in Gaza were suffering a humanitarian catastrophe. Above all, this was a day for reaffirming international solidarity with the Palestinian people and their right to live in peace and dignity. That needed to start with a long-term humanitarian ceasefire, unrestricted access for lifesaving aid, the release of all hostages, the protection of civilians, and an end to violations of international humanitarian law. The United Nations would not waver in its commitment to the Palestinian people.
State of Palestine, reading out a statement on behalf of Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, said the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People came at a time when the people in the Gaza Strip were facing an existential threat and the deliberate and systematic targeting of civilians. Since 7 October, the Israeli occupying forces had committed horrific international crimes, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. Now more than ever, the time had come to hold an international peace conference and recognise the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. The current Israeli aggression placed the international community at a crossroad, in which either the international will prevailed or the occupation’s will to perpetuate its colonialism would have dire consequences.
The Special Meeting was also addressed by Senegal on behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People; Sri Lanka on behalf of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories; the League of Arab States; the Organization of Islamic Cooperation; Azerbaijan on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement; the African Union; and the World Young Women’s Christian Association and the Young Women’s Christian Association of Palestine, representing non-governmental organizations accredited to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
Messages or statements for the Day were received from the Heads of State and Government of Algeria, Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Malaysia, Maldives, Morocco, Oman on behalf of the Gulf Corporation Council, Qatar and Türkiye.
The Special Meeting was organised in observance of General Assembly resolution 32/40B of 2 December 1977.
TATIANA VALOVAYA, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, read out the message of ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, United Nations Secretary-General, who said this International Day of Solidarity came during one of the darkest chapters in the history of the Palestinian people. Palestinians in Gaza were suffering a humanitarian catastrophe. Almost 1.7 million people had been forced from their homes, but nowhere was safe. Mr. Guterres expressed sincere condolences to the thousands of families mourning loved ones, including members of the United Nations family killed in Gaza, representing the largest loss of personnel in the history of the organization. While Mr. Guterres condemned the terror attacks by Hamas on 7 October, he said these could not justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.
Across the region, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency was an indispensable lifeline, delivering vital support to millions of Palestinian refugees. It was more important than ever that the international community stood with the Agency as a source of support for the Palestinian people. Above all, this was a day for reaffirming international solidarity with the Palestinian people and their right to live in peace and dignity. That needed to start with a long-term humanitarian ceasefire, unrestricted access for lifesaving aid, the release of all hostages, the protection of civilians, and an end to violations of international humanitarian law.
It was long past time to move towards a two-State solution, on the basis of United Nations resolutions and international law, with Israel and Palestine living side-by-side in peace and security, and with Jerusalem as the capital of both States. The United Nations would not waver in its commitment to the Palestinian people.
Senegal, speaking on behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said today the international community gathered again to commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Regrettably, despite the Committee's persistent calls for action, a total of 76 years had now lapsed since the adoption of General Assembly resolution 181 (II) on the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab States. Sadly, the State of Palestine continued to live under belligerent occupation. Since last October, Israel had launched upon Gaza a deadly, destructive war. The current situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, underscored the importance of the 29 November commemoration as a reminder of the collective duty and commitment to address the Palestinian people’s plight. The situation required a swift response to restore humanity and human rights. The Israeli settlement expansion and destruction in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and the persistent siege of Gaza must cease.
Daily Israeli violations of the human rights of Palestinians and international law necessitated an end to impunity and a commitment to accountability across all spheres. Israel had continued to inflict an ongoing nakba in the occupied Palestinian territory, which was openly discussed by officials from Israel and visible on television screens. The international community must not remain passive witnesses to the unfolding tragedy. The consequences of inaction could have global repercussions. The international community must rally behind the Palestinian people, offering urgent financial, humanitarian, and political support, and stand up in defence of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency’s crucial role. There was a need to re-commit to see the birth of an independent and sovereign State of Palestine, as called for by international law and countless United Nations resolutions. This solemn commemoration of solidarity should be a call to action for renewed hope to forge a path towards lasting peace and stability between Israel and Palestine, and secure the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.
Sri Lanka, speaking on behalf of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, said General Assembly resolution 181(II) was adopted on 29 November 1947 with a provision for the establishment of two States - Israel and Palestine - with much hope and expectations of peace and peaceful coexistence. However, 75 years later, the same issues were still prevalent. Earlier this month, the fifty-fifth report of the Special Committee was presented which provided an update on issues of concern regarding the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Since 7 October this year, the world had witnessed the unprecedented loss of life and suffering of the people of Palestine, as well as those Israeli civilians, injured or taken hostage in southern Israel. Over 100 staff belonging to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency had lost their lives, along with their families. The work done by the Agency to deliver vital human development services and emergency assistance to 5.9 million people was acknowledged. The Agency was one of the last remaining lifelines for survival in Gaza and the Special Committee reiterated its call for the Assembly and its Member States to provide the Agency with funding, to ensure service provision to millions of Palestine refugees.
It was concerning that Israel had not granted the Special Committee access to the occupied territories since this Committee was established in 1968. The recent respite witnessed with the release of hostages and prisoners as well as the flow of humanitarian aid should be welcomed with caution. The recent ceasefire between Israel and Hamas provided a temporary relief, however, it was important to recognise that the underlying issues and tensions that fuelled the conflict remained unresolved. The respite should be seen as an opportunity for diplomatic efforts to find a long-term solution that addressed the root causes of the conflict. The international community needed to play an active role in supporting the peace process and make every effort to prevent any further expansion of hostilities. Mediation efforts, diplomatic initiatives, and the provision of humanitarian assistance were crucial to de-escalate tensions and create an environment conducive to peace. The Special Committee joined the international calls for a just and lasting resolution of the question of Palestine, based on the two-State solution and an end to the suffering of the Palestinian people.
League of Arab States, reading out a statement on behalf of AHMED ABOUL GHEIT, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, said today marked the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People and was also the anniversary of the United Nations resolution of 1947 on the partition of Palestine. The expression of solidarity today came at an exceptional time as there was a barbaric Israeli aggression being witnessed. Since October, Gaza had been the place of some of the most egregious crimes which were taking place in front of the international community. Those residing in the Gaza Strip faced certain death due to the lack of food, water, fuel and medical supplies. How long would the human conscious ignore the consequences of this cruel war? Was it not time to cease aggression and crimes by holding the Israelis to account in the International Criminal Court? The cases filed in the International Criminal Court by many States were welcomed.
This was a turning point in the question of Palestine. The fighting had cost tens of thousands of lives and wounded thousands of Palestinian people, many women and children. The Israeli Government was continuing the practice of ethnic cleaning which was a war crime under the Geneva Convention. International stakeholders had a responsibility to protect Palestinian civilians and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to meet the needs of the Gaza people. The situation had worsened severely, and Mr. Aboul Gheit called on the General Assembly and Security Council to shoulder their responsibility by achieving a lasting ceasefire which would end the heinous and racist occupation, the only way to ensure peace in the region. The efforts of those that had provided medical and humanitarian aid was commendable. Such aid needed to be increased to meet the needs of the population. Mr. Aboul Gheit expressed gratitude and pride for those who expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people around the world, thanking Spain for its intention to recognise State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, and calling on all States to follow suit.
Organization of Islamic Cooperation said the Palestinian people were the only people on Earth still subject to colonial occupation, ethnic cleansing, forced displacement, and daily persecution in full view of the international community. This meeting was of utmost importance, in view of the unprecedented Israeli military aggression on the occupied Palestinian territory, especially the Gaza Strip. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation had confirmed its position in the resolution issued by the joint Arab-Islamic Summit held in Riyadh in November 2023, regarding the danger of the continuation and expansion of the open Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people, which threatened security and stability in the region. The absence of justice and international legitimacy, and the adoption of double standards had encouraged Israel, the occupying power, to persist in its crimes in all impunity, and had contributed to protracting the conflict.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation called for activating the available international judicial mechanisms and the process of international criminal justice to deter the Israeli occupation, prevent it from committing more crimes, and ensure its accountability for its past and current violations. Israel’s attacks on the holy places in the occupied city of Al-Quds, especially the Al-Aqsa Mosque, were dangerous. The city of Al-Quds was an integral part of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, and it was important to reject any illegal measures aimed at changing the city's geographical and demographic status. The Organization called for turning the international condemnation of the Israeli settlement policy into practical and effective measures to implement relevant United Nations resolutions, as part of supporting peace efforts and opportunities.
Azerbaijan, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was a solemn occasion for renewing the commitment in the search for a fair and lasting solution to the Palestinian cause and to achieve genuine peace and security in the Middle East. This year’s occasion came amidst a profound crisis, dangerous instability and grave suffering and humanitarian crisis being endured by Palestinian refugees, particularly in the Gaza Strip, where attacks were being carried out by Israel on refugee camps, schools and facilities where 640,000 Palestinian civilians were sheltering. The Non-Aligned Movement had historically maintained a firm stance towards the Palestinian people which rejected the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.
The Non-Aligned Movement stressed that a just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine remained key to achieving peace in the region and was a permanent responsibility of the United Nations until it was resolved, In accordance with international law and the relevant United Nations resolutions. The Movement was concerned about the critical situation of Palestinian refugees and urged the international community to step up its support to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, and ensure protection for the Palestinian civilian population. The ongoing illegal Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory continued to be a matter of grave concern. The Non-Aligned Movement stressed the need for urgent action to mobilise the international community, including the Security Council, to compel Israel to cease all illegal settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and to abide by all of its obligations under international law.
African Union said for many years, the African Union had expressed continued concern and disappointment at the continued attitude of the Israeli authorities of defying international law. It had been almost two months since the Palestinian people in Gaza were under constant attacks by the Israeli army. The attacks constituted crimes against humanity and war crimes. Israeli attacks had killed thousands of Palestinian civilians and destroyed civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and United Nations Relief and Works Agency facilities. In November 2023, the High Commissioner for Human Rights spoke about reports of unprecedented killings, destruction, and horror following a visit. The traditional status of indifference of the international community had changed for the worst; now one was witnessing a country exterminating an entire population under the eyes of the international community.
The crimes committed against the Palestinian people needed to stop and all violations of international humanitarian law needed to be held accountable. It was important to be aware of the root causes of the situation, as it was only through addressing these that the world could find the way back to humanity. The African Union affirmed its commitment to the just Palestinian cause, and a peaceful settlement to the conflict, calling for the establishment of a Palestinian State, on the basis of a two-State solution. Just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East required the full Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories. Despite the double standards of the international community, it was vital to continue to put faith in multilateralism.
World Young Women’s Christian Association and the Young Women’s Christian Association of Palestine, representing non-governmental organizations accredited to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said since 1947, this date had also marked the commemoration of United Nations General Assembly resolution 181, which advocated for the partition of Palestine into two States: one for the Jewish people and one for the Arab Palestinians. Despite countless United Nations calls and resolutions, the escalating crisis in Palestine demanded urgent attention as the situation worsened with each passing year. As an occupying power, Israel succeeded in dividing Palestine into non-contiguous cantons and creating irreversible realities on the ground that would make the establishment of a Palestinian State impossible. Since 1947, Israeli directives had persistently demolished homes and confiscated land and resources to make way for further illegal settlement expansions. Since 7 October 2023, the indiscriminate rise in the death toll in Gaza had demanded immediate and urgent global action. Tens of thousands of people had been killed and wounded. In addition to the destruction of homes, residential buildings, property, and infrastructure, around 1.5 million people were forcibly displaced due to fear, protection concerns, and the destruction of their homes.
The international community, including States and businesses, needed to do everything possible to end the Israeli apartheid and occupation of the Palestinian territory. The World Young Women’s Christian Association and the Young Women’s Christian Association of Palestine called on the international community and policymakers to apply pressure to end the war in Gaza, protecting the lives of civilians and allowing unimpeded delivery of desperately needed humanitarian aid to them; advocate for the end of Israeli occupation and stand with the Palestinians in establishing their independent, sovereign state; and implore governments to act on all the United Nations resolutions related to Palestine and enforce the full realisation of economic, political, and cultural rights for Palestinians. The United Nations was implored to enforce its own resolutions on Palestine, and the international community to stand up for the Palestinian rights of equality, freedom, dignity and security, as this was what solidarity was all about.
State of Palestine, reading out a statement on behalf of MAHMOUD ABBAS, President of the State of Palestine, said in these darkest of times, the light of hope shone from the principled positions of the peoples who had risen up to express their solidarity with the Palestinian people, their struggle and their legitimate rights to freedom, independence and return, and to condemn the aggression, the war, the killing, the destruction, the displacement. Mr. Abbas extended thanks to all the countries, organizations, and peoples providing humanitarian assistance and relief aid. The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People came at a time when the people in the Gaza Strip were facing an existential threat and the deliberate and systematic targeting of civilians. Since 7 October, the Israeli occupying forces had committed horrific international crimes, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. More than 60,000 Palestinians had been killed and injured in Israeli aggression thus far, 70 per cent of whom were children, women and elderly persons. Entire families had been exterminated, and more than 1.7 million Palestinians had been displaced. Tens of thousands of homes, buildings, facilities, shelter centres and infrastructure had been destroyed, on top of the heads of their residents, by the Israeli war machine.
State of Palestine reiterated its call to the international community and all international organizations to stop the settlements and the silent annexation, and to stop the daily practices of ethnic cleansing and racial discrimination in all of the occupied Palestinian territories. The main cause of the dangerous escalation in the region was the absence and neglect of rights. The world could not stand by and watch Israel committing killings and destruction, arrests and displacement, against the Palestinian people. What was required urgently now was an immediate halt of the Israeli aggression, a cessation of fire against people in the Gaza Strip, urgent efforts to secure the entry of humanitarian aid, the provision of urgent international protection for the Palestinian people, and the realisation of justice through accountability, in addition to rejection of the division of the Gaza Strip. It was crucial to take strategic steps to address the strategic threat to the two-State solution, and to address the root cause of the problem, and the reasons behind the absence of security and the instability in the Middle East. It was crucial to take practical steps to end the Israeli colonial occupation of the territory of the State of Palestine, with Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with United Nations resolutions, and to ensure the return of Palestine refugees to their homes from which they were displaced, in implementation of General Assembly resolution 194 (II).
There had been warnings over the past 75 years that ignoring the rights of the Palestinian people and their suffering and failing to take steps to hold Israel accountable had contributed to prolonging Israeli colonialism. Some actors had gone so far as to be complicit in the crime of genocide, the crimes of the occupation and its terrorism, granting it immunity from accountability and punishment, while supplying them with weapons, and even sending military reinforcements to engage directly in hostilities. The war of genocide carried out by the Israeli occupying war machine was not self-defence. The time had come to achieve the international community’s vision for stability and peace in the region, based on ending the occupation of the territory of the State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, based on the resolutions of international legitimacy of the United Nations, including as stated in Security Council Resolution 2334 (2016).
Now more than ever, the time had come to hold an international peace conference and recognise the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. There was a need to engage in a serious political process that adhered to international legitimacy and aimed to end the occupation. The current Israeli aggression placed the international community at a crossroad, in which either the international will prevailed or the occupation’s will to perpetuate its colonialism would have dire consequences. The State of Palestine would spare no effort to protect its people and expressed its commitment to international law. Everyone was obliged to help the Palestinian people to achieve their freedom and independence and to live in peace and security, just like the rest of the world. Mr. Abbas saluted the resilience of the Palestinian people in Palestine and in the refugee camps and the diaspora.
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