|Statement By H.E. Mr. Wang Yingfan President of the Security Council on the Occasion of the International Day of Solidarity With the Palestinian People|
Allow me first to thank the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for the kind invitation extended to me, in my capacity as President of the Security Council for the month of November, to participate in this annual observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. I am very pleased to join in this truly special event, through which the international community has always demonstrated its solidarity with the Palestinian people, as well as its commitment to the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine.
As you are aware, for decades, the Security Council has been engaged in efforts at achieving a peaceful settlement in the Middle East. In this context, it is appropriate to note that three of its resolutions – 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and, most recently, 1397 (2002) – have been universally recognized as ones that define the fundamentals for any lasting political solution of the conflict.
During the past year, we were all deeply disturbed by the escalation of violence, tragic loss of life on both sides, and vast destruction in the occupied Palestinian territory. The Council has most closely monitored the situation on the ground and efforts to stop the violence. It heard regular monthly briefings by the Secretary-General and his representatives and remained continuously seized of the developments in the region.
On 12 March, the Council adopted resolution 1397. In this landmark resolution, the Council, for the first time, affirmed a vision of a region where two States, Israel and Palestine, would live side by side within secure and recognized borders. The Council also demanded immediate cessation of all acts of violence, including all acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction; called upon the Israeli and Palestinian sides and their leaders to cooperate in the implementation of the Tenet work plan and Mitchell Report recommendations with the aim of resuming negotiations on a political settlement.
The Council was concerned at the further deterioration of the situation, including suicide bombings in Israel and the military attacks in Palestinian areas. In a continuing effort to stop the vicious cycle of violence and stabilize the situation, the Council took action by adopting a series of important resolutions and Presidential Statements calling for a ceasefire, withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian cities, an end to all acts of violence and a return to a political process. The Council also expressed on many occasions its grave concern at the dire humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people and urged Israel to observe and respect international humanitarian law and take meaningful measures help to ease the humanitarian disaster.
Throughout the year, the Council supported the efforts of the international community, including that of the Quartet and others aimed at helping the parties move away from the confrontation and resume meaningful negotiations. In this connection, the Council welcomed the peace initiative put forward at the Arab League Beirut Summit. The Council feels strongly that the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority should fully cooperate with the Quartet and other efforts and work hard towards a two-State solution based on resolutions 242, 338 and 1397. The detailed road map to achieve this goal has been elaborated by the Quartet. It is much hoped that the plan would be acceptable to both sides. The Council, for its part, stands ready to assist the Israelis and the Palestinians in this challenging endeavour. The Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority must work together and help each other eliminate all threats to peace. I would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm that the vision of a sovereign and independent State of Palestine should be realized and the State of Palestine should exist side by side with Israel in peace and security.
The Council is also fully aware of the enormity of the humanitarian crisis on the ground and the urgency of providing varied forms of assistance to the Palestinian people. What is needed now is coordinated and sustained relief work by the donor community and the United Nations that would help alleviate the great suffering of the Palestinians.
At this difficult period, we shall continue to support the untiring peace efforts of the Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan. We are confident that his political and moral authority and intensive engagement with the parties will have a most profound impact on attempts at salvaging the political process.
The Security Council also appreciates the constructive involvement of the international community in the quest for a just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine. It is through a dedicated work by all that this decades-old conflict can and must come to an end, bringing peace and stability to the Middle East.
In conclusion, on behalf of all the members of the Security Council, I would like to assure you that the Council will continue to shoulder its responsibilities under the Charter with respect to the question of Palestine. Great obstacles, difficulties and disruptions notwithstanding, we shall remain fully committed to the ultimate goal of achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, for the benefit of all parties concerned, including the Palestinian people.