Statement by Dr GNM Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, during the UN Security Council Open Debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the question of Palestine, Monday, 28 October 2019

Members of the Council,

South Africa firmly believes that the question of peace in the Middle East will not be resolved unless the question of Palestine is resolved. Today we debate one of the longest standing subjects on the agenda of the Security Council. Our failure to find a resolution to the plight of the people of Palestine and to secure their peace and freedom is a profound stain against our stated mission and objectives. In the period since our last debate, the situation has deteriorated markedly, suggesting even less hope for peace.

The Council has a duty to the people of Palestine, clearly articulated in the founding Charter and it is vital for dedicated attention to be directed at finally achieving the outcomes stated in manifold United Nations resolutions.

South Africa believes it is always possible to find solutions to seemingly intractable challenges. Our own struggles were advanced by United Nations action and determination to end a crime against humanity. We need similar vigorous international solidarity, indignation and commitment for Palestine.

Council is fully aware that it is in this very body that the elusive breakthrough exists -- that it is only several of the members present here that can ensure peace and security in Palestine and the entire Middle East.
 
Council resolutions have been breached and ignored. Resolution 2334 of 2016 of this Council confirmed that the Council would not recognise any changes to the 04 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those that were agreed by the parties through mediation. Yet, this very agreed decision and negotiations have been undermined through unilateral decisions aimed at predetermining the outcome of the negotiations. That points to bad faith and can never secure peace.

Excellencies, of even greater concern is that the people of Palestine seem to be a forgotten people and their hopes are dissipating in the face of diminishing world support and the absence of any genuine attempt at honest and genuine negotiations.

We as South Africa are gravely concerned by the continued disregard for the long-standing Middle East Peace Process through the systematic foreclosing of the final status issues, particularly with regard to the borders, the return of refugees, the status of Jerusalem and the ever-expanding illegal settlements.

Clearly there is no intention to seek or achieve peace by those implementing these actions. How is it possible to believe in this Council, in peace and security in the face of such offending breaches of this Council’s decisions?

This Council must find ways to repair it damaged and waning credibility as a source of peace and security. Council must insist on regular written reports on the implementation of its decision, particularly with respect to resolution 2334, secondly Council must visibly show its solidarity with the long-suffering people of Palestine by conducting the long-overdue field visit to the occupied Palestinian territory by those on the Council willing to do this and thirdly, Council must take further action against the continued violations of human rights and disregard for international law.
 
South Africa fully supports a two-State solution, and an agreed peace processed aimed at ensuring two co-existing, viable states, side-by-side, offering hope and example to those who suffer hatred and insecurity. This would be an important benefit to the entire region. We also utterly condemn the human rights violations against the Palestinian people and the violence directed at the people of Gaza and the West Bank though occupation and aggression by Israel.

Council cannot be seen to condone actions of violence and hostility such as the building of further barriers and walls, closing of schools and killing of civilians. Council should act to ensure gestures of hope and the building of trust between the parties. This requires, as a first step, firm statement against intolerance of violent infringements and other negative actions.

Excellencies,

This institution, the United Nations was founded on the principles of insuring the presence and practice of human rights, respect for the worth and dignity of every person, equality whether rich or poor, might or weak and a world of justice, peace and respect for international law. We have clearly failed on these principles on the subject of Palestine, our commitments have fallen short and suffering continues unabated. We must do more before the next debate.

There are many who will speak on this subject today, this indicates great trouble and great interest in this troubling inadequacy. Let us remember that while debate is important, we lose credibility as an institution when words are not accompanied by action. The people of Palestine require action.
 
I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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