STATEMENT OF H.E. FATHER MIGUEL D´ESCOTOBROCKMANN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED NATIONSGENERAL ASSEMBLY,AT THE 57th PLENARY MEETING ON AGENDA ITEM 16,THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK24 NOVEMBER 2008

 Excellencies, Brothers and Sisters, 

1. I am pleased to open this plenary session in which wetake up the Question of Palestine. This morning, withheavy heart, we observed the International Day ofSolidarity with the Palestinian People. I joined theChairman of the Committee on the Exercise of theInalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, H.E.Ambassador Paul Badji, and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to voice our ongoing concern for the terriblesituation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank andexpress our solidarity with this long-suffering People.

 2. We heard the comprehensive report of the Chairmanon the current situation of Palestinians living underoccupation. As well, the Secretary- General summarizedthe complex initiatives that are being undertaken by theinternational community tomove forward peace talksand the establishment of the Palestinian state.   

3. I urged the international community to raise its voiceagainst the collective punishment of the people of Gaza,a policy which we cannot tolerate. We demand an end tothis massive abuse of human rights and call on Israel,the occupying Power, to allow humanitarian and othersupplies to enter the Gaza Strip without delay.

 4. I spoke this morning about apartheid and how Israelipolicies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories appearso similar to the apartheid of an earlier era, a continentaway. 

5. I believe it is very important that we in the UnitedNations use this term. We must not be afraid to callsomething what it is. It is the United Nations, after all,that passed the International Convention against theCrime of Apartheid, making clear to all the world thatsuch practices of official discrimination must beoutlawed wherever they occur.

 6. We heard today from a representative of SouthAfrican civil society. We know that all around theworld, civil society organizations are working to defendPalestinian rights, and are trying to protect thePalestinian population that we, the United Nations, arefailing to protect. 

7. More than twenty years ago we in the United Nationstook the lead from civil society when we agreed thatsanctions were required to provide a nonviolent meansof pressuring South Africa to end its violations. 

8. Today, perhaps we in the United Nations shouldconsider following the lead of a new generation of civilsociety, who are calling for a similar non-violentcampaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions topressure Israel to end its violations. 

9. I have attended a great many meetings on the rights ofthe Palestinian People. I am amazed at how peoplecontinue to insist on patience while our Brothers andSisters are being crucified. 

10. Patience is a virtue in which I believe. But there isnothing virtuous about being patient with the sufferingof others.

 11. We must endeavour, with all our heart, to put an endto the suffering of the Palestinian People. 

12. I have great love for the Jewish People and this hasbeen true all my life. I have never hesitated to condemnthe crimes of the holocaust or any of the many abusescommitted against our Jewish Brothers and Sisters.

 13. However, their suffering does not give anyone theright to abuse others, especially those who historicallyhave such deep and exemplary relations with the JewishPeople.

 14. Having said this, I would like to remind our IsraeliBrothers and Sisters that even though they have theprotective shield of the United States in the SecurityCouncil, no amount of arm twisting and intimidationwill change the Security Council resolution 181,adopted 61 years ago, calling for the creation of twostates. 

15. Shamefully, there is no Palestinian state to celebratetoday and the prospects are as distant as ever. Allexplanations notwithstanding, this central fact makes amockery of the United Nations and gravely hurt itsimage and prestige. How can we continue like this? 

16. I call upon our dear Brothers and Sisters at thedecision-making level in our Host Country to end thepolicy that only retards justice in the Middle East.

 17. The international community should spare no effortin assisting both Israelis and Palestinians to reach asolution that will fulfill the goal of two States, Israel andPalestine, living side by side in peace and security. TheUnited Nations has an ongoing responsibility to resolvethe question of Palestine in all its aspects and inaccordance with international law. Let us be sure thatthis not become a permanent responsibility. 

18. The enmity between our Palestinian and Israelibrothers and sisters is a bitter and self-perpetuatingtragedy. We must find new ways to defuse this enmity,to enable both peoples to reassert their historic bonds ofbrotherhood and sisterhood. 19. I urge the international community to defuse thepolitical deadlock that cynically perpetuates this hatred,isolation and abuse. Our solidarity must prompt concreteaction to realize those elusive rights that most of us cantake for granted. 

Thank you.  

MRN

Author: MRN Network

The aspiration of the Media Review Network is to dispel the myths and stereotypes about Islam and Muslims and to foster bridges of understanding among the diverse people of our country. The Media Review Network believes that Muslim perspectives on issues impacting on South Africans are a prerequisite to a better appreciation of Islam.