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Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Secretary-General's Message on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, 29 November 2011

Secretary-General's Message on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, 29 November 2011

Sixty-four years ago on this day, the General Assembly adopted resolution 181, ‎proposing the partition of the mandate territory into two States. The establishment of a ‎Palestinian State, living in peace next to a secure Israel, is long overdue.‎
The need to resolve this conflict has taken on greater urgency with the historic ‎transformations taking place across the region. I call on the Israeli and Palestinian ‎leadership to show courage and determination to seek an agreement for a two-State ‎solution that can open up a brighter future for Palestinian and Israeli children. Such a ‎solution must end the occupation that began in 1967, and meet legitimate security ‎concerns. Jerusalem must emerge from negotiations as the ‎capital of two States, with ‎arrangements for the holy sites acceptable to all. And a just and agreed solution must be ‎found for millions of Palestinian refugees scattered around the region.‎
While there are many challenges to this goal, let me stress an important, indeed ‎historic, achievement of the Palestinian Authority during the past year. The Palestinian ‎Authority is now institutionally ready to assume the responsibilities of statehood, if a ‎Palestinian state were created. This was affirmed by a wide range of members of the ‎international community at the meeting of the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee in September. ‎I commend President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on this ‎remarkable success. These efforts should continue and be supported. ‎
In this regard, the current suspension by Israel of customs and tax transfers owed ‎to the Palestinian Authority risks undermining these gains. These revenues must be ‎transferred without delay. ‎
Above all else, a political horizon is vital. I am deeply concerned that Israeli-‎Palestinian negotiations are not taking place, while trust between the parties continues to ‎fade. A glimpse of hope comes from their engagement with the Middle East Quartet. I ‎call on both sides to develop serious proposals on borders and security, and to discuss ‎them directly with each other, with active Quartet support, in the context of a shared ‎commitment to reach an agreement by the end of 2012. ‎
The parties have a particular responsibility to cease provocations and create a ‎conducive environment for meaningful negotiations. Israel's recently intensified ‎settlement activity in East Jerusalem and the West Bank is a major obstacle. Settlement ‎activity is contrary to international law and the Roadmap, and must cease. Unilateral ‎actions on the ground will not be accepted by the international community. For its part, ‎the Palestinian Authority should also find ways to help de-escalate the situation and ‎improve the prevailing divisive climate, and to be ready to engage directly in the search ‎for a negotiated solution. ‎
I also urge the Palestinians to overcome their divisions, based on the ‎commitments of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the positions of the Quartet and ‎the Arab Peace Initiative. I take note of President Abbas's continuous efforts towards a ‎transitional government that will prepare for presidential and legislative elections in May. ‎Palestinian unity that supports a negotiated two-State solution is essential for the creation ‎of a Palestinian State in Gaza and the West Bank. ‎
The United Nations continues to be strongly committed to the population in Gaza, ‎and to implementing all aspects of Security Council resolution 1860. I appreciate efforts ‎undertaken by Israel to ease the closure, and continue to call for removing the numerous ‎remaining measures that severely restrict the movement of people and goods and limit the ‎ability of the United Nations to support Gaza's economic recovery and reconstruction. ‎
I also take this opportunity to remind those in Gaza who fire rockets at Israel or ‎continue to smuggle weapons that these actions are both unacceptable and completely ‎contrary to Palestinian interests. I call for an end to rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, and ‎for Israel to exercise maximum restraint. Both parties should fully observe calm and ‎respect international humanitarian law. ‎
I welcome the recent prisoner exchange that saw the release of hundreds of ‎Palestinian prisoners and an Israeli soldier. This significant humanitarian breakthrough ‎should be followed by further steps to consolidate calm and end the closure of Gaza. ‎
Amid these many challenges to the realization of their legitimate aspirations for ‎statehood, the Palestinian leadership submitted an application for membership in the ‎United Nations. This is a matter for the Member States to decide. Whatever view of this ‎matter is taken, we should not lose sight of the ultimate goal of reaching a negotiated ‎peace agreement on all final status issues, including borders, security, Jerusalem and ‎refugees. ‎
Let us, on this International Day, reaffirm our commitment to translating ‎solidarity into positive action. The international community must help steer the situation ‎towards a historic peace agreement. Failing to overcome mistrust will only condemn ‎further generations of Palestinians and Israelis to conflict and suffering. A just and ‎lasting peace in the Middle East based on Security Council resolutions 242, 338, 1397, ‎‎1515 and 1850, previous agreements, the Madrid framework, the Road Map and the Arab ‎Peace Initiative is critical to avoid this fate. For my part, I pledge to continue pursuing ‎my efforts with all the means available to me.‎
Ban Ki-moon

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