Statement by Mr. Rodolfo Benitez Verson, Chargé de affaires a.i.of the Permanent Mission of Cuba, in his capacity as Acting Chair of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement, at the Security Council debate on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”. New York, 22 July of 2008.
I have the honour to address the Security Council on behalf of the 118 Members States of the Non-Aligned Movement.
The situation in the Middle East remains complex. The situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, continues to deteriorate and to be marked by deadly violence, instability and high tensions. In grave breach of international law and in contradiction to the peace process, Israel, the occupying Power, continues, inter alia, to carry out military attacks against the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the Gaza Strip, where the isolated and imprisoned Palestinian civilian population continues to suffer from a dire humanitarian crisis.
The toll of human lives, injured, displaced, homeless, impoverished and those without access to basic needs in the Occupied Palestinian Territory continues to increase at an alarming rate. The poverty rate is currently at 65.8% in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, reaching a total of more than 79% of the population in the Gaza Strip. The continuing Israeli closures and restrictions on the movement and access of persons and goods, including humanitarian and medical, has made Palestinian economic recovery nearly impossible and continues to aggravate the prevailing humanitarian crisis and to further destabilize the situation on the ground.
The Movement reiterates its strong belief that the absence of respect for international law by the Occupying Power and its ongoing illegal occupation continue to be the major obstacles to the success of efforts to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. In this connection, the Movement reiterates its regret that for more than forty-one years the Palestinian people have been suffering under the brutal Israeli military occupation and colonization of their land since 1967 and that they continue to be denied their fundamental human rights, including the inalienable right to self-determination and the right of the Palestine refugees to return, in accordance with international law and the relevant United Nations resolutions.
NAM reiterates its call for Israel, the occupying Power, to cease all of its violations against the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and to abide scrupulously by its obligations under international law, including humanitarian and human rights law.
This month marks the four-year anniversary of the rendering by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of the Advisory Opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem.
The ICJ, the highest judicial organ of the United Nations system, affirmed, inter alia, that the construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is illegal and that Israel, the occupying Power, is under obligation to terminate its breaches of international law and to cease its construction of the Wall, to dismantle the Wall, and to make reparations for all damage caused by the construction of the Wall.
Israel, in violation of numerous Security Council resolutions regarding the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and the illegality of the Israeli settlements and of General Assembly resolutions and in contravention of the Advisory Opinion as well as of General Assembly resolution ES-10/15 of 20 July 2004, which reaffirms the illegality of the construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, continues to build that Wall and to impose an associated permit regime and to construct and expand its illegal settlements.
In flagrant defiance of the ruling and the law, Israel has actually completed approximately 60% of the planned 701 kilometers of the Wall and, for this purpose, has continued to confiscate even more Palestinian land, to destroy more Palestinian property, and to displace more Palestinian civilians.
In this connection, the Non-Aligned Movement remains seriously concerned by the recent decisions by Israel to continue illegal settlement construction and by its continuing unlawful construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem. The Movement is concerned by the huge physical, economic and social devastation caused by these illegal and destructive colonization practices, which are dividing the Occupied Palestinian Territory into separate, walled-in enclaves and severing East Jerusalem from the rest of the Territory, completely undermining the unity, integrity and contiguity of the Palestinian Territory; destroying entire communities; displacing thousands of Palestinian civilians and isolating tens of thousands more Palestinians in isolated cantons.
In flagrant violation of international law and despite commitments made in the context of the Middle East peace process and agreements reached therein and contrary to the spirit and goals of this renewed peace process, Israeli has actually escalated such illegal activities in the recent period. In this regard, the Members of the Non-Aligned Movement submitted a letter to the President of the Security Council, urging the Council to seriously address this critical issue, including through the adoption of a resolution in this regards.
Israel also continues to carry out countless other unlawful policies and measures intended to advance its illegal settlement campaign and to alter the demographic composition, character and status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
The Non-Aligned Movement reiterates its condemnation of all of Israel’s ongoing, illegal settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, stresses the dangers of such continuing illegal and unilateral Israeli measures and reiterates its demands upon Israel, the occupying Power, to immediately and completely cease all settlement construction, expansion and planning in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
The Government of Lebanon has continuously endeavoured to stabilize the situation in its territory following Israel’s brutal aggression and serious violations of its territorial integrity and sovereignty. The NAM reiterates its satisfaction with the steps undertaken by the Lebanese Government to implement Security Council resolution 1701 (2006), particularly through the deployment of the Lebanese armed forces in the region south of the Litani River and along the Blue Line. The Movement also welcomes the deployment of the Lebanese armed forces along the northern and eastern borders of Lebanon in order to ensure security and stability at the borders.
The NAM remains deeply concerned by Israel’s ongoing air and land violations of the Blue Line in breach of resolution 1701 (2006). We strongly call on Israel to end the occupation of the northern part of Ghajar, on the northern side of the Blue Line, and to immediately refrain from any violation of Lebanese sovereignty and of resolution 1701 (2006), as well as to refrain from any provocation of the Lebanese armed forces or the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.
The NAM calls for the prompt settlement of the question of the Shab’a Farms in full respect for Lebanese territorial integrity, as stipulated in resolution 1701 (2006). We call upon all parties to cooperate in protecting Lebanon’s sovereign rights in that area, and we note the important endeavours of the Secretary-General in this regard.
The NAM is acutely aware of the enormous challenge facing Lebanon as a result of the 1.2 million cluster bombs launched by Israel during its attack on Lebanon in 2006. The Movement once again condemns the use of such weaponry by Israel and deplores the death toll resulting from them. The NAM strongly calls upon Israel to provide the exact location of those deadly weapons and the maps of landmines planted during its occupation of southern Lebanon.
The Movement congratulates the people and leaders of Lebanon and strongly supports the agreement reached in Doha on May 21 under the auspices of His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of Qatar, pursuant to the efforts of the Ministerial Committee of the Arab League. The Doha Agreement constituted an essential step towards the resolution of the current crisis, the return to the normal functioning of Lebanese democratic institutions, and the complete restoration of Lebanon’s unity and stability.
In this regard, the Movement welcomes the election of the new President of the Republic and the establishment of a national unity cabinet, and supports the agreement to address Lebanon’s electoral law, in accordance with the Arab League Initiative. The Movement also welcomes the decision to continue the national dialogue on ways to reinforce the authority of the State over all its territories, in such a way to guarantee the sovereignty and the security of the state and the people of Lebanon. The Movement also welcomes the agreement to ban the use of weapons and violence as means to settle disputes, irrespective of their nature and under any circumstances.
NAM reaffirms that all measures and action taken, or to be taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which purport to alter the legal, physical and demographic condition and institutional structure of the Occupied Syrian Golan, as well as the Israeli measures to impose jurisdiction and administration there, are null, void and have no legal effect.
We also reaffirm that all these measures and actions, including the illegal construction and expansion of the Israeli settlements in the Syrian Golan since 1967, constitute violations of international law, international agreements, the U.N. Charter and resolutions, including the Security Council resolution 497 (1981), the Fourth Geneva Convention, and a challenge to the international community. The Movement demands that Israel abide by resolution 497 (1981) and withdraw completely from the Occupied Syrian Golan to the borders of 4 June 1967.
NAM expresses its hope that current efforts will ultimately bring an end to the occupation of all of the Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, namely the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Occupied Syrian Golan, and will lead to the establishment of the independent State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, as well as a just solution of the question of the refugees on the basis of resolution 194.
The Non-Aligned Movement reaffirms its support of the Middle East peace process, on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242, 338, 425, 1397 and 1515 and the principle of land for peace.