Statement by Secretary General of PLO Executive Committee, Saeb Erekat/
The year 2017 marks 50 years of Israel’s colonization of Palestine and 70 years of the catastrophic historical event, al-Nakba, and 100 years of the Balfour declaration of 1917. These historical events signify the absence of justice and accountability. In fact, the continuous Israeli colonization policies are motivated by the international community’s evasion from its responsibility to hold Israel accountable for its systematic violations of international law and international humanitarian law.
The failure of the international community to implement UN resolutions, including security council resolution 2334, has allowed Israel to further cement its settlement enterprise. In this context, the British Foreign Minister Mr. Boris Johnson has issued a statement last week reaffirming his government’s intention to celebrate 100 years of the infamous Balfour Declaration next November.
The facts are evident. The Israeli occupying power is developing more colonial settlement plans with the aim of making the occupation of Palestine irreversible. This includes the construction of new settlements between Ramallah and Nablus as well as between Ramallah and East Jerusalem. And to strengthen its colonization of East Jerusalem, Israel is also preparing to annex more areas in and around the Occupied Palestinian capital. Additionally, Israel has recently decided to provide a municipal status for its illegal settlers in the Old City of Hebron, a Palestinian World Heritage Site.
Palestine will make use of all the available political and diplomatic tools to confront Israeli crimes and violations. As the Palestinian civil society organizations have submitted further evidence to the International Criminal Court, the State of Palestine is preparing its next move to hold Israel accountable. In this regard, we reiterate our calls upon the European Union not to reward Israel with an Association Council meeting.
This week, the UN Human Rights Council will include discussions on Item 7 on Human Rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories. We expect the international community not to fall into the Israeli tactics of intimidation and to send the right message out of the Geneva meeting. Failing to participate in the discussions of Item 7 will be another reward for Israel that will further encourage its colonial-settlement expansion.
President Mahmoud Abbas’ speech to the United Nations was clear: despite the Israeli government’s efforts to destroy the two-state solution and the double standard shown by the international community, the people of Palestine will regain their rights, if not through a sovereign and independent State of Palestine on the 1967 border, living side by side in peace and security with the State of Israel, it will be through acquiring equal rights for all citizens, Christians, Muslims, and Jews, living in the historical land of Palestine between the river and the sea.