STATEMENT BY H.E. AMBASSADOR ISSIMAL CHANFI, CHAIR OF THE AFRICAN GROUP FOR THE MONTH OF MAY, ON THE SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST (ITEM 37); QUESTION OF PALESTINE (ITEM 38)
NEW YORK, THURSDAY 20, MAY 2021
Mr. President of the General Assembly
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the African Group, I want to express my sincere thanks and gratitude to you for convening this timely and important meeting. We also extend our profound thanks to the Permanent Representative of Niger and the Permanent Representative of Algeria, in their capacities as the Chair of the OIC and the Arab Group respectively for requesting a meeting of the General Assembly to hold a debate under agenda items 37 entitled “the situation in the Middle East and 38 entitled “Question of Palestine”
We are meeting today at a time of grave concern over the situation in the occupied territories and in Israel following the clashes in the occupied East Jerusalem including Al-Aqsa Mosque, Al-Haram al-sharif and in Sheikh Jarrah during the month of Ramadan. The Israeli airstrikes on Gaza have claimed more than 200 lives including children, women and elderlies as well as the destruction of thousands of homes and buildings. The airstrikes have dramatically deteriorated an already fragile situation. The cost of civilian population is unbearable and unacceptable.
The clashes have led to the displacement of over 58,000 Palestinians, many of whom are seeking refuge in UNRWA schools across Gaza. We are also concerned about the lasting effects of COVID-19 amongst vulnerable people huddled in crowded shelters and the inability of the health-care system to cope.
We call upon the Government of Israel to ensure that it upholds its obligations under the international human rights law and the international humanitarian law. We further call upon on the International Community to shoulder its responsibilities by providing protection to the civilians and access to humanitarian assistance.
Today more than ever before, there is an urgent need for all those involved to take concrete steps to bring an end to the violence. In this regard, we echo the Secretary-General’s calls for the parties to stop the bombardments and the launching of rockets because these acts have brought nothing but death, destruction and widespread trauma throughout the Occupied Palestinian territory and Israel.
We should intensify our efforts to find a just and lasting solution to the conflict, based on the Two States Solution, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and harmony, within the framework of the relevant African Union and United Nations pronouncements. But this must start with urgent action towards ending the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian land.
The African support to the Palestinian cause is premised on the values of freedom, justice and humanitarian principles that Africa defends in the international fora alongside all those striving to ensure that Palestine regains its right to exist as a key viable State in the Middle East. Africa has consistently expressed deep concerns at the consequences of unilateral policies, actions and provocations, including the ongoing lockdown on Gaza Strip.
In conclusion, we call upon the UN General Assembly, the Security Council, the quartet of the Middle East and the Secretary General of the United Nation to resolutely commit to end this situation and to relaunch the peace process to find a just and lasting solution to the conflict that would establish a sovereign Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions.