NEW YORK: The president of the UN General Assembly and heads of various international organizations marked the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people and called on the international community to recognize their aspirations for self-determination and sovereignty.
Taking place on Nov. 29 every year, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people is not only an opportunity for parties to express their concern for the plight of the Palestinians, but also an opportunity for the international community to assess progress in resolving the Palestinian question.
Abdulla Shahid, president of the UN General Assembly, said: “Peace in the Middle East has remained at the forefront of the global agenda since the foundation of the UN, and much of that conversation has revolved around implementing a just settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.
“Scattered across the Middle East and beyond, Palestinian families, uprooted in 1948, are losing hope of ever returning to their original homes, especially as illegal settlements outside of Israel’s demarcated borders proliferate.
“Palestinians in the Gaza strip continue to live in appalling conditions, with limited access to basic amenities and services, including running water, electricity, medicine, and education.”
He added: “Deprived of statehood, they cannot even advocate on their own behalf as a peer member of the global community,” alluding to the fundamental issue for many Palestinians: The lack of a country to call their own.
A representative for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation expressed support for the Palestinian cause in their “struggle to recover their legitimate rights.
He said: “The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people comes this year at a critical juncture over the Palestinian cause, given the continued practices of Israel, the occupying power, to perpetrate its colonial occupation on Palestinian land.”
Israel does this, he continued, by way of policies based on “aggression, forced displacement, ethnic cleansing, settlement Judaization, land confiscation, destruction of property, and denial of the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people.”
He also specifically highlighted the plight of Palestinian families in Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah in Jerusalem, many of whom are at risk of imminent eviction by Israeli authorities, warning that Israeli actions “fuel violence and extremism” and threaten to “ignite a religious conflict with unpredictable repercussions.”
Representatives from the Arab League and African Union also spoke, expressing their support for a two-state solution based on 1967 borders.
Also present was Mohammed El-Kurd, a prominent Palestinian activist from Sheikh Jarrah, who told delegates: “Our lives are consumed by the anxiety of living on the brink of homelessness. The UN has called this a war crime, but more importantly: I know this is theft.”
El Kurd expressed his dismay at coming to the platform as one of “countless Palestinians” who have spoken before him at the UN, but have failed to end the colonization of their land — or even make any discernible progress.
He lamented the “quasi-democratic” way in which the Israeli judicial system legitimizes settler claims to Palestinian land and recalled a question asked by his own grandmother, who was expelled from her home during the Nakba, a period in the 1940s of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by Israelis.
According to El-Kurd, his grandmother asked: “If the judge is your enemy, to whom do you complain?”