We thank you for your presence at this important Ministerial Meeting of the Non- Aligned Movement Committee on Palestine and of the NAM Caucus in the UN Security Council, and for your active participation in our work.
It is an immense honour for Cuba to preside over the work of this Committee and to promote the actions of the non-aligned countries on a matter of first priority for our Movement. Suffice it to point out that in just the last three years, the NAM Coordinating Bureau has adopted 14 Declarations about the situation in occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, as well as on other matters relating to the Palestinian question.
From the time this Committee was established at the 7th Movement Summit held in New Delhi, India, in 1983, we have held numerous senior level encounters and we have always worked adhering to the fulfilment of our mandate: to support the legitimate demands of the Palestinian people and the enjoyment of their inalienable rights, as an indispensable requirement for the achievement of fair and definitive peace in the Middle East.
Our responsibility continues to be a great one. Israel, the occupying force, continues submitting the Palestinian people to serious violations of their most basic rights. An entire people is being submitted to permanent threat, the systematic use of different methods of collective punishment and of the most sophisticated instruments of war, and it is being denied the most sacred of rights, that of self-determination.
For the Non-Aligned Movement, the quest for a peaceful, just and lasting solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been a historical priority as is the defence of the right of the people of Palestine to exercise their sovereignty in an independent state, based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as their capital.
The Non-Aligned Movement’s solidarity and support for the cause of the Palestinian people are unconditional and are based on solid principles of international law, the UN Charter and the principles of the Movement itself.
We reaffirm our rejection of the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine and other Arab territories, and we condemn the violations being perpetrated by Israel on human rights and on International Humanitarian Law.
Ignoring successive resolutions by the UN General Assembly and the Security Council that demand the withdrawal of Israel from Palestine and from the other occupied Arab territories, the occupying force would like to perpetuate the status quo, in flagrant disdain for the will of the majority in the international community.
The conduct of Israel is assured impunity by the support of the government of the United States in the UN Security Council and in other international forums. The superpower has prevented the Security Council from carrying out its responsibility as guarantor of international peace and security. Its dozens of vetoes and the threats of resorting to that measure in defence of the criminal actions carried out by Israel constitute unacceptable acts of complicity.
Just recently we had a clear example when the Security Council, after having adopted its Resolution No. 1860 asking for a cease-fire in Gaza, was prevented from acting due to the deliberate inaction of the US government and of the governments of some of it closest allies.
The serious deterioration of the situation generated by the Israeli occupiers of Palestine constitutes a great concern for the Non-Aligned Movement, following the aggression initiated on December 27, 2008 against the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip; the result was the death of 1,400 Palestinians, among whom there were hundreds of women and children, more than 5,500 Palestinians wounded and massive displacement of the inhabitants. Thousands of Palestinian families were left homeless. The human damages caused by the aggressor are irreparable.
The strong and steadfast solidarity of the Non-Aligned Movement was felt in the UN Security Council. We demand the end to the brutal Israeli crimes, to the suffering of the Palestinian people and the destruction of their heritage.
Once again we demand the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including the establishing of guarantees for fair and lasting peace.
At New York, Geneva and UNESCO headquarters, NAM issued declarations firmly condemning Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip. The work of the Movement along with organizations such as the League of Arab States and the Organization of The Islamic Conference enabled the calling of a Special Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva which on January 12, 2009 adopted a resolution condemning the serious violations committed by Israel and demanded that justice be brought to bear for the Palestinian people. Our action was also decisive in the resumption of the Tenth Special Session of the UN General Assembly on the 15th and 16th of that same month.
The Movement has reaffirmed the necessity for the international community to intensify and coordinate its efforts to support and promote the peace process, as well as to guarantee respect for International Law, including International Humanitarian Law and the International Human Rights Law.
Some 4.6 million Palestinian refugees live scattered throughout the Middle East. As a result of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, of its illegal policies of Jewish settlements on occupied territories and of its successive military aggressions, tens of thousands of Palestinian families have lost their homes, their lands and their mean of livelihood. The occupier acts against the businesses and the civilian infrastructure including the systems of water distribution, sanitary services and electrical systems. Hospitals and ambulances, mosques, public institutions including schools have been severely damaged. Farms and crops are submitted to permanent destruction. Even United Nations facilities, among them several schools in their charge where terrorized Palestinian families have sought refuge, have not escaped from the criminal Israeli brutality.
NAM reiterates its demand for the cessation of the inhuman and illegal blockade and the closing of access to the Gaza Strip by Israel which denies the freedom of movement to the civilian Palestinian population, including cases of people who are ill, students and humanitarian personnel, impedes access to humanitarian aid and to prime necessity products such as food, medicines, fuel, electricity and construction materials and prohibits all economic and trade relations or exchanges of the inhabitants of Gaza with the exterior, and the Palestine population on the West Bank.
NAM reaffirms its repudiation of the intensification of the Israeli policy of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, including the confiscation of new lands from the Palestinian people; of the construction and expansion of illegal settlements; of the construction of The Wall of Shame; of the demolition of homes, the excavations and the imposition of arbitrary and racist restrictions on residence and movement by means of a regime of permits and hundreds of check-points throughout all of occupied Palestinian territory, especially in and around occupied East Jerusalem. Such Israeli policies and measures constitute serious violation of International Law and flagrant challenges to the resolutions of the United Nations and the Consultative Opinion of the International Court of Justice on July 89, 2004.
The Movement condemns the new policy of massive displacements in East Jerusalem, by means of which the Israeli occupier attempts to artificially modify the demographic composition of that city in order to create conditions to prevent it from becoming the capital of a new and sovereign Palestinian state.
The international community cannot remain passive and silent in the face of the abuses and violations being committed by Israel with impunity against the Palestinian people. The Non-Aligned Movement has demanded from the Security Council the fulfilment of its responsibility of ensuring that in-depth investigation of all the crimes and violations committed by Israel in the Gaza Strip be carried out and that serious follow-up efforts are carried out so that the authors of such crimes are made to answer for them.
Now, we are faced with the no less difficult task of guaranteeing that the reports of the different missions which have investigated and are investigating the Israeli atrocities in Gaza are made public and that the community of nations is made aware of them. Only in such a way can we continue struggling against the impunity and demanding that appropriate measures are taken in the face of such barbarism.
Cuba and the Non-Aligned Movement reaffirm our unwavering solidarity with the Arab just causes and, in particular, our steadfast support for the heroic struggle of the Palestinian people to achieve their inalienable right to self-determination and the establishment of their sovereign and independent state, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Likewise the rights of the Arab peoples for the unconditional return of all the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967, as inescapable requisites for the attainment of fair and lasting peace in the Middle East. These are and will continue to be permanent demands and priorities in the agenda of our Movement until the proposed objectives are attained.
I invite you to renew our firm commitment with the just cause of the Palestinian people and of our Arab brothers and sisters in general and to continue moving forward actions that will invigorate and make more effective our solidarity with Palestine.
Thank you very much.
April 29, 2009