Mr. President,

On behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), I wish to express our sincere appreciation to you and members of the Security Council for convening this open meeting to allow the larger membership of the United Nations to express once again their views on the question of Palestine.  This meeting is focussed in particular on the construction of the expansionist Israeli wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  This is a matter of grave concern to all members of the Movement and should also be of grave concern to the international community as a whole.

Mr. President,

2.         The Non-Aligned Movement expresses once again its grave concern at the further deterioration of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.  We condemn the continuing and escalating Israeli military campaign against the Palestinian people, in particular the willful killing of civilians, including extrajudicial executions; demolition of homes and paralyzing closures; excessive and indiscriminate use of force, and continuing settler colonial activities.  Much as we condemn the deadly suicide bombings against innocent Israeli civilians, we reiterate that the Israeli Government must exercise restraint.  It must act in accordance with international law.  It must act rationally.  Disproportionate use of force against the Palestinian people and the implementation and enforcement of severe policies and practices in furtherance of occupation by the Israeli Government will not guarantee enhanced security for the people of Israel. On the contrary, these actions by Israel have provoked violent retaliation from Palestinian militant groups.  Clearly both sides are now locked in a continuing cycle of violence which makes it all the more difficult to move forward to achieve a peaceful solution. 

Mr. President,

3.         The Non-Aligned Movement is extremely concerned at the implications and long-term effect of Israel’s continued settlement policies and construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. We are dismayed to learn of Israel’s recent announcement of its intention to build about 600 homes in three large West Bank settlements. Obviously Israel has chosen to ignore the numerous calls made by the international community for it to cease settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. 

4.         The total number of settlers has reached more than 230,000.  This is double the total a decade ago.  Palestinian lands are being confiscated to make way for illegal settlements and bypass roads for them.  Barriers are being built to protect such illegal settlements.  Effluents from those settlements have caused the destruction of Palestinian farmland.  Israeli soldiers are deployed to protect the settlers. These facts are there for all to see.  One needs only to look at the present day map of the Occupied Palestinian Territory to know how many settlements have been built.  How could the international community then ignore these facts?  It is clear that Israel’s settler colonialism activities impact gravely on the Palestinian people.  This policy cannot remain unchallenged by the international community.

5.         We stress that the implantation of Israeli colonies in East Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza is in violation of international law, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention.  The Israeli Government and others must surely realise that settler colonialism has become the primary obstacle to Palestinian self-determination.  It remains a major impediment to progress in the peace process.  We strongly urge Israel to dismantle the settlements and freeze all settlement activity, as envisaged by the Road Map.

Mr. President,

6.         With regard to the separation wall, we believe that its construction has severely undermined the creation of a viable contiguous Palestinian State and the realization of the two States solution. The Israeli Government says that the wall is necessary to protect Israel from terrorists.  But the plans for the wall and the actual construction itself has indicated that it is more than just a “security wall”. It appears to be a devious way to create “facts on the ground” and impose a unilateral solution which would prejudge the outcome of future negotiations on the boundaries of the two States, Israel and Palestine. 

7.            According to available information, the wall could extend to up to 650 kilometres long with a concrete base, 8 metres high and watch towers every 200 metres.  The wall is to have trenches, roads and fences running parallel to it.  For this purpose, hundreds of thousands of dunums of Palestinian land, including prime agricultural land, have been and will be confiscated by Israel and turned into practically no-man’s-land adjacent to the wall.  The Palestinian town of Qalqilya is effectively surrounded by walls on almost all sides, virtually imprisoning 41,600 of its people.  The wall is not just a problem.  It will be a major obstacle to peace. 

8.         We note with grave concern that the wall is not being built in accordance with the internationally recognized boundary of the Armistice Line of 1949.  Large portions of the wall is constructed deep into the Occupied Palestinian Territory, separating Palestinians from their agricultural land and water resources.  The wall is designed to engulf settlements.  Besides the massive confiscation of fertile Palestinian land, valuable subterranean water reservoirs have also been annexed.

9.         The Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on the Occupied Palestinian Territory estimates in his report that the wall would cut off about 210,000 Palestinians from social services, schools and places of work.  He has also stated that it would likely lead to a new generation of refugees or internally displaced people.  The wall would also isolate primary resources of the West Bank which the future Palestinian State would depend on.  This indeed should be alarming to the international community, Israel included.  Could the world allow this to happen?  Could we seriously allow an already deprived population to be subjected to such degrading and inhumane treatment on their own land? 

Mr. President,

10.       We believe that the crisis caused by occupation and settlement is more pronounced and desperate now than ever before.  It deserves the immediate action of the Security Council.   The world cannot afford to allow Israel to boldly press on with its settler colonialism activities, more imperatively its ongoing and future construction of the expansionist wall. Israel must be prevented from using security as a guise to annex Palestinian territory.

Mr. President,

11.       The extensive impact of the wall demands the immediate action of the Security Council, particularly its members with the power to influence Israel.  We urge them to undertake serious efforts to prevent the wall from being used as a means to annex Palestinian lands and effectively prevent the creation of a Palestinian State.  The wall must not be allowed to be used as a tool to further suppress the already downtrodden Palestinian people.  We call on the Security Council to act decisively by adopting a resolution calling for the destruction of the wall and preventing its completion.   Pressure must be made to bear on Israel to comply with the demands of the international community in respect of this wall.    

Thank you, Mr. President.

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