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The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question

Tuesday, 21 April 2015
Dr. Bashar Ja'fari
Security Council

Mr. president,

How is it possible,  in  the  twenty-first  century, for the United Nations to accept Israel’s continued occupation — an occupation that is military, racist and colonial, an occupation that involves heinous crimes and violations and supports terrorism? How can we continue to allow the United Nations to fail to uphold its legal and historic responsibility for ending the Israeli occupation that has plagued our lands for more than half a century? That is despite the fact that the Organization has adopted hundreds of resolutions  calling  for  an end to this racist, colonizing occupation that bears a strong resemblance to apartheid. Do we need more commissions of inquiry, fact-finding missions, expert groups and quartets to convince us of the gravity of the Israeli occupation? The United Nations is being severely tested. If we want to maintain what is left of its credibility, some countries will have to end their policies of hypocrisy, double standards and trafficking in their peoples’ interests. Member States must act with deeds rather than words by taking practical measures that can force Israel to implement the relevant United Nations resolutions, so that we can put an end this colonizing occupation and the unprecedented tragic suffering that Arab citizens have endured for decades in the Syrian Golan and other occupied Arab territories.

There are those among us who should not deceive themselves and the rest of the world by continuing to provide excuses and justifications for Israel’s policies. We are all well aware that successive Israeli Governments have never cared about peace but have been eager to continue with their policies of occupation, settlement and aggression. They have occupied and annexed the Syrian Golan and Palestinian Jerusalem. They have committed crimes of aggression and war against humanity; they have killed United Nations envoys and peacekeepers; they have attacked Christian and Muslim religious sites and are now trying to Judaize the State. Israel’s current Prime Minister has stated clearly that he rejects a two-State solution. In 1991, Israel’s former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir said in a statement on the margins of the Madrid Conference that the Israeli delegation had instructions simply to keep the talks going for 10 years in order to buy time. It is shocking that here in the Security Council there are those who would deny Palestinians their most basic rights, including the right to establish a State on their national territory and to set a deadline for ending the Israeli occupation. They continue to support Israel economically, diplomatically and politically. They continue to guarantee its military superiority and acquisition of nuclear weapons, as well as protecting it from any accountability.

Israel has occupied the Syrian Golan since 1967. It has imposed a bitter reality on Syrian citizens there that must be ended by every possible means guaranteed under international law. The United Nations must therefore shoulder its responsibility for dealing with that reality with full seriousness and through the implementation of the relevant resolutions, particularly Security Council resolution 497 (1981). Israel must end its systematic and grave violations of human rights. There should be an end to the policies of settlement, terrorism, repression, racial discrimination and theft of the Golan’s natural resources, including water, oil and gas, as well as halting the arbitrary arrests of Syrian citizens. In that regard, we urge the Secretary-General and the Security Council to exert the humanitarian efforts needed to force Israel to release all Syrian detainees, most importantly the Nelson Mandela of Syria, Sedqi Al-Maqet, who was arrested again in February for no reason except his documentation of the relationship of Israel’s occupation forces with terrorist groups in the area of separation in the Syrian Golan. He was imprisoned in  Israeli  detention  centres  for 27 years on no legal grounds, simply because he would not renounce his allegiance to Syria and refused to carry an Israeli identity card.

There is international silence around such Israeli practices. Israel has violated the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement, endangered the lives of staff of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) and undermined UNDOF’s mandate by supporting terrorist groups in the area of separation, including Jabhat Al-Nusra, which is linked to Al-Qaida, including by providing such groups with all kinds of logistical support, even treating their injured members in Israeli hospitals. We therefore demand that this grave issue receive serious and immediate attention. The Secretariat and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations have ignored it, and there can be no justification for that.

In that regard, I would like to point out that it is clear to all of us that some speakers’ misleading statements are designed only  to  fabricate  areas  of  contention in order to distract the Security Council’s attention, reduce pressure on Israel and mask the fact that Israel has rejected a two-State solution and the entire peace process. To the representatives of the United Kingdom and the United States, I say here that they must stop their hypocrisy and lies. If they are concerned about the situation of Palestinian refugees, they should not support Israel, which constitutes the main reason for the ordeal that those refugees have endured since 1948. They are partners in creating and continuing that ordeal, whether inside or outside Syria.  They have used the veto dozens of times in order to protect Israel’s failure to implement the right of return under General Assembly resolution 194 (III). Syria has taken in those refugees, considering them to be its brothers and sisters, welcoming them and treating them with the same generosity we show to Syrians, and we will continue to make every effort to protect them from the terrorism supported by the United States, the United Kingdom and other regional and Arab States, until they can return to their homeland in occupied Palestine.

Finally, the representative of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia used shameful and unacceptable words to refer to my country. I will not address his political incitement, which is based not on information but on ignorance. He has forgotten that this item on the agenda concerns the Palestinian question, and he has been doing a service to the Government of Israel and its allies. Zionism and Saudi Arabia are at the root of terrorism, fanaticism and the culture of hatred in the world. It is the culture of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. The culture of beheading is a culture from Jahili times; it is takfiri, Wahhabi and it comes from Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia’s policies have sowed the seeds of sectarian sedition in the region. It will pay the price for that mistake. The threats made by its representative against my country and his claims that Saudi Arabia is ready to help the Syrian people only confirm that the hands of his country’s rulers are red with Syrian blood and that they are deeply involved in funding, harbouring and supporting Wahhabi terrorists. Saudi Arabia sends mercenaries from all over the world to Syria so that they can undermine its stability.

Saudi Arabia continues to be the centre of the culture of hatred and sectarianism. It is very much like Zionist Israel. If the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia really has the authority to threaten my country as he just did, then I shall test him now. I ask him, before all present, to show us what he can do against my country. We will cut off any hand that tries to hurt Syria; the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will receive the punishment that it deserves.