Statement by H. E. Dr. Riad Malki, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the State of Palestine, before the Third South Summit, Kampala, Uganda, 21-22 January 2024 Check Against Delivery
Statement by H. E. Dr. Riad Malki, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the State of Palestine, before the Third South Summit, Kampala, Uganda, 21-22 January 2024
Check Against Delivery
Mr. Chair, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, allow me to extend our sincere thanks and appreciation for the wise and stellar leadership of the Republic of Cuba, as well as their tremendous efforts in maintaining the Group’s unity and solidarity over the past year. We also warmly congratulate the Republic of Uganda for assuming the Chairmanship of the Group for the year 2024, and express our profound appreciation to the Government and people of Uganda for their gracious hospitality and warm welcome. We assure you of the State of Palestine’s continued full support and cooperation.
We meet today to address the many challenges we confront, at a time of great uncertainty, in which the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs, which are essential to the fulfillment of the fundamental needs of all our peoples and are the pathway for a more prosperous and sustainable future for all, have faced a major setback, as a result of the persistent impact of COVID-19 and Climate Change, compounded by the escalating geopolitical tensions, conflicts, unilateral coercive measures and other ongoing crises and multilayered challenges affecting all of our countries. Yet, the State of Palestine has had the added disadvantage of having to confront these global challenges while living under more than 56 years of an inhumane settler-colonial occupation and an abhorrent apartheid regime, which are the source of infinite man-made disasters caused over the many years, none more catastrophic than the one the Palestinian people are enduring in these days, especially in the Gaza Strip.
I speak to you today, with a heavy heart, while the Palestinian people are being subjected to an unprecedented genocidal war by the Israeli occupation across Occupied Palestine, including East Jerusalem. The unparalleled scale of death and destruction in Gaza has become apocalyptic and the humanitarian crisis is actually beyond catastrophic, as Israel, the occupying Power, continues besieging, attacking and collectively punishing the entire civilian population in Gaza, while escalating violence in the rest of Occupied Palestine, systematically pursuing its plans aimed at diminishing, if not erasing, the presence of our people in their land and negating their just cause, all in grave breach of fundamental international legal and moral norms.
For over 100 days now, the world has been watching the most unprecedented aggression in modern times in its scope, scale and speed of killing and maiming of civilians, including children, UN staff, medical workers, and journalists. Its unabated brutality and total denigration of human life is evident in the killing and injuring of nearly 100,000 Palestinians, thus far, as well as in forcibly displacing nearly 2 million Palestinians, more than 85% of the population, with nearly 70% of housing damaged or destroyed, imposing dire living conditions, with no safe haven, all while depriving them from the essential needs for human survival, in a blatant attempt to impose a second Nakba, which is threatened repeatedly by Israeli officials, whose incitement against our people has reached shocking levels, even incitement to genocide.
The entire Palestinian nation, generation after another, over the decades, has faced constant dispossession, displacement, denial of rights, destruction and death. But since the 1948 Nakba, this generation in the Gaza Strip is the one that has been suffering the most painfully and traumatically, as we are witnessing the deadliest and most devastating period ever endured by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, along with the largest forced displacement since the Nakba, and in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, our people are living under the constant violence and terror of the Israeli occupying forces and settlers.
Excellencies, while countries are striving to eradicate poverty in all its forms and dimensions around the globe, the Occupied State of Palestine, in particular in the Gaza Strip, is struggling from extreme poverty and acute hunger, which is worsening even as we speak. Independent UN Human Rights Experts have indicated recently that the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza now make up 80 percent of all people facing famine or catastrophic hunger worldwide, and have warned of an imminent famine and of the spread of infectious diseases. This is not due to uncontrollable natural causes or lack of humanitarian aid, but a direct result of Israel’s use of starvation as a weapon of war against the people it has been brutally occupying and besieging for decades, now a total siege by which Israel is unlawfully depriving 2.3 million Palestinians of electricity, water, food, fuel, medicine, and medical supplies, for more than 3 months, while allowing only minimum amounts of aid, against the backdrop of a 17-year Israeli blockade, which already made nearly half of the people in Gaza food insecure, even before this criminal war.
There are no laws, no morals, no principles in this world that can justify this abhorrent and inhumane reality. This must shake every human conscience and demand an immediate global action for justice. In this regard, we call on all States to remain firm in demanding full compliance with international law and UN resolutions, as this is what will actually and ultimately lead to the achievement of a just, lasting Palestinian-Israeli peace. It is beyond time to end Israel’s impunity, to end occupation, and decades of deprivation and injustice, and it is indeed time to choose peace and justice over war and vengeance.
We are not only at a critical juncture for Palestine, and a pivotal moment for the international system, it is a moment of historic and truth on many levels, not least for humanity and for the rule of law, which has been trampled before our eyes. This requires serious efforts to uphold, in word and deed, international law, including humanitarian and human rights law, without selectivity and double standards. It requires effective measures of accountability, including at the ICC and ICJ, in the context of the current advisory opinion proceedings and as South Africa has responsibly done in bringing the genocide case against Israel, and through lawful countermeasures and sanctions. In this connection, we take this opportunity to express, once again, our profound appreciation and gratitude to South Africa for taking this courageous step. We also extend our appreciation to all the countries that have supported such an important and rightful step, and we appeal to all States to uphold their obligations and join South Africa in the proceedings of this case, as there must be consequences and deterrence for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and the crime of genocide.
Mr. Chair, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In this year, 2024, as we tragically approach 76 years of Nakba, 57 years of occupation, 17 years of blockade and now over three months of a blatant genocidal siege and war on the Palestinian people, it is long past time for the international community to urgently act, collectively and individually, on all levels, to put an end to Israel’s surreal impunity and to protect the Palestinian people and assist them to attain justice and to realize their inalienable rights.
Let me conclude, by stressing that the Palestinian people, with the support and solidarity of the Group of 77 and China, are determined to overcome the historic injustice that curbed their aspirations for more than half a century. We assure you that the Palestinian people shall persevere, until realization of freedom, a reality that is going to be within reach only by our people’s resilience, commitment to peace, as well as the unwavering and principled support of friends like you. We are deeply grateful for this solidarity and we pledge full cooperation for our collective efforts to support each other in our quest for peace, stability, development and prosperity for all of our peoples and nations.
I thank you.