Statement by Ambassador Ismat Jahan, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh
at the 62nd Session of the General Assembly on
Agenda Item: 17 “Question of Palestine”
New York , 29 November 2007
Our meeting today takes an added significance as it coincides with the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people. On this auspicious occasion Bangladesh unites with the international community in reaffirming our full support for the Palestinian people in their just and legitimate struggle for self determination and freedom from continued occupation.
Years after years, we have held debates on the Palestine question. Many important resolutions have been adopted in this august body. Yet the impasse continues and peace in the region remains ever elusive.
Bangladesh delegation aligns itself with the statements made by Cuba on behalf of NAM and by Pakistan on behalf of OIC. Given the importance of the matter, we would, however, like to highlight some of the points reaffirming our total solidarity with the Palestinian people.
The continued occupation of Palestine by Israel is the root cause of violence, unrest and destabilization of the region. Since 1967, the people of Palestine are being denied of their fundamental right to self determination and the right to live freely in their own land. Millions of Palestinians are living in refugee camps, for generations, in abject poverty. Their sufferings have multiplied by the relentless and disproportionate scale of vforce and violence with which Israel chooses to react.
The distress of the Palestinians is further compounded by the Israeli policy of collective punishment in the form of excessive and indiscriminate force; extrajudicial killings; constant military incursions; targeted assassinations and indiscriminate detention; blockade of roads; demolition of houses; confiscation of properties and restrictions on movements. The list can go on and on. All these are done with the ultimate intention of systematically stifling the spirit of a nation. The continued imposition of prolonged closures by Israel has made the Gaza strip isolated from the other parts of the Palestinian territory. In the West Bank, normal life is also being hampered due to military operations, numerous checkpoints and the systematic policy of illegal settlement. Israel must realize that this approach has proved to be wrong. Sooner or later, Israel must heed the voice of reason. The indomitable spirit of the Palestinian people to seek freedom cannot be extinguished simply by brutal force.
Bangladesh remains deeply concerned at the continued illegal construction of the separation wall and the associated restrictions on the movement of the Palestinian population in the occupied territories. Such closures have resulted in halting the commercial activities and the loss of thousands of jobs. More and more families are slipping into the poverty trap fuelling more unrest. With the unabated continuation of the construction of the wall, ignoring the 2004 ICJ advisory opinion, the occupied territories are increasingly being fragmented into smaller parts. This will affect the viability of a future Palestine State and endanger the prospect of a political settlement. Bangladesh reiterates its call for immediate dismantling of the wall and withdrawal of restrictions on movements of Palestinian civilians.
The Fourth Geneva Convention has stipulated specific provisions about the responsibilities of an occupying power. Israel, being the signatory of the Convention and an occupying power, cannot legally or morally absolve itself from these obligations. Bangladesh urges the international community to ensure full compliance of the Convention by Israel.
While we are outraged by the brutal suppression of Palestinian people by Israeli forces, we are also frustrated at the factional infighting and the divisions among the Palestinian people. Such lack of unity gives a wrong impression and adds fuel to fire, thus making peace ever more elusive. The Palestinian people must consolidate unity in their own national interest.
Bangladesh believes that full and sincere implementation of the relevant UNGA and Security Council resolutions can only resolve the Palestinian crisis. Overcoming of mistrust and suspicion, refraining from provocative acts, ending of violence and resumption of peace talks are the imperatives of the day.
Bangladesh is cautiously observing the outcome of the Annapolis conference. We welcome the announcement for the new push for peace. We would like to be hopeful, but with caution. The failed legacies of the past, and the still unfulfilled promise of progress in the “roadmap” towards the Palestinian statehood, would now require a much more intensified, dedicated and comprehensive effort for concrete advancement. Most importantly it would require sincere determination to translate words into action, promises into reality and aspirations into achievable goals.
We believe, as does the Secretary-General, that it is time to ‘abandon piecemeal approaches’ in resolving the Middle East crisis and start final status negotiations that deal with all the disputed issues. Bangladesh will remain supportive of all such initiatives that would give momentum to the Middle East Peace process.