71 UNGA: Cuba at the Security Council Open Debate on the situation of the Middle East, including the question of Palestine.

Mr. Chairman,

We support the statement by the representative of the delegation of Venezuela on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.

The situation in the Middle East is still very complex and is marked by instability and insecurity.

The Palestinian people continue to be under the illegal foreign occupation of Israel and suffering under Israeli policies and practices in serious violation of international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights.

The prolonged Israeli occupation has caused enormous suffering to the Palestinian people, in particular to more than 5 million Palestinian refugees, who are still denied the right of return.

From the beginning of 2016 until October, 878 Palestinian structures were destroyed or confiscated by Israeli authorities in the West Bank, which represents a 60% increase compared to 2015 figures and the largest number of structures destroyed in a full year since 2008.

These figures, as alarming as they seem, do not show the real magnitude of this reality for Palestinian families and for future generations of Palestinians.  

Mr. Chairman,

We welcome the adoption of Security Council resolution 2334, in keeping with its fundamental role in the maintenance of international peace and security, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. This resolution reaffirmed, inter alia, the illegality of Israeli settlement activities and reiterated its demand to Israel for the immediate and complete cessation of all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, in accordance with international law.

However, even though this resolution is a step in the right direction, it is still not enough. This year will mark the 50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, 50 years of systematic abuses, attacks, murders and human rights violations. As international community we are in debt to the Palestinian people. It is time to break the silence and the immobilism that have caused suffering and unfair humiliation to the Palestinian people; it is time to end impunity over Israel's criminal actions against Palestine.

We reiterate our call to the Security Council to make the necessary decisions and demand that Israel immediately ends the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and other Arab territories; and  ends the blockade against the Gaza Strip which has been imposed for more than 10 years and where 2 million Palestinians are  collectively punished and besieged, threatened and exposed to extreme deprivation and isolation that has caused a serious humanitarian crisis; that Israel stops the construction and expansion of Israeli settlements and of the Separation Wall in Occupied Palestinian Territory; stops the destruction and confiscation of Palestinian lands and property and ends forced displacements and the transfer of settlers into Occupied Palestinian Territory, among other violations of international law, international humanitarian law, human rights, the rights of the Palestinian people and the resolutions of the United Nations.  

Until the Security Council does not assume its responsibility and implements not only resolution 2334, but also concrete additional actions that contribute to the search for effective solutions to this conflict, Israel will continue to consolidate the occupation, making the two-state solution impossible and preventing the achievement of a just and peaceful solution to this conflict.

We reiterate the call to the international community to take a firm and principled stand to face all illegal Israeli actions against the Palestinian people and their properties, before it is too late.

Mr. Chairman,

We reiterate that the only possible solution to the Palestinian issue is the peaceful coexistence of two independent states, with the establishment of the independent, sovereign and viable State of Palestine, with its capital in East Jerusalem and respecting the pre-1967 borders.

We likewise support the entry of Palestine as full member state of this Organization and we reiterate our call to the Security Council to declare to be in favor on the matter. This would be, without any doubt, another step in the right direction. If it fails to do so, the General Assembly should act with all determination to decide the case.

Mr. Chairman,

As in previous occasions, we reiterate our condemnation of the politicization of the Syrian conflict and the manipulation of the humanitarian situation and suffering of the Syrian people, responding to geopolitical and domination interests that pursue the declared objective of imposing a regime change in Syria.

We also condemn double standards. It cannot be ignored that those who attack Syria often forget the great humanitarian needs in the besieged Gaza Strip. It cannot be overlooked that those who urge the General Assembly to declare, in a biased manner, on alleged and unproven "crimes committed in Syria" do not urge that same Assembly to declare on the inclusion of the State of Palestine as a full member of the UN or to review the crimes committed against the Palestinian people.

Those who have fueled the conflict in Syria, supplying weapons, financing and sponsoring terrorist groups from abroad, are responsible for the thousands of civilian victims of the conflict and for the humanitarian situation. We reject the promotion of an interventionist agenda as a way to solve the crisis in that country.

Cuba deeply regrets the loss of innocent lives as a result of this situation and condemns all acts of violence that take place in that country against the civilian population.

We demand the cessation of violations of Syrian sovereignty and the withdrawal of the foreign military presence that does not have the consent and coordination of operations of the Syrian government, the only authority legitimately elected in the country. The political solution, through dialogue and negotiation, and without preconditions, is the only viable solution to end the conflict in Syria.

In this regard, we welcome the adoption by the Security Council, last 31 December, of resolution 1138, which endorses the cease-fire in Syria negotiated by Russia and Turkey, as well as the resumption of direct political negotiations between the Syrian government and the armed opposition, which will take place at the end of January in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Peace can only be achieved in Syria by respecting the right of the Syrian people to decide their own fate, without external interference and without imposition. We support the Syrian people’s aspirations to live in peace and to choose their own fate.

Mr. Chairman,

To conclude, we would like to reiterate our support for a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to conflicts in the Middle East, which will safeguard the sovereignty, safety and territorial integrity of all States in the region.

Thank you very much.