The United Nations Headquarters in New York convened the 34th annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on Tuesday, holding events and welcoming international dignitaries. The day coincides with the UN General Assembly resolution ending the British Mandate and adopting the partition plan to create a Jewish state.
The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was enacted by the UN in 1977 because of its “meaning and significance to the Palestinian people,” according to the UN’s website dedicated to the annual observance.
On November 29, 1947, the UN ratified Resolution 181, ending the British Mandate and establishing the UN Special Committee on Palestine, with the aim of creating a Jewish state and an Arab one. The plan was accepted by future prime minister David Ben-Gurion and many Jewish organizations, though it was deemed insufficient and dangerous to long-term Jewish security in the region by Jewish liberation groups Irgun and Lehi. Arab leadership rejected partition, claiming sole rights in the entire area.
The annual International Day of Solidarity features speeches from the Secretary-General, the President of the General Assembly, the President of the Security Council, and others, including “the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian Authority,” according to the website.
At this year’s meeting, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon called on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to agree on a two-state solution, and told Israel to “end the occupation that began in 1967”. He also praised the PA for becoming “institutionally ready to assume the responsibilities of statehood, if a Palestinian state were created,” and chastised Israel for building homes in eastern Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria. He reaffirmed that the UN “continues to be strongly committed to the population in Gaza”, and rejected rocket attacks from there into Israeli towns as “unacceptable and completely contrary to Palestinian interests.”
Karen Koning AbuZayid, the Commissioner-General of UNRWA (the UN Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East), sent a message to attendees urging them to “keep spirits alive” by realizing that “the vast majority of member states in this global body share Palestinians’ belief in the urgency of the need to bring an end to occupation and to exercise their right to self-determination,” and urged attendees to provide financial support to her staff of 30,000 people. The 2010-2011 UNRWA budget was $1.2 billion.
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor addressed the UN General Assembly, which convened to discuss Palestinian rights as part of the solidarity day. Prosor accused Arab neighbors of Israel of “knowingly and intentionally [keeping] their Palestinian populations in the second class status of permanent refugees,” and asked the group whether Palestinians “are inspired by the promise of building a new state, or the goal of destroying an existing one.”
He also criticized the pro-Palestinian movement for continually demanding a two-state solution, despite a consistent lack of recognition on the part of Palestinian leadership of the right of a Jewish State to exist. “If you ever hear a Palestinian leader say “two states for two peoples”, please phone me immediately,” Prosor said. “My office has set up the equivalent of a 911 number in the event of such an unprecedented occurrence.”
Prosor chastised the UN for their lack of solidarity with Israeli victims of terror, and stated that the UN fails to stand with Palestinian victims in the region. “I hear no solidarity with the Palestinians who are victims of brutal Hamas rule – with the political opponents who are tortured, the women who are subjugated, or the children who are used as suicide bombers and human shields,” Prosor said.
Congratulations and messages of support on the solidarity day were sent to the assembly by Chinese premier Wen Jiabao, King of Bahrain Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa, United Arab Emirates (UAE) UN representative Ahmad Al-Jarman, Indonesian representative to the UN Triyono Wibowo and others.
A special bulletin with the texts of the delivered statements and solidarity messages received on behalf of the day is published by the Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat. The Division for Palestinian Rights was established in 1977, following the creation of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Unalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in 1975. The Committee was established “to enable the Palestinian people to exercise their inalienable rights to self-determination without external interference, national independence and sovereignty; and to return to their homes and property from which they had been displaced,” according to its page on the UN website. The Division was launched two years later “to create an informed public opinion around the world in support of the achievement of those rights,” and prints bulletins, studies, and publications dedicated to disseminating information about Palestinian rights.