H.E. Dr. N. Hassan Wirajuda
Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia
At The United Nations Security Council Debate Under Agenda Item:
“The Situation In The Middle East, Including The Palestinian Question”
New York, 26 September 2008
I wish to begin by extending the appreciation of our delegation to you for convening this pertinent and timely meeting on such an important subject.
Conflict in the Middle East has not only been protracted but also complex. On the Israeli-Palestinian track alone, the conflict is awash with diverse factors, which include the core issues – the status of East Jerusalem, the borders of a Palestinian state, settlements in the West Bank, Palestinian refugees, security, and water resources.
While recognizing this multi-faceted nature of the Middle East conflict, I will focus my statement on the Israeli settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Land is an indispensable dimension of every state. I mean our own land. Not of our neighbour’s.
As the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories continues, and its settlers keep encroaching further the territories, Palestinians will watch their land claims disintegrate before their eyes, and thus, making a viable Palestinian state very difficult.
With the construction of settlements in the West Bank having nearly doubled over 2007, and the Israeli-authority-backed initiative of building new constructions in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 2008, the prospects for two-state solution are steadily declining.
Israel’s settlement policies and practices, which have been aimed at altering demographic composition, physical character and status of the Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, are nothing but a blatant violation of international law.
Among the provisions of international law which bind an occupier such as Israel are the provisions under the Geneva Convention, which clearly underline that “the occupier must maintain the occupied area as intact and unaltered as possible, without interfering with the customary life of the area, and any changes must be necessitated by immediate needs of the occupation.
The transfer of civilians to the occupied areas, whether or not in settlements which are under military control, is contrary to Article 49 (6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which clearly states: “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”.
Furthermore, settlement activities are also in contradiction with the principles of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, in accordance with the UN Charter. And as such, it contravenes the commitment of Israel to be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
My delegation is deeply concerned over the negative effect of the settlement activities on the on-going process under the Annapolis framework.
President Abbas has stated that settlement is the greatest obstacle to the peace process. It is intricately related to and at the crux of nearly all other final status issues.
If Israel has a genuine commitment to peace, Israel must stop all settlement construction, expansion and planning in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and dismantle the settlements built therein, in compliance with relevant Security Council resolutions.
Israel must also abide by the obligations under the Roadmap and the commitment to the Annapolis goals.
Under Phase I of the Roadmap, Israel bears to the obligation to freeze all settlement activity. And under Annapolis Agreement, Israel has agreed to “immediately launch good-faith bilateral negotiations in order to conclude a peace treaty, resolving all outstanding issues, including all core issues without exception, as specified in previous agreements.
With regard to the social consequences of the settlement activity, we are concerned over the damage caused by unlawful attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians, and over the limit on freedom of movement.
Indonesia, therefore, wishes to join the UN Secretary-General and the international community, as well as the Quartet, in calling Israel to end all settlement activity, including natural growth.
We also urge the Quartet principals who will meet later today to reaffirm their call for the ending of the Israeli settlement activities.
We attach primary importance to the role of the Security Council in responding to the settlement issue.
Back in 1980, through its resolution 465, the Council has called on Israel to “dismantle the existing settlements and in particular to cease, on an urgent basis, the establishment, construction and planning settlements in the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem.”
We believe the same step could be taken by the Council in the very near future.
My delegation wishes to reiterate its full support for the efforts in reaching the Annapolis goals.
Our commitment to an independent, viable and democratic Palestine – living side-by-side in peace and security with its neighbours – is absolute.
A just, comprehensive, and lasting peace in Middle East, based on relevant resolutions of the Council, including resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002) and 1515 (2003), must prevail. It will be a tragedy-for the Palestinians, the Israelis, other nations in the region, and indeed all humankind – if peace in the region is persistently rejected.