UN chief Antonio Guterres. AFP
"On this International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory -- including East Jerusalem -- continues to pose a significant challenge to international peace and security. Persistent violations of the rights of Palestinians along with the expansion of settlements risk eroding the prospect of a two-state solution," the UN chief said in a message marking the international day.
Even though he was "encouraged" by recent engagements between senior Israeli and Palestinian officials, the top UN official said that "containing the situation is not sufficient."
Guterres reiterated that the overall goal of two states living side by side in peace and security remains. This includes fulfilling the "legitimate national aspirations of both peoples, with borders based on the 1967 lines and Jerusalem as the capital of both states."
The secretary-general urged the parties to refrain from measures that would undermine prospects for a peaceful resolution. Ultimately, he urged all parties to engage constructively to "end the closure" of the Gaza strip, and to improve living conditions for all Palestinians living under occupation.
The message came in advance of a special meeting to discuss Palestine's unresolved question and the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people in New York on Monday.
The occasion will allow the international community to focus attention on the fact that their rights, as defined by the General Assembly Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in 1975, have yet to be accomplished. In particular, they include the right to self-determination, national independence, and sovereignty, as well as the right to return to their homes and properties.
A permanent exhibition on "The Question of Palestine and the United Nations" has been mounted at UN headquarters in New York along with the event.
Abdulla Shahid, president of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, said that the day should be observed with a sense of humility.
Peace in the Middle East has been a priority issue for the UN since its founding, and despite the priority accorded this issue, the energy expended, the numerous UN resolutions adopted, and the decades of negotiations, dialogues, and engagements, so little has been accomplished.
Palestinians in the Gaza enclave, he continued, "have become trapped inside a cycle of unemployment, limited economic opportunity, and poverty, which has been exacerbated by COVID-19."
Shahid praised the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees and urged the global community to guarantee "sufficient and reliable financing so that Palestinian refugees receive adequate assistance."
In 1977, the UN General Assembly called for the annual observance of Nov. 29 as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.