UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivers remarks during a security council open debate on the maintenance of international peace and security at UN headquarters in New York on November 20, 2023. AFP
“This International Day of Solidarity comes during one of the darkest chapters in the history of the Palestinian people. I am horrified by the death and destruction that have engulfed the region, which is overwhelmed with pain, anguish, and heartache,” Guterres said in a message to the world as the UN marks the occasion.
In 1977, the General Assembly called for celebrating the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People annually on 29 November. On that day in 1947, the General Assembly adopted the Palestine Partition Resolution 181.
Partition Resolution 181 provided for the establishment of a Jewish state and an Arab state, with Jerusalem as a corpus separatum under a special international regime, against the will of the majority, native Palestinian population.
“We must be united in demanding an end to the occupation and the blockade of Gaza,” Guterres said, reaffirming international solidarity with the Palestinian people and saying this must start with a long-term humanitarian ceasefire, unrestricted access to life-saving aid, the release of all captives, the protection of civilians, and an end to violations of international humanitarian law.
"It is long past time to move in a determined, irreversible way towards a two-state solution, on the basis of United Nations resolutions and international law, with Israel and Palestine living side-by-side in peace and security with Jerusalem as the capital of both states,” he noted.
“Palestinians in Gaza are suffering a humanitarian catastrophe. Almost 1.7 million people have been forced from their homes — but nowhere is safe,” he added.
He expressed his condolences to thousands of families who are mourning loved ones, including members of the UN family killed in Gaza, representing the largest loss of personnel in the history of the organization.
“I have been clear in my condemnation of the terror attacks by Hamas on 7 October. But I have also been clear that they cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people,” he stated.
Guterres also warned over the situation in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as it risks boiling over.
He ended his message by stressing that the UN will not waver in its commitment to the Palestinian people. “Today and every day, let us stand in solidarity with the aspirations of the Palestinian people to achieve their inalienable rights and build a future of peace, justice, security, and dignity for all.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement on this occasion, stressing that the dangerous escalation in the region is mainly caused by the absence and disregard of rights.
The Gaza Strip is under an existential threat and deliberate and systematic targeting of civilians, Abbas added.
He called for ending the silent annexation, settlement, and racial discrimination measures in the entire occupied Palestinian territory, noting that what is required is providing urgent international protection for Palestinians and achieving justice through accountability and responsibility.
Abbas stressed the necessity of taking strategic steps to address the strategic threat to the two-state solution.
The Palestine Liberation Organization rejected the liquidation projects for the Palestinian issue and the fragmented solutions and maintained the independent national decision-making and absolute sovereignty of Palestinians over their land, he added.