November 25, 2017

Statement by the Permanent Representative of Cyprus Ambassador Sotos Zackheos to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People

I have listened with interest to the statement delivered by His Excellency the Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan. We would like to express our appreciation to him for being closely and personally involved with the many facets of the Palestinian situation and the peace process in the Middle East. I would like to reiterate Cyprus’ strong support to his efforts. I have also listened carefully to the detailed account on the situation on the ground presented by the Permanent Observer of Palestine.

There is an absolute need to fully address the emergency situation in the occupied territories with a view to alleviating the worsening situation of the Palestinian people. The economy in the territories is on the verge of collapse and the budgetary situation of the Palestinian Authority is undeniably grim. Cyprus is deeply concerned at this situation, which has continued for too long.

Today’s meeting comes at a crucial juncture of the peace process. I have explained in a more detailed and comprehensive manner the position of my Government on the Question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East in my previous statements to this Committee, as well as to the General Assembly. I would like, on this occasion, to reiterate Cyprus’ strong and unwavering support in the pursuit of peace in the region. All interested parties and the international community at large should consider with utmost seriousness the tragic reality of everyday conflict with the, simply unacceptable, loss of life and property, the perpetuation of the economic misery and the violations of human rights affecting daily the lives of millions of innocent people. The tragic consequences of the continuation of the present state of affairs are, I believe, very clear to all.

Looking at the current situation, we cannot but consider the alternatives and strengthen with determination our common efforts for an amelioration of the situation of the Palestinian people and the creation of conditions that would lead to a negotiated solution.

One important point that I would like to make is that there is no certainty that the conflict, if not contained and eventually terminated, will not have a spill-over effect and engulf the wider region with unimaginable consequences. That is why the case for reconciliation must be at the top of our agenda.

In our view, there are objective reasons for a speedy settlement that are in the interest of each and every party in this conflict and the wider region. We believe that the most important consideration of policy makers should be the effort for the achievement of prosperity, security for all and cooperation leading to the betterment of the situation of all the people in the region. The alternative to this is more bloodshed, more economic dislocation and the perpetuation of hatred, poisoning the hearts and minds of future generations of Arabs and Israelis alike.

To put it simply, there can be no single winner or loser out of this situation. We must, therefore, intensify our efforts towards the achievement of a just and viable settlement based on UN resolutions, which will lead to a win-win situation for all concerned, and to regional peace, stability, security and cooperation.

There cannot be peace, however, unless the core issues are tackled with courage and determination and the necessary political will by all parties with a view to terminating this current state of affairs in a most expedient manner. It is encouraging that the discussion of these difficult issues has finally begun. It is only natural that the discussion of these contentious issues has created waves and heated discussion. Confronting them and finding a just and lasting solution is, however, a sine-qua-non for the establishment of a comprehensive peace, since there is no doubt that the Palestinian issue constitutes the core issue of the Middle East problem.

Cyprus believes that the forces of moderation should redouble their efforts, isolate the extremists and work diligently to reinforce the hope and keep the vision of the many millions of inhabitants of our region for a new Middle East. For in this cradle of three major religions and civilizations, coexistence cannot but constitute the only acceptable way. History, with all its vicissitudes, has given us ample proof of that.