Yesterday, an overwhelming majority of the UN member states voted in favor to upgrade Palestine to non-member observer state in the UN General Assembly. This is a milestone and truly historic. It is a tribute to those who have chosen the path of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through peaceful and diplomatic means. It is also a tribute to the Partition Plan, adopted by the UN General Assembly 65 years ago, and the two-state solution.
The resolution adopted yesterday was not a unilateral step by the Palestinians. The resolution was carefully balanced and sends a clear message that the PLO and President Abbas are genuinely committed to resume negotiations on the basis of the two-state solution. Time is more than ripe for all Palestinians to embrace this non-violent approach. A unified Palestine will stand stronger. President Abbas clear re-affirmation that Palestine will adhere strictly to the UN Charter and respect fundamental human rights principles is welcomed.
Yesterday’s decision also underscores that the international community recognizes that Palestinian institutions are beyond the threshold for a functioning state. Norway is committed to continued efforts to empower Palestinian institutions. However, the current crisis in the Palestinian economy is of great concern. The financial imbalance in the Palestinian economy is in danger of becoming chronic, and will be increasingly difficult to resolve if no adequate measures are taken.
It is in the interest of us all to secure a viable economy in Palestine. The task of international donors will not be completed before the Palestinian economy can prosper and fiscal independence be ensured. An economic collapse will endanger institutional progress and severely exacerbate the welfare of the Palestinian people. This could strengthen political forces that are not committed to a peaceful settlement and reject negotiations as the way forward. The occupation severely hampers economic development. A self-sustaining Palestinian economy cannot be achieved as long as the occupation remains in place and illegal settlements continue to expand, encircling East Jerusalem and undermining the very concept of a two-state solution.
The cease-fire in Gaza is fragile and deserves our full support in order to make it durable. Decisions to lift restrictions on goods, construction items and personnel should be taken without further delay, and in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1860. Such initiatives would make the cease-fire more robust and help us move forward towards a normalization on the Gaza strip. This will also have a strengthening effect of moderate political forces and weaken those who choose violence. Egypt’s key role in achieving a cease-fire agreement is very encouraging.
While we may have times of quiet, times where hostilities are absent, we will not achieve true peace unless the parties through negotiations and compromises reach a political settlement. Yesterday’s result is encouraging herein; it should be interpreted as a call for action and not as an excuse to yet again postpone negotiations. Clear parameters defining the basis for negotiations are key elements for a successful outcome. It is also imperative that unilateral acts on the ground which undermine confidence and bring the parties further away from negotiations should be avoided. President Abbas in his speech yesterday underscored that he will act responsibly and positively in the next steps – this should be respected.
Regardless of how we cast our vote yesterday, we all need to come together and bring the efforts to resolve Israeli-Palestinian conflict forward through negotiations. These negotiations should start immediately.