Peace requires political will, courage from all sides: UN deputy chief
UNITED NATIONS, May 17 (Xinhua) -- UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed said Thursday that peace requires political will and courage from all sides.
Addressing the United Nations Forum on the Question of Palestine, Mohammed said that the international community "must work for an outcome where fear is replaced with dignity and denial cedes ground to justice."
"Today is an occasion to reflect on the costs and consequences of the 1948 war, which resulted in the mass displacement and dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes," she said, adding that it is also an opportunity to look ahead at what must be done to address this situation.
The 1948 Palestine war refers to the war that occurred in the former Mandatory Palestine during the period between the United Nations vote on the partition plan on Nov. 30, 1947, and the official end of the first Arab-Israeli war on July 20, 1949.
"This year we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," she said, noting that the principles and standards enshrined in the Universal Declaration should guide the search for a durable solution to the question of Palestine, a solution that must be based on international law, the legitimate aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis, as well as dialogue for reconciliation and for accountability.
Referring to the recent violence in Gaza, the UN deputy chief said that it "underscores the need for action."
"It is imperative that everyone show the utmost restraint to avoid further loss of life, including all civilians, and particularly children, are not in harm's way," she said.
"The cycle of violence in Gaza must end, it serves no one," she said "I repeat my call for such killings to be investigated thoroughly."
"These events remind us that for far too long the international community has failed to find a just and lasting solution to the plight of Palestine refugees, as it has failed to find a just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine," she said.
Noting that the refugees of 1948 and their descendants, now numbering more than 5.3 million women, men and children, are unable to return to their homes, Mohammed said that the lives of generations of Palestinians and Israelis have been defined and confined by a conflict that has shaped their physical and human landscape under a heavy atmosphere of fear, mutual distrust.
Talking about the settlement establishment and expansion, which she said is "illegal under international law," Mohammed said this is "further contributing to displacement and is a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace."
"The unacceptable violence and incitement exacerbate mistrust between Palestinians and Israelis," she said, noting that intra-Palestinian reconciliation remains critical to restore hope for the future and a political horizon.
"We must strive for a future where Israel and Palestine thrive as states in which all are equally respected, and where civil society is able to play its constructive role," said Mohammed.
She pledged that the United Nations will continue to support Israelis and Palestinians on the road to peace by helping them to take the historic steps to achieve a solution of two states living side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders, "with Jerusalem as the capital of both."
The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People convened the two-day United Nations Forum on the Question of Palestine under the theme "70 Years after 1948 -- Lessons to Achieve a Sustainable Peace."
The forum has brought together Palestinian, Israeli and international experts, representatives of the diplomatic community and civil society for a constructive debate in support of collective efforts to launch credible negotiations, leading to a just resolution of all final status issues as part of a comprehensive settlement of the question of Palestine.