General Debate – Item 7
29 June 2015
Mr. President and the Honorable Council,
The Report of the UN Commission of Inquiry calls upon the State of Israel “to address structural issues that fuel the conflict and have a negative impact on a wide range of human rights, including the right to self-determination; in particular, to lift, immediately and unconditionally, the blockade on Gaza”.
The call to lift the closure of Gaza is not new: Israel’s eight-year plus policy has long been considered illegal by the United Nations and the European Union, and condemned as unlawful collective punishment by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The vast destruction resulting from Israel’s 2014 offensive further necessitated immediate, concrete steps by the UN and the international community to lift the closure. The policy clearly serves to achieve strategic aims and is a component of the policy of fragmentation and denial of self-determination. It is part and parcel of Israel’s settlement and annexation program.
All of these years, Palestinian civilians in Gaza have been punished and had their rights violated. They are collectively left without access to proper medical care, housing, family, work or natural resources. All of these years, they have had no access to sources of justice; a serious combination reflecting on-going persecution.
It is time this came to an immediate end. Justice for Gaza residents cannot be imagined without international intervention to secure accountability and end the policy of closure.
With over 50,000 homes damaged or destroyed in 2014 alone, lifting the closure policy is even more crucial. The Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism is not the answer. Nor can it be. There is no need for bureaucratic, dysfunctional mechanisms that foil the reconstruction efforts. Nor easings that institutionalize an unlawful policy. There is a need to lift it now and allow people to build their homes and their lives; to allow them access to justice and dignity, where patients access Palestinian hospitals and students access Palestinian universities.
The closure must be lifted without further delay to allow the population of Gaza to rebuild and live in dignity.