By Richard Falk
Text of my remarks delivered in Cairo at joint UN/Arab League ceremony marking the observance of the 2012 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, 29 Nov 2012, some 10 hours prior to the historic vote in the UN General Assembly.
Your Excellency, Dr. Nabil Elaraby, Secretary General of the League of Arab States, H.E. Barakat Al Fara, H.E. Amre Dou Al Atta, Dr. Mohammad Gimi’a, Bishop Macos – Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is an exceptional honor and challenge to speak on such an occasion. We meet at a tense historical moment with heavy potential consequences for the Palestinian people and for the peoples and governments of the region. I along with many others throughout the world share Nelson Mandela’s view that the denial of Palestinian rights remains the “the greatest moral issue of our time.” This 2012 International Day of Solidarity with the People of Palestine possesses a special significance. A ceasefire ending the latest orgy of violence afflicting the two societies, but especially affecting the people of Gaza, has been agreed upon just over a week ago, and appears to be holding. And in a few hours the Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, is scheduled to ask the UN General Assembly to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer State within the UN, a status similar to that of the Vatican. When this initiative is approved later today it means an upgraded status for Palestine within the UN System, including probable access to other organs of the UN.
Meeting here in Cairo on this occasion has an added resonance. It was the Egyptian government that played such an instrumental role in producing the ceasefire in Gaza, and it is the democratization of Egypt that has done more to improve Palestinian prospects than any other recent regional or international development. It also raises expectations that Egypt will in the future exert its influence to bring this conflict that has lingered far too long to a just end by working toward a peaceful solution based on the recognition of Palestinian rights under international law. Nothing would better convey to the world that the Arab Spring represents a regional declaration of independence from the dominion of external influence. In doing so it would enlarge upon the earlier historic achievement of unexpectedly bringing about the downfall of a series of dictatorial regimes reigning throughout the Middle East.Read More »