Palestinian envoy tells UN ‘we’re at the end of the road’ for 2-state solution

Riyad Mansour blasts United Nations partition plan on its 75th anniversary; Israeli representative unveils display on ‘Jewish Nakba’

Luke Tress is a JTA reporter and a former editor and reporter in New York for The Times of Israel.

Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour addresses the General Assembly in New York, November 30, 2022. (Screenshot/UN, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour addresses the General Assembly in New York, November 30, 2022. (Screenshot/UN, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

UNITED NATIONS — The Palestinian envoy to the UN warned the General Assembly on Wednesday that the two-state solution was at imminent risk during a plenary meeting on the conflict marking 75 years since the UN’s partition plan for Israel and the Palestinians.

“We are at the end of the road for the two-state solution. Either the international community summons the will to act decisively or it will let peace die passively. Passively, not peacefully,” Palestinian representative Riyad Mansour told the world body.

He called on the international community to pressure Israel, for the UN to grant the Palestinians full recognition and for a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

“Anybody serious about the two-state solution must help salvage the Palestinian state,” he said. “The alternative is what we are living under now — a regime that has combined the evils of colonialism and apartheid.”

The General Assembly later passed a series of four pro-Palestinian items, including one “noting with deep regret” the UN partition plan adopted on November 29, 1947, and “the Nakba.” Another item called for a Nakba commemoration event at the General Assembly Hall next year. A fifth resolution calling on Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights also passed.

The Palestinians refer to Israel’s establishment as the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” referring to the displacement that Palestinians experienced during the Jewish state’s War of Independence in 1948-1949.

The partition plan adopted by the General Assembly in 1947 called for independent Jewish and Arab states in what was then British-controlled Mandatory Palestine. The Jews accepted the plan, but the Arab world rejected it and launched the 1948 war. The Palestinians have rejected additional offers of statehood since.

Mansour blasted the partition plan on Wednesday, saying the UN had not “understood the consequences” of the outline.

“The plan was, and in many cases still is, to displace our people on their ancestral land,” he said, claiming “75 years of Israeli policies aiming to uproot our people” since the plan’s adoption. He repeatedly referred to Israel as a colony, denying Jews’ ancestral ties to Israel and roots in Israel and the Middle East.

Mansour also censured the incoming Netanyahu-led coalition as “the most colonial, racist and extremist government in the history of Israel” and celebrated the UN’s request for the International Court of Justice to weigh in on the conflict.

He lauded the harassment of Israeli journalists at the World Cup in Qatar as a “decisive blow to Israel’s delusions” of regional acceptance.

“The winner of this World Cup is already known. It is Palestine, with its flag carried by people from every corner of the Arab world and the rest of the globe,” Mansour said. “Ask any Israeli journalist at the World Cup and they will tell you that nothing can normalize Israeli occupation.”

Israel’s UN representative, Gilad Erdan, presented an opposing story on Wednesday by unveiling an exhibit at the UN on the “Jewish Nakba,” the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab countries and Iran in the 1940s and 1950s following the partition plan.

“For 75 years, the UN has been telling a completely false story about the ‘Nakba,’ which the Palestinians themselves caused by their refusal to accept the Partition Plan,” Erdan said. “I will fight in every way the false narrative that the Palestinians spread at the UN.”

The exhibit features documentation about the lives of Jews in Middle Eastern countries and will be on display for a week at the UN Headquarters in New York.

Speaking to the General Assembly after Mansour, Erdan decried the “Nakba Day” resolution.

“Try to imagine the international community commemorating your country’s Independence Day by calling it a disaster. What a disgrace,” Erdan said.

“This General Assembly, this body, voted to adopt Resolution 181 – the Partition Plan. My people, the Jewish people, accepted this resolution without hesitation. But the Arabs and the Palestinians did not,” Erdan said. “Five Arab armies, together with the Arabs living in Israel, tried to destroy and annihilate us.”

On Tuesday, the UN held an event marking the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the event that the “occupation must end,” blaming the conflict on occupation, settlements, home demolitions, evictions and closures of Gaza crossings.

Guterres and other speakers focused on Israeli forces in the West Bank, and did not mention Palestinian terrorism, the Hamas terror group, Israeli security concerns or Israeli victims of violence.

The comments came amid heightened tensions in the region, following a series of Palestinian attacks that have left 30 people in Israel and the West Bank dead since the start of the year, including twin bombings that killed two Israelis in Jerusalem last week.

In the spring, the military launched a major anti-terror offensive in the West Bank in response to the attacks. The operation has netted more than 2,500 arrests in near-nightly raids, but has left over 150 Palestinians dead, many of them — though not all — while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces.

At the same time, there has been a steep rise in settler attacks against Palestinians and security forces.

The UN has said 2022 is on course to be the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since the world body started tracking fatalities in 2005.

The United Nations envoy to the Middle East, Tor Wennesland, on Monday warned that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was “reaching a boiling point.”

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield condemned the terror attacks against Israelis and settler violence during a Security Council hearing on Monday.

Thomas-Greenfield blasted the UN for its “lopsided focus” on Israel, including the open-ended Commission of Inquiry into Israel and the General Assembly’s request earlier this month for the International Court of Justice to weigh in on the conflict.

“The UN system is replete with anti-Israel actions and bodies,” she said. “Instead of grandstanding and pursuing unproductive measures, we hope the UN will start focusing on concrete steps that improve the lives of Israelis and Palestinians.”

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