U N I T E D N A T I O N S
N A T I O N S U N I E S
MESSAGE TO THE JERUSALEM INTERNATIONAL FORUM
Doha, 26 February 2012
Delivered by Mr. Robert Serry, UN Special Coordination for
the Middle East Peace Process, Representative of the
Secretary-General to the Palestine Liberation Organization and
the Palestinian Authority, and the Secretary-General's Envoy to
I am pleased to send my greetings to all those participating in
this important international forum. Your presence today
underscores the centrality and deep significance of Jerusalem to
peoples around the world.
For Muslims, Jews and Christians, Jerusalem is a place of faith
and longing, as well as the symbol of intertwined national
aspirations. It is a sacred space that must not be confined to
one creed or community and must be open and accessible to all.
Precisely because actions in Jerusalem are felt throughout the
world, it must stand as a symbol of peace and opportunity for
the region and beyond.
I hope this forum will inspire us to continue our work for a
just and lasting peace in which the status of Jerusalem and
other core issues are resolved through negotiations.
I visited Jerusalem earlier this month. While there, as well as
in Ramallah, Tel Aviv and Gaza, I stressed how important it is
for Israeli and Palestinian leaders to continue exploratory
talks aimed at reaching an agreement for a two-state solution by
the end of this year, as called for by the Quartet
Only through negotiations can Jerusalem emerge as the capital of
two states, living side-by-side in peace and security, with
arrangements for the holy sites that are acceptable to all. This
is the road to fulfilling the vision put forward by Security
Council resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative, and the hopes
of all those yearning for peace. Both sides have a particular
responsibility to create a conducive environment for meaningful
negotiations. Palestinians should remain constructively engaged.
Unfortunately, Israel's continued settlement activity in
occupied East Jerusalem, as well as in the rest of the West
Bank, undermines that effort and prejudges final status issues,
often with tragic human consequences. Home demolitions, forced
evictions, and the revocation of permanent residency are also
cause for continued deep concern. So, too, is the Government of
Israel's recent forcible transfer of members of the Palestinian
Legislative Council from East Jerusalem to Ramallah. I repeat
the calls of the Quartet and the wider international community
for Israel to freeze settlement activity and end the demolition
of Palestinian homes. Settlement construction is contrary to
international law, as is the forcible transfer of residents from
East Jerusalem. The international community does not recognize
Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem, which remains part of the
occupied Palestinian territory.
Access into East Jerusalem remains severely restricted by
checkpoints, permits and the barrier, whose route is contrary to
the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice. Day
after day, Palestinians are cut off from economic opportunity,
family contact, basic services, and holy sites.
The United Nations is present in East Jerusalem and will
continue to support the human security of the Palestinian
population there through health, education, employment and
social protection initiatives. UN agencies, to the greatest
extent possible, are working with Palestinian grassroots
organizations and civil society to achieve these goals. I urge
you to support this vital work through contributions to the PA-UN
The quest for a just and lasting Middle East peace once again
confronts significant challenges. All members of the Quartet,
along with His Majesty King Abdullah of Jordan, are working to
ensure that exploratory talks continue in an environment
favorable to reaching an agreement on all final status issues.
Your help will be critical. Only through the achievement of a
negotiated two-State solution, and a comprehensive Arab-Israeli
peace, will Jerusalem be fully restored to its rightful place as
a symbol of sanctity, fraternity and peace for the entire world.
For my part, I pledge to continue pursuing my efforts with all
the means available to me.