Statement by H.E Dr. Palitha T.B. Kohona
Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations

General Assembly Plenary Meeting
Agenda Item 37: Question of Palestine & Agenda Item 36: The Situation
in the Middle East
New York, 29th November 2010

Mr. President,

My delegation associates itself with the position of the Non Aligned Movement articulated by the Permanent Representative of Egypt. 

The 29th of November, each year, engenders mixed feelings. On the one hand, it gives us hope that we will be able to see the State of Palestine becoming a reality as envisaged in the historic Resolution 181 of 29 November 1947. On the other, it disappoints many of us, that the inalienable rights of the Palestine People, including their right to self-determination, national independence and statehood, still remain unaccomplished, despite many efforts by the international community.

Mr. President

Sri Lanka’s position with regard to the inalienable rights of the Palestinian People remains consistent. We reaffirm our unequivocal support for the two-state solution.

Mr. President,

Sri Lanka remains deeply concerned and disturbed at the disappointing conditions in Gaza and the Occupied Territories including East Jerusalem.  We earnestly hope that both the Israeli and Palestinian leaders will take bold moves to reinvigorate the stalled proximity talks. We regret the termination of the  moratorium on settlement construction.  Both sides, over these years, have suffered the loss of valuable human lives and material resources, but Palestinian losses and suffering have been particularly harrowing. 

Mr. President,

We in Sri Lanka are fully cognizant that senseless violence could only destabilize societies and unleash hatred and hostilities. Regulations and policies that restrict the freedom of movement of the Palestinians in the occupied territories, illegal intrusions into Palestinian lands and destruction of their private property and  agricultural lands, access restrictions to fishing and other livelihood activities, could only create more tensions, bitterness and push back the possibility of realizing a durable peace. We therefore urge both parties to exercise the utmost restraint in order to create an environment conducive to building mutual trust and understanding. For that to happen, we strongly believe that Israel must end the occupation and immediately withdraw to the 1967 borders, freeze all illegal settlement activities and cease the construction of the Separation Wall. There should also be guarantees for Israel that their legitimate security concerns are not at stake.

Mr. President,

I take this opportunity to commend the work that has been carried out by the UN Agency for Relief and Works for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), during all these years amidst multiple odds, in assisting millions of Palestinian people in need.  We emphasize the need to ease further the restrictions on the flow of goods to Gaza to expedite the return of normalcy.  We appreciate the ongoing efforts by international donors, regional organizations and the UN Agencies to alleviate the suffering of the innocent civilians and in providing protection for them.

Mr. President,

It is Sri Lanka’s firm hope that all Palestinian people will rally, behind the Palestinian Authority, to build and enhance the democratic institutions of Palestine, which is a necessary precondition for a strong, viable and independent future State of Palestine.  It is also our hope that, Israel will flourish upholding democratic values, and gain the increased recognition and friendship of its neighbours.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, “The Future depends on what we do in the present”,

I thank you.



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