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As General Assembly Debates Question of Palestine, Members Call for Swift Action to Jump-Start Israeli-Palestinian Talks, Realize Two-State Solution

The international community must take urgent action to end the suffering of the Palestinian people, ensure that Israel abides by all international laws and promote the conditions where two State talks can flourish, the General Assembly heard today as it began a debate on the question of Palestine.

Many delegates expressed support for the Palestinian cause, condemned Israel for its continued settlement activities in the West Bank and blockade of Gaza and urged all parties to return to the table for talks to realize a two State solution, based on pre 1967 borders. Many recalled the historic significance of 29 November for two historic occasions. In 1947, the Assembly adopted resolution 181 on the question of Palestine, recommending a partition plan of Palestine into two States, and in 1977, the Assembly called for the annual observance of 29 November as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

The Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine expressed concern about recent developments in the region, including the decision of the United States to move its embassy to Jerusalem, defunding United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and attempts to strip Palestinian refugees of their legitimate status and rights. Still, he said, his delegation believes in the authority and capacities of the Security Council and General Assembly to uphold the law. Such faith could seem remarkable considering Israel's violations and war crimes, which continue to be rewarded, rather than sanctioned, he said.

He appealed for urgent global action, calling on States to uphold international law and affirm support for the Palestinian people, their inalienable rights and the realization of the State of Palestine based on pre 1967 borders. He urged Member States to ensure accountability, including through practical measures to safeguard respect for the United Nations Charter. As long as the benefits outweigh the cost, he said, Israel will continue to impose its illegal occupation and to trample the Charter and United Nations resolutions.

Israel's representative said the United Nations adopts resolutions every year to condemn his country, none of which has ever mentioned Hamas. Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization, steals aid from the Palestinian people to fund tunnels and uses civilians as human shields. If the international community does not condemn Hamas, it is enabling a terrorist organization. Since the 1947 vote, Israel has faced wars, isolation, double standards and anti Semitism. As soon as the partition plan passed, the Palestinian people began teaching their children to hate Israel.

Every time we reach out with an open hand, we are not only faced with a clenched fist, but an armed one, he said. Noting that 65 per cent of Palestinians are pessimistic about their future, he urged them to reject their corrupt leaders and elect those who have their best interests at heart. Meanwhile, Israel will continue to hold free and fair elections. He also urged Member States to not fuel the fire of delusion when the Palestinians bring wasteful resolutions to the United Nations.

In the ensuing discussion, representatives resoundingly called for support to talks leading to a two State solution. Jordan's delegate said the Palestinian question is the key to peace and stability in the Middle East. The two State solution is the only solution, she said, calling for the establishment of a Palestinian State based on pre 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Pakistan's representative said that ever since the Assembly adopted a resolution partitioning the mandate of Palestine into two States 71 years ago, the tragedy of the Palestinian people has remained an unremitting tale of broken promises. But, let me remind this parliament of the world that there is nothing normal about the pain and suffering faced every day by the Palestinian people, she added.

Norway's representative expressed deep concerns that the period of 11 to 13 November experienced one of the fiercest exchanges of fire in Gaza since 2014. Hamas bears a major share of the responsibility for the situation in Gaza, but Israel must also lift the restrictions on the movement of people and goods.

Recognition of Israel as an independent State must be accompanied by the recognition of Palestine as an independent State, Egypt's delegate said. The annual renewal of efforts by the international community to resolve the crisis is the only silver lining for the people of Palestine, he added, warning against populist rhetoric that will worsen the crisis.

At the outset of the meeting, the Chair and the Rapporteur of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People introduced its report and the following draft resolutions: Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (document A/73/L.31); Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine (document A/73/L.32); Special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat (document A/73/L.33); and Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat (document A/73/L.34). Also speaking today were representatives of Libya, Maldives, Kuwait, Argentina, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Bahrain, Lebanon, China, Iraq, Uruguay and Indonesia.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 30 November, to conclude its debate on the question of Palestine and take action on related draft resolutions, then begin its debate on the situation in the Middle East.

Question of Palestine

CHEIKH NIANG (Senegal), Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, introduced the following draft resolutions: Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (document A/73/L.31); Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine (document A/73/L.32); Special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat (document A/73/L.33); and Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat (document A/73/L.34).

He commended the General Assembly President for urging the international community to translate solidarity with the Palestinian people into tangible action. However, the current environment is marked by a lack of clear political will to solve the Palestinian Israeli conflict. As such, calls for action are more relevant than ever before in the pursuit of a two State solution. The Committee will work with all relevant actors to keep the question of Palestine on the international agenda until Palestinians fully enjoy their inalienable rights.

Highlighting the Committee's approval of the four draft resolutions by consensus, he pointed out that L.32 would have the Assembly urge States to not recognize any changes to pre 1967 borders other than those agreed through negotiations. Noting 50 years of Israeli occupation, he said that through L.31 the Assembly would urge the international community to intensify efforts to reach a peaceful solution to the question of Palestine. Turning to L.34, he said the General Assembly would renew the mandate of the Committee. Draft text L.33 would requests the Department of Public Information to continue pursuing efforts to spread awareness of the situation in Palestine. He invited Member States to provide broad support for the drafts to send a message of hope to the Palestinian people.

CARMELO INGUANEZ (Malta), Committee Rapporteur, introduced the Report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (document A/73/35), saying it includes a review of the political context relating to the question of Palestine during the reporting period and outlines action taken by the Committee in its engagement with United Nations entities and other relevant organizations. Through the report's conclusions, the Committee urges the international community to redouble efforts towards achieving a two State solution and deems as null and void decisions by Member States to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The report also reiterates a need to reframe the Palestinian Israeli conflict from a territorial dispute between two equal parties to that of one State occupying, colonizing and annexing the territory of another State, he said. The Committee calls on the international community to shift from a humanitarian to a political and human rights framework in addressing the plight of the Palestinian People, he said, demanding an end to the 11 year old Israeli blockade of Gaza. States and private entities must not contribute to grave Israeli violations of human rights, he asserted.

For its part, he said, the Committee continues to enhance cooperation with the League of Arab States and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). He called on the European Union to take a more politically active role in moderating an end to the conflict. Efforts by the Committee to engage with civil society organizations are set to expand, he said, also calling on the United Nations Department of Public Information to continue its special information programme on the question of Palestine. He also called for the Assembly to adopt the four related draft resolutions.

RIYAD H. MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, expressed commitment to diplomatic, political, legal and non violent means to realize the rights of the Palestinian people. He underscored his faith in the authority and capacities of the Security Council and General Assembly � despite blows to their credibility � to uphold the law towards attaining a just, lasting and peaceful solution to this question. Such faith must be shared by all who still believe in the purposes and principles of this Organization, the rule of law and the true spirit of multilateralism, he said.

Questioning how such faith has survived after so many years, he expressed concern over recent regional developments including the decision of the United States on moving its embassy to Jerusalem, the termination of funding to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the attempts to strip Palestinian refugees of their legitimate status and rights. Only a deep conviction in the law and the inevitability of justice could have kept us on this path, he said, adding that such faith should seem remarkable considering Israel's violations and war crimes, which continue to be rewarded, rather than sanctioned, by the international community. This is what makes it particularly difficult to continue to justify such a commitment to a peaceful path while convincing Palestinian people, especially the youth, of its logic and benefits.

Israel is in grave breach of virtually all international and legal obligations, acting in blatant contempt of the Security Council, he said. Israel also ignores demands to cease its illegal policies and practices in occupied Palestinian territory and continues to systematically destroy the two State solution, which is based on the pre 1967 borders. In the past year, illegal Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank and in and around East Jerusalem have continued. Israel has also continued building its annexation wall, transferring settlers, stealing Palestinian land, demolishing Palestinian homes and forcing the displacement of Palestinian civilians. It has persisted in its provocations against holy sites, particularly in occupied East Jerusalem, including violating the historic status quo at the Al Haram Al Sharif.

Israel has also continued its collective punishment of the Palestinian people, he said. The most heinous of such restrictions remains Israel's 11 year blockade of Gaza, where 2 million Palestinians are being deliberately isolated. Moreover, one discriminatory law and racist policy after another, led by extremist members of the Prime Minister of Israel's coalition, continues to further dispossess, marginalize and dehumanize Palestinians. The most offensive of such is the recent Jewish Nation State Bill, he said, adding that only Jews are entitled to self-determination in Israel.

He appealed for urgent international action, calling on States to uphold international law and affirm support for the Palestinian people, their inalienable rights and the realization of the State of Palestine based on the pre 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. States must also do more to ensure that they are not complicit with Israel's illegal actions, including by not recognizing as legitimate the unlawful situation created by Israel's policies in occupied Palestinian territory. He urged Member States to ensure accountability, including through practical measures to safeguard respect for the United Nations Charter and international humanitarian law. As long as the benefits outweigh the cost, he said, Israel will continue to impose its illegal occupation and to trample the Charter and United Nations resolutions.

DANNY BEN YOSEF DANON (Israel) said every year the United Nations adopts resolutions to condemn his country, none of which has ever mentioned Hamas. These resolutions do not lead the Palestinian people forward. Instead, the international community can take a moral stance to condemn Hamas, which is an internationally recognized terrorist organization. Hamas steals aid from the Palestinian people to fund tunnels and uses civilians as human shields. If the international community does not condemn Hamas, it is enabling a terrorist organization.

The historic land of the Jewish people remained a barren desert for centuries as it was passed on between countless empires, he continued. Our people were exiled from our land, he said, recalling that on this day, 71 years ago, 33 Member States adopted a plan to designate a small portion of the land to the Jewish people. Since then, Israel has faced wars, isolation, double standards and anti Semitism. This did not stop Israel from building something miraculous, an oasis in the desert and the one and only democracy for hundreds of miles. The vote on 29 November 1947 did not give Israel all that it wanted, but Israel took that and turned it into something extraordinary.

As soon as the partition plan passed, the Palestinian people began teaching their children to hate Israel, he said. It is time the Palestinian people recalculate their route, so that partnership, prosperity and peace are possible. Israel represents seven decades of human rights and hope. Israeli elections are free and fair. Israelis enjoy full freedom of speech and press. Israel champions the rights of all its people. Women participate in Government in large numbers. He noted Israel's various technological breakthroughs from health care to fighting terrorism. We are eager to share our knowledge, expertise and capabilities with our neighbours and around the world, he said.

Palestinians have shown no interest in improving lives, instead wasting decades sponsoring terrorism, he continued. Instead of ventures, they chose violence. Instead of progress, they choose the past. The United Nations voted to recognize a Jewish State and an Arab State. Every time we reach out with an open hand, we are not only faced with a clenched fist, but an armed one, he said. Mahmoud Abbas was elected in 2005, the last Palestine Liberation Organization elections to be held. It is no secret that the Palestinian leadership sponsors terrorism, he said, adding that Mr. Abbas allocated $355 million to terrorist organizations. The current leadership is not capable of leading nor is it interested in the responsibility of governing.

Palestinians could surge ahead, but instead have decided to incite violence and deny Israel's connection to its land, he said. In 2005, Israel removed all its Jewish communities and even uprooted its cemeteries from Gaza. The Palestinians had an opportunity to turn Gaza into something special, but they elected Hamas and Gaza became a terminal for terrorism. Noting that 65 per cent of Palestinians are pessimistic about their future, he urged them to reject their corrupt leaders and instead elect those who have their best interests at heart. He also urged Member States to not fuel the fire of delusion when the Palestinians bring wasteful resolutions to the United Nations. Israel is committed to prosperity in partnership with its neighbours, he said, adding that the Jewish people will continue to flourish, regardless of the obstacles they face.

SIMA SAMI I. BAHOUS (Jordan) commended the Committee's efforts to keep the interests of Palestinians at the forefront of the international community. Quoting the King of Jordan, she said the Palestinian question is the key to peace and stability in the Middle East. The two State solution is the only solution, she said, calling for the establishment of a Palestinian State based on pre 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Jordan promotes the peaceful resolution of the conflict and prompts States to stand up for the rights of the Palestinian people. The plight of the Palestinian people, particularly in the Gaza strip, calls for immediate action, she said, assuring Palestine of her Government's continued support. Calling for increased support for UNRWA, she said preserving the Agency means promoting the rights of refugees to live in dignity.

ELMAHDI S. ELMAJERBI (Libya) said the reports presented today categorically prove the fairness of considering the question of Palestine in the Assembly. It is unfortunate that Israel continues to violate all relevant resolutions of the General Assembly, he continued. Israeli aggression against the occupied territory persists in flagrant contempt of United Nations resolutions and in violation of its international legal obligations. Such actions undermine efforts to achieve a two State solution, he said, adding that Israeli security forces are provoking the Palestinian people to pursue a religious conflict. Asking why Israel should be trusted to respect peace efforts, he warned that the country's narrative of the conflict is based on myths. Asserting that the Golan is part of Syria, he called on the international community to take serious steps to establish lasting peace. Make no mistake, he said. Palestine and its people will stay.

AISHATH FAREENA (Maldives) noted that it has been 71 years since the Assembly adopted a historic resolution that set out the framework for establishing a sovereign and independent State of Palestine. That resolution remains historic because of its failure to realize its own promise of creating two separate independent States, living side by side in peace and harmony. It is also historic because of its failure to protect the fundamental rights of Palestinians to live in their homes with dignity and respect. She condemned the continued violation of human rights and the disregard for international law in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and urged Israel to return to the right side of international law, restart negotiations with the State of Palestine in good faith and end the seven decades of occupation.

BADER ABDULLAH N. M. ALMUNAYEKH (Kuwait) said that for years, numerous international resolutions have passed and Israel continues to refuse to shoulder its responsibility as outlined in the United Nations Charter. Israel undermines all humanitarian criteria by continuing its forced evictions and displacements. The Palestinian people face the most heinous forms of human rights violations. Israel's policies continue to undermine any prospect of a two State solution, he said, reiterating Kuwait's full support for Security Council resolution 2334 (2016). Kuwait will continue to defend the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and will urge the Security Council to champion the Palestinian cause. He commended the Palestinian people's determination and called on the international community, especially the Security Council, to protect them against the Israeli military machine. All parties, especially those sponsoring the peace process in the Middle East, must redouble their efforts to place pressure on Israel to halt its illegal actions.

MARTA�N GARCA�A MORITA�N (Argentina) said the peace process between the Palestinians and Israelis is going through its most difficult time since the signing of the Oslo Accords. Indeed, the seriousness of the situation on the ground demands a collective effort to keep alive the prospect of a two State solution. Yet, Israel's illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territories are an obstacle to peace and perpetuate an unsustainable status quo. Meanwhile, the attacks against Israeli citizens are completely inadmissible and must immediately stop, he said, condemning the hostile actions of Hamas and other Palestinian organizations. While recognizing Israel's right to exercise its legitimate defence, such actions must be compatible with international humanitarian law. In light of financial difficulties facing UNRWA, the international community must ensure that the Agency has the funds needed to avoid the interruption of its services. Highlighting the special status of Jerusalem, he called for unfettered access to the holy sites for Jews, Muslims and Christians and condemned any attempts to deny or relativize the historical connection and profound meaning of these places to each religion, which would only reinforce prejudice and mistrust.

SAUD HAMAD GHANEM HAMAD ALSHAMSI (United Arab Emirates) expressed support for the Palestinian people in fulfilling their legitimate aspirations to self determination. Highlighting the need to prevent anyone from undermining efforts towards peace and stability, he cautioned against a pattern of managing crises rather than resolving them. In this context, he recommended regional and international initiatives aimed at advancing the Middle East peace process, including efforts by Egypt to achieve an intra Palestinian reconciliation and a restoration of calm. Condemning Israel's belligerent behaviour � notably the promulgation of a Jewish nation State law and the construction of settlements on occupied Palestinian territories � he said such illegitimate practices represent a major obstacle to peace efforts. At the same time, the world cannot ignore the deteriorating humanitarian and economic situation in the Palestinian territories, he said, renewing the call for Member States to increase their contributions to the Palestinian people. For its part, the United Arab Emirates has disbursed more than $65 million to UNRWA.

SAMUEL MONCADA (Venezuela) said observance of a day of solidarity for the Palestinian people offers an opportunity to reach a lasting solution to the question of Palestine. Voicing support for an independent State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, he denounced ongoing Israeli violations, including attempts to change the demographic composition of Jerusalem. He rejected any measure to alter the corpus separatumstatus of Jerusalem and deplored the upsurge of violence in Gaza. Calling for an end to illegal settlements and detentions, he recognized UNRWA initiatives to promote the rights of Palestinian refugees. The United Nations must provide the resources needed for the Agency to effectively pursue its mandate. We support the quest for a lasting solution to the question of Palestine based on a two State solution, he said.

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) said that ever since the Assembly adopted a resolution partitioning the mandate of Palestine into two States 71 years ago, the tragedy of the Palestinian people has remained an unremitting tale of broken promises and unfulfilled rights. Today, many warn that the entire region can plunge into a fresh vortex of violence. The world unfortunately seems to have grown so accustomed to the disastrous events taking place in the occupied Palestine territory that the current failure to reach a peace deal seems to have become the new normal. But, let me remind this parliament of the world that there is nothing normal about the pain and suffering faced every day by the Palestinian people, she said, citing a series of unfortunate events, including the decision by some countries to relocate their embassies to Jerusalem, the decision by a major donor to cease all financial support to UNRWA and attempts to deflect the attention of the international community by bringing a resolution to the General Assembly that does nothing to pave the way to peace. Pakistan joins other Member States in rejecting this move and, by extension, the related resolution.

JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI (Bahrain) said the question of Palestine remains unresolved despite numerous General Assembly resolutions on the matter. Drawing attention to the Committee's report, he said Israel, as the occupying Power, must protect civilians and called for an end to the illegal occupation of Gaza. Palestinians must enjoy their inalienable rights, including to build an independent State with East Jerusalem as its capital, based on 1967 borders, he said. The international community must address the suffering of Palestinians, including addressing Charter violations in the construction of settlements on occupied territory, and put pressure on Tel Aviv to end such practices and implement relevant United Nations resolutions. Emphasizing that UNRWA contributes to improving the living standards of Palestinian refugees, he called for adequate resourcing the Agency.

AMAL MUDALLALI (Lebanon) said Palestinians have an inalienable right to build an independent State on their own territory. The international community must build peace, she said, warning that despite numerous resolutions, the question of Palestine remains unresolved. Lebanon is committed to supporting the Palestinian people as their suffering continues under Israeli occupation. Principles of peace are undermined systematically, she said. Such resolutions are the pillar of a lasting solution to guarantee peace for all the people of the region. The legitimate rights of Palestinians are ignored as the situation on the ground deteriorates. It is cruel to see attempts to cut funding for UNRWA, she said, adding that the expansion of Israeli settlements threatens the viability of a two State solution. She echoed Arab countries' calls on Israel to support peace efforts and to withdraw from all occupied territories.

WU HAITAO (China) said finding a comprehensive and just solution is a common aspiration and in the interest of the Palestinian people, the region and the world. Calling on all parties to exercise restraint and implement relevant United Nations resolutions, he said the international community must scale up its funding of UNRWA. A two State solution is the only comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine. He called on all parties to implement Security Council resolution 2334 (2016) and take immediate measures to prevent violence against civilians. Parties who have major influence in the Middle East should play a constructive role and break the impasse in the peace process. All parties should strive to reach a balanced solution based on relevant Security Council resolutions. The conflict and confrontation continue and the developments on the ground are worrying, he said. The international community should promote dialogue and ensure that parties turn stability into lasting peace. He also expressed support for integrating the Palestinian State within the international community.

TORE HATTREM (Norway) said a comprehensive resolution addressing the final status issues and aspirations of Israel and Palestine is long overdue. Only the two State solution can provide durable peace and security for both parties, he said. Voicing concern over the situation in Gaza, he said the period of 11 to 13 November experienced one of the fiercest exchanges of fire since 2014. Norway chaired a ministerial level meeting of the international donor group to Palestine on 27 September, which welcomed the United Nations humanitarian package to Gaza and called for its urgent implementation. Gaza is facing severe economic, humanitarian and social challenges, he said, calling for improved access to clean water and energy in the territory. Hamas bears a major share of the responsibility for the situation in Gaza, he said, expressing support for Egyptian led efforts to facilitate Palestinian reconciliation. Israel, for its part, must lift the extensive restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza, he said, adding that UNRWA has been providing essential services to and contributes to regional stability.

MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq), said the Palestinian people have great hope for the future despite the deprivation of their fundamental rights. Supporting efforts to educate the international community about the relevance of International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, he called for their rights to be respected in line with United Nations resolutions. Meanwhile, Iraq is alarmed over the level of suffering felt in Palestine at the hands of Israel. Noting that Israeli settlements continue to expand in the West Bank, he said such initiatives deprive Palestinians of the ability to establish an independent State. A solution to the Palestinian question can only be reached through the establishment of a Palestinian State based on 1967 borders, he said, rejecting all violations of international law related to the status of Jerusalem. The international community must recognize the Palestinian State in order to consolidate peace in the Middle East, he concluded.

LUIS HOMERO BERMASDEZ A�LVAREZ (Uruguay), noting that 71 years have passed since the adoption of the resolution on the partition on Palestine, said the arrangement was not undertaken in accordance with the original plan. Uruguay is a staunch supporter of the two State solution and of the right of Israel and Palestine to live in peace within safe and recognized borders. Palestine's ability to exercise its right to self determination is a precondition for peace in the region. Noting that his country has recognized the State of Palestine, he said the international community must encourage parties to return to negotiations to find a lasting solution to the conflict. To reach this end, parties must respect international law, he said, warning that a mutually acceptable solution is currently far from reach. Uruguay remains concerned about Israel's settlement policy and its demolition of Palestinian houses. Settlements are illegal under international law, he said, adding that the practice makes a two State solution unviable.

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) noted that the yearly International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People appears to be aimed more at keeping the hopes of the Palestinian population alive than seeking a solution to the problem. All Israeli State organs deploy tactics in breach of international law and United Nations resolutions. Israel's settlement policy reflects its ambitions in the region, he continued, expressing regret that the United Nations has been unable to stop these illegal acts and protect Palestinian civilians. Peace will only be achieved if countries respect their commitments under international law, he said, calling on Member States that have not done so to recognize the State of Palestine so both parties to the conflict can stand on equal footing. The sad reality we are witnessing now is of a 'one State solution,' as the performance of the Security Council lags far behind the cause of justice and the world's expectation, he said. Turning to Gaza, he said Israeli actions there amount to collective punishment, which is a violation of international law.

TAREK FATHI MOHAMED MOHAMED TAYEL (Egypt) said Israel's occupation of Palestine is now 51 years old and has transitioned into a semi permanent form. The international community has always called for Palestinians and Israelis to coexist side by side in peace. However, Israel has fostered conditions that undermine efforts to achieve a two State solution. Recognition of Israel as an independent State must be accompanied by the recognition of Palestine as an independent State, he said. The annual renewal of efforts by the international community to resolve the crisis is the only silver lining for the people of Palestine, he said, adding that until the people of Israel and Palestine recognize each other's rights, peace will be unattainable. He called for a return to negotiations based on a two State solution, warning against populist rhetoric that will worsen the crisis. All parties must respect international law, he said.

Source: United Nation