By Karu Jayasuriya –
The aspiration of the Palestinians are well known to the world. What they aspire is the liberation and establishment of a unity government. We can’t see any rationale in marking time and delaying this matter of vital importance. I sincerely hope that the People of Palestine will achieve what they are struggling for without further delay. On behalf of the government of Sri Lanka and its people on this very special day I wish Palestinians every success in their endeavours.
*Speaker Karu Jayasuriya’s speech at UN Day for Solidarity with Palestine at Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute Auditorium on 27th November 2017 – 3.30 p.m:
I am extremely happy to be here with you as Chief Guest on the occasion of commemorating the UN Day for Solidarity with Palestine, organized by the Sri Lanka Committee for Solidarity. The Palestinian Liberation Organization was established five decades ago in 1964 and was the embodiment of the Palestinian National Movement.
The Arab Summit in 1974 recognized the PLO as the “sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people” and since then the PLO has represented Palestine at the United Nations, the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries (NAM), the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and many others.
The PLO was considered by the United States and Israel to be a terrorist organization until the Madrid conference in 1991. In 1993 the PLO recognized Israel’s right to exist in harmony, accepted UN Security Council resolutions and rejected violence and terrorism, in response, Israel officially recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people.
Until 1993, the only promoted option of PLO was armed struggle. From the signing of the Oslo Accords, negotiation and diplomacy became the only official policy.
The core of the PLO’s ideology was the belief that Zionists had unjustly expelled the Palestinians from Palestine and established a Jewish state in place under the pretext of having historic and Jewish ties with Palestine. They demanded that Palestinian refugees should be allowed to return to their homes. This is expressed in the National Covenant.
Article 3 of the Covenant reads; ″The Palestinian Arab people possess the legal right to their homeland and have the right to determine their destiny after achieving the liberation of their country in accordance with their wishes and entirely of their own accord and will″.
The international Day of Solidarity with the Palestine People is observed by the United Nations on or around 29 November each year. In accordance with mandates given by the General Assembly in December 1977, December 1979 and subsequent resolutions adopted by the General Assembly on the Question of Palestine. The date of 29 November was chosen because of its meaning and significance to the Palestinian People.
In response to the call of the United Nations, various activities are undertaken annually by Governments and civil society in observance of the Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. These activities include, among other things, the issuance of special messages of solidarity with the Palestinian people, the organising of meetings, the dissemination of publications and other information material, and the screening of films.
The aspiration of the Palestinians are well known to the world. What they aspire is the liberation and establishment of a unity government. We can’t see any rationale in marking time and delaying this matter of vital importance.
As we know well the State of Palestine appreciates the consistent goodwill and support it has received from Sri Lanka throughout its struggle for international recognition, and should always be counted on as a steadfast friend of Sri Lanka. For many years Sri Lanka had worked very closely with the aspiration of the Palestinian people.
The Palestinian Foreign Relations Commission also expressed solidarity with Sri Lanka during its war against terrorism and continues to support Sri Lanka in all its initiatives after the achievement of peace as well.
Several fields appropriate for close collaboration between Sri Lanka and Palestine have been identified. This include mutual support in international fora, especially in the context of Sri Lanka’s focus on strengthening bilateral relations with the Arab world. Stronger links between two countries, in the areas of economic collaboration, political consultations, technical co-operation and the training of primary education teachers.
There are projects launched such as Organic Farming in Sri Lanka with Palestinian expertise. Palestine is providing scholarships annually to Sri Lankan students while Sri Lanka is accommodating Palestinian graduates for post graduate studies in Sri Lankan universities.
Friendly relations between Palestine and Sri Lanka commenced in early seventies and the solidarity with Palestine was strengthened although there were numerous threats and barriers. The Opening of the PLO embassy in Colombo in July 1975 was a significant milestone in this respect and Palestine was supported by Sri Lanka and continues to be a strong advocate for the Palestinian cause.
At the same time Sri Lanka chaired the U.N. Committee on Human Rights of Palestinians for 38 years continuously. It is a unique record, especially since Sri Lanka is a non-Muslim country.
Sri Lanka supported the State of Palestine to join as a full-fledged member of UNESCO. And, Sri Lanka’s support was extended for the early realization of a sovereign, independent, viable and united State of Palestine existing within secure and recognized borders side-by-side and at peace with Israel.
It is with much appreciation we note that state of Palestine reciprocates all support to Sri Lanka, voting in all international bodies to support Sri Lanka’s candidacy and continues to have a close and warm friendship between the two countries, further the lobbying for Sri Lanka to have its membership in the Executive Committee of UNESCO.
I sincerely hope that the People of Palestine will achieve what they are struggling for without further delay. On behalf of the government of Sri Lanka and its people on this very special day I wish Palestinians every success in their endeavours.
Let me also thank the Sri Lanka Committee for Solidarity with Palestine for inviting me to this pleasant evening. Thank you.