The State of Palestine has taken over the mantel as Chair of the Group of 77 and China at an official handing-over ceremony at United Nations Headquarters in New York on Tuesday.
Palestine, which enjoys only observer status at the UN, will now lead the largest bloc of developing countries which aims to promote collective economic and political interests at the world body.
No one left behind thus #Palestine cannot be an exception. Congratulations Pres. Mahmoud #Abbas, today is a historic moment not only for #Palestine but for all, supporting the noble #Palestinian cause #indonesianway pic.twitter.com/awwrAP0LPy
— Indonesian Mission UN (@indonesiaunny) January 15, 2019
President Abbas was there in person to receive the Chairman’s gavel from outgoing Chair Egypt. And while yet to be accorded full membership status at the UN, Palestine will now lead the largest group of developing nations at the world body.
“The right to development is a right we shall strive to strengthen and realize together with all other human rights enshrined in international law and in the G77’s founding and central documents. In this regard, we must ensure and preserve this right, also for people living under colonial and foreign occupation. In line with the decisions of the group, including the Johannesburg plan of action and in accordance with the relevant provisions of international law, including international humanitarian law, Palestine cannot be an exception.”
Abbas also used the platform to address the broader situation in the Middle East, in particular between his country and the State of Israel.
“Israel’s continued colonization an occupation of the State of Palestine undermines our development and capacity for cooperation and coordination and obstructs cohesive future development for all people of the region. Here, I reaffirm the State of Palestine’s commitment to international law and legitimacy and to a peaceful solution that brings an end to the occupation and the realization of the independence of the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side in peace and security with the State of Israel on the basis of the 1967 borders.”
The G77 plus China comprises 134 member states and has recognized Palestine since 1976. The UN Chief Antonio Guterres also welcomed Palestine’s Chairmanship as a significant move.
“I look forward to continuing to work closely with the G77 and China in 2019 under the historic leadership of the State of Palestine. Palestine and its citizens have first-hand experience of some of the most challenging and dramatic global issues we face. You are well-placed to take up the chairmanship of this important group of countries.”
Palestinians see their elevation to the Chairmanship as an important achievement that asserts their identity on the international stage. In an earlier meeting with the UN Chief, President Abbas also reportedly asked for the provision of an international protection force for Palestinians.