The discussion has taken place every year since 1967 and is organized by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and attended by the Palestinian's permanent observer at the UN. Israel's ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman boycotted the discussion in protest for two years due to the event's one-sidedness, but this year he decided to change his stance and participate.
"The air in Annapolis was filled with the hope that by working together we can realize a peaceful and better tomorrow. I have no doubt that this sense of optimism was felt by all those in attendance. Yet, back here in New York, standing before this august Assembly – in a place so distant from Annapolis in body, mind, and soul – I cannot help but wonder whether today’s debate will contribute to the promise of Annapolis," Gillerman told Assembly members.
"After all, this Assembly hall is also the birthplace of the annual 21 resolutions defaming Israel – with a litany of predetermined, impractical, and completely biased conclusions – that have only given the Palestinians a fictitious sense of reality and a discourse of rights without responsibilities, both of which render the United Nations completely incapable of playing a meaningful role in addressing the conflict.
"It is all the more bewildering that of late the Jewish character of the State of Israel has been called into question. Last week, as Israelis and Palestinians set out for Annapolis, a veteran Palestinian negotiator said “the Palestinians will never acknowledge Israel’s Jewish identity," he said.
The Israeli ambassador continued to say that "the resolution that gives the 29th of November significance – General Assembly resolution 181 – speaks of the creation of the 'Jewish State' no less than 25 times. Even before that, the notion of a Jewish state in the land of Israel was cemented in the 1922 League of Nations British Mandate on Palestine, which put into effect the Balfour Declaration of 1917 to establish a national home for the Jewish people.
'Arabs made a fatal choice'
"The Arab refusal to recognize the existence of our Jewish state has been at the core of the Palestinians’ inability to achieve a state of their own. When the Jews accepted the UN partition plan, the Arabs made a fateful – and indeed fatal – choice to reject it and invade the newly borne Jewish state, rather than coexist with it," he told the General Assembly.
According to Gillerman, "had the Arabs accepted the UN’s decision, there would have been two states, one Jewish and one Arab, all this time, for the past 60 years."
The envoy added that he "hopes the winds of Annapolis will blow to the north, to this very hall. For there could be no better time for the nations of the world – and in particular the moderate Arab and Muslim states in this hall today – to show their commitment to the Israeli-Palestinian process.
"And there could be no better place than here at the United Nations –where for decades Israel has been discriminated against and singled out, contrary to the fundamental principles of the UN Charter – for Members States to tell Israel and the Palestinians that they support our dialogue," he said.