Press Release: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 22, 2023 | 7 Rabiu’l Awwal, 1445 AH
PRESIDENT TINUBU EMBARRASSING SILENCE ON PALESTINE AT THE UNGA78
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
(Lagos, 22/09/2023) Muslim Public Affairs Centre, MPAC, is incredibly disappointed and deeply disturbed about President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s silence on the Israeli occupation of Palestine at the United Nations General Assembly’s annual session during his address on the 20th of September, 2023. Nigeria’s opposition to political persecution, imperialism and apartheid is long known and our president’s embarrassing silence on the important issue at such an august forum is a radical departure from our long standing tradition of promoting freedom, human rights and independence for oppressed people.
In his own address to the General Assembly on Thursday 21st of September, 2023, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stated these facts:
“Once again, I come to you, carrying the cause of my people who are struggling for freedom and independence, to remind you of the tragedy caused by the Nakba 75 years ago.
The effects of this Nakba continue and are exacerbated by the Israeli occupation of our land. This occupation challenges your resolutions — over 1000 resolutions, in fact.
This occupation violates the principles of international law and international legitimacy while it races against time to change the historical, geographical and demographic realities on the ground aimed at perpetuating the occupation and entrenching apartheid.
Despite this painful reality and 30 years after the Oslo Accords, which Israel has totally discarded, we still maintain hope that your esteemed organization will implement its resolutions demanding an end to the Israeli occupation of our territory and realizing the independence of the fully sovereign state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital on the borders of the fourth of June 1967 as well as resolving the issue of Palestinian refugees in accordance with the resolutions of international legitimacy, especially General Assembly Resolution 194 and the relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, all of which affirm the illegality of the Israeli occupation, and its settlements — in particular resolution 2334 and the Arab Peace Initiative.”
What the Nakba (Catastrophe) 75 years ago that PA President Abbas referred to entails is the ethnic cleansing of a whole Palestinian populations (displaced from their homes in 1947-1948) in what was then Palestine and is now Israel, that the majority of those that are left today are internally displaced people (and their descendants refugees around the world). Israel disallows them the basic human right to return to their homes, for no other reason than the fact that they are not Jewish.
Despite President Tinubu’s silence on this important issue, we were heartened to hear many leaders like him speak up for Palestine as the situation in the Holy Land is weighing heavily on many people everywhere, including Nigerians.
Israel’s illegal policies and clear violations of international law have continued to entrench its illegal occupation of the Palestinian Territory, with the Gaza Strip severely isolated under a nearly 16-year blockade. Since the start of 2023, Israel has increased its military operations inside the Occupied Palestinian Territory, resulting in the killing of at least 120 Palestinians, including 34 children in the West Bank alone as of August 22.
Israel is able to behave in a manner which represents a clear threat to global peace and stability because it has powerful allies and a patron at the UN Security Council, the foremost being the United States of America. Allies that have routinely provided support and political cover for its crimes and diligently ensures it continues to evade accountability. The UN Secretary-General is mandated by the Security Council to annually list military forces and armed groups responsible for grave violations against children in armed conflict. Between 2015 and 2022, the UN attributed over 8,700 child casualties to Israeli forces, yet Israel has never been listed. The reports have repeatedly listed other forces that killed and injured far fewer children than Israel did.
In comparison to President Tinubu’s total silence on the occupation of Palestine, this is what former President Muhammadu Buhari said on the issue at the UNGA76 in 2021:
Connected to this, is the question of justice, fairness, and equity in respect of the Palestinian people. The situation in the Middle East is long-standing and gives cause for concern. Nigeria encourages Israel and Palestine to re-engage in dialogue based on relevant UN resolutions and initiatives. The two state solution has the support of the international community and is widely acknowledged as the path to being peace.”
And at the UNGA77 in 2022:
“Indeed, the ongoing war in Ukraine is making it more difficult to tackle the perennial issues that feature each year in the deliberations of this Assembly, such as nuclear disarmament, the right of the Rohingya refugees to return to their homes in Myanmar, and the Palenstinians’ legitimate aspirations for statehood and reduction of inequalities within and amongst nations.”
True to his insightful and beautiful words at the world stage on the need for Africa to preserve its own interests, scale the limitations of foreign exploitation and aspire to reach lofty heights in prosperity and stability, to be independent and “…seek to be neither appendage nor patron. We do not wish to replace old shackles with new ones”, we urge President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s government to maintain an independent foreign policy and stand on the side of the victims, not the oppressor. To stand for freedom, human rights and independence, and to amplify the international consensus on this issue which supports a two-state solution for the two peoples.
-End-Disu KamorExecutive ChairmanMuslim Public Affairs Centre