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        General Assembly
        Security Council

23 April 1990

Original: English

Forty-fifth session
Items 23, 35 and 78 of the preliminary list*
Forty-fifth year

Letter dated 23 April 1990 from the Permanent Observer of Palestine
to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General

I am instructed by the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which has the powers and responsibilities of the Provisional Government of Palestine, to bring the following to your attention:

Israel, the occupying Power, persists in committing violations of its international legal obligations, particularly those contained in the provisions of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, which, inter alia, prohibits an occupying Power from deporting or transferring parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies. Israel, furthermore, persists in disregarding the obligations that it should accept and carry out decisions of the Security Council, particularly the Council's resolutions 465(1980) of 1 March 1980 and 478(1980) of 20 August 1980.

The declared position of the current Government of Israel was made clear when Prime Minister Shamir affirmed the right of Jews to settle wherever they wished; Member of the Israeli Cabinet Ariel Sharon went beyond that and joined in committing such violations. Moreover, the Speaker of the Knesset, Dov Shilansky, congratulated the perpetrators of the latest of these violations and visited them in the illegally occupied premises in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem, between the Greek Convent of St. John and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

In addition to committing a violation of its international legal obligations, Israel committed a violation of the status quo on church property in Jerusalem. It is, further, reported that the funds used in the latest act of aggression were provided by a member of the Israeli Cabinet, Mr. Levy, who reached into the funds of the Keren Kayemet. Members of the international community, particularly members of the Security Council and more precisely the permanent members of the Council, are legally bound to ensure respect for the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention and use all the powers vested in the Council to guarantee such respect and oblige Israel, the occupying Power, to abide by its international legal obligations.

On Wednesday, 11 April 1990, a group of Israelis moved into the building in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem. The building is the church property of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. As expected, and in carrying out their duties and exercising their right, Palestinians demonstrated in protest against this aggression. His Beatitude Greek Orthodox Patriarch Diodoros I led a procession from the church to the building and one of the monks in the procession removed a sign bearing the Star of David that was placed by the perpetrators of the aggression to cover the cross on the building. Radio Israel reported that the Israeli police stepped in and used force to disperse the procession and used gas. His Beatitude was assaulted and, as reported by radio Israel, "fell down and later mildly suffered from tear-gas inhalation; one of the crosses on his chest was broken".

In this context it is worth recalling the statement by His Beatitude Michael Sabah, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, in which he said: "If this process of appropriation of buildings continues, it would signify emptying the city of Christians. If I look at this affair from the point of view of the Palestinians, from their fate, I have to say there will be very strong, very violent reactions."

In pursuing its annexationist policies and practices and to divert attention from the facts and international legal obligations, Israel has decided to convert the situation to a procedural issue relative to the powers of magistrate courts and high courts.

I am instructed to request you to take immediate action and, if need be, concrete measures, to ensure respect for the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to reaffirm the illegality of such measures by Israel and to ensure the immediate evacuation of the said building, a church property. I am also instructed to warn against permitting the Security Council and the Secretary-General to become embroiled in procedural issues, ignoring the basic premise namely, that Israel is responsible for such violations and aggression and is obliged to respect its international legal obligations, and to respect and carry out the decisions of the Security Council.

I should be grateful if you would arrange to have the text of the present letter circulated as an official document of the General Assembly, under agenda items 23, 35 and 78, and of the Security Council.

(Signed) Zuhdi Labib TERZI
Permanent Observer of Palestine
to the United Nations


* A/45/50.

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