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Réunion africaine des Nations Unies sur la question de Palestine à Rabat/Résumé des deuxième, troisième séance plénière et séance de clôture - Jérusalem, une quéstion relative au statut permanent dans les négociations et rechercher un consensus international – Communiqué de presse Français
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Source: Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP)
2 July 2010

General Assembly

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New YorK



Participants Warn that Unilateral Israeli Actions to Alter
Status, Demographic Character of Jerusalem Undermine Proximity Talks

(Received from a UN Information Officer.)

RABAT, Morocco, 2 July — The United Nations African Meeting on the Question of Palestine closed today in Rabat, Morocco, with a call to the Security Council to act to prevent the further deterioration of conditions in East Jerusalem due to Israeli efforts to unilaterally change the character of the City.

“Such unilateral actions constitute violations of international law and impede all efforts at re-launching permanent-status negotiations between Israel and Palestinians”, according to the final document issued at the closing session this afternoon.

Under the theme of “Strengthening the support by African States for a just and lasting solution of the question of Jerusalem”, the two-day Meeting, convened by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, discussed ways to build international consensus on such a solution, with African States and other actors having a role in the effort.

In opening statements yesterday and in plenary sessions yesterday and today, participants stressed that Jerusalem was a core permanent-status issue, a negotiated agreement on which was a priority for any peace to succeed.

Through today’s final document, participants welcomed recently renewed international efforts at re-launching the Middle East peace process, including the proximity talks initiative of United States Special Envoy George Mitchell.

At the same time, they expressed serious concern that the talks would be undermined by Israeli activities such as settlement expansion, housing demolitions and evictions, restrictions on residency and access, excavations around the Al-Haram Al-Sharif compound and other threats to the Palestinian residents and the multireligious character of the City.

They called upon Israel to ensure that provocative steps were not taken in the City, particularly at this delicate stage when the goal must be to build trust and support political negotiations.  They also called for a negotiated solution to the question of Jerusalem that would take into account the concerns of both sides, while ensuring access to the City’s holy sites by the people of all religions.

The wide-ranging document also expressed continuing support for the two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and called for Palestinian reconciliation and a credible investigation of the attack on the Gaza aid flotilla, among other issues addressed.  It called for international solidarity, particularly in Africa, for those purposes.

Before the closing session, the last two plenary sessions of the Meeting were held.  This morning, the second plenary took place, hearing from Abdelkebir Alaoui M’Daghri, General Director of L’Agence Bayt Mal Al-Quds Acharif in Rabat; Moshe Ma’oz, Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Abdelaziz Aboughosh, Ambassador of Palestine to Malaysia; Meron Benvenisti, former Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem; and Ahmed Soboh, Ambassador of Palestine to Morocco.

The experts in that plenary addressed the question of Jerusalem as a final-status issue.  Mr. Benvenisti, noting the multiplicity of proposals on that topic in the last century, called for a turn from theory to process-oriented action.  Mr. Soboh, however, said there had been too much emphasis on the process already, with it beginning all over again with each new Israeli Government.  “What we require is more peace and less of the process,” he said, calling for a timetable for the implementation of a comprehensive agreement.

The third plenary, on building an international consensus on a just and viable solution of the question of Jerusalem, took place this afternoon.  Speaking at that session were Seydina Oumar Sy, former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Senegal; Philip Wilcox, President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace in Washington, D.C.; Taj-Eddine El-Husseini, Professor of International Law of the University Mohammed V in Rabat; Shlomo Molla, Member of the Israeli Knesset from the Kadima Party; Soyata Maïga, Commissioner and Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights; and Lucy Nusseibeh, Director of Middle East Non-Violence and Democracy in Jerusalem.

Those speakers addressed role of international actors, particularly African States, in promoting peace in Jerusalem, as well as the importance of civil society in Africa and elsewhere in raising awareness of the issues involved.  Ms. Nusseibeh emphasized the urgent need to empower Palestinian non-governmental organizations, saying that the societal fabric was becoming fragmented due to Israeli annexation efforts.

Finally, the closing session heard from Mohammed Ouzzine, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco; Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations; and Zahir Tanin (Afghanistan), Head of the Delegation of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

Emphasizing the collective responsibility of the global community to act on what had become a nearly universal consensus on the way forward for success in the peace process, Mr. Mansour said that the presidency of Barack Obama presented an opportunity.  “There was a historic moment available despite the darkness,” he said, urging the participation of all countries.

Plenary II: Jerusalem as a permanent-status issue in the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations

ABDELKEBIR ALAOUI M'DAGHRI, General Director of L’Agence Bayt Mal Al-Quds Acharif in Rabat, said that any effort for peace in the Middle East must be pursued with seriousness and in light of previous agreements and United Nations resolutions.  Psychological needs of people must be accounted for and suffering alleviated, however, for such efforts to succeed.  Israel’s racist and provocative policies, the aims of which were to humiliate people and force them to leave, would not serve those purposes.

He said that his organization’s efforts were aimed at assisting the Palestinian people to reach an independent future by implementing projects for community-building and humanitarian assistance in Jerusalem, and, in doing so, helping bring about a climate in which peace could prevail.

Civil society was responding to those projects, he said.  An agreement, for example, had been signed to build 156 housing units, and rehabilitation of other housing was ongoing.  In addition, many schools were being rehabilitated and equipped.

He also described projects to equip medical and dental units and laboratories for hospitals and clinics, as well as a project to bring Palestinian students to Morocco to attend camp.  Children’s camps and a cultural centre were also being established in the centre of Jerusalem.

He appealed to all friendly countries to help fund such efforts, which, he said, had been agreed upon at the Arab Summit and the Al-Quds Committee under the aegis of King Mohammed VI.  It had been recognized as a true Arab and Muslim policy for Jerusalem.

There were many frustrations in this work, however, he said, including bureaucratic roadblocks, intra-Palestinian conflicts and international bias for Israel.  He called for support to his organization as one that was able to implement projects that built civic life, took people out of despair and allowed a climate of peace to be built.

MOSHE MA’OZ, Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said that Arab Jerusalem, including its Islamic holy shrines, could continue to be the major source of dangerous conflict or the key for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

A settlement was possible, he said; some Muslims recognized the Jewish connection to Jerusalem, while others did not.  Most Jews had acknowledged the Muslim connection to Al-Haram Al-Sharif, and Israel had allowed Muslims to pray there subject to periodic restrictions.

Most Israeli Jews had also agreed to the establishment of a Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza, he said.  Only a fraction, however, would accept Palestinian sovereignty over East Jerusalem and most Israeli Governments since 1967 had not envisioned sharing the City.

By keeping Jerusalem off the table, not embracing the Arab Peace Initiative and carrying out actions such as settlement and archaeological activity in the City, he maintained, the Government of Benjamin Netanyahu and its predecessors had missed negotiation opportunities with Palestinians and seriously damaged Israel’s relations with Muslim countries, as well as with its own allies.  At the same time, Islamic radicalism had grown, calling for a Jihad for the liberation of Jerusalem and the destruction of Israel, fomenting a vicious cycle of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

While Israel certainly had a right to defend its population, a mutually agreed settlement of East Jerusalem and Palestinian issues might strengthen moderate Arab and Muslim regimes as well as diminish the pretext of Muslim militants to fight Israel and Jews, he said.  Unfortunately, settlement construction had continued and annexation had become more and more accepted by Israeli Jews.

By contrast, he said, many Jews had adopted what he called a “positive, peaceful position” that saw the City as a rich mosaic of many cultures which must be open to all, and belonging to all its inhabitants, and envisioned West Jerusalem the capital of the State of Israel and East Jerusalem the capital of the future State of Palestine.  He said that this theme was explored further in his book, Muslim attitudes toward Jews and Israel.

“Our Jerusalem must be the capital of peace,” he said, maintaining that inducing the Israeli Government and the public to help realize that vision was a major challenge for the international community, under United Nations and United States leadership.

ABDELAZIZ ABOUGHOSH, Ambassador of Palestine to Malaysia, said Jerusalem was an eternal part of the heritage of the three divinely revealed religions.  In evoking its history, he spoke of ancient Arab Canaanites, tolerant Arab Islamic rule, the Ottoman Empire and the British mandate, leading up to its designation of a corpus separatum in General Assembly resolution 181 (1947) partitioning Palestine.  When that plan had remained unimplemented, Count Folke Bernadotte had proposed to the Security Council that it should be part of the Arab territory, but he had been murdered by Zionists.

He said that, despite further efforts to define an international regime for the City, Jerusalem had been declared the capital of Israel by its Knesset, and the question of Jerusalem, like the question of Palestine in general, had become frozen until 1967, when East Jerusalem was occupied by Israel.  Since that time, Israel had taken many measures to alter Jerusalem legally and physically, and those measures had been condemned by the vast majority of the world’s States.  The United Nations Security Council, he said, had affirmed in its resolution 476 (1980) that they were a flagrant violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Ever since the late King Hassan II had called for the establishment of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in the wake of the 1969 burning of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, he said, OIC had devoted great effort to the question of Jerusalem, with the goal of coordinating efforts to protect the holy places and the Palestinian people, and liberate both from Israeli occupation.  OIC’s Al-Quds Committee, founded in 1979, had pursued a plan of political and diplomatic action to raise awareness of Jerusalem as an Islamic holy city occupied by a Power aiming to deny its historical Islamic role by Judaizing it and destroying its Islamic features.

Neither the United States nor the European Union recognized Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, he said, although the United States had blocked actions by the United Nations and helped delay negotiations on the City.  Muslims agreed, he added, that Jerusalem was an integral part of the territories occupied in 1967 and Israel had no right to any part of East Jerusalem.  It must be an open city where holy sites were protected and all individuals had freedom of movement and worship.  He called for those of good faith to join in a quest for a just and lasting solution that would restore Jerusalem to what it had been during the Arab Islamic era — a place of coexistence and tolerance.

MERON BENVENISTI, former Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, said that the Israeli taboo on negotiating the final status of Jerusalem had finally been broken at the Camp David Talks in 2000, but the talks had failed on the problem of Al-Haraf Al-Sharif/Temple Mount.  However, since the dawn of the past century, there had been no lack of proposals on a solution from anyone with pretensions of proficiency in conflict resolution.

He said a precondition for useful discussion in resolving a problem was having neither side feel it was the winner or the loser.  In the case of Jerusalem, despite what he called a colossal effort to consolidate control over the occupied east of the City, the Arab population was growing faster and the ratio between Jews and Arabs was already at par.

The situation could be called a stalemate, and both sides should understand that there was no solution based on force, coercion or confrontation.  The coexistence of two national communities was a destiny that could not be avoided.

Unfortunately, he said, the multiplicity of proposals for the resolution of the problem of Jerusalem — both those that relied on force of arms and those with a utopian vision — saw the issue as “a tangled skein of national, religious and ethnic problems”.

However, it did not have to be more complicated than other inter-ethnic conflicts around the world, except for the fact it was played out in a location with powerful symbolism.  “Take away Jesus, Muhammad, David, Jeremiah, Omar and Geoffrey de Bouillon, and the preoccupation with Jerusalem shrinks to the level of a petty quarrel among cousins vying for their inheritance,” he said.

The expansion of the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem had further complicated the problem, he said, but it might point to a solution.  Those boundaries now encompassed nearly 500 square kilometres, while the area that could be called the Holy City, the visual basin of the walled city, was only 2 square kilometres.  He proposed declaring that area a museum under the protection of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) administered by a committee representing the three monotheistic religions and Nobel Peace Prize laureates.

With the symbolic conundrum deflated, the rest of the metropolitan area could be divided on ethno-national lines or serve as the federal capital of a binational Israeli/Palestinian State, he said.  Politically, “combination of surgical partition and power-sharing” was needed, ideally something in between those two concepts.

In general, a process-oriented solution was needed, he said, grounded in the mud of reality, to get away from all the muddle of theoretical solutions that contributed to the continuation of the status quo and ignore complex facts, such as the fact that Palestinians wanted to retain the health services now available to them.

AHMED SOBOH, Ambassador of Palestine to Morocco, said one aspect that had not yet been examined was that peace negotiations must begin anew every time the Government changed in Israel, turning them into an endless process.  “What we require is more peace and less of the process,” he said, including a clear timetable for the implementation of a just and comprehensive agreement.

Because of the unequal power relations between the two parties, a third party was needed to move things forward, he said.  So far, he maintained, the third party had not been effective or objective enough to perform that function.

In recognizing Israel, Palestinians did not want to relinquish sovereignty and property of individual Palestinians in Jerusalem, but instead attempted to pursue a course of peace.  Israel was calling for an eternally unified capital, but the City had become very much divided through discriminatory policies.  In addition, the world did not acknowledge the fait accompli announced by the Israelis.  Such illegal actions could never lead to a legal situation.  The situation on the ground, meanwhile, fed violence.

The future of the Palestinian people was in the future of the international community, he said.  The least that should be expected was the opening up of Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem.

Plenary III: Building an international consensus on a just and viable solution of the question of Jerusalem

SEYDINA OUMAR SY, former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Senegal, called for building an international consensus on a just and lasting solution to the problem of Jerusalem, despite Israel’s systematic and cynical policy of settling the occupied territories and massacring innocent people, and despite the differences among Palestinians.  In that context, he cited Muslim scripture that called for unity.

Without unity, he maintained, Palestinians would get nothing out of negotiations.  Israel had a trump card in its occupation of the land.  He paid tribute to Yasser Arafat, Fatah and their associates, who had gone through many battles to arrive at the current situation.  “This battle will never be lost,” he said.

He said that Hamas, however, must be told to stop firing rockets on Israel, thereby giving Israel an excuse to wreak havoc.  Destroying Israel, in any case, was not supported by Africa.  It was the point of view of Africa that it must live with Israel as well as with the Palestinians.  The lack of action from the West, however, was in fact supporting an unfair status quo.

Amidst all negative factors, he said, the search for peace must be persevered, he said, citing a Dominican cleric who had said: “There must be disarmament in the hearts of men.”  Peace could happen in the Middle East, as shown by the influence of recent pressure on Israel after the attack on the Gaza aid flotilla.

Africa had its own problems, some of them even existential, but the continent could still bring its own influence to bear on the situation.  Jerusalem was indeed the key to war or peace, one that went well beyond Israel or Palestine, Arab or Jew.  The City was everyone’s business.  Africa could foster awareness, have religious groups work together, support the important role played by the Christians present in Jerusalem and hold events that could foster connections and reconciliation.

Although it seemed now that the status quo in the Middle East would never change, he said it must be remembered that, at certain periods, no one could have imagined the Berlin Wall falling, apartheid collapsing or even Jews managing to create a State of Israel.  Palestinians would eventually win their battle, he said, concluding: “There is nothing impossible for a man of faith.”

PHILIP WILCOX, President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace in Washington, D.C., said that there was growing consensus on the necessity for two States and a division of Jerusalem, as the changes on the ground were making agreement more urgent than ever.  If a two-State solution was no longer possible, it would take many years to change course to a binational scheme.

Unfortunately, actions on the ground and the creation of the myth of a greater, Jewish Jerusalem had obscured the issue, he said.  The founders of Zionism did not believe that Jerusalem even should be the capital of the Jewish State, and messianic Zionism started only after 1967.  Jerusalem was really two cities; it was Jewish on the West and Arab on the East, and efforts to create one city had failed.

Jewish and Palestinian residents had even a different spatial notion of what they were talking about when they spoke of the City, he said.  The mythologizing had made the divisions greater, young Jews were leaving and the City had become an economic backwater.  The mythologizing had also convinced American policymakers to think that Jerusalem was too complicated and should be left for last.

International leaders should cut through the ideology and speak only about the reality of two States and two capitals, he said.  Settlements must be shown as ruinous to a comprehensive peace and an early agreement on Jerusalem absolutely necessary.  An international initiative, with strong United States leadership, must be undertaken to restore hope to both Israelis and Palestinians and give them a more realistic understanding of their interdependent future.

There was much reason to think that such an initiative could succeed, since the two-State solution had succeeded in becoming accepted, he said.  There was no need to reinvent strategies, but a restoration of confidence on both sides — both of which were “subject to pathologies” — was needed.  Both societies were young and vital and had shown ability to change, and they could both eventually create a just and lasting peace.

MOHAMED TAJ-EDDINE EL-HUSSEINI, Professor of International Law at the University Mohammed V in Rabat, said no one had any doubts that the question of Jerusalem was central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Zionist extremists had succeeded in shifting the question to the religious realm, making the future potentially more dangerous than the past.  Israel, he said, was moving forward at very great speed to take control of more land in Jerusalem and it was possible that the City could engender disastrous conflict.  There was the idea of internationalization.  That solution had been turned down by Palestinians and made moot by Israel, however.

He said that the East-West partition scenario, divided along 1967 borders, was possible to accomplish and was supported by all parties — except for Israel.  Palestinians would then have to correct the balance of forces to make that scenario come to fruition.  What the Israelis did support was the status quo scenario, considering Jerusalem the unified capital of Israel and all of its sites were Jewish sites.  In order to prevent that status quo from being accepted, more effective measures had to be devised to bring pressure on the occupied power.

It was an extremely serious situation, he said, and it had to be encountered in serious ways.  The way Africa could help was to help bring about an international agreement that would allow the prosecution of Israel for its practices on the basis of their being a threat to holy areas, just as there was a basis in the Security Council for acting on the basis of international peace and security.

The international community could also convene an international peace conference that could impose peaceful solutions based on international law.  He would hope that United States President Barack Obama, in the spirit of “Yes, We Can”, would sign on to such a project, for the interest of peace in the “capital of peace”.

SHLOMO MOLLA, Member of the Israeli Knesset from the Kadima Party, said his party was the largest opposition party and did not join the ruling coalition because of its position on the peace process.  He said that Tzipi Livni, the party’s head, and Ariel Sharon had worked to have 10,000 settlers withdrawn from Gaza in order to progress towards peace, but Benjamin Netanyahu was not following up on that work.

Today was a critical time, he said, but Israel was a strong democracy and would move beyond it.  Ms. Livni showed the possibility for the future of the region, partly because of her shift from the right wing to the left.

Turning to his views on Jerusalem, he spoke of his personal journey from Ethiopia to Israel, much of it on foot.  His dream had been to come to the city of peace, as it was seen by Ethiopian Jews and also by all members of the three monotheistic religions.  It was inadmissible that anyone should imagine the special status of the City of Jerusalem within the structure of annexation or expansionism.

It should instead, he said, be a free and open city for all believers where they could meet, pray and live together, besides being a residence for two peoples, who must be guaranteed the right of freedom of religion, education and well-being.

He said that, through the two-State solution, a better world could be created, if history was put aside.  There were many initiatives on the table that spoke of dividing Jerusalem, but what was more important was making peace between neighbours.  He said that currently Israelis felt threatened by the connections between Hamas in Gaza and Iran, and many other factors, but he pledged his party’s intention to work for peace.

SOYATA MAЇGA, Commissioner and Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, emphasized the common destiny of the African and Arab countries in their struggle for independence and peace, as well as the role of non-State actors, including members of parliament and civil society in creating a consensus towards the ultimate goal of a fair and lasting solution to a conflict that she said had caused far too much suffering already.

With their admission to the United Nations, she said, African States had immediately begun sponsoring resolutions on the Middle East, continuing to the present day.  Similar initiatives had been taken through the Organization of African Unity and its successor, the African Union, including the rejection of any modification or Judaization of Jerusalem and other occupied areas.

The Palestinian cause had also received support from civil society organizations across the continent, she said, citing, in particular, seminars organized each year to commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, as well as a declaration of support for an independent investigation of the assault on the Gaza aid flotilla.

Civil society, she said, continued to have an important role in formulating global communications strategies to denounce the impunity enjoyed by Israel and bring about lasting change in the Middle East conflict.  African civil society must do more to strengthen bonds with Palestinians. 

In addition, she said, the Palestinian Rights Committee, in its special training programme, should bring into the picture African human rights entities.  The Committee should also help integrate women into its discussions, so that it could be seen that women build peace for peoples and that no consensus could be built without them. 

LUCY NUSSEIBEH, Director of Middle East Non-Violence and Democracy in Jerusalem, said that what had not been mentioned yet was the reorientation of Jerusalem towards the west and the huge size of the excavation tunnels.  She added that girls got married very young, many places were becoming slum-like, ancient graveyards were being dismantled and Palestinians in Jerusalem were stateless.

In addition to such very physical, spatial and political issues, there were also subtler, insidious psychological processes taking place.  Civil society had become blurred and fragmented, and annexation was more confusing than occupation, since it involved a denial of identity in order to survive.  Palestinians had had their basic rights seized.

Jerusalem had always been the heart of Palestinian life, with the citizens having set up their own institutions and taking responsibility for their cities, she said.  That was vanishing, and Palestinian institutions had either been kicked out or left because of difficulties of operating in the City.

There were movements for various improvements and for protecting sites, but the fabric of civil society had gaping holes.  Internal Palestinian competition had caused the abandonment of some projects, showing that there was something deeply self-destructive happening.  There were many Israelis and Israeli organizations attempting to assist Palestinians.  However, those organizations wound up competing with Palestinian organizations and contributed to the alienation of Palestinian civil society.

The international community could help by amplifying the voices of Palestinian civil society, she said.  She concluded by speaking of the damage caused by people thinking of themselves as victims, which made dialogue impossible, as well as by addressing the importance of sharing.  The international community should remind the powers in Jerusalem how much better a city it would be if it were shared.

Closing Statements

MOHAMMED OUZZINE, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco, thanked all participants for their work to mobilize the international community on the question of Palestine, and for their focus during the Meeting on the question of Jerusalem, which was key to peace and stability in the region. 

He expressed hope that their work would help crystallize a way to end the human rights violations in the City and the rest of the occupied territories, and establish an independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital.  He said his country was committed to joint action with the Committee towards that purpose and to bringing peace to the region.

RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, expressed his appreciation to Morocco for hosting the Meeting and to participants for their contributions.  Many of the presentations deepened the wounds in his heart, but also strengthened him to fight harder for independence.  “Our State exists, but it is under occupation,” he said.

He said that the Palestinian people were contacting every region for their support, because the entire international community had made a commitment to resolving the situation many years ago.  He did not exclude a single African community from participating, he said.

The Palestinian Rights Committee was focusing on overcoming specific obstacles to peace, the most important of which were stopping illegal settlement activity and resolving final status issues, including the question of Jerusalem.  Extremist settlers were pushing the envelope in East Jerusalem, and if a religious war ensued it was sure to affect the peace and security of the entire globe, he said. 

To prevent such a disaster, it was up to everyone who cared about humanity to reason with the Israeli Government to comply with the global consensus on the resolution required in the region on the basis of the two-State solution.  If that did not happen, it would be incumbent on the international community to act according to international law, to withdraw from the occupied areas, with minor adjustments to be agreed upon.

There was consensus along those issues, even when it came to the City of Jerusalem, where ways could be found to make it an open city for everyone to perform their own rituals without interference.  Palestinians had waited long enough.

“There is a historic moment available to use despite the darkness,” represented by the presidency of Barack Obama, he said.  A renewed collective effort of the world community at this moment could succeed.  It was not a moment to criticize each country’s participation in that effort.  “Everybody is invited,” he said.

ZAHIR TANIN (Afghanistan), Head of the Delegation of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, expressed appreciation for the efforts of all participants as he surveyed some of the views expressed during the deliberations.  He said the Meeting had shown that the question of Jerusalem was an issue that no Government could neglect.

He said there were certainly obstacles lying in the way of the peace process and what was needed was to remove those obstacles and bring peace.  Some of the issues were extremely sensitive, politically and emotionally, but none of them could be left out of consideration if peace were to be achieved.

He appealed to all to keep working to prepare the ground for initiatives to move the peace process forward, at the political, economic and humanitarian levels.  During the Meeting, the importance of continuing aid to Palestinians in Gaza and elsewhere had been emphasized, he said, commenting that Palestinians had suffered for too long.  The occupation had also affected the lives of Israelis.  The situation must be redressed to allow both sides to live in peace and security.

He thanked the Moroccan Government for hosting the meeting, as well all others who had contributed to its success.  He said that a report of the meeting would be published in due course as a document of the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat.

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For information media • not an official record

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