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Réunion africaine des Nations Unies pour l’appui aux droits inaliénables du peuple palestinien (Le Cap, 29-30 Juin 2004) - Rapport Français
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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
7 January 2005




UNITED NATIONS AFRICAN MEETING
IN SUPPORT OF THE INALIENABLE RIGHTS
OF THE PALESTININAN PEOPLE

Cape Town
29 and 30 June 2004




CONTENTS

Paragraphs
Page
I.Introduction
1 - 6
3
II.Opening statements
7 - 27
3
III.Plenary sessions
28 - 74
8
Plenary I
28 - 42
8
Plenary II
43 - 55
11
Plenary III
56 - 74
13
IV.Closing session
75 - 81
17
Annexes
I.Final document
20
II.List of participants
23


I. Introduction

1. The United Nations African Meeting in Support of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People was held in Cape Town on 29 and 30 June 2004, under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and in accordance with the provisions of General Assembly resolutions 58/18 and 58/19 of 3 December 2003. It was followed, on 1 July 2004, by a United Nations Forum of Civil Society in Support of Middle East Peace held at the same venue (see separate report).

2. The Committee was represented at the meeting by a delegation comprising Paul Badji (Senegal), Chairman of the Committee; Victor Camilleri (Malta), Rapporteur of the Committee; Rastam Mohd Isa (Malaysia), Isaac M. Mogotsi (South Africa) and Nasser Al-Kidwa (Palestine).

3. The theme of the African Meeting was “ Achieving the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people – the key to peace in the Middle East”. It consisted of an opening session, three plenary sessions and a closing session. The themes of the plenary sessions were “The situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem”, “Realizing a shared vision of peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians” and “International efforts at salvaging peace in the Middle East: African support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people”.

4. Presentations were made by 16 experts, including Palestinians and Israelis. Representatives of 56 Governments, Palestine, 1 intergovernmental organization, 4 United Nations bodies and 30 civil society organizations, as well as special guests of the host country and representatives of the media and academic institutions attended the Meeting.

5. The African Meeting was opened by Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa. Before the opening session, Mr. Mbeki met with the Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Paul Badji, and the delegation of the Committee as well as with Peter Hansen, Commissioner-General of UNRWA and representative of the United Nations Secretary-General. Mr. Mbeki stressed the importance of supporting peace in the Middle East at the current extremely difficult stage and welcomed the efforts of the Committee in that regard. The Committee delegation expressed its deep appreciation of the active and constructive role played by South Africa, a member of the Committee, in the search for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the region.

6. The main points of the discussion were highlighted in the Final Document of the Meeting (see annex I).

II. Opening statements

7. Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa, said the question of Palestine must be kept under constant review and not displaced by attention to other matters. Despite predictions that it would take a long time for Palestinians to achieve liberation, “the world must not suffer from fatigue”. The outcome of the United Nations African Meeting in Support of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, which would deal with many important issues, was critically important. When the African Union met in July, it would consider the Meeting’s recommendations. He would be honoured if he could communicate to the African heads of State and Government the Meeting’s decisions to be constituted in a programme of what needed to be done.

8. He pointed out that Africa faced its own conflicts. Many were preoccupied by the situations in Côte d’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and there was much discussion about what was happening in the Sudan. Despite the concern with those and other African issues, the African agenda must include attention to a solution to the conflict in the Middle East. No one could feel completely free or feel secure when so many people continued to die. It must be part of Africa’s principal agenda to engage the situation and contribute to its resolution.

9. He emphasized that the international community had to contend with the false view that to support Palestinian rights was to be against Israel. On the contrary, peace and prosperity for Israel could not be achieved in a situation in which Palestinian rights were denied. Observing that Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat would not have been allowed to come to the Meeting, he said no one should decide for the Palestinians who their leader should be. Mr. Arafat had been elected by his people and no solution could be found without his participation. He should be liberated from his prison so that he could fully perform his role. It should be communicated to Israel that no amount of force would make the Palestinians give up their rights. Mr. Mbeki reiterated his conviction that Yasser Arafat was genuine in his commitment to finding a peaceful solution that would address the interests of both the Palestinians and the Israelis. Continuing, he said Africans had welcomed the Quartet’s declaration that the Palestinian people must have its own independent State and had expected that once the Road Map had been announced, it would be implemented. Africa, for its part, should work with the Quartet to make sure that it discharged its responsibilities.

10. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, in a message read out on his behalf by his representative, Peter Hansen, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, emphasized that the peaceful efforts by the people of South Africa to transform their country into a non-racial, multi-party democracy and to heal the divisions of the past should be a source of hope for all peoples still locked in unresolved conflict. He said that Israelis and Palestinians continued to yearn for a life of peace, prosperity and harmony, but violence and counter-violence, extrajudicial killings and suicide bombings had continued at an alarming pace.

11. The Secretary-General appealed to both parties to fulfil their obligations under the Road Map and international law. Israel should cease its practice of extrajudicial killings, excessive use of force, and other practices that violated its obligations as an occupying power to protect the civilian population. He recalled that, in May, the Security Council had called on Israel to respect its obligations under international humanitarian law and in particular its obligations not to demolish Palestinian homes. At the same time, the Palestinian Authority should act to halt all acts of terrorism against Israeli civilians and take steps to reform the Palestinian security forces and empower the position of Prime Minister.

12. He expressed concern over the construction of the barrier in the West Bank, noting that the project, which ran contrary to the spirit of the Road Map, had resulted in the confiscation of Palestinian land and restrictions on the freedom of movement of people and goods, thus threatening the establishment of a viable and independent Palestinian State. In its 4 May meeting the Quartet had stressed that a final settlement of the conflict should be negotiated between the parties themselves based on relevant Security Council resolutions and international law and agreements. The declared intention of the Israeli Government to withdraw from all Gaza settlements and parts of the West Bank could provide a rare moment of opportunity in the search for peace in the Middle East, if it was complete, done in consultation with the Palestinian Authority and carried out as part of the Road Map.

13. The United Nations, together with international donors and civil society, would continue its work to improve the living conditions of the Palestinian people and alleviate the humanitarian situation that had worsened during more than three years of strife and movement restrictions. UNRWA’s support for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip was ever more crucial. Around 1.1 million depended on the Agency for food aid, up from less than 130,000 in September 2000. He reiterated his call to the donor community to address the humanitarian needs in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

14. Paul Badji, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, pointed out that the South African experience in achieving a united, democratic and multiracial nation was tangible proof that hope, determination and a concerted effort by the international community could and would attain common aspirations. The unrelenting support of the international anti-apartheid movement, which included Governments, international organizations and civil society, had contributed to that success.

15. Noting that the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory remained tense, he recalled that in May 2004, the Israeli military had carried on a week-long raid in the Rafah area, resulting in many deaths that included women and children. Since the start of the intifada in September 2000, close to 1,500 buildings had been demolished by the Israeli army in Rafah alone, affecting close to 15,000 Palestinians. The Committee strongly condemned the Israeli practice of extrajudicial killings which claimed many civilian lives as violations of international humanitarian law. At the same time, it unreservedly condemned suicide bombings against Israelis, acts for which there was no justification. The death toll in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since the start of the intifada was over 4,000. More than 670 children had been killed: 570 were Palestinian and over a hundred were Israeli. Trauma and stress-related problems had risen among Palestinian children. Palestinian women especially bore the heavy responsibility of taking care of their families.

16. Reviewing recent actions by the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Committee, he said the international community had been rallying support to end the suffering of the Palestinian people and attaining what they had been promised for decades – their own sovereign and independent State. The Road Map remained the most realistic approach to achieve the goals of both peoples – security for the Israelis and the end of occupation and an independent State for the Palestinians. As in the successful campaign against apartheid, the role of the international community in achieving peace in the region was absolutely vital and indispensable.

17. Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestinian Authority and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, in a video message, said that Israel was accelerating its assault and war on the Palestinian people. Its daily invasions into Palestinian cities, villages and refugee camps and the systematic destruction of Palestinian infrastructures were intended to break the will of the Palestinian people, to legitimize Israeli occupation and settlement activities and to deprive Palestinians of their right to freedom and self-determination.

18. He expressed the hope that the Meeting’s participants would raise their voices against Israel’s aggression and economic siege, and would pressure Israel to end its policy of human rights violations, including the right of Palestinians to freedom of movement, to hold employment and to feed their children. He called on the international community to work at the regional and international levels, including in the United Nations and the Security Council, to oblige Israel to implement the relevant international resolutions. Israel should be called upon to implement the Road Map. Palestinians had accepted the Road Map, but Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had put forth 14 conditions. Moreover, he had issued personal threats, announcing his position bluntly with indifference to human rights, Security Council resolutions and international legitimacy. Mr. Arafat recalled that Mr. Sharon had referred to a disengagement plan for the Gaza Strip while his actions on the ground reflected exactly the opposite. Closures, air raids, killings and arrests were daily occurrences. He reminded participants not to forget the expanding Israeli settlements and the construction of the Israeli Occupation Wall, which would turn Palestinian areas into ghettos and isolated prisons. The Wall attempted to change the demographic balance, to facilitate the transfer of lands and thus create a new apartheid system in the Palestinian Territory like the one that had existed in South Africa.

19. He reiterated his position that Palestinians sought a just and permanent peace based on international resolutions related to the question of Palestine. That peace would allow Palestinians to exercise their inalienable rights to freedom and statehood with Holy Jerusalem as its capital. Palestinians had sacrificed much for a just and comprehensive peace and accepted international legitimacy as an exit to the conflict. They extended their hands to their Israeli neighbours and to all forces of peace.

20. Saeb Erakat, Minister for Negotiations Affairs, Palestinian Authority, and representative of Palestine at the Meeting, said he had been inspired by the courage of President Mbeki during South Africa’s healing and reconciliation struggle. It had encouraged President Arafat and the Palestinians who had extended their hands to the Israelis despite the fact that there was not a day when Palestinian fathers and mothers had not buried their own children. The solution must be a two-State solution. The second alternative was a single-State solution. Christians and Muslims were not racists and they could live in Palestinian towns with Israelis but only as equals. Failure to deliver a two-State solution and continuing to set up facts on the ground would not bring peace. Through those actions the Israelis were establishing streets in Palestinian land that only Israelis could use and towns which Palestinians could not enter. South Africans had buried apartheid. The planting of the evil s eeds of apartheid in the Palestinian Territory must also be stopped.

21. Paulo Jorge, Secretary for International Relations of the Movement for the Popular Liberation of Angola and former Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Angola, addressed the opening session as an eminent person and stressed that it was time to move from words to concrete actions that could contribute to achieving the just aims of the Palestinian people. Listing obstacles that had to be overcome, he said that Israel, certain of political and financial support given by the United States, made it difficult to hold serious negotiations between the parties. In addition, the leaders of the Arab countries were not united in supporting and defending the rights of the Palestinian people. If that unity and support could be concretized, independence would be implemented in a short time. The failure to implement Security Council resolutions relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict constituted a serious obstruction to solving that conflict. If those issues received attention aimed at seriously analyzing the causes of the conflict as well its disastrous effects, a negotiated solution could be found to achieve peace in the Middle East.

22. Statements were also made by representatives of Governments and intergovernmental organizations. The representative of Mali said the current Meeting should be another landmark in the quest for peace. There was not a more opportune moment than now for the implementation of the Road Map. The attacks and extrajudicial killings, the forced isolation of the leader of the Palestinian Authority and the destruction on a massive scale of the Palestinian economy were jeopardizing the efforts towards peace. It was time for the international community to invest further in the search for a solution. The Quartet should recommend concrete actions to be carried out within a certain time frame so that the Road Map could be implemented.

23. The representative of Algeria said the list of illegal activities by the Israeli authorities was lengthy. The extrajudicial killings were a crime against humanity and demonstrated Israel’s wish to impose a solution by force. But no force could overcome the determination of a people to live in peace on its own land. The continuation of the conflict showed that the unilateral imposition of a solution would not succeed. Algeria would always support possibilities for peace such as the Road Map. His country placed much hope in the Quartet. The implementation of the Road Map was the best way to achieve a global, just and lasting peace based on the principle of land for peace. That principle allowed the setting up of a Palestinian State within established borders and with Jerusalem as its capital. She called on the international community to honour its obligations and support the Palestinian people until they were able to recover their inalienable rights. The Meeting must support and show solidarity with the Palestinian people for the return to the negotiating table in the search for peace.

24. The representative of Switzerland, reporting on a conference that had taken place in his country earlier in June on “Humanitarian needs of the Palestine Refugees in the Near East: Building Partnerships in Support of UNRWA”, said the Conference had shown that the situation of the Palestine refugees deserved renewed attention from the international community. Among the themes of the Conference were ensuring better respect for international humanitarian law, an essential condition for creating a safe environment for the delivery of services to Palestinian refugees. Access was identified as a priority; UNRWA’s task would be impossible unless major improvements were achieved. Protection was essential. Due to the large-scale destruction of the infrastructure and housing, UNRWA must step up its actions to provide emergency housing. Improving housing and infrastructure in refugee camps should be given high priority. The Conference had also come up with innovative suggestions and approaches on education, employment creation, health care, access to microfinance and credit as well as community development. The Conference, part of a process of cooperation and dialogue, was intended to be the starting point of a new humanitarian mobilization.

25. The representative of the African Union emphasized the long-standing relationship between it and the Palestinian people. The African Union had always maintained support of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people on its agenda. He reiterated the Union’s concern for the developments in the Middle East. The Union’s solidarity had never stopped and would remain unflinching.

26. The representative of Jordan said that in supporting Palestinians this forum should sent a strong message of peace aimed at the peace camp in Israel to renew and invigorate its activities. He stressed that the Palestinian problem was part of Jordan’s national security. Jordan supported the establishment of an independent Palestinian State. As a Member of the United Nations, his Government felt the role of the Organization should be renewed. Where there was a will there was a way, he said. Regarding the wall that Israel was building, the forum should warn that the wall would affect the very nature and existence of a Palestinian State. He called on Israel to withdraw from all settlements. The Palestinians were asking for peace for the children of both sides.

27. The representative of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya said that each speaker had come to the conclusion that the situation was at a deadlock. Israel continued to violate international law and block all moves by the international community to establish peace. Perhaps it had reached the conclusion that it was acceptable to engage in international illegality. The meetings organized under the auspices of the Committee should have some practical outcome. Actions spoke louder than words. Over 4,000 people had been killed and an equal number of houses had been demolished. It was time to invoke Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations. He stressed that the alternative options should be considered, including a single-State solution.

III. Plenary sessions

Plenary I
The situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,
including East Jerusalem


28. Speakers in this plenary examined the following sub-themes: Israeli strategies to consolidate occupation and create facts on the ground; the destruction of the Palestinian economy and the humanitarian crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in Palestinian refugee camps; the responsibilities of the occupying Power; strengthening Palestinian institutions; and the urgency of international protection of the Palestinian civilian population.

29. Saeb Erakat, Minister for Negotiations Affairs, Palestinian Authority, pointed out that, no matter where in the world, continuing occupation would always be the source of all difficulties, instabilities and insecurities. At present, the borders of the United States extended all over the world and the situation in the Palestinian Territory was no different from the situation in the Middle East. There were new political realities on the ground. The only solution to the Palestinian problem would be a two-State solution. The Israeli attempt to snatch a few pieces here and there would not work. Palestinians did not need new ideas, visions and statements, but rather they needed a Power to stop Israel from violating international law. What was needed was a realistic political track with mechanisms of implementation of the Road Map, with time lines and monitors on the ground. The Quartet members should be the judge, should provide monitors. The performance-based Road Map should be implemented on a reciprocal basis, by Israelis and Palestinians alike.

30. He recalled that the international community was constantly being told that Palestinians had turned down the best offer at Camp David. However, the five major offers that went to Camp David came from the Palestinians, such as the offer to accommodate 80% of the settlers, the idea of swapping land in size and value, the idea to render Palestinian national security to a third party, or giving Israel sovereignty over the Wailing Wall and the Jewish Quarter of East Jerusalem. On the other hand, there was no copy of the offer by former Israeli Prime Minister Barak. At present, the world was supporting Prime Minister Sharon’s disengagement plan from Gaza. There was no question that the Palestinian Authority would take over Gaza and shoulder its responsibilities for security, the economy, agriculture and education. Gaza was the Palestinian people and Palestinian land. However, he reminded participants that Gaza contributed only 9% to the Palestinian GNP while 50% of it was spent in Gaza. It was imperative that the Gaza withdrawal be a part of the Road Map and not an alternative. He urged the Quartet to produce an action plan to stipulate how the Gaza withdrawal would be implemented.

31. Continuing, he said that Mr. Sharon had promised that he would not build new settlements but he continued to build them. He had said he would not build a ditch and yet Israeli newspapers had carried the tender for the project. The question was not that Israel was breaching the commitment but what the United States would do about it. The future of the Middle East in the 21 st century would be determined by the ability to solve the Palestinian problem and by promoting democracy, accountability and human rights. He emphasized that the Palestinians stood ready for presidential, legislative and local elections as soon as the situation would allow it. Voters could not be registered when they were under curfew; no electoral campaign was possible in the face of Israeli tanks. He reiterated that the end game was to stop the occupation that had begun in 1967. If that was not achieved, things would go from bad to worse at the cost of Israeli and Palestinian lives. The Road Map had to be implemented.

32. Peter Hansen, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, said that South Africa was one of the few places in the world where people would really understand the Palestinian situation and what it meant to be treated as less than a human. It was hard to describe the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, but the figures spoke louder than the words. In Gaza, more than 75 per cent of the population lived below the poverty line. The prospect of societal breakdown was real in a situation where the male provider could no longer provide for his family, where unemployment rates were meaningless. One needed to visit some of the towns and see the idle hands and closed shops. How could it be otherwise when every access was closed? If you lived in a restricted area and were under 35 you were unlikely to get a permit to go in and out of that area. If you had a permit to work, you must begin at 3 a.m., never knowing whether you would get through the checkpoint or if you would get back. Moreover, you would not know to what indignities you would be subjected.

33. He pointed out that such abuses applied to humanitarian staff as well. UNRWA staff that had worked in other parts of the world stated that the relationship with the Israeli Government was comparable only to relations of humanitarian organizations with the most authoritarian of Governments. It was a wonder that humanitarian workers could carry on. More and more donors questioned the feasibility of continuing and considered that the situation was a lost cause. The humanitarian community could not keep pace with the destruction. UNRWA was constructing emergency housing in Gaza and the West Bank but the Israeli razing of houses proceeded faster than UNRWA could build replacements. The international community was beginning to question why it should finance the costs of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory. In conclusion, he appealed to all who had any influence to bring pressure to bear on the donor community to continue its contributions. Palestinian refugees could not bear the cost of this impossible task alone.

34. Anat Biletzki, Chairman, Philosophy Department, Tel Aviv University, said that it was Israel’s political agenda of consolidating the occupation and creating facts on the ground that was responsible for the grave violations of Palestinian rights. Any report on human rights violations could be divided into specific issues: house demolitions; targeted assassinations; checkpoints; settlements; and the Wall. These constituted the basic picture of the West Bank today. She noted that the last incursion into Rafah had not been that exceptional as the army went into Rafah and Gaza all the time. The difference now was that two Israeli armoured vehicles had been attacked. The settlements were a grave violation of human rights on any level that one could imagine. When the war was lost, it would be because of the settlements. The Wall, currently the burning issue in the region, was an icon of the occupation.

35. She related the story of the villagers of Nu’man who had been mistakenly registered in the 1967 census as residents of the West Bank rather than as living in areas that Israel had annexed. Now classified as persons staying illegally in their own homes, they could not go in or out without risking being unable to return. In the town of Tulkarm-Qualqilya, the Wall separated farmers from their lands and made residents semi-legal inhabitants of their own homes and lands. The land between the Wall and the Green Line, the seam area, had been declared a closed military area. Palestinians had to obtain permits to live in their own houses and to make a living on their own land. Jews and Israelis could travel in the area without a problem.

36. She pointed out that the day-to-day life of the Palestinians was a travesty that must be recognized and stopped. Headlines of traumatic events were so easy to come by that they had to fight to make it into the news. But it was not the dramatic headlines that told the story. A life lived under curfew, the inability to visit friends and family, the hours of waiting and walking and queuing in order to perform a daily function -- those were the real horrors of occupation, issues about which Israelis chose not to know. According to B’Tselem, the settlement enterprise in the Occupied Territory had created a system of legally sanctioned separation based on discrimination that had no parallel anywhere since the apartheid regime of South Africa. The use of the word apartheid had adopted a local Israeli-Palestinian meaning. Referring to apartheid roads or the apartheid Wall was no longer outrageous and grotesque, perhaps because the situation itself was so outrageous and grotesque.

37. John Dugard, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Commission on Human Rights, comparing apartheid with the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, said that apartheid South Africa had set aside 13 % of the land for occupation by black South Africans. Ironically that was the percentage of the original Palestine that was likely to be left to the Palestinians. He noted that, unlike in the Palestinian areas, apartheid in South Africa had never extended to roads. Regarding the Wall, he said that if it really were a security measure, it would adhere to the course of the Green Line or the recognized 1967 border. Rather, it seemed designed to protect settlers and extend the land of the settlers. It was only a matter of time before farmers abandoned their land and villagers left as a result of the constant harassment by the Israeli army.

38. Continuing, he said that apartheid had been characterized by serious restrictions on freedom of movement. The pass laws had acquired international notoriety. Palestinians also required special permits to live in their own homes in the seam zone, to cultivate farmland in that zone and to visit family. South African laws had been brutal but had been administered uniformly. The Israeli pass laws were administered in an arbitrary manner. Homes had been destroyed in apartheid South Africa to create group areas for different races, but not with the ferocity that characterized the Israeli occupation. Homes in the Occupied Territory might be destroyed for administrative reasons or as a punishment for political activities, but by far the greatest number of homes were destroyed for “military necessity”. During a visit to Rafah the previous week, the refugee camp, which had been razed by Caterpillar bulldozers, looked as though an earthquake had hit it. He called on the international community to boycott the Caterpillar Company.

39. Mr. Dugard recalled that security laws had given the apartheid security forces wide powers to suppress political activity. It was the same with Israeli law and practice in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Apartheid had been a brutal system designed to maintain white domination. Military occupation of the Palestinian Territory was likewise a brutal system, but the goal was unclear although the frequently declared objective was that of security. Unfortunately there were those, particularly in the United States, who would relax the rules of international humanitarian law and not apply it to situations where it was clearly applicable. They argued that such matters as boundaries, Israeli settlements and the return of refugees should be settled by negotiation free from the restraints of international law. He did not share that view. The rules of international law should be strictly applied to Israel. It should not be seen as being above the law.

40. Narandran Jody Kolappen, Chairman of the South African Human Rights Commission, said there was hardly a human endeavour that was not covered by some human rights document, but the issue of compliance and enforcement in the event of non-compliance had proved difficult. That raised concerns about the international system for the protection of human rights and the advancement of international humanitarian law. Ultimately it depended on political will and was often shaped by interests that had little to do with concerns for humanity. If the international community was the custodian of international conventions, how did it respond to non-compliance? Even as he spoke there were spectacular failures of the international community to respond to violations.

41. Increasing restrictions by Israeli authorities on the movement of Palestinians in the Occupied Territory caused unprecedented hardships for the Palestinians, hindering or preventing their access to work, education, medical care, family visits and other activities. He stressed that the cost in human and financial terms was staggering, but the cost to future generations was incalculable. The issue of restricted water use and consumption reflected a denial of the basic essentials of life. A checkpoint was not simply an outpost on the highway that checked documents. It reflected the imprisonment of the people within their own homes. Accounts of humiliation were legion.

42. Focusing on the psychological damage caused by the situation, he said the ongoing situation was among the main causes of acute psychic distress among Palestinian children. Approximately two-thirds of adults reported feeling continuously distressed. That was especially obvious among women. The situation remained as grave as ever. The international community had failed to protect the Palestinian people. Perhaps it was exposed to so many reports and statistics that it did not respond as it should. The failure of the international community was everyone’s failure and a catastrophe that was affecting this and future generations was ensuing.

Plenary II
Realizing a shared vision for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians


43. In this plenary, the sub-themes put the focus on: ending the occupation – a key prerequisite for achieving peace in the region; current approaches to advancing a negotiated settlement; preserving and building on prior achievements in the peace process; and strategies to garner public support for renouncing violence and returning to political dialogue.

44. Mohammad Shtayyeh, Minister of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction, said the current situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory was one of Israeli control without legitimacy and Palestinian legitimacy without control. Past agreements reached between the parties were in fact agreements between personalities. The Oslo agreement had actually been signed between Yasser Arafat and Itzak Rabin. Since Mr. Rabin’s assassination there had been Israeli leaders who had a vision without credibility or some had credibility without a vision – Messrs. Peres, Barak and Netanyahu. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had reversed the achievements of Oslo, including moving from final status negotiations to the disengagement from Gaza. The withdrawal was supposed to take place by March 2005, but the process depended on the outcome of the American Presidential elections. If George Bush won, the disengagement plan might hold. If John Kerry was elected, the process would start again.

45. He recalled that the week before, the World Bank had opined that the way it was designed, the disengagement plan would not improve the lives of the Palestinian people. Seventy per cent of the total population lived on fewer than two dollars a day. There was a 50 per cent unemployment rate. Despite substantial donations, the Palestinian budget still faced a large deficit. The Palestinian economy was in deep crisis as a result of the closures, seizures and checkpoints. Because of those measures and the continuing violence, there was a big gap of trust between the peoples. It had resulted in a total loss of confidence between the two peoples. Israel continued to try to defeat the will of the people. As the experience in South Africa had shown, you could defeat an army but not the will of the people.

46. He reminded participants that according to the plans of the Quartet a Palestinian independent State should come into existence by the end of 2005. Under President Bush there had been a total erosion of that concept. Israel continued to colonize the West Bank and Gaza, thus changing the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle and, consequently, its solution. A process of South-Africanization of the struggle was taking place. As the clock ticked, it was possible that the concept of two States was being eroded.

47. Yossi Katz, former Knesset member, said the terrible situation in the Palestinian Territory and its negative consequences had been described by previous speakers. He would try to balance the vision of the future from the eyes of a moderate Israeli. He said that Prime Minister Sharon was an overqualified non-conformist with a past characterized by rebellious acts towards his superiors, his political allies, his military colleagues and his opponents. He had caused terrible damage to Israelis and Palestinians. In response to the overwhelming objections to his unilateral disengagement plan, Mr. Sharon had made substantial changes. He had removed the term “unilateral”. He had introduced a significant Egyptian role in facilitating the withdrawal and mediating between Israeli and Palestinian security establishments. He had also declared that he would demolish and evacuate Israeli settlements.

48. Continuing, Mr. Katz said that by carrying out the redeployment in four phases, Mr. Sharon had introduced a monitoring mechanism that could stop the withdrawal if things went wrong. The majority of Israelis rejected the idea of an immediate final agreement between the two parties. The involvement of Egypt was a clear expression of the failure of both Israeli and Palestinian establishments to restore security in the Gaza Strip. It was an admission by Ariel Sharon that his most important election promise could not be fulfilled by Israeli force. It was also the first time the Israeli Government had demonstrated willingness for substantial international involvement. That step would have to be adopted in the Jordan Valley either by Jordanian or international forces.

49. Mr. Katz said the international community should appreciate Egypt’s readiness to get involved in a “Pandora’s box”. Egypt’s delicate role was based on trying to satisfy Israeli security needs and helping to improve Palestinian security by restructuring and training the Palestinian security forces. The Americans had pressed Israel to agree on some modifications and had negotiated with the Quartet and the Egyptians regarding the final plan. The demolishing of the settlements would satisfy the conscience of some Israelis and the Palestinians would be happy to watch the demolition of Israeli houses. Mr. Sharon would have to make compromises with his allies and opponents and with the Israeli public. He was ready to risk his political existence because, like many statesmen, he was eager to be written into the pages of history.

50. Frene Ginwala, former Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa, said that South Africans had settled for a common society but it respected the rights of Palestinians to make their own choice. She could accept the concept of a two-State solution, but not if they were unequal. The two-State solution proposed by white South Africa had involved the establishment of bantustans. In that plan, power had been retained in white hands. No country today could accept such a solution. She observed that the right to self-determination was not recognized and universally supported by the international community. Self-determination was a given right. But that was not true for Palestinians. Any attempt to lay down principles that gave the Palestinians fewer rights than other peoples around the world would not work. She asked why the Palestinians had been excluded from the post-World War II decisions. Their right to return had not been recognized. She suggested that the developing countries were paying today for the racism of the Western world. Today's reality was a consequence of past actions. The denial of the Palestinians’ right to choose their leader was an experience understood by South Africans. During their struggle, South African leaders had sat on Robben Island. Only when then President de Klerk had had the courage to deal with the African leaders was a solution found.

51. Ms. Ginwala continued by questioning the definition of terrorism. How did one differentiate between a State that employed terror and someone who was so casually called a suicide bomber? The international community needed to move away from the concept of secure borders to one of secure peoples. As the United States had learned, even borders separated by thousands of miles were not secure.

52. She recalled that her Government had begun a deliberate policy of facilitating peace-making between Israelis and Palestinians, to engage all players in dialogue. The Presidential Peace Initiative, or Spier Initiative, had been created as a vehicle in which South Africans had shared their experience in bringing about a peaceful resolution to conflict and a successful post–conflict reconciliation with both parties. It was an informal and non-directive opportunity for Israelis and Palestinians to meet together and hear first hand of the South African experience from all actors -- members of the African National Congress, the former heads of intelligence, National Party leaders, with the intention to facilitate dialogue. Israeli generals who came to South Africa had spent a day with former South African generals to learn of their experiences and what it had felt like following the changes.

53. Ebrahim Ebrahim, Senior Adviser to the Deputy President of South Africa, said that in order to gain international support there must be some consensus among the Palestinians with a clear united message and common objectives for the establishment of a Palestinian State. The position of the international community was that Israel should exist within secure borders and that the Palestinian State should exist within the pre-1967 borders. Referring to his experience in the anti-apartheid struggle, he reminded participants that to build international solidarity, one needed a clear message of what the Palestinian people was fighting for.

54. He recalled that the African National Congress, early in its struggle, had signed the Geneva Conventions and vowed that any armed struggle would be in accordance with humanitarian law. Civilian life had been lost in that struggle too; however, there had been very few incidents and none had been authorized by the ANC leadership. That had provided the ANC with the moral high ground. Primacy had been given to the political struggle. The ANC had led efforts to build a united national liberation movement. He said that he did not see a united Palestinian movement that was able to agree on the correct method of struggle. It was easy for Israel to create divisions among Palestinians. Also the distinction between the PLO and the Palestinian Authority had become blurred.

55. Mr. Ebrahim expressed doubt that the Road Map would succeed. He hailed the Geneva Initiative as a home-grown plan elaborated by Israelis and Palestinians to solve the most complex issues, such as the refugee problem. Referring also to the Spier Initiative, he said that it aimed at strengthening the peace camp and building trust between the different groups. For Israel it was imperative to end the occupation and to start dealing with the final status issues. The Palestinian leadership needed to send a united message to the international community, in order to strengthen international solidarity with their cause.

Plenary III
International efforts at salvaging peace in the Middle East
African support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian People

56. Speakers in this plenary examined the following sub-themes: supporting the voices of reason and peace – the South African Presidential Initiative; supporting international peace efforts, in particular through the United Nations system; action by African States within the United Nations system, the Non-Aligned Movement, the African Union and other intergovernmental organizations; and the role of parliaments in promoting concrete support by Governments and public opinion for a peaceful solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

57. Ali Halimeh, Delegate-General of Palestine to Ireland, pointed out that, like the peoples in Africa, Palestinians were demanding justice and freedom for their people. Early on, the Palestine Liberation Organization had built bridges with the African movements and in particular those in southern Africa, allowing both sides to better appreciate each other's struggle. That move was particularly significant, considering the cordial relationships between Israel and the African countries. Israeli attacks on Egypt in 1967 and the occupation of Egyptian, Palestinian and Syrian territories had caused African countries to reconsider their relationships with Israel. African States had, within their limited capabilities, supported the Palestinian cause at international forums, exerting pressure on those who traditionally supported Israel, and sometimes being subjected to international pressure from certain Western countries.

58. He stressed that the African independence struggle had inspired Palestinians. African leaders, with their knowledge in conducting negotiations, could help in building bridges between Israel and the Palestinians. Their expertise in the mechanisms and political philosophy used to end decades of conflicts would be helpful to both Israelis and Palestinians. African heads of State had championed the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, and the African countries’ support at the United Nations to the Palestinian question had helped to isolate Israel, both politically and diplomatically. The Organization of African Unity (OAU) had granted the PLO observer status, and the question of Palestine appeared on the agenda of all the OAU meetings. Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian President and Chairman of the PLO, had always been welcomed at the OAU summits and received as a head of State. The media in most African States had been largely sympathetic to the Palestinians and had provided a great deal of favourable coverage.

59. He suggested that African countries had to encourage their legislative institutions to form a pressure group with the African parliamentarians to travel to the Middle East to extend their experience to both Israelis and Palestinians in conflict resolution. The Palestinians had the greater responsibility to consolidate their ties with the African people and share their experience and means of resolving difficulties. African efforts to support a peaceful settlement should culminate by establishing an African-Mediterranean partnership. African countries should benefit from Arab trade and finance, which in turn would provide a component for future stability in the entire area. Peace in the Middle East was an essential component for peace and stability in Africa. Many African countries, particularly those in the north, shared cultural, religious and economic ties with Middle Eastern States. Efforts by the African continent to salvage peace in the Middle East were essential.

60. Joel Peters, Professor of International Relations, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheba, presented an Israeli perspective on an international peacekeeping force. The concept raised considerable controversy, but it was no longer unreasonable to think about an enhanced role for an international mission in the occupied territories. A unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza would be responsive to the desire of Israelis for disengagement and separation from the Palestinians. Both Israelis and Palestinians had lost confidence in the prospect for peace. The introduction of an international peacekeeping force would allow for the gradual rebuilding of trust between Israel and the Palestinians, to the orderly management of an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza, to the reconstruction and development of effective Palestinian governing institutions and the attending of the security and political challenges.

61. International intervention must deal not only with the technical aspects but also with the conflict environment as a whole. A key component was regaining the confidence of the Palestinian public. An international presence could go a long way in that regard. International intervention should not be seen as a substitute to fill a political void. It required a convergence of Palestinian and Israeli expectations and actions to address the concerns of both sides. Its mandate could not be seen as ignoring the interests of one side at the expense of the other. Legitimacy could not be imposed. An international peacekeeping force must work with the Palestinians and Israelis and serve as a liaison.

62. He suggested that such a force could not be United Nations-led but rather needed to be a multinational force. The international community needed to also be attentive to Israeli concerns and needs. If carefully planned and judiciously introduced, international intervention could make a valuable contribution to the stabilizing of the current situation and help move Israel and the Palestinians back along the path to a peaceful settlement and the realization of the vision of a two-State solution to their conflict.

63. Baleka Mbete, Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa, emphasized that for a country like South Africa, which had emerged only 10 years ago from centuries of strife, racial division, major inequalities and hatred, Parliament was one of its most valuable institutions for nation-building and reconciliation. Even the pre-1994 apartheid Parliament had played a role in the process to settle the conflict. Although parties from the oppressed sections of South African society could have refused to associate with the apartheid Parliament, they chose to use the opportunity to advance the goals of the negotiation process. While the National Party could have sabotaged the process, it chose to provide guidance on how to get them out of power.

64. She stressed that the South African Government favoured a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of relevant United Nations resolutions. In July 2001, the National Assembly had sent a multi-party fact-finding commission to Israel and the Palestinian Territory. It had urged both parties to stop the violence and negotiate. It had also recommended the development of dialogue among the Palestinian, Israeli and South African parliaments through exchanges between the presiding officers and members of parliament. The mission had further recommended that international parliamentary bodies be utilized for mobilizing support for the resolution of the Middle East conflict, such as the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the SADC Parliamentary Forum, and the Pan-African Parliament.

65. The exchange of positive perspectives on the promotion and protection of the rule of law and raising public opinion on a culture of rights must be a standing item on the agenda of international parliamentary organizations, she said. Relevant parliamentary committees could promote specific approaches in favour of protecting Palestinian rights. Participants in today’s Meeting could return to their parliaments and communicate on a more informed basis and urge their Governments to assist the Palestinians, especially the women and children in the refugee camps. As a presiding officer of the National Assembly she favoured the discussion of more details on how to assume a larger international role and to see how they could help. She emphasized that South Africans were willing to assume their international obligations.

66. Edward Abington, Political Consultant to the Palestinian Authority and former United States Consul-General in Jerusalem, said time was running out for a viable two-State solution, but there could be an opportunity to break the cycle of violence. The Palestinians, despite serious objections, had cautiously welcomed Prime Minister Sharon’s disengagement plan provided certain conditions were met. The Palestinian Authority was close to financial collapse and its control over the lives of average Palestinians had been seriously eroded. The proposed withdrawal from Gaza was an opportunity that should be taken advantage of. All of the main parties – the Palestinian Authority, regional parties and the international community – agreed that the Israeli disengagement plan represented a chance to break the current stalemate. To succeed, however, the unilateral Israeli proposal should be implemented multilaterally, with a strong Palestinian partner. The Israeli presence in all its forms must be removed. There must be economic stability in Gaza brought about through the efforts of the international community and a revitalized Palestinian partner as well as a linkage to the Road Map in a way that led to resumed final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

67. Continuing, Mr. Abington pointed out that the time line for the withdrawal needed to be shortened. There must be a commitment to a ceasefire among Palestinians, and between Palestinians and Israelis before the withdrawal. A political accord among the Palestinian factions in Gaza to end violence must be reached and all Palestinian factions should be brought into the political process. The Quartet and other interested parties saw the restructuring of the Palestinian security services as an essential step for restoring stability to Gaza and the rule of a central Palestinian Authority. Egypt was taking a leading role and other countries were willing to contribute in tangible ways, including the United States, Jordan and several European countries. For Gaza to survive economically, Gazans must be able to export. Other requirements for success included the deployment of an international force to protect the civilian population, monitor border crossings and prevent chaos during the transition; participation of a robust international role in making the disengagement process work; and linking Gaza to the West Bank.

68. He stated that Israeli disengagement would remove internal movement restrictions in Gaza and in part of the northern West Bank, but Palestinian economic recovery depended on a radical easing of internal closures throughout the West Bank, the opening of Palestinian external borders to commodity trade, and sustaining a reasonable flow of Palestinian labour into Israel. Clearly and realistically, easing internal Israeli closures throughout the West Bank must be accompanied by a credible Palestinian security effort. As long as Palestinian violence persisted, Israel was not likely to significantly ease the closure.
A reinvigorated programme of Palestinian reform must accompany the closures. The political risks for Mr. Sharon were obvious but for the Palestinians the stakes were even higher. If disengagement was wisely implemented and linked to a wider political process, it could make a real difference.

69. Vladimir Chamov, Head of Section, Middle East Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, pointed out that the Middle East, to a considerable extent, was the source of threats and new challenges linked to international terrorism. In order to break the negative trends, the region must be put on the path of stable development, States should introduce democratic reforms, and a fair and comprehensive settlement of regional conflicts should be reached. He added that the search for a settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict could succeed only if the sides themselves showed the political will to reach a mutually acceptable compromise on the basis of a balance of interests. Neither side - Palestinian or Israeli - could impose a solution.

70. He regretted that the requirements of the Road Map were not being fulfilled, deadlines were being missed and that the international community was facing a total collapse of the peace process unless urgent steps were taken to radically improve the situation. The situation stemmed from an inability to reject the use of force, but there had been some encouraging signs in recent weeks. Since the operations in Rafah, Israel had undertaken no further large-scale activities in the Occupied Territory and no major terrorist acts on the part of Palestinians seemed to have taken place. He welcomed Arab leaders’ contribution to establishing a new atmosphere. Under certain conditions, Mr. Sharon’s plan could play a positive role, but it should be part of the Road Map plan for a Middle East settlement. The parties must also refrain from taking action that would prejudge the outcome, such as Israel’s “separation wall”.

71. Mr. Chamov insisted that lasting peace could be reached only through direct negotiations. Unless such negotiations resumed, it would hardly be possible to speak with certainty of any final status parameters. The Geneva Initiative could serve as a basis for final status negotiations, because it took into account the understandings reached at Camp David and Taba. The current situation demanded immediate reciprocal steps by both sides to defuse tension. Among other things, the blockade against Yasser Arafat, the legitimately elected leader of the Palestinian Authority, must be lifted. The circumstances demanded concrete action from the Palestinians also. The Russian Federation was profoundly interested in achieving a comprehensive and just settlement and strengthening security and stability in a strategically important region not far from its own southern borders. He highlighted the outstanding role of the United Nations in working to solve the Palestinian problem. It was the United Nations which had determined the basic principles of the Middle East settlement, and he expressed the hope that it would be able to maintain its pivotal role in establishing a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

72. Haroub Othman, Professor of Development Studies, University of Dar es Salaam, and Chairman of the Zanzibar Legal Services Centre, said that at the time when the PLO had been established, the African ferment for independence was raging. One of the most positive developments to have emerged in the Middle East after the Six Day War was the appearance of Palestinians’ open resistance against occupation. One might disagree with some of the tactics adopted by the Palestinians in their struggle, but everybody understood what they were fighting for. The struggles now were universal in character and had international dimensions.

73. He recalled that prior to the 1967 war most African States had considered the Palestine question a problem of the refugees. Several States had established strong ties with Israel, which had employed the resources extended to it by the United States and some Western Powers and its technical personnel to offer infrastructural and community development projects and military and security institution-building in Africa. The war had opened Africa’s eyes, and they saw Israel as a pawn to mitigate imperialist schemes. Several solidarity organizations had mushroomed in the continent to mobilize public opinion in support of the Palestinian people. The Palestine Liberation Organization had been granted observer status at the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and now the African Union.

74. Mr. Othman stressed that one of the main problems in the Middle East was United States power. What the United States refused to see clearly it could hardly hope to remedy. The sooner Palestinians and the international community realized that they were not just confronting Israel but also the United States, the better. The United States was not a “neutral” and “impartial” power in the Middle East. He said the immediate post-Oslo period had seen the immobilization of solidarity action with the Palestinian people. The new situation demanded new methods of solidarity. He called for the suspension of diplomatic relations with Israel; a boycott of Israeli goods; the mobilization of public opinion against Israeli crimes; revival of solidarity committees; and pressure on the Israeli Government to allow Yasser Arafat to move freely. Finally, there must be pressure on the Israeli Government to agree to peace.

IV. Closing session

75. Victor Camilleri, Rapporteur of the Committee, introduced the Final Document of the African Meeting (see annex I).

76. Aziz Pahad, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of South Africa, said his Government had been happy to hold the Meeting because it had provided an opportunity to share information. Participants had been exposed to the reality of what had been happening in the Occupied Territory. It had been said that dialogue was difficult because some people were not listening, but those who did not listen did not like the message they were receiving. Since the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin, the Palestinians had been unable to find genuine partners in the Israeli Government. No amount of violence could destroy the Palestinian determination for self-determination. The region and the neighbours had accepted the two-State solution. The international community should not get involved in the argument of a one- or two-State solution while Palestinians were dying every day. He supported building an international solidarity movement over the cross-section of society to force Governments to act decisively. It would be able to expose the situation in the West Bank and Gaza and the diabolical scheme of the building of the wall.

77. He cautioned Governments and civil society against being influenced by the campaign to demonize the Palestinians. It was important to have one common objective that was fundamental to finding a long-term solution. Security could not be achieved by walls or violence. Moreover, criticism of the Israeli Government was legitimate. The solidarity movement must go forward more confidently and not be bulldozed by the false concept that criticism of Israel was anti-Semitic. He asked, for how long would the international community allow Israel to violate international law with such impunity. Any Security Council action believed to be a criticism of Israel was vetoed by some permanent members. The finding of the International Court of Justice would provide an opportunity to take steps to prevent violations of international law. The international community must also break the deadlock of the Road Map. He hoped the United Nations would take more decisive action. International opinion must be mobilized. In the discussions of the Meeting, the basis of a framework for action had evolved. In July it would be put on the agenda of the African Union summit meeting in Addis Ababa.

78. Nasser Al Kidwa, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, stated there were many similarities but also clear differences between the South African and the Palestinian experience. The Palestinian people was under occupation. The proposal for a democratic Palestinian State was not new. Since the mid-1970s and especially since 1988, a programme for a two-State solution based on the pre-1967 borders had enjoyed the overwhelming support of all sectors of the Palestinian population. The problem was not a lack of clarity on the Palestinian side, but that the concept had not been accepted by the mainstream in Israel. Some Palestinians wanted the Government to abandon the two-State solution, but the alternative was extended pain and agony for years to come. He warned that the possibility of a two-State solution would not remain open forever. At some point the Palestinians would have no choice but to choose a different approach.

79. He emphasized that the construction of the wall represented a crime against the Palestinian people and, once completed, made the two-State solution physically impossible. He had confidence that the International Court of Justice would abide by international law and its advisory opinion should be followed by the parties and all United Nations Member States. The international community had to be more serious in dealing with the situation, in particular Israeli violations of international law. Specific legal actions against settlers, settlements and their products had to be identified.

80. Regarding violence, he said the crux of the issue was foreign occupation -- Israeli crimes against the Palestinians. He stressed that the first suicide bombers had acted only after 27 years of Israeli occupation. His Government was against the targeting of civilians. Apart from that, the right of the Palestinian people to defend themselves was guaranteed by international law and they would not give it up. Their choice, however, was a peaceful settlement based on the pre-1967 borders. The international community had supported the just cause of the Palestinian people. The problem was the United States’ automatic protection of Israel and appeasement by a few States in Europe. Palestinians wanted to uphold international law. The settlements were illegal, as was the wall. His Government supported a two-State solution based on pre-1967 borders and it would resist any attempt to make the disengagement plan a replacement for the Road Map.

81. Paul Badji, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, in closing the meeting said that during the past two days, the experts had provided a comprehensive overview of the current situation on the ground and looked into ways to preserve the hard-won achievements of the peace process and use them in the current difficult situation. Speakers stressed the necessity to compel Israel to fulfil its responsibilities as the occupying Power, the urgency of international protection of the Palestinian civilian population and the need to halt the deterioration of the Palestinian Authority institutions which made Palestinian population feel even more helpless. Following a review of the work of the Committee, he thanked all who had participated. He said the Committee was especially grateful to President Thabo Mbeki for his address to the Meeting.


Annex I

FINAL DOCUMENT

1. The United Nations African Meeting in Support of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People was held in Cape Town, on 29 and 30 June 2004, under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. Its theme was “Achieving the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people—the key to peace in the Middle East”. Participants in the Meeting included eminent personalities and experts from Africa, other international experts, representatives of Governments, Palestine, intergovernmental organizations, United Nations system entities, parliamentarians, civil society organizations, academic institutions and the media. The participants reviewed the situation on the ground, discussed ways of preserving and building on prior achievements in the political process, and international peace efforts, including support by African States for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

2. The participants were greatly honoured by the opening address by H.E. Mr. Thabo Mbeki, President of the Republic of South Africa, and embraced the principled positions and pragmatic ideas contained therein. They expressed deep appreciation for the active and constructive role played by the Republic of South Africa and President Mbeki in efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East.

3. The participants welcomed the video message received from H.E. Mr. Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestinian Authority, in which he reiterated the Palestinian support for international efforts to solve the conflict, in particular, the Road Map.

4. Reviewing the deteriorating situation on the ground, participants condemned the wilful and systematic violations by Israel, the occupying Power, of international humanitarian and human rights law. They stressed that the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territory remained the core of the conflict and strongly condemned Israel’s ongoing and escalating military campaign in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since September 2000, causing widespread death and destruction. The speakers were appalled by the continuing and increasing Israeli policies of extrajudicial killings, house demolitions and restrictions on the freedom of Reviewing the deteriorating situation on the ground, participants condemned the wilful and systematic violations by Israel, the occupying Power, of international humanitarian and human rights law. They stressed that the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territory remained the core of the conflict and strongly condemned Israel’s ongoing and escalating military campaign in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since September 2000, causing widespread death and destruction. The speakers were appalled by the continuing and increasing Israeli policies of extrajudicial killings, house demolitions and restrictions on the freedom of movement of persons and goods, including humanitarian, throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory. They were deeply concerned about the severely detrimental impact on the economic and social conditions of the Palestinian people and the exacerbating humanitarian crisis. The participants reaffirmed their principled position of condemning the targeting of innocent civilians.

5. They vigorously condemned the continued Israeli efforts to perpetuate the occupation and create facts on the ground, singling out as particularly damaging to the peace prospects the continued settlement activities and construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem. They affirmed that, if completed, the wall would render the two-State solution physically impossible. They condemned Israel’s refusal to comply with the demand of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly to stop and reverse the construction of the wall, which was essential for the revival of the peace process. They welcomed the referral of the issue to the International Court of Justice and were looking forward to its advisory opinion expected to be delivered on 9 July 2004. They were confident that it would be versed in international law and stressed that it should be respected by all law-abiding States and that serious and comprehensive follow-up by the United Nations organs and Member States, by regional organizations and by civil society would be necessary.

6. The participants overwhelmingly agreed that the absence of a direct political dialogue between the parties contributed to the hopelessness and despair. They welcomed the readiness of the Palestinian leadership to work with the Israeli side, the Quartet and other parties in an effort to restart a meaningful process of political negotiations with a view to achieving the goals outlined in the Road Map. They were appalled by the continuing confinement since December 2001 of the elected leader of the Palestinian people, Yasser Arafat. Noting the Palestinian determination to conduct the long-overdue presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections, and the importance of those elections for Palestinian reform, they called on all countries that valued democracy to make such elections possible.

7. The participants in the Meeting believed the Quartet’s Road Map continued to represent the most viable initiative for the achievement of a peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and for realizing a two-State vision and called upon the Quartet to expedite the action plan towards its implementation. They saw in the Israeli Prime Minister’s “unilateral disengagement plan”, as well as the Israeli-American exchange of letters on 14 April 2004, an unacceptable departure from the Road Map and a violation of international law, relevant Security Council resolutions, the terms of reference of the peace process and the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including the Palestine refugees. The participants took note of the meeting of the Quar The participants in the Meeting believed the Quartet’s Road Map continued to represent the most viable initiative for the achievement of a peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and for realizing a two-State vision and called upon the Quartet to expedite the action plan towards its implementation. They saw in the Israeli Prime Minister’s “unilateral disengagement plan”, as well as the Israeli-American exchange of letters on 14 April 2004, an unacceptable departure from the Road Map and a violation of international law, relevant Security Council resolutions, the terms of reference of the peace process and the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including the Palestine refugees. The participants took note of the meeting of the Quartet in New York on 4 May 2004, including the reaffirmation of their commitment to the Road Map and its terms of reference. They strongly supported the Quartet’s position that any withdrawal from the Gaza Strip should be a full withdrawal and part of the Road Map, which required actions in the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, especially with regard to settlements and the wall.

8. The participants in the Meeting affirmed the important role and responsibility of the Security Council, under the Charter of the United Nations, towards the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. Many speakers stressed the need for serious action by the Council in the face of the deteriorating situation on the ground and the continuing violations of international law by the occupying Power. In that regard, they stressed the importance of a Security Council action to mandate an international presence or monitoring force in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which could be part of a comprehensive Security Council resolution on the matter. They further called on the members of the Quartet to engage the Council, given its authority and responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.

9. The participants in the Meeting took note of the Final Communiqué of the Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement Committee on Palestine, which was held at Putrajaya, Malaysia, on 13 May 2004, and expressed agreement, inter alia, with the need for convening a special and urgent meeting on Palestine at the United Nations at the start of the fifty-ninth session of the General Assembly that would bring together international and regional groupings to further mobilize the international community in support of the two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the pre-1967 borders.

10. The participants in the Meeting reaffirmed the permanent responsibility of the United Nations with respect to all aspects of the question of Palestine, until it was resolved in conformity with relevant United Nations resolutions and norms of international law, and until the full realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

11. The participants expressed their appreciation of and full support for the determined and unremitting efforts of UNRWA in rendering humanitarian assistance to Palestine refugees in increasingly challenging conditions. They welcomed the outcome of the just-concluded conference on “Meeting the Humanitarian Needs of the Palestine Refugees in the Near East: Building Partnerships in Support of UNRWA”. They called upon the occupying Power to take all necessary measures to assist the Agency in its difficult work, to ensure the safety of its personnel and the security of its installations and infrastructure, and to facilitate its access to all areas and persons under its responsibility.

12. The Meeting took note of the African Union Summit that would open in Addis Ababa and expressed the hope that action would be taken to promote the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and a peaceful solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, making a particular effort to engage the Quartet. They expressed their hope that the efforts would be focused on specific areas, including upholding international law; stopping and reversing the wall built by Israel inside the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem; achieving a two-State solution based on the pre-1967 borders; and building a broad Coalition in Support of the Peace Process in the Middle East.

13. The participants expressed their appreciation and gratitude to the Government of the Republic of South Africa for hosting the United Nations African Meeting in Support of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and for the assistance and support extended to the Committee and the United Nations Secretariat in its preparation.


Cape Town, 30 June 2004



Annex II

LIST OF PARTICIPANTS

Speakers

Edward Abington
Former United States Consul-General
Washington, DC

Anat Biletzki
Chair of the Philosophy Department, Tel Aviv University
Board member, B'Tselem
Tel Aviv

Vladimir Chamov
Head of Section, Middle East Department
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
Moscow

John Dugard
Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights
on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
Leiden, the Netherlands

Ebrahim Ebrahim
Senior Adviser to the Deputy President of South Africa
Pretoria

Saeb Erakat
Minister for Negotiations Affairs
Palestinian Authority

Frene Ginwala
Former Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa
Johannesburg

Ali Halimeh
Delegate-General of Palestine to Ireland
Dublin

Peter Hansen
Commissioner-General
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

Paulo Jorge
Secretary for International Relations, MPLA
Former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Angola

Yossi Katz
Former Member of Knesset (Labour)
Kiryat Tivon

Narandran Jody Kollapen
Chairperson of the South African Human Rights Commission
Johannesburg

Baleka Mbete
Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa
Cape Town

Haroub Othman
Professor of Development Studies, University of Dar es Salaam
Chairman, Zanzibar Legal Services Centre
Dar es Salaam

Joel Peters
Professor of International Relations
Ben Gurion University of the Negev
Beersheba

Mohammad Shtayyeh
Minister of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction
Ramallah

Speakers at the Forum of Civil Society in Support of Middle East Peace

Amjad Atallah
President, Strategic Assessment Initiative
Washington, D.C.

Simon Boshielo
International Secretary
Congress of South African Trade Unions
Johannesburg

Terry Boullata
Board Member, Popular Campaign against the Israeli Occupation Wall
East Jerusalem

Ivor Chipkin
Fellow, Wits Institute for Economic and Social Research
Johannesburg

Shannon Field
Fellow, Institute for Global Dialogue
Johannesburg

Naeem Jeenah
Spokesperson, Palestine Solidarity Committee of South Africa
Johannesburg

Richard Kuper
Spokesperson, European Jews for a Just Peace
London

Soyata Maiga
Chairperson, Association of Women Jurists of Mali
Bamako

Rev. Cedric Mayson
National Coordinator, Commission on Religious Affairs
African National Congress
Johannesburg

Max Ozinsky
Board member, Not in My Name Campaign
Cape Town

Ibrahim Razool
Premier of Western Cape
Cape Town

Joshua Ruebner
Board member, United States Campaign to Stop the Israeli Occupation
Washington, D.C.

Fuad Samaai
Representative of the Muslim Judicial Council
Stellenbosch

Keith Vermeulen
Representative of the South African Council of Churches
Cape Town


Delegation of the Committee on the Exercise
of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People

H.E. Mr. Paul Badji
Permanent Representative of Senegal to the United Nations
Chairman of the Committee

H.E. Mr. Victor Camilleri
Permanent Representative of Malta to the United Nations
Rapporteur of the Committee

H.E. Mr. Rastam Mohd Isa
Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations

Isaac Mogotsi
Director, Levant
Department of Foreign Affairs, South Africa

H.E. Mr. M. Nasser Al-Kidwa
Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations


Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations

Peter Hansen
Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and
Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

Governments

Algeria, Angola , Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Colombia, Cuba, Cyprus, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, United Republic of Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Ukraine, United States of America, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe


Entities having received a standing invitation to participate as observers in the sessions and the work of the General Assembly and maintaining permanent observer missions at Headquarters


Palestine

Intergovernmental organizations

African Union

United Nations organs, agencies and bodies

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)
United Nations Information Centres
United Nations Population Fund

Civil society organizations

African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes
African National Congress
Association of Women Jurists of Mali
Boland Islamic Council
Bridges for Peace
Concerned Women’s Organization
Concerned Youth
Congress of South African Trade Unions
Darul Waqaf Islamic Trust
Friends of Al-Aqsa South Africa
Impact Consulting
International Women’s Peace Service, Palestine South Africa Branch
Islamic Social Welfare Association
Keep Peace Alive
Muslim Hands
Muslim Judicial Council
Muslim Views
Muslim Youth Movement of South Africa
National Awqaf Foundation of South Africa
National Independent Halaal Trust
Neda Institute for Scientific-Political Research
Not in My Name (NIMN)
Palestine Solidarity Committee, South Africa
Palestine Support Committee
Palestinian Solidarity Group
Quaker Peace Centre
South African Council of Churches
South African Jewish Board of Deputies
South African National NGO Coalition
Trust for Community Outreach
Western Cape Cultural Councils Act
Wits Palestine Solidarity Committee


Media

AFP
ARGUS
BEELD
Cape Talk Radio
CNN
Host Country Media
Dagsavissen
Die Bürger Newspaper
Freelance
Jacaranda FM
L’ Indépendant newspaper
Independent TV Satellite Broadcaster
Inet Bridge
Jewish Chronicle
Media 24
Media Review Network
Middle East and African News Agency
Muslim Views
NASPERS (Die Bürger)
Radio 786
Rapport
Reuters
SABC TV News
South Africa
South African Jewish Report
South African Press Association
Sunday Times
The Association for Fair Media
THISDAY
The Associated Press
Voice of the Cape Radio
Weekend Argus

Public

University of Cape Town, Faculty of Health Services
University of South Africa
University of Stellenbosch
University of the Western Cape
University of Witwatersrand
Yagtah Adams
Omar A.A. Alassouli
Nafieh A.A. Assaf
Emad Edin Yacob Qirreish
Ibrahim Williams

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