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About the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People
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UNITED
NATIONS
A

        General Assembly
Distr.
GENERAL
A/AC.183/SR.31
16 June 1978

ORIGINAL: ENGLISH

COMMITTEE ON THE EXERCISE OF THE INALIENABLE
RIGHTS OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE

SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 31st MEETING

Held at Headquarters, New York,
on Wednesday, 14 June 1978 at 10.30 a.m.


Chairman: Mr. FALL (Senegal)


CONTENTS

Election of a Vice-Chairman

Report of the Chairman of the Task Force

Other matters










This record is subject to correction.

Corrections should be submitted in one of the working languages, preferably in the same language as the text to which they refer. They should be set forth in a memorandum and also, if possible, incorporated in a copy of the record. They should be sent within one week of the date of this document to the Chief, Official Records Editing Section, Department of Conference Services, room A-3550.

Any corrections to the record of this meeting and of other meetings will be issued in a corrigendum.



The meeting was called to order at 11.10 a.m.


ELECTION OF A VICE-CHAIRMAN

1. Mr. ABDALLAH (Tunisia) nominated Mr. Roa Kouri (Cuba) for the office of Vice-Chairman.

2. Mr. MARTYNENKO (Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic) seconded the nomination.

3. Mr. Roa Kouri (Cuba) was elected Vice-Chairman by acclamation.

REPORT OF THE CHAIRMAN OF THE TASK FORCE

4. Mr. GAUCI (Malta), Rapporteur, speaking as Chairman of the Task Force, said that the Task Force had considered the scenario for the film to be produced by the Office of Public Information, the outlines of studies being prepared by the Special Unit on Palestinian Rights, arrangements for the Day of Solidarity on 29 November 1978, and representation at various conferences to which the Committee had been invited.

5. The scenario for the film had been the subject of considerable discussion in the Task Force, and most of the suggestions made had been taken into account in the final version. The film, which was being produced by experienced people with good background knowledge, should prove a useful tool in acquainting international public opinion with the real nature of the question of Palestine. The objective both of the Unit and of the Task Force had been to attain an honest, factual presentation of the just cause of the Palestinian people and the urgent need for their legitimate rights to be restored. In view of the pressures of time, and subject to the final word from the Committee, the director of the film had been informed that he might initiate production, and he was already at work on background shots.

6. The outlines of the studies had also been approved, subject to any additional comments from members of the Task Force. Only one such comment had been received, to the effect that in the study on the evolution of the Palestinian problem there appeared to be too much emphasis on the Balfour Declaration. That comment was being taken into account by the Special Unit, which was proceeding with the preparation of the studies. The latter should prove extremely useful in the debate at the thirty-third session of the General Assembly and, like the film, in educating public opinion throughout the world on the real nature of the Palestinian problem.

7. In its report on the International Day of Solidarity, the Task Force recommended that two meetings of the Committee should be held in New York. After further reflection and discussion among the members of the Task Force, it was felt that one meeting on the morning of 29 November, with the screening of the film in the afternoon, might be the most effective arrangement. If two meetings were held, attendance was likely to be divided between them, since the General Assembly would be in session and delegations would be very busy.

8. As far as representation at conferences to which the Committee had been invited was concerned, the Task Force had first considered an invitation from the World Peace Council to send representatives to its World Conference to Eradicate Racism, held in Basel, Switzerland, from 18 to 21 May. It had been decided that the Committee would be represented by Mr. Abdallah of Tunisia and Mr. Yogasundram, Chief of the Special Unit. The Committee had also been invited to send observers to a conference organized by the Palestine Human Rights Campaign in Washington on 20 and 21 May. It had been decided that the Committee would be represented by Mr. Sy of Senegal and Mr. Riza of the Special Unit. The third conference to which the Committee had been invited had been the Week of Solidarity with the Anti-Imperialist Forces in the Middle East in their Struggle for Peace and Social Progress, organized by the Solidarity Committee of the German Democratic Republic. Mr. Kouyate of Guinea had attended those meetings in Berlin from 5 to 11 June.

9. While the members who had attended the conferences would no doubt report to the Committee in greater detail in due course, it was his understanding that those meetings had been extremely interested to hear of the work being done by the Committee and that, as a result, the Committee's work was better understood. In addition, useful contacts had been established which should enable the Committee to make its work known at many influential levels in countries that so far had been unaware of, if not deliberately misinformed about, the just cause of the Palestinian people and the efforts of the Committee to redress injustice and to promote peace.

10. The CHAIRMAN invited comments on the proposed scenario for the film.

11. Mrs. UNAYDIN (Turkey) suggested that, in the interest of historical accuracy, the name "Istanbul" should be used instead of "Constantinople" in the first paragraph of page 3 of the document setting out the film scenario.

12. It was so decided.

13. Mr. TERZI (Observer, Palestine Liberation Organization) suggested that, in the same paragraph, the wording "shaking off the Ottoman rule" would be preferable to the present reference to "Turkish rule".

14. Mr. GAUCI (Malta), Rapporteur, felt that the word "Turkish" would be clearer, because not everyone knew the meaning of "Ottoman".

15. Mrs. UNAYDIN (Turkey) noted that the spirit prevailing at the time had been to shake off Ottoman rule. It would therefore be better to use the term "Ottoman", despite some risk of misunderstanding.

16. The CHAIRMAN said that, if there was no objection, he would take it that the Committee agreed to the suggested change of wording.

17. It was so decided.

18. The scenario for the film, as amended, was approved.

19. The CHAIRMAN invited comments on the outlines of the studies being prepared by the Special Unit.

20. Mr. SY (Senegal) pointed out that the suggested alternative title (The evolution of the Palestinian problem) better described the contents of document C. That title should therefore be used, or the two titles should be combined. With reference to the first paragraph of section VIII, his delegation would like the study to mention the work done by the Committee and the fact that implementation of its recommendations had been blocked in the Security Council by the attitude of some States.

21. The CHAIRMAN agreed that it would be better to combine the two titles. As for the second point, a formulation should be worked out in consultation with the Secretariat to describe the outcome of the Committee's recommendations.

22. Mr. ABDALLAH (Tunisia) agreed that the two titles should be combined. He strongly endorsed the proposal that mention should be made of the fact that the Committee's recommendations had been blocked in the Security Council. The State responsible could even be named, as the vote on the issue had not been a secret one.

23. The CHAIRMAN said that, if there was no objection, he would take it that the Committee decided that reference should be made in section VIII to the fact that the Committee's recommendations had not been implemented, owing to the negative vote cast in the Security Council by the United States of America.

24. It was so decided.

25. Mr. TERZI (Observer, Palestine Liberation Organization) pointed out that, in document B, reference was made only to the American Declaration of Independence, although there were other such declarations of relevance to the right of self-determination. The list of documents in the light of which that right would be considered should start with the Charter of the United Nations or, alternatively, a history of the world in the twentieth century with reference to the right to self-determination should be given. The first paragraph on page 2 of the document stated as fact something which was open to dispute; historically, the demand for a Jewish home in Palestine had had nothing to do with the rise of nationalism in the mid-nineteenth century. The paragraph should therefore be deleted.

26. In section IV of document C, no mention was made of the fact that the struggle of the Palestinian people from 1922 onwards had been aimed at securing termination of the Mandate and independence for Palestine. The essence of the struggle had been for independence, and not for an end to immigration, as the document appeared to imply.

27. The CHAIRMAN suggested that, if the Committee agreed in principle with those comments, the observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization should submit his proposed amendments to the Secretariat.

28. It was so decided.

29. Mr. ROA KOURI (Cuba) asked whether the amendments to be submitted by the representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization would include those relating to document B as well as document C. He agreed that the rise of nationalism in Europe and the demand for a Jewish nation were not related, and also that consideration of the right of self-determination as a historical treatise should start with the United Nations Charter and go on to mention briefly the various declarations of independence in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

30. The CHAIRMAN said that, since he had heard no objection to either proposal, his invitation to the representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization to submit amendments to the Secretariat referred to both document B and document C.

31. Mr. HUSSAIN (Observer for Iraq) suggested that, in subparagraph (b) on the first page of document B, it would be more appropriate to refer to the Covenant of the League of Nations rather than the 14 principles advocated by President Wilson, as the latter principles were embodied in the Covenant.

32. Mr. GAUCI (Malta), Rapporteur, suggested that the Secretariat should be asked to take that comment into account.

33. It was so decided.

34. Mr. ABDALLAH (Tunisia), referring to section VII of document C, said that, since the studies were intended for persons who were not familiar with the history of how the Palestine issue had come before the United Nations, it should be clearly stated that the United Nations itself had created the problem through the adoption of General Assembly resolution 181 (II), concerning partition, and had not inherited the problem from the League of Nations.

35. The CHAIRMAN said that he agreed with the representative of Tunisia. He himself had stated that the problem was one created by the United Nations, which must therefore solve it.

36. Mr. SY (Senegal), referring to document D, section II, paragraph 5, said that the study on the Palestinians' right of return should not be confined to the General Assembly resolutions of 1948. Account should also be taken of later resolutions embodying the Committee's own recommendations.

37. Mr. ABDALLAH (Tunisia) agreed that, in that respect, the study should be more detailed.

38. The CHAIRMAN said he too believed that the Committee's recommendations should be considered, even if reference was not made to all the resolutions.

39. Mr. MARTYNENKO (Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic) suggested that, since the historical factors that had influenced the development of self-determination as a concept were to be considered in the study referred to in document B, the Secretariat might find a way of mentioning the importance, in relation to the right to self-determination, of the October Revolution in the Soviet Union.

40. Mr. ARIYO (Nigeria) said that it would be appropriate to delete the reference to the American Declaration of Independence, and also to refer to the Covenant of the League of Nations instead of the 14 principles advocated by President Wilson. In his view, no specific reference should be made to any national revolutions.

41. Mr. GAUCI (Malta), Papporteur, pointed out that, since the study was intended to be a historical analysis, it must take historical events into account. It should not be too difficult to give a brief overview of historical developments before dealing with the evolution of the right of self-determination at the international level. Reference should certainly be made to the revolutions that had occurred in France and in the Soviet Union.

42. Section IV of document D was intended to deal with the point raised by the representatives of Senegal and Tunisia. It should be remembered that the studies would be somewhat voluminous in any event, and every effort should be made to ensure that they were concise as well as factual; otherwise, they would not be readable.

43. Mr. MARTYNENKO (Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic) stressed the impact which the October Revolution had had on the development of the right of self-determination of subject peoples. That event had been far more significant than other social movements in modern history, and it should be referred to in the study on the right of self-determination.

44. Mr. AL-HUSSAMY (Observer for the Syrian Arab Republic) said that the reference in document B to the right of minority groups to determine their own fate was out of place in a study on the right of self-determination of peoples.

45. Mr. ROA KOURI (Cuba) agreed that the study on self-determination should not refer to the American Declaration of Independence alone but should also mention other important historical events. The October Revolution, which had given an impetus to the struggle for self-determination and had ushered in a new era in the development of mankind, was the most important of those events. He also agreed that it would be better to refer to the Covenant of the League of Nations rather than President Wilson's 14 principles, since the Covenant had been an international instrument.

46. The CHAIRMAN observed that the outlines seemed to require further work. He suggested that the Task Force should consult with delegations that had made suggestions with a view to presenting revised texts at the next meeting of the Committee.

47. With regard to the point raised by the observer for the Syrian Arab Republic, he was informed that the Task Force had decided to delete the reference to minority groups but that it had inadvertently been retained in the text of document B as circulated.

48. Mr. GAUCI (Malta), Rapporteur, said that, as Chairman of the Task Force, he would hold informal consultations with delegations which had proposed changes in the outlines of the studies and would request the Secretariat to draft new formulations taking into account the views put forward at the current meeting. However, it was essential for work on the studies to move ahead quickly, so that they would be available sufficiently in advance of the debate on the question of Palestine at the next session of the General Assembly. He therefore suggested that members who had additional comments to make on the outlines should do so by 20 June at the latest, after which the Special Unit could proceed with the preparation of the studies.

49. Mr. ABDALLAH (Tunisia) said that the Task Force should meet as soon as possible in order to expedite a final decision on the outlines.

50. The CHAIRMAN suggested that, if the Task Force could reach agreement on revised texts of the paragraphs in question, it should be authorized to transmit them directly to the Secretariat. If any disagreement arose in the Task Force, the Committee as a whole would have to meet to settle the issue. That would enable the Special Unit to proceed with its work without delay. If there was no objection, he would take it that the Committee approved his suggestion.

51. It was so decided.

52. The CHAIRMAN said that, if there was no objection, he would take it that the Committee approved the proposals of the Task Force for the commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, with the change mentioned by the Rapporteur in his introductory statement at the current meeting.

53. It was so decided.

OTHER MATTERS

54. The CHAIRMAN said that he had received a communication from the Portuguese Government concerning the convening of an international conference of solidarity with the Palestinian people, to be held at Lisbon from 3 to 5 November 1978. He suggested that the Committee should consider that matter at a future meeting.

55. It was so decided.

56. Mr. TERZI (Observer, Palestine Liberation Organization) recalled that at an earlier meeting the Committee had been informed that the first issue of the Bulletin would appear before the end of June. He asked when delegations might expect to receive it.

57. He noted with satisfaction that the recent ministerial meeting of the Co-ordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Countries at Havana had adopted a statement containing a reference to the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. It was to be hoped that the forthcoming non-aligned meeting at Belgrade would also take a position on the Day of Solidarity as a further indication of support for the Palestinian people.

58. With regard to the forthcoming World Conference to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination, he stressed the importance of considering the question of representation at an early stage in order to ensure the Committee's effective participation in the Conference.

59. In recent weeks the Zionist forces of occupation in the West Bank and Gaza had stepped up their brutal repression. PLO had informed the Secretary-General that a distinguished Palestinian lawyer had died recently as a result of torture inflicted on him in an Israeli prison. The occupation forces had raided an UNRWA school near Jerusalem and arrested 15 boys between the ages of 13 and 17, who, as the International Red Cross had confirmed, had also been tortured. The Israelis had stepped up the confiscation of property belonging to Palestinians who were absent from their homes; PLO was compiling a list of such cases, which it would soon bring to the attention of the Secretary-General. He hoped that the Committee, whose mandate was to enable the Palestinian people to exercise their inalienable rights, would be able to take action on the matter. If the Israeli authorities were allowed to continue their inhuman actions, the Palestinian people would soon have nothing over which to exercise their rights. Moreover, it was entirely believable that the ultimate aim of a régime which dropped cluster bombs on refugee camps was genocide.

60. Mr. YOGASUNDRAM (Secretary of the Committee) said that the first issue of the Bulletin was ready but had not yet been translated. It was expected to be available for consideration by the Task Force during the following week.

61. The CHAIRMAN said that the Task Force could consider the question of representation at the World Conference to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination and submit specific proposals to the Committee at its next meeting. With regard to the recent Israeli actions referred to by the observer for PLO, the Committee could decide what course of action to take when the promised documents were made available to it. Obviously, the right to self-determination could not be exercised by a people which had been annihilated.

62. Mr. TERZI (Observer, Palestine Liberation Organization) recalled that he had requested the Committee to arrange for the circulation of a document that had been provided by the Secretary-General. The Chairman of the Committee had offered his good offices with a view to reaching an understanding on the matter, and he wondered what the outcome of the Chairman's efforts had been.

63. The CHAIRMAN said that discussions had been held with the parties concerned and he had asked the representative of Tunisia, at that time Chairman of the Arab Group and the only representative of an Arab country which was a member of the Committee, to pursue contacts with those parties. However, a solution which would meet with general approval and avoid a split in the Committee had not yet been reached.

64. Mr. ABDALLAH (Tunisia) confirmed that, at the request of the Chairman, his delegation had arranged a number of meetings attended by the Chairman and the representatives of Egypt and PLO. However, the meetings had failed to produce any solution. His delegation was willing to continue the efforts to reach a solution and bridge the differences of opinion, and he would report to the Committee shortly on the results of those efforts. He nevertheless regretted that a minor disagreement had not been settled in the appropriate forum, namely, the League of Arab States.

65. The CHAIRMAN said that the question at issue was in itself unimportant. The document generally reflected the feeling of the Committee, but a number of points had given rise to objections on the part of some delegations. A number of members had expressed apprehension that a split might occur within the Committee, which had so far succeeded in taking all its decisions unanimously. It was important that it should continue to do so; however, if the Committee was unable to reach a compromise solution, it would have to take a decision in some other way.

The meeting rose at 1 p.m.

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