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        Economic and Social Council
1 April 2003

Original: ENGLISH


Fifty-ninth session


Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Monday, 24 March 2003, at 3 p.m.

Chairperson: Ms. AL-HAJJAJI (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya)




The meeting was called to order at 3.10 p.m.

THE RIGHT OF PEOPLES TO SELF-DETERMINATION AND ITS APPLICATION TO PEOPLES UNDER COLONIAL OR ALIEN DOMINATION OR FOREIGN OCCUPATION (agenda item 5) (continued ) (E/CN.4/2003/4, 15 and 16; E/CN.4/2003/NGO/31, 48, 107, 116, 118, 119, 135, 198, 203, 209, 214, 221, 249 and 252)

Statements in exercise of the right of reply

1. Mr. SALLOUM (Syrian Arab Republic) said that the reference by the observer for Israel at the 11th meeting to the events of 1948 had distorted history. There was no need to go into the details of what had happened then; it was sufficient to look at the writings of the former Israeli Foreign Minister, Mr. Abba Eban.

2. The observer for Israel preferred to discuss the past rather than his Government’s current human rights violations. The Arab countries had launched an initiative to end the conflict in the Middle East by presenting a proposal based on a United Nations resolution which called for complete Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories and which affirmed the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination. The observer for Israel asserted that his country supported that right, but the facts did not bear out that assertion. Freedom and self-determination were universal aspirations, and if the Government of Israel continued to reject Arab peace initiatives, it would be responsible not only for the deaths of the Palestinian children who had been killed as a result of the Israeli army’s aggression, but also for the deaths of Israeli children who had lost their lives because it had refused peace.


8. Mr. LEVY (Observer for Israel) said he welcomed the invitation of the representative of Syria to talk about the present …

9. Mr. SALLOUM (Syrian Arab Republic), speaking on a point of order, said that Israel had exhausted its right of reply, unless it was speaking under the agenda item in question, in which case his own delegation would also like to avail itself of that right.

10. The CHAIRPERSON said that Israel had not yet made use of its right of reply at the current meeting.

11. Mr. LEVY (Observer for Israel) read out a list of 10 major terrorist organizations (5 of which were on the European Union’s blacklist) and the names of their leaders, all of whom resided in Damascus. Rather than making speeches, the representative of Syria should recommend to his Government that it should close those organizations and their offices and arrest the leaders mentioned, whose exact location was known to the authorities in Damascus.


13. Mr. SALLOUM (Syrian Arab Republic) said that the observer for Israel should explain why the Palestinians he had mentioned were living in Damascus. They were there because Israel had been engaging in terrorism since 1948 and they had been driven out of their country. They had watched their children die. The question could be resolved if the Government of Israel were to allow them to return to their home country. Many people once accused of being terrorists had subsequently become heads of State because they had striven to secure the liberation of their people.

14. The organizations which the observer for Israel had mentioned provided information, they did not engage in military activities. The former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir had himself been a terrorist. Israel’s response to the Arab countries’ peace initiative had been the events in Jenin. The Commission had adopted a resolution asking the High Commissioner to visit Jenin, but that visit had not taken place. The conflict would end if Israel were to accept the peace initiative.

15. Mr. LEVY (Observer for Israel) said that the fact that, after so many years of hostility, an Arab summit had finally come up with a proposal, did not mean that Israel had to accept it as a fait accompli. All arrangements in the Middle East would be reached through negotiation. The “information activities” of the 10 organizations of which he had spoken had caused the deaths of many people.

16. Mr. SALLOUM (Syrian Arab Republic), speaking on a point of order, queried the procedure adopted for the debate.

17. The CHAIRPERSON informed him that he could exercise his right of reply twice only. She drew his attention, in that connection, to paragraph 21 of document E/CN.4/2002/16 and section 4.1, paragraph (c), subparagraph (v), of document E/CN.4/2003/118.


The meeting rose at 6 p.m.

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