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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/PV.218
29 November 1995

ENGLISH

Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the
Palestinian People
218th meeting

Wednesday, 29 November 1995, 10 a.m. New York

Official Records

Chairman:
Mr. Cissé . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(Senegal)


The meeting was called to order at 10.25 a.m.



International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

The Chairman (interpretation from French): Today the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People is holding a solemn meeting to commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 32/40 B of 2 December 1977.

It is my pleasure and honour to welcome His Excellency Mr. Freitas do Amaral, President of the General Assembly, His Excellency Mr. Salim Bin Mohammed Al-Khussaiby, President of the Security Council, His Excellency Mr. Chinmaya Gharekhan, Special Political Adviser to the Secretary-General and Representative to the Multilateral Peace Talks on the Middle East; His Excellency Mr. Herman Leonard de Silva, Chairman of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, and His Excellency Mr. Farouk Kaddoumi, Head of the Political Department of the Palestine Liberation Organization, representative of Palestine. I should also like to welcome representatives of Member States, intergovernmental organizations and liberation movements, and representatives of non-governmental organizations, members of the press and all those who have accepted the Committee's invitation to participate in this solemn meeting.

I now invite everyone present to rise and observe a minute of silence in memory of all those who have given their lives for the cause of the Palestinian people and the return of peace in the region.

The participants observed a minute of silence.

The Chairman (interpretation from French): I should now like to make a statement on behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

We have gathered here once again today, 29 November, to commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. In 1977, the General Assembly, mindful of its responsibility towards the Palestinian people and the need to promote a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine, decided to observe this Day every year. Since then, the United Nations family of organizations has devoted itself fully to the task of supporting the Palestinian people in its endeavour. Meeting here again today, we are recommitting ourselves to the goal of attaining peace and justice in the Middle East.

Over the past few years in particular, it has been encouraging to note a number of encouraging breakthroughs in the Middle East peace process. These have led to the establishment of new realities on the ground, an improvement in the atmosphere of the negotiations and the gradual development of a sense of mutual confidence. At the end of the day, this could not but yield positive results. As representatives are all aware, after long and arduous negotiations, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization signed, on 28 September last in Washington, an important document, the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which provides for an extension of responsibilities of the Palestinian Authority to parts of the West Bank and for elections in the near future.

The road to this further agreement towards implementation of the Declaration of Principles was hard, and the price that the parties had to pay for bringing their negotiations to fruition was high. Their progress was marred by acts of violence by forces opposed to peace, including the tragic assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin earlier this month. And yet the parties demonstrated their dedication to moving on steadily in pursuit of new areas of agreement, mutual reconciliation and peaceful coexistence. The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People welcomed this new agreement, as it had welcomed earlier progress, and reiterated its full and unequivocal support for the ongoing peace process, particularly at its present crucial stage, and its hope that the process would continue to advance until a just and lasting settlement was achieved.

Peace and stability can hardly take hold where widespread misery, poverty and dispossession persist. For the Palestinian people, peace is not an abstract concept. In order to be credible, peace must lead to an improvement of their everyday life and to a better future for their children. For many years, the Committee has called on the international community to support and assist the Palestinian people suffering from the hardships of occupation and living in extremely difficult circumstances. Today, the Palestinian Authority is making great efforts, assisted by the donor community and the United Nations, to establish an effective administration and to improve the quality of life. However, the legacy of 28 years of occupation and the destruction of much of the infrastructure requires a large-scale, long-term effort by the international community to tackle this problem.

Back in 1991, the Madrid Conference launched this effort by starting not only the bilateral peace process but also multilateral negotiations on Middle East regional issues. The conference created a much-needed framework for the promotion of region-wide economic cooperation and development. Much has been done to date by the donor community. Our Committee has welcomed the convening at Casablanca in October 1994 of the Middle East-North Africa Economic Summit, and has welcomed the most recent follow-up summit, held at Amman from 29 to 31 October of this year. The Committee was gratified to note that the participants at the Amman summit declared their intention to implement as soon as possible the understandings reached at the meeting.

For its part, the United Nations has continued to be a principal contributor to the programmes of rehabilitation and socio-economic development of the Palestinian society. As it has for many years, the Organization remained committed to and fully engaged in the various forms of assistance to the Palestinian people. In the course of the past year, the important work of establishing a United Nations coordination mechanism in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and of formulating an integrated United Nations approach to specific areas of assistance has been carried out by the office of the United Nations Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories. The Committee is grateful to the Secretary-General for devoting much time and effort to the pressing task of improving the living conditions of the Palestinian people and helping them to rehabilitate and develop their national economy and integrate it into a wider regional economic context. In its programme of work for 1995, the Committee gave priority to promoting international assistance to the Palestinian people in order to enable them to meet their socio-economic and development needs, and to supporting the Palestinian Authority in its institution-building efforts. It also structured its programme of regional meetings so as to address these issues in a more focused and practical manner.

Last year, the General Assembly, in its resolution 49/62 A, reaffirmed that the United Nations had a permanent responsibility with respect to the question of Palestine until the question was resolved in all its aspects in a satisfactory manner in accordance with international legitimacy. Our Committee, as the organ of the General Assembly dealing with the question of Palestine, will continue to make every effort to promote the effective implementation of the agreements that have been reached between the parties. It will work towards the attainment of a solution of the question of Palestine based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), as well as towards the exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, in particular the right to self-determination. In this context, the Committee will continue to monitor developments on the ground and to alert the international community to human rights violations by the occupying forces and to the need to resolve outstanding issues such as the status of Jerusalem, settlements and refugees in accordance with established international principles and United Nations resolutions.

On this solemn occasion, I would like to state on behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People that, in keeping with the mandate entrusted to it by the General Assembly, our Committee will continue to stand by the Palestinian people and to work untiringly towards the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

I now have the pleasure of calling upon the President of the General Assembly, His Excellency Mr. Diogo Freitas do Amaral.

Mr. Freitas do Amaral (Portugal), President of the General Assembly: May I first of all express to you, Mr. Chairman, and to the other members of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People my appreciation for having been invited to take part in this important observance.

Recognizing the need to strengthen and consolidate international support for the Palestinian people, the General Assembly, by its resolution 32/40 B, requested the annual observance of 29 November, the anniversary of the adoption of resolution 181 (II), which partitioned Palestine, as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The designation of this special day reaffirmed the General Assembly's conviction that the attainment of political, economic and social justice by the Palestinian people was essential to the achievement of a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

As we meet on this occasion, we are pleased to note the progress that has been made in the peace process on the question of Palestine, despite delays and acts of violence that include the most tragic assassination of the Israeli Prime Minister, Mr. Yitzhak Rabin, whose life was stolen because he was deeply committed to the same peace process we commend today. We underline in particular the signing by the parties on 28 September 1995 of the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, providing for further withdrawals of Israeli forces, for the extension of responsibilities of the Palestinian Authority to parts of the West Bank, and for Palestinian elections.

We have been greatly encouraged by the fact that Israel has begun its withdrawal in a timely manner, that a number of prisoners have been released and that the elections are now scheduled to take place in late January. These developments augur well for a solution to this long-standing conflict. Both parties are therefore to be commended for their courageous progress towards a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and the establishment of peaceful relations between their peoples.

In welcoming this positive evolution, we urge the parties to continue to display the necessary political will and good faith to bring the peace process to full fruition. It would be tragic if a resurgence of violence were to jeopardize the peace process now under way.

The United Nations should continue to play a role in mobilizing the needed assistance in order to establish solid foundations for peace and in promoting the dialogue and confidence-building measures necessary to dissipate the hostility and mistrust that continue to alienate the peoples of the region. It should also continue to promote, in the interest of world peace and security, the peace process between all the parties to the conflict.

This Committee, under your dedicated leadership, Sir, has done much to focus the world's attention on the fundamental aspects of the question of Palestine. It must be particularly satisfying for you to see that progress has been made towards realizing the aspirations of the Palestinian people. Your task, however, is far from finished. A number of issues that are basic to the conflict and of great concern to many Member States remain to be negotiated, and the Palestinian people need the support and solidarity of the international community in enabling them to establish an effective administration. I know your Committee is keen to continue to make a concrete contribution to international endeavours in support of the peace process and I wish it success in its future activities.

The Chairman (interpretation from French): As the Committee is aware, the Secretary-General, Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, is now travelling in Africa. Therefore, I have the honour to call on Mr. Chinmaya Gharekhan, Special Political Adviser to the Secretary-General and Representative to the Multilateral Peace Talks on the Middle East.

Mr. Gharekhan: As has just been announced, the Secretary-General is away on an official tour. He very much regrets that he is not able to be here this morning to observe this year's International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. He has asked me to convey the following message on his behalf:
The Chairman (interpretation from French): I should like to ask Mr. Gharekhan to be kind enough to convey to the Secretary-General the Committee's thanks for his inspiring statement and his efforts to promote a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine, and for his support for the Committee's work.

I now have the pleasure of calling on Mr. Salim Bin Mohammed Al-Khussaiby, President of the Security Council.

Mr. Al-Khussaiby (Oman), President of the Security Council: Allow me at the outset to express my pleasure in participating, in my capacity as President of the Security Council, in this special meeting marking the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. It is indeed a great honour and privilege for me to join in this important observance, held annually to commemorate this Day.

The international community is committed to working hard towards the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace and stability in the Middle East. This event is also a reflection of the determination of our Organization to bring long-awaited peace to this region.

As President of the Security Council, I follow the events in the peace process with profound interest. There is no doubt that this year will be remembered as the year of major breakthroughs in the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations set off by the 1991 Madrid Conference and the signing of the Declaration of Principles. We were encouraged by the fact that, in September last, in spite of numerous bilateral problems, the peace process advanced considerably and culminated in the signing at Washington, D.C., of the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Regrettably, the road to peace has been hard and often tragic. Acts of extreme violence committed by those opposing the new realities in the region have claimed many lives. Most recently, Mr. Yitzhak Rabin, Israel's Prime Minister, became another victim for having tried to achieve peace with his neighbours. These tragic setbacks notwithstanding, Israelis and Palestinians alike have demonstrated outstanding resilience, considerable political Declaration of Principles, as well as an understanding of the urgent need to implement the agreements reached so far. We commend the Palestinian people and the Israelis for their efforts and determination. Our congratulations also go to those who have contributed to facilitating this difficult and unprecedented process.

As members of the Committee know, the Security Council's association with efforts to help the parties to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East goes back many years. In that regard, it is especially gratifying to remind ourselves that the present Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).

Today, the Palestinians and the Israelis are transiting through a very delicate and crucial stage in their relationship, fraught with many dangers. It is therefore of paramount importance that the international community continue to contribute constructively to the peace process and to assist the parties in accomplishing their mission. Guided by its responsibilities under the Charter, the Security Council will continue to support the efforts of the parties to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, in the interest and for the benefit of all parties concerned, including the Palestinian people.

The Chairman (interpretation from French) : I now have the pleasure of calling on Mr. Al-Kidwa, the Permanent Observer of Palestine, to read out a message from His Excellency President Yasser Arafat.

Mr. Al-Kidwa (Palestine) (interpretation from Arabic): It is my honour to read out the message from Mr. Yasser Arafat which he has addressed to this meeting.

The Chairman (interpretation from French): I would ask Mr. Al-Kidwa to convey the Committee's sincere thanks to President Arafat for his important message. I should like to assure President Arafat and, through him, the entire Palestinian people, of the Committee's unwavering determination to continue and intensify its efforts under its mandate to contribute to the search for a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine that will enable the Palestinian people to exercise its inalienable national rights as soon as possible.

On behalf of the Committee, I should like once again to thank His Excellency the President of the General Assembly, the Representative of the Secretary-General, His Excellency the President of the Security Council and the Permanent Observer of Palestine for their statements and for having participated in the first part of our meeting.

The meeting was suspended at 11.05 a.m. and resumed at 11.10 a.m.


The Chairman (interpretation from French): I have the pleasure of calling on Mr. Herman Leonard de Silva, Chairman of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and other Arabs of the Occupied Territories.

Mr. de Silva (Sri Lanka), Chairman of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and other Arabs of the Occupied Territories: On behalf of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and other Arabs of the occupied Territories, and on my own behalf, I have the honour to convey this message on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

The signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements in Washington in 1993 and of the Israeli-Palestine Liberation Organization Agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area in Cairo in 1994 were historic landmarks of the peace process in the Middle East. Its second stage commenced with the signing of the Oslo II Agreement in Washington on 28 September 1995. Since then, significant progress has been made in the implementation of the peace agreements with the Israeli military withdrawal from the West Bank town of Jenin. However, in spite of these important positive developments, the peace process has been rendered more vulnerable by the tragic assassination on 4 November 1995 of one of its principal architects, the late Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. Yitzhak Rabin. It is imperative that, despite this sad and deplorable event, all parties involved maintain the momentum generated by these agreements in order to ensure the smooth continuation of the peace process.

Despite the positive developments mentioned, it is a matter for regret that the Government of Israel has continued to withhold its cooperation from the Special Committee. It has persistently denied the Special Committee access to the occupied territories covered by its mandate, a situation which has not changed since the Committee's creation in 1968. We hope that, in the light of the changed environment of peace, there will be a change of attitude in this regard. Not only will it be an earnest of good faith on the part of the Government of Israel, but the Special Committee will also be enabled to accomplish its task more efficiently and with greater assurance.

The signing of the Oslo and Cairo Agreements gave rise to very high expectations concerning the improvement of the human rights situation in the occupied territories. It was expected that these agreements would usher in a new era with the establishment of peace, justice, understanding and respect for human rights in the region. The Special Committee gave its anxious consideration to the question of whether the positive political developments to which reference has been made have led to a significant improvement in the human rights situation of Palestinians and other Arabs of the occupied territories. The Committee has concluded that violations of human rights in the territories remain very serious and a matter of grave concern.

Among the principal factors contributing to the lack of improvement in the human rights situation are the repeated closures that were imposed on the occupied territories after serious incidents which affected security. The nature and effect of these closures are such that they amount to collective punishment. They have been described as an economic blockade and have caused a significant deterioration of the economic and social situation in the occupied territories, especially in the Gaza Strip. They have also led to a significant reduction in the number of Palestinians allowed to work in Israel. In addition, the restrictions imposed on the freedom of movement of the population of the occupied territories have had adverse consequences in the fields of health, education and the freedom of worship.

An important source of tension in the occupied territories has been the relentless expropriation of Arab-owned land for the expansion of settlements, the building of bypass roads and the appropriation of areas as quarries and natural reserves. The situation in regard to new settlements is particularly serious in East Jerusalem. The expansion of settlements around Jerusalem was said to be part of a policy aimed at altering the city's demographic composition by reducing the number of Arabs who live there. The Special Committee noted with concern the archaeological excavations in Jerusalem, which endanger the Al-Aqsa Mosque. In addition, the severe restrictions imposed on persons authorized to enter the city have seriously jeopardized freedom of worship for both Muslims and Christians.

Another significant source of tension among the population of the occupied territories has been the persistently violent behaviour of settlers, especially in the city of Hebron. Their conduct has become more aggressive and they have repeatedly attacked Palestinians, including the elderly and children, and vandalized their property, in most cases with complete impunity. Settlers have recently begun to clash violently with Israeli soldiers when staking claims to Palestinian-owned land by establishing encampments on hilltops in the vicinity of their settlements.

The number of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention facilities continues to remain high. Their release has fallen behind schedule, which jeopardizes the smooth running of the peace process. Conditions of detention are reported to have deteriorated since the signing of the Oslo and Cairo Agreements. Of particular concern to the Special Committee are the "exceptional dispensations, which amount to licences to commit aggravated forms of torture, accorded to the General Security Service regarding the interrogation of persons suspected of having committed security offences. These harsh methods of interrogation even resulted in the death of a Palestinian detainee in April 1995.

The Special Committee welcomes the transfer in September of additional responsibilities to the Palestinians in the fields of statistics, fuel and gas, insurance, commerce and Industry, labour and local government. It also welcomes the allocation of additional water resources to the inhabitants of the occupied territories. These constitute yet another step in the process of restitution of all the occupied territories and ought to bring about an improvement in the daily lives of their inhabitants.

The land and water resources of the Arab population of the occupied Syrian Arab Golan have reportedly continued to be confiscated and its expression of nationalist sentiments has been prohibited and punished. The Special Committee nevertheless hopes that tangible progress will be made in the negotiations concerning the occupied Syrian Arab Golan.

The Special Committee is of the view that much greater effort has to be made if the human rights of all the inhabitants of the occupied territories and the region are to be more fully enjoyed in real terms. The political will is there, but unless the momentum of the peace process is maintained, there is the constant danger that not giving attention to the justified aspirations of the population of the occupied territories will bring with it the spectre of eroding support for the peace process, which can give way to frustration and despair. The progress in the peace process has to go hand in hand with full compliance with all relevant United Nations resolutions and the universally accepted standards of human rights. The Special Committee hopes that its findings will be taken into account when the concrete measures that need to be taken to that end are determined and that its work will be seen as a positive contribution to the peace process. All parties concerned must endeavour to build a truly meaningful culture of respect for human rights in the occupied territories so that the recent significant achievements may enable the people of the region to live in dignity, peace, security and mutual respect. This is the only way to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the region.

The Chairman (interpretation from French): I thank His Excellency Mr. Herman Leonard de Silva for his important statement. It is now my pleasure to call on His Excellency Mr. Julio Londoño-Paredes, the Permanent Representative of Colombia, who will read a message from His Excellency the President of Colombia, in his capacity as Chairman of the Eleventh Conference of Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Mr. Londoño-Paredes (Colombia) (interpretation from Spanish): It is my honour to address the Committee in my capacity as the representative of the Chairman of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries.

The commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is an occasion of singular importance for the Non-Aligned Movement. The cause of Palestine has been, is and will continue to be one of our primary goals and concerns. We are convinced that, until the serious difficulties and anguish of the Palestinians are resolved once and for all, it will be impossible to achieve the much-desired peace in the Middle East.

We greet with optimism the achievement of recent agreements between Palestine and Israel and it is our hope that the process will continue to move towards a just and permanent peace, that takes duly into account the interests of the Palestinians and all parties to the process now taking place in the Middle East.

The Non-Aligned Movement will maintain its support and endorsement of the courageous efforts being made in spite of those who opt for threats and violence to prevent the achievement of peace, the establishment of an independent and sovereign State for Palestinians in their own national territory and a resolution of the problem of the refugees in accordance with United Nations resolutions.

The Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement, meeting during the third week of October in the Colombian city of Cartagena de Indias, in their deliberations paid special attention to the question of Palestine. Therefore, I would now like to read out portions of the Final Document of that Conference.

I should like to express our appreciation for the very important contribution made by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People to the cause of the self-determination of Palestine.

We strongly support the Committee.

The Chairman (interpretation from French): I thank Mr. Julio Londoño-Paredes and request him to convey to His Excellency the President of Colombia the sincere thanks of the Committee for his very important message.

I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate my gratitude to the Government of Colombia for having been kind enough to receive me as a guest at the Eleventh Conference of Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement, where I had the honour to represent the Committee.

I now call on His Excellency Mr. Ahmed Snoussi, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Morocco who will read a message from His Excellency Mr. Abdellatif Filali, Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Morocco, in his capacity as Chairman of the Twenty-second Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers.

Mr. Snoussi (Morocco) (interpretation from French): The message is as follows:

The Chairman (interpretation from French): I would request Ambassador Snoussi to be kind enough to convey to the Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Morocco the sincere thanks of the Committee for his important message. This message reflects the great importance that the Organization of the Islamic Conference has always attached to the Palestinian question and reflects the efforts of the Kingdom of Morocco to seek peace in the Middle East and in Palestine in particular.

I now call on Mr. Said Kamal, Under-Secretary-General for Palestine Affairs in the League of Arab States, who will read a message from His Excellency Mr. Ahmad Esmat Abdul-Maguid, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States.

Mr. Kamal (League of Arab States) (interpretation from Arabic): It is my great pleasure to read out the communiqué from Mr. Abdul-Maguid, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, which is as follows:

The Chairman (interpretation from French): I thank Mr. Said Kamal and request him to be kind enough to convey to the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States the sincere thanks of the Committee for his important message.

I now call on Mr. David Weaver, Director of the Middle East Office of the National Council of Churches and representative of the International Coordinating Committee for Non-Governmental Organizations on the Question of Palestine.

Mr. Weaver (International Coordinating Committee for Non-Governmental Organizations on the Question of Palestine): I am honoured to speak today on behalf of my colleagues, Mr. Donald Betz, President of the International Coordinating Committee for Non-Governmental Organizations on the Question of Palestine and Mr. Larry Ekin, Chairman of the North American Coordinating Committee for Non-Governmental Organizations on the Question of Palestine, and on behalf of the movement of non-governmental organizations, which has stood in support of and solidarity with the Palestinian people for nearly five decades. On their behalf also, let me express thanks to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for extending me an invitation to address their meeting on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

In this year of the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, one cannot but note how both the history of the non-governmental organization movement and the history of the Palestinians are bound up with the United Nations and with each other. In accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, from its very foundation the United Nations has been an Organization not only of Governments but also of non-governmental organizations, which have been accorded a special place and the right of access to its deliberations. The founders of the United Nations recognized that the peoples of the nations of the world are not and cannot be represented solely by their Governments and that human society, in the breadth and complexity of its relationships--now fashionably called "civil society"--must be present in that institution which most represents the global community in its entirety. Even more significantly, the preamble of the Charter declares that the Charter itself comes from the "peoples of the United Nations"--I would repeat: "the peoples".

By that declaration, the United Nations recognized the reality and inspired the hope of all those millions whose aspirations for self-determination and freedom were yet and are yet to be fulfilled in independent statehood. It recognized its role as forum and recourse for all those whose emergence as nations were and are resisted and contested, whose voices often went and go unheard in national capitals, and who frequently suffered and still suffer injustice, occupation, repression, colonization, annexation or expulsion.

It has been the tragic fate of the Palestinian people that they have suffered and endured all the aforementioned evils as a consequence of the attempt of this very Organization to answer the horrors of European anti-Semitism and genocide with the affirmation of another people, through the partition of Palestine and the establishment of the State of Israel as the State of the Jewish people. The triumph of the one has meant catastrophe for the other, whose bitter consequences have persisted through these many years and which only now may be approaching some measure of redress. The question of Palestine, the welfare of the Palestinians and the recognition and satisfaction of their demands for justice from the international community have been an inescapable responsibility of the United Nations ever since that fateful decision was taken 48 years ago. It has been a unique responsibility, as unique as the decision that brought it into being, and one that has shaped the life of the United Nations ever since.

In one form or another, the non-governmental organization movement has been part of that long and painful history every step of the way. As ad hoc groups of concerned individuals and as well-established charities, as churches and religious bodies and organizations, non-governmental organizations responded to the Palestinians in those early years with an outpouring of emergency assistance. Later, when it became apparent that the Palestinian diaspora was not a matter of days or weeks or months but of years, longer-term social and economic development projects appeared. From these early responses of compassion for human suffering came the knowledge of the experience of the Palestinians as a people, and from this knowledge emerged genuine solidarity and recognition of Palestinians' rights to self-determination, to independence and to sovereignty, to have a homeland and to return to it. This solidarity has been given explicit institutional form in the network of non-governmental organizations on whose behalf I speak today, which have turned their chartered relationship with the United Nations into a partnership to affirm and uphold the national rights of the Palestinians in accordance with international law and universal principles of justice and freedom, as articulated repeatedly in United Nations resolutions.

The movement of non-governmental organizations has been a curious--if not cacophonous--mixture of principle and pragmatism in its support the Palestinians, both in it relationship to the United Nations and elsewhere. This is not surprising, since both the term "non-governmental organization" and the movement itself encompass an astonishing array of forms of human organization and points of view. The non-governmental organizations are united by four things: they are not Governments; their members usually are brought together freely by some shared belief or commitment or faith; they are undiplomatically uninhibited in their speech; and they care passionately about the Palestinians and their struggle. Many among them also care about those against whom the Palestinians have struggled, the Israelis, having foreseen long ago that, for good or for ill, the fates of the two peoples are now inseparably bound together and that the only hope for survival for both is mutual recognition, mutual respect and eventual reconciliation on the basis of a just peace--not a perfect justice, either, but a very imperfect justice, deeply unsatisfying to anyone who has lost and suffered so much, yet one which offers a better future than unremitting strife and violence. That even imperfect justice has its bitter enemies, in all camps, has been demonstrated by the tragic assassination of Prime Minister Rabin. His assassination has revealed in its aftermath, however, that the mutual recognition and process of negotiation represented by the Declaration of Principles, however flawed, have become nearly irreversible.

With regard to the present process of the agreements of Oslo, Cairo and other places, the movement of non-governmental organizations is divided, so I can offer no comment on behalf of all. There is cautious support, tacit acceptance and vocal opposition. What stands out clearly to us is the asymmetry of power and the continuing vulnerability of the Palestinians to domination and manipulation. This fact represents an enormous challenge to the Palestinian people and their leadership, to the United Nations and the international community and to the non-governmental organizations that are in solidarity with the Palestinians to ensure that the process whatever paths it may take, does not stop until the Palestinians attain fully their national rights. All bets may be on the future, though the outcome depends not on chance, but on will and effort. Therefore, what can be affirmed is our continuing critical solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people, our recognition and insistence that the United Nations has a unique role as the guarantor of their national rights within the international community and our unshakable adherence to the fulfillment of those rights.

The Chairman (interpretation from French): I thank Mr. Weaver and ask him to convey the Committee's thanks to the Coordinating Committee for the valuable contributions that non-governmental organizations have always made to the Committee's work.

It is now my honour to announce that the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People has received messages of support and solidarity from many Heads of State and Government, Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Governments and organizations. The texts of the messages will be published in a special bulletin of the Division for Palestinian Rights, but I should like to read out the list of those who sent them.

We have received messages from the following Heads of State: His Excellency Mr. Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt; His Excellency Mr. Nouhak Phoumsavanh, President of the Lao People's Democratic Republic; His Excellency Mr. Abdou Diouf, President of the Republic of Senegal; His Majesty King Hussein Bin Talal of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahayan, President of the United Arab Emirates; His Majesty King Fahd Bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques; Her Excellency Mrs. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka; His Excellency Mr. Soeharto, President of the Republic of Indonesia; His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar; His Excellency Mr. Glafcos Clerides, President of the Republic of Cyprus; the Central People's Committee of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea; His Excellency Mr. Le Duc Anh, President of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam; His Excellency Mr. Liamine Zeroual, President of Algeria; His Excellency Mr. Burhan-ud-din Rabbani, President of the Islamic State of Afghanistan; His Excellency Mr. Boris Yeltsin, President of the Russian Federation; His Excellency Mr. Alpha Oumar Konaré, President of the Republic of Mali; His Excellency Mr. Leonid Kuchma, President of Ukraine; His Excellency Mr. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, President of the Republic of Tunisia; His Excellency Mr. Maaouya Ould Sid' Ahmed Taya, President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania; His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam; His Excellency Mr. Abdur Rahman Biswas, President of the People's Republic of Bangladesh; His Excellency Mr. Fidel V. Ramos, President of the Republic of the Philippines; His Excellency Mr. Ernesto Samper Pizano, President of Colombia (in his capacity as President of the Non-Aligned Movement); His Excellency Mr. Sixto Durán Ballen, President of the Republic of Ecuador; and His Excellency Mr. Robert Gabriel Mugabe, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe.

We have also received messages from the following Heads of Government: His Excellency Dato Seri Mr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia; Her Excellency Mrs. Tansu Çiller, Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey; His Excellency the Honourable Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada; His Excellency Mr. Li Peng, Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China; His Excellency Mr. Banharn Silpa-Archa, Prime Minister of Thailand; Her Excellency Mrs. Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan; His Excellency Mr. Felipe Gonzalez, Prime Minister of Spain; His Excellency Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao, Prime Minister of India; and Her Excellency Begum Khaleda Zia, Prime Minister of the People's Republic of Bangladesh.

The Governments of France, Guyana and South Africa have also sent messages.

The following Ministers of Foreign Affairs have sent messages: His Excellency Mr. Guido Di Tella, Minister of Foreign Relations and International Trade and Culture of the Argentine Republic; His Excellency Mr. Karolos Papoulias, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece; His Excellency Mr. Luiz Felipe Lampreia, Minister of External Relations of the Federative Republic of Brazil; His Excellency Mr. Yohei Kono, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan; His Excellency Mr. Rodrigo Pardo Garcia-Peña, Minister for Foreign Relations of Colombia; His Excellency Mr. Farouk Al-Shara, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Syrian Arab Republic; His Excellency Mr. Omar Mustafa Muntasser, Secretary of the General People's Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya; His Excellency Mr. Gong-Ro-Myung, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea; His Excellency Mr. Yousef Bin Alawi Bin Abdullah, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman; and His Excellency Mr. Agard Didi, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uganda.

We have also received messages from His Excellency Mr. Hamid Algabid, Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and His Excellency Mr. Salim Ahmed Salim, Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity.

From specialized agencies, we have received a message from His Excellency Mr. Federico Mayor, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. We have also received a message from Ms. Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund.

We have received messages from the following non-governmental organizations: the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee; the Women's Union of Russia; the Indo-Arab Islamic Association; The Andean Commission of Jurists; Association Belgo-Palestinienne; the International Progress Organization; Centro italiano per la pace in Medio Oriente; the Association of Israeli-Palestinian Physicians for Human Rights; and the Committee of Tunisian Women.

On behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People as a whole, I should like to express our sincere appreciation to the Heads of State and Government, Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Governments and the organizations I have just listed and to all participants for their constant efforts towards a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine and for the support they have always given to the objectives and activities of our Committee.

The statements that we have heard and the messages of solidarity we have received today demonstrate once again the determination of the international community to progress towards the establishment of peace in the Middle East through the attainment of the inalienable national rights of the Palestinian people in accordance with United Nations resolutions. I can assure you that we, the members of the Committee for the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian people, will spare no effort for the achievement of those objectives.

I now have the pleasure of calling on Mr. Farouk Kaddoumi, Head of the Political Department of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Mr. Kaddoumi (Palestine Liberation Organization) (interpretation from Arabic): First, on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization, I should like to convey through you, Sir, our sincere thanks to all the sovereigns and Heads of State who have sent messages of solidarity to this Committee. I also offer our heartfelt thanks for the messages of solidarity we have heard this morning from the President of the General Assembly, the Secretary-General, the President of the Security Council of the United Nations, and from international organizations.

The United Nations commemoration of this Day and this gesture of solidarity reaffirm the Organization's commitment to the search for a just solution to this long-standing problem. The United Nations has always striven to establish a just and lasting peace in the Middle East region and to defuse the tension that still exists there. From the very outset, under the leadership of the PLO, the Palestinian people has worked to attain that goal and has made many sacrifices and concessions for the cause of peace.

In the future, the Palestinian people will not hesitate to defend the peace process, since we are on the right track. In keeping with the principles of the United States initiative of 1991 and of the Madrid peace Conference, the Palestinian people fervently desire a just and lasting peace. Our people as a whole has suffered for so long and sorely needs peace. We need the United Nations to help resolve this chronic problem.

In conclusion I wish to reiterate our heartfelt thanks for the Committee's contributions and support. Peace be with you.

The Chairman (interpretation from French): I wish to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has made this meeting possible, in particular the members of the Division for Palestinian Rights, the Office of Conference Services, the Department of Public Information and the security officers and everyone else who works behind the scenes.

I want to remind everyone that the exhibit arranged by the office of the Permanent Observer of Palestine, under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, will be opened today at 6 p.m. in the public lobby of the General Assembly building, and that the ceremony will be followed by a reception to which you are all cordially invited.

The meeting rose at 12.10 p.m.


This record contains the original texts of speeches delivered in English and interpretations of speeches delivered in the other languages. Corrections should be submitted to original speeches only. They should be incorporated in a copy of the record and be sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned, within one week of the date of publication, to the Chief of the Verbatim Reporting Section, room C-178.

Corrections will be issued in a corrigendum.


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