Question of Palestine home
17 December 2003
UNITED NATIONS MEETING FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
ON THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE
Beijing, 16 and 17 December 2003
1. The United Nations Meeting for Asia and the Pacific on the Question of Palestine was held in Beijing, on 16 and 17 December 2003, under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. Participants in the Meeting included international experts, representatives of Governments, Palestine, intergovernmental organizations, United Nations system entities, parliaments, civil society organizations, academic institutions and the media.
2. The Meeting was convened by the Committee with a view to mobilizing international support for a peaceful solution of the question of Palestine. In the course of the Meeting, the participants have reviewed the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and expressed grave concern about its deterioration. The participants discussed the Road Map and emphasized that it remained the principal mechanism for moving towards a peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They welcomed recent civil society initiatives, such as the Geneva and People’s Voice initiatives as important steps to stimulate the necessary debate among Palestinians and Israelis on the factors that must be resolved to end the conflict.
3. The Meeting was held following the appointment of a new Palestinian Government and renewed efforts by the Quartet to promote the performance-based Road Map to a permanent two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The participants also welcomed the unanimous adoption by the Security Council of resolution 1515 (2003), in which the Council endorsed the Road Map, and called on the parties to fulfil their obligations under the plan in cooperation with the Quartet and to realize the vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. The participants were hopeful that the expression of support for the Road Map by all members of the Council would provide the much-needed impetus to the stalled political process and would send a clear and powerful message to the leadership on both sides that concrete steps should be taken without further delay and conditions put in place in order to resume the peace dialogue and move forward vigorously with the implementation of the Road Map.
4. The participants viewed the adoption of resolution 1515 (2003) as a strong indication of the Security Council’s intention to remain fully engaged in efforts towards achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East. In that regard, the participants called upon the United Nations to continue to maintain its permanent responsibility with respect to all aspects of the question of Palestine until it is resolved in a satisfactory manner, in conformity with relevant United Nations resolutions, in accordance with international legitimacy, and until the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people were fully realized.
5. The participants agreed that the continuing occupation by Israel of the Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, remained the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, threatening the security and stability of the entire region. The constantly expanding illegal settlement activities, throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and new Israeli-only roads and security zones cutting through the Palestinian land, were described by the participants as illegal facts which also jeopardized the chances for a political settlement and an eventual establishment of a sovereign, contiguous Palestinian State.
6. The participants voiced serious concern about the suffering and dispossession of the Palestinian people caused by the occupation. They noted that since September 2000 more than 2,700 Palestinians and 800 Israelis had been killed and many more had been injured, and participants deplored the loss of innocent lives. In this connection, the participants strongly emphasized that there could be no military solution to the conflict, and that a lasting settlement can only be reached through a peaceful dialogue and political process between the two parties based on international legitimacy.
7. The construction of the separation wall in the occupied West Bank and around East Jerusalem was seen as an extension of the illegal annexation by Israel of Palestinian land in violation of its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention. The participants welcomed the resolutions of the resumed Tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly and the subsequent report of the Secretary-General, and called upon the Security Council to take steps to make Israel comply with the General Assembly’s demand to stop and reverse the construction of the wall. The participants considered the request by the General Assembly to the International Court of Justice to determine the legal consequences arising from the construction of the wall an important step towards upholding international law in efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
8. The participants called on the Government of Israel to lift the siege it had imposed on the Chairman of the Executive Committee and President of the Palestinian Authority H.E. Mr. Yasser Arafat. They expressed concern that the elected leader of the Palestinian people remained confined to his Headquarters, the
, in Ramallah. As a result, the Palestinian people have been deprived of his leadership and guidance especially at this critical time. The participants felt that the situation was utterly unacceptable and should be redressed by the occupying Power without delay.
9. The participants noted that because of an exceptionally high level of mistrust between the parties, the best hope was seen therefore in a continued international oversight and stewardship of the political process, in particular through the Quartet, working closely with other international and regional actors. The participants also underscored the need for the establishment of an effective formal mechanism on the ground to monitor the implementation of the Road Map and encouraged the Security Council to work towards the setting up of such a mechanism.
10. The Meeting commended the international donor assistance to the Palestinian people and emphasized its vital importance especially in view of the growing humanitarian crisis, virtual collapse of the Palestinian economy and large-scale destruction on the ground. The participants noted that harsh restrictions on the movement of people and goods, prolonged withholding by Israel of the Palestinian tax and customs revenues, and other measures of collective punishment had a disastrous effect on the Palestinian economy as a whole, as well as on the livelihood of individual Palestinian households. The participants stressed the responsibility of the occupying Power for facilitating the efforts by the donor community. Donor assistance was considered key to alleviating the humanitarian crisis and supporting the political process.
11. The Committee delegation expressed its deep appreciation for the active and constructive role played by China, a permanent member of the Security Council and an Observer in the Committee, in the search for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the region. Members of the Committee delegation welcomed the constructive efforts by H.E. Mr. Wang Shijie, China’s Special Envoy for Middle East Affairs, towards the resumption of the political dialogue between the parties.
12. The participants also expressed gratitude to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and to the Government of China for hosting the Meeting and for the assistance and support extended to the Committee and the United Nations Secretariat in its preparation.
Beijing, 17 December 2003