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Department of Public Information (DPI)
26 November 2003
PRESS CONFERENCE BY OBSERVER FOR PALESTINE
Declaring the attempt by Israel to present a draft resolution on the situation of and assistance to Israeli children to the General Assembly’s Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) unwise, Nasser Al-Kidwa, Observer for Palestine, said that action constituted an attempt to abuse the title “children” to achieve political goals.
At a Headquarters press conference this afternoon, Mr. Al-Kidwa said it had been clear from the beginning that such an attempt would prove unsuccessful. [The text was withdrawn by Israel during today’s Third Committee meeting.] Thus, Israel’s motivation in making such a presentation stood as the real issue to question. Regardless of whether it represented a “Don Quixote style” attempt to create battles and then cry foul play, or something else, the bottom line was that it could never have flown.
Moreover, noted Mr. Al-Kidwa, the Israeli representative had made undiplomatic comments during the Third Committee’s consideration of that draft text. Such behaviour had become a pattern – it was used to accuse and intimidate others. Yet, at the present stage, such attempts no longer worked in the “house of law” that was the United Nations.
Although it was his understanding that most Member States shared his own views on the subject, Mr. Al-Kidwa said he hoped that none had bought into the suggestion that the Israeli representative had been surprised by the outcome met by the draft resolution. One must ask instead, he concluded, why the delegation of Israel had attempted to abuse the forum in such a manner.
Asked why the Israeli draft had stood no chance of adoption, given the adoption several weeks ago of a similar resolution on the situation of Palestinian children, Mr. Al-Kidwa said the situation of Palestinian children was fundamentally different from the situation of any other group of children, including that of Israeli children. The Palestinian situation was unique in that Palestinian children were, collectively, being deprived of every right mentioned in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
There was no comparable situation anywhere in the world, he added. And it was for that reason that the resolution on Palestinian children had been brought before, and received wide acceptance in, the Committee. Moreover, the original position of the Israeli delegation had been that the situation of Palestinian children should not be treated separately from that of all children. Thus, the Israeli draft represented a 180-degree policy turn.
In response to further questioning, Mr. Al-Kidwa suggested that what was needed at the United Nations was not for Israel’s delegation to play a more proactive role, but for new policies to be implemented – policies to bring to an end Israeli colonialism and occupation of Palestinian land, and respectful of the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and independence.
When asked why – when to an uninformed outsider it seemed both sides had suffered – his delegation had not chosen to allow the Israeli text to be adopted
as a means of improving the atmosphere between the two sides, Mr. Al-Kidwa responded that the sentiment was honourable, for a peace activist. However, as a diplomat it was his specific job to promote certain political interests. He had tried to do that in the most honest manner possible, and based on the sincere belief that right and justice were on the Palestinian side because their situation. On that basis, he could not accept drawing parallels to the Palestinian situation.
The Palestinian people, he added, had never declared a monopoly on suffering. However, when it came to their overall situation – Palestinian living conditions and political deprivation – there could be no acceptance of parallels.
Finally, he acknowledged that neither resolution would have had much impact on the situation on the ground given that the United States had voted against and the European Union abstained on the earlier resolution on the situation of Palestinian children. However, that did not make such resolutions meaningless; they retained the importance of their political and psychological meaning.
In some cases, such resolutions did in fact make a difference, such as the one requesting an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice. Moreover, they espoused concrete and practical values that could impact on the overall situation in the future.
At the top of his statement, Mr. Al-Kidwa mentioned that the report of the Secretary-General on the separation wall would be available Friday morning. While its release was a bit late, the report would be carefully studied.
It was his intention, he announced, to request the General Assembly to resume the tenth emergency special session, in light of Israel’s rejection of the resolution adopted at the last meeting of the special session. At the resumed session, the Assembly would again be asked to take action on a draft resolution seeking an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences for Israel in respect of that State’s continued construction of the separation wall. It was hoped that the session could be held immediately following the Assembly’s regular consideration of the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East.
Finally, Mr. Al-Kidwa said that he had given serious consideration to presenting a draft amendment to the Assembly resolution on the Credentials Committee. His proposal would aim to ensure that the credentials of the delegation of Israel were accepted by the Committee on the understanding that they did not cover the territories occupied since 1967.
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