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About the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People
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        General Assembly
9 March 1978




Held at Headquarters, New York,
on Thursday, 9 March 1978 at 10.30 a.m.

Chairman: Mr. FALL (Senegal)


Programme of work of the Special Unit

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 11.05 a.m.


1. Mr. DUBEY (India), speaking as Acting Chairman of the Task Force, said that at its meeting on 28 February 1978 the Task Force had suggested six themes on which the Special Unit might be expected to prepare studies during 1978. They were: the right of return and how it should be applied and implemented in the case of the rights of the Palestinian people; the right of self-determination referred to in resolution 3236 (XXIX); an analysis of the activity of the Committee, its background, its recommendation and the work it had done during the previous two years; the origins of the Palestinian problem, in particular how it had originally come before the United Nations - that would be a basic study; a critical and analytical study, intended for specialists on the Palestinian question, of all relevant resolutions on the question of Palestine; and a history of Palestine. The Task Force thought it important that the separate identity of the Palestinian people throughout history should be traced.

2. On the question of bulletins, the Task Force suggested that they should deal with relevant current events, including those involving violations of rights in the occupied territories, and should cover important statements on events in the region. The Secretariat might be instructed to explore the possibility of arranging short television programmes periodically over national networks in the United States, if that could be done with the funds available for the bulletins.

3. The film planned for 1978 would need to be discussed in detail before its production by the Office of Public Information began in order to ensure maximum effectiveness. The Task Force considered that traditional themes such as relief work for refugees should not be the main thrust of the film.

4. The Task Force urged that the observance of the first International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People should be well prepared. One urgent step required was to ensure that a reference to the Day, 29 November, was included in all documents relating to major United Nations events for 1978.

5. In conclusion, he stressed that the suggestions he had outlined were of a preliminary character and that the Task Force would welcome comments and suggestions.

6. The CHAIRMAN said that it might be advisable to establish priorities among the six thematic studies suggested by the Task Force. In connexion with the right of self-determination, it was important to bear in mind that that right had been recognized since 1947 by virtue of resolution 181 (II). The principles laid down in that resolution had been repeated in later resolutions, including resolution 3236 (XXIX). He felt that the third study suggested should include a brief analysis of the handling of the Palestinian problem at the United Nations before the creation of the Committee, as well as subsequent developments. The fourth study, on the origins of the Palestinian problem, should place the problem in its proper historical perspective, since even before 1948 the Palestinian people had been conscious of their national identity and rights.

7. On the question of bulletins, he considered that a regular schedule for their publication should be established. The first bulletin might, for example, be published in May and subsequent issues in July and September.

8. The Special Unit was already in touch with the Office of Public Information with regard to the film. The essential point was to arouse interest in the theme and to avoid familiar truisms. Finally, he suggested that Member States should be requested to ensure that the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on 29 November was given maximum publicity.

9. Mr. TERZI (Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization) said that in the publications to be issued, it would be important to define the territory known as Palestine. Since 1922 the region between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean had been Palestine, and from the beginning the United Nations had dealt with that geographical area. Palestine was not, therefore, an area without fixed borders, and in the past confusion had been caused by speaking of Palestine as a region whose geographical boundaries were uncertain.

10. On the question of self-determination, he pointed out that the League of Nations had in 1922 when the mandate system had been set up, deemed the Palestinian people to be in the Class A category, meaning that the Palestinian people had been regarded as being ready for independence and sovereignty at that time. The 180-day strike in 1936 had had an independent Palestine as its aim.

11. He hoped that the Committee would make it clear to the Office of Public Information that both the Special Unit and the General Assembly would require the proposed film to be ready by 29 November. The starting-point in the production of any film was the script, and he hoped that the Special Unit would prepare a script before dealing with any of the technical production issues.

12. Mr. KHALEF (Observer for Iraq) asked whether the question of the confiscation of land would be covered in the study on the right of return.

13. The CHAIRMAN said that he believed that the Task Force's proposal implied that the question of land confiscation was subsumed under the right of return.

14. Mr. TERZI (Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization) said that the guarantees of fundamental rights contained in resolution 181 (II) covered everything. The question of rights to land should therefore come under the fourth proposed study, that on the origins of the Palestinian problem.

15. Mr. ABDALLAH (Tunisia) said that, in the opinion of his delegation, the study on the history of Palestine should start with the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire. He urged that the Committee should seek an assurance that the content of the proposed film should remain within its control. It was essential that the film should be ready by 29 November.

16. The CHAIRMAN said that the Committee clearly had the right to monitor the progress of the film and would certainly do so.

17. In his view, the study on the origins of the Palestinian problem should cover the period during which the United Nations had had an interest in the problem, in other words, from partition onwards; the study on the history of Palestine should at least cover the period of the British mandate and discuss the Balfour Declaration.

18. Mr. GEORGESCU (Romania) said that, under General Assembly resolution 32/40, the Special Unit was to work under the guidance of the Committee. The preparation of draft studies could safely be left to the Special Unit, but it should submit an outline of each study to the Committee for approval.

19. He believed that the fourth of the proposed studies, that on the origins of the Palestinian problem, should be given priority over the others. He proposed that the words "in the United Nations" should be added to the title of its theme.

20. He would be interested to learn the views of other delegations on whether the Special Unit might be asked to prepare an additional study dealing with the question of Palestine as it affected the prospects for a Middle East settlement.

21. The CHAIRMAN observed that the subject-matter of the additional study suggested by the Romanian representative was covered by the proposed study on the right of self-determination.

22. Mr. TERZI (Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization) supported the proposal that a study of the origins of the Palestinian problem should be the first priority; it should include information on the background of the problem in the League of Nations, since the United Nations had inherited the problem from the League.

23. Mrs. HYDER (Pakistan) said that, in view of the Chairman's suggestion that the study on the history of Palestine should begin with the League of Nations mandate, she agreed that it might be best for that study to be the first of the series.

24. Mr. DUBEY (India) said that at the meeting of the Task Force his delegation had felt that the studies proposed gave undue emphasis to the United Nations involvement with the Palestinian problem. It had therefore suggested an historical study covering the period before the existence of the United Nations, which would stress the right of the Palestinian people to a state of their own.

25. The CHAIRMAN suggested that the Committee should specify only that the study should cover the entire history of Palestine and not just the period in which the United Nations had been concerned with the question.

26. Mr. RIZA (Secretary of the Committee) said that it was important to give the Special Unit clear instructions on the priority to be accorded to each of the six proposed studies. The Unit had already begun to prepare outlines for the studies on the right of return, the right of self-determination and the origins of the Palestinian problem, and it expected to have them ready for submission to the Committee in two weeks' time. The Unit would also welcome guidance on whether all six studies should be ready before the opening of the General Assembly or whether some of them could be issued in November or December.

27. The Unit had already initiated consultations with OPI with regard to the production of the proposed film. The major problem was the preparation of a script. So far the Committee had indicated only what it did not want the film to be. What was needed in order to get the project moving was some indication of what the Committee did want the film to contain. The Special Unit itself was not technically equipped to prepare a film script and would have to rely on OPI. The script would, of course, be submitted to the Committee for its approval. In that connexion, it would be extremely helpful if the Task Force could supply the Special Unit with an outline of the film script.

28. The Special Unit had tentative plans to issue three bulletins in May, July and September, but was prepared to revise that schedule in accordance with the wishes of the Committee. The Unit's intention was to make the first bulletin a special issue containing a great deal of background information and to issue the third bulletin to coincide with the opening of the General Assembly. If the Committee so wished, however, the first bulletin might be published in May or June, the second in August or September and the third in November, to coincide with the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. He informed the Committee that a recent OPI press release listing days designated by the General Assembly for special observances mentioned the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

29. The CHAIRMAN said that the Special Unit should endeavour to prepare an outline for the analysis of the activities of the Committee for submission to the Committee in two weeks' time, together with outlines for the three studies which the Secretary had mentioned. The studies and the film script should be completed as soon as possible, and in any event in time for the General Assembly's discussion of the question of Palestine, which usually took place in October.

30. Mr. RIZA (Secretary of the Committee) said, in connexion with the Committee's desire to have the film completed before 29 November, that OPI had informed the Special Unit that it had a busy production schedule and that production of the Special Unit's film would have to wait its turn. The Committee might therefore wish to urge the Secretary-General to instruct OPI to give priority to the Special Unit's film so as to meet the Committee's deadline.

31. The CHAIRMAN said that he would take the necessary steps to request the Secretary-General to contact OPI in connexion with the matter.


32. The CHAIRMAN announced that he had received a telegram from the Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights assuring the Committee that the Commission on Human Rights would do its utmost to secure respect for human rights in occupied territories, including Palestine. He had also received a letter from the Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference thanking him for his participation in the fifth session of the Committee on Jerusalem, on 23 and 24 January 1978. Copies of both communications had been circulated to members.

33. Lastly, the Secretary-General of the United Nations had transmitted to him a petition signed by approximately 100 prominent Palestinians in the occupied territories calling on the United Nations to put a stop to actions affecting the rights of the Palestinian people and its legitimate representative, the Palestine Liberation Organization. He had requested the Secretary-General to arrange for the translation of the petition and its distribution to the members and observers of the Committee.

The meeting rose at 12.15 p.m.

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