THE COMMEMORATION OF THE
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY
WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
I. COMMEMORATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY
WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
On 29 November 2002, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was observed at United Nations Headquarters, New York, and at the United Nations Offices at Geneva and Vienna, as well as in several other cities, in accordance with the provisions of General Assembly resolution 32/40 B of 2 December 1977.
All States Members of the United Nations and specialized agencies and observers were invited to attend the solemn meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
At the meeting, statements were made by Mr. Papa Louis Fall (Senegal), Chairman of the Committee; Mr. Jan Kavan (Czech Republic), President of the fifty-seventh session of the General Assembly; Mr. Wang Yingfan (China), President of the Security Council for the month of November 2002; and Mr. Iqbal Riza, Chef de Cabinet, Representative of the Secretary-General. The Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, Mr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, read out a message from Mr. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian Authority. Also, Mr. Chithambaranathan Mahendran (Sri Lanka) made a statement in his capacity as Chairman of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories.
In addition, the Deputy Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, Ms. Jeanette Ndhlovu, delivered a message on behalf of Mr. Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa, in his dual capacities as Chairman of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries and Chairman of the African Union; the Permanent Representative of the Sudan to the United Nations, Mr. Elfatih Mohamed Ahmed Erwa, read out a message from Dr. Mustafa Osman Ismail, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Sudan, in his capacity as Chairman of the twenty-ninth session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers; and Mr. Said Kamal, representative of the League of Arab States, delivered a message from Mr. Amre Moussa, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States. Ms. Phyllis Bennis, an NGO representative, also addressed the meeting.
Closing statements were made by Mr. Farouk Kaddoumi, Head of the Political Department of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and Mr. Papa Louis Fall, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People received messages from 29 Heads of State, 9 Heads of Government, 1 Government, 10 Foreign Ministers, as well as the European Union, the African Union and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Messages were also received from four non-governmental organizations.
The solemn meeting was followed by the screening of two films in the Dag Hammarskjöld Auditorium. A photographic exhibit entitled “ Palestinian Cities - Images of Life from the Turn of the 20th Century,” presented by the Committee, in cooperation with the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations, was on display in the Public Lobby at United Nations Headquarters from 29 November 2002 to 10 January 2003.
At the United Nations Office at Geneva, a solemn meeting was held on 29 November. The meeting was chaired by Mr. Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, who opened the meeting by reading the statement of Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations. The Permanent Representative of Malta to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Mr. Michael Bartolo, spoke on behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. Mr. Prasad Kariyawasam (Sri Lanka), representative of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, made a statement. Statements were also made by Mr. Saad Alfarargi, representative of the League of Arab States; Mr. Jafar Olia, representative of the Organization of the Islamic Conference; Mr. Sipho George Nene, representative of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries; Mr. Idris Osei Mensa-Bonsu, representative of the African Union; and Ms. Clarissa Balan, an NGO representative. Mr. Nabil Ramlawi, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations Office at Geneva, made a statement.
At the United Nations Office at Vienna, a solemn meeting was also held on 29 November. Mr. José Ramón Cabañas Rodriguez, Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations Office at Vienna, opened the meeting and spoke on behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. Mr. Franz Baumann, Officer-in-Charge of the United Nations Office at Vienna, delivered the statement of the Secretary-General. Other speakers included Mr. Christian Prosl, Deputy Secretary-General of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Austria, and Mr. Hans Köchler, an NGO representative. Mr. Mohieddin Massoud, Alternate Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations Office at Vienna, read out a message of Chairman Yasser Arafat. Representatives from 27 Member States and Permanent Observer entities, as well as officials of the host country, non-governmental organizations, other invited guests and United Nations staff members attended the meeting.
Statement by Mr. Papa Louis Fall (Senegal), Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People
The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People is meeting, for the twenty-fifth time on a solemn occasion, as part of the commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, a day which the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed a quarter of a century ago during the last millennium, in order to remind us, at least once every year, that the international community must focus attention, mobilize energy and deploy the means available to put a definitive end to the sufferings of the Palestinian people.
To declare that the situation is really tragic is tantamount to stating the obvious, since the Palestinian people have known decades of suffering, punishment and humiliation, a direct consequence of the failure to establish the Arab State provided for in General Assembly resolution 181 (II) beside the Jewish State, in historic Palestine. For 55 years, the Palestinians have been deprived of a State, and many of them are left even today without land and without shelter; only hope fills their minds and sustains them, enabling them to hold out the hope of being able, one day in the not-too-distant future, to recover all their usurped rights, specifically the right to self-determination and, above all, that of living a normal life, of living a peaceful existence in their own country.
Although the Madrid peace process launched in 1991 and the Oslo Accords of 1993 gave good reasons to hope that a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East was within reach, the events which have since ensued appear, unfortunately, to prove the contrary, with mounting disappointments and frustrations at the slow pace - indeed the snail’s pace - of the progress being achieved. This feeling of frustration erupted with all its force following the provocative visit of Mr. Sharon, the then leader of the Israeli opposition, to Al-Haram al-Sharif, on 28 September 2000, a visit which triggered widespread violence and destruction that are still occurring, with a legacy of hundreds of dead and thousands of wounded, largely among the Palestinians but also among the Israelis.
The root cause of this situation is unquestionably the occupation of Palestinian territory by Israel and its perpetuation by means of illegal actions taken by the occupying Power, with a succession of individual and collective sanctions, blockades and curfews, destruction of public infrastructure, arrests and detentions, demolition of houses and destruction of other private property, devastation of farmlands, deliberate pursuit of the settlements policy, extrajudicial executions and murderous raids, plundering of Palestinian towns, villages and refugee camps, leaving in its wake large numbers of innocent victims, described with scorn as “collateral damage”.
The unbearable suffering and inhuman collective reprisals thus imposed unjustly on the Palestinian civilian population undoubtedly constitute grave violations of the fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, and of the very clear obligations which Israel is mandated to fulfil, as was stated at Geneva on 5 December 2001, at the Conference of High Contracting Parties.
A further blow compounding this disastrous situation is the fact that the Palestinian economy lies in tatters. Poverty and unemployment are rising exponentially, the public health and hygiene sectors have crumbled and the Palestinian Authority is in disarray. Instead of concentrating their efforts on the building of a democratic State and pursuing its economic development, the Palestinians are reduced to the daily struggle for survival, in which, according to the sad comment of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), pauperization and food insecurity affect millions of people in the West Bank and Gaza.
And if famine has not yet become widespread, we owe it to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and other United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations and national and international aid and relief agencies, to which we owe a debt of gratitude for their emergency humanitarian assistance, which should be stepped up yet further in order to prevent the worst from happening.
Despite the gloomy picture painted here, there are reasons, although fragile and tenuous, that permit a glimmer of hope, as the international community is now reaching agreement on that vision set forth by the Security Council in resolution 1397 (2002), and centred on the peace plan adopted by the Arab Summit in Beirut, a vision which has become the premise on which any definitive solution must inevitably be based, namely, the creation of two States, Israeli and Palestinian, coexisting within secure and recognized borders.
The Quartet is working on this with determination, on the basis of the “ plan of principle” resulting in the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian State by 2005, a plan whose main features, as well as a number of its details, are clear, but for reasons that go unexplained, a start as not yet been made on its implementation.
It is therefore high time for the leaders of the two parties and the wider international community to take bold and difficult decisions, in keeping with what is at stake, and acting with diligence and courage imbued with that political will of which great statesmen are made.
Since the security measures must be closely linked with political, humanitarian and economic progress, in accordance with the proposals already put forward by the Secretary-General and supported by the Quartet, it is clear that the extremists of both camps should no longer be entitled to upset the order of priorities and hold the peace process hostage.
This is an appropriate time to recall that the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People will never tire in its condemnation of criminal and terrorist acts, whether they consist of indiscriminate or premeditated killings, selective or collateral murders, suicidal or targeted missions, whoever the victims may be and whatever the circumstances and the real, apparent or underlying motives of such acts.
In the light of this situation, the international community has the overriding obligation to assist the parties in resuming the negotiations. It could play a decisive role when the time comes to define the terms of a final settlement and to explain how to get there, on the basis of the plan of principle mentioned above and centring on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 1397 (2002) and other relevant United Nations resolutions.
The political horizon, namely the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian State within the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, would be clearly outlined from the start, as would the time frame for implementation of the various phases. The full cooperation of the parties is indispensable. They should unconditionally accept the premises and modalities of the process, and their compliance should be verified by an international presence on the ground.
Instead of being the subject of political dynamics, such as the approaching elections, the peace process should be “sealed” by the Security Council in a resolution under Chapter VII of the Charter, with reports on its implementation being provided to the two principal organs of the United Nations at regular intervals. This methodical approach would be consistent with the position held by this Committee and the General Assembly, that the United Nations should continue its ongoing responsibility for the question of Palestine until it has been effectively resolved in all its aspects.
For its part, the Committee will continue to pursue its mandate with the same determination for as long as the situation requires. We fervently hope that the State of Palestine will soon be a reality, as a full Member of the United Nations and as a democratic country living in peace with the State of Israel.
Before concluding, I should like to welcome the presence here today of His Excellency Mr. Jan Kavan, President of the General Assembly, and His Excellency Mr. Wang Yingfan, President of the Security Council, and to thank them for the interest they have shown in the work of our Committee and the close attention they pay to the sadly persistent problems of the Middle East.
I should also like to welcome the presence of Mr. Iqbal S. Riza, Under-Secretary-General and Chef de Cabinet of Mr. Kofi Annan - who unfortunately could not join us today - and to request him to convey to the Secretary-General how much we appreciate his kind support of the activities of the Committee, as well as his untiring efforts and those of his Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.
While commending the remarkable work already accomplished by the Quartet in the promotion of peace in the Middle East and the realization of the rights of the Palestinian people, I should like to convey the great satisfaction of the Committee to its regular partners, for the invaluable support given by the League of Arab States, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the African Union and the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, whose participation in this Day of Solidarity bears witness anew to their desire to pursue and strengthen, with us, fruitful and mutually beneficial cooperation.
In the same spirit, I wish to acknowledge the presence here of many Ambassadors and Representatives, whose Heads of State and Government or Heads of the Diplomatic Corps have shown their traditional consideration in sending us messages of solidarity with the Palestinian people. In like vein, I wish to highlight the participation of the representatives of non-governmental organizations and civil society, whose fruitful partnership with the Committee over the years has enabled us to bridge the gap between official and local initiatives in the pursuit of our common objectives.
I thank you all for having joined us here, so that, as regional actors, the United Nations system, the community of intergovernmental organizations and agencies and civil society together may bring to life a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, the goal being the realization by the Palestinian people of their inalienable rights.
Beyond the universal message of Thanksgiving, celebrated yesterday, and fortunately coinciding - it being a question of giving thanks – with the equally humanist message of Ramadan, centred on the cardinal virtues of tolerance, sharing and solidarity, the celebration of this International Day, on this blessed Friday, 29 November 2002, embodies a privileged moment of awareness of the scars borne by our Palestinian sisters and brothers, a privileged moment of commitment to the cause of a State of Palestine, living in harmony with all its neighbours, so that for all time, in the striking words of Albert Camus, “violence must not react to violence in a fit of delirium which exacerbates and negates the simple language of reason”, in other words, the language of justice, peace and brotherhood.
Thank you for your support.
of the General Assembly of the United Nations
Over the years, this event has offered the world community an opportunity to renew its commitment to supporting the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for self-determination and statehood on the basis of the Charter of the United Nations, the principles of international law, as well as the relevant United Nations resolutions.
The question of Palestine remains the oldest unresolved issue on our Organization’s agenda. It was on this day in 1947 that the General Assembly adopted resolution 181 (II), partitioning Palestine into two States, one Arab and one Jewish, with an economic union between them. Jerusalem was to be placed under a special international regime. This plan has never been implemented in its entirety, but it is encouraging to note that a two-State arrangement has now become a broadly accepted basis for any viable solution to the question of Palestine, as affirmed in Security Council resolution 1397 (2002).
In the course of 1990s, despite heightened expectations at the time, the Oslo and subsequent implementation agreements did not realize their promise of bringing peace and security to the region. It was the destructive combination of a failure to live up to those agreements and understandings and the steady deterioration of the situation and provocative acts on the ground that led to the outbreak of the current intifada in late September 2000. Ever since, we have witnessed a continuing spiral of violence, which has resulted in much pain, suffering and destruction. Most tragically, many innocent civilians on both sides have lost their lives and thousands have been injured. Also, in just over two years, we have seen a complete breakdown in the political process.
The General Assembly has been much preoccupied with the developments on the ground. Frequent Israeli incursions into areas no longer under full Palestinian control and internal and external closures of the Palestinian Territory mean that many Palestinians are now living under a military, as well as a crushing economic siege. During the past 12 months, the Assembly has met three times in emergency special sessions dealing with Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The international community has come out strongly against the extrajudicial assassinations of suspected Palestinian militants which are known to have led to large-scale civilian casualties, against arbitrary detentions, the use of disproportionate force, house demolitions and continuing settlement activity as well as against terrorist acts of Palestinian extremists which resulted in the deaths of Israeli civilians. The anguish, frustration and anger of the Palestinians is understandable, but tactics of terror and suicide bombing are counterproductive. For example, the recent terrorist attack against Israeli civilians in a hotel in Mombasa in which also a number of Kenyan civilians died will be justifiably condemned the world over, but the Palestinian cause will not be advanced a single inch forward, just the contrary. The unending spiral of violence will not bring about peace, security or prosperity. The Secretary-General’s Personal Humanitarian EnvoyMs. Catherine Bertini, following her visit to the region in August of 2002, underlined the serious and mounting nature of the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the West Bank and Gaza. The plight of the Palestinians, who are now enduring unemployment around 50 per cent and poverty levels nearing 60 per cent, is of great concern to all of us.
As it has done for many years, in spite of the serious funding shortfalls, UNRWA continues to play a vital role in providing essential relief services. The Agency should be assisted in all possible ways by the donor community in order to keep up with the rising needs of Palestine refugees.
It has been unequivocally acknowledged today that there is no alternative to the prompt resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian political negotiations based on international legality and readiness to take full account of each other’s needs and interests. Overcoming mistrust and suspicion, refraining from provocative acts, ending the violence and resuming the peace talks should be the imperatives at the present stage. A comprehensive, just and lasting peace can and must be established on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 1397 (2002), which embody the principles of “land for peace” and the two-State solution.
President Sadat in his famous speech delivered in the Knesset made clear that “there is no peace that could be built on the occupation of the land of others” and that “in the absence of a just solution of the Palestinian problem, never will there be that durable and just peace upon which the entire world insists”. The world still insists on the same thing, but as I had the opportunity to see myself, it is an ever increasing distrust on both sides and the violence rather than peace that fills the agendas of the day. It is clear that the Palestinians will never reconcile themselves to the unending occupation of their land and will continue to strive for their own national independence, as their national aspirations are undoubtedly as strong as those of the Israelis. They both have the right to their own States, as was made clear by the United Nations 55 years ago. I am glad that the United Nations continues to insist on this right today.
However, for substantial headway to be made, the constructive involvement of third parties is essential. We fully support the sustained and close engagement of Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process in efforts towards resuming the political process. They work in concert with the diplomatic Quartet of international mediators and I hope that the leaders of the region and especially the parties directly concerned will give the Quartet a chance. I do strongly believe that all chances for peace should be properly explored. Indeed, in spite of the current impasse, it is still possible to envisage a road forward. In the past months, the Quartet has worked with the parties on a “road map” designed to lead the two sides to the negotiating table and on to a final settlement, which includes the creation of a Palestinian State within the next three years. I have already mentioned the principle of “land for peace” that should be among the bases of any peaceful settlement, and we are all aware that this prospect has been included in the peace initiative approved by the Arab States at their Beirut Summit last March. In parallel, the international donor community continues to play an absolutely critical role in providing much-needed economic assistance to the Palestinian people. We encourage the donor community to increase the various forms of relief and longer-term assistance to the Palestinian people at this difficult time.
As you are aware, this afternoon the General Assembly will take up its agenda item entitled “Question of Palestine”. As President of the General Assembly, I would like to reaffirm the Assembly’s position that the United Nations should continue to maintain a permanent responsibility towards the question of Palestine until it is effectively resolved, in conformity with relevant United Nations resolutions, until two independent States, Israel and Palestine, can live in peace side by side within secure, recognized and respected borders. It is incumbent on all of us to see to it that this objective is brought to fruition.
Allow me to end my intervention by paying tribute to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. In implementing the mandate entrusted to it by the General Assembly, your Committee has made and continues to make a crucial contribution towards peace, security and stability in the region of the Middle East. I wish you every success in your important mission.
Security Council for the month of November 2002
As you are aware, for decades, the Security Council has been engaged in efforts at achieving a peaceful settlement in the Middle East. In this context, it is appropriate to note that three of its resolutions - 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and, most recently, 1397 (2002) - have been universally recognized as ones that define the fundamentals for any lasting political solution of the conflict.
During the past year, we were all deeply disturbed by the escalation of violence, tragic loss of life on both sides, and vast destruction in the occupied Palestinian territory. The Council has most closely monitored the situation on the ground and efforts to stop the violence. It heard regular monthly briefings by the Secretary-General and his representatives and remained continuously seized of the developments in the region.
On 12 March 2002, the Security Council adopted resolution 1397 (2002). In this landmark resolution, the Council, for the first time, affirmed a vision of a region where two States, Israel and Palestine, would live side by side within secure and recognized borders. The Council also demanded the immediate cessation of all acts of violence, including all acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction; called upon the Israeli and Palestinian sides and their leaders to cooperate in the implementation of the Tenet work plan and Mitchell report recommendations with the aim of resuming negotiations on a political settlement.
The Council was concerned at the further deterioration of the situation, including suicide bombings in Israel and the military attacks in Palestinian areas. In a continuing effort to stop the vicious cycle of violence and stabilize the situation, the Council took action by adopting a series of important resolutions and Presidential statements calling for a ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian cities, an end to all acts of violence and a return to a political process. The Council also expressed on many occasions its grave concern at the dire humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people and urged Israel to observe and respect international humanitarian law and take meaningful measures help to ease the humanitarian disaster.
Throughout the year, the Council supported the efforts of the international community, including that of the Quartet and others,aimed at helping the parties move away from confrontation and resume meaningful negotiations. In that connection, the Council welcomed the peace initiative put forward at the Arab League Beirut Summit. The Council feels strongly that the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority should cooperate fully with the Quartet and other efforts and work hard towards a two-State solution based on resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 1397 (2002). The detailed road map to achieve this goal has been elaborated by the Quartet. It is much hoped that the plan would be acceptable to both sides. The Council, for its part, stands ready to assist the Israelis and the Palestinians in this challenging endeavour. The Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority must work together and help each other eliminate all threats to peace. I would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm that the vision of a sovereign and independent State of Palestine should be realized and that the State of Palestine should exist side by side with Israel in peace and security.
The Council is also fully aware of the enormity of the humanitarian crisis on the ground and the urgency of providing varied forms of assistance to the Palestinian people. What is needed now is coordinated and sustained relief work by the donor community and the United Nations that would help alleviate the great suffering of the Palestinians.
During this difficult period, we shall continue to support the untiring peace efforts of the Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan. We are confident that his political and moral authority and intensive engagement with the parties will have a most profound impact on attempts at salvaging the political process.
The Security Council also appreciates the constructive involvement of the international community in the quest for a just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine. It is through dedicated work by all that this decades-old conflict can and must come to an end, bringing peace and stability to the Middle East.
In conclusion, on behalf of all the members of the Security Council, I would like to assure you that the Council will continue to shoulder its responsibilities under the Charter with respect to the question of Palestine. Great obstacles, difficulties and disruptions notwithstanding, we shall remain fully committed to the ultimate goal of achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, for the benefit of all parties concerned, including the Palestinian people.
Mr. Iqbal Riza, Chef de Cabinet, Representative of Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations
This Day of Solidarity is a day of mourning and a day of grief. The human and material losses sustained by the Palestinian people in the last two years have been nothing short of catastrophic. The deplorable situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory has kept the whole region in a continuous state of crisis for over two years now, with no end in sight. Hundreds of lives have been lost, mostly among Palestinians, but also among Israelis. Tragically, and unacceptably, many of the victims have been children.
Excessive and disproportionate force has often been used by the Israeli authorities, along with extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detentions, deportations and collective punishment measures such as house demolitions. Such actions only intensify rage, desperation and a desire for revenge. At the same time, cruel and devastating terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians, including suicide bombings, have claimed large numbers of innocent lives, and wounded many more. Such actions only set back the Palestinian cause. The result of these actions has been the near-total destruction of the belief on either side that there is a genuine partner for a just peace.
Since last March, major West Bank cities have been reoccupied in the course of Israeli military operations. Wide-scale destruction has brought economic activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory to a standstill, resulting in a humanitarian crisis that the outside world is only beginning to appreciate. Tight closures and curfews have further stifled the Palestinian economy and have reduced life for thousands of Palestinian households to a harsh struggle for daily survival. The capacity of the Palestinian Authority to function has been severely diminished. Chairman Arafat has been confined to the last building standing in his Ramallah headquarters. There are even reports of plans to expel Chairman Arafat from the West Bank – an act that the international community could not accept.
Despite this descent into a seemingly endless cycle of killing and destruction, a parallel process of diplomatic and political progress has taken place. There is today a global consensus on a solution that should satisfy the fundamental needs of both sides and win the widest international support. It is the two-State vision affirmed in Security Council resolution 1397 (2002) and accepted by all parties. Achieving this objective requires “complete cessation of all acts of violence, including all acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction”, as again demanded by the Council in its latest resolution 1435 (2002).
Through contacts on the ground and in the world’s capitals, the Quartet of international mediators has been trying to help the parties move away from confrontation and towards a resumption of a political process. At our meeting in New York on 17 September 2002, the Quartet principals agreed on a “road map” for the achievement of a final settlement, including Palestinian statehood, within three years. We are in constant touch with the parties in order to work out with them the specifics of the road map, strongly urging them to embark swiftly on this path. We are assisted in this effort by regional and other interested Powers and we have been encouraged by initiatives like that of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, which was adopted by the Arab League Summit in Beirut last March.
I would like to say here once again that sustainable progress can only be achieved if simultaneous steps are taken on the security, economic, humanitarian and political aspects of the conflict. There can be no solution imposed by force. No lasting progress can be made without a clear political horizon: namely a clearly defined final settlement acceptable to both sides.
Reform of Palestinian institutions is essential, primarily for the benefit of the Palestinian people themselves. However, to take root and produce tangible results, it must be matched by Israeli measures that would create favourable conditions for the resumption of Palestinian economic activity. This includes the conclusion of a Palestinian/Israeli security agreement ensuring the end of all forms of violence, withdrawal from Palestinian-controlled areas, the immediate cessation of settlement activity, the lifting of restrictions on movement of people, goods and essential services, and the disbursement of all outstanding VAT and customs revenues owed to the Palestinian Authority.
In the meantime, the Palestinian people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and emergency relief, as Catherine Bertini, who visited the region as my Personal Humanitarian Envoy, clearly indicated in her report. The international donor community has to continue to contribute generously in this time of great need until the crisis is over and the situation has stabilized. The Israeli Government should now implement its stated commitments, lift the restrictions and provide unfettered access of humanitarian convoys and relief missions to the civilian population in the Occupied Territory.
The United Nations has been trying to do its part, not least through the efforts of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance, the World Food Programme, the United Nations Development Programme, UNICEF and other bodies. Most importantly, UNRWA continues to play a central role in dealing with the mounting needs of the refugee community.
Within the framework of the Quartet, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Mr. Terje Rød-Larsen, continues to work very closely with the parties and with various representatives of the international community in supporting the peace process and the coordination of international assistance.
I would like to take this opportunity to renew my commitment to working with all parties until a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine is achieved, on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), and 1397 (2002) and the principle of land for peace. With the intensified efforts of all of us, the day will come, sooner rather than later, when the Palestinian people will finally be able to enjoy their inalienable rights, including the right to self-determination and to a State called Palestine.
This year's observance comes at a time when the Palestinian people finds itself in unprecedentedly difficult and tragic circumstances. Since 28 September 2000, 26 months ago, Israel has reoccupied most of the territory of the Palestinian National Authority and has abrogated agreements and failed to implement understandings. Our various regions have become lowly bantustans that are separated one from the other. In one area, the construction of the protective fence has brought the expropriation of 83,000 dunums of our most fertile arable land; there is the new Berlin Wall around Jerusalem; and Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza are being prevented from going to the Christian and Islamic Holy Places to worship. Israel has been using every weapon in its arsenal, including those that are internationally prohibited, in an attempt to break the will of our people and in order to try to turn back the clock and destroy, demolish and ruin our people's infrastructure in its entirety and in all our towns, villages and refugee camps and transform our different regions into fully encircled cantons. There has been military escalation, on land, at sea and in the air, using all types of weapons as well as tanks, aircraft, armoured personnel carriers and warships.
The objective is to destroy all chances of peace, that "peace of the brave" we signed with our late partner Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated by these same extremist forces in Israel.
This occupation of our towns, villages and refugee camps, accompanied as it is by incursions, bombardments, assassinations, destruction, demolitions and massacres of civilians such as those committed in Jenin, Rafah, Nablus, Tulkarm, Khan Yunis, Hebron, Gaza and Qalqiliyah, has caused massive destruction to the infrastructure that the countries of the world helped us to rebuild in years past. It has brought all spheres of life to a standstill owing to the destruction of various governmental and private facilities and has halted the operation of the vital civil and security institutions of the Palestinian Authority, including its medical, social, humanitarian and economic institutions. Most recently, there has been the reoccupation of Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahur and the reimposition of control there.
As all the relevant international organizations have indicated, this new occupation has created an extremely serious humanitarian situation, with the destruction of the Palestinian economy, with poverty and unemployment rates at dangerously high levels (70 per cent in Gaza and about 55 per cent in the West Bank), and especially with Israel's continued failure to hand over our tax revenues, which it has been holding for more than 27 months. Matter have reached such an extreme that international humanitarian institutions have ceased to operate and their personnel are being shot at. One staff member of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East was killed and another, a woman, was wounded just last week, as have been a number of reporters and representatives of international medical organizations.
This ferocious war, which has now been going on for more than two years, must move the international community to take action and to go beyond statements of condemnation, regret and censure. It must now bring effective pressure to bear on the Israeli Government to halt its aggression, end its occupation and return to the negotiating table with a view to implementing the relevant United Nations resolutions and the agreements signed. Such resolutions and agreements must be respected and applied everywhere in the world in the same way. It is saddening that the insistence of the Government of Israel on thwarting all efforts for calm and on obstructing the relaunching of the peace process has not been countered with the resolute stance it merits in order to impose respect for the relevant United Nations resolutions, which Israel has absolutely failed to respect. This requires that there should be guarantees for the implementation of the agreements.
The formula to resolve and end the conflict has become obvious to all, specifically to the parties and forces interested in the success of peace in our region. It is to achieve and build upon the peace of the brave in our region; to devise a just, acceptable and definitive solution to the ongoing conflict there; to end the occupation and Israeli settlement activity (which is unlawful in all of its aspects and by any criteria) in the Arab and Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem; and to resolve the refugee issue in a just manner in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions. Only then will it be possible to achieve security and stability for all the peoples and States involved and to live within a framework of good-neighbourliness and mutual respect. Then will our Palestinian people be able to achieve independence, exercise national sovereignty and establish an independent State on the soil of its homeland, Palestine. This will accord with the relevant United Nations resolutions, the most recent of which is Security Council resolution 1435 (2002), which Israel is seeking to evade, with the agreements that have been signed and, in particular, with the efforts and proposals of the Quartet (the United States, the Russian Federation, the European Union and the United Nations), the peace initiative announced by His Highness Prince Abdullah, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, and adopted by consensus at the Beirut Arab Summit Conference, and the efforts of China, Japan, the Movement of Non-Aligned Countri es and the Latin American, African and Islamic States.
We, the people of Palestine, together with all the peoples of our Arab nation, reaffirm our commitment to the path of peace as a strategic choice, to the decisions of the Arab summit conferences, the most recent being the resolutions of the Beirut Summit of March 2002, with the prospects that they open to a future of peace, coexistence and good-neighbourliness among all the States of our region, the region of the Middle East, including the independent State of Palestine. The resolutions of the Arab Summit, the latest Security Council resolutions adopted this year and the resolutions that preceded them, the American vision enunciated in the address given by United States President George W. Bush last June, the European initiative and the subsequent positive and practical scenarios of the Quartet, all open a wide prospect for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in our region. Israel must deal with this seriously and positively, just as the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian National Authority have been dealing with it. We insist on securing our inalienable national rights, and we call upon the international community: to intervene forthwith to halt the Israeli aggression and occupation ; to enable the Palestinian National Authority to perform its functions, duties and responsibilities; and for an immediate resumption of negotiations for the implementation of the agreements signed and the achievement of a definitive peace agreement that complies with the relevant United Nations resolutions and requires international observers. Peace, and only peace, is capable of providing security to all the peoples and States of the region and of opening to them the prospect of prosperity and stability. The current reality demonstrates every day that the key to peace and stability in the region is in Palestine, the land of peace and the Holy Land of the world's believers.
On this occasion, we convey our appreciation to all friends, brothers and free and honourable men in the world, and to those struggling for freedom, whose solidarity with our people's cause has not flagged for one moment. We urge them to strengthen this solidarity, which will require the prompt convening of the international conference in order to expedite the turning of the page on the last instance of occupation in the world, namely the Israeli occupation of our Palestinian territories, and to enable the Palestinian people to secure its freedom and independence, build its State and protect its Christian and Muslim Holy Places.
In closing, we and our people, at the heart of the stifling blockade and the brutal military escalation, address to His Excellency the Secretary-General of the United Nations our gratitude for his efforts and constant work for the inalienable national rights of our people. We likewise extend our warm thanks to the Chairman and members of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for their efforts and their devoted, constant and courageous endeavour to promote solidarity and mobilize international support to enable our people to secure and exercise its national rights on the soil of its homeland, Palestine, and to establish a just, lasting and comprehensive peace - the peace of the brave that I signed with our late partner Yitzhak Rabin - in the Holy Land between Palestinians and Israelis and in the entire region of the Middle East. Our late partner Rabin gave his life, taken by the extremist elements in Israel, as the price for this peace. We also thank all the noble and devoted friends who express solidarity with us and with our people's just struggle and who support our endeavour to achieve a just peace and to secure freedom, stability and sovereignty for our people.
Peace and the mercy and blessings of God be with you. Together to Jerusalem, with the help of God!
Mr. Chitambaranathan Mahendran (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
I have the honour today, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, to speak 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. The Special Committee, established by the General Assembly in 1968, has reported each year to the General Assembly on the conditions affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories: Gaza, the West Bank including East Jerusalem and the occupied Arab Syrian Golan.
This year, the Special Committee submitted to the General Assembly its 34th report: a reminder, it could be said, that the occupied territories have been under occupation for thirty-four years.
The Special Committee sought in its report to convey to the General Assembly its views as to the conditions under which the people in the occupied territories live. They are conditions, the Special Committee found, that do not, in a number of respects, accord with contemporary international norms as to human rights, nor with requirements of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, which also applies to the occupied territories.
The overriding impression that has formed in the minds of the three members of the Special Committee (Ambassador Kamara, Permanent Representative of Senegal to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Hasmy Agam, Ambassador of Malaysia to the United Nations, and I, the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in New York) is a troubling one.
The Israeli authorities have put in place a comprehensive and elaborate system of laws and regulations and administrative measures that are designed to meet the policy objectives of the Israeli Government and to enhance control over the occupied territories and over the Palestinian people in the occupied territories. The laws and regulations and administrative measures are so framed that they vest in officials a considerable degree of authority and latitude. They affect important aspects of the lives of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories. A rigorous implementation of the laws and regulations and administrative measures, particularly during periods of crises, creates among the Palestinian people of the occupied territories a sense of fear, a sense of despondency, a sense of hopelessness. There exists an all-encompassing sense of great tension in the occupied territories, particularly during periods of crisis. And dur1ng periods of violence the exercise of such control makes the lives of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories even more unbearable.
Bitterness at their treatment by the authorities, their sense of dispossession, their sense of hopelessness and despair caused to a large extent, it seems to the Special Committee, by lack of progress in the peace process and a lack of tangible benefits for the Palestinian people of the occupied territories, makes the situation in the occupied territories one of the greatest urgency.
The Special Committee regrets that the conditions of life in the occupied territories have not improved as hoped for. The Special Committee in its report to the General Assembly made specific recommendations to the General Assembly that concrete steps should be taken to ameliorate the conditions under which the Palestinian people of the occupied territories live.
Our Committee welcomes the formation of the diplomatic quartet and looks forward to an active dialogue developing between the contending parties, and we appeal to the international community to remain fully engaged in finding a negotiated settlement to the Middle East conflict.
Finally, the Special Committee considers it to be of great importance that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in consultation with the Secretary-General, and, above-all, in light of the respect to be always accorded the dignity of the human person, establish a system of continuous communication with Israeli authorities with a view to relieving the very difficult circumstances in which the Palestinians of the occupied territories live, and which gives rise to violence which the Special Committee deplores.
Mr. Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa and Chairman of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries and Chairman of the African Union, message delivered by Ms. Jeanette Ndhlovu, Deputy Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations
On behalf of the people of South Africa, and as the Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Union, I extend warm greetings to President Yasser Arafat and all Palestinians on this occasion, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
In his quest for the creation of an independent Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah, in a speech called "Motion of Destiny", said:
"The right of a people to decide their own destiny, to make their way in freedom, is not to be measured by the yardstick of colour or degree of social development. It is an inalienable right of peoples, which they are powerless to exercise when forces, stronger than they themselves, by whatever means, for whatever reasons, take this right away from them. If there is to be a criterion of a people's preparedness for self-government, then I say it is their readiness to assume the responsibilities of ruling themselves. For who but a people themselves can say when they are prepared? How can others judge when that moment has arrived in the destiny of a subject people? What other gauge can there be?"
More than half a century later, the Palestinian people are still denied their inalienable right to rule themselves. Instead, forces stronger than they continue to take this away from them and subject them to suffering, humiliation, destruction and killings on a daily basis.
It is incumbent on the United Nations and the international community as a whole to use this International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People to re-commit ourselves to assisting the Palestinian people and their leadership in their own noble quest for self-determination. It is of urgent importance that, in the year ahead, the Palestinians are able to exercise their democratic rights to elect, without hindrance, their own leaders; to reform their own legislative and judicial institutions and for the international community to stand with them in declaring that the Palestinian people are ready to rule themselves in their own sovereign State with its capital in Jerusalem.
Yet we look back at yet another year that has seen more deaths and indescribable suffering resulting from a hitherto unprecedented escalation in violence against the civilian population of Palestine at the hands of the Israel Defense Forces. The Non-Aligned Movement condemns the Israeli policies of disproportionate and excessive use of force against Palestinians and its destruction of Palestinian National Authority institutions. Israel's repeated incursions into Palestinian Authority controlled areas and its expanded settlement activities are in violation of the Oslo Accords and have resulted in its effective re-occupation of Palestinian territories. Furthermore, Israel's policy of extrajudicial assassinations of Palestinian leaders and activists and its policy of collective punishment of Palestinians through the siege and blockade of Palestinian towns and villages must cease. One of the most disturbing developments, however, is the almost unfathomable humanitarian crisis that is developing as a result of the rapidly deteriorating health conditions of civilians in the Palestinian Territories. No Member State of the United Nations could justify such acts of collective punishment and systematic violence against a population under illegal occupation.
It is unthinkable that United Nations personnel, who are working in the Palestinian territories, should also become victims of this indiscriminate and violent conflict. The members of the Non-Aligned Movement learned with great shock of the killing of a United Nations staff member, Mr. Iain Hook of UNRWA, just one week ago in Jenin. We mourn the loss of life of all international aid workers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty and offer our condolences to Mr. Hook's family, colleagues and friends.
We stand firm in our belief that however noble the cause may be, there can be no justification for the deliberate targeting of innocent civilians whether Palestinian or Israeli. Allow me, therefore, on behalf of the people of South Africa, and as the Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Union, to extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to the Palestinians and to the Israelis who have lost loved ones in this spiral of violence.
We reiterate our condemnation of the spate of suicide bombings in which innocent Israelis, including school children, are targeted. We are gravely concerned by this indication of the level of hopelessness and desperation among Palestinian youth.
The Non-Aligned Movement has consistently maintained that this tragic situation can only be resolved if the parties to the conflict resume a political process that leads back to the negotiating table. The principled position of the Non-Aligned Movement is that there can be no military solution to this conflict. To this end, we believe that there is an urgent need to support the call of the United Nations Secretary-General for the deployment of international observers to this conflict. The establishment of an international presence would be an important confidence-building measure and would be another step towards restarting the peace process.
Our Movement has always believed that a just and durable solution to the Middle East crisis must be premised upon an end to the Israeli occupation of Arab land and the establishment of an independent Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Only the fulfilment of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to national self-determination in their own sovereign State can bring peace and security to the Israeli and Palestinian people. The realization of an independent Palestinian State, within secure and recognized borders, living side-by-side with Israel is the only sustainable guarantee for Israeli security.
We concur with the remark of the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, in his statement to the 57th session of the United Nations General Assembly, that our vision for peace can only be reached if we move rapidly, and in parallel, on all fronts. It is our firm belief that lengthy time frames for restarting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations will only frustrate the process. The short-term goal is to create a climate in which both sides are able to sit together and talk again. We should not allow the gains already made at Camp David and Taba to recede.
We support the historic decision of the. Beirut Arab Summit in which all Arab States expressed their commitment to peace in the Middle East with an independent Palestinian State living in peace, side-by-side with Israel.
South Africa is continuing to build on the momentum of the Spier Presidential Peace Retreat and remains willing to share our experience of negotiations with a broader spectrum of Israeli and Palestinian society. In this way we hope to continue demonstrating our firm belief in a just, equitable and peaceful future for the Middle East region.
We offer our support to the Palestinian Authority in its efforts to undertake meaningful reforms and call on the international community to support all efforts aimed at making a meaningful contribution to the restoration of calm and the rebuilding of trust that has been shattered. It is our firm belief that it is in the interests of all members of the international community to continue to support peacemaking in the Middle East. We commend the efforts of the United Nations, Member States and the international NGOs that have contributed so generously to enhancing the capacity of the Palestinian institution of self-government.
In this vein, on behalf of the people of South Africa and as the Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, I wish to reiterate on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People our continued solidarity and unwavering support for your legitimate struggle for national self-determination, in a sovereign and viable Palestinian State within internationally recognized and secure borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Dr. Mustafa Osman Ismail, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Sudan, in his capacity as Chairman of the twenty-ninth session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers, message delivered by Mr. Elfatih Mohamed Ahmed Erwa, Permanent Representative of the Sudan to the United Nations
Sudan, in its capacity as President of the twenty-ninth session of the Ministerial Conference of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, reaffirms on this occasion its full solidarity with the fraternal Palestinian people in their sacred struggle to regain their homeland and exercise complete sovereignty there in the context of an independent State having the holy city of Jerusalem as its capital. We also reaffirm the boundless solidarity of the Islamic community with its fellow-members in Palestine. We call upon the international community to assume its responsibilities in full in response to what is happening in the Palestinian territories. The defenceless Palestinian people have had their full measure of suffering under the iron heel of war and the blockades and curfews that they have had to endure. The time has come to compel Israel to comply fully with its obligations under the United Nations resolutions which it has so persistently violated.
In conclusion, I should like to say that the States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference remain and will remain steadfast in their support for the Palestinian people in their legitimate struggle. We call for the establishment of the values of justice, peace and stability in all countries.
In this context, I must recall, with the utmost appreciation and respect, the support that the United Nations and its various bodies and specialized agencies have been providing for the rights of the Palestinian people. We extend our thanks to the Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, and we also thank the Chairman and members of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, for their efforts on behalf of justice and peace in the land of Palestine, and their constant co-operation with the League of Arab States in that connection and in connection with other matters.
We come together on this day every year to express our solidarity with the Palestinian people, and to remember Israel’s policies, which have been and continue to be the cause of that people’s continuing tragedy and the denial of its rights, which are acknowledged in international law and have been affirmed in legally binding United Nations resolutions. Every year we issue the same appeals, and every year we express the same hopes, that by the following year progress will have been made towards a solution to the Palestine issue and that we shall have made progress towards the realization of peace and stability in the region. Alas, Israel has allowed those hopes no chance of coming to fruition, continuing its policy of killing and destruction in all the cities, villages and camps of Palestine. How often have I, on behalf of the League of Arab States, taken advantage of this very forum to warn of the danger of those policies of aggression, which began in the time when Netanyahu was Prime Minister, in 1996, and have continued to this day, and are directed, not against the Palestinian people alone, but against the region’s security and stability, and against the vital interests of other States in various parts of the world.
There is no need for me to repeat here today what I have said before about Israel’s peace-destroying policies. All of you, by virtue of your positions, are well aware of the oppression and aggression which the Palestinian people are enduring daily, and the ruin and devastation that the Middle East peace process has sustained at the hands of the Government of Israel. But the question that must trouble the world’s conscience is, what are the limits to Israel’s current policy, and what impact is that policy having on the peoples of the region?
Israel’s policy, which is based on the arrogance of power and contempt for all the principles of international law, is a short-sighted policy that is damaging not only to the Palestinian people and the Arab countries, but to the Israeli people themselves, because it is sowing the seeds of aversion and enmity, in contrast to Israel’s former efforts to gain the acceptance and recognition of the Arab world. In any case, Israel is mistaken if it believes that the measure of receptiveness and acceptance that it has secured from some Arab States will make its aggressive ambitions any more attractive. He who sows aggression must inevitably reap vengeance, and we cannot rule out the possibility that if Israel pursues its aggression, it will succeed only in closing the door to dialogue, banishing any hope of security and stability, and bringing about a retreat from previous steps towards peace.
The scene in the Middle East, as we see it, is that Israel went along with the wishes of the international community by talking about establishing peace in the region after the second Gulf War, and it was able to keep efforts to that end within formal limits. Recently, however, it has rejected the concept of coexistence with the Palestinian people in any part of their land, and it is attempting to impose that rejection by means of the unprecedented violence and cruelty that we have seen during the past two years. We may anticipate that the racist Government currently in power will pursue and intensify its violence and cruelty in an effort to extinguish all the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations and to reimpose a military or civilian administration on the inhabitants of the occupied territories while imposing a state of “no war, no peace” on the region as a whole, until such time as circumstances are suitable for a new international order that will restructure the situation in the region. I greatly fear that the worsening tension between the United States and Iraq is the prelude to a new phase of initiatives and conferences that will lead us into a new era of a fraudulent formal peace that will actually carry within it the seeds of a new war.
It is no secret that American policies in the Middle East and Israel’s actions are closely intertwined. The United States, as the main sponsor of the peace process and Israel’s chief ally, must be held responsible for the results of Israeli policies. The Arab world is waiting for the United States to stand up for international law and the principles of truth and justice that are enshrined in its Constitution, which, one would think, ought to make it want to see United Nations resolutions applied to Israel, as they are applied to the world’s other States. The United States ought to be taking a consistent stand in opposition to Israeli measures aimed at annexing the city of Jerusalem and calling it the country’s unified capital. We should be hearing the United States demanding that Israel put an end to the occupation, dismantle the settlements and apply the relevant United Nations resolutions, including the two most recent ones, Security Council resolutions 1397 (2002) and 1435 (2002), in return for the security that Israel requires. In fact, I had been hoping that the United States would do us the honour of participating in our gathering here today to mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, as it participates in all other occasions having to do with the Palestinian issue.
But the disparity between the positions that we should like to see the United States of America adopt and its actual practices in matters concerning the region is such that we can only ask the same question that the Americans themselves were asking after September 11th : “Why do you hate us?” I do not believe that anyone in the Arab world would feel hostility towards the United States if it would distance itself from Israel’s policies of aggression. The Arab peoples still have good memories of the stance taken by President Eisenhower in opposition to the triple aggression against Egypt, and they have not forgotten the courageous stance adopted by President Bush Sr. in tying loan guarantees for Israel to a freeze on its settlement activity. Now Arabs and Muslims are observing with satisfaction some of the gestures that President Bush Jr. has been making towards the Arab and Islamic diaspora. We still believe that the American people in general love justice and freedom, and do not harbour hostility towards Arabs. Indeed, there is ample scope for a serious dialogue among the adherents of the three faiths in the areas of politics, culture and religion, a dialogue that will advance the interests of us all, based as they are on shared human values. That is the shortest road to justice, peace and security for all, and it is the road that has been chosen by the United Nations and the objective for the sake of which the Organization was founded.
I am very grateful to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for providing me an opportunity to participate in today's meeting. It is, however, impossible for me to adequately represent the wide range of campaigns, of opinions, of priorities for the far-flung international NGO network on Palestine. Our organizations are working across Africa, in Latin America and Asia, throughout Europe, in North America, and on the ground in both Palestine and Israel. Our activists fight for the right of return, for economic and social rights for Palestinian refugees, against military aid to the Israeli occupation, for the implementation of United Nations resolutions and international law, and for a comprehensive and just peace. As an international movement, our priority is reflected in the theme of the September conference held here at the United Nations: to end the occupation. And our most urgent priority today, within that broad goal of ending the occupation, is our call for international protection for Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation.
In September we met at a moment of grave crisis; that crisis today has grown even greater. Our call noted the deterioration of humanitarian conditions in the occupied territories, and the escalation of repression against Palestinian civilians. We noted specifically Israel's "annexation and settlement, the reoccupation of Palestinian cities and blocking of roads between them; expulsions and targeted assassination of scores of Palestinians; attacks on ambulances and medical personnel; house demolitions; destruction of water storage facilities; uprooting of thousands of fruit and olive trees; 24-hour curfews; almost permanent closures of towns, villages and cities; and excessive use of force, including weapons of war such as F-16 bombers and helicopter gunships used against apartment houses, refugee camps and other civilian targets, causing the deaths of numerous Palestinians."
Two months later those horrifying realities have only increased; they receive less attention on the front pages of our newspapers only because their now routine horror is eclipsed by the threat of grave new horrors looming elsewhere in the region.
Our September call noted that "we are appalled by the international community's failure, so far, to provide serious protection for Palestinian civilians living under military occupation." Now, months later, we are still appalled. We are still angry and still disappointed.
The United Nations is not simply a forum for the exchange of ideas. The United Nations as an institution has responsibilities and obligations; one such obligation is to ensure that protected people, as populations living under military occupation are defined under the Geneva Conventions, do in fact receive the protections required, simultaneously with ensuring an end to the occupation that necessitates protection. And when the Security Council is paralyzed, the General Assembly has the obligation, under the Uniting for Peace precedent, to act.
The occupation of Palestine is growing stronger. And its threat to Palestinians - to Palestinian rights and to Palestinian lives - grows stronger too. Israel's occupation today claims more uncritical support than ever from the world's sole superpower. Alongside its current military and economic subsidies from Washington, amounting to a quarter of the entire U.S. foreign aid budget, Israel this week requested an additional $4 billion in military aid and $8 - 10 billion in loan guarantees from U.S. taxpayers. That money, if granted, would help sustain Israel's illegal occupation.
As the occupying power gains ever more support from the world's sole superpower, the Palestinians’ need for international protection grows ever greater as well. As the international NGO movement, our response to this escalating crisis is to strengthen our commitment to work for an end to Israeli occupation and for international protection for Palestinian civilians living under that military occupation.
While Palestinian civilians suffer under 24-hour-a-day shoot-to-kill curfews, Israeli settlement expansion continues. Nearly 45% of West Bank land has already been expropriated from Palestinians for settlement purposes. Much of that land grab has taken place during a "peace process" from which the United Nations was excluded. Arbitrary arrests, detention and harassment continue, even of UN staff members. One such armed raid was carried out last week on the home of UNRWA field legal officer Allegra Pacheco by an IDF combat unit of 20-30 heavily armed troops who surrounded her home, confiscating her property and holding Ms. Pacheco at gunpoint while deliberately humiliating and then arresting her husband, all the while refusing to recognize her protected status as a UN staff member.
The need for the international community to provide serious protection to those living under Israeli occupation has never been clearer. We see that even staff members of the United Nations are themselves vulnerable to the violence of Israeli occupation. The NGO community internationally joins with the UN Secretariat in mourning our colleague Iain Hook, the UNRWA director shot and killed by IDF troops last week while overseeing the rebuilding of the Jenin refugee camp destroyed by Israeli forces in April.
There is clearly a need for the United Nations to function as the central actor in ending Israel's occupation. Only the UN itself holds the legitimacy and legal authority to act in the name of the world's peoples to defend the requirements of international law. But despite important efforts, so far our global organization has failed. The Security Council remains largely paralyzed. Earlier this year we watched with hope as the Council voted to send a serious fact-finding team to investigate the spring's lethal events in Jenin ; we watched with anger as Israel reversed its claimed openness to reject the team's arrival; we watched with outrage as Israel's patron in the Council did nothing to pressure Israel to accept the UN's legitimacy; and we watched with dismay as the UN team was quickly withdrawn.
We watched with hope when the United Nations Secretary-General called for " ;robust international protection" under Chapter VII of the Charter for Palestinians living under occupation; and we watched with dismay when that call was ignored.
And we watched with hope when the General Assembly took important steps in calling for a serious United Nations investigation of the events in Jenin despite Israel's recalcitrance. But we need and expect more. Palestinians languishing under military occupation deserve more. And international law and the legitimacy of the UN require more.
We continue our work to support the International Solidarity Movement, Grassroots International Protection for Palestinians, and the myriad of other organizations whose brave internationals, at great risk to their own safety, are working in the occupied territories with Palestinian NGOs to provide some protection and to act as the eyes and ears of the world's people to document and expose conditions of life under Israeli occupation. We commend their work and their bravery, and we extend to them our strongest solidarity.
But the need for their presence in Occupied Palestine still reflects the failure of the international community to provide the serious protection that a population living under military occupation requires. We see that failure as the failure of those Member States who claim to support an end to occupation, the failure of the United Nations. Your failure, I'm sorry to say.
As NGOs, we continue our efforts in our own countries to press our Governments to support United Nations-based efforts to provide real international protection for the Palestinians. We know those efforts have been and continue to be undermined by the use or threat of veto by the United States in the Security Council.
But I challenge you here today as members of the General Assembly, where the threat of a veto does not exist. I challenge you as leaders and members of the General Assembly's Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. And I challenge you as Member States of the General Assembly of the United Nations who take seriously the legitimacy, obligations and power of international law.
As the world stands on the precipice of a war that threatens shock waves across the Middle East, we must recognize the particular danger faced by Palestinians, and we must mobilize the international community, through the United Nations, to protect that vulnerable population.
The danger of war in Iraq holds out a specific serious danger for Palestinians - the danger that the occupying power might, in response to such a war, carry out its current threat of transfer. Transfer is a polite Israeli euphemism for ethnic cleansing. Transfer, as currently understood, means forcible expulsion of Palestinians out of their homes in Israel and/or the occupied territories of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and into forced exile in Jordan or another Arab country. Some Israeli supporters of transfer perhaps have in mind only a few Palestinians; others may contemplate even large numbers of Palestinians being expelled. But the numbers do not change the clear reality that expulsion of any protected person from an occupied territory by the occupying power remains a violation of the Geneva Conventions - a war crime. There is no exception. Transfer was once deemed too extreme to propose in polite company in Israel. But today transfer is part of mainstream political discourse.
The danger cannot be taken lightly, or dismissed as overheated speculation. The political party that openly advocates transfer has a seat in the current Israeli Government. The election of General Sharon, founder of the " Jordan is Palestine" campaign twenty years ago, as the more moderate centrist leader of his party, provides stark evidence of a continuing shift in Israeli public opinion - towards greater support of its occupation and against any hope of a just peace. Just yesterday, the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz documented General Sharon's refusal to reject "transfer" as a solution to what Israel considers its Palestine problem. Transfer is on the front page of the newspapers and it is the subject of academic seminars at respected Israeli universities.
And transfer is not simply an academic subject. It has happened before. During the war of 1947-48 and again in 1967, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced from their homes. The more than four million Palestinians still in exile around the world, including the millions of refugees under the protection of the United Nations because they have been denied their right to return home, were first made refugees through a process of ethnic cleansing. As recently as 1994, Israeli troops rounded up a group of 415 Palestinians, forced them onto helicopters and ferried them across Israel's border to the snow-covered mountains of south Lebanon. There, in clear violation of international law and the Geneva Conventions, they were unceremoniously dumped, without residency permits or protection from the elements, and there they remained, in tents on the freezing mountainside, for more than a year. UN condemnation was swift, but Israeli accountability for its violations remained elusive.
Over 100 Israeli academics have signed a letter condemning the talk of transfer, and rejecting even consideration of such an attack on Palestinians. Those Israelis, along with others in the Israeli peace movement, understand that transfer, like other tools of repression in the arsenal of military occupation, will not lead to an end to attacks against Israeli civilians. Such attacks, by suicide bombers or others, remain in violation of international law, and must be condemned. But if we are serious about ending such attacks on Israeli civilians, we must be serious about ending the conditions that give rise to those attacks: that is, by ending the occupation. The Israeli peace organization Gush Shalom had it right when they said after the first of the suicide bombings that killed a large number of civilians, particularly children and young people, two summers ago. "The occupation is killing all of us," they said. "It's killing Palestinians and it's killing Israeli Jews." They were right.
The United Nations has condemned, appropriately, attacks on civilians. Is it not appropriate for the United Nations to consider now, today, an explicit condemnation and rejection of any policy of "transfer," precisely in the hopes of preventing such a severe human rights violation from ever taking place?
There is already a similar campaign under way to warn pre-emptively of the consequences of war crimes, this one carried out by Israeli peace activists. They caution military officers of the Israel Defense Forces that certain future actions they may be ordered to take in the maintenance of Israel's military occupation could constitute war crimes that might be eligible for prosecution under the Rome Statute by the International Criminal Court. Would it not be appropriate for the United Nations, through its human rights and other bodies, to issue such a warning as well?
We know that the Israel-Palestine conflict is one consistently vulnerable to distortion and misstatements of fact. And even beyond distortion and misstatement, differences in history and vantage point bring about different assessments of the same set of events. If we look, for example, at the events that took place in Jenin last spring, we know those events meant different things to different people. For the Israeli military, Jenin was a battle against "terrorism" and the 28 dead civilians were simply collateral damage. For the United States, Jenin provides the model on which Israeli training of U.S. commandos preparing for urban warfare in Iraq is based. For Palestinians, Jenin was part of the human price paid by an occupied population under military occupation. For human rights organizations, the events at Jenin included at least ten violations of the Geneva Conventions - war crimes.
And for the United Nations? The General Assembly's mandate for a report on Jenin was an important step, but only a first step. Much more is needed. Much more is required of the international community under the obligations of the Geneva Convention to protect people living under occupation.
There has never been a greater need for United Nations centrality in dealing with the current crisis. A real quartet would be fine - but a solo act with three back-up singers limited to joining in on the chorus isn't the same thing.
I extend a challenge to you today. To the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People whose role must be to lead the General Assembly to take seriously its obligations to the Palestinians. To the Non-Aligned Movement whose own history is bound up with the struggle against colonialism and occupation. To the European Union whose commitment to human rights shapes its primary identity. To those Member States of the General Assembly who take seriously the world community's obligations to implement and enforce UN resolutions and international law. I challenge you all to make real the UN's expressed interest in providing international protection to Palestinians living under occupation. I challenge you to defy the veto-driven paralysis of the Security Council and reclaim for the General Assembly the right to prepare, mandate, fund, recruit and deploy an international protection force for the Palestinians living under occupation and for Israelis threatened by the consequences of occupation. I challenge you to refuse the bribes, threats and punishments routinely meted out by one country, in order to make good on the global obligations of the United Nations. I challenge you to reject President Bush's claim that the relevance of the United Nations is defined by UN acquiescence to Washington's policies.
President Bush said something else, in a far different context. He asked if United Nations "resolutions [are] to be honoured and enforced, or cast aside without consequence." We in the NGO movement know the answer to that question. Our challenge to you, the United Nations, is to join us in a global effort to honor and enforce UN resolutions - ALL the UN resolutions. Those resolutions are consistent. They require an end to Israeli occupation of Palestine, and protection for the Palestinian people. And they place that obligation squarely on the United Nations. We look to you, again, with hope.
Mr. Farouk Kaddoumi, Head of the Political Department of the Palestine Liberation Organization
On behalf of our Palestinian people, we would like to register our appreciation for all the expressions of solidarity, and in particular for the statements made by Mr. Jan Kavan, President of the General Assembly, and Mr. Wang Yingfan, President of the Security Council. I wish also to thank the Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, for his constant efforts in the service of all just causes in this world and the cause of peace.
My thanks go also to all the heads of State or Government, Ministers for Foreign Affairs, and international groups and organizations that have sent messages expressing full and firm solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for their just cause. We thank Mr. Mahendran for his expression of solidarity. We thank also President Mbeki, current Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement; the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States; and Ms. Phyllis Bennis, on behalf of the non-governmental organizations, for their spirit of solidarity.
The Palestinian people sincerely appreciate all sentiments of solidarity, whether expressed at this meeting or transmitted to the Committee.
In conclusion, we pray to God Almighty that we will succeed in establishing the pillars of peace and stability in the region, so that life can return to normal - safe and stable, with justice for the Palestinian cause. We express our thanks and gratitude to all those who participated with us in this Day of Solidarity.
What we hear and see in our occupied territories makes clear Israel’s fervent and mad desire to crush the Palestinian resistance and to deprive the Palestinian people of sustenance rather than dealing with the question of the inalienable national rights of the Palestinian people in a positive manner, recognizing them as legitimate and acknowledging the fact that they should be consolidated through the creation of effective institutions.
The rulers of Israel have failed to face up to the stone-throwing children. I want to tell them that, despite their oppressive actions and after a long, bitter struggle to resist occupation, victory is close. God will lead us to victory.
May peace and the blessings of God be upon you all.
I would like to ask the interpreters and conference officers to bear with me for a few minutes longer. Before concluding this solemn meeting, I would like to thank everyone who made it possible, particularly the staff of the Division for Palestinian Rights, the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management, the Department of Public Information and the Office of Central Support Services, as well as everyone else involved - reporters, correspondents and others - for their help.
I also want to remind the Committee that an exhibition of Palestinian art, organized by the Committee in cooperation with the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine, will be opened this evening at 6 p.m. in the public lobby of the General Assembly building. This year’s exhibition, entitled “ Palestinian cities: images of life from the turn of the twentieth century” , consists of a series of photographs from the late nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. The opening of the exhibition will be followed by a reception, to which all are cordially invited.
Immediately after this meeting, at 1 p.m. - just a few minutes from now - two films, one entitled “Palestine: story of a land”, and the other, “After Jenin”, will be screened in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library auditorium. The two films give an account of developments related to the question of Palestine from 1950 to the present day. All are cordially invited to attend the screenings of those films, about which further detailed information has been provided.
Once again, I would like to thank all those who joined us and participated in this meeting.
A. Messages from heads of State or Government
Mr. Hâmid Karzai, President of the Transitional Government of Afghanistan
I wish to also assure Your Excellency that Afghanistan fully supports the efforts of H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, in finding a peaceful solution to the crisis in the Middle East and the implementation of all Security Council and General Assembly resolutions in regard to the situation in the Middle East and Palestine.
Moreover, on behalf of my Government, I would like to express our best wishes for the prosperity of the Palestinian people.
More than half a century has elapsed between the General Assembly’s adoption of a resolution recommending, inter alia, the establishment of an independent and sovereign State of Palestine, and the Security Council’s adoption of resolution 1397 (2002) advocating the establishment of the State of Palestine within secure and recognized international borders. Such a State has yet to be established. The Palestinian people, our brothers, continue to be deprived of their legitimate right to live in peace on the land of their ancestors and, worse yet, still have to face the bitter reality of foreign occupation, and they have since September 2000, the date of the start of the Al-Quds al-Sharif intifada, fallen prey to the unprecedented brutality wrought upon them by the occupying forces, compounded by criminal aggression since March 2002.
Algeria, which vigorously condemns those repeated acts of aggression, reiterates its support for the heroic struggle of the Palestinian people. That support is inspired by the liberation struggle courageously waged by my country to put an end to foreign domination, which was in the end crowned by its victory over colonialism.
Thus, imbued with the ideals of freedom, justice and peace that were forged in its own battle for emancipation, Algeria has always looked upon the struggle of the Palestinian people with sympathy, solidarity and commitment, because it falls squarely within the legitimate efforts of all the peoples of the world to achieve self-determination and independence.
The Arab League, at its Summit in Beirut, drew up a platform defining the outlines of a just, comprehensive and lasting settlement in Palestine and the Middle East. This Arab initiative has given new life to a peace process that had become moribund.
Drawing inspiration from this Arab opening, the co-sponsors of peace must, when seeking to relaunch the peace process without delay, put in place a coherent negotiating framework aimed at a settlement based on international law and the principle of the exchange of land for peace, in keeping with the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people and in conformity with relevant United Nations resolutions.
The commemoration of this solemn Day provides me with yet another opportunity to reiterate my support for the Palestinian people and appeal urgently to the international community as a whole, and to the United Nations in particular, to redouble their efforts to restore its inalienable rights to the Palestinian people, and particularly its right to establish an independent State of its own, whose legitimacy has been recognized unanimously by the international community, which will have Al-Quds al-Sharif as its capital.
Accordingly, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, whose commitment and contributions have been precious, is called upon to be in the forefront of the mobilization of further efforts and support to advance this noble cause, until the day when the Palestinian people can at last legitimately enjoy the fullness of its rights.
On this momentous day for the people of Palestine and the entire international community, I should like once again to confirm the firm and unchanging devotion of Belarus to the exercise of the inalienable rights of Palestinians, fundamental among them the right to self-determination. I am deeply convinced that the creation of an independent Palestinian State is a guarantee of the establishment of lasting peace and security in the Middle East.
I am convinced that further consistent efforts by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People under your chairmanship will serve the cause of the realization of the just aspirations of the Palestinian people.
Mr. Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozado, President of the Republic of Bolivia
Brazil reaffirms its firm commitment and support for the Palestinian people in their just struggle to bring about their legitimate aspiration to self-determination.
We reaffirm once again the responsibility of the United Nations, the Security Council in particular, for the implementation of its resolutions on the establishment of an independent, viable and democratic Palestinian State. We deplore that the many resolutions adopted by the Security Council in recent months resolutions - 1397 (2002), 1402 (2002), 1403 (2002) and 1405 (2002) - remain to be implemented. Also, we expect the Occupying Power to abide by its obligations under international humanitarian law, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention, and to allow free access to international humanitarian assistance.
Over the decades the international community has demonstrated its readiness to support the struggle of the Palestinian people and their quest for self-determination and independence. While condemning all acts of violence, terrorism and suicidal bombings, we appeal for a total withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from the Occupied Territories, for an end to illegal settlements and for resumption of talks with the Palestinian National Authority.
Today, it is absolutely essential that all actors support initiatives that may bring the parties back to negotiations and do everything in their power to help them through this most difficult phase. Brazil is faithfully committed to the aspiration of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in recognized and secured borders.
In this context, Brazil firmly backs the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people, on the understanding that only constructive dialogue and respect for agreements could lead to the establishment of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region, taking into account the legitimate right of all countries and peoples of the region to security. We express our full support to the envisaged institutional reforms of the Palestinian National Authority, as well as to the national and local elections to take place next year, as long as they reflect the sovereign will of the Palestinian people.
Once again, at a critical moment for the Middle East, we wish to commend the Palestinian people for their endurance through long and difficult times and we reaffirm our conviction that peace must be the ultimate reward for its patience and determination.
It is our hope that violence will soon be over and political dialogue resumed, so that the Palestinian people can finally benefit from an environment of peace and stability, where it can concentrate on its development and prosperity and thus realize its full potential.
The Government of the Central African Republic pays tribute particularly to the courage of the Palestinian people and its representative, the Palestine Liberation Organization, as they fight for their existence and their full security as a nation.
The Government of the Central African Republic supports the view that there must be two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side within protected, secure and internationally recognized borders.
It expresses the hope that the efforts the Quartet is making to try to stem the escalation of violence will succeed, so that the Middle East region can once again move towards a comprehensive and lasting peace.
May the clear-sightedness and determination of the Palestinian people lead it to a just, peaceful and lasting settlement of the conflict, in keeping with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council.
Mr. Ricardo Lagos Escobar, President of the Republic of Chile
It is a suitable occasion on which to reaffirm our country’s commitment to peace and security in the Middle East. In that regard, the work done by the United Nations to benefit the Palestinian people through
persevering assistance efforts and the quest for better economic and social conditions represents the efforts of the international community to support the demands of the Palestinian people and the peace process in the region.
I take this opportunity to reiterate my congratulations on this observance and my sincere hopes that, within the very near future, the road to dialogue will again be taken and the violence afflicting the Middle East will cease.
Mr. Zhu Rongji, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China
The tension between Israel and Palestine is still going on. The Palestinian territories have long suffered from economic blockade and military attacks. The Chinese Government and people express deep sympathy for the Palestinian people who are in difficulties and hardships. We oppose and condemn Israel's act of disregarding the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and call on Israel to withdraw its troops from the Palestinian controlled areas and end the economic blockade as soon as possible.
China has all along maintained that the United Nations resolutions on the Middle East question and the principle of "land for peace" should be the basis for the solution to the Palestinian question, and that the only correct approach to realize lasting peace in the Middle East is the political settlement of the question through peaceful negotiation. We are of the view that the occupied Arab territories should be returned and the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people including that to establish an independent Palestinian State should be restored at an early date. At the same time, we oppose terrorist activities of all forms and maintain that the sovereignty and security of all the Middle East countries should be effectively guaranteed. We hope that the international community will give more attention to the Palestinian question, make greater efforts to ease the tension, help the Palestinian people out of the current predicament and create conditions for the relaunch of the Middle East peace process. China is, as always, ready to work with the international community to play a constructive role in bringing about an early peaceful settlement of the Middle East question, including the Palestinian question.
Mr. Glafcos Clerides, President of the Republic of Cyprus
At the same time I would also like to express our solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for the fulfilment of their legitimate rights, including their right to an independent State.
Cyprus’ long-held position on the solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict has been consistent and in line with international law. We strongly support the implementation of United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 1397 (2002) as well as the efforts of the Quartet for a peaceful, just and lasting settlement of the conflict
On our part, we are ready to extend any support and thus contribute in any way we can to the efforts for the accomplishment of peace and reconciliation of all the peoples of the Middle East.
Cyprus has proved time and again its genuine concern and interest in the affairs of the Middle East, by becoming actively involved from the very beginning with the multilateral track of the peace process.
We earnestly hope and fervently believe that the entire world will redouble its efforts in order to see the Middle East, a region long synonymous with war, hate and endless suffering, be transformed into an area of peaceful coexistence
Towards this end, we reconfirm our willingness and determination to work tirelessly with the rest of the world. It is the dream of generations in the region and that of all of humanity as well, for peace, justice, security, stability and prosperity to prevail for all the peoples of the Middle East.
Today, the Palestinian people are launching a vigorous campaign to put an end to Israeli oppressive atrocities and occupation and achieve national independence and liberation under the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
I take this opportunity to express the conviction that the ties of friendship and solidarity between our two peoples will continue to strengthen and develop in the future as well.
Mr. Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt
The yearly observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People represents an expression of the international community’ ;s unflagging determination to support the Palestinian people in their legitimate struggle against Israel’s occupation of their lands and sacred shrines, and to uphold their lawful rights to sovereignty and independence in those lands. It also represents an occasion for the international community to recall the tragic situation the Palestinian people are now experiencing, under fire from the Israeli occupiers and subjected to practices that violate all international custom and international conventions.
Ever since it issued its first report in 1976, your Committee has emphasized that the Palestinian question lies at the heart of the issue of the Middle East, and the events of the intervening years have shown that that is indeed the case. There can be no stability or development in the region in the absence of a peaceful, just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian question, one that guarantees that all concerned will be able to enjoy their legitimate rights, without discrimination or double standards.
This year’s observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People coincides with a grave period in the history of the Palestinian issue. A few months ago, the Palestinian people’s intifada entered its second year amid escalation and extreme violence on the part of the Israeli occupation forces. Massive international and regional political efforts have been expended on the task of trying to revive the peace process, with a view to the establishment of an independent Palestinian State alongside Israel, but despite those efforts, Israel has not slackened in its attempt to break the resolve of the Palestinian people and to extinguish the flame of resistance among them. Israel claims that it is acting in self-defence, while in reality it is seeking to force the Palestinian people to surrender unconditionally and accept Israel’s unjust terms for an end to the struggle. Despite continuing calls from the international community for Israel to accept its responsibilities towards the Palestinian people, the Israeli occupation forces continue to trample on all the basic human rights of that defenceless people, in flagrant disregard of the numerous international human-rights conventions that Israel has signed, by applying a systematic policy of force, blockade, starvation and methodical destruction of Palestinian society’s human and economic infrastructure. The United Nations’ own reports stand as irrefutable evidence of these Israeli practices, which violate all the country’s international obligations as an occupying Power.
Egypt has condemned those practices and violations, and has consistently supported the Palestinian people’s right to establish an independent State on their own land, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Egypt has also supported the Palestinian people’s right to resist in an effort to liberate their land, and has emphasized that their struggle to recover their land should not be equated with terrorism. Egypt has demanded that Israel be compelled to abide by its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians in the course of its military operations, in the light of the international community’s recognition of the fact that that Convention applies to the occupied Palestinian territories. Egypt has also warned that blind, unquestioning support for Israel is having a destructive impact on the entire region. Despite Israel’s illegitimate practices, Egypt, together with all the Arab States, has consistently maintained that the Arabs’ strategic choice is peace, and has supported President George Bush’s view that the conflict should be resolved. Egypt has worked tirelessly with all the parties involved and with United Nations bodies, most notably the Security Council and the General Assembly, to secure recognition of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and reach a peaceful, comprehensive solution to the struggle. Our efforts, unfortunately, continue to run up against Israel’s insistence on setting conditions that make it impossible to resume negotiations, constituting as they do open interference in the Palestinians’ internal affairs, beginning with its demand for the imposition of a Palestinian leadership to replace the existing legitimate, duly elected leadership.
The Arabs have extended their hands to Israel in an initiative that was unanimously adopted and expresses their sincere belief in a peace that respects the rights of all without exception. If Israel really wants stability, security and peace for its people and natural relations with all the peoples of the region, it must desist from its current practices and enter into a serious peace process based on legally binding United Nations resolutions, beginning with resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), and the principle of land for peace, in preparation for the establishment of an independent Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital. This is the road to stability, security and peace in the Middle East.
Mr. Chairman, the successive reports issued by your esteemed Committee have emphasized the United Nations’ historic responsibility in the Palestinian question. It is an important responsibility that follows from the fact that the United Nations represents the faithful guardian of international legitimacy. Israel, openly defying the international community, has refused to abide by most of the resolutions and decisions adopted by the United Nations and its various bodies concerning the Palestinian issue, including, most recently, resolution 1435 (2002), which called for an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian cities towards the return to the positions held prior to September 2000.
In view of this defiance, it is the duty of the United Nations to assume its responsibility for putting an end to the tragedy of the Palestinian people by giving effect to its own relevant resolutions and decisions. Failure to do so would send a portentous message to those who still put their trust in international legitimacy and the role of the United Nations in today’s world. One important step in that direction that the Organization might take would be to provide international protection for the Palestinian people, as we have so frequently called upon it to do.
Today, the Palestinian question is passing through a particularly sensitive period in its history, and I do not think the Palestinian people have ever needed solidarity more than they do now. I should like to take this opportunity to renew my appeal to the international community, and in particular to the donor States, to live up to their commitments as regards the provision of assistance to the Palestinian people in their struggle to obtain their fundamental rights, beginning with their inalienable right to determine their own future and establish an independent State.
Mr. Chairman, Egypt is confident that the United Nations, and your esteemed Committee, will spare no effort on behalf of solidarity with the Palestinian people in this critical period of their struggle to enjoy their basic rights like the rest of the world’s peoples. In conclusion, I salute this heroic people, in the hope that their struggle may be crowned in the near future by the establishment of an independent State with East Jerusalem as its capital.
I remain confident that the Palestinian Authority, thanks to the sustained efforts of the people of the occupied territories and the support of countries devoted to justice and peace, will manage to overcome the obstacles that confront it as it builds an independent and sovereign State.
I should like to assure you once again of the active solidarity of Guinea’ s Government and people with this unremitting, heroic struggle.
In a regional situation convulsed by a vicious cycle of violence and counter-violence, the people of Palestine have remained committed to their objective. India continues to extend its principled support to the Palestinian cause. This support also manifests itself in material assistance and capacity-building contacts. On this day we salute the courage of the Palestinian people led by President Yasser Arafat.
We are convinced that there can be no military solution to this problem. There has to be a de-escalation through mutual confidence-building eventually leading to the establishment of two independent States living side by side with secure and recognized borders in a just and durable peace, in accordance with the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.
We shall remain engaged with the Palestinian leadership to work towards the realization of the legitimate right of the fraternal Palestinian People.
During the past years, Indonesia has noted with grave concern the deteriorating situation in the occupied territories and a tragic intensification of unabated violence in the daily lives of its inhabitants. The Palestinians remain dispossessed of their land, forced to live in a highly destabilized political environment, with an economy that remains stifled by unbearable restrictions and on the edge of a humanitarian catastrophe. Indeed, the political, security and economic plight of the Palestinians is worse today than at any time since 1967.
Renewed outbreaks of violence have resulted in numerous deaths and injuries. Palestinians are still confined to their towns, villages and refugee camps. Curfews, closures and restrictions of movement have deepened poverty levels. Many basic institutions of the Palestinian Authority have been damaged or destroyed by unabated military operations, and in consequence, have weakened their capacity to provide essential services to the people. The violation of their internationally recognized rights has also continued. Taken together, they have intensified the suffering of the Palestinian people.
The persistence of these conditions has undermined rust between the parties and bred a new and vicious cycle of violence which can lead to further deterioration of security in the region. Indeed, there can be no military solution to this conflict. The use of force cannot subdue the will of a people for self-determination and statehood. Military actions only serve to bring about more hatred and undermine attempts by the parties and the international community to bring about reconciliation and a negotiated end to the conflict. The political option of renewed dialogue and negotiations remains the only viable alternative.
Security Council resolution 242 (1967) adopted thirty-five years ago identified the principle of land for peace as an essential prerequisite for ending this conflict. I would like to reiterate our support for its early implementation.
In view of the gravity of the current crisis and the need to prevent a further deterioration of the situation, concerted efforts to revive and intensify the peace process are urgently needed. Indonesia is grateful to note that international endeavours are being strengthened towards peace. In this regard, it is important to build upon existing proposals and agreements and to concurrently address the issues of peace and development. The Arab League’s Beirut Declaration has provided a comprehensive framework for peace in the Middle East. The international community must continue to be involved until the legitimate political aspirations of the Palestinians are achieved.
Indonesia has welcomed the endeavours of the Quartet, including the United Nations and the regional countries concerned, to overcome the deadlock and to establish a clearly defined framework for resolving the fundamental issues. These would include the political, security, economic, social and humanitarian dimensions of the problem. The United Nations should intensify its work, imbued by the vision of Israel and Palestine living side by side within secure and recognized borders as foreseen n Security Council resolution 1397 (2002). The road map that it has envisioned will lead to that goal, end occupation and restore to the Palestinians their inalienable rights. As this forum offers an unprecedented opportunity for a permanent and comprehensive solution, it is imperative on the part of Israel and the Palestinians to move forward and create an atmosphere conducive to the achievement of these objectives. It is my hope that these efforts will succeed and usher in a new era of harmony, mutual cooperation and peaceful coexistence.
In observing this International Day of Solidarity, Indonesia renews its unequivocal support to the just and noble cause of the Palestinians for freedom, independence and statehood. This will lead to a new dawn of peace and prosperity in the region.
Mr. Seyed Mohammad Khatami, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Mercifu1
Over the past year, Israel, among other actions, has savagely attacked the Jenin refugee camp and other parts of the Palestinian territories, massacred women and children, applied economic closures, desecrated Muslim and Christian holy places, attacked public centres and Palestinian Authority infrastructure, and surrounded and imprisoned Palestinian leaders in their compounds. Such actions, which are in contravention of norms and principles of international law as well as United Nations resolutions, demonstrate the refusal by Israeli officials to submit to the will of the international community, which calls for an end to violence, bloodshed and occupation. The ongoing alarming trend not only aggravates the situation in the Middle East, but also threatens international peace and security.
The Palestinians desperately need the resolute, sustained and decisive support of the international community to repel Israeli aggression and secure their inalienable rights, especially the right to self-determination. Thus, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, held in the United Nations, is a welcome opportunity that may help find the necessary mechanisms and enhance the will of the international community to find a fair and just solution to this dangerous crisis and meet the need of the Palestinian people to secure their rights in its entirety.
I, representing the people and Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, while commemorating the Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, express my support for any concrete actions that may guarantee the fulfilment of the basic rights of the oppressed people of Palestine. I also strongly urge the international community - especially the relevant organizations and bodies of the United Nations - to take fundamental steps to reverse aggression and occupation in the Middle East and restore peace and tranquillity to this sensitive region.
King Abdullah II Bin Al-Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
For us here in Jordan, the Palestine issue is crucial, and consequently we have consistently sought to play an appropriate role in the task of coming to grips with it. We have an obligation to support our fellow people, the Palestinians, including both those who are bearing the burden of occupation and those who have been scattered abroad as refugees, in their efforts to secure their rights as explicitly defined in the relevant United Nations resolutions, including, in particular, Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). We have endeavoured to work with these resolutions and international initiatives based on them, having regard to the fundamental principle enshrined in them, namely the principle of respect for the rights, and the corresponding obligations, of all the parties concerned.
We in Jordan have been convinced from the outset that there is no military solution to either the Palestine-Israel conflict or the Arab-Israeli conflict, and that the only valid solution must be a peaceful one based on international legitimacy. Consequently, we hold unreservedly that the basis of the peace process in the Middle East is the principle of “land for peace”.
Accordingly, Jordanian diplomacy has been positively involved in various initiatives and efforts aimed at working out a solution to this bleeding wound in the Middle East. In line with Jordan’s principled stand, we welcomed the initiative launched last June by the President of the United States, Mr. George W. Bush, which called for two States, the State of Israel and the State of Palestine, living side by side in peace and harmony.
I myself intervened vigorously in person at one stage, having realized that the step-by-step method would not lead to the desired outcome because the ends of the peace process between Palestinians and Israelis were being kept vague and open to all eventualities, and that the result was being left ambiguous, with the result that our Palestinian brothers felt that the hoped-for settlement might not be in accordance with the relevant internationally binding United Nations resolutions. At that point, the negotiations had turned into an end in themselves. I therefore intervened, communicating with all the negotiating teams and making it clear to them that it was essential to adopt a new approach, one based on a clear view of the ultimate outcome at which the negotiations were aimed, namely self-determination for the Palestinian people and the establishment of an independent State in the land of Palestine within the borders of 4 June 1967. In exchange for this, the Arab States would assume their responsibilities in the context of a just and comprehensive peace.
The above-mentioned initiative launched by President George W. Bush and the initiative launched by His Royal Highness Prince Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, converged to produce the Arab Peace Initiative at the Arab Summit held in Beirut last March, which represented a mutual commitment to the final outcome of the negotiations. All parties assumed their obligations in that connection, and consequently we were all convinced that the prospect of an independent, stable Palestinian State established on Palestinian land, in return for acknowledgement of Israel’s rights under international law, was within reach.
Nor did we stop there: we applied our efforts to the task of working with the other parties to turn our vision into reality by devising a practical mechanism for that purpose. Consultations and communication ensued, and now the prospective mechanism is being discussed by the Quartet and the parties themselves. It is a “road map” which we hope will be accepted by all the negotiating teams. We hope it will spur all concerned to define their next political and diplomatic steps. We in Jordan are working with all parties at all levels in an effort to sustain the momentum for a resumption of negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis, in the hope that those negotiations will ultimately give material form to the vision to which the United States is committed and to which the international family has given its blessing.
The present situation in the Palestinian territories is unacceptable. Mutual bloodletting continues to threaten to undo all the progress that has been made to date in laying the foundations of peace. Furthermore, Israeli measures like sealing off Palestinian areas have been applied so harshly that we cannot be silent about them. Fundamental necessities and the means of livelihood are being denied to a large proportion of the population; innocent people, including children, the elderly and the sick, are suffering. Your Committee was absolutely right to point to this situation in its annual report to the General Assembly, thereby focusing the attention of world opinion upon it.
In conclusion, we hope that your activities and contributions will provide the United Nations with a fresh opportunity of thinking seriously about new ways of convincing Israel, as the occupying Power, of the importance of cooperating with international efforts aimed at putting an end to this tragedy.
The peace, mercy and blessings of God be upon you.
We cannot but feel disappointed that the long-cherished dream of the Palestinian people to live in peace and enjoy their inalienab1e rights, in particular the right to their State has been scrapped once again, and driven even farther from coming true by a renewed cycle of carnage in the Middle East. The Israeli military invasion and reoccupation of Occupied Palestinian Territory since the end of March this year has further resulted in an appalling toll of death and injury to the innocent people of Palestine as well as severe damage and destruction of their property. The tragic acts of violence and other inhumane measures and practices of the invader have not only inflicted untold suffering upon both the Palestinian and Israeli peoples but also brought the peace process in the region to a complete halt. The continuing attempt by the perpetrator to 1egitimize its military operation by claiming it to be part of the international campaign against terrorism is another cause of grave concern. The Lao People's Democratic Republic repeatedly utters its condemnation of the excessive use of force and other vile actions against the Palestinian people. It also re-emphasizes its call for the complete and unconditional compliance with the Ceasefire Agreement of 17 October 2000 and the commitment by both sides to return to the negotiating table in order to secure a final political solution to the lingering conflict.
Consistently committed to the Middle East Peace Process, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic reaffirms its continued and full support to the Palestinian people in the pursuit of their sacred aspiration to take the helm of their own destiny. To this end, we believe that only a politically negotiated solution acceptable to all parties under international supervision can bring genuine peace, stability and development to the Middle East. The solution must be preceded by the respect for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, first and foremost the right to establish an independent and viable Palestinian State living side by side with Israel in peace and. security within international recognized borders in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions.
Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia
In the face of the current setbacks, Malaysia remains steadfast in its belief in the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination without external interference, to national independence and to sovereignty and to return to their homes and property from which they had been displaced and uprooted. It continues to have faith in the democratically elected leadership of the Palestinian Authority to lead the Palestinian people in its struggle. At this critical juncture of their heroic struggle against Israeli occupation and their inhumane treatment by the Israeli occupying forces during the ongoing intifada, Malaysia reiterates its unequivocal support for the just cause of the Palestinian people in establishing an independent and sovereign State of Palestine with Al-Quds Al Sharif as its capital. We call upon the international community, and in particular the Quartet, to strengthen its resolve and intensify efforts to resume the peace process with a view to realizing the State of Palestine as soon as possible, certainly not later than the targeted three-year period.
The Government and the people of Malaysia further express their deepest regret over the loss of innocent Palestinian lives and extend their profound condolences to those who have lost their loved ones in the course of their struggle. Our hearts go out to the brotherly Palestinian people in their time of need and hardship.
Mr. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, President of the Republic of Maldives
The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People has an important role to play in mobilizing the support of the United Nations system and the world community to advance the Palestinian cause. We pledge our continued support to the work of the Committee and encourage it to increase its efforts to carry out its mandate effectively.
This year the occasion is being observed at a time of continuing frustration over the lack of progress in achieving peace. The international community must not be deterred by the continuing violence in its quest for a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Palestinian question. In fact, it is vitally important that the peace process be re-started at the earliest opportunity.
On this solemn occasion, I express our earnest hope that a comprehensive and permanent peace will be achieved in the Middle East in the near future. We look forward to the day when the Palestinian people will be able to enjoy peace, security and prosperity in their own sovereign State.
Mr. Eddie Fenech Adami, Prime Minister of the Republic of Malta
Malta has consistently joined the international community in expressing its grave concern over the dangerous escalation of violence in the region and the absence of meaningful political negotiations. The current situation is a clear manifestation that a negotiated settlement based on relevant Security Council resolutions, particularly resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), and the principle of land for peace, is the only path towards the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace which would guarantee the coexistence of two viable States, Israel and Palestine, within clearly defined and secure borders.
The Government and people of Malta wish to once again urge the parties in the region to desist from moving along the current path of confrontation and violence and instead intensify their efforts towards the attainment of peace in the interest of the peoples in the region.
Sir Anerood Jugnauth, Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius
The international community is seriously preoccupied by the continuous deterioration of the situation in the Middle East and by the humanitarian crisis in Palestine. The escalation of violence, we believe, is hampering efforts towards the resumption of peace talks and the creation of a Palestinian State. We are convinced that a resolution of the crisis can only be achieved through peaceful means and dialogue.
Mauritius as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council has been fully supportive of resolution 1397 (2002) of 12 March 2002, which for the first time in the history of the Council affirmed the vision of a region where two States, Israel and Palestine, would live side by side within secure and recognized borders.
The holding of elections in January 2003 has been a welcoming sign. All parties concerned need to ensure that the forthcoming elections are free and fair and under the supervision and assistance of the international community. We hope that a new impetus can be given to the peace process after the constitution of a new Government.
We welcome the efforts being undertaken by your Government to reform the Palestinian Authority and we are confident that your endeavours will serve to strengthen the security in the region and create a better environment for the pursuance of the talks for the establishment of a full-fledged Palestinian State.
I take this opportunity to reiterate the full support of the Government and people of the Republic of Mauritius to the Palestinian people in their struggle for their legitimate rights.
Mr. Vicente Fox Quesada, President of Mexico
The Mexican people are convinced that respect for law is the strongest bulwark of peace. This conviction, a principle of our Constitution and a pillar of our foreign policy, provides the basis for diplomatic action on behalf of a just and equitable international order, capable of providing opportunities for all and of translating into reality the universal goal of peaceful and respectful coexistence among all nations.
On this occasion, instituted by the United Nations and of such importance for the Palestinian people, I take the opportunity to convey the assurances of my highest consideration.
Mr. Sam Nujoma, President of the Republic of Namibia
The question of the establishment of the State of Palestine has been on the United Nations agenda since its inception in 1946. It is our earnest hope that the recent bloodletting and enmity will not derail the Middle East peace process, which is geared towards the full realization of the self-determination of the Palestinian people led by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) under the able leadership of President Yasser Arafat. We encourage and support the peace talks and the efforts which are aimed at easing the current tensions between the Israelis and the Palestinians and thereby lead to peace and harmony in the Middle East.
As we reiterate our solidarity with the Palestinian people, we continue to look forward to the early achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace leading to the establishment of full statehood for Palestine.
Mr. Mamadou Tandja, President of the Republic of Niger
Indeed, the stepped-up acts of aggression against Palestinian civilians, which spare neither women nor children, have increased our anxiety about the determination of Israel to continue its policy of Judaization and occupation of the Palestinian lands.
The attacks against Palestinian leaders, as well as the restrictions and humiliations of all sorts directed against the President of the Palestinian Authority, His Excellency Mr. Yasser Arafat, result from that same policy.
Thus, the Government and people of the Niger reaffirm, on this Day replete with symbolism, their feeling of great solidarity with the Palestinian people struggling to regain its legitimate national rights, including the establishment of an independent Palestinian State with Al-Quds al-Sharif as its capital.
Niger, furthermore, remains convinced that only open and direct negotiations based on the relevant resolutions of the United Nations will make it possible to reach a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region, the cradle of civilizations that are thousands of years old.
The United Nations, which has played a determinant role in favour of the emancipation of peoples, has a preponderant role to play in settling the Middle East crisis.
In this regard, I express the hope of seeing the beginning of a more happy and more prosperous era for the people of Palestine so that, along with the other peoples of the region, it may undertake, in peace, dignity and liberty, the building of its own future.
General Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan
Pakistan shares the anguish and deep concern of the world community over the continued Israeli military atrocities and occupation of Palestinian territories. We believe that the use of force cannot ensure security and stability in the region. We have repeatedly denounced Israel's aggressive actions and indiscriminate attacks against the Palestinians, which are fast unraveling the structure of peace in. the Middle East, which has been put together through years of diplomatic efforts.
Pakistan has supported all international efforts aimed at the resolution of this lingering conflict. We welcomed the unanimous declaration of the Arab League Summit, which was adopted in Beirut on 28 March 2002. The declaration offers Israel peace and security in exchange for its complete withdrawal from territories occupied by it since 1967. We were disappointed with Israel’s rejection of this positive initiative. We also welcomed United Nations Security Council resolution 1397 (2002) of 2 March 2002 which affirms the vision of a Palestinian State living side by side with Israel within secure and recognized borders as well as United Nations Security Council resolutions 1402 (2002), 1403 (2002), 1405 (2002), and 1435 (2002) which, inter alia, call upon Israel to withdraw troops from all Palestinian cities and call for the implementation of a meaningful cease-fire.
On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Government and people of Pakistan reiterate their call to the international community to send a clear message to Israel that any effort to impose a military solution in Palestine will not succeed. It is our sincere hope that sanity will prevail, so that the entire region is not engulfed in a wider conflict with incalculable consequences for world peace.
Pakistan firmly believes that the only way to bring about lasting peace is the resumption of negotiations leading to a comprehensive, just and durable peace settlement, consistent with United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), which stipulate the total withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied Arab territories and call for respect for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, in particular the right to establish an independent Palestinian State, with Al-Quds Al- Sharif as it s capital and the return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland.
Mr. Aleksander Kwasniewski, President of the Republic of Poland
Poland has always been supportive of all nations in need. We believe that it is imperative to find some common ground to restart a dialogue and confidence-building measures between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
In this regard, we are ready to support initiatives of the international community, in particular, road map put forward by the Midd1e East Quartet. We believe that it provides an opportunity to implement the vision of peaceful coexistence between the two nations: Palestine and the State of Israel, as envisioned in Security Council resolution 1397 (2002).
I wish to express my hope that the Governments of the Palestinian Authority and the State of Israel will do their best to put an end to the spiral of violence and terror. The conviction that there is no constructive alternative to finding durable agreement to the conf1ict between the Palestinians and Israelis should prevail.
I strongly believe that there will be no durable peace in the Middle East without an independent and democratic Palestinian State, which should build up its existence on the basis of friendly relations with Israel.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish the friendly Palestinian people the unhindered implementation of all their inalienable rights on which the future should be built.
As we mark this occasion today, the peace process in the Middle East is beset by difficult and critical circumstances, most notably, perhaps, the extremely grave situation in the occupied Palestinian territories resulting from Israel’s incursions, blockades and harsh measures against civilians, the massacres of Palestinians that it has committed in Jenin, Nablus and other cities, the assassinations and kidnappings carried out by the Israeli security forces, and Israel’s deliberate destruction of the Palestinian National Authority’s infrastructure expressly for the purpose of crushing the Authority.
We were heartened by the signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel on 13 September 1993. We hoped that this would lead to the full realization of all Palestinian rights as formulated in the relevant legally binding United Nations resolutions, notably Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978). We looked forward to a complete withdrawal from the whole of the West Bank, including the holy city of Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, so that the peoples of the region would be able to live in peace and achieve the development and prosperity to which they aspire.
In the event, Israel refused to honour the commitments that it had undertaken in signing that agreement, choosing instead the path of procrastination and delay as a means of evading its obligations and imposing unacceptable solutions, replacing an open, blatant occupation with a piecemeal occupation, progressively eroding the Palestinian people’s rights and land, and disregarding the relevant legally binding United Nations resolutions on the refugees and Jerusalem. The result has been the total deterioration of the situation in the Palestinian territories, while the peace process has reached a dead end.
We should have expected to find the international community unanimously condemning these Israeli policies, but in fact we find that some States are supporting Israel, heaping blame on the Palestinian National Authority and accusing it of being responsible for the deterioration in the situation. Accordingly, we call upon the international community to assume its responsibilities by providing international protection for the Palestinian people, and we call upon the States of the European Union to take punitive measures against Israel pursuant to the partnership agreement signed between them.
We also urge the Security Council to take the necessary measures to compel Israel to implement its relevant legally binding resolutions with a view to achieving a just and comprehensive peace that would enable all the States and peoples of the region to enjoy the security and stability to which they aspire.
Mr. Vladimir V. Putin, President of the Russian Federation
The Russian Federation is deeply concerned at the continuing Palestinian-Israeli conflict. We are convinced that there can be no military solution and are firmly resolved to provide assistance to both sides, within the framework of the Quartet of international mediators and by other means, in the interests of combating terrorism effectively and achieving a just settlement on the basis of United Nations Security Council resolutions, the Madrid principles, and existing agreements and accords, and pursuant also to the peace initiative adopted at the Arab Summit in Beirut. As a matter of principle, the realization of the legal right of the Palestinians to establish their own independent State is of the highest importance.
I wish you, Mr. Arafat, good health and success, and I wish the fraternal Palestinian people a peaceful future, happiness and prosperity in their native land.
The peace, mercy and blessings of God be upon you.
The Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is happy to join with the rest of the international community on this occasion and simultaneously to express its esteem for the work done by your Committee, which has done its utmost to defend the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to establish an independent State in its homeland with the holy city of Jerusalem as its capital.
As the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia unites with all other peace-loving States and institutions in marking this important occasion, it wishes to emphasize its commitment to the principles and objectives of the various international instruments enshrining the right of the Palestinian people, and of all peoples, to self-determination. There can be no doubt that the Palestinian people are to be numbered among the peoples who have been denied and despoiled of their rights, despite the adoption of numerous United Nations resolutions calling for restitution of the rights of which they have been unjustly deprived.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia marks the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, which constitutes formal recognition of that people’s suffering, precisely because of its commitment to the goals, objectives and principles of numerous international instruments, most notably the Charter of the United Nations, the Charter of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Charter of the League of Arab States. All these Charters affirm the right of all peoples to self-determination and independence, and the Palestinian people are a significant example of a people that has been denied its rights.
From the outset, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, relying on its firm principles and its absolute belief in the justice of the Palestinian people’s cause, has unfailingly provided assistance at all levels and in all venues to the search for a just solution and the effort to put an end to the oppression, affliction and dispossession, material and moral, to which they are being subjected.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, along with the rest of the international community, has supported the cause of the Palestinian people and has given its blessing and backing to all peaceful efforts to restore their legitimate rights. We have worked to advance the peace process ever since its inception in Madrid in 1991. The outcome of that process was direct negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis, and those in turn led to bilateral agreements whereby Israel was to withdraw from the occupied territories and turn over greater powers to the Palestinian National Authority.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is observing with sadness the events that are currently taking place in the land of Palestine and the Israeli army’s cruel treatment of defenceless civilians, hundreds of whom have been driven from their homes. Furthermore, the peace process is at a standstill. We feel distress and indignation at Israel’s intransigent policy, which has paralysed the Palestine-Israel dialogue and caused the agreements that had previously been reached between the parties to be emptied of their content, regardless of the fact that the commitments made in those agreements had been announced to the international community. Israel has pursued its policy of demolishing Palestinians’ homes, establishing settlements in the occupied territories and subjecting autonomous areas to various forms of oppression, starvation and collective punishment, sealing off and blockading Palestinian areas and applying plans and measures aimed at altering the identity of Jerusalem and imposing a new situation, thereby condemning the region to greater violence and instability.
Ever since the Madrid peace conference, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has supported the Palestinian people in their bilateral negotiations with Israel aimed at recovering their legitimate rights. Regional and international efforts at all levels have been devoted to that end, with international conferences and meetings having been held solely for the purpose of working out a just solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict.
The situation in the Palestinian territories has exploded in recent months, as the Palestinian people have despaired of the peace process between the two parties concerned and the Israeli Government has conducted savagely repressive operations against the defenceless Palestinian people and imposed an economic blockade that is strangling the territories of the Palestinian Authority. In response to this situation, the Kingdom has proposed the establishment of two funds, a Jerusalem Fund and an Intifada Fund, with a capital of an estimated one billion dollars, of which the Government of Saudi Arabia would put up one quarter. Indeed, the Kingdom has already contributed its full share to both funds.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia holds to its constant position of supporting peace efforts aimed at putting an end to Israel’s occupation of the Arab territories and applying the relevant United Nations resolutions, including in particular Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). It also continues to support the principle of land for peace, in accordance with the agreement reached at the Madrid peace conference and the statement issued at the Arab summit conference held in Cairo in 1996, to the effect that the peace process was a strategic choice and a goal from which there could be no turning back. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia appeals to the entire international family, and in particular to the sponsors of the peace process, i.e. the United States of America and the Russian Federation, to put pressure upon the current Government of Israel, headed by Mr. Ariel Sharon, to abide by the resolutions issued by the United Nations concerning the Palestinian people, to comply with the will of the international community by fulfilling its obligations vis-à-vis the Palestinian Authority and the international community itself, to cease placing obstacles in the way of the peace process, to stop building settlements, to desist from its inhumane practices towards Palestinian residents, and to end its strikes against civilians and the facilities and structures of the Palestinian National Authority. Furthermore, it is essential for any lasting, comprehensive settlement to make provision for the return of the Palestinian refugees and the release of detainees, and for a solution to the issue of the settlements, which are incompatible with all United Nations resolutions, including Security Council resolution 465 (1980), and with the principles of international law and the Geneva Convention.
The issue of the holy city of Jerusalem is the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the focus of the attention of the Arab and Islamic worlds, and the heart of the Palestinian problem. We are particularly concerned with Jerusalem, because it was the first qibla for Muslims [i.e. the direction to which they turn in praying], the third of the Two Holy Mosques and the place from which the Apostle of God, God bless him and grant him peace, made his journey by night. Accordingly, the practices and encroachments undertaken by Israel in that holy city cannot but have an adverse impact on the entire peace process, especially in view of the fact that the aim of those practices is to Judaize the City of Jerusalem and alter its religious and historical characteristics. This threatens to undermine the peace process and to obliterate any hope of achieving peace in the region.
To rectify this situation will require an active international effort to lift the Palestinian people out of the misery and oppression of which they are the victims at present. At the same time, it is urgently necessary to reduce the current level of violence by means of objective, realistic action to address the security issue. This means that the international community must compel the Government of Israel to accept the same security obligations as are being demanded of the Palestinian Authority. To hold the Palestinian side exclusively responsible for security and claim that it is to blame for the violence and insecurity is not realistic and cannot help to solve the problem. We must all do our utmost to relieve the suffering of the Palestinians, and to that end we must take the necessary practical steps to set the Palestinian issue on the road towards the settlement for which we all hope.
As regards a comprehensive settlement of the larger Arab-Israeli conflict, the Arab peace initiative that emerged from the Beirut Summit will, in our view, adequately cover this question and provide, for the first time, a way forward based on an Arab consensus with its focus on the United Nations resolutions pertaining to that conflict. It constitutes a basis for a peace treaty that will make provision for a complete Israeli withdrawal in exchange for the establishment of normal relations between the Arabs and Israel. Accordingly, we appeal to the international community, and to the United States Administration in particular, to take immediate, positive action to put a stop to Israel’s intransigence as regards the most delicate and sensitive aspects of the peace process, and to deal with the issue of Jerusalem as befits its importance as the most important of the issues involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the issue that must imperatively be resolved within the time frame defined by the peace process and in accordance with United Nations resolutions 242 (1967) and 252 (1968), both of which deal with Jerusalem. Justice and the protection of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people cannot and must not be dealt with on a basis of double standards and discrimination between one people and another and between one State and another. We take this opportunity to reaffirm this principle, which is consistent with the spirit of justice and equality and the advancement of peace and security in the region.
In conclusion, the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia must urge all nations, once again, to stand by the side of the Palestinian people and support their cause, and to play an effective role in supporting the peace process in the Middle East, so that the massacres of which the Palestinian people have been the victims can be ended and all parties can return to the negotiating table. It is essential for the peace process between Arabs and Israel to resume, so that all Arab rights can be recovered in full, on the basis of United Nations resolutions. We urge the international community to take the initiative and bring pressure to bear on Israel to give effect to the agreement it signed at the Madrid conference and to implement the contents of the relevant United Nations resolutions, notably the restoration of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. That is the road to stability in the region, with attendant benefits for all its peoples.
May God grant success to all who strive in a righteous cause.
Mr. Abdoulaye Wade, President of the Republic of Senegal
In this difficult time, I am sure that I faithfully convey the deep feelings of all the members of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People when I express our unfailing support for the Palestinian cause.
I once again pay tribute, with admiration, to the unassailable courage, determination and clear-headedness which President Yasser Arafat of the Palestinian Authority has shown in his tireless quest for a just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine.
When in 1977 it adopted resolution 32/40 B, the General Assembly proclaimed the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People and at the same time renewed, in its own way, its support for the partition plan for Palestine decided in 1947 under the terms of General Assembly resolution 181 (II).
The United Nations therefore assumes a basic and continuing responsibility for the Palestine question, until such time as it is settled satisfactorily and in accordance with international law and legitimacy.
That is why our Committee must continue to mobilize all facets of world public opinion, so that the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains at the top of the international priorities.
We must not yield to fatigue or the trivialization of violence. Thus, we have to remain alert and vigilant as events take a new turn.
I should here like to reaffirm in all its seriousness the obligation incumbent upon the international community, and especially its most influential members, to ensure that the physical and moral integrity of President Yasser Arafat is preserved, for any attempt upon his person would have incalculable consequences for the entire Middle East.
I therefore take this opportunity to make a solemn appeal for the observance of the Geneva Conventions relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, and also for the cessation of hostilities and the resumption of negotiations.
It is obvious that a fait accompli policy using collective punishment and the seizure of territory by force can only lead to an impasse.
Only dialogue and negotiation, based on meeting agreed commitments in good faith and applying the relevant United Nations resolutions in their entirety, and centred on the peace plan adopted at the latest Arab League Summit in Beirut, will allow the vision to become a reality, of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace, within secure and recognized borders.
In this spirit I strongly urge the members of the Quartet to pursue and redouble their efforts for the convening of an international peace conference on the Middle East, which should result in specific machinery and a specific timetable with a target date of 2005 at the latest for the creation of a sovereign Palestinian State.
As I warmly congratulate the members of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, I wish to renew Senegal’s support for all initiatives leading to the building of a viable and independent State of Palestine with Al-Quds as its capital, a Palestine living in harmony with its neighbours - all its neighbours - in peace and security shared with all the peoples of the Middle East.
Mrs. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
In pursuance of its consistent commitment to Palestinian rights, Sri Lanka has formally recognized the State of Palestine.
It is widely acknowledged by the international community that an end to occupation and the realization of a Palestinian State are essential elements in reaching a just and durable peace in Palestine and the region.
I am profoundly saddened and gravely concerned at the tragic escalation of violence and the consequent widespread death and destruction in the occupied territories. I wish to convey my deepest sympathies and condolences to all those whose lives have been traumatized and severely disrupted by the mounting violence.
It is my sincere hope that urgent concerted efforts will be pursued to end the violence, revive the peace process and achieve a durable settlement enabling the Palestinians to realize their inalienable rights.
Mr. Farouk Al-Shara’, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Syrian Arab Republic
As your meeting is being held this year, Israel is continuing its repressive practices against the Palestinian people. The Israeli military occupation machine is demolishing houses, bulldozing trees, confiscating land and killing people, including women, the elderly and children. Despite all this, the Palestinian people have not given in to the occupation and have rejected Israel’s unjust conditions in the negotiating process, continuing to endure a mounting toll of victims in their intrepid intifada, which is aimed at achieving sovereignty in their homeland, establishing an independent State with East Jerusalem as its capital, and exercising their rights of return and self-determination in accordance with United Nations resolutions and the principles of international law. The Syrian Arab Republic will continue tirelessly to support the just cause and legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. The situation in the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan is similar to the situation in Palestine: the inhabitants are subject to massive human-rights violations, and are courageously resisting in an effort to put an end to foreign occupation. Israel must be held responsible for sabotaging the peace process, owing to its continuing refusal to implement Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and its rejection of obligations and commitments that had been reached through laborious negotiations over a period of many years.
We call upon the Security Council and the international community to assume its responsibilities in the matter of the establishment of a just, comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on United Nations resolutions requiring a complete Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Syrian Golan to the line of 4 June 1967 and from the remaining occupied Lebanese territory, including the Shaba Farms, to the internationally recognized lines, and in the matter of the upholding of the Palestinian people’s legitimate national rights.
We also call upon the Security Council and the international community to take heed of the great danger of the current situation in the Middle East, resulting from Israel’s barbaric practices and systematic terrorism, which have plunged the region into a state of tension and violence. The international community must assume its responsibilities by putting an end to the daily massacres committed by the Israeli occupation forces among the Palestinian people: they routinely kill civilians, including children, women and elderly people, demolish houses and confiscate land in open defiance of United Nations resolutions and in flagrant violation of international conventions, including, in particular, the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and Protocol I thereto, signed in 1977. The international community must also put an end to Israel’s threats of aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic and Lebanon.
We salute your esteemed Committee’s unceasing efforts to support the just struggle and legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. Along with the rest of the international community, we look forward to the day when the occupation will end, when people will be free to exercise the rights to which they are entitled, and when the region will be blessed with a just, comprehensive peace that will bring security, peace and stability to the region and to the entire world.
Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand
I cannot help but re-emphasize the well-known fact that violence in itself is not a means to solve any problem and can only breed more violence. It is therefore desirable that all parties concerned set a collective goal to uphold and implement the vision spelt out in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1397 (2002) of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side within secure and recognized borders. To achieve that goal, first and foremost, violence and terror must be brought to an immediate end. Tightly controlled security needs to go hand in hand with a political settlement process. It is also very important that equal attention be given to the humanitarian needs and economic malaise of the Palestinian people while security and political issues are being dealt with. Only through this comprehensive approach can one expect to see a lasting peace.
Once again I would like to reiterate Thailand's firm support for a peaceful solution of the question of Palestine based on United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 1397 (2002) and the principle of land for peace. It is also our belief that the peace initiative of the Quartet group provides a practical road map towards a permanent settlement of the issue. This peace initiative needs to be implemented in full.
Finally, Thailand wishes to encourage all parties concerned not to give up hope but to continue working against the odds in this noble effort for a peaceful solution. We believe that, with devotion and determination, nothing is unattainable.
Mr. Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, President of the Republic of Tunisia
These daily Israeli practices have resulted in a tragic deterioration in the humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people. Immediate international intervention is called for to compel Israel put an end to its oppressive policy and to provide the fraternal Palestinian people with the protection they require and enable them to obtain the ordinary necessities of life.
Tunisia strongly condemns the Israeli occupation authorities for their continuing aggression against the defenceless Palestinian people and reaffirms once again its unswerving solidarity with the Palestinian people and its firm support for their just cause. On this International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, Tunisia calls once again upon the international community and peace-loving powers to intervene quickly and decisively to provide them with international protection, which has become indispensable, and to work to give effect to international legality by compelling Israel to comply with the resolutions of the Security Council and the international conventions it has signed, and to react responsibly and seriously to the various initiatives and efforts aimed at calming the situation, bringing about a resumption of peace negotiations with a view to the establishment of a Palestinian State with the holy city of Jerusalem as its capital and bringing peace to the Middle East region.
In view of the present continuing escalation and its adverse implications for the stability of the region and the entire world, Tunisia considers that the present situation, now more than at any time in the past, requires the imposition of a logic of peace and the implementation of a just, comprehensive and lasting solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, in accordance with legally binding international resolutions, the most recent being Security Council resolution 1397 (2002), and in response to the Arab peace initiative and the view of the United States. A just settlement should be pursued by all available means, with a view to ending a conflict which has continued for far too long and instituting a logic of coexistence and mutual acceptance among the peoples of the region.
In view of broad international and United Nations recognition of the fact that a Palestinian State must be established, the international community, including, in particular, States that have effective influence in the region, must act immediately and decisively to put a stop to the continuing deterioration of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and exert greater efforts to give effect to the various initiatives that have been undertaken in that connection at various levels and turn them into concrete reality.
Mr. Ahmet Necdet Sezer, President of the Republic of Turkey
The attainment of the Palestinian people of their inalienable rights continues to constitute one of the major preconditions for peace and stability in the region. We are following with admiration the efforts of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, which functions to this end.
It is obvious that the current violent atmosphere only serves the purposes of those who are against peace. It is a great historical responsibility on the part of both Palestinian and Israeli sides to bring about an end to the atrocities and find a just solution to the Palestinian issue.
It is among the Palestinian peoples’ basic rights to be recognized as a sovereign and equal member in the international arena. Security Council resolution 1397 (2002) is a crucial step towards the establishment of a Palestinian State which is to exist alongside Israel within secure and recognized borders.
The success of the Palestinian Authority’s efforts on administrative and institutional reforms, which are supported by the international community, is very crucial since these reforms will shape the structure of the future Palestinian State. On the other hand, the political process for the solution of the question of Palestine has to be pursued hand in hand with the reform process in Palestine and, at the same time, Palestinian people’s support for the course of reform is to be maintained.
The betterment of the conditions of the Palestinian people’s lives and the restructuring of the Palestinian economy so that it can sustain itself are issues that should be taken up immediately for the hopes of the Palestinians for peace to be reinforced. Turkey will continue its economic, moral and political support for the termination of Palestinians’ suffering.
Stressing the importance of the invaluable work of your Committee, I would like to reassure you that Turkey will continue to display its solidarity with the Palestinian people with greater determination. Availing myself of this opportunity, I would like to extend to you on behalf of the Turkish nation and on my own behalf, my sincere wishes and support for the successful crowning of the just Palestinian cause.
Today we are observing the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Our participation in this event signals our support for that people’s just and noble struggle, at the cost of the lives of many of their sons, children and women, to put an end to Israel’s occupation of their lands and win their freedom and independence, their legitimate right of self-determination, and an independent State in their homeland, with the holy city of Jerusalem as its capital.
Years of political and diplomatic efforts and initiatives, bilateral, international and regional, have been expended on the task of trying to find a settlement to the Palestinian issue, which has festered for over 55 years now. Despite those efforts, Israel continues to pursue its policies of systematic, comprehensive destruction of Palestinian national development institutions, war crimes, occupation, detention, blockade and organized starvation, deliberately bombing defenceless Palestinian civilians, including women and children, in their cities, villages and refugee camps, in the most appalling abomination that humanity has ever known.
Israel’s persistent application of policies of racial discrimination and ethnic cleansing, forcing thousands of Palestinians to emigrate, confiscating their lands and possessions, expanding settlements and consolidating its occupation of the Palestinian and Arab territories by military force, has not only revealed the true direction of Israel’s policies, which are aimed at destroying the peace process in the region, but has also brought about a severe deterioration in the political, humanitarian, economic and social situation of the Palestinian people and the Arab world as a whole, thereby endangering regional and international peace and security. This represents a flagrant violation of international law, the Charter of the United Nations, many United Nations resolutions and the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.
The international community’s inability to induce Israel to comply with legally binding United Nations resolutions, notably the relevant Security Council resolutions, and the terms to which it agreed in the context of peace agreements with the Palestinian Authority, is engendering ever greater injustice and feelings of despair and helplessness among the Palestinian people. Accordingly, the United Arab Emirates calls upon the international community in general, and the United Nations and the Quartet in particular, which are more immediately responsible for this issue, to bring all the necessary political pressure to bear on Israel in order to induce it to implement the relevant United Nations resolutions. This is the only way to bring about, in the near future, a peaceful, just, comprehensive settlement of the Palestinian issue, as noted in the Arab Peace Initiative, which is based on a long series of legally binding United Nations resolutions.
It is the United Nations that bears the greatest political, legal, historical and ethical responsibility for resolving the Palestinian issue, until such time as the Palestinian people can exercise their freedom and their legitimate rights, most notably their right of self-determination and the right to establish an independent State having the holy city of Jerusalem as its capital. Accordingly, it is for the United Nations - to a greater extent now than at any time in the past - to provide the Palestinian people with international protection and to prevent Israel from continuing to commit its aggression and crimes against them, flouting international law, the principles of international humanitarian law and the various protocols on human rights and other matters that together govern international relations. The task of bringing peace to the Arab world and the Gulf region will require political will and a larger role for the United Nations in inducing Israel to implement the relevant United Nations resolutions.
In this context, as a first step to putting an end to the continuing violence in the region, Israel must withdraw, immediately and completely, from the Palestinian territories that it has occupied since September 2000, and it must desist from the aggression, crimes and atrocities that it is perpetrating daily in the Palestinian territories against the inhabitants of those territories. It must also withdraw from all the other Palestinian and Arab territories that it has been occupying since June 1967, in preparation for the establishment of an independent Palestinian State having the holy city of Jerusalem as its capital.
In conclusion, the United Arab Emirates takes the opportunity, on this occasion of solidarity with the Palestinian people, to reaffirm its unwavering, principled commitment to supporting the fraternal Palestinian people until they recover all their legitimate rights, like the world’s other peoples. We call upon the international community to provide the Palestinian people and the Palestinian National Authority with greater political, developmental, economic and humanitarian support to enable them to gain their freedom and independence, to live with dignity, and to rebuild the developmental institutions of all kinds that have been destroyed by Israeli occupation and aggression. We look forward to an age when all nations and peoples of the world will enjoy a better life, characterized by peace, security, stability and prosperity everywhere on earth.
Mr. Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
At the same time, we wish to express our concern at the acts of violence that have recently occurred in the Middle East and caused the deaths of hundreds of individuals and heavy material losses, such as the events in April of this year in the Jenin refugee camp. We fervently desire to see the grave humanitarian crisis in the region alleviated.
On this important occasion, we would like to express our strong support for the initiatives aimed at halting the spiral of violence and giving new impetus to the peace efforts fostered by the United Nations. We believe that a just solution must be based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), and that only through dialogue and cooperation can progress be made towards the achievement of a just and lasting peace that will lay the foundation for political stability, security and economic development in the region.
Venezuela also endorses the right of the States of the region to exist within safe and internationally recognized borders. We share the view that the international community has the responsibility to promote a peaceful solution to this regional conflict, and therefore we wish to stress the need for the parties to the conflict to comply fully with the agreements reached in the Middle East peace process.
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela reaffirms its support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, in particular for its right to self-determination, which should lead to the creation of a Palestinian State, and expresses the hope that the peace so long desired may be quickly achieved throughout the Middle East.
Mr. Tran Duc Luong, President of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam
Together with the international community, Viet Nam expresses grave concerns over the ongoing escalation of violence in the Middle East, especially when the Palestinian leaders and international community are making joint efforts to bring about a peaceful solution to the conflict. More than ever before, Viet Nam wishes that the parties concerned would do their best to push forward the peace process and fully implement the signed agreements, especially those achieved at the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit and the work plan of the Mitchell Committee so as to find as soon as possible a just and lasting solution to the Palestinian-Israel conflict, putting an end to the present state of tensions. Such a solution must ensure the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including the rights to self-determination, the return of the refugees and to establishment of an independent Palestinian State, as well as the legitimate rights of all the parties concerned on the basis of the “land for peace" principle and United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 1322 (2002) and other signed agreements.
On this occasion, the Vietnamese Government and people reaffirm their consistent support for the just cause of the Palestinian people with the firm conviction that their struggle under the leadership of the Pa1estine Liberation Organization will achieve its full victory.
B. Messages from Governments
In that regard, it stresses that the enlarged Quartet, which emerged from the meeting in Madrid in April 2002 and is the suitable primary mechanism for international efforts, should continue its work, which is indispensable for ensuring the coexistence and development of the peoples of the region and the legitimate exercise of their inalienable rights.
In view of the grave events now occurring, which are undermining the possibility of dialogue and threatening world peace, the Government of Uruguay strongly urges all parties involved in the conflict to exert their best efforts to return to the path of negotiation, renounce the use of violence as a means of attaining political goals and put an end to military occupation and any activity that stands in the way of an understanding and the establishment of a definitive peace agreement.
C. Messages from Ministers for Foreign Affairs
Dr. Carlos Federico Ruckauf, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Commerce and Culture of Argentina
In past years Argentina has expressed its concern at the many obstacles that stand in the way of progress towards resolution of a seemingly endless conflict. Recently, however, the acts of violence have reached such an extreme that it is increasingly hard to tolerate a situation that only leads to a hardening of antagonistic positions and makes it more difficult to bring the parties together to put an end to this escalation of death and destruction. For that reason, we feel it is essential once more to urge the parties to renounce attitudes that have proved futile and serve only to exacerbate differences and deepen the conflict.
We also see an urgent need to reopen negotiations and to adhere to the commitments already signed. Peace in the Middle East must be achieved on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978), the Madrid and Oslo agreements, the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements signed in Washington, D.C., the Wye River Memorandum and the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum. The effort and the determination to negotiate evinced by the signing of the agreements currently in force between the parties must continue, so that an equitable solution benefiting both parties may be found.
The Argentine Government considers the contribution of the Quartet, which includes the United Nations represented by its Secretary-General, to be valuable and constructive. As a State Member of the Organization, Argentina supports this highly important initiative and will back consensus proposals developed in that context.
Argentina likewise believes that the economic and social development of the Palestinian people is essential in order to promote dialogue between the parties and to underpin their joint endeavour in the future to coexist in peace and harmony. Hence, it values and encourages contributions from any country that is able to cooperate in that noble purpose. In that regard, the Task Force on Palestinian Reform plays a key role in proposing and putting projects into action. Starting from that premise, within the bounds of its possibilities, from 1996 to 2000 Argentina participated in town planning projects for the municipalities of Gaza, Rafah, Khan Yunis and Bethlehem through the “White Helmets” initiative.
Lastly, the Argentine Government maintains that the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination in its own territory and the right of its Israeli neighbours to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders continue to be the two principles guiding the country’s policy on the Middle East.
For over half a century that the Palestine question has remained an open issue on the United Nations agenda. In this regard it is essential to stress the role of the United Nations as the sole universal organization responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security. In the light of the current incessant outrages Azerbaijan believes that the only way out of the vicious circle of violence is the full implementation of the relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly and the consequent establishment of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East on the basis of the principle of land for peace.
Azerbaijan reaffirms its support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to establish an independent sovereign Palestinian State on its own territory.
Mr. Youssouf Ouedraogo, Minister of State and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation of Burkina Faso
Since September 2000, the situation has only deteriorated. The number of atrocities committed daily against unarmed civilians has risen. The already very precarious humanitarian situation now exceeds the limits of tolerance. At the same time, the significant progress that had been made towards a just and lasting peace appears to be definitively blocked, following the denunciation of the Oslo and Madrid accords, among others.
The siege of Ramallah, with all the consequences it entails, especially the breakdown of dialogue and the challenge to the Palestinian Authority, has once and for all buried the hopes that the Tenet workplan and the Mitchell report had aroused. Such escalation is unacceptable.
Burkina Faso has never failed to align itself with the United Nations in international and regional bodies in expressing its solidarity with the Palestinian Government and people and its compassion for them, and in calling for reason and dialogue between the two parties.
As a first step towards a true negotiated settlement, it is imperative and urgent for the international community, and especially the members of the Security Council, to do everything possible and apply pressure to halt the Israeli attacks in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Likewise, the Palestinian Authority must stop the suicide attacks against Israeli civilians.
Burkina Faso recalls in this connection that neither violence nor vengeance can ever lead to a lasting settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
It welcomes the efforts made by the international community, especially through the Quartet and the Security Council.
Burkina Faso fully supports the Quartet’s statement of 2 May 2002 and the pertinent Security Council resolutions, especially resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 1397 (2002), affirming a vision of two viable and democratic States, Israel and an independent Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.
Burkina Faso also takes this opportunity to encourage and congratulate you for your ceaseless efforts to bring about a just and lasting peace in Palestine and the Middle East.
Ms. Yoriko Kawaguchi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan
When I visited Israel and the Palestinian territories in June 2002, I had meetings with Mr. Sharon, Prime Minister of Israel, and Mr. Arafat, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, in which I conveyed to both of them my hope that both sides would put an end to the violence as soon as possible and return to the table for peace talks. During this visit, I also proposed a road map indicating the path for Palestinian nation-building and towards the peaceful coexistence of Israel and a newly independent Palestinian State. Based on this road map, Japan is extending assistance in support of Palestinian nation-building in such areas as capacity-building and administrative reform, which are necessary for establishing a democratic State. The elections by the Palestinian people scheduled for next year will be an important first step towards nation-building. I therefore appeal to the entire international community to lend its support to ensure that the elections are successfully carried out.
I am pleased to extend my congratulations to the Palestinian people on the establishment of a new cabinet of the Palestinian Authority last month. I sincerely hope that the new cabinet will make utmost efforts to pursue nation-building and achieve peace. I wish to reaffirm that Japan, as a token of its solidarity with the Palestinian people, will continue every effort to realize a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East and bring peace to the Palestinian territories.
Mr. Marcel Ranjeva, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Madagascar
The crisis in the Middle East brings us face to face with our responsibilities. It is time that we, the peoples of the United Nations, work to encourage and intensify political action, without losing sight either of Israel’s right to exist or of the Palestinian people’s security, basic rights and legitimate aspirations.
How many peace plans have been drawn up since the United Nations came into existence? How effective have the many resolutions adopted during these five decades been, to speak only of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) or 1322 (2000) of 17 October 2000, which reaffirm the principle of exchanging “land for peace”?
Our Organization has in fact always concerned itself with the Middle East question, advocating the principles of negotiation and peaceful settlement of the crisis, with a view to achieving a just and lasting peace.
To this day, these peace efforts have not been successful.
Given the obstacles to the peace process – the terrorism, the suicide bombings and resulting waves of violence and the ongoing establishment of colonial settlements in the occupied territories – setting up a specific timetable for a final settlement of the conflict can be nothing more than a facade.
And yet we are all aware that in the absence of appreciable progress in the search for a lasting solution, the Israeli-Palestinian crisis is a threat to the peace and security of the entire region.
The General Assembly has, of course, repeatedly condemned the acts of violence, but the international community has a duty to make a stronger commitment to promoting reconciliation between the Palestinian and Israeli peoples. We encourage the efforts being made in that regard by the Quartet, and all other such initiatives.
The peace process forged and undertaken by leaders of good will must not be sacrificed on the altar of intolerance. No one can remain deaf and blind to the sufferings endured by the Palestinian people, which can be ascribed only to the mutual lack of understanding between the two parties, and to the repudiation of dialogue.
To show genuine political will, and to set greater store by the observance of human rights like the rights to life and dignity: these are the challenges to which we must all rise so that the peoples of the Middle East may enjoy lasting peace in their region.
We are convinced that, with the support of the community of nations, our Organization will manage to do this, and we do not despair of one day seeing the inalienable rights of the Palestinian fully realized.
Mr. Yousef bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Minister responsible for Foreign Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman
As you know, the Sultanate of Oman has spared no effort in that connection, working at all levels and in all venues to extend its support to the Palestinian people in their endeavour to secure their legitimate rights, notably the right of self-determination and the right to establish an independent State in their own land with the holy city of Jerusalem as its capital. Ever since the inception of the peace process in Madrid, based on the principle of “land for peace”, the Sultanate has sought to provide that process with effective, positive, tangible support, in the hope of seeing it crowned by a just, comprehensive peace that will ensure the security and stability of the entire region.
The Palestinian people are currently enduring terrible suffering at the hands of the Israeli occupation forces, which are subjecting them to violence and killing defenceless children, young people and elderly persons who are seeking only to defend their land, their sacred shrines and their legitimate rights. Out of solidarity for the Palestinian people, and wishing to support them in their hour of trial, the Omani authorities and Omani charitable institutions have unstintingly provided humanitarian assistance in the form of medicine, medical supplies and food products in an effort to ease their appalling suffering.
We are confident that you will continue and intensify your estimable efforts pursuant to your Committee’s mandate to support the Palestinian people, who are looking to the international community to stand side by side with them and to strive by every available means to save their lives, help them achieve their legitimate aims and aspirations and enable them to live in security and peace in a stable and prosperous region.
Mr. Mircea Geoana, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Romania
I am convinced that your endeavours for a political settlement of the Palestinian issue will further echo, positively, the ongoing regional and international efforts, meant to ensure the establishment of an independent and democratic Palestinian State, side by side with the State of Israel, through exclusively peaceful means and dialogue.
The process of reconciliation between the Israeli and Palestinian people is characterized by ups and downs related to the evolution of the peace process, which currently is again in a state of deep crisis. We oppose without reservation the use of violence and the deliberate killing of the defenceless civilian population.
We are convinced that there is no solution to this conflict through violence. Instead, a dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis at all levels, especially in times of crisis, is an important element in furthering peace and coexistence. Moreover, concerted international action is required to secure a final status agreement between Israelis and Palestinians based on all relevant United Nations resolutions and international law.
Dr. Dimitrij Rupel, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Slovenia
Many times during this trying year my thoughts have been focused on the Middle East and I have been reinforced in my belief that this region must once again become a cradle of tolerance and a true home for all of the people inhabiting it. The circle of violence and terror, which serves to undermine efforts towards reconciliation and peaceful settlement to the conflict, must be stopped.
The Republic of Slovenia is steadfast in its support of the right to self-determination, including the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to establish an independent State. This year, Slovenia repeatedly welcomed the Arab peace initiative, and expressed its support for United Nations Security Council resolution 1397 (2002) and for the coordinated efforts of the Middle East Quartet.
On this occasion I would also like to reaffirm our commitment to finding a comprehensive, just and lasting solution for the Middle East on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 1397 (2002), the land for peace principle and other achievements of the Madrid Conference, the Oslo accords and subsequent agreements.
Mr. Anatoliy Zlenko, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine
This year again this special Day is commemorated against a backdrop of the continuous deterioration of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and in Israel. Ukraine remains deeply concerned at the high level of violence and terror in the region, the increasing human suffering and loss of life among the innocent civilian population, as well as the aggravating humanitarian crisis faced by the Palestinian people.
The tragic events in the region are yet another evidence of the well-known and simple truth that violence begets violence and force cannot defeat force. It is only through peaceful dialogue and the political process between the parties that a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be found. Therefore, we urge the parties now and then, for the sake of their peoples, to cease all acts of violence against each other and commence negotiations on the establishment of a Palestinian State on the basis of United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 1397 (2002), the Madrid terms of reference, the principle of land for peace and the previously signed agreements. The final goal of the negotiations is clear - realization of the vision that the two States - Israel and Palestine - may live side by side in peace and within secure and internationally recognized borders.
In this context, we fully support the efforts under way of the Quartet, the countries of the region and other important international players aimed at finalizing a phased road map to bring this vision to fruition in three years. Under the current circumstances in the conflict and in the region, the international community, with the United Nations at the forefront, should neither relax its attention nor weaken its efforts in advancing the peace process.
Ukraine stands ready to continue doing its best in assisting the parties in achieving this goal. In this context, let me recall the Ukrainian proposals in the framework of international diplomatic efforts aimed at a peaceful settlement of the Middle East conflict put forward by the President of Ukraine, Leonid Kuchma, last April, which envisage a range of parallel steps in the political, security and economic spheres. It is to be noted that the suggestion of Ukraine to provide a venue and necessary conditions on its territory for holding peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians remains valid.
I am glad to confirm the readiness of Ukraine to host next year in Kyiv the United Nations International Meeting in Support of Middle East Peace, as well as an NGO event in support of the Palestinian people. I am confident that such a meeting will help to promote international support for the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including their rights to self-determination and statehood, by achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.
D. Messages from intergovernmental organizations having received a standing invitation to participate as observers in the sessions and the work of the General Assembly and maintaining permanent offices at Headquarters
African Union: Mr. Amara Essy, Interim Chairman of the Commission
I wish to recall that the struggle of the Palestinian people to recover its inalienable rights, including its right to an independent Palestinian State, was recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 3226 (XXIX) of 22 November 1974. Nearly 30 years after the adoption of that resolution, which recognized the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the right of the refugees to return to their own country, the situation has hardly changed. Indeed, it has steadily deteriorated, and the Palestinians are each day subjected to violence and oppression at the hands of the occupation forces, which are engaged in destruction of the infrastructures of the Palestinian Authority. The humanitarian situation in the occupied territories is utterly deplorable.
The African Union believes that the Palestinian question, which lies at the heart of the Middle East problem, is inextricably linked with human rights, the destiny of the Palestinian people and the decolonization process. It is for that reason that the African Union demands that justice be done to the Palestinian people, whose only desire is to regain its freedom.
The African Union would like to reaffirm its solidarity and support for the just and legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people, under the direction of the Palestine Liberation Organization, for the exercise of its inalienable national rights, including the right to return to its country, the right to recover its possessions, its right to self-determination and its right to the creation of an independent State on its national territory, with East Jerusalem as the capital.
The African Union condemns the acts of violence being committed in the occupied territories, the repeated military incursions and the reoccupation of zones under Palestinian control, the marginalization of the Palestinian National Authority, the destruction of the region’s economic system, and of official and public infrastructures such as the Presidency buildings in Gaza and Ramallah.
I should like to take this opportunity to make an urgent appeal to the international community to do everything in its power to create the conditions for a just and lasting peace in Palestine.
I wish your Committee every success.
The European Union is gravely concerned about the continued clashes between Israelis and Palestinians and deeply saddened at the almost daily loss of lives among the civilian population. Both parties must show maximum restraint and do their utmost to bring an immediate end to violence and terror. The European Union extends its profound condolences and sincere sympathy to the bereaved families of the victims. We strongly condemn the economic and social consequences of the measures taken against the Palestinian population and call for the rapid restoration of the freedom of movement of persons and goods in the Occupied Territories and for the full, safe and unfettered access of humanitarian aid and personnel.
There can be no military solution to the conflict. Peace and security can only be achieved through negotiations and, more than ever, a clear political perspective is needed in order to ease tensions. The European Union reaffirms its commitment to the vision of two States, Israel and an independent, viable, sovereign, peaceful and democratic Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. We remain committed to continue the work within the Middle East Quartet on a concrete, three-phased road map leading to a final Israeli-Palestinian settlement within three years based on United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), the Madrid terms of reference, in particular the principle of land for peace, and the implementation of all existing agreements between the parties. The European Union underscores the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative, which is a vital part of the foundation of international efforts to promote a comprehensive peace on all tracks, including the Syrian-Israeli and Lebanese-Israeli tracks.
Above all, it is up to the parties themselves to seek peace through a process of negotiations. For its part, the European Union remains ready - in close cooperation with all parties concerned - to continue to assist in the efforts at finding a final and just settlement to the Middle East conflict.
Organization of the Islamic Conference: Dr. Abdelouahed Belkeziz, Secretary-General
On this occasion, I am happy to express the appreciation of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and its member States for the role played by the United Nations and its organizations and committees in promoting the Palestinian cause and for their unwavering support and assistance to the Palestinian people in their just struggle to regain their inalienable national rights. I wouId like to refer in particular to the efforts of the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and the exceptional efforts exerted in this respect by the Committee Chairman, Ambassador Papa Louis Fall.
This year, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People happens to fall at a time when Israel has been continuing, for the third successive year, its escalating aggression against the defenceless Palestinian people, with around two thousand Palestinians killed and over sixty thousand wounded so far. In addition, thousands of Palestinians have been detained in harsh conditions that contradict the most basic of human rights and in a manner that violates international covenants and conventions. Moreover, Israel continues to commit daily war crimes, crimes against humanity, violations of international covenants and conventions, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilians in Time of War. For example, Israel has continued to apply the policy of collective punishments and to perpetrate deliberate and extrajudicial killings of Palestinian activists, leaders of civil society and politicians. It has persisted in demolishing Palestinian buildings, bulldozing Palestinian farms and seizing Palestinian lands to build illegal settlements on them. For the third successive year, Israel has been imposing a tight blockade along border crossings, thus preventing the movement of Palestinians an d the delivery of food and medical supplies. In this way, Israel has dismembered the Palestinian territories, which it has reoccupied in full, with hundreds of mi1itaty barricades separating towns and villages and even districts in the same city. What is more, Israel plans to build an apartheid wall to isolate hundreds of Palestinian villages, eat up thousands of hectares of Palestinian land and create a new fait accompli to obstruct the establishment of a viable, independent Palestinian State.
On top of all these violations, the Israeli occupation authorities have been practising an apartheid policy against the occupied city of AI-Quds (Jerusa1em) and have been besieging it through scores of military barricades and trenches to prevent worshippers from reaching mosques and churches. Even these places of worship have not been spared daily violations, desecration and interference in their internal affairs. In this way, Israel has been trying to impose a fait accompli by interfering in the religious affairs of Palestinian Muslims and Christians and in the renovation of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque whose perimeters have been damaged as a result of Israeli excavations underneath it, as we have long warned would happen. Israeli interference practices have also affected the patriarchal affairs of Orthodox Christians in the city of Al-Quds in addition to attacks on the properties of their Church and the detention of Muslim and Christian clerics, including the Mufti of the Holy City and the Orthodox Church spokesperson.
These persistent Israeli acts of aggression have had a destructive impact on the Palestinian economy, driving it to the brink of co1lapse by destroying its infrastructures, and by imposing curfews for long periods of time, and implementing the policy of collective punishments.
Moreover, Israel is still shirking its obligations by refusing to implement the resolutions of international legitimacy, persisting in its acts of aggression and even escalating them, seeking to topple the Palestinian Authority, besieging its President and destroying Palestinian Presidential headquarters.
The world which stood united against terrorism must not turn a blind eye to the state terrorism being practised by Israel against the Palestinian people for more than two years in such a way that jeopardizes peace and security in the region and the world. Therefore, the world today is urgently called upon to move to put an end to the Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people and to compel Israe1 to implement the agreements signed and adhere to the resolutions of international legitimacy.
In this context, we support the efforts of the Quartet Committee to put an end to Israel’s aggression and occupation and to press ahead with the establishment of an independent Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital. We believe that the success of any peace plan hinges on the definition of a time frame for implementation and of binding mechanisms to implement the provisions of the plan under the supervision of international observers who represent the will of the international community.
On this occasion, we in the Organization of the Islamic Conference affirm that the only way to halt the downward spiral, which imperils the whole region because of the Israeli aggression, lies in the following:
1. The necessity for Israel to end its aggression, lift the blockade imposed on the Palestinian people and its leadership and resume the peace process where it had been stopped, on the basis of the foundations laid out in the Madrid Conference and in accordance with the resolutions of internationa1 legitimacy, particularly United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), resolution 194 (III), and the “land for peace" formula.
2. The need for the international community to assume its duty by providing protection for the Palestinian people from the daily acts of aggression and crimes perpetrated by the Israeli occupation forces.
3. The necessity for Israel to withdraw from all the occupied Palestinian territories up to the June 1967 borders including the occupied city of Al-Quds, to completely dismantle the Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories and to abolish its illegal settlement schemes as they constitute a flagrant violation of international law and the resolutions of international legitimacy.
4. The need for a just solution to the problem of refugees based on United Nations resolutions, including General Assembly resolution 194 (III), in a way that guarantees the return of those refugees to their homeland and the restoration of their property.
5. The need to grant the Palestinian people its right to establish its independent and sovereign Palestinian State and with Al-Quds as its capital.
6. The rejection of all the decisions and measures taken in violation of international resolutions on the occupied city of Al-Quds as well as any attempt to undermine Palestinian sovereignty over the city of Al-Quds as the capital of the Palestinian State.
The success of international efforts to resolve the Middle East issue and the cause of Palestine depends absolutely on the fulfilment of the above-mentioned points, without which international initiatives cannot bear fruit. On this occasion, the international community is called upon to renew its solidarity with the Palestinian people and to redouble its efforts to end the Israeli aggression and restore the peace process on the basis of its underlying principles and foundations.
In conclusion, and on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and its member States, I would like to salute the Palestinian people and reaffirm the Islamic Ummah’s solidarity with it and with its National Authority and President in their struggle to end the aggression and restore the inalienable and imprescriptible national Palestinian rights, including their right to return, freedom and self-determination, and to establish their independent Palestinian State on their national soil with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.
E. Messages from non-governmental organizations
Mr. Latif Dori, Secretary
[Original : Arabic]
On this historic occasion, we speak out against the terrorist military escalation and the cruel and barbaric practices being perpetrated by the army of occupation, under the leadership of the three hawks, Sharon, Mofaz and Yaalon, against the Palestinian people. To date, hundreds of Palestinians have died as martyrs, while thousands have been wounded, over and above the assassination operations, the blockades intended to subject the people to starvation, the spread of settlements and the destruction of homes.
We appeal to world opinion, and we call upon the United Nations to send emergency forces to the occupied areas to provide international protection for the inhabitants of those areas. We also urge the peace camp in Israel to redouble its efforts to unseat Sharon at the coming elections, especially in view of the fact that a majority of the Israeli people support the establishment of a Palestinian State alongside the State of Israel.
International Progress Organization:
Professor Dr. Hans Köchler, President
Delivered at the United Nations Office at Vienna
What the world has witnessed especially since the beginning of the second intifada - but what actually began decades ago when the illegal occupation of Palestine started - is a never-ending cycle of violence and counter-violence. In spite of numerous resolutions adopted by the United Nations - General Assembly as well as Security Council - in support of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and for the end of Israeli occupation, the international community has stood by - more or less passively - watching the confrontation unfold. Nothing has been done to stop - lest prevent - the repeated campaigns of reoccupation of Palestinian cities or to protect innocent Palestinian civilians from attacks by the Israeli army. The killings, demolition of houses, the wanton destruction of agricultural land and of basic infrastructure in the occupied Palestinian territories has gone on unpunished and is continuing up to the present moment.
One of the tactics of the occupying power has been to depict the Palestinian resistance against foreign occupation as a form of terrorism and to defame the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization as a terrorist leader. However, the deliberate obfuscation of the distinction between acts of terrorism and acts of national resistance has not achieved the intended goal; it has not convinced those in the international community - States and non-state actors alike - who are committed to the realization of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination. It is a truism to say that terrorist violence, i.e. violence against innocent civilians, is unjustifiable - whatever the goals may be. But it is also true that the phenomenon of terrorist violence - on whichever side it may occur - will only disappear when the root causes of violence are eradicated. In the case of Palestine, the basic injustice is the ongoing illegal occupation by a foreign army and the humiliation of an entire people, and particularly the denial of basic human and civil rights resulting from the yoke of occupation.
In spite of the so-called “Oslo Peace Agreements”, the number of Jewish settlements has increased dramatically since the signing of the first accord in 1993; the systematic denial of Palestinian rights has in no way been reversed by what used to be called the “peace process”. We can only repeat what we stated before this august gathering shortly after the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Intifada - in November 2000: namely that all Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land, without exception, have to be dismantled and a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from all Palestinian land (including occupied Jerusalem) must occur if a lasting settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is to be achieved.
In the course of the repeated incursions and of the reoccupation of Palestinian cities by the Israeli army, the basic provisions of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949 have been breached repeatedly and in many ways. Among the methods used by the Israeli army, in the course of the ongoing violence, were:
All the above-mentioned facts and practices have repeatedly been denounced by the United Nations. Already several decades ago, the Security Council - in resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) - had called for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from occupied Palestine. In a resolution adopted on 22 November 1974, the General Assembly affirmed the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people including the right to self-determination without external interference and the right to national independence and sovereignty. The General Assembly has affirmed these rights repeatedly.
In real terms, however, the United Nations was never in a position to enforce its resolutions on Palestine. The respective Security Council resolutions were not based on Chapter VII of the Charter (which alone could have provided for compulsory measures to restore or preserve international peace and security), a fact which is explained by the lack of unanimity among its permanent members when it comes to measures aimed at stopping or ending Israeli occupation. Regrettably, the United Nations was not even able to undertake an independent inquiry of the atrocities committed in the Jenin refugee camp earlier this year. In resolution 1405 (2002), adopted on 19 April 2002, the United Nations Security Council “welcomed” the initiative of the Secretary-General to develop accurate information regarding events in the Jenin refugee camp through a fact-finding team and “requested” him to “keep the Security Council informed”. However, because the resolution was not based on Chapter VII, the occupying power did not feel compelled to allow such an independent investigation under the auspices of the United Nations. The commission of inquiry - which was already designated and held in a “ waiting position” by the Secretary-General of the United Nations - was never dispatched. The mission as aborted before it even started. This dismal failure of the United Nations - even in the field of mere investigation - has demonstrated the colossal problem faced by the international communit y in dealing with the situation in Palestine. As long as there is no unanimity among the permanent members of the Security Council on coercive measures based on Chapter VII, the world Organization will be condemned to practice a policy of double standards vis-à-vis the nations in the region - which will seriously undermine its credibility and the very legitimacy of its resolutions.
At this solemn gathering requested by a resolution of the General Assembly, it may be appropriate to refer to a possible course of action by which the United Nations could avoid its further marginalization in one of the crucial issues of international peace and security. In terms of United Nations procedures, there exists - since the Korea crisis of 1950 - a precedent which would allow an extraordinary measure to be taken by the United Nations General Assembly. At the initiative of concerned regional and international organizations such as the League of Arab States or the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the General Assembly of the United Nations could act on the basis of the provisions of the “Uniting for Peace resolution ” and convene in an emergency session in order to deal with the deteriorating humanitarian and security situation in occupied Palestine. The Uniting for Peace resolution - General Assembly resolution 377A (V) of 3 November 1950 - provides a space for independent action by the General Assembly in situations of serious international crisis triggered by the inability of the Security Council to act under Chapter VII of the Charter. The resolution states that -- if the Security Council, “because of the lack of unanimity of the permanent members”, fails to exercise its primary responsibility, namely “to maintain or restore international peace and security” -- “ the General Assembly shall consider the matter immediately with a view to making appropriate recommendations to Members for collective measure … to maintain or restore international peace and security. ” According to this resolution, the General Assembly may convene within twenty-four hours when a request for an emergency session by any nine members of the Security Council or by the simple majority of the members of the General Assembly has been made.
Such an extraordinary measure as outlined in resolution 377 A (V) could be realistically undertaken if there exists a collective political will and adequate coordination among the States members of the Arab League and the Islamic Conference. In the absence of any legal remedies in regard to the grave violations of international humanitarian law in Palestine at the present moment, such an initiative could have a considerable political impact worldwide and would undoubtedly have a mobilizing effect for the implementation of urgent humanitarian measures by regional and international organizations.
What is most urgently needed at the present moment is the immediate dispatch of a United Nations Protection Force to the occupied Palestinian territories. The situation in Palestine constitutes a serious threat to international peace and security according to Article 39 of the Charter of the United Nations.
In connection with the increasing tensions in the Gulf region and the renewed threats of war against Iraq, the developments during recent months have revealed large-scale plans for the expulsion of Palestinians from the West Bank. Many Palestinians in the occupied territories and concerned citizens in Israel have expressed great anxiety that the Israeli army may undertake such moves, euphemistically declared as population “transfer”, in the case of war in the Gulf. The Palestinians are seriously concerned about the eventual dispossession of their communities and, in this regard, make reference to al-naqba [the catastrophe] of 1948. The fears of ethnic cleansing are fed by the public statements of Israeli politicians and religious leaders, many of them close to the present Government in Israel, in favour of such a “ transfer”. The argument often heard in that regard is that such deportations would enhance national security and solve the “demographic problem”. This form of “ethnic cleansing” is not new, however. In the course of the 1948 and 1967 wars, large-scale expulsions of Palestinians occurred. In connection with the increase of tensions and the renewed threat of war in the Middle East, we strongly condemn these inhuman plans. To exile people from their native land is not only morally outrageous, it also constitutes a grave breach of article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention referred to above.
On behalf of the international non-governmental organizations we unequivocally condemn such plans and practices and demand that the international community not stand idly by another time while plans are unfolding to liquidate the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and to redraw the entire map of the Middle East.
In this highly volatile and dangerous situation, a lot will depend on the courage of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and - because of the Security Council’s inability to act under Chapter VII (due to the veto rule of Article 27 of the Charter) - on Member States represented in the General Assembly of the United Nations.
If - in spite of the dramatic escalation of the situation in occupied Palestine and in spite of the threat of war in the entire Middle East - the concerned States in the region and the international community at large continue to merely observe the situation - instead of insisting on the implementation of the basic provisions of international humanitarian law and of acting according to their collective responsibility for international peace and security - the chain of events triggered by the recent escalation in Palestine - in connection with the developments in the Gulf region - may well trigger a wider conflict that cannot be contained to the region and that may threaten peace and security on a global scale.
On behalf of the non-governmental community, I solemnly appeal to the President of the General Assembly and to the Secretary-General of the United Nations to exercise their responsibility under the Charter of the United Nations and to use all procedural means at their discretion as well as the moral authority afforded to them by their high international office so as to support urgent measures aimed at bringing about an end to human rights violations in Palestine, at dismantling all settlements in the occupied territories, at the immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops from the occupied territories and at establishing the sovereign State of Palestine in conformity with previous United Nations resolutions and on the basis of the inalienable right of self-determination.
In all fairness, it must be said in this forum that the handling of the Palestinian question will be first and foremost the litmus test regional organizations such as the League of Arab States cannot evade forever. But the adoption of decisive measures in Palestine will also be a defining moment for the United Nations, demonstrating its raison d’être in the post-cold war international system - lest its responsibility for global order and for the international rule of law will be unilaterally arrogated by the most powerful actors on the international scene. The United Nations must not suffer the fate of the League of Nations! The credibility of the world Organization as such, and its very future as universal organization representing the aspirations of the peoples of the world, are at stake in its dealing with the issue of Palestine.
We embrace Palestinians and Israelis alike who advocate a just peace in the Middle East. Like us, they are God's children and we therefore wish to assure them all of our support in ending this long and troubled conflict. We offer our sympathy and solidarity to all those who struggle for a just peace and just coexistence of Israel and Palestine according to UN resolutions.
We recognize that the main cause of the conflict is the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip by Israel. Israeli control cripples the economy and destroys the social fabric. Thus in solidarity with the Palestinian people, we urge the United Nations to immediately implement all the resolutions adopted to create a viable Palestinian State with secure boundaries for it and Israel. This is the only basis for a just peace in the region.
We call upon the United Nations, the Quartet and the United States to be unbiased brokers in establishing peace negotiations and protecting the human rights of Palestinians and Israelis. Because of its massive military and economic assistance to Israel, the United States has a unique responsibility in persuading Israel to end its oppression of civil society in Palestine and to fully join the peace process.
In solidarity with the Palestinian people, we support the efforts of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People to document and publicize the cruelty and unnecessary hardship being imposed on the Palestinians. Hence, we will publicize the same efforts and stories from partners in the Middle East through our networks in the hope that the Governments of the United Nations will make the plight of the Palestinian people a priority in December and January during the commemorations of all the religions in the Holy Land.
Betty Bailey, Global Ministries Board, United Church of Christ/Disciples of Christ
John Kim, Fellowship of Reconciliation
Faga Matalavea, Anglican Observer to the United Nations
John Rempel, Mennonite Central Committee United Nations Office
Matthew Scott, World Vision International
Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro, General Secretary
Delivered at the United Nations Office at Geneva
Our organization, the World YWCA, is a women’s membership and volunteer movement operating in more than 100 countries which has been in existence for over 150 years. We have longstanding members in the Middle East namely, in Palestine, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. The YWCA of Palestine was established in 1918, but as early as 1893, informal groups of Christian women were meeting in Jaffa and Jerusalem as YWCA groups. From its affiliation to the world movement in 1930 and onwards until 1947, this association with nine local branches throughout the country grew steadily. Since 1948, despite the uprooting of the Palestinian people, the YWCA has continued to serve its community by providing education and skills training programmes for women and children in refugee camps and engaging in development work among them.
In observance of a 1977 United Nations General Assembly resolution, we gather here year after year to commemorate this Day in solidarity with the Palestinian people. But in reality, this ceremony is one that should never have taken place if the resolutions that had been adopted by the United Nations had been implemented and enforced. Today, our greatest challenge is not one of commemorating but of standing in solidarity with a people who have been and who continue to be dispossessed, stripped of their land and of their dignity. The question remains: How could the international community tolerate the conscious neglect of and indifference to the resolutions it has crafted in order to address the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories since 1967?
We hold this International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People during the holy days of Ramadan and in anticipation of the season of Advent. We know that Ramadan is a time of contemplation and fasting during which the Muslim people strive to have a closer relationship to God and develop sympathy towards those who have less and who suffer as a result. In situations of war and conflict the declaration of a cease-fire during this period becomes a gesture of respect for this sacred practice. Today this does not happen at all and for Palestinians, there is no respite from the daily reality of occupation. The harsh intrusion of Israeli military authority in their daily life threatens to destroy their spirituality and that is a deeper harm than the speeches on the floors of the United Nations care to acknowledge. Faith, spirituality and connection to one’s belief have the largest part in building values and sustaining hope. What is the future of the Palestinian people, for Christians and Muslims alike, when the very essence of their belief is ignored and disrespected and the roots of what it means to be connected to God are not valued?
As we enter the third year of the second intifada, Palestinians continue to resist the obstacles and gross violations of human rights, which the ongoing Israeli occupation imposes on their everyday lives. In addition, the wall which is being built on Palestinian land in the name of so-called “ security”, the closures and sieges of towns and communities and the reoccupation of most Palestinian cities and territories are testimony to the intensification of the occupation. All these are happening despite the existence of UN resolutions affirming the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people and Israel’s avowed commitment to respecting international humanitarian law, the protocols to the Geneva Conventions and other relevant treaties. Today, genuine solidarity for the Palestinian people rests not only in ensuring the enforcement of these resolutions but also in taking all measures possible to bring both parties together to negotiate a comprehensive and just peace.
The World YWCA, like many other non-governmental organizations, strives to work for an end to the conflict between Israel and Palestine and the establishment of a just peace that recognizes the right of a people to live in dignity and freedom. As an organization committed to the empowerment of women, it works alongside Palestinian women to sustain them in their multiple roles as mothers, workers, caretakers, educators and whatever else they may be called to do in this period of conflict. The World YWCA believes that women are critical actors both in bringing an end to the conflict as well as in constructing a tolerant, democratic and open society for Israelis and Palestinians alike.
As an act of hope, the East Jerusalem YMCA and the YWCA of Palestine have initiated a campaign to replant olive trees in areas where they have been uprooted by the Israeli occupation army. This campaign is a response to the continuous establishment of Israeli settlements which, while consolidating and ensuring Israeli control of the areas, have also restricted access of Palestinians to water, agricultural land and other natural resources. In addition, the destruction of agricultural land and the uprooting of olive trees that are in the way of settlement construction has displaced and threatened the livelihood of many Palestinians. In the last two years alone, more than 130,000 olive trees have been uprooted and, with this, the symbol that brings together the past, present and future generations of Palestinians, the symbol of their homeland.
The campaign goal is to replant 50,000 olive trees in the Palestinian Territories with the help and sponsorship of YMCAs and YWCAs, churches and other groups and individuals around the world. Through replanting olive trees, Palestinians will be encouraged to keep hope alive and, for us, it is an expression of our ongoing partnership and solidarity with the Palestinian people.
Lastly, we wish to state that the security that Israel longs for is intimately tied to the security of Palestinians and, perhaps, that of the whole region. It will not be achieved by building walls of hatred, injustice and separation. Samah Jabr, a young Palestinian journalist writes:
“…Would separation bring security or would it prevent the humanists and peace-loving on both sides from meeting and working together, all the time polarizing the moderates, emphasizing stereotypes and allowing extremists to win their war?... When Palestinians live together as equals with the people of Israel… when not only Israeli security matters, but Palestinian security as well; when both of us takes the same bus to work, then the last shall be first in keeping the peace. Our fighters will not sacrifice their lives of meaningful expectation to kill themselves or others. Then and only then will we stop fearing each other. Then and only then will we stand a chance of breaking the silence to speak for justice, equality, peace and real security…”
Together with both Israelis and Palestinians who are working to build bridges of trust, understanding and compassion between their peoples, let us make this vision and hope a reality not for the future generation but for today.