Question of Palestine home
1 December 1997
Summary record of the 29th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Friday, 7 November 1997, at 10 a.m.
Chairman: Mr. Busacca . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Italy)
Agenda item 110: Elimination of racism and racial discrimination (continued)*
Agenda item 111: Right of peoples to self-determination (continued)*
* Items which the Committee has decided to consider together.
The meeting was called to order at 10.15 a.m.
Agenda item 110: Elimination of racism and racial discrimination (continued) (A/52/3, A/52/18, A/52/116-S/1997/317, A/52/187, A/52/254-S/1997/567, A/52/301-S/1997/668, A/52/432, A/52/447-S/1997/775, A/52/463, A/52/471, A/52/528)
Agenda item 111: Right of peoples to self-determination (continued) (A/52/139, A/52/286-S/1997/647, A/52/413, A/52/447-S/1997/775, A/52/485, A/52/495)
16. Mr. Al-Hariri (Syrian Arab Republic) ...
17. The United Nations had supported many peoples in their struggle to achieve self-determination and end racial discrimination, yet it remained powerless to secure the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. That was because of Israel’s expansionist policies, its continued and blatant violations of the Charter of the United Nations, its flagrant defiance of the will of the international community and its lack of respect for the most basic human rights and for the precepts of international law. For more than 50 years, Palestinian refugees and their children had been waiting to return to the homes from which they had been driven by the Israeli occupying forces, while Israel was steadily replacing the Palestinians with Jewish settlers from all over the world. Israel was continuing to alter the demographic situation in the occupied Arab territories, impose its law on the Arab inhabitants living under its occupation and prevent them from exercising the rights laid down in international human rights instruments, including the right to self-determination. The suffering of the Palestinian people had become a contemporary tragedy and a symbol of the international community’s inability to compel Israel to respect international law and to implement the relevant United Nations resolutions.
18. Israel’s continued falsification and distortion of historical facts would not bring security and stability to the region, however. It must abandon its policies, withdraw from the occupied Arab territories and allow the Palestinian people to exercise its right to self-determination forthwith. Prolonging an occupation that was based on murder, repression and organized terrorism exposed the region and the world to serious risk.
24. Mr. Gold (Israel), speaking on item 111,...
25. His Government was committed to resolving the Israeli- Palestinian conflict through dialogue, and it was currently engaged in direct permanent status negotiations. It was therefore regrettable that the Committee should have before it draft resolutions which sought to determine the outcome of those negotiations. While the Palestinians were entitled to articulate their views, they should not seek to impose them in international forums, thereby bypassing the bilateral negotiating process.
26. Israel’s position in the negotiations reflected the strategic context in the region: while the Palestinians were backed by a coalition of Arab States, Israel stood alone. Furthermore, the areas in which the Palestinians sought to exercise their right to self-determination included territory vital to Israel’s capacity to defend its eastern borders against the threat of attack by Syria or Iraq. Any permanent status agreement must address those legitimate security concerns as well as the aspirations of the Palestinian people.
27. Draft resolutions on Palestinian self-determination simply undermined the ongoing peace process to which the Palestinians, like Israel, had committed themselves; he therefore urged all delegations to vote against such initiatives.
36. Ms. Barghouti (Observer for Palestine), speaking on item 111, said that the right to self-determination was a fundamental human right and its denial constituted a threat to peace and security and an affront to human dignity. The international community must therefore strengthen its efforts towards universal realization of that right.
37. The Palestinian people continued to be denied its right to self-determination and was daily subjected to oppressive and discriminatory policies by Israel, the occupying Power, in violation of the relevant United Nations resolutions and the commitments made by that country in the context of the Middle East peace process. Israel’s creation of new facts on the ground, such as the building of further illegal settlements, and its continuing restrictions on Palestinian’s freedom of movement and detention of Palestinian prisoners were particular cause for concern. Although the Palestinian people was committed to achieving a settlement, the actions and policies of the current Israeli Government had brought negotiations to an impasse.
38. The Palestinian people would continue its struggle for an independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital. The realization of its aspirations was a prerequisite for the securing of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region. It was vital that it receive the support of the States Members of the United Nations in its quest, and she therefore welcomed the favourable evolution of European Union policy on the matter. She wished to reiterate that the realization by the Palestinian people of its right to self-determination continued to be a responsibility of the United Nations, and the adoption by consensus of the resolution which her delegation would be submitting to the Committee would be another step towards that goal.
47. Mr. Fernández Palacios (Cuba) ...
48. The maintenance of peace rested on respect for nations and for their territorial integrity and cultural diversity. The exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination was necessary for the enjoyment of all human rights. As long as foreign domination and occupation continued, talk of respect for those rights would be meaningless. In that context, his Government was deeply concerned at the deterioration in the Middle East peace process and vigorously condemned Israel’s continuing policy of violating the human rights of the Palestinian people, particularly its right to self-determination and to the establishment of its own independent State. In order to be just, lasting and comprehensive, any settlement of the conflict must include Israel’s complete withdrawal from all the occupied Arab territories, including the West Bank, the Syrian Golan, and southern Lebanon.
60. Ms. Samah (Algeria) ...
62. The important work of decolonization begun by the United Nations would remain incomplete as long as peoples were unable to exercise their right to self-determination. Peace and security could be restored in the Middle East only through a comprehensive settlement based on the exercise by the Palestinian people of its inalienable right to self-determination and the withdrawal of Israel from all the territories occupied since 1967. ...
63. Mr. Hamida (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) ...
66. The Charter of the United Nations and a variety of international instruments declared that all peoples living under foreign occupation had the right to self-determination and to resist such occupation. Despite United Nations efforts to end colonialism, there were still peoples, such as the Palestinian people, living under occupation and unable to exercise their right to self-determination. The Palestinian people had been forcibly dispossessed of its land while the rest of the world looked on, and it had been living in refugee camps since 1948, awaiting the implementation of United Nations resolutions that had established its right to self-determination and to establish an independent State in Palestine.
The meeting rose at 12.10 p.m.
This record is subject to correction. Corrections should be sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned within one week of the date of publication to the Chief of the Official Records Editing Section, room DC2-750, 2 United Nations Plaza, and incorporated in a copy of the record. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session, in a separate corrigendum for each Committee.