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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
29 November 1996
SPECIAL BULLETIN ON
THE COMMEMORATION OF THE
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY
WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
1996










-i-

CONTENTS
Page
I.Commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the
Palestinian People
1
II.Texts of statements made and messages delivered on the occasion of the
International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, 1996
Committee on the Exercise
of the Inalienable Rights
of the Palestinian People
Mr. Ibra Deguène Ka, Chairman
3
United Nations
General Assembly
Mr. Razali Ismail,
President of the fifty-first session
    5
United Nations SecretariatMr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Secretary-General
    6
Security CouncilMr. Nugroho Wisnumurti, President of the
Security Council for the month of
November 1996
    7

PalestineMr. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, delivered by Mr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations
8


Special Committee to InvestigateIsraeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of theOccupied TerritoriesMr. Herman Leonard de Silva, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations and Chairman of the Special Committee
    9
Movement of Non-Aligned CountriesMr. Andelfo J. García, Deputy Permanent
Representative of Colombia to the United
Nations, representing Mr. Ernesto
Samper Pizano, President of Colombia and
Chairman of the Eleventh Summit Conference of Heads of State or Government of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries
11


Organization of the IslamicConferenceMr. Lamine Kamara, Minister of Foreign
Affairs of Guinea, in his capacity as
Chairman of the Twenty-third Islamic
Conference of Foreign Ministers, delivered by Mrs. Mahawa Bangoura Camara, Permanent Representative of Guinea to the United Nations
13
League of Arab StatesMr. Ahmed Esmat Abdel Meguid, Secretary-
General of the League of Arab States,
delivered by Mr. Said Kamal,
Under-Secretary-General for Palestine
Affairs of the League of Arab States
13
International CoordinatingCommittee for Non-Governmental Organizations on the Question of Palestine Mr. David Graybeal, representative of the International Coordinating Committee for Non-Governmental Organizations on the Question of Palestine
16
III.Messages received on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity
with the Palestinian People
A.Messages from heads of State or Government

AlgeriaMr. Liamine Zeroual, President of the
People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria
19
BangladeshMrs. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh
20
CambodiaMr. Norodom Sihanouk, King of Cambodia
20


ChinaMr. Li Peng, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China
21
CubaMr. Fidel Castro Ruz, President of the
Council of State and of Ministers of the
Republic of Cuba
21

CyprusMr. Glafcos Clerides, President of the
Republic of Cyprus
22

EcuadorMr. Abdalá Bucaram Ortiz, Constitutional
President of Ecuador
23

EgyptMr. Mohamed Hosni Mubarak,
President of the Arab Republic of Egypt
23
GambiaMr. Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, President of the Republic of Gambia
24
GuineaMr. Lansana Conte, President of the Republic of Guinea
24
GuyanaMr. Cheddi Jagan, President of the Republic of Guyana
25
IndiaMr. H.D. Deve Gowda, Prime Minister of
India
25
IndonesiaMr. Soeharto, President of the Republic of Indonesia
26
IranMr. Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
27
JordanKing Hussein Bin Talal of the Hashemite
Kingdom of Jordan
28

KazakhstanMr. Akezhan Kazhegeldin, Prime
Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan
28
Lao People's Democratic
Republic
Mr. Nouhak Phoumsavanh, President
of the Lao People's Democratic Republic
29

MaliMr. Alpha Oumar Konare, President of the
Republic of Mali
29
MaltaMr. Alfred Sant, Prime Minister of Malta
30

MauritaniaMr. Maaouya Ould Sid’Ahmed Taya, President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania
30
MauritiusMr. Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius
31
MexicoMr. Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León,
President of Mexico
31
NamibiaMr. Sam Nujoma, President of the Republic
of Namibia
31
PakistanMr. Malik Meraj Khalid, Prime Minister of
the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
32


PhilippinesMr. Fidel V. Ramos, President of the
Republic of the Philippines
32
QatarSheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar
33
Russian FederationMr. Boris Yeltsin, President of the Russian Federation
34
Saudi ArabiaFahd Bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, Custodian of
the Two Holy Mosques, King of Saudi, Arabia
34
SenegalMr. Abdou Diouf, President of the Republic of Senegal
36
Sri LankaMrs. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga,
President of the Democratic Socialist
Republic of Sri Lanka
37
ThailandMr. Banharn Silpa-Archa, Prime Minister of Thailand
37


TunisiaMr. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, President of
the Republic of Tunisia
38
TurkeyMr. Neçmettin Erbakan, Prime Minister of
the Republic of Turkey
39

UkraineMr. Leonid Kuchma, President of Ukraine
39
United Arab EmiratesSheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan,
President of the United Arab Emirates
40
Viet NamMr. Le Duc Anh, President of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam
41
YemenLieutenant-General Ali Abdalla Saleh,
President of the Republic of Yemen
41
ZimbabweMr. Robert Gabriel Mugabe, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe
42

B.Messages from Governments
Argentina
43

Democratic People’s Republic of KoreaCentral People’s Committee of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
43
Papua New Guinea
44
South Africa
44


United Republic of
Tanzania
44
Uruguay
45


C.Messages from Ministers for Foreign Affairs

BrazilMr. Luiz Felipe Lampreia, Minister fo
External Relations
45


JapanMr. Yukihiko Ikeda, Minister for Foreign
Affairs
46
LebanonMr. Fares Bouez, Minister for Foreign
Affairs
46
Libyan Arab JamahiriyaMr. Omar Mustafa Muntasser, Secretary of
the General People's Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation
47


OmanMr. Yousef Bin Alawi Bin Abdullah,
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs
48
Republic of KoreaMr. Chong Ha-Yoo, Minister for Foreign
Affairs
49


SingaporeMr. Lim Hng Kiang, Acting Minister for
Foreign Affairs
50
Syrian Arab RepublicMr. Farouq Al-Shara’, Minister for Foreign Affairs
50
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
European UnionMr. Dick Spring, T.D. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign
Affairs of Ireland, President of the Council of Ministers of the European Union
51


Organization of the Islamic ConferenceMr. Hamid Algabid, Secretary-General
of the Organization of the Islamic Conference
51
E.Messages from United Nations specialized agencies
United Nations Educational,Scientific and CulturalOrganization
Mr. Federico Mayor, Director-General

52
F.Messages from non-governmental organizations
All Pakistan Women’s
Association
Begum Masudah Jawad, Executive Vice-
President and Chief Adviser, United
Nations Affairs Section
53
Arab Organization
for Human Rights
Mr. Mohammed Fayek, Secretary-General
53


Association des EtudesInternationalesMr. Rachid Driss,
President
54
Association of Antifascists
and Victims of Nazism in
Israel
Mr. Herbert J. Wallerstein, General
Secretary
Mr. Hans Lebrecht, Chairman
54
Federación de Entidades
Americano-Árabes del Perú
Mr. César Augusto Salomón Herrara,
President
56
Federación Palestina de ChileMr. José Elias A., President
56
Federación Palestina del PerúMr. Alfonso Jaguande D., President
58

International Progress OrganizationMr. Robert W. Thabit,
Representative at the United Nations
59
Middle East Fellowship of
Southern California
Rev. Darrel Meyers, Chairman
59

Physicians for Human RightsMrs. Natalie Rothman, Spokesperson
60

The Committee for Israeli-Palestinian DialogueMr. Latif Dori, Chairman
60
IV.Closing statements
Mr. Farouk Kaddoumi, Head of the Political Department of the Palestine Liberation Organization
61
Mr. Ibra Deguène Ka, Chairman
of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People
61








I. COMMEMORATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY
WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE


On 29 November 1996, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was observed at the 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 that meeting, statements were made by: Mr. Ibra Deguène Ka (Senegal), Chairman of the Committee; Mr. Razali Ismail (Malaysia), President of the General Assembly; Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Secretary-General of the United Nations; and Mr. Nugroho Wisnumurti (Indonesia), President of the Security Council for the month of November. The Permanent Observer of Palestine, 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. Herman Leonard de Silva (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 representative of Colombia, Mr. Julio Londoño-Paredes, made a statement as representative of Mr. Ernesto Samper Pizano, President of Colombia and Chairman of the Eleventh Summit Conference of Heads of State or Government of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries. A further message was delivered by Mrs. Mahawa Bangoura Camara (Guinea) on behalf of Mr. Lansana Conte, President of Guinea and Chairman of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Mr. Said Kamal, Under-Secretary-General for Palestine Affairs of the League of Arab States, read out a message from Mr. Ahmed Esmat Abdel Meguid, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States. A further statement was made by Mr. David Graybeal, representative of the International Coordinating Committee for Non-Governmental Organizations on the Question of Palestine.

Concluding statements were made by Mr. Farouk Kaddoumi, head of the Political Department of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the Chairman of the Committee.

Messages to commemorate the occasion were received from 29 heads of State, 9 heads of Government, 6 Governments, 8 Foreign Ministers, as well as the Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the European Union. Messages were also received from 11 non-governmental organizations.

In further commemoration of the International Day, a cultural exhibit entitled "Preserving the Legacy, A New Dawn of Hope" was presented by the Committee, in cooperation with the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations, in the Public Lobby at United Nations Headquarters from 29 November to 5 December 1996. In addition, the Committee arranged the screening of a series of films during the week beginning 29 November in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium.

At the United Nations Office at Geneva, a solemn meeting was held on 29 November. The meeting was chaired by the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, Mr. Vladimir Petrovsky, who opened the meeting by reading the statement of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali. The Permanent Representative of Malta at Geneva, Mr. Michael Bartolo, spoke on behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. Mrs. Absa Claude Diallo (Senegal), 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. The Permanent Observer of Palestine at Geneva, Mr. Nabil Ramlawi, also delivered a statement. Further statements were made by Mr. Talal Shubailat, representative of the League of Arab States; Mr. Nanguyalai Tarzi, representative of the Organization of the Islamic Conference; Mr. Gustavo Castro Guerrero, representative of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries; Mr. Desta Negousse, representative of the Organization of African Unity; and Mrs. Caroline Njuki, representative of the International Coordinating Committee for Non-Governmental Organizations on the Question of Palestine.

At the United Nations Office at Vienna, a solemn meeting was also held on 29 November. Mr. Alberto Velazco San José (Cuba) opened the meeting and spoke on behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. Mr. Giorgio Giacomelli, Director-General, delivered the message of the Secretary-General. Other speakers included Mr. Peter Hohenfellner, Director for Political Affairs of the Federal Foreign Ministry of Austria; Mr. Samir Youssef Hezzah, Permanent Observer of the League of Arab States; Mr. Fritz Edlinger, Secretary-General of the Society for Austro-Arab Relations on behalf of Non-governmental Organizations; and Mr. Faisal Aweidah, Permanent Observer of Palestine at Vienna.

II. TEXTS OF STATEMENTS MADE AND MESSAGES DELIVERED ON THE OCCASION OF
THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE, 1996


COMMITTEE ON THE EXERCISE OF THE INALIENABLE RIGHTS
OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE

Statement by Mr. Ibra Deguène Ka, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise
of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People

[Original: French]

Today the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People is holding a solemn meeting to commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 32/40 (B) of 2 December 1977.

I am honoured and pleased to welcome His Excellency Mr. Razali Ismail, President of the General Assembly, His Excellency Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Secretary-General of the United Nations, His Excellency Mr. Nugroho Wisnumurti, President of the Security Council, His Excellency Mr. Herman Leonard de Silva, Chairman of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, His Excellency Mr. Farouk Kaddoumi, Head of the Political Department of the Palestine Liberation Organization, representative of Palestine, and Mr. Alvaro de Soto, Assistant Secretary-General in the Department of Political Affairs.

I would also like to welcome representatives of Member States and intergovernmental organizations, as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations, members of the press and all others who have accepted the Committee's invitation to participate in this commemoration.

I would now like to invite everyone present to stand and observe a minute of silence in memory of all of those who have given their lives for the cause of the Palestinian people and for the return of peace in the region.

I should now like to make a statement on behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome all participants, who are here to commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. We are very honoured to have numerous eminent guests at this meeting. For the past 18 years, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 32/40 B, has traditionally held a special meeting on 29 November to express its solidarity.

Since the creation of the Committee, the United Nations, its organs, its agencies and its Secretary-General have made praiseworthy efforts, with the international community, to establish the peace, justice and stability of which the Palestinian people and the entire Middle East region have long been deprived.

The resumption of the peace process at the beginning of 1996 gave hope that the historic reconciliation between the Palestinians and the Israelis had firmly begun and would mark a new era of peace and coexistence in dignity among the peoples of the region. The partial redeployment of the Israeli forces from certain sectors of the West Bank, the expansion of the responsibilities of the Palestinian Authority and the first elections to the Legislative Council and the presidency of the Authority seemed to be encouraging milestones along this new path.

Unfortunately, several months later, we are forced to note, with all of those who have expressed their serious concern as to the future of the peace process, that with the resurgence of violence in the region and the measures taken by the new Israeli Government, a climate of mistrust has taken hold, exacerbating tensions and preparing the ground for the destructive actions of extremists. The prolonged and sometimes complete closure of the West Bank and Gaza since February 1996, the isolation of the Arab quarter of Jerusalem, the resumed policy of confiscating Arab lands, the creation and expansion of settlements, the acts of violence by often armed settlers, the continuing precariousness of communications between the autonomous regions, the refusal to free thousands of Palestinian prisoners, the delay in the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Hebron and from other sectors of the West Bank have, without a doubt, been serious violations of the spirit and letter of the agreements made between the parties.

It was in this strained context that the decision was taken by the Government to open a new access to the tunnel of archaeological interest situated near the western wall of Al-Haram al-Sharif in oolent confrontations, causing numerous deaths and wounding many Palestinians and Israeli soldiers.

This worsening of the situation gave rise to great concern within the international community. It is urgent that everything be done in order to avoid any resumption of tension, which can only seriously compromise the peace process. Efforts aimed at overcoming this crisis and resuming negotiations between the parties, as encouraged by the Security Council in its resolution 1073 (1996) of 28 September 1996, were of course welcome.

The international community has clearly affirmed that the Israeli-Palestinian agreements are to be implemented comprehensively within the prescribed time-frame, beginning with the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Hebron and the opening up of the Palestinian territories. A climate of partnership, equality and mutual trust must be restored without delay; this is a precondition for any progress in the peace process. We earnestly hope that Israel will comply with Security Council resolution 1073 (1996), that it will put a halt to all activities that have led to a worsening of the situation and had a negative impact on the peace process, and that it will ensure the security and the protection of the Palestinian people.

It is very difficult for peace and stability to take root when people continue to live in poverty and in want. For peace to thrive, it must also lead to the improvement of the daily standards of living of the people concerned. That will ensure a better future.

For several years, the Committee has encouraged the international community to provide assistance to the Palestinian people, who are facing a difficult life under occupation and extremely precarious living conditions. The Palestinian Authority, with the assistance of the donor community and the United Nations, has courageously sought to set up effective institutions and administration and appropriate conditions in order to improve the quality of life of the Palestinian people.

The Committee would particularly like to highlight the special role played by the Secretary-General, Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who has devoted a great deal of his time and effort to improving the living conditions of the Palestinian people and laying the foundation for a viable national economy. It is of great importance that the activity of the United Nations and the support of the international donor community continue and grow in order to establish peace on a solid footing.

To conclude, I would once again like to recall that the General Assembly has reaffirmed on numerous occasions that the United Nations has an ongoing responsibility in the Palestinian question until that issue has been resolved satisfactorily in all its aspects in accordance with international law. As a General Assembly body entrusted with the question of Palestine, the Committee will spare no effort to encourage and promote the effective implementation of the agreements entered into by the parties. It is committed to solving the question of Palestine on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), ensuring the right of Palestinian people to exercise their inalienable rights, in particular their right to self-determination and to the creation of a State. The Committee is firmly convinced that there is no peaceful alternative to the process of reconciliation and peace which the parties have courageously committed themselves. It is the duty of the Committee, the international community and all of us to support and encourage this process so that the Middle East, the crossroads of history and of the world, can once again become an area of peace and opportunity for all.


UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Mr. Razali Ismail, President of the fifty-first session
[Original: English]

Traditionally, the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People has provided an opportunity for the international community to renew its pledge of support for the aspirations and inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. This year the 29 November observance should be an occasion to denounce the forces that threaten to derail the long-awaited peace accord in the Middle East.

The question of Palestine remains the most intractable conflict situation in the history of the United Nations. Less than five years ago, historic decisions were taken by courageous and far-sighted leaders of Palestine and of Israel. Encouraged and supported by powers from outside, these leaders overcame their fear of committing themselves to a common destiny and took decisions to agree on mutually reinforcing steps that would lead to a common programme and joint endeavours in the future.

The prospect of a just and durable peace for the peoples of the Middle East, at that point an exciting notion, is now seriously at risk because of a wafer-thin majority that seeks to build a “secure” future on foundations of military superiority and the antagonisms of the past.

The United Nations should be a vocal critic of those who want to derail the peace accord. There are milestone United Nations resolutions that recognize the right of the Palestinian people to manifest their aspirations. The Palestinians are arguably the final group of people whose struggle for a homeland continues to be denied, though they came tantalizingly close with the peace accord. The international community must continue to support the land-for-peace initiative, using Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).

In this context, the United Nations should lend every authority to ensure that radicalism in power does not lead to the reemergence of the politics of desperation. Security in the region as a whole is undermined by reneging on important agreements. Seeking recourse in extremism, by any side, will put an end to all hopes of a common future.

Young people from all countries of the region have never known and never benefited from the fruits of peace and stability. This tragedy and injustice is compounded when we consider the reservoir of skilled people who are ready and willing to assist in the process of development, which allows social justice and human security to grow and flourish. The region deserves to benefit from such rehabilitation processes and from governance that takes full account of the needs and choices of all sectors of society.

Palestinians had accepted the peace accord despite residual concerns, in the hope that peace would usher in such a development. They had believed that the accord would help initially mitigate and eventually overcome the adverse impact of almost five decades of fighting, which had destroyed much of the infrastructure in Palestine and the occupied territories.

The viability of a Palestinian homeland is now being progressively diminished by policies of continued closure, repression and restricted movement that deny the rights of the Palestinian people. This in turn affects the much-expected inflow of the financial and other resources so necessary for development, which have not materialized. Even though $2.4 billion had been pledged over a period of five years following the Oslo peace accord, these commitments are at risk so long as Palestinian territory remains virtually under siege. Regrettably, there are huge gaps between the pledges made and the actual amount received. This non-fulfilment in itself weakens the peace process.

Meanwhile, the human rights situation in the occupied territories continues to deteriorate. Palestinians are being intimidated and physically abused. The expansion of illegal settlements, the delay in the redeployment of troops from the West Bank city of Hebron and the decision to open an entrance to a tunnel in the vicinity of East Jerusalem have led to an escalation of violence. Steps from a Government bent on taking action in defiance of international opinion erode the confidence and trust so necessary for peace to prevail. They also underline the ineffectiveness of the United Nations in defending the integrity of international accords. Given one-sided power backing, such flagrant abuse of international agreements has elicited little outrage, much less punitive response.

Without doubt, the question of Jerusalem remains the crux of the efforts for lasting peace. Given its critical importance, any attempt to change its status cannot be condoned by the international community. The relevant United Nations resolutions on this issue must be complied with. The status of Jerusalem, that holy city to some of the major religions of the world, can only be resolved in the final process of peace shared by all in the region, and not by unilateral actions.

As President of the fifty-first session of the General Assembly, I need to reiterate that the United Nations has a permanent responsibility with respect to the question of Palestine until that question is resolved in fairness and honour for all, and in accordance with the principles of the Charter and the relevant United Nations resolutions. I believe it is mete to look in expectation at those who are the architects of and party to the Madrid and Oslo accords and to urge them to ensure that all commitments solemnly entered into are being fulfilled.

Peace must be given a chance to take root and flourish, but peace can be meaningful and durable only if the Palestinians are part of that peace. The international community must not only stand ready to help with words of encouragement, but must be ready to take substantive action to ensure that peace, justice and stability prevail. The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People can do much to contribute to the Palestinian cause by bolstering efforts to promote the decisions of the United Nations regarding the question of Palestine. The Committee must make itself ready to continue to serve Palestinians in all circumstances, perhaps more so than before.

UNITED NATIONS SECRETARIAT
Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Secretary-General
[Original: English]
This annual commemorative event provides an opportunity to remind the international community that the question of Palestine, which is at the centre of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East, remains unresolved despite the many efforts that have been made over the years, and despite the peace process which began in Madrid in 1991. This issue is very close to my heart and I have devoted and will continue to devote my best efforts to contribute to the achievement of a comprehensive and just peace in the region.

I have paid tribute to the leaders of Israel and of the Palestine Liberation Organization for their resolve and dedication in moving towards historical reconciliation and in reaching agreements of crucial importance for future peaceful coexistence. The establishment of an elected Palestinian administration over Gaza and parts of the West Bank earlier this year was a significant advance along this road. It is now of the utmost importance not to dissipate those achievements, but to build on them in order to fulfil the hopes of all the peoples of the region for a future of peace and security.

The resumption of the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations has been an encouraging development. It is essential that the parties abide by agreements already reached and make tangible progress towards a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). But the proposed construction of new settlements in the West Bank and Gaza poses a serious threat to the peace process. The United Nations continues to attach the utmost importance to promotion of Palestinian social and economic development. This is essential in order to ease the impact of the closures, to improve living conditions and to create solid foundations for the achievement of a lasting peace. The transfer of the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) from Vienna to Gaza, which took place in July, should provide new momentum towards meeting United Nations development objectives in support of the Palestinian economy.

However, enormous challenges remain and some of our efforts have suffered setbacks during the year in the light of deteriorating conditions on the ground. I believe that the international community can and should go further. In this context, the serious financial situation faced by UNRWA requires new efforts by all concerned to ensure that the quality and level of services for Palestinian refugees can be maintained as an essential contribution to stability in the area. I wish to thank Mr. Peter Hansen of the Department of Humanitarian Affairs for his continuous efforts in this respect.

I would like to take this opportunity to renew once again the firm commitment of the United Nations in support of the peace process. The programmes and agencies of the United Nations system will continue to provide all possible expertise and assistance in humanitarian relief and in the field of economic and social development in order to contribute to the creation of the necessary conditions for peace. In conclusion, I should like to extend my thanks to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and to its Chairman.

I pay tribute to the Palestinian people and I salute the leadership of the Palestinian people.

SECURITY COUNCIL
Mr. Nugroho Wisnumurti, President of the
Security Council for the month of November 1996
[Original: English]

Allow me at the outset to thank the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for the kind invitation extended to me, in my capacity as President of the Security Council for the month of November, to participate in this special meeting held to observe the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

Indeed, it gives me much pleasure to join in this annual event, in which the international community shows its solidarity with the Palestinian people as well as its enduring commitment to the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in accordance with United Nations resolutions.

Indeed, it gives me much pleasure that the observance of this Day has always been an important symbolic act of solidarity with a people striving for the attainment of its legitimate rights. It is also a manifestation of the importance attached to the need to bring about the long-awaited resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which has been on the United Nations agenda since 1947.

For decades, the Security Council has been associated with efforts aimed at achieving a solution to this complex problem. On a number of occasions, the Council has been called upon to consider various aspects of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, most recently on 27 September 1996 in a formal meeting with the participation of Ministers for Foreign Affairs of a number of countries. There has always been a recognition in the Council that resolving this conflict is the key to the attainment of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

As the President of the Security Council, I am pleased to note the progress made in recent years by the parties to the Middle East peace process launched at Madrid in 1991. The five-year-old negotiating process has its foundations in Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).

Regrettably, the road to peace has been hard and often tragic. Despite the numerous setbacks, the Council emphasizes the urgent need to implement the agreements reached so far. In this context, members of the Council attach great importance to the efforts of the parties to continue their negotiations. Allow me to emphasize that the Council is aware of the problems at hand and calls upon the parties to move forward along the road to peace. It is gratifying to note that the difficulties on the ground and in the negotiations notwithstanding, the parties remain fully committed to overcoming the existing roadblocks and achieving progress in an atmosphere of mutual trust and confidence.

As the Palestinian people are going through a difficult period of transition, they need much assistance in many walks of its day-to-day life. In this regard, the Council welcomes and would like to further encourage the multifaceted assistance extended to the Palestinian people by the international donor community. We also appreciate the continued assistance provided by organizations, agencies and programmes of the United Nations family.

On behalf of the Security Council, allow me to assure the Committee that, guided by its responsibilities under the Charter, the Council will spare no effort to see to it that a comprehensive, just and lasting peace is brought to the region of the Middle East for the benefit of all parties concerned, including the Palestinian people.

PALESTINE
Mr. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee
of the Palestine Liberation Organization,
delivered by Mr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, Permanent Observer of Palestine
to the United Nations
[Original: Arabic]

It is a great honour for me to read out a message from Mr. Yasser Arafat, President of the State of Palestine, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and President of the Palestinian National Authority.

“On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, it gives me pleasure to convey to the members of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People the warmest greetings and deepest gratitude and appreciation for all their efforts and activities in support of our people and its just and legitimate struggle to regain and to exercise its inalienable rights.

“It also gives me pleasure to convey my warm gratitude and deep appreciation to the Secretary-General, His Excellency Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, for the positions he has taken and for his constant and devoted endeavours to advance the cause of the Palestinian people and to support its strategic choice with regard to the achievement of a just and comprehensive peace in our region. Such a peace will secure the inalienable right of our people to enjoy freedom and independence and to establish an independent Palestinian State, and it will realize the aspirations of the peoples of the region for security, stability and prosperity.

“On behalf of the Palestinian people, I express the warmest gratitude to all present today and to all States and peoples that believe in freedom, peace and the justice of our people's cause, that have always sided with truth and justice, that have supported our people and its legitimate struggle for freedom and independence, and that are today renewing their support for and solidarity with the Palestinian people.

“This year's commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity comes at a time of difficult circumstances, major challenges and enormous problems for the Palestinian people as it proceeds with the building and reconstruction of its homeland, the establishment of key institutions and infrastructure and the rebuilding of a national economy that has been devastated by the continued Israeli occupation of its territory. Our people also maintains its commitment to the peace process, which is encountering major obstacles and is beset by enormous dangers because of the ongoing Israeli Government policy of intransigence, procrastination and circumvention, of playing for time, of non-compliance with deadlines established by agreements already concluded, and of deliberately delaying the implementation of pending provisions of the Interim Agreement, primarily those concerning the redeployment of Israeli forces in Hebron.

“The Israeli Government continues to impose a policy of faits accomplis in Jerusalem, where a wide-ranging campaign of systematic judaization and settlement is under way, and to maintain the closures and an economic embargo of our people on flimsy security-related pretexts. This has caused enormous losses to our national economy and has disrupted the development plans we had begun to implement. The Israeli Government has also resumed its encouragement of large-scale settlement activity throughout the Palestinian territories in flagrant violation of international law, the relevant United Nations resolutions and agreements already concluded. The continued pursuit of this planned settlement policy is likely to wreck the peace process in its entirety and destroy the hopes to which it had given rise.

“Our commitment to peace is a strategic choice for the Palestinian people made out of a genuine conviction that peace in the region will ensure security, stability and prosperity, and that it will thereby be possible for cooperation and peaceful coexistence to endure and to take root.

“The entire world is urged to make further efforts to induce the Government of Israel to comply, without delay or procrastination, with the agreements it has already signed so that the peace process may continue, so that the Palestinian people may complete the process of ending the Israeli occupation of its territory and its Holy Places, and so that it may regain and exercise its inalienable national rights, including the right to return, to exercise self-determination and to establish an independent State with its capital at Jerusalem.

“Once again, I reiterate our greetings of friendship and respect to all participants on this International Day of Solidarity with our people, the occasion on which the international community renews its solidarity with and support for the continuing struggle of our people to achieve the lofty national goals of freedom, independence and sovereignty on the soil of its homeland, Palestine.”


SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO INVESTIGATE ISRAELI PRACTICES AFFECTING THE HUMAN
RIGHTS OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE AND OTHER ARABS OF THE
OCCUPIED TERRITORIES
Mr. Herman Leonard de Silva, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka
to the United Nations and Chairman of the Special Committee

[Original: English]

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, and on my own behalf, I have the honour to convey this message on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

The signing on 28 September 1995 in Washington, D.C., of the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip - the so-called Oslo II agreement - and the elections for the Palestinian Council and for the chairmanship of the Palestinian Authority on 21 January 1996 were historic events within the framework of the peace process in the Middle East, and were followed by the withdrawal of the Israeli army from the West Bank cities of Jenin, Tulkarm, Nablus, Kalkiliya, Bethlehem and Ramallah. Hebron is an exception, as withdrawal began there in October 1995. As was the case with the earlier Washington and Cairo agreements of 1993 and 1994, the signing of the Oslo II accord also engendered great expectations and hope among the population of the occupied territories and the international community that a new era of peace, security and hope for the people of the Middle East would be ushered in, enabling them to live in harmony, dignity and mutual respect. Unfortunately, the recent policies implemented by the newly elected Israeli Government and the developments leading to an unprecedented escalation of violence that have taken place in the occupied territories over the past weeks have all but dashed the hopes of both Palestinians and the international community regarding the continuation of the peace process.

The Government of Israel has continued to withhold its cooperation from the Special Committee, persistently denying it access to the occupied territories covered by its mandate. This situation has not altered since the creation of the Special Committee in 1968. In keeping with past practice, and despite the constraints that I have cited, the Special Committee has nevertheless tried to depict the situation of human rights in the occupied territories in a faithful and comprehensive manner. Its findings are contained in the Special Committee's twenty-eighth report to the General Assembly. In carrying out its mandate, the Special Committee has tried to assess whether the signing of the Oslo II agreement has had any positive effects on the enjoyment of human rights by Palestinians and other Arabs of the occupied territories. On the basis of the information received, the Committee has concluded that the human rights situation in the occupied territories has not improved and has even deteriorated further in numerous ways, and that it remains a matter of very serious concern.

Among the principal causes of the deterioration of the human rights situation in the occupied territories has been the virtually hermetic closure of the territories since 25 February 1996. This was imposed in the wake of suicide bomb attacks in Israel and amounts to collective punishment of the population. The closure has had disastrous consequences for the economy of the occupied territories and has led to a significant decline in the economic and social conditions of their inhabitants. For the first time, a total internal closure of the West Bank has been implemented, locking its inhabitants inside their localities. The closure has had particularly disastrous consequences for the health of the inhabitants of the occupied territories, and more than 10 people have died as a result of not having access to well-equipped health institutions in their areas. It has also had serious negative effects on freedom of education and worship. The Special Committee has continued to pay particular attention to the situation of some 3,500 Palestinian prisoners who, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, are being held in detention facilities within Israel. No new releases of prisoners, whose conditions of detention are reported to have deteriorated further, have taken place since January 1996. Since the imposition of the closure, Palestinian detainees have been cut off from their families and also, in numerous cases, from their lawyers.

The Special Committee is deeply concerned at the recent decision of the Israeli High Court of Justice to allow the use by the General Security Service of increased physical pressure during the interrogation of detainees - such as violent shaking, which may cause lethal brain haemorrhages - as this amounts to torture. Particularly disquieting is the fact that, should the detainees die, the interrogators would enjoy immunity.

The Special Committee has noted an increase in the number of house demolitions in East Jerusalem, where, on 27 August 1996, for the first time in the old part of the town, a community centre was demolished. In addition, the new policy of restrictions regarding eligibility for residency status in Jerusalem has made the situation of its Arab population even more precarious. The most disquieting new policy of the recently elected Israeli Government, posing the biggest threat to the peace process, is the decision to lift the freeze on the construction of settlements. It has been reported that in the 1997 Israeli Government budget, the sum allocated for settlements will be doubled. The tensions generated by the expansion of settlements and the construction of tunnels and bypass roads, which continue unabated, are aggravated further by the behaviour of settlers, which has even involved the killing of Palestinian children. The attitude of the Israeli law enforcement authorities with regard to settlers who commit offences continues to be lenient.

The Special Committee has continued to monitor closely the situation in the occupied Syrian Golan, and is concerned by the most recent news concerning the construction of 900 new housing units there. The Special Committee wishes to recall the position taken by the General Assembly and the Security Council that the annexation by Israel of the occupied Syrian Arab Golan is illegal, and therefore null and void, and hopes that the negotiations concerning the Golan within the Middle East peace process will be resumed in the near future.

The subject that is the source of the greatest concern and anxiety to the members of the Special Committee is, however, the escalation of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, unprecedented since the beginning of the peace process, which was caused by the opening by the Israeli authorities of the so-called Western Wall tunnel beneath the Temple Mount, in the immediate vicinity of Islam's third-holiest shrine. The excessive force used by the Israeli army to quell the demonstrations in protest against the opening of the tunnel included the use of ammunition fired from automatic weapons and from helicopter gunships, and the involvement of snipers. A total of 60 Palestinians, including 10 children, and 15 Israelis were killed during the riot or died as a result of the clashes, and more than 1,000 people were reportedly injured.

The Special Committee is of the opinion that it is vital that a dialogue between the parties be maintained and that the peace process continue. Deteriorating living conditions and the stalemate in the peace process could contribute to producing an environment conducive to further unrest. Both parties should therefore respect the spirit and the letter of the Oslo accords and show renewed commitment to the peace process through an immediate resumption of the peace talks. The frustration and despair of Palestinians has further eroded their trust in the peace process. People feel bitterness and pain over the hunger and poverty that have ensued, and fear Israeli excesses. The current lack of momentum in the peace process, which appears to have led to a stalemate, can only erode further the trust of people that tangible progress can be achieved in peace talks. Only a just peace settlement can bring lasting peace to the region. All parties concerned must therefore work together to safeguard the peace effort and develop confidence-building measures in order to maintain the momentum of the peace process.

MOVEMENT OF NON-ALIGNED COUNTRIES

Mr. Andelfo J. Garcia, Deputy Permanent Representative of Colombia
to the United Nations,
representing Mr. Ernesto Samper Pizano, President of Colombia and Chairman
of the Eleventh Summit Conference of Heads of State or Government
of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries
[Original: Spanish]

I have the honour to read out a message from the President of the Republic of Colombia, Mr. Ernesto Samper Pizano, in his capacity as Chairman of the Eleventh Conference of Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement, on the occasion of the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. It is as follows:

“The observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is of special significance to the members of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries. Throughout its history, our Movement has maintained unwavering solidarity with the Palestinian people and its legitimate aspirations to self-determination. Today, despite the undeniable progress that has been made over the past few years, we are greatly concerned about developments, as the movement towards full independence and self-determination is now at a critical stage. This means that the observance of this Day is of special importance.

“The countries of the Non-Aligned Movement are hopeful about the talks now under way between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority. We believe that dialogue should produce concrete results relating to implementation of the agreements, demonstrating the real commitment of the parties to the peace process. Withdrawal by the Israeli Government from Hebron is urgent if progress is to be made towards a final peace settlement, including on the issues of the status of Jerusalem, settlements and refugees. The perception that the goal of the negotiations is indeed feasible is the best guarantee of peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

“At this delicate moment in the history of the Palestinian people, I should like to reiterate the view of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries on this matter, which is of great concern to us. At their Eleventh Conference, held at Cartagena, the Heads of State or Government of the Movement attached special importance to the question of Palestine. At Cartagena we expressed our full support for the legitimate struggle of the brave Palestinian people to ensure respect for their inalienable right to self-determination and independence, and we repeated our demand that Israel withdraw from all occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories, including Jerusalem.

“We also said that we believe that the responsibility of the United Nations in this area must continue until the Palestinian people exercise their inalienable right to self-determination, until an independent and sovereign State is established in their national territory, and until the problem of refugees is resolved, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations. At Cartagena we also expressed regret over Israel's decision to confiscate Palestinian property and land in Jerusalem and at attempts to change the religious and historic status of the Holy City. In this connection, we endorsed all Security Council and General Assembly resolutions on Jerusalem, and stated that we regarded as null and void any Israeli actions that run counter to those resolutions. We also called for the full and comprehensive implementation of the accords, in particular the provisions of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 465 (1980) and 478 (1980), and we emphasized the need for the machinery established by the General Assembly to deal with the question of Palestine to continue to function effectively.

“We expressed our support for the appeal made by the Jerusalem Committee, which met in Ifrane, Morocco, in January 1996, to the Security Council, and in particular to the two sponsors of the peace conference, to the effect that measures needed be taken to make Israel put an end to the further settlement and Judaization of the Holy City of Jerusalem, as well as to other geographical or demographic changes there. We also called for implementation of the agreements and accords relating to the preservation of Palestinian institutions and the Islamic and Christian holy places in the Holy City of Jerusalem, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the Security Council.

“We believe that provisions relating to the establishment of interim Palestinian self-government should be quickly expanded so that the Declaration of Principles can be applied as quickly as possible to all the occupied territories, with a view to the effective exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the establishment of a Palestinian State. In this context, we welcomed the conclusion of the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which was reached at Taba, Egypt, and signed in Washington by President Arafat and the former Prime Minister of Israel. We regard that as a major essential step towards the exercise of the national rights of the Palestinian people. We also expressed our hope for further vigorous action with a view to completing the Israeli withdrawal from all the Arab territories occupied in 1967 and to ensuring that complete peace and prosperity for all prevails throughout the region.

“At the historic Cartagena meeting we expressed our agreement with the Secretary-General that to maintain support for the Declaration of Principles and the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it is essential to promote economic and social development in the occupied Palestinian territories. In that connection, we appealed to those who participated in the Conference to Support Middle East Peace, which was held in Washington on 1 October 1993, that the pledged assistance be made available, as it is essential to the establishment of peace.

“On 25 September 1996, Foreign Ministers of the Movement of Non-Aligned countries met in New York in connection with the fifty-first session of the General Assembly, and to commemorate the thirty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the Movement. In their joint communiqué, the ‘Foreign Ministers and Heads of delegations expressed their concern over the worsening of the situation in the region, in particular the difficulties encountered in the peace process as a result of Israel's refusal to implement the agreements that had been arrived at. They affirmed their unconditional support for the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people to secure their inalienable rights to self-determination and independence, and they reiterated their demand that Israel withdraw completely from all the Palestinian and other occupied Arab territories, including Jerusalem, southern Lebanon, the western Bekaa and the Syrian Golan’.

”The Movement of Non-Aligned countries thereby reaffirmed its full, traditional and unequivocal support for the Palestinian people in the hope that their just aspirations would soon be met as a result of their unwavering and exemplary struggle, endorsed by our Movement, whose support I am pleased to renew on this important Day. In observing this anniversary once again, our Movement expresses its very sincere hope that the current negotiations will produce the results that all of us hope for, and allow for the restoration of complete peace and prosperity for all throughout the region of the Middle East.

“In conclusion, I should like to express my appreciation for the enormous input made by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People to the cause of Palestine, and extend to it our sincere congratulations.”

ORGANIZATION OF THE ISLAMIC CONFERENCE
Mr. Lamine Kamara, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guinea,
in his capacity as Chairman of the Twenty-third
Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers,
delivered by Mrs. Mahawa Bangoura Camara, Permanent Representative
of Guinea to the United Nations

[Original: French]

I am very pleased to speak as we commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, at a time when my country is chairing the Conference of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. My country, Guinea, which has had the honour of being a member of this Committee since its inception, would like to recall that the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) was founded following violations carried out against the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third kiblah of our religion. This demonstrates the importance that is attached to the support of the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people - support that is equal to the challenges that the Islamic Ummah must meet in order to reclaim and safeguard all the components of its cultural heritage. In that context, I have the honour to read out a message addressed to the Committee by General Lansana Conté, President of the Republic of Guinea, in commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The message reads as follows:

“As the international community prepares to observe the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I am duty-bound, on behalf of the people and the Government of Guinea, to extend my sincerest congratulations on the extremely positive role that the Committee continues to play in restoring the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. This matter goes to the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Government of Guinea welcomes the positive events that have taken place in the Middle East, and reaffirms its full support for the efforts carried out at all levels aimed at finding a comprehensive and just settlement to the Palestinian problem and to the Arab-Israeli conflict, in accordance with decisions and resolutions of the United Nations and the OIC.

“I should like to say that, as a member of this Committee since its inception, my country has committed itself to these noble objectives of peace, and we are always prepared to make our modest contribution to ensure the implementation of these goals.”

LEAGUE OF ARAB STATES
Mr. Ahmed Esmat Abdel Meguid, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States,
delivered by Mr. Said Kamal, Under-Secretary-General for Palestine Affairs
of the League of Arab States
[Original: Arabic]

I should like to extend to you, Mr. Chairman, and, through you, to all members of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the greetings of His Excellency Mr. Esmat Abdel Meguid. He has also asked me to express his support for the Committee and to stress the need for it to continue until a just peace has been established in the Middle East. The League of Arab States accords a high priority to the question of Palestine in the context of its daily work. I wish to convey the support of the secretariat of the League of Arab States to His Excellency Mr. Farouk Kaddoumi, Foreign Minister of the State of Palestine and, through him, to the President of Palestine, Mr. Yasser Arafat, and to the Palestinian people in their just struggle, which will continue until they have achieved their full rights. Mr. Abdel-Meguid's statement reads as follows:

“It gives me great pleasure to transmit this message today on behalf of the secretariat of the League of Arab States on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, held in accordance with General Assembly resolution 32/40 B of 2 December 1977. That resolution gave international recognition to the justice of the struggle of the Palestinian Arab people, and acknowledged the grave injustice that had been inflicted upon them and the responsibility of the international community for the tragic situation of the struggling, resolute Palestinian people, both inside and outside the Palestinian territories.

“On behalf of the Secretariat of the League of Arab States, and on my own behalf, I should also like to express to the Committee great appreciation for the role that it has played since its establishment under General Assembly resolution 3376 (XXX) of 10 November 1975. Through that role, the Committee has contributed to keeping the question of Palestine at the forefront of United Nations concerns by defending the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people, foremost among which are its rights to self-determination and to the establishment of an independent State on its national territory. By impressing these rights on the international conscience and expanding the scope of international support for the struggle of the Palestinian people, it has become impossible to envisage a solution to the problem of the Middle East that does not take into account their rights and aspirations.

“This year, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People assumes special importance, as the peace process is witnessing a grave setback five years after being launched. Significant achievements have been made on a long, promising road. But it will be essential to maintain solidarity and pool efforts if a just and comprehensive peace is to be achieved and a sovereign Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital is to be established. The setback in the peace process is a result of the current policies of the Israeli Government, which is reneging on its commitments and pledges and on the accords arrived at in the context of the peace process. This has squandered hope, and is threatening to undermine the peace process in the region.

“The clearest evidence of that fact are the developments in negotiations on the redeployment of forces from Hebron, which was supposed to have taken place in March. In these negotiations, the Israeli Government is insisting on changing the terms of the agreement under the pretext of making security arrangements for the 400 settlers who live in the midst of the 120,000 Palestinians in Hebron. This constitutes a grave precedent that would allow all the agreements concluded with Israel to be reopened, and would thereby take negotiations back to the starting point, and return the region to the cycle of tension and violence. Other examples are the continued imposition by Israel of the stifling embargo on the Palestinian territories, with the attendant tragedies now suffered by the Palestinians within the territories. The situation there is verging on the explosive, and Palestinians have begun losing faith in the peace process and in the seriousness of the other party in seeking peace. The climate of bitterness and distrust generated by Israeli policies has now spread to all Palestinian and Arab circles.

“The bloody events that caused the death or injury of scores of Palestinians and Israelis, and which broke out after the opening by the current Israeli Government of a tunnel under the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, are the most telling indication of what would happen if that Government insisted on reneging on the agreements concluded, and continued its practices aimed at changing the Arab character and legal status of Jerusalem and riding roughshod over all international resolutions relating to Jerusalem. Such resolutions consider all Israeli actions aimed at changing the Arab and Islamic character of Jerusalem to be null and void, because Jerusalem is under occupation, and falls within the provisions of Security Council resolution 242 (1967). Equally serious is the decision of the current Israeli Government to revoke the decision on a settlement freeze that had been taken by the previous Government, defying the norms of international law and the will of the international community, which views the settlements as an obstacle to peace that must be dismantled.

“The policies of the current Israeli Government have led to conditions in the region becoming so serious that they require the pooling of the efforts of the international community, especially the United States of America and the Russian Federation - the sponsors of the peace process - and the European Union, to try to put the peace process back on track. Israel should be induced to give up these practices and stop putting obstacles in the way of the implementation of the agreements concluded with the Palestinians, and to abandon policies that will only fuel the flames of hatred, thwart the peace process and take the region back to the cycle of violence and tension.

“Fortunately, those who follow international reactions and the international community's interest in the peace process are bound to feel optimistic about the general situation with regard to protecting the peace process from the results of Israeli policies. The League of Arab States was among the foremost supporters of the peace process, even before the launch of the Madrid Conference in 1991. In September 1991, the League adopted its resolution 5092, in which it expressed support for the Arab States participating in the peace process until a just and lasting peace had been achieved. Following the Oslo accords, the Council of the League of Arab States held its one hundredth session in September 1993. It was attended by His Excellency President Arafat who explained the Israeli-Palestinian accord. At this meeting the Council issued a statement that it considered the Israeli-Palestinian accord to be a first significant step towards the achievement of the principle of land for peace, which would be supplemented with urgent steps on all tracks to ensure full Israeli withdrawal from all the occupied Arab territories, and to guarantee the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including the right of return for Palestinian refugees under the relevant United Nations resolutions.

“At the most recent Arab Summit, held in Cairo in the second half of June 1996, Arab leaders reaffirmed the commitment of Arab States to the peace process and stated that the achievement of a just and lasting peace represented a goal and a strategic choice. However, such a just and lasting peace will necessitate full withdrawal of Israel from all occupied Palestinian territories, including Arab Jerusalem, and enabling the Palestinian people to exercise their rights to self-determination and to the establishment of an independent State with Arab Jerusalem as its capital.

“The Palestinian question is the crux of the Israeli-Arab conflict, and its resolution will require full Israeli withdrawal from the Syrian Golan to the line of 4 June 1967 and from southern Lebanon and the Bekaa to internationally recognized borders, in conformity with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978), in accordance with the principle of land for peace, the principles agreed upon in the Madrid Conference and the assurances provided by the parties concerned.

“Most States agree with the Arab position on the need to protect the peace process from extremist Israeli policies and from all acts of extremism, irrespective of their source.

“The Committee has no doubt followed with us recent European statements expressing interest in the success of the peace process and indicating that Europe is ready to participate, alongside the United States, without rivalry or contradiction. In this regard we feel that Europe's weight in international politics, its relationships with the region and the support it provides to the peace process all justify such participation.

“In the United States arena, the Administration has shown that it has not given up on the peace process. It is awaiting post-election rearrangements to review the progress made so far and what should be done to achieve peace before it is too late.

“The recent economic conference held in Cairo was an opportunity for a large segment of the international community to express its anxiety about the possible failure of the peace process and the adverse economic and political consequences that could result. All participants concluded that political stability cannot be achieved without economic prosperity, because seemingly political tensions are due mostly to weak economic development.

“Hence, there is no path to development or real economic cooperation without the achievement of a full peaceful settlement, especially a just settlement on the Palestinian track, which will necessarily lead to the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian State linked through relationships of equality and peaceful coexistence with neighbouring States.

“The League of Arab States has not only supported the peace process through resolutions and statements, but seeks a role in supporting the reconstruction and development of Palestine as an indispensable basis for the success and continuation of the process. Support for the reconstruction of Palestine has been on the agenda of the Council of the League of Arab States since the one hundred and second session of the Council. That Council has decided to lend the support of the League secretariat in this regard. It calls upon Arab and international organizations to develop their support for the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority. Thus, we share with this Committee an interest in supporting the Palestinian economy.

“On this occasion I would like to thank the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for its efforts in this regard, especially for the seminar on building the Palestinian economy, which was held in Cairo in May 1996 and in which I had the honour to participate.

“The secretariat of the Arab League held a similar seminar in November 1995 on the reconstruction and development of Palestine, in which scores of Arab businessmen and representatives of organizations concerned with supporting the Palestinian economy participated. Several of its recommendations are now being implemented. It also held - in cooperation with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) - a seminar in June 1996 on support for and development of Palestinian education and of the educational process for Palestinians.

“The Secretary-General of the League of Arab States and the Director-General of UNESCO signed on 22 July 1996 a cooperation agreement covering all activities relevant to Palestine and the Palestinian people. There was also an agreement between the League secretariat and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) in Geneva to organize a series of training courses for those working in a number of Palestinian sectors. The first of these courses was held at the headquarters of the League from 6 to 12 October for 20 Palestinian trainees in the field of financial transactions and administration. Preparations are under way to hold two courses in Jordan in 1997.

“Fortunately, the current Israeli policy is facing strong opposition thanks to our efforts to support peace and development in the region and to an international and Arab position opposed to this policy, a position which enjoys the support of a large segment of the Israeli people. It will suffice here to cite the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, which describes Mr. Netanyahu's policy as “plenty of nothing”. This policy took the people overnight from the climate of peace to the climate of war, a climate which is saturated with fuel and only needs a match to start a huge fire. The Israeli people are in a plight and the Prime Minister should realize the effects of his policy, because his training period is over.

“In conclusion, I cannot but agree with these regional and international misgivings about the peace process. I hope this clear message will reach the decision-makers in Israel so that they will overcome their reluctance to proceed along the true road to peace and will give up their attempts to change the basis of the peace process from land-for-peace to security-for-peace, because peace is security. Peace and security are on one side, and the occupation of land is on the other side. Land must be exchanged for peace, if Israeli leaders truly want their people and the region to enjoy security, peace and stability.”

INTERNATIONAL COORDINATING COMMITTEE FOR NON-GOVERNMENTAL
ORGANIZATIONS ON THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE

Mr. David Graybeal, representative of the International Coordinating
Committee for Non-Governmental Organizations on the Question of Palestine
[Original: English]
I am honoured to speak on behalf of Donald Betz, President of the International Coordinating Committee for Non-Governmental Organizations on the Question of Palestine, and Larry Ekin, Chairman of the North American Coordinating Committee for Non-Governmental Organizations on the Question of Palestine. I will speak for 10 minutes on behalf of the many hundreds of non-governmental organizations around the world committed to support of the Palestinian people.

We non-governmental organizations in support of Palestine are a diverse group. To illustrate, the North American contingent alone represents more than 100 non-governmental organizations and includes the American Friends Service Committee, the Canadian Council of Churches, American Jewish Alternatives to Zionism, the Presbyterian Church USA, the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Catholic Relief Services and the Canadian Auto Workers Social Justice Fund.

Only our common commitment to the Palestinian people makes it possible for such diversity to be gathered in one cause. There are thousands of non-governmental organizations today, and we grow in number and vitality each year. Each non-governmental organization is a non-profit organization supported primarily by the money and work given by members who endorse its programme.

Generally speaking, non-governmental organizations focus on areas of need, on human rights, on the oppressed and the poor, on population issues and the natural environment. Moving across boundaries of nation, culture and class, non-governmental organizations link concerned people into communities of trust and understanding. Since communication is essential, some non-governmental organizations have delivered fax machines to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza so that we can keep in touch. Thus, non-governmental organizations supplement and challenge the news reports communicated by the Cable News Network (CNN), by Governments and their intelligence agencies and by the general press.

Governments and non-governmental organizations have capabilities that are quite different. Governments depend upon power and authority to achieve their ends. Non-governmental organizations depend upon influence and example. Government power must be alert and unsleeping, ready to punish lest the recalcitrant slip through the loopholes. But when non-governmental organizations demonstrate their convictions with actions and words, their passion persuades and convinces others. With each new recruit, the mission expands and moves in creative directions.

Sometimes, non-governmental organizations attempt to influence a Government. At present, some non-governmental organizations in the United States are urging their members to send to their representatives in Congress a personal check for seven dollars payable to the United Nations, to be forwarded to this address as payment for one citizen's share of the United States debt to the United Nations. That stratagem is not likely to affect the United Nations treasury greatly, but it may raise some consciousness — perhaps some irritation — in Congressional offices.

What is the difference between a non-governmental organization and a lobby? Lobbies seek their own welfare, often the welfare of the rich and privileged. Non-governmental organizations consistently seek the welfare of others: those in need.

The non-governmental organizations concerned about the well being of the Palestinian people want to express our gratitude to the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and to the Division for Palestinian Rights, not only for organizing the observance of this Day, but also for sponsoring annually our non-governmental organization symposia on Palestine, internationally and regionally.

These symposia have informed and inspired those in attendance. In 1992, at the international symposium in Geneva, Yasser Arafat was taking his place on the platform when Oliver Tambo from South Africa arrived unexpectedly and joined him there. The assembly erupted in joyful applause as these two leaders of oppressed peoples embraced and lifted their joined hands. It was an unforgettable moment, for it symbolized the global solidarity of peoples who suffer.

Were I to attempt to describe the work of all the non-governmental organizations committed to support of the Palestinian people, I would have to speak in generalities. Perhaps I can be forgiven for speaking about what I know at first hand, in the hope that representatives will accept my experience as being like that of many other members of non-governmental organizations. I am a minister in the United Methodist Church and Professor Emeritus of Church and Society at Drew University in nearby Madison, New Jersey. I believe that I have participated in nearly every North American Symposium on Palestine since the first one in 1984, leading workshops and participating in writing statements. The symposia have allowed me to hear and meet many Palestinian leaders, as well as many United States citizens with commitments like mine to the Palestinian people. Each year I have noted with sadness that the seat reserved for an official representative of the United States has remained empty, though many other nations have been present and attentive.

In May 1996, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church - the delegated governing body of the Church - met in Denver for its conference, which is held once every four years. Bishop Judith Craig read out to the conference, which represents 8 million United Methodists, the following statement, which had been hammered out over months of work:

“We cannot remain silent about Palestine while that community struggles to survive in the midst of such inhuman violations as the ongoing confiscation of Palestinian lands; the continued growth of Israeli settlement communities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem linked by bypass roads which isolate Palestinian towns and villages; the sealing and demolition of Palestinian homes; the administrative detention of men, women and minors without the right to fair trial; and the continuing imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians in Israeli prisons.”

She then read out the following resolution:

“We insist that the Government of the United States should:

1. Refuse to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem;

2. Refrain from signing ‘sense of the Congress’ letters which hold that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel; and

3. Deduct from Israeli loan guarantees an amount equal to all Israeli spending on settlements.”

The resolution was overwhelmingly adopted. It is now operative for all United Methodists, including those in Congress and in the White House.

One morning during the General Conference the news came that Israel had attacked southern Lebanon; Palestinians and United Nations peacekeeping troops had been killed. Mia Adjali, Director of the United Methodist office for the United Nations, informed us that those United Nations troops were Fiji Islanders, almost all of them Methodists. Their Chaplain had been in Ms. Adjali's office the previous week on his way to Lebanon. As Mia communicated with us about their situation and the condition of the Palestinians, the international solidarity of our Methodist non-governmental organization connection with these Fijian troops, as well as our commitment to the Palestinian people, suddenly became very vivid for us. Randy Day, a delegate from New York, rose to move that the Conference send a delegation to the White House immediately to deliver the resolution and to express outrage at the Israeli action. A delegation of eight, including three bishops, subsequently met for an hour in the White House with Anthony Lake, Security Adviser to President Clinton, for a forceful exchange of views.

I have talked about the United Methodists, but I am confident that, if time allowed, every non-governmental organization concerned about Palestine could tell us about its actions. Together we are engaged in a wide range of strategies, ranging from hands-on services in the occupied territories to attempts to raise consciousness in Washington and other national capitals about the daily injustices to the Palestinian people. It was in the hills of Palestine that a prophet once declared:

“Let justice flow down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.” (The Holy Bible, Amos, 5:24)

The time for the fulfilment of that prophecy has come; it is now.

III. MESSAGES RECEIVED ON THE OCCASION OF THE INTERNATIONAL
DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
A. Messages from heads of State or Government

ALGERIA
Mr. Liamine Zeroual, President of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria
[Original: Arabic]

On the occasion of the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I take this opportunity to reiterate to you, once again, the support of the Government and people of Algeria for your untiring efforts to establish that the Palestinian people is entitled to exercise all of its legitimate and inalienable rights.

Your task in this regard is most important given that it embodies the will of the international community and its desire to discharge its responsibilities and that it confirms the Organization's commitment to the cause of the Palestinian people ever since its long ordeal began.

In this context, Algeria reaffirms its established position of principle on the issue as represented by its demand that the Palestinian people should be enabled to exercise its right to self-determination in complete freedom.

Just as it was most proud to act as host to the historic meeting of the Palestine National Council, held in Algiers on 15 November 1988, at which the Declaration of Independence of the State of Palestine was adopted, Algeria continues to proclaim its constant and unconditional support for the struggle of this steadfast people until such time as it achieves its goal of establishing its own State on the soil of Palestine.

Like the other peace-loving countries of the world, Algeria welcomed the positive developments in the Middle East arena that followed the Madrid Peace Conference and the new peace process based on the principle of land for peace to which it gave rise. We also regarded as auspicious and as positive first steps the announcement of the 1993 Oslo agreement between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization and the subsequent bilateral agreements on the various stages of Palestinian autonomy.

This glimmer of hope did not, however, last for long, and it began to be threatened by the spectre of retreat from commitments previously given. Indeed, the foundations of the entire peace process were placed in jeopardy. This is perhaps best indicated by Israel's procrastination in withdrawing from the remainder of the autonomous Palestinian territory, the stepping-up of settlement activities and the prolongation of the economic siege imposed on Palestinian citizens.

The world is also beset by strong concern at Israel's intractable position on the issue of Jerusalem and at the practices in which it engages, which are incompatible with the agreements concluded with the Palestinians and which, indeed, ignore the resolutions of the United Nations and the relevant Security Council resolutions in particular.

The international community, under the leadership of the United Nations, must therefore maintain its commitment to supporting the just cause of the Palestinian people and must continue its efforts to induce Israel to abandon its current policy and comply with the relevant United Nations resolutions until such time as the steadfast Palestinian people is able to secure its right to live in peace, dignity and sovereignty in its own independent State on the soil of Palestine.



BANGLADESH
Mrs. Sheikh Hasina, President of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh
[Original: English]

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Government and the people of Bangladesh join me in reiterating our total solidarity with the Palestinian people and our commitment to support all efforts for the realization of their inalienable rights, including as independent State with Jerusalem as its capital.

Bangladesh's unflinching solidarity with the people of Palestine and total support to their just and rightful struggle for realization of their inalienable rights goes back to the formative years of Bangladesh. Twenty-two years ago, on 25 September 1974, the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, addressed the twenty-ninth session of the United Nations General Assembly, soon after Bangladesh's entry into the United Nations as a full--fledged Member. In his statement, he outlined some cardinal tenets and basic thrust of his Government's foreign policy. He underlined that: “The very struggle of Bangladesh symbolized the universal struggle for peace and justice. It was, therefore, only natural that Bangladesh, from its very inception, should stand firmly by the side of the oppressed people of the world ... The struggle still continues against the illegal occupation of territory by aggression, against the use of force to negate the legitimate rights of people against the practice of racial discrimination and apartheid.” The Father of the Nation went on to say that injustice and oppression still persist in many parts of the world. He said: “Our Arab brethren are still fighting for the complete vacation of all illegally occupied territories and the legitimate national rights of the people of Palestine have yet to be restored.” The plight of the Palestinian people raised at the General Assembly by Bangabandbu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is, sadly, still valid today. They are yet to obtain their inalienable rights.

Bangladesh welcomed the peace process initiated with the Madrid Conference of October 1991 and the Autonomy Accord of May 1994. Bangladesh also expressed satisfaction at the implementation of self-rule in Gaza and Jericho. But recent developments in the region have been a source of great concern to us in Bangladesh. We expressed our grave concern and outrage at the recent violence and killings that took place in the West Bank and Gaza following opening of entrance to the tunnel adjacent to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. We called for the immediate closure of the tunnel entrance and for cessation of all violence.

My Government urges the international community to ensure that a congenial atmosphere is created for the early implementation of the existing Peace Accords, which will allow the emergence of a Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital. We also call upon the international community to extend all support and assistance to the Palestinian people and to make concerted efforts to end their long-drawn pain and anguish.

The Government and the people of Bangladesh reiterate their total solidarity with the Palestinian People and their unstinted support for the realization of their goals and aspirations.

CAMBODIA
Mr. Norodom Sihanouk, King of Cambodia
[Original: French]

On behalf of the Cambodian people, and on my own behalf, I solemnly reiterate my support for His Excellency President Yasser Arafat, the legitimate leader of the Palestinian people, in the unceasing and praiseworthy efforts he is constantly making to secure international recognition of the Palestinian State, its reconstruction and its development.

These inalienable rights, historic and centuries-old, heroically defended against all odds by the Palestinian people, who have a sacred duty to struggle to regain their land and homeland and exercise their full sovereignty there in dignity, were recognized and proclaimed by the Madrid and Oslo treaties in the spirit of the resolutions adopted by the United Nations Security Council.

I therefore express my full and total solidarity with all those who, valuing peace and justice, are campaigning to ensure that the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people are taken into consideration and that Palestine does not once again become the scene of violent confrontations which are very prejudicial to the search for a peaceful order in this region of the world.

CHINA

Mr. Li Peng, Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China
[Original: English]

On the occasion of the convocation of the conference marking the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I wish to extend, on behalf of the Chinese Government and people, our warm congratulations to the meeting.

Since the Madrid Middle East Peace Conference five years ago, Palestine-Israel peace talks have made important progress thanks to the joint efforts of the two negotiating parties and the international community. The exercise of self-rule by the Palestinian people in their own territory represents an important step towards complete restoration of the lawful national rights to the Palestinian people. We are happy to see this development. However, given the complexity of the Middle East question, it is still a long way to go before the Palestine issue, which is the crux of the Middle East question, can be finally resolved and the lawful national rights restored to the Palestinian people. The peace-loving people and forces all over the world have for years given attention and rendered support to the just cause of the Palestinian people. I firmly believe that as long as all the parties concerned abide by the agreements already reached and continue their negotiations in a pragmatic and flexible manner and on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions, the peace that the people of the Middle East have longed for will finally come and the sacred goal of restoring the lawful rights to the Palestinian people will ultimately be achieved.

China has all along sympathized with the Palestinian people's experience and supported them in their just cause. China will, as always, continue to make unremitting efforts together with the international community for continued progress in the Middle East peace process and for the realization of peace and development in the Middle East.

CUBA
Mr. Fidel Castro Ruz, President of the Council of State and of Ministers
of the Republic of Cuba
[Original: Spanish]

On the solemn occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Government and people of the Republic of Cuba wish to reiterate their support for the long and heroic struggle of the Palestinian people against Israeli occupation and for its inalienable rights to self-determination, independence and recognition as a sovereign State, without which there can be no lasting peace in the Middle East.

The hopes kindled by the agreements signed in 1993 and 1995 between the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which launched the peace process, have been dashed by events which have shocked world public opinion. At the same time, the new Israeli Government has reneged on its commitments, once again plunging the region into uncertainty and violence.

The Israeli policy and practice of establishing settlements in Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have been declared illegal by the Security Council and an obstacle to the achievement of a long-awaited comprehensive, just and lasting peace. The General Assembly at its fiftieth session also expressed concern at Israel's continued violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people and reaffirmed that the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, were illegal and an obstacle to a comprehensive settlement.

Israel's violation of the agreements and the renegotiation of those agreements, particularly their security aspects, are intended to perpetuate Israel's current military control. Israel should therefore be required to withdraw completely from the city of Hebron in order to allow the Palestinian Authority, which is responsible for governing the territory during the five-year interim period, to perform its mandate fully.

We share the Palestinian people's confidence that it will achieve total victory, in the pursuit of which it can count on the solidarity of the entire international community.

I wish you every success in your chairmanship of the Committee and reiterate that, in carrying out such an important task, you can rely, as always, on the resolute cooperation of the Government and people of Cuba.

CYPRUS
Mr. Glafcos Clerides, President of the Republic of Cyprus
[Original: English]

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I would like, on behalf of the People and the Government of Cyprus, to reiterate our feelings of friendship to the Palestinian People and to reaffirm our support in the efforts to achieve peace and security in the Middle East.

Cyprus welcomes the developments in the peace process, which it follows with keen interest. We stand committed to continue our contribution in entrenching this process and in enhancing the efforts for closer regional economic cooperation and development, which is so necessary in underpinning the peace process.

With these guiding principles in mind, Cyprus has tangibly supported the multilateral track of the peace process through its active participation in all the initiatives directed towards the promotion of reconciliation and prosperity in the Middle East, as well as through the implementation of a Programme of Economic Assistance to the Palestinians which we have initiated in consultation with the Palestinian Authority.

We commend all the efforts made so far in attaining peace, security and development and we feel certain that the Palestinian people will continue to show the necessary perseverance and commitment to these goals. We urge all parties involved to work urgently to remove all obstacles to peace. This, undoubtedly, is the only way for reaching the desired outcome, which will prove beneficial for all the peoples of the region.

ECUADOR

Mr. Abdalá Bucaram Ortiz, Constitutional President of Ecuador

[Original: Spanish]

On the occasion of the commemoration, on 29 November, of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, it gives me great pleasure to convey to you my country's unflinching support for the action taken by your Committee, which has done laudable work to bring the plight of the Palestinian people in the occupied Arab territories to the attention of the whole world.

My country wholeheartedly welcomed the launching of peace talks between Palestinians, Arabs and Israelis in 1991 and hopes that Israel's new leaders will forge ahead with these negotiations and undertake to fulfil, in good faith, the agreements entered into by their predecessors, in order to usher in a climate of cooperation and peaceful coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis in which to work for the development and general well-being of the people of the region.

In this regard, I would like, through you, to express my solidarity with the Palestinian people and to wish you every success in your future activities.

EGYPT
Mr. Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt
[Original: Arabic]

I should like to extend to you and to the distinguished members of the Committee our sincere and grateful recognition of the tireless effort the Committee makes to promote the cause of the Palestinian people and the exercise of its legitimate rights as affirmed by the resolutions of the General Assembly, the Security Council and the other organs of the United Nations. I should also like to commend the constructive role you play in making the rights of the Palestinian people known throughout the world.

Egypt has welcomed the Committee's interest in the Middle East peace process, its support for the implementation of the agreements concluded by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization and its resolve to assist the Palestinian people and its National Authority during the transition period required under the agreements and until such time as it is able to exercise all of its legitimate national rights and, in particular, its right to exercise self-determination and establish its own State in all Palestinian territory including Jerusalem.

The delay in the peace process, the deterioration in the situation of the Palestinian people owing to the siege being maintained against the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel's pursuit of its settlement policy, the unlawful attempts by the Israeli Government to alter the status of Jerusalem and impose a fait accompli there, the interference with Islamic Holy Places, the procrastination in the redeployment of Israeli forces and in resuming the final-status negotiations - all of these require stepped-up efforts by the international community to assist the Palestinian people and support its civilized and judicious choice to pursue the peace process and secure its legitimate national rights by negotiation and dialogue.

Retreat from the implementation of the agreements already concluded by the two parties, reluctance to provide the inhabitants of the occupied territory with the necessary protection against the violence and extremism of settlers and the continued pursuit of policies of repression will only serve to thrust the entire region into a vicious circle of violence and counter-violence.

Egypt, which took the initiative in pursuing the peace process, is still endeavouring to support and develop the process and eliminate the obstacles that beset it. We are continuing on this road and are determined to follow it to the end in order to achieve a just and comprehensive peace by implementing the principles adopted at Madrid, and they are primarily Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978), the principle of land for peace and the exercise by the Palestinian people of its right to self-determination and to an independent life of dignity in all of its territory including Jerusalem.

Egypt has not wavered and shall not waver in providing such support to its brothers, and we testify to the efforts made by the United Nations and by your Committee for the Palestinian cause. I should here like to mention in this connection the positive results achieved by the Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People held by the Committee in Cairo this year. The present stage, with the developments it is undergoing, requires a redoubling of efforts to assert the rights of the Palestinian people and to assist the Palestinians in regaining and implementing those rights as an indispensable basis without which endeavours to achieve peace and stability in the region cannot succeed.

I should like to assure you that Egypt will spare no effort to assist your distinguished Committee and strengthen its role and to cooperate with it in promoting the peace process and achieving the lofty goals to which it aspires, goals that highlight the solidarity of the international community and its support for truth, justice and peace.

GAMBIA

Mr. Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, President of the Republic of Gambia

[Original: English]

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the people of Palestine, I take the opportunity to reaffirm The Gambia's continued unwavering support to the Palestinian people in their struggle for self-determination in their own homeland in accordance with General Assembly resolution 3236 (XXIX) and other relevant United Nations resolutions.

Whilst expressing appreciation and support for the "Land for Peace" principle, pursuant to Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), and for the Declaration of Principles signed in Washington on 13 September 1993 by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and Israel, it is The Gambia's fervent belief and conviction that the resolution of the Palestinian issue remains at the core of the Middle East conflict. We call upon the international community and the Security Council in particular to do more to make all the parties involved work sincerely for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on international law and the principle of peaceful coexistence.

In conclusion, I also reaffirm our solidarity with the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Palestinian National Authority in its arduous task of exploiting and developing the resources of the Palestinian territories and rehabilitating Palestinian national institutions as well as the infrastructure of the Palestinian national economy. In this respect we appeal to the international community to provide the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction with the requisite financial and technical assistance.

GUINEA
Mr. Lansana Conte, President of the Republic of Guinea
[Original: French]

Mr. Chairman and dear brother, as the international community prepares to celebrate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, it is my duty to extend to you on behalf of the people and Government of Guinea my very sincere congratulations on the eminently positive role which our Committee is continuing to play with a view to the restoration of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, whose problem lies at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Guinean Government welcomes the progress made in the Middle East and reaffirms its full support for the efforts undertaken at all levels to find a comprehensive and just solution to the Palestinian problem and to the Arab-Israeli conflict in accordance with the decisions and resolutions of the United Nations. I should like to reiterate to you that Guinea, as a member of the Committee since its establishment, attaches great value to these noble objectives of peace, and wishes to make its modest contribution to their achievement. Accept, Sir, the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.

GUYANA
Mr. Cheddi Jagan, President of the Republic of Guyana
[Original: English]

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, on 29 November 1996, the Government and people of Guyana hail the progress of the Palestinian people in their quest to exercise full self-determination.

In spite of the erosion of some positive elements of the peace process over the past year, and attempts to thwart it, we are optimistic that the people of Palestine will secure their inalienable rights.

In that regard, Guyana is pleased that peace talks have resumed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and we are confident that the current difficulties over security arrangements in Hebron will be surmounted. The resumption of negotiations is a hopeful sign that the parties involved are prepared to proceed to the conclusion of the peace process.

We reiterate our full solidarity with the Palestinian people today and look forward to the moment when we can celebrate a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Palestinian question and the realization of peace and security in the Middle East.

INDIA

Mr. H. D. Deve Gowda, Prime Minister of the Republic of India
[Original: English]

The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People symbolizes the support of the international community for their just and legitimate aspirations. On this occasion, I reiterate the solidarity of the people and Government of India with the Palestinian people in their historic struggle.

The friendly ties between our peoples derive their strength from our age-old and continuing interaction. Establishment of a just comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, with the question of Palestine at its core, is of great importance for the region and the world. This is manifest in our unwavering support for the Middle East peace process.

India has hopefully watched steady progress made in this process, and in particular, the establishment of a Palestinian National Authority on the basis of popular franchise. However, the recent negative developments have adversely affected the peace process. India has urged all parties concerned to implement the interim agreements, and re-intensify their efforts to build further on them, within the agreed time schedule.

India will continue to render its support for furtherance of the Middle East peace process and for prosperity of the Palestinian people.

INDONESIA
Mr. Soeharto, President of the Republic of Indonesia
[Original: English]

On the solemn occasion to commemorate International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I wish to reiterate, on behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of Indonesia, our unflinching support and solidarity with the Palestinian people in their determined struggle to realize the inalienable right to self-determination, independence and sovereign statehood in their homeland.

The peace process initiated in Madrid, ln 1991, promised to herald a new era in the decades-long search for a comprehensive and lasting settlement to this seemingly intractable conflict. The historic Declaration of Principles and subsequent agreements reached between the PLO and Israel, spoke with resounding clarity of their firm commitment to making peace a reality. Another milestone was the long-awaited and triumphant return of Chairman Yasser Arafat to Gaza, marking the beginning of an end to occupation and repression. We were also heartened with the early stages of the implementation of the peace accords. The holding of the first-ever elections in the occupied territories generated even more momentum as the Palestinian people looked toward the future of peace, justice and economic development. Unfortunately, those promised changes and the prospect for the continued implementation of the peace accords have receded into the background. And the path to peace was abruptly stalled and despair and frustration have again become the order of the day.

Together with the rest of the international community, we have followed with deep concern and anguish the perpetration of provocative acts by Israel in violation of the agreements reached with the PLO, as exemplified by the confiscation of Arab land, expansion of settlements, closures and other measures of intimidation against the Palestinian population, thereby denying their cherished aspirations to live in peace and security in their homeland. These outrages were soon followed by the opening of a new entrance to the tunnel along the Al-Aqsa Mosque, triggering even more violence and bloodshed and exacerbating tension in the region. These tragic events highlight the deteriorating situation in the occupied territories and the fragility of the peace process itself.

It is essential that negotiations be directed towards seeking real peace and not a return to the old legacy of enmity, mistrust and hatred. For what is at stake is the restoration of the national legitimate rights of an entire people and of stable peace in a volatile region. We therefore urge Israel to heed the call of the international community and put an end to its intransigent policies and practices. The peace process should move forward and Israel should recommit itself to the search for a just and equitable peace within the framework of the Declaration of Principles and based on the principle of land for peace.

We remain convinced that there can be no lasting solution to the conflict in the Middle East without an unconditional withdrawal of Israel from all Palestinian and Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, the Syrian Golan Heights as well as Lebanon, and the implementation of United Nation Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978). Only through such an approach can the rights of all peoples and countries in the region to independence and security within internationally recognized borders be realized.

As a member of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Indonesia is proud to be associated with its efforts in mobilizing world opinion on the plight of the Palestinians and in advancing its just cause. The struggle of the Palestinian people is a tragedy in the contemporary history of mankind. For over four decades, they have waged a determined struggle to safeguard their national rights. On its part, Indonesia has from the outset supported the Palestinian cause as consistent with the principles and objectives enshrined in its own Constitution. We therefore seek nothing more nor less than what we have achieved for our own people - independence and justice, in true freedom and dignity. We are convinced that despite the obstacles and challenges ahead, justice shall prevail and the Palestinian people shall emerge victorious.

May God Almighty bestow His blessings and wise guidance on all of us.

IRAN
Mr. Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
[Original: English]

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

The people and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran have never forgotten the question of Palestine and the rights of its people, which have been denied. A great deal of effort, struggle and sacrifices made in the course of the glorious Islamic revolution of Iran are based on the commitment and support to the sacred ideals of the Palestinian people.

Unfortunately, in spite of all the efforts that the Islamic countries and others have made to restore these rights, no clear picture is on the horizon for Palestine in the eyes of justice-loving people of the world. The Palestinians are still suffering from displacement and homelessness and are deprived of the basic and fundamental rights of human beings.

Despite reiterations on the restoration of peace and the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinians, occupation in the occupied territories is day by day deepened, thus violating and pacifying all the efforts aimed at restoration of a just peace in the region.

The continued aggression by the Zionist regime against the sacred places such as Al-Aqsa Mosque during the last year, and the cruel occupation of the city of Al-Quds, which enjoys the respect of all divine religions and the special attention of Muslims, is a clear manifestation of the continuation of this painful reality.

Now the new explicit positions taken by the Zionist regime vis-à-vis the question of Palestine and other occupied territories, revealing its dissatisfaction with even the existing compromise agreement which itself is far away from justice, have revealed more than ever before the face of those who are responsible for the continuation of insecurity, violence and aggression in the region.

The Islamic Republic of Iran, as in the past, emphasizes its just and principled position with regard to the necessity of restoration of the denied rights of Palestinians people, and considers it essential for all solutions aimed at establishing peace and justice in the Middle East.

While emphasizing our consistent and principled positions, we affirm our readiness to coordinate and cooperate with other peace-loving States as well as with the relevant international organizations for the realization of a real and genuine peace based on the restoration of the inalienable rights of the Palestinians.

I hope that the commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People can lead to the restoration of their rights through the manifestation of increased solidarity of peoples and Governments with this oppressed nation.

JORDAN
King Hussein Bin Talal of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
[Original: Arabic]

On this day when the international community expresses its solidarity with the Palestinian people, I should like to convey to you my deep gratitude for your distinguished Committee's generous efforts over many years, in circumstances that have never been free of difficulty, to assist the Palestinian people - with which we are linked by indissoluble bonds of fraternity and a common destiny - until such time as it secures its inalienable rights and, most importantly, the right to exercise self-determination on the soil of its homeland.

You will recall that we have constantly striven for the establishment of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, given our belief that the peoples of the region, including the Palestinian people, are entitled to a peace that will secure their rights to life and development, respect for their human rights and the preservation of their human dignity. All of these are basic rights that no one is entitled to deny and rights of which the peoples of the region cannot be deprived. We have always believed that the state of war that has prevailed in the region has been the basic reason that its peoples have not enjoyed such rights, to say nothing of the human and material attrition from whose effects we all continue to suffer.

Our commitment to peace has never been at the expense of our profound awareness that any peace must be based on justice and founded on the lofty and compelling values represented by the purposes and principles of the United Nations and the provisions of the Organization's Charter. Much has, thank God, been achieved since your Committee was first established. We should like to state our conviction that the peace process is the only option available to the peoples of the region, despite the difficulties and obstacles it encounters from time to time. We shall continue to seek ways to promote this process, based on the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and of international law, given our firm conviction that a lasting peace that will be acceptable to future generations must be based on justice.

Despite the advances made, the suffering of the Palestinian people has been prolonged. The international community is now urged to strive collectively to assist it not only in economic matters, despite their importance, but also in calling attention to the fact that the agreements already concluded must be implemented in good faith. This requires that there should not be changes on the ground that deprive the final-status negotiations of their substance.

We are confident that all the peoples of the region will, with God's help, enjoy the peace for which they hope and that they will remember the generous effort made by your distinguished Committee to enable the Palestinian people, without regard for whose suffering the Middle East issue cannot be considered, to secure its inalienable and imprescriptible rights.

KAZAKHSTAN
Mr. Akezhan Kazhegeldin, Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan
[Original: Russian]

It is with deep satisfaction that I send you heartfelt congratulations on a significant occasion, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

The Republic of Kazakhstan has consistently supported the implementation of the General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on the Palestinian question, particularly those calling for a comprehensive and peaceful settlement in the Middle East as a whole.

We pay tribute to the United Nations for its loyal service to the ideals of peace and international security, and hope that its efforts, and those of the States concerned, will lead to the establishment of the long-awaited durable peace in the region.

Kazakhstan stands ready to provide the United Nations with all possible support in order that it may utilize its capabilities and fulfil its noble mission more efficiently and effectively.

LAO PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC
Mr. Nouhak Phoumsavanh, President of the Lao People's Democratic Republic
[Original: French]

On the occasion of the celebration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I wish, on behalf of the Government and people of the Lao People's Democratic Republic and on my own behalf, to extend my warmest congratulations to you and to the other members of the Committee for the determination and dedication with which you are carrying out your lofty and highly responsible functions.

Following the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in accordance with the Washington Agreement signed in 1993, the peace process in the Middle East has given rise to great hopes. However, this process is now running into difficulties. Recent events, including those at Jerusalem, have made the situation even more complex and are liable to delay the implementation of the letter and spirit of the peace agreements which have been concluded.

True to its consistent policy of peace, friendship and cooperation with all the countries of the world without distinction as to their socio-political regimes, the Government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic fervently hopes that the various parties to the conflict will spare no effort and will do everything possible to reach an overall settlement which is just and honourable for everyone, in the framework of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and other relevant resolutions of the United Nations. On this solemn occasion, the Lao Government and people wish to reaffirm their active solidarity with the Palestinian people under the consistent and determined leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization in their unrelenting struggle to regain their fundamental national rights.

We appeal to the international community to do everything possible to help this martyred people achieve the full exercise of their inalienable legitimate rights.

MALI
Mr. Alpha Oumar Konare, President of the Republic of Mali
[Original: French]

On this International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, it is a pleasure for me to pay tribute to your continual untiring efforts for the effective realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people: the right of return, the right to self-determination and the right to establish an independent Palestinian State. On this occasion, we reiterate our firm support for the Palestinian people in its just struggle, as well as our support of the peace process in the Middle East in the context of the search for an overall and lasting solution on the basis of the various agreements signed.

Highest consideration.



MALTA

Mr. Alfred Sant, Prime Minister of Malta
[Original: English]

The significance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was and remains of great relevance particularly in the wake of recent events.

The Middle East peace process requires added impetus. It cannot be allowed to deteriorate. Such a turn of events would inflict further prolonged suffering and tension for the peoples in the region. It would place a nascent fragile peace at risk.

The hope generated in Oslo and sealed by the Washington Accords and subsequent agreements must be sustained. On it depend the aspirations of the men, women and children still forced to live a daily life of anxiety.

Malta looked forward to a permanent settlement based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). Only through such a settlement can the international community ensure secure borders for all States and the full enjoyment of inalienable rights for all peoples in the Middle East.

Malta has joined the international community in urging the leaders in the region to continue along the path to peace through a reinvigoration of the negotiating process and the full implementation of agreements to which Israel and the PLO are committed to date.

The provision of these agreements had already started to bear fruit. The setting-up of the Palestinian Authority, the general elections held in Palestine and the phased withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Occupied Territories were parts of a momentous process which demands continuity.

The plight of the Palestinian people for over more than half a century has disturbed the conscience of the international community. Denial of their inalienable rights, be they living in refugee camps, the Occupied Territories or dispersed around the world, is an affront to our common values and shared beliefs. Respect for human dignity and the right of all persons to the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms demands sustained support to those initiatives which bear the promise of a just and lasting settlement.

Malta has been honoured and privileged to promote international awareness and solidarity with the Palestinian people, serving as Rapporteur of the United Nations Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People since it was set up by the General Assembly. Our commitment to this worthy cause is unabated.

May the continued dawning of peace turn promise into reality.


MAURITANIA
Mr. Maaouya Ould Sid’ Ahmed Taya, President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania

[Original: French]

The celebration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People offers me an agreeable opportunity to reiterate the firm and constant support of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania to the legitimate struggle of the fraternal Palestinian people to regain their inalienable rights.

The Islamic Republic of Mauritania once again expresses the hope that a comprehensive, just and lasting peace will be established in the Middle East, based on the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and on the principles adopted at the Madrid Conference.

On this commemorative day, our wish is that the Middle East region will finally know an era of peace, justice and concord.

MAURITIUS
Mr. Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius
[Original: English]

I am pleased to convey to you and to the Palestinian People the expression of solidarity of the Government of the Republic of Mauritius on the occasion marking the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

It is my conviction that notwithstanding the recent difficulties in the progress of the peace process, goodwill and common sense will prevail, paving the way for a just and enduring peace in the region. Peace and security are indeed the essential preconditions to economic development of the countries of the Middle East.

I wish to assure Your Excellency of the support of the Government of Mauritius to the People of Palestine in their struggle for a Palestine Homeland.

MEXICO
Mr. Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León, President of Mexico
[Original: Spanish]

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Government and people of Mexico join the international community in reaffirming their support for the continuation of the peace process in the Middle East.

Mexico welcomes the fact that all the parties involved in the process have shown an interest in finding approaches that will help, through dialogue, to consolidate a just and lasting peace in the region.

The Government of Mexico also reiterates its support for the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people, in conformity with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council.

NAMIBIA
Mr. Sam Nujoma, President of the Republic of Namibia
[Original: English]

On this International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Government and the people of Namibia express their unflinching solidarity with the people of Palestine.

The question of Palestine has been on the United Nations agenda since its inception. However, it is our earnest hope that bloodletting and enmity will not derail the Middle East peace process, whose centrepiece must remain the full realization of the right of the self-determination of the Palestinian People led by the PLO.

The historic breakthrough signified by mutual recognition and the Declaration of Principles signed between Israel and the PLO on Palestinian self-rule in Gaza and the city of Jericho give hope for lasting peace 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 complete nationhood.

PAKISTAN

Mr. Malik Meraj Khalid,
Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
[Original: English]

On the auspicious occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, Pakistan reaffirms its total commitment to and unwavering support for the Palestinian people and their leadership in attaining their inalienable right to self-determination.

Pakistan is deeply disturbed by the recent developments which have led to a situation of instability and lack of security which seriously undermines the Middle East peace process.

The provisions of the Agreement concluded between the PLO and Israel must be faithfully complied with both in letter and in spirit. Pakistan strongly reiterates support for the establishment of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace, which alone will ensure security and stability for all the peoples of the region.

Pakistan also appeals to the international community, particularly the United Nations, to provide generous and urgent assistance to the Palestinian National Authority, to help relieve the suffering of the Palestinian people and to rebuild their devastated economy.

PHILIPPINES

Mr. Fidel V. Ramos, President of the Republic of the Philippines
[Original: English]

The Filipino people and the Philippine Government join me in reaffirming our staunch support for the just aspirations of the Palestinian nation on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. We also pay tribute to the United Nations community, particularly the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, for its invaluable work in advancing the cause of Palestine.

The Philippines continues to support all initiatives directed towards the realization of a lasting Middle East peace, with the restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people as its foundation.

We were elated with the breakthroughs made in the Palestinian peace process in recent years. It is our firm belief that the spirit and letter of commitments made during the stages of the process must be unwaveringly fulfilled. The Philippines joins the world community in urging the leadership of the Middle East region not to waiver from the path towards a just and lasting peace.

We join the world community in also marking this Day as an opportunity to honour the memory of the martyrs for the cause of Middle East peace.

QATAR
Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar
[Original: Arabic]

I am happy to be sending you this message on this International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, expressing as it does the world's solidarity with and support for the just cause of this valiant people and its endorsement of its legitimate and inalienable rights and, first and foremost, its right to exercise self-determination and establish its own independent State on the national soil for which it has offered up thousands of innocent martyrs.

Our observance of this day comes at a time when the Palestinian cause and the peace process in the Holy Land, and in the Middle East as a whole, are at a delicate stage. All of us had welcomed the advances made in the peace process, such as the signing of the Peace Treaty with Jordan, the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from most of the towns in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the concomitant progress in the peace negotiations on the other tracks. Then came the recent setbacks that threaten to destroy the peace process and reverse the achievements there have been within that framework over the past years. Examples of such setbacks have been: the Israeli Government's procrastination in discharging its obligations and fulfilling the undertakings on which agreement was reached under the previous Government; failure to comply with the Madrid guidelines and the principles on which the peace process has been based, most significantly the principle of land for peace; the resumption of settlement activities in the West Bank and elsewhere in the occupied territories, primarily in Jerusalem; and the opening of a tunnel jeopardizing the safety of Islamic Holy Places in the city. The latter resulted in an outbreak of regrettable incidents of violence in which more than 60 Palestinians were killed, and world public opinion condemned it along with Israel's policies and arbitrary repressive measures in the Palestinian territory. The position adopted internationally in support of the Palestinian people had the effect of bringing pressure to bear for the resumption of the peace negotiations as quickly as possible. We hope that in these negotiations Israel will be convinced of the need to abide by its commitments and by the undertakings on which agreement has already been reached in the framework of the peace process and to begin the negotiations on the final status of the Palestinian territories, which will, God willing, endorse the right of the Palestinian people to establish its own independent State on its national soil.

We reject outright any change in the legal status of Jerusalem or any alteration of its geographical or demographic characteristics, and we call upon the international community to safeguard and protect its Holy Places and to ensure that Israel complies with the relevant United Nations resolutions in this regard.

We also urge the international community, on this International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, to provide greater support to the Palestinian people and its National Authority, particularly in the economic, financial and technical fields, so as to stimulate the Palestinian economy, strengthen the economic infrastructure and promote development efforts as key elements for nation-building and the establishment of an independent Palestinian State.

We further emphasize the role of the United Nations and its duty and, indeed, its historical responsibility to support the cause of the Palestinian people and provide it with all necessary assistance in nation-building and in promoting economic and social development efforts so as to ensure this long-suffering people an appropriate and dignified standard of living. The observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People at the United Nations and under United Nations auspices is a powerful indication that the Organization has embraced this people's just cause.

In closing, I am happy to convey our great appreciation to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. Its efforts deserve the greatest credit for making solidarity with the Palestinian people a reality, as is shown by the worldwide support accorded to the Palestinian cause. I should also like to commend the work of Mr. Kéba Birane Cissé, Chairman of the Committee, and his tireless endeavours to elicit international backing and organize international efforts to support the Palestinians' cause and promote their human aspirations and legitimate hopes for justice, peace and prosperity.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION

Mr. Boris Yeltsin, President of the Russian Federation

[Original: Russian]
[Addressed to the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the PLO,
Mr. Yasser Arafat]

I am pleased to send warm congratulations and best wishes to you and to all Palestinians on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

This year has been marked by historic events in the life of the Palestinian people: the holding of the first democratic elections of the leadership of the Palestinian National Authority, and the establishment of universally recognized structures of self-rule in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. This constitutes a major step towards the restoration of the national rights of the Palestinian people in its lands, including the right to self-determination and the establishment of an independent State.

As a co-sponsor of the peace process, the Russian Federation intends to step up its efforts to bring about a just peace in the Middle East and to make a dynamic contribution to the promotion of the negotiating process, the strengthening of Palestinian self-rule and the implementation of the Palestinian-Israeli agreements.

SAUDI ARABIA
Fahd Bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques,
King of Saudi Arabia
[Original: Arabic]

On this important occasion, as the international community observes the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People and expresses its full support for the attainment of the inalienable and legitimate rights of that people, including the right to establish its own independent State on the soil of its homeland with its capital at Jerusalem, we in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are pleased to express our grateful recognition of the efforts made by your Committee in taking it upon itself to defend the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.

In participating in this observance, the Government of Saudi Arabia stresses its commitment to the international covenants and conventions whose provisions affirm the rights of all peoples to exercise self-determination and accede to independence. The Palestinians are one such people and a people concerning which numerous international resolutions have been adopted recognizing the legitimacy of its demands and calling for the restoration of its usurped rights. Since the question of Palestine first arose and since the beginning of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, given its firmly held principles and its unshakeable belief in the justice of this cause, has been endeavouring in every possible way to seek a just solution to the problem and to end the oppression, torture and material and moral dispossession being inflicted on this people. Saudi Arabia associated itself with the international community in welcoming the peaceful efforts to promote security and stability in the region that gave rise to the Madrid Peace Conference and the holding of direct talks between Palestinians and Israelis and that subsequently led to agreements between the two parties on Israel's withdrawal from the occupied territories and on the transfer of further powers to the Palestinian National Authority. In this connection, Saudi Arabia has participated with the donor countries in assisting the Palestinian Authority by providing financial aid that has amounted thus far to 200 million United States dollars.

In every international and regional forum, Saudi Arabia has constantly urged that the peace process must be continued and sustained. Although efforts have been made for the success of the process, they have recently been thwarted by Israeli intransigence. In this context, we feel obliged to express deep concern at Israel's recent action in opening a tunnel that runs along the foundations of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. This provides fresh evidence that Israel is endeavouring to Judaize the City of Jerusalem in violation of all the relevant United Nations resolutions consistently urging that no change should be made to the demographic situation in East Jerusalem as an integral part of the Palestinian Arab territory occupied by Israel in 1967.

Saudi Arabia supports all the peace efforts being made to end Israel's occupation of Arab territory and secure compliance with the relevant resolutions, in particular Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), and with the principle of land for peace. In accordance with the agreements reached at the Madrid Peace Conference and the assurances given by the Arab leaders concerning the furtherance of the peace process at their 22 June 1996 Summit in Cairo, Saudi Arabia calls upon the international community to make every conceivable effort to ensure that the peace process will continue in accordance with the principles agreed upon and to bring pressure to bear on Israel to comply with the relevant United Nations resolutions, to desist from raising obstacles to the peace process, to halt the construction of settlements and to cease its inhumane practices vis-à-vis the Palestinian population. It should also be borne in mind that any lasting and comprehensive resolution must extend to the questions of the Palestine refugees, the release of those imprisoned and the settlements that have been established and are still being established by the Israeli occupation authorities in disregard of all the agreements reached with the Palestinian side, of international law and of the provisions of the Geneva Convention.

The future of the peace process as a whole depends on how the issue of Jerusalem is addressed, representing as it does the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the focus of concern of the Arab and Islamic worlds. As long as the City of Jerusalem, with its Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque and other religious landmarks, is the object of hostile measures aimed at bringing about demographic changes of a kind to affect the status of the City, this will be regarded as an endeavour on Israel's part to pre-empt the negotiations to be held on final-status issues. No lasting peace can thus be established in the Middle East without a just solution to this issue that takes account of the relevant United Nations resolutions on the matter.

The Government of Saudi Arabia takes this opportunity to urge the international community to strive for compliance with the commitments given in connection with the peace process so as to ensure stability in the region and for the good of its future generations.

We pray God that He will grant success to all in what is for the best, that security and peace will prevail in all parts of the world and that a new era will begin for the benefit and development of all.

SENEGAL
Mr. Abdou Diouf, President of the Republic of Senegal
[Original: French]

This year the international community is celebrating the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People at a time when Palestine has once again been buffeted by one of the gravest crises in its history.

On 28 September 1996 the Security Council, in resolution 1073 (1996), echoed the deep concern of the international community about the tragic events which occurred recently in Jerusalem, Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Gaza, which have plunged the region back into an atmosphere which had been thought to have been banished forever.

This dangerous situation strengthens our conviction that there are no other routes to peace than those which the two parties have freely charted, particularly within the framework of the Madrid, Oslo and Taba agreements.

Only the implementation, in good faith and without delay, of agreements concluded on the basis of the principle of the exchange of land for peace with security for all States and the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people can put back the Madrid process on the course of building the just, comprehensive and lasting peace to which the peoples of the region aspire.

It is for that reason that Senegal, like all the countries which value peace and justice, has always supported the peace process and firmly backed the efforts of its courageous initiators.

Here it is also fitting to commend the valuable and positive contribution which the United Nations General Assembly and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People have made to the search for peace in Palestine, on the basis, always, of the permanent responsibility of the United Nations to the Palestinian people and the need to reach an overall settlement of the question, with respect for international legality.

At this decisive time for the region's future, I should therefore like to reiterate on behalf of the Senegalese Government and people our call for the rapid resumption of the peace process and for the implementation of the agreements which have been concluded.

Today more than ever before, the sponsors of the peace process and the international community as a whole must redouble their efforts in order to safeguard the gains and hopes for peace which the Madrid initiative evoked in the hearts of the vast majority of the population of the region and throughout the world.

Today, the Israeli Government has a special responsibility to take the necessary action to restore trust, moderate its positions and remove the blockade measures.

In this respect, I should like to stress the great importance which we attach to the efforts made by the Committee to contribute to the mobilization of the international assistance and support which are essential for the Palestinian Authority during this period of transition.

The seminar organized in May 1996 in Cairo, under the auspices of the Committee, on the subject of assistance and the economic development of Palestine, is relevant to this objective.

For that reason, the major conclusions of the seminar regarding the reconstruction of the Palestinian economic and social infrastructure, the consolidation of its emerging national institutions, and the integration of the future Palestinian State into the regional economic development process should be put into effect without delay.

The celebration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People offers me an excellent opportunity to pay a well-deserved tribute to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and reiterate our unfailing support for the important role which the United Nations must continue to play in the peace process until its conclusion.

I should also like to convey my congratulations and encouragement to the United Nations Special Coordinator for Palestine, the United Nations bodies and programmes, non-governmental organizations and all people of good will who, at the local level, are contributing on a daily basis to alleviating the sufferings of the Palestinian people.

We must all work together without respite so that the immense efforts and sacrifices made for peace in Palestine and in the Middle East are not in vain and the ideals of peace, justice and solidarity which inspire the Madrid process are triumphant.

SRI LANKA
Mrs. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga,
President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
[Original: English]

On behalf of the Government and the people of Sri Lanka, I have great pleasure in conveying our warm felicitations and best wishes to the Palestinian people on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

Sri Lanka welcomed the agreements reached in September 1995 as they held promise of a viable and lasting peace in the Middle East. We are optimistic that the current obstacles to the peace process will be overcome by mutual understanding and cooperation achieved through the peaceful negotiations in the years to come.

Sri Lanka continues to regard the question of Palestine as the crux of the Middle East problem and of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Government and the people of Sri Lanka wish to reiterate their firm support for the Palestinian people's quest for the realization of their inalienable rights.

THAILAND
Mr. Banharn Silpa-Archa, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand
[Original: English]

On the auspicious occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I should like, on behalf of the Royal Government and the people of Thailand, to reaffirm our full support for the ongoing Middle East Peace Process, aiming at a comprehensive and durable settlement based on United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).

Thailand has been closely following the ongoing developments in the Middle East which have now reached the most critical point in the long process of peace efforts. Last September, the signing of the Israel-Palestine Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (the Taba Agreement) marked a significant step towards a permanent settlement for Palestine. It is very important that the spirit and determination leading to that historic Agreement be maintained so that a permanent peace in the region becomes a reality. It is also my sincere hope that the current negotiations will be concluded taking into consideration the legitimate needs and inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

It is imperative that peace in the Middle East receives all the necessary support from the international community, not only in political and security aspects but also in such areas as economic, development and humanitarian assistance as well. During the conflict and the ensuing peace process, tens of thousands of Palestinians have become homeless, displaced or have taken refuge elsewhere. Established by the United Nations in 1949, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has had to cope with the heavy burden of providing humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugees and displaced persons. This is a burden Thailand understands well, having had to provide for tens of thousands of Indo-Chinese refugees and displaced persons for 20 years. Since 1960, Thailand has continuously rendered financial support to the UNRWA, so that it may effectively carry out its noble cause, and looks forward to closer cooperation with the UNRWA for the well-being of the Palestinian refugees and displaced persons.

On the question of the principles of self-determination and economic self-reliance, I should like, on behalf of the Royal Government and the people of Thailand, to express our solidarity with the Palestinian people. In this connection, I should like to call upon the international community, as well as relevant international organizations, to continue supporting the economic and social development of Palestinians. I am confident that the support of the world community will help the Palestinians to improve their economic and social well-being and will pave the way for an effective transition towards a self-ruled Palestine, contributing towards lasting peace and prosperity in the region.

Finally, I wish to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the work of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. As an observer to the peace process in the Middle East, Thailand stands ready to do all it can to render support to the work of the Committee.

TUNISIA

Mr. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, President of the Republic of Tunisia

[Original: Arabic]
This year's observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People comes at a time when the Middle East peace process is at a delicate stage. When it began, it heralded the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in this region of the world and the banishment of the spectre of conflict and war that had beset it for 50 long years. Now, however, the great hopes that all the peoples of the region and the entire international community had pinned on the process are constantly diminishing owing to Israel's retreat from the undertakings it had given, its rejection of the guidelines and principles on which the peace negotiations had been based and its breach of agreements already concluded.

As we today express our deep concern at the dangers that beset the peace process, we reaffirm our total solidarity with the fraternal Palestinian people and our firm support for its legitimate right to establish an independent State in its own territory. We urge the international community to make greater efforts to set the peace process back on track so that the hopes we all pin on it may be fulfilled.

The United Nations, which played an important role in the elimination of colonialism, which has supported the causes of truth and justice in the world and which has contributed to ensuring peace in all parts of the planet, is urged in the present situation to further improve its worthy record by striving earnestly to prevent the peace process from breaking down and to consolidate the advances made towards establishing security and stability in the region.

We salute the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and express our grateful recognition of the efforts it is making to establish and defend the rights in question. We believe that solidarity with the Palestinian people, which has suffered long and bitterly from occupation, displacement, dispersion, confinement and siege, must at the present stage be extended to include support for the Palestinian National Authority and the strengthening of the economic and political entity that is coming into being, so that the aspirations of Palestinians for a life of dignity in their own homeland can be fulfilled by means of its reconstruction and development, the restoration of its infrastructure and its general resurgence.

Tunisia, which has spared no effort to support the peace process since it first began, believes that peace is a choice from which there can be no retreat given that it is the only guarantee of the security of all parties. Today, it affirms that solidarity with the Palestinian people is integral to support for the peace process and a basic guarantee of its reactivation and success, so that all our aspirations for the inauguration of a new era of peace, stability, progress and prosperity for all the peoples of the region may be fulfilled.

TURKEY
Mr. Neçmettin Erbakan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey
[Original: English]

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, it is a pleasure for me to reiterate our continuing support to the Palestinian people in attaining their legitimate rights.

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People has been successful over the years in promoting wider awareness within the international community for the plight of the Palestinian people, thus securing stronger support for their legitimate cause.

Turkey has always been in solidarity with the Palestinians in their just struggle. Turkey supports the Middle East peace process based on United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) from its very beginning. We think that this is the only realistic way to settle the long-lasting dispute. We regard the breakthrough in the peace process as the important development which heralds the establishment of a just and durable peace in the region. Continued tangible support for the peace process by the international community through financial programmes and assistance is vital to its success and is a necessity if a bright future is to be built for the war-torn region.

I take this opportunity to reiterate the best wishes of the Turkish nation and the Turkish Government to the Palestinian people in their determined efforts for the realization of their legitimate aspirations, within the framework of a just and lasting peace in the region.

UKRAINE

Mr. Leonid Kuchma, President of Ukraine

[Original: English]

Please accept my sincere congratulations on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

Ukraine, as one of the founding members of the United Nations and a member of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, is concerned over the hindering of the process of the peaceful settlement in the Middle East.

May I express the hope that in the very near future the parties concerned will manage to overcome existing differences in a constructive way, and to embark on the road to a comprehensive political settlement of the problem, with the final result of reaching lasting peace and mutual understanding in the Middle East. This can be brought about only if the fundamental interests of all parties, of the Palestinians in the first place, are met.

I would like to reiterate once again that the Palestinian people, who enjoy a high respect in Ukraine, may continue to count on our support in their efforts with regard to the Middle East peace process.

The achievement of peace in the Middle East will be, primarily, conducive to the economic development and stabilization processes in the region. To this end, Ukraine, with its economic, scientific and technological potential, is ready to launch dynamic Ukrainian-Palestinian cooperation, particularly in the socio-economic sphere. This, in fact, was confirmed once again during the last MENA-3 Summit in Cairo.

Availing myself of this opportunity, I would like to thank you for your personal contribution to the cause of the settlement of the conflict by means of a constructive and peaceful dialogue, and to wish Your Excellency good health and successes in your responsible activities.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan, President of the United Arab Emirates
[Original: Arabic]

On behalf of the Government and people of the United Arab Emirates, I am pleased to convey to you and to the members of the Committee our appreciation and gratitude for your sustained and worthy efforts in support of the struggle of the Palestinian people and of its legitimate endeavour to establish an independent State on its own national soil. We should also like to express appreciation for the creditable positions you have taken and for your tireless devotion to the achievement of the Palestinian people's aspiration to exercise self-determination.

On the occasion of the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, we are happy to reaffirm our unshakeable solidarity with that people and our full support for its just and honourable struggle to achieve freedom and independence in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and international law.

Your laudable efforts have had positive results in keeping the international community informed of the justice of the Palestinian cause and of the various matters at issue, particularly those relating to arbitrary Israeli practices directed against Palestinians and other Arab inhabitants of areas under occupation. Your monitoring of events in the occupied Palestinian territory plays a leading role in demonstrating the justice of the cause of a people expelled by the Israeli authorities in 1948 and replaced by tens of thousands of settlers brought from all parts of the world to occupy its land. This has been the most heinous violation of humanitarian values ever witnessed by mankind in modern times, and it is a clear and flagrant breach of the principles of international conduct, the fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, the Charter of the United Nations and the norms of international law.

Developments in the peace process have included undertakings that are binding on Israel under the terms of the bilateral agreements concluded between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization on 13 September 1993. However, the prevailing tension in the occupied Palestinian territory, including the City of Jerusalem, is an inevitable result of Israeli practices aimed at altering the demographic situation and the status of historic Islamic landmarks in Jerusalem and of the direct and constant threat posed to the Al-Aqsa Mosque by archaeological excavations and the opening of a tunnel. Such actions and practices clearly reflect the fact that Israel has no serious intention of complying with the obligations it has assumed, and indeed they provide reasons to doubt and mistrust Israel's declared goals with respect to the entire peace process.

The United Arab Emirates, commending the spirit of resolute perseverance that characterizes the Palestinian people and its National Authority, which has for its part met its obligations, holds Israel responsible for the dire consequences of its disregard for the requirements of the peace process in the region and for its commitments to international legitimacy and the principle of land for peace.

The United Arab Emirates, which has supported the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority at all levels, whether political, humanitarian, social or economic, reaffirms the need for enhanced international support in order to enable the Palestinian people to regain its occupied territory and build its own independent State with its capital at Jerusalem.

On behalf of the United Arab Emirates, we reaffirm our unshakeable solidarity with the Palestinian people, and we shall maintain our commitment to doing everything in our power to assist it. We are certain that, God willing, the day will come when this people will return to its homeland and will exercise all of its legitimate rights like all the other peoples of the world.

VIET NAM
Mr. Le Duc Anh, President of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam
[Original: English]

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on 29 November 1996, I would like to express to you, and through you, to the entire Palestinian People my warmest greetings and solidarity.

With the implementation of the Peace Agreement signed by the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel during the last few years, the peace process in the Middle East has been gaining encouraging success, thus opening an opportunity for a long-lasting solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Though there remain numerous difficulties and challenges, we are convinced that if all concerned parties are truly committed to carrying out the joint efforts as well as to seriously implementing the already signed agreements, the peace process will certainly continue and come to a comprehensive, just and sustainable resolution which ensures the respect for the basic and inalienable rights of the Palestinian people as well as the legitimate interests of all parties concerned.

On this occasion, the Government and the people of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam reaffirm their consistent support to the legitimate cause of the Palestinian people, and believe that under the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Palestinian people will surely achieve final victory.

YEMEN
Lieutenant-General Ali Abdalla Saleh, President of the Republic of Yemen
[Original: Arabic]

In observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I am pleased to have the opportunity to commend the dedicated and tireless efforts being made by the members of the Committee to mobilize support for the Palestinian people and its just cause.

The Committee may well take pride in what it has been doing since its formation in 1977 to promote the truth and deter injustice, given that the cause of the Palestinian people and the grievous oppression to which it is subjected must have a constant claim on the interest of all peoples and States.

You perhaps share my view that the present commemoration is taking place in circumstances that are entirely different. The Palestinian people, through its leadership as represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, has proved that it is a peace-loving people that agrees to coexist with its neighbours on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions and has thus merited the sympathy and support, and indeed the admiration, of all the peoples of the world.

Our country, the Republic of Yemen, has supported and participated in the peace efforts that began in Madrid in 1991 under the co-sponsorship of the United States of America and the former Soviet Union, now the Russian Federation, on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions and the principle of land for peace. It has done so in the hope that these efforts will lead to the establishment of a just and lasting peace for all the peoples of the region and that they will achieve the Palestinian people's legitimate and just goal, which is to live in peace and security in its own independent State with its capital at Jerusalem.

In affirming our established position of principle in support of the Palestinian people and its just struggle to fulfil its legitimate national aspirations to return, exercise self-determination and live in peace in its own independent State, we in the Republic of Yemen urge all peoples and nations to appeal to their Governments to adopt a just and resolute position in support of the Palestinian people and its legitimate aspirations, to prevent the Israeli Government from further destroying the achievements of the peace efforts and to compel Israel to honour international covenants and commitments and yield to the will and the just values of the international community as expressed in the relevant United Nations resolutions.

Lastly, I take the opportunity provided by your gathering to convey our appreciation to all honourable men and to those striving to ensure that truth and justice will prevail and that development and prosperity will advance without discrimination, racism, self-seeking or the use of double standards so that peace and conciliation may truly prevail in all parts of the world.

ZIMBABWE

Mr. Robert Gabriel Mugabe, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe
[Original: English]

On behalf of the Government and people of Zimbabwe, I wish to convey to you and through you, to the Palestinian Authority and the people of Palestine, our felicitations and best wishes on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Zimbabwe remains steadfast in its solidarity with the people of Palestine.

I also avail myself of this opportunity to express our concerns about progress in the implementation of the Arab-Israeli Peace Agreements. It is our hope that both sides will seek to consolidate the gains already made as well as continue to advance the peace process through close cooperation in respecting and fulfilling all the commitments laid down in the Peace Accords and honouring their respective obligations.

Please accept, Your Excellency, my best wishes for your personal good health, peace and progress to the Palestinian people and the assurances of my highest consideration.


B. Messages from Governments

ARGENTINA
[Original: Spanish]

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Government of the Argentine Republic reiterates its support for this important event.

We reaffirm that respect for the agreements entered into by the parties and continuation of a constructive dialogue are vital elements for the consolidation of a just and lasting peace in the region.

The Argentine Republic believes that socio-economic development and an improved quality of life for the Palestinian people are essential elements for strengthening the peace process in the Middle East. For that reason, the Argentine Government has, among other things, developed in association with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) a project to promote the self-reliance of the Palestinian Authority in the city of Gaza. Under that project, which has been under way since April 1996, a team of White Helmets is helping the city of Gaza with engineering works for installing an information systems network linking it with other areas.

The Argentine Republic continues to support and encourage the efforts of all the countries in the region to achieve a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The Argentine Government reiterates Argentina's support for the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, within its own territory, and also the right of its neighbours to live within secure and internationally recognized boundaries, within the framework of the provisions of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).

DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF KOREA

Central People's Committee of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

[Original: English]
[addressed to Mr. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee
of the Palestine Liberation Organization]

The Central People's Committee of the Democratic People’s Republic o£ Korea extends its firm solidarity to you and through you to the entire Palestinian people on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

Today the Palestinian people, under the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization, are working hard to consolidate successes achieved in the struggle for freedom and independence and are seeking a fair settlement of the Palestinian problem.

The just cause of the Palestinian people enjoys active support and encouragement from the Korean people and the world’s progressive peoples.

We take this opportunity to sincerely wish you and your people great progress in the work for the establishment of a sovereign State and express our conviction that the friendly relations between our two countries will continue to strengthen and develop.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA
[Original: English]

On the special commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on 29 November 1996, I am honoured to convey, on behalf of the Government and people of Papua New Guinea, our continued commitment to and solidarity with the Palestinians and the State of Palestine.

The Government and people of Papua New Guinea wish for a very fruitful and harmonious commemoration on this Day that has been dedicated by the United Nations to reaffirming international solidarity with the Palestinian people, and to renew and further reinforce international unity with the Palestinian people and the State of Palestine.

SOUTH AFRICA
[Original: English]

It is with a sense of satisfaction that the Government of South Africa has noted the steadfast commitment of the Palestinian leadership and people to the Middle East peace process despite serious provocative incidents. South Africa remains firm in its support for the Middle East peace process as the only practicable means to end decades of conflict and to permit the region to achieve the prosperity which only peace can bring.

To this extent the South African Government pays tribute to the dedication and vision of those leaders who, despite the pressures of those forces seeking to destroy what has been won thus far, have shown the courage to persevere in the quest for a negotiated solution. Indeed, it is only through this process that the rights of the Palestinian people in the region can be addressed in accordance with internationally accepted norms and practices.

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the South African Government wishes to express its unqualified support for the right to self-determination for all Palestinians, so that they can live in the dignity, prosperity and security they deserve.

UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA
[Original: English]

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I extend to you, and through you, to the people of Palestine, my profound felicitations.

Let me take this opportunity to reaffirm my Government’s unflinching support and solidarity for the Palestinian people to secure their inalienable rights to self-determination and independence. The warm relations which exist between the two peoples will further be strengthened in the spirit of cooperation and partnership to facilitate our common goals and endeavours.

The developments taking place in the Middle East are of interest to Tanzania and, indeed, to the entire international community. It is unfortunate to note that the spirit of the Madrid Conference is slowly fading away. I am referring to the reluctance of the new Israeli Government to fully honour all agreements and commitments entered into by the preceding Government. It is high time for all the concerned parties, especially Israel, to gather the political will to work towards the restoration of peace momentum with the ultimate goal of achieving a comprehensive settlement in the Middle East.

Once again, we reiterate our strong support for the peace process and fully support the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination and statehood.

URUGUAY
[Original: Spanish]

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Government of the Eastern Republic of Uruguay wishes to reiterate its hope that conditions guaranteeing the peace and well-being of the Palestinian people and the security of the States of the region will be established.

A staunch defender of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and of the rule of international law, Uruguay unequivocally supports the ongoing peace process in the Middle East.

Our country is convinced that dialogue is the only viable course for strengthening and consolidating the peace and prosperity of all nations in the region.


C. Messages from Ministers for Foreign Affairs
BRAZIL
Mr. Luiz Felipe Lampreia, Minister for External Relations
[Original: English]

Over the years Brazil has firmly supported the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. The Brazilian Government considers that only through the continuation of the peace process in the Middle East and the renewal of mutual trust among the parties, in accordance with the agreements already signed, will it be possible to reach a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region, fulfilling the aspirations of all peoples and States concerned.

There cannot be such peace, however, without the economic development and integration of the States and peoples in the Middle East. The political and economic facets of the peace process hang in a delicate balance, much like the two sides of the same coin. Bearing this is mind, Brazil has taken part in the MENA Summits since their inception and, more recently, has participated as an observer in the Paris meeting of the consultative group on the West Bank and Gaza.

The bilateral ties between the Brazilian Government and the Palestinian Authority have strengthened over the years. My visit to Gaza in September 1995 and President Yasser Arafat's first official visit to Brazil in the following month of October reaffirmed our sincere will to intensify the dialogue and to find room for cooperation. This set the context for the mission of Brazilian health experts sent to Gaza and Ramallah last month to collect data for elaborating health-oriented projects in the fields of immunization and dental care. In December, the mayor of Gaza will be visiting Brasilia to discuss further means of cooperation, at the municipal level.

On the occasion of this International Day of Solidarity, I wish to extend, on behalf of the people and Government of Brazil, my warmest greetings and best wishes of peace and harmony to the Palestinian people.

JAPAN
Mr. Yukihiko Ikeda, Minister for Foreign Affairs
[Original: English]

On behalf of the Government of Japan, I would like to offer my sincere congratulations on the occasion of the United Nations Nineteenth International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people.

The present Middle East peace process, which commenced with the Madrid Conference in October 1991, has achieved various significant results this year. In January, the elections for the Palestinian Council were held, and the Palestinian Interim Self-Government was established. I consider these achievements to be the fruit of persistent efforts by the Palestinian people, led by Mr. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the PLO Executive Committee and President of the Palestinian Authority.

At this time, when the peace process is beset with difficulties, I am deeply concerned by the hardships which the Palestinian people are experiencing. I strongly hope that the Palestinians and the Israelis will implement without delay the agreements that have been reached so far so that the economic and social conditions in the territories will be improved. It is essential that they make the most of the present momentum for negotiations and continue to work with courage and perseverance to achieve progress on the Palestinian track.

In August I had the opportunity to visit the Middle East, where I held discussions with the parties concerned; the discussions with Chairman Arafat continued when he visited Tokyo in September. The Government of Japan is committed to continuing such discussions in an effort to support the peace process. Moreover, it has contributed approximately $230 million in assistance to the Palestinian people. Given the difficult situations caused by the closure in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the Government of Japan decided to contribute $3.5 million to the Holst Fund of the World Bank in support of the budget of the Palestinian Authority, in addition to the contribution of $3 million announced by Japan during the visit of Chairman Arafat to Japan. Japan intends to continue positively providing such support and also to play an active role in international efforts to promote the peace process.

It is my earnest hope that the present difficulties will be overcome so that the Palestinian people can enjoy the benefits of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the near future.

LEBANON
Mr. Fares Bouez, Minister for Foreign Affairs
[Original: Arabic]

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I reaffirm, on behalf of the Lebanese Government and people, our unconditional solidarity with the Palestinian people in its endeavour to achieve its legitimate national goals of exercising self-determination, establishing its own State in its own land, like all other peoples, and achieving a lasting peace in the region.

The present state of the Palestinian cause requires a reaffirmation of the relevant legal and historical principles as set forth in successive resolutions adopted by the General Assembly, the Security Council and numerous international conferences and organizations. In the forefront of these principles is the right of the Palestinians to return to their land.

Despite the steps taken, the Palestinians continue to endure the denial of their basic rights, and much still awaits them in terms of struggle, effort, forbearance and sacrifice in confronting oppression, arbitrariness and aggression on the part of the Israeli settler occupation. This will require mutual assistance and concerted action with the fraternal Arab peoples for which Palestine has been the basic cause since the beginning of the century. Recent developments likewise require the mobilization and rallying of international support for a peace process based on principles of justice, fairness and law, so that the political equation for a peaceful solution will counterbalance the oppression and injustice left behind by the Israeli policy of the fait accompli.

Lebanon, committed as it is to a just and comprehensive peace in the region, stresses the need for tangible progress on the Palestinian track and for the resumption of negotiations on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks in accordance with the principles of the Madrid Peace Conference and in implementation of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978). The initial steps taken in the peace process created a positive climate in the region and in the world, but the Israeli policy of procrastination has caused the loss of precious opportunities that could have been used to promote a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The present Israeli Government has adopted positions and taken measures that are contrary to the requirements of the peace that is to be desired, and this has returned the region to an atmosphere of frustration and tension.

The Lebanese people, which has sacrificed much to support the right of the Palestinian people to return and exercise self-determination in its national homeland, is confident of the ability of the Palestinian people, once it is allowed to exercise its legitimate rights, to impose its presence on the map of the Middle East and play an active and creative role in developing the region and transforming it into an oasis of peace and prosperity.

We salute with appreciation and pride all of those who have consistently supported the rights of the Palestinian people and, in particular, those working within the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. We hope that their goals, which are the goals of every one of us, will be achieved with the establishment of a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East through the recognition of the legitimate rights of all its peoples and of the Palestinian people in particular.

LIBYAN ARAB JAMAHIRIYA
Mr. Omar Mustafa Muntasser, Secretary of the General People's Committee
for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation
[Original: Arabic]

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I reaffirm the complete solidarity of the people of the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya with the fraternal people of Palestine in its just struggle to end the Zionist occupation of its country and its Holy Places and to secure its inalienable national rights, particularly the right to self-determination and the establishment of an independent State in all of Palestine and the right of refugees and exiles to return to their country and to the homes of which they were forcibly deprived.

The question of Palestine has been a major preoccupation of the United Nations since it was first established. Through its major organs and its various bodies, the United Nations has contributed to the efforts of the international community to advance the Palestinian cause, has adopted numerous resolutions on the matter and has made sustained endeavours for a just settlement. It has done so despite the insistence of certain major Powers on thwarting all attempts to induce the Israelis to comply with international covenants and agreements and despite the continuing threat that they pose to international peace and security.

Despite the international efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in the Middle East and the latest developments involving so-called peace accords between Israelis and Palestinians, the Israelis have not ceased their violations of the relevant United Nations resolutions, particularly Security Council resolutions 252 (1968), 267 {1969), 271 (1969), 298 (1971), 476 (1980), 672 (1990), 904 (1994) and 1073 (1996) and including those on Jerusalem calling upon the Israeli occupation authorities to rescind all measures purporting to alter the status of Jerusalem and declaring them to be null and void.

The Zionist usurpers who came together from all the countries of the world established their racist entity by making use of terrorism, murder and the eviction of the Palestinian people. They were supported in this by certain Western States and particularly by the United States of America. The United States aligned itself with falsehood and supported the terrorization and persecution of Arabs and Muslims, thereby ignoring the dictates of its duty as a super-Power and a permanent member of a Security Council on which peoples had pinned their hopes that truth, justice and equity might prevail but which proved unable to achieve anything of the kind either for Palestine or for the occupied Arab territories.

The settler occupation continues and oppression increases dally, despite the resolutions of the United Nations. The prisons are filled to overflowing with young Palestinians, and homes are demolished for the most trivial of reasons. Holy Places are desecrated and their sanctity violated, and measures are even in place to demolish them and wipe them off the face of the earth. Every day, we hear rash statements to the effect that the Palestinians have no right to establish an independent State. There is insistence on continuing the occupation of the Golan and of southern Lebanon and on the establishment of settlements, and tunnels are opened under the Al-Aqsa Mosque as a step towards its destruction.

We are for a lasting, comprehensive and just peace, and we harbour no antipathy towards the Jews. We are, however, against surrender to the logic of force, usurpation and the imposition of faits accomplis. We have stated frankly that the so-called peace process can never lead to genuine peace, because genuine peace must be comprehensive and just. Events, indeed, are proving the depth of our perception and the soundness of our analysis. A just, comprehensive and genuine peace must embrace both Palestinians and Jews, and this can only be achieved by the establishment of a democratic State in which Arab Palestinians and Jews can both live, in accordance with a solution such as that achieved in South Africa. We are certain that this is the solution that will best serve the interests of peace and that as long as it is not achieved the tragedy will continue.

OMAN
Mr. Yousef bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs
[Original: Arabic]

I am pleased, at the outset, to commend the efforts of your distinguished Committee, which has contributed to the ongoing task of assisting the Palestinian people to bring its struggle to a successful conclusion and to live in its own land in security and peace. I am also pleased to take this opportunity to thank you and all the members of the Committee for your efforts for the achievement of this legitimate goal, which is one that the Palestinians aspire to achieve as the final culmination of the ongoing peace process.

In once again participating in the annual observance of this important occasion, Oman would like to stress its continued support for the just demands of the Palestinian people to be allowed to return and to live on its national soil in security and tranquillity. This support began as a fixed principle of Oman's policy calling for the establishment of the rule of international law and international legitimacy, and it will remain thus until such time as the international community succeeds in achieving the goal of extending justice and peace to all parts of the world.

As we observe together with you this International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, a people that still suffers greatly from injustices that we believe to be incompatible with the spirit of this age, we should like to point out that the minor steps that have been taken along the road to peace must be reinforced on an urgent basis in order to impart credibility to a long process that has scarcely begun.

Given the desire of our Government to maintain and promote the spirit of the relevant agreements, we stress that our participation alongside the international community will continue with the same momentum and dedication and with a genuine desire for the establishment of a just and lasting peace for all parties.

Accordingly, at the present delicate stage of the Middle East peace process, we urge your Committee to continue its tireless endeavours by bringing pressure to bear on the Israeli Government to limit and indeed to halt completely its unlawful practices against the Palestinian people and also to call upon it to strive earnestly to complete the remaining steps in the peace process in the Middle East.

We note your great efforts with regard to the support provided by the Committee to the Palestinian National Authority and are confident of your ability to maintain this support, particularly with the donor countries, the international financial institutions and the humanitarian organizations, since the assistance of such bodies to the Palestinian Authority will enable it to complete some important development projects to the benefit of the Palestinian people in its own land.

In conclusion, I convey to you and to the other members of the Committee, on behalf of the Sultanate of Oman, our high appreciation of the efforts you are making. We stress that our country will do all in its power to support your distinguished Committee.

REPUBLIC OF KOREA

Mr. Chong Ha-Yoo, Minister for Foreign Affairs
[Original: English]

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I wish to reiterate, on behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of Korea, our strong support for the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.

The peace process in the Middle East, which has garnered broad international support with the historic signing of the Declaration of Principles between the PLO and Israel in September 1993, must be continued in good faith in order to achieve a just and lasting peace in the region.

The Republic of Korea will continue to cooperate with the Palestinian people to improve their living conditions and promote the region’s economic and social development.

As part of such efforts, the Republic of Korea has pledged to provide $10 million in economic development cooperation loans and $5 million as grants-in-aid for the period from 1994 to 1998, and will continue to expand assistance to the Palestinian people to help their national reconstruction and development efforts.

I wish to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the Chairman and the members of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for their noble endeavours to bring about a peaceful solution to the question of Palestine.

SINGAPORE
Mr. Lim Hng Kiang, Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs
[Original: English]

On the occasion of the celebration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I would like to extend to the Palestinian people our best wishes for peace, stability and economic prosperity. Singapore will continue to do its part to support the peaceful efforts of all parties to bring about the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine and to the realization of the just aspirations of the Palestinian people.

SYRIAN ARAB REPUBLIC
Mr. Farouq Al-Shara’, Minister for Foreign Affairs
[Original: Arabic]

I have the pleasure of joining you in observing the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, and I do so at a time when the peace process in the Middle East is at a momentous crossroads. Since the new Israeli Government came to power it has neglected no opportunity to affirm its insistence on changing the basis for peace and the rules governing its achievement, and it has made attempts to destroy all that has been achieved in the five years since the Madrid Peace Conference was held. This is particularly so since it no longer pays any heed to the agreements, undertakings and commitments entered into during the time of the previous Israeli Government.

All of this clearly reflects the plight of the Palestinian people, which is living through an ordeal and suffering greatly from Israel's policies and practices. Israel does not yet realize, however, that this people shall never surrender and shall never yield to policies of oppression, aggression, occupation and settlement regardless of what attempts are made to derail the peace process and prevent it from achieving its goals with respect to the achievement of a just and comprehensive peace.

The Palestinian people shall not accept less than the achievement of its legitimate national rights, primarily those relating to the exercise of self-determination, the establishment of an independent State and the return of the Palestine refugees to the homes from which they were expelled, pursuant to the relevant United Nations resolutions.

Syria, whose history is linked with the defence of the Palestinian cause and with enormous sacrifices made for it, will continue to strive for the establishment of a just and comprehensive peace on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978) and of the principle of land for peace in such a way as to ensure the withdrawal of Israel from all occupied Arab territory. No genuine peace can be compatible with the occupation of territory or with rights that continue to be usurped, just as security cannot be achieved unless peace is achieved first.

On this occasion, we again salute the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory and elsewhere and affirm our constant support for it in its just and legitimate struggle.

We acclaim the efforts of your distinguished Committee, which has been untiring in its support for the struggle of the Palestinian people. Together with the international community, we look forward to the day when the region will enjoy a just and comprehensive peace that will spare its peoples the calamities of war and acts of violence and will assure them security, stability and prosperity. This will be due to further devoted and sustained efforts, by the countries capable of making such efforts, for the achievement of a just and comprehensive peace in such a way as to safeguard security and stability in the region and in the world.


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

EUROPEAN UNION
Mr. Dick Spring, T.D., Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs
of Ireland, President of the Council of Ministers of the European Union
[Original: English]

On behalf of the European Union, I wish to offer an expression of our solidarity with the Palestinian people on this special occasion.

Despite the great difficulties experienced over the past year, the European Union believes that the consolidation of the Middle East peace process will be maintained and that it will continue to show effective results. We remain convinced that the benefits from that process, to which we have given our wholehearted support, will contribute to the improvement of the life and the outlook of all the peoples of the region. I can only reiterate our firm belief that the peace process is the sole path to security and peace for all concerned.

The European Union encourages all parties to respect and implement fully all the agreements already reached and to reclaim the spirit generated by the frameworks established at Madrid and Oslo. We recall the essential principles on which the successful conclusion of the negotiations should be based and which have been enshrined in Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338(1973) and 425 (1978). The key principles - self-determination for the Palestinians, with all that that implies, and land for peace - are essential to the achievement of a just, comprehensive and durable peace.

I wish to take this opportunity of assuring the Palestinian people that the European Union is determined to continue to play an active role in the Middle East peace process which began in Madrid four years ago. We have no doubt that our involvement will be beneficial for all concerned and will help to contribute to the just, comprehensive and durable peace to which we all aspire.

ORGANIZATION OF THE ISLAMIC CONFERENCE
Mr. Hamid Algabid, Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference
[Original: English]

The international community commemorates on 29 November of each year the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, in accordance with United Nations General Assembly resolution 32/40 B. This annual commemoration offers an opportunity to reiterate the world’s continued solidarity with the just cause of the Palestinian
people and the need to provide them with the necessary support at all levels, until they recover their inalienable and imprescriptible national rights as acknowledged by the international community.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference has welcomed and supported the peace process since its beginning on the bases which underpinned it at the Madrid Conference, and particularly Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978) and the principle of land for peace. It has expressed its support to the agreements concluded within the framework of the process, as well as its hope that progress may be achieved on all the tracks of the Middle East so as to achieve the peace aspired to. It has done its best to mobilize all forms of support for the cause of Palestine and Al- Quds Al- Sharif, which represents the foremost and core issue for the Islamic Ummah. It also reiterated the resolutions adopted by the Islamic Conferences to the effect that the achievement of a comprehensive and peace process in the Middle East is dependent on full Israeli withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories including the City of Al-Quds Al-Sharif, the occupied Syrian Golan and the occupied Lebanese territories, the return of Al-Quds Al-Sharif to Palestinian sovereignty as a capital for the State of Palestine, and the achievement of the Palestinian people’s inalienable national rights.

In this context, the Organization of the Islamic Conference joins the world community in expressing its grave concern over the procrastination of the new Israeli Government in implementing the agreements solemnly entered into within the framework of the peace process. The non-withdrawal of the Israeli forces from the City of Hebron and the rest of the Palestinian territories, the opening of a tunnel in the City of Al-Quds Al-Sharif which poses a threat to the Islamic and Christian sacred shrines, particularly the blessed Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque, the continuation of the Israeli policy of colonialist expansion of settlements, are examples of its practices and measures violating of all international law and conventions.

Proceeding from our keen interest in establishing international peace and security, we feel that there is a need to intensify all international efforts to promote the peace process in the Middle East so that it achieve its desired goals, namely the establishment of a just and comprehensive peace in the region. We therefore call for a more effective participation of the United Nations in securing the success of the process, and for reiterating that it abide by its responsibility towards the cause of Palestine until a just and comprehensive solution is reached concerning all its aspects in such a way as to end the occupation and ensure the Palestinian people the exercise of their inalienable rights.

Similarly, we emphasize the vital importance of supporting the rehabilitation and development process in the Palestinian territories with a view to promoting and consolidating the peace aspired to, and support the Palestine Liberation Organization and its National Authority in fulfilling the transfer of all authority and responsibility in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Al-Quds Al-Sharif, to the Palestinian National Authority.

In conclusion, I wish to extend on behalf of the OIC, to the United Nations and its various organs, particularly the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the expression of our heartfelt thanks and appreciation for their steadfast position and continued support to the just cause of the Palestinian people.

E. Messages from United Nations specialized agencies

UNITED NATIONS EDUCATIONAL, SCIENTIFIC AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATION
Mr. Federico Mayor, Director-General
[Original: English]

On this Day of International Solidarity, UNESCO reaffirms its commitment to assist the Palestinian people in their reconstruction and development efforts and to further in every way possible the cause of peace with justice in the Middle East.

Peace is concluded in treaties but made in the hearts and minds of men and women. I appeal to the Palestinian and Israeli peoples alike to sustain their belief in the peace process and to work together for a future in which their children may grow and prosper.

I know how great are the needs and difficulties of the Palestinian people at the present time. In UNESCO's name, I therefore call upon the international community to strengthen its support for the Palestinian Authority, under the leadership of President Arafat, for the construction of a society that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people and encourages them to pursue the path of reconciliation and dialogue. Along this path lies the best hope for the full exercise of the Palestinian people’s inalienable rights.

F. Messages from non-governmental organizations

ALL PAKISTAN WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION
Begum Masudah Jawad, Executive Vice-President and Chief
Adviser, United Nations Affairs Section
[Original: English]

On behalf of the All Pakistan Women’s Association, we offer our complete solidarity to the just cause of the people of Palestine in their struggle for the restoration of their inalienable rights for their homeland.

We further appeal to the United Nations and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to offer their full support (on the World Forum and just cause) and take up this vital issue once again and make every effort to settle the issue amicably in the interests of universal peace according to the Oslo Accords.

I am further to state that the All Pakistan Women’s Association will also hold a meeting on this issue in Pakistan.

Wishing you every success in your endeavour.

ARAB ORGANIZATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Mr. Mohammed Fayek, Secretary-General
[Original: Arabic]

The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is being observed this year in harsh circumstances such as have not been seen for many years. The suffering of this valiant people under the oppressive measures of the Israeli occupation and Israel's blatant violations of human rights and its racist policy have become such that the international community can no longer remain silent.

The stifling siege imposed by Israel on the occupied Palestinian territory has been in existence for some 10 months, so that Palestinians are living in a large prison in which they can only move about under the muzzles of Israeli soldiers' rifles. Unemployment in the Palestinian territory now exceeds 60 per cent, and the loss to the national economy is 7 million dollars a day.

While this siege is in effect, Israel continues to implement its schemes for the definitive seizure of the West Bank and other occupied Arab territory and to create a new situation in those areas with a view to preventing the return of land to its lawful owners. There are daily expropriations of Palestinian land on which Jewish settlements are then built, and existing settlements are expanded in order to reach the present Israeli Government's goal of doubling the number of settlers in the West Bank and Gaza before the end of the century.

While this siege is in effect, the present Israeli Government is hastening to implement its planned measures for the Judaization of Arab Jerusalem, seized by its forces in June 1967, without regard for the national sentiments of the Palestinians or the religious sentiments of Christians and Muslims. This same policy led to an outbreak of acts of violence when Israel opened a tunnel near the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and large numbers of people were killed on both sides. Israel's continued implementation of such plans will subject the Holy Land to the danger of religious warfare breaking out between adherents of the various faiths.

Just as the Government of Israel has flouted all the international covenants, the provisions of international law and the resolutions of the United Nations setting forth its obligations as an occupying Power, it has also failed to implement the Oslo accords concluded by the previous Government. In breach of the agreements already reached, it maintains its refusal to withdraw from Hebron and other parts of the West Bank and its prisons continue to house thousands of Palestinians.

ASSOCIATION DES ÉTUDES INTERNATIONALES
Mr. Rachid Driss, President
[Original: French]

The commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People mandated by General Assembly resolution 32/40 B is unfortunately taking place this year at a time when the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations are encountering enormous difficulties which are jeopardizing the peace process in the Middle East and Arab-Israeli normalization.

The International Studies Association of Tunisia, which has always supported the fraternal Palestinian people, therefore reiterates its call for a comprehensive, equitable and integral settlement with full recognition of the sovereign Palestinian State in order to consolidate coexistence and reconciliation and discourage all forms of extremism. Mutual interest dictates that the dangers posed to the peace process by excessive bargaining and the search for guarantees in minute details of the negotiations must be avoided.

The Middle East has suffered enough from wars and conflicts and its peoples justifiably aspire to peace which is not simply the absence of war but true understanding based on justice and faithful cooperation.

A global vision is therefore more necessary than ever before in order to achieve this noble and desirable objective.

ASSOCIATION OF ANTIFASCISTS AND VICTIMS OF NAZISM IN ISRAEL
Mr. Herbert J. Wallerstein, General Secretary
Mr. Hans Lebrecht, Chairman
[Original: English]

The National Secretariat of the Association of Antifascists and Victims of Nazism in Israel, on behalf of all the Association’s members, sends fraternal greetings of solidarity to the participants of the solemn meeting of the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, marking the Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on 29 November 1996.

Our association, a participating NGO of the ICCP and Member of the International Federation of Resistance (F.I.R.), in the rank of which are many veteran service men and women of the World War II Allied Forces of the Anti-Hitler Coalition from 36 countries, former partisans, ghetto fighters and survivors of the Holocaust, as well as champions of peace and democracy, has a Jewish-Arab membership.

At the time, we welcomed the Oslo Accords of 1993 in which the then Israeli Government recognized the PLO as a partner to the peace process, as well as the accord of September 1995 to implement an interim stage, despite their shortcomings, as an opening to a path which may bring an end to war and mutual bloodshed between our two peoples. At the same time, we warned that these hopes will be fulfilled only if the many obstacles erected by Israel during the long years of occupation of Palestinian soil, such as the colonialist settlements, the non-respect for the inalienable rights of the Palestinians to self-determination and to their own independent State with eastern Jerusalem as its capital, will be eliminated.

Let us, on this occasion of the 1996 Day of Solidarity, recall what the political platform or our association, adopted several years ago, states on the subject:

“Leaning on the experience of our comrades who fought during World War II against the Fascist oppression and occupation of most of Europe and for the national liberation of the peoples suffering under the occupation, we are convinced that there will not be, and cannot be just and lasting peace in the Middle East, so yearned for by all our peoples in the area, as long as Israel continues to occupy Arab territories conquered in 1967, among them also large parts of the Palestinian homeland. The peace has to be based on the principles laid down by the United Nations and the Security Council in its resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), and on guarantees for the integrity of the future agreed-upon borders as well as the security and safety of all peoples and States in the region, Israel and a future independent Palestinian State included.”

From this, our point of view, it is understandable that we greet the peace process and demand its speedy conclusion by administering these principles. We condemn the policy of sabotaging the peace process led by the new right-wing Government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu which includes in its cabinet, and is supported in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, by outright fascist elements. We vehemently protest against pogromist actions of extremist groups, among them racist and fascist elements, from among the Israeli colonialist settlers, perpetrated against peaceful Palestinians, backed by other radical right-wing parties in Israel, while the occupationist Israeli “security forces” look the other way. We condemn the continuation of all oppressive measures against the Palestinian population such as the closure, in practice putting into effect a collective punishment against a whole population and causing great economic harm and starvation, as well as violating international law concerning human rights, and demand an end to all these oppressive measures.

Proceeding from this, our viewpoint, we denounce such brutal terrorist acts as the foul racist massacre against Muslim believers in the Ibrahimi Mosque in El-Khalil in February 1994, perpetrated by a member of a clerical-fascist gang among the “settlers” and the latest canonization of the same mass murderer by the right-wing Jewish radicals, squatting in El-Khalil and Kiryat-Arba. We condemned the assassination of Dr. Fahmi Shiqaqi and Yehiye Abu-Ayyash by agents of the Israeli Mossad. We condemned as well the suicide bombings of civil buses in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, perpetrated by Palestinian extremists. At the same time we sharply censored the assassination of the late Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin, in spite of the fact that in the past he was responsible for many crimes against the Palestinian people. We conclude from all this, and more, that the Israeli radicals among the colonialist settlers and the Palestinian extremists - both minorities among their peoples - who undermine the peace process by such actions pull, objectively, at the same end of the rope, attempting to strangle the peace process.

Out of all these considerations, and with the true interests of the Israeli people in mind, our members and friends regularly participate in vigils and other manifestations of peace forces and for the defence of democratic freedom, or for the immediate release of all Palestinian political prisoners, manifestations which are in line with these our policies and principles.

On this Day of Solidarity, we greet the Palestinian people in general, and in particular the ones who still live under Israeli occupation rule, and wish for them that they will achieve their national goals, their liberation and the implementation of their right to independent statehood on the soil of their homeland, side by side in peaceful coexistence with Israel according to the principle of “two States for the two peoples - Israel and Palestine”.

We wish, together with all the enlightened people of this world and in our region, that the peace process aiming at ending the century of bloodshed and establishing comprehensive, just and lasting peace for all our peoples, will become a reality as soon as possible.

We pledge to contribute to this goal as much as lies within our modest capabilities.

With heartfelt greetings of solidarity.

FEDERACIÓN DE ENTIDADES AMERICANO-ÁRABES DEL PERÚ
Mr. César Augusto Salomón Herrara, President
[Original: Spanish]

I have the honour to express, through you, to all the members of the Committee over which you preside our solidarity on the occasion of the commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. This International Day of Solidarity is celebrated each year on 29 November, and this year marks the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of resolution 32/40 B on 2 December 1977.

Twenty years have gone by and I believe that we can see the results. The work done over these past 20 years has not been in vain. Today, at last, peace is within reach, the peace so long awaited by those who gave of their time and who dreamed that a day would come when they would be able to speak of peace. May God bless you for your labours, which have not been in vain.

The Federation of Arab-American Entities of Peru brings together not only all Arab entities and members of Arab communities but also 85 per cent of Palestinian Arab entities, which is why it cannot fail to commemorate such an important Day.

Thank you for permitting the hopes of Palestinians and their descendants in Latin America and the Caribbean to remain alive in our hearts, through the work which you have done over the past 20 years. Thanks to your Committee's efforts, our Palestinian identity, which is an important part of ourselves and the basis for our dreams and aspirations, has remained intact. Without our identity, we would have disappeared from history, for the Palestinians of the Americas took in our grandparents, our fathers and mothers, because of a diaspora that was forced on them by events known to us all. Through its work, the Committee has helped to keep this identity alive so that today, at last, we can talk even of returning.

FEDERACIÓN PALESTINA DE CHILE
Mr. José Elias A., President
[Original: Spanish]

The Palestinian community in Chile, through the Palestinian Federation of Chile, extends its greetings to the United Nations and to the nascent Palestinian State and expresses its belief that the obstacles which have thus far stood in the way of a comprehensive, just and lasting agreement in the Middle East will be overcome through the continuing efforts of the peoples of the region, the United Nations and world public opinion.

Peace is a natural and irresistible yearning of all human beings, especially when they are being cruelly subjected by others to an intolerable state that denies them their human dignity and violates the fundamental human rights which self-styled civilized nations claim to defend. Force, on the other hand, is the preferred method of those who consider themselves more powerful and beyond punishment. However, it is also human nature and an act of the greatest nobility to defend with one's life, if necessary, but always with all the means at one's disposal, the inalienable exercise of these fundamental rights. It is the recognition of this human condition that is the raison d'être of the United Nations, which promotes international peace and security, friendly relations among States and international cooperation on various problems and issues, acting as coordinator for such activities.

Given these factors, we had cherished the hope that the desire for peace would become a reality. Instead, this hope has been frustrated repeatedly in Palestine by the arrogant attitude of the occupying Government and army, all too often expressed in the imposition of force and the maintenance of subhuman living conditions for the Palestinian nation, in open defiance of the Charter of the United Nations and the good faith of the international community.

A long road has been travelled by those who have not faltered in the search for a lasting, peaceful solution to one of the cruellest conflicts of this century. The United Nations inherited this problem, like several others, a problem created outside Palestine by those who arrogated to themselves the supreme right to create States and countries on the basis of unmentionable interests which they placed above the most elementary principles of human rights, international law and the Charter of the United Nations.

After years of unremitting effort, the General Assembly, at its thirty-second session in 1977, reaffirmed in its resolution 32/40 A that a just and lasting peace in the Middle East could not be established without the achievement, inter alia, of a just solution of the problem of Palestine on the basis of the attainment of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including the right of those uprooted since 1948 to return to their homes and property, and the right to national independence and sovereignty in Palestine, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

On the same occasion, deeply concerned that no just solution to the problem of Palestine had as yet been achieved, the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to establish within the Secretariat of the United Nations a Special Unit on Palestinian Rights which would, inter alia, organize in consultation with the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, commencing in 1978, the annual observance of 29 November as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

In its many recommendations transmitted to the Security Council through the General Assembly, the Committee has emphasized the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and Israel's obligation to withdraw completely from the territories thus occupied as soon as possible.

The inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to national independence and sovereignty, were recognized by the General Assembly in its resolutions 194 (III) and 3236 (XXIX) and unanimously by the Security Council in its resolutions 237 (1967), 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), which have also been accepted by the PLO, although these resolutions have yet to be implemented.

A brief examination of the meaning of the words in the title of today's celebration prompts us to ask why the United Nations, for nearly 20 years now, has been asking the international community to commemorate this day.

We believe that this commemoration has special significance for a number of important reasons, which we wish to highlight:

1. It represents a dramatic appeal by the United Nations to the authorities of the major Powers, reminding them that the ethical and legal principles which they claim to defend are being violated with impunity, day after day, decade after decade, in Palestine, without their having reacted with anything more than the lengthy discourses, devoid of commitment, which are today allowing entire nations to be gradually destroyed, as has already occurred on other continents, without the world noticing. This Machiavellian posture stands in stark contrast to the immediate, overwhelming action taken against other countries, outside the scope of the United Nations, in response to acts of far less consequence than the invasion and systematically concealed subsequent elimination of a people which is struggling heroically for survival in the land in which it has lived for 5,000 years.

2. It also represents an appeal to the conscience of the world to become aware of the often insurmountable obstacles that are being put in the way of the Organization's performance of its duties, by denying it control of the forces used for enforcement measures. Without such control, international law will remain a dream which, as in the case of other institutions that also embodied it, may turn into a new, contemporary nightmare.

3. It likewise represents a collective memory which, like an endless stream, urges us all to become informed and to reflect on the constant violations of human dignity in Palestine, so that the public outcry will alert and re-educate those who believe that they can forever impose their will on the overwhelming majority of members of the international community.

4. Lastly, it represents the hope of better days ahead for the Palestinians. As long as the truth about the crimes against this heroic nation has not been erased from the conscience of the world and as long as the Palestinian people continues successfully to resist its prolonged captivity, which is intended, surreptitiously, to ensure its impoverishment and thus to prevent it from achieving its just aspirations, the hope will not die that, one day, its valiant struggle will prevail and melt the ice in the hearts and minds of those who, with their indifference, indecision or petty interests, are maintaining the inhuman conditions in which the Palestinians currently live, so that Palestinians can at last free themselves from oppression and exercise their inalienable rights.

Everyone is aware of the successive obstacles and increasingly tough conditions with which the Palestinians are systematically being confronted as a pretext for preventing them from throwing off the oppressor's yoke. This suffering nation, the victim of cruel, continuous physical, moral and psychological violence, has constantly had to fulfil conditions imposed by the force of the overwhelming military power of the invader in order to be entitled to the promised crumbs, only to then have them cleverly withheld while new, increasingly harsh and discriminatory conditions are set.

We call on the Israelis to join us on the path of harmonious coexistence, based on the fulfilment of just and lasting agreements which allow the principles of respect for fundamental freedoms, sovereignty and the legitimate right of all peoples to live in harmony to prevail over peace imposed by force of arms. Peace has to be cultivated, it offers security among neighbours of different cultures and it is an expression of human maturity.

The Palestinian community in Chile, convinced that it is faithfully interpreting the sentiments of all Palestinians, reiterates its faith in the fundamental values of society and its belief that, through the joint efforts of all Palestinians, including the great diaspora, peace and justice will finally triumph.

FEDERACIÓN PALESTINA DEL PERÚ
Mr. Alfonso Jaguande D., President
[Original: Spanish]

We have the honour to join with you and, through you, with the members of the Committee of which you are Chairman in celebrating the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People established by the General Assembly in its resolution 32/40 B of 2 December 1977, this year being the twentieth anniversary of that historic resolution.

The Palestinian Federation of Peru, as the representative of the Palestinian community, of Palestinians and their descendants in Peru, cannot fail to observe this day and regrets that it cannot be present at its official commemoration. Accordingly, it pledges its solidarity and prays God to help you to continue working for the cause of Palestine and to bless all of you for devoting your time to this just cause. We hope that the peace talks will be successful and that your efforts and dedication will likewise be crowned with success.

INTERNATIONAL PROGRESS ORGANIZATION

Mr. Robert W. Thabit, Representative at the United Nations
[Original: English]

On this solemn anniversary, the International Progress Organization, with headquarters in Vienna, Austria, does hereby confirms its support for the realization of the Palestinian people’s rights to the restoration of their individual and collective rights in Palestine.

The United Nations must remain committed to the realization of those goals, including the establishment of the sovereign State of Palestine with the old City of Jerusalem as its Capital.

It is also our firm belief, supported by international law, that agreements solemnly entered into by a Member of the United Nations must be carried out and its prior commitments cannot be altered by a mere change of government. The agreements that have been entered into between Palestine and Israel must be adhered to and, if necessary, enforced.

We look forward to the celebration of the establishment of a sovereign Palestine in Jerusalem, after which there will be the further need to discuss issues that may relate to mutual cooperation for the mutual benefit of both the Palestinian and Israeli peoples.

MIDDLE EAST FELLOWSHIP OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
Rev. Darrel Meyers, Chairman
[Original: English]

The Middle East Fellowship of Southern California extends to you, Sir, and to the Committee and to the Division our warmest greetings and appreciation for your indispensable and faithful work on behalf of the Palestinian people.

More importantly still, we extend our unwavering and enthusiastic expression of solidarity with the people of Palestine - especially on this International Day of Solidarity - and we pledge our continuing advocacy of their human rights, their freedom, and their homeland in which they can live in self-determination and peace.

Our organization was founded in 1969 and is composed of ordinary citizens who have either lived or served or visited the Middle East. Some were born there. Thus, we feel a familiarity with the people and with the pertinent issues. A strictly volunteer group (without funding), our central focus has been Palestine. We have been present and active in most all of the North American NGO symposia, along with several in Geneva and Vienna.

We continue to work and pray, to speak and write, on behalf of a just and peaceable future for these beleaguered yet astonishing people of Palestine.

PHYSICIANS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Ms. Natalie Rothman, Spokesperson
[Original: English]

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel sends its warmest regards to all those who strive to achieve peace and justice in the Middle East. The forthcoming Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People should have been celebrated in a better atmosphere of hope and progress. However, especially in these times of continued closure and disregard to human lives, PHR is labouring to secure human rights and equal, indiscriminate medical treatment to all people in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. We wish all our Palestinian colleagues - NGOs in the Territories, Israel and abroad - a better future and continued cooperation.

THE COMMITTEE FOR ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN DIALOGUE
Mr. Latif Dori, Chairman
[Original: Arabic]

I address to you, on behalf of the Committee for Israeli-Palestinian Dialogue, our warm greetings and best wishes on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

We, the supporters of peace in Israel, Jews and Arabs alike, observe this important occasion in common with the hundreds of millions throughout the world who stand by the Palestinian people in its decades-long struggle to secure its just national rights, and foremost among them its right to establish its own independent State.

The recent elections in our country have resulted in the establishment of a rightist Likud Government under the leadership of Bibi Netanyahu, and it has adopted a policy of procrastination and delay in implementing the Oslo Accords. It has escalated its arbitrary practices, including the imposition of a months-long siege on the inhabitants of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip that is aimed at causing starvation; it has failed to release prisoners; it has opened the tunnel under the Al-Aqsa Mosque; it has failed to implement the agreement on withdrawal from Hebron; and it has stepped up settlement activity in the occupied areas.

The escalation reached its peak with the bloody events in which dozens of Palestinians were killed and hundreds wounded, as were Israelis, as a result of Netanyahu's reckless policy. This bloody escalation has alienated the forces of peace in Israel, and they have been calling from the first for opposition to the criminal policy of the Government and to the dangers that are enveloping the peace process and threatening to destroy it. Tens of thousands of Jews and Arabs came out in large demonstrations against it, and speakers called upon the Government to resign and hold fresh elections.

Netanyahu has declared war on the Palestinian people. We have therefore declared war on him in order to remove him from power in the interests of peace between us, and there can be no doubt that victory will be our ally.

We give our pledge to the members of the fraternal Palestinian people, wherever they may be, that we shall escalate our struggle for the realization of our common dream: an end to the hateful Israeli occupation and the establishment, alongside the State of Israel, of an independent Palestinian State with its capital at Jerusalem. Thus the partition resolution adopted by the United Nations in 1947 shall be implemented in full.


IV. CLOSING STATEMENTS

Mr. Farouk Kaddoumi, Head of the Political Department
of the Palestine Liberation Organization

[Original: Arabic]

I am pleased to extend my gratitude to you, Sir, and to the other members of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. We thank you for your ceaseless efforts in support of the Palestinian cause.

We in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) appreciate the expressions of solidarity which we have heard this morning in support of Palestine from the President of the General Assembly, the Secretary-General, the President of the Security Council, the Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the League of Arab States and representatives of non-governmental organizations. We are grateful also for the messages submitted by Heads of State or Government and Foreign Ministers of friendly countries.

This commemoration to express solidarity with the Palestinian people is proof of the constant involvement of the United Nations in the just cause of achieving peace in the Middle East. This cause has now been pursued for a half-century.

Peace can be achieved only with the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from the occupied Arab and Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem. We must safeguard the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

The United Nations will remain the appropriate forum for dealing with the Palestinian question with a view to finding a just solution through the implementation of relevant United Nations resolutions and the application of international law. The efforts of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, as well as the efforts of other organizations, are very important to ensure a just and lasting solution to this problem in order that the Middle East can live in peace and security.

In conclusion, we should like to convey our sincerest thanks and appreciation for the messages of peace and expressions of solidarity that we have received, and to which we have listened carefully. They are proof of the world's solidarity with the cause of the Palestinian people and of its support for their inalienable rights and for the creation of an independent State of their own.

Mr. Ibra Deguène Ka, Chairman of the
Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People

[Original: French]

I should like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who made this meeting possible, in particular the staff of the Division for Palestinian Rights, the Office of Conference Services and the Department of Public Information, not forgetting all those who work behind the scenes to ensure our security.

I should like remind to you that the exhibition arranged by the office of the Permanent Observer of Palestine, under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, will be opened at 6 p.m. in the public lobby of the General Assembly building; the opening will be followed by a reception to which all are cordially invited.
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