In a plan of action adopted at the end of the four-day meeting, the groups expressed serious concern over the current stalemate in peace negotiations, "resulting from Israeli policies and practices which have led the Middle East region into a new period of extreme tensions and possible conflict". The non-governmental organization participants "strongly felt the need for coordinated international campaigns in support of the rights of the Palestinian people".
They committed themselves to undertake campaigns against Israeli settlements and pledged to work to make East Jerusalem the capital of the future Palestinian State. Refugees' rights, family reunification and economic and social issues were also the focus of attention.
The meeting, which began last Monday, 25 August, was convened under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in order to promote the contribution of non-governmental organizations to heightening international awareness of the facts of the question of Palestine and fostering support and assistance to meet the needs of Palestinians. Experts from different regions, including Palestinians and Israelis, presented papers on various aspects of the question, with particular reference to recent developments in the peace process, the key issues of a just and comprehensive peace settlement, and the intensification of action by non-governmental organizations.
In the plan of action, the participants called for the immediate lifting of the closures of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which have severely impaired the ability of the Palestinians to earn their livelihoods and go about the legitimate pursuits of their daily life. They called for coordinated international campaigns in support of the rights of the Palestinian people. They assessed, nationally, regionally and internationally, the activities of the non-governmental organization movement on the question of Palestine, shared their experiences and developed new ideas, proposals and strategies to oppose the current deterioration of the situation of the Palestinian people and to bring about the end of the 30-year Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and the establishment of a Palestinian State.
They said non-governmental organization campaigns on the national and international level should be primarily focused on ending the Israeli policy of establishing and expanding settlements, supporting the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including its own State with East Jerusalem as its capital, supporting the rights of the Palestinian refugees to return and/or compensation, as well as family reunification and on continuing and intensifying all efforts to assist the Palestinian people in the economic and social fields.
They supported the recommendations of the tenth special emergency session of the United Nations General Assembly to convene a conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.
Chairman's Closing Statement
In his closing statement, IBRA DEGUENE KA (Senegal), Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said the non-governmental organization community had played an important role in fostering international action to bring the occupation of the Palestinian territories to an end. They had also endeavoured to influence their respective governments and to engender positive public opinion on the subject. They had contributed moral and material assistance to the Palestinian people to ameliorate their living conditions and to assist their efforts in resisting the occupation.
He said the Committee attached great importance to non-governmental organization contributions to the Palestinian cause and spoke of effective contributions made by the international and European non-governmental organizations to help the Palestinians during the difficult phase of transition to self-determination and to the status of a State. The Committee would continue its cooperation with all non-governmental organizations worldwide. During this difficult period of the peace process, the Palestinians needed, more than ever, to receive support and assistance in an organized and effective manner.