Press Release
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York

26 June 1996


Citing the positions being advocated by the new Israeli Government, the Observer for Palestine this afternoon urged participants at the North American NGO Symposium on the Question of Palestine to take a stand and confront directly such catastrophic concepts as a greater Israel, exclusive Israeli ownership of Jerusalem, and settler colonialism.

The coming period would be a difficult one in view of the positions being advocated by the new Government, M. Nasser Al-Kidwa told the Symposium as it ended its annual three-day session. Contradictory agendas should be limited in favour of broad support for the Palestinian people. He urged the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to meet the task of preventing any political retreat by their Governments.

Closing statements were also made by Larry Ekin, Chairman of the North American Coordinating Committee for Non-governmental Organizations on the Question of Palestine, and by Ibra Deguena Ka (Senegal), Chairman of the Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

Mr. Ekin said the Symposium had taken place during a period of transition and of evaluation. The workshops held over the past three days had been characterized by frank and sometimes tense discussions. However, he hoped members had listened to each other, gaining new insight and learning new ideas, and that they were now ready to go forward in a dynamic partnership.

Mr. Deguena Ka said an active network of non-governmental organizations which supported United Nations goals was important. The Committee had expanded accreditation criteria and conducted a review of NGO participation. It had also increased the exchange of information between the Division for Palestinian Rights and the community of NGOs, in order to gain a better perspective on their activities.

In other action today, the Symposium elected the following NGOs to the North American Coordinating Committee: Arab Women's Council; Palestine Aid Society; Palestinian Women's Association of Ottawa; Pax World Service; Canadian Council of Churches; and Presbyterian Church of the United States of America. It also reappointed the following: Centre d'etudes arabes pour pe development; Episcopal Church; Grassroots International; Methodist Federation for Social Action; Palestine Human Rights Campaign of Georgia; and the Young Women's Christian Association.

The theme of this year's Symposium was "Towards a just and comprehensive settlement of the question of Palestine". Over three days, experts from the United States, Canada, Palestine and Israel offered presentations on the themes of self-determination and state-building, Palestine refugees and displaced persons, and the question of Jerusalem, followed by open discussions. Participants also engaged in workshops on related subjects.

The annual North American NGO Symposium aims at mobilizing non- governmental action in support of Palestinian rights and at meeting the needs of reconstruction and nation-building during the transitional period. It is part of a series of regional meetings sponsored by the Palestinian Rights Committee at the request of the General Assembly.

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For information media - not an official record