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21 March 2002

Original: ENGLISH


Fifty-eighth session


Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,

on Thursday, 21 March 2002, at 10 a.m.

Chairperson : Mr. JAKUBOWSKI (Poland)








The meeting was called to order at 10.10 a.m.

THE RIGHT OF PEOPLES TO SELF-DETERMINATION AND ITS APPLICATION TO PEOPLES UNDER COLONIAL OR ALIEN DOMINATION OR FOREIGN OCCUPATION (agenda item 5) ( continued ) (E/CN.4/2002/19 and 20; E/CN.4/2002/NGO/31, 47, 107, 113, 125, 128, 161, 198 and 199)

1. Ms. GABR (Observer for Egypt), speaking on behalf of the League of Arab States, said that respect for the right to self-determination was fundamental to the observance of other human rights and all peoples had the right to choose their own political regimes and policies. Although it was a collective right, it underpinned many individual rights which could be exercised only if the right to self-determination was observed.

2. The Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and to establish an independent State with Jerusalem as its capital had been denied by over half a century of Israeli oppression, in clear contravention of the Charter of the United Nations. There was international consensus that the Palestinian people had a sovereign right to establish their own independent State, and Security Council resolution 1397 (2002) represented an important step towards that objective. The Commission on Human Rights had also recognized that right in its resolutions on the question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab Territories, including Palestine.

3. However, Israel had seen fit to ignore the views of the international community and to continue with its policy of oppression. That policy had visibly failed, as it had not provided security for the Israeli people. Israeli claims that the Palestinians were responsible for initiating the violence were quite untrue. Moreover, Israel continued to reject any return of Palestinian refugees.

4. The Commission should send a clear message to the Government of Israel: peace could not be imposed by force, and the will of the Palestinian people could not be broken. The Commission had a clear responsibility to promote the principles of human rights throughout the world and must persist in its efforts to enable the Palestinian people to establish an independent State within which they could enjoy all their human rights.


9. Mr. KHABBAZ-HAMOUI (Syrian Arab Republic) having endorsed the statement by the observer for Egypt on behalf of the League of Arab States, said that there were certain factions which refused to comply with the principles of justice and accept the right of all peoples to self-determination. Israel and its supporters were preventing the Palestinian people from enjoying their right to self-determination and their right to establish an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.

10. Since the founding of the United Nations in 1945, his delegation had always supported the right of peoples to self-determination. The Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Human Rights and many United Nations resolutions had clearly established that right, of which the peoples of the many colonized countries had availed themselves. Only the Palestinians were still denied it.

11. It was shameful, that in the twenty-first century, occupation and colonization still existed and still more shameful that international understanding of those terms had been corrupted so that Israel had succeeded in getting its policy accepted as legitimate. The report by the Secretary-General (E/CN.4/2002/19) illustrated perfectly Israel’s contempt for the resolutions adopted by the Commission and other United Nations bodies.

12. It was essential therefore that the Commission should shoulder its responsibilities and be unequivocal in its criticism of the Israeli policy of occupation and violence. The Israeli forces must withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territory and an independent State of Palestine must be established, with Jerusalem as its capital. Israel must respect all the rights recognized by United Nations bodies.

13. It would be difficult for any people to live through 54 years of occupation. In the case of the Palestinian people, the situation was exacerbated by the fact that the Israelis, while imposing their will on the Palestinians, enjoyed the full exercise of all their rights, as well as the support of the international community at every level. The result was that Israelis lived in prosperity, while Palestinians suffered deprivation and anguish. Nevertheless, Israel was wrong to believe that the Palestinian people could be terrorized into submission; they were still fighting to obtain their right to self-determination.

14. Mr. ATTAR (Saudi Arabia), having endorsed the statement by the observer for Egypt on behalf of the League of Arab States, said that, although the Commission had regularly adopted resolutions on the topic under discussion, his delegation still had doubts about the extent to which the international community understood or responded to the right of peoples to self-determination and the application of that right to peoples under colonial or alien domination or foreign occupation. There were indications that political considerations still prevailed in discussions of the issue.

15. The tragic situation of the Palestinian people under the ruthless and oppressive Israeli occupation continued to pose a challenge not only to the Security Council but also to the Commission. The international community must enable the Palestinian people to enjoy their full and undiminished rights, including their right to establish an independent State, with Jerusalem as its capital.

16. Israel’s “military deterrent” would never succeed in halting the Palestinian people’s intifada or induce them to stop demanding their legitimate rights. The best, and only, way to address the situation was to tackle its political causes: namely, to remedy the political injustice that had made the region erupt like a volcano. The Israeli Government should clearly understand that it must terminate its occupation; any action short of that would merely prolong and exacerbate the conflict, to the detriment of all parties.

17. The Israeli occupiers would not bring about the capitulation of the Palestinian people, whereas the Palestinian leadership had shown an undaunted commitment to the peace process and had called for immediate intervention to ensure compliance with the rules and principles of the peace process agreed upon at the Madrid Conference, in the face of Israel’s arrogant refusal to resume peace negotiations. In that context, he drew attention to Security Council resolution 1397 (2002), the adoption of which had constituted an historic act.

18. In the light of the events taking place in the occupied Palestinian territory, it was essential that the Commission should assume its responsibilities and put its resolutions into effect. The various visions advocating peace, as reflected in Security Council resolution 1397 (2002) and the initiative of Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia would undoubtedly help to give effect to the Commission’s own resolution on the issue and confirm that the option chosen by the Palestinians provided the only way for the region to live in security and peace.

19. The right of peoples to self-determination was an end and not a means. Since the international community recognized the legitimacy of struggle and resistance to achieve that end, the right to self-determination was indivisible from other human rights and should be equally supported by the international community.

20. Mr. DEMBRI (Algeria) said that the Commission, the champion of the oppressed, was undoubtedly the most appropriate forum in which to assess the success of the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. Decolonization had won many victories and much credit was due to the United Nations for having helped the process along. Nevertheless, there was some unfinished business in various parts of the world, above all in the occupied Palestinian territory, whose people had for over half a century been ghettoized and humiliated in the eyes of the world.

21. Positive though Security Council resolution 1397 (2002) was, it should not obscure the fact that many attempts to make peace had failed. It would be useless to list once again the manifold resolutions by the United Nations and other intergovernmental organizations over the decades, urging the occupying forces to withdraw from Palestinian territory and enable the Palestinian people to exercise their right to self-determination.

22. It was deeply shocking that the heirs of the Holocaust were inflicting on another people the Nacht und Nebel procedure that had oppressed their own predecessors. It was even more deeply shocking to hear the inflammatory, racist sentiments expressed by senior Israeli officials and army representatives, whose words recalled the excesses of the 1930s. His delegation fully supported the Palestinian’s struggle for their historic, inalienable rights by means of their heroic intifada.


28. Mr. MOHAMED (Sudan) said that the people of Palestine were living through a particularly difficult time as a result of Israel’s occupation. If the Israeli forces continued their policies of massacre, collective punishment and destruction of homes - which were tantamount to genocide - the peace and security of the region would be put even more gravely at risk.

29. The Palestinians, who had the inalienable right to self-determination, as laid down by the Charter of the United Nations, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, had freely elected their leaders. It was thus totally unacceptable for Israel to harass and humiliate them.

30. The Commission should put pressure on Israel to remove the obstacles it had placed in the path of Palestinian self-determination. Colonization and expansion should be discontinued and the settlements in the occupied territories, especially East Jerusalem, should be vacated. Aggression against civilians should cease and the Israeli Government should accept the precepts of international law and General Assembly resolutions.

31. Lastly, Israel should not be allowed to equate the Palestinian resistance with terrorists such as those who had carried out the attacks in the United States on 11 September 2001: there was a clear distinction between terrorism and resistance.

32. Mr. ARENALES FORNO (Guatemala) ...


33. His delegation recognized the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination on the basis of a Palestinian State. However, as long as there was any question by the Palestinians and various Arab States of the right of Israel to exist as a State, thus striking at the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, that right could not be exercised. His delegation therefore called for an express acknowledgement by the Arab countries of Israel’s right to exist as a State with internationally recognized and secure borders, in conformity with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 1397 (2002).


37. Mr. TRUNG CHI HOANG (Viet Nam) said that the right to self-determination was fundamental to the enjoyment of all other rights, and the Palestinian people was being denied its inalienable right to establish an independent State with Jerusalem as its capital. His delegation strongly condemned the excessive use of military force against Palestinians and called upon Israel to act swiftly to get the peace process back on track. It supported all initiatives to resume peaceful negotiations, particularly the one recently proposed by Saudi Arabia, and considered Security Council resolution 1397 (2002) an important step in that direction.

38. Mr. NENE (South Africa) said that the Israeli army’s concerted military attacks on the Palestinian people were intended to weaken and discredit the Palestinian Authority, which had been created as a basis for peace. The physical damage to its institutions, buildings and infrastructure was unacceptable. It would ruin the social fabric and the economy for years to come. However, it was the most recent incursions into refugee camps that had highlighted the Israeli military’s total disregard for human rights and dignity.

39. The Israeli actions had clearly exceeded the standards of international humanitarian law, but it would be impossible to deal with the human rights situation in Palestine without addressing the core of the problem, which was the denial of the Palestinian people’s aspirations to self-determination. It was that which had led some Palestinians to resort to extreme measures.

40. His Government had consistently maintained that there could be no military solution to the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis. That there were those who were genuinely committed to dialogue and partnership had been shown at a recent meeting of prominent Israelis and Palestinians convened by President Mbeki in order to share South Africa’s experience in peacemaking and transition to democracy and support the strengthening of peace camps in Palestine and Israel. His delegation welcomed Security Council resolution 1397 (2002) and urged both parties to return immediately to negotiations and cooperate in implementing the Tenet Plan and the Mitchell Report.


45. Mr. AL-FAIHANI (Bahrain) said his delegation endorsed the statement made by the observer for Egypt on behalf of the League of Arab States.

46. The human rights violations taking place in the occupied Arab territories of Lebanon and Palestine were causing ever more suffering and undermining the fabric of society. The Arab peoples in that region were labouring under the yoke of colonialism and he urged the international community to use all means to put an end to that situation.

47. Israel’s policies and practices, including the establishment of Jewish settlements, the destruction of Palestinian dwellings and the confiscation of water sources, violated the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people, including their economic rights. It appeared that all the conferences and Security Council resolutions had succeeded only in exacerbating Israeli aggression.

48. He called upon the Security Council to insist on a total withdrawal by Israel from the occupied territories back to the 1967 borders, withdrawal from Lebanese territory and the creation of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. The Palestinian people continued to hope that their suffering would end one day, but that would not be possible without Israel’s withdrawal.



68. Mr. KUKAN (Slovak Republic) ...


71. His Government had been dismayed at the recent loss of innocent lives in the Middle East in actions that had succeeded only in further fuelling the violence and hatred in Israeli-Palestinian relations. Both parties must unconditionally approve practicable measures against possible terrorist attacks in order to restore the trust that had been lost. Ways should be found to protect lives and property that fully respected international law and human rights. In that spirit, and in order to show that smaller countries, too, could play an active part in maintaining international peace and security, the Slovak Republic had been pursuing an active policy in the Middle East as part of United Nations peace missions; it also hoped to become a non-permanent member of the Security Council in 2006.


100. Mr. LEVY (Observer for Israel), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that he agreed with the representative of the Syrian Arab Republic that it was difficult to live through 54 years of aggression but stressed that it was the Syrian Arab Republic which had attacked Israel in 1948 and 1967 and that Israel had seized the Golan Heights in 1967 in exercise of its right of self-defence. Israel had also been attacked in 1973 on the occasion of one of its holiest days: Yom Kippur.

101. It was not true that terrorist attacks against Israel had begun with the 1967 war. On the contrary, terrorism against Israel had begun long before, had been used to try and prevent the establishment of Israel in 1948 and had continued between 1948 and 1967, killing hundreds and injuring thousands of Israelis. The Syrian Arab Republic continued to shelter terrorist groups and some still had their headquarters in Damascus. Hezbollah, a group supported by Syria, had only the week before organized a cross-border raid which had killed six Israelis.

102. In reply to the representative of Sudan, he said that a Government which was ready to kill large numbers of its own citizens should be the last to speak of genocide and international standards.

103. In reply to the representative of Algeria, he pointed out that the preparatory process for the Durban Conference should have highlighted the need to be sensitive to the feelings of others, whatever political differences there might be. That representative’s allusions to the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews had been killed, were deplorable and that systematic attempt to exterminate a people was in no way comparable to clashes between armed groups and the Israeli Defence Forces.

104. He reiterated his Government’s position that self-determination and affirmation of the rights of the Palestinian people could not be achieved through military action or terrorism but only through a negotiated settlement following the end of hostilities. Finally, in reply to the representative of Bahrein, he pointed out that Israel had withdrawn from Lebanon in May 2000.

The meeting rose at 1 p.m.

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