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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
30 September 1993
1 - 7
Opening statements
Panel presentations
NGO Workshops
Conclusions and recommendations of the seminar and NGO symposium
Proposals adopted by the African NGOs
8 - 15
16 - 35
36 - 38
39 - 54
Motion of thanks
List of participants
Membership of the African Coordinating Committee for NGOs on the Question of Palestine
1. The United Nations African Seminar and NGO Symposium on the Question of Palestine with the theme "Africa, the Middle East and the Question of Palestine" was held at Dakar, Senegal, from 30 August to 3 September 1993, under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and in accordance with the provisions of General Assembly resolution 46/74 A of 11 December 1991.

2. The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People was represented by a delegation comprising H.E. Mr. Kéba Birane Cissé (Senegal), Chairman of the Committee, Chairman of the Seminar; H.E. Mr. Joseph Cassar (Malta), Rapporteur of the Committee, Vice-Chairman and Rapporteur of the Seminar; H.E. Mr. Nouhoum Samassekou (Mali), Vice-Chairman of the Seminar; H.E. Mr. Utoyo Yamtomo, Ambassador of Indonesia to Senegal; and Mr. M. Nasser Al-Kidwa, Permanent Observer for Palestine to the United Nations.

3. The Seminar and NGO Symposium met in four panels on the following topics: "Panel I: Towards a just solution of the question of Palestine; Panel II: Building peace in Jerusalem - the Holy City of three religions; Panel III: Towards self-determination and statehood; Panel IV: The need to revive the economy in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem". Presentations were made by 19 experts nominated by African governments, as well as NGO and media representatives, and Palestinian and Israeli personalities. Each panel was followed by a discussion open to all participants. Representatives of 23 Governments, 6 United Nations specialized agencies and intergovernmental organizations, as well as 18 non-governmental organizations and representatives of the media attended the Seminar and NGO Symposium. Two workshops specifically for NGOs were also held, on the following topics: "I. Actions by African NGOs to promote efforts to put an end to Israel's violations of human rights of the Palestinian people; II. Mobilization and networking by NGOs to promote a joint, comprehensive and lasting solution of the question of Palestine".

4. During the meeting, participants were also informed of new developments relating to the peace process and held an exchange of views thereon.

5. The Seminar and NGO Symposium adopted a document containing conclusions and recommendations as well as a motion of thanks to the Government and people of Senegal. The participating NGOs also adopted a number of proposals for future action by African NGOs.

6. At the opening of the Seminar and NGO Symposium statements were made by the Minister of State and Minister for Presidential Affairs and Services of Senegal, the representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the representative of Palestine to Senegal, who read out a message from the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and by the representative of the African Coordinating Committee for NGOs on the Question of Palestine.

7. The closing meeting was addressed by the representative of Palestine in Senegal, the representative of the African Coordinating Committee for NGOs on the Question of Palestine, who reported on the outcome of the NGO deliberations, and the Chairman of the Committee. At that meeting, conclusions and recommendations were adopted by the participants, who also adopted a motion of thanks to the Government and people of Senegal.

A. Opening statements

Statement by the Minister of State and Minister for Presidential
Affairs and Services of Senegal

8. The opening ceremony of the Seminar and NGO Symposium was addressed by H.E. Mr. Ousmane Tanor Dieng, Minister of State and Minister for Presidential Affairs and Services of Senegal. He stressed that the holding of the meeting at Dakar illustrated the exemplary solidarity Senegal had always shown in regard to the Palestinian people. For any peace and justice-loving person, support for the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people was a duty from the standpoint of universal morality and international law.

He pointed out that a comprehensive settlement of the question of Palestine remained the only way to finally establish a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

In the community of civilized nations, there were sacrosanct principles which must be respected in order to ensure peaceful coexistence. One of the most important of these principles was the right to self-determination and that imperative norm could not continue to be violated without jeopardizing the foundations of international peace and security.

He said that the brutal repression of defenseless civilians, as well as the mass detentions and collective punishments, the imposition of restrictive economic measures and the demolition of movable and immovable property, far from blunting the determination of the Palestinian people, was strengthening the positions of the extremists to the detriment of the process of establishing peace through negotiation.

He emphasized that the opening of the Madrid process, of direct negotiations between all the parties involved in the Middle East conflict had raised worldwide hope of a decisive evolution towards a peaceful negotiated solution to the question of Palestine. In spite of the obstacles, fears and mutual suspicions, the inception of such a dialogue constituted an important step forward that should be consolidated and pursued further in order to enable the Palestinian people to exercise their legitimate right to self-determination in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions. At that stage of peace talks, the success of the negotiations largely depended on the good faith of the Israeli authorities and their willingness to take practical confidence-building measures to remove the psychological barriers.

He said that in total disregard of all the rules of international law, and particularly those set forth in the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, Israel had so far impeded the current peace process by its deplorable actions. The deportation of more than 400 Palestinians from the occupied territories to Lebanon last December, as well as the large-scale and repeated bombardments of innocent civilian populations, constituted practices which were exacerbating the frustration felt by the Palestinian people in view of their total situation.

He urged the participants to consider the positive response that the Palestine Liberation Organization had just given to the Israeli proposal to place the Gaza Strip and Jericho under autonomous Palestinian administration pending a settlement of the question of East Jerusalem and the final status of the occupied territories. He welcomed the resolute and courageous manner in which the Palestine Liberation Organization, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, had embarked on the current peace process, thereby expressing its determination to contribute to the quest for a successful settlement of the Middle East conflict.

More than ever before, the international community should support and consolidate this process until its culmination. For its part, Senegal, being firmly committed to its principles, would continue to support any initiative aimed at finding a just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine in such a way as to enable all the peoples of the Middle East to live in peace and security within safe and internationally recognized borders.

Statement by the representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations

9. The opening meeting was addressed by the representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ambassador Joseph Verner Reed, Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative for Public Affairs. He stressed at the outset the concern with which the members of the United Nations viewed the continuation of the stalemate in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the urgency they attached to a just and lasting settlement in accordance with United Nations resolutions and the principles of international law.

The African countries had actively contributed to the ongoing efforts undertaken by the United Nations to bring a just peace to the Middle East. Their sustained participation in international endeavours in that regard would be an important factor in advancing towards a comprehensive solution of the conflict.

Referring to the Madrid peace process, he said that the United Nations had supported the negotiations and the Secretary-General was ready to provide all possible assistance. However, the situation on the ground continued to be volatile. The Secretary-General had expressed his deep concern at the increase in violent incidents in which a number of Palestinians and Israelis had been killed and wounded in the occupied territories. He had deplored these acts of violence and appealed to all sides for restraint. Moreover, the deterioration of economic conditions resulting from Israel's decision to close off the occupied territories, remained a matter of serious concern.

In those circumstances, it was all the more imperative that efforts be intensified in pursuit of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, which would enable the Palestinian people to exercise their legitimate political rights, including self-determination. The negotiations had been welcomed by the General Assembly as a significant step towards the achievement of peace and had heightened expectations that a solution to this long and tragic conflict may at long last be within reach. Despite the obstacles and delays which had occurred, the negotiations had shown that a substantive dialogue between the parties was possible.

Since autumn 1992, the process had been widened to include the United Nations as a full participant in the multilateral working groups on regional issues. The Secretary-General had repeatedly voiced his commitment to do everything possible to help in the peace efforts and his readiness to offer the services of the United Nations if requested by the parties.

The Secretary-General firmly believed that, pending a political settlement, it was necessary to ensure the safety and protection of the civilian population of the occupied territories in accordance with numerous Security Council resolutions which had affirmed the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the occupied Palestinian territories and had requested Israel to apply in full its provisions. In accordance with Security Council resolutions 681 (1990) of 20 December 1990 and 799 (1992) of 18 December 1992, the Secretary-General had made persistent efforts to persuade Israel to comply with its international obligations in that regard.

Statement by the Chairman of the Committee

10. H.E. Mr. Kéba Birane Cissé, Chairman of the Committee and of the Seminar, recalled at the outset that the Middle East had been illuminated by the prospects of finally reaching a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The very fact that the parties to the Middle East conflict were engaged in negotiations after many years of suspicion and distrust appeared to be a promising start. The Committee believed that the prospects for peace in the region were better than they had been for a long time. He expressed the hope that the question of Palestine would eventually be resolved in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions so that a just, durable, and comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict could be achieved. At the same time, the recrudescence of violence and armed conflict in the region, on a level not seen in recent years, had given rise to the greatest concern for the immediate welfare of the populations concerned.

It was of crucial importance for the international community to promote the safety and protection of Palestinian civilians living under occupation. The Committee strongly condemned, in particular, the deportation of Palestinians as contrary to the Fourth Geneva Convention, and numerous Security Council resolutions. The Palestinians continued to suffer from the denial of their fundamental human rights, and the increased violence perpetrated against them.

At the same time an urgent effort was required to heal the critical state of the various sectors of the Palestinian economy and to stem the rapid deterioration of the living conditions of the Palestinian population. The economic and social situation in the occupied territory had always been a source of great concern to the Committee. The Palestinian economy, which had witnessed significant structural changes over twenty-six years of Israeli occupation, had been made dependent on and inferior to the Israeli economy. The illegal policies and practices of the occupying Power with regard to the Palestinian population, their land and property had further exacerbated the living conditions of the Palestinians.

He stressed that the Committee had repeatedly pointed out that vital interests of all the peoples of the Middle East, as well as the interests of international peace and security, dictated the need for the speediest resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. On a number of occasions, it reiterated that the United Nations had a role to play in the process, as the negotiations now under way were based on United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967 and 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973 long-regarded as cornerstones for a comprehensive settlement in the Middle East.

The Committee wished to express once again its appreciation for the Secretary-General's efforts and his stated readiness to contribute the expertise, experience and resources of the United Nations to the successful outcome of the peace process.

He stated that the Committee's firm belief that the repressive measures against the Palestinians under occupation, the annexation of the occupied Palestinian territory, and the deterioration of the living conditions of the Palestinians would jeopardize the chances for achieving a just peace and would inevitably lead to disastrous consequences for the Palestinian people as a whole. Further, the Committee felt a solution was urgently needed that would make use of the political opportunities which had presented themselves, on the basis of international law and in full conformity with the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter and the relevant United Nations resolutions. To achieve success in this effort, all of the mentioned instruments must be applied even-handedly and with care. Given the almost continual volatility of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, the international community should exercise maximum patience, moderation, and objectivity.

In conclusion he said that for Africa, a continent that had so long suffered under the colonial yoke and the denial of its peoples' most basic rights, primarily the right to self-determination, the Palestinian struggle aroused a feeling of particular kinship and solidarity. The future of the Middle East in the post-cold war era was of definite importance to the countries and peoples of Africa.

Message from the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the
Palestine Liberation Organization

11. A message from Mr. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), was read out by Mr. Said Abassi, Representative of Palestine in Senegal. In the message it was recalled that the meeting coincided with the holding of the eleventh round of peace negotiations and the hope was expressed that tangible progress would be achieved in furthering the peace process. The aim of those negotiations was not to make cosmetic improvements to the image of the Israeli occupation but to establish a just and lasting peace in the region. The draft declaration of principles had been submitted by the Palestinian delegation with a view to achieving a breakthrough by arranging a disengagement that would ensure Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and Jericho, linked to an agreement concerning an interim solution for the other occupied territories.

The message pointed out that the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories was still constantly deteriorating due to the intensification of the "iron fist" policy pursued by the Israeli occupation authorities, their persistent violations of the most fundamental human rights of the Palestinian people, their desecration of Islamic and Christian holy places and their commission of daily crimes against the Palestinian people, such as acts of murder, detention, confiscation of land and water resources, establishment of settlements on that land, including Jerusalem, closure of the occupied territories in order to isolate them from each other, and the imposition of a blockade on Holy Jerusalem in order to isolate it from the rest of the territories. These policies had resulted in a serious deterioration in the economic situation, bringing Gaza to the verge of famine and causing a further worsening of the economic circumstances in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, in addition to Israel's ongoing acts of aggression against Palestinian camps in Lebanon, particularly in the southern part of that country where Lebanese villages and towns had also been affected.

The message stressed the determination of the Palestinian people to continue the intifadah in order to resist the Israeli occupation. It expressed confidence that all the freedom-loving African States and peoples would stand beside the Palestinian people in their just struggle and resistance to the Israeli occupation with a view to putting an end to that occupation as the only way to ensure the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the region.

Statement on behalf of the African non-governmental organizations

12. Mr. Ousmane Camara, Vice-President of the Afro-Asian Peoples' Solidarity Organization (AAPSO) and representative of the African Coordinating Committee for NGOs on the Question of Palestine, stressed that the African NGOs were profoundly preoccupied by the continuing crisis in Palestine. Despite socio-economic upheavals that had shaken Africa, the PLO had the unwavering support of all the African NGOs. Palestinians had endured bloody and fratricidal conflict and economic injustice for too long.

He expressed the determination to support the struggle of the Palestinian people under the leadership of the PLO, to achieve self-determination and the establishment of an independent sovereign State. Africans urgently hoped for positive results from the ongoing talks between Israel and the Palestinians but, thus far, no tangible results had emerged from those discussions. Instead, Israel was continuing and even intensifying its policies and acts of repression and settlement in the occupied territories, with the result that the hopes which had been raised of political changes in Israel were now threatened with frustration. Against this background, the African NGOs, while encouraging the negotiations now under way, earnestly wished for a just and comprehensive solution based on the recognition of the international validity of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978) of 19 March 1978, and which should ensure the withdrawal of Israel from all the occupied Palestinian and Arab territories, in conformity with the principle of "land for peace".

Other statements

13. H.E. Mr. Sayidiman Suryohadirprodo (Indonesia), Ambassador at Large, speaking on behalf of the Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the Movement had consistently supported the PLO in its struggle. It had also repeatedly confirmed that the question of Palestine was the heart of the conflict in the Middle East. It had repeatedly condemned the violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention by Israel and had called for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the occupied territories. The Movement had welcomed the initiation of peace talks in Madrid. It was particularly gratified that the representatives of Palestine were participating on an equal footing with other States. That was a belated acknowledgement of their identity as a nation.

He pointed out that the current upsurge in violence in the occupied territories had only hardened resistance to occupation and heightened tensions. The rapidly worsening socio-economic conditions of Palestinians and massive violation of their human rights had threatened to ignite a volatile situation. Pending a negotiated settlement, the United Nations had a solemn obligation to render assistance in preparing Palestinians for the full exercise of their sovereignty. Any interim arrangements must include their right to exercise control, with the assistance of United Nations peace-keeping forces, over all land illegally occupied since 1967. The close and effective cooperation of the United Nations, the Organization of African Unity and the Arab League was essential in that regard.

14. Mr. Abdelaziz Abougosh, representative of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said that during two years of peace talks, Israeli opposition had impeded any concrete accomplishment. The Israeli persistence in a policy of continual aggression against the Palestinian people had resulted in a blockade and embargo in violation of the Geneva Conventions of 1949. All OIC resolutions had reaffirmed that a just and lasting peace in the Middle East could be obtained only following Israeli withdrawal from all occupied Arab and Palestinian territories, including the holy city of Jerusalem. The OIC had also expressed support for all attempts to bring about a just and lasting peace, in conformity with United Nations resolutions and the principle of land for peace. The Islamic Conference would always stand with the Palestinian people in their struggle for a just and lasting peace.

15. Mr. Khaled Mohammed Khaled, representative of the League of Arab States, stressed that with regard to the question of Palestine, the world faced two serious challenges, the Israeli arbitrary practices against the Palestinian people documented in intensified oppression, torture, besieging of Palestinian territories, demolition of houses, closure of schools, and the Israeli evasive and procrastinating policy in the ongoing negotiations. The international community had to intensify its activities to protect the Palestinians in the occupied territories, to exert more pressure on the Israeli authorities and to increase material support for the Palestinian people.

B. Panel presentations

16. Four panels were held. The panels and their experts were as follows: 17. The panel presentations are summarized below in the order in which they were made.

Panel I: Towards a just solution of the question of Palestine

(A) The current situation in the occupied Palestinian
territory, including Jerusalem

18. Dr. Ahmad Yaziji (Palestinian), a medical doctor in Gaza, recalled at the outset that the population density in the Gaza Strip was among the highest in the world, amounting to more than 1,800 persons per square kilometre. He emphasized that the demographic problems in conjunction with the deplorable economic conditions and unemployment, had led to a severe deterioration in public health and countless health problems. As a result, clinics received more than 8,000 patients per day, for whom proper services could not be provided owing to overcrowding and the lack of diagnostic facilities and medicines.

He cited the negligence and indifference of the Israeli authorities to public health in the territories, in addition to the acute shortage of water in many parts of the Strip. The level of salinity and organic matter in the water supply of the Gaza Strip was increasing. Studies had shown that there would be no suitable drinkable water in five years. Outside of refugee camps, sewers leaked into the streets, giving residential areas the appearance of sewerage swamps and posing threats of typhoid and intestinal problems. Waste was left to accumulate in residential areas, around houses and in public squares where it caused countless health problems. Severe environmental pollution was caused by many primitive industries which had been banned in Israel as well as by antiquated vehicles and by the lack of trees.

As a consequence the residents of the Gaza Strip were suffering from such problems as high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as from contagious diseases. Diseases caused by parasites were widespread and some 80 per cent of the children were afflicted by worms. Gum and tooth disease was widespread among children. The incidence of asthma was increasing both quantitatively and qualitatively, owing to the frequent exposure to tear gas. Various degrees of malnutrition were also widespread, affecting about 50 per cent of children under five years of age.

He pointed out that hospital facilities were insufficient. For example, in the Gaza Strip, there was one hospital bed for every 2,000 persons, one doctor for every 1,000 persons and one nurse for every 7,000 persons. The health insurance scheme was costly and the population lacked the means for enrolment. Hospital equipment and buildings were poorly maintained. Most clinics had only a limited number of rooms, and those were poorly equipped. There was no school medicine except for some basic vaccinations at the beginning of each year. There were no programmes for the elderly or the chronically ill. There were no public mental health programmes.

He went on to say that the Israeli military practices had become more violent and deadly during the intifadah. It was estimated that 70 per cent of the persons injured by the army in the Gaza Strip were shot, in violation of international standards, by live ammunition, the kind that exploded in the body. The use of gas grenades against women and children had left babies dead, children blind and had caused miscarriages. In addition, the conditions in the detention camps had left thousands of Palestinians with deteriorating physical and psychological problems.

He said that the only solution to the health hardship was the end of the occupation and the transfer of authority to the Palestinian people in a Palestinian State.

19. Mr. Eitan Felner (Israel), researcher for B'Tselem (the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the occupied territories), said that the preceding year had seen some improvements in the human rights situation in the occupied territories. House demolitions had ceased, procedures for family reunifications had been eased and prison conditions had been partially improved. In other areas, however, the human rights situation had drastically deteriorated. The deportation of 415 Palestinians in December 1992 without trial or conviction was an example of collective punishment that was prohibited under international law. The closure of the West Bank and Gaza had resulted in many human rights violations. More than 115,000 Palestinian workers had no means of supporting their families. Whole areas were effectively isolated from each other. House demolitions in search of wanted persons were another form of collective punishment. He deplored the steep increase in the killing of Palestinian children and held the security forces responsible for it, in particular, their deliberate policy of opening fire in circumstances in which soldiers were not in life-threatening situations. He said that those disturbing statistics prompted B'Tselem to launch its first public campaign to raise awareness and action on the issue, using new strategies to break through the indifference of the Israeli public. He pointed out that the Israeli public had become inured and unresponsive to the deaths of Palestinian children and had developed fixed modes of justification and rationalization to distance themselves from addressing this issue. The campaign's immediate goal - to bring the issue to the forefront of public debate - had been achieved beyond expectations. There was a Knesset debate, television and radio programmes, broad newspaper coverage. The ultimate goal, however, had not been achieved, to enact changes in policy and bring an end to the killing of children.

In conclusion he said that an eventual solution should be based on the recognition of the inherent dignity and inalienable rights of every individual, Israeli and Palestinian alike.

(B) The role of Africa in promoting a just, comprehensive and lasting solution of the question of Palestine

20. Mr. Hedi Ben Nasr (Tunisia), Director of the Department of Arab Countries in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stressed at the outset that with regard to the Middle East conflict the international community had always had a responsibility to take action and seek a solution conducive to the establishment of peace and security in that strategic region of the world. The United Nations system had constituted the fundamental and primary framework for the mobilization and guidance of the international community's endeavours in this field.

Over the years, the United Nations debates on this question had focused on the formulation of the terms of reference on the basis of which the question of Palestine and the conflict in the Middle East in general should be dealt with. This included: the principle of the partition of the historical territory of Palestine between two entities, one being Palestinian and the other Israeli; the principle of the return of the refugees and the granting of special status to Jerusalem; definition of the principles and requirements for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

He emphasized that the core of the conflict in the Middle East had always been the quest for a settlement of the problem of the Palestinian people and a guarantee of their rights. Since the early 1970s, the United Nations had adopted a comprehensive approach to the question of Palestine, viewing it in a broader political context.

He continued by saying that the African Group had treated the question of Palestine and the problem of the Middle East conflict as matters of principle, regarding them as questions of liberation and struggle for the right to self-determination and the right to resist colonialism and domination, and as matters of primary concern. It had adopted positions based on the same principles and rules as those underlying the relevant resolutions of the United Nations, which in fact had been based on resolutions of the Organization of African Unity. The African Group had always undertaken concerted and consistent endeavours, as an active and effective party, to mobilize and further the efforts made by the international community in this regard.

Referring to recent developments, he said that the question of the establishment of stability, security and peace in the Middle East had become a matter of primary concern to the major Powers, and particularly the United States, since they regarded it as a vital requirement for the preservation of their strategic interests.

Shortcomings in the terms of reference of the Madrid peace process included a blinkered approach to the dimensions of the Palestinian problem: the exclusion of a priori recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to form their independent State; the exclusion of any discussion of the question of the refugees and the future status of the Israeli settlements and the city of Jerusalem; the imposition of restrictions on the nature and composition of the Palestinian negotiating team.

In conclusion, he pointed out that notwithstanding the modest results that had so far emerged from the peace process, it was encouraging to note that the parties were in unanimous agreement concerning the need to proceed with the negotiations and seek new ways to break the deadlock in the peace process.

21. Mr. Chitsaka Chipaziwa (Zimbabwe), Director of the Africa and Middle East Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, recalling the political, historical, religious, racial and cultural complexities of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, stressed that the new role of Africa should be one of a promoter of peace and good neighbourliness between Arabs and Israelis. He expressed the view that the familiar African position over the decades had been largely that of an interested spectator. He noted that there had not been a monolithic position for all of Africa, and that its reaction had resulted in a division between those who supported Israel and those who supported the Palestinians and the PLO. He suggested that through dialogue with either the Israelis or the Palestinians, Africans could influence the negotiations in a variety of useful ways. Israel must come to accept direct negotiations with the PLO and those African countries which have diplomatic relations with Israel should try to persuade her to do so.

He pointed out that African culture had traditionally rejected extremism. The current negotiations between Israel and her Arab neighbours amply demonstrated that both sides realized that force could not bring about peace between them. Africa must articulate her utter rejection of extremists, both Arab and Israeli. Extremists must be isolated and not be allowed to enter any African country. He deplored the peripheral role of the United Nations in the current peace process. Africans should work for a central role for the United Nations in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Expressing some optimism, he said that a number of African conflicts had been solved or were nearing solution precisely because the spirit of pragmatism and mutual accommodation prevailed, thus permitting concessions to be made. That African experience could influence a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He suggested the setting up of a panel of African mediators and negotiators which could share its experiences and influence Israeli and Arab negotiators in Washington and elsewhere. Citing examples of Mozambique, Rwanda and Liberia, he concluded that Africa could contribute to a positive outcome of the ongoing negotiations in a variety of ways.

22. Mr. Dianguina dit Yaya Doucouré (Mali), Counsellor in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasized that the adherence of Africa to the Arab cause in general and the Palestinian cause in particular was not based on quid pro quo tactics but was rooted in the firm belief of the right of peoples to self-determination as set forth in the Charter of the OAU.

Faithful to the right of every State to exist, the newly independent States of Africa could not ignore Israel as a State. They maintained cordial relations with it according to the international norms. African-Israeli cooperation covered many and varied areas such as agriculture, trade, air transport, vocational and technical training of managers.

The Israeli-Arab wars of 1967 and subsequently 1973 marked a turning point in African-Israeli relations. African peoples and Governments opposed any acquisition of territory by force. In December 1973 all the African States, excluding Malawi, Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana, broke off relations with Israel. He pointed out that Africa's involvement in the Middle East conflict was first of all a demonstration of human solidarity resting upon the principle of the rights of peoples to self-determination. The OAU considered the Palestinian problem as an African cause. It had always condemned the close link that existed between Israel and the racist regime of South Africa. The Palestinian cause had emerged as a regular item of African meetings, including all regular sessions of the OAU.

He continued by saying that Mali was playing an active role in the search for a just, equitable and lasting solution to the Middle East conflict. This was demonstrated, inter alia, by the opening at Bamako of a PLO office, Mali's active participation in the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and the creation of the Malian Association of Solidarity with the Palestinian people. He stressed that Africa's firm and principled position with regard to a solution to the question of Palestine was well known and found its expression in the resolutions of the United Nations, the Non-Aligned movement and the Arab League.

He concluded that the formulation of the specific terms for a settlement of the Middle East conflict could be carried out only by the parties directly concerned and only through negotiation. The immediate task consisted in bringing together the belligerents and helping them to formulate agreements which would promote, on the one hand, the establishment of a practical balance between security and the recognition which Israel was claiming and on the other, the achievement of a just solution to the territorial and Palestinian questions which the Arabs were seeking. Only the establishment of this balance would restore peace in the Middle East. It was indispensable to renounce the stereotypes, the selfishness and the hatred which were at the origin of the conflict and to proceed with political courage.

23. H.E. Mr. Latyr Kamara (Senegal), Honorary Ambassador of his country, expressed the view that the peace process initiated at Madrid in 1991 was seriously jeopardized. It had reached an impasse with the Syrians, it had made a step backward with the Lebanese and had made no progress with the Palestinians. In the meantime, the intifadah was continuing. In that situation the peace negotiations represented an absurd exercise which had opposed two elements of unequal strength in a manner that no progress had been possible in their discussions, since Israel, backed by the United States had been utterly intransigent.

He gave an historic overview of the positions of the United States, the Soviet Union and Europe at the moment of the opening of the Israeli-Arab negotiations in Madrid. With regard to the attitude of the Arab countries, he mentioned some reticence towards Palestine and the PLO. But despite some differences, the Arab countries continued to express their desire to see the conflict solved and reaffirmed their commitment towards an international peace conference held under the auspices of the United Nations.

Elaborating on the role of Africa, he said that with the creation of the Organization of African Unity in 1963, this body had begun to forge among the member States a collective awareness that Africa should support the cause of the Arabs, and of the Palestinians in particular. Africa had increasingly asserted itself in the promotion of a just and lasting solution of the question of Palestine and there was a very definite evolution of its position from moderate sympathy in the 1960s to unconditional solidarity, from the beginning of the 1970s. The position of Africa with respect to the problem of the Middle East in general was quite naturally explained by the many links which had existed for thousands of years between the black continent and the Arab world. The links, which were based on geography and history, had existed for a long time in the cultural, economic, political and social fields. Most of the member States of the Arab League, for a long time, shared the same colonial past with the countries of Africa. And today, the neo-colonial or para-colonial situation of the Palestinians in the occupied territories was similar to the situation which prevailed in Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa during the 1970s and 1980s.

He referred to the change in the position of African countries towards Israel after the 1967 war, which facilitated the adoption of Security Council resolution 242 (1967), and recalled the creation of a "Committee of Wise Men" composed of 10 Heads of State in 1971 to seek ways and means for a peaceful solution to the Middle East crisis. After the 1973 war, OAU resolutions linked for the first time the struggle of the Arabs and the Palestinians in particular, to recover their lands occupied by Israel with the struggle of the Africans for the liberation of their territories still under Portuguese colonialism and white minority rule in South Africa and Rhodesia.

He recognized that the role played by Africa could not be directly decisive in promoting a just solution of the question of Palestine. Its solution depended to a great extent on the United States and Israel. However, the international community should make every effort to ensure that Israel respected Security Council resolutions. The United States could not continue indefinitely to withstand the pressures and efforts made by other countries and the constant tension resulting from the determined struggle of the Palestinians and other Arab States. Finally, Israel would have to demonstrate the political will to apply the relevant United Nations resolutions. Africa would continue making its modest contribution to promoting a just, comprehensive and lasting solution to the question of Palestine.

24. Mr. K.B.S. Simpson (Ghana), Director of the Middle East and Asia Bureau in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, pointed out that Africa's support for the Palestinian cause and its role at the United Nations in the search for a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict dated from the nineteen-sixties when the majority of African States had gained their independence. These emergent new States regarded the Arab and Palestinian cause as an integral part of the colonial liberation and anti-imperialist struggle. Consequently, by 1963 when the OAU was formally established, the continent's collective votes were used to tilt the balance in the General Assembly in favour of the Arab and Palestinian cause. Notably in 1974, those votes won for the PLO observer status in the United Nations and the restoration of the question of Palestine as an item in its own right on the agenda of the General Assembly. However, Africa's support had always been based on the principles of justice and international law. Thus, while opposing Israel's illegal occupation and annexation of Arab lands, most African countries recognized Israel's right to exist.

He continued by saying that despite the successes of the African support for the Palestinian cause, Afro-Arab political solidarity had been fraught with disillusion, as African attempts to negotiate concessionary oil prices from Arab producers failed. Africa was also displeased because the United Nations oil embargo against South Africa was being undermined by some Middle Eastern countries. Israel had in recent years successfully exploited this disillusionment with Arab assistance and solidarity and lured some African countries, with offers of oil and technical assistance, to restore diplomatic relations with her. However, those African States still observing the OAU boycott realized the importance of this leverage over Israel and were determined to stick to it, until a just resolution of the Arab-Israeli dispute was in sight.

He expressed the view that the lack of progress in Afro-Arab cooperation had been demoralizing for African countries. Nonetheless, Africa had continued to give unqualified political support to the Palestinian cause. Over the past three decades, Africa had been at the forefront in supporting United Nations resolutions calling for the convening of an international conference on the Middle East under United Nations auspices.

Africa had therefore welcomed the start in Madrid of the Middle East Peace Conference. It had repeatedly appealed to the Israeli Government to deal directly with the PLO and to allow the Palestinians full participation on an equal footing in the ongoing peace talks.

In conclusion, he stressed that Africa continued to play a leading role in promoting a just solution to the question of Palestine and a comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. These issues were regularly discussed at sessions of the OAU. Israel's brutalities and violations of United Nations resolutions and international norms had also been consistently exposed and castigated by the OAU. Collectively and individually, OAU member States had promoted and supported the search for a just solution to the question of Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict in other international fora such as the Non-Aligned Movement and the Commonwealth. Without a lasting settlement of these issues, peace would continue to elude the Middle East.

B) Regional organizations and the political, economic and
human rights dimension of the Question of Palestine

25. Mr. Khaled Mohammed Khaled, Deputy Director of The Department of Palestine Affairs at the League of Arab States, stressed that the Palestinian cause had been the main focus for the work of the Arab League since its establishment in 1945, dealing with all of its aspects on the political, military, economic and social, as well as on the local, regional and international levels. Arab concern for the Palestinian cause was not only due to the importance of Palestine to the Arab world, but also to an Arab awareness that the establishment of a Zionist entity in Palestine constituted a threat, not only to Palestine and its people, but also to the whole Arab world, and there was complete awareness of the general goals of the Zionist movement aiming at establishing a strong and expansionist State at the expense of the Arab region.

He said that Arab concern for the Palestinian cause was manifested in hundreds of decisions and recommendations adopted by the League's Council of Ministers and its specialized committees covering almost all aspects of the Palestinian cause. On the international level most of the political and information activities of the League of Arab States were devoted to explaining the various aspects of the Palestinian problem and ensuring a better understanding of the cause. This was conducted either separately through the activities of its member States or through the Ministerial Council, the Council of Ambassadors or its offices in various capitals, not to mention the activities of the Arab boycott offices which cost Israel almost $40 billion. The importance the League attached to the Palestinian cause had led to the establishment of the General Department for Palestine Affairs, whose task was to follow up the various developments of the Palestinian cause on all levels and to submit its reports to the League's specialized committees and organs.

In addition to the creation of a specialized department, each of the other general departments followed up the developments of the Palestinian cause, according to its specialization. Elaborating on his organization's structure with regard to the Palestinian issue, he said that other specialized organs were established and the General Department for Palestine Affairs served as a secretariat for those organs. The Committee of Directed Programmes was supervising the broadcasting of educational programmes to students in the occupied territories. The task of the Council of Educational Affairs was to formulate, plan and evaluate the educational policy directed to the people in the occupied territories. The task of the Conference of the Supervisors of Palestinian Affairs in the host countries was to follow up the economic and social developments of the Palestinian people. It submitted its recommendations to the Council of Ministers.

Highlighting the financial support, he said that the ninth Summit Conference held in Baghdad in 1978 had adopted a decision in which a number of Arab States pledged annual financial support of $150 million to the Palestinian people for a period of 10 years. This had led to the establishment of the Joint Jordanian-Palestinian Committee to support the steadfastness of the Palestinian people. The sum of $100 million was put at its disposal while $50 million went to the Palestine Liberation Organization. The joint committee focused its activities on the educational sector, municipal councils and other vital sectors like industry, electricity etc. in order to ensure that they would not fall under the control of the occupation authorities. Other decisions of the League had aimed at giving priority and facilities to Palestinian products especially in the field of agriculture.

In support for the intifadah during its first five months, the Arab Extraordinary Summit Conference held in Algiers in 1988 had allocated $128 million to Palestinian institutions in the occupied territories to enable them to cope with the deteriorating economic situation. The Summit Conference had also allocated a monthly amount of $43 million, that is an annual amount of $516 million to enable Palestinian citizens to face the severe living conditions.

The League's support for the intifadah was also manifested in a number of decisions and recommendations, which did not necessarily take the form of fund-raising, but requested member States to offer direct aid to the Palestinian people. In fact, during the first years of the intifadah, all forms of support were offered to the intifadah in general and to Palestinian economic, social and educational institutions, in particular.

Panel II: Building peace in Jerusalem - the Holy City of three religions

26. Rev. Father Bishara Al-Lahham, Director-General of the Latin Patriarchate Schools in Jerusalem, emphasized that Jerusalem was a city with a divine dimension, the city of God. It was necessary for all those who lived in it or talked about it to rise to that level. To accept Jerusalem as a Holy City for the three monotheistic religions, meant to accept all that it symbolized for the three religions and the two peoples who lived there. Jerusalem was the heart and the capital for two peoples, the Palestinians and the Israelis. The actual inhabitants of Jerusalem had, besides their religious convictions, concrete political and national aspirations. Any solution to the problem must take into consideration that reality. He pointed out that the city was a common heritage for all believers; it could not belong in any exclusive way to anyone. The temptation to monopolize the Holy City had always led to wars.

All believers had a right to the city and each had the right to be what each had chosen to be. Jerusalem was the only city in history and in the world with such a role, and it must be given the opportunity to fulfil it. The only possible solution was one which took into consideration the existing conflicts, the legitimate aspirations of the peoples present there, and the unique transcendent vocation of the Holy City. It was therefore obvious that no political power could alone guarantee the religious liberty required by the very nature of Jerusalem.

He continued by saying that the Church, local as well as universal, had something to say in regard to the final status of Jerusalem, due to its presence there for the past two millenniums, and due to its religious right to be present there. The Church, while respecting the other two monotheistic religions, Islam and Judaism, differed from them in that they both held a faith in which a political dimension was inherent. The Church had no political ambitions. The Church as an institution had the right to be present and a right to liberty. Due to its universal and international dimension, its rights which were recognized by every local political authority, must be upheld by international guarantees. The Church asked for these guarantees for the sake of free access to the Holy Places and religious liberty for individuals. It also asked that the inhabitants of Jerusalem - regardless of their small number - had a status which would define and respect their presence and role in the life and government of the city. And what it asked for itself, the Church also asked for the two other monotheistic religions which were present in the Holy Land.

27. Sheikh Ekrema Sabri (Palestinian), Preacher at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem, pointed out that there were a number of factors linking Muslims with the city of Jerusalem. There was the doctrinal link, since the city occupied a place in the Islamic faith; the devotional link; the cultural link; the political link and the historical link. The imminent dangers facing Jerusalem included the expropriation of land, the building of settlements and the population density of the Jews. Some 27,500 dunums [approximately 2,750 hectares] of land had been confiscated in Jerusalem. A number of settlements had been built in Jerusalem (the Old City) and around it. The demographic situation was that in Arab East Jerusalem there were 152,800 Jews and 150,600 Arabs. The population of Jerusalem as a whole (East and West) was 564,300, of whom 413,700 were Jews, forming 73.2 per cent of the population, while Arabs accounted for 26.7 per cent. Plans were currently being made to step up settlement activity in order to raise the proportion of Jews to 75 per cent and reduce the proportion of Arabs to 25 per cent.

He stressed that the situation in the Old City of Jerusalem was deteriorating and becoming more critical as a result of Judaization measures: the Islamic Magharibah Quarter lying along the western wall of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, had been completely demolished and its inhabitants evicted; the Fakhriyah Zawiyah adjoining the south-western wall of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, had also been razed; and 116 dunums [approximately 11.6 hectares] of land within the walls had been confiscated in order to reduce the population density of Muslims and to settle Jews there. The character of Islamic archaeological and cultural monuments had been altered and numerous excavations had been carried out in search of the putative Temple. However, the archaeological officials had found nothing pertaining to the history or religion of the Jews. There had been a number of forays against the Al-Aqsa Mosque, including excavations beneath and around Al-Aqsa, attempts by Jews to hold prayer services on the Al-Aqsa plaza, attempts on the life of Muslim worshippers and the destruction by fire of the Minbar of Salah al-Din.

He characterized the objectives of the settlements in the city of Jerusalem as follows: to ensure the presence of an absolute majority of Jews in Jerusalem as a trump card in any future peace agreement; to create a fait accompli which would prevent a new partitioning of the city; to achieve a strategic encirclement of the Arab section (East Jerusalem) as a preliminary step towards Judaization; to isolate East Jerusalem from the other regions of Palestine; to induce the Arab inhabitants to build dwellings outside the boundaries of the municipality; and to weaken the Arab Islamic presence in the Old City by refusing to grant building permits to Arabs.

From 1967 to the present, Israeli officials of successive Governments, Labour and Likud alike, had made it clear in their statements on settlement activity and on Jerusalem that they were making and implementing plans to encourage settlement there. They all agreed that Jerusalem was the eternal capital of Israel and would never be a capital for Palestinians, and they refused to negotiate its status.

He outlined a number of proposals for remedying the situation: the Arab population should remain in the country and refrain from emigration; agricultural land should be put to use rather than abandoned and neglected, and agricultural projects should be developed; urban housing developments should be established; production units should be established aimed at achieving self-sufficiency; there should be support for Arab institutions; mosques and educational establishments should be rehabilitated; and a special fund should be established for the protection of land and property in order to prevent their alienation.

28. Rabbi David Forman (Israel), Director of Israel Educational Programs of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and spokesperson of Israeli Rabbis for Human Rights, stressed that Jerusalem was a Holy City of the three monotheistic religions, which had shaped the history, geography, demography and theological bent of the city. But it was also a city of ethnic, political, social and ideological conflicts. Three religions coexisted within two nations locked in a bitter conflict. The religious faiths, however, taught that genuine dialogue among people of differing views was both possible and could bear positive results.

He pointed out that all religions taught tolerance and a collective spirit. Aggressive nationalism had tried to bend religion to endow certain people with a divine mission. Religion had been used as yet another weapon in the arsenal of nationalism. Judaism, Christianity and Islam were based on principles which transcended national and political identity. Religious leaders ought to counteract the tendency to adopt a partisan stance without any compassion for the sufferings and rights of the other side. The praxis and discipline of faith in any one of the three monotheistic religious traditions ought to be presented as a practical path toward justice, righteousness, and peace. Religious contribution to the peace of Jerusalem ought to focus on translating prophetic ideals into everyday imperatives.

If Jerusalem was to serve as the paradigm for peaceful coexistence among Jews, Muslims and Christians, then all resistance to peace had to be broken down. Describing the Jewish historical understanding of Jerusalem's centrality for the Jewish people, he stated that he would never deny the historical claims or spiritual attachments of his co-religionists to that same Holy City. He respected the claims of others. He called for an effort by religious leaders to move to a common reading of history.

He said that Israel would never submit to a divided Jerusalem. At the same time, Christians and Muslims would never relinquish their religious claims. He suggested that they opt for a multiple religious sovereignty within a national sovereignty. He described the dangers of propaganda and called upon the three religions to make a common cause to oppose injustice and oppression, by whomever it was perpetrated, and to defend the victims, no matter to which religious community they belonged. Second-class citizenship was no longer acceptable. The three religions must see justice for all people, which meant the right to be treated as equal citizens; the rights of assembly, free movement, free speech and press, the right to protection from attacks and harassment, the right to participate in government, the right to an open education, the right of economic viability.

In conclusion, he called for a positive religious intervention - Judaism, Islam and Christianity must actively help each person of that faith-tradition to transcend narrow applications of his or her religion in the search for peace. A commitment to historical objectivity, a methodology that incorporated the art of compromise, an adherence to truth, an end to violence, and the equal application of full human, civil, political and national rights for both Israeli Jews and Arabs and Palestinian Muslims and Christians, must serve as the religious ingredients in the quest for the tranquility and peace of Jerusalem.

Panel III: Towards self-determination and statehood

(A) Palestine - Dynamics of State-building

29. Mr. Latif Dori (Israel), Secretary of the Committee for Israeli-Palestinian Dialogue, emphasized that the basic component for a State-building mechanism was a national and popular consensus on the main objective, the establishment of an independent Palestinian State. That consensus was proved by the outbreak of the intifadah. Its persistence to the present showed that despite the enormous economic burden the Palestinian people did not consent to the exchange of their legitimate national rights for improved living conditions and that they were prepared to bear further sufferings in order to achieve those rights. The intifadah had helped strengthen the mechanism for the building of the State. It had rebuilt the Palestinian society through social and political organization and by the building of social and economic institutions, by the formation of a unified national leadership and by its universal character.

During the intifadah the Palestinian people manifested material sacrifice and cooperation, the revival of the household economy, self-reliance, assistance to families in distress, compliance with the instructions of the national leadership, an increased number of benevolent societies, the reclamation of land following the return of a large number of workers dismissed from their jobs inside Israel, a reduction in crime, the inculcation of a spirit of solidarity and social cohesion, and an enhancement of the status of women. Women had participated effectively in all fields and had laid firm foundations for the Palestinian State. He pointed out that another basic component of the mechanism for the building of a State was the human capacities of the Palestinian people. It had highly qualified personnel in all fields and specializations, such as planning, medicine, industry, education, etc., which in time of peace could compete with Israel in economic and social development and could reach a peak of productive innovation.

He also stressed that the mechanism for building a State required the organization of international sympathy and support, mobilizing international public opinion. He concluded by elaborating on the positions and activities of the peace movement in Israel. Its objective was to acquire the support of the Israeli society and to work for two States for two peoples, i.e. an independent State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel.

30. Mr. Essa Moosa (South Africa), Member of the Constitutional Committee of the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa, emphasized that there were striking similarities in the struggle of the peoples of Palestine and South Africa for freedom and self-determination. Both countries had been colonized and subjugated by colonial powers. The Palestinians had resisted the unilateral declaration of statehood by Israel and likewise the South Africans had resisted the formation of the apartheid State. Like the ANC, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had become the authentic voice and representative of the Palestinian people. Both organizations had conducted the armed struggle against the regimes in their respective countries from foreign soil. Both organizations had been given observer status with the United Nations. The United Nations had recognized the inalienable right of the Palestinians and of the oppressed people of South Africa to self-determination, the fundamental human right embodied in the United Nations Covenants. Citing parallels in the cases of Namibia and Western Sahara he stated that the Palestinians had a good case for the International Court of Justice to obtain a judgement in their favour on their right to self-determination. He continued by saying that the struggle against domination and oppression had also been very similar. He highlighted internal resistance through boycotts, mass action, strikes and armed action in addition to external pressures through sanctions, boycotts and international isolation.

He criticized Israel for continuing with its expansionist policy, permitting Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, bulldozing homes of Palestinian activists and forcibly removing and banishing Palestinians to no-man's land without due process of law, which seriously undermined the negotiating process.

He pointed out that the Palestinian people, like the people of South Africa, must be prepared to compromise in order to attain their objectives. But compromises should not undermine the legitimate aspirations of a people for self-determination. The question of statehood in South Africa was simple, as there were recognized boundaries. In the Palestinian case, however, disputes over boundaries, Jewish settlements, the vast immigration of Jews as well as the problem of Palestinian refugees had complicated matters. In order to achieve statehood, the borders of the country must be identified in a way to provide security, to be accepted by the international community and to include the majority of Palestinians. Boundaries should be such as to guarantee territorial sovereignty and political independence. The Palestinians would have to work out the political structures and a constitution to define the extent of the territory, the seat of government, symbols, language, citizenship, Bill of Rights, form of government, electoral system, judiciary, civil service and security forces. Palestinians would also have to solicit international support for their cause from NGOs, government agencies, international forums, governments, etc. They must forcefully put their case to the international community. They must disseminate information concerning the struggle of the Palestinian people to the international community, creating channels of communication and making use of existing ones. Major international news agencies were not sympathetic to the cause of the Palestinians which brought about much ignorance and misinformation which should be corrected.

In conclusion, he stressed the strong affinity between the oppressed people of South Africa and the people of Palestine.

31. Mr. R. A. Kaakunga (Namibia), Professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Namibia, pointed out that the struggle of the Palestinian people for self-determination and statehood was a just and legitimate struggle based on the principles of international law. He elaborated on the evolution of the right to self-determination as a principle of international law through decisions of the United Nations General Assembly, the Security Council and rulings of the International Court of Justice. Self-determination had become prominent as an international imperative with the entry into force of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The General Assembly in 1974 had specifically called for self-determination in Palestine. The right to self-determination had also been clearly established by the International Court of Justice. In 1960, the Court had determined that the interpretation of law should be in accordance with changing international circumstances. That reference was clearly to the independence movements under way around the world.

The Court had returned to the principle of self-determination in its 1971 Advisory opinion on South West Africa. That decision had determined the central normative significance of various Assembly resolutions. According to the Court, such resolutions were accepted and recognized by the international community as norms from which no derogation was permitted. The people of Palestine, like other subjugated people, had a right to self-determination in their own State.

In conclusion, he expressed the hope that the ongoing round of Middle East peace talks would lead to the achievement by the Palestinians of their legitimate right to self-determination in their homeland.

B) The role of the media and public opinion in nation-building

32. Mr. Bara Diouf (Senegal), former member of Parliament and Director of "Le Soleil" newspaper, stressed that the role of the media was essential to the struggle of the Palestinian people. Citing the example of the Persian Gulf War, he said that the media can completely change public opinion, that they had been utilized to mobilize international support for the war against Iraq. To the same extent, the media could contribute in shaping a national public opinion. The Middle East media could help to condemn all injustices. Newspapers could become more involved in the creation of a nation by making history known and discussing the relations between Arabs and Jews from a historic point of view. The media could contribute to uniting a people around a common cause. They should also explain the whole truth to their audience, as, for example, the reason for the ongoing difficult situation of the PLO. The Palestinian people were facing their most difficult time and were in urgent need of media favourable to their cause. The media should contribute to the reconciliation of Jews and Arabs. As a historic example, he cited the evolution of the relations between France and Germany after World War II and called on the major media in the Middle East to follow this example.

33. Mr. Mohammed Larbi Messari (Morocco), Secretary-General of the Writers' Union, gave a historic overview of the development of the Palestinian media and said that under the British mandate, they faced very adverse circumstances. The media had always been impoverished and subjected to severe restrictions and cultural and political isolation. They had been able, however, to mobilize society for national objectives. The Palestinian elite's ideas and positions at that time had found expression in newspapers with diverse orientations, languages and publishing locations. Most of these newspapers were politically and socially oriented, demonstrating an active political and cultural life in Palestine immediately before 1948. After 1948, Palestinians were dispersed among Arab and other countries. The PLO had established its own information service and scientific institutions.

In the Palestinian territories under Israeli occupation, there was a journalistic movement which was very active in spite of the harassment to which it was subjected. Quoting from an Israeli study, he noted that during the past two decades, the practical development of the Palestinian press in the West Bank had faced extreme difficulties, mainly due to Israeli censorship which had hampered the production, distribution and even the reading of newspapers.

The Palestinian press was singled out for censorship in a biased manner. Editors of the Palestinian newspapers were required to submit to the military censorship office, twice every night, all the material that they intended to publish. Delays were hampering the distribution of newspapers at an early hour on the following day. Under military law provisions enacted since 1948, journalists publishing various types of articles were subject to arrest, confiscation, removal from the publishing premises and even deportation. Due to all these difficulties the circulation of newspapers was rather low, which caused financial strains and adverse effects on the social status of journalists and on the professional standards of the newspapers. The International Federation of Journalists had repeatedly implored Israeli authorities to stop harassing journalists.

Despite all that, Palestinian media put emphasis on the expression of Palestinian national identity. The intifadah had imposed itself on the international information media. Its slogans reflected Palestinian pluralism, freedom of action and organization; they welcomed peace and strongly emphasized the need for the Palestinians to close ranks.

He concluded that the Palestinian information media played a role in expressing the concerns and national personality of their people through the information organs of the PLO, the press institutions in the occupied territories and the pens of Palestinian writers living in all parts of the Arab world. The Palestinian homeland was also kept alive through the Palestinian information media which expressed a mature and organized public opinion that was mobilized to embrace its destiny.

Panel IV: The need to revive the economy in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem

A) Mobilization of international assistance to promote self-reliance
and sustainable development

34. Mr. Ibrahim Dakkak (Palestinian), Development Consultant, stressed that the relationship between development and the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and its impact on peace and stability in the Middle East was a matter of urgent concern. The bilateral and the multilateral talks were supposed to converge in the formulation of a plan for a political and development-related solution acceptable to the parties concerned.

He pointed out that the crisis in relations between the Palestinians and Israelis had been complicated by a situation of "de-development", documented in an actual decline in the economy of the Palestinian people. The situation was characterized by the loss of local initiative, the rapidly increasing dependence of Palestinian national income on factors associated with income from abroad, and external remittances including assistance provided by donor bodies. A continuing and widening economic discrepancy between Israelis and Palestinians threatened to destabilize whatever cooperative arrangements could be made.

The achievement of peace would require a mechanism to facilitate the shift from the existing state of conflict to a state of fruitful regional cooperation. He criticized the role played by external assistance as being negative. Differences in motives, policies and programmes made it difficult to harmonize activities. There was duplication of services in some areas, whereas others lacked any assistance. The disparity in performance and approach indirectly helped to strengthen Israeli usurpation mechanisms, in addition to increasing the Palestinians' dependence on the Israeli system and weakening the structure of their self-reliance.

He concluded that proof of good intentions on the part of the donors, in particular, of the participants in the bi- and multilateral talks was urgently required. They should explicitly recognize the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and orient their assistance towards establishing peace and cooperation in the Middle East.

35. Ms. Kathy Bergen (Canada), Executive Secretary of the International Coordinating Committee for NGOs on the Question of Palestine, said that 26 years of military occupation and the closure of the occupied territories had left the economy there in shambles. Development programmes had been impeded by the Israeli authorities since 1967. NGOs working in the occupied territories had been forced to seek permission from the Israeli civil authorities for every aspect of their work. She criticized Governments who ceased their assistance programmes after the Persian Gulf War.

She stated that the closure of the occupied territories had had dramatic effects. The north and south areas of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza were all divided from one another, with a destructive effect on an already shattered economy. Israel had always tried to keep Palestinian products from competing with its own, and the closure had made it impossible for Palestinians to move from one part of the occupied territories to another. The West Bank was losing $2 million, and Gaza $750,000 per day in wages lost by idled day laborers who formerly worked in Israel. A glut of unsold produce had led to a fall in prices.

She pointed out that Israel continued to supply its own population with fresh water at the expense of the Palestinian population. Water authorities from Israel had confiscated 80 per cent of the water in the West Bank for Israeli use. The demand for water was rising due to an increasing Palestinian population. There was no technical reason why water could not be provided. Israel, as the occupying Power, was obliged, under international law and the Geneva Convention, to provide the occupied population with the same amount of water that it provided for its own population.

She said that the natural resources, land, water and human resources in the occupied territories were sufficient to provide for meaningful economic development which, however, could not take place until the occupation ceased. International NGOs had chosen to continue their work despite the obstacles posed by the Israeli authorities. Sustainable development could only be achieved in an environment of independence and sovereignty.

She concluded that the Palestinian people needed funding for their institutions, investment, infrastructure assistance for hardship cases in the wake of the closure, as well as the participation of multilateral financial institutions. The support of the international community was needed for ongoing development projects. Given the changing circumstances in the occupied territories today, solidarity was more important than ever.

C. NGO Workshops

36. Separate workshops were held specifically for African NGOs to consider the following topics:

(a) Actions by African NGOs to promote efforts to put an end to Israel's violations of human rights of the Palestinian people
(b) Mobilization and networking by NGOs to promote a just, comprehensive and lasting solution of the question of Palestine
Workshop I

37. Mr. Ousmane Camara, Vice-President of the Afro-Asian Peoples' Solidarity Organization (AAPSO) and representative of the African Coordinating Committee for NGOs on the Question of Palestine, noted that all the African countries had been under colonial domination when the Palestinian problem first appeared on the international scene. Africa had since recovered its independence. The same could not be said for Palestine which continued to endure a bloody and humiliating colonialism. He stressed that all of Africa supported the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people. Despite the economic crisis and the drawbacks resulting from the democratization process, African NGOs were unswerving in their support of the Palestinian cause.

The question of Palestine was on the agendas of the various African and international fora. There was a continued need for vigilance and mobilization until the Palestinian state was established. Emphasis should be placed on those things that NGOs could do best. There should be people-to-people cooperation in areas such as programmes for women and children and other activities of common focus between the African and Palestinian NGOs.

Workshop II

38. Ms. Kathy Bergen, Executive Secretary of the International Coordinating Committee for NGOs on the Question of Palestine, said that since 1967 the Palestinian institutions, Palestinian NGOs and international NGOs working in the occupied Palestinian territory have had to have all their development projects approved by the Israeli Military Civil Administration. The occupation authority was responsible for the deterioration of development, through random granting or denial of permission. She observed that the Israeli policies were designed to keep the Palestinians subservient to the occupying power and dependent on the Israeli economy.

The 24-hour and 38-day curfew imposed on the occupied Palestinian territory during the Gulf War had greatly damaged its economy. In this regard, she said that the international NGOs did not understand "how the Governments that had contributed to the development of the Palestinian economy in the years prior to the Gulf War could sit by and allow this destruction to take place in front of their eyes". The restrictions on travel and transportation of produce within the occupied territory and between the occupied territory and Israel had devastated its economy. In addition, the dumping of Israeli products in the occupied Palestinian territory further depressed its economy and lowered employment opportunity. According to Israel's Military Civil Administration between 30,000 and 35,000 Palestinians from Gaza worked as day labourers in Israel before the closure accounting for 50 per cent of the Gaza gross national product (GNP). Furthermore, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) statistics indicated that the West Bank lost $2 million and Gaza $750,000 in daily wages.

With reference to water supplies, the Israeli Administration withheld water from the Palestinians who had not been adequately provided with water since 1967, an action which was in contravention of Article 55 of the Convention Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, with Annex Regulations 1/ and Article 47 of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.2/

In conclusion, Ms. Bergen reiterated that several international NGOs which saw their role as "developmental" rather than `political' had decided to continue with their development projects. However, sustainable development could only be realized when a comprehensive, just and lasting peace had been achieved and the Palestinian people would be able to exercise all their rights in their own land over their own resources including their national and political rights. In this regard, the international community should continue to work in partnership with the Palestinians in development projects, not overlooking the necessary solidarity in assisting the Palestinians in achieving a just and lasting peace and building a Palestinian state.

Ms. Bergen also briefed the NGOs on some of the work of the International Coordinating Committee for NGOs on the Question of Palestine (ICCP). The ICCP had carried out its NGO cooperation through its newsletter, the Peace Conference Information Project and the Fax Tree. Her office liaised closely with the various regional NGO coordinating committees regarding international solidarity and assistance programmes to the Palestinian people.

D. Conclusions and recommendations of the Seminar and NGO Symposium

39. Participants reviewed the current situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem. They expressed grave concern at the continuing human rights abuses, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. They called on Israel, the occupying Power, to recognize the de jure applicability of the Convention to the occupied territory and to implement it immediately and fully. They considered that this was a fundamental obligation under international law and the relevant Security Council resolutions. They called upon the international community, and the High Contracting Parties in particular, to assume their obligations under the Convention to ensure respect for its provisions in all circumstances, and to provide international protection for the Palestinians until the end of the occupation.

40. Participants called on the Israeli Government to take a number of immediate measures as a step toward peace and reconciliation between the two peoples, in particular the release of all political prisoners and administrative detainees; the return of deportees; an end to the activities of undercover units and other repressive actions of the military forces; an end to the destruction of houses, as well as taking other measures to restore respect for human rights and lighten the burden of occupation during the transition period.

41. Grave concern was expressed at the continued closure of the occupied territory and the separation of East Jerusalem from the West Bank which had resulted in dividing the occupied territory into four separate areas. Furthermore, this had caused loss of employment and hardships for large numbers of Palestinian workers, and had drastically limited access by Palestinians to places of worship, schools, health care facilities, and utility services. Participants were especially alarmed at reports of the dramatic situation in Gaza, in particular the grave aggravation in the health condition of the population, the environmental deterioration and lack of water. The participants called for closer cooperation between NGOs and the Palestine Health Council to identify needs and assistance programmes. Israel was urgently called upon to end the blockade of the occupied territory and to restore full access to Jerusalem.

42. Participants engaged in a frank and constructive debate on the role of Africa in promoting a just, comprehensive and lasting solution of the question of Palestine as well as the role of regional organizations in this respect.

43. It was pointed out that African countries, which were still for the most part under colonial rule at the time of the partition of Palestine in 1947, felt a fundamental kinship with the Palestinian people. Their solidarity was rooted in a moral and ethical position and a clear understanding of the historical and political situation. Following their independence and the establishment of the OAU, the African countries had been able to lend increasingly concerted and coordinated support to the Palestinian struggle in the United Nations and other international fora. Participants acknowledged Africa's continued principled position and steadfast support for the achievement of Palestinian rights.

44. Past experience and future possibilities in the relations between African and Arab countries were also reviewed. It was stressed that it was of the greatest importance to strengthen cooperation, economic and otherwise, between African and Arab countries, in order to stimulate mutually beneficial development.

45. Participants appreciated and affirmed the continuing work and involvement of the African and international NGOs working on the question of Palestine. The importance of consolidating active channels of communication between Palestinian and African organizations was emphasized.

46. Participants examined the problem of how to build peace in Jerusalem, Holy City of three religions and of great spiritual value, without monopoly by any quarter. The Israeli policy of annexation and judaization of Jerusalem, its encirclement with Jewish settlements and its separation from the rest of the occupied territories in recent months, caused the most serious concern. Participants stressed that a just solution regarding Jerusalem was indispensable for a settlement of the question of Palestine and called for an end to the policy of settlement, the reopening of the city, freedom of access to the holy places and respect for religious liberties, pending negotiations on a final settlement. Support was expressed in this regard for the work of the Al Quds Committee of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Calls were also made for an effective involvement by leaders from the three religions in promoting a peaceful solution of the problem of Jerusalem.

47. Participants discussed the achievement of the right to self-determination and independence of the Palestinian people and the dynamics of state and nation-building, including the role of the media and public opinion. It was emphasized that the right to self-determination was an inalienable right recognized in international law. Participants expressed support for the intifadah, through which the Palestinian people had expressed its national consensus in rejection of the occupation and for the establishment of a Palestinian State. The intifadah had also helped strengthen the institutional mechanisms and the social and political foundations for future statehood, under the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

48. It was pointed out that there were many parallels between the struggle of the Palestinian people and that of the oppressed people of South Africa and that use could be made of their experience. The importance of providing information and mobilizing international sympathy and support for the Palestinian cause was stressed in this regard.

49. It was also emphasized that the Palestinian information media, both in the occupied territories, and in the diaspora, were playing an indispensable role in expressing the concerns and national personality of the Palestinian people and in keeping the national consciousness alive. The occupying Power was called upon to cease all harassment of Palestinian journalists and foreign journalists attempting to provide information on the situation in the occupied territory to the outside public. It was suggested to the Committee to organize a seminar with the participation of mass media from the African and other regions and representatives of the Palestinian media to discuss strategies and means of practical cooperation in order to advance the cause of the Palestinian people.

50. Participants emphasized that a revival of the Palestinian economy and its independent development were essential underpinnings for the full exercise of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people and the building of an independent State. Israel was called upon to end its policy of control and subordination of the Palestinian economy and resources, in particular water resources and land, and to remove the obstacles to development projects by NGOs and other international donors. It was concluded that while immediate and substantial economic and financial assistance was desirable, only the end of occupation and the restoration to the Palestinian people of complete control over its national resources would ensure the realization of self-reliant and sustainable development.

51. Participants called for unimpeded access of United Nations bodies and specialized agencies to the occupied Palestinian territory in order to carry out their programmes and studies. The need was felt for the creation of an appropriate mechanism to undertake coordination between various donors and United Nations system organizations and agencies, and the PLO. It was suggested that the Committee organize under its auspices round-tables on economic revitalization of the occupied Palestinian territory which would be of particular importance in the transitional period. Various practical measures to assist the Palestinian people living in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, were suggested such as twinning of towns and institutions like universities, hospitals and others, to provide for exchange of staff, students, teachers and various technical assistance. Participants called upon the international community, particularly the industrial countries, to increase their contribution to the budget of UNRWA to enable UNRWA to fulfil its responsibility towards the Palestinian people.

52. Participants were apprised of the turning point in the peace process which took place while the meeting was in progress, and the draft declaration of principles by Israel and the PLO providing for initial steps towards Palestinian self-government, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Jericho and the Gaza Strip and a framework for negotiations leading to a permanent settlement. In welcoming and supporting this evolution, they considered that courage and leadership were required at this crucial stage in the peace process. This development was viewed as a first step to a just and comprehensive peace based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), and the realization of the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination.

53. They stressed that it was essential for the international community as a whole to intensify further its support for the Palestinian people and its legitimate representative, the PLO, during the difficult transition process ahead. They called for effective help to be given to the Palestinian people in constructing its future institutions and rebuilding its social infrastructure and economy, indispensable foundations for the full exercise of its inalienable rights.

54. Participants reaffirmed the permanent responsibility of the United Nations towards a just and comprehensive solution of the question of Palestine. In this regard they stressed the importance of the United Nations role in providing every assistance with the aim of contributing to the establishment of peace in the Middle East.

E. Proposals adopted by the African NGOs

55. The NGOs participating in the Symposium adopted the following action-oriented proposals emanating from the workshops:

56. The NGO participants decided to extend the term of office of the African Coordinating Committee for NGOs on the Question of Palestine and to increase its membership to include two members from Senegal and one member from Kenya.


1/ British and Foreign State Papers, vol. 100, p. 338.

2/ United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 75, No. I-973, p. 287. The participants in the United Nations Seminar and NGO Symposium on the Question of Palestine, being held from 30 August to 3 September 1993 in Dakar, Senegal, express their profound thanks to the Government and people of Senegal for generously providing a venue for this meeting and for the excellent arrangements made which greatly contributed to its success. The participants wish also to convey their sincere gratitude and appreciation to H.E. Mr. Ousmane Tanor Dieng, Minister of State, Minister for Services and Presidential Affairs of Senegal, for his statement of warm support for the Palestinian cause and our Seminar and NGO Symposium. The participants take this opportunity to convey their sincere appreciation to the Government and people of Senegal for their consistent support for the exercise by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights and for the active role they had played in advancing the cause of peace and justice in the Middle East on the basis of the Charter and the resolutions of the United Nations. Mr. Hedi BEN NASR (Tunisia)
Ms. Kathy BERGEN (Canada)
Rev. Father BISHARA AL-LAHHAM (Palestinian)
Mr. Ousmane CAMARA (Guinea)
Mr. Chitsaka CHIPAZIWA (Zimbabwe)
Mr. Ibrahim DAKKAK (Palestinian)
Mr. Bara DIOUF (Senegal)
Mr. Latif DORI (Israel)
Mr. Dianguina dit Yaya DOUCOURE (Mali)
Mr. Eitan FELNER (Israel)
Rabbi David FORMAN (Israel)
Mr. O. R. KAAKUNGA (Namibia)
Mr. Latyr KAMARA (Senegal)
Mr. Khalid Mohamed KHALID (League of Arab States)
Mr. Mohamed Larbi MESSARI (Morocco)
Mr. Essa MOOSA (South Africa)
Mr. Sheikh Ekrema SABRI (Palestinian)
Mr. K. B. S. SIMPSON (Ghana)
Dr. Ahmad YAZIJI (Palestinian)

Delegation of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable
Rights of the Palestinian People

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