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

21 February 1980

Committee on Rights of
Palestinian People
48th Meeting (AM)

Secretary-General Will Also Receive Letter; Committee Decides
on Elements of 1980 Work Programme

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People decided this morning to address letters to the President of the Security Council and the Secretary-General, drawing their attention to the "obstacle to peace" caused by recent developments in the territories occupied by Israel.

The letters, the Committee decided, will describe these developments as "a direct threat to the inalienable rights to the Palestinian people".

The Committee asked its acting Chairman, Falilou Kane (Senegal), to submit the Committee's views personally to the Council at its forthcoming meeting on the subject.

Also this morning, the Committee agreed on elements of its programme of work for the year as well as on the work programme of the Secretariat's Special Unit on Palestinian Rights. The plans for the work programme had been recommended by the Committee's Working Group and were presented this morning by the Group's Chairman, Raul Roa Kouri (Cuba).

Under this programme, the Special Unit is to carry out six studies this year, one of which is to be a brief historical survey of the Palestinian question for circulation to secondary school students. The others are to deal with the following subjects:

In addition to these studies, the Unit is also to be asked to begin work on studies on the social, economic and political institutions of the Palestinian people and on the violation of the right of return of Palestinian refugees in Gaza.

Under other aspects of its work programme approved this morning, the Committee decided that it would organize a series of seminars and lecture tours dealing with different aspects of the issue of securing and implementing the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

The seminars -- one in Africa and another in Europe -- would consist of panels for officials, the public, human rights groups and the press. Efforts would be made to televise at least one of the panel discussions. Lecture tours would focus on the United States and Canada, where, in the Working Group's view, information on the Palestine question required dissemination.

The Committee also agreed, at the suggestion of its Working Group, to ask the Special Unit to continue its work of monitoring the views of publications on the question of Palestine. Its first summary, covering January and February, is to be available during the first week in March.

Concerning the United Nations film on Palestine, Mr. Roa Kouri, the Working Group Chairman, reported that the Chief of the Special Unit had indicated that it was available on loan to Permanent Missions from the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI).

The Committee was unable to reach agreement on its officers for 1980. However, in view of the forthcoming Security Council meeting, it decided to function, on an interim basis, with its 1979 officers.

Statements on Recent Developments

Speaking on the question of recent developments in the Israeli-occupied territories, the acting Chairman, Mr. KANE (Senegal) said that the Committee had agreed to the provisional arrangements regarding its officers in order to enable it to carry out its important work while consultations were proceeding in the African Group on the election of the Committee's officers for the current year.

He said that one could not overestimate the serious implications regarding Israel's decision to establish a colony in the West Bank at Hebron.

Israel had undertaken a policy of progressive annexation in the West Bank and Gaza, including the Holy City of Jerusalem. The Committee was vitally concerned over the situation and it must react to the recent turn of events.

He suggested that a letter be sent by the Committee to the Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council to draw their attention to this obstacle to peace which was a direct threat to the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. He also proposed that he submit personally to the Council the Committee's views on the matter.

ZEHDI LABIB TERZI, observer from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said that the Committee had provided the Palestinian people with more hope to the effect that the international community understood and supported their cause. He hoped that the Chairman would be among the first speakers to express condemnation against the crimes committed by the forces of occupation.

Recent developments fell within a set pattern, he said. It was one demonstration of how the Zionist occupation forces were implementing their designs.

Recent developments, he went on, demonstrated the contempt for the international community by the Zionists. Not only was it a threat to international peace and security, but a plan to eliminate physically the Palestinian people from their homeland.

He hoped that the mandate of the Commission set up by the Security Council to investigate conditions in the occupied territories would be renewed. The Council should condemn the Zionist action, declare that the territories were under military occupation and therefore subject to relevant Geneva Conventions and that all Israeli legislation with respect to the occupied territories was null and void. Sanctions should be applied by the Council to force Israel to comply with the decisions of the Security Council and the General Assembly, he stated.

RAUL ROA-KOURI (Cuba) said that the Committee must continue its important work on behalf of the just cause of the Palestinian people. He supported the Chairman's proposal to address a letter to the Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council. Moreover, the Chairman should point out that human rights violations not only occurred at Al-Khalil, but in all the lands occupied by Israel. The Chairman should denounce Israel's systematic violations of human rights in all the occupied territories, not just in Al-Khalil and Hebron.

DZEVAD H. MUJEZINOVIC (Yugoslavia) said that it was clear that a premeditated plan further to annex the occupied territories and to eliminate the Palestinian people from their soil was being undertaken by Israel. The Chairman should express the Committee's deep concern over the situation. He recalled that a Committee studying human rights in the occupied territories had issued a report containing a number of valuable observations and proposals.

VICTOR J. GAUCI (Malta) supported the proposal that the Committee convey a letter to the President of the Security Council expressing its strong opposition to the latest actions by Israel aimed at annexing the occupied territories.

The Committee should stress that the situation in the Middle East could not improve unless the rights of the Palestinian people were defended by concrete action. Real progress should be achieved in defence of the interests of the Palestinian people.

AHMED ISMAT ABDEL MEGUID, observer from Egypt, said that his delegation supported the Chairman's proposals. The position of Egypt had been clearly stated in a letter addressed to the President of the Security Council (document A/35/102-S/13795).

In that letter, Egypt had condemned the action of Israel in Al-Khalil. He intended to express his views in the Council. He believed that the Council's Commission should be made permanent and suggested that the name "Hebron" should not be used. The name "Al-Khalil" was the real name of the area concerned.

Mr. TERZI, observer from the PLO, said that the Chairman of the Commission should be invited to make a statement to the Council. Also, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) had issued a useful report on the occupied territories, he pointed out. A representative of UNESCO should present that report.

The Chairman, Mr. KANE (Senegal), said he believed that representatives of the specialized agencies could not be invited to make statements to the Security Council. He would inquire into that matter. He said that the statements just made had demonstrated that the situation was indeed serious.

Statements on Programme of Work

AWN S. AL-KHASAWNEH, observer from Jordan, said that there was no need for a study of the juridical status of Gaza and the West Bank. The matter was clear; they were under military occupation. Jordan was directly involved in the question of sovereignty, he pointed out. He questioned the wisdom of studying a matter that was not open to question.

Mr. ROA-KOURI (Cuba) said that the study proposed was not yet in existence. The object of the study would be to demonstrate the illegality of the presence of foreign troops in Gaza and the West Bank. In no way would the study be aimed at justifying the occupation of those region.

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