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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
31 March 1992
(Document 3)

A compilation of papers presented
at the United Nations seminars on
the question of Palestine in 1980-1986

United Nations
New York, 1992



(15-19 March 1982, New York, United States of America)

A. The Camp David accords and the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people
B. Palestinian rights: resonance in the life and themes of Pope John Paul II
Joseph L. Ryan, S.J. (Pontifical Mission for Palestine, Amman, Jordan)
C. The fundamental rights of the Palestinian people
D. The Palestinians in Israel: an internally colonized minority
Elia Zureik (Professor of Sociology, Queen's University, (Kingston, Canada)

(12-16 April 1982, Valletta, Malta)

A. The inalienable rights of the Palestinian people
Andrew Faulds (Member of Parliament, House of Commons, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)

B. The rights of the Palestinian people and the territorial question
C. Basic rights of the Palestinian people
D. Fundamental rights of the Palestinian people
Vladimir Koshelev (Assistant Professor, Byelorussian State University, Byelorussian SSR)

E. International aspects of the Palestinian rights
Jerzy Piotrowski (Member, Polish Institute for International Affairs)

F. Impossibility of exercising the national rights of the Palestinian people in the situation of Israeli military occupation and permanent aggression against Arabic countries and peoples
Bécir Meholjic

G. Israeli policy of settlements in the occupied Arab territories
(9-13 August 1982, Dakar, Senegal)

A. Palestine and Namibia: Two focal points for Arabs and African solidarity
Harold A. McDougall (Attorney, Professor, Antioch School of Law
Washington, D.C., United States of America)

B. Violations of Palestinian rights: South African parallels
Alfred Moleah (Associate Professor of Political Science, Department of Pan-African Studies
Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America)

C. The fundamental rights of the Palestinian people
Saturnin K. Soglo (First Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Benin to the United Nations)

D. The fundamental rights of the Palestinian people
Seydou Madani Sy (Rector, University of Dakar, Senegal)

E. Palestinian women and development in the occupied West Bank
Rita Giacaman (Assistant Professor, Birzeit University, West Bank)

F. Zionist policies of extermination and expansion in the occupied territories
Maki N'Diaye (Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mali)



(15-19 March 1982,
New York, United States of America)


Jamal R. Nassar
(Professor, Department of Political Science, Illinois State University,
Normal, Illinois, United States of America)

Early Zionist leaders described Palestine as "A land without a people for a people without a land".1/ But when Jews arrived in Palestine, they found not a vacant land but a land inhabited by Palestinian Arabs since centuries before. The consequent establishment of Israel resulted in a Palestinian diaspora. Today, the Arabs of Palestine are "a people without a land". The "Jewish problem" was solved by creating a "Palestinian problem". While the United Nations partition plan envisioned both Jewish and Palestinian Arab States in Palestine, only a Jewish State was founded. Moreover, this newly founded State in 1948 occupied not half of the land of Palestine, as the United Nations plan called for, but more than three quarters of it. The Palestinian Arab State, on the other hand, is yet to be created.

Because Israel was founded in war and not in peace, the conflict lingered on. In the process, Israel has come to occupy all of Palestine and even territories of neighbouring Arab countries. Until recently, the Palestinians had been a forgotten element in what came to be known as the Arab-Israeli conflict. Today, however, there is no dispute as to the centrality of the Palestinian dimension in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

This study has three objectives. First, it will seek to develop an understanding of the contextual setting of some of the lingering fundamentals involved in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict which, so far, have prevented the Palestinian people from achieving its fundamental right to self-determination. Secondly, it will investigate the evolution of the Camp David accords. Thirdly, it will discuss and evaluate Palestinian perceptions of the accords and their reasoning behind their almost immediate rejection of Camp David.

1. Contextual setting of the conflict

An objective observer could construct a "Palestinian case" and a "Jewish case" based on historical experiences. Ironically, both cases would have a high degree of persuasiveness. The Palestinian case is based on the premises that colonial powers in conjunction with zionism imposed a European migration, a Jewish State, and a Palestinian diaspora, in total disregard of the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the population, innocent of any charge. The Zionist case relies on the aspiration of a people who suffered exile and savage persecution. The conflict between the two peoples has been recognized from the start. The issues involved in this conflict are moral, legal, cultural, historical, and religious. Both sides regard their right as self-evident and firmly based on logic and law. Over the years, each side has committed acts that the other is neither willing to forget nor forgive. After decades of war, passions replaced reason and irrationality became commonplace. Today, it is no longer a simple task for the two peoples to distinguish between passion and reason.

Further complicating the process of peace is the fact that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been effectively subordinated to regional and international concerns. Often we discuss Palestinian-Israeli conflict as an Arab-Israeli one. Even more, analysts and diplomats sometimes subordinate Middle Eastern concerns to global ones. Thus, détente and the cold war intermingle with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

While these concerns are legitimate and must be taken into account, one must not blur his vision by looking only at them. The heart of the problem, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, must remain the central issue if peace is to be based on reason.

The roots of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict date back to the year 1895 when Theodor Herzl, a European Jewish thinker, wrote his book The Jewish State. In that book, Herzl advocated the creation of a Jewish State as a remedy to anti-Semitism in Europe. In addressing himself to the issue of territorial location of the advocated state, he wrote: "We shall take what is given to us, and what is selected by Jewish public opinion."3/

In response to Herzl's call, the First Zionist Congress met at Basle on 29 August 1897. In his opening address, Herzl stated the objective of the meeting in the following words: "We are here to lay the foundation stone of the house which is to shelter the Jewish nation".4/ The Congress then enthusiastically proceeded to found the Zionist Organization. By the time they were ready to adjourn, three days later, the conferees agreed on Palestine for the location of the proposed State and issued a statement that came to be known as the Basle Program. The Program stated that "the aim of Zionism is to create for the Jewish people a home in Palestine secured by public law".5/

The Basle Program was well received in the European press. But one conclusion stands out as significant; this was reported by a Jewish critic of zionism, Judah L. Magnes, who said: "We seem to have thought of everything except the Arabs".6/ In fact, there are indications that many of the founders of zionism, including Herzl himself, were not aware that Palestine was an inhabited country. It is reported that "When Herzl's colleague Max Nordau heard for the first time that there was an Arab population in Palestine, he ran to Herzl crying: 'I did not know that: but then, we are committing an injustice!' Herzl gave him the silent treatment".7/

During the first half of the twentieth century, the history of Palestine was basically a history of triangular struggle for control and sovereignty. Officially, the country was placed under British control in the Mandate system. Naturally, the Palestinians rejected the Mandate and struggled for independence. On their part, the British denied the Palestinians the right to self-determination and implemented policies designed to promote the establishment of a "Jewish national home" to honor their commitment to zionism as expressed in the Balfour Declaration.

The Palestinian struggle was ultimately defeated and by 1947, the Zionists had managed to acquire sufficient strength and organization as to force the British into abandoning the Mandate. Thus, the United Nations took up the issue and recommended the partitioning of Palestine. The Palestinians, who made up more than 70 per cent of the population, rejected the partition plan as a violation of their right to self-determination. Immediately thereafter, "Palestine experienced its worst bicommunal war".8/ On 15 May 1948, the Zionist leadership declared the establishment of the State of Israel. It was at this juncture that the full Arabization of the conflict occurred. Military units from seven Arab countries entered Palestine in an effort to aid fellow Palestinian Arabs. However, "they lacked common leadership and a coherent plan of action".9/ Thus, by the time Dr. Ralph Bunche, the United Nations Mediator, was able to arrange for armistice agreements in 1949, Israel had gained more territory. Jordan took control of the remaining part of Palestine including the old city of Jerusalem, but excluding the Gaza district, which fell to Egyptian control.

The period preceding the establishment of Israel witnessed an Arab exodus from Palestine. By the end of 1948, most of the Palestinian Arabs were displaced. Until 1967, the Arab countries refused to recognize the new State of Israel. The 1967 war, however, introduced new factors that forced a change on most Arab policy makers. That war transformed Israel from a State occupying a large part of Palestine into a State occupying all of Palestine and territories of other sovereign Arab States. Since then, all parties to the conflict, with the exception of the Palestinians, have come to accept Security Council resolution 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967. Perhaps, the provisions of this resolution are the best indicators of the fundamental political issues in the Arab-Israeli conflict today.

The resolution emphasized "the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace ..."10/ Resolution 242 (1967) includes the following operative provisions:

(a) Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from occupied territories;

(b) Termination of all claims of belligerency and respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries;

(c) Freedom of international navigation;

(d) A just settlement of the refugee problem;

(e) Guarantees for the territorial inviolability and political independence of every State in the area through measures including demilitarized zones.

The Security Council did not plan to provide for the details of a comprehensive settlement but rather a framework for negotiations. Therefore, resolution 242 (1967) is perhaps intentionally vague when it comes to details. Consequently, there have been conflicting interpretations on the part of the disputing parties.

Israel, for example, insisted that it was not required to withdraw to the pre-1967 war boundaries because such a withdrawal would be inconsistent with other provisions of the resolution, mainly those dealing with "secure and recognized boundaries". Since the resolution did not specifically state that Israel must withdraw from all the occupied territories, Israel argued, such an elaboration must be left to be negotiated.

On the other hand, the Arab States interpreted the resolution in terms of what they called "the strict adherence to the rule of the Charter".11/ As such, the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war meant total Israeli withdrawal from all the occupied territories.

The Palestinians, on their part, reject resolution 242 (1967) not because of its vagueness or disputed clauses, but because it did not recognize the "national rights" of the Palestinian people. The only reference to the Palestinians is a call for "a just settlement of the refugee problem". The Palestinians and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) have come to look upon General Assembly resolution 3236 (XXIX), passed in 1974, as superseding Security Council resolution 242 (1967), passed in 1967. This is partly because resolution 3236 (XXIX) affirms Palestinian national rights.

2. Evolution of the Camp David accords

The late United States Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, believed that the Palestine conflict would be solved only with time. His contention was that the new Palestinian generation would be totally unassociated with Palestine and lose memory of the land of their forefathers and of their past. One may argue that the new generation is here. But far from proving Dulles right, the new generation of Palestinians has produced a guerilla movement dedicated to the principles of national liberation and armed struggle.12/

Dulles' mistake was not the first nor the last United States miscalculation in regard to the Palestine conflict. Misperceptions and miscalculations have characterized American policy in the Middle East for some time and across Administrations.

Until 1967, the American approach to the Palestine-Israel conflict was characterized by a two-pronged policy, one emphasizing a military balance of power for containing the conflict and the other identifying the Palestine question with the problem of the refugees. The containment of the conflict was to be guaranteed by a militarily strong Israel. Containment of the conflict was often viewed as part of the overall United States policy of containment directed against Soviet penetration.

United States efforts in regard to Palestinian refugees centered around the Jordan River Development Plan, designed to improve the agricultural conditions for the purpose of absorbing the refugees. Needless to say, this attempt did not succeed because it did not take into account the intense political problems involved in the issue. It also miscalculated the potential for Israeli-Arab cooperation needed for the success of the project. Similarly, the theory that a militarily strong Israel would contain the conflict proved erroneous. Two major wars, one in 1956 and the other in 1967, occurred resulting in a greater Soviet role in the area.

Until 1967, therefore, the United States position favoured the status quo, with the hope of settling the refugees. Underestimating the growth of the Palestinian revolution and Arab persistence in rejecting their defeat of 1967, the Johnson Administration decided to take advantage of the Israeli victory. The feeling in the United States was that the war afforded the Administration the first real opportunity to seek a permanent peace settlement. The principle of negotiating occupied Arab territories in return for lasting peace became the cornerstone of United States policy.

This policy enunciated by President Johnson seemed to have converged with Israeli interests in the resolution of the conflict. More and more, the United States began to identify itself almost completely with Israeli positions. According to Nadav Safran, a Middle East Studies professor at Harvard University, "the continued occupation by Israel of the conquered territories and the blockage of the Suez Canal constituted the main leverage through which the United States sought to achieve its own objective. The Administration did not deem it tactically wise to weaken that leverage by stressing publicly the difference between its official position and Israel's ...".13/ Once the Administration decided on this tactic, it had no choice but to oppose any Soviet-Arab manoeuvres "to eliminate or weaken the leverage held by Israel, which was also its own by offering diplomatic resistance as well as by taking measures such as the resumption of arms shipment to Israel".14/ This policy also converged with the objectives of the domestic pro-Israel sentiments.

Ignoring lessons from history in regard to successful negotiations, United States policy-makers hopelessly attempted to bring the parties to agreement. Historically, successful negotiations occur "when the relative military strengths of the opposing parties is nearly equal: where there is no military gap".15/ Consequently, the Arabs refused to negotiate from a position of inferiority.

It was only after the October 1973 war, when the Arabs achieved what they perceived to be a military stalemate, that negotiations became possible. It was within this context that Dr. Henry Kissinger began his "step by step" diplomacy to reduce the possibility of another confrontation in the area. With the President increasingly preoccupied with domestic scandals, Dr. Kissinger had extraordinary latitude in shaping the details of American policy in the conflict. His consequent "shuttle diplomacy" resulted in partial agreements and gave the misguided impression that peace was almost at hand. By 1976, it was clear that even Dr. Kissinger had failed in bringing about a lasting peace in the region.

Just as the limits of the Kissinger approach were becoming evident, Mr. Carter was assuming power in Washington. It was natural then for the new president to abandon the Kissinger approach in favour of attempting to achieve a comprehensive settlement. Mr. Carter became the first United States president to call for a "Palestinian homeland".16/
He also recognized that the Palestinian question was a "core" issue in the conflict,17/ and even used the concept of the "legitimate rights" of the Palestinian people.18/ As a result, Mr. Carter drew the wrath of the pro-Israeli forces in the country. Consequently he retreated to more traditional positions, taking one step forward and one step back as he persisted in being all things to all people.

Two phases in the evolution of the Carter Mideast policy may be discerned: the first extends form the time Carter assumed office in January 1977, and the second commences with the Sadat journey to Jerusalem. During the first phase, emphasis was placed on a Geneva-style conference attended by all parties for the purpose of negotiating a comprehensive settlement. To carry out this objective, and in recognition of the fact that "lasting peace" would have to involve the Soviet Union, the United States issued a joint declaration with Moscow in October 1977, calling for a Geneva meeting. Procedural questions, however, impeded progress. Central to these questions was the involvement of the Palestinians. Having recognized the centrality of the Palestinian question to the conflict, Mr. Carter was under Soviet and Arab pressure to invite the PLO to the conference. Israeli pressures as well as Congressional demands to fulfil the 1975 Kissinger promise to Israel not to recognize the PLO for as long as it does not recognize Israel, placed Carter in a diplomatic paradox. While he and his advisors knew that "there is no room for agreements without an attempt to tackle the central problem of the Middle East conflict, the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians, which almost certainly means, in practice, the PLO",19/ they could not directly involve the PLO.

The impasse which ensued was interrupted by President Sadat's trip to Jerusalem on 19 November 1977. Sadat's trip to Israel solved Mr. Carter's dilemma by refocusing diplomatic maneouvres on bilateral negotiations between Egypt and Israel. Thus, the call for a Geneva conference was dropped and the second phase of Carter's policy began.

The Sadat trip exposed the erroneous prevailing assumptions about Arab desire for peace; in fact it showed that Sadat wanted peace at any price. Faced with surprise and uncertainty, American decision-makers began to restructure their perceptions with extraordinary speed. Pieces of the Middle East puzzle were quickly rearranged and the Carter Administration moved swiftly to capitalize on the opportunity.

As efforts to negotiate a comprehensive settlement between Egypt and Israel had reached an impasse by the fall of 1978, a United States intervention was seen as the only hope for success. It was at this point that Carter took a major gamble, inviting Sadat and Begin to meet at Camp David. After 13 days of negotiations in total isolation, the three leaders emerged to announce agreement on two accords: a "framework for peace in the Middle East" and a "framework for the conclusion of a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel".

The Camp David agreements were not a final settlement but merely one stage in a process of negotiations. In March 1979, and after Carter had engaged in "shuttle diplomacy", the two countries signed a bilateral peace treaty. The second stage calls for negotiations between Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Palestinian representatives to determine the future of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. These negotiations began in April 1979, with only Egypt and Israel participating.

3. Camp David and Palestinian rights

Official Palestinian rejection of the Camp David accords was immediate. The accords were signed on 17 September 1978 and the PLO Executive Committee issued its first reaction on the following morning of 18 September 1978. In that statement, the PLO referred to the accords as constituting "total surrender by Sadat" and affirmed its "determination to confront and frustrate this conspiracy".21/ The PLO position can better be understood by looking at the basic features of the accords 22/ as they deal with the Palestinians.

The agreements stipulate that a self-governing authority will be created in the West Bank and Gaza. The means for establishing that authority and the powers and responsibilities of the authority are to be negotiated by Israel, Egypt and Jordan. That authority, once established, is to exercise its powers for a transitional five-year period. During the period, negotiations between the three parties as well as representatives of the authority will take place in order to determine the future status of the West Bank and Gaza.

A closer look at the proposed arrangements reveals their defects from the standpoint of Palestinian rights. Major among those is the exclusion of Palestinian representatives from the initial negotiations aimed at prescribing the powers and responsibilities of the self-governing authority. Moreover, the arrangements seem to be based on the Begin Plan of December 1977.23/

According to that plan, "the residents of Judea, Samaria (West Bank) and the Gaza district will elect an Administrative Council ... to (direct) all the administrative affairs relating to the Arab residents" of those areas. "Security and public order", however, "will be the responsibility of the Israeli authorities". Article 24 of the plan proclaims that "Israel stands by its rights and its claims of sovereignty of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza district".24/

While the Camp David agreements do not specifically mention Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza, it does, however, delegate security responsibilities mainly to Israel. The end result in both plans is a separation between the fate of the population and the fate of the land. The population would have self-rule, but the land would be controlled by Israel. The question of sovereignty would simply be indefinitely postponed.

The Camp David agreements also provide for the possibility of including Palestinians in the negotiations over their future. In this regard, one may recall the late President Sadat' keynote address at the thirteenth session of the Palestine National Congress, in March 1977:
Sadat's successors can no longer make such assertions. More moderate statements are being made after Camp David. Even those, however, are subject to limitations. Former United States Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance, for example, told the United Nations General Assembly:
Of course, the negotiations are taking place without Palestinian participation. The Palestinians did not participate partly because Camp David goes against the basic elements of a just solution to their plight and partly because it has no room for their participation as equal and independent partners in the negotiations. The late Dr. Fayez Sayegh, a noted Palestinian scholar, listed six crucial limitations to Palestinian participation:

(a) The agreements specify that "the delegations of Egypt and Jordan may include Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza or other Palestinians as mutually agreed". Therefore, Palestinian inclusion is not mandatory but rather subject to the decision of the Governments of Egypt and Jordan;

(b) The selected Palestinians will also be official representatives not of their people but of the Governments that appoint them;

(c) Should either Government choose to include Palestinians in its delegation - and Egypt did not or could not while Jordan was participating - every Palestinian it selects is subject to a "mutual agreement". Israel therefore can veto the participation of any individual Palestinian;.

(d) Proposals presented by Palestinian members of the Arab delegations must be approved by the delegations prior to its formal presentation;

(e) Proposals unacceptable to Palestinian participants will not be rejected by the Arab delegation concerned unless its Government also finds them unacceptable to it;

(f) Any proposal submitted by a Palestinian participant, assuming that it is endorsed and officially presented by the Arab delegation in which he serves, must be approved by the delegation of Israel before it may be reflected in the final agreement.27/

Under such limitations, the role of the Palestinians, assuming that any will be permitted to choose or participate, is indeed a far cry from the "vital role" about which Mr. Vance spoke.

According to the provisions of the Camp David agreements, during the five-year transitional period, Israeli forces will continue to be stationed in the occupied territories. Having been determined in advance, the subject of continued Israeli military presence in the West Bank and Gaza is not subject to further negotiations. Acceptance of that decision by the "self-governing" authority is mandatory. Therefore, Israeli military occupation will become legitimate for the transitional period, if not permanently. Thus, legitimacy is bestowed upon an occupation that has been condemned by the entire international community as illegal.

Even more disturbing to the Palestinians in particular was the intentional omission of Jerusalem from the scope of powers and responsibilities of the projected self-governing authority. One may recall that Israel formally annexed Jerusalem. The demographic composition of Jerusalem has been altered by the displacement and deportation of thousands of Palestinian residents and the addition of Jewish settlements there. By excluding Jerusalem from the Camp David agreements, the United States and Egypt may have bestowed on Israel an indirect form of recognition of that annexation. Similarly, by not mentioning the Syrian Golan Heights, the Camp David accords gave Israel the opportunity to annex them without appearing to violate the accords.

Another issue that has received much attention in the Western press has been the controversy over Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. From the beginning, there was much confusion on this vital issue, some of it stemming from a mix-up of two distinct documents. It is clear enough that Israeli settlements on Egyptian territory are to be disbanded. But in the agreement on the West Bank and Gaza there is no mention of settlements. The United States insisted that while negotiations were going on, there would be no new settlements. Israel, on the other hand, disagreed. In view of what happened since, it is inexcusable that the Camp David agreements did not contain provisions in this regard. Since the signing of the accords, Israel has not only legitimized existing illegal settlements, but also established new ones and expanded existing ones. It is clear by now that Mr. Begin has chosen to continue to colonize the West Bank and Gaza.

Similar to the Begin Plan of 1977, the Camp David agreements provide for the return of some displaced Palestinians. However, this return is limited to Palestinians displaced from the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, amounting to 10 per cent of the total Palestinian diaspora. Further limitations on this return are provided by giving Israel an explicit veto power over the admission of any person. Therefore, the absolute right of return, recognized in international law, and demanded by the international community - General Assembly resolution 3419 C (XXX), for example - was transformed at Camp David into a selective privilege of admission.

Supporters of the Camp David agreements, mainly here in the United States, tend to emphasize - when faced with criticism - that the agreement declares: "The solution from the negotiations must also recognize the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and their just requirements". This declaration, however, is as hollow as it is worthless. The words "legitimate rights" are surely confusing. If the objective of the negotiations are rights then they are legitimate. If, on the other hand, they are legitimate, then they are rights. "At best, then, the qualification legitimate is a redundance; at worst, it conceals more than it reveals".28/ Such a concept has possibly been incorporated into the agreements as a calculated act to seduce the Palestinians and mislead their supporters, without committing Israel to anything specific.

It is evident from the above that neither the American nor the Israeli Administrations are willing to accept the PLO as a partner in Arab-Israeli negotiations. The Palestine question was viewed as a by-product of the Arab-Israeli conflict and thus its solution falls in the context of Arab-Israeli peace. By dealing separately with the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza, the Camp David agreement has, in effect, attempted to delegitimize the PLO as a representative of the Palestinians and to break Palestinian solidarity behind the PLO. At Camp David, an Israeli, an American and an Egyptian negotiated the future of the Palestinians in the absence of the Palestinians. As a result, the three leaders have attempted a practice that professional medical doctors deplore: sewing the wound with an infection still flaming inside.

Camp David and the Palestinian right to self-determination

Today, the Palestinian right to self-determination is well recognized. At the United Nations, the General Assembly has adopted many resolutions recognizing this Palestinian right. General Assembly resolution 2535 (XXIV) of 10 December 1969, for example, "reaffirms the inalienable rights of the people of Palestine".29/ In 1970, two similar resolutions were adopted. One "condemns those Governments that deny the right to self-determination of peoples recognized as being entitled to it, especially of the peoples of southern Africa and Palestine".30/ The other resolution "recognizes that the people of Palestine are entitled to equal rights and self-determination, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations".31/ Similar resolutions have been adopted every year since. In fact, so many resolutions affirming the Palestinian right to self-determination have been adopted by the United Nations and other international bodies that no single article or book could have the luxury of even listing them all.

The Charter of the United Nations defines the concept of self-determination as the right of all peoples "to determine their political, economic, social and cultural status".32/ This definition is generally accepted by most scholars. For example, Alfred Cobban explains self-determination as the right of each nation "to constitute an independent state and determine its own government".33/ Rupert Emerson defines it as the right of nations "to determine their own destiny and maintain their identity".34/

It goes without saying that the Camp David accords make a mockery of the Palestinian fundamental right to self-determination. In fact, Palestinian destiny was determined in the absence of the Palestinians. One could further argue that the Camp David accords violate United Nations law and thus are in conflict with international law. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the PLO Executive Committee, reflected Palestinian sentiments about Camp David and Palestinian self-determination when he said:

1/ This paper is based on an article by the same author that is forthcoming in Al-Ittihad: a quarterly journal of Islamic studies entitled "The Palestinians and Camp David".

2/ Yasser Arafat, address to the United Nations General Assembly, 13 November 1974.

3/ Theodore Herzl, The Jewish State (New York, Scopus, 1943), p. 42.

4/ Quoted in Arthur Hertzberg, ed., The Zionist Idea: A Historical Analysis and Reader (New York, n.p., 1959), p. 50.

5/ John Norton Moore, ed., The Arab-Israeli Conflict: Documents (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1974), vol. III, p. 4.

6/ Moshe Menuhim, Jewish Critics of Zionism (Detroit, Association of Arab-American University Graduates, 1976), p. 22.

7/ Ibid., p. 11.

8/ Hassan S. Haddad and Basheer K. Mijim, eds., The Arab World: A Handbook (Illinois, Medina Press, 1978), p. 135.

9/ W. F. Abboushi, Political Systems of the Middle East in the 20th Century (New York, Dodd, Mead and Co., 1970), p. 224.

10/ United States, Department of State Bulletin, vol. 57 (1967), p. 218.

11/ Muhammad H. El-Farra, "The role of the U.N. vis-à-vis the Palestine question", Law and Contemporary Problems, vol. 33 (1968), p. 77.

12/ Hisham Sharabi, Palestine Guerillas: Their Credibility and Effectiveness (Beirut, The Institute for Palestine Studies, 1970), p. xi.

13/ Nadav Safran, From War to War: The Arab-Israeli Confrontation, 1948-1967 (New York, Pegasus, 1969), p. 414.

14/ Ibid., p. 415.

15/ W. F. Abboushi, The Angry Arabs (Philadelphia, The Westminster Press, 1974), p. 202.

16/ The New York Times, 17 March 1977.

17/ Ibid., 28 June 1977.

18/ Ibid., 2 October 1977.

19/ Zbigniew Brzezinski and others, "Peace in an international framework", Foreign Policy (Summer 1975), p. 10.

20/ A statement by Dr. Ahmad Dajani issued at Beirut on 10 October 1978. Reprinted in Faith Zeady, ed., Camp David: A New Balfour Declaration (Detroit, A.A.U.G., 1979), pp. 60-70.

21/ PLO, "Statement by the Executive Committee", 18 September 1978. Translated and reproduced in the Journal of Palestine Studies, vol. VIII, No. 2 (Winter 1979), pp. 177-179.

22/ Ibid., pp. 205-214.

23/ For the full text of the Begin Plan, see The Jerusalem Post, 29 December 1977.

24/ Ibid.

25/ Al-Ahram, 13 March 1977. Translated by Fayez A. Sayegh, "The Camp David agreement and the Palestine problem", Journal of Palestine Studies, vol. VIII, No. 2 (Winter 1979), p. 39.

26/ Official Records of the General Assembly, Thirty-third Session, Plenary Meetings, 14th meeting.

27/ Sayegh, loc.cit., pp. 7-8.

28/ F. A. Sayegh, "Prospects of the Palestinian Cause in the Diplomatic Arena", in B. Abu-Laban and F. T. Zeady, eds., Arabs in America: Myths and Realities (Illinois, Medina Press, 1975), p. 248.

29/ General Assembly resolution 2535 B (XXIV) of 10 December 1969.

30/ General Assembly resolution 2649 (XXV) of 30 November 1970.

31/ General Assembly resolution 2672 C (XXV) of 8 December 1970.

32/ Louis B. Sohn, Cases on United Nations Law (Brooklyn, The Foundation Press, 1956), p. 808.

33/ Alfred Cobban, National Self-Determination (London, Oxford University Press, 1945), p. 4.

34/ Rupert Emerson, Self-Determination Revisited in the Era of Decolonization (New Haven, Houvert University Center for International Affairs, 1964), p. 31.

35/ From an interview with Yasser Arafat, in Time magazine, 14 April 1980, p. 49.


Joseph L. Ryan, S.J.
(Pontifical Mission for Palestine, Amman, Jordan)

In his address before the United Nations on 2 October 1979, Pope John Paul II spoke in a setting of unforgettable drama. This Slavic Pope, a Pope from the second world, one might say, the ardent son of an ancient people with a rich culture and a long history of suffering, was addressing, in their own assembly, the representatives of the peoples of the world. In the course of his speech he recalled the famous opening words of the Charter of the United Nations, in which "the peoples of the United Nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war" solemnly reaffirmed "faith in the fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small".1/

As I asked myself what aspect of Palestinian rights to discuss today, in my private capacity only, it occurred to me to reflect on those rights in the light of certain factors in the contemporary Roman Catholic Church, especially the person of Pope John Paul II. Several reasons urge this as my topic.

Might is not right. Rights are grounded not in a physical power or military strength or political pressure or diplomatic adroitness, but in the moral order.

In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the foundation of the rights proclaimed is the fact that "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity" (art. 1). Further, these rights, to be implemented, require community. "Every one has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible" (art. 29 (1)). Rights, then, are not simply claims against other persons, but claims on the community as a whole.2/

Human beings then have a claim that is based on the most elementary principles of justice, respect of other peoples and of societies. Flowing from the very essence of personhood comes an entitlement to freedom - freedom from coercion, from aggression, from being threatened or manipulated by others. The conviction that human beings have rights is what empowers them to hope and to struggle against oppression in all its forms. To have rights means being able to make a claim on one's neighbours, one's country, or the society of nations, for the redress of wrongs, for the alleviation of injustice and for an end to the violent conditions which radically undermine one's God-given dignity as a human being. A right is an entitlement to freedom and to justice.

Hence it is natural in considering rights, especially on an issue as long standing and as serious in itself and in its impact on regional and world peace as the rights of the Palestinians, to seek support from Governments and peoples but particularly from those institutions expressly concerned with the moral order. Surely the United Nations is one of these, as its Charter, as its Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as its Covenant on Economic and Social Rights, as this Seminar with its origin in the General Assembly, all suggest.

Surely the Roman Catholic Church is another institution concerned with the moral order. More than that, it is, for several reasons, some of them extrinsic, one of the most prominent of these. Consider the number of its members, their presence throughout the world. Consider too the leadership role of the Catholic Church through the Pope - no other large world religious group so acknowledges the leadership of one individual - through agencies of the Church in Rome, through diplomatic channels of the Vatican, etc. Being in many nations, this Church is broader than a single country or group of them, and it can thus more readily speak to conditions that transcend national boundaries.

Further in this matter, the Catholic Church, even in its own development, is in a significant position today because of its recent history of growth in articulate concern for social matters, as distinct from strictly religious concerns. In the more than 90 years since Pope Leo XIII issued Rerum Novarum in 1891, the Holy See has shown a progressive advocacy in social matters, not only for those touching internal economic conditions but, increasingly, in wider international concerns.3/

Against this background of the developing role of the Catholic Church stands the figure of Pope John Paul II whose personal, intellectual, national and religious history makes him a particularly important and articulate spokesman for human dignity and human rights - a spokesman not only for today but for tomorrow too. Becoming Pope in 1978 at the relatively youthful age of 58, he is likely, barring any unforeseen accident, to lead the Church at the threshold of the next millennium.

Hence it occurs to me that my contribution to this Seminar might best be to discuss Palestinian rights, not in themselves, but in the light of the contemporary Roman Catholic articulate awareness of rights, as personified in Pope John Paul II.

First I shall cite statements made by the Pope on three occasions where he dealt explicitly with the Palestinian problem. Secondly, I will discuss certain aspects of his background, his personal involvement in the struggle for justice as a Polish national and as a priest and the impact of that experience on his statements as Pope concerning human dignity, the right of self-determination and cultural identity. These statements, as well as the Pope's remarks on the painful phenomena that arise where these rights are denied - refugees, loss of sovereignty and possessions, violence - cannot but strike deep chords in the hearts of Palestinians in view of their own national experience.

In his United Nations address, John Paul II spoke about the Middle East. For the Palestinians, what did he say of significance to them? Apart from an implied criticism of the Israeli-Egyptian "peace" process, the Pope made no mention of the rest of the Arab world, nor specifically of the State of Israel, nor for that matter of any other conflict in the world, with the exception of the Argentinian-Chilean dispute. He touched expressly on three Middle East topics - Jerusalem, Lebanon and the Palestinians. He said:
Next he spoke about Lebanon:
On Jerusalem he said:
The Pope's words were brief and restrained yet, in view of the circumstances of the United Nations and in view of the traditional reticence of Popes in not appearing to take sides in disputes between peoples, they were dramatic and bold.

Let me cite a second statement of John Paul II. On Sunday, 5 October 1980, at an open air Mass in Otranto, about 350 miles from Rome, he said: "The Middle East region is pervaded by tensions and disputes, with ever-impending risks of the explosion of new wars". He explained that the main ingredients of the Middle East drama are well known:
The Pope said that Jerusalem "today is the object of a dispute which seems without solution", but expressed the hope that "tomorrow it may be the crossroads of reconciliation and peace". He added: "We pray that Jerusalem, rather than being - as it is today - the object of contention and division, may become the meeting point toward which Christians, Jews and Muslims will continue to turn their gaze".5/

I submit that, factual and brief as the Pope's statement was regarding the Palestinians having been excluded from their homelands, that statement is astonishing. Despite the obviousness of the exclusion of the Palestinians, how many leaders have ever spoken about it in public so directly?

The third occasion on which the Pope spoke on the Palestine problem is more recent. On 7 January 1982, Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, in Rome for meetings with Italian authorities, met the Pope for a discussion in which "the current situation in the Middle East and the negotiations in course to resolve the conflict were reviewed". The Vatican communiqué described the views the Pope expressed:
After speaking of Lebanon, the Vatican communiqué went on:
For our purposes, these three references by Pope John Paul II regarding the Palestinians are most express and specific. I propose now to explore the background of the person who made not only these statements but other statements as well on themes that resonate with the Palestinian experience.

Karol Wojtila was born on 18 May 1920 in the small (10,000 inhabitants) town of Wadowice, 30 kilometres from Cracow where his father, a soldier, was stationed and where, at the age of three, he lost his mother.

Moving to Cracow in 1938, Karol entered the Jagellonian University (whose library Lenin had frequented from 1912 to 1914) where he enrolled in the faculty of philosophy, specializing in Polish philology. Polish culture flourished at the University and young Karol felt its influence. He wrote poetry and joined a group of actors called the Rhapsodic Theatre. Forty years later, in an address to Polish youth in Poland, he would say:
The following year World War II began in Poland with the Nazi invasion. In his 1979 speech before the United Nations, the Pope confessed: "I still have before my mind the image of the Second World War in Europe, which began 40 years ago on 1 September 1939". The occasion was dramatic: he had been attending Mass in the Cathedral in Cracow that morning when the air raids over the city announced the beginning of hostilities.8/ Poland was invaded from the east as well as from the west. On 17 September of the same year, the Russian army swept into Poland; as a result, Poland would lose extensive territory, including the cities of Vilna and Lwow, on its border with the Soviet Union.

Two months after the start of the War and after Cracow had come under Nazi occupation, on 6 November 1939, 183 professors of his university, convoked by the Germans to hear a lecture on the role of education under the new German regime, were arrested and sent to concentration camps.9/

The Nazis annexed part of Poland and set up what was called the General Government for the remainder of it. In July 1940, Hitler declared the whole General Government to be an integral part of the Greater Reich.

All high schools were closed during the entire occupation. Most of the Cracow faculties went underground. Karol, whose father had died in 1941, worked first in a stone quarry and then in the Solvay chemical factory, continuing to take part clandestinely in the Rhapsodic Theatre, which had now become a kind of cultural resistance movement attempting to keep alive Polish culture.

In 1942 Karol became a seminarian, working by day but living and studying in the secret seminary, the residence of Cardinal Adam Saphieha, Archbishop of Cracow, a symbol of the resistance (Cardinal Hlond, the Primate, had fled to France) in a struggle in which 2,600 priests had been executed or died in concentration camps.10/

The Cardinal, who was linked with the national Polish conspiracy against the Nazis and the underground resistance, was convinced that it was of even greater valour than direct assault upon the enemy to raise up a new militia of priests for the Poland that would surely rise from the blood and ashes.11/

In Cracow the occupation changed from Nazi to Soviet. By August 1944, Soviet troops began to move into those areas which would constitute the eastern part of the People's Republic of Poland. In January 1945, the Soviet military forces were in charge of Cracow.

After the fighting was over, pre-war Poland had been divided roughly in half between Germany and the Soviet Union. Some 73,000 square miles of pre-war Poland, with a population of 22 million, came under Nazi control, and about 77,000 square miles, with a population of about 13 million, came under Soviet control.12/

On 1 November 1946, Karol Wojtyla was ordained a priest; after his ordination he left Poland to continue his studies for the doctorate at the Angelicum University in Rome from 1946 to 1948. On his return he worked in parishes, and then went on for further studies, this time at the Catholic University in Lublin where he did his thesis on Max Scheler, a Catholic philosopher, follower of Husserl, the founder of phenomenology. His research on Scheler had a significant impact on his thinking on the dignity of the human person, as abundant evidence would show in his later papal talks. On completing his studies, he began to teach at the University. He continued to write poetry.

After the Second World War, especially during the Stalinist period of 1951 to 1956, relations between the Church and the State in Poland were at times severely strained. In 1953 political conditions in Poland worsened. Cardinal Wyszinski was placed under house arrest, as were 8 other bishops and 900 priests. By 1955 there were over 2,000 bishops, priests and Catholic laymen in prison. However, with the death of Stalin and with the coming to power of Gomulka in 1956, conditions improved and those arrested were released.13/

To complete the pertinent dates in the life of Father Wojtyla, he became Auxiliary Bishop of Cracow in 1958, Archbishop in 1964, Cardinal in 1967 and Pope in 1978.

Coming to Rome as Pope, Karol Wojtyla brought with him this enormous experience of his people, 1,000 years old, but having suffered under the political and military harassment of its more powerful neighbours. He brought with him also his own personal experience from Cracow, in its suffering under two occupation armies. Poland lost more people than any other State in Europe by military action: one citizen in five, not counting those millions shipped into the camps from elsewhere in Europe for hideous torture and cremation. There is no special term in Polish for the specifically Jewish holocaust.14/ Poles, Jews and non-Jews suffered and died together, in about equal numbers.

Karol Wojtyla brought with him to Rome as Pope his intellectual formation, a development important and pertinent to our topic, but impossible to present here. Professor George Williams of Harvard studies the origins of his thought and action in elaborate detail. In giving a summary of his thought, Professor Williams stresses first Karol Wojtyla's conception of the dignity of man.15/ It is a theme that the Pope will emphasize again and again with great explicitness.

Having given an outline of Karol Wojtyla's life, I would like now to present a few of the themes he has touched on, themes which resonate with the Palestinian condition.

1. Man, his dignity and human rights

Perhaps the most central denial felt by Palestinians, large numbers of them stateless, is a denial of their identity, of their dignity, of their inherent value, a denial epitomized in the statement: "There are no Palestinians".

In addressing the United Nations, John Paul II spoke of the centrality of man and human dignity:
Recalling his papal visit to Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration camp located within the confines of his own former archdiocese of Cracow, he spoke of it as "overflowing with contempt for man and his fundamental rights". He went on:
2. Self-determination

A second basic denial that Palestinians feel keenly is that of their right to self-determination, a denial expressed today in the scornful word "autonomy".

In his 16 January 1982 address to the diplomats accredited to the Holy See, the Pope spoke of martial law in Poland and its consequences, "the imprisonment of thousands of citizens, especially intellectuals and leaders of workers' free organizations, and the moral constraint imposed on citizens".

Recalling the remarkable contribution of sacrifice and of blood that Poles have made, particularly since the end of the eighteenth century and the holocaust of 6 million citizens during the last war, he went on:
Then the Pope went on to draw a more general conclusion regarding self-determination:
In talking to Polish civil authorities on 2 June 1979, the Pope had spoken of the importance of self-determination:
3. Culture

As their rights have been violated, Palestinians in their powerlessness have drawn strength and sustenance to a remarkable degree from their culture.

Addressing the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization at its Headquarters in Paris on 2 June 1980, John Paul II spoke at length of culture and the nation. He said:
4. Freedom versus security

The Palestinian people has been cruelly despoiled of its rights by institutional, governmental violence under the claim of "security", a claim that has often, shamefully but effectively, silenced protest from abroad.

Speaking to the United Nations, Pope John Paul II recalled his visit to Auschwitz and said that everything that recalls such experiences should disappear forever,
In his talk to the members of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington on 6 October 1979, the Pope spoke of Poland and said:
Referring to "particular traditions, difficulties and historical experiences" of members of OAS, he went on:
5. Refugees

The world "Palestinian" has been almost synonymous with "refugee".

In his 16 January 1982 talk to diplomats accredited to the Holy See, the Pope spoke vigorously and movingly of those "exiled" outside the frontiers of their country for political reasons. He said:
6. Violence

To this observer, violence is one of the great Palestinian dilemmas. For years, when Palestinian non-violence was remarkably deep, extensive, and generally unmarred, the world paid it little heed, as it continues to do in as much as that tradition perdures. The Palestinian people are, and have been, victims of violence.

For a Pope whose previous personal life has been lived under occupation and whose flock is exposed in many countries to oppression and deprivation, the issue of violence is one that has frequently to be faced. On his arrival in Ireland on 29 September 1979, the Pope spoke at Drogheda, a city near the border of Northern Ireland, where he commented on the bitter conflict across the frontier:

The Palestinian people for the past 85 years since Herzl made his call to the Jews of Europe to set up a Jewish State, with a majority of Jewish citizens, in the land of Palestine, a Palestine whose Arab inhabitants, then the overwhelming majority, unanimously opposed Herzl's call - the Palestinian people - I say, has had to fall back for its bedrock support on the rightness of its cause, on an insistence on its human rights that were violated in that call and in its implementation.

The same is true today. Hence the importance, for the Palestinians and for every one concerned with their rights, of stressing their moral claims.

Hence the continuing value of persons, institutions and leaders concerned with moral claims.


1/ Pope John Paul II, Pilgrim of Peace: Homilies and Addresses of Pope John Paul II in the United States, October 1979 (Washington, D.C., Publications Office, U.S. Catholic Conference, n.d.).

2/ David Hollenbach, S.J., Claims in Conflict: Retrieving and Renewing the Catholic Human Rights Tradition (New York, Paulist Press, 1979).

3/ Hollenback, op.cit., especially chap. 2; David J. O'Brien and Thomas A. Shannon, Renewing the Earth: Catholic Document on Peace, Justice and Liberation (Garden City, N.Y., Image Books, Doubleday, 1977), pp. 11-43. Pope John Paul II to Diplomats, 16 January 1982, Origins 11, 35 (11 February 1982), No. 10, p. 563.

4/ Pope John Paul II, op.cit., No. 10, pp. 21-22.

5/ NC News, Catholic Free Press, Worcester, 10 October 1980, p. 2. For Israeli reaction to the talk, see Robin Wright, "Strange Bedfellows: The Pope and the PLO", Washington Post, 24 January 1982.

6/ Origins, 11, 33 (28 January 1982), p. 531.

7/ William Murphy, ed., The Person, the Nation and the State: Texts of John Paul II (October 1978-January 1980) (Vatican City, Pontifical Commission "Iustitia et Pax", 1980).

8/ George H. Williams, The Mind of John Paul II: Origins of his thought and action (New York, Seabury Press, 1981), p. 62.

9/ Ibid.

10/ Bohan Wytwycky, The Other Holocaust (Washington, Novak Report, 1980), p. 51.

11/ Williams, op.cit., p. 81.

12/ Wytwycky, op.cit., p. 39.

13/ Peter Hebblethwaite, The Year of the Three Popes (New York, Collins, 1979).

14/ Williams, op.cit., p. 400. For details on Poles who died, see Wytwycky, pp. 39-52. Six million Poles died, half of them Jews, half Christians; of that six million, 600 died as a result of direct hostilities, i.e., fighting in the Polish armed forces or in the armed resistance during occupation. The rest were victims of the holocaust.

15/ Ibid., pp. 264-279.

16/ Pope John Paul II, op.cit., No. 6, p. 18.

17/ Ibid., No. 9, p. 20.

18/ Origins, op.cit., p. 561.

19/ Ibid., p. 562.

20/ William Murphy, ed., op.cit., No. 18, p. 27.

21/ Pope John Paul II, "Address to UNESCO", Catholic Mind, vol. LXXIX, No. 1351 (March 1981), pp. 50-64.

22/ Pope John Paul II, Pilgrims of Peace, No. 8, p. 20.

23/ Ibid., No. 3, p. 143.

24/ Ibid., No. 4, pp. 143-144.

25/ Origins, 11 33 (28 January 1982), p. 562.

26/ Pope John Paul II, Catholic Mind, vol. LXXVIII, No. 1340 (February 1980), p. 59.


Senator Heath Nelson Macquarrie
(Member of Parliament, Vice Chairman, Joint Senate
Foreign Relations and Defence Committee, Ottawa, Canada)

That the Palestinian people have inalienable rights is axiomatic. That they are currently being denied them is, alas, a cruel and tragic contemporary truth. That the redress of this wrong is a responsibility of those who, in the main, caused it should also be apparent.

While others shared the culpability from time to time, the Western nations and peoples through their diplomacy, their decisions and sometimes their deceit created the Palestinian problem. While not having a major part of the action or the ignominy, Canada did have some part. There is a slowly awakening sense of co-responsibility for the current situation and a broadening recognition of the inequities and iniquities.

As one views the present state of the Palestinian people and the configuration of power and leadership in the world of 1982, it seems clear that the capacity to bring about retribution and justice lies with the major nations of the West, principally the United States of America. Some might say exclusively with that country.

While it is most encouraging to note the splendid support given to the Palestinian cause by a vast majority of States Members of the United Nations - and the leadership of the non-aligned States in this regard is much to be applauded - the winning of votes in this building or at United Nations meetings elsewhere has not and will not suffice to right wrongs or restore rights. If we allow realism to prevail over rhetoric, we will admit that a call to arms is a shibboleth rather than a solution. In a world massively overarmed with fearsome weapons of mass destruction, I am a man of peace on moral grounds. But to draw upon no ingredient but common sense, can one seriously postulate the physical military destruction of Israel with its highly efficient armed forces and its enormously powerful super friend and super-Power?

While it may seem gratuitous to advise patience and moderation upon people who have suffered so long, so cruelly and so unjustly as the Palestinian people, it is for me the only course I would or could recommend. It would be very easy to orate on the possibility of quick triumphs tomorrow and total vindication the day after; such declamations would lack the essential element of realism.

But the inability to conjure up immediate, easy solutions does not make one a pessimist. Those who believe in the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people can point to significant advances in recent years. There has been a growing acuteness in the perception of the aims of the Israelis. In the Western world, we have come a long way from that attitude which always espoused sympathy and support for any actions of that entity often dubbed "brave little Israel". Much of this new awareness is the result of the haughty intransigence of the Israelis but present too has been an increased sensitivity to the fate and state of the Palestinians.

In the United Nations, great strides have been made. The welcome extended to Chairman Arafat, the designation of Observer status to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the valuable dissemination of information in seminars such as this are major contributions to the cause of truth and justice.

One rejoices in the growth in the number of countries granting recognition to the PLO. There is much significance in the evolving West-European attitude as expressed at the Venice meeting. How much this has been vitiated by President Mitterrand's recent visit to Israel is not yet clear.

If we believe, as I think we must, that the Palestinian case and cause must be sustained in the West, the role of Canada is one of great importance. It would be easy to pass the superficial judgement that Canada's international posture is replicative of the United States. We have a long period of pro-Israeli votes abroad and preachments at home. There is an enormously powerful and effective Zionist lobby, a media preference (though much less biased than the American) and a generally passive attitude on the part of Canadians of Arab origin.

But, while Canada and the United States are often on the same side of United Nations votes on Middle East questions as on other questions, we are not carbon copies. Nor have we hesitated to take a different course from our strongest ally and closest friend. I think it is not chauvinism to point to two examples and cite them as instances where the Canadian position was much more realistic than the American. In 1962, we refused to break off diplomatic and commercial relations with Cuba. Later, we gave diplomatic recognition to and supported United Nations membership for the People's Republic of China.

It may see far-fetched and visionary but it is quite possible that in reference to the Middle East, Canada might also show the way. It should therefore be instructive to survey the main points of Canadian foreign policy in reference to the Middle East.

Generally speaking, it has been the product of reluctance, inadvertence, over-reliance on the lead of a major Power, a slight regard for economic realities and an almost unvarying pro-Israel stance.

It is not surprising that Canadians felt no heavy responsibility for events in Palestine before the mid-1940s. If Neville Chamberlain could describe Czechoslovakia as a remote and little known country in 1938, Canadian political leaders could hardly be expected to regard the Middle East as an area for their concern. Some Canadians were strong Zionists, among Christian leaders could be found people with a sentimental interest in the Holy Land but most citizens, like their leaders, were content to leave the matter with the British. Mackenzie King, when events forced his attention upon the area, represented what we might exalt as the national consensus when he tried to keep Canada out of things as much as possible and advocated generally strong support for British positions and strategy. Although Britain, which gave birth and implementation to the Balfour Declaration and betrayed the Arabs on other occasions, must share much of the blame for the Middle East crises, it was generally sensitive to the potential value of Arab goodwill and Arab resources. The Americans, their heirs as suzerains in the region, were to learn this lesson slowly and imperfectly. Mackenzie King, in the early and mid-1940s, again showed his skill as a diviner of Canadian public opinion. In the clash of Jews and Arabs in Palestine, Canadians were divided. There had been immense sympathy for the suffering of Jews in Europe and a high regard for their military contributions to the allied cause. But even far-off Canadians were shocked at the terrorist excesses of the Irgun and Stern groups. A public opinion poll published on 9 February 1948 revealed a citizenry lacking strong identification or commitment. Fifty-eight per cent had no opinion, 19 per cent were sympathetic to the Jews, 23 per cent to the Arabs. In such a situation, political leaders and diplomats had considerable room for manoeuvre and action.

Canadians played a significant role in the important period which saw the phase-out of British responsibility for the long-troubled Palestine area and the exertions of the United Nations in the creation of the State of Israel. But despite the prominent part played by Canadians, it is clear that the major motivation was the amelioration of tensions among larger Powers, the United States and Britain, and later the United States and the Soviet Union. Mr. Pearson was conscious of Canada's role and played it with skill and finesse.

A Canadian, Mr. Justice Ivan Rand, was a member of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) and, according to pro-Zionist scholars, a most important one.

At the end of the UNSCOP deliberations when the idea of partition was being discussed and maps were drawn up, it was Rand who convinced other Committee members to grant the Jews autonomy in a territory containing an adequate amount of land. Rand's influence on the Committee's deliberations was all-important.

Rand was not given instructions by his Government but certainly Pearson was. Both the instructed and non-instructed won the accolades of the Jewish agency.

David Horowitz in State in the Making wrote:

"In due course the (Canadian) delegates began playing a part in our affairs which reminded me of their fellow countryman Ivan Rand's role in UNSCOP. The dynamic force and pathfinder Lester Pearson ... His adherence to the pro-partition fold was an important turning point. His influence, as one of the foremost figures at the United Nations, was tremendous. It may be said that Canada more than any other country played a decisive part in all stages of the UNO discussions on Palestine. The activities at Lake Success of Lester Pearson and his fellow delegates were a fitting climax to Justice Rand's beneficial work on UNSCOP."

While there was a lingering regard for British sensibilities (Mackenzie King was around until 1948) shown in part by our delay in granting recognition in the new State of Israel the alignment with Washington was pretty well in place.

Canada's performance in the early days of the United Nations demonstrated that we were a much more valuable member of that body than of its ill-fated precursor, the League of Nations. There was considerable public support for the United Nations and a feeling that to be a worthy member of it was a serious and important goal for Canada. So popular was the United Nations in those days that few commented on the fact that the world body had not achieved a very satisfactory settlement of the Palestine crisis, had not done even scant justice to the claims and rights of the Palestinians and had certainly not brought a peaceful climate to the region.

The next occasion for Canadian prominence in Middle East matters was in 1956. From it came a major emphasis in the role of peace-keeping forces, a further decline in the international prestige of Britain and France and a Nobel Prize for Lester Pearson. It is no diminution of respect and regard for Mr. Pearson to suggest, however, that he was motivated more by a concern for the viability of the United Nations, the harmony of the Western Alliance and the continuity of the Commonwealth than an absorbing anxiety about the Middle East.

A perceptive Canadian scholar, Professor Tareq Ismael has written of the Suez crisis and the Israeli, British and French invasions:

"The aim of the Canadian Government remained fairly constant after news of the invasions was received, but a greater sense of urgency and concern was felt about the critical nature of the rifts within the Western Alliance and the Commonwealth. Mr. Pearson's aim was to bring NATO and the Commonwealth members together again inside the Western Alliance and restore peace in the area on terms which everybody could accept. From the beginning, Canada's preference for multilateral action and a practical solution which would provide for the means of its achievement was evident."

Ismael refers to Mr. Pearson's comment to John Foster Dulles (31 October 1956):

"We are interested in helping Britain and France. I would like to make it possible for them to withdraw with as little loss of face as possible, and bring them back into realignment with the United States."

It should be recorded that in those far-off days some Canadian politicians and journalists criticized Pearson and the Government of the day for not "standing behind" Britain and France!

In the House of Commons, Howard Green denounced the Government for making Canada a choreboy of the United States of America and for deserting our two "mother countries". Deploring a situation whereunder Canada seemed a better friend to Nasser than to Britain and France, he called the period the most disgraceful in Canadian history and declared it was high time Canada had a Government which would not knife Canada's best friends in the back.

The political furor was, in part, touched off by a remark of the usually sedate and courteous Prime Minister St. Laurent who publicly opined that the "supermen of Europe" had had their day in running the world. Twenty-five years is a long time!

On the whole, the Canadian role in 1956 was helpful to the preservation of peace. We were major contributors to the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF), both in terms of its conception and composition. A distinguished Canadian soldier, Gen. E.L.M. Burns, headed the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization in Palestine (UNTSO) and later became the Commander of UNEF. We have always contributed substantially to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and a Canadian General, Kennedy, was its first Director-General.

On most aspects of the Middle East situation from 1948 to 1967, the Canadians' attitude was tepid. The overwhelming view of those who voiced opinions was supporting of Israel. With the Arabs we generally had few and never close contacts. We did open an embassy at Beirut and later at Cairo in 1955, but the vast Arab Middle East was generally, even in an age of instant communication and rapid transit, virtually a terra incognita.

The 1967 war brought the Canadian position under considerable stress. In both official and unofficial circles, there was some surprise that we were perceived as being a good deal less than impartial in the confrontation of Arabs and Israelis.

Indeed, so strained were Canadian/Egyptian relations that our contingent in UNEF were asked to be the first to leave. One of Canada's senior journalists, Charles Lynch of Southam Press, had an interesting comment about what he described as Canada's "war pains":

"Prime Minister Pearson had admitted to a feeling of desperation in the face of the Mideast war. And one of the things he is trying desperately to do is check Canada's drift toward an anti-Arab position.

"For weeks, the Arabs have been scoffing that Canada has long since deserted middle ground in the Mideast dispute, and has aligned itself on the Israeli side.

"The trouble with trying to get back to middle ground is that in the 10 years since the Suez crisis, little understanding has developed in Canada for the Arab position, whereas the Israeli position has been vigorously promoted by an efficient propaganda apparatus strongly established in both Canada and the United States ...

"The difficulty our policy-makers are facing is that of keeping the merits of the Arab position in mind when the Arabs have already written Canada off as committed to the Israeli side."

In Ottawa there was a good deal of frenetic denunciation of Nasser. United Nations Secretary-General Thant and the United Nations itself were criticized for bowing to an Egyptian decision that the United Nations group withdraw. Interestingly enough, in the midst of the angry utterances about Egypt, few recalled that while in 1956 Egypt had accepted a United Nations presence, Israel had refused to allow any such contingent in its territory.

Whereas in 1956 Canada had been regarded as adopting an attitude hostile to such pillars of western international respectability as Britain and France, we were cast in a quite different role in 1967. Nasser, not known for his taciturnity on the international stage, referred to Canada as joining Britain and the United States in seeking to use UNEF as an instrument for implementing imperialist plans. To Al Ahram Canada was "a stooge of the Western Powers who seek to colonize the Arab world with Israel's help".

The Egyptian appraisal of the Canadian role and goals were more rhetorical than precise. The Canadian commitment to a functioning United Nations is one of our strongest international motivations. The Canadian performance in the Suez crisis and in reference to UNEF was for us a moment of proud achievement on the world's stage. In 1967 we were distressed at the collapse of the fragile peace or cease-fire which had been arranged under a United Nations umbrella. Canadians were disheartened that our role in UNEF seemed to be abruptly discarded. If I dared wander into the misty corridors of psychology, I might suggest that a sense of unrewarded virtue can be a deeply-felt sentiment. Perhaps we had that feeling in 1967.

There is often a peculiar dichotomy in Canadians' perception of their nation's role in the international arena. The even-handed, unbiased and sometimes neutral approach is, by some, conceived as the proper posture. On the other hand, we are charter members of NATO and otherwise strongly committed to one of the greatest alliances which mark cold war differentiations. The 1967 crisis was upsetting for many Canadians who had thought the world loved us.

On Middle East issues we as usual hoped to be seen as neither pro-Israel nor pro-Arab. We continued to add to our list of abstentions on United Nations votes. But astute observers of our domestic scene were likely to regard us as anything but even-handed or unbiased. In our press and parliament, such references as were made to the question were clearly and often blatantly pro-Israel, "brave little Israel", "democracy's champion in the Middle East" and "this progressive State". Such expressions found favour with Canadians. Many citizens aided the economic development of Israel with large contributions and highly organized groups exerted pressure in the right places. Israel's unique citizenship laws did not disturb our Government. Certain Canadians could follow the very easy process of acquiring and accepting Israeli citizenship without in any way impinging upon, or diminishing, their Canadian citizenship. Many groups of Canadians visited Israel, sponsored by church organizations or by associations of Canadians with definite and strong commitments to the Israeli cause.

In the 1967 crisis, Canada was a member of the Security Council and at crucial times its representative served a term as Chairman. But in the influence of our utterances and actions, we were far less effective or significant that we were in 1956. On 23 June 1967 the Secretary of State for External Affairs, Honourable Paul Martin, addressed the General Assembly at its emergency special session and recalled some of Canada's contributions towards what he described as efforts towards mediation in Palestine. After reciting our service on UNSCOP, the Security Council in 1948-1949, UNRWA, UNTSO, UNEF and Mr. Pearson's leadership in 1956, Mr. Martin went on to give what some call the typical Canadian modest disclaimer,

"I do not claim that these facts give my country any special insight into the Palestine problem or any special qualification for solving it. They do help to explain, however, why the Canadian people and the Canadian Government have followed recent events with anxiety. We have no substantial interests to it further. We have no claims to make other than those which arise from a deep and legitimate concern for peace and justice in the Middle East, indeed in the world, and for the good name and reputation of the United Nations, our membership in which has been largely instrumental in involving us in these problems."

Doubtless in an effort to demonstrate Canadian impartiality, Mr. Martin went on to say:

"In 1948-1949 and in 1956-1957, the Canadian delegation in the Assembly emphasized that the peace and security of the Middle East depended primarily on the recognition of two facts. The first was that the new State of Israel had been born and that, in part at least, it owed its existence as a member of the international community to a recommendation of this Assembly, a recommendation which was approved by two thirds of its Members; the second was the obligation of the State of Israel - to quote the Canadian representative speaking on 22 November 1948, to "place self-imposed limits on its demands". Mr. Pearson, then Secretary of State for External Affairs and now the Canadian Prime Minister, stated at this podium 10 years ago: 'We cannot but agree that, if Israel has a right to live and prosper, free from the fear of strangulation from its neighbours, the Arab States also have a right to feel confident that Israel will not attempt to expand its territory at their expense'." (660th meeting, para. 36)

Mr. Martin, in concluding what was a useful if not laconic statement, made some suggestions for solution of the Middle East crisis:

"First, there must be respect for the territorial integrity of the nations of the area, including provision for the security and international supervision of frontiers. Second, the rights of all nations to innocent passage through international waterways must be assured. Third, there must be an early and just solution of the refugee problem. Fourth, international concern for the preservation of the special spiritual and religious interests in Jerusalem, Christian, Jewish and Muslim, must be recognized, perhaps by giving the United Nations an international supervisory responsibility for the protection of these interests; nor should there be any precipitated action which might prejudice them."

He made what in 1967 was a substantial, if no very productive, move towards recognizing the rights of the Palestinian people.

"A vital step forward in the achievement of durable peace and stability in the Middle East is to ensure that justice be done to the Palestinian refugees. Those people for too long have been losers in the tragic conflict of interests in the area. The problem is, however, of such magnitude that only a combination of methods can produce a solution. It would be an illusion, I think, to go on believing that the problem of the refugees will be solved simply on the basis of their return to Israel. Similarly, the Arab States could not be expected to shoulder alone the burden of resettling and integrating in Arab countries those refugees who might make this choice. An international effort in a United Nations context directed at regional economic development in the Middle East and related to resettlement is a prime requirement which Members of the United Nations have an obligation to consider. My country is prepared to play its part in such an international effort, as the Prime Minister of Canada has already indicated in the House of Commons at home."

The 1973 war brought to Canada as to the whole industrialized world an agonizing awareness of another element in the Middle East situation, namely, the high priority and intense politics of oil. Having been recently and rudely awakened from our somnolent overconfidence in our own resources, we found ourselves painfully uncertain as to our status in the oil embargo. It would be a brave man who would declare that we were ever sure into which category we fitted. But that the oil crisis broadened our horizons of interest in the Arab world is beyond question. Canadian businessmen, like Ministers of the Government, took a new look at the immense economic opportunities of closer contact with the millions of people in the far-flung Arab world. Trade missions were dispatched, agreements regarding loans and developmental aid were initialled.

But the oil embargo of 1973 was by no means the last Middle East crisis to disturb Canadian diplomacy. The Canadian Government had requested that the United Nations Conference on Crime Prevention be held in the city of Toronto but before the designated date, September 1975, the PLO had been granted Observer status in the United Nations. In the interval between the two events the air was filled with strident protests against the holding of such a gathering which would include such a "terrorist" group as the PLO. Provincial and municipal politicians were first and loudest in their protests. (A provincial element was imminent). The press fulminated against such an "outrage". Toronto must be saved; in the face of such concentrated protest, the Canadian Government capitulated. It suggested not a withdrawal of its invitation but postponement of the conference, which was rescheduled for Geneva. That city was reported unscathed from the presence of a few Palestinians at the gathering.

Although there were some initial protests against the holding of the United Nations Habitat Conference at Vancouver in May 1976, the Government held firm and the Conference went forward. The measure of its success is not a theme of this paper. Suffice to say that the Government of Canada discharged its hostly duties and its role as a good State Member of the United Nations. The great city of Vancouver seemed to suffer no ill effects from having a few Palestinian lawyers in residence for a few days.

On the political and diplomatic front, Canada speaks with increased credibility. At Cairo on 12 January 1976, the then Secretary of State for External Affairs, Honourable Allan MacEachen, said, "Canada's policy on this extremely complex and tragic dispute aims at balance and objectivity. It also rests on principle. The implementation of this policy has occasionally been questioned by both sides, a symmetry which we find reassuring".

He also included a statement not found so loud and clear in the utterances of some of his predecessors.

"Any settlement, if it is going to be equitable and permanent, will have to take full account of the legitimate interests and aspirations of all the peoples of the area including the Palestinian Arabs."

In March 1977, addressing the B'Nai Brith at Toronto, his successor, Honourable Don Jamieson, said, "No Middle East peace settlement will work for long unless the Palestinians have accepted it".

About the same time, Joe Clark, recently chosen leader of the opposition, told the congregation of Beth Emeth-Baid Yehuda Synagogue at Toronto that the Palestinians must be recognized and their representatives accepted as an element in the Geneva negotiations.

Mr. Clark became Prime Minister in May 1979 and under his brief regime an aspect of Middle East policy became the focus of national attention.

Nothing concerning the Middle East raised such domestic furor as the proposed embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Promised during the 1979 campaign, it stirred only modest interest outside Toronto, the city from whence the unfortunate idea doubtless emanated. But on the day of his assumption of office in a nationally televised press conference, the new Prime Minister declared the policy to be firmly in place and only its execution remained.

The fusion of forces against the move and to a degree against the Clark Government was impressive if not unexpected. The Arab Governments acted with more unity and strength than they sometimes display. The Canadian business community was quick to view with alarm the horrendous commercial losses which would follow from an alienation of the Arab world. While their campaign was puny compared to that mounted by their American counterparts in the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACs) issue in the United States in 1981, it demonstrated the growing importance of the business world in Mideast orientation. The Liberal Party, not heretofore especially sensitive to the aspirations of the Arab States, denounced the move in trenchant terms. The Jerusalem caper was cited as a symbolic demonstration of the utter ineptitude of Mr. Clark in the international arena.

After enduring the story for some weeks, the Prime Minister made a move for recovery which was as wise and shrewd as the original notion was foolish and inept. He appointed the best possible person in the country, Honourable Robert Stanfield, to investigate the matter fully, to go to the Middle East to talk to the leaders there. He was also authorized to hold discussions with political figures in other States and with the provincial Governments.

In late October 1979, Ambassador Stanfield in an interim report advised that the embassy not be moved at this time. Prime Minister Clark wisely decided to give immediate acceptance to the recommendation. Mr. Stanfield continued his study and interviews and presented a valuable and useful report on the broader question of Canada-Middle East relations. Regrettably the Trudeau Government has not yet taken any action on the helpful suggestions contained in the document.

While the embassy episode gave rise to a good deal of froth and furor, it had at least one useful purpose. More Canadians than ever before began to give thought to the troubled Middle East area and Canada's role in relation to it.

Such national reflection may lead to a more even-handed approach and a further diminution of our automatic pro-Israel attitudes.

A Canadian journalist travelling in the Middle East at the time had no difficulty reading the Arab view of Canada's attitude. Michael Valpy of the Vancouver Sun wrote from Kuwait,

"But a Canadian who comes into the Arab world and spends a few days here, even in this rather zany (to my eyes at least) light-hearted corner of the Arab world tucked away at the top of the Arabian Gulf, cannot avoid being made aware of certain facts.

"First, there is awareness of the absurdity of the Canadian Government's foreign policy posturing on the Middle East. Ottawa postures that it is neutral, steering a middle course between Arab and Israeli worlds. Codswallop.

"What Joe Clark has done with his move-the-embassy fumble is point out to Canadians what every Middle East inhabitant, Israeli and Arab, who has ever given Canada some thought, has known for years.

"Namely, that Canada has a pro-Israel bias.

"And if the fallout from Joe Clark's embassy contretemps will result in a re-evaluation of foreign policy that will bring rhetoric into line with position, regardless of what the position is, then well and good.

"At the moment, the only people we are fooling is ourselves. The Arabs know where we stand, and so do the Israelis.

"Second, there is an awareness that there are two sides, or more correctly there is no side, to the struggle for Palestine, the land of Canaan."

Although recent years have brought about a greater degree of objectivity in Canada due in part to the haughty and hostile posture of the Begin Government towards international opinion and United Nations ordinances there is still much truth in Mr. Valpy's judgement.

Canadians are conditioned by a generally pro-Israel media. All Palestinians are "terrorists", all increases in fuel costs are the fault of the nasty Arabs. Although not a Bible-reading population, Canadians still identify with the children of Israel, as Mr. Pearson said,

"I must admit that I became emotionally involved in a very special way because we are dealing with the Holy Land, the land of my Sunday School lessons."

The Holy Land of many Canadians offers very little for the descendants of Ishmael.

In the selective compassion by which many Canadians establish their human rights priorities, concern for the victimization of Palestinians still gets a very low rating. With few exceptions even our churches have given little attention to the plight of the hopeless people who dwell in the wretched UNRWA camps across the Middle East.

Far too many Arabs and Canadians of Arab descent suffer harassment from emanations of the Canadian Government. One hears too many stories of delayed or blocked advancements in the public service, frustration at immigration offices, alleged security risks and the like.

An important ingredient in the development of Canadian popular and governmental opinion is the strength and efficiency of a number of pro-Israel lobbies and pressure groups. Against those, anyone seeking to advance the Arab cause wages a difficult and invariably losing battle. As the Canada Israeli Committee put it,

"For many Canadians, especially those with traditional Christian concerns, Israel is a subject of deep interest because it is the Holy Land. At the same time, Canadians have been drawn to Israel because it is a modern State, committed to democratic government, which has, like their own society, an intense preoccupation with issues of political and cultural independence. The relationship between the two countries has also benefited from the influence exerted by prominent figures in Canadian public life. Israel has been able to number among its staunch supporters many Canadian political and social leaders including all prime ministers since 1948 ... it is important to remember that Canada's will to act in the Middle East and the positive influence the country has exerted on the affairs of the region, are a result of this mixture of social and leadership factors with political calculations."

The foregoing account may not seem a substantial base for optimism. Yet, one can point to a gradual improvement on many fronts. More and closer contacts between Canada and the Arab States have fostered knowledge and this has led to a better regard for the Arabs and their point of view. The Palestinian Information Centre under Abdullah Abdullah has helped to quicken an interest in the tragedy. Visits from prominent Palestinians like El Hout have helped. Palestinian students have been good ambassadors.

Many Canadians could not help but be critical of Israeli aggression. The attack on Iraq, the brutal bombings of Lebanese and Palestinian civilians, the incorporation of the Golan Heights against a background of arrogance before the world all combined to diminish pro-Israeli sentiments among average objective Canadians.

Although it may not appear as satisfactory to many, the statement of the present Secretary of State for External Affairs, Mark MacGuigan, is the fullest recognition of Palestinian rights so far made by a Canadian Minister,

"In the Middle East, there is also conflict, and at its centre the Arab-Israeli dispute, as old as the United Nations itself. We cannot afford further delay in moving towards a negotiated settlement to this generations-old conflict, in which all the interested parties must participate. Israelis and Palestinians have legitimate rights and concerns which must be taken into account. Israel's quest for security and recognized boundaries, and the right to be fully accepted by its neighbours, can be met only in a political, not a military, framework. The same holds true for the legitimate rights of the Palestinians, including their right to a homeland within a clearly-defined territory, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip."

Canadians and their Government are currently preoccupied with grave economic problems. It may not be a propitious time for daring foreign policy initiatives. But slight though the improvement has been, the prospects for real even-handedness in our approach to the Middle East are discernible.


Elia Zureik
(Professor of Sociology, Queen's University,
Kingston, Canada)

An objective analysis of the situation of the Palestinians in Israel is usually compromised on two ideological facts. First, for a long time the position of the Palestinians in the context of the Middle East geo-politics has been submerged under the general rubric of the Arab-Israeli conflict. For some reason, which is not accidental, the Palestinians have been overshadowed by an ideological definition as to their true place in the Middle East conflict. It has been taken for granted that the Middle East conflict is essentially a conflict between States. This emphasis on the State dimension of the conflict, endorsed in no small measure by, on the one hand, an efficient Western Zionist propaganda machine, and on the other, inefficient Arab Governments, rendered the Palestinian case misunderstood and ambiguous in the eyes of many. Golda Meir, one of the architects of the policy of Zionist mystification of the Palestinian issue, was thus able to negate by a stroke of her pen the existence of an entire people - and get away with it, but not for too long as she and other Zionist spokesmen who followed in her footsteps came to realize later.

A second factor, which has made the task of objective analysis of the Palestinians all the more difficult, is another taken-for-granted myth, i.e., Israel remains in the eyes of her mentors the only bastion of democratic values in the Middle East. Part of the price which Europe and the West had to pay, and continue to pay, for their historical anti-Semitism is to adopt a permissive, non-critical attitude toward Israel and its Zionist principles. The outcome of this attitude was a callous disregard for the Palestinian position, particularly those Palestinians who live under Israeli jurisdiction. This equating of Israeli institutions with democratic institutions was thus transferred from the level of myth to the level of reality at a great peril to all concerned.

It would be inaccurate to say that the once fashionable analysis of the Zionist regime based on the above-mentioned erroneous assumptions is still being accepted without a serious challenge. Critical analysis, whose purpose is to expose the fallacy of Zionist ideology, is making perceptible headway in serious forums; this United Nations forum is but one such testimony to the increasing de-mystification of Zionist dogma regarding the question of Palestine.

The purpose of this paper is to deal with one segment of the Palestinians living in historical Palestine, those 600,000 Palestinians who continue to live as citizens of the Zionist regime and constitute one of every six residents of the Zionist State. I am therefore excluding those 1.1 million Palestinians who reside in the rest of historical Palestine known as the occupied territories (the West Bank and Gaza), and those 2.3 million Palestinian refugees who live outside historical Palestine, mainly in the neighbouring Arab countries.

In concentrating on those Palestinians living within the 1967 border, I hope to demonstrate that their position could best be described as that of an internally colonized minority. I shall try to deal synoptically from a sociological angle with the following themes: education, politics, land and economics.


Palestinian education in Israel has been governed all along, and continues to be, by a set of irrelevant criteria which the Palestinians had no say in formulating; controlled by a separate unit within the Ministry of Education, Palestinian education policies have continuously been the product of the Ministry's Zionist bureaucrats and party functionaries rather than that of trained educators who are sensitive to the needs of a disadvantaged, subordinate minority. It is difficult to see how the universal values of education could be attained in a society such as Israel when the majority group enunciates a pseudo-pluralist philosophy premised on an exclusivist Zionist culture manifested in the denial of the cultural and national identity of the Palestinians. This is demonstrated by the detailed available evidence regarding the nature of government-sponsored curricula at the primary, secondary or even the university level. Arab students are submerged in Zionist teachings as evident from the extent and content of curricula devoted to Zionist culture and history. In the words of one researcher, "the denial and deprivation of relevant curricula for Arab students (in Israel) seems to be escalating" in schools.

It is apparent that for Palestinian youth living in Israel, the educational system across all levels functions as an agency of social and political control and not an institution whose purpose is to develop in the young a democratic personality enriched by creativity and critical thought.

Quantitatively, the most optimistic figures put the size of the Palestinian university students in Israeli universities around 3 per cent of the total university student population. This is in spite of the fact that, as I said earlier, Palestinians constitute close to 16 per cent of the total population. In terms of university graduates, the cumulative proportion of university graduates within the Palestinian sector is less than 0.1 per cent, whereas it is around 1.32 per cent for the Jewish population, i.e., 13-fold greater!

In terms of per capita figures it is worth noting that university graduates among the Jewish population constitute 1,300 per 100,000 while they are a meagre 130 per 100,000 among the Palestinians in Israel, no doubt the lowest in the entire region of the Middle East, if not in most of the world.

Whether it is in vocational education, passage of the high school matriculation tests, or the university system, the Palestinian seems to be disadvantaged.

Many factors contribute to this low enrolment of university students among the 600,000 Palestinians in Israel. They are: (1) the lack of adequate training facilities and properly equipped classrooms at the primary and secondary level, as evident from government statistics regarding the availability (or the lack thereof) of science laboratories, congested classrooms and antiquated buildings, things which could never be tolerated in Jewish schools; (2) the lack of properly trained and qualified teachers in the Arab sector, where official figures show that at least one half of the Arab teachers should not be there due to their unqualified status as teachers; (3) blockage of channels of social mobility for Palestinian university graduates in Israel, which forces many qualified high school graduates to turn away from a university education altogether; (4) continuing discrimination in admission policies to key science facilities (electronics, nuclear physics, aeronautics, etc.) for so-called "security reasons", which forces an increased number of prospective Palestinian students who want to specialize in science to turn to the humanities and social sciences - areas of specialization in which job prospects are limited. The upshot of this is that many of them end up emigrating to Europe and North America.

It is not enough that the institutional framework of Israeli society discriminates against Palestinians in the area of education, where one would expect the universalistic criteria par excellence do apply, but also in the kind of treatment they receive from fellow Jewish students. Harassment, beatings and sheer thuggery have typified the attitudes of the majority of Jewish students towards their fellow Palestinian students. Israel must be an outstanding example of anomaly in the international system where right-wing and outright Fascist attitudes among the student population exceed those present in the general public by the magnitude of 3:1. Even South Africa cannot boast of such a correlation between higher education and right-wing extremism.

The predicament of Palestinian education has surfaced in a bizarre manner in the now infamous document prepared by Israel Koenig, the Galilee Commissioner of the Ministry of Interior for 14 years. In addition to suggesting tougher entry procedures to the universities, which would presumably diminish further the miniscule number of Palestinian university students, Koenig went on to advocate "making trips abroad for studies easier, while making the return and employment more difficult - this policy is apt to encourage their migration".

Palestinian reaction to this state of cultural and educational domination has manifested itself in two interrelated ways. First, there has been a noticeable increase in the levels of hostility and alienation shown toward the State, particularly among intellectuals. Secondly, as demonstrated by researchers at Haifa University, the last decade has witnessed a further assertion of Palestinianism among, what the Zionist regime prefers to label, "Israeli Arabs". Another study of Palestinian intelligentsia conducted by researchers at Tel Aviv University reached a similar conclusion:
The study concluded by predicting that "in the future ... [there] will be an increase in the pro-Palestinian position among the intellingentsia". Such a tautological reasoning whereby Palestinians under Israeli occupation are portrayed to exhibit strange "pro-Palestinian" syndrome is a clear symptom of the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of Zionist thinking. These findings are particularly significant since they show the falsity and even banality of Zionist claims that those Palestinians who were born and raised in historical Palestine under Zionist hegemony will come to appreciate the superior Zionist culture and reconcile themselves to a perpetual inferior position in Israeli society.

What would one expect from a society in which between two thirds to more than three quarters of its Jewish citizens say in public opinion polls that Arabs are lazier than Jews, that they are less intelligent, that Arabs are inferior and dishonest, and that Arabs are crueller and do not exhibit the same bravery as Jews. Are not these findings reminiscent of those which typified Nazi Germany and continue to typify South Africa, with a minor substitution of "Black" for "Arab" and "German" for "Jew"?
It was in this context that the noted American sociologist, Seymour Martin Lipset, an ardent supporter of Israel and of zionism, disclosed after researching Israeli society:
He went on to sound a rather ominous note, which for all intents and purposes is, and has been, a reality of Israeli society. He said that "if Israel ignores its Arab population and relies on a large 'external proletariat', it could become a racist state".

Economic conditions

The "external proletariat" to which Lipset refers are Israel's equivalent to South Africa's black proletariat, those workers that shuttle between the reserve and South Africa's metropolis. It is this phenomenon which gives the Palestinians under Israeli rule a status similar to the internally colonized Blacks of South Africa.

The most noticeable feature of negative change in Palestinian social structure among the close to 600,000 Palestinians living in Israel has been their transformation from land-owning peasantry to proletarianized workers. This process of social class transformation in an exclusively Zionist-dominated labour market reflects the following discernible features: (1) a gradual uprooting of Palestinian peasants from their traditional surroundings to become migratory workers in the Jewish metropolis; (2) the complete susceptibility of the Arab worker to the whims of the Jewish market as evidenced by the high unemployment rates among the Palestinians during times of economic crisis when Arab unemployment is usually twice, if not more, than shown in the Jewish sector; (3) because of heavy concentrations of Palestinian workers in unskilled professions, together with large family size, the per capita income of Palestinians in the urban sector approximates one half that attained by Jews - it is much less in the impoverished Palestinian agricultural sector where still a reasonable number is employed; (4) the induction of Palestinian peasants into the Jewish sector was accompanied by further stagnation of Arab villages and their continual dependency upon the Jewish sector - a phenomenon which compelled a North American economist no less sympathetic to zionism than Lipset, to whom we referred earlier, to refer to the Arab sector as "Israel's Appalacia"; (5) the economic backwardness of the Palestinian sector resulted in substantially lower standards of living as measured on various economic and consumption indicators; (6) the harsh living conditions in the Arab sector have taken their toll on marriage rates - due to the acute housing shortage and low income, the marriage rates among the Palestinians have dropped significantly in the last decade. Whereas 25 per cent of the Arab population live four or more persons in one room, the corresponding figure for the Jewish population is 1.5 per cent. Similarly, while close to 50 per cent of the Jewish population are distributed, on the average, at one person or less per room, it is only 15 per cent among the Arab population; finally, (7) one cannot describe the plight of the Palestinians in Israel without mentioning the land issue, which in many ways encapsulates the Palestinian-Zionist conflict: the dispossession of Palestinian peasants of their land through a series of land expropriations and confiscation rendered the majority of the Palestinians landless and propertyless in their own country.

Land and politics

The early twentieth century Zionist slogan from "land without a people" to "people without a land" remains more or less the cornerstone of Zionist ideology, even in the post-1978 Camp David era. Expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland, their imprisonment (Israel, by the way, can boast that its Nafha prison in the Negev which houses Palestinian political prisoners is a showpiece of human technological accomplishment in which the latest methods of torture and incarceration are marketed freely to other dubious democracies of the South African, Chilean, Argentinian and other varieties) and above all, the confiscation of their land and property have become standard practices in the annals of zionism. The continued expansion of Zionist settlements in the West Bank and Gaza is a natural extension of the same practices that have been utilized rather successfully in dispossessing Palestinians of their land in Israel proper. The process of "Judaization" of Palestine has resulted in a remarkable obliteration of the Arab landscape of Palestine.

Through a series of laws designed to justify the confiscation of Palestinian land in order to accommodate Jewish settlers, the Zionist regime has succeeded in laying claim to more than 90 per cent of the land in 1967 Israel. This is in stark contrast to the situation which existed in 1948, immediately prior to Palestinian dispossession. Zionist records then showed that not more than 6 to 7 per cent of the land of Palestine was legally owned by Zionist institutions and individuals.

Water rights, communication networks and industrial infrastructure have all been designed to strengthen the Zionist colonization of Palestine and suffocate the indigenous Arab population. These racist practices have produced remarkable anomalies in the landscape of Israel's social life. Palestinian workers found themselves building with their sweat and blood Zionist new towns in which they were not allowed to live. The towns of Carmaliet and Upper-Nazareth are cases in point. Regarding the latter, the Palestinians are left with a situation whereby their high population density in Nazareth are matched by one of the lowest population densities in the country, namely in adjacent Upper-Nazareth. There is an apparent aversion among Jewish colonizers to live in Galilee where there are large Arab concentrations. Thus, while one town suffers from overcrowding conditions, another complains of lack of residents in its empty apartments! Apartheid at its very best.

There is no need to dwell upon the convoluted legal and citizenship laws of Israel, which testify to its theoretic and exclusivist nature. Israel is the State of the Jewish people everywhere. It is hardly the State of its citizens, let alone its original refugee Arab inhabitants. What is one to make out of a legal system which grants the right of citizenship to anyone regardless of where he/she lives or was born (as long as they are Jewish), while those Palestinians who were born there are denied the same right? When coupled with the Jewish definition of land ownership (for once the land is Jewish it shall remain Jewish in perpetuity), the laws of return and citizenship produce a political-legal system which is predicated on racist criteria.

A common fallacy which belies the analysis of political life in Israel is the assumption of its democratic nature. Participation of the Palestinians in elections is usually heralded as the ultimate proof of the genuineness of the system. One hardly encounters questions regarding the significance of this ritualistic participation in Zionist political life for the Palestinians.

To appreciate the hollowness of Zionist claims concerning government representativeness, all one has to do is chronicle the number of times the Zionist regime has silenced those Palestinians who dared to criticize and question the legitimacy of the regime through expulsion, imprisonment, house arrest, demolition of houses, or sheer psychological terrorism.

The best way to characterize the political system in Israel is that it works through threats and co-option; those who deviate from acknowledging the supremacy of the Zionist ethos are threatened with the loss of job and livelihood. Those who are willing to be co-opted reap some benefits from a regime that was established on naked violence and the denial of human rights of its indigenous citizens.

Various attempts made in the last three decades to establish genuine opposition parties by the Palestinians were diffused by terroristic acts of the regime. Other than the Communist Party, not a single attempt on the part of the Palestinians to establish an indigenous, nationalistic party representing the aspirations of the Palestinians was tolerated by the regime.

The struggle of the Palestinians in Israel is part of the total struggle of the Palestinian people. An open investigation of the conditions of the Palestinians under Israeli jurisdiction is called for. In the meantime, one can hardly imagine the Palestinians' despair. It is appropriate to end this presentation by recalling the words of the Palestinian poet Samih al-Kassem when he described his experiences at the hand of the Zionist regime in these words:

I may lose my clothes and bedding;
I may work in a quarry;
As a porter or a street cleaner!
I may collapse of hunger;
But no, enemy of the sun, I shall never bargain;
I shall resist until the last pulse of my veins.

You may rob me of my land;
You may waste my youth in chains;
You may burn my poems and books;
You may make my village a nightmare of terror;
But no, enemy of the sun, I shall never bargain;
I shall resist until the last pulse of my vein.


(12-16 April 1982,
Valletta, Malta)


Andrew Faulds
(Member of Parliament, House of Commons,
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)

I congratulate the General Assembly of the United Nations for approving this initiative, motivated, as it is, by the noble ideal of advancing the cause of peace in the Middle East.

The Palestine conflict, and the tragedy and misery which it has inflicted on the Palestinian people, is without doubt the result of international actions which have sought to deprive the Palestinian people of their rights in their homeland. And equally without doubt, it is a problem which will be solved only when the international community acts together to ensure that the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people are respected and enforced.

It is fashionable in the West today to denigrate the United Nations, and in particular the General Assembly; to argue, as certain Western politicians and commentators do, that the General Assembly, and thereby the United Nations as a whole, is a body composed largely of delinquent regimes whose prime purpose is to undermine the supposedly "civilized" standards of the West, and especially of the United States of America. I do not wish to divert from the subject of this paper, but any examination of the "inalienable rights of the Palestinian people" must create questions which are critical not of the General Assembly but of those Western powers which have displayed contempt for the efforts of the Assembly to secure a just solution to the Palestine question, and which have pursued policies based on political expediency and the self-interest of political leaders, rather than morality and justice.

The Palestine question has been a recurring subject of debate and discussion in the General Assembly and in its committees since the foundation of the United Nations more than three and a half decades ago. In that time a consensus has emerged to provide a clear and unequivocal definition of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

1. The right of return

When the Zionists declared the establishment of the State of Israel in Palestine in 1948, 750,000 Palestinian Arabs had been driven from their homes and property to face a life as refugees and exiles. It was immediately clear to the United Nations that this massive dispossession of Palestinians could only contribute to tensions and conflicts in the region. As early as 11 December 1948, the General Assembly declared in resolution 194 (III) that it:
The following year, on 11 May 1949, Israel was admitted to the United Nations. The Zionist State's admission to the United Nations was unique in that the recommendation was, in part, conditional on Israel's respect for resolution 194 (III), and the right of the dispossessed Palestinians to return to their homes and property.

Since 1948, resolution 194 (III) has been recalled annually by the General Assembly, but it has never been implemented.

Recent criticism of the United Nations voiced by certain Western politicians and media gives the impression that on issues such as the Palestine question, the General Assembly's resolutions are the result of a third world and Communist bloc lobby, and that the resolutions do not reflect Western values and opinions. Not only must I refute this assertion, but the voting record of the Western nations in the Assembly does, itself, make clear that this is not the case, certainly on this important principle of the right of the Palestinian people to return to their homeland. If anything is in dispute it is the readiness of certain Powers to take action in accord with the principles expressed by their votes at the United Nations.

For example, on 7 December 1973, the General Assembly adopted resolution 3089 B (XXVIII), in which the Assembly:
For the record, that resolution was endorsed by almost all members of the General Assembly. One hundred and twenty-one States voted in favour, including the United States and all European countries; none voted against; 3 abstained (Israel, Bahamas and Central African Republic).

2. The right of self-determination

Although the right of the Palestinian people to return to its homes and properties from which it had been expelled, first in 1948 and later again in 1967 (added to which we must include those who have been arbitrarily expelled by the Zionist forces throughout the periods between the major wars), was recognized as early in 1948; other inalienable rights of the Palestinian people have been subsequently defined by the General Assembly.

The 1967 war, in which Arab territory on the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, in Sinai and the Golan Heights fell under Israeli military occupation, provided a period of reassessing the Palestine question and the principles on which a solution to the conflict should be secured.

In 1969 the most important development in the definition of Palestinian rights came in resolution 2535 B (XXIV) of 10 December 1969, adopted by the General Assembly to extend the mandate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The General Assembly affirmed that the problem of the Palestinian Arab refugees:
The resolution said that the General Assembly:
The recorded vote on this occasion was 48 States in favour, 22 against, including Israel and the United States, and 47 abstentions.

The following year the General Assembly stated even more unequivocally its views on Palestinian self-determination. In resolution 2672 C (XXV) of 8 December 1970, the Assembly:
The shift in international opinion on this matter over the years is shown by a comparison of the voting figures on resolution 2672 C (XXV) in 1970 (47 in favour, 22 against and 50 abstentions) with those recorded in the 1973 vote on resolution 3089 D (XXVIII) (87 in favour, 6 against (Barbados, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Israel, Nicaragua and the United States of America), and 33 abstentions).

In this 1973 resolution, the General Assembly:

Here the General Assembly makes clear its linkage between the right of the Palestinians to self-determination and their right to return to Palestine. This is important, because too often plans aimed at resolving the Palestine question which make some recognition of the Palestinian peoples right to self-determination are framed within the limitations of self-determination for those Palestinians who have remained in Palestine under Israeli military occupation; no account is made in these schemes for the return of the Palestinian refugees.

Since the 1973 vote on resolution 3089 D there have been further refinements of the General Assembly's definition of the "inalienable rights of the Palestinian people". In particular, in its resolution 3236 (XXIX) of 22 November 1974, the Assembly declared these to be: "the right to self-determination without external interference", and "the right to national independence and sovereignty".

Here we can see clearly a conflict between the view of the international community, expressed through the General Assembly, and those who propose such forms of limited autonomy for the Palestinian people as those outlined in the Camp David accords. Resolution 3236 (XXIX) also restated the Palestinians' inalienable right "to return to their homes and property from which they have been displaced and uprooted", and referred to the Palestinians as a "principal party" in the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, describing the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as "the representative of the Palestinian people".

By 1980, when the General Assembly convened in special session, further refinements of the international community's view of the Palestinian people's right to self-determination were expressed in resolution ES-7/2 of 29 July 1980. In this resolution, the Assembly declared explicitly that the Palestinian people have the "right to establish its own independent sovereign State", and stipulated "the right of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people, to participate on an equal footing in all efforts,deliberations and conferences on the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East...".

It further linked the "attainment of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people" with the territories seized by Israeli military forces in the 1967 war, and stated that a comprehensive, just and lasting Middle East peace could not be established:
This resolution sets the international community not only in harmony with the current proposals for a Palestinian State put forward by the PLO, but in conflict with the declarations of the Zionist establishment under Menachem Begin to the effect that Israel will not withdraw from the 1967 territories on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and that if a Palestinian State is to be established it should be elsewhere than in Palestine, such as the current emphasis of Israeli policy statements that Jordan should become the Palestinian State.

In resolution ES-7/2 The General Assembly states quite unequivocally the rights of the Palestinian people. In paragraph 3, it:
and in paragraph 4:
Resolution ES-7/2 was adopted in the General Assembly by 112 to 7, with 24 abstentions.

Before I conclude, let me state one further right of the Palestinian people, recognized by the General Assembly of the United Nations which is worthy of mention.

And that, my friends is the right to resist.

On 30 November 1970, the General assembly adopted resolution 2649 (XXV), which specifically referred to Palestine and South Africa, and affirmed:
This was again affirmed by 76 votes to 10, with 33 abstentions, in resolution 2787 (XXVI) of 6 December 1971 and, moreover, in 1974, 89 States supported resolution 3236 (XXIX) in which the Assembly "appeals to all States and international organizations to extend their support to the Palestinian people in its struggle to restore its rights...".

In conclusion, an examination of General Assembly resolutions, therefore, shows recognition by the international community of the following rights of the Palestinian people:
My friends, have we done enough, are we doing enough, particularly in Europe, to restore those fundamental rights to the Palestinians?


Luigi Granelli
(Member of Parliament, Christian Democratic Party, Italy)

The state of tension which persists in the Middle East is a confirmation that the recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people is one of the basic conditions for a lasting peace in the region. The United Nations reaffirms this position in all its policy statements on the subject. The European Economic Community (EEC) has itself endorsed this position of principle. The Venice Declaration of June 1980 clearly states that "the Palestinian people, which is conscious of existing as such must be placed in a position by an appropriate process defined within the framework of a comprehensive settlement to exercise fully its right to self-determination". There is no doubt that the right of a people to self-determination carried with it the right to establish a national authority, with full sovereignty, as an expression of an independent State.

The controversial definition of the concept of "Palestinian autonomy" arises in a significantly different context, in the framework of the complex Camp David agreements negotiated between Israel and Egypt. The interpretation given by Israel is in fact particularly restrictive. It does not go beyond the limited autonomy accorded by a State in the full exercise of its sovereignty to ethnic minorities. Successive Israeli Governments, since 1967, have in one way or another rigidly stuck to the judgement of their Supreme Court which asserted that "Israel is the State for all Jewish people wherever they are" and this by virtue of "their historic right to the whole of Palestine". On the basis of this assumption it is rather difficult to apply a flexible definition to the concept of autonomy in the Palestinian context.

The authoritative The Jerusalem Post in a recent article dealing with the question of Palestinian autonomy in Gaza and Transjordan points out that this also implies the right to decide "under which sovereignty one chooses, or perhaps even refuses, to live". But the article concludes that this type of debate directed towards Israel or Jordan is in itself a justification for a Palestinian State. One could add that in practice the legal status of autonomy is traditionally granted to minorities peacefully integrated in a nation State. Self-determination is the more logical, and appropriate status for a people which is in the majority and which is demanding its national rights. United Nations resolution 3236 (XXIX) recognizes these rights for the Palestinian people. It is natural that these rights are interpreted as entailing the establishment of an independent, sovereign State, with its own territory defined within secure boundaries, and abiding by international obligations in its relationship with other States.

1. Israeli annexation policy in the occupied territories

The ultimate objective of a "single, secular and democratic Palestinian State" based on the historic right of the Palestinian people over all of Palestine was discarded by the Palestine liberation movement in 1974 and precisely in the context of resolution 3236 (XXIX). Perhaps this objective was simply postponed indefinitely until it could be achieved through peaceful measures. At that point, however, it became possible to envisage the safeguarding of Palestinian national rights through the creation of an independent State in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967. Such a State, in conformity with the United Nations Charter, and in respect of prevailing realities, would recognize the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all States in the region on the basis of peaceful coexistence within secure and recognized boundaries.

In this manner even the delicate issue of the recognition of the State of Israel would be resolved in the context of mutual acceptance of internationally guaranteed agreements incorporating a globally negotiated peace settlement. These principles are explicitly stated in a draft resolution tabled in the Security Council in January 1976 by a group of non-aligned countries. Unfortunately, the United States veto precluded the adoption of this resolution, even though the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was prepared to abide by it. Subsequently, however, significant developments have taken place. In spite of many problems, the PLO has maintained the realistic position it adopted at that time. The EEC, especially following the Camp David accords, has progressively adopted a constructive attitude regarding the need to recognize the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people (which include self-determination), the need to provide international guarantees for the security of all the States in the region, and the need to involve the PLO in a comprehensive peace negotiation. Prince Fahd's plan, supported by Saudi Arabia, moves even more explicitly in the same direction and significantly enhances the possibility of a dialogue among interested parties.

Political difficulties remain. Uncertainties surround the Camp David process, especially if the parties concerned, primarily the United States, fail to move from the stage of separate and shaky accords to a more comprehensive stage which can link with the initiatives being launched by the EEC and by the majority of Arab States. Israel's refusal to recognize the national rights of the Palestinian people, and the role of the PLO in a comprehensive negotiation, constitutes a major obstacle. Even more complex are the difficulties which may be foreshadowed on the territorial question, a question which is the key to any political settlement and to a lasting and just peace, but which is increasingly assuming a disturbing aspect.

In its Venice Declaration, the EEC urged Israel to terminate "the territorial occupation which it has maintained since the 1967 conflict, as it has done for part of Sinai". Echoing innumerable United Nations resolutions, the EEC also deplored the "Israeli settlements" which constitute a grave obstacle to the peace process in the Middle East. It warned that "changes relating to human settlements and to land ownership in the occupied Arab territories" are illegal under international law. Equally significant is the rejection of unilateral acts aimed at changing the status of Jerusalem.

But since June 1980 the situation has worsened in all respects in the light of the annexation policy pursued by Israel and which threatens to frustrate any attempt towards a comprehensive peace settlement. It is increasingly evident that Prime Minister Begin in defiance of all international norms is seeking to entrench Israeli presence in all the other Arab occupied territories partly perhaps in order to make up for the controversial handing over of Sinai to Egypt but also to preclude the possibility of any negotiations which take as their basis the creation of a Palestinian State in accordance with the United Nations Charter. Any action leading to the annexation of occupied Arab lands is condemned and rejected by the international community because it flouts all principles of international law and because it is the source of incalculable political consequences. Such was the case in connection with the decision taken in July 1980 to establish Jerusalem as the indivisible and eternal capital of the State of Israel, and with the arbitrary annexation of the Golan Heights in December 1981 when the Polish crisis was at its height. Such is the case at the present time with the measures being taken on the Left Bank and Gaza where territory and peoples are being brought under direct Israeli control on the basis of a unilateral proposal for local autonomy.

2. There is no autonomy without the creation of a Palestinian State

The sequence of events rules out the possibility of a coincidence. The separate acts of annexation of occupied Arab lands, in defiance of the resolutions of the Security Council, the counsels of the EEC and the protests of Arab countries constitute a deliberate strategy to force the hands of the United States in acquiescing to a limited interpretation of the Camp David accords by accepting a separate peace settlement. The return of Sinai to Egypt in April this year is for Begin the maximum concession possible with regard to the issue of territories occupied since 1967.

The difficulties being encountered between Israel and Egypt in the negotiations on all other issues ranging from Palestinian autonomy to the status of Jerusalem are intended to multiply until they reach a deadlock. It is inconceivable that Egyptian President Mubarak, who is understandably being impatient until Sinai is in his hands, could accept a separate peace settlement, limited even beyond the Camp David commitments, in the face of mounting Arab opposition, not least from the moderates, and in the light of a deteriorating Palestinian crisis. The eventual disengagement of Egypt would signal the collapse of the Camp David process. President Reagan himself, who has already reacted sharply to Israel's unilateral and illegal acts, may be forced to reassess his whole Middle East policy in order to safeguard the tentative understanding which has already been established between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

The policy of annexation not only violates international law, a point which Washington accepts, but is also significantly changing the existing situation and jeopardizing possible future solutions based on a negotiated settlement. It justifies the request by Chedli Klibi, on behalf of the Arab League, for pressure by the international community on the Israeli Government aimed at urging it "to cease with its aggression on the Left Bank which threatens to exacerbate the already tense situation in the region."

Condemnations by the Security Council are not enough since Israel persistently ignores them. There is a need for urgent and concerted action by the United Nations and the 10 EEC members, even within the framework of the United Nations, to stop the process of forced acquisition of territory, which in political and legal terms challenges the various proposals which already exist for a peaceful and lasting solution in the Middle East. The request by the Egyptian representative to the United Nations for a condemnation of Israeli actions on the Left Bank and for appropriate countermeasures is not accidental. Besides asserting that he is not prepared to accept any redefinition of boundaries in Sinai, President Mubarak has forcefully called for renewed negotiations on Palestinian autonomy, long stalled because of Israeli intransigence, and he has significantly stressed that the objective of such autonomy in Gaza and the Left Bank should be the creation of a Palestinian State. This policy adopted by Egypt is relevant in the context of the evolution of the Camp David accords.

Tension in Gaza and on the Left Bank may develop in unforeseen ways in the light of the provocative dismissal of the mayors of El Bireh, Nablus and Ramallah and the introduction of drastic repressive measures. It is certain to increase and to link up with the long-standing and tough resistance taking place on the Golan Heights and in Jerusalem. It is conceivable that the more radical elements in the PLO will once more gain the upper hand with very grave repercussions in the whole region of the Middle East. Begin himself is increasingly being exposed by his latest decisions to an internal political crisis, and in spite of a tied vote in the Israeli parliament the Government could fall and early elections be held. The Tel Aviv Government had encountered fewer difficulties in obtaining acceptance for the extension to Golan of Israeli legislative authority, the juridical counterpart of formal annexation.

3. The significance of the conflict in Gaza and the West Bank

It is important to note that the struggle on the Left Bank will inevitably be tougher since for many reasons this is the territory which will have to form the nucleus of a Palestinian national entity, the base upon which the eventual Palestinian State will be established in the context of a comprehensive, just and durable peace settlement. In the intentions of the occupying Power the transition from a temporary military regime to a civilian administration constitutes a precise and irreversible step towards the formal integration of the Palestinian population into the State of Israel, the exact opposite to the recognition of the right to self-determination.

Everett Mendelsohn, a Harvard lecturer, has confirmed in a study prepared for a national commission that the common objective of measures hitherto adopted is de facto annexation as a preliminary to formal acquisition. The new civilian administration, in replacement of the military one, represents a unilateral introduction of a functional administration which buttresses Israeli claims to the occupied territory. The "Village Leagues" formed by the occupying authorities from volunteers prepared to carry Israeli arms constitute yet another device aimed at the same objective. At the same time they give rise to social dislocations thereby exacerbating tensions.

All these measures contribute towards polarization and conflict thereby eroding credibility in the postulate of a negotiated and realistic settlement, founded on the mutual recognition between Israel and a Palestinian State as envisaged in the policy endorsed for quite some time by a majority of the PLO. In the long run the policy of administrative and juridical integration, as a major element in the process of annexation, is intended to have marked social and economic effects. According to reliable estimates since 1967 GNP in the Left Bank and in Gaza has increased by 13 per cent annually, while income per capita and private consumption have increased by 11 per cent and 9 per cent respectively. Most marked is the rise in employment. There were 127,000 employed persons in 1968. In 1979 these increased to 212,000 of which 73,000 were working in Israel. There was a marked increase in consumption. Ownership of radio sets moved from 58 per cent to 79.4 per cent of all families; television sets from 2 per cent to 46.7 per cent. In the period under review car ownership reached 4.3 per cent (10 per cent in the cities) as compared to the previous 2 per cent.

Undoubtedly there have also arisen social distortions and dislocations. The philosophy is that of any colonial administration. For certain classes the improvement in well being forces a relationship between the occupying Power and hitherto disadvantaged elements. In this context, the arrival of a status of autonomy, of independence, could well take the form of an eventual loss of acquired benefits. It is not the first time that in the murky history of colonialism the achievement of independence, if unaccompanied by concerted international action permitting a consistent and broad-based development policy to replace social injustices, results in a drastic reduction in the overall standard of living.

This analysis is particularly applicable in the case of Gaza and the Left Bank. Unlike in Israel where the traditional Arab-Palestinian peasantry evolved into the working class, in this region there exist groups representing a lower middle class with pre-capitalistic instincts. These classes have not been caught in the ferment taking place in most Arab States where Palestinians have assumed an influential position in direct competition with more traditional elements. The opportunity therefore exists on the Left Bank and in Gaza to accommodate these people, thereby estranging them from the Palestinian cause. The sharpening Palestinian resistance to this policy of territorial annexation and socio-economic integration is therefore perfectly understandable. The emergence of an independent State, an imperative for the Palestinian national entity, must depend on the effective support of all social strata, and of all the productive energies in the society. It runs risks of being crushed if the colonial administration succeeds in relegating the bearers of the struggle to the margins of the society where the struggle become desperate without any prospect for a negotiated settlement.

4. The "status" of Jerusalem is decisive in any comprehensive settlement

The question of Jerusalem has its particular importance in this context. Israel's decision in July 1980 to consider Jerusalem "the indivisible and eternal capital city" was one of the first and most serious indications of its intentions to place insurmountable obstacles in the path of a comprehensive peace settlement. Even in this case the decision was preceded and accompanied by a process of social infiltration aimed at transforming the pluralistic and interdenominational character of the city through a very restructuring of the resident population.

We have here yet another instance of a policy based on territorial annexation and the attempt to impose unilaterally a juridical status on a city unique in its traditional and universal role. Such a policy is in direct contradiction to international law and has implications well beyond the issue of Arab-Palestinian rights. Already in 1969 the Israeli Government had rejected the urban plan elaborated by the Jerusalem council aimed at limiting the Jewish population of the city in proportion to the ethnic structure of the whole population and imposed adjustments which discriminated against the Arab sector of the population. In 1970, Professor Samuel M. Moses, of the American Urban Institute, member of a technical team consulted on the urban plan for the city stated that in the plan under review there was not "even one reflection of the exceptional character of Jerusalem". The American consultant observed "you are not in charge of just any city in Israel, but of a city which is holy for all". The general sentiment among the team was the desire to de-nationalize the city and to allow it to become "world man territory".

Nevertheless, the plan was arbitrarily implemented, and its effects were in direct contrast to those requirements which in the perceptive and respected observations of the Jesuit Giovanni Rulli writing in the review Catholic Civilization would have marked a step "towards peace between two peoples - Jew and Arab - which had to cohabit the city, on the basis of equal rights and obligations, not as a result of unilateral concessions on one part, but in virtue of an objectively defined agreement concerning the special juridical status recognized and guaranteed by the international community". Severe criticism of the annexation policy adopted in Jerusalem was not lacking even in Israel itself. Respectable elements in the movement for Jewish emancipation asserted on more than one occasion that the objective could only be achieved on condition that the national rights of Palestinian Arabs were also taken into account. A document endorsed by the World Union of Jewish Students at its congress held in Jerusalem in July 1970 states "a just, democratic, egalitarian and peace-loving society cannot avoid recognizing the right of all peoples to self-determination".

The problem has remained the same over the years. The insistence by Israeli Foreign Minister Shamir to bring to Jerusalem all his foreign counterparts is a further proof of the desire to involve international opinion in the acceptance of the arbitrary juridical status imposed in 1980. In the holy city, the military occupation remains, and an Israeli civil regime is not yet in force. Nevertheless tension continues to rise as it does in all other occupied territories. The restlessness, the protests, the arrests and the repercussions confirm that there is a need even in Jerusalem to abandon the policy of annexation and of social and ethnic manipulation, a policy which conflicts not only with the rights of the Palestinian Arabs but also with the principles continuously reaffirmed at the international level.

One cannot ignore the fact that Jerusalem is a unique city in which the three great monotheistic religions - the Christian, the Jewish and the Moslem - share the opportunity to preach to men the respect for the virtues of toleration, of dialogue and of understanding. But this can only be done if Israel resists the temptation to impose by force a unilateral and unacceptable status. These problems are not resolved by a generic commitment to guarantee the freedom of worship for all religions. The problem is not so much religious as it is historical and political. A solution must transcend the aspect of territorial sovereignty and the role of a holy city; it must serve as a symbol of peaceful coexistence and of mutual respect among the different States in the Middle East.

It will therefore be seen that a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East cannot be achieved as long as the hopes for relaxation of tensions and the resumption of comprehensive negotiations, possibly under the aegis of the United Nations, proceeds in conjunction with a continuing undervaluation of the impact of the measures aimed at rearranging the territorial order, the social structures, and the ethnic, cultural, religious and political relationships with the various communities. The United Nations has rightly always insisted on the withdrawal by Israel from all territories occupied in or after 1967. The Camp David Agreements include a significant commitment towards Palestinian autonomy, if one rejects the restrictive Israeli interpretation which is itself not always endorsed by the Americans.

The EEC Venice Declaration of 1980 is explicit in stating the need to terminate "the territorial occupation arising from the 1967 conflict" and defines as a grave obstacle to "the peace process of the Middle East" the Israeli settlement policy in the occupied territories. Prince Fahd's plan, while implicitly recognizing Israel's right to exist and to be secure, is unequivocal concerning the total withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967 - including East Jerusalem - the dismantling of all Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, the guaranteeing of complete freedom of worship for all denominations in the holy places, the recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to return to their homeland (or to receive adequate compensation if they choose not to return), and the establishment of a Palestinian State on the Left Bank with Jerusalem as its capital.

Saudi Arabia and the 10 members of the Common Market agree that it is indispensable for the PLO to represent the Palestinian people in the peace negotiations. Opposition to this assertion, even on the part of the United States, is limited to the argument that no movement is possible unless there is a recognition of Israel on the part of the Palestinians and the Arab States. There is no doubt that a peaceful solution is not possible in the Middle East without the mutual recognition between Israel and a Palestinian State on the basis of obligations which arise out of equal status. This assertion can be accepted but it should not serve as a pretext for unilateral solutions. The persecuted Palestinian people cannot recognize a reality which negates its inalienable rights. The State of Israel which has adopted a policy based on the use of force throughout the whole Middle East may only insist on a guarantee of its security if it refrains from trampling upon the right of others to self-determination. Since 1977 the PLO has not ruled out the option that in the framework of a comprehensive settlement the "Palestinian Charter" may very well be amended in such a way that the "armed revolutionary struggle" against Israel be replaced by a peaceful, in other words a political struggle.

Difficulties remain, but there is room for a comprehensive, just and peaceful settlement: what is important is that the issue of a territorial arrangement in the Middle East based upon the rule of law and not the use of force is not ignored. Otherwise all attempts towards a political settlement will prove futile.


Vladimir Kisselyov
(Professor of History at the Institute for Asia and Africa
of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR)

I. Introductory outline

This Seminar, convened on the initiative of the United Nations Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People is, in our opinion, undoubtedly an up-to-date event. The basic rights of the Palestinian people are of particular importance to be considered at the present seminar if we look at it from two angles:

First, consideration of this problem can contribute to finding out efficient measures to solve the Palestinian problem in a justifiable manner and secondly to see in a better light some new trends in the development of the movement for recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people which is gaining the strength not only in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, but also in the countries of Europe and America.

The Palestinian problem can be compared with an open wound on the body of the Arab world which is being repeatedly and purposefully disturbed by the forces of colonialism and zionism with the aim of splitting up and weakening all the Arabs. The Palestinian problem is today a kind of anomaly of history due to the fact that at the time when the majority of formerly oppressed peoples had done away with colonial enslavement, the Palestinian people were deprived of their right to self-determination and Palestine - a whole country - disappeared from the political scene before the eyes of the civilized world.

The fact that researchers and public leaders from different countries deal once again with the problem of the basic rights of the Palestinian people is becoming increasingly topical in view of the new acts of violence on the part of Israel against the Arab population of the occupied territories: on the West Bank of the Jordan, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem as well as in South Lebanon and on the Golan Heights in the Syrian Arab Republic.

II. Some aspects of the subject

The formula "the basic rights of the Palestinian people" consists of several components, the main of which are as follows: the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, the right to the creation of their own State and the right of return.
A. The right of self-determination

The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination rests on the generally accepted principle of each nation's right to self-determination accepted in international law and in international relations. V.I. Lenin said that realization of the right to self-determination includes an exceptional right to political independence, to liberation and political separation from the oppressing nation (ED.V. vol 27, p. 225). This principle is also stipulated by the Charter of the United Nations and is interpreted in international law as the right of any nation to live its own mode of life and the right to choose any political, economic and social system, a form of government and state (system) in accordance with its historical traditions, peculiarities of religion and culture. However, as far as the Palestinian people are concerned, this basic principle has been violated. The Palestinian people have been deprived of their elementary right to self-determination to be practically implemented in accordance with known United Nations resolutions. That is why at present the essence of the Palestinian problem lies mainly, in our opinion, in the quest of efficient ways of restoring the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, to enable the Palestinian people to practically enjoy the right taken from them by violence.

This task in particular is pursued by the Palestine resistance with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) at the head of it, which was recognized by the Arab countries in 1973 as the sole lawful representative of the Palestinian people, then by the socialist countries and many others. In this capacity the PLO is recognized by the United Nations as well.

In one of his speeches V.I. Lenin observe that recognition of the people to self-determination always includes the demand to act strictly against any attempt of violence and injustice of the ruling circles of Israel in depriving the Palestinian people of their right to self-determination (Ibid., vol. 7, p. 105).

B. The right to establish a State

The second main aspect of the problem in question is the right of the Palestinian people to establish its own Palestinian State. This aspect is a clearly defined expression of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and is a logical extension of it. The question of the establishment of a Palestinian State - a Palestinian national Arab State - stipulated by the known resolutions of the United Nations on the Palestinian problem has in recent years been brought forward as the most important element in the efforts of the Palestinian people and the world community at large.

The idea of the necessity to establish the Palestinian system of state is a most important condition for realization of the Palestinians' right to self-determination and meets with increasing support in the world. Development of this tendency was greatly promoted by the realistic programme submitted at the twelfth session of the Palestine National Council in June 1974, which puts the task of setting up a Palestinian government in any part of Palestine which will be liberated from Israeli occupation. By this is meant the Palestinian land on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip where an unprecedented movement has been launched against Israeli occupation and the so-called "administrative autonomy" imposed by Israel on the Palestinian population of these territories.

At present many countries of the world community and the public at large come forward with proposals to realize this lawful right of the Palestinian people to set up their own State. It is worth while noting that these proposals are accompanied with the ever-increasing prestige of the PLO in the international arena as a recognized leader and the sole representative of the Palestinian people, despite the efforts of the Zionist circles of Israel and the United States to ignore this organization and their refusal to conduct negotiations with it.

The socialist countries, first of all the Soviet Union, actively participate in the realization by the Palestinian people of their right to establish their own State.

As pointed out by President Leonid Brezhnev at the 26th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and in a number of other speeches the support of the just cause of the Palestinian people is truly in line with the policy of the Soviet Union, condemning anti-Arab deals and calling for cessation of the Israeli occupation of all Arab lands seized in 1967 and realization of the inalienable rights of the Arab people to establish their own State. The steady policy pursued by the Soviet Union in support of the national rights of the Palestinian people was again confirmed by the official diplomatic status granted to the PLO in Moscow. At present, the official diplomatic status has also been granted to the PLO by the German Democratic Republic, Iran, Sri Lanka and other States. The PLO now has relations with more than 120 States. Many politicians in the European capitalist countries (as well as Western Europe) began to reveal a more realistic view of the basic rights of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian problem as a whole. Diplomatic recognition of the PLO by the Austrian Government in 1981, granting of official diplomatic status to the PLO by the Greek Government, statements made in favour of the self-determination of the Palestinian people expressed by the Chairman of the Social-Democratic Party of Germany, Willy Brandt, the Chairman of the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Sweden, Olaf Palme, and the President of France, François Mitterrand, vividly demonstrate the growing recognition of the PLO by the West.

Tendencies to recognize the basic rights of the Palestinian people and their right to establish their own national State observed in the European countries are in the interests of these countries in Arab oil, and in efforts to consolidate their ties with the Arab world and their concern over the fact that if these rights are not satisfied it can badly influence the deliveries of Arab oil to these countries.

However, in connection with the tendency of an ever-increasing understanding in European countries of the necessity to satisfy the basic rights of the Palestinian people, it is easy to notice that many countries, and in particular the Common Market countries, being under pressure from the United States and Zionist circles, recognize the Palestinians' rights only formally and not officially the right of the Palestinian people to establish their own national State.

In our opinion, under these conditions the efforts made by the United Nations Committee members, the public at large in European and other countries acquire particular importance especially in the realization of the right of the Palestinian people to create their own State with the PLO at the head of it. Stressing the issue of necessity to set up a sovereign Palestine State would be a definite step towards the solution of the problem as a whole.

C. The right of return

The third aspect of the subject is the right of the Palestinian to return home. This aspect deals with the fate of those who happened to become refugees scattered all over the Arab world. It resulted from the purposeful policy, the so-called "creeping annexation" of the Arab lands pursued by the Zionist regime of Israel from the onset of this State. At present, in accordance with preliminary estimates, the majority of the Palestinian population (about 60 per cent ) happen to be refugees and about 30 per cent of the Palestinian population is under Israeli occupation on the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and in East Jerusalem, about 15 per cent of Palestinians are within Israel.

In some Western countries and in particular in the United States, there is a tendency to substitute talk about the fate of the Palestinian refugees for their right to return home. At the beginning of August 1981 The Washington Post, for example, cited some extracts from President Reagan's speeches: "There is no Palestinian problem, we are talking about fates of Arab refugees who had to adapt themselves to other Arab States". For the ruling Zionist circles in Israel look at the rights of the Palestinian people with ever-more categorical negation, who downrightly negate the very existence of the Palestinian nation and look at it through gun-sights. Here it is worth while noting these cynical comments made by some United States advocates in favour of human rights and violation of human rights in other countries, for example in Poland, at the same time ignoring and essentially encouraging the violation of the right of the whole Palestinian nation.

The problem of the right of the Palestinian people to return is rather complicated and a great one that should be considered separately. In this case we shall only present this problem and make a comment that the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their lands should be invariably linked with the right of the Palestinian people to establish their own State.

The continued escalation of Israel's aggressiveness and expansionism inevitably provokes the question: Is there any possibility for a political move in seeking a peaceful solution to the Palestine problem and the realization of their lawful rights?

I believe that any peaceful solution will be acceptable if certain conditions are met:

1. Israel should stop its military actions against Lebanon as a preliminary step.

2. A total settlement should be reached based on the principles of the United Nations decisions, not on a unilateral basis.

3. The PLO must be included as a full partner in any talks on the solution of the problem.

4. A peaceful solution cannot be reached without recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to set up a sovereign State on its own territory.


Vladimir Koshelev
(Assistant Professor, Byelorussian State University,
Byelorussian SSR)

During the last three decades the Middle East was four times the arena of wars. Today the situation there is still fraught with explosion, as the Israeli troops continue their occupation of Arab lands, and the Arab people of Palestine is deprived of its legitimate rights. It is universally acknowledged today that the problem of Palestine is the core of the Middle East conflict.

The record of the Palestinian problem is long and dramatic. It resulted from the collusion of Anglo-American imperialism and international zionism. Zionism declared as its main goal the establishment of a Jewish State in Palestine, the Arab population of which in 1919 was equal to 533,000 (90.3 per cent), while the Jewish population equalled 57,000 or 9.7 per cent.

Initially Jewish colonization of Palestine was actively supported and sponsored by Great Britain, which had been given the Mandate to govern Palestine by the League of Nations after World War I. By 1947 the Jewish population of Palestine reached 650,000; Zionist immigration brought about a change in the ratio of Arab and Jewish population in the territory. Special attention should be given to the fact that this change was taking place not only due to the increasing number of immigrants coming to Palestine but also due to the expulsion of the native Palestinian Arab population.

In 1947 a mass emigration of the Palestinian Arabs started.

By that time the Zionists considerably strengthened their positions in Palestine and were becoming more and more persistent in trying to get rid of the British patronage and become the sovereign masters of the country. Using the Anglo-American contradictions and the striving of the United States oil monopolies to consolidate their stand in the Middle East, the Zionists started placing more emphasis on the alliance with the United States of America. It was at that time that they intensified their terrorist activities against the Palestinian Arabs. Losing its control over the territory, Great Britain had to pass over the issue of Palestine to the United Nations. On 29 November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on the division of Palestine which was under the British Mandate, and the establishment in its territory of the two independent States - the Arab and the Jewish one. However, through the fault of the Zionist and imperialist forces supporting them, this resolution was not implemented. At the end of 1947 and the beginning of 1948 militarized Zionist organizations performed a whole series of terrorist actions and attacks against the Palestinian Arabs. Especially grave was their crime at the Arab village of Deir Yassin, where Zionists staged a massacre. As a result of those actions about 400,000 Arabs were driven from the future territory of the State of Israel before its establishment in May 1948.

The expulsion of the Palestinian Arabs did not stop after the establishment of the State of Israel. It became most intensive during the armed clashes between Israel and the Arab States during the Palestinian war of 1948-1949. After the war 340,000 Arab refugees had to join the 400,000 Palestinians forced to leave their homeland earlier.

Answering the question why this mass emigration of the Palestinian Arabs took place, E. M. Primakov, well-known Soviet scientist, stressed that it was the result of the policy pursued by the Zionist leadership. And it was not that the Zionists were just satisfied with such a mass departure of the Palestinian Arabs. They were purposefully trying to achieve this goal. This conclusion is supported by some Western authors. For example, the well-known British historian Arnold Toynbee thought that the Palestinian Arabs did neither leave their homes voluntarily, nor obey the orders of the neighbouring Arab States; they left under the threat of death. There is no doubt that the terrorist acts against the Palestinian Arabs were not accidental but brought about by the policy of the Zionists directed at the establishment of a Jewish State in Palestine's territory. Menachem Begin, leader of a terrorist Zionist organization, Irgun, stated with cynical frankness that the massacre was not simply justified, since without the victory of Deir Yassin there would not have been the State of Israel as such.1/

This is how the Palestinian refugee issue emerged as a part of the Palestinian problem.

Starting from 1948 a continuous struggle was under way to gain the right for the Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland. By 1967 the United Nations General Assembly adopted 19 resolutions confirming the right of the refugees to repatriation or compensation for the property. Israel, however, made a point of refusing to implement the resolutions.

Meanwhile, the position of the Palestinian Arabs was aggravated by the "six-day war" of 1967. The Israeli aggression against Arab States brought about a new wave of Palestinian refugees. Many of them became twice refugees.

The Arab population of the occupied territories experience all burdens of an occupation regime: arrests, terror, persecution, searches, forced eviction, destruction of houses, suppression of demonstrations and strikes. Tel Aviv pursues the policy of annexation and establishment of settlements in the occupied Arab territories (the West Bank of the Jordan river and the Gaza Strip). The aim of this policy is to ensure territorial expansion and a change of the juridical, geographical and demographic characteristics of the seized Palestinian lands. In Israel itself the Palestinian Arabs also have a status of the oppressed national minority. They do not enjoy equal rights with the Jewish population, are subject to humiliating discrimination and practically deprived of civil rights.

As a result the Palestinians found themselves without a homeland. This is true with regard to all the Palestinian people: the Palestinian Arabs living in the territory of Israel, those who live in the occupied territories and hundreds of thousands of refugees in various Arab countries. It should be especially stressed that the issue in question is the fate of the people deprived of its national rights, and not just the problem of Palestinian refugees, as the Israeli leadership tries to present it.

Thus, the Palestinian problem is now a complex of interrelated issues, such as the continuing occupation of Palestinian lands by Israel, the necessity to restore the national rights of the Palestinian people, the position of refugees. The essence of this problem is the fate of the Arab people of Palestine forcefully deprived of its homeland. A just solution of the problem presupposes the implementation of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and establishment of its own independent State. It is only on this basis that a lasting and stable peace can be achieved in the Middle East.

The continued occupation of the Arab lands and disregard for the rights of the Arab people of Palestine have made the Palestinian problem one of the most acute problems of our time. For a number of years it has been discussed on many occasions by the United Nations General Assembly. Zionism has failed to prove that "Palestine is a land without people", which should be handed over to "the people without a land". All the attempts to deprive the Palestinians of their roots by threats and terror have come to naught. Scattered over at least 20 countries and oppressed in the occupied land, the Palestinians have rallied together, established their own national liberation movement, trade union and mass organizations. They make their mark on the international scene by carrying on a courageous struggle for independence with its guiding force the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

That is why the United Nations General Assembly noted in 1970 that the Arab people of Palestine had the right to self-determination in accordance with the United Nations Charter (see resolution 2672 C (XXV). On 22 November 1974, the United Nations General Assembly adopted by a majority vote the most important resolution on the Palestinian issue - 3236 (XXIX). The resolution recognized the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty in the territory of Palestine. It confirmed the right of the Palestinians to return to the lands from which they had been expelled. The resolution also pointed out that the Palestinian people is one of the major parties to participate in establishing just and lasting peace in the Middle East. A special resolution [3237 (XXIX)] of the United Nations General Assembly granted permanent observer status at the United Nations and its organizations to the PLO. Within a few years the PLO was recognized by over 100 countries as a political subject of the right to self-determination of the people of Palestine. That was a big political success of the Palestinians. For the first time in a quarter of a century the Palestinian problem was referred to not as a problem of refugees but a problem of ensuring the legitimate inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. This right was proclaimed despite the resistance of Israel and its patrons.

The United Nations, in subsequent resolutions during the period 1975-1981 including General Assembly resolution 36/120 of 10 December 1981, repeatedly reaffirmed these rights. The international community has finally been able to define the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people not only in general but in detail as follows:

- The right to self-determination without external interference;

- The right to national independence and sovereignty or the right to establish its own independent sovereign State;

- The right to territorial integrity and national unity;

- the right of the Palestinians to regain their rights by all means;

- The right of the Palestinians to be represented as a principal party in the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East;
- The right of the Palestinians to their homes and property from which they have been displaced and uprooted;

- The right of the Palestinians in the occupied territories to permanent sovereignty and control of their natural resources;

- The right of the Palestinians to full compensation for the damages done to their natural and human resources;

- The right of the Palestinians to education and culture and the means for enjoying these and to preserve their national identity.

The Soviet Union and other socialist countries always have been the proponents of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians and voted for the resolutions supporting these rights.

However, Israel, supported by its patrons, rejected the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. As a result the right of the Palestinians to self-determination is not implemented up to now. No just solution to the problem of Palestine has been achieved.

In this connection one should pay attention to the efforts of the progressive forces aimed at the exercising of inalienable rights of the Palestinian people in the framework of all-embracing settlements of the Middle East crisis after the October War of 1973. The Soviet Union played a prominent role in this process. The Soviet Union was persistently striving for the renewal of the Geneva Middle East Conference with the equal participation of the PLO representatives. The United States has all along opposed the Palestinian participation in the Conference. Such a stand was seriously undermining the process of a Middle East settlement despite a host of statements made by the United States Administration in favour of a comprehensive Middle East settlement with the participation of all parties concerned. The United States also expressed interest in cooperation with the Soviet Union for the political solution of the Middle East problems. It was reflected in the Joint United States-Soviet Statement on the Middle East on 1 October 1977.

The Statement said that the vital interests of the people of that region as well as the interests of strengthening universal peace and international security as a whole "urgently dictate the necessity of achieving, as soon as possible, a just and lasting settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict", which "should be comprehensive, incorporating all parties concerned and all questions".2/ The statement emphasized that the only right and effective way for achieving a fundamental solution to all aspects of the Middle East problem in its entirety is negotiations within the framework of the Geneva peace conference, especially convened for these purposes, with participation in its work of the representatives of all the parties involved in the conflict".2/

The Joint United States-Soviet Statement was an appropriate step towards the fundamental solution to the Middle East problem. But the United States Administration's stance altered. From November 1977 the United States took steps to subverting a comprehensive settlement and encouraging partial separate decisions. As a result the so-called Camp David agreements and the separate Egyptian-Israeli "peace treaty" were signed.

The Camp David agreements rejected the existing international legal basis of a Middle East settlement, laid down by the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly, and plainly cast away the principle of an overall settlement. As to the Palestinian problem the idea of the Camp David agreement was to substitute "administrative autonomy" for the independent Palestinian State. But "Palestinian autonomy" as envisaged in the Camp David agreement and later in the Egyptian-Israeli separate "peace treaty" is nothing but a fig leaf to cover up lawlessness. It is designed to legitimize Israeli's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and to keep these territories under permanent Israeli control. A prominent figure in the Israeli Labour Party, I. Rabin, said that the Begin Government regarded the "autonomy" plan as a step towards a "great Israel".3/

The United States and Israel are obstructing the Palestinian's legitimate right to self-determination. They oppose any movement towards the creation of an independent Palestinian State. The "autonomy" plan precludes any transformation into a Palestinian State. "Autonomy" covers citizens and not territory. So, if people are evicted from the land it remains under Tel Aviv's authority. The land, the water resources of the Palestine territories and its "security" sphere are also to remain under Israeli control. Only social issues will be within the competence of the "autonomous councils". The Israelis will have complete freedom in setting up settlements on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip.

The Middle East has not moved an inch closer to a genuine peace after the Camp David deal and the separate Egyptian-Israeli treaty. Instead, these separate deals have blocked the only road to a just and lasting peace, a road of collective efforts by all parties concerned.

Having failed to solve the Middle East problem in its own interests through the Camp David deal, the United States and Israel have created in this area an extremely intolerable situation. Everything points to the fact that it is dangerous for the peoples of the Middle East as well as for world peace to leave the present situation unresolved. It was therefore natural that the appeal to get the Middle East settlement off the ground was sounded at the 26th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, Chairman of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, L. I. Brezhnev, put forward in his report to the Congress the most important proposals for the solution to the Middle East conflict. He said in particular: "It is time to go back to an honest collective search for an all-embracing, just and realistic settlement". In the circumstances, this could be done, say, in the framework of a specially convened international conference.

The Soviet Union is prepared to participate in such work in a constructive spirit and with good will. We are prepared to do so jointly with the other interested parties - the Arabs (naturally including the PLO) and Israel. We are prepared for such search jointly with the United States and I may remind you that we had some experience in this regard some years ago. We are prepared to cooperate with the European countries and with all those who are showing a sincere striving to secure a just and durable peace in the Middle East.

The United Nations too could evidently continue to play a useful role in all this.

As for the substance of the matter, we are still convinced that if there is to be real peace in the Middle East, the Israeli occupation of all Arab territories captured in 1967 must be ended. The inalienable rights of the Arab people of Palestine must be secured, up to and including the establishment of their own State. It is essential to ensure the security and sovereignty of all the States of the region, including those of Israel. Those are the basic principles. As for the details, they could naturally be considered at the negotiations.4/

The Soviet programme for a Middle East settlement is realistic and constructive. It clearly points to the way out of the dead-end and opens a new perspective towards the desired goal - the comprehensive settlement of the Middle East problem. It proceeds from the idea that a lasting and just peace in the Middle East can be established only if the Israeli troops are withdrawn from all the Arab territories occupied in 1967 and if the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people are exercised, including the right to self-determination and to establish its own independent State. The solution to the conflict should be all-embracing. The PLO should participate in the talks on the settlement as an equal party. The Palestinian problem cannot be solved behind the back of the Palestinian people.

The new Soviet Middle East initiative has been positively received all over the world, especially in those Arab countries which directly have to deal with Israeli aggression.

Therein lies a constructive alternative to Camp David: attainment of a peaceful settlement by the collective efforts of all the sides concerned, a settlement that would be made not at the expense of the interests of some States and to the advantage of others but for common benefit, in common interests.

However, the United States and the Western European countries have not yet made the decision to take a step in support of the Soviet proposal and thus in support of a choice of the only true and sole way to the genuine Middle East settlement.

Therefore tension in the Middle East, far from relaxing, is increasing. The reasons for this are clear. Indigenous Arab lands continue to remain under the heel of the Israeli occupation forces. The legitimate national rights of the Arab people of Palestine remain unfulfilled and this people is deprived of the opportunity to establish its own State. The security and sovereignty of the States of this region are being increasingly jeopardized. The Israeli aggressor is growing more impudent because it is aware of the full support it has from its overseas patrons.

The so-called "strategic cooperation" between the United States and Israel means blood, destruction and sorrow for the Arabs.

A new aggressive act by Israel against the Syrian Arab Republic, its attempt to annex the Syrian Golan Heights, is closely linked with the militaristic policy of the United States and is a direct consequence of the anti-Arab Camp David collusion and the policy of separate deals. This is a concrete manifestation of American-Israeli "strategic cooperation", the result of fusion of the imperialistic interests of the United States and the expansionist ambitions of Israel.

Like other aggressive actions of Israel, taken lately, the attempt to annex the Golan Heights means that Tel Aviv is hampering in every way a peaceful settlement in the Middle East, although such a course is fraught with serious consequences.

Thus, the problem now, as it was formerly, is how to go about solving the Middle East problem in general and the Palestinian problem in particular. Experience has shown that the road of the Camp David agreement is a road leading nowhere. Today it is clear to all that if the inalienable national rights of the Palestinian people are not fully assured, the Arab-Israeli conflict will assume even more dangerous forms. The right and sole alternative to the policy of Camp David is the Soviet Union initiative which may be summarized as follows:

- Proposal for the convening of a special international conference for the purpose of achieving an all-embracing settlement;

- The need for joint efforts on the part of all parties interested in a settlement;

- The Arab countries and Israel are the main participants in the conference;

- The mandatory and equal participation in the conference of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian Arabs;

- The readiness of the Soviet Union to constructively take part in the conference proceedings;

- The readiness of the Soviet Union to search for a settlement in cooperation with the United States;

- The possibility of cooperation in the elaboration of conditions for an all-embracing settlement with European States, with all those who exhibit a sincere desire to reach a just and lasting peace in the Middle East;

- Full securing of the inalienable rights of the Arab people of Palestine, up to and including the establishment of their own State as well as ensuring the security and sovereignty of all the States of the region including those of Israel;

- A useful role of the United Nations in realization of the proposals.

These proposals have one objective: to move, at last, off dead centre the matter of a just and all-embracing settlement in the Middle East. The absence of such settlement only meets the interests of the aggressor and foreign claimants to domination in the Arab world. The attainment of a settlement will benefit all the peoples of the Middle East as well as world peace.


1/ E. M. Primakov, Anatomy of the Middle East Conflict (Moscow, 1978).

2/ Pravda, 2 October 1977.

3/ International Affairs, No. 2, 1981.

4/ L. I. Brezhnev, Report of the Central Committee of the CPSU to the 26th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Immediate Tasks of the Party in Home and Foreign Policy (Novosti Press Agency Publishing House, Moscow, 1981).


Jerzy Piotrowski
(Member, Polish Institute for International Affairs)

The Palestinian question belongs to that group of complex issues of contemporary world which, to a large degree, are hinged upon international conditions.1/ The decisions which led to the emergence of that question, and which, later on, bore substantially on its further course, have been taken up nowhere else but in the international forum. It should be noted, however, that the stance of the international community on this question has been influenced by the situation in Palestine, the Palestinian people, and the situation in the Middle East region.

The Palestinian question emerged with particular force on the broad international scene after the war of 1973 when the vast majority of States recognized the need to solve it as the fundamental premise for establishing a lasting and just peace in the Middle East. These attitudes were paralleled by a growth of the role of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the party in the Middle East conflict, and by a marked presence of that organization in the system of contemporary international relations.

This system is presently being created within the Brandtframework of the United Nations as a universal and world-wide organization. Therefore, the United Nations stance on the question of the Palestinian rights is of paramount importance. However, it must be said that various groups of States or various regional organizations functioning within the framework of the present system of international relations create certain subsystems, which are characterized in the international forum by similarities and, in this connection, acting as forces focused on the accomplishment of definite goals. They are, therefore, capable of working towards the international recognition of the rights of the Palestinian people within the entire system of international relations.

In the United Nations approach to the question of the rights of the people of Palestine one may discern some main stages. For the first time these rights were defined by the United Nations upon the adoption of the General Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947 concerning the partition of Palestine and the establishment of Jerusalem as a corpus separatum. Formally no other United Nations decision ever negated the right of the Palestinian people to its own State. None the less, resolution 194 (III), adopted by the General Assembly on 11 December 1948, opened a new stage during which efforts were made to reduce the Palestinian question exclusively to the issue of refugees. As a result of such an approach, the Security Council, in its resolution 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967, limited itself in the part concerning Palestine to stating the need for a just solution of the problem of refugees.

A clear breakthrough in the recognition by the United Nations of the rights of the Palestinian people came in 1969 when the General Assembly, in resolution 2535 (XXIV) of 10 December, reaffirmed the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. This meant a transformation on a broad international scale of the question of the Arab refugees into one of the people of Palestine. This approach finds its confirmation in the subsequent decisions of the General Assembly.

These decisions created, later on, the foundation for the recognition of the PLO on the international scene because recognition of that organization had to be preceded by that of the Palestinian people as an individual national category instead of as refugees. Finally, the General Assembly, in its resolution 2787 (XXVI) of 6 December 1971 confirming the legitimacy of the struggle for self-determination of peoples under colonial or foreign domination, including the people of Palestine, paved the way for the recognition of the legitimacy of the activity of the PLO uniting the Palestinian people in the struggle for its own rights.

Under such circumstances, legal international premises have been created for the opening of a new stage in the recognition of Palestinian rights in the United Nations. This new stage is characterized by decisions of immense weight and, especially, by the definition of the inalienable rights of the people of Palestine and the granting of observer status in the United Nations to the PLO (resolution 3236 (XXIX) of 22 November 1974).

In the historical perspective, the evolution of the recognition of the rights of the Palestinian people by the United Nations has gone through several stages, each marked by quantitative changes. At present, conditions constituting the basis for the solution of the Palestinian question have been determined. In this respect, the General Assembly, in its resolution 36/120 of 10 December 1981, merits special attention as it defines these conditions in a comprehensive way. They are as follows:

1. The necessity to withdraw Israeli troops from all the territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem;

2. The necessity to solve the Palestinian question, which is the core of the Middle East conflict, through the implementation of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including:

(a) The right of the Palestinians to return to their homes and property in Palestine, from which they have been displaced and uprooted;

(b) The right to self-determination without external interference, and to national independence and sovereignty;

(c) The right to establish its own independent sovereign State.

The General Assembly strongly opposed all partial agreements and separate treaties and deemed all decisions or negotiations conducted without the participation of the PLO null and void.3/

An important move towards the implementation of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people was the establishment, by virtue of resolution 3376 (XXX) of 10 November 1975, of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. The recommendations of the Committee, submitted in its report 4/
to the General Assembly at its thirty-first session, defined two stages of the return of the Palestinian people. The first embraced the return of the 1967 refugees, and the second included the return of those of 1948-1967. The Committee also recommended that the Security Council should adopt a schedule for the withdrawal of the Israelis from the territories occupied since 1967, which should end not later than 1 June 1977. The territory left by the Israelis would be handed over to the United Nations which then would give it over under the PLO control with a view to establish an independent Palestinian territory.

As a result of Israel's firm opposition, supported by the United States, these recommendations could never be implemented. Instead, action was taken by the United States with a view to achieving a solution to the Middle East conflict that would eliminate the Palestinian people and especially the PLO and its representative.

The views presented here concern the general aspects of the recognition of Palestinian rights in the world-wide organization. Let us view this question from the position of three groups of States: the third-world countries, the Socialist countries, and the highly developed capitalist States.

As far as the third-world countries are concerned, attention will be focused initially on the non-aligned Movement in view of its range and importance in that group of countries.

The Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, which from the very beginning of its existence has put forth as its main goal the struggle against all remnants of colonialism and foreign domination, has played in important role in maintaining the vitality and weight of the Palestinian question in the international arena. It was only on the initiative of States belonging to that Movement that the majority of the above-mentioned resolutions of the General Assembly were adopted. As they form a majority at the United Nations, the third-world countries and, by the same token, most of the non-aligned Member States, were able to ensure the adoption by the General Assembly of resolutions confirming the necessity to solve the Palestinian question as the fundamental condition of the solution of the Middle East conflict, and the recognition of the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian people.

The position of that group of countries on the Palestinian rights was also reflected in their attitude towards the Palestine Liberation Organization. It was given the status of guest in the non-aligned Movement as early as 1972 in Georgetown. Already the following year, in September 1973 the PLO participated in the Fourth Conference of Heads of State or Government of Non-Aligned Countries, held at Algiers as an observer. The Political Declaration adopted there expressed full support for the struggle of the Palestinian people to regain its lost homeland, which constitutes an integral part of the struggle of all nations for self-determination and against colonialism and racial discrimination. In the resolution on the Middle East, the PLO was recognized as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

At the Conference of Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Non-Aligned Countries, held at Lima in August 1975,6/ a substantial part of the discussion was devoted to the Palestine question. The PLO was invited to that meeting as a full member of the non-aligned Movement. Simultaneously, a working group was established to cooperate with the PLO on preparations of a strategy to regain the rights lost by the Palestinian people.

Of great importance for the Palestinian question were the decisions of the Fifth Conference of Heads of State or Government of Non-Aligned Countries, held at Colombo in August 1976,7/ where the PLO took part in the work of the Co-ordinating Bureau of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries in preparing the 6th meeting of the leaders of non-aligned countries, to be held at Havana in September 1979. In the resolution on the Middle East the meeting reaffirmed the support for Palestinian rights, condemned the Camp David agreements and requested the Co-ordinating Bureau to establish a special committee for the investigation of the negative effects of those agree- ments.8/

In the 1970s, the Palestinian question continued to be an important item on the agenda of all meetings of the leaders of the non-aligned countries. These countries, initiators of a number of United Nations decisions, have lent their full support to the right of the Palestinian people to its own State and the place of the PLO in the negotiations on the solution of the Middle East conflict. They were also the initiators of the General Assembly in 1980 devoted to the Palestinian question.

The League of Arab States comprises those States that are directly involved in the Palestinian question. Based on the concept of a nation in an all-Arab sense,these States recognize the right of the Palestinian Arabs to their own homeland as an important element in the sovereignty of the Arab world. However, the functioning, within the framework of the reason of the nation, of the reasons of individual States was responsible for the differentiation of the approach towards a number of aspects of the Palestinian question.9/ This became clearly visible in the case of Jordan, which controlled a part of Palestinian territory until 1967, and the leader of which put forward (as late as in 1972) the idea of creating the United Arab Kingdom on the territories of the present-day Jordan and the West Bank.10/

Under these circumstances, of crucial importance for the unification of the Arab world position on the question of Palestinian rights were the decisions taken by the Arab leaders at Rabat in October 1974 reaffirming the right of the PLO to exercise authority over the territories liberated from the Israeli occupation.11/ Those decisions were taken unanimously.

The Arab States have been confirming the importance of the Rabat decisions until the present time. It must be also pointed out here that the policy of President Sadat which facilitated the Camp David agreements and the Peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel gives rise to serious doubts as to whether Egypt will abide by the Rabat decisions.

The Palestinian question was one of the factors which led to the establishment of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in 1971. One of the main goals of this organization is the protection of the sacred places of Islam, including Jerusalem, and lending support to the right of the Palestinian people to its own State.

The Socialist countries belong to that group of States which most firmly condemned the Israeli occupation of the Arab territory by severing diplomatic relations with Israel, in most cases as early as in 1967. Since 1969, these States have been lending their support to all United Nations resolutions reaffirming the rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to its own State, and recognizing the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian people.

The consequences of such a stance is the support for the concept of a global solution of the Middle East conflict with the participation of the PLO. It is worthwhile mentioning here the proposal submitted by L. Brezhnev at the 15th Congress of the Soviet Trade Unions in March 1977 welcomed by other Socialist countries. It stated the necessity for withdrawal of Israeli troops from all territories occupied since 1967, and the establishment of an independent Palestinian State that would exist alongside with Israel, which would mean the end of the war between Israel and the Arab countries.12/

The fruit of the Socialist countries' stance on the Palestinian question was the PLO bureaus opened during the 1970s in those countries. In Poland the PLO bureau is accredited to the National Unity Front (FJN), and enjoys the full status of a diplomatic post. The PLO bureaus in other Socialist countries have a similar status.

As far as the highly developed capitalist States are concerned, the majority of them viewed Israel as an element of European civilization in the Middle East, and as a representative of their interests in that region. Israel was treated as their ally and therefore the rights of the Palestinian people were not a subject of interest in their policy.

This state of affairs lasted until 1973 when, following the October war, some evolution in the approach toward the Palestine question became visible, especially in the case of the capitalist States. Those States faced the dilemma of accommodating their obligations towards Israel and the need to safeguard their interests in the Arab world, and primarily the guarantees of oil supplies. Under such circumstances they were forced to give more consideration to the question of the Palestinian rights.

The European Economic Community (EEC) members from Western Europe do not hold a unified stance but remain divided on the question of the Palestinian rights, with the Netherlands and Denmark more on the pro-Israeli side, and the States holding a more balanced view on that issue, including France, Greece and Spain, on the other. EEC as a whole formally accepts the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. This position, however, cannot be unequivocally interpreted and does not necessarily mean recognition of the Palestinian right to its own State. What it does mean, however, is that EEC members do not associate themselves with the activities of the United States, which openly aims at a development in the Middle East region which would render impossible the exercise by the people of Palestine of its right to statehood.

A token of a new approach of the West European States towards the Palestinian question were several meetings of Yasser Arafat with statesmen from those countries. Among them, an important place is to be given to the talks of the Palestinian leader with Adolfo Suárez at Madrid in April 1979 as well as a number of meetings with politicians from France. The meeting of Yasser Arafat with Bruno Kreisky in the first half of 1979 and with Willy Brandt, who spoke as the leaders of the Socialist International, opened a new stage in relations between the PLO and Western Europe.

As for today, the PLO is linked most closely with the neutral countries, while with respect to West European NATO States they, in the majority cases, recognize de facto the existence of the PLO. It was not followed by de jure recognition, which these States make conditional on the recognition by the PLO of the State of Israel.

The evolution in the international approach to the Palestinian question is the effect of changes which recently took place on the political arena of the present-day world. The crucial factor which facilitated the transformation of the Palestinian question into one of the people of Palestine was the strengthening of the position of the third-world countries, which recognized the struggle of the Palestinian people as a part of its strife against the remnants of colonialism and foreign domination.

Evidently not all countries took a uniform stance on the Palestinian question. The Latin American States, for example, demonstrated the greatest measure of restraint in this respect. This, however, in no way undermines the role of the third world in promoting these rights in the international forum. Of particular importance here is the growth of the political and economic position of the Arab States and their capabilities to win the approval of the majority of States for the support of their vital interests in the Middle East conflict. If we add the position of the Socialist States, it becomes easy to understand all those factors which stressed the exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people as the important task facing the international community.

The position and role of the PLO in the international arena is the outcome of the recognition of Palestinian rights. According to Palestinian data, the PLO is recognized as the sole representative of the Palestine people by 115 States. As was stated in Vienna during a United Nations seminar on the question of Palestine, the PLO is recognized by a larger number of States than Israel, or by 80 per cent of the entire world population.13/

At times one may come upon opinions that the Palestinian question is first of all one of the Palestinians themselves, secondly of all of the Israelis, then the Arabs and lastly, the problem of the whole world. This is a simplified view if only for the fact that disregard for Palestinian rights may threaten not only the Middle East region. In view of the importance of that region for the contemporary world the conflict may, under certain circumstances, lead to tensions outside it. Recent history records numerous instances where an unsolved conflict has been revived, evoking emotions among politicians and leading to new conflicts. For this reason, a just and lasting solution of the Palestinian question, founded on the exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, is in the interest of the majority of States and is one of the factors needed to stabilize the contemporary system of international relations.


1/ Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, ed., The Transformation of Palestine (Evanston, Northwestern University Press, 1971), p. 379.

2/ See resolutions 2649 (XXV), 2672 (XXV), 2972 (XXVI), 2963 (XXVII) and 3089 (XXVIII).

3/ See Official Records of the General Assembly, Thirty-sixth Session, Supplement No. 35 (A/36/35).

4/ Ibid., Thirty-first Session, Supplement No. 35 (A/31/35).

5/ A/9330 and Corr. 1, p. 3.

6/ A/10217.

7/ See A/31/197.

8/ Palestine, 16-30 September 1979.

9/ For more on this subject, see W. Khalidi, "A sovereign Palestinian State", Foreign Affairs, July 1978.

10/ Palestinka ctázka v dokumentech (Praha, 1975), pp. 408-411.

11/ Zbior Dokumentow - Recueil de documents, No. 10 (1974).

12/ Pravda, 22 March 1977.

13/ A. Agaryshev, "Nature of the Palestine Liberation Organization", United Nations seminar on the question of Palestine, Vienna, 25-29 August 1980.


Bécir Meholjíc

It is well known today, and has been repeated many times, that there can be no lasting solution to the Middle East crisis without resolving the Palestinian question which is central to this complex conflict. The question poses a direct threat to peace and security, not only in the region, but also in the world as a whole. The basic obstacle to the solution of this issue and the achievement of durable peace in this area, is most certainly the military occupation and permanent Israeli aggression against Arab States and peoples, the Palestinian people in particular. This behaviour stems from the Israeli colonial policy of aggression, expansion and annexation that is constantly being carried out in spite of its unanimous condemnation by the whole peace-loving society, by numerous resolutions of the General Assembly, the Security Council and other United Nations organs, as well as by resolutions and appeals of the non-aligned countries, the Arab League, the Islamic Conference and the other international and regional organizations. Israeli policy is contrary to the combined efforts of these organizations to establish a fair, stable and lasting peace that will allow all the countries and peoples of the region to aspire to undisturbed development and to ensure the Palestinians the exercise of their inalienable national rights.

By occupying the Sinai, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank of the Jordan river, the Syrian Golan Heights and Jerusalem, Israel has violated the rule of international law which has been known for 50 years as Stimson's Doctrine, adopted by the majority of conventions between the two world wars, and finally incorporated into the United Nations Charter, the single most important political and legal pronouncement in effect today. However, what is accepted by peace-loving society, Israel rudely repudiates and ignores, while continuing its policies of aggression and annexation, thus doubly violating the imperative of contemporary international law. On the one hand, Israel is gradually transforming military occupied territory into Israeli territory by annexation of the east part of Jerusalem in 1977 and the Golan Heights in 1981, by introduction of a civilian instead of, or in addition to, a military government in the West Bank, and also by dismissal and exile of legally elected city councils and majors. Thus a de facto state of affairs is being illegally transformed into what the Israelis consider to be a de jure condition. On the other hand, Israel violates in a very brutal manner, through a series of unscrupulous measures, the basic rights of the civilian population of the occupied territories.1/

In the course of this paper, the nature, goals and means of Israeli policy of terrorism and annexation shall be illustrated in part. Such a policy not only ignores and consciously violates current international law regulations, but also represents the largest obstacle to the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, as well as the basic rights of civilians in the occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories. This matter has been described in many studies, daily reports from the area, and more particularly in United Nations documents.2/

At the outset, it must be stated that ever since the United Nations Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories was established (General Assembly resolution 2443 (XXII) of 19 December 1968), Israel has denied any kind of cooperation, thus rending impossible a direct scrutiny of the current state of affairs in these territories. This situation shows the determination of Israel to conceal the fact that they are preventing the civilians from exercising their elementary human rights.

The evidence of the Israeli policy of annexation of the occupied territories is confirmed, among other things, in the following statements of Prime Minister Begin. During his visit to an Israeli settlement,he said: "I, Menahem, son of Ze'ev and Hassya Begin, hereby pledge my word that, as long as I serve the nation ... as Prime Minister, we shall not abandon any area in the territories of Judea, Samaria, the Gaza Strip or the Golan Heights".3/ On another occasion, giving a speech in the Knesset about the basic orientation of the new Israeli Government, the Prime Minister confirmed even more strongly its annexation policy, stating that "the Israeli Government will raise its claim to sovereignty over the West Bank, after the period of self-rule".4/

There is no doubt that such a policy affects directly the rights of civilians, particularly the right to self-determination, just as the military occupation itself indicates the violation of international law and basic human rights. Such a policy inaugurated by the new Israeli Government with Begin at its head, is against article 47 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, which expressly prohibits annexation of occupied territories.

The Israeli Government has officially adopted plans and projects to carry out the above-mentioned policy of annexation, and carried out their execution continuously, steadily and consistently. This is best illustrated by the construction of new Israeli settlements and expansion of existing ones in the occupied Arab territories, for which last year's budget alone provided $64 million.5/

According to one source, Israeli settlers now control about 35 per cent of the West Bank of which over 50 per cent is arable soil. The settling of Jews in the area, who before 1967 did not inhabit the above-mentioned territory at all, threatens the expulsion of Palestinians completely and violently.

A very important role in the implementation of the Government's annexation policy is played by Israeli settlers. It is well-known that they not only perform terrorist and other criminal acts, but that these acts do not result in any punitive action, even though such acts are a direct infringement on the basic rights of the civilian population. Furthermore, there is firm evidence of connivance and complicity between the military and the civilian authorities at all levels in these acts of settlers, in deliberate contravention to article 29 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Article 49 of this Convention prohibits any forcible transfer to or from occupied territory; hence, the continuous colonization of these territories as well as the establishment of new settlements by Israelis, is directly contrary to current international law.

Israeli occupying authorities apply what has been termed as the "iron-fist" policy to the civilians in the occupied territories. This comprises crude behaviour and brutal pressures, very similar to the methods of both Nazis and Fascists during the Second World War, and to others during the extensive colonization period. This policy is consistently being carried out, both directly, through the brutal treatment of the civilians by the authorities, and indirectly, through support and encouragement of violent and terrorist acts by Israeli settlers towards the civilians in the occupied Arab territories.

A few among many violations of international law may be cited here: slaughter of the civilians; imposition of curfews; curtailment of freedom of movement; closing of shops; demolition of dwelling and business premises; interference in the work of educational institutions; revision of scholastic programmes; arrest of pupils, students and teachers; closing of schools and universities; dismissal of legally elected bodies; arrest and exile of mayors; unauthorized and arbitrary imposition and levying of high taxes; land-grabbing by any possible means; withholding of both potable and irrigation water from civilians; prohibiting the grazing of cattle; refusal to acknowledge identity papers and imposing by force the acceptance of Israeli identity cards and Israeli citizenship; holding prisoners of different gender together in the same cell (which deeply offends tradition and religious beliefs of the Arabs); unlawful dismissal of workers from their places of employment; blackmailing those who register vehicles or ask for licences of various kinds; and applying political, economic and psychological pressure on the civilian population - especially when it comes to the freedom of movement which thus collectively affects both the legally elected Palestinian leaders and the civilian population in villages and towns.6/

All the foregoing is contrary to the present regulations of international law, and more precisely to the fourth Hague Convention of 1907, and to Articles 33 and 53 of the fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.

Special attention should be given to the very difficult conditions in Israeli prisons, which includes rudeness and maltreatment of political prisoners, torture in the course of investigation, and absence of necessary and organized international control that might serve to alleviate these conditions.

We must therefore conclude that the Israeli policy and the behaviour of the occupying authorities, continuously and very dangerously aggravates the already very serious situation with regard to the exercise of human rights in the occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories. This policy is contrary not only to the articles 64 and 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, but also to the United Nations resolution on prohibition of torture.

Numerous examples of incidents in the occupied territories point to the very difficult everyday reality of the civilian population.7/ The long list of such incidents made according to reliable and uncontradicted sources and daily press reports, very clearly and persuasively demonstrates that civilians in the occupied territories are subjected to the continuous pressure of the military occupying authorities. Serious violations of international law in respect to possible exercise and protection of civil human rights further aggravate the situation thus making solutions to the Middle Eastern crisis extremely difficult and perpetuate a constant threat to world peace. Israeli refusal to comply with articles 146 and 147 of the Geneva Convention cited above relating to infringement of international law and imposition of sanctions against such infringement further exacerbates tension in the area.

The situation is complicated further in that there is no legal recourse available to civilians for the protection of their rights, particularly their property rights. The only possibility they have is to appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court of Justice, which is futile since the Israeli authorities, at all levels, constantly discourage recourse to legal bodies and ignore their decisions, as has been extensively documented.8/ Even special bodies such as The Military Appeals Board, created to protect civilians and their rights against illegal acquisition of property, actually serve more as a cover for legal expropriation, and as an effective and organized process for taking over Palestinian land. Under various pretexts, but most frequently under the rubric of "state land", Israel continues to exercise the already initiated practice of transforming, in all fields, the existing legal regime into a new Israeli one, which is strictly and expressly in contradiction to international law.9/

Based on the aforementioned, we may conclude that the civilian population in the occupied territories is deprived of its basic rights through the Israeli occupation and annexation policy. This practice is usually cried out under the slogan "homeland", thus augmenting the threats to international peace and security in this sensitive region. That is why the international community is faced with the necessity and obligation to intervene urgently and efficiently, through the United Nations, using all means at its disposal, in order to terminate the occupation and attain a fair and lasting peace. The reason for this is that the occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territories together with the Israeli policy of aggression, annexation and expansion, represents the systematic violation of international law concerning human rights. Israeli policy also represents an obstacle to the exercise of basic human rights of civilians in the occupied territories, and to rights of the Palestinians as a nation - especially the right to self-determination - which belong to them according to the current international law, particularly the United Nations Charter which is the universal and most important political and legal provision of the contemporary international community.

The exercise of the right to self-determination and national independence by Palestinians presents no legal dilemma and concomitantly represents a pre-condition for a peaceful and realistic solution to the Middle East crisis as a whole. This crisis that directly endangers world peace and security can be successfully and permanently solved only by encompassing all its aspects and by looking for the entire solution of all the issues. Therefore it is necessary that organized, urgent and efficient activity of the international community should ensure the withdrawal of Israeli occupation forces from all Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since June 1967, including Jerusalem. It is also necessary to ensure for Palestinians the exercise of their inalienable rights, particularly the right to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty, and the right to have a State of their own. A further necessity is the recognition of the Palestine Liberation Organization, as the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, their rights to sovereignty and independence and in addition the granting to Palestinian refugees and displaced persons a right to return to their homeland. Finally, all the countries and peoples of the region must be given the opportunity to have a secure national life and independent social development, based on political, economic, national, religious, ethnic and cultural equality.

Only successful and simultaneous solution of all the aforementioned issues can make possible a stable and lasting peace in the region. An approach to the possible solution of the Middle East crisis is contained in all decisions and documents of the United Nations organs and conferences of the non-aligned countries. These represent a distillation of the numerous decisions and recommendations adopted at many international meetings. This is the only basis (as it has been stressed and underlined many times by the official representative of non-aligned Yugoslavia) on which it is possible to avoid destruction and terror, and to create lasting peace and security in this region. Only in this manner, can all the countries and peoples of the region enjoy safety, freedom and independent national development. The policy of force, disrespect for basic rights of other peoples and violation of international law is not and cannot be proper means of making our way out of the Middle East labyrinth, nor does it present a viable means for resolving and overcoming this dangerous crisis, which threatens world peace.

That is why the international community must find the way to prevent, efficiently and urgently, the policy of Israel that is based on force, terror, expansion, and annexation and colonial aspirations. This policy is openly against the efforts of peace-loving society and the rule of international law expressed in the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, numerous Geneva and Hague Conventions, treaties on civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights as well as many documents adopted by United Nations organs, meetings of the non-aligned countries and a number of regional organizations.


1/ See the 1979 report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (Official Records of the General Assembly, Thirty-fourth Session, Supplement No. 35 (A/34/35).

2/ For more details, see the reports of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories: A/8089 of 26 October 1970; A/8389 of 5 October 1971; A/8389/Add.1 of 9 October 1971; A/8828 of 9 October 1972; A/9148 of 25 October 1973; A/9148/Add.1 of 20 November 1973; A/9817 of 4 November 1974; A/10272 of 27 October 1975; A/31/218 of 1 October 1976; A/32/284 of 27 October 1977; A/33/356 of 13 November 1978; A/34/631 of 13 November 1979; A/35/425 of 6 October 1980; and A/36/579 of 26 October 1981.

3/ See Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post, 8 May 1981.

4/ See the International Herald Tribune, 6 August 1981.

5/ United Nations document A/36/579, paras. 125-131.

6/ See Affidavits of the two Druses (Kamal Kinj and Mahmoud Al Safadi), addressed through the office of the Jerusalem lawyer Felicia Lange to the Special Committee of the United Nations on 25 January 1982, after the occupying authorities refused permission for their coming to Geneva and personal report on the Golan situation.

7/ See United Nations document A/36/579, part IV, sect.C.2.

8/ See United Nations document A/36/579, part IV, sects. B and C.3.

9/ See United Nations document A/36/579, paras. 340, 343, 346, 354, 355, 362, 382, 384, 388; see also R. Shehadeh and J. Kuttab, The West Bank and the Rule of Law, (Geneva, International Commission of Jurists, 1980), which deals with the illegal and forbidden changes of legal regime in the West Bank and with the introduction of Israeli legal regulations.


Béla Szilagyi
(Vice-President of the Hungarian Peace Council
and Member of the Hungarian Solidarity Committee)

In consequence of the third Arab-Israeli war in June 1967 large Arab territories came under military occupation by Israel. Those territories comprised the Sinai Peninsular belonging to Egypt, the Golan Heights belonging to Syria, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank of the River Jordan and the Old City of Jerusalem (the Arab sector). The latter three areas, Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem, were to constitute an integral part of Arab Palestine, to be established in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations. It is of public record, however, that the envisaged State of Palestine was prevented from emerging by the first Arab-Israeli war: Gaza came under Egyptian administration without being annexed, while the West Bank and the Arab sector of Jerusalem were annexed by the Transjordanian monarchy, which thus established Jordan in 1950.

The occupation of the Arab lands three times the size of Israel as of 4 June 1967 and the perpetuation of that situation gave rise to considerable tension in the Middle East and added further strains to the crisis. Security Council resolution 242 (1967), which was adopted on 22 November 1967, was a natural reaction by the community of nations to that state of affairs.

The question of withdrawal from the occupied territories was nevertheless extended to include a new element which amounted, to be more precise, to the revival of a long-existing fundamental component: the Arab Summit Conference, held at Rabat, Morocco, in October 1974, proclaimed the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to establish an independent Palestinian State of its own on the territories which temporarily came under the administration of other Arab countries following the first Arab-Israeli war and which were occupied by Israel in the war of 1967, while recognizing the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian Arab people. At the same time, the political programme of the Palestinian liberation movement, which was adopted at the Twelfth session of the Palestine National Council performing the function of a parliament, stated as a principle that "Palestinian national jurisdiction should be established on the territories to be liberated from Israeli occupation according as the troops of the aggressor are withdrawn from the occupied Arab territories".

These aspirations found their echo in the United Nations as well. On 13 November 1974, in the debate on the question of Palestine, which had been included in the agenda of the General Assembly shortly after the adoption of the resolution of the said above-mentioned Arab Summit Conference at Rabat, the world organization, by 105 votes to 4, with 20 abstentions, decided to invite representatives of the PLO, as a result of which Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the PLO was enabled to address the General Assembly. The following is a passage quoted from his statement:

"I announce here that we do not wish one drop of either Arab or Jewish blood to be shed; neither do we delight in the continuation of killing, which would end once a just peace, based on our people's rights, hopes and aspirations had been finally established ... Today I have come bearing an olive branch and a freedom-fighter's gun. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand ...".

The General Assembly then adopted three resolutions, the first proclaiming the right of the Palestinian Arab people to independence and sovereignty; granting the PLO observer status in the world organization; and inviting the Secretary-General to conduct a profound study of the question of Palestine and to submit a report thereon.

Complete Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories and restoration of Arab sovereignty are therefore inseparable from the problem of Palestine and from the establishment of an independent Arab State of Palestine. The leaders of the State of Israel and all those who lend military, political, economic and other support to Israel illegally refuse to recognize the inevitable necessity for the establishment of a State of Palestine and go out of their way to contain this process. What they are seeking is, in the words of Israeli Government officials, not only to perpetuate the occupation, even by invoking biblical arguments, but also to reshape the appearance of the occupied territories to suit their interests and to serve their advantage. This is why the Israeli policy of settlements on occupied Arab territories became a key issue, for it is seen by the Israeli leadership as an obvious means of promoting the realization of their designs. Now more than ever, it is indispensable to describe the characteristics of the policy of settlements and to lay them before world public opinion.

The Fourth Geneva Convention 1/ of 12 August 1949 contains detailed provisions concerning the situation of civilian populations in areas of military operations, the general rule being that in case of military occupation the occupying Power has no right to infringe upon the interests of the population. Article IV, paragraph 33 of the Convention specifically provides, inter alia, that no ground whatsoever may be invoked for collective punishment on occupied territories. The Convention was also signed by Israel, and let it be added that four years after the end of the Second World War it was adopted not least because the memory of the terrible crimes committed by the Nazis in the occupied territories was still fresh in the minds of the peoples of the world, and particularly of those survivors who had settled in the State of Israel itself.

Moreover, the principles of international law, which have also been accepted by Israel, condemn any endeavour to prepare and carry out in various ways the annexation of temporarily occupied territories. Any attempt to resettle or banish the native population and to settle other people in their place, to change the ethnic proportions of those territories and to establish civilian or paramilitary settlements thereon must be rejected.

Nevertheless, from the very outset, Israel infringed and rejected the adopted international norms. As early as September 1967 it established the first two Israeli settlements on the occupied territories, at Banias, on the Golan Heights and in the region known as Gush-Etzion south of Jerusalem, on the West Bank. At the same time the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, adopted a decision on the so-called reunification of Jerusalem. At variance with United Nations decisions, the part of Jerusalem formerly known as the New City was unilaterally proclaimed the capital city of Israel and, as the result of so-called reunification, the whole of Jerusalem was treated as the de facto capital of Israel. Zealous efforts were started to change the face of the historic holy city and to build new residential areas, urban districts and suburbs to the north, south and east on occupied Arab territories. In that undertaking the Israeli leadership was and still is guided by a double aim: virtually to encircle the Arab sector and thereby to change the demographic structure of the city. Israeli leaders openly stated that what they wanted was to reduce to 25 to 28 per cent of the proportion of the Arab population in Jerusalem.

Thus, whereas the policy of settlements was not unknown to the former Ma'arach Governments of the Labour Party, it gained rapid momentum particularly from 1977 onwards, when the coalition of the Likud led by Prime Minister Menachem Begin came to power. (Let me point out at this juncture that occasional differences may be observed in statistics on settlements, due to the fact that twin settlements are shown to be either one or two. But the fact is not altered by slight differences that can be detected in figures accepted as the most authentic in the international press and various studies.)

Up to the change of Government in the spring of 1977 62 Israeli settlements had been established in the occupied Arab territories. This process was then described by the Le Monde of Paris to be "a shy policy of settlements" as the "strategic villages" were set up, with somewhat less publicity, at some distance from the most densely populated Arab settlements. All this, we stress again, did not alter the repressiveness, danger and substance of the entire process and its upshots. In late 1978 there already existed 87 Israeli settlements (23 on the Golan Heights, 39 in Cisjordan), 13 to the north of Sinai, in the area of Yamit-Pitchat rafiat, while the location of 12 more was not indicated in official statistics. Semi-official sources counted among them the settlements established around Sharm el Sheikh at the border of Gaza and the "illegal" ones established by the adherents of the extremist fanatic Gush Emunin on the West Bank. It is characteristic that these settlements, while they were declared illegal, at least temporarily, were included in statistical records). A publication at the end of 1980 gave a total of 122 settlements, 68 on the West Bank, 29 on the Golan Heights, 5 on the Gaza Strip, and 20 in the Sinai Peninsula to the south. As regards the present situation, efforts in the past one and a half years were concentrated on the stabilization and expansion of the existing settlements and on the replacement of those to be removed on the Sinai Peninsula. In early March of 1982 the Israeli Government approved a plan for 20 new settlements to be established rapidly on the West Bank in place of the 20 which were to be removed on the Sinai Peninsula and, for that purpose, formed a separate committee headed by Minister Simha Ehrlich. This goes to show also that the separate Camp David accords far from serve as a means of bringing about a lasting settlement in the Middle East. The principle of the indestructibility of matter may show itself in a strange way with respect to Israeli policy in as much as the settlements, with the ensuing conflicts and crisis, rather than being eliminated, were transposed to another territorial unit somewhat farther away.

What happened under the Begin Government was not only quantitative development but the appearance of qualitatively new phenomena:

1. Settlements today are established for the most part not on fallow ground but in the immediate vicinity of the most densely populated Arab areas, such as Hebron, Halhul and other towns, thereby considerably increasing the danger of conflict.

2. Whereas before references were made mainly to "temporary considerations of security" to lull the vigilance of international public opinion, the policy of settlements is now openly and loudly supported by the ideology of conquest, by arguments marshalled for the restoration of the biblical "Greater Israel", the West Bank of Jordan being referred to as Judea and Samaria in Begin's speeches.

3. The situation was explosive from the very moment of confrontation between the military Government and the population of occupied territories. In the meanwhile, however, the settlers came to be personified by a third factor connected mainly with the most extremist forces, the Gush Emunim movement and the Kahane defence organization, which became notorious in the United States also. These subject the Arab population to constant provocations, with the Israeli security forces finally intervening as "arbiters", naturally not unbiased. The so-called TNT, and Israeli terrorist group called "Terror against Terror", had a free hand to commit a series of attempts, with impunity and condoned by the authorities, on the lives of Palestinian mayors and other prominent Arab leaders of the West Bank. What should one say of the terrible cynicism displayed by the son of the woman representative Geula Cohen of the right wing, who in the parliament submitted the proposal for the annexation of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, when at a public meeting in the University of Haifa he said that "Shashlik should be made of the leg of Mayor Bassam Sakaa". Shortly afterwards both legs of the mayor were torn off by a bomb. Though the event was also covered by the Israeli press, no measure was taken. What is more, the American press, The Washington Post and Time, published a revelation by the journalist David Halevy, otherwise a reserve officer of the Israeli army, to the effect that the Security Service had laid before leading government officials the names of six persons who had perpetrated the outrage but proceedings were not even instituted against them.

4. Understandably, the occupation and the policy of settlements tend to provoke increasing resistance from the population affected. At the local municipal elections of 1972 on the West Bank, a majority was obtained by the candidates who were regarded as closely linked to Jordan. In the second round of 1976, following the changes signalled by the Summit Conference of Rabat, a large victory was achieved by the sympathizers with the PLO. The Committee for National Orientation, composed of 24 members, was formed in 1972 with the chairmanship of the mayor of Nablus and with the participation of known officials of municipalities as well as leaders of trade unions and mass organizations. Its function was to protect the deal of Camp David and to come out against plans to have the problem of Palestine solved without and against the Palestinians, in the strait-jacket and grip of a sham "autonomy". There is of course no possibility of giving public opinion poll figures, but responsible reports by the international press as well as estimates indicated that at least 90 per cent of the population was in support of the Committee and held that Palestinian self-determination, including the right and possibility of establishing an independent State, was necessary and that only the PLO was entitled to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinians. Israeli Government circles reacted by increasing repression, including dispersion of protests, closure of universities, expropriation and destruction of Arab lands and houses, imprisonment of hundreds or thousands of people and their compulsory attendance at courts. The world is familiar with the series of coercive measures taken against municipal and church leaders, mayors and cadis, such as the expulsion of the mayors of Hebron and Halhul, prohibition of change of residence, etc.

5. Just a month ago, the Minister of War, Sharon (also called the "Bulldozer Minister" for his destruction of Arab settlements) declared by order the lawful election of local leaders in the occupied territories to have been illegal and prohibited the work of the Committee for National Orientation. At the same time the Israeli Government and the occupying authorities are seeking to set up a collaborationist traitorous body in the form of Cis-Jordanian Village Union to provide some basis for the Camp David deal. Baasam Sakaa, the Mayor of Nablus and the Chairman of the Committee for National Orientation, was right to characterize the new challenge by saying that the said measure was designed as another means of intimidating the population and thus preventing effective resistance to the village unions. By so doing, however, Israel sows a wind and will reap a whirlwind, with the situation and conflicts expected to be aggravated further.

So there is no doubt that Israel's policy of settlements tramples underfoot the fundamental norms of international law and the provisions of international conventions accepted also by Israel. It inflicts untold suffering on the population languishing under occupation, prevents them from the exercise of their elementary human rights, increases tension and makes the situation even more explosive in the Middle East.

At the same time the policy of settlements is but the first step setting the stage for further designs, thereby creating new sources of danger. Today it may be stated without any doubt that it served and still serves the purpose of having the Arab territories, except for the Sinai Peninsula, definitively annexed to Israel as constituent parts of "Greater Israel".

In summer of 1980 Israel officially annexed the Arab sector of Jerusalem and declared it to be an inalienable part of the country's "eternal capital". That step had been prepared by the said measures of "de-Arabization and encirclement". Various organs of the United Nations have adopted hundreds of resolutions concerning the status of Jerusalem, but Israel continues to act in open defiance of them. In this course of policy it enjoys support and encouragement, particularly from the United States.

In December 1981 the Israeli Parliament extended "Israeli legislation and administration" to the Golan Heights. That decision added up to a virtual annexation of that territory, which belongs to Syria. At the same time Israel announced a large-scale programme of settlements envisaging the recruitment of 40,000 more settlers. Plans were also drawn up of the town of Katzrin, which was to have a population of 20,000. The Druze inhabitants of the Golan Heights were subjected to coercive measures; their strikes and protests were crushed by force. Four days later, on 18 December 1981, the Security Council of the United Nations unanimously declared the Israeli annexation invalid. At its thirty-sixth session the General Assembly, by 121 votes against 2 (United States and Israel), urged revocation of the Israeli decision and, should Israel refuse to comply, called for a meeting of the Security Council to adopt appropriate sanctions. As is known, the Security Council was convened, but the veto of the United States prevented it from adopting mandatory countermeasures, and Ambassador Jehuda Blum of Israel announced Israel's refusal to take note of the United Nations resolutions, a position which was confirmed by a statement of the Israeli Government shortly afterwards. The policy of settlements conjures up the danger that it is a harbinger of preparations for a planned Israeli annexation in the Gaza Strip and on the West Bank as well. The Gaza Strip, with its relatively small size and dense population, would hardly offer practical possibilities for establishing many large Israeli settlements, but the question of selecting the site none the less arises in connection with the plan to bring about a buffer zone under the aforesaid concept of encirclement, between the Sinai Peninsula, which is to be returned to Egyptian jurisdiction, and the Gaza Strip. It is also worthy of note that the so-called "canal of the two seas" is planned by Israel to be built between Deir el-Balah and En Boqueq, which is to say that it would lead from the Gaza Strip at the Mediterranean littoral to the Dead Sea. What else can be the conclusion if not Israel's plan to build the costly canal for itself, thus avoiding the possibility of its coming under the jurisdiction of another country?

Mention has already been made of the new settlements on the Bank of the Jordan. We might, on this score, quote an article, published in Neue Züricher Zeitung of Switzerland on 7 October 1981, which it has never deemed necessary to refute. The Swiss paper refers to a high-ranking representative of the Jewish Agency who said that the number of new settlers to be moved to the West Bank was planned to reach 100,000 by 1985 and 1 million by the year 2000, the goal being to ensure that by the turn of century this area is inhabited by Palestinians and Israeli settlers in nearly equal numbers and that Judea and Samaria are definitively annexed to Israel. The said person referred to 400 Arab towns and villages and 85 Israeli settlements, but there are signs of increased efforts being made to revise those figures.

One cannot help suspecting that the policy of settlements will not rely solely on "civil" methods for its implementation. Much stir was created in Israel by an article in the magazine Migdal envisaging the possibility for Israel to invoke a military conflict in order to justify use of military force to drive large masses of inhabitants from the West Bank to the other bank of the river, thus trying to fill the "demographic vacuum" well ahead of schedule.

It should be noted that the dangers of the policy of settlements have also been recognized by progressive political groupings in the State of Israel, who speak of the "trap of settlements", warning and strongly protesting against the continuation of that policy, which would in the end pose a threat to the security of Israel itself. For the time being, however, their posture is not able to bring influence to bear upon the course of policy followed by the Government and the parliamentary majority in violation of law, in defiance of world public opinion and to the detriment of peace.

In our view, there are invariably three fundamental prerequisites for achieving a lasting and peaceful settlement in the Middle East:

1. Israel should, immediately and unconditionally, withdraw from all the occupied Arab territories.

2. The Palestinian Arab people should be enabled to exercise its legitimate national rights, including the right to establish an independent State of Palestine under the leadership of the PLO.

3. All countries of the Middle East, including Palestine and Israel, should be guaranteed the right to existence as independence States and to live in peace.

It would be advisable to discuss all these complex issues at a conference on peace in the Middle East, to be held with the participation of all interested countries. The Geneva Conference was convened with this end in view in December 1973 but, unfortunately, it suspended its deliberations after three months of work and is still in recess.

Every possible effort should be made to avoid further deterioration in the situation and to improve prospects for a settlement. An indispensable factor of success is the need for Israel to abandon its policy of settlements, dismantle the existing settlements and refrain from annexing further territories under its occupation.

The Hungarian People's Republic and the Hungarian people are in support of any endeavour to approach the quest for a lasting and peaceful settlement in the Middle East within the conceptual framework outlined above.

An important landmark on the road to a solution could be an international conference to be held not later than 1984 within the framework of the United Nations, as envisaged for the purpose of discussing the various aspects of the question of Palestine in resolution 36/120 C of 10 December 1981, adopted at the thirty-sixth session of the General Assembly.


1/ United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 75, No. 973.


(9-13 August 1982,
Dakar, Senegal)


Harold A. McDougall
(Attorney, Professor, Antioch School of Law,
Washington, D.C., United States of America)

At the close of the First World War, the victorious Allied and associated Powers redistributed among themselves the colonies of the vanquished countries of Germany and the Ottoman Empire. The League of Nations, though founded on the principles of self-determination, saw no inconsistency in thus continuing the colonial status of the subject peoples of territories such as Palestine, a colony of the Ottoman Empire, and Southwest Africa (Namibia), a colony of Germany until it was invaded by South Africa in 1914 (shortly after the outbreak of the First World War). Article 22 of the League Covenant stated:

"To those colonies and territories which as a consequence of the late war have ceased to be under the sovereignty of the states which formerly governed them, and which are inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world, there should be applied the principle that the well-being and development of such peoples form a sacred trust of civilization and that securities for the performance of this trust should be embodied in this Covenant."

The Covenant thus declared that the continued subordinate status of such colonized peoples should continue under the administration of Mandataries (select members of the victorious Allied and Associated Powers). Palestine was placed under the administration of the United Kingdom as a class "A" Mandate and South West Africa (Namibia) was placed under the administration of "His Britannic Majesty, to be exercised on his behalf by the Union of South Africa" as a class "C" Mandate.

The difference in Mandate category in which the imperialists placed Palestine and Namibia should not obscure the common historical, political, and legal legacy they share. First, note that the United Kingdom was ultimately in control of both Palestine and Namibia. Secondly, as we shall see, British administration was succeeded by two remarkably similar and historically related settler regimes - South Africa and Israel - the former after the First World War, and the latter after the Second World War. Finally, both Mandates passed through the machinery of the United Nations as well as that of the League, with indifferent results.

1. The role of British imperialism and the dilemmas of Palestine and Namibia

The Middle East and southern Africa have always been viewed as the front and rear gates, respectively, for imperialist penetration and dissection of Africa, twin portals of land and sea from Asia and Europe. When Napoleon invaded Egypt in 1803, for example, it was only logical that the United Kingdom should invade southern Africa in 1806. A century later, the British ruling class 1/ and British imperialism simultaneously set up the Union in South Africa and entrenched zionism in Palestine to serve as watchdogs at these portals. The Union of South Africa was founded in 1909, nine years after the British victory over the Boers in 1900. South Africa invaded Namibia in 1914. The Balfour Declaration, establishing Palestine as the site for a "Jewish national home", was issued by the British Government in 1917. Jan Smuts, a future prime minister of South Africa, was a major force in the framing of the Balfour Declaration,2/ working closely with Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann in the early days. Cecil Rhodes, Smuts' mentor, saw the Suez Canal and the Cape of Good Hope as the keys to Africa.

During the First World War, Britain and France promised independence to Arabs in Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan who would fight their Turkish rulers. Secretly, however, the two imperialists agreed to carve Arab countries up among themselves (this Sykes-Picot Agreement was exposed by the Soviet Union in 1917). By 1920, Arab and African countries alike had been carved up and served to various imperialist Powers and their agents. Palestine and Namibia were two of these, linked as hostages to zionism, racism and imperialism. In Palestine, the British Mandatory authority suppressed Arab revolts while constantly increasing the quota for Jewish immigrants. At the same time, British settlers from South Africa suppressed African revolts in Namibia. Both Palestine and Namibia were kept out of the United Nations Trusteeship system, and their peoples' legitimate aspirations to self-determination denied, even after the Second World War.

2. The United Nations role in the question of Palestine and Namibia

The League of Nations and the United Nations were both founded upon the principles of self-determination and peaceful resolution of disputes. Both were also controlled at the outset by the imperialist Powers of the West. Clearly the world situation had changed somewhat by 1945, and the strength of the Soviet Union and the Communist Party in China, as well as the Afro-Asian solidarity movement, caused the United Nations to be less of an instrument of Western foreign policy than the League. The United Nations as a legal or super-structural instrument of international law became an object, a product, and a determinant of political struggle around and within it. Though in the period from 1945-1960 the United Nations performed roughly as an instrument of Western and particularly United States foreign policy, by 1960 the tension between the United States and the Soviet Union (e.g. the Cuban missile crisis) and the increasing influence of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries (viz. the landmark Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples) made it possible to speak of the United Nations as relatively autonomous from the will of the Western Powers in a way which the observer of the League of Nations would have found impossible to conceive.


Contrast the treatment of Palestine before and after 1960, for example. The partition plan for Palestine of 1947 (General Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947), recommended by the United Nations Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question, divided Palestinian land without so much as a plebescite, in clear violation of the emerging peremptory norm of self-determination, and even violated the arrogant promises of the League Mandate. It is as if the United Nations in 1947 had offered to partition Namibia between the Europeans (about 15 per cent of the population) and the Africans (85 per cent of the population) such that the Europeans got the lion's share of the land. By this division, 56 per cent of Palestine went to Jews, who were 30 per cent of the population and who owned only 6 per cent of the land. Even this illegal division of Palestine was ignored by the Zionists, however, who drove out 750,000 Palestinians during the hostilities of 1948-1949 and occupied 80 per cent of Palestine. Israel, thus constituted, was admitted into the United Nations with the blessing of the United States, on 11 May 1949 (resolution 273 (III)) (President Truman cabled recognition of Israel 11 minutes after Ben-Gurion proclaimed Israel's existence in 1948).

By 1967 however the growing influence of the non-aligned Movement was felt in Security Council resolution 242 (1967) of November, calling for Israeli withdrawal from all territories occupied in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war (the remaining 20 per cent of Palestine, that is, the West Bank and Gaza, the Egyptian Sinai and the Syrian Golan Heights). Resolution 242 (1967) blurred the issue considerably by failing to call for a retreat at least to the territory delimited in the 1947 Partition Plan (recognizing Israel's "secure and recognized borders"). Still Israel was censured for the first time. By 1970 the United Nations took special note of the denial of self-determination to the peoples of Palestine and the peoples of southern Africa in the same breath (resolution 2649 (XXV) of 30 November 1970). By 1974 Israeli mistreatment of more than a million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, the still-growing influence of the non-aligned Movement, and, above all, the determined struggle of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) culminated in an invitation of the PLO to participate in the deliberations of the General Assembly, as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people (resolution 3210 (XXIX) of 14 October 1974). In 1975, zionism was openly condemned as racism in the United Nations (resolution 3379 (XXX) of 10 November 1975), a world body once totally dominated by the imperialist Powers. From the instrument of the destruction of Palestinian self-determination and claims to their lands, the United Nations has developed into an instrument for the legitimacy of the national claims and just aspirations of the Palestinian people.

There are still great challenges the United Nations must face, however, It may well be that the Israeli invasion of Lebanon gives a challenge to the United Nations as serious as Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia and Hitler's invasion of the Sudetenland posed to the League of Nations. How long will it be before Israeli settlers cross into southern Lebanon? As they did into the Arab sectors of partitioned Palestine? As they did into the West Bank and Gaza? As they did into the Sinai and the Golan Heights?


It is important for us to remember that what change has occurred in the United Nations position on Palestine has not taken place in a political, economic, or historical vacuum. The change in United Nations policy towards the Palestinians was not a gentle evolutionary process but rather the result of (a) the determined struggle of the Palestinian people for its liberation; (b) the struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union taking place in the context of détente (from the Cuban missile crisis to the crisis in Afghanistan, roughly 1962-1977); and (c) the growing force of the anti-colonial struggles of the oppressed peoples of the world, represented by the non-aligned Movement. One of the most important of these struggles against colonial domination has been the struggle against settler-colonialism in southern Africa. Let us now examine the role of the United Nations with respect to Namibia to look for similarities and contrasts with the United Nations role in Palestine.

While the United Nations in its early years did great damage to the Palestinian right of self-determination, it was the League of Nations, 30 years earlier, which fundamentally compromised the rights of the Namibian people. As was stated by a Namibian representative to the United Nations Council for Namibia:

"We feel that the world as a whole has a special responsibility toward us. This is because the land of our fathers was handed over to South Africa by a world body. It is a divided world, but it is a matter of hope for us, that it at least agrees about one thing - that we are entitled to freedom and justice."3/

In 1946, after 30 years of South African administration as League mandatary on behalf of the United Kingdom, numerous observers testified that in Namibia, Africans were completely banned from voting and political activity. Attempts at political organization were forcibly repressed. African leaders were forced into exile or subjected to constant harassment, including long-term imprisonment. Africans could move about only with passes, and printed or written matter, pictures or posters considered "unsuitable for the native mind" were censored and suppressed. This system of racial subordination and segregation shocked most States Members of the United Nations in 1946, and South Africa's proposal to formally annex Namibia was rejected. In another 30 years, it would be clear to most States Members of the United Nations that Israel had followed virtually the same oppressive policy in the West Bank and Gaza as South Africa did in Namibia, and Israel's similar bid to annex the West Bank and Gaza would be firmly denounced. In 1948, the world knew the infamy of South African oppression; not for another 30 years, however, would the infamy of Israeli oppression be known as well. In 1949, South Africa openly declared apartheid to be its national policy. In 1979, the United Nations equated zionism with racism, and condemned them both.

In 1950, a series of confrontations over Namibia began in the International Court of Justice, a struggle which culminated, after a major set-back in 1966, with a ruling that the South African presence in Namibia was illegal and properly subject to retaliation by the United Nations and its individual members. The 1966 proposal of the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia, that the General Assembly should declare Namibia independent and enable the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to assist the national liberation movement in forming a new Government, was in effect accepted when the General Assembly established the United Nations Council for Namibia in 1967. Perhaps this latter strategy is a model for the future United Nations role in Palestine. Such a strategy would be based on a legal theory that sovereignty over Palestine, like sovereignty over Namibia, has never rested anywhere but with the people. This proposition is dismissed below, in the following section on "Legal theories".

3. Legal theories

A number of legal theories have been advanced to describe the location of sovereignty with respect to League Mandates:

(a) That sovereignty was transferred to the Mandatory Power subject to the provisions of the Mandate;

(b) That sovereignty was entrusted to the League of Nations;

(c) That sovereignty remained suspended during the Mandate subject to future settlement;

(d) That sovereignty over the Mandated territory remained with the inhabitants of the Mandated territory themselves.

The first three theories have been discarded or discredited, and the fourth generally embraced as consistent with the stated objective of the Mandate system (to prepare the territory for self-government) and, even more importantly, as consistent with the peremptory norm favouring self-determination.

In the case of Namibia, the United Nations has formally applied the fourth theory by declaring South African occupation of Namibia illegal, and establishing the United Nations Council for Namibia, which provides a trustee government for Namibia pending total liberation by armed struggle. The United Nations actively cooperates with the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in facilitating the work of the liberation movements. The interim strategy of seeking to persuade (or even force) South Africa to report to the United Nations on her activities in Namibia as Mandatary was consistent with the theory of limited sovereignty, with the Mandatary or sovereignty entrusted to the League (with the United Nations as its successor). These legal theories, and the strategies they involved, have been rejected in the case of Namibia. Yet in the case of Palestine, the United Nations and the world community are slow to come to similar conclusions. The Palestinian right of self-determination and consequent sovereignty over a substantial portion of Palestine have yet to be recognized. If that had been imposed by a world body against the will of the inhabitants, without even so much as a democratic vote, Namibia could have been another case. Continuing Palestinian and Namibian sovereignty over their respective homelands, in addition to their legitimate rights to self-determination, give them both the right to govern themselves.

In both Palestine and Namibia today, we have instances in which a people's right to its homeland has been withheld from it by force. In the case of Namibia, the use of force prevents the return of Namibia to its inhabitants. In the case of Palestine, the use of force ripped the territory away from its inhabitants and keeps it, in defiance of their rights. In both cases, the aggressors pretend that the lands they occupy are terra nullius, belonging to no one, having no sovereignty. This is racism - to disregard entirely the right to self-determination of the peoples indigenous to the land.

In 1959, when the South Africans sought to relocate Namibians from Windhoek to "Katutura" (a Herero word meaning "we have no place of our own"), the Namibians, led by Sam Nujoma, refused and demonstrated their opposition. The South Africans, in a massacre that proceeded Sharpeville by only a few months, opened fire. The Palestinians, like the Namibians, refuse to disappear, refuse to go to "Katutura". Thus in the case of both Palestine and Namibia, the use of force and the denial of self-determination coincide, presenting precisely the formula for world war the United Nations was set up to avoid.

4. Israel and South Africa: two settler regimes

In both Israel and South Africa, European invaders expelled the residents, and settled in their place--in their homes, in their land--and exploited them. Fashioned out of British imperialism at the turn of the twentieth century, both South Africa and Israel are to this day defended by Western imperialist Powers with economic, political and military support. The support of Western imperialism for these two regimes continues despite numerous Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, despite gross violations of human rights and refusal to allow self-determination. Both function as regional gendarmes for imperialism; Israel guards North African and Middle Eastern oil, South Africa guards the diamonds, uranium and other mineral resources of southern Africa, particularly Namibia.

But there is more to the connection between Israel and South Africa than historical and political similarity. There are intimate historic, political and economic linkages between the two.4/ As mentioned above, both were founded by the same members of the British ruling class, so ties go back to the time of "the twins", Weizmann and Smuts. Hundreds of South African volunteers joined Zionist soldiers in the 1947-1948 war to found the settler colony of Israel. The first pilot from the Israeli Air Force killed in battle was a South African. This same pattern was repeated in the 1956, 1967 and 1973 Zionist wars against the Arab people. Large numbers of South African volunteers participated, both as soldiers and as civilians replacing Israelis called to war. At the same time, hundreds of Israeli soldiers were working with the South African army, training them in counter-insurgency tactics. In 1976, the South West Africa People's Organization reported sighting Israeli soldiers actively fighting alongside South African troops in Namibia.5/

South Africa, the world's second largest diamond exporter, sends its rough diamonds, produced by the exploitation of African labour, to Israel, the world's largest diamond cutter and polisher, for finishing touches before they are sent to the United States, the world's largest diamond market. Unfinished South African goods are sent to Israel for completion and a "Made in Israel" stamp that allows the goods to be sold in violation of existing trade sanctions against South Africa on account of its apartheid policy. Such goods are also eligible for the favoured trade status afforded Israel by the United States and the European Economic Community.

Israel supplies South Africa with weapons and blueprints for weapons, from tanks and patrol boats to airplanes. South Africa is licensed by Israel to manufacture Uzi submachine guns. In return, South Africa supplies Israel with steel, coal, ferro-alloys and money to support Israel's arms industry. In 1979, Israel and South Africa carried out a joint nuclear test: South Africa supplied the uranium, Israel the technology. With the technology to make United States cruise missiles, reportedly leaked by the United States Air Force, the new twins, Israel and South Africa (the brainchildren of Weizmann and Smuts) could deliver nuclear warheads anywhere within a 1,500-mile radius of Tel Aviv or Pretoria. The resulting Tel Aviv/Pretoria axis would cover virtually all of Africa, the Middle East, and reach far out into the Indian Ocean. Namibia and Palestine, at one time long isolated from one another by imperialism, now appear ultimately linked by their common struggle against imperialism, particularly imperialism's pretensions to once again dominate the African continent.

There is a growing collaboration between South Africa and Israel which must be matched by a growing collaboration, cooperation, and eventual unity within Arab nations and within African nations, as well as among and between them. The two settler regimes threaten to destabilize each African and Arab nation by attacking them at their weakest point-ethnic and religious division, hence destroying the prospects for continental solidarity. Ethnic and religious differences must be transcended, within each Arab nation, within each African nation, among them and between them. This may sound like fantasy and today it obviously is, but the threat of Israel and South Africa working as a team means that, unless this fantasy can become a reality, Arab and African independence as we know it will disappear. My purpose today is not to assert that higher levels of unity among and between African and Arab peoples can be made to appear as if by magic but only to suggest that the topic of unity as a strategic objective, worthy of hard struggle, must become part and parcel of all our discussions. Our very survival depends on it.

5. Arab and African solidarity on Namibia and Palestine

Mandatary status is not unfamiliar to the citizens of the Arab and African worlds. The other former mandates include: British and French Cameroon; British and French Togoland; Tanganyika; Ruanda-Urundi; Somaliland; Syria; Lebanon; and Transjordan. Two League Mandates, Palestine and Namibia, are the last in line for self-determination. And why are they the last? Because the lands they occupy and the resources they inherit are indispensable to imperialist control of the entire African continent.

After the First World War, South Africa, and after the Second World War, Israel, as regional gendarmes for imperialism, took over from the British the job of policing the peoples at Africa's southern and northern gates. Today, just as Namibia is the centre of the conflict in southern Africa, Palestine is at the centre of the conflict in northern Africa and the Middle East. Nasser, the architect of Arab-African solidarity, was one of the first to recognize this fact. Just as Egypt had a responsibility to resist attempts to convert it into a "highway for the imperialist infiltration of the African continent" from the north, so black Africa had a responsibility to prevent such infiltration from the south. Ahmed Sekou Toure of Guinea was the first African leader south of the Sahara to stand with Nasser, cabling a message of support and an offer of troops to Nasser's Egypt in the face of the 1967 Israeli invasion. Sekou Toure demonstrated that Islamic solidarity and radical pan-Africanism are natural allies, and together they pose a formidable threat to Israeli diplomacy.

Today, the crucial roles of Palestine and Namibia in the future of Africa are underscored by numerous OAU resolutions recognizing the importance of the Palestinian question 6/ and by the League of Arab States' recognition of the importance of struggles in southern Africa. This is why Africa has rejected Camp David, for example. This is partly a function of moral solidarity but increasingly, it is a function of African recognition of the strategic role Israel is poised to play in the control of the African continent.7/ At the OAU summit in 1963, Nasser expressed confidence that the progress of history would lay the Palestinian problem "unmasked before the African conscience". As the racism and intransigence of the Israeli State has become more and more open, it has become increasingly isolated and more and more forced to openly curry favour with the apartheid regime of South Africa and with other reactionary States.

Ultimately, only Arab unity and African unity can free the continent of the continuing threat of zionism, racism and imperialism; unity on all levels, from among unity among women across generational lines, such as Dr. Rita Giacaman observed yesterday, to unity among Kurds, Berbers and Arabs, Sunnis and Shiites, across tribal lines and between Muslims and Christians. All these are essential building blocks, part of the necessary foundation for the continental solidarity required to withstand settler expansionism from north and south. The struggles of our brothers and sisters in Palestine and Namibia point the way.


1/ Lord Milner, Lord Lansdowne, Lord Balfour, Joseph Chamberlain and Lloyd George. Balfour was one of the key advocates of white supremacy in South Africa.

2/ The Balfour Declaration, proposing a "Jewish national home" in Palestine, was preceded in 1916 by a resolution to the same effect unanimously adopted at the South African Jewish Congress in Johannesburg. Zionism was also the "primary cultural and group concern of South African Jewry" (Stevens).

3/ Namibia, A Trust Betrayed, p. 9.

4/ "Thus, where Israel engages the northern African countries in indecisive battles, forcing them to spend their scarce resources on arms, South Africa keeps sub-Saharan African countries fighting drawn-out wars of liberation, delaying the moment when they can concentrate their resources on modernizing their economies." (Anyang'-Nyong'o)

5/ See General Assembly resolution 3151 G (XXVIII) of 14 December 1973, condemning the alliance between apartheid and zionism.

6/ From the first resolutions of the Fifth Summit Meeting of OAU, held in September 1968 at Algiers, basically tracking the language of Security Council resolution 242 (1967), OAU has become progressively tougher on Israel. See, for example, resolution 77 (XII), adopted by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity, held at Kampala from 28 July to 1 August 1975.

7/ The Israeli support of Biafrans in the Nigerian Civil War is an example of the type of activity that could become commonplace.


Abu-Lughod, I. and Abu-Laban, B. Settler Regimes in Africa and the Arab World:
The Illusion of Endurance. Wilmette, Medina U. Press, 1974, especially

Stevens, R. "Smuts and Weizmann: A Study in South African-Zionist Cooperation";

Anyang'-Nyong'o, P. "The Impact of the Middle East Conflict on African
Orientations and Behavior".

Shahak, I. Israel's Global Role: Weapons for Repression. Belmont, AAUG, 1982, especially

Johnson, P. "Israel and South Africa: The Nuclear Axis".

Tauber, C.M. "The role of the United Nations in the question of Palestine", prepared
for the Fifth United Nations Seminar on the Question of Palestine, New York,
15-19 March 1982.

United Nations pamphlets:

Namibia: A Trust Betrayed (1974)

The Legal Status of the West Bank and Gaza, prepared for, and under the guidance
of, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian
People (1982).


Alfred Moleah
(Assistant Professor of Political Science, Department of Pan-African Studies,
Temple University, Philadephia, Pennsylvania, United States of America)

The issue of human rights is basic to human existence. All the elements that describe man's eternal struggle can be reduced to the issue of human rights. The most basic and therefore the most fundamental of human rights is the right to self-determination. The right to self-determination is the necessary pre-condition for the attainment of all other human rights because all other human rights are attainable and derive meaning only within the context of a sovereign peoplehood with its own territorial base or State. Therefore, denial of the right to self-determination, with its attendant subjection to alien and discriminatory rule, is the most fundamental violation of human rights. This denial is unfortunately the lot of Palestinians and Africans in South Africa.

Central to this human tragedy is racism embodied in the ideologies of zionism and apartheid. Israel, as a Zionist entity, and South Africa, as an apartheid entity, constitute the most complete denial and negation of the human rights of their subject peoples. The Zionist entity and the apartheid entity are an idea - an idea that has become a material force. They are an idea that is racist, an idea that is anti-human, an idea that is the total negation of the humanity of its victims so that the question of their human rights hardly arises. This constitutes not only a tragedy to the victim peoples, but also constitutes a danger to the world at large and to all humanity, whose only antecedent was the danger posed by Hitlerite nazism.

The tragedy of the Palestinians and that of Africans in South Africa is the same but with a difference in manifestation and, therefore, also in world perception. Apartheid is clearly racist in its postulates and premises, whereas zionism has no such clear racist postulates and premises. The problem with the perception of Zionist racism is due first to adroit dissimulation and obfuscation of its true nature and ends and, second, to its awesome power and influence. Zionism has, through skillful manipulation, managed to parlay the tragedy of Jews, particularly the holocaust, into a position of unassailability and immunity for its world view. Consequently, the world knows the Palestinians through the Zionists; even more tragically, any other differing information is received through a Zionist filter - a result of unprecedented and unparalleled world brainwashing.

To overcome this blockage, it might be useful to arrive at a true understanding of zionism through its apartheid analogue, i.e., examine whether there are any similarities, if not identity, between the two. This of course cannot be fruitfully done by merely examining the critical postulates; it has to go beyond that to be fruitful and examine the situation on the ground, i.e., pose the question of whether there are any similarities, or even an identity, between Palestinian treatment and condition under zionism and that of the Africans under apartheid.

In South Africa, racial discrimination has official statutory sanction, thereby making it legal to discriminate and illegal not to discriminate. Apartheid literally means separateness of the races or racial segregation to ensure racial discrimination. Apartheid is a logical consequence of white settler colonialism which was initiated by the Dutch East India Company in 1652. The white settlers sent out by the Dutch East India Company were the first whites to settle in the southern tip of Africa. These Dutch settlers were later augmented by German and Huguenot (French) settlers, and together they came to constitute a white tribe which developed its own identity of language and culture, and appropriated the identity of the land by calling itself the Afrikaners, i.e., "Africans", in Dutch. African possessions and land were expropriated through unequal exchanges, chicanery and force. To rationalize and justify the wholesale plunder and dehumanization, the ideology of apartheid was incrementally developed. Apartheid, as an ideology, postulates the inherent superiority of whites by reason of their Christianity and Western European culture. Since others could also acquire Christianity and even Western European culture, this difficulty was obviated by simply declaring a white skin to be coterminous with Christianity and Western European culture. The equation of a white skin with Christian/Western European civilization was made possible, in fact made inevitable, by the Calvinism to which the white settlers adhered.

The tenets of the orthodox Calvinism of the settlers were in the main "a belief in the sovereign God, sole creator and ruler through his Providence of the universe; the inborn sinfulness of both man and the world as a result of the Fall; the election by predestination of the few through grace to glorify God in building his kingdom on earth; and the damnation of the rest of mankind, also to the glory of God".1/ Another significant characteristic of Calvinism is the central place it gives to the Bible. This induces "a thoroughgoing fundamentalism, a literal interpretation of the Bible, not only as the revealed Word but also as the final source of all know- ledge".1/ These tenets have social implications that inexorably led to apartheid in the South African context.

First, the two-class distinction between the elect and the damned gave to the elect a special responsibility to implement the will of God in the world and, as such, a right to rule.2/ Secondly, in situations where Calvinists were confronted with a large population of different cultural background and different physical attributes, defined as less civilized, there was a strong tendency to categorize these people as belonging to the non-elect.3/ The dichotomy referred to individuals but in the South African context it was transmuted into racial categories, whereby all whites belonged to the elect and all Africans and non-whites belonged to the damned. Thirdly, a fundamentalist and literal acceptance of the Bible resulted in the Afrikaners' definition of their situation, their conceptions of themselves, of others, and of the world being derived from the symbolism and mythology of the Bible, especially the Old Testament.
Fourthly, the Afrikaner/Calvinist conception of God as sovereign and intensely, actively busy at every turning point in the affairs of nations and men, allows them to shirk responsibility for their acts. All is preordained and they are mere agents of a divine will. This has pernicious and dangerous possibilities.

Afrikaners see themselves as faithful to their faith in promulgating and upholding apartheid. The authority of the Bible is constantly invoked, such as Psalm 105 which tells them that "He brought forth his people with joy, and his chosen with gladness: and gave them the lands of the heathen; and they inherited the labour of the people", to justify African expropriation. Segregation and discrimination find their justification in the advice given to the Corinthians which read: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with the unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing and I will receive you."4/

Within the realities of South Africa, skin colour increasingly became the index and, with time, the only index. D. F. Malan who, when the Afrikaner Nationalist Party came to power in 1948, became Prime Minister and therefore the principal helmsman of apartheid, brought out the meaning and significance of colour thus:
Malan, who was also a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church - the spiritual guide of Afrikanerdom - was in full accord with the teachings of the Afrikaner Church on this score. Similar views are expressed in a report, Human Relations in South Africa, adopted by the General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church (1966). The report stated, among others, that:
Afrikaners see themselves, apartheid and their State, as well as their acts, as all a part of the fulfilment of a divine scheme. To them, God is the architect of all history, and imbue it with ultimate meaning. The Afrikaners' settlement in South Africa was divinely ordained and their history of survival and triumph is a miracle. D.F. Malan spoke for Afrikanerdom when he observed:
and further elaborated on this theme:
This, in sum, is the ideological foundation of apartheid. In the name of their Calvinist God, crimes against Africans are daily committed and this is the rationalization and justification for the gross and blatant violations of human rights that apartheid has come to represent. This is what justifies white privilege and explains away African dispossession, exploitation, repression and discrimination. Laws have been passed to accord with this divine scheme and fulfil this divine plan. To maintain and jealously protect the purity of the Elect of God, there is the Population Registration Act of 1950 which, with absurd meticuloseness, classifies each person into the racial pigeonhole of white, coloured,* Asian** and black. This Act, undaunted by the failure of the geneticists and anthropologists to compile a complete and perfect grouping of people along racial lines, has constructed a racial classification scheme based on the criteria of descent, appearance and general acceptance.9/ In spite of this serious difficulty, this Act remains the cornerstone of the whole system of apartheid. Further guarantees of white purity are offered by the Immorality Act of 1927 which prohibits any carnal intercourse outside marriage between Europeans (whites) and Africans. In 1950, an amendment to this Act extended this prohibition to all classes of non-Europeans, namely, Africans, Asians and Coloured.10/ There is also the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act of 1949, which forbids marriage of a European and a non-European and provides that any union entered into in contravention of this law "shall be void and of no effect".

Territorial segregation of whites from non-whites is effected through a legal fiction which accommodates the ruthless exploitation of African labour and dispossesses them of their land and possessions to ensure their helotry. The Bantu*** Land Act of 1913 and the Bantu Trust and Land Act of 1936 together set aside some 13 per cent of the total area of South Africa for the exclusive occupation of Africans. The 1913 Act demarcated certain areas, known as "reserves"**** for Africans and forbade the transfer to, or lease of land by, other races within these reserves. At the same time, Africans were prohibited from acquiring land else- where.11/ As of late, under the Bantustan Scheme, these are also areas within which Africans will be able to exercise sovereignty and reclaim their rights of citizenship. Conversely, 87 per cent of South Africa (with the best land, mineral resources and all major urban and industrial centres) is designated "white South Africa". So, officially all Africans in "white South Africa" are temporary sojourners, there only to sell their labour in accordance with its needs and requirements. There were already Africans in "white South Africa" (about 50 per cent of the African population) whose presence could not be simply wished away. The Group Areas Act with its latest amendment of 1966 was brought in to solve this problem - its cumulative effect is to deny all Africans all citizenship rights in "white South Africa" and to carefully regulate their presence on a racially segregated basis. Africans are therefore migrant labourers in 87 per cent of their country, with no rights; in fact, no basis to have rights since they are officially foreigners. It is from this anomaly that all their disadvantages and disabilities derive.


*These are people of mixed parentage or descent.

**Indian and Pakistani descent.

***Until recently, this was the official designation applied to all Africans because whites had already abrogated to themselves the term "Afrikaner", the Dutch term for African. Now the official designation is blacks.

****These are supposed to be areas that Africans occupied before whites came and, therefore, the only areas that they could rightfully claim.

As should be expected, South Africa has many laws aimed at curbing or nullifying any political activity on the part of blacks. Of these, among the most important and most notorious is the "90-day detention law" (section 17 of the General Law Amendment Act, 37 of 1963). This empowered a senior police officer to arrest without warrant and detain any person who he suspected upon reasonable grounds of having committed, or having information about the commission of, the crime of sabotage or offences under the Suppression of Communism Act or the Unlawful Organizations Act. A detainee was held for the purpose of interrogation until he had, in the opinion of the Commissioner of the South African Police, replied satisfactorily to all questions or for "ninety days on any particular occasion".12/ This 90-day detention period was renewable. This Act was withdrawn in 1965 and replaced with a 180-day law. In 1976, the 180-day detention provision was transferred from the Criminal Procedure Act to the Internal Security Act in respect of political crimes. This 180-day law has been superseded by the Terrorism Act of 1967, which permits indefinite detention without trial of political suspects. The 1965 amendment to the Criminal Procedure Act added a new provision dealing with bail, which seriously undermined the power of the judiciary to release an accused person on bail. Until 1961, this power was essentially a judicial one, but in that year, the attorney-general was empowered to refuse bail for 12 days after arrest in all cases where he considered that public safety was threatened. In 1965, the Criminal Procedure Act was amended to permit denial of bail without a time limit until sentence or discharge. In 1967, there was the Terrorism Act, whose Section 6 introduced indefinite detention in solitary confinement. In 1976, the Internal Security Amendment Act made sweeping changes to the Suppression of Communism Act of 1950, and renamed this law the Internal Security Act. Section 10 of the Internal Security Act now empowers the Minister of Justice to order the detention in prison of any person "if he is satisfied" that such person "engages in activities which endanger or are calculated to endanger the security of the State or the maintenance of public order."13/

There are many other laws which complement those stated to ensure complete racial segregation and discrimination, African helotry and the eternal denial of their right to self-determination. Untold misery results from this policy but whites in South Africa, buttressed by their rectitude and righteousness, remain undaunted and undeterred. Theirs is a higher calling which exempts them from normal human compunction and accountability. They are answerable only to God.

Zionism presents a much more difficult scenario because it lacks the candour and forthrightness of apartheid. Indicative of the problem is a qualification that needs to be made from the onset, i.e., we are here referring exclusively to political zionism and not to its religious or cultural variants. This problem is compounded by the skilful manipulation of the religious and cultural variants by political Zionists. This skilful manipulation even succeeds to confuse Jews, not to mention the utter confusion, if not bewilderment, of non-Jews. To unravel this sedulously cultivated confusion, let us turn to the elucidation of Rabbi Berger:
Another element of Judaism that has been skilfully manipulated by Zionists is the idea of chosenness. Jewish religious tradition has a rich vocabulary referring to the Jewish people variously as "the Chosen People", "the Holy People", "the Spiritual People" - a people set apart from the rest of mankind by having a special relationship with a transcendent God. This derives from the Bible which, as a Holy Book, is linked in a supernatural way with the people of Israel who produced it, and with the land of Israel which nurtured it.15/

Political zionism, which claims to be a nationalist movement, masquerades in religious garb. It freely misuses names and symbols sacred to Judaism. A prime example is the name Israel for the Zionist State. The Zionist 'land-acquisition fund' name in Hebrew if Keren Kayemeth Leisrael and Keren Kayemeth, meaning permanent fund or lasting reward, and is taken from the Jewish daily morning prayers. Even more cynically, this term traditionally implies the reward for piety, good deeds, and charitable work. The State symbol of Israel is the menorah (candelabrum). This is extremely cynical. The Israeli army fights under an emblem that means "not with armed force and not with power, but in My spirit says the Lord of Hosts".16/ Even the special relation of God and the children of Israel, so abundant in the Old Testament, has been cynically transmitted. The idea of chosenness as regards the Jewish people in Judaism is a religious one signifying a community of true believers who put faith in the one true God, and whose membership in that community is condition on their obeying God's commands. Zionist leaders reject this, except in its totally prostituted form. For instance, Micah Berdichevsky, the Russian Zionist writer, declared emphatically that the Jews should "cease to be Jews by virtue of an abstract Judaism and become Jews in their own right, as a living and developing nationality".17/ Max Nordau, the Zionist leader and close friend of Herzl, declared that "we do not want to be a mere religious community; we want to be a nation like all other nations".17/ But these same Zionist leaders had no qualms, whatsoever, about investing a secular phenomenon with a religious idiom. The sanctity attached to the Jewish people in the religious sense is transferred to the Jewish people in the ethnic sense and, accordingly, to the people's history, to its land and finally and more importantly, to its State. A Jew, therefore, can only attest to his/her Jewishness by being a nationalist, i.e., an unwavering and uncritical supporter of the State of Israel. The Lord and the Volk have become identical.

This Zionist transmutation of religion into the political has rightly invited rebuke and even attacks from representatives of religious Judaism because it leads to the worship of the State or the worship of collective human power. It has led to a religio-national pantheism which made it possible for Vladimir Jabotinsky, the mentor of Menachem Begin, to speak of himself as "one of the masons building a new temple for my God - whose name ... Jewish people".18/ And for General Ariel Sharon to declare "the first and the most supreme value is the good of the State. The State is the supreme value".19/ And for the substitution of the State of God as in the case of Rabbi Isaac Kook, who described nationalism or religion "as merely elements of the spirit of Israel" and stated that "a Jewish nationalist, no matter how secularist his intention may be, must despite himself, affirm the divine".20/

This transmutation of the religious into the political is a most dangerous attitude in a settler-colonialist set up, with all its attended problem, as Arnold Toynbee so rightly observes:
Leaders of religious Judaism have been rightly alive to this danger, so much so that the venue of the first Zionist Congress (1897) was changed from Munich to Basle, Switzerland, mainly due to the strong anti-Zionist reaction from the German Rabbinic Executive and local Jewish community leaders. Exemplifying this position was the attitude of Rabbi Joseph Hayyim Sonnenfeld of the Jerusalem separatist community, as expressed in a letter to a friend in Hungary (February 1898):
Therefore, political zionism is a nineteenth century colonial movement of some European Jews to found an exclusive Jewish colony, preferably in Palestine. This was to be European settler colonialism with the outlook and objectives reflective of other European colonial and imperialist ventures of the period. Zionism's founders were quite unabashed in spelling out their settler colonial scheme and intentions. Jabotinsky, for example, wrote of this in an essay entitled "The Iron Law" (1925):
All colonialism has a racist predicate but settler colonialism has a virulent racist predicate. The natives, to enable their ruthless exploitation, brutal repression, extermination or expulsion, have their humanity denied by the simple act of negation. The settler colonialist declares, one way or another, that "the native is not human" or worse, "the native does not exist". It is this mind-set that prompted Levi Eshkol, a former Israeli Prime Minister, to ask: "What are Palestinians?" and Golda Meir, another former Israeli Prime Minister, to declare: "There is no such thing as Palestinians ... they do not exist", and the first Israeli Prime Minister, Ben Gurion, to elaborate: "In a 'historical and moral sense' Palestine, the Holy Land, is a country 'without inhabitants'".24/ Neither do Africans exist in South Africa. Denying the humanity of the natives is the sine qua non of settler-colonialism. Yet, an equally important aspect is the assertion of a special superiority over the native. The most pernicious claim to specialness is the one that invokes God. This invocation is the total and ultimate justification. People become agents of God's will; human acts are transmuted into a divine calling and responsibility is avoided. Actions and the consequences of those actions become unquestionable and unassailable. This is the claim of Zionists and that of Afrikaner nationalists: they claim to be chosen peoples, the elect of God put in this world to fulfil a divine mission. These claims also have a virulent racist component.

Let us briefly look at how zionism affects and afflicts the Palestinians. The issue of Palestinian human rights cannot be properly dealt with by the simple act of cataloguing an endless series of violations; a deeper understanding is necessary. This understanding can only derive from an understanding of what the responsible agent is - the State of Israel. The State of Israel is a settler colonial entity produced by some European Jews whose dream was to found an exclusive Jewish colony n Palestine. According to Israel Zangwill, one of the founders of political zionism, it was a movement begun by "a people without a land" in search of "a land without a people".25/ The problem was that Palestine was already populated by over half a million people. This is the crux of the Palestinian issue. An exclusive Jewish State could only be realized by displacing the non-Jewish people already there. Unbelievably, the Zionist founders of Israel were undeterred by these realities and proceeded to realize the impossible dream of an exclusive Jewish State.

Let us take a closer look at these realities. According to a 1922 census, approximately 750,000 persons lived in Palestine, about 80,000 of whom were Jews. According to a second official census of 1931 there were 1 million people in Palestine, including approximately 175,000 Jews. No official census was taken after that date but estimates indicate that approximately 2 million people lived in Palestine before the outbreak of the 1947-1948 war, including approximately 600,000 Jews who owned 1.5 million dunums of land, equivalent to 7 per cent of the total area. After the fighting ended in late 1948, only 156,000 Arabs, out of a total of 900,000 who had lived there before the fighting broke out, remained in the land occupied by Israel, which constituted 80 per cent of the area of Palestine. A further 500,000 Palestinians were driven out after the 1967 war.26/ This tragic process of displacement and colonization continues unabated in realization of the Zionist dream of an exclusive Jewish State as mandated by God in the Bible.

The treatment and fate of Palestinians in the occupied territories after 1967 is a reprise of what happened after 1948. It is, in fact, a continuation of the same basic policy and the same policy objectives whose realization is only possible through military means. Palestinians in Israel came under military rule after the 1948 war and remained so until 1966. Palestinians in the occupied areas came under military rule after the 1967 war and remain so to this day. Military rule in Israel has its legal foundations in the British Mandatory Defense (Emergency) Regulations, 1945 and the Israeli Emergency (Security Zones) Regulations 5709 of 1949.27/ Being military regulations, they inherently have no regard for the human rights of the subject people and their only regard is for security, i.e., security of the colonial Power. Ironically, Defence (Emergency) Regulations, 1945, though initially an outgrowth of military efforts to suppress the Arab revolt in Palestine, 1936-1939, were later used against Jews in Palestine. At that time, Zionist leaders rightfully condemned these military regulations as, among others, a violation of the "basic principles of law, justice and jurisprudence" ... and that these laws "rob every settler of his basic rights, in violation of law, order, and justice",28/ and correctly that: "It is too much to ask a citizen to respect a law that outlaws him"29/ and the more insightful, of not prophetic charge against these laws: "They try to reassure us by saying that these laws apply only to offenders and not to the whole of the population, but the Nazi governor of occupied Oslo also said that no harm would come to those who minded their own business ...;" and "No government has the right to draw up such laws ...".30/ This irony is symptomatic of an exclusive Jewish State, i.e., how a people so long subjected to exclusion and discrimination and have suffered the ultimate horror of the holocaust could themselves now be capable of such deeds. Zionist behaviour towards the Palestinians is highly suggestive of the "battered child syndrome".

During the 1948 war, Palestinians were simply driven out through terror. Those remaining were relegated to an inferior status by reason of their non-Jewishness in a Jewish State. Their human rights were denied; their properties and land were expropriated. The "law outlawed" them. Palestinians became pariahs in the land of their birth and for the vast majority their diaspora had begun.31/ All this happened with a deafening silence from the world communities, especially in Western countries, which had just gone to war against Nazi injustice.

The June 1967 war extended Israeli military rule to the occupied areas of the Golan Heights, Gaza and the West Bank. Again, the fundamental human rights of Palestinians and other Arabs under Israeli occupation were violated in spite of their guarantee under international law. Thousands of Arabs, mostly Palestinians, were again displaced. For thousands of Palestinians this was a second displacement following that of 1948. This time, the world took note, United Nations concern was immediate; on 4 July 1967, the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution calling upon Israel to facilitate the return of persons who had fled the war. The United Nations General Assembly affirmed the Security Council resolution one month later. It soon became apparent that repatriation was not the only issue, thus, United Nations concern extended to ill-treatment of Palestinians and violations of their human rights. On 19 December 1968, the General Assembly established the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights, on 4 March 1969, established a special Working Group of Experts to investigate allegations of violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. On 11 February 1970, this group issued a report that found substantial Israeli violations of the 1949 Convention and this report was approved by the Commission on Human Rights. Israel has repeatedly refused to permit the General Assembly's Special Committee to visit the occupied territories to investigate the allegations made against it. Israel also argues against the applicability of the 1949 Geneva Convention to the Arab territory it occupies.32/

Unlike the pre-Second World War period, the spurious excuse of the Nazis about the absence of texts of penal law or international conventions protecting civilian population hardly holds. The United Nations Charter in Articles 55 and 56 already recognizes and protects individual human rights. The human rights charter provisions have been supplemented by an "international bill of rights", that is, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). The human rights conventions carry into treaty form most of the provisions of the Universal Declaration. These are the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.33/ Israeli practices in the occupied territories have repeatedly been adjudged in violation of the United Nations Charter, the international conventions cited and the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel refused to heed these condemnations and arrogantly asserts the primacy on its own contentions to the contrary. This posture is routinely coupled with vilifications of the United Nations in language that can best be described as contemptuous. Ironically, again, these conventions were motivated by the plight and tragedy of Jews during the Second World War.

Let us now take a closer look at these Israeli practices which stand in violation of the human rights of Palestinians and other Arabs in the occupied territories.34/ This will be done in the light of the United Nations Charter, international conventions on human rights and more specifically, the international law of military occupation. That law is found primarily in the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949 (popularly referred to as the Fourth Geneva Convention). The Convention grants the occupier the right to take measures to maintain its security; however, the underlying assumption of the convention is that even military necessity cannot be allowed to deprive human beings of certain elementary protections. As already stated, Israel adamantly holds that the Fourth Geneva Convention does not apply to the occupied territories, a contention disputed by legal authorities; the United States and other nations; the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council and other international bodies. Israel, thus, stands very much alone with its contention. Any other nation would be deterred, or at least be uncomfortable, by this isolation but not Israel, which only answers to a higher calling. By its own lights, the Fourth Geneva Convention (article 49) which clearly states, "The occupying power shall not deport or transfer part of its civilian population into the territory it occupies" is superseded and, therefore, nullified by "Now the Lord had said unto Abraham, get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee: and I will make thee a great nation and I will bless thee, and make thy name great ... and Abraham passed through the land unto the place of Sechem, unto the plain of Moreh ... and the Lord appeared unto Abraham, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land." (Genesis 12)

Since June 1967, over 60,000 Israeli citizens have settled in some 100 locations, including East Jerusalem in clear violation of article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention. These settlements continue. The World Zionist Organization, in 1980, offered a plan calling for expenditure of $187 million to expand existing settlements and create new ones. It suggests the creation of 70 new settlements that would increase the Jewish population to 100,000.35/ Much higher population figures have been mentioned by other Zionist sources. Jewish settler organizations have become a law unto themselves. They create irreversible facts. Two organizations are in the vanguard of the settlement movement: the Kach movement led by the American-born Rabbi Kahane which openly calls for the expulsion of all Arabs from Israel, i.e., Eretz Israel; Gush Emunim is the largest settlement movement with very close ties to the Government. "As reverent Jews and devoted Zionists, they believe that the West Bank which they call by the biblical names of Judea and Samaria was given by God to the Jews of the Torah."36/ These are not just settlements on unoccupied Arab lands, they often entail expropriation of Arab land and properties and the displacement of Arabs by Jewish settlers. Between a quarter and a third of Arab land has thus been expropriated. The official government position is to deny expropriation with the assertion that these are Jewish lands to begin with. Likud Cabinet Secretary Aryeh Naor asserted that "it would be an act of anti-Semitism to say that a Jew could not settle in Judea and Samaria".37/ All indications are that these settlements are permanent, they are the hub of creeping annexation that Israel obviously intends. All this is done in the name of God, of which Jacob L. Talmon, the late Israeli historian, observed in a March 1980 issue of Ha'aretz: "There is nothing more perverted and retrograde than the use of religious sanction in conflicts between peoples and countries. There is no compromise of a bit more or a bit less when it comes to religious disputations".38/ East Jerusalem was formally annexed in July 1980 as Israel's eternal capital. Massive removals of Palestinians from Gaza are ongoing.

A colonial relationship clearly exist between Israel and the occupied territories; this is especially pronounced in the economic field. The occupied territories serve as a source of cheap and tractable labour. There is a clear plan to attach the inhabitants of the occupied territories to the Israeli economy. The occupied territories also provide Israel with a market for its goods. The occupied territories obtain over 90 per cent of their imports from Israel. Since the occupation, Israel has increased sixfold its exports to the occupied territories making these territories Israel's second largest market, second only to the United States. The trade surplus in Israel's favour is tremendous, $513 million from 1967-1974. In now classical colonial fashion, the economies of the occupied areas are distorted to serve Israeli interests. Even the modest industry existing in the occupied territories is hostage to the Israeli economy. The Jerusalem Post of 29 January 1975 observed: "... the dependence of the territories on the Israeli economy goes much further ... A substantial part of the modest industry existing in the territories is working on jobbing orders placed by Israeli manufacturers and merchants, and would be unable to find alternative markets".39/ Palestinian agriculture has also been distorted to serve Israeli interests, this is in addition to the devastation caused by massive land expropriations, expulsions and displacements. Add to this, the rampant destruction of Palestinian crops such as by the "Green Patrol", an arm of the Agricultural Ministry which has sprayed poison on fields, thereby destroying many acres of wheat, barley and olive groves.40/ Israel has also imposed a dependent specialization; it also prohibits the raising of agricultural products that will compete with those of Israel. Palestinian agriculture has also been hurt by competition from Israel, where the Government provides farmers with a 15 to 30 per cent subsidy plus credit advantages to facilitate modernization.41/ Thousands of former Palestinian farmers are now day labourers on Israeli farms where they are underpaid and generally abused. The worst case of exploitation and abuse involves Palestinian children as young as 8 and 10 years old who rise at 2 and 3 a.m. for hire on Israeli farms.42/

One of the first things done by Israel after occupation was to open up employment agencies to recruit Palestinian workers for jobs in Israel. This was necessitated by a trend in all developed capitalist countries where the local workers are becoming or have become an "aristocracy of labour". As such, there are many unskilled positions considered below their dignity thus necessitating the importation of migrant labour to do the dirty and underpaid work. The Israeli Economist (October 1971) commented thus on this trend: "The Israel Government is channelling Palestinian workers into the lowest ranks of the Israeli proletariat by denying work permits to persons from the occupied territories for any job deemed appropriate for unemployed Israelis and by referring workers from the occupied territories only to unskilled or semi-skilled jobs".43/ All workers from the occupied territories are underpaid and variously exploited but particularly underpaid and super-exploited are those unable to find jobs through ordinary channels and who participate in "illegal" labour exchanges, gathering "every morning in a series of agreed upon junctions and meeting places ... These are part of the thirty thousand unorganized workers, whose gathering every morning constitutes the stock-exchange of manual labour".44/ Many of these workers sleep in warehouses or other such structures where they work, being locked in every night. Added to this exploitation are State deductions of 40 per cent for insurance funds. They pay but are entitled to no benefits and do not receive any. Between 1968 and 1974, Israel deducted $260 million.44/ A telling indictment of these labour practices is offered by Danny Rubenstein of Davar in an 18 May 1976 article: "... an Arab worker is extremely movable, one can fire him at one moment and transfer him from one place to another; he does not strike and he has no 'claims' as the Israeli worker has. In short, in many economic respects, the workers of the territories are a treasure for the Israeli economy".45/

Violations of Palestinian human rights are a constant and all pervasive feature of Israeli rule. Civilian assaults are common and humiliation is part of the order. Under the guise of searching for weapons, Palestinian women have been undressed in the streets and left naked by Israeli security personnel. Palestinian social institutions are forced into a dependent relationship with those of Israel. Regulations of 1945 permit an Israeli military commander to order the demolition or sealing up of a building if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the building has been fired from or where an inhabitant has committed or abetted the commission of a violent act prohibited under the Defence Regulations. In addition, Regulation 119(1) permits the destruction of buildings not used to commit acts prohibited by the Regulations; the building only has to be located in the same general area where a prohibited act has been committed.46/ This Draconian law has been used as a licence to terror, its provisions are used extensively and indiscriminately. Decision to blow up or board up a building is made arbitrarily without any judicial determination of guilt or innocence. Many who are later acquitted have had their houses blown up. A typical incident was the destruction of buildings adjudged implicated in the May killing of 6 Jews and the wounding of 17 in Hebron. Some of the houses blown up in retaliation by the army turned out to "belong to the family of Idris Hirbawi, an Arab whose grandfather saved more than 20 Jewish families from attack by Arab rioters in 1929 by giving them shelter in his house. The building, containing stores, was destroyed within hours of the terrorist attack. 'Nobody decided to ask who they belonged to', an army officer said sheepishly".47/

Collective punishment is another Israeli popular device. This is meant to be a deterrent by terrorizing the whole neighbourhood or community. Imposition of curfew is another prevalent form of collective punishment. Another is the closing down of social institutions such as schools. Politically active Palestinians are routinely expelled from the occupied territories. These expulsions are arbitrary and particularly cruel since no forewarning is offered and one is simply suddenly separated from home, family and friends. Administrative detention is another prevalent device whereby suspects are held, sometimes for years, without any charges being brought. Palestinian political prisoners are held in inhuman jail conditions and by all accounts, torture is systematic and routine to induce confessions. In July 1980, there were news reports of the deaths of two Palestinian prisoners who were part of a group that went on a hunger strike to protest prison conditions at the infamous Nafha prison. They were force-fed and died as a result.48/ This is a general outline of violations of Palestinian human rights.

Whilst there is something unwholesome about comparing oppression, exploitation and denial or violations of human rights, a casual acquaintance with the South African situation will suggest close parallels, if not an actual identity of condition, between Palestinians under Zionist rule and Africans under Afrikaner Nationalist rule. Both peoples are victims of racial discrimination; both peoples have been robbed of their land; both peoples have their labour ruthlessly exploited and both peoples have been denied the most fundamental of all human rights - the right of self-determination.

We now witness the genocidal dimensions of zionism. Having denied the humanity of Palestinians, the Begin-Sharon-Shamir gang, as true Zionists, are bent on a final solution, which is the physical elimination of the Palestinian people. This diabolical scheme is offered to the world under the guise of spurious distinction between the PLO and the Palestinian people. The PLO is the Palestinian people and the Palestinian people are the PLO. Palestinian self-determination is a fundamental right which cannot be denied forever simply because Palestinian identity cannot be eradicated by tanks, planes or armies. The inhumanity and naked barbarity of zionism is now manifest. Zionism, like apartheid, is a threat to world peace, indeed a threat to humanity.


1/ Jan J. Loubser, "Calvinism, equality and inclusion: the case of Afrikaner Calvinism", in The Protestant Ethic and Modernization, S.N. Eisenstadt, ed. (New York, Basic Books, Inc., 1968), p. 371.

2/ Ibid., p. 368.

3/ Ibid., p. 369.

4/ Quoted in John Fisher, The Afrikaners (London, Cassel and Co., 1969), p. 302.

5/ Quoted in Hermann Giliomee, "The development of the Afrikaner's self-concept", in South Africa: Sociological Analyses, A. Paul Hare, Gerd Wiendieck and Max H. von Broembsen, eds. (Cape Town, Oxford University Press, 1979), p. 58.

6/ Robert P.D. Buis, "The relationship between the dogmatic teachings and attitude towards race relations of two South African religious denominations", in South Africa: Sociological Analyses, pp. 105-106.

7/ Quoted in T. Dunbar Moodie, The Rise of Afrikanerdom, (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1975), p. 1.

8/ Die Transvaler, December 16, 1942, quoted in The Rise of Afrikanerdom, p. 248.

9/ John Dugard, Human Rights and the South African Legal Order (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1978), pp. 53054.

10/ South Africa and the Rule of Law (Geneva, International Commission of Jurists, 1960), p. 56.

11/ John Dugar, op.cit., pp. 78-79.

12/ Ibid., p. 112.

13/ Ibid., pp. 112-121.

14/ Elmer Berger, Zionist Ideology - Obstacle to Peace (London, The International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD), 1981), p. 2.

15/ Fedynand Sweig, Israel: The Sword and the Harp, (London, Heinemann, 1969), pp. 70-71.

16/ G. Neubuarger, "The difference between Judaism and zionism", in Zionism and Racism (London, The International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD), 1976), p. 189.

17/ Abdelwahab M. Elmessiri, The Land of Promise: A Critique of Political Zionism (New Jersey, North American, 1977), p. 14.

18/ Ibid., p. 15.

19/ Ibid., p. 12.

20/ Ibid., p. 15.

21/ Quoted in Alfred M. Lilienthal, The Zionist Connection: What Price Peace (New York, Dodd, Mead and Co., 1978), p. 3.

22/ Gary V. Smith, ed., Zionism the Dream and the Reality: A Jewish Critique (New York, 1974), pp. 13-14.

23/ The Shahak Papers No. 31, "Collection on Jabotinsky: his life and excerpts from his writings", p. 16, quoted in James Zogby, "Palestinian human rights in the context of the historical development of the Zionist movement", (undated).

24/ Elmessiri, op.cit., p. 120.

25/ Quoted in James Zogby, Zionism and the Problem of Palestinian Human Rights (Detroit, AAUG, 1976), p. 4.

26/ "Effects of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian women inside and outside the occupied territories: social and economic conditions of the Palestinian women", United Nations document A/CONF. 94/21, 1980, p. 15.

27/ Sabri Jiryis, The Arabs in Israel (New York, Monthly Review Press, 1976), p. 9.

28/ Dr. Moshe Dunkelblum, who later became a Supreme Court judge, addressing a conference of the Lawyers' Association of Tel Aviv on 7 February 1946, quoted in Jiryis, op.cit., p. 11.

29/ Dr. Bernard Joseph, later Dov Joseph, of the Jewish Agency, addressing the same conference, quoted in Jiryis, op.cit., pp. 11-12.

30/ Mr. Yaacov Shimshon Shapira, who became legal adviser to the new Government, at the same conference, quoted in Jiryis, op.cit., p. 12.

31/ For a detailed discussion of the treatment of Arabs in Israel see Sabri Jiryis, The Arabs in Israel; Elia T. Zureik, The Palestinians in Israel: A Study of Internal Colonialism; and Israeli League for Human Rights, The Shahak Papers, compiled and edited by Adnan Amad.

32/ Abdeen Jabara, Israel's Violation of Human Rights in Arab Territories Occupied in June, 1967 (Detroit, AAUG, 1976), pp. 2-4.

33/ Ibid., pp. 4-14.

34/ This will be mainly based on the detailed and excellent report Treatment of Palestinians in Israeli-Occupied West Bank and Gaza: Report of the National Lawyers' Guild 1977 Middle East Delegation (New York, National Lawyers' Guild, 1978).

35/ David K. Shipler, The New York Times Magazine, 6 April 1980.

36/ The New York Times, 5 June 1980.

37/ Treatment of Palestinians..., p. 12.

38/ Quoted in The New York Times, 8 June 1980.

39/ Quoted in Treatment of Palestinians..., p. 36.

40/ The New York Times, 8 June 1980.

41/ Treatment of Palestinians..., p. 40.

42/ The Market of Arab Children in Israel (Tel Aviv, The Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights, 1978).

43/ Quoted in Treatment of Palestinians..., p. 36.

44/ Quoted in Davar, 31 January 1975, p. 38.

45/ Ibid., p. 37.

46/ Ibid., p. 63.

47/ The New York Times, 30 May 1980.

48/ The New York Times, 25 July 1980.


Saturnin K. Soglo
(First Counsellor, Permanent Mission
of Benin to the United Nations)

The Balfour Declaration of 2 November 1917 was the first illegal act in a long series of breaches of faith in which barbarity vied with the most machiavellian cynicism and through which international imperialism, in collusion with zionism, deprived the Arab people of Palestine of its land and its most indefeasible rights.

The primary objective was the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine, where the overwhelming majority of the population were Palestinian Arabs, and the language and culture were Arabic.

Even at a time when colonialism was credited with a civilizing and liberating mission, the Balfour Declaration aroused sharp criticism. It was long kept secret by its authors, who were aware not merely of their imposture, but also of the tragic consequences which it was to have.

Merging with the cries of protest and disillusionment of the Arabs, a multitude of voices were raised within the colonial Powers themselves; it was judged that Great Britain had no sovereign rights or rights of ownership over Palestine, and hence could not dispose of that land.

Even Dr. Chaim Weizmann, President of the Zionist Organization, took the view that the Balfour Declaration had no basis. Mr. Edward Montagu, the sole Jewish member of the British Government at the time, denounced it in the strongest terms.

In both its spirit and its application, the Balfour Declaration was nothing less than a total negation of a people's most fundamental rights, its inherent right to live in its ancestral land.

To justify this imposture, Old Testament relics were exhumed and dusted off. It was argued that 2,000 years previously, Palestine had been the Jewish homeland, and that the expulsion of the Jews from 117-138 A.D. under Emperor Hadrian in no way diminished their claim to this land.

Since these were ultimately the decisive considerations in the choice of the site for the Jewish homeland, they should logically have resulted in the establishment of a "secular, democratic and unitary Palestinian State", in which the Jewish and Arab communities, both of Semitic origin, could each contribute in its own particular way to the prosperity of a land in which they had lived in harmony for centuries.

Another factor involved was the virulent anti-Semitism of the Europeans which to an extent was undoubtedly fuelled by the Jews' refusal to integrate into the communities in which they lived. With the rise of Nazism, this racism was practiced with a cruelty equalled today only by zionism and apartheid; the Europeans were left with a guilty conscience which had to be salved. Helping the Jews to establish a "homeland" was thus, for Europe, not only a means of ridding itself of an undesirable population, but at the same time an easy way of absolving itself of the crime, pogroms and genocide perpetrated against the Jews.

But, above all, there were the ambitions of opportunist international imperialism which requires strategic points to facilitate its exploitation of peoples; in this regard, oil and the Suez Canal made the Middle East a particularly enticing target. It was thus all too easy for the Zionists to exploit Anglo-American contradictions and the efforts of the American oil monopolies to consolidate their position in the region, thereby strengthening their alliance with the United States.

The Governments of Western Europe subsequently lent their full backing to American policy and in particular to the consolidation of the State of Israel. Using its vast financial, military and diplomatic resources, the imperialist world basically aimed:

(a) To use the new State for the military annihilation of the liberating forces of the Arab world, formed around Egypt and Syria;

(b) To extend the bounds of Israeli domination by encouraging the Zionist vision of Eretz Israel; and, above all,

(c) To prevent the creation of an independent Palestinian State in the land of Palestine, the imperialist world having clearly foreseen that it was the Palestinians who would form the militant anti-imperialist vanguard of the entire Arab nation.

These were the origins of what the Arabs rightly refer to as the "Zionist entity", and of the tribulations of an entire people, the Arab people of Palestine, who were driven from their ancestral lands and condemned to wander, with only the tents of refugee camps for shelter. This was the background for the Palestinian rejection of the fait accompli, and its determination to do all in its power to oppose the perpetuation of injustice which has now lasted for 34 years.

In the Middle East, the situation thus created by international imperialism and zionism has led to four wars in the last 30 years. Today the Israeli military, in its determination to crush the resolve of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) fighters, threatens the very existence of Lebanon, and consequently world peace as a whole. It is now universally recognized that a just and comprehensive peace cannot be established until a satisfactory solution to the Palestinian question, which is at the heart of the Middle East problem, has been found or, in other words, until the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people are recognized.

The crux of the Palestinian problem is the fate of the Arab people of Palestine who had been forcibly dispossessed of their homeland. A just solution to this problem hinges on the exercise of the Palestinian people's inalienable rights to self-determination and to the creation of its own independent State. Only on this basis can a stable and lasting peace be established in the Middle East.

The United Nations has a special responsibility in this regard. As Mr. Marcel Dimu has so aptly emphasized, this responsibility may be considered from several standpoints:

(a) As a direct outgrowth of the Charter's stipulations concerning the right of all peoples to self-determination and the development of friendly relations among all nations based on the principle of full equality, rights which the Palestinian people have heretofore been denied;

(b) As stemming from the key role assigned by the Charter to the United Nations, and to the Security Council in particular, in solving the major problems facing humanity and endangering international peace and security;

(c) In the light of the fact that settlement of the question of Palestinian people is a colonial problem which the League of Nations, and later the United Nations, undertook to resolve;

(d) As pursuant to the adoption by the General Assembly of resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947, referred to as the "partition resolution", which called for the setting up in the territory of Palestine of two independent States, one Arab and the other Jewish.

In this regard, our Organization deserves to be criticized, severely so, for the slowness and timidity displayed in its search for just solutions to the problem until 1974, owing to the systematic obstructionism practiced by certain permanent members of the Security Council, and the various United States Administrations in particular, through the misuse of the right of veto.

No other international problem has given rise to so many meetings and evoked so much discussions in the Security Council, the General Assembly and other bodies as the Middle East problem, and, consequently, the Palestinian issue.

Although the problems of the Middle East and the situation of the Palestinian people have been under discussion at the regular session of the General Assembly since February 1947, there has been scant improvement in the situation of the Palestinian people.

Yet there has been no lack of recommendations. Following resolution 181 (II) on the future Government of Palestine, the General Assembly adopted numerous resolutions concerning the status of Jerusalem; assistance to Palestinian refugees, including their return to their homes; humanitarian aid; and respect for human rights in the occupied territories.

Despite certain divergences of opinion, the resolutions, especially those adopted since 1967, have enabled a broad consensus to be achieved on significant progress towards an understanding of the Palestinian dimension of the Middle East problem and the recognition of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

In other words, in spite of everything the United Nations has been, remains and should continue to be the only appropriate framework for settlement of the Palestinian question.

The most important achievement made within the United Nations framework has undoubtedly been the gradual transition from the concept of "Palestinian refugees" to that of "Palestinian people". For the first time in United Nations history, reference was made in General Assembly resolution 2535 B (XXIV) of 10 December 1969 to the inalienable rights of the "people of Palestine", and not merely to "Palestinian refugees". In resolution 2672 C (XXV) of 8 December 1970 the General Assembly recognized the need for the people of Palestine to exercise its right to self-determination, stressing that respect for that people's inalienable rights is an indispensable element in the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

The adoption by the General Assembly of resolutions 3236 (XXIX) and 3237 (XXIX) of 22 November 1974, reaffirming the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people and conferring observer status upon the PLO, marked a major step in the definition of the fundamental rights of that people. No less important was the special session of July 1980 devoted wholly to consideration of the exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. Resolution ES-7/2 of 29 July 1980, adopted on that occasion by an overwhelming majority, may be considered significant in this regard. It explicitly stated that the Palestinian people had "the right to establish its own independent sovereign State", and reaffirmed "the right of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people, to participate on an equal footing in all efforts, deliberations and conferences on the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East".

It furthermore linked the "attainment of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people" and the territories seized by the Israeli military forces during the 1967 war. Resolution ES-7/2 stated that a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East could not be established "without the withdrawal of Israel from all the occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories, including Jerusalem, and without the achievement of a just solution of the problem of Palestine on the basis of the attainment of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people in Palestine".

It emerges from this resolution that the views of the international community not only concur with the proposals of the PLO on the establishment of a Palestinian State, but also run counter to the statements of the Zionist leaders to the effect that Israel will not withdraw from the territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which have been occupied since 1967, and that if a Palestinian State is to be created, it will have to be somewhere other than in Palestine, as notably specified in the recent declarations of the Israeli authorities according to which Jordan should become the Palestinian State.

In resolution ES-7/2 the General Assembly sets out the rights of the Palestinians very clearly. Paragraph 3 reads as follows:
In paragraph 4, the General Assembly:
Within the Security Council, the misuse of the veto by certain permanent members has been unable to totally block the adoption of important resolutions on issues of particular significance for the future of the Palestinian people, such as maintenance of the legal status of Jerusalem and the inadmissibility of the physical or juridical changes imposed by Israel, the condemnation of Israel for its repressive actions against the Palestinian population of the occupied territories and the condemnation of the Israeli attacks on Lebanon, etc. It should be made quite clear here that Security Council resolution 242 (1967) is unacceptable, since it ignores the Palestinian problem. Unfortunately, efforts to secure the adoption of a resolution which would rectify this shortcoming of resolution 242 (1967) have so far been unsuccessful.

Though discussions at the United Nations, to some extent, reflect developments in other organizations, it is none the less necessary to highlight the position adopted by the European Economic Community (EEC). In the Venice Declaration of 1980, EEC, especially as a result of the futile Camp David agreements, ended up by gradually adopting a constructive attitude regarding the need to recognize the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, which include self-determination, the need to provide international guarantees for the security of all the countries of the region and the need to associate the PLO in comprehensive peace negotiations.

The same Declaration explicitly states that the Palestinian people, aware of its existence as such, should be able to fully exercise its right to self-determination through a suitable process forming part of a comprehensive peace settlement.

Accordingly, the overwhelming majority of the international community has finally recognized the most fundamental rights of the Palestinian people. In his message to the Sixth United Nations Seminar on the Question of Palestine, held in April 1982 in Malta, the Chairman of the PLO, Mr. Arafat, briefly outlined these rights as follows:

(a) The right to return;

(b) The right to self-determination;

(c) The right to establish an independent Palestinian State.

This is not an exhaustive list for it implies the exercise by the Palestinian people of other equally essential rights, which have been recognized by the various United Nations resolutions and which could be detailed as follows:

(a) The right to self-determination without external interference;

(b) The right to national independence and sovereignty, or the right to establish their own sovereign independent State;

(c) The right to territorial integrity and national unity;

(d) The right to regain their rights through all possible means;

(e) The right to be represented as full-fledged parties to the negotiations for achieving a just and lasting peace in the Middle East;

(f) The right to return to their homes and property from which they were uprooted and of which they were deprived;

(g) The right of the Palestinians of the occupied territories to permanent sovereignty and control over their natural resources;

(h) The right to full compensation for the damage to their natural and human resources;

(i) The right to an education and to their culture and to the ways and means of obtaining them, and the right to maintain their national identity.

Though the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people have been reaffirmed by the great majority of the international community, their exercise continued to be thwarted by the arbitrary attitude of the Tel Aviv authorities, encouraged in their evil designs by the United States Government, whose efforts have only tended to work against a comprehensive settlement. It is in this context that the so-called Camp David agreements and the separate Israeli-Egyptian "peace treaty" were signed.

The underlying idea of the Camp David agreements was that an "administrative autonomy" should substitute for the creation of an independent Palestinian State. "Palestinian autonomy", as envisaged in the Camp David agreements and later in the separate Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, is only a sordid manoeuvre to mask a denial of rights. The objective of this scheme is to legitimize the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The international community must therefore remain vigilant in the face of the policy of diktats of Tel Aviv and Washington. In view of the predictable impasse to which the Camp David agreements have led, a collective and sincere approach is needed in order to achieve a comprehensive, just and realistic settlement. This settlement, under the aegis of the United Nations, must be based on the relevant United Nations resolutions. It should be founded on the idea that a just and lasting peace in the Middle East will only be possible if Israeli troops are withdrawn from all the Arab territories occupied since 1967 and if the Palestinian people are allowed to exercise their legitimate rights, including the right to return to their homes and land, the right to self-determination, the right to national independence and the right to create an independent sovereign State in Palestine.

With a view to achieving this, the decision of the General Assembly, in its resolution 36/120 C of 10 December 1981, to convene, under the auspices of the United Nations, an International Conference on the Question of Palestine open to all States, is to be commended. The PLO should take part on an equal footing with the other participants. The problem of Palestine cannot be resolved in the absence of the Palestinian people.

I cannot conclude without deploring the inhuman situation which currently exits in Lebanon, where the Zionists are determined to exterminate the Palestinian forces, wrongly believing that the problem can be resolved through the use of force and barbaric acts. The truth which the Israelis have refused to acknowledge is that the real solution lies in recognizing the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, its right to self-determination and to the creation of a sovereign State.

It is regrettable and sad that the Fascist methods developed in the past by Hitler for the extermination of Jews, methods which were strongly condemned and denounced by the entire world at the time, are today being employed by the Jews against the Palestinian people, who only ask to be allowed to live in peace in an independent State from which they were unjustly expelled. Must might always be right? Is it permissible at the end of this twentieth century to let the law of the jungle prevail in a so-called civilized world?

There is still hope, in spite of all that has happened, that the countries which in 1947 assumed the historic responsibility of voting in favour of the resolution on partition will today, in the interests of equity, be able to contribute to the creation of a Palestinian State. It is also to be hoped that these same countries will prove capable of stopping in time the bloodshed which has once again been taking place at Beirut since 6 June 1982. It is high time for Israel and its friends to understand that force cannot withstand the determination of a people to liberate itself. Man is mortal, but ideas are immortal.

What is more, history has taught us that, sooner or later, a just cause will always triumph. We are thus convinced that right and reason will eventually overcome hate, arrogance and arbitrariness and that the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people will finally be recognized by all so that a free, sovereign and prosperous Palestinian State can come into being.


Seydou Madani Sy
(Rector, University of Dakar,
Dakar, Senegal)

At a time when the entire world is preoccupied by the siege of West Beirut by the Israeli occupying army, there may be some misgivings about tackling such a sensitive subject. Indeed, this subject lies at the heart of the conflict touched off in Lebanon in early June. The Prime Minister of Israel refers to an operation for peace while representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization talk of resistance of the Palestinian people. The Israelis speak of security at their borders, while the Palestinians speak of the liberation of their homeland. The impression given is of a dialogue of the deaf.

In these circumstances, how is one to approach the problem of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people? To begin with, what is to be understood by the expression "fundamental rights"? And how is the Palestinian people to be identified?

1. It would seem that fundamental rights can be defined as essential freedoms, that is, freedoms guaranteed as in domestic law through texts of broad legal scope such as constitutions or declarations of citizens' rights. In the international order they are "essential human freedoms" as enumerated by President Roosevelt in a message to Congress on 6 January 1941, when he referred to freedom of speech and expression throughout the world; freedom for everyone to worship God as he chooses throughout the world; freedom from want throughout the world; and freedom from fear throughout the world.1/

In terms of the international order, fundamental rights emerge as a series of rights spelled out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 2/ adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948. Theorists of international law broadly group these rights into four categories: rights which are inherent in human beings and whose exercise is implied by the individual's very existence; civil and family rights; political freedoms; and economic freedoms.3/

2. At the present time, the Palestinian people appears to constitute a fairly complex aggregate of communities which may be roughly identified within several territories. Since the occupation by the State of Israel of the territory of the former British-mandated Palestine following the 1967 conflict, a part of the Palestinian people has lived there, either as ordinary residents, or as refugees in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Another part is settled on a more or less temporary basis in neighbouring countries such as present-day Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Egypt, while there is also a Palestinian Diaspora in the Gulf States and in Europe and America.

3. The question is thus how to approach the problem of the fundamental rights of this people which is scattered but none the less conscious of its specific identity - for the Palestinian people, organized under "semi-State" structures such as the Palestine National Council and the Executive Committee of the PLO, considers itself to be a national identity aspiring to the creation of a Palestinian State in the relatively near future.

4. The question then arises whether the fundamental rights of this Palestinian people are recognized and protected in the international order. In this regard, one must distinguish between two sharply diverging positions held by the different parties prospectively concerned with this issue. Broadly speaking, the Palestinian people is currently recognized by the majority of the international community, but is contested by the State of Israel, which is the key protagonist, supported by the United States of America and a few other countries.

5. In this connection, the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people are recognized by a majority of States through the United Nations. Both the General Assembly and the Security Council have adopted an impressive array of resolution on the question; if the proportion of positive votes is considered, the favourable majority is striking. Pursuant to preambular and certain other provisions of the Charter of the United Nations, the Organization's two principal organs have adopted a mass of decisions for protection of the fundamental right of the Palestinian people.

Briefly reviewing the various rights provided for in the Universal Declaration of 1948, it may be affirmed that the fundamental rights inherent in human beings such as the rights to life, protection from genocide and security of the person, the right to liberty, the right to freedom of movement and the right to equality are very generally recognized and are safeguarded by United Nations bodies. There are a host of resolutions relating to these fundamental rights. In this connection, constant appeals are addressed to the governmental and administrative authorities of the State of Israel through United Nations resolutions. Thus, the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their lands is considered fundamental, as a way of safeguarding the right of Palestinians until such time as the Israeli occupation comes to an end. Similarly, concerning security, unauthorized entry into the home is condemned, with specific reference being made to the provisions of the Geneva Convention relative to the protection of Civilians Persons in Time of War 4/ of 12 August 1949 in the light of the signature of that Convention by the State of Israel (see General Assembly resolutions 35/122 A to F of 11 December 1980).

6. The same may be said of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to work, the right to social security, the right to own property and contractual rights, as well as the right to rest and leisure and the right to education and to participation in cultural life. In addition to General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, mention should also be made of the decisions and directives of the United Nations specialized agencies such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the International Labour Organisation, the World Health Organization, etc. (see resolution 21 C/14.1 (XXI) of 27 October 1980, in which UNESCO strongly condemns Israel's refusal to implement the resolutions of the UNESCO General Conference and the decisions of the Executive Board concerning educational and cultural institutions in the occupied Arab territories). In this resolution, UNESCO deplores the arbitrary closure of educational and cultural institutions in the occupied territories of Palestine by the Israeli authorities, and condemns the curtailment of academic freedoms, which is prejudicial to both students and teachers.

7. Political rights essentially include freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of expression and opinion, and the freedoms of assembly and association. In this regard, the General Assembly and Security Council resolutions have strongly protested against the violation of Jerusalem's status as a holy city by the State of Israel, through its unilateral proclamation of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel (see General Assembly resolution 35/169 E of 15 December 1980). The General Assembly stated that "the enactment of the 'Basic Law' by Israel constitutes a violation of international law and does not affect the continued application of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since June 1967, including Jerusalem".

8. In fact, the General Assembly, since its resolution 3236 (XXIX) of 22 November 1974, has persistently proclaimed the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people in Palestine, affirming the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination without external interference and the right to independence and sovereignty. In that resolution, the Assembly reaffirmed the right of Palestinian refugees who had been displaced or uprooted to return to their homes and property. Recognition of the existence of the Palestinian nation has been a major factor in the evolution of the Palestinian entity at the international level. Since 1974, the Palestinian people has been recognized as a nation on the way to attaining statehood. This is a far cry from the provisions of resolution 242 (1967) of the Security Council; the question is no longer one of "achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem".

Now, the international organization has recognized the reality of the Palestinian nation and unhesitatingly acknowledges the PLO as a valid party in the complex political discussions over the question of Palestine and the Middle East. As a result, the Camp David agreements and the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty could no longer ignore the existence of the Palestinians as a nation. The instruments of 1978 and 1979 are no longer adequate for resolving the problems of Palestine, having regard to international law and the views of the majority of the international community. It is in this context that the work of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People has helped to provide the General Assembly and the international community with a clearer understanding of the true issues at stake in the Israeli-Arab conflict. It is therefore not surprising that the Committee not only advocated and brought to the attention of the General Assembly the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, independence and sovereignty, but also drew up a two-phase plan for the return of Palestinians to their homes, taking account of the situation of the Palestinians who were displaced as a result of the June 1967 war and of those who were uprooted between 1948 and 1967 (see resolution 35/169 B of 15 December 1980).

In this resolution the General Assembly "reaffirms its rejection of those provisions of the accords which ignore, infringe, violate or deny the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including the right of return, the right of self-determination and the right to national independence and sovereignty in Palestine, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law, and which envisage and condone continued Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967". Finally, for good measure, the Assembly "expresses its strong opposition to all partial agreements and separate treaties which constitute a flagrant violation of the rights of the Palestinian people, the principles of the Charter and the resolutions adopted in the various international forums on the Palestinian issue, as well as the principles of international law, and declares that all agreements and separate treaties have no validity in so far as they purport to determine the future of the Palestinian people and of the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967".

9. Reading these various resolutions, one would be inclined to believe that the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people have won final acceptance in the international order. Nevertheless there has been resistance to the international consensus by the State of Israel, the other indispensable protagonist in the question of Palestine. One writer has given the following seven-point summary of this consensus:

(a) The Palestinian problem is the source of the Israeli-Arab conflict and is the crux of the Middle East problem;

(b) The Palestinians constitute a distinct Arab people;

(c) The Palestinian people are entitled to equal rights, and in particular the right to self-determination and the national right to sovereignty and to political independence as well as the right to return for the Palestinians who have been displaced;

(d) The restitution of these rights is a sine qua non for the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East;

(e) Until such time as these rights are recognized, the Palestinian people will strive to regain them by all the means at its disposal;

(f) The Palestinian people is the principal party in the search for, and the establishment of, a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. For this reason, its participation in all efforts and deliberations aimed at achieving this peace is essential;

(g) The PLO is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.5/

10. In opposition to this consensus, affirmed by the United Nations and other international institutions including the Organization of African Unity, the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, the League of Arab States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the rights of the Palestinians are contested by Israel. In the opinion of the Israeli Government, the present territorial situation represents the natural dimension of Eretz Israel. The Palestinian people does not exist for Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who only chooses to acknowledge the existence of the Palestinians on the battlefield. He has no hesitation in classifying the PLO as a "terrorist" organization. The attitude of the Israeli army in Lebanon since June of this year demonstrates that the Zionist ideology is always central to the position of the Government of the State of Israel. The fundamental rights of the Palestinian people have simply been denied. There is no question of self-determination, still less of independence. The Camp David agreements and the Egyptian-Israeli treaty refer only to autonomy ("a self-governing authority") and to an administrative council. Even if "the legitimate rights of the Palestinians" are mentioned, there is no question of attaining self-determination and national sovereignty. As one commentator has observed, it is remarkable that all the issues affecting the rights and the future of the Palestinians should have been negotiated by Israel, Egypt and the United States of America.6/

11. Furthermore, the Israeli Government continues to ignore the resolutions of the United Nations, while methodically pursuing its plan and its policy of territorial expansion and annexation. The Prime Minister himself has been encouraging the establishment of Jewish settlements in the territories occupied in 1967, which have been dubbed Judea and Samaria. The expropriations of Palestinian property and expulsions alarm humanitarian organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross. The Special Committee for the investigation of torture and maltreatment of Palestinian prisoners has not been permitted access to the occupied territories. Even Amnesty International has serious misgivings about the conduct of Israeli gaolers during the interrogation of suspects. In the West, there have been some press campaigns taking the Israeli regime to task. There is talk of forced transfers of Palestinians, maltreatment, destruction of property, organized terror, etc.7/

12. In view of the obstinacy of the State of Israel, the question arises whether the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people will finally triumph over adversity. The turn of events in Lebanon would tend to prompt pessimism, especially when it is recalled that the problem has been in existence since the Balfour Declaration of 1917, as confirmed by the Mandate of the League of Nations, article 2 of which states that:

1/ L. M. Goodrich and E. Hambro, Commentaire de la Charte des Nations Unies (Neuchâtel, Editions de la Baconnière, 1948), p. 116.

2/ Resolution 217 A (III).

3/ L. Cavaré and J. P. Queneudec, Le droit international public positif, (Paris, Pedone, 1967), vol. I, p. 493 ff.

4/ United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 75, No. 973.

5/ Fayez Sayegh, Le problème palestinien et le rôle de l'OLP (Lausanne, Association Suisse-Palestine, 1977), p. 11.

6/ H. Cattan, "Nullity of the Egyptian-Israeli accords under international law", The Camp David Accords - A Challenge to International Law (Paris, Le Sycomore, 1981), pp. 107-121).

7/ See the 1979 study prepared for the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People entitled "The question of the observance of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 in Gaza and the West Bank, including Jerusalem", occupied by Israel in June 1967".

8/ N. Barbour, Nisi Dominus, a Survey of the Palestine Controversy (Beirut, Institute for Palestine Studies, 1969), p. 103.


Rita Giacaman
(Assistant Professor, Birzeit University, West Bank


In the recent past, much attention has been placed on examining the various elements of the Palestine question. Politicians and researchers alike have investigated several aspects of the problem, including the results of aggression on Palestinian political, economic and social systems that prevailed before and after the 1948 and 1967 Arab-Israeli wars, the impact of dispossession and dispersion on Palestinians all over the world and the impact of Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Palestinian life in general. Yet, in spite of the ever-rising volume of both research and attention paid to Palestinians, very little has been devoted to the problems of Palestinian women under occupation and development.

This paper is an attempt to outline and set a framework for the systematic study of formal women's organizations within the context of overall Palestinian life. It is not intended to be an exhaustive study of the Palestinian women's movement and its organic linkage with the national struggle. Nor is it intended to cover the various organizational forms that the women's movement took both within and without the occupied territories. It is an attempt to place the women's movement within the context of both resistance to Israeli military occupation through efforts to build and develop social institutions, and the increasing awareness of the need for women to organize. Four themes are highlighted: the history of the Palestinian women's movement, evolution by trial and error, the new movement and development, and retaliation and resistance.

Although both the West Bank and Gaza Strip, to a large extent, have gone through similar political and social experiences, this paper deals with information relating solely to the West Bank.

1. History

Palestinian women's organizations are by no means recent creations. They date at least as far back as 1921, with the birth of the first Palestinian women's union at Jerusalem under the leadership of Slikha al-Shihabi.1/ Though very little material exists today that may shed some light on questions such as how and why these women were induced to organize, it is clear that a major reason for the creation of women's organizations was directly linked to the Palestinian national problem. Before and after 1936, organized women were actively involved in training and providing first-aid to Palestinian revolutionaries, in organizing and participating in demonstrations, in distributing leaflets, and sending telegrams of protest and other activities directed against the British Mandate authorities. It also appears that their activities were coordinated with the activities of the Palestinian resistance movement of the time.2/ 3/

The 1948 Arab-Israeli war and the resulting flood of refugees to various parts of the Arab world, including whatever was left of Palestine that was not conquered by the Zionist army (the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) precipitated a further attempt by women to organize. The direct linkage between the reaction of Palestinian women to disaster, lack of services, general chaos and the creation of new women's charitable societies, for instance, has been clearly spelled out in The Arab Women's Union's report of activities during the period of 1947 through 1950 in Bethlehem.4/ 5/

By 1950, the West Bank was annexed to Jordan and, in 1951, the Jordanian Ministry of Social Affairs was established.6/ Once basic social services were re-established by the Jordanian Government and other voluntary agencies' relief work reached Palestinian refugees, women's charitable societies turned to activities that were centered also around the relief rather than the solution of problems, such as child-feeding programmes, distribution of food and money to the poor and caring for the sick.

The following table represents a list of all the names of women's charitable societies that appear in the register of the General Union of Charitable Societies of the East and West Banks of the river Jordan.7/ Note that the occupied West Bank is divided into three Governorates: the Jerusalem Governorate, including Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Jericho, Qalqilia, Tulkarm and surrounding villages, and the Hebron Governorate, including Hebron and surrounding villages.


Names of officially registered women's charitable societies
Date of
Name Location registration

Jerusalem Governorate

1. Arab Women's Union - Beit Sahur Beit Sahur 1956
2. Arab Women's Union - Bethlehem Bethlehem 1965
3. Arab Women's Union - al-Bireh al-Bireh 1965
4. Arab Women's Union - Ramallah Ramallah 1956
5. Arab Women's Union - Jerusalem Jerusalem 1957
6. In'ash al-Usra (Society for Family Revival) al-Bireh 1965
7. Bisat al-Ruhman Greek Orthodox
Women's Society Bethlehem 1965
8. Hamilat-al-Tib Greek Orthodox Society Bethlehem 1965
9. Hamilat-al-Tib Greek Orthodox Society
for the Relief of the Miserable Sick Jerusalem 1965
10. The Armenian Charitable Society for Women Jerusalem 1958
11. Dar-al-Tifl al-Arabi (Arab Children's Home) Jerusalem 1965
12. Ri-ayat al-Tifi Society (Society for
the Care of Children) Ramallah 1945
13. Rawdat al-Zuhur Society (The Kindergarten
of Flowers Society) Jerusalem 1952
14. Jericho Women's Charitable Society Jericho 1963
15. Birzeit Women's Charitable Society Birzeit 1970
16. Arab Women's Society Jerusalem 1965
17. Ri'ayat al-Tifl Women's Society
(Women's Society for the
Care of Children) Jerusalem 1965
18. Sayidat-al-Bishara Greek Catholic Women's
Society (Lady of the Annunciation Greek
Catholic Women's Society) Jerusalem 1956
19. Muslim Young Women's Society Jerusalem 1979
20. Society for the Training of Young Women Bethlehem 1973
21. Old People's Home Society Jerusalem 1957
22. Women's Revival Society Ramallah 1965

Nablus Governorate

1. Arab Women's Union - Tulkarm Tulkarm 1953
2. Arab Women's Union - Nablus Nablus 1965
3. Charitable Society of Burqin Burqin 1971
4. Charitable Society of Burin Burin 1965
5. Charitable Society of Jenin Jenin 1976
6. Charitable Society of Juwara Juwara 1963
7. Arab Orphan's Home Tulkarm 1961
8. Society for the Care of Children and
the Guidance of Mothers Nablus 1954
9. Women's Charitable Society of Salfit Salfit 1965
10. Women's Charitable Society of Anabta Anabta ?
11. al-Mirabitat Charitable Society Qalqilia 1960
12. Jordanian Red Crescent Society - Tulkarm Tulkarm 1947

Hebron Governorate

1. Women's Charitable Society of Halhoul Halhoul 1964
2. Women's Charitable Society of Hebron Hebron 1965
3. Women's Society for Social Development
of Arroub Arroub 1973
4. The Society for the Revival
of Village Girls Doura 1965

It is important to note that the table is by no means an exhaustive list of all women's charitable societies operating in the area. The author herself know of at least four more societies that, for some reason, were not listed in the General Union of Charitable Societies' guide. Additionally, this list does not include other organizational forms that women have adopted and through which they are today playing a major role in fulfilling both women's and developmental needs of their society. These women's committees will be discussed at length later. Also of interest is the fact that the charitable societies listed in the table constitute about 29 per cent of all societies officially registered and in operation in the occupied West Bank. The rest are either men's charitable societies or mixed ones. Overall, women constitute 42.2 per cent of the total membership in all charitable societies.8/

An examination of the table reveals several interesting observations. First, only six societies have been officially registered since 1967. Secondly, the majority of the societies are located in major cities or towns, mostly in the Jerusalem Protectorate, with minimal village representation (about 70 per cent of the population of the West Bank lives in rural areas). Thirdly, six of the societies are organized on a religious basis. Fourthly, 15 of the societies were officially registered in 1965, the same year that witnessed the birth of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Of interest also is the fact that 9 out of 21 societies located in the Jerusalem Governorate started operating in some cases very long before their official registration date. This is probably true of a number of societies in other areas as well. The discrepancy between the dates of operation and official registration was found to be as small as six years (as in the case with Sayidat-al-Bishara Greek Catholic Women's Society) and as large as 36 years (as in the case of the Arab Women's Union - Jerusalem).9/

In its beginning years, the Palestinian women's movement, as exemplified by women's capacity to organize into societies and their ability to participate in social and political life, was conceived and developed by women of bourgeois origin.10/ It was also led and dominated by women who came almost exclusively from the urban upper middle class, many of them connected by kinship or marriage to the political leadership. A brief inspection of the names of the major women's movement leaders of between 1930 and 1950 does indeed confirm the observation that most came from cities and enjoyed a relatively higher standard of living and status in society than others. Their backgrounds, in a sense, must have solved some of the logistic problems of organization faced by most rural women, including the problem of time at hand to participate in activities other than the assigned household chores; the rearing of families; the problem of restricted movement imposed by distance, and traditional social norms and customs. Religious grouping, in addition, may be a revealing factor that can possibly improve our understanding of the social class character of the early women's movement, and should thus be systematically examined. But perhaps a more important factor determining the ability of women to organize is education. It has been shown for instance that for the academic year 1944-1945, 42 per cent of the students enrolled in urban governmental schools up to the seventh grade were women, while only 8 per cent of the students enrolled in rural governmental schools were female. Although a direct relationship between education and the capacity for organization cannot be established, the impact of education on the ability of women to organize, integrate into and participate in social and political life cannot be overestimated.

Thus, women's charitable societies, until 1967, assisted the Jordanian Government in the provision of basic services to the Palestinian population living in the area. Their programmes included the establishment of first-aid centres, basic health programmes, nurseries for needy children, homes for orphans, centres for the aged, the provision of monthly payments for poor families and, in general, the social sponsorship of welfare activities that were largely dominated by bourgeois women and their perceptions of their roles as members of their society. The fairly charitable nature of their work was at times even symbolized in their choices of names for their institutions (for instance, "Hamilat-al-Tib Greek Orthodox Society for the Relief of the 'Miserable Sick'", the "Home of the Orphan" and the "Carpet of the Forgiver's Greek Orthodox Women's Society").

2. Evolution by trial and error

As a result of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and the fall of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip under Israeli military occupation, women's charitable societies began to adopt new roles based on the emerging needs of changing times. Although the impact of the military occupation on political, economic and social life was not readily apparent in the early years, women's societies, like all other Palestinian institutions which fell under the brunt of the military occupier, realized that their methods of operation had to be modified, if not altogether changed, into ones that would allow them to operate under truly strenuous conditions, if at all.

In the early years of occupation, women's societies were largely involved in general relief operations in a manner, it seems, that was very similar to their initiative during the 1947-1950 period. Soon however they began to realize the real significance of the occupation to Palestinian life in general. The activities of the military occupier in terms of political repression, confiscation of land and water resources, attempts to change the demographic nature of the occupied area in such a way as to create yet another fait accompli and the systematic policy of the destruction of the economic and social infrastructures were all seen as attempts to destroy the Palestinian national culture. Thus, women's organizations, along with the existing non-governmental institutions (Jordanian governmental institutions were taken over by the Israeli military Government), saw themselves as perhaps the only structures left that were possibly able to inhibit the destruction of the social infrastructure and prepare the way for the reconstruction of Palestinian society in the future. It was these realizations that resulted in a qualitative change in the perspective, composition and activities of the women's movement, in particular during the 1970s. This was reflected in the adoption of literacy programmes, vocational training programmes for men and women, educational programmes, the creation of committees for the preservation of heritage and culture, and others aimed at fulfilling the unmet needs of the occupied population. Their efforts, though at times remarkable, remained limited. The conditions of occupation, in particular the absence of a national government interested in the welfare of the people, were dictating a new role, with a new perspective guiding activities. The nature of the situation demanded from Palestinian institutions a developmental role and a self-reliant perspective, requiring flexibility of vision that allowed for the growth and development of institutions in a manner compatible with the developing needs of the occupied Palestinians. It also necessitated the fulfilment of the until then neglected needs of the rural population, which constituted 70 per cent of the total population. With some exceptions, women's charitable societies were largely unable to fill that function. They were in general unable to extract themselves from the charitable perspective and their efforts, in spite of attempts to fill the gap, remain a palliative treatment to a recurring disease.

Exceptions did exist, however, including the initiatives of both In'ash-al-Usra in al-Bireh and the Arab Women's Union at Bethlehem. In the case of In'ash-al-Usra, activities for the first two years after the 1967 war were largely centred around the relief of refugees and the families of martyrs. Soon however it was faced with the inability to deal with the large volume of people that flooded the society seeking assistance, including villagers from the surrounding area. Both financial and logistic factors thus precipitated a new change in outlook. It began to experiment with the idea of providing people needing assistance with the means that would allow them to earn income, rather than continue relying on the Society for help. The first productive initiatives, including a sewing project for women and a food preservation and packaging scheme, were both aimed at utilizing women's labour in return for income. But these first experiences resulted in failure: marketing problems and competition with the Israeli goods were listed as major causes for this failure. Their initial attempts at chicken farming also failed primarily as a result of manpower shortage, know-how and the problem of transportation. But they did not give up. They recognized their failing and reoriented their productive efforts towards traditional products that did not face competition from Israeli and imported commodities. These included traditionally embroidered objects, pottery and woven straw items. Their success has been modest but these projects are still existing and financially afloat. They also developed their marketing capacity by agreeing with national local private institutions to buy their food products. They even attempted to move into villages, stating that "we tried to go where needy people are rather than have them go through the difficulty of coming to us", and established four village centres in 1970, only to be hit by a military order to close down the centres "for security reasons". Once again, they did not give up, and managed to overcome the military order by centralizing activities and creating an effective network reaching villages without the need for village centres. And today, over and above their traditional charitable activities, In'ash-al-Usra boasts a women's embroidery project that extends to most of the Ramallah district villages and an extensive vocational training programme for women where employable skills such as typing, secretarial work, machine knitting, sewing and hairdressing are taught.11/

The case of the Arab Women's Union of Bethlehem is unusual for two reasons. First, its members grasped the necessity of changing the roles that were imposed on them by the harsh realities of occupation almost immediately after the 1967 war. Secondly, they also understood the importance of efforts to unify the activities of various institutions. Accordingly, they called for a meeting of all charitable societies in Bethlehem and demanded a change in outlook, from one that was charitable to one of "steadfastness" (a cultural expression that has become a symbol reflecting a new political awareness and translating into a perspective of the necessity of staying on the land of Palestine as a crucial form of resistance to occupation). How these women managed to unify the efforts of charitable societies into one programme in a small town where petty rivalries have been known to destroy many initiatives was eventually translated into a small factory for silver works where local people work and where skills are taught to young men and women. They solved the market problem, like In'ash-al-Usra, by choosing products that required local skills and did not necessarily compete with Israeli ones, and contacted local souvenir shops to buy their products. They also managed to make some profit that in turn was distributed to young men and women as long-term loans to finance their education. And today, the project still exists and is operating side by side with the traditional charitable ones and ironically side by side with projects specifically geared towards the entertainment of middle- and upper-class Bethlehem families (for instance, a family club with a swimming pool, where membership is attainable by the payment of a substantial sum of money and the recommendation of the board).12/

Despite the charitable outlook, the failings, the errors, and the fact that the activities of women's societies until recently did not go beyond the role that is imposed on women by a traditional society and the general domination of men's ideology over women's activities, the attempts of Palestinian women to organize, from 1921 until now (if looked at in evolutionary terms) can be seen as very significant. Palestinian women's experiences in organization and their attempts to participate in social and political life seem to have played a major role in setting the stage for the creation of a much more radical women's movement than the occupied territories have so far witnessed. The traditional women's organizations, if viewed within a historical context, have at least provided younger women with a model for organization that was centered around family welfare activities (the traditional role of women) acceptable by traditional Palestinian society. The importance of their activities also lies in the fact that they brought women out of their homes and perhaps, for the first time, into the realm of social and political life. As for the more daring women as the women of In'ash-al-Usra and the Arab Women's Union of Bethlehem, they have served, through their trial and error experiences, as a crucial phase of transition between charity and a mass organization directed towards the radical solution of development, women's the national problems. It is through the collective experience of both types of women's organizations that lessons were learned, and better understanding of Palestinian societal needs was achieved by younger, more educated and actively politicized women, culminating in the creation of a "new movement" and perhaps a new era in the history of the Palestinian women's movement in the occupied territories.

3. The new movement

Though ideas on the necessity of Palestinian women under occupation changing roles were conceived and developed in the early 1970s, a significant example of the qualitative change in the nature of the women's movement was the creation of the Women's Work Committee at Ramallah in 1978. A group of active, well-educated and young bourgeois women met to discuss the possibilities of organizing themselves in such a way as to be able to better serve their community, both socially and politically. The group was composed of those who were ideologically motivated and politically committed and those who were well educated, nationalistic, socially aware and already fairly involved in social and political life.13/

Several reasons account for their unwillingness to be absorbed into the framework of women's charitable societies. The stated reason was that the kind of activities and programmes that they wanted to initiate necessitated the creation of a new type of work for the majority of existing women's institutions.14/ Upon further examination of the actual reasons that precipitated the change in both structure and style, however, other factors are revealed. To begin with, the framework that was newly created and is still being used until today did not require a permit from the Israeli military government's social welfare department, as is the case with the charitable society framework. Appreciating the difficulties they had to endure in order to get such a permit, if it was granted at all, they opted out of the charitable society framework altogether, in spite of the fact that this meant that they would not qualify for Jordanian governmental financial backing. They also had a perspective for their work that was not charitable in nature but more directed towards the building of an organized women's movement and, in that sense, the Jordanian law regulating the activities of charitable societies would have been extremely restrictive.15/16/ Finally, owing to the at times substantial differences in perspectives, both political and social, between the women of the older movement and the new ones, coupled with the standard petty rivalries and the older women's fear of losing control, it became very difficult for the old movement to effectively absorb the younger generation, with all its radical ideas and the effectiveness it could have offered them. But it is interesting to note that, in spite of differences, the women's committees did not pose themselves as an alternative to other women's organizations, but as an organization that worked hand in hand with them, aiming towards the development of the women's movement, the unification of all women's activities and the building of a unified mass movement for the struggle of all Palestinian women in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.17/

Out of these very first radical women's meetings emerged a new model for women's activities, namely, Palestinian women's committees. This model was soon adopted by two other politically committed women's groups. Today, three such committees exist, the "original" Women's Work Committee, the Working Women's Committee and the Palestinian Women's Committee. With the exception of very few differences that exist among them, primarily dealing with specific ideological and political commitments, their structure, perspective and general ideological outlook (all to the left, with varying degrees) is essentially the same, and thus will be treated as one for the purposes of this paper.

At least two major differences exist between the old and the new movements. They are, to begin with, structurally and organizationally different. This affects not only the nature and style of their work, but also their effectiveness in both representing the needs of women from all sectors of society and the extent of their spread in the area. The old organizations operate on a centralized model, with the society headquarters almost always in cities and towns, where activities are controlled by an elected executive body that is usually largely composed of bourgeois town and city women. Activities and programmes are based on the perceptions of the controlling body of the needs of the recipient population, whether rural or urban. In other words, the organizational and structural framework of the old movement does not really allow for the representation of the needs and aspirations of women from all sectors of society, thus reducing most of those involved into the role of beneficiaries. The women's committees, however, are structured in such a way as to ensure the adequate representation of women from all sectors of society and, in fact, their stated aim at least indicates their commitment to encourage the active participation of women from all walks of life, particularly rural women. Women's committees are organized into basic committees, wherever they exist (in cities, towns, villages, refugee camps and factories), where one member is elected to represent her committee in the regional committee. The same principle of representation applies to the regional, provincial and higher committees.18/ Additionally, with very few exceptions, the old movement's activities are generally restricted to the cities or towns where the institution is located, while women's committees have, in a relatively short period of time, successfully reached and penetrated all governorates, most major cities and towns and many villages and refugee camps, in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Efforts are still continuing to form new committees, often in remote and relatively inaccessible areas.

The second major difference is essentially one of perspective and approach. The old movement is generally guided by the perspective of charity or steadfastness, while behind the new movement lies a systematically elaborate rationale aimed at the creation of a mass women's movement that would eventually mobilize women politically and direct them towards active participation in both the women's and the national struggles.19/

Though the interrelationship between the national and the women's struggle in the occupied territories remains an important subject that requires a thorough investigation, an attempt to highlight some of the apparent linkages should be made here. What appears to be the case is that the Palestine national question was at least partially the impetus for the very first attempt of Palestinian women to move beyond the boundaries of the home and family life and into the avenue of political and social participation alongside men. It also appears that the same moving force was instrumental in enlarging and solidifying the women's movement to the extent that a model for women's activities outside the home became acceptable to Palestinian society.20/ The sudden registration of 15 out of a total of 36 charitable societies (see table) in 1965 cannot be overlooked or considered a coincidence, for 1965 was a very significant year in Palestinian history. It was the year of the creation of the PLO with its various bodies and institutions, including the General Union of Palestinian Women. The timing of the registration of the women's societies is highly suggestive of a strong linkage between the two movements, and seems to support further the argument that the Palestine national problem served as a propellant of the women's struggle for equality. It is also important to place the qualitative change in the nature, constitution and activities of the women's movement that were discussed above, particularly the change in the class origin of its members and their move towards villages and refugee camps, within the context of overall Palestinian national politics. This change is probably tied to, if not a reflection of, the change in the nature of the Palestinian leadership that was witnessed in 1965, from one essentially dominated by the upper classes (the Nashashibis and Huseinis, for instance) to one that adequately represents all sectors of Palestinian society.

As for the movement of women's committees, the available evidence indicates that at least the organizers of those movements perceive their activities as political and national, in addition to being a women's movement aimed at the improvement of the economic, social and cultural status of women. This is clearly stated, for instance, in the programme of the Women's Work Committee.21/ What is also interesting is that, in their beginning phases in the latter part of the 1970s, the women's committees were perceived by their organizers as the means through which they could achieve the goal of mobilizing this largely untouched section of the Palestinian population for the struggle for national rights, the right of self-determination and the construction of an independent Palestinian State. This aim necessitated the creation of a mass women's movement all over the occupied territories. Experience in the field, however, was quite revealing. The organizers were shocked by the realization that, with the existing conditions of women's lives, particularly in the villages and among the poor urban dwellers, it was impossible for them to effectively mobilize women in the national struggle. Illiteracy, overwork, poverty, economic dependence, the limited interests of women that result from all this and the general low social status were crucial stumbling blocks. And it is precisely this realization of the Palestinian women's condition that precipitated the awareness of the need for women to organize around their own problems and adopt specific programmes aimed at the improvement of women's lot. Accordingly, the women's committees proceeded to adopt programmes of literacy, activities aimed at solving some of the women's problems (such as the setting up of nursery schools which allowed women to leave their "prisons" and attend literacy and vocational training classes), general services (such as health) to alleviate the burdens of everyday life and productive projects aimed at providing women with some means of earning an independent income.

Finally, it must be remembered that, as Palestinian society evolved and developed in general, particularly during the 1960s and 1970s, so did societal perceptions of the role of women. The increasing participation of women in the labour force (particularly after 1967, due to the financial hardships that Palestinian families faced) as well as the increase in the level of education of women are important and need to be carefully examined in the future. Both factors, including the establishment of Palestinian universities in the West Bank and the resultant accessibility of university education, particularly to village women, probably led to the change in the perceptions of society regarding the role of women and their ability to participate in all aspects of Palestinian life.

In spite of this awareness of the problems of women as a separate yet integral part of the overall struggle of the Palestinian people for a better life, the national problem dominates political and social thinking today. This is not only a consequence of the hegemony of men over political, economic and social life, but also of the facts of life as they are experienced by Palestinians, both men and women. The systematic attempts on the part of the Israeli military Government to destroy Palestinian society and culture and their vicious attempts at annihilating the Palestinian people make the domination of the national problem not only quite understandable, but also necessary at the present stage of Palestinian history. It will, however, very interesting to see whether the women's movement continue to develop, once the Palestinian people's aspirations for nationhood are fulfilled, towards more specific demands for equality of women, or whether, once liberation and nationhood are achieved, women will lose the incentive and the justification for organization.

4. Retaliation and resistance

Apart from the active involvement of Palestinian women in resisting military occupation at the general political level, as can be testified to, for instance, by the imprisonment of at least 3,000 women by the Israeli military Government since 1967,22/ women have also been actively involved in resisting occupation at the social level. And the creativity that some of them have displayed in dealing with the retaliatory activities of the military occupier has been truly remarkable. It must be said first that the fairly difficult political conditions of recent months, about which the author as well as other researchers were attempting to collect information, made it impossible for them to either accurately assess the degree and extent of the stifling of women's social activities, or clearly grasp the interrelationship between political and social resistance and their relative weight in terms of retaliation. The general attitude throughout the investigation was essentially one of fear of divulging information about the repression by the military Government lest such information be later used to further stifle their activities. Because of this, it is important to note that whatever picture is drawn here can no more than simply suggest the depth of the problem.

It is also important to note that the Israeli military Government generally believes that the mere existence of Palestinian social institutions, let alone the political ones, poses a real threat to its continued domination, so much so that the continued existence of national institutions, in spite of hardships, consistently triggers retaliatory attacks aimed at their total destruction. And if one looks at the actions of the military Government in terms of a systematic attempt to have "the land without the people" (as evidenced by the deposition of mayors, the repeated closure of universities, schools, women's committee headquarters and art galleries, and the censorship of books and newspapers - to name only a few examples - one may very well arrive at the realization that the Israeli military Government is indeed seeking the destruction of Palestinian national culture.

An extremely wide range of retaliatory methods is used by the Israeli military Government against Palestinian social institutions and women's institutions appear to be subjected to more or less the same policy that dominates the actions and stifles the growth and development of all institutions in general. Examples range from a brief interrogation of organization members to imprisonment for extended periods of time. It must be stressed again here that the question of whether serious retaliatory activities, such as extended imprisonment and long town arrests, are triggered by women's social and developmental activities or by the expression of overtly political positions, remains unclear. Many examples of retaliatory or restrictive activities were given by women and include the refusal of permits to conduct meetings, cultural activities, bazaars or the collection of donations from the local population; refusal of permits for the construction of new buildings which are essential to accommodate the growth of activities in line with the population's growing needs; interrogations; house and town arrests and refusal of permits to leave the country for active organization members. At times such measures are triggered because of the most trivial reasons, as was the case, for instance, of two members of a women's organization who were interrogated and then placed under house arrest for a few days because they had placed flowers on the graves of martyrs at the end of a peaceful women's march.

By far the single most important measure of retaliation is aimed against the acquisition of money from local and foreign sources. By the very nature of the work (i.e., financial non-productive social services), receipt of donations by social institutions is an essential prerequisite for survival. The issue of finances, donations and budgets has thus become, particularly the last few years, a major controlling force that the military government exercises against women's and men's institutions alike. And because of the importance of this issue and the great risk involved in divulging information, very little reliable date can be successfully obtained, except perhaps when investigators have strong personal connections.23/ It remains clear, however, that if the Israeli military Government were to succeed in its attempts to stifle Palestinian national institutions completely, it would be probably mainly through their manipulation of the financial issue. And ironically, in this case, the Israeli military Government does not even need to amend Jordanian laws by promulgating a new military order (there are already almost 1,000 of those) to achieve control, for the authority already exists in the form of Jordanian Law No. 33 of 1966, which governs the activities of charitable societies and social institutions.

The resistance of Palestinian women's institutions to occupation has taken many forms, covering a wide range of activities. Major points have already been discussed and two others need to be stressed. In the absence of a national government interested in the welfare of the people, and with the deterioration in the service sector, women resisted occupation by moving towards filling the gap. And the rationale behind this move was simply based on their realization of how important it is to help the Palestinian people stay on Palestinian land. Women's institutions today, in cooperation with men's institutions and local and voluntary agencies, are largely responsible for fulfilling the basic needs of the population living under occupation, a role that is usually played by governmental agencies.

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of Palestinian women's resistance to occupation is the development of cooperation among the various women's organizations. One example of that has already been described earlier (the initiative of the Arab Women's Union of Bethlehem). Another example is the attempt and the success of the women's work committees to operate their programmes under the umbrella and the protection of the licences of traditional charitable societies. Being unable to acquire a licence for certain activities owing to military occupation, they looked to charitable societies for alternatives. Through remarkable efforts at bridging the ideological gap and because of the commitment of all concerned to the national struggle, the women were able to reach a modus operandi that allowed not only various activities to take place, but more importantly, a type of unprecedented co-operation to emerge. Perhaps this unification of efforts can be seen as parallel to the co-operation and the unification of efforts of the various political groups that have been working towards the development of a strong resistance to occupation, exemplified by the National Guidance Committee.


1/ Gazi al-Khalili, Palestinian Women and the Revolution (Dar Alaswar, Akka, 1981), p. 77 (in Arabic).

2/ Ibid., pp. 77-81.

3/ Information obtained by interviewing selected leaders of the women's movement of the time.

4/ Nasri Jacir, "Communiqué of the Arab Women's Union, its two first aid stations and activities, 1947-1950" (Jerusalem, 1950) (in Arabic).

5/ This has been the consistent position of those women who played a major role in the women's movement of the time and who were interviewed by the author. Even the names of the women's organizations that were established at the time are strongly suggestive, for instance: the House of the Refugee Girl, the House of the Arab Boy.

6/ Emile Nakhleh, ed., A Palestinian Agenda for the West Bank and Gaza, (Washington, D.C., American Enterprise Institute, 1980), p. 108.

7/ General Union of Charitable Societies in Jordan, Guide to Charitable
Societies in the East and West Bank (Amman, 1980), (in Arabic), pp. 2324-346.

8/ Ibid., p. 8/B.

9/ Information was obtained from the unpublished data of Ali Jaradat, Law in the Service of Man, Ramallah, Occupied West Bank, and from interviews with selected women organizers conducted by the author.

10/ al-Khalili, op.cit., p. 80.

11/ Information obtained by interviewing key members of the Society.

12/ Idem.

13/ Eventually, the ideologically and politically non-committed women, by gradually reducing their activities or insufficient commitment to general issues, allowed the politically committed ones to control the movement.

14/ The Women's Work Committee, The Road of the Woman (Ramallah, March 1982), pp. 42-45 (in Arabic).

15/ The Law of Charitable Societies and Social Institutions, Jordanian Law No. 33, 1966.

16/ It is important to note here that the Israeli military Government utilizes Jordanian Law No. 33 to govern, control and restrict the activities of charitable societies in the occupied West Bank.

17/ al-Khalili, op.cit., p. 44.

18/ The Women's Work Committee, The Road of the Woman, p. 47.

19/ Ibid., p. 43.

20/ al-Khalili, op.cit.

21/ The Women's Work Committee, The Road of the Woman, pp. 42-47.

22/ Soraya Antonius, "Women prisoners for Palestine", Revue d'Etudes Palestiniennes, No. 1 (Autumn 1981), pp. 76-139 (in French).

23/ All the information in this section was obtained from the unpublished data of Ali Jaradat, Law in the Service of Man, Ramallah, occupied West Bank, and through interviews with selected women's movement organizers conducted by the author.


Maki N'Diaye,
(Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mali)

1. The policy of extermination and expansion in the occupied territories

I would like to begin by expressing my heartfelt thanks to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for inviting my country, Mali, to participate in the work of this Seminar. I also wish to express my appreciation to the Senegalese authorities for their hospitality and for their exemplary organization of this meeting. I can assure you that we stand fully prepared to contribute to the success of this Seminar, which we consider to be an important step in the search for just solutions to the Palestinian problem.

The aspect of Zionist policy in the occupied Arab territories which we will endeavour to discuss here is the policy of extermination and expansion conducted by Israel.

For a better grasp of the problem, we should examine the historical background.

2. Creation of the national homeland

The two factors permitting the creation of the national homeland were land and people; the land was obtained in Palestine, and the people came from abroad, under the Jewish immigration programme. Operations were in both cases marshalled by the Zionist organization through "Jewish agencies". The Arabs' existence was practically ignored, and the slogan proclaimed abroad to promote immigration was: "A land without people for a people with land".

Encouraged by the Mandatory, the Zionists openly advertised their intention to dispossess the non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine of almost all their land, through purchases of various kinds. There was a wave of mass immigration shortly after the Balfour Declaration, well before the Mandate's entry into force in late 1923. Between 1920 and 1929, the population of Palestine, officially estimated at 750,000 in 1922, was swollen by the arrival of approximately 100,000 immigrants, mainly from Europe, who raised the proportion of Jewish inhabitants from 10 to 17 per cent.

3. The Jewish immigration strategy

In 1896, in the publication Jewish State, Theodore Herzl, founder of the Zionist movement, wrote: "The idea I have expounded upon in this pamphlet is a very old one. It is that of the restoration of the Jewish State ... grant us sovereignty over a part of the globe which is sufficiently large to satisfy a Nation's legitimate needs, and we will do the rest".

This statement demonstrates that the strategy of land seizure is not a recent invention.

4. Continued Israeli exactions in the occupied Arab territories

For over 30 years, the martyred people of Palestine have daily been subjected to the worst forms of injustice, oppression and humiliation by a State whose policy has been deliberately based on the annexation of land and denial of the principles proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations.

Israel has conducted and continues to conduct depopulation campaigns designed to introduce foreigners into the region in place of the indigenous Arabs, while at the same time it pursues its policy of creating settlements within the occupied territories.

5. Gaza and the West Bank

As we all know, at the end of the 1967 war, Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Settlements were established in those territories, to the detriment of their native inhabitants, the Arabs, and in violation of the Charter of the United Nations, international law and the resolutions adopted at the time condemning that illegal occupation. Since then, Israel has carried out an intensive settlement policy in these regions and numerous Jewish settlements, mostly agriculture, have been established. Between 1967 and 1976 the Zionists set up 76 paramilitary settlements and the current total is estimated at 140. Particularly large numbers of settlements have sprung up in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), that is, in the vast agricultural region which extends from Jenin in the north to Hebron in the south. There are already 25,000 Israeli settlers in this region alone, and the total number of settlers is expected to grow to 100,000 over the next few years. Israel's policy of settlements is designed to control the natural, agricultural and water resources of the West Bank and Gaza, a deliberate violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which stipulates that a State that occupies a territory belonging to another country cannot transfer a part of its own population to that territory.

6. The Syrian Golan

In December 1981, Israel annexed the Syrian Golan. Worse still, on the Syrian Heights, Israel has since done its utmost to suppress the identity of the population which has fallen under its yoke. More than 300,000 Palestinians and thousands of Syrians have been driven from their land. In the Golan, about 13,000 Druzes have been subjected to a criminal blockade because of their refusal to be issued with an Israeli identity card.

7. Jerusalem

The overall strategy of integrating Palestinian territories into the State of Israel is designed to seize Palestinian land and property, but in addition, Israel has outraged international morality by declaring "Jerusalem", a holy city three times over, its eternal and indivisible capital. The international community's indignation over such usurpation of a city forming part of mankind's common heritage was reflected in the adoption of Security Council resolution 478 (1980) in which the Council "censures in the strongest terms the enactment by Israel of the 'basic law' on Jerusalem and the refusal to comply with relevant Security Council resolutions". In spite of the disapproval of the General Assembly, Israel, under the pretext of undertaking archaeological excavations, is continuing to dig a tunnel under Al-Haram Al Sharif, thereby threatening the very existence of holy places which are among Islam's most revered and which are considered as part of mankind's heritage. It therefore becomes quite clear that this criminal practice on the part of Israel also has an anti-Islamic character.

8. Lebanon

The Hebrew State continues to hurl defiance at mankind. The events in Lebanon show that, despite the cease-fires, Israel is sticking to its overall strategy of banishing the Palestinians from their homeland. Israel's policy is becoming more and more cruel, with the most sophisticated weapons being used against unarmed civilians and the Palestinians in refugee camps. As an illustration, it may be mentioned that, among the thousands of persons killed at Beirut, 112 people died in 12 minutes as a result of massive Israeli shelling. Beirut is now consumed in flames which are carrying off old people, women and children and causing untold material damage. This war, which continues to be a source of tragedy and destruction, is linked to the non-recognition of the most elementary rights.

9. The desecration of the holy places

The strategy of extermination adopted by zionism is not confined to towns and villages, but is pursued even in the holy places. On 11 April 1982, when Muslims and Christians were performing their religious duties, the Al Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock were the theatre for Zionist-perpetrated killings, in total disregard for universal morality. This sad and heavy toll of hate-inspired bloodshed was blithely attributed to a mentally disturbed person, as was emphasized by the delegation of Mali at the seventh emergency session of the General Assembly on Palestine.

10. The dismissal of the mayors of certain townships

The dismissal of the Arab Town Council in El Bireth and the Mayors of Nablus and Ramallah is a demonstration of Israel's determination to impose its own jurisdiction in the occupied territories.

11. Denial of the right to culture

To name but one example in the area of education and culture, the Bir Zeit University was closed down by the Israeli authorities and professors, including foreigners, were arrested. Israel's various anti-Arab practices constitute flagrant violations of human rights. At its 37th session, held from 2 February to 13 March 1981, the Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution again condemning those practices, which were aimed at:

(a) The annexation of parts of the occupied territories;

(b) The establishment of Israeli settlements in the territories and the transfer of an alien population thereto;

(c) The evacuation, deportation, expulsion, displacement and transfer of Arab inhabitants of the occupied territories;

(d) The confiscation and appropriation of Arab property, etc.

The aim which Israel pursues through its policy is to force the Palestinians to emigrate through the use of various means:

(a) Recourse to various methods of repression and violations of human rights;

(b) To liquidate the Palestinian resistance.

Through these military adventures, the Zionist State has sought to banish the Palestinians and to liquidate the Palestinian resistance, embodied in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which remains hostile to any form of autonomy in the occupied Arab territories. Israel's objective is to eliminate the PLO, thus presenting the population with a fait accompli so as to bring it to accept autonomy.

Nevertheless, the Palestinian masses in the occupied territories remain firmly determined to resist foreign domination. Nothing - whether it is bloody repression, arrests or abuses committed against the population - can sap their resolve. As Yasser Arafat, the PLO leader, has stated, there will be no peace or stability in the Middle East until the right of the Palestinians to self-determination and their right to return to their territories and to create an independent State are recognized.

12. Efforts to find solutions

There is an immediate need for urgent measures to cope with Israel's exactions. The Security Council should remove all obstacles to the search for solutions to the Palestinian problem in particular, and the Middle East problem in general. The provisions of Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations should be applied to Israel, which continues to endanger peace. To be effective, United Nations action must be supported by all States, large and small, all governmental or non-governmental organizations and all religious organizations - in short, all peace- and justice-loving forces.

Buoyed by moral and material support from its friends, Israel is determinedly practicing exactions and aggressions of various kinds. The violations of the rights of the Palestinians in the occupied Arab territories and the relations between Israel and its friends offer a perfect example of indirect responsibility under international law: a State which abets another State in its exactions is no less responsible than the State directly committing them. The Palestinian problem is at the heart of the situation in the Middle East. The Republic of Mali has repeatedly stated - and will never tire of stating - that the Palestinian problem is at the heart of the situation in the Middle East. Any solution designed to restore peace in that region will have to result from comprehensive negotiations under United Nations auspices involving all the parties to the conflict, including the PLO.

One of the abiding features of my country's international policy is its constant support for peace- and justice-loving peoples. Mali has always spoken out in favour of the exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. The right of the Palestinian people to freedom, self-determination, sovereignty, survival and to the expression and democratic exercise of its profound aspirations is in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations and international law. His Excellency General Moussa Traore, President of the Republic of Mali, addressing the General Assembly at its thirty-sixth session, stated: "The Zionist State, more than any other, should be aware that one cannot attempt with impunity to exterminate an entire people standing behind the Palestine Liberation Organization, its sole and authentic representative".

The opening at Bamako of a PLO office with the status of a diplomatic mission is a further demonstration of solidarity with the courageous Palestinian people. This solidarity was also manifested in the various messages which President Traore addressed to the brother Arab peoples, the Arab League, the Islamic Conference and the United Nations following the invasion of Lebanon.


Note: See "Question of Palestine: Legal Aspects" (Doc. 4) for continuation.

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