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

12 March 1980

Committee on Rights of
Palestinian People
49th Meeting (AM)


Also Elects Officers for 1980 and Sets up Three-Member Task Force To Keep
Committee Informed of Council Consultations on Palestinian Rights

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People today elected its officers for 1980 and decided to send a letter to the President of the Security Council expressing the Committee's views on resolution 465 (1980), adopted on 1 March, in which the Council called on Israel to dismantle its settlements in the occupied Arab territories and to cease the establishment, construction and planning of new ones.

The Committee elected Falilou Kane (Senegal) as Chairman, Raul Roa-Kouri (Cuba) and Farid Zarif (Afghanistan) as Vice-Chairmen and Victor J. Gauci (Malta) as Rapporteur. All officers were elected unanimously.

The Committee also decided to admit the Islamic Conference as an observer to the Committee. During the meeting, the Committee agreed to send to the Conference a copy of the letter it was sending to the President of the Security Council containing the Committee's views on resolution 465. In that connexion, the Chairman noted that the Islamic Conference had a standing committee on the question of Jerusalem. (A summary of resolution 465 appears on page 2 of this press release.)

Earlier in the meeting, the Committee discussed a letter sent by the Acting Chairman of the Committee to the President of the Security Council concerning action to be taken on attaining the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. (A summary of that letter, document S/13832, is given in pages 2-4 of this release.)

The Committee decided, further, to set up a three-member task force, composed of the Committee Chairman and the representatives of Tunisia and the German Democratic Republic -- the latter two are also members of the Security Council -- to maintain contact with the President of the Security Council. The task force would keep the Committee informed about Council consultations on matters affecting Palestinian rights.

At the suggestion of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the Committee decided to ask the Secretariat's Special Unit on Palestinian Rights to undertake a study on the question of natural resources in the Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967.

In another action, at the suggestion of the Chairman, the Committee agreed to invite a representative of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to address the Committee concerning the rights of Palestinians in the occupied territories to education and culture. The Chairman noted that UNESCO had set up a committee for studying these rights.

On still another matter, the Chairman was asked what action had been taken concerning a photographic display and commemorative stamps on the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

(In resolution 34/65 D of 12 December 1979, the General Assembly:

In answer to the question, Yogaraj Yogasundram, Chief of the Special Unit on Palestinian Rights, said that normal procedure was being followed on issuance of the commemorative stamps and that he expected issuance around January 1981. As for the photographic exhibit, it was still in the planning stages.

Matters Relating to the Security Council

As the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People met this morning to elect officers and to consider matters relating to the Security Council, it had before it a copy of the Security Council resolution 465 (1980), adopted by the Council on 1 March 1980. The resolution dealt with Israeli settlements in the Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967.

Under that resolution, the Council determined that "all measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal validity and that Israel's policy and practices of settling
parts of its population and new immigrants in those territories constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East".

The Council also strongly deplored "the continuation and persistence of Israel in pursuing those policies and practices and calls upon the Government and people of Israel to rescind those measures, to dismantle the existing settlements and in particular to cease, on an urgent basis, the establishment, construction and planning of settlements in the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem".

Under another operative paragraph, the Council called on all States not to provide Israel with any assistance to be used specifically in connexion with settlements in the occupied territories. (For more details of the resolution, see Press Release SC/4174 of 1 March 1980.)

The Committee also had before it a letter of 6 March (document S/13832), from Falilou Kane (Senegal), Acting Chairman of the Committee, addressed to the President of the Council.

In his letter, Mr. Kane said that the members of the Committee had authorized him to call the attention of the Security Council "to the spirit and the letter of General Assembly resolution 34/65".

In paragraph 7 of its resolution 34/65 A, Mr. Kane continued, the Assembly once again urged the Security Council to consider and take as soon as possible a decision on the recommendations endorsed by the Assembly in previous resolutions on the topic. Those recommendations were motivated by the following basic principles:

"(a) The question of Palestine is at the heart of the Middle East problem, and, consequently, the Committee stresses its belief that no solution in the Middle East can be envisaged which does not fully take into account the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people;

"(b) The legitimate and inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to return to their homes and property and to achieve self-determination, national independence and sovereignty are endorsed by the Committee in the conviction that the full implementation of these rights will contribute decisively to a comprehensive and final settlement of the Middle East crisis;

"(c) The participation of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people, on an equal footing with other parties, on the basis of General Assembly resolutions 3236 (XXIX) and 3375 (XXX), is indispensable in all efforts, deliberations and conferences on the Middle East which are held under the auspices of the United Nations; and

"(d) The Committee recalls the fundamental principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and stresses the consequent obligation for complete and speedy evacuation of any territory so occupied."

In paragraph 8 of resolution 34/65 A, Mr. Kane goes on to say, the Assembly authorized and requested the Palestinian Rights Committee, in the event that the Security Council failed to consider or to take a decision on those recommendations by 31 March 1980, to consider that situation and to make the suggestions it deemed appropriate.

Furthermore, in paragraph 2 of its resolution 34/65 C, the Assembly requested the Committee to keep the situation relating to the question of Palestine under review and to report and make suggestions to the Assembly or to the Security Council, as might be appropriate.

Mr. Kane continues in his letter: "The Committee is profoundly convinced that appropriate and concrete action by the Security Council on the basis of the implementation of the Committee's recommendations would without any doubt lead to the achievement of tangible progress towards a solution to the question of Palestine. The members of the Committee accordingly believe that the impasse currently prevailing in the region, characterized by the absence of any initiative that might lead to peace, and the prolongation of the illegal occupation of Arab territories are in no way conducive to the avoidance of new confrontations. Moreover, in the Committee's view, that impasse could lead only to an aggravation of the threat to international peace and security."

He adds further: "The Committee is of the strong opinion that specific and concrete action by the Security Council should not be delayed further in the face of the increased intransigence by Israel in establishing and strengthening its settlements in illegally occupied Arab territories. During the last year, Israel openly has defied the Security Council's resolutions 446 (1979) and 452 (1979), and only a few days ago openly has made evident that it has no intention of paying any heed to resolution 465 (1980) just passed unanimously by the Security Council."

Mr. Kane says that the Security Council should take practical measures with a view to implementing the Committee's recommendations, which were intended to restore to the Palestinian people their inalienable rights, the denial of which was the root of the Middle East problem.

Statement by Chairman

The Chairman, Mr. KANE (Senegal) said that the people of Zimbabwe had recently won a just and legitimate victory after a long and difficult struggle. That victory was an encouragement for the Committee to persist in its efforts to realize the mission entrusted to it by the Assembly.

He recalled the recent initiative by French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, in which he had recognized the right of the Palestinians to self-determination, to have their own country, and to participate in any search for a global solution to the conflict in the Middle East. Those views were consistent with the principles that guided the Committee.

He said that Senegal had always opposed injustice to the Palestinian people with actions as well as words.

He then paid tribute to the Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), Yassir Arafat, and to the memory of those martyrs which had made the supreme sacrifice in the struggle to attain their rights.

He said that just causes inevitably triumphed. Many colonial empires -- including those of Spain, Portugal, France, England and Belgium -- had fallen, and out of their ashes had emerged more that three quarters of the membership of the United Nations.

He said that Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin had said he would never speak to the PLO. But Ian Smith had once said he would never allow black rule, and would never speak with representatives of the guerrilla movements.

He said that the PLO had been recognized by more countries than recognized Israel.

Views Expressed

ZEHDI LABIB TERZI, PLO, said that armed struggle had been a course the PLO had pursued in order to attain its legitimate rights. That course of action had proven successful many times as could be seen most recently in the triumph of the people of Zimbabwe.

He said that both Moslem and Christian scripture said people should arm to attain their rights. Saint Paul had counselled Christians to arm against the forces of darkness. The PLO had thus armed themselves against the forces of racialism and imperialism, which were forces of darkness.

He paid tribute to the members of the Committee, which supported the Palestinian people in actions as well as in words. He said they did not engage in "double talk" or "stab us in the back by agreeing with our enemies".

HORST JOACHIMI (German Democratic Republic) said that until the Palestinian people had attained their inalienable rights, including a state of their own, there would never be peace in the middle East. He said the rights of the Palestinians should be discussed by the Security Council.

With regard to the recent vote in the Security Council on the question of Israeli settlements in the occupied Arab territories, including Jerusalem, he said the reaction in the United States following the affirmative vote cast by the United States, showed there was "no basic change in the United States position on the Middle East".

The vote by the United States, he continued, was merely a manoeuvre. At present, ruling circles in the United States did not want a solution to the problems of the Middle East. They continued to support Israeli aggression.

The latest Israeli action on expropriation, which was discussed in the New York Times this morning, showed there had been no change in Israeli policy regarding settlements in the occupied Arab territories, he said.

The Chairman, Mr. Kane (Senegal), referred to a letter he had sent to the President of the Security Council (document S/13832, summarized on pages 2-4 of this release). He said he had been in personal touch with the President of the Security Council, who had said he would consult with Council members to see what would be done about the letter. He recalled that paragraph 8 of Assembly resolution 34/65 A had mentioned 31 March 1980 as a time when the Security Council should act on certain Assembly recommendations.

Mr. TERZI, PLO, said that the Chairman of the Committee, and the representatives of the German Democratic Republic and Tunisia -- which were also members of the Security Council -- should form a "task force" to keep the Committee informed about the feelings of the Security Council on this issue.

AHMED ESMAT ABDEL MEGUID (Egypt) recalled that the Security Council was still seized of this issue of Israeli settlements. It still had before it a draft resolution on the issue introduced by Senegal (document S/13514 of 23 August 1979).

The CHAIRMAN, Mr. KANE (Senegal), then referred to a statement by United States President Jimmy Carter on 3 March, in which President Carter had commented on the United States vote on Security Council resolution 465 (1980).

He said that President Carter's statement regarding Jerusalem could be interpreted to mean he believed in the indivisibility of Jerusalem, which was the position of Israel. That would be contrary to Security Council resolution 242 (1967). The status of Jerusalem had already been determined, and was not the subject of negotiation as Mr. Carter had said.

If the United States was taking the position that the status of Jerusalem still had to be determined, then that was a very delicate point, particularly in the light of previous resolutions of the General Assembly, he said.

Mr. TERZI, PLO, said that the latest American position on Jerusalem was "the Begin position" and was contrary to all United Nations resolutions on Jerusalem. He believed President Carter's own position was not that of the United States Government.

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