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

27 October 1998



Right of Self-Determination Also Major Concern of Speakers


Committee Work Programme

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this afternoon to continue its consideration of issues related to the elimination of racism and racial discrimination, and the right of peoples to self-determination. (For background information on the documents before the Committee, see press release GA/SHC/3484 of 23 October.)


DORE GOLD (Israel) said Israel would be the last country to object to the right of self-determination. Zionism itself was a movement to restore the self-determination of the Jewish people. The issue before the Committee was a matter of context. Israel and the Palestinians needed a political contest of cooperative peacemaking based on direct negotiations. It was only through bilateral negotiations that 98 per cent of the Palestinians in the territories came to be under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, where today they could run their own lives. It was only through hours of tireless, face-to-face negotiations that this week's historic Wye River Memorandum had been hammered out.

The Memorandum was built on principles of reciprocity and linkage, he said. It was based on strong security provisions, because peace without security could not endure. The struggle against terrorism must be comprehensive, dealing with the terror support structure, the apprehension of terrorist suspects, their prosecution and punishment. The Memorandum also established that the Palestinian National Council would nullify the clauses of the Charter of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) that called for Israel's destruction. No other action could more concretely confirm before the Palestinians that the time for armed struggle had passed and the era of coexistence and cooperation had begun.

No stable permanent status agreement would be possible between Israel and the Palestinians unless it took into account Israel's legitimate need for defense against the capabilities that could be mobilized along its eastern front, he said. Israel and the Palestinians had committed themselves to keeping the peace process strictly in the context of direct talks, but that commitment was dangerously compromised when draft resolutions were offered that sought to predetermine the outcome of permanent status negotiations through decisions taken in the Third Committee. The PLO should not seek to advance resolutions in the United Nations bodies on issues that were intended for the negotiating table between Israel and the Palestinians.




The United Nations had made many great achievements and had passed volumes of resolutions, but it had failed to enable the people of Palestine to exercise their right of self-determination. The Palestinian refugees had been aspiring for half a century to return to their homeland, but they were unable to do so, because of the colonial settlement practices of Israel, which brought Jewish settlers from all over the world to displace the Palestinian people. Israel contravened all the norms of international law. Its continued distortion of history would not bring stability and security to a region which was considered a yardstick of international peace and security. Israel must immediately recognize the rights of the Palestinian people without using pretexts and flimsy excuses that were designed to extend their rule over the Palestinian people.


SALEH AL-RAJIHI (Saudi Arabia) said his country supported the struggle of the Palestinian people to achieve self-determination on their own land and establish their own State. It firmly rejected the subjection, enslavement and control of that people, as well as the refusal by the Israeli occupier to give them their legitimate rights. Saudi Arabia had supported the peace process from the beginning, but had seen setbacks caused by the Israeli policies of evasion and avoidance of the principles of the peace process. It continued to negate the rights of the Palestinian people and to deprive them of their rights. He urged the international community, especially the United States, to do everything possible to grant the Palestinian people their right of self-determination so that peace and security could prevail.


Right of Reply

The representative of Syria, in exercising the right of reply, said that, in fact, it was his country which had been subjected to aggression by Israel, including the occupation of the Syrian Golan. Israel had done so using modern arms and enjoying the support of certain countries. The representative of Israel had made the same statements a year ago. The same lies had been repeated to justify Israeli aggression against Syria and the Arab States and in justification of the occupation of Arab territories.

Speaking in right of reply, the representative of Palestine said there were five issues: further redeployment, security, the interim economic agreement, permanent status, and unilateral action. She said the right of Palestinians did not emanate from previous agreements, but was a national and inherent right, which must be upheld by the international community. Further, the bilateral agreement between Palestinians and Israel should not negate international law. Negotiations without preconditions did not mean giving up rights in advance. It was regrettable that the Israeli delegate, in spite of some progress achieved, had returned to old arguments that undermined the legitimacy of the Palestinian right. However, it had not succeeded in the past and would not succeed now.


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For information media - not an official record