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        General Assembly
9 January 2007

Original: English

Sixty-first session
Official Records

Third Committee

Summary record of the 39th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Monday, 6 November 2006, at 3 p.m.

Chairman: Mr. Rachkov (Vice-Chairman) .............................................................................. (Belarus)



Agenda item 66: Right of peoples to self-determination (continued)

In the absence of the Chairman, Mr. Rachkov (Belarus), Vice-Chairman, took the Chair.

The meeting was called to order at 3.10 p.m.


Agenda item 66: Right of peoples to self-determination (continued ) (A/61/333 and A/61/341)

1. Mr. Afifi (Egypt) ...


2. It was not possible to discuss racism, racial discrimination and intolerance without mentioning what the Palestinian people were being subjected to on the basis of religion and ethnicity. The continuing construction of the separation wall was an illustration of Israeli actions that undermined the unity of the Palestinian people and their national identity.


8. Mr. Guo Jiakun (China) ...


9. Self-determination was a sacred right, and the international community must fully respect the Charter of the United Nations by protecting and promoting that right through peaceful dialogue. His delegation supported the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and hoped that a just solution could be found that would bring durable peace to the Middle East.


24. Mr. Omidzamani (Islamic Republic of Iran) drew attention to Israel’s violations of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the massive, well-documented human rights abuses that Israel was perpetrating against them. He noted that the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council had adopted resolutions expressing concerns about those human rights violations, which included collective punishment, confiscation of land, destruction of property, arbitrary arrest of Palestinian officials and other civilians and the destruction of Palestinian infrastructure.

25. In addition, the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories had reported, in his statement to the Human Rights Council in July 2006, that many people in the Gaza Strip were without water and electricity and that food and medicines were scarce. Numerous rounds of artillery had been dropped on Gaza and the people were terrorized by sonic bombs.

26. He called on the United Nations and the Human Rights Council in particular to live up to their responsibilities, take effective measures to put an end to Israeli crimes and provide the Palestinians with protection. The situation was a grave threat to peace in the region.


35. Mr. Hijazi (Observer for Palestine) said that the Palestinian people’s plight with racism had been going on for almost 100 years, and it had been 58 years since they had been forcibly expelled from their historical homeland. Israel, the occupying Power, had adopted racial discrimination as a doctrine when dealing with the Palestinian people, as evidenced in the way in which it dealt with the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland. That discrimination was all the more evident when Israel’s policies towards non-Palestinians were taken into account. Israel continued to deny those refugees their rights, including the right to return to the homes from which they had been forcibly expelled. In the meantime, it enacted laws granting others the right to a so-called return based on religion and race, granting the right of immigration and citizenship to any person of the Jewish faith born anywhere in the world. Another stark example of the institutional discrimination in Israeli law was the law forbidding Israeli citizens from residing in Israel if their spouses carried a Palestinian identification card.

36. More recently, the Israeli Prime Minister had invited Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s most racist politician, to join the Government as his deputy and Minister of Strategic Affairs. The silence of the international community in that regard was regrettable.

37. The Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, had been shackled by the Israeli military occupation for the past 39 years. Israel adamantly refused to recognize the applicability of international humanitarian law and human rights law to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in open defiance of the will of the international community. The notorious Israeli-only road system was part of the institutional discrimination that the occupied Palestinian nation suffered. On illegally expropriated Palestinian land, the Israeli occupation regime had funded and defended the creation of exclusively Jewish settlements, in grave violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination of 1966, to which Israel was a Party.

38. The colonial wall which Israel, the occupying Power, had erected in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, was a key example of the Israeli Government’s racist ideology of separation and exclusivity and its rejection of the establishment of an independent Palestinian State. The Wall also stood as disgraceful evidence of the inability of the international community to apply and ensure respect for international law.

39. There was no worse manifestation of racism than denying a people their inalienable right to self-determination. Israel, the occupying Power, continued to practise its racist policies towards the Palestinian people by denying them their inalienable right to self-determination, return and a dignified life in their homeland. It was incumbent on the international community to work diligently to ensure that the Palestinian people were able to exercise their right to live in peace like other nations. In order to cleanse itself of racism, Israel must begin by recognizing its historical responsibility for the pain and suffering that it had caused the Palestinian people.

40. Mr. Maqungo (South Africa) said that South Africa viewed with deep concern the continued occupation of Palestinian territory by Israel in contravention of international law. Its violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including the continued construction of the Wall in contravention of the ruling of the International Court of Justice, did not bode well for a comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israeli military actions in Gaza during the past summer following the capture of an Israeli soldier by Palestinian militants were disproportionate and excessive. South Africa called on the kidnappers of Corporal Gilad Shalit to release him. Similarly, it called on Israel to release the Hamas Cabinet ministers and the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council who had been arbitrarily detained.

41. South Africa condemned the Israeli Government’s bombardment of Gaza and called on Israel to cease forthwith such acts and to uphold international law. The Government of Israel must dismantle settlements and desist from further expansion in the occupied Territory and should do so through direct negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Israel’s continued policy of de-Palestinization of Jerusalem should also cease. South Africa reiterated its call to both the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to seek a peaceful solution to the conflict in the Middle East, since only a political solution through a negotiated settlement, based on a two-State policy, could guarantee a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. South Africa supported the internationally agreed consensus on United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). It also reaffirmed its support for the call of the African Union to the international community and, in particular, the members of the Quartet, to reactivate their plan so as to pave the way for a return to the negotiating table in accor dance with the principles of international law and the resolutions of the Security Council, in order to achieve a lasting and comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of two States living side by side in peace and security.


47. Mr. Afifi (Egypt) said that failure to uphold the right to self-determination was in flagrant contradiction to the principles of democracy and respect for human rights. Rather than an act of charity granted by the international community to peoples living under the yoke of colonialism or foreign occupation, the right to self-determination recognized the right of those peoples to fight against colonialism by all means available, including armed attack, a right just as sacred as the right to self-defence, as guaranteed by the United Nations Charter. It was therefore necessary to join efforts in supporting peoples struggling against colonialism and to ensure that countries complied with their commitments in matters of international humanitarian law, particularly those pursuant to the Fourth Geneva Convention. In that context, it was necessary to relaunch the peace process in the Middle East on the basis of the creation of an independent Palestinian State, thus enabling the Palestinian people to exercise all their legitimate rights and, above all, their right to self-determination.

48. It was also imperative to put an end to any form of embargo. The embargo that Israel was trying to impose in order to sow discord undermined the unity of the Palestinian people and sought to limit the Palestinian people’s chances of achieving independence and development. It was incumbent on the international community to ensure Israel’s withdrawal from all Arab territories occupied since 1967, both in the Syrian Arab Republic and Lebanon, and to request Israel to discontinue its daily aggression against the Arab peoples in Palestine and Lebanon. In particular, it was crucial that the Security Council should adopt all measures necessary to ensure respect of international humanitarian law in all countries, without exception.

49. While the international community had made progress in protecting and promoting human rights, its work could not be complete as long as double standards, politicization and selectivity continued to be applied in human rights issues, particularly self-determination. Despite the optimism exhibited when the Human Rights Council had been established, no success would be achievable unless the Council eliminated racial discrimination. Furthermore, the failure of the Security Council to maintain peace and security in Palestine and Lebanon had given rise to an upsurge of violence in the region and, as a result, the Council had not been able to react in due time. Neither had it been able to adopt a resolution protecting the Arab population in Palestine and Lebanon from aggression from the occupying forces and upholding their right to self-determination. On 27 September 2006, the Arab States had called on the Security Council, requesting it to fulfil its responsibilities in the Middle East and to guarantee the peoples of the region their natural right to self-determination and the right to coexist with neighbouring countries according to the pre-1967 borders in a climate of peace and security.


The meeting rose at 5.30 p.m.

This record is subject to correction. Corrections should be sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned within one week of the date of publication to the Chief of the Official Records Editing Section, room DC2-750, 2 United Nations Plaza, and incorporated in a copy of the record.

Corrections will be issued after the end of the session, in a separate corrigendum for each Committee.

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