Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service ·
18 July 2001
UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL MEETING
ON THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE
Theme: “The Road to Israeli-Palestinian Peace”
Madrid, 17 and 18 July 2001
1. The United Nations International Meeting on the Question of Palestine, under the theme “The road to Israeli-Palestinian peace”, was organized by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People on 17 and 18 July 2001 in Madrid. Participants in the meeting included international experts, eminent political personalities, representatives of Governments, intergovernmental organizations, United Nations system entities, Palestine, parliamentarians, civil society organizations, representatives of academia and the media.
2. The Meeting was convened by the Committee with the aim of generating a broad debate over the past, present and future of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, since the Madrid Middle East Peace Conference of 1991. Ultimately, the aim of the Committee was to encourage a reevaluation of the achievements, shortcomings and prospects of the peace process. It also sought to mobilize support by Governments, intergovernmental and civil society organizations, for the success of the ongoing efforts to ensure a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine and the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.
3. The Meeting was held at a time of continuing crisis in the peace process. The situation on the ground remained until very recently one of dangerous and escalating violence. It is still characterized by excessive use of force by the occupying Power, “targeted assassinations”, settlement expansion, repeated closures of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and other illegal Israeli practices.
4. The participants expressed their strong conviction that:
a. The recommendations contained in the
report of the Fact-Finding Committee
chaired by former US Senator George Mitchell and the cease-fire agreement subsequently brokered by the United States should be swiftly implemented, as a whole;
b. The excessive use of force by Israel, the occupying Power, the closures and the economic blockade of Palestinian population centres, the incursions into Palestinian-controlled areas, and all other illegal measures of collective punishment against the Palestinian people must be brought to an end immediately;
c. In view of the excessive use of force against Palestinian civilians and continued Israeli illegal settlement activity, the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention should expedite the reconvening of the Conference of the High Contracting Parties, in accordance with the statement adopted by the Conference on 15 July 1999 in Geneva;
d. Special significance must be attached to the need for swift implementation of the Fact-Finding Committee’s call for a complete freeze in settlement expansion and its suggestion that Israel consider the evacuation now of some settlements for security reasons;
e. An international presence must be established, to protect innocent civilians and to monitor the implementation of agreements and understandings reached. In this respect, the United Nations Security Council should fully discharge its responsibilities under the Charter;
f. Israel should transfer without delay the revenue it is withholding from the Palestinian Authority in contravention of signed agreements.
5. The participants were of the view that, for peace to be attained, the parties should resume negotiations in an atmosphere of genuine commitment to the agreed basis of the peace process, namely Security Council resolutions
and the principle of land for peace. It was noted with concern that, in recent months, actions taken by the Government of Israel threatened to offset progress achieved in the past and narrow the framework and scope of the negotiations, in a way incompatible with the spirit and the letter of the agreements and understandings reached by the parties.
6. The participants reviewed the various permanent status issues, including the question of Palestinian statehood. They stated that Palestinian statehood was a natural and inalienable right flowing from the rights to self-determination, independence and sovereignty of the Palestinian people. The international community was again called upon to support these rights of the Palestinian people and spare no effort for making them a reality.
7. The participants discussed the role played in the peace process by the Co-sponsors, the European Union, the United Nations, regional organizations and other interested international actors. They stressed that the role of all those States and multilateral institutions in support of the Middle East peace process remained crucial and had to be closely coordinated for better results, particularly in the current critical period.
8. The participants reaffirmed the permanent responsibility of the United Nations with respect to all the aspects of the question of Palestine, until it is resolved in a satisfactory manner, in conformity with relevant United Nations resolutions and norms of international law, and until the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people are fully realized.
9. The participants appreciated the contribution to the peace process by the States members of the European Union and by the institutions of the Union itself, and in particular by the Special Envoy of the European Union to the Middle East Peace Process. The EU’s political support and generous economic assistance were viewed as vital to the efforts at putting the peace process back on track and at preserving the fiscal viability of the Palestinian Authority, as well as at rehabilitating and developing the Palestinian economy.
10. It was reaffirmed that the donor community’s assistance was of great importance to the Palestinian people, particularly during the ongoing period of extreme hardship caused by prolonged violence and economic blockade, as well as the refusal by Israel to transfer tax and customs revenues collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority and withheld in contravention of signed agreements. Despite the current adverse circumstances, international assistance continued to lay the foundations for the viability and sustainability of the Palestinian economy and society. The role played by international donors would remain equally critical in the period following the establishment of a Palestinian State.
11. The participants acknowledged the important role played by international civil society, both in providing emergency relief to the suffering population of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and in mobilizing support for the attainment of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and the establishment of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.
12. The participants commended Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, for his consistent support for the rights of the Palestinian people and his unrelenting personal efforts in the search for peace and stability in the Middle East. They also expressed appreciation for the work performed on a daily basis on the ground by the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and his Office.
13. The Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, H.E. Mr. Ibra Deguène Ka, and the delegation of the Committee were received by H.E. Mr. Josep Piqué, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Spain, who stressed the importance of supporting the Middle East peace process and the rights of the Palestinian people. The Committee delegation expressed its deep appreciation of the active and constructive role played by Spain in the search for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the region.
14. The participants expressed gratitude to H.E. Mr. Josep Piqué, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Spain, and to the Government of Spain for hosting the Meeting and for the assistance and support extended to the Committee and the United Nations Secretariat in its preparation.
Madrid, 18 July 2001
For information media - not an official record