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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
29 November 2006


General Assembly
GA/PAL/1022

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Committee on the Inalienable Rights
of the Palestinian People
298th Meeting (AM)


CHAIRMAN OF PALESTINIAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE POINTS TO 'REASON FOR HOPE'

AT OBSERVANCE MAKING INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY

He Cites Near-Universal Agreement on Two-State Solution;
Underscores Need for Determined, Robust Action to Support Road Map


In spite of their frustration, the Palestinian people had reasons for hope, especially because the need to establish a sovereign, democratic, viable and contiguous State of Palestine, living side by side and in peace with a secure Israel, had now become almost universally acknowledged and accepted, the Chairman of the Palestinian Rights Committee said at an observance event held at Headquarters today.

As representatives of Governments, civil society and other members of the international community expressed the hope that the Palestinians would be able to exercise their inalienable rights, Committee Chairman Paul Badji of Senegal said the Road Map set out by the Middle East Quartet charted the way towards a final peaceful settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.  However, determined and robust political action to see the process through was sorely missing.

He said today’s observance – held under the auspices of the body formally known as the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People -- provided an opportunity to reiterate the common resolve to advance the cause of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.  The Palestinian parliamentary elections had been a major success, laying the groundwork for a future democratic State, in spite of some visible political rivalries.  There had also been international efforts to encourage dialogue and negotiations, particularly the recent peace initiative of France, Spain, and Italy, as well as a growing consensus on the need to convene an international conference on the Middle East inspired by the 1991 Madrid Middle East Peace Conference.

The Permanent Observer for Palestine read a statement in which Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, noted that this year’s observance had greater significance than ever before, due to the progressive steps taken towards the strengthening of the Palestinian political regime through the democratic system.  The international community had verified the transparency and honesty of the presidential, legislative and municipal elections, despite their having been held under the most difficult circumstances.  For the first time in history, a people under occupation and deprived of their freedom had exercised their democratic rights.  In light of the results, the new Government must adhere to legitimacy and to the resolutions to which the Palestine Liberation Organization, the legitimate and sole representative of the Palestinian people, was committed.

Justice and logic necessitated that each party must exert all possible efforts to fulfil its obligations and commitments, he said.  The Palestinian Authority had exerted its utmost efforts to end all forms of violence against Israel, and had reached a unilateral ceasefire.  It called upon Israel to end all its aggressive military actions in order to reach a comprehensive and mutual ceasefire.  That would create the right atmosphere and provide the necessary groundwork for the resumption of negotiations and the attainment of a just solution based on signed agreements, the two-State solution and the Road Map adopted under Security Council resolution 1515.  The time had come for the convening of an international conference to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict on all tracks, and for the Quartet to play the role of an honest intermediary.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan emphasized that clear majorities of both Palestinians and Israelis wanted a negotiated, two-State solution that would end the occupation, establish an independent State of Palestine, and ensure Israel’s security.  The leaders of both sides were genuinely committed to lifting their peoples out of decades of pain and uncertainty, and while the parties themselves bore the primary responsibility for finding their way towards peace, the international community could not escape its own responsibility to contribute to such a solution.

However, he expressed his profound dismay at the continued elusiveness of a peaceful settlement.  While there had been a glimmer of hope that the announced ceasefire in Gaza could give way to a period of calm, both sides must avoid any action that could jeopardize further progress, and the ceasefire should be extended to the West Bank.  Israel must exercise maximum restraint and uphold its responsibility to protect Palestinian civilians under international law, and the Palestinian Authority must take credible action to prevent attacks against Israeli civilians and territory.

Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa ( Bahrain), President of the General Assembly, said this year’s commemoration was taking place against a background of tragic developments on the ground, marked by huge casualties and the deteriorating situation of the Palestinian people inside the Occupied Territory.  Both parties to the conflict were invited to redouble their efforts to establish conditions that would lead to dialogue in order to reach a just and permanent solution, in the interests of both peoples.  The situation in the Occupied Territory required immediate attention.

A recent report pointed to the great difficulties suffered by the Palestinian people, who were far from fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals, she said.  Among those difficulties was an unemployment rate of 34 per cent in the Occupied Territory in general and 44 per cent in the Gaza Strip.  Poverty had reached almost 50 per cent in general and 70 per cent in the Gaza Strip.  The World Health Organization had pointed out an acute scarcity of safe drinking water, which reflected negatively on the health of the population, she said.  There were also electric power shortages.  The highest purpose of the United Nations was to stand in solidarity with the peoples of the world and to make their lives more peaceful and prosperous.

Other speakers today included the President of the Security Council and the Chairman of the General Assembly’s Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories.

Participants in the observance also heard statements by the representatives of Cuba (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Azerbaijan (on behalf of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers) and Congo (on behalf of the African Union).

The representative of the League of Arab States and the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Political Department also made statements.

Speaking for civil society was the Grassroots Advocacy Coordinator of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, who made a statement on behalf of the International Coordinating Network on Palestine.

Statements

PAUL BADJI ( Senegal), Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, recalled that the General Assembly had first observed the International Day in 1977, mindful of its responsibility toward the Palestinian people and the need to promote a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine.  Today’s observance was a reaffirmation of that commitment.

Noting that the Palestinian people were denied the right to live a normal life in peaceful coexistence with their Israeli neighbours, he said the occupation had been accompanied, over the years, by the intensified and disproportionate use of military force against largely defenceless residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and by a relentless drive to create new settlements, acts of collective punishment and grave violations of international law.  But in spite of frustration, there were reasons for hope, especially because the need to establish a sovereign, democratic, viable and contiguous State of Palestine, living side by side in peace with a secure Israel, had by now become almost universally acknowledged and accepted.  The Road Map charted the way to a final peaceful settlement, but determined and robust political action to see the process through was sorely missing.

He said the past year had seen many significant events.  The hope created by Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip had been destroyed by that country’s subsequent military operations.  It had also intensified its settlement activities and construction of the separation wall, particularly in and around East Jerusalem.  More positively, the Palestinian parliamentary elections had been a major success, laying the groundwork for a future democratic State, in spite of some visible political rivalries.  In addition, there had been international efforts to encourage dialogue and negotiations, particularly the recent peace initiative of France, Spain, and Italy, as well as a growing consensus on the need to convene an international conference on the Middle East inspired by the 1991 Madrid Middle East Peace Conference.

In conclusion, he said today’s observance provided an opportunity to reiterate the common resolve to advance the cause of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.  That resolve was manifested in the work of the Quartet and the international community as a whole, including Governments, the United Nations family and intergovernmental, as well as civil society, organizations.  The Committee was grateful to the Secretary-General, and paid tribute to his tenure as a voice of reason and balance that urged both parties to renounce violence and embark on the road of dialogue and peace.

Sheikha HAYA RASHED AL KHALIFA ( Bahrain), President of the General Assembly, said this year’s commemoration was taking place against a background of tragic developments on the ground, marked by huge casualties and the deteriorating situation of the Palestinian people inside the Occupied Territory.  Both parties to the conflict were invited to redouble their efforts to establish conditions that would lead to dialogue in order to reach a just and permanent solution, in the interests of both peoples.  That required the support of the international community, following up on the intensive efforts of the Quartet, which had established the Road Map, and calling for the establishment of two States living side by side in peace and security.  That was still the best and most valid solution.

Regarding the separation wall, she said the General Assembly objected to its construction, noting that it increased the gap between the Palestinian and Israeli communities, established psychological impediments to dialogue and made peace endeavours more difficult.  The situation in the Occupied Territory required immediate attention.  A recent report of the Palestinian Rights Committee pointed to the great difficulties suffered by the Palestinian people, who were far from fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals.  Among those difficulties was an unemployment rate of 34 per cent in the Occupied Territory in general and 44 per cent in the Gaza Strip.  Poverty had reached almost 50 per cent in general and 70 per cent in the Gaza Strip.

The World Health Organization (WHO) had pointed out an acute scarcity of safe drinking water, which reflected negatively on the health of the population, she said.  There were also electric power shortages.  The international community must seek practical and serious solutions to those problems.  It was imperative to find a comprehensive, just and permanent solution to the long-running conflict.  The implementation of the relevant United Nations resolutions was a matter of survival.  The Organization’s highest purpose was to stand in solidarity with the peoples of the world and to make their lives more peaceful and prosperous.

KOFI ANNAN, Secretary-General of the United Nations, while expressing his profound dismay that a peaceful settlement of the conflict remained elusive, said there was a glimmer of hope that the announced ceasefire in Gaza could give way to a period of calm.  Both sides must adhere to that commitment and avoid any action that jeopardized further progress, and the ceasefire should be extended to the West Bank.  The most recent military operations in the Gaza Strip had resulted in a dramatic rise in civilian casualties, as well as destruction of property and infrastructure.  Israel must exercise maximum restraint and uphold its responsibility to protect Palestinian civilians under international law.

Acknowledging the insecurity in which Israelis lived, and their rightful demand that the Palestinian Authority take credible action to prevent attacks against them and their territory, he said the rocket attacks by Palestinian militants were unacceptable and must stop at once.  On the other hand, the Palestinian Authority faced a debilitating political and financial crisis, and the precarious state of its institutions exacerbated the suffering already endured by the Palestinian people.  It was to be hoped that the donor community would continue to be generous with regard to the deteriorating humanitarian situation.

Clear majorities of both Palestinians and Israelis wanted a negotiated, two-State solution that would end the occupation, establish an independent State of Palestine, and ensure security for Israel, he said.  The leaders of both sides were genuinely committed to lifting their peoples out of decades of pain and uncertainty, and the parties themselves bore the primary responsibility for finding a way to the peace for which both their peoples yearned.  However, the international community could not escape its own responsibility to contribute to a solution.  Security Council resolutions 242, 338, 1397, and 1515 remained the accepted guideposts for a just and lasting solution.  With various United Nations entities carrying out their mandates under increasingly dangerous conditions, there must be a commitment to breathe new life into the peace process so that the goals of statehood for Palestinians and security for Israel could be realized before tragedy took too many lives.

JORGE VOTO-BERNALES ( Peru), President of the Security Council, said the International Day was an important occasion to renew the international community’s commitment to facilitate a lasting and sustainable peace settlement in Palestine, and the Middle East as a whole.  The Security Council, continuing its close monitoring of events in the region, held a monthly briefing by the Secretary-General, or his Special Representative and the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.  When required by the circumstances, as had happened this year, the Council held additional meetings dedicated to the issue.

Expressing concern at the deterioration on the ground as a result of violence that adversely affected the civilian population and damaged infrastructure, he said that environment posed serious obstacles to progress and undermined efforts to achieve peace and stability in the region.  The Security Council urged Israel to act with restraint when confronting individual acts of violence that hit its territory.  While it was undeniable that any State had the right of self-defence, it was important to exercise that right with restraint and to be mindful of the consequences.  By the same token, the Palestinian Authority must take steps to ensure the rule of law and to halt acts of violence and terror against civilians.

He said that over the last year, the Security Council had continued to deal with the Middle East process on the basis of the relevant resolutions, the Madrid Conference, the principles of land for peace and the agreements of all parties involved.  It had also continued to support the work of the Quartet and the implementation of the Road Map as the cornerstone for a permanent two-State solution to the conflict.  The Council called on the parties to comply with their obligations under the Road Map and with the requirements laid out by the Quartet.  The Council also appreciated regional efforts by Arab States in the quest for peace and stability in the Middle East.  The current situation underscored the need for immediate implementation of the Road Map so as to fulfil the legitimate aspiration of the Palestinian people for a sovereign, stable, democratic and viable State.

RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, reading out a message from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, noted that, since the Territory’s partition, the majority of Palestinians had been living as refugees in their own homeland, in neighbouring countries or in the Diaspora.  The rest of the Palestinian people were still living under a colonial occupation that continued to devour their land through the construction of the apartheid wall, the erection of colonial settlements and the isolation of East Jerusalem by surrounding walls.  The General Assembly resolution designating each 29 November as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was a forthright call to enable them to attain their national right to self-determination and to establish their own independent State.

He said the noble and humanitarian principles of the United Nations were the “shores of safety”, where every weak nation or State hoped to find sanctuary from the powerful who sought domination.  Accordingly, it was natural for a people like the Palestinians to continue to look up to the Organization to attain their national rights.  Regrettably, the innumerable United Nations recommendations were not implemented, the obstacle having always been Israel’s refusal to comply, encouraged by the veto power that prevented the Security Council from adopting resolutions.  Thus, a message of double standards was sent out.

This year, the commemoration had more significance than ever before, due to the progressive steps taken towards the strengthening of the Palestinian political regime through the democratic system, he said.  The international community had verified the transparency and honesty of the presidential, legislative and municipal elections, despite their having been held under the most difficult circumstances.  For the first time in history, a people under occupation and deprived of their freedom had exercised their democratic rights.  In light of the results, the new Government must adhere to legitimacy and to the resolutions to which the Palestine Liberation Organization, the legitimate and sole representative of the Palestinian people, was committed.

He said those were Palestinian and international commitments and resolutions, which constituted the basis for a just peace, despite the fact that, prior to the elections, the Israeli Government had declared 14 points of reservation regarding the Road Map, denied the existence of a Palestinian partner, and chosen a “unilateral solution”.  In addition to their suffering, the Palestinian people had been subjected to a financial and economic siege, which had exacerbated poverty to an unprecedented level.  That had been accompanied by continued daily aggression by the Israeli occupying forces, manifested in killings, the destruction of houses and the bulldozing of agricultural lands.  The number of Palestinians killed since September 2000 exceeded 4,300 people, about a third of them children.  Since June this year, more than 510 people had been killed, most recently in the Beit Hanoun massacre of 8 November.

Justice and logic necessitated that each party must exert all possible efforts to fulfil its obligations and commitments, he said.  The Palestinian Authority had exerted its utmost efforts to end all forms of violence against Israel, and had reached a unilateral ceasefire.  It called upon Israel to end all its aggressive military actions in order to reach a comprehensive and mutual ceasefire.  That would create the right atmosphere and provide the necessary groundwork for the resumption of negotiations and the attainment of a just solution based on signed agreements, the two-State solution and the Road Map adopted under Security Council resolution 1515.  The time had come for the convening of an international conference to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict on all tracks, and for the Quartet to play the role of an honest intermediary.

PRASAD KARIYAWASAM ( Sri Lanka), Chairman of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, said Palestine was under harsh military occupation, the longest recorded in recent times, with violations of international humanitarian law.  The suspension of aid to the Palestinian Authority, combined with Israel’s halting of customs and tax revenues, had triggered a humanitarian crisis.  Violence and human rights violations were at unprecedented levels and Israel had taken the lives of innocent civilians, including women and children, besides demolishing homes and infrastructure.  The destruction of Gaza’s only power station had cut electricity and led to water restrictions, which, when combined with the alarmingly expanded poverty rate and health problems, pointed to a humanitarian crisis.

Conditions were no better in the West Bank due to the lack of territorial contiguity, he said.  The growth of Jewish settlements in confiscated lands made it difficult for Palestinians to reach schools, workplaces as well as health and social services facilities.  The humanitarian situation in the occupied Syrian Golan was just as bad.  The Special Committee’s recent trip provided ample opportunity to see those problems for itself and record its experiences.  The visit, originally scheduled for August, had reluctantly been postponed until November due to events in the region.  In addition to the report submitted recently to the sixty-first session of the General Assembly, an updated version would be submitted in early 2007.

Stressing that impunity on the part of Israel must now be brought to an end by all available legal means, he said Palestinians must be empowered to request compensation for the deaths of their loved ones, and for damage to property and infrastructure.  For its part, the Palestinian Authority must ensure the restoration of the rule of law in territories under its jurisdiction.  During the Special Committee’s field visit, anger had been expressed against the inaction of the international community, including the United Nations, as many Palestinians felt neglected, if not abandoned.  New peace initiatives were needed to reverse the situation, and the Special Committee welcomed the ceasefire in Gaza.  Hopefully, it would engender further action for peace.

ILEANA B. NÚÑEZ MORDOCHE (Cuba), delivering a message from Felipe Pérez Roque, Minister for Foreign Affairs, on behalf of the Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Cuban people, recalled that the Heads of State or Government, at the Movement’s recent fourteenth Summit in Havana, had reviewed the grave situation in the Occupied Territory and expressed deep regret that the Palestinian people continued to suffer the prolonged and brutal Israeli military occupation.  They had also expressed regret that the Palestinians were still denied their inalienable rights, including the right to self-determination and the right of return for refugees.  Almost 60 years since the adoption of Assembly resolution 181 (II) on the partition of Palestine and the creation of two independent States, the just aspiration of the Palestinian people to create their own State was yet to materialize.

She said the Havana Summit had adopted an important Declaration on Palestine, expressing member countries’ concern at the tragic deterioration of the political, economic, social and humanitarian situation in the Occupied Territory.  Likewise, it had firmly condemned Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands and non-stop aggression, which had brought deaths and injury to Palestinian civilians, on account of excessive and indiscriminate use of force, selective attacks and extrajudicial executions, in addition to the vast destruction of property, infrastructure and agricultural land, and the detention and imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians.  Israel continued to disregard international law and had failed, systematically and with impunity, to comply with more than 100 United Nations resolutions, including over 60 adopted by the Security Council.

The Summit had also reiterated its condemnation of Israel for its intensification of the crisis and isolation of the Gaza Strip, following its unilateral separation plan, she said.  It had further condemned Israel’s persistence in building the separation wall, contrary to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice of 9 July 2004, and the General Assembly resolution of 20 July 2004.  The Movement remained steadfast in its commitment to support the Palestinian people and leadership and to end the Israeli occupation, in accordance with international law and the relevant United Nations resolutions.  It was also committed to the urgent provision of economic and financial assistance to the Palestinian people, so as to alleviate the current economic, financial and humanitarian crisis.

AGSHIN MEHDIYEV ( Azerbaijan) read out a statement by Elmar Mammadyarov, Minister for Foreign Affairs, on behalf of the thirty-third Session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers, saying that the cause of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East remained a source of great concern.  The economic and financial constraints imposed on the Palestinian Authority were counterproductive and the Conference strongly condemned the Israeli military attacks on Palestinian civilians in Gaza and the West Bank.  It was also profoundly concerned at the alarming escalation of hostilities, which threatened to provoke massive destruction and bloodshed in the Palestinian areas.

Stressing that the Security Council could be more effective and active in ending the ongoing human tragedy, he described the situation in the region as a catastrophe.  The Fourth Geneva Convention required international action to stop human losses and the destruction of the living environment.  The Islamic Conference supported the efforts of the Quartet and encouraged all parties to return to the implementation of the Road Map.  Hopefully that would pave the way to the early establishment of a sovereign and independent Palestinian State living at peace with its neighbours.

PASCAL GAYAMA (Congo), reading a message from President Denis Sassou-Nguesso in his capacity as Chairman of the African Union (AU), said the world was shocked by the injustice long suffered by the Palestinian people.  As a matter of urgency, it was necessary to end all acts of violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in particular the excessive and disproportionate use of force and irresponsible acts of provocation.  Such repeated violence could not promote peace and would only lead to such dramatic events as the Beit Hanoun tragedy of 8 November.

Calling on all parties to demonstrate restraint and responsibility, he said that only the end of the occupation would lead to the Palestinians’ full enjoyment of their inalienable rights, including the right to an independent State.  The international community had a responsibility to help them realize their aspiration for a sovereign, independent and territorially contiguous Palestine.

Underscoring the urgent need to re-launch peace negotiations, he said the AU supported the convening of international conference that could “breathe new life” into that process.  Settling the question of Palestine was crucial for peace and security in the region and throughout the world.  The Palestinians deserved every opportunity to extricate themselves from the extremely precarious situation that afflicted them.  Among other things, it was important to mitigate the severe humanitarian crisis, end closures and restore free movement.  Also, the international community must resume its financial assistance.  Only a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Palestinian crisis could bring peace and security to the troubled region, and that required a viable Palestinian State living side by side with Israel in peace and security.

YAHYA A. MAHMASSANI, Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States to the United Nations, speaking on behalf of Secretary-General Amre Moussa, noted the unprecedented deterioration in the situation of the Palestinian people.  The Israelis were continuing their military aggression and flagrantly violating international humanitarian law, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention.  Israel’s actions in Beit Hanoun had elicited anger, and in recent months it had caused hundreds of deaths and injuries to Palestinian civilians, including many women and children.  Israel also carried out the systematic destruction of Palestinian infrastructure, closure of crossing points and collective sanctions against towns and villages.  In short, it had transformed the Occupied Territory into a prison, denying Palestinians the right to a stable, secure and dignified life.

Noting Israel’s detention of Palestinian officials and Legislative Council members, he said those actions were intended to paralyze the democratically elected Government.  Arab funds had been offered to help the Palestinians deal with the embargo on assistance, and the Arab League considered as positive the European Union’s temporary mechanism to alleviate suffering.  However, the situation had been made worse by the economic blockade and by Israel’s failure to transfer revenues to the Palestinian Authority, which had left 160,000 Government servants without a salary for months.  The result had been a drop in services provided by the Palestinian Authority, especially health care and education.

Criticizing Israel’s insistence that it lacked a Palestinian partner, he said that, in reality, it was attempting to impose an Israeli peace through such actions as its expansion of settlements and construction of a racist separation wall, which impeded Arab and international attempts to re-launch the peace process.  The Arab League had spoken with one voice in favour of an effort to re-launch the peace process under the direct auspices of the Security Council as the body responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security.  It had also expressed discontent with the Council’s role in dealing with the conflict and criticized the use of the veto by the United States.  There was a need to convene an international conference in which Arabs and Israelis could participate, alongside the permanent Council members, in order to breathe new life into the Middle East peace process.

JOSHUA RUEBNER, Grassroots Advocacy Coordinator of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, spoke on behalf of the International Coordinating Network on Palestine, saying that United States civil society had an especially integral role to play in working for the realization of Palestinian human rights and the implementation of United Nations resolutions.  The United States provided Israel with critical military, economic, diplomatic and corporate support that enabled it to violate international law and Palestinian human rights with impunity.

He said his group had adopted the July 2005 call by Palestinian civil society for boycott, divestment and sanction campaigns against Israel until it ended its occupation, granted full equality to its Palestinian citizens and honoured the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland as stipulated in General Assembly resolution 194.  The definition of the international crime of apartheid, according to General Assembly resolution 3068, aptly described Israel’s policies toward Palestinians.

Describing a plan to mark the fortieth anniversary of Israel’s illegal military occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, he expressed the hope that the occasion -- to be held in Washington, D.C. during the weekend of 9 June 2007 -- would yield the largest-ever protest in the United States in favour of Palestinian human rights.  That campaign was urgent because the United States had stymied efforts by the international community and the United Nations to take effective action towards a just peace.  The United States had vetoed a Security Council resolution calling for the establishment of a fact-finding mission to investigate Israel’s 8 November attack on a home in Beit Hanoun as well as nine other resolutions dealing with Israel and Palestine since the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada against Israeli occupation.

FAROUK KADDOUMI, Head of the Political Department, Palestine Liberation Organization, expressed his gratitude for the Committee’s continuing efforts on behalf of Palestine and the Palestinian people’s struggle to attain their inalienable rights, including that of returning to their homes and establishing an independent State.  He was also grateful to Heads of State and Government, as well as international organizations that had shown their support for the Palestinian people and to all friends of Palestine who had participated in today’s observance and sent letters of solidarity.


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