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Department of Public Information (DPI)
18 December 2006
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
ASIAN MEETING ADOPTS KUALA LUMPUR DECLARATION AFTER SESSION
HEARS PROPOSAL FOR ONE STATE, TWO NATIONS
(Reissued as received from a UN Information Officer.)
KUALA LUMPUR, 16 December -- This afternoon’s participants at the second day of the United Nations Asian Meeting in Support of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People heard about the possibility of a one-State solution. Ghada Karmi of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding (CAABU) suggested one State with two coexisting nations as the most practical and durable current option. She suggested Palestinian statehood should be reserved as a long-term vision, but today the urgency of the situation called for a compromise.
“There is nothing ideal about the two-State solution. The one-State solution provides for the return of refugees, a cardinal issue for the Palestinians and for the international community,” she said.
She questioned the feasibility of a two-State solution, as did Chandra Muzaffar of the International Movement for a Just World, saying geographically it would be very difficult.
The meeting also discussed the possibility of sanctions against Israel in the face of overwhelming international support for the establishment of a Palestinian State.
The Kuala Lumpur Declaration was issued. It emphasized that the continuing occupation of the Palestinian Territory, now in its fortieth year, remained the root cause of the conflict.
The Declaration condemned the continued construction of the wall and the lack of action on freezing settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It expressed frustration at the deepening economic, social and humanitarian crisis and isolation of the Gaza Strip, great concern at the increase of Israeli military attacks and criticized Israeli for withholding tax revenues due to the Palestinian Authority.
Finally, the Declaration expressed appreciation to countries in Asia for their generous assistance and support to the Palestinian people.
Plenary III: International Efforts at Salvaging Peace in the Middle East -- Support of the Countries of Asia and the Pacific for the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
GHADA KARMI, Lecturer, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter and Vice-Chair, Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding, London, observed that the meeting’s mood was one of readiness for peace, buoyed by the hope of an international peace conference. She said there was also a mood in Britain in support of the Palestinian people for the first time in history. She said the European Union, the largest fund provider to the Palestinian Authority, was also ready and hoping to see an end to the conflict. The United States of America “is also in favour of seeing the Israeli project survive, a project that began with the opposition of the indigenous people.
“If there is no one to challenge Israel in doing anything it likes, there will be no two-State solution,” she said. “Let’s stop talking about hopes and aspirations, and stop procrastinating, because Israel will continue to expel Palestinians, conduct ethnic cleansing, expanding their settlements and building the wall.”
She predicted that the West Bank plus Gaza will become an enclave State. “ Jerusalem will be abandoned for good and the refugees, who are at the heart of this conflict, will not be able to return. Where will the refugees fit in?”
She urged the meeting’s participants to consider the possibility of a one-State solution with two peoples living together in equality.
“Why should we not consider a one-State solution? There is nothing ideal about the two-State solution. The one-State solution provides for the return of refugees, a cardinal issue for the Palestinians and for the international community,” she said. “Some of my colleagues are horrified by the suggestion of a one-State solution, but we are in such an urgent situation that we should go with the most appropriate solution without relinquishing the vision of a two-State solution.
“Is one State desirable or feasible? It is not feasible in the current situation,” she said. Was the original concept and creation of Israel any less utopian than the fair and just solution we all seek, whether it is a one- or a two-State solution, she asked.
ANDREW VINCENT, Director, Middle East Studies Centre, Macquarie University, Sydney, said the solution of the question of Palestine was central to the possibility of stability in the Middle East.
“Both sides are victims. Australia has both a schizophrenic fear of Asia and a desperation to be accepted by Asia for reasons of trade, security and neighbourly proximity. If Australia is serious about being part of Asia, we must listen to our Asian neighbours’ moral stance on issues such as Middle East peace. Australian policy towards the Palestine question is informed by its relationship with the US and aims to placate the pro-Israeli lobby,” he said.
CHANDRA MUZAFFAR, President, International Movement for a Just World, Kuala Lumpur, said Israel’s diabolical scheme for a truncated Palestinian Bantustan had failed because of the Palestinian resistance.
“The Israeli leadership does not want a Palestine based upon the pre-1967 borders, it wants land. The Israeli insistence on land is consistent in their theological notion of Israel and their notion of security is defined as maximum control over land and access to water,” he said.
“ Gaza is the largest prison in the world. The attempt by Israel to destabilize Hamas and Hizbollah and destroy resistance to Israel dominance has failed. The small Palestinian community has courageously resisted a superpower and its surrogate for so long without support,” he said. “ Malaysia or China should take the lead in hosting a peace conference and supporting the Palestinian people with their right to a State.”
On the viability of a one-State solution, he said the insistence of a two-State solution must be genuine. “If nothing else, it will expose Israel’s resistance to the sharing of Jerusalem and the return of refugees. Geographically, I don’t even know if a two-State solution is feasible,” he said.
ACHIN VANAIK, Professor of international relations and global politics, Department of Political Science, Delhi University, New Delhi, said Israel had been guilty of ethnic cleansing since its creation, the only State to get away with it. “ China and India are the two biggest arms purchasers from Israel,” he said.
“Meetings with civil society and the press should occur to ensure Governments do not just pay lip service to the idea of Palestine, like the Indian Government does while cementing its relationship with both Israel and the US,” he said. He added that Asian and Pacific Governments needed to push for both Middle East peace and a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction.
Closing statements were made by the representatives of Malaysia, the Occupied Palestine Territory and the Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. The Kuala Lumpur Declaration was introduced by the Rapporteur of the Committee, Victor Camilleri.
The text of the Declaration is as follows:
KUALA LUMPUR DECLARATION
“1. The United Nations Asian Meeting in Support of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on 15 and 16 December 2006, under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. Participants in the Meeting included international experts, representatives of Governments, Palestine, intergovernmental organizations, United Nations entities, parliaments, civil society, and the media.
“2. The Meeting was convened by the Committee with a view to sensitizing international public opinion, particularly in Asia and the Pacific, to the situation of the Palestinian people and the urgency of resuming a meaningful political dialogue leading to a permanent two-State solution, based on the 1967 borders, in accordance with the Road Map and Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002) and 1515 (2003).
“3. In the course of the Meeting, the participants reviewed the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem; discussed the action and strategies of Israel, the occupying Power; and the state of the Palestinian economy and humanitarian situation of Palestinians. The Meeting also addressed such issues as international efforts at salvaging peace in the region, including through the efforts of the Quartet, the Arab Peace Initiative, the role of the Security Council, action by Asian and Pacific States, as well as intergovernmental organizations and parliaments.
“4. The participants emphasized that the continuing occupation of the Palestinian territory, now in its fortieth year, remained the root cause of the conflict. They expressed the view that this long-standing conflict would have no final settlement without the achievement by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights, defined by the General Assembly in 1974 as the right to self-determination without external interference, the right to national independence and sovereignty, and the right of Palestinians to return to their homes and property, from which they had been displaced and uprooted.
“5. The participants expressed great concern at the escalation in recent months of Israeli military attacks in the Gaza Strip, particularly the tragic events that had taken place in the town of Beit Hanoun. These military operations resulted in a large number of deaths and injuries among Palestinian civilians, including women, children and the elderly. The participants denounced the use of excessive and indiscriminate force, extrajudicial killings, and the vast destruction of homes, civilian infrastructure and agricultural lands. They reminded Israel, the occupying Power, that it has to respect its obligations under international humanitarian law. They also called for the cessation of rocket attacks on Israel carried out by Palestinian groups from the Gaza Strip. These actions put civilians in serious danger and only aggravate an already grave security situation.
“6. The participants welcomed the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, which, they stressed, needed to be extended to the West Bank and supported by tangible political steps that would allow the parties to engage in a meaningful political dialogue. They called upon the international community, including the members of the Quartet, to establish a credible and effective third-party monitoring mechanism. They also urged the United Nations to establish in cooperation with the parties a general mechanism for the protection of civilians on the ground.
“7. The participants condemned the continuing construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, in contravention of the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice. They welcomed the adoption of the General Assembly resolution ES-10/17 of 15 December 2006 on the establishment of the Register of Damage caused by the construction of the wall confirming the Secretary-General’s report on the issue. They felt it was crucial to set in motion, without further delay, the establishment of the Register of Damage two and a half years after the landmark decision of the International Court of Justice. The participants were extremely concerned about the lack of action on freezing settlement activities, continuing in spite of repeated appeals by the Quartet and the wider international community. In addition to being illegal and causing daily hardship for the Palestinian population, these physical obstacles in the Occupied Palestinian Territory prejudice the outcome of the permanent status negotiations and complicate efforts at establishing a contiguous and independent State of Palestine.
“8. The participants expressed frustration at the deepening economic, social and humanitarian crisis and isolation of the Gaza Strip. They criticized Israel for withholding of tax revenues due to the Palestinian Authority, resulting in an unprecedented financial shortfall for the Authority, which delivered basic public services in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The participants also stressed the critical importance of the international donor assistance. In this regard, they urged donors to give generously to the recently launched emergency appeal by 12 United Nations agencies and 14 non-governmental organizations aimed at addressing a rapidly worsening humanitarian situation.
“9. The participants expressed appreciation to countries, including in Asia, which had been generous providers of assistance to the Palestinian people. The participants also remained hopeful that the established Temporary International Mechanism, endorsed by the Quartet, would help alleviate the desperate humanitarian situation. They also welcomed the decision to extend the functioning of the Temporary International Mechanism for three months. At the same time, they urged the Government of Israel to fulfil its obligations under international law and lift its restrictions on the freedom of movement and other measures stifling the economic and social life of the Palestinians, and to resume the transfer of collected Palestinian tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority in keeping with signed agreements.
“10. The participants strongly supported continuing efforts of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas aimed at forming a Government of National Unity that is capable of achieving maximum support of the Palestinian people and capable of fulfilling its responsibilities vis-à-vis the international community.
“11. The Meeting took note of the Declaration on Palestine adopted at the 14th Summit Conference of Heads of State or Government of the Non-Aligned Movement held in Havana in September 2006, which reiterated the vital role of the Movement with regard to the question of Palestine and entrusted its Chairman to lead efforts of the Movement in the pursuit of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.
“12. The participants reaffirmed the permanent responsibility of the United Nations with respect to the question of Palestine, until it was resolved based on relevant Security Council resolutions, the Madrid terms of reference, the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Road Map, and until the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people were fully realized in all aspects. They called upon the United Nations to promote the convening of an international peace conference on the Middle East. They commended the Committee for organizing meetings, like this one in Kuala Lumpur, that mobilize Governments and public opinion in the different regions in support of a peaceful solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They urged the Committee to continue upholding the norms of international law thus setting the standards for a final settlement of the question of Palestine, in conformity with international legality.
“13. The participants welcomed the pledge of Governments of Asia, intergovernmental organizations, and civil society representatives to support Israelis and Palestinians in their quest for a just and peaceful settlement of the conflict. The participants also urged them to continue their moral, political and material support of the Palestinian people.
“14. The participants voiced their appreciation for the active and constructive role played by Malaysia, a Member of the Committee, in efforts to assist the Palestinian people achieve its inalienable rights. The personal engagement and support of H. E. Dato’ Seri Syed Hamid Albar, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, contributed significantly to the success of the meeting. The participants expressed their deep gratitude to the Government of Malaysia, its Ministry of Foreign Affairs for hosting the Meeting and for the assistance and support extended to the Committee and the United Nations Secretariat in its preparation.”
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