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UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York


GA/PAL/810
11 August 1999

Committee on Inalienable Rights
of the Palestinian People
245th Meeting (AM)



PALESTINIAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE BRIEFED ON CAIRO MEETING,
GAZA VISIT AND OTHER RECENT ACTIVITIES


Observer for Palestine Says Wye River Memorandum Must Be Implemented
In Full and Not Renegotiated; Walter Balzan (Malta) Elected Rapporteur


The Wye River Memorandum on the Palestinian-Israeli peace process must be implemented in full and not renegotiated, Nasser Al-Kidwa, the Observer for Palestine, said at a meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People this morning.

He said the new Israeli Government of Prime Minister Ehud Barak was presenting new proposals as "small adjustments" to the Wye River Memorandum which, in fact, amounted to an abrogation of that Memorandum and of the Declaration of Principles agreed upon in 1993. Complicating the situation was settlement activities in gross violation of relevant United Nations resolutions and specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention. New encampments were particularly shocking in the context of the ongoing peace process and agreements entered into.

Also this morning, Ibra Deguène Ka (Senegal), Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, reported on the United Nations International Meeting on the Convening of the Conference on Measures to Enforce the Fourth Geneva Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which took place in Cairo on 14 and 15 June. He also briefed the Committee on a visit to Gaza City, after the meeting, of a Committee delegation. The delegation met Palestinian officials, including Chairman Yasser Arafat.

The Committee also heard another report by its Chairman on his participation at meetings of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which took place in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and Algiers, respectively.

Earlier, the Committee elected Walter Balzan (Malta) as its new rapporteur to replace George Saliba (Malta), who had been reassigned by his government to Washington, D.C.

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People will meet again at a date to be announced.

Chairman's Report on Cairo Meeting

IBRA DEGUENE KA (Senegal), Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, briefed the Committee on the United Nations International Meeting on the Convening of the Conference on Measures to Enforce the Fourth Geneva Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, which took place in Cairo on 14 and 15 June. He also reported on a visit to Gaza by a Committee delegation.

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People was represented by a delegation headed by its Chairman and comprising Ravan A.G. Farhâdi (Afghanistan), Vice-Chairman of the Committee, who acted as Vice-Chairman of the Meeting; George Saliba (Malta), Rapporteur of the Committee and Vice-Chairman and Rapporteur of the Meeting; Moctar Ouane (Mali), who also acted as Vice-Chairman; and Nasser M. Al-Kidwa, the Observer for Palestine.

He said the two-day meeting had concluded with the adoption of a Final Document in which the participants had strongly supported the convening, at Geneva on 15 July, of the conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention. Concerned about the flagrant violations by Israel of the basic human rights of the Palestinian people and the continuing settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, the participants had called upon the High Contracting Parties to strive for concrete results at their conference.

In accordance with established practice, he said, a report on the International Meeting would be issued as a publication of the Division for Palestinian Rights. A summary of the proceedings would be included in the Committee's report to the fifty-fourth General Assembly. A copy of the Final Document had also been posted on the Internet at http://domino.un.org/UNISPAL.nsf.

Mr. KA said that while in Cairo, the Committee delegation visited TransCad, a company contracted in May 1998 to modernize records of the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine. The visit enabled the delegation to acquire better understanding of the various aspects of the project.

Following the Cairo visit, and in response to an invitation by the Palestinian Authority, a Committee delegation had visited Gaza from 16 to 18 June. On 16 June, Sadi El Kunnz, Minister of Industry of the Palestinian Authority and Wafeeq Abu Sido, Head of Protocol of the Presidency, had received the delegation at the Rafah crossing in the Palestinian area of control. On the same day, the delegation had met with Chinmaya Gharekhan, the United Nations Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories.

On 17 June, the delegation visited some United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) projects, as well as the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation and the Palestine Red Crescent Centre located near Khan Younis refugee camp. In the evening, Chairman Yasser Arafat, head of the Palestinian Authority, hosted a dinner at his Gaza City headquarters for the delegation. At a meeting prior to the dinner, Mr. KA said that he and Chairman Arafat exchanged views on the Committee's activities, including the Cairo meeting; the latest developments in the peace process; the continuing difficulties of the Palestinian people; and the support extended by a great number of countries to their cause.

NASSER AL-KIDWA, Observer for Palestine, congratulated the new Rapporteur of the Committee, Walter Balzan, and thanked the people of Malta for their continued support for the Palestinian people. He described the visit to Gaza of the Committee delegation as historic, adding that the Palestinian people would remain indebted to the Committee for the visit to Palestinian soil. He hoped the Committee's next visit would be to an independent Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital.

He thanked the Egyptian authorities for hosting the important Cairo meeting. The convening of the Geneva meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions had not been easy, he said, adding that there was an immense campaign, including misinformation and pressure to prevent its taking place. A statement issued after the session reaffirmed the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

He noted that it was the first time the High Contracting Parties had convened specifically on a single issue -- rights of Palestinians. It was an extremely important development for Palestine and for international humanitarian law. He thanked the Committee, the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Countries for their important role in ensuring the convening of the Geneva meeting. He said Palestine intended to ensure a full follow-up to that meeting. It also intended to follow closely any violations of Palestinian rights by Israel. If the situation warranted it, Palestine would request the reconvening of a meeting of the High Contracting Parties, he added.


Report on OIC Meeting

Mr. KA, Committee Chairman, then reported on the recent twenty-sixth Ministerial Meeting of the OIC, held at Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, from 28 June to 3 July. He said the Council of Ministers had reaffirmed its support for the Middle East peace process and for the implementation of all the agreements signed in conformity with the commitments made at Madrid and Oslo and with United Nations resolutions.

The Council of Ministers had requested the Security Council to reactivate the international committee to prevent the creation of settlements in Jerusalem/Al-Quds and in the occupied Palestinian territories, he said. It had called for a greater contribution by the United Nations towards a resolution of the peace process and stressed the Organization's permanent responsibility vis-a-vis the question of Palestine.


Report on OAU Meeting

Reporting on the recent meeting of the OAU held at Algiers, from 8 July to 14 July, the Chairman said that the OAU Secretary-General had highlighted the obstacles that had paralysed the peace process. The Secretary-General said that the Netanyahu Government's negative actions and blockages had obscured all horizons for peace in Palestine, in south Lebanon and in Golan. He hoped that the present Government would commit itself to changing that situation by resuming the peace negotiations.

He said that the OAU Council of Ministers and the Heads of State Summit had adopted a resolution requesting Israel to end immediately the confiscation of Palestinian lands, particularly in Jerusalem/Al-Quds, in accordance with resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly.


Statement by Observer for Palestine

NASSER AL-KIDWA, Observer for Palestine, said that the Israeli Government of Prime Minister Ehud Barak, while claiming commitment to the Wye River Memorandum, was nevertheless proposing to forego the third stage of Israeli redeployment in the West Bank in accordance with the existing agreements. Proposals were being presented as "small adjustments", which in fact amounted to abrogation of the Memorandum and of the Declaration of Principles agreed upon in 1993.

He said the Wye River Memorandum simply comprised steps to facilitate the implementation of interim agreements, including the Note on Hebron of 1997. The previous Government had frozen negotiations before the second phase of the redeployment, involving a shift from total Israeli control to shared control. Prime Minister Barak wanted to avoid the third phase of the redeployment, which should be effected six weeks after resumption of the Wye River Memorandum and which involved redeployment from half of the 13 per cent of territory which Israel should leave under Wye. In reality, the Prime Minister wanted to negate the whole concept of further redeployment and move forward to final settlement.

That was precisely what the Netanyahu Government had wanted to do before signing the Wye River Memorandum by calling for accelerated negotiations on a final settlement instead of implementing the existing agreements, he said. Mr. Barak's position was only different because he was making his proposals after Wye River. He may try to institute a new time-line or negotiate a new one. It was not a rosy situation, but the Palestinian side hoped nevertheless to see a different Israeli position indicating that they were ready to implement existing agreements. The Wye River Memorandum must be implemented in full and must not be renegotiated either in substance or in time-line.

He said that complicating the situation were settlement building activities that were in gross violation of relevant United Nations resolutions and international law, more specifically, the Fourth Geneva Convention. The new settlements were particularly shocking in the context of the ongoing peace process and the agreements entered into. As a High Contracting Party itself, such conduct on Israel's part was a matter of grave concern. The illegal settlement building was a negative and dangerous development. Whether it indicated continuous and further Israeli negative positions at a further stage or was a remnant from the previous Government's momentum remained to be seen. The Palestinian side remained open-minded and hoped that some serious progress would result, although definitely not on the basis of what Mr. Barak was proposing.



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For information media - not an official record