Press Release
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York

19 May 2000


To Be Convened in Athens, 23-24 May 2000

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People has convened the United Nations International Meeting in Support of a Peaceful Settlement of the Question of Palestine and the Establishment of Peace in the Middle East, to be held on 23 and 24 May 2000 at Holiday Inn Athens, in accordance with General Assembly resolutions 54/39 and 54/40 of 1 December 1999.

The Committee is of the view that, at this crucial stage in the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, it is important to promote international support for the success of the peace process and to make its objectives better known to the international community. At the same time, the Committee maintains that the international community should spare no effort to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine, as well as bring peace and stability to the entire region of the Middle East.

The purpose of the Meeting is to discuss the status of the peace process and promote intensified political and other action by governments, intergovernmental and civil society organizations in support of the attainment of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and the success of the peace efforts.

The opening session of the Meeting will take place on Tuesday, 23 May, at 10:30 a.m. in the main conference room of Holiday Inn Athens. The session is expected to be addressed by George Papandreou, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece; Peter Hansen, Commissioner-General, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and representative of the United Nations Secretary-General; Ibra Deguène Ka, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People; a representative of Palestine; and representatives of governments, intergovernmental organizations and United Nations agencies.

Plenary I, entitled “Final status negotiations and Palestinian statehood”, will begin in the afternoon of Tuesday, 23 May. The speakers will discuss the interim period; prospects for the solution of the final status issues; and Palestinian statehood. Speakers in this session include Salah Bassiouny, Chairman, Cairo Peace Society, Member of the International Alliance for Arab-Israeli Peace; Ayelet Ophir, Board Member of B’Tselem and founder of Open Doors, Movement against Administrative Detention, Tel Aviv; Geoffrey Aronson, Editor, Foundation for Middle East Peace, Washington, D.C.; and Sotiris Roussos, Coordinator of the Centre for Mediterranean and Middle East Studies in Athens.

On Wednesday, 24 May, Plenary II will be devoted to the theme entitled, “International support for a just and peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine and the establishment of a lasting peace in the Middle East”. Presentation will focus on the roles of the United States and the Russian Federation, the co-sponsors of the peace process; the United Nations and the peace process; European involvement in the promotion of peace in the Middle East; the role of the international donor community; and the involvement of intergovernmental and regional organizations (Non-Aligned Movement, Organization of African Unity, Organization of the Islamic Conference, League of Arab States). Speakers include Markus Kaim, Assistant Professor of Political Science of the Friedrich-Schiller University in Jena; Jannis Sakellariou, Member of the European Parliament, Brussels; Abdulaziz Abougosh, Assistant Secretary-General and Director of Coordination with Palestine, Organization of the Islamic Conference; and Alexandre Zassypkin, Head of the Middle East Peace Process Desk of the Russian Federation Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Moscow.

Plenary III, on Wednesday afternoon, 24 May, is entitled “Civil society in support of the peace process”. It will discuss the role of people-to-people diplomacy; the role of academic institutions; initiatives by the international non-governmental organization (NGO) network in solidarity with the Palestinian people; and the role of the media. Speakers include Samia Khoury, President, Rawdat El-Zuhur Women’s Organization, Jerusalem; Michael Hindley, political consultant, Lancashire; Soyata Maiga, lawyer, Bamako; Jeroen Gunning, researcher of the Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, University of Durham; Zelmys Maria Dominguez Cortina, researcher of the Centre of Studies on Africa and the Middle East, Havana; Na’ama Carmi, Council Member of Meretz, Tel Aviv; and Nikolas Voulelis, Managing Director, Athens News Agency.

It is envisaged that the main points of the Meeting proceedings will be summarized in a brief final document, which will be read out at the closing of the Meeting. The final session of the Meeting will take place on Wednesday, 24 May, at 5:30 p.m.

A report of the proceedings of the Meeting will be issued in due course as a publication of the Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat.

Invitations to attend the Meeting have been sent to all United Nations Member and observer States, United Nations agencies, bodies and programmes, as well as interested intergovernmental organizations. All NGOs accredited to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and a number of other NGOs interested in the subject, have been invited to attend the Meeting, as well.

The working languages of the Meeting will be English and French.

Registration will be held on Friday, 19 May, and on Monday, 22 May, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the front of the Cronos Room on the mezzanine level of Holiday Inn Athens, 50, Michalakopoulou Avenue, Athens. On Tuesday, 23 May, registration will start at 8:30 a.m. The secretariat will issue badges necessary to enter the premises. The Meeting secretariat is located in the Cronos and Athina Rooms adjacent to the main conference room.

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For information media - not an official record