Follow UNISPAL Twitter RSS
The meeting was called to order at 9.05 a.m.
The President: ...
I should now like to draw the attention of delegates to a matter concerning the participation of Palestine, in its capacity as observer, in the sessions and work of the General Assembly.
Members will recall General Assembly resolution 52/250 of 7 July 1998 and its annex, as well as a note by the Secretary-General contained in document A/52/1002 that outlines the Secretary-General’s understanding of the implementation of the modalities annexed to the resolution.
I should like to draw your attention in particular to paragraph 6 of the annex to resolution 52/250, which reads as follows:
“The right to make interventions, with a precursory explanation or the recall of relevant General Assembly resolutions being made only once by the President of the General Assembly at the start of each session of the Assembly.”
Accordingly, for the twenty-fifth special session of the General Assembly, the observer of Palestine will participate in the work of the General Assembly in accordance with General Assembly resolution 3237 (XXIX) of 22 November 1974, resolution 43/177 of 15 December 1988 and resolution 52/250 of 7 July 1998, with no further need for a precursory explanation prior to any intervention by Palestine in this special session.
Agenda item 10
Declaration on cities and other human settlements in the new millennium
The President: I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Husni Abu-Gheida, Minister of Public Work and Housing of Jordan.
Mr. Abu-Gheida (Jordan) ( spoke in Arabic ): ...
Development in the Arab region faces total collapse owing to the war imposed on the Palestinian people, the violence of the Israeli army of occupation, incursions into Palestinian towns and cities, the destruction of civilian housing, the confiscation of land and the spread of Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory. Here I would refer to Security Council resolutions 446 (1979) and 465 (1980) on the illegality of such settlements and on the threat they pose to the attainment of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East — quite apart from the harmful effects on Palestinian communities and the negative socio-economic impact on the citizens of Palestine and of the occupied Syrian Golan, as highlighted by the General Assembly in many resolutions. I would refer also to the report of the Mitchell Fact-Finding Committee, which called for a complete freeze of illegal Israeli settlements; that was indeed the main focus of the report.
There can be no development without just, lasting and comprehensive peace. Jordan and Egypt have submitted specific proposals for ending the aggression against the Palestinian people, for lifting the blockade imposed upon it and for putting in place appropriate conditions for the resumption of the peace process. The international community has already welcomed that Arab effort, and views it as further proof of our nation’s orientation towards peace.
We believe in the premise of a collective responsibility to achieve peace and stability in the world and in our region in particular, which has implications for urban development. We therefore appeal for the provision of the protection that the Palestinian people need. We call for assistance to the Palestinian people in achieving self-determination and in establishing an independent State on its national soil with holy Jerusalem as its capital. We call for an end to all forms of occupation and tension in our region, both in the Golan Heights and in southern Lebanon, and, of course, for an end to the blockade against Iraq.
Let us all work together to protect the environment and to promote peace and human welfare.
The President ( spoke in Spanish ): I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, Chairman of the delegation of Palestine.
Mr. Al-Kidwa (Palestine) ( spoke in Arabic ): I wish at the outset to inform the Assembly that members of the Palestinian delegation who were to have traveled Palestine have been prevented from coming here to participate in the work of the special session, owing to the closure imposed by Israel, the occupying Power, on the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem. Needless to say, we condemn this most forcefully.
In our written statement, copies of which are available to participants, we discuss the importance of this special session and of implementing the Istanbul Declaration and the Habitat Agenda. We go on to address the most important problems, especially those facing the developing countries, with special reference to Africa.
The Palestinians too suffer from the many problems that face other peoples, especially in developing countries. The most serious issue before us relates to the colonization of occupied Palestine, whose people face special problems requiring urgent solutions. For 34 years the Palestinian people has been chafing under the yoke of Israeli foreign occupation. The occupying authorities’ oppressive policies and practices have an adverse effect on all aspects of life, including social and economic aspects, and jeopardize the very existence of the Palestinian people.
The gravest aspects of the colonization of the occupied Palestinian territories are the transfer of the occupying Power’s civilian population to the occupied territories, the establishment of Israeli settlements and the ongoing confiscation of Palestinian land. The occupying Power continues to this day to build and expand settlements, transfer more settlers, build bypass roads and confiscate more Palestinian land and natural resources to fuel these activities, which are all illegal under international law.
The purpose of those settlement activities is to alter the legal status, geographical nature and demographic composition of the occupied Palestinian territories. Today there are more than 200 Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem. Despite the peace process, no Israeli Government has ceased its illegal activities in this sphere. The present and long-term consequences of these Israeli practices are gravely harmful to the living conditions of the Palestinian people, to their efforts to achieve sustainable development and to the prospects for peace in the region. The impact of Israel’s illegal settlement activities has been particularly harsh in occupied East Jerusalem, where for decades the Israeli Government has been expropriating Palestinian land and building and expanding settlements at a feverish pace in total disregard of international law and relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions. Besides altering the city’s municipal boundaries, the practices of the occupying Power — which are aimed at the Judaization of the city — have changed the geographical nature and demographic composition of Jerusalem, and have affected its historical and cultural character.
Another human-settlements issue that has been on the Palestinian agenda for decades is the plight of Palestine refugees and displaced persons. Since 1948, Palestine refugees, now numbering some 3.8 million, representing the world’s largest and longest-standing refugee population, have lived in what were intended to be temporary camps and shelters, awaiting their return to their homes and property. For more than 53 years, these refugees have lived in severely cramped and crowded dwellings, lacking such basic services as adequate sanitation systems and paved roads and surrounded by an underdeveloped and dilapidated infrastructure. In fact, the refugee camps of Gaza are among the most densely populated stretches of land in the world. Moreover, the rates of poverty and unemployment among the Palestinian refugee population are very severe and have continued to rise astronomically during the renewed turmoil afflicting the Palestinian people under occupation. In this regard, our statement necessarily touches on the practices of the occupying Power since 28 September 2000 and their catastrophic consequences.
We should like to take the opportunity of this special session to reaffirm the need for the international community to exert greater efforts to accelerate the process of resolving the ongoing and tragic plight of the Palestinian people. Work must be done to solve the many problems that continue to hinder the implementation of the Istanbul Declaration and the Habitat Agenda, and in particular to eradicate poverty and discrimination, promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all and provide for such basic needs as education, nutrition, stable life expectancy, health care services and, especially, adequate shelter for all. The first, most important and urgent step in this regard must be to bring an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian people.
The meeting rose at 1.05 p.m.
This record contains the text of speeches delivered in English and of the interpretation of speeches delivered in the other languages. Corrections should be submitted to the original languages only. They should be incorporated in a copy of the record and sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned to the Chief of the Verbatim Reporting Service, room C-178. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.