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


Fifty-eighth General Assembly
Third Committee
29th Meeting (AM)
GA/SHC/3756
31 October 2003

STATES MUST INTENSIFY NATIONAL EFFORTS TO COUNTER RACISM, RACIAL DISCRIMINATION, THIRD COMMITTEE TOLD, AS DISCUSSION ON THOSE ISSUES CONCLUDES


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Background

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural) is expected to conclude its consideration of the elimination of racism and racial discrimination, including, the implementation of, and follow-up to, the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, as well as rights of peoples to self-determination.

For further background information, please see Press Release GA/SHC/3751 of 24 October.

Statements

MIRTA GRANDA (Cuba) ...

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She said her delegation especially condemned the continued illegal occupation of Arab territories, in particular in Palestine.  For five decades, the United Nations had recognized the sovereign right of Palestinians to self-determination, and that right continued to be denied to them.  Her delegation, furthermore, deplored the continued occupation of part of Cuba’s territory against the will of its people by the naval base in Guantanamo Bay.  The people of Puerto Rico also continued to be denied their right to self-determination and independence.

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MUKTA D. TOMAR (India) ...

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She also thanked the Special Rapporteur on the question of the use of mercenaries for his report, stressing that the universal and omnipresent nature of the mercenary menace.  India had played a leading role in the historic struggle for decolonization and had been at the forefront of the movement to secure the rights of peoples to self-determination, so that those under alien subjugation, domination and exploitation could freely determine their own political status and pursue their economic, social and cultural development.  In this connection, she expressed India’s unwavering support and solidarity for the people of Palestine and their inalienable right to self-determination.

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ANTOINE CHEDID (Lebanon) ...

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Regarding the Middle East, he said it was incumbent upon the Committee to not lose sight of the main issue.  That was the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and the implantation of settlements and the creation of walls.  There had been claims that an end must be put to Arab violence, but the world was faced by massacres of the Israeli military against Palestinian civilians.  Institutional terrorism was one of the worst forms of discrimination because it constituted an attempt to expel the Palestinians from their own territory.

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NADYA RASHEED, observer of Palestine, said the ongoing colonial occupation of Palestine since 1967 remained one of the worst forms of colonization in modern history.  It was regrettable and shameful that the Palestinian people continued to be subjected to the most pervasive expression of persistent colonialism, racism, oppression and victimization.  Their right to self-determination had been withheld by force, in flagrant violation of international legitimacy and international law.  The Palestinian people were entitled to their right to self-determination and the right to establish their independent State with East Jerusalem as its capital.

She said the Palestinian people would never succumb to any forces of oppression and violence.  Nor, would the indiscriminate and excessive use of force make them relinquish their legitimate struggle for freedom and independence.  Palestine would continue to hold steadfast in its belief that one day it would participate as a Member State of the United Nations.  She called on the international community to bring an end to the Israeli occupation and its illegal practices and policies.

Statements in Exercise of Right of Reply

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A representative of Israel, exercising his right of reply, said he regretted that the Palestinian speaker had attempted to recast the Israeli and Palestinian dispute as racial.  It was a dispute that was political in nature.  To name it as racist was not only false, but also dangerous.  The situation of the Palestinian people was a direct result of the actions and inaction of their own Government.  Israel respected the rights of its neighbours to self-determination, and had no urge to dominate them.  However, the right of self-determination must be exercised while respecting other people’s right to self-determination.  Violence, the spreading of hatred and suicide-bombings were not acceptable.

Concerning the statement made by the representative of Lebanon, he reminded the speaker that Israel had withdrawn from Lebanon on 24 May 2000, in complete accordance with Security Council resolutions.  It was actually Lebanon that was not acting in accordance with Security Council resolutions.  Lebanon must control the activities of the Hezbollah –- one of the cruellest terrorist organizations in the world.

The representative of Lebanon said the representative of Israel had attempted to politicize a fundamental issue relating to human rights and the fight against racial discrimination.  He wished to clarify that Israel did not withdraw from Lebanese territory of its own free will, but was compelled to withdraw, as a result of Lebanese resistance.  Moreover, Israel had not yet withdrawn completely from Lebanese territory.

Regarding Hezbollah and other parts of the Palestinian resistance, he said those groups were exercising their right to defend their self-determination.  Israel daily practiced racial discrimination against the Palestinian people, and his delegation rejected what was said by the representative of Israel.

The observer of Palestine, exercising her right of reply, said the situation was not a “dispute”, but an occupation.  Daily life was filled with killings, destruction and humiliation.  The Palestinian people were victims of flagrant violations of all human rights on all levels – political, economic, social, and cultural.  Still, the Palestinian people had extended their hands for peace in the region, but it had become an unjust and flawed peace process, with Israel attempting to justify its settlers.

Concerning the situation today, she noted that the Israeli government had 14 reservations to the Road Map, while the Palestinian side had expressed no reservations.  With regard to suicide-bombings, she stressed that this was a response to the occupation, not the cause.

Statement

AFIFA SALAH GHANMI (Tunisia) ...

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Regarding the situation in the Middle East, she said her Government was concerned about the escalation of violence.  The current situation was a threat to the entire region, as well as the international community.  She stressed the need for the parties to the conflict to return to the negotiation table and find a just and durable solution, based on international law, in order to ensure peace and stability in the region.


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