Question of Palestine home || Permalink || About UNISPAL || Search

English (pdf) ||Arabic||Chinese||Français||Русский||Español||

Follow UNISPAL Twitter RSS


        General Assembly
17 February 2005

Original: French

Fifty-ninth session
Official Records

Third Committee

Summary record of the 36th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Thursday, 4 November 2004, at 9.30 a.m.

Chairman: Mr. Kuchinsky ........................................................................... (Ukraine)
later: Ms. Groux (Vice-Chairman) ....................................................... (Switzerland)



Agenda item 104: Right of peoples to self-determination (continued)

The meeting was called to order at 9.40 a.m.


Agenda item 104: Right of peoples to self-determination (continued ) (A/59/66-S/2004/219, A/59/191, A/59/376, A/59/425 and A/59/427-S/2004/806)


5. Mr. Alaei (Islamic Republic of Iran), speaking on agenda item 104, said that the right of peoples to self-determination was fundamental to the realization of all other rights. The universal realization of that right was an essential condition for the effective guarantee and observance of human rights and for the preservation and promotion of such rights, as provided for in General Assembly resolution 58/161, paragraph 1.

6. Recalling that various resolutions of the General Assembly and the Commission on Human Rights had reaffirmed the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, he said that his delegation found it regrettable that Israel, the occupying Power, continued to defy those rights, in particular through the killing of innocent civilians, arbitrary detentions, collective punishments and other restrictions imposed upon the Palestinian people. Israel had also persisted in the construction of a separation wall in defiance of appeals by the international community and the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice. Under the terms of that decision, the construction of the wall by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory was contrary to international law and Israel was under an obligation to make reparation for all damage caused by the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and to respect the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, as well as its obligations under international humanitarian law. The denial of the right of peoples to self-determination constituted a grave denial of fundamental human rights, and non-cooperation by occupying Powers made it imperative to adopt concrete measures.


17. Mr. Osmane (Algeria), ...

18. The Organization’s universality was grounded in the sacrifice of peoples which had, in a vast, irreversible movement of emancipation, thrown off the yoke of colonialism in order to reconquer their freedom, recover their dignity and once again take their places in the international community. Yet that work of decolonization had not yet reached completion, because still other peoples were calling upon the international community to help them exercise their inalienable right to self-determination. There was the case of the Palestinian people, who continued to proclaim their right to choose their destiny freely and establish their State with Al-Quds as capital. There were also the people of Western Sahara who for more than a quarter of a century had been demanding their right to self-determination. In that connection, Algeria, having made it a basic principle of its foreign policy to support them, would continue to uphold the principle that the Saharan people should exercise their right to self-determination in a free, impartial referendum, in implementation of the Peace plan to which the Security Council had given its unanimous support in resolution 1495 (2003).


24. Mr. Gzllal (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya), endorsing the statement made by Qatar on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, observed that the last decade of the twentieth century had been distinguished by the end of apartheid in South Africa and a respect for cultural and religious plurality, but also by acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing that were without precedent. The problems still persisted at the beginning of the new millennium, a time when the Palestinian people were prey to the most vile racist crimes perpetrated by the occupying forces.

25. As indicated in the report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (A/59/329), despite the efforts made by the international community after the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance held in Durban in 2001, there had been an upsurge in acts of racism and xenophobia owing to globalization, intellectual polarization, diseases like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, illiteracy, marginalization and poverty. It should be emphasized that there was a distinction between traditional racism, based on colour, and racial discrimination affecting immigrants and refugees primarily, and the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations for putting an end to all forms of racism were welcome.

26. Referring to a number of national instruments guaranteeing non-discrimination and respect for diversity, he said that in his country the law, inspired by the Koran and the Shariah, gave great importance to human rights and to equality and social justice for all, without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion. The international community had an obligation to do more to promote tolerance. With regard to the right of nations to control their own affairs enunciated in Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations and reaffirmed in many United Nations resolutions and in international instruments, all Member States were bound to guarantee the effective exercise of the right to self-determination. Many nations had achieved independence and had joined the ranks of the Member States of the Organization. His delegation urged Member States not to abandon the endeavour to help peoples still living under foreign occupation, like the Palestinians, to achieve independence.


31. Ms. Rasheed (Observer for Palestine), speaking on agenda item 103, urged the international community to ensure that the laws and institutions of all States addressed the root causes and consequences of discrimination and also secured remedies for those who suffered violations of their right to equality and justice.

32. For over 37 years, the Palestinian people had been victims of the most intricate expression of colonialism, racism and racial discrimination. The passage of time had not mitigated the suffering and misery of the Palestinians; instead, their already precarious living conditions had further deteriorated as a result of Israel’s illegal policies and practices.

33. The systematic measures of oppression taken against the Palestinians could not have continued without the institutionalized racist mentality of the occupying Power. Over the past four years, those measures had taken the form of war crimes, State terrorism and systematic human rights violations against the Palestinian people. As a result, over 3,340 Palestinians had been killed and over 50,000 injured, many of whom would suffer permanent disabilities for the rest of their lives. The collective punishments imposed (curfews, closures and restrictions on movement) clearly reflected the racist policies practised by Israel.

34. The occupation had been transformed into a colonial phenomenon with the transfer of over 400,000 Israeli settlers to lands forcibly confiscated from the Palestinian people and the construction of bypass roads which created a “road apartheid” that even South Africa had never known. Referring to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967 (A/59/256) and the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice of 9 July 2004, she said that the construction of the Wall should be seen in the context of the illegal settlement campaign being pursued by Israel, contrary to international law. Settler colonialism was rooted in racism and racial discrimination, negating as it did the most basic rights of the indigenous population.

35. Israel had prevented the return of over 4 million Palestinian refugees uprooted from their homes and land in 1948, in defiance of international law and United Nations resolutions. Those refugees continued to be deprived of their civil, political and national rights on solely religious grounds. Hundreds of thousands of refugees were unable to obtain passports, as a result of which they were forced to live in extremely difficult conditions, whereas the occupying Power automatically granted citizenship to Jewish people from all over the world for settlement on land confiscated from the Palestinians.

36. As for the situation in Israel itself, over 1 million Israelis of Palestinian origin continued to suffer xenophobia, racial discrimination, racial violence and hate speech. They could not achieve equality and collective rights in a State which defined itself as the State of the Jewish people and which subjected their Palestinian sisters and brothers living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory to a cruel and dehumanizing form of military occupation. Israel had no constitution and was the only country in the world to differentiate between citizenship and nationality, which served to further the institutionalized discrimination against Palestinians living in Israel as second-class citizens.

37. In all spheres of public life, racism was becoming more explicit, blatant and vehement. Overtly racist and insulting remarks continued to be made by high-ranking officials of the State, army generals and even religious leaders. The “transfer” of the Palestinian people to which some Israeli officials had referred was simply a euphemism for ethnic cleansing.

38. She appealed to the international community to exert every effort to relieve the Palestinian people living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, of the hardships and anguish which they faced owing to the racism and racial discrimination of the occupying Power. Steps must be taken to end the occupation and the colonization of Palestinian land. The rights of Palestinian refugees must be restored and Israelis of Palestinian origin must enjoy the same rights as the rest of the population. The establishment of a Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital, should allow all Palestinians everywhere to live in a world free of racism and racial discrimination where their human dignity would be honoured and their rights and fundamental freedoms respected.

39. Ms. Groux (Switzerland), Vice-Chairperson, took the Chair.


42. Mr. Jenie (Indonesia), ...


46. On the issue of self-determination, his delegation called attention to the plight of the Palestinian people and urged Israel to implement all relevant United Nations resolutions, in particular the resolution concerning the construction of the wall (A/RES/ES-10/15) adopted by the General Assembly in July 2004 during its tenth emergency special session.


68. Mr. Zeidan (Lebanon) ...


70. As the Special Rapporteur highlighted in his report, terrorism had fuelled conflicts among groups, communities, religions and cultures that had peacefully coexisted before. Hence terrorism must be combated in all its forms, including State terrorism. The situation of the Palestinian people, who were victims of discrimination, was unacceptable. The report courageously noted that the “security wall” constituted “a jarring symbol of seclusion” and had contributed to the rise of racism in the world in the form of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. With reference to the report of the Secretary-General on the right of peoples to self-determination (A/59/376), which reported the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the construction of the wall by Israel, his delegation called upon the General Assembly and the international community to give special attention to the violation of the right to self-determination resulting from foreign occupation and the use of mercenaries. Palestinians had the right to return to their homeland in an independent Palestinian State. Lebanon rejected all attempts to settle Palestinian refugees on its territory.

71. As for the struggle against anti-Semitism, it was inherently tied to struggle against all forms of oppression. In that regard, one should not fall into the error, pointed out by Noam Chomsky, of confusing criticism of State policy with anti-Semitism.


Statements in exercise of the right of reply

84. Mr. Israeli (Israel), in reply to the statement made by the Observer for Palestine, said that the Palestinian delegation, rather than giving lessons on racism, would better serve its people by eliminating the constant incitement to hatred in the schools, publications and the media. Indeed, it would be much better if the Palestinian leadership, rather than supporting terror, which was the enemy of both peoples, met its obligation to eliminate it. The security barrier built by Israel was a temporary defensive measure to contain terrorism, the main obstacle to peace in the region. Israel was a tolerant State where Jews and Arabs, as well as individuals belonging to other races, religions or ethnic groups, lived freely in a liberal and democratic society. Israel was making major efforts to make peace with its Palestinian neighbours by fostering an atmosphere of mutual recognition, and it hoped that they would become partners in peace.


86. Ms. Rasheed (Observer for Palestine) said that the statements of the representative of Israel presenting his country as a tolerant democracy were perplexing to her, as Israeli basic law 1A affirmed that the State of Israel was a Jewish state. Israel’s practice of favouring the interests of Jewish citizens, especially in a country where 20 per cent of the population was not Jewish, opened up the possibility of legal and racial discrimination. It was a clear and proven fact that the Jews enjoyed special rights and privileges that the indigenous population, which had been there for many years, did not. She wondered how Israel could call itself a democratic country guaranteeing equal rights for all when restrictions applied to non-Jews, in particular concerning land ownership. She referred to a law recently adopted by the Israeli Parliament and denounced by many human rights organizations as racist, undemocratic and discriminatory, which prevented Palestinians from the occupied territories from settling in Israel and denied them the possibility of obtaining Israeli citizenship. That law had affected thousands of families living in Israel, which had either been forced to separate or emigrate. The Israeli Government justified that law on the grounds of security and the need to reduce the threat of attacks on the country. High Israeli officials had said that the Palestinian citizens of Israel were a demographic threat and a threat to the Jewish character of the State of Israel. Israel had established two different regimes, applied to two communities living in two different zones governed by two different types of laws. Moreover, one of those communities lived on land that it had confiscated from the other. As for incitement to hatred, it appeared to her that it was exactly what Israel was doing by making insulting comments about Palestinians. As an example, she quoted the statement of the Minister of Transport who, in speaking of Palestinian prisoners, had said that he could transport them but that he would prefer to drown them in the Dead Sea. In her view, it was important to place the entire situation in the context of the occupation: the current difficult situation was the result of practices which Israel, the occupying Power, used against the Palestinian population.


The meeting rose at noon.

This record is subject to correction. Corrections should be sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned within one week of the date of publication to the Chief of the Official Records Editing Section, room DC2-750, 2 United Nations Plaza, and incorporated in a copy of the record.

Corrections will be issued after the end of the session, in a separate corrigendum for each Committee.

Follow UNISPAL RSS Twitter