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


GA/PAL/903
10 October 2002

Committee on Inalienable Rights
of the Palestinian People
266th Meeting (AM)


PALESTINIAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE URGES SUSTAINED INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE
ON ISRAEL FOR FULL IMPLEMENTATION OF SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 1435 (2002)


Continued international pressure on Israel to fully implement Security Council resolution 1435 was vital, the Permanent Observer for Palestine told the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People this morning.  [Resolution 1435 (2002) calls for a halt to Israeli measures in Ramallah and “expeditious” Israeli withdrawal to pre-September 2000 positions.]

International pressure had led to partial implementation of certain provisions of the resolution -– namely, Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian headquarters and parts of Ramallah -- said Nasser Al-Kidwa.  However, Israeli President Ariel Sharon and his Government had rejected the principle of reaching a final settlement to the question of Palestine.

All aspects of the conflict, both political and security-related, must be addressed at the same time, he continued.  Despite their suffering, the Palestinian people and Government were committed to embarking on the road to a lasting and just peace.  The international community also had a clear role to play, whether through the efforts of the Quartet or the Security Council.

During the ensuing discussion, Malaysia’s representative said Israel had implemented Security Council resolution 1435 just enough to defuse pressure coming from the international community.  He took particular exception to Israeli actions designed to harass Chairman Arafat.

He then referred to the signing by United States President George Bush of a document designating Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, calling it a regrettable step taken at a delicate time.  That action showed insensitivity to the feelings and concerns of Palestinians and Muslims on the subject of Jerusalem.

Briefing the Committee on last month’s United Nations International Conference of Civil Society in Support of the Palestinian People, the Chairman of the Committee said Council resolution 1435 was viewed by the participants as a glimmer of hope that the Council possessed the political will to play the part assigned to it by the international community.

The Conference drew over 400 participants from civil society organizations in all regions, he continued.  The non-governmental organization (NGO) Declaration passed by the Conference called on the international community to commit civil society to advocacy and other initiatives in strengthening the forces for peace.  The Conference Plan of Action specified those initiatives and introduced several concrete activities supporting the Palestinian people.

Also this morning, the Committee adopted its draft report to the General Assembly on its activities over the past year.  The report was introduced by the representative of Malta.

The representatives of Madagascar, Senegal and South Africa also spoke.

The Deputy Permanent Observer of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) also addressed the meeting.

The Committee will meet again at a time and date to be announced.

Background

As the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People met this morning, it was expected to consider items including developments in the Middle East peace process and the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem.  It was also expected to hear a report by the Chairman of the United Nations International Conference on Civil Society in Support of the Palestinian People, held from 23 to 24 September 2002 in New York.  The Committee was also scheduled to take up its draft report to the General Assembly.

Statements

PAPA LOUIS FALL, Chairman of the Committee, congratulated Pakistan on its election on 27 September as a non-permanent member of the Security Council.  He also welcomed the new Permanent Representative of Madagascar to the Committee.

Briefing members on the Committee’s activities since its last meeting on 7 August, he said that in view of the serious deterioration of the situation around the muqataa -– the headquarters of the President of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah -– and its reoccupation and further destruction by the Israeli army, the Security Council had met on 23 and 24 September.  In his capacity as Chairman of the Committee, he had participated in the debate on 23 September.

He said that as part of the Committee’s 2002 training programme for staff of the Palestinian Authority, two staff from the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation had been staying with the Division for Palestinian Rights since the current General Assembly session.  It was the seventh year of the programme, and he hoped that training would be beneficial for young Palestinian professionals and would allow them to better understand the goals and activities of the Organization.

NASSER AL-KIDWA, Permanent Observer for Palestine, expressed condolences to the Government and people of Senegal, who had recently experienced a great loss of lives following the tragic shipwreck accident.

The situation in the occupied territories was unfortunately very serious and deteriorating, he said.  That situation was a direct outcome of the constant aggressive policies of the Israeli Government headed by Ariel Sharon, including the policy to pursue war crimes and State terrorism and violations of the rights of the Palestinian people.  Three days ago, the occupation forces had committed a new war crime in the town of Khan Yunis, resulting in the killing of 15 Palestinians and wounding 101 others.  The occupation troops had not even attempted to claim that there had been a military target.  The criminal act had taken place following the activities against the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Yasser Arafat, when Israeli forces had reoccupied his headquarters and destroyed remaining buildings.  Those acts had put the personal security of the Chairman and his personnel in jeopardy.

Fortunately, he said, the Security Council –- on one of the few occasions when the Council had been able to do something –- had adopted resolution 1435 (2002) of 24 September.  The Committee Chairman’s participation in the Council, as well as that of a great number of Member States, had helped the Council to move in the right direction.  The resolution had been adopted by 14 Council members, with the abstention of the United States.  Resolution 1435 (2002) was one of the most important resolutions adopted by the Council and included a provision on the need to end the destruction in Ramallah.  The resolution contained other important provisions, including an invitation to end all terror and destruction and Israel’s withdrawal from all Palestinian towns.  The Security Council had also addressed terrorist acts by both sides.

The Israeli occupying power had rejected the provisions of the resolution, he continued.  International pressure was maintained, however, leading to partial implementation of certain provisions of the resolution, namely the withdrawal by Israeli forces from the Palestinian headquarters and parts of Ramallah.  That took place on 30 September, namely six days after the Council’s adoption of the resolution.  It was important to stress the need for continued pressure for the resolution’s complete implementation and a return to the path to peace.  Because of the political attitude and disposition of Mr. Sharon and his Government, that would not be an easy task.  He had rejected the principle of reaching a final settlement to the question of Palestine.

The only path forward was to pursue convergence and rapprochement, he said.  All aspects of the conflict, both political and security-related, must be addressed at the same time.  The final outcome of the solution must be determined beforehand.  To that end, a road map was needed.  A credible international presence was inevitable.  The Secretary-General had already proposed the establishment of a multilateral force.  Despite their suffering, the Palestinian people and Government were committed to embarking on the road to a lasting and just peace.  The intifadah had come as a direct response to the visit of Ariel Sharon to Al-Aqsa in 2000.  The intifadah was an expression of the collective rejection by the Palestinian people of the occupation and of aggression against their holy places, as well as their determination to exercise their inalienable rights.  The international community had a clear role to play, whether through the efforts of the Quartet or through the Security Council.

He said that all the events in the occupied Territories, including what happened at President Arafat’s headquarters, would be impacted by what might take place in another part of the region, namely Iraq.  He joined those who expressed grave concern at the imminent prospect of war in the region.  He expressed hope for a peaceful solution to the problem through implementation of Security Council resolutions on Iraq, including the return of United Nations inspectors.

He went on to say that with the beginning of the new General Assembly session, the Palestine Mission had begun work on the traditional resolutions adopted by that body.  The language of those resolutions must be designed to reflect recent developments in the territories.  For the past two years, the Mission had postponed such an exercise in the hope that a final settlement could be reached and peace attained.  Now, with the deterioration of the situation, those changes would take place.  The Mission would also put forward a new proposal on the Palestinian child.  Work on that resolution would take place as soon as possible, so that there would be ample time to negotiate changes with a maximum of Member States.  The resolution would be tabled during the current session through the Assembly’s Third Committee.  Apart from that, no new resolutions would be put forward.

He thanked the Committee for its support on the Palestinian question and on the struggle of the Palestinian people to exercise their inalienable right to achieve lasting peace.

HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said Israel had implemented Security Council resolution 1435 (2002) just enough to defuse international pressure.  It was incumbent upon the international community to increase its pressure on Israel to implement that and other resolutions.  He took particular exception to Israeli actions designed to harass Chairman Arafat.

He then referred to the signing by United States President George Bush of a document designating Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, calling it a regrettable step taken at a delicate time.  That action showed insensitivity to the feelings and concerns of Palestinians and Muslims on the subject of Jerusalem.  He suggested that the Committee should react to President Bush’s action, an action from a country that claimed to be the honest broker in seeking a solution to the Palestinian conflict.

Turning to Iraq, he said the international community should make every effort to avoid the unleashing of war on that country.  The question of use of force should not be addressed in any manner.  He stressed that the Iraq issue could divert attention away from the more important issue of Palestine.  As the international community shifted its focus to the impending military action on Iraq, Palestine would be sidelined.

AHMAD HAJIHOSSEINI of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), also referring to the document signed by President Bush concerning Jerusalem, said the Secretary-General of the OIC had issued a statement expressing his organization’s grave concern about that issue.

Mr. AL-KIDWA said that an important point had been raised by Malaysia and the OIC -– namely, that the action taken by the United States Executive Branch on the legal status of Jerusalem clearly violated at least 10 Security Council resolutions and scores of resolutions from other United Nations bodies, including the General Assembly.  Subsequent assurances given by the Executive Branch were not enough to expunge or mask the dangerous nature of that action.

Mr. FALL, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, reported on the United Nations International Conference of Civil Society in Support of the Palestinian People, which was held in New York from 23 to 24 September.  He noted that the Conference had coincided with yet another escalation of the crisis in the occupied Palestinian territory – the renewed siege of the Ramallah headquarters.  During the first day of the meeting, the Security Council adopted resolution 1435, which was viewed by participants at the Conference as a glimmer of hope that the Council possessed the political will to play the part assigned to it by the international community.

The Conference, under the theme “End the Occupation”, had focused on the conflict’s root causes and provided the common denominator for a large and quite diverse group of civil society organizations from all regions.  Those organizations included Palestinian and Israeli groups, American-Arab and American-Jewish organizations, Christian, Muslim and Jewish organizations and humanitarian aid foundations, together with grass-roots activists and representatives of think tanks.  Over 400 participants had attended the Conference.

The NGO Declaration passed by the Conference called upon the international community to meet its responsibility and commit civil society to a range of advocacy and other initiatives to strengthen the forces for peace, he said.  The Conference Plan of Action specified those initiatives and introduced several concrete activities supporting the Palestinian people.

Mr. HASMY (Malaysia) said it was important for the Committee to continue working with non-governmental organizations (NGOs).  On the issue of coordination, he asked what kind of support the Committee could give NGOs.  They had put forth a number of recommendations, including the recommendation that General Assembly request an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on Israel’s occupation.  How could the Committee support that kind of proposal?  Regarding the presence of an international force, he said that the insertion of such a force would be one of the first steps towards stopping the violence.  The issue would not disappear, and it was incumbent on the Assembly to consider the matter.

The Committee Chairman said that NGOs were always a little ahead of Member States.  Their function was to loosen the wooden tongues of those States.  On the question of an international presence, he said the Palestinian file was before both the General Assembly and the Security Council.  Each had a clearly defined role.  The Committee could not place itself in front of the Security Council.  The problem could, however, be posited to the General Assembly so that the international community could be made aware of that important issue.

Committee Rapporteur WALTER BALZAN (Malta) introduced the draft report (document A/AC.183/2002/CRP.2) to the General Assembly, covering the Committee’s work since October 2001.  The draft report provided an update on developments on the ground and efforts since 10 October 2001 to resume the political process.

After considering the draft report chapter by chapter, the Committee adopted the report for submission to the General Assembly. 

Mr. AL-KIDWA expressed appreciation to the Committee and the Division for Palestinian Rights for their excellent work on the preparation of the report.  It was an important document.

ZINA ANDRIANARIVELO-RAZAFY (Madagascar) thanked the Committee for its kind words of welcome.  He also expressed his condolences for the recent accident in Senegal.  He hoped the situation in Palestine would improve.  His delegation would support any initiative that would hasten the reign of peace in the region.

MALICK THIERNO SOW (Senegal) thanked delegations for their expressions of sympathy and assured the Committee that those messages would be transmitted to the Government and people of Senegal.

LINDA MASO (South Africa) said it was important that the Committee ascertain the views of the Quartet on the recent announcement by the United States on Jerusalem before going to the General Assembly with the matter.


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For information media - not an official record