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SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 4th MEETING
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Wednesday, 24 March 1999, at 10 a.m.
Chairman: Mrs. ANDERSON (Ireland)
THE RIGHT OF PEOPLES TO SELF-DETERMINATION AND ITS APPLICATION TO PEOPLES UNDER COLONIAL OR ALIEN DOMINATION OR FOREIGN OCCUPATION (continued)
STATEMENT BY THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES
STATEMENT BY THE UNDER-SECRETARY FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF MEXICO
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS OF GABON
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS OF IRELAND
STATEMENT BY THE VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL OF STATE AND SECRETARY OF THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS OF CUBA
ORGANIZATION OF THE WORK OF THE SESSION (continued)
This record is subject to correction.
The meeting was called to order at 10.05 a.m.
THE RIGHT OF PEOPLES TO SELF-DETERMINATION AND ITS APPLICATION TO PEOPLES UNDER COLONIAL OR ALIEN DOMINATION OR FOREIGN OCCUPATION (agenda item 5) (continued) (E/CN.4/1999/10, 11 and 123; E/CN.4/1999/NGO/32, 58 and 59)
10. Mr. TCHOUMAREV (Russian Federation) ...
12. The situation in the Middle East required careful scrutiny by the Commission. The realization of the Palestinian people's inalienable rights would not be damaging to the State of Israel; on the contrary, it would benefit Israel by improving its security and encouraging the establishment of good relations among the countries in the region. The Russian Federation, one of the sponsors of the peace process, earnestly wished to see Israeli-Palestinian dialogue continue on all the outstanding issues, in particular the building of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, access for followers of all faiths to the holy sites and the status of Jerusalem.
13. The political aspect of the right to self-determination should not overshadow the humanitarian aspect; hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were refugees or displaced. In that regard, the Russian Federation supported all humanitarian initiatives and all the efforts of the international community towards a peaceful settlement of the situation in the Middle East. In particular, it supported the Special Rapporteur's action on human rights in the Palestinian territories under Israeli occupation, and the actions of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) and of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Finally, it would be following closely the work of the meeting of the States parties to the fourth Geneva Convention on the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories due to take place in July.
14. Mr. WANG Min (China) ...
16. The key to a global, just and lasting peace in the Middle East lay in restoring all the rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination. To that end, Israel and the Arab countries must negotiate earnestly and pragmatically on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions and the existing agreements between the parties and guided by the "land for peace" principle.
23. Mr. MORJANE (Tunisia) said that the situation in the Arab territories occupied by Israel had become explosive because of the policies of the occupation authorities, which were continuing to seize territory by force and to violate human rights. In Jerusalem, Israel was continuing its Judaization policy, destroying homes, expelling the inhabitants and altering the city's demographic composition, in flagrant violation of the international agreements to which Israel was a party, notably the fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly.
24. It should be remembered that the international community had always regarded Jerusalem as part of the occupied territories. Recently, the European Community had refused to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
25. Israel was defying the resolutions of the General Assembly and was not fulfilling the obligations it had undertaken at the 1991 Madrid Conference, which were intended to lead to a just, global and lasting peace in the Middle East and to the creation of an independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital.
26. Tunisia, which had always striven for peace in the Middle East and for respect for the Palestinian people's right to self-determination, called on the Commission to continue its efforts to encourage Israel to fulfil its obligations and the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly.
27. Mrs. RUSTAM (Indonesia) was concerned to note that, while the Commission had been giving priority attention to the issue of human rights violations in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine, since 1971, the situation had barely improved. The Oslo Accords had been signed six years previously. Currently, the peace process had reached deadlock as a consequence of the construction of Jewish settlements on the West Bank and the issue of the Palestinians' security obligations towards Israel. The Palestinians at present enjoyed total or partial autonomy in 27 per cent of the West Bank, but Israel continued to exert control over almost all the territory. The process was lagging considerably behind the original timetable, particularly in the matter of Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, and trust between the two sides had been damaged. The peace process could move ahead only if the two sides accepted the Wye River initiatives and resumed negotiations.
28. She feared that a deterioration of the situation might again lead to an escalation of violence. It was important that the Commission should strongly request the Israeli Government to put an immediate end to human rights violations in the occupied territories. The United Nations should continue to demand the unconditional withdrawal of all Israeli forces from all occupied Palestinian and Arab territories, in accordance with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978).