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Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
30 June 2004
UNITED NATIONS AFRICAN MEETING
IN SUPPORT OF THE INALIENABLE RIGHTS
OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
Cape Town, 29 and 30 June 2004
1. The United Nations African Meeting in Support of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People was held in Cape Town, on 29 and 30 June 2004, under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. Its theme was “Achieving the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people—the key to peace in the Middle East.” Participants in the Meeting included eminent personalities and experts from Africa, other international experts, representatives of Governments, Palestine, intergovernmental organizations, United Nations system entities, parliamentarians, civil society organizations, academic institutions and the media. The participants reviewed the situation on the ground, discussed ways of preserving and building on prior achievements in the political process, and international peace efforts, including support by African States for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.
2. The participants were greatly honoured by the opening address by H.E. Mr. Thabo Mbeki, President of the Republic of South Africa, and embraced the principled positions and pragmatic ideas contained therein. They expressed deep appreciation for the active and constructive role played by the Republic of South Africa and President Mbeki in efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East.
3. The participants welcomed the video message received from H.E. Mr. Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestinian Authority, in which he reiterated the Palestinian support for international efforts to solve the conflict, in particular, the Road Map.
4. Reviewing the deteriorating situation on the ground, participants condemned the wilful and systematic violations by Israel, the occupying Power, of international humanitarian and human rights law. They stressed that the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territory remained the core of the conflict and strongly condemned Israel’s ongoing and escalating military campaign in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since September 2000, causing widespread death and destruction. The speakers were appalled by the continuing and increasing Israeli policies of extrajudicial killings, house demolitions and restrictions on the freedom of movement of persons and goods, including humanitarian, throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory. They were deeply concerned about the severely detrimental impact on the economic and social conditions of the Palestinian people and the exacerbating humanitarian crisis. The participants reaffirmed their principled position of condemning the targeting of innocent civilians.
5. They vigorously condemned the continued Israeli efforts to perpetuate the occupation and create facts on the ground, singling out as particularly damaging to the peace prospects the continued settlement activities and construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem. They affirmed that, if completed, the wall would render the two-State solution physically impossible. They condemned Israel’s refusal to comply with the demand of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly to stop and reverse the construction of the Wall, which was essential for the revival of the peace process. They welcomed the referral of the issue to the International Court of Justice and were looking forward to its Advisory Opinion expected to be delivered on 9 July 2004. They were confident that it would be versed in international law and stressed that it should be respected by all law-abiding States and that serious and comprehensive follow-up by the United Nations organs and Member States, by regional organizations and by civil society would be necessary.
6. The participants overwhelmingly agreed that the absence of a direct political dialogue between the parties contributed to the hopelessness and despair. They welcomed the readiness of the Palestinian leadership to work with the Israeli side, the Quartet and other parties in an effort to restart a meaningful process of political negotiations with a view to achieving the goals outlined in the Road Map. They were appalled by the continuing confinement since December 2001 of the elected leader of the Palestinian people, Yasser Arafat. Noting the Palestinian determination to conduct the long-overdue presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections, and the importance of these elections for Palestinian reform, they called on all countries that value democracy to make such elections possible.
7. The participants of the Meeting believed the Quartet’s Road Map continued to represent the most viable initiative for the achievement of a peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and for realizing a two-State vision and called upon the Quartet to expedite the action plan towards its implementation. They saw in the Israeli Prime Minister’s “unilateral disengagement plan”, as well as the Israeli-American exchange of letters on 14 April 2004, an unacceptable departure from the Road Map and a violation of international law, relevant Security Council resolutions, the terms of reference of the peace process and the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including the Palestine refugees. The participants took note of the meeting of the Quartet in New York on 4 May 2004, including the reaffirmation of their commitment to the Road Map and its terms of reference. They strongly supported the Quartet’s position that any withdrawal from the Gaza Strip should be a full withdrawal and part of the Road Map, which required actions in the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, especially with regard to settlements and the wall.
8. The participants in the Meeting affirmed the important role and responsibility of the Security Council, under the Charter of the United Nations, towards the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. Many speakers stressed the need for serious action by the Council in the face of the deteriorating situation on the ground and the continuing violations of international law by the occupying Power. In this regard, they stressed the importance of a Security Council action to mandate an international presence or monitoring force in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which could be part of a comprehensive Security Council resolution on the matter. They further called on the members of the Quartet to engage the Council given its authority and responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.
9. The participants in the Meeting took note of the Final Communiqué of the Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement Committee on Palestine, which was held at Putrajaya, Malaysia on 13 May 2004, and expressed agreement,
, with the need for convening a special and urgent meeting on Palestine at the United Nations at the start of the 59th Session of the General Assembly that would bring together international and regional groupings to further mobilize the international community in support of the two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the pre-1967 borders.
10. The participants in the Meeting reaffirmed the permanent responsibility of the United Nations with respect to all aspects of the question of Palestine, until it is resolved in conformity with relevant United Nations resolutions and norms of international law, and until the full realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.
11. The participants expressed their appreciation of and full support for determined and unremitting efforts of UNRWA in rendering humanitarian assistance to Palestine refugees in increasingly challenging conditions. They welcomed the outcome of the just concluded conference on “Meeting the Humanitarian Needs of the Palestine Refugees in the Near East: Building Partnerships in Support of UNRWA”. They called upon the occupying Power to take all necessary measures to assist the Agency in its difficult work, to ensure the safety of its personnel and the security of its installations and infrastructure, and to facilitate its access to all areas and persons under its responsibility.
12. The Meeting took note of the African Union Summit that would open in Addis Ababa and expressed hope that action would be taken to promote the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and a peaceful solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, making a particular effort to engage the Quartet. They expressed their hope that the efforts would be focussed on specific areas, including upholding international law; stopping and reversing the wall built by Israel inside the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem; achieving a two-State solution based on the pre-1967 borders; and building a broad Coalition for Peace in the Middle East.
13. The participants expressed their appreciation and gratitude to the Government of the Republic of South Africa for hosting the United Nations African Meeting in Support of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and for the assistance and support extended to the Committee and the United Nations Secretariat in its preparation.
Cape Town, 30 June 2004