Bulletin mensuel de la DDP - Vol.XXIII, No.4 - Bulletin du Comité pour l’exercice des droits inaliénables du peuple palestinien/DDP (
août-septembre 2000) - Publication de la Division des droits palestiniens Français
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Volume XXIII, Bulletin No. 4
on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL) on the Internet at:
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At its eighteenth session, held at Agadir, Morocco, on 28 August 2000, the Al-Quds Committee of the Organization of the Islamic Conference adopted a final communiqué and decisions/recommendations, which are reproduced in full below (A/55/378–S/2000/868):
1. In response to a gracious invitation from His Majesty King Mohamed VI, Sovereign of the Kingdom of Morocco, and Chairman of the Al-Quds Committee, the latter held its Eighteenth Session in the city of Agadir, in the Kingdom of Morocco on 27 Jumada I, 1421 H (28 August 2000) to examine the critical juncture faced by the cause of Palestine and Al-Quds Al-Sharif, the foremost cause of the Islamic Ummah, in the wake of the latest developments.
2. The Meeting was attended by H.E. President Yasser Arafat, President of the State of Palestine, and Their Highnesses and Excellencies the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and delegations of the Committee's member States, as well as H.E. Dr. Azeddine Laraki, Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. It was also attended by a delegation from Al-Quds Al-Sharif representing Christian religious figures from all churches, as well as Muslim ulemas.
3. His Majesty King Mohamed VI, Chairman of the Al-Quds Committee, opened the Committee's proceedings with an address whereby he affirmed that the juncture under which the Committee is convening is most critical and calls for the utmost interest, sagacity and farsightedness.
His Majesty also pointed out the successful steps achieved by the Al-Quds Committee since its establishment under the chairmanship of the late King His Majesty Hassan II, may God rest his soul, with a view to safeguarding the Holy City and preserving its religious, cultural and historical identity as a meeting point for religions and a symbol of tolerance and coexistence. His Majesty also affirmed the need to defend the legitimate rights of the Islamic Ummah at large and the Palestinian people in particular.
After having referred to the difficult negotiations conducted recently in Camp David with regard to the final status, while hailing the peaceful efforts made in this respect, His Majesty delivered a call on behalf of all present generations to all those interested in peace, in which he affirmed that these generations aspire with great expectation to the establishment of an all-embracing peace in the entire region such as to signal the advent of a new era based on coexistence, concord, trust and joint action for the purpose of bringing about a new reality that allows the next generations to live in stability, security and prosperity.
His Majesty King Mohammed VI concluded his opening address by underlining that this aspiration requires farsightedness and demands political courage while it imposes a tremendous collective responsibility on all to shoulder.
4. H.E. President Yasser Arafat, President of the State of Palestine, delivered a statement in which he thanked His Majesty King Mohamed VI for inviting the Al-Quds Committee to hold its Eighteenth Session at this crucial juncture for the cause of Palestine and Al-Quds Al-Sharif. He pointed out that Al-Quds is currently under threat and that the situation no longer permits any waiting or hesitation.
He further stressed that the partners shall not let down Al-Quds and shall not leave it to the very fate that Israel is trying to impose on the Holy City, adding that the situation warrants the rallying and mobilization of all means and potentialities in order to provide for the defence of the Holy City and to rid it of occupation as well as to come up with a strong, unified Arab-Islamic position telling the world at large that Al-Quds Al-Sharif, occupied in 1967, is the eternal capital of the independent State of Palestine. It is a red line, he said, which allows no hesitation. Any solution which is not based on the resolutions of international legitimacy is doomed to fail. There shall be no security, peace or stability in the Middle East region without the return of Al-Quds Al-Sharif to its legitimate owners.
5. Statements by the heads of delegations focused on the long-standing positions adopted by the OIC Summit and Foreign Ministers Conferences, as well as the relevant resolutions adopted by the Al-Quds Committee at its previous sessions. They commended the efforts made by the Al-Quds Committee under the chairmanship of the late King His Majesty Hassan II, as well as those being made by His Majesty King Mohamed VI, for the preservation of the Arab-Islamic character of the city and its cultural, civilizational and historical landmarks.
6. In light of the deliberations conducted by its members, the Committee reached the following decisions:
(a) The Committee affirms that the establishment of an equitable and comprehensive peace in the Middle East has been and shall continue to be one of the OIC member States' steadfast major objectives, a peace based on the resolutions of international legitimacy and particularly Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) as well as the land for peace principle. The Committee further calls for the need to pursue negotiations to ensure continuation of the peace process on this basis.
(b) The Committee supports the efforts made in earnest to establish an equitable comprehensive peace and to ensure the return of the entirety of the occupied Syrian Golan to the line of June 4th, and hails Lebanon's victory through the liberation of its occupied southern area.
(c) The Committee supports the stand of the State of Palestine firmly adhering to its sovereignty over Al-Quds Al-Sharif, including the Holy Mosque of Al-Haram Al-Sharif and all the Holy Christian and Islamic sanctuaries which constitute an integral part of the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, and further affirms that Al-Quds Al-Sharif is the capital of the independent State of Palestine. In this connection, the Committee reaffirms its rejection of any attempt to diminish the Palestinian sovereignty over Al-Quds Al-Sharif.
(d) The Committee reiterates the need for action to put an end to all Israeli practices and measures which conflict with the resolutions of international legitimacy and run counter to the agreements signed by the Palestinian and the Israeli parties. The Committee calls upon the Security Council to prevent these measures in accordance with Security Council resolution 465 (1980) and to reactivate the International Supervision and Monitoring Committee for the purpose of preventing settlement moves in Al-Quds and in the occupied Arab territories, in conformity with Security Council resolution 446 (1979).
(e) The Committee requests all States to uphold Security Council resolution 478 (1980) calling upon them not to transfer their diplomatic missions to the City of Al-Quds; it further invites them not to admit the Israeli attempt to impose the fait accompli in the City of Al-Quds. In this connection, the Committee rejects the recommendation issued by the American House of Representatives providing for the transfer of the American Embassy to the City of Al-Quds and appeals to the American Administration not to carry through this recommendation which is contrary to the resolutions of international legitimacy.
(f) The Committee calls on the States of the world to recognize the State of Palestine with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital as soon as the Palestinian State is proclaimed on the Palestinian soil, and to provide all forms of assistance to the independent Palestinian State so that it may extend its full sovereignty over the Palestinian territories in accordance with international legitimacy; it further appeals to the States of the world to back up the State of Palestine in acceding to full United Nations membership.
(g) It pointed out the need to implement General Assembly resolution 194 (III) concerning the return of the Palestinian refugees to their homes and property as a fundamental component of a comprehensive and just peace.
(h) The Committee welcomes the framework agreement concluded between the PLO and the Vatican on 15 February 2000 whereby all unilateral decisions or acts, such as any alteration of the distinctive character and legal status of Al-Quds, are rejected both morally and legally. The Committee reaffirms the need for joint Islamic-Christian action to safeguard the City of Al-Quds with its religious, historical, civilizational and cultural character.
(i) The Committee hails the efforts made by His Majesty the late King Hassan II in establishing the Beit Mal Al-Quds Al-Sharif Agency and entrusting it with the objectives of protecting the Holy City and its Palestinian population. It also expresses its appreciation to his successor His Majesty King Mohamed VI who has surrounded it with his care and solicitude and who has generously provided it with the means to energize its activity under optimal conditions.
(j) The Committee extends its appreciation to the Al-Quds Committee member States which promptly provided donations to the Agency, thus enabling it to initiate implementation of its projects in the areas of housing, restoration and education. The Committee calls on the OIC member States to support the Agency and to facilitate its mission in mobilizing resources and financial means for the implementation of its projects in Al-Quds Al-Sharif.
(k) The Committee appeals to the public and private financial institutions, funds, banks, business people and individuals to fulfil their duty in supporting the Agency's activities.
(l) The Committee notes with satisfaction the successful launching of the Agency's activity and encourages the Agency to pursue its determined action for the development and implementation of its projects in the Holy City.
(m) The Committee expresses its deep appreciation and heartfelt gratitude to its Chairman, His Majesty King Mohamed VI, Sovereign of the Kingdom of Morocco, for the efforts he has continuously exerted at all Arab, Islamic and international levels in support of the cause of Palestine and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as well as for his gracious invitation to hold this important session in the city of Agadir.
(n) The Committee also expresses its warm thanks and deep appreciation to the Government of His Majesty and to the brotherly Moroccan people for the warm welcome and generous hospitality extended to the delegations participating in this session.
The Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People on 7 September 2000 addressed a letter to the Secretary-General in connection with General Assembly agenda item 36, entitled “Bethlehem 2000”. The full text of the letter is reproduced below (A/55/370):
On behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, I would like to draw your attention again to the historic celebration in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem that began at Christmas 1999 and will conclude at Easter 2001. This event is being held in commemoration of the two-thousandth anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem and the dawning of the third millennium. This landmark millennial celebration has given all of us the opportunity to come to know and revere the history, beauty and sanctity of the city. It has also given us the genuine hope that peace, tranquillity and reconciliation would ultimately prevail in the Holy Land.
As you may recall, the Palestinian Authority, in 1997, launched the Bethlehem 2000 project, the purpose of which was to restore the many religious and historical sites in the city, as well as to rebuild Bethlehem’s infrastructure and prepare the city for the millennial celebrations. The years of conflict in the region have made the task of rehabilitating Bethlehem an extremely challenging one. It became obvious that, to implement the project successfully and in a timely manner, broad and varied international assistance would be required.
In order to help the Palestinian people cope with this undertaking, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People took upon itself the task of promoting the project and raising international awareness of the project’s needs. At the request of the Committee and in recognition of the universal significance of the project, the General Assembly included the item entitled “Bethlehem 2000” in the agenda of its fifty-third and fifty-fourth sessions, and adopted without a vote resolutions 53/27 and 54/22, respectively. In those resolutions, the Assembly, inter alia, expressed support for the Bethlehem 2000 project and called for increased assistance and engagement by the international community as a whole to ensure its success.
Heeding the call of the General Assembly, as expressed in the above-mentioned resolutions, the Committee has consistently reserved a special place for the Bethlehem 2000 project in its various activities and in its meetings programme. The importance of heightening awareness of and promoting support for the project was highlighted at the United Nations Seminar on Prospects for Palestinian Economic Development and the Middle East Peace Process, held at Cairo on 20 and 21 June last. The Bureau of the Committee has also discussed this important issue with representatives of intergovernmental organizations, such as the European Union, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the League of Arab States, as well as with non-governmental organizations.
In the course of the discussions held at the various intergovernmental meetings that I have attended over the year in my capacity as Chairman of the Committee, especially those organized by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Organization of African Unity and the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, I have consistently promoted the Committee’s objectives and activities, including its support for the Bethlehem 2000 project.
The Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat continued to disseminate information about the project through the United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL), which can be accessed on the Internet through the United Nations home page or at domino.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF. Also, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 54/41, the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat has established an Internet web site entitled “Bethlehem 2000”, which can be found at un.org/Depts/dpi/bethlehem2000.
As a result of increased awareness and worldwide promotion of the project’s objectives, substantial contributions have already been made by Member States and intergovernmental and civil society organizations. Nevertheless, a lot is yet to be accomplished within the remaining time frame of the project, as well as in the months and years to come in the city of Bethlehem and in other Palestinian municipalities throughout the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian people will require considerable international assistance in order to deal successfully with the enormous rehabilitation and development tasks. Donor assistance, therefore, is vital for the improvement of the economic and social conditions of the Palestinian people and for creating a viable Palestinian economy.
On behalf of the Committee, I would like to take this opportunity to express our profound gratitude to all those Governments, intergovernmental and civil society organizations, and individuals that have so far contributed to the Bethlehem 2000 project of the Palestinian Authority and to the goal of reconstructing the city of Bethlehem.
In the light of the above and recognizing the importance of making a concerted effort aimed at completing the project, the Committee wishes to renew its appeal to the international community to continue to support and render assistance to the Bethlehem 2000 project of the Palestinian Authority and to the development of all other Palestinian municipalities. The Committee remains hopeful that pilgrims and tourists from every corner of the world will continue to visit Bethlehem - the birthplace of Jesus Christ - and celebrate the wealth of historical, religious and cultural traditions of the Palestinian people.
I should be grateful if you would have the present letter circulated as a document of the General Assembly, under agenda item 36.
III. EXCERPTS FROM THE DECLARATION OF THE MINISTERS
FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND HEADS OF DELEGATION
OF THE MOVEMENT OF NON-ALIGNED COUNTRIES
ISSUED IN NEW YORK ON 14 SEPTEMBER 2000
1. We, the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Heads of Delegation of the Non-Aligned Movement attending the General Debate of the Millennium Assembly of the United Nations, met in New York on 14 September 2000, to exchange views on the items of the Agenda of the Millennium Assembly that are of significant importance to the Movement, and to discuss the role of and collective challenges before the Non-Aligned Movement in the 21st Century. We view the Millennium Summit outcome as an important contribution towards renewing and strengthening the mandate of the United Nations to meet the challenges of the new century. We welcome the renewed commitment of the Heads of State or Government, at the Millennium Summit, to peace, stability and disarmament, and the eradication of poverty, including achieving sustainable development for all our peoples.
4. We reaffirm our determination to actively strive towards the achievement of a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and the principle of land for peace. In this context, we stress the need for the Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan to the line of 4 June 1967 and demand the immediate demarcation of this line. We reaffirm the right of the Palestinian people to establish their independent State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital. Furthermore, we reaffirm that a just and comprehensive peace can only be achieved by upholding international legitimacy and relevant United Nations resolutions. In this regard, we consider the attempts by the Israeli government to undermine the terms of reference of the Middle East peace process which started in Madrid as a serious obstacle to the realization of peace. We welcome the liberation of the Lebanese territories from the Israeli occupation and call for an end to Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Amman, 28 September (UNRWA) –
The Commissioner-General [Mr. Peter Hansen] chaired UNRWA's informal meeting of major donor and host Governments, which concluded in Amman today. Participants in the two-day meeting reaffirmed support for the Agency and its efforts to maintain services to about 3.7 million Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, and the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Delegates represented 26 of the Agency's donor and host Governments, and the Palestine Liberation Organization.
In the keynote address to the meeting on 26 September, the Jordanian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Abdul Ilah Khatib, reiterated Jordan's commitment and support for UNRWA and the need for its services to continue until a permanent solution to the refugee problem is reached and fully implemented. Mr. Khatib called upon the international community to provide the Agency with adequate financial resources needed to meet its financial requirements and to close its budget gap. "Enabling the Agency to meet its financial obligations at this crucial junction will contribute positively to developing constructive attitudes towards the peace process", Mr. Khatib said.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Hansen thanked donor and host Governments for their continued support to the Agency and updated the meeting on developments in the Agency's work since donor and host Governments met on 10 and 11 May. In particular, the Commissioner-General briefed the meeting about the situation in Lebanon, where a number of sit-ins and a letter-writing campaign had begun against UNRWA to provide secondary education in the north of Lebanon. Mr. Hansen emphasized that, while it was not Agency policy to provide secondary education to Palestine refugees, the Agency did its utmost to exceptionally meet the demand in other parts of Lebanon where the need was greater, with additional earmarked donor funding. Any further expansion of secondary school education in Lebanon was subject to the receipt of additional contributions for such an activity.
The Commissioner-General also highlighted other areas where additional needs arose due to unforeseen developments in the region, which further increased the demand for the Agency's over-stretched resources, for instance, the introduction of English language teaching from the first grade in Jordan and the adoption of new textbooks in the West Bank and Gaza.
In spite of its financial woes, Mr. Hansen confirmed UNRWA's commitment to maintaining/providing basic services to refugees until a final settlement had been reached. While UNRWA's cash budget for the year 2000 was $280 million, the expected income for the year was $253 million. Mr. Hansen highlighted that, while there had been a general increase in annual contributions from most donors in their local currencies between 1995 and 2000, those increases did not match the increased demand on Agency services due to natural population growth or offset the negative impact of exchange rate fluctuations against the United States dollar. In the year 2000, UNRWA had lost over $10 million in income as a result of the more than 25 per cent devaluation of the euro against the United States dollar. The European Commission and its member States combined are the largest source of funding for the Agency.
The Commissioner-General briefly reported to the meeting Agency efforts to expand the donor base and to tap new resources of funding for UNRWA programmes and projects.
In statement after statement, delegates from donor and host Governments reiterated their unwavering support to UNRWA and to its mandate. Speakers highlighted the indispensability of UNRWA and the need for the Agency to remain a strong institution capable of meeting Palestine refugee needs of health, education, and relief and social services. They also voiced concern over the Agency's continued financial deficit and its effect on the level and quality of services. Speakers also praised the Agency's continuing efforts in management reform, particularly the new budget format and the ongoing effort to implement a new financial and human resources system based on the latest technology.
The head of the United States delegation reaffirmed her Government's strong and continuing support for UNRWA's humanitarian mandate to provide health, educational and social services to the Palestine refugees and announced an additional United States contribution of $9 million to UNRWA in the year 2000. This sum included $6.6 million for the Agency's General Fund and $2.4 million for special projects. This brings the total contribution by the United States, the largest State donor to UNRWA, for the year 2000, to $89 million.
In addition to the additional United States pledge, several other donors highlighted their own increased contributions to UNRWA in the year 2000 over their 1999 levels and expressed their intention to maintain these increased level in the year 2001. The representative of the European Commission informed the meeting that, in addition to additional funding for two projects in the Syrian Arab Republic, hospitalization in Lebanon and shelter rehabilitation, the European Commission was currently considering providing 15 million euros to improve environmental health conditions in refugee camps in the region. Saudi Arabia announced an additional contribution of $2.4 million to be paid to UNRWA over four years starting in 2001.
In his concluding remarks, Mr. Hansen thanked the participants and their Governments for their continued support to UNRWA and its mandate, which sent a positive message to Palestine refugees reaffirming the international community's commitment to their cause until a final settlement was reached.
The Secretary-General is seriously concerned about the recent outbreak of violence in Jerusalem and other areas. He regrets the loss of life and calls upon both sides to exercise maximum restraint. The recent incidents demonstrate more than ever that it is essential to continue the negotiations to reach a final peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
Yesterday, 28 September 2000, a member of the Israeli parliament and the leader of the Likud Party, Mr. Ariel Sharon, led a group in a dangerous and provocative visit to Al-Haram Al-Sharif in Occupied East Jerusalem. The purpose of this visit, according to Mr. Sharon, was to emphasize illegal Israeli sovereignty over the place. Hundreds of members of the Israeli security forces accompanied Mr. Sharon, which further aggravated tensions, leading to clashes between Palestinian civilians and Israeli security forces, in both Al-Haram Al-Sharif and the rest of East Jerusalem.
Today, 29 September 2000, and following Friday worship, Israeli security forces stormed Al-Haram Al-Sharif using rubber bullets and live ammunition against the worshippers, killing five Palestinian civilians and injuring about 200 others. An Israeli police chief admitted that snipers were also deployed and that they had fired live rounds, making the death of civilians the result of wilful killing. Clashes and further Israeli repression against Palestinian civilians later spread to other places, including the rest of East Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ramallah and Gaza.
The actions today of the Israeli security forces are starkly reminiscent of those committed on 8 October 1990, when those forces stormed Al-Haram Al-Sharif, killing 20 civilians and injuring more than 150. At the time, the Security Council, in its resolution 672 (1990) of 12 October 1990, condemned the acts of violence by the Israeli security forces and called upon “ Israel, the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and responsibilities under the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, which is applicable to all the territories occupied by Israel since 1967”.
The international community, and particularly the Security Council, must reiterate such a position and compel the occupying Power to respect its obligations. The need for the cessation of such appalling actions is even greater at this sensitive time, given their detrimental effect on the Middle East peace process and the efforts to achieve a final settlement between the two sides. At this point, ensuring the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Al-Haram Al-Sharif and the rest of East Jerusalem and from the vicinity of other Palestinian cities is a necessary first step for salvaging the situation.
I would be grateful if you would arrange to have the text of the present letter distributed as a document of the fifty-fifth session of the General Assembly, under agenda items 36, 40, 41 and 85, and of the Security Council.