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

Follow UNISPAL RSS Twitter

Source: Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP)
1 December 1997




SPECIAL BULLETIN ON
THE COMMEMORATION OF THE
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY
WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
1997








CONTENTS

I. Commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

II. Texts of statements made and messages delivered on the occasion of the
International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, 1997

Mr. Ibra Deguène Ka, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise
of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People

Mr. Hennadiy Udovenko (Ukraine), President of the fifty-second session
of the General Assembly of the United Nations

Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations

Mr. Fernando Berrocal Soto (Costa Rica), President of the Security
Council for the month of December 1997

Mr. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the
Palestine Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian
Authority, delivered by Mr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, Permanent Observer of
Palestine to the United Nations

Mr. Herman Leonard de Silva (Sri Lanka), Chairman of the Special
Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights
of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories

Mr. Andelfo J. García, Deputy Permanent Representative of Colombia
to the United Nations, representing Mr. Ernesto Samper Pizano,
President of Colombia and Chairman of the Coordinating Bureau of the
Movement of Non-Aligned Countries

Mr. Makarim Wibisono, Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the
United Nations, representing Mr. Ali Alatas, Minister of Foreign
Affairs of Indonesia, in his capacity as Chairman of the Islamic
Conference of Foreign Ministers at its twenty-fourth session

Mr. Machivenyika Tobias Mapuranga, Permanent Representative of
Zimbabwe to the United Nations, representing Mr. Robert Mugabe,
President of Zimbabwe and Chairman of the Organization of African Unity

Mr. Ahmed Esmat Abdel Meguid, Secretary-General of the League of Arab
States, delivered by Mr. Said Kamal, Under-Secretary-General for
Palestine Affairs of the League of Arab States

Mr. Don Betz, Chairman of the International Coordinating
Committee for Non-Governmental Organizations on the Question of Palestine


III. Messages received on the occasion of the International Day of

Solidarity with the Palestinian People

A. Messages from heads of State or Government

Prof. Burhân-ud-din Rabbâni, President of the Islamic State of Afghanistan

Mr. Liamine Zeroual, President of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria

Mr. Robert de Almeida, Acting President of the Republic of Angola

Mrs. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Mr. Sergei Ling, Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus

Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan dan Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam

Mr. Li Peng, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China

Mr. Fidel Castro Ruz, President of the Council of State and of the
Government of the Republic of Cuba

Mr. Glafcos Clerides, President of the Republic of Cyprus

Mr. Fabian Alarcón Rivera, Constitutional President of the Republic of Ecuador

Mr. Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt

General Lansana Conte, President of the Republic of Guinea

Mr. Inder Kumar Gujral, Prime Minister of the Republic of India

Mr. Soeharto, President of the Republic of Indonesia

Mr. Seyed Mohammad Khatami, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran

King Hussein Bin Talal of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Mr. Nouhak Phoumsavanh, President of the Lao People's Democratic Republic

Mr. Alfred Sant, Prime Minister of the Republic of Malta

Mr. Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius

Mr. Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León, President of the United Mexican States

Mr. Sam Nujoma, President of the Republic of Namibia

Mr. Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar

Mr. Boris Yeltsin, President of the Russian Federation

Fahd Bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King of Saudi Arabia

Mr. Abdou Diouf, President of the Republic of Senegal

Mr. Nelson Mandela, President of the Republic of South Africa

Mrs. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, President of the Democratic
Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

Lieutenant General Omer Hassan Ahmed Bashir, President of the Republic of the Sudan

Mr. Chuan Leekpai, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand

Mr. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, President of the Republic of Tunisia

Mr. Mesut Yilmaz, Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey

Sheik Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates

Mr. Tran Duc Luong, President of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam


B. Messages from Governments

Argentina
Guyana
Malaysia
Uruguay

C. Messages from Ministers for Foreign Affairs

Mr. Luiz Felipe Lampreia, Minister for External Relations of Brazil

Mr. Ernest Yonli, Minister for the Civil Service and Modernization of
the Administration (on behalf of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Burkina Faso)

Mr. Keizo Obuchi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan

Mr. Chong Ha-Yoo, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea

Prof. S. Jayakumar, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore

Mr. Farouk Al-Shara’, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Syrian Arab Republic

Mr. Hennadiy Udovenko, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine


D. Messages from intergovernmental organizations having received a
standing invitation to participate as observers in the sessions and the
work of the General Assembly and maintaining permanent offices at Headquarters

European Union: Mr. Jacques F. Poos, Chairman of the Council of Ministers

Oganization of the Islamic Conference: Mr. Azeddine Laraki, Secretary-General


E. Messages from United Nations specialized agencies

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization:
Mr. Federico Mayor, Director-General


F. Messages from non-governmental organizations

Associación Cultural Israelita de Córdoba: Mr. Isidoro Libovich,
President and Mr. Fernando Roitter, Secretary

Association of Women of the Mediterranean Region: Ms. Yana Mintoff Bland, President

Association for Social Analysis and Political Education:
Dr. Fritz Balke

Association sénégalaise des professeurs d’histoire et de géographie:
Mr. Alioune Ndiaye, Secretary-General

Comité africain du Conseil mondial de la Paix

Committee for Israeli-Palestinian Dialogue: Mr. Latif Dori, Chairman

Federación de Mujeres Cubanas: Ms. Magalys Arocha Domínguez,
Secretary for External Relations

General Arab Women Federation: Dr. Manal Younis Abdul-Razzaq, Secretary-General

Indo-Palestine Solidarity Organization: Mr. A. Sujanapal, General Secretary

International Progress Organization: Mr. Robert W. Thabit,
Representative at the United Nations

Latin American Confederation of YMCAs: Mr. Norberto Rodríguez, Secretary-General

New Zealand Palestine Council: Mr. John Fanning, Secretary

Organization of Solidarity of the Peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America:
Mr. Ramón Pez Ferro, Secretary-General

The Palestinian Network in Sweden: Ms. Birgitta Altan


IV. Closing statements

Mr. Farouk Kaddoumi, Head of the Political Department of the Palestine Liberation Organization

Mr. Ibra Deguène Ka, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the
Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People


I. COMMEMORATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY
WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE


On 1 December 1997, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was observed at United Nations Headquarters, New York, and at the United Nations Offices at Geneva and Vienna, as well as in several other cities, in accordance with the provisions of General Assembly resolution 32/40 B of 2 December 1977.

All States Members of the United Nations and specialized agencies and observers were invited to attend the solemn meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

At that meeting, statements were made by: Mr. Ibra Deguène Ka (Senegal), Chairman of the Committee; Mr. Hennadiy Oudovenko (Ukraine), President of the General Assembly; Mr. Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General of the United Nations; and Mr. Fernando Berrocal Soto (Costa Rica), President of the Security Council for the month of December. The Permanent Observer of Palestine, Mr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, read out a message from Mr. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian Authority. Also, Mr. Herman Leonard de Silva (Sri Lanka), made a statement in his capacity as Chairman of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories.

In addition, the representative of Colombia, Mr. Andelfo J. Garcia, made a statement on behalf of Mr. Ernesto Samper Pizano, President of Colombia and Chairman of the Eleventh Summit Conference of Heads of State or Government of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries. A message was delivered by Mr. Makarim Wibisono (Indonesia) on behalf of Mr. Ali Alatas, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia in his capacity as Chairman of the Twenty-fourth Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers. Mr. Machivenyika Tobias Mapuranga (Zimbabwe) read out a message from Mr. Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe and Chairman of the Organization of African Unity. Mr. Said Kamal, Under-Secretary-General for Palestine Affairs of the League of Arab States, read out a message from Mr. Ahmed Esmat Abdel Meguid, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States. A statement was made by Mr. Don Betz, Chairman of the International Coordinating Committee for Non-Governmental Organizations on the Question of Palestine.

Closing statements were made by Mr. Farouk Kaddoumi, Head of the Political Department of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and Mr. Ibra Deguène Ka, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

Messages to commemorate the occasion were received from 25 heads of State, 9 heads of Government, 4 Governments, 7 foreign ministers, as well as the European Union , the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Messages were also received from 14 non-governmental organizations.

In further commemoration of the International Day, a cultural, exhibit entitled "At Home in Palestine", was presented by the Committee, in cooperation with the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations, in the Public Lobby at United Nations Headquarters from 1 to 7 December 1997. In addition, the Committee arranged the screening of a series of films during the week beginning 1 December in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium.

At the United Nations Office at Geneva, a solemn meeting was held on 1 December. The meeting was chaired by the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, who opened the meeting by reading the statement of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The Permanent Representative of Malta to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Mr. Michael Bartolo, spoke on behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. The Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Mr. Nabil Ramlawi, also delivered a statement. Mrs. Absa Claude Diallo (Senegal), representative of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, made a statement. Further statements were made by Mr. Ibrahim Mirghani Ibrahim, the representative of the League of Arab States; Mr. Nanguyalai Tarzi, the representative of the Organization of the Islamic Conference; Mr. Alberto Diaz Urib, the representative of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries; Mr. Venant Wege-Nzomwita, the representative of the Organization of African Unity; and Mrs. Caroline Njuki, the representative of the International Coordinating Committee for Non-Governmental Organizations on the Question of Palestine.

At the United Nations Office at Vienna, a solemn meeting was also held on 1 December. Mr. Mohamed El Fadhel Khalil (Tunisia) opened the meeting and spoke on behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. The Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna, delivered the message of the Secretary-General. Other speakers included Mr. Thomas Mayr-Harting, Acting Director of the Political Division at the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Austria; Mr. Samir Youssef Hezzah, Permanent Observer of the League of Arab States; and Mr. Faisal Aweidah, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations Office at Vienna, who read the statement of Chairman Yasser Arafat.




II. TEXTS OF STATEMENTS MADE AND MESSAGES DELIVERED ON THE OCCASION OF THE
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE, 1997

COMMITTEE ON THE EXERCISE OF THE INALIENABLE RIGHTS
OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE

Statement by Mr. Ibra Deguène Ka, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise
of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People

[Original: French]

Today the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People is holding a solemn meeting to commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 32/40 B of 2 December 1977.

It is my pleasure and honour to welcome Mr. Hennadiy Y. Udovenko, President of the General Assembly; Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations; Mr. Fernando Berrocal Soto, President of the Security Council; Mr. Herman Leonard de Silva, Chairman of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories; Mr. Farouk Kaddoumi, Head of the Political Department of the Palestine Liberation Organization and representative of Palestine; and the Assistant Secretary-General, Department of Political Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. I wish also to welcome representatives of Member States, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations, as well as members of the press and all those who have accepted the Committee’s invitation to participate in this solemn meeting.

I would now like to invite everyone present to rise and observe a minute of silence in memory of all those who have given their lives for the cause of the Palestinian people and the return of peace in the region.

Please allow me at this point to make a statement on behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

We have gathered here today for the annual observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. This year the observance has special meaning as we commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947, by which the General Assembly decided to divide Palestine into two States, one Arab and one Jewish, with a special international status for the city of Jerusalem.

Half a century later the Arab State of Palestine still has not been established. Of the estimated seven million Palestinians living today, about one half are still refugees, more than one million of whom live in camps, under tents, and many others have chosen to reside in neighbouring countries. Furthermore, many of the Palestinians scattered around the world are no longer considered refugees and cannot return to their own country.

Another sad date in the history of the Palestinian people was observed in June of this year: the thirtieth anniversary of the Six Day War, which resulted in the occupation by the Israeli forces of all the Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.

Although since 1993 the launching of the peace process has made it possible for Israeli troops to withdraw from parts of the West Bank and Gaza, the land area that is now actually under Palestinian administration is only a small part of the territory occupied in 1967. This area is divided into several non-contiguous zones that are subject to periodic military closures and where the free movement of persons and goods gives rise to daily harassment and provocations by the occupation troops. The remainder of the territory in which the Palestinian people live is still under partial or total occupation and is at the mercy of the actions the occupying forces decide to take, such as land confiscation, the expansion of existing settlements and the building of new ones, the destruction of homes, searches, closures, collective punishments and so on. Arab East Jerusalem remains under occupation and separated from the West Bank of the River Jordan, and it has seen its demographic composition totally altered by the measures to Judaize the city.

Is it acceptable that, 50 years after the adoption of the resolution partitioning Palestine and on the threshold of the next millennium, the international community continues to tolerate this situation of dispossession and this refusal to recognize the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people? The commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People must be more than a ritual. It must be an opportunity for us to reflect on the past and on the sufferings and hardships of the Palestinian people and to assess what needs to be done to put an end to the pain of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Does not your presence here today bear witness that the Member States of the United Nations are not indifferent to these realities and to the question of Palestine?

In spite of the efforts made over several decades, not only by the United Nations but also by the many non-governmental organizations represented here, the situation in Palestine remains worrisome because of the impasse in the negotiations between the parties. The overwhelming majority by which the General Assembly - two weeks ago, during its tenth emergency special session - adopted a resolution outlining concrete measures to be taken gives hope that the international community is truly determined to find a just solution to the Palestinian crisis. The members of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People were disappointed to hear the representative of the Israeli Government describe that General Assembly session as a masquerade and to realize that he had obviously not understood why the building of settlements and other actions taken by his country are of such serious concern to the international community.

Since 1967, the international community has continued to object to the building of settlements and to all other actions of the occupying Power to alter the legal status, physical character and demographic composition of the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem. The establishment of settlements, the confiscation of land and the appropriation of natural resources are clearly incompatible with the principle of land for peace, because these actions are aimed at placing under permanent Israeli authority vast amounts of the resources of the Palestinian territory.

The Security Council has adopted numerous resolutions stating that such actions are in violation of international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention, and declaring them null and void. The General Assembly and other United Nations organs, as well as several intergovernmental bodies - the Organization of African Unity, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Movement of the Non-Aligned Countries - have taken the same position on the question as the Security Council.

We thus appeal urgently to the Israeli Government not to isolate itself but to pay heed to the voice of reason and the voice of the international community, as well as that of its own people and that of the Palestinian people.

Recent events have clearly demonstrated that the peace process is increasingly fragile, deadlocked and even in jeopardy. For instance, the transitional period provided for in the Declaration of Principles has lasted almost four years now and negotiations are stalled in almost every area. It is absolutely crucial that the situation not be allowed to stagnate further. In particular, the sponsors of the accords should be urged to undertake new initiatives and, above all, confidence-building measures to save and revitalize the peace process.

Today more than ever before, the Palestinian people needs the support and solidarity of the international community in this difficult transitional phase. That is why the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People is firmly committed to stepping up its efforts to find a just and peaceful solution to the question. It will continue to seek to mobilize the international community at all levels, together with its faithful friends, the non-governmental organizations. The Committee also invites all present to contribute to the establishment of lasting peace and understanding among all the people of the region.


Mr. Hennadiy Udovenko (Ukraine), President of the fifty-second session
of theGeneral Assembly of the United Nations

[Original: English]

Today the international community, in accordance with the decision adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 32/40 B of 2 December 1977, is observing the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. This occasion gives us an opportunity to express support for the Palestinian people as it strives to exercise its inalienable rights.

The decisions reached at the Madrid Peace Conference and the Oslo Agreement were welcomed by the international community, as they advanced the achievement of the goal of establishing peace in the region, which might have seemed unattainable. The historic steps of the Israeli and Palestinian leaders in 1993, as we may recall, raised our hopes for a new era of peace, stability and prosperity for the peoples of the region. That new atmosphere provided the parties with good opportunities to overcome their differences through negotiations with respect to their mutual interests and concerns in order to establish a common foundation for peace.

Since then, we have witnessed some promising developments in the region. Regrettably, the recent deterioration of the situation has jeopardized the existing fragile balance and stability. There is a real danger that unreasonable unilateral decisions may lead to a deep crisis of confidence, which could result in a further erosion of the peace process. The consequent mistrust among the parties could destroy the very delicate structure of peace in the Middle East, which was so assiduously built up in recent years.

As the recent tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly demonstrated, the overwhelming majority of the Member States of the United Nations is convinced that progress in promoting confidence can and should be achieved on the basis of the agreements reached at the Madrid Peace Conference and in accordance with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978). The full implementation of the Israeli-Palestinian agreements that have already been signed - in particular, the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip of 28 September 1995 -should serve as a guarantee for further progress.

It is obvious that there is no alternative to the process of Israeli-Palestinian political negotiations based on the principles of mutual respect and confidence, adequate understanding by both sides of their respective interests, and their willingness to come to a reasonable compromise. Overcoming mistrust and suspicion, the cessation of provocative acts, the implementation in good faith of previously reached agreements and the early resumption of the peace talks aimed at a just and lasting solution of the problem of Palestine should therefore become imperatives at the current stage of Arab-Israeli relations. Additional measures should be taken to achieve normalization in these relations, the key element of which should be real progress on the Israeli-Lebanese and Israeli-Syrian tracks.

The international community should undertake all possible measures within the framework of the existing negotiating mechanism to contribute to the fullest extent possible to the afore-mentioned process. In this connection, the United Nations must play a more effective role, both as a guarantor of international legitimacy and as an important instrument in the mobilization and provision of international assistance.

The activities of agencies of the United Nations system aimed at providing assistance to the Palestinian people and support for the establishment of coordinating mechanisms to ensure the effective disbursement of donor funds also have a great significance. The promotion of stability in the region should assist the gradual integration of Palestinian autonomy into the economy of the Middle East region as a whole, which is an essential element of the integral peace efforts.

As the President of the General Assembly at it fifty-second session, I would like to reiterate the Assembly’s position that the United Nations has a special responsibility regarding the question of Palestine until it is resolved in a satisfactory manner in accordance with international law and the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly.

Peace must first be given a chance to take root if it is to flourish later, but it cannot be meaningful and durable unless the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people are fully taken into account. This is a key to the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East.

Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations

[Original: English]

The annual observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is an occasion to remember, to reflect and to renew our commitment.

Since the General Assembly decided on 29 November 1947 to partition Palestine, each of my predecessors has been deeply involved in the search for an equitable and peaceful settlement of this issue. They have also mobilized the resources of the entire United Nations family to provide humanitarian and development assistance. I pledge to continue these efforts.

This commemorative event provides an opportunity to remind the international community that the question of Palestine, which lies at the centre of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East, remains unresolved despite the many efforts made over the years and the undeniable achievements of the peace process which began at Madrid in 1991.

With the signing of the historic Declaration of Principles on 13 September 1993 and subsequent agreements, which we refer to as the Oslo process, Israelis and Palestinians embarked on the road to mutual reconciliation and a negotiated peace. We must commend their courage.

It was also reassuring that earlier this year, after a lengthy delay, the Protocol concerning the Redeployment in Hebron was signed. It is now of utmost importance to prevent those achievements from dissipating and to build on them to fulfil the hopes of all the peoples of the region for a future of peace.

Regrettably, developments since then have sparked concern that the peace process is in jeopardy, compelling me to voice dismay at horrifying acts of violence against innocent victims. At the same time, I have appealed to the parties not to let themselves be swayed by these tragic incidents, but rather to intensify their efforts to overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of a speedy return to the peace process.

I have called on the parties to take measures, in a spirit of partnership, to restore mutual confidence. I have called on them to resume negotiations in earnest towards implementation of the agreements already reached and towards a final settlement.

I am encouraged that the parties were able to resume their talks in Washington, D.C., recently. I sincerely hope that, with the help and involvement of the sponsors of the peace process, they will be able to make progress on the outstanding issues. I hope that it will also become possible to resume talks on the other tracks of the Middle East peace process.

As public-opinion surveys and mass demonstrations have made absolutely clear, the vast majority of Palestinians and Israelis want a just peace that would enable them to live normally, side by side. It is essential to create the political and economic conditions that will enable this hope to become reality.

Recent events, as well as deliberations in the Security Council and the General Assembly, including its tenth emergency special session, have highlighted the fundamental importance of respect for the provisions of international law and of full implementation of the agreements already reached. Also apparent is the urgent need to make tangible progress towards a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). The promotion of social and economic development and of cooperative relationships throughout the region is essential for the creation of an environment favourable to a lasting peace.

The United Nations continues to attach the utmost importance to improving the living conditions in the Palestinian territories as an essential accompaniment to the peace negotiations. In this regard, I have been seriously concerned at the steady economic decline in the West Bank and in Gaza, particularly in the light of prolonged closures and other punitive measures. We now need real progress in the fields of employment, health, education and development.

Enormous challenges remain. The deteriorating conditions on the ground have set back some of our efforts. I believe that the international community can, and must, go further.

In this context, the serious financial situation faced by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East must be addressed. This is essential for ensuring that the quality and level of services for Palestinian refugees can be maintained as an essential contribution to the stability of the region.

Today I wish to take this opportunity to renew the firm commitment of the United Nations system in support of the peace process. I should like to extend my thanks to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for organizing this observance.

Mr. Fernando Berrocal Soto (Costa Rica), President of the
Security Council for the month of December 1997

[Original: Spanish]

First of all, allow me to thank the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for the kind invitation it has extended to me, in my capacity as President of the Security Council for the month of December, to participate in this special meeting held to observe the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

As President of the Security Council, I am pleased to be able to participate in this annual event in which the international community voices its solidarity with and support for the Palestinian people, as well as its unwavering commitment to the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine in accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations.

The observance of this Day symbolizes solidarity with a people fighting for the exercise of its legitimate rights and is a reflection of the importance attached to the task of bringing about the long-awaited fulfilment of the resolution of the question of Palestine, which has been on the agenda of the United Nations since 1947.

The international community has been trying for 50 years to cut the Gordian knot of the question of Palestine. The Security Council fully recognizes that a solution to this problem is a key element of the efforts made to achieve a comprehensive settlement of the conflict between Arabs and Israelis within the framework of the Oslo accords. As everyone here knows, the involvement of the Security Council with various aspects of the question of Palestine and its commitment to achieving a settlement in the Middle East goes back many years. In this context, it is appropriate to note that the peace process is founded on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).

The members of the Council have followed closely the peace process and the development of the situation in the region. Regrettably, the promising progress made at the beginning of the year with the conclusion of the Protocol concerning the Redeployment in Hebron and the Note for the Record degenerated into a stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. The greater part of the year was lost due to the disruptive actions that led to the discontinuation of the negotiations between the parties.

As we are aware, the parties resumed talks in Washington, D.C., and in the region in October, thanks to the mediation and assistance of the two sponsors of the peace process. The task of narrowing the differences separating the two sides is, however, demanding and laborious. However, the Security Council is hopeful that the parties will be in a position to restore the trust and mutual confidence vital to moving ahead in accordance with the agreements already reached.

Permit me to state clearly that the members of the Security Council are fully aware of the obstacles impeding the steady progress of the peace negotiations. That is why it calls upon the Israelis and the Palestinians to proceed with perseverance, flexibility and mutual understanding in their quest for reconciliation. The Council appreciates the constructive contribution of the international community to the overall efforts aimed at helping the parties to overcome the difficulties of the current phase.

As the Palestinian people are going through a difficult period of transition, they need a great deal of assistance in many aspects of their day-to-day life. In this regard, the Council warmly welcomes and would like further to encourage the multifaceted assistance extended to the Palestinian people by the international donor community. We also appreciate the continued assistance provided by the organizations, agencies and programmes of the United Nations system.

In conclusion, allow me to assure the Committee, on behalf of all members of the Security Council, that, guided by its responsibilities under the Charter of the United Nations, the Council will remain committed to the goal of attaining a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East for the benefit of all parties concerned, including the Palestinian people. This is particularly crucial today, as much has yet to be done in order to bring peace, stability and prosperity to the Middle East.

Mr. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee
of the Palestine Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian Authority,
delivered by Mr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations

[Original: Arabic]

I have the honour to read out the statement of His Excellency President Yasser Arafat, President of the State of Palestine, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian Authority, on the occasion of the annual observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People,
29 November 1997, which is addressed to this important and solemn meeting.

“First, I have the pleasure and the honour to convey to the members of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People the most sincere gratitude and deepest appreciation for their dedicated and constructive efforts in commemorating the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. This event is marked each year as an expression of the continuing support of the international community and of its firm and principled commitment to the just and legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people to end the Israeli occupation of its land and its holy places and to resume the exercise of its inalienable national rights.

“It also gives me pleasure on this important Day to convey, on behalf of the Palestinian people and on my own behalf, our warmest greetings to Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, together with our respect and appreciation for the dedicated efforts he is making to ensure the implementation of the resolutions of international legitimacy that ensure for the Palestinian people its right to self-determination and to the establishment of its independent state. I am also happy to convey our deep gratitude and appreciation to all friendly States and peoples and to all the freedom, peace and democracy-loving forces that believe in the just cause of the Palestinian people and in their just and legitimate struggle to be free and independent, like all the other peoples of the earth, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, the relevant United Nations resolutions, the principles of international law, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the highest human values and principles.

“This commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity is truly a cause for pride and appreciation for the Palestinian people and for its leadership. In the difficult and delicate circumstances we are experiencing, that leadership looks with great hope and confidence for a redoubling of your worthy efforts, for your more active solidarity and for the continuation of your firm support for the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people. That people has suffered much, and it is continuing to endure injustice, oppression and Israel’s continued occupation of its land and holy places and its arbitrary and unjust practices, which in reality constitute a flagrant violation of all the relevant international instruments, covenants and resolutions.

“As the Committee is well aware, the peace process is facing a genuine crisis, and numerous obstacles are threatening to bring about a complete collapse of that process. This is because the present Israeli Government is continuing to pursue a policy of disregarding the agreements concluded with the Palestinian side, because it has failed to meet the obligations and the duties that these agreements entail and because it has rejected the terms of reference for the peace process, on the basis of which the Madrid Conference was convened. This is a policy of imposing diktats and faits accomplis and of the arrogance of power, as exemplified in the expropriation of Palestinian land and the construction of Israeli settlements on it; the demolition of homes; the building of bypass roads; the Judaization of the occupied Palestinian city of Jerusalem with a view to obliterating its Arab identity and its religious, historical and cultural status; and the attempts to isolate this Holy City from other Palestinian cities and to establish an alternative city to the city of Bethlehem, which is preparing to celebrate the two-thousandth anniversary of the birth of Christ. The continued pursuit of such a policy constitutes a grave defiance of and a rebellion against the will of the international community and threatens security and stability in the region.

“In the light of our commitment to the achievement of the desired peace - the peace of the brave, a balanced peace based on justice and equality - we appeal to all believers and to all those who are committed to the success of the peace process in the region, foremost among which is the United Nations, to strive actively and to intervene forthwith to bring pressure to bear on the Israeli Government to obey the will of the international community, the resolutions of international legitimacy and the Fourth Geneva Convention, and to force it to implement the obligations resulting from concluded agreements. Such obligations include, in particular, redeployment and withdrawal of the Israeli forces from all occupied Palestinian areas and total abstention from unilateral actions, first and foremost the settlement activities. This would be in preparation for the resumption of the negotiations on the final status, in an atmosphere of confidence and mutual respect, to find permanent and just solutions to the deferred fundamental matters on which the fate of the entire peace process and its future depend, foremost among which is the establishment of the Palestinian State.

“We adhere to the peace which the Palestinian people has chosen out of conviction and belief, and we strenuously defend it as an irreversible strategic choice, since the preservation of security and stability in the region and the opening of new horizons for coexistence and regional cooperation require, above all, the attainment of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in this region. Peace is an international necessity and advantage to the same degree as it is a regional necessity and advantage. It is a matter which calls for intervention by the United Nations, since the Organization is the framework mandated to maintain international peace and security, in order to guarantee the implementation of the concluded agreements based on the decisions of international legitimacy, in particular Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), and having the frame of reference of the Madrid Conference, which is embodied in the principle of land for peace.

“Given our lasting interest in participating actively and positively in all of the activities of the United Nations and in those of its organs and specialized agencies, we hope for your assistance to and support for the just Palestinian quest that Palestine should be enabled to participate fully in the work of the Organization. Such full participation will strengthen the dedicated efforts we are making to establish and build a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, and it will give the Palestinian people confidence and hope for a promising future in which coming generations will live in security, peace, stability and prosperity without the afflictions caused by the wars and destruction that the peoples of the region, and primarily the Palestinian people, have endured for more than eight decades.

“In closing, we again convey to you all our best wishes and our deep appreciation, as we continue, as ever, to look to your active support and solidarity until such time as the Palestinian people is able to give concrete expression to the full meaning of its declaration of independence on the soil of its homeland, Palestine, and to live in freedom, security and dignity, sovereign and independent in its own country.”


Mr. Herman Leonard de Silva (Sri Lanka), Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka
to the United Nations and Chairman of the Special Committee
to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights
of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the
Occupied Territories

[Original: English]

On behalf of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, and on my own account, I have the honour to convey to members this message on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

The signing at Washington, D.C., on 28 September 1995 of the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip - the so-called Oslo II agreement - and the elections to the Palestine National Council and to the chairmanship of the Palestinian Authority on 21 January 1996 were historic events within the framework of the peace process in the Middle East. These were followed by the withdrawal of the Israeli army from the West Bank cities of Jenin, Tulkarem, Nablus, Qalqilya, Bethlehem and Ramallah, but not Hebron, that began in October 1995.

As was the case with the previous Washington, D.C., and Cairo agreements of 1993 and 1994, the signing of the Oslo II accord engendered great expectations and hope among the population of the occupied territories and the international community that a new era of peace, security and hope for the people of the Middle East would be ushered in, enabling them to live in harmony, dignity and mutual respect. Unfortunately, the recent policies implemented by the recently elected Israeli Government and the developments leading to an unprecedented escalation of violence that have taken place in the occupied territories over the past few weeks have all but dashed the hopes of both the Palestinians and the international community regarding the continuation of the peace process.

The Government of Israel has continued to withhold its cooperation from the Special Committee, thereby persistently denying it access to the occupied territories covered by its mandate. This situation has not altered since the creation of the Special Committee in 1968.

In keeping with past practice, and given the constraints cited above, the Special Committee has nevertheless tried to depict the situation of human rights in the occupied territories in a faithful and comprehensive manner. Its findings are contained in the twenty-eighth report of the Special Committee’s to the General Assembly.

In carrying out its mandate, the Special Committee has tried to assess whether the signing of the Oslo II agreement had any positive effects on the enjoyment of human rights by Palestinians and other Arabs in the occupied territories. On the basis of the information it has received, the Committee has concluded that the human rights situation in the occupied territories has not improved, deteriorating even further in numerous aspects, and remains a matter of very serious concern.

Among the principal causes of the deterioration of the human rights situation in the occupied territories has been the virtually hermetic closure imposed since 25 February 1996 in the wake of suicide bomb attacks in Israel, which amounts to collective punishment of the population. The closure has had disastrous consequences on the economy of the occupied territories and has led to a significant decline in the economic and social conditions of the inhabitants.

For the first time, a total internal closure of the West Bank was implemented, locking its inhabitants inside. The closure has had particularly disastrous consequences for the health of the inhabitants of the occupied territories, and more than 10 persons have died as a result of not having access to well-equipped health institutions. It has also had serious negative effects on freedom of education and worship.

The Special Committee continued to pay particular attention to the situation of some 3,500 Palestinian prisoners in detention facilities within Israel, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. No new releases of prisoners, whose conditions of detention are reported to have deteriorated further, have taken place since January 1996. Since the imposition of the closure, Palestinian detainees have been cut off from their families and, in numerous cases, also from their lawyers.

The Special Committee is deeply concerned by the recent decision of the Israeli High Court of Justice to the use by the general security service of increased physical pressure, such as violent shaking, which may cause lethal brain haemorrhage or even death during the interrogation of detainees, and which amounts to torture. It is particularly disquieting that interrogators enjoy immunity if the detainee dies.

The Special Committee has noted an increase in the number of house demolitions in East Jerusalem. There, a community-centre building in the old part of the town was demolished on 27 August 1996. In addition, the new policy of restrictions regarding eligibility for residential status in Jerusalem has made the situation of its Arab population even more precarious.

The most disquieting new policy of the recently elected Israeli Government, and the one that poses the biggest threat to the peace process, is the decision to lift the freeze on the construction of settlements. It has been reported that the sum allocated for settlements in the Israeli Government’s budget will be doubled in 1997. Tensions generated by the expansion of settlements and unabated construction of tunnels and bypass roads are further aggravated by the behaviour of settlers, which has even involved the killing of Palestinian children. Israeli law enforcement regarding settlers who commit offences has continued to be lenient.

The Special Committee has continued to monitor closely the situation in the occupied Syrian Arab Golan and is concerned about the most recent news of the construction of 900 new housing units there. The Special Committee chose to recall the position taken by the General Assembly and the Security Council that the annexation by Israel of the occupied Syrian Arab Golan is illegal, and therefore null and void, and hopes that the negotiations concerning the Golan within the Middle East process will be resumed in the near future.

The subject which of course causes the utmost concern and anxiety to the members of the Special Committee, however, is the unprecedented escalation of violence between the Israelis and Palestinians since the beginning of the peace process; this was caused by the opening by the Israeli authorities of the so-called Western Wall tunnel beneath the Temple Mount in the immediate vicinity of Islam’s third holiest shrine. The excessive force used by the Israeli army to quell the protest demonstrations against the opening of the tunnel included the use of live ammunition fired from automatic weapons and from helicopter gunships, and the involvement of snipers. A total of 60 Palestinians, including 10 children, and at least 15 Israelis were killed as a result of the clashes, and more than 1,000 persons were reported injured.

The Special Committee is of the opinion that it is vital that a dialogue between the parties be maintained and that the peace process continue. Deteriorating living conditions and the stalemate in the peace process could contribute to producing an environment conducive to further unrest. Both parties should respect the spirit and letter of the Oslo accords and ensure renewed commitment to the peace process through an immediate resumption of the peace talks. The frustration and despair of the Palestinians has further eroded their trust in the peace process. People feel bitterness and pain owing to the hunger and poverty which has ensued, and they fear Israeli excesses. The current lack of momentum in the peace process, which appears to have reached a stalemate, can only further erode people’s trust that tangible progress can be achieved in the peace talks. Only a just peace can bring lasting peace to the region. All parties concerned must work together to safeguard the peace effort and develop confidence-building measures in order to maintain the momentum of the peace process.


Mr. Andelfo J. Garcia, Deputy Permanent Representative of Colombia to the
United Nations, representing Mr. Ernesto Samper Pizano, President of
Colombia and Chairman of the Coordinating Bureau of the Movement
of Non-Aligned Countries

[Original: Spanish]

I have the honour to read out the following message from the President of the Republic of Colombia, Mr. Ernesto Samper Pizano, in his capacity as Chairman of the Coordinating Bureau of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, on the occasion of the commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

“As I said some months ago at the meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in the context of the anniversary of the Israeli occupation of Arab territories, including Jerusalem, the Non-Aligned Movement, throughout its entire history, has maintained unwavering solidarity with the Palestinian people and their legitimate aspiration to self-determination.

“At this delicate juncture in the history of the Palestinian people, I wish to reiterate the vision of the Non-Aligned Movement with regard to this question, which has been a subject of permanent concern to us.

“We regret that the atmosphere of agreement and trust so arduously achieved has deteriorated to a point where the possibilities for a lasting peace in the region are at risk.

“We deplore the recent violent events in which innocent persons lost their lives, as well as subsequent events. The radical posture assumed by the Government of Israel, manifested in the taking of extreme measures such as, inter alia, the withholding of taxes due to the Palestinian Authority, not only run counter to the spirit that should inform the peace process, but constitute a violation of the individual and collective rights of the Palestinian population.

“In order for trust between the parties to be restored, we believe that it is indispensable to maintain the recently resumed bilateral negotiations. The inescapable difficulties of the peace process can be overcome only to the extent that citizens of the region see tangible benefits throughout the process. However, only the total suspension by Israel of settlement activity in the occupied territories, including Jerusalem, can restore the credibility and momentum that the process enjoyed in the past and that is now more necessary than ever if the difficult negotiations on permanent status are to be undertaken.

“The fact that the declaration regarding the question of Palestine, adopted by the heads of State or Government of the Non-Aligned Movement at their Eleventh Conference held at Cartagena, Colombia, remains fully valid demonstrates the degree of realism and understanding with which the Movement has been assessing the situation in the Middle East.

“At Cartagena we expressed our unqualified support for the legitimate struggle of the courageous Palestinian people to ensure respect for their inalienable right to self-determination and independence, and we reiterated our demand that Israel withdraw from all the occupied Palestinian and Arab territories, including Jerusalem.

“We also agreed that the responsibility of the United Nations in this area must continue until the attainment by the Palestinian people of the exercise of its inalienable right to self-determination, the establishment of an independent sovereign State in its national territory and the resolution of the problem of refugees, in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions.

“We also regret the decision of Israel to confiscate Palestinian property and land in Jerusalem and its attempts to modify the religious and historical character of the Holy City. In that connection, we endorse all Security Council and General Assembly resolutions concerning Jerusalem and consider null and void all actions by Israel running counter to those resolutions. We also urge the full and scrupulous implementation of the agreements, and in particular of the provisions of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 465 (1980) and 478 (1980), and underscore the need for the machinery established by the General Assembly relating to the question of Palestine to continue to function effectively.

“A short time ago, at the ministerial meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in New York, the Movement again saw a need, in the light of the deteriorating situation, to make a firm statement on this subject. The representatives of the non-aligned countries expressed their deep concern at the grave deterioration of the peace process in the Middle East and the increase in tension in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and throughout the region as a result of the policies and actions of the Government. They reaffirmed their position regarding the illegal settlements and other projects by Israel in the occupied territories. They supported the recommendation included in General Assembly resolution ES-10/3 of 15 July 1997 for the holding of a conference between the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention on measures to make the Convention applicable to the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and to ensure its respect. They agreed that the participation of Israel in the work of the General Assembly should be in accordance with international law and that the participation of Palestine should reflect the important recent events in the Palestinian context.’

“The concern and commitment of the Non-Aligned Movement with regard to the situation of all of the occupied Arab territories and the search for peace in the Middle East are therefore constant. I wish to commend the leadership of the Movement and to express appreciation to its members for the solidarity they have shown with the Palestinian cause at the meetings of this year’s emergency special session of the General Assembly. The position of the international community, and especially of the developing world, has been clearly set out in the reiteration of the need for the United Nations to continue actively to concern itself with the rights of the Palestinian people and peace in the region of the Middle East.

“We know the lasting consequences for international peace and security that may result from events relating to the peace process over the coming months, and I am therefore certain that the non-aligned countries will remain ready to lend their support, in keeping with the responsibility borne by the entire international community for the future of the Palestinian people.

“In conclusion, I should like to commend the work of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.”

Mr. Makarim Wibisono, Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the
United Nations, representing Mr. Ali Alatas, Minister of Foreign Affairs,
in his capacity as Chairman of the Islamic Conference of Foreign
Ministers at its twenty-fourth session

[Original: English]

I have the honour to read out a message from Mr. Ali Alatas, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, in his capacity as Chairman of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers at its twenty-fourth session .

“On this solemn occasion of the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, it is my distinct honour, as Chairman of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers at its twenty-fourth session, to reaffirm our unequivocal support for and solidarity with the Palestinian people in its struggle for freedom, justice and the right to determine its own destiny and to establish an independent State in its own homeland, with Al-Quds al-Sharif as its capital.

“Ever since the inception of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) nearly three decades ago, it has accorded paramount importance to the issue of Palestine on its agenda. States members of OIC have consistently played an active role in the international endeavour to redress the grave injustice and hardship inflicted on the Palestinian people as it carried out its heroic struggle. We in OIC therefore deeply appreciate the invaluable role of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in the effort to generate worldwide awareness of the plight of the Palestinian people and mobilize international public opinion in support of its valiant struggle.

“For more than half a century, the Palestinian people has waged this struggle. For the same length of time, OIC has constantly affirmed that the cause of this struggle is sacred to all Muslims and reiterated its total solidarity with the Palestinian people in this unremitting quest. From the outset, OIC has consistently called for the full implementation of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978) and for the universal recognition of the principle of land for peace, on which peace in the Middle East is hinged.

“In spite of positive and hope-inspiring developments earlier in the decade, such as the signing of the 1993 Declaration of Principles and subsequent agreements, the triumphant return of President Yasser Arafat to the Gaza Strip and the election of representatives to the Palestinian National Council, peace remains elusive in the Middle East. For the past two years, the peace process has been paralysed as Israel reneged on its commitments to agreements already reached and subjected the Palestinian people to such provocative measures as arbitrary arrests and detention, confiscation and demolition of Palestinian properties and prolonged border closures. Particularly reprehensible is the escalation of construction of illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Arab lands, including in and around Jabal Abu Ghneim. This brazen attempt to alter the demographic composition of the occupied territories has been condemned by the international community as a flagrant violation of the 1993 Declaration of Principles and subsequent agreements, as well as a travesty of relevant United Nations resolutions, the Fourth Geneva Convention and provisions of various international laws. Israel’s acts of oppression and provocation have inflicted great suffering on the people living in the occupied territories and stymied efforts to resume the peace negotiations.

“We observe this Day with undiminished hope, but also with indignation and dismay at the challenges and obstructions that the Israeli authorities have placed on the road to peace. Indeed, OIC is deeply concerned at the tensions that pervade the Middle East today. The Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers, at its twenty-fourth session held at Jakarta in December 1996, the Extraordinary session of the Islamic Summit Conference, held at Islamabad on 23 March 1997, the Al-Quds Committee, at its ministerial meeting held at Rabat on 27 March 1997, and the Annual Coordination Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of OIC, held at United Nations Headquarters on 2 October 1997, all emphasized that Israel must be prevailed upon to comply fully with its commitments and obligations under agreements already reached in order to achieve a just and lasting peace in the region.

“The question of Palestine has been on the agenda of the United Nations for nearly five decades. Its persistence is a searing wound to the Organization, for it means that a cardinal principle enshrined in its Charter remains unimplemented. It cannot be denied that the United Nations bears a historic responsibility to secure a comprehensive and just solution to this difficult and complex problem. At stake is not only the future of a nation and people but also our shared vision of a world of peace, social justice and equitable prosperity. That vision can never be realized as long as a regime of oppression, provocation and poverty threatens the stability of one of the world’s most strategic regions. But enduring peace can be achieved in the region if all the parties concerned would honour their commitments and faithfully implement the provisions of agreements already reached. In this regard, we pay tribute to the Palestinian people and its leaders for their courage and determination, despite setbacks to the peace process and the suffering inflicted upon them, to persevere in their pursuit of peace and national development.

“For the Palestinians know only too well that peace without social and economic development cannot endure. The economic infrastructures of the occupied territories, devastated by decades of oppression and tension, must therefore be rebuilt and the Palestinians must be assisted in getting back on the road to development. The United Nations must take the lead in providing them the necessary support in their endeavour to rebuild their economy and their lives. It is also imperative that the international community marshal and deliver vital development assistance to the Palestinians.

“On the part of OIC, we shall remain steadfast in our commitment to contribute all we can to the realization of the aspirations of the Palestinian people to freedom, justice and the exercise of all their inalienable rights, as well as to peace and development. On this solemn occasion, we reaffirm and renew that commitment.”



Mr. Machivenyika Tobias Mapuranga, Permanent Representative of Zimbabwe
to the United Nations, representing Mr. Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe
and Chairman of the Organization of African Unity

[Original: English]

I have the honour to read out to this gathering the message of Mr. Robert Gabriel Mugabe, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and current Chairman of the Organization of African Unity on the occasion of the commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People:

“On this solemn but auspicious occasion to commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I would like to reaffirm Zimbabwe’s strong commitment and unwavering support to the Palestinian people in the attainment of all its inalienable rights to exercise self-determination and to establish an independent State.

“Since the beginning of the Madrid peace process in 1991, the world has witnessed encouraging developments in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. While there has been some progress made on the political front, the situation on the ground is far from satisfactory. In fact, economic and social conditions have deteriorated. The restrictions on the freedom of movement imposed by the Israeli authorities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the continued construction of illegal settlements by Israel on occupied Arab territories have exacerbated the economic hardship of the Palestinians living in those areas. The continuation of such irresponsible acts will strike a mortal blow to the peace process.

“While recognizing that the peace process is fraught with difficulties, the Organization of African Unity believes that the successful progression of the peace process depends on the commitment and willingness of the parties concerned to implement scrupulously all provisions of agreements freely entered into.

“Extremism and recourse to terror tactics designed to derail the peace process must be resolutely rejected. The Organization of African Unity is confident that the leadership of President Yasser Arafat will lead the Palestinians to a just and successful conclusion in their endeavour to establish an independent Palestinian State.

“The Organization of African Unity, as well as the Government and the people of Zimbabwe, are happy to extend to the Committee and, through the Committee, to the Palestinian people their solidarity and best wishes on this landmark Day.”



Mr. Ahmed Esmat Abdel Meguid, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States,
delivered by Mr. Said Kamal, Under-Secretary-General for Palestine Affairs
of the League of Arab States

[Original: Arabic]

I am pleased to address the Committee today on behalf of Mr. Ahmed Esmat Abdul-Maguid, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, who sends his greetings and appreciation to the Committee and to the States and organizations represented here for all the meritorious efforts they have made on the question of Palestine and just causes around the world. It is a great honour for me to participate on his behalf in this solemn United Nations meeting to commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

“We cherish this occasion as a symbol of the commitment of the international community to stand by the Palestinian people for the exercise of its national, inalienable and legitimate rights. On this day, half a century ago, the General Assembly adopted resolution 181 (II), providing for the partitioning of Palestine into two States, an Arab State and a Jewish State. However, the setback of 1948 that resulted in the establishment of Israel also deprived the Palestinian people of their right to an independent State after they had lost two thirds of their territory and transformed the majority of Palestinians into refugees in exile. This was followed by the deletion of the question of Palestine from the agenda of the General Assembly of the United Nations and its replacement by the question of Palestinian refugees.

“However, the steadfast Palestinian people never lost its faith in the justice of its cause. The Palestinians continued their struggle and sacrifices until the General Assembly, at its twenty-eighth session, decided in November 1974 to include the question of Palestine once more in its agenda and invited President Yasser Arafat to present the question of Palestine to the Assembly. The Assembly then adopted a resolution granting the Palestine Liberation Organization observer status in the United Nations and its specialized agencies. It also adopted a resolution confirming the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people - rights that the Assembly has spared no effort to implement.

“Every year, on this Day, we meet here to demonstrate our solidarity with the Palestinian people on the anniversary of the partition resolution and to express the world’s support for the restoration of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. On this occasion last year, I undertook many contacts with officials of the United Nations, whereby many aspects of cooperation between the United Nations and the League of Arab States were considered, with the aim of supporting the efforts of the Palestinian people to regain its rights and to establish its independent State on its national territory. One of the most important aspects of this cooperation is reflected in the preparation for convening the international conference in support of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, to be held under the auspices of this Committee, in cooperation with the League of Arab States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

“Last August at the United Nations Office at Geneva, I met with delegations representing the Committee, headed by Ambassador Ibra Deguène Ka, the Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat, OIC, the representative and Observer of Palestine at the United Nations and the delegation of the League of Arab States, which I had the honour to head. Preparations for holding the conference at Brussels were considered, as it is the capital of the European Union. The conference will take place on 23 and 24 February 1998.

“During their participation in the opening of this session of the General Assembly, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States and the Secretary-General of OIC held a meeting which ended with the issuance of a joint statement expressing their agreement to exert the necessary efforts to guarantee the success of the conference. They undertook contacts with Ambassador Ka, after which the Arab Foreign Ministers who took part in the session held a meeting attended by the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, where it was decided to express appreciation for the complete coordination between the United Nations, the Arab League and OIC with the purpose of making the conference a success.

“It is expected that President Yasser Arafat will participate in this conference, as well as the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine, Mr. Farouk Kaddoumi, and the Secretaries-General of the Arab League and of the OIC, in addition to representatives of the sponsors of the peace process in the Middle East. It will also be attended by prominent Arab, Islamic and international personalities, and Arab and non-Arab scholars and experts, who will present expert papers on the subject of the conference.

“Among the other constructive efforts made by this Committee is the meeting held at the United Nations Office at Geneva for European non-governmental organizations. I had the honour to represent the Arab League at that meeting and to present to the participants the position of the Arab League concerning the peace process, and the keen interest of the Arab States in the success of this process, despite the current intransigent and negative Israeli policies.

“The meeting represented an occasion to underline the importance of the role of these organizations in the service of peace and international stability, as well as in the enhancement of public awareness of the question of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. Here we have to recognize the cooperation between the League of Arab States and United Nations specialized agencies which covers, in addition to the political aspects of the question of Palestine, joint efforts for supporting the development, reconstruction and establishment of Palestinian institutions, such as workshops for cadres for the Palestinian National Authority. This was accomplished in cooperation with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research. These joint efforts also included the establishment of a fund to support Palestinian higher education in cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

“On this occasion, while inviting all international and regional institutions to intensify this kind of cooperation, I cannot fail to thank all those who have participated with us in the effort to help the Palestinian people build their institutions and their independent State. It is an effort that ultimately serves the noble goals of the United Nations in the service of development, stability and peace for all the peoples of the world.”

The League of Arab States took the initiative of supporting the peace process even before the Madrid Conference in October 1991. Its Council, in September of that year, adopted a resolution welcoming the efforts aimed at establishing a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East and supporting the Arab countries directly concerned with the negotiations.

After the Oslo agreement was signed in September 1993, the League of Arab States, during its session in that same September, regarded that agreement as a first important measure towards the realization of the principle of land for peace and decided that this should be complemented by urgent steps on all tracks. On the basis of the Arabs’ belief that peace is a strategic option, the League of Arab States continued to support the peace process. Real progress would have been achieved in this process, as was hoped, if not for the Israeli policies of the Likud Party, headed by Benjamin Netanyahu.

After the declaration by Mr. Netanyahu of his election campaign programme, it became crystal clear that he was not enthusiastic about the peace process and that he opposed all the bases on which it was launched. It was believed in the beginning that these were mere election campaign positions which would later change in consonance with the Arab and international orientation towards the establishment of a comprehensive and just peace. However, the Netanyahu Administration’s policies, since it came to power, remain the same. In fact, the intransigence of these policies increases day after day. This is represented by the evasion of commitments made to the Palestinian Liberation Organization by the Labour Government, prevarication in negotiations and, in fact, attempts to undermine them, as is being done on the Palestinian track, or to freeze them, as in the case of the Syrian and Lebanese tracks. Other issues are the continuation of the settlement policy, the confiscation of land, the imposition of economic blockades and the communal punishment meted out to the Palestinian people.

It is no secret that the present Administration of Israel applies a policy that is destructive to the peace process, thus flouting the rights of the Arab and the Palestinian peoples, as called for by the United Nations, and also flouting all principles of international legitimacy stipulating the right of peoples, including the Palestinian people, to self-determination and sovereignty over their resources.

Confronting the present Israeli policy calls for joining the efforts of the international community, through the United Nations, and special efforts of the sponsors of the peace process, the European Union and China in order to stop these Israeli policies and restore the peace process on its proper track so that a just and comprehensive peace can be achieved in the Middle East.

In view of this situation, as the Committee may recall, the Council of the League of Arab States adopted a resolution last September in consonance with the resolution of the last Arab Summit, which called, inter alia, for the cessation of the measures for normalization with Israel within the framework of the peace process until Israel implemented the agreements reached with the Arab parties on all tracks and until it complied with the Madrid frame of reference.

At the same time, the Council of the League welcomed the position of the United States of America, which crystallized during the last visit by Mrs. Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State of the United States, to the area. The Council decided, by consensus, to cooperate with the policy of the United States and to build on that positive policy, which confirms the principle of land for peace and the commitment to refrain from unilateral actions that could undermine the negotiations on the permanent status.

As we understand it, the position of the United States of America is based on the following. First, the United States Administration has recognized that there is a lack of trust between the parties, although the Administration has not decided how to restore that trust. Second, Secretary Albright is honest and committed and has the ability to deal with the American Congress. Third, the time element is important in bridging the gap between the parties concerned in the peace process so that a major breakthrough can be achieved, because movement is slow at present. Fourth, the United States does not accept - in fact, it rejects - the replacement of one track by another. Fifth, the impression in the United States is that the gap between the Israeli Administration and the Israeli people is widening every day. In particular, there is a sense in the United States and internationally that Prime Minister Netanyahu makes promises that he does not keep. Finally, the United States will conduct a strategic dialogue with the parties concerned in the area on all questions in the entire area, in order to include more than the Israeli Palestinian track.

At the international level, we are waiting for the results of moves and contacts undertaken by the United States of America and the efforts of the European Union and the Russian Federation, which we hope will put an end to the deadlock in the peace process which has been caused by the Israeli policy. There is an ever-increasing fear of the possible failure of these efforts and of the possible success of the Israeli Prime Minister in finishing off the peace process and embroiling the area in a state of no war and no peace. In our view, this would be a serious situation, which we hope would not last for too long before dissipating in the face of international enthusiasm for peace and Arab hopes for that peace.

It is a serious situation, as it would provide an atmosphere conducive to both individual and collective violence, not only against Israel, but possibly extending to the interests of many others, including all the symbols of peace. Behind this clear message to the international community and the Israeli community is the Arab interest in peace, so that all may work with all seriousness and wisdom to avoid this option. The Israeli Government alone bears the responsibility for undermining the peace process, which would compromise the interests of all peoples of the area, first and foremost the Israeli people. Nevertheless, I hope that the efforts of this Committee to achieve peace will succeed.



Mr. Don Betz, Chairman of the International Coordinating Committee for
Non-Governmental Organizations on the Question of Palestine

[Original: English]

As Chairman of the International Coordinating Committee for Non-Governmental Organizations on the Question of Palestine (ICCP), I am indeed honoured to be here on this International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. I am privileged to represent the thousands of men and women around the globe who network with one another via a multiplicity of international organizations on the question of Palestine. We are known as non-governmental organizations.

This year, 1997, has been memorable for the series of important anniversaries in the continuing story of the question of Palestine. Indeed, some of those have been noted here today. But 1997 is also significant for the non-governmental organizations involved in the search for a just peace in the Middle East, for it is the fifteenth year of active collaboration between the United Nations and the network of non-governmental organizations on Palestine. Since 1983 there have been 15 annual international meetings, held either at Geneva or at the United Nations Office at Vienna, and a greater number of regional symposiums of non-governmental organizations. The initial meeting of non-governmental organizations in 1983 was a parallel activity to the historic International Conference on the Question of Palestine, where 137 Member States gathered together at Geneva. At the same time, 104 non-governmental organizations, including 10 organizations from the State of Israel, were curious enough to attend. I have had the opportunity to participate in every one of those annual meetings and to chronicle the evolving relationship between the United Nations and the emerging network of
non-governmental organizations on this issue.

The world’s attention to the status of the Palestinian people has waxed and waned over the past half century since the partition of Palestine. But one constant has been the focused attention on Palestine by non-governmental organizations. Since 1984 the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and the Division for Palestinian Rights have made relations between the United Nations and non-governmental organizations an integral part of their programme of work in several ways, including cooperation with ICCP and regional coordinating bodies of non-governmental organizations. For this, we are truly grateful. For 15 years, non-governmental organizations in the network have accepted the full implementation of relevant United Nations resolutions as their common platform. True to their adopted course, non-governmental organizations are persistent in reminding the United Nations and its Member States of their collective responsibility to fulfil United Nations resolutions on Palestine, including General Assembly resolution 181 (II).

The United Nations and non-governmental organizations must help tell the story of the past 50 years, as seen and experienced through the eyes and hearts of the Palestinian people. In this fiftieth year, it must be told more effectively and more passionately than ever before. Actions must be coordinated and well publicized. We must target wider audiences in many countries. Most people alive today were born after 1947 and have no historical context in which to make an accurate assessment of the significance and truthfulness of the avalanche of expertly prepared programming to which they are exposed. We must work collectively to offer the public, particularly in the United States of America and Europe, another version of the history they presume to know so well.

From the smallest non-governmental organization with a few dedicated members diligently working in a single community to the massive international non-governmental organizations with affiliates in dozens of countries, non-governmental organizations are finding fresh and creative ways to communicate the story of the Palestinian people. As non-governmental organizations, we urge closer cooperation between us and the United Nations to produce, disseminate and present updated videos and literature that present the question of Palestine to the first-time viewer or reader. During the coming months, every person with access to a television set, a radio, a newspaper, a magazine or a computer should encounter the story of Palestine and the Palestinian people. Any hope or confidence we can expect to have in alteration of the status quo must be connected to our enduring and effective involvement in what we do every day and every week.

As non-governmental organizations, we have a broad range of talents and resources that we can utilize. We represent the scope and richness of cultures, tradition, historical experience and commitment to human rights and development. Taken together and acting in coordination, non-governmental organizations throughout the world are acknowledged as an emerging force in the changing landscape of international politics. Networks of non-governmental organizations are enhanced by access to new technologies and connect people to one another across national borders and wide oceans. Over the past 15 years, we have focused considerable energy and public attention on the obstacles to the realization of a genuine peace in the Middle East. Each person or individual organization is an essential part of the broader, popular, global movement supporting the Palestinians and their fundamental rights as persons and as a people.

In 1982, the United Nations and the non-governmental organizations actively supporting the rights of the Palestinians initiated their historic cooperation. It was done to achieve a common objective, a just and lasting peace in the Middle East with Palestinian self-determination at its core and with action firmly rooted in United Nations resolutions.

We must remind our Governments and friends - and ourselves - that this intractable situation known on the United Nations agenda for decades as the “Question of Palestine” has always been about control and freedom, about security and self-determination, about independence and creating facts on the ground. The issues directly relate to power, control, freedom and justice. The non-governmental organizations have articulated the issues and the sources of conflict for a variety of constituencies, both governmental and non-governmental, for many years.

The facility for communication of non-governmental organizations has been one of our enduring and effective assets. We have always believed that an informed international public would not accept the premise of injustice that has been part of the question of Palestine. Rather, we look to our organizations and others, in concert with selected Governments, to motivate people in their countries to work for peace with justice. Our relationship with the United Nations is significant to the extent that our combined efforts and energies help foster desired change.

We can state with confidence that non-governmental organizations have worked for many years on this issue because of their unshakeable belief in justice and their sense of identity with the Palestinian people. We are linked by human bonds of empathy. The extended closings of the West Bank and Gaza with the resulting disastrous economic consequences, the progressive isolation of Palestinians from access to Jerusalem, the establishment and expansion of settlements, the denial of access to refugees and the endless incarceration of prisoners, among other issues, have indelibly marked our hearts and stirred our collective sense of determination to persist in this work.

As non-governmental organizations, our commitment means that we never stop articulating the story of Palestine, never stop reminding our fellow citizens, our Governments and ourselves that this work is not over until peace with justice, rooted in self-determination, prevails in Palestine and throughout the region. We must be focused on the outcome - the fullest expression of political, economic and social independence for the Palestinian people - in order to assess the efficacy and the relevance of our words, our deeds, our programmes and our solemn meetings.

Non-governmental organizations demonstrate in a practical and human way the powerful, indivisible bonds that connect people to the hopes and realities of others. All calls for the realization of human rights and creative cooperation may mean little if they are not rooted in deep appreciation of the value of each person and in clear recognition of each person’s right to be a participant in shaping the future. Non-governmental organizations, whether focused on human rights or on development, know this, and this clarity of purpose is one reason why non-governmental organizations constitute a dynamic and serious force in international affairs.

It is said that hope can be exceptionally fragile or amazingly durable. It depends on the perception of achieving those aspirations in some reasonable time. Those in Palestine who live, hope and work for self-determination and unfettered independence draw on their sense of unity and possibility as a nation. We, non-governmental organizations and the United Nations, must be part of the active support system for these people.

And we, as non-governmental organizations, as unique members of the international community, fully embrace our responsibilities and vow never to be idle or dispassionate or silent.




III. MESSAGES RECEIVED ON THE OCCASION OF THE INTERNATIONAL
DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE

A. Messages from heads of State or Government

Prof. Burhân-ud-din Rabbâni, President of the Islamic State of Afghanistan

[Original: English]

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People and on behalf of the Afghan people and on my own behalf, I would like to express my most sincere wishes for the Palestinian people to attain success, prosperity, independence and all its inalienable rights, including the right to have its own State beside all Member States of the United Nations.


Mr. Liamine Zeroual, President of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria

[Original: Arabic]

I take the opportunity provided by the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People to reiterate the support of the Government and people of Algeria for the unceasing efforts of your Committee to affirm that the Palestinian people is entitled to exercise all of its legitimate and inalienable rights.

The task of your Committee in this regard is indeed most important, given that it embodies the will of the international community and its desire to discharge its responsibilities by affirming the commitment of the United Nations to the just cause of the Palestinian people.

In this context, Algeria reaffirms its established position of principle on the issue, as exemplified by its support for the right of the Palestinian people to determine its own destiny in complete freedom.

Just as it was most proud to act as host to the historic meeting of the Palestine National Council, held at Algiers on 15 November 1988, at which the Declaration of Independence of the State of Palestine was adopted, Algeria continues today to proclaim its constant and unconditional support for the struggle of this steadfast people until it achieves the goal to which it aspires, and it does so especially at this critical stage in the long history of the struggle.

Since the peace process for which the Madrid Peace Conference opened the way now finds itself at an impasse because of the Israeli Administration's retreat from its obligations under the terms of the process, it is more than ever necessary for the international community to redouble its efforts and to strive to enable the Palestinian people to enjoy its legitimate national rights, including the right to establish an independent State with its capital at Jerusalem.



Mr. Roberto de Almeida, Acting President of the Republic of Angola

[Original: English]

I have the honour, on behalf of the people and the Government of Angola and on my own behalf, to congratulate Your Excellency on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

At this juncture, I would like to reaffirm our solidarity with the struggle carried out by the people of Palestine. We firmly believe that the progress made so far in the resolution of the conflict in the Middle East constitutes an achievement which must be preserved at all cost. It will allow the continuation of the dialogue and the realization of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people by peaceful means.

I am convinced that the joint efforts undertaken by the Committee under your chairmanship and the international community will lead to successful results in the Middle East, thus bringing about a lasting peace and progress to this region of our planet.



Mrs. Sheikh Hasina, President of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

[Original: English]

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Government and the people of Bangladesh join me in reaffirming our solidarity with the Palestinian people in its just and rightful struggle for an independent and sovereign State with Jerusalem as its capital.

Bangladesh, which is constitutionally committed to support oppressed peoples throughout the world, has always upheld the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples. We have consistently expressed strong solidarity with our Palestinian brethren at the United Nations and in all other international forums. We are seriously concerned that the Middle East peace process has been put to a jeopardy by Israeli policies and practices in violation of the Declaration of Principles and the subsequent accords. Bangladesh believes that the United Nations has a permanent responsibility in resolving the Middle East problem, particularly in establishing the rights of the Palestinian people to an independent State as recognized in various resolutions of the General Assembly and Security Council. We also express our grave concern at the continued violation of international humanitarian law in the occupied territories, denial of fundamental freedoms and gross violation of human rights of the Palestinian people. In observing the Day, we reiterate our appeal for ensuring the applicability of the relevant Geneva Convention in the occupied Palestinian territories so that the dignity of the Palestinian people is no more assailed, so that no Palestinian is subjected to humiliation or degrading treatment, so that they receive the protection provided by international law.

It is our earnest hope that, in view of the broad international support, the Middle East peace process will be rendered irreversible by all concerned. It can not be over-emphasized that the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Middle East conflict will constitute a significant contribution to strengthening international peace, security and progress. We urge all concerned to ensure that the peace accords are complied with fully and negotiations with the Palestinian Authority are pursued in a congenial atmosphere. The peace process can be effectively advanced by withdrawal of all troops from the occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories and stopping settlement in those areas with immediate effect and allowing the Palestinian diaspora to return with full dignity to its homeland. It is also essential that the international community is forthcoming in fulfilling its commitment to support the peace process by extending economic, financial and technical assistance to the Palestinian people during the interim period.

The observance of the Day once again this year will carry an enhanced meaning if substantial progress is made by next 29 November towards the establishment of the Palestinian state. The international community, we hope, will invest itself fully in that effort so that international law will prevail and the legitimate rights of the people of Palestine are established.



Mr. Sergei Ling, Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus

[Original: Russian]

Please accept my most sincere congratulations on the occasion of celebrations dedicated to the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people.

We appreciate those impressive undertakings and accomplishments in peace-building inherent to activities of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People that you are presiding over.

Discussions over the Palestinian issue during the sessions of the General Assembly have invariably been the focus of attention of the Belarus delegation. It was with satisfaction that we became aware of the agreements momentous to the peace process in the region, including the “Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements”, the “Gaza-Jericho Agreement”, and “Oslo II".

Belarus shares the concern over the signs of suspending the Palestinian-Israeli dialogue that have been visible of late and is hopeful that joint international efforts will succeed in mastering this negative trend. We are certain that there is no alternative to the peace process in the Middle East and it is impossible to reverse.




Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan dan Yang di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam

[Original: English]

It gives me much pleasure to join members of the international community in commemorating the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. In doing so, I would like to reiterate our continued support for the establishment of a sovereign and independent homeland for the people of Palestine.

Developments over recent months have deeply concerned us in Brunei Darussalam. We believe that the peace process must continue in order to ensure a just and lasting settlement, contributing to peace and stability in the region. Significant progress in the talks can be achieved only if there is full commitment to the Oslo and Madrid agreements and the relevant United Nations resolutions.

I would like to take this opportunity to extend my best wishes to the Palestinian people in all its endeavours and once again reiterate our full support for its just cause.



Mr. Li Peng, Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China

[Original: Chinese]

Upon the convocation of the conference marking the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, I wish to extend, on behalf of the Chinese Government and people, our warmest congratulations.

Since the launching of the Middle East peace process, major changes have taken place in the regional situation. Thanks to the powerful backing of the international community and the concerted efforts of all parties concerned, the peace talks have made important progress and the Palestinian people have finally realized self-rule in their own territory. The signing of the Hebron Agreement early this year was yet another step forward in the effort to fully restore the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people. However, the Middle East question is a highly complicated one and finding an eventual solution to the Palestine issue, which is the very heart of the Middle East question, remains an arduous task. At present, the Middle East peace process is at a critical juncture. I deeply believe that as long as all parties strictly observe the agreements already reached and continue their negotiations with a positive and pragmatic attitude in keeping with the relevant United Nations resolutions, the comprehensive peace so aspired by the Palestinian people will surely come true.

The just cause of the Palestinian people to regain their legitimate national rights has won extensive sympathy and support throughout the world. Firmly and consistently supporting the Palestinian people in their just cause, the Chinese Government and people will, as always, support the Middle East peace process and continue to render every assistance within their capacity to the economic reconstruction in the Palestinian Autonomous Area, thus contributing their share to the comprehensive, just and durable settlement of the Middle East question.



Mr. Fidel Castro Ruz, President of the Council of State and Government
of the Republic of Cuba

[Original: Spanish]

The commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People has come at a time of new and growing obstacles for the achievement of a just and lasting peace called for and selflessly fought for by the heroic people of Palestine for over five decades.

The continued policy and practice of the Israeli authorities in continuing the construction of Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem and in the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories, as well as the whole set of illegal measures that the Government of Israel continues to adopt, are facts that increasingly add to the international community’s concern and which was overwhelmingly reflected in the outcome of the recent tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly.

The agreements signed in 1993 and 1995 by the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization are right now at a difficult crossroads because of their being disregarded by the current Israeli administration and its obvious intent to back-pedal on the pledges it has made, which again contributes to insecurity and violence in the region.

The Government of the Republic of Cuba and the Cuban people, along with their renewal of their absolute solidarity with the Palestinian people and its just struggle, demand that the Government of Israel complies with the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and General Assembly, as well as with the relevant provisions of the 1949 Geneva Convention, and thus contribute to peace and stability in the region, so long yearned for by the international community.

I renew, Excellency, our wishes for your success as the chair of the Committee, which at this time must undertake most important tasks, for which you can continue to count on the most determined support of the Cuban people and Government.



Mr. Glafcos Clerides, President of the Republic of Cyprus

[Original: English]

On the occasion of the commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I wish, on behalf of the people of Cyprus, and my Government, to reaffirm to the Palestinian people our friendship and our support in the efforts to achieve a just and comprehensive settlement, bringing lasting peace and security in the Middle East.

In closely following with deep concern the present stalemate, the Government of Cyprus remains committed to contributing, in a practical way, to the enhancement of the peace process.

In this context, we express our belief that the agreements already achieved between the parties should be faithfully implemented. It is our conviction that there is no other way for stability in the sensitive region of the Middle East than reconciliation, trust and cooperation.

It is essential to live up to agreements and avoid measures, including the closures of Palestinian territories, which make it more difficult to move the process forward. The economic advancement of the Palestinian people will be a determining factor for stability and ultimate rapprochement in the Middle East.



Mr. Fabian Alarcón Rivera, Constitutional President of the Republic of Ecuador

[Original: Spanish]

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, observed on 29 November 1997, it is my pleasure to express my country's support for the activities of the Committee which, under your worthy chairmanship, has carried out the laudable task of acquainting the entire world with the problem of the Palestinian people in the occupied Arab territories.

My country welcomed the initiation of the peace talks among the Palestinians, the Arabs and the Israelis in 1991 and supported the international initiatives designed to persuade their leaders to pursue those negotiations, fulfil in good faith the commitments made and respect the principles upon which international peaceful coexistence is based, in particular the legal equality of States; the condemnation of the threat or use of force as a means to resolve conflicts and the repudiation of the spoils of war as giving right to ownership; the settlement of international disputes by legal and peaceful means; international law as the framework for the mutual relations between States; the denouncement of all forms of colonialism, neo-colonialism and racial discrimination or segregation, and the right of people to liberate themselves from those oppressive systems; and full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, among others. All of these elements are indispensable for the creation of a climate of cooperation and peaceful coexistence between the Palestinians and the Israelis and for the development and general well-being of the people of the region.

I should like to express my solidarity with the Palestinian people and wish you, Sir, success in your future activities.



Mr. Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt

[Original: Arabic]

I should like to extend to you and to the distinguished members of the Committee our sincere appreciation for the tireless effort the Committee makes to promote the cause of the Palestinian people and the exercise of its legitimate rights, as affirmed by the resolutions of the General Assembly, the Security Council and the other organs of the United Nations. I should also like to commend the constructive role you play in publicizing the rights of the Palestinian people throughout the world.

Egypt has welcomed the interest of the Committee in the Middle East peace process, its support for the implementation of the agreements concluded by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization and its resolve to assist the Palestinian people, through the Palestinian National Authority, in the transition period required under the agreements and until such time as it is able to exercise all of its legitimate national rights and, in particular, its right to exercise self-determination and establish its own State in all of the Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem.

The lag in the peace process, the deteriorating situation of the Palestinian people as a result of the blockade being maintained against the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel's pursuit of its settlement policy, the unlawful attempts by the Israeli Government to alter the status of Jerusalem and impose a fait accompli there, the interference with Islamic Holy Places and the procrastination in the redeployment of Israeli forces - all of these are factors that require the international community to step up its efforts to assist the Palestinian people and support its enlightened and judicious choice to pursue the peace process and secure its legitimate national rights by negotiation and dialogue.

Reluctance to implement the agreements already concluded by the two parties, failure to provide the inhabitants of the occupied territory with the necessary protection against the violence and extremism of settlers and the continued pursuit of policies of repression will only serve to thrust the entire region into a vicious cycle of violence and counter-violence.

Egypt, which took the initiative in pursuing the peace process, is still endeavouring to promote and expand that process and to eliminate the obstacles that beset it. We are continuing on this path, and we are determined to follow it to the end so as to achieve a just and comprehensive peace through the implementation of the principles of Madrid, namely Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978), the principle of land for peace, and the exercise by the Palestinian people of its right to self-determination and to a life of independence and dignity in all of its territory, including Jerusalem.

Egypt has not wavered in providing support to its brothers. While we testify to the efforts made for the Palestinian cause in the past by the United Nations and by your distinguished Committee, the developments taking place at present require that the efforts to affirm the rights of the Palestinian people and to assist the Palestinians in regaining and exercising those rights must be redoubled, given that they are an indispensable foundation without which endeavours to achieve peace and stability in the region cannot succeed.

I should like to assure you that Egypt will spare no effort to assist your distinguished Committee to strengthen its role and to cooperate with it in supporting the peace process and achieving the lofty goals to which it aspires, goals that confirm the solidarity of the international community and its support for the Palestinian people with a view to achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace.



Mr. Lansana Conte, President of the Republic of Guinea

[Original: French]

Sir, on the occasion of the celebration by the international community of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I should like to take this opportunity to convey to you, on behalf of the people and Government of the Republic of Guinea, my heartfelt congratulations on the role that the Committee continues to play and on the many initiatives and actions that it continues to take with a view to discharging its noble mission of restoring the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, whose heroic struggle is one of the main concerns of the Islamic community of nations. While the Guinean Government takes this opportunity to commend the progress made towards settling the Middle East conflict, it deeply regrets practices which seek to frustrate the efforts being made to secure a lasting peace in the region. I should like to reiterate to you my country's unqualified support for the Palestinian people's struggle to recover its rights and its land. As in the past, the Republic of Guinea will do its utmost to continue to make its modest contribution to achieving the noble goals of independence and respect for the territorial integrity of the sovereign State of Palestine, with Al-Quds as its capital.



Mr. Inder Kumar Gujral, Prime Minister of the Republic of India

[Original: English]

The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People symbolizes the support of the international community for its just and legitimate aspirations. On this occasion, I reiterate the solidarity of the people and Government of India with the Palestinian people.

The friendly ties between our peoples derive their strength from our age-old and continuing interaction; they have been further strengthened by the State visit to India a few days ago of President Yasser Arafat.

The establishment of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, with the question of Palestine at its core, is of great importance for the region and the world. India has watched, and has supported, the steady beginning made in this process, and in particular, the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority on the basis of popular franchise. We are disturbed by the negative developments that have adversely affected the peace process. We regret the unilateral steps that have been taken and which hinder the Middle East peace process, and vitiate the atmosphere necessary to build the confidence essential for the negotiations to progress. We are concerned at the deterioration in the socio-economic condition of the Palestinian people as a result of the frequent closures, economic sanctions and blockade.

India urges all parties concerned to intensify their efforts towards finding a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region. This would lead to the securing of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. India will continue to render its support for the furtherance of the Middle East peace process, and for the prosperity of the Palestinian people.



Mr. Soeharto, President of the Republic of Indonesia

[Original: English]

On this solemn occasion of the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I wish to reaffirm, on behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of Indonesia, our unwavering support for the struggle of the Palestinian people to exercise its inalienable rights, including its right to establish an independent and sovereign Palestinian state.

No conflict between nations has preoccupied the United Nations longer than the issue of Palestine. It is indeed tragic that while the international scene has undergone profound and far-reaching change since a newly established United Nations took up this issue, the people of Palestine to this day have yet to recover the rights that have been unjustly taken away from them. Since the very first session of the General Assembly, the comity of nations has sought to put an end to the disputes, violent conflicts, animosities and oppression that have engulfed the Middle East as a result of the persistence of the issue. Over the years, scores of initiatives and decisions have been taken to create a framework for a comprehensive, just, peaceful and negotiated settlement of the problem, and yet a lasting solution to the Middle East conflict continues to elude us.

The landmark Declaration of Principles signed in 1993 and subsequent agreement reached between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel, gave us new hope that peace was finally within reach. We were further heartened by the start of the implementation of the agreements, the triumphant return of President Yasser Arafat to the Gaza Strip and the political exercise in which the Palestinian people elected its representatives to the Palestinian National Council. These significant developments led us to believe that a new era was dawning in the region, one that would bring tranquillity and prosperity to the daily life of the Palestinian people. But this trend towards lasting peace has been brought to an abrupt halt and the resurgent hope for peace as a result of positive developments has virtually dissipated.

Along with the international community, we had hoped that the parties concerned would seize and hold on to those unprecedented opportunities for advancing on the path to peace. Over the past two years, however, we have witnessed with great disappointment and deepening anguish a series of provocative acts taken by the Israeli authorities. Instead of building on the foundations of the Madrid agreement of 1991, the Israeli authorities have continued to foment discord and distrust with actions reminiscent of past antagonisms. In particular, the expansion of Israeli settlements, aimed at changing the demographic composition of the occupied territories, including the surroundings of Al-Quds Al-Sharif, has greatly aggravated tension and conflict in the region. Such unilateral action led the General Assembly to condemn the Israeli Government in resolution ES-10/2, adopted at its historic tenth emergency special session held in April and July 1997. Furthermore, Israel’s unbridled practice of economic blockade, demolition and confiscation of Palestinian properties, imprisonment and detention of Palestinians and a complete disregard for its obligations to international treaties, as well as contempt for the peace process, has driven the Palestinian people to desperation and outraged the conscience of the international community.

In spite of these transgressions and provocation by the Israeli authorities, the valiant leaders of the Palestinian people have demonstrated through their words and actions their sincerity and commitment to the peace process. They have indeed shown willingness to make tremendous sacrifices for the sake of their sacred cause.

In view of the great suffering inflicted on the Palestinian people and the risk of a renewed outbreak of violence in the region, it behooves the international community to exert every effort to help restore the momentum of the Middle East peace process. Israel must be prevailed upon to cease raising obstacles in the path of peace and to resume negotiating in earnest with the Palestinians. Equally important, we must all address the need to replace the present climate of suspicion and discord in the region with one of goodwill and mutual trust.

It is Indonesia’s considered view that there can be no durable settlement to the Middle East conflict unless all Israeli forces withdraw from all Arab and Palestinian lands occupied since 1967. That settlement must be based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978) and on the principle of land for peace. From the outset, Indonesia has consistently and vigorously advocated full restoration of the inherent national rights of the Palestinian people and will continue to do so, together with the international community, until this goal is achieved. As a member of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People since its inception, Indonesia takes great pride in participating in the work of the Committee which has over the years tirelessly and patiently endeavoured to mobilize world opinion for what is rightfully that of the Palestinian people.

Decades of oppressive occupation compounded by the recent provocative actions taken by the Israeli authorities have resulted in a rapidly deteriorating economic situation in the occupied territories. Against this backdrop, the Palestinian people have never ceased to apply itself to the formidable task of transforming an area of conflict and poverty into one of peace and prosperity. For, indeed, peace and development are interrelated and indivisible. It is crucial, therefore, that the United Nations and its agencies continue to play a pivotal role in promoting economic and social development as this will serve as foundation for stable and long-term peace in the Middle East. Given the enormity of the challenges and obstacles that lie ahead, the international community should also endeavour to extend all possible assistance so that the Palestinians can rebuild their lives.

On this momentous occasion, let us once more reaffirm and renew our commitment to encourage, support and assist the Palestinians in the pursuit of their long-cherished aspirations to statehood and sovereignty, in their struggle to regain what is inherently and inalienably theirs, and in their striving for durable peace and prosperity.

May God Almighty bestow his blessings on and guide us all in this endeavour.



Mr. Seyed Mohammad Khatami, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran

[Original: English]

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

The spirit of justice-seeking, humanitarianism and Islamic conduct of the noble Iranian people has led them to seek the restoration of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people over the past half century. This has been specifically demonstrated in the vision of Imam Khomeini, the Great Leader of the Islamic Revolution and the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and among the most important issues addressed by the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

We believe that, on the one hand, the holy city of Al-Quds Al-Sharif has been a sacred land and a symbol of peaceful co-existence among the believers of various divine religions and, on the other, that the Palestinian territory belongs to all Palestinian people. Therefore, the sole authority which commands legitimacy is the one that is accepted by all people living on that land. Only in such a situation will Palestine be able to regain its genuine place as a secure land for peaceful coexistence of all believers of the various divine religions.

Despite the above-mentioned reality and notwithstanding the emphasis put on the establishment of peace in the region, we have regrettably witnessed, over the past year, that the occupying regime of Al-Quds adopted a number of unprecedented inhumane measures which are in flagrant violation of international law and regulations. The opening of a tunnel beneath the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the adoption of intransigent policies with regard to the Palestinian and neighbouring Arab countries’ occupied lands, the increase in military aggression against southern Lebanon, the resort to inhumane acts against the popular and righteous resistance of the Palestinian people, the widespread violation of human rights, the barbaric torture of prisoners, the new settlement-building policies and the recourse to state terrorism are examples of the extremist, illegitimate and illegal policies which revealed, more than ever, the real face and nature of the occupying regime.

We are of the view that genuine peace in the middle East region can only be realized through realism and justice, and that the continuation of injustice will bring about further insecurity. Attainment of all inalienable rights of the Palestinian people is imperative to the realization of justice in the region and, accordingly, the Islamic Republic of Iran declares its readiness to join hands and cooperate with all peace-loving countries and relevant international organizations with a view to establishing a genuine and lasting peace in the region.

In conclusion, it is my earnest hope that the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People this year serves as a beginning of a real solidarity among all justice-seeking and peace-loving nations and Governments towards the establishment of a lasting peace in the region.



King Hussein Bin Talal of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

[Original: Arabic]

The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, which falls on or near 29 November each year, continues to provide an opportunity on which I am pleased to convey my appreciation for the generous efforts your distinguished Committee has been making for many years past to assist the Palestinian people in its legitimate struggle to secure its inalienable rights - including primarily, of course, its right to exercise self-determination on the soil of its homeland - rights that your Committee is doubtless resolved to promote until, with God's help, it achieves its triumphant humanitarian objective.

The question of the rights of the Palestinian people is not a new one. It is indeed perhaps the oldest issue involving the rights of peoples in the world, just as it has most regrettably been the most grievous in terms of the wounds and bloodshed caused. Our position in support of the Palestinian people, our sustained assistance to it in securing its rights and the constant and ongoing backing that we provide to it in every forum and at every level are also as old as the existence of these rights. They have not flagged or abated, and I do not think they will ever flag or abate.

At a time when our constant endeavour to secure a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East region had achieved some little success, we looked forward with much hope and optimism to the positive repercussions this would have on the cause of the Palestinian people and its inalienable rights, and primarily its right to exercise self-determination on the soil of its homeland. The days passed, however, and they were followed by months and years. The cause has most regrettably continued to mark time, and the suffering, pain and hardships of the Palestinian people have continued to grow and to worsen day by day.

If it can be said that peace is the only choice for the peoples of the region and for their children, it is assuredly their great dream and that of the generations to come after them. Without peace there can be no progress or development, but without truth and justice, peace will have no meaning and its survival will not be assured. Hence, at this particular stage of the peace process, the cause of Palestinian rights acquires special importance and great moment that impose on the United Nations and all other forces that cherish peace the duty to strive to support and promote that cause until it achieves the triumph and victory to which we all aspire.

The region of the Middle East and its peoples, and primarily the Arab peoples which includes the Palestinians, have suffered over many years and decades so that most of their resources, capacities and potential have been depleted by the absence of peace from their lives. Today, the first signs of peace are on the horizon and the winds of peace have begun to waft through the region. The international community, as always and as is fitting, is urged to promote the truth and the victory of justice so that peace may alight and spread its banners in every part of this good and blessed land.

None of this will be achieved, for us or for the world, as long as the Palestinian people is unable to achieve its legitimate objectives and secure all of its inalienable rights, first among them the right to self-determination on its national soil.

Your distinguished Committee will continue to play its pioneering and salient role in the earnest and dedicated endeavour to reach this worthy goal.



Mr. Nouhak Phoumsavanh, President of the Lao People's Democratic Republic

[Original: French]

On this solemn occasion of the celebration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I should like, on my own behalf and on behalf of the Government and people of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, to express my sincere appreciation to you and the other members of the Committee for the important work which you have done in discharging your functions.

Following the signing of the Declaration of Principles in Washington, D.C., in 1993, the situation in the Middle East as a whole took a turn for the better. Pursuant to that Declaration, the Palestinian Authority was established and the long-awaited peace process got under way. To our deep regret, for nearly two years now the peace process has been encountering serious difficulties. Despite the international community's tireless efforts, which we highly appreciate, the overall situation in the region has not improved and is even deteriorating with each passing day, thereby jeopardizing the peace process.

The Government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, pursuant to its consistent policy of peace, friendship and cooperation with all countries of the world, irrespective of their socio-political system, urges the various parties to the conflict to act wisely and to pursue their negotiations seriously and sincerely in order to arrive at an overall settlement that is just and honourable for all concerned, within the framework of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and other relevant resolutions of the United Nations. At this difficult moment on the road to peace, the Government and people of the Lao People's Democratic Republic wish to reiterate their unflinching support for the Palestinian people, under the enlightened leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization, in its valiant struggle to exercise its inalienable national rights, including the right to establish an independent Palestinian state. To this end, the international community has a duty to do its utmost to help the long-suffering Palestinian people recover its legitimate national rights.



Mr. Alfred Sant, Prime Minister of the Republic of Malta

[Original: English]

Our basic beliefs in human rights and justice for all cannot but enforce our long-standing support for the Palestinian people. My Government and my Party have been in the forefront in support of the struggle of the Palestinian people for its inalienable rights, even at times when this support was not so universal or so popular.

Our commitment to the just cause of the Palestinian people is reflected in our assuming the post of Rapporteur of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People from its inception. The assistance that my country has provided both materially and morally to the Palestinian people over the years is another proof of our commitment.

Today, 1 December, we celebrate this day with mixed feelings, feelings of hope at the re-start of the peace process, to which we also gave our small input and feelings of disappointment that so much of the year has been wasted. No negotiations have taken place on the Oslo process for the last six months.

In this context, the Government of Malta continues to firmly believe that renewed efforts directed at steering the region towards a just and lasting peace should focus more on quiet diplomacy and confidence-building measures than on military solutions. At the same time, my Government strongly and unequivocally condemns criminal acts originating from whichever source and under any pretext whatsoever intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror by a group of persons or individuals. Under any circumstances these acts are unjustifiable.

It is with dismay that we read that over the current year the conditions of life of most Palestinian people have deteriorated, as a result of continued Israeli closures that have wrought havoc on the Palestinian economy.

On the dawn of the fiftieth anniversary of the partition of Palestine, the problem of refugees is still with us. The plight of the Palestinian people over these years is unacceptable to any human being and we call for a continued and reinvigorated peace process so that the Palestinian people may achieve its national rights based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).

Malta will continue to give its support to all efforts that will lead to a peaceful solution of the problem, which would ultimately help in furthering the aim of my Government to have a Mediterranean Sea free of conflicts, an area where efforts can be targeted towards human development for the benefit of all.



Mr. Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius

[Original: English]

This year’s observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People gives me again the opportunity to renew, on behalf of the Government and people of Mauritius, our support for the quest by the Palestinian people for the fulfilment of its legitimate rights to justice and peace.

1997 has been a mixed year for the progress in the resolution of the apparently perennial Israeli-Palestinian conflict. No sooner does a glimmer of hope emerge, that seemingly heralds a glimpse of the bright light at the end of a very long tunnel, when certain unwise actions which follow quickly dash such optimism.

The January agreement regarding the city of Hebron was a major step in the right direction of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The decision, only a month later, by the Israeli Government to build a new settlement in East Jerusalem was an unnecessary, serious and provocative action.

The peace process has now ground to a complete halt in spite of three meetings of a special emergency session of the General Assembly to consider the unfortunate unilateral actions by the Israeli Government. The renewal of violence and terrorist attacks is dangerously symptomatic of a loss of hope and the re-emergence of despair.

I express the earnest hope that the recent organization of contacts between the two sides will soon bring the Israeli-Palestinian peace process back on the rails. The leaders of both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples should now summon the necessary strength to bring an expeditious end to this long chapter of suffering and grief in the region’s history. My Government is firmly committed to support all your efforts to that end.



Mr. Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León, President of the United Mexican States

[Original: Spanish]

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I wish to convey to you, on behalf of the people and the Government of Mexico, a message of friendship and peace.

Mexico's commitment to the cause of peace compels us to hope that the political will making it possible to advance in the negotiations will be reborn among the parties involved in the peace process in the Middle East.

We are sure that the only way to achieve peace in the region is by means of dialogue and negotiation, making it possible to enhance cooperation and the welfare of the peoples of the Levant.

Expressing my best wishes for success in all of the activities that are to be carried out in connection with the International Day, I avail myself of this opportunity to convey to you the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.



Mr. Sam Nujoma, President of the Republic of Namibia

[Original: English]

On this occasion commemorating the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, 1 December 1997, I would like, on behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of Namibia, and indeed on my own behalf, to express our support to the Palestinian people in their struggle for the right to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty.

The efforts of the United Nations, which culminated in the formation of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, to seek an amicable solution to the Palestinian question are known and supported by us. The Committee is commended for its relentless efforts to heighten international awareness about issues relating to the issue of Palestine in order to facilitate a negotiated political settlement based on United Nations resolutions.

As we follow developments in the Middle East, it has become abundantly clear that the task of consolidating peace in the region requires genuine and honest commitment from all parties concerned. However, the commitment of President Yasser Arafat and the people of the state of Palestine to the Oslo peace accord was never doubted by us. In fact, it is our wish that the other parties in the conflict will do the same.

Once again, we would like to express our solidarity with the people of Palestine in their search for everlasting peace, socio-economic development and prosperity.



Mr. Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

[Original: English]

Pakistan today joins the international community in solemnly observing the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People by reaffirming its total commitment to the cause of Palestine and Al-Quds Al-Sharif.

Pakistan has consistently upheld the inalienable right of the Palestinian people, including its right to self-determination. We remain deeply concerned over the setback to the Middle East peace process and believe that it is the responsibility of the international community to spare no effort in bringing about the resumption of the peace process on a just and equitable basis.

It is imperative that Israel abides by the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and General Assembly and the Declaration of Principles, as well as subsequent agreements and accords concluded between the Palestinians and Israel.

In reaffirming our support for the establishment of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, we appeal to the international community, particularly the United Nations, to provide urgent assistance to the Palestinian Authority, to help relieve the suffering of the Palestinian people in rebuilding their devastated economy.



Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar

[Original: Arabic]

The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is an expression of the support of the international community for the Palestinian people's right to exercise self-determination, establish an independent state on its national soil and take its rightful place among nations and peoples. It also expresses the perception of the international community that a gross injustice has been done to this people.

The Day falls at a time when the question of Palestine still constitutes a major concern and the greatest challenge to international peace and security, since the peace process in the Middle East is passing through a critical and dangerous phase. There are forces that are undermining the peace process, breaking the agreements concluded between the parties to the conflict in the Middle East, violating the relevant United Nations resolutions and destroying all that has been built up and all that has been achieved in past years. I refer, to be precise, to the practices of the current Israeli Government as exemplified by the failure to discharge the obligations to which it agreed with the Palestinian Authority; the failure to honour the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference and the principle of land for peace; the continued pursuit of its settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem; the opening of the tunnel under the Al-Aqsa Mosque; the implementation of a policy of isolating and blockading the Palestinian people; and the destruction of the Palestinian people's economy, driving it to despair with a policy of debilitation, oppression and humiliation, despite the dire consequences of such a policy, the opposition of the international community, the lack of mutual respect and the disregard for the Charter of the United Nations that it represents.

The policy of the Israeli Government represents a blunt rejection of the resolutions of the General Assembly, of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 271 (1969), 298 (1971), 478 (1980) and 672 (1990) and of the 1949 Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.

The international community, the States permanent members of the Security Council, especially the co-sponsors of the peace process, and the States members of the European Union are urged to bring pressure to bear on the Israeli Government in order to induce it to desist forthwith from its policy of opposing the peace process. These countries also have a historic political and moral responsibility to induce the Israeli Government meticulously to implement the agreements signed and the obligations assumed and to honour the resolutions of the United Nations and the Security Council, just as such pressure is exerted, sometimes in a strict and harsh manner, on other States in the region. Morally, the international community cannot accept different standards in dealing with States or in dealings between them.

I further urge the international community and the United Nations to provide greater support to the Palestinian people and its national Authority, particularly in the economic and humanitarian fields, and to improve the situation of Palestinians who have long suffered and have the right to live a life of freedom and dignity on the soil of their homeland.

In closing, I should like to convey to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and to its Chairman our appreciation of the efforts they have made to promote the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.



Mr. Boris Yeltsin, President of the Russian Federation

[Original: Russian]

[Addressed to the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine
Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian
Authority, Mr. Yasser Arafat]

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I should like to convey to you and all Palestinians my warmest congratulations and best wishes.

This year, the Palestinian people has faced difficult trials this year. More than once, with great effort, it has managed to save the peace process from collapse. We pay tribute to the political courage, selflessness and adamant determination of Palestinian leaders to restore the national rights of their people, including its right to self-determination and the formation of its own state, in the context of the peace process, through negotiations.

Much work lies ahead to strengthen Palestinian self-government and work out the provisions of a final settlement, both of which are of crucial importance to Palestinians. The Russian Federation will continue to make full use of its potential as a co-sponsor in the interest of ensuring progress towards peace and security in the Middle East.

I wish the Palestinian people success and prosperity, and to you personally, health and happiness.



Fahd Bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques,
King of Saudi Arabia

[Original: Arabic]

As the international community continues to observe the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, a people that is still struggling to regain its inalienable rights and is incurring enormous sacrifices in doing so, the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is happy to participate in this event. It values the efforts made by your distinguished Committee in defending the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, and it urges the Committee to continue its work until such time as this people can regain its usurped rights and establish an independent state on its national soil with its capital at Jerusalem.

The participation of Saudi Arabia in the observance of a Day that gives concrete expression to the suffering of the Palestinian people stems from its strong commitment to the purposes and principles enshrined in those international instruments that affirm the right of all peoples to self-determination and independence, primarily the Charter of the United Nations, the Charter of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Pact of the League of Arab States. The Palestinian people is the very epitome of such peoples deprived of their rights, despite the adoption of resolutions supporting its cause and calling for its self-determination to be upheld. The participation of the Government of Saudi Arabia with the international community in this event is an extension of the well-known positions it has taken on the question of Palestine and an expression of its support and backing for the Palestinian people. Since the emergence of the question of Palestine, Saudi Arabia has been unstinting in providing aid, at all levels, to those affected and in supporting the legitimate demands of the Palestinian people and its right to establish an independent state. In this context, it has supported the peace process begun at Madrid in October 1991 that led to direct talks being held between Palestinians and Israelis and gave rise to bilateral agreements requiring Israel's withdrawal from the occupied territories and the transfer of further powers to the Palestinian Authority. Saudi Arabia also joined the countries assisting the Palestinian Authority by providing financial aid in the amount of US$200 million.

The Government of Saudi Arabia has been monitoring the ongoing events in the Palestinian arena and the deadlock in the peace process, and it is beset by concern and great indignation at Israel's intransigence and those of its policies that have created a state of impotence and paralysis on the Palestinian-Israeli track and have endeavoured to deprive the agreements reached with the Palestinian side of their basic substance by seeking to ignore all the agreements concluded and to evade all of the undertakings given before the international community. Nothing could be more indicative of that fact than Israel's constant persistence in recent times in ignoring the principles for peace and its manifest denial of the contractual obligations into which it entered with the Palestinian side. While the settlement policy pursued by Israel in the occupied territories is in violation of the Geneva conventions, it is also totally incompatible with the provisions of the relevant United Nations resolutions, the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference and the agreements reached. The self-rule areas are being subjected to all manner of deprivation, starvation and collective punishment by means of closures and blockades, and the Israeli Government is introducing measures and plans to alter the identity of Jerusalem and impose a new status there. These measures are also indicative of Israel's intransigence and of the fact that it is raising obstacles to the peace process and thereby subjecting the region to further disturbances and convulsions.

Saudi Arabia's established position is to support the peace efforts aimed at ending Israel's occupation of Arab territory and at implementing the relevant United Nations resolutions, particularly Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), and the principle of land for peace, and it does so in accordance with the agreements reached at the Madrid Peace Conference and the statement of the Arab leaders at their Summit Conference at Cairo on 22 June 1996, to the effect that the peace process represents a goal and a strategic choice from which there can be no retreat. Saudi Arabia therefore calls upon the members of the international community, and in particular the co-sponsors of the peace process, the United States of America and the Russian Federation, to bring every pressure to bear on Israel to comply with the resolutions adopted with respect to the Palestinian people, to accede to the international desire that it comply with the obligations it has entered into vis-à-vis the Palestinian Authority and to desist from raising obstacles to peace. At the same time, it is essential that any permanent and comprehensive settlement should also cover the issues of the Palestine refugees, the release of those imprisoned and the settlements. The settlements are incompatible with all the relevant resolutions, including Security Council resolution 465 (1980), and with the principles of international law regarding all the settlements established or to be established by Israel as null and void because they are in violation of the agreements signed by the Palestinian and Israeli parties.

The issue of Jerusalem, representing as it does the essence of the Arab-Israeli conflict, continues to be the focus of the concerns of the Arab and Islamic worlds and the core of the Palestine problem. Israel's practices and violations in the Holy City must therefore inevitably have negative repercussions for the entire peace process, particularly since such practices have the aim of Judaizing the City of Jerusalem and altering its religious landmarks. This threatens to undermine the peace process and to end all hopes for peace in the region. Accordingly, we urge the international community, and the United States of America in particular, to take positive and immediate action to halt Israeli intransigence with respect to the most delicate and sensitive aspects of the peace process and to approach the issue of Jerusalem from the point of view of its being the most important issue in the entire dossier on the Arab-Israeli conflict and one that must be resolved at the stage determined by the peace process and in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions, and particularly resolution 242 (1967), which requires Israel to withdraw from the Arab territories occupied in 1967, and resolution 252 (1968), relating to Jerusalem.

The Government of Saudi Arabia takes this opportunity to urge the international community to seize the initiative and to bring pressure to bear on Israel to implement the agreements reached at the Madrid Conference and the provisions of the relevant United Nations resolutions, inasmuch as doing so may ensure the restoration of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, the stability of the region and the interests of all of its peoples.



Mr. Abdou Diouf, President of the Republic of Senegal

[Original: French]

This year's celebration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is taking place in the context of a stalemate in the peace process.

The international community welcomed the signing by the two parties on 15 January 1997 of the Protocol concerning the redeployment of Israeli troops in Hebron. It also welcomed the establishment in early February 1997 of eight Israeli-Palestinian subcommittees responsible for settling outstanding issues during the transition phase.

Today, this legitimate optimism seems to be evaporating in the face of rising tensions in the occupied Palestinian territory and repeated violations of the terms of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements.

The very spirit of Madrid and Oslo seems to be in jeopardy. This situation is fraught with incalculable consequences for peace, stability and security in the region.

That is why, once again this year, the international community as a whole worked actively for the resumption and continuation of the peace process.

The General Assembly, in its resolution adopted on 12 November 1997 at the end of the third resumption of its tenth emergency special session, stressed the need to reinject momentum into the peace process and to implement the agreements reached by the Israeli Government and the Palestine Liberation Organization, as well as the principles underlying those agreements, including the principle of land for peace.

I should like to laud the efforts made towards that end by the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and many non-governmental organizations.

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, for its part, has spared no effort to implement the mandate entrusted to it by the General Assembly. The seminar organized at Amman, from 20 to 22 May 1997, on the needs of the Palestinians in the area of sustainable development, helped to identify the best strategies for combating poverty and ensuring sustainable development, including the advancement of Palestinian women.

The Committee also took part in a number of international gatherings and symposiums on the question of Palestine, organized in Africa, Asia, Latin America and North America.

I should therefore like to take the opportunity afforded by the celebration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People to reaffirm Senegal's unconditional support for the Palestinian people in its struggle to recover its imprescriptible rights to self-determination and statehood.

I should also like to assure of our support the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the States members of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the United Nations Special Coordinator, non-governmental organizations and all those people of goodwill who are working daily to ensure that the ideals of peace and justice prevail in the Middle East.

I am confident that our joint efforts will not be in vain, for we have history, the law and justice on our side.

On this hopeful note I should like to urge the two parties to resume negotiations without delay and to appeal to the sponsors of the peace process to do their utmost to preserve the gains achieved thus far and the spirit of Madrid and Oslo.



Mr. Nelson Mandala, President of the Republic of South Africa

[Original: English]

Greetings to the people of Palestine and Chairman Yasser Arafat on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. We extend our hand of friendship and solidarity across the miles, and express our support for the struggle of Palestinians for self-determination in a state of their own.

The South African Government unequivocally reaffirms its support for the Middle East peace process as the only practicable means to end decades of conflict and to permit the region to achieve the prosperity which only peace can bring.

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the South African Government wishes to express its unqualified support for the rights of all Palestinians to self-determination and statehood, so that they can live in dignity and achieve the prosperity and security they deserve.



Mrs. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, President of the Democratic Socialist
Republic of Sri Lanka

[Original: English]

Sri Lanka has always attached great importance to the question of Palestine, which we see as the crux of the Middle East problem, and we have remained steadfast in our support for the struggle of the Palestinian people to realize their inalienable rights.

We share the satisfaction of others in the international community over the progress so far achieved through the Middle East peace process. Equally, we share the concerns expressed over the delays and obstacles impeding timely implementation of the agreements reached. We consider these agreements, based on the formula of land for peace, to be a foundation for lasting peace and stability in the region.

We have admired the remarkable resilience and skill shown by the Palestinian leadership in remaining engaged in the quest for peace despite the obstacles and grave provocations, both political and military, that they have faced.

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, we take great pleasure in reiterating Sri Lanka’s solidarity with the Palestinian people, and in conveying to them our sincere good wishes for their well-being and success in their endeavours.



Lieutenant-General Omer Hassan Ahmed Al-Bashir, President of the Republic
of the Sudan

[Original: Arabic]

It is an honour for me to salute your meeting on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People and your commitment to commemorating this important anniversary. As you know, the Palestinian people has endured the most heinous forms of oppression, as exemplified by the usurpation of its country, the dispersion of Palestinians as refugees in various countries of the world, the violation of the most elementary human right to a life of dignity in one's own land, and daily subjection to savage assaults by Israeli troops.

When the General Assembly of the United Nations decided to establish an International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People it did so out of an understanding of the usurped rights of that people and in the desire that its inalienable rights should remain in the memory of the international community.

Your distinguished Committee, in its diligence in commemorating this anniversary, stresses the importance of respecting the resolutions of the international community, as represented by the General Assembly and the Security Council. Identifying with the concerns and aspirations of our brothers, the Palestinians, and expressing our constant solidarity with them, we in the Sudan anticipate that the efforts of your Committee and those of the international community will be stepped up in order to oblige Israel to honour the relevant United Nations resolutions and comply with all the agreements reached with the Palestinian Authority. Your efforts and your solidarity with the Palestinian people shall endure until that people succeeds in securing all of its inalienable rights and primarily that of establishing an independent state with its capital at Jerusalem, which is now threatened with schemes to obliterate its Arab identity and its Islamic and Christian landmarks. We are with you, and from this your rostrum we urge the international community to meet its responsibility to enable the Palestinian people to regain and to exercise its inalienable rights.

In closing, please accept the highest tokens of appreciation from the Government and people of the Sudan.



Mr. Chuan Leekpai, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand

[Original: English]

On the auspicious occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I should like, on behalf of the Royal Government and the people of Thailand, to reaffirm our consistent and full support for the continuing Middle East peace process, aimed at a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine in accordance with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).

Thailand has closely followed the developments in the Middle East peace process, particularly since the signing of Israel-Palestine Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, also known as the Taba Agreement, in September 1996 and, recently, the ongoing international efforts towards peaceful negotiations between the parties concerned to achieve settlement of the question of Palestine. It is my sincere belief that the spirit and determination for this purpose will continue in order that durable peace be restored and maintained in the region, taking into account the legitimate needs and inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

While fully supporting the Middle East peace process, Thailand adheres to the view that economic, development and humanitarian assistance are vital for the Palestinian people. Therefore, we would like to urge the international community as well as international organizations, to continue rendering their assistance in order to improve the economic and social well being of the Palestinian people.

In this regard, I wish to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the work of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and to reaffirm that Thailand stands ready to support the work of the Committee.



Mr. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, President of the Republic of Tunisia

[Original: Arabic]

Together with all the other countries of the world that cherish peace, Tunisia commemorates today the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. This is an occasion for the country to reaffirm its support for and its complete solidarity with the fraternal people of Palestine in its struggle to regain its legitimate right to exercise self-determination and build an independent state like all the other peoples of the world.

Having hosted the Palestinian leadership in its territory for more than a decade and having associated itself with the peace process and played a historic role in launching it and supporting it at all stages as an irreversible choice, given that it is the sole guarantee of the security and interests of all the parties, Tunisia expresses deep concern at the state in which the process finds itself because of the intransigence of the Israeli Government, its disavowal of the undertakings it had given in the framework of the Oslo, Washington, D.C., and Cairo agreements, its insistence on maintaining and stepping up its settlement policy in Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory, and its abandonment of the principles for the peace process that were heralded and supported by the international community.

Tunisia calls for a speedy end to the illegal measures that are being taken by the occupation authorities in violation of the letter and spirit of the agreements concluded. They include the demolition of homes, the confiscation of identity documents, arbitrary practices against Palestinian civilians, and the blockade imposed on the self-rule areas and the resulting starvation and destruction of the Palestinian economy in violation of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. It commends the positive position taken by the international community at the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly in condemning the continued building of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The breakdown in the peace process and the suspension of the agreements on which it is based presage the return of the dangers of conflict, violence and instability to the region. Accordingly, Tunisia calls upon the international community, particularly the co-sponsors of the peace process, to act rapidly in bringing pressure to bear on Israel to induce it to honour its international obligations and comply with the terms of reference on which the peace process was based from the outset, in particular the principle of land for peace and the implementation of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978) and the relevant General Assembly resolutions. Thus may be created the necessary climate for devising a peaceful, comprehensive, just and lasting solution that will secure the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, the withdrawal of Israel from the Syrian Golan and southern Lebanon and the ability of all peoples of the region to live in security and peace, thus enabling them to devote themselves to building a better future. Tunisia affirms that it will continue to provide strong and firm support to the Palestinian people in its struggle to regain its legitimate rights and build an independent state in its own land with its capital at Jerusalem.

Tunisia values the sustained efforts being made by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in order to secure and defend the rights in question, and it reaffirms the need for the United Nations to maintain its basic role and to meet its responsibilities in full until such time as the Palestinian people is able to fulfil its legitimate aspirations to exercise self-determination and build an independent state in accordance with the provisions of the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and the principles of international legitimacy.



Mr. Mesut Yilmaz, Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey

[Original: English]

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, it is a pleasure for me to reiterate our continuing support to the Palestinian people in the attainment of its legitimate rights.

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People has been successful over the years in promoting wider awareness within the international community for the plight of the Palestinian people, thus securing stronger support for its legitimate cause.

Turkey has always been in solidarity with the Palestinians in their just struggle. Turkey has supported the Middle East peace process, from its very beginning. We think that this is the only realistic way to settle the long-lasting dispute. We regard a breakthrough in the peace process as the important development which will herald the establishment of a just, comprehensive and durable peace in the region. Continued concrete support for the peace process by the international community through financial programmes and assistance is vital to its success and is a necessity if a bright future is to be built for Palestinians.

I take this opportunity to reiterate the best wishes of the Turkish nation and the Turkish Government to the Palestinian people in their determined efforts for the realization of their legitimate aspirations, within the framework of a just and lasting peace.



Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates

[Original: Arabic]

On behalf of the Government and people of the United Arab Emirates, I am pleased to convey to you and to the members of your distinguished Committee my deep gratitude for the worthy positions you adopt and the valuable efforts you make to mobilize international support for the struggle of the Palestinian people to regain its legitimate, just and inalienable rights.

On the occasion of the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, we are pleased to reaffirm our full and unconditional support for that people's aspirations to achieve freedom and independence and the right to exercise self-determination and establish an independent state on the soil of its homeland with its capital at Jerusalem, in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, the norms of international law and the provisions of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).

It is a source of regret to us that our observance of this important and historic Day should come at a time when the question of Palestine and developments in this regard are at a critical juncture as an inevitable result of the grave setbacks encountered by the entire peace process in the Middle East because of the intransigence of the Israeli Government.

Despite the tokens of sincere good faith and the courageous confidence-building measures offered by the Palestinian people and its leading groups, as represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, for the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace and for peaceful coexistence in its homeland on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid Conference, the Oslo accord, the supplementary Palestinian-Israeli agreements and the principle of land for peace, all of the political and diplomatic efforts have failed as a result of Israel's illegal retractions of its obligations and of the undertakings that it had given to the Palestinian Authority.

The Israeli Government has compounded its contempt for the demands of the international community, as formulated by the General Assembly in its recent resolutions on settlement activity, by resorting to the pursuit of policies of violence, blockade, assault, displacement, arrest, starvation, the destruction of homes and property, the expropriation of land, the expansion of illegal settlement activity and the desecration of Holy Places in the occupied Palestinian Arab territories, and especially in the City of Jerusalem, for the purpose of altering the legal status, demographic structure and historical and cultural character of the Holy City and imposing a policy of faits accomplis there. This is to be regarded as a flagrant material, legal and political breach of the principles on which the peace process was based, of the 1949 Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and of the 1993 Oslo agreements and the supplementary agreements thereto.

Observing with great concern Israel's grave violations and its other attempts to deprive the peace process of substance and use it to advance its own political objectives, the United Arab Emirates holds the Israeli Government responsible for the dire consequences that are totally incompatible with the policies of States of the region with respect to the achievement of peace and regional and international security and with the requirements of the peace process in the Middle East.

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, we urge your distinguished Committee and the international community to provide greater support and assistance to the Palestinian people, to expose the practices of the Israeli occupation, to bolster the financial, economic and technical assistance provided in order to enable the Palestinian people to revive its economy and strengthen the infrastructure of its national institutions, and to promote efforts for the comprehensive development of the Palestinian people as the foundation for the building of an independent State with its capital at Jerusalem.

In closing, we reaffirm our continued commitment to do all in our power to assist the Palestinian people. We are certain that, God willing, the day will come when it will return to its homeland and exercise all of its legitimate rights like all the other peoples of the world.



Mr. Tran Duc Luong, President of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam

[Original: English]

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People organized by the United Nations (29 November), I would like to convey to you and, through you, to the entire people of Palestine my greetings of solidarity and warmest congratulations.

The Government and people of Viet Nam express their deep concerns over the recent increasing tensions in the Middle East, impeding the peace process in the region. We hope that the parties concerned persevere in dialogue and solve all their disputes and conflicts through peaceful negotiations in accordance with United Nations resolutions, the principles agreed upon by the Madrid Conference on the Middle East, and other agreements signed with a view to arriving in the near future at a just, comprehensive and long-lasting solution to the Middle East issue which guarantees the inalienable national rights of the Palestinian people, as well as the interests of the parties concerned.

On this occasion, the Government and people of Viet Nam further reaffirm their consistent support for the just struggle of the Palestinian people, and express their confidence that the just cause of the Palestinian people under the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization will be crowned with full victory.




B. Messages from Governments

Argentina

[Original: Spanish]

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Government of the Argentine Republic renews its support for the observance of such an important day.

We should like to reiterate our firm support for peace in the Middle East on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978) and the Madrid and Oslo agreements, within the framework of the principle of land for peace, which underlies the entire negotiation process. The effort and willingness to negotiate shown by the signing of those agreements should not be halted, but should be intensified and accelerated in order to overcome the current difficulties and to embark on a stage that would make possible tangible achievements for the parties on the basis of mutual undertakings.

The Argentine Republic believes that economic and social development, combined with an improved quality of life for the Palestinian people, are essential elements for the strengthening of the peace process in the Middle East. For that reason, the Argentine Government, inter alia, established, in association with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), a White Helmets project in the municipality of Gaza in support of the self-sufficiency of the Palestinian Authority, the second stage of which was successfully completed in September 1997. Furthermore, in collaboration with UNDP and the World Health Organization, the National Institute of Agricultural Technology of the Argentine Republic carried out a preparatory mission in the West Bank to develop a future programme for the eradication and treatment of brucellosis, with the participation of a White Helmets team.

The Argentine Republic fully supports all efforts made by the countries in the region to achieve a just and stable peace in the Middle East. It reiterates its support for the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination within its own territory and for the right of its neighbours to live within secure and internationally recognized boundaries within the framework of the provisions of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).



Guyana

[Original: English]

As we observe this year’s International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Government and people of Guyana reaffirm their solidarity with the Palestinian people in its struggle for its inalienable rights.

Guyana is fully committed to the Middle East peace process and the implementation of all agreements in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions. The recent resumption of peace talks is heartening, thus giving rise to the hope that a just, comprehensive and lasting peace may be achieved in the not too distant future.

As a member of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Guyana remains committed to the Palestinian cause, and will continue its work within the United Nations for its advancement.



Malaysia

[Original: English]

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Government of Malaysia wishes to convey the warm greeting of the people of Malaysia and to reaffirm our solidarity with our Palestinian brothers and their struggle to realize their inalienable rights to exercise self-determination and to establish an independent homeland.

The Government of Malaysia is very concerned that the current peace process has encountered a series of serious setbacks as a result of the belligerent position of the Israeli Government over the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The continued Israeli settlement policy and harsh measures in the occupied areas disregarding the international community’s opposition has undermined the peace process. These policies and measures are indeed in violation of relevant international laws, and Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.

Malaysia is also concerned over the worsening economic and social conditions on the ground. The economic hardship and insecurity of the people in the occupied areas has been further exacerbated by the restrictions on movement and closures imposed by the Israeli authorities. Malaysia hopes that urgent measures will be taken to alleviate the economic agony suffered by the Palestinian people. It is, therefore, critical for the international community to urgently provide adequate funding in the pursuit of economic and social development and the improvement of the living conditions of the Palestinian people. The leading role played by the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East in this regard is indeed laudable.

Needless to say, positive progression towards a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East hinges largely upon the genuine commitment and willingness of the parties involved. This commitment and willingness must be honestly demonstrated by all parties in implementing the agreements signed fully. The Government of Malaysia is confident that the Palestinian Authority under President Yasser Arafat will steer the Palestinian people towards the successful establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state which will contribute positively to the peace, security and prosperity of the region.

Finally, the Government of Malaysia wishes to commend the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for its role, untiring efforts, admirable work and contribution towards the cause of the Palestinian people.



Uruguay

[Original: Spanish]

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Government of the Eastern Republic of Uruguay would like to express its most fervent desire for the consolidation of a firm and lasting peace that will ensure the happiness and prosperity of the Palestinian people and guarantee the rights and security of the States in the region.

We hope that, through dialogue and understanding, solutions based on good faith and mutual respect will be reaffirmed.

Respectful of the full applicability of international law and of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, we reiterate our unswerving support for the peace process in the Middle East, the only valid instrument capable of providing the impetus for the peaceful coexistence necessary to promote the well-being of the peoples.




C. Messages from Ministers for Foreign Affairs


Mr. Luiz Felipe Lampreia, Minister for External Relations of Brazil

[Original: English]

On the occasion of the celebration of this International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I wish to extend, on behalf of the people and Government of Brazil, my warmest greetings and best wishes of peace and harmony to the Palestinian people.

Brazil has, over the years, firmly backed the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. We witnessed with hope such positive developments in the peace process as, for example, the agreements that led to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority. However, we note with concern the present stalemate in negotiations, which clearly threatens the unfolding of the peace process itself.

Brazil continues to be fully committed to the strengthening of ties with the Palestinian people. In the light of this objective, President Fernando Henrique Cardoso intends to meet Mr. Yasser Arafat during his scheduled visit to Gaza, next January. In this context, the Brazilian Government notes with satisfaction that bilateral cooperation with the Palestinian people continues to improve, particularly in the area of health.

The Brazilian Government believes that only the renewal of mutual trust among the parties in the Middle East and the resumption of constructive dialogue, in accordance with the agreements already reached, can lead to the construction of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region, fulfilling the aspirations of all peoples and States concerned.


Mr. Ernest Yonli, Minister for the Civil Service and Modernization of the Administration
(on behalf of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Burkina Faso)

[Original: French]

Each year, 1 December provides an opportunity for all peace, justice and freedom-loving peoples to reach out to the valiant Palestinian people as it struggles for self-determination.

Just when the international community had every reason to hope for a negotiated settlement of the Middle East crisis, we are witnessing a resurgence of settlement activity and of the economic blockade of the territories occupied by Israel.

Despite the appeals and efforts of the international community, the implementation of the Oslo agreements has been suspended de facto, a situation which seriously threatens peace in the region.

While reaffirming its support for the struggle and the self-determination of the Palestinian people, Burkina Faso therefore urges all parties involved to act more wisely and rationally so that the sacrifices which both sides have made on the altar of peace will not have been in vain.

Burkina Faso remains convinced that ... [illegible] so that the parties to the conflict can settle their differences peacefully and usher in a lasting peace between their two peoples.

On this twentieth anniversary of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Government and people of Burkina Faso reiterate their faith in the ability of the United Nations to curb tensions in that part of the globe.

Long live the Palestinian people!

Long live peace and solidarity among peoples!



Mr. Keizo Obuchi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan

[Original: English]

On behalf of the Government of Japan, I wish to offer my sincere congratulations on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

The present Middle East peace process has achieved various significant results. I welcome the fact that the negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and the Government of Israel have been partially resumed. It is regrettable, however, that real progress has not yet been made, as many had hoped.

It is most important at this juncture to overcome the many challenges the parties concerned are faced with in their quest for peace, so that substantive progress can be made in the negotiations. Above all, the Interim Agreement must be implemented in good faith. It is also important to foster mutual trust and thus facilitate dialogue. I strongly hope that the parties will endeavour to achieve this purpose with faith and courage. The Government of Japan intends to continue to play active roles in international efforts in support of the peace process. In this context, it will further strengthen its high-level talks with the parties to the peace process.

In January 1996, I visited the West Bank and Gaza Strip as the head of the Japanese Election Monitoring Team for the election of the Palestinian Legislative Council and the President of the Palestinian Authority. This opportunity renewed my recognition of the importance of international economic assistance for the development and stability of the Palestinian self-rule area. The Government of Japan has so far contributed over US$310 million to Palestinian assistance and intends to continue such efforts.

Again, allow me to reiterate my earnest hope that the parties to the peace process will overcome the present difficulties, and that a just, lasting and comprehensive peace will be achieved in the Middle East in the near future.



Mr. Chong Ha-Yoo, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea

[Original: English]

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I wish to reiterate, on behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of Korea, our continuing firm support for the efforts of the Palestinian people to realize their legitimate goals and aspirations.

Believing that the successful establishment of Palestinian self-rule and the continued progress of the Middle East peace process are vital to achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region, we hope the peace negotiations will gain momentum in the coming months on the basis of the principle of land for peace.

We also fully recognize that social and economic development and an enhanced quality of life for the Palestinian people are an integral part of the peace process. In this regard, the Republic of Korea will continue to cooperate with the Palestinian people to help strengthen their economy and improve their living conditions.

I wish to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the Chairman and members of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for their sincere dedication to advancing the Palestinian cause.



Prof. S. Jayakumar, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore

[Original: English]

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I would like to express Singapore’s best wishes for peace, stability and prosperity for the Palestinian people. Singapore will continue to do its part in support of the peace process for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.



Mr. Farouk Al-Shara’, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Syrian Arab Republic

[Original: Arabic]

I should like to convey to you my appreciation for the role played by your Committee in organizing this international gathering, and it gives me pleasure to join with you in an observance that the United Nations has dedicated to the commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

The peace process in the Middle East is going through a critical stage because of Israel's disavowal of the principles on the basis of which it began in Madrid, which call for the implementation of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978) and of the land-for-peace formula, and because of the dangers arising from Israel's retreat from the obligations, undertakings and agreements entered into. In the past year, the suffering of the Palestinian people has increased because of Israeli policies and practices concerning the seizure of land, the confiscation of property and the building and expansion of settlements, and because of the concomitant quasi-permanent blockade of the occupied Palestinian territory during which settlement activity and the demolition of homes have increased.

The Palestinian people will never accept the perpetuation of injustice, aggression, occupation and settlement. It is struggling valiantly to secure its legitimate national rights pursuant to the relevant United Nations resolutions, primarily the right to exercise self-determination, establish an independent state and return the Palestine refugees to the homes from which they were expelled.

The Syrian Arab Republic will persevere in defending the just cause of the Palestinian people and in making sacrifices. It is committed to striving for the establishment of a just and comprehensive peace based on full Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories and the restoration of usurped rights.

Affirming our constant support for the Palestinian people in its just and legitimate struggle, we call upon the co-sponsors of the peace process and on the international community to meet their responsibilities by compelling Israel to implement the United Nations resolutions calling for a complete withdrawal from the occupied Syrian Golan to the line of 4 June 1967 and from southern Lebanon, and for the restoration of the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory and elsewhere.

We acclaim the efforts made by your distinguished Committee, which has been untiring in its support for the struggle of the Palestinian people. Together with the international community, we look forward to the day when the region can enjoy a just and comprehensive peace that will ensure its security and stability.



Mr. Hennadiy Udovenko, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

[Original: English]

Accept my most sincere congratulations on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

First of all, I would like to express the hope that the parties of the Middle East peace process, at its current complicated stage, will succeed, in the nearest future, in overcoming in a constructive way the existing differences and in paving the way to the final political settlement of the problem. In my view, this may happen only on the condition that the negotiating sides demonstrate their political will and readiness to finally resolve one of the most protracted conflicts in the history of the second half of the twentieth century, the outcome of which will be the establishment of a lasting peace and mutual understanding in the Middle East and the ensuring of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

Ukraine, as one of the founding members of the United Nations and a member of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, chaired by Your Excellency, cannot but attach great attention to matters pertaining to the development of the Palestinian Authority. I hope that political prudence and far-sightedness in the course pursued by the Palestinian people will continue to strengthen its prestige on the international arena in the future and facilitate the successful progress of the peace process.

I would like again to emphasize that the Palestinian people, which has traditionally evoked great sympathy in Ukraine, may further count on Ukraine’s support in its efforts in the Middle East peace settlement, particularly assistance in the economic and social development of the region. In this context, I have to underline Ukraine’s readiness, with its considerable trade, economic, scientific and technological potential, to establish mutually beneficial Ukrainian-Palestinian relations.

Availing myself of this opportunity, I would like to wish you, Mr. Chairman, good health and every success in your highly responsible mission, and to all parties of the Middle East peace process, the achievement of the accord as soon as possible.





D. Messages from intergovernmental organizations having received standing invitation
to participate as observers in the sessions and work of the General Assembly
and maintaining permanent offices at Headquarters


European Union: Mr. Jacques F. Poos, Chairman of the Council of Ministers

[Original: French]

On this day of commemoration, I wish to transmit to you this message of solidarity of the European Union with the Palestinian people.

Four years ago, mutual recognition between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization opened the way for them to coexist peacefully on the land which they share.

The foundations on which such peace is to be built are well known: the right of all States and all peoples in the region to live in peace within secure and recognized borders; respect for the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to decide its future; the exchange of land for peace; the inadmissibility of the annexation of territory by force; respect for human rights; the rejection of terrorism in all its forms; good-neighbourly relations; compliance with existing agreements; and the rejection of any counterproductive unilateral initiative.

The European Union welcomes the fact that, despite the difficulties encountered over the past year, the Israeli and Palestinian authorities have resumed their negotiations with a view to overcoming the current deadlock in the peace process.

We urge the parties to honour their obligations and the commitments made in the Madrid and Oslo agreements and to move ahead with the implementation of the Agreement on Interim Self-Government Arrangements and the Hebron agreement. We encourage them to relaunch final status talks.

On this occasion, I wish to reiterate that the European Union remains deeply committed to the peace process as the only means of establishing lasting peace and security in the region, and that it will continue to work both politically and economically to support the efforts under way. Specifically, the European Union intends to contribute to the adoption of a good conduct agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and to the implementation of confidence-building measures.

It is more necessary than ever that meaningful, credible confidence-building measures be taken in the Middle East in order to revive the process that will lead to the just, lasting and comprehensive peace that all of us are seeking.



Organization of the Islamic Conference: Mr. Azeddine Laraki, Secretary-General

[Original: English]

Each year, 29 November marks the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, an occasion commemorated by the international community in accordance with a resolution of the General Assembly. This annual event gives the international community the opportunity to reiterate its sustained support to the just cause of the Palestinian people and its legitimate struggle to recover its inalienable and legitimate national rights.

I have the pleasure, in this connection, to extend, on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, our appreciation and gratitude to the United Nations and its various organs for their laudable and untiring efforts in support of the cause of Palestine, as well as for publicizing its rightfulness and extending to it all forms of assistance.

This year, quite regrettably, we are celebrating this occasion in an atmosphere of tension, generated by Israel’s non-commitment to the principles and basis of the Middle East peace process and the agreements concluded within that framework, as well as its refusal to abide by the United Nations resolutions, the most recent of which are the resolutions issued by the General Assembly at its tenth extraordinary session. This has led to a freezing of the peace negotiations, thus representing a serious threat to the continuation of the peace process.

Moreover, the Israeli Government is still pursuing its illegal measures and actions against the Palestinian people in the city of Al-Quds Al-Sharif and the rest of the Palestinian territories. Foremost is the settlement policy that the occupation authorities are implementing in and around the Holy City and in the other Palestinian territories, in spite of the position of the international community and international law which consider all settlements illegal. New settlements are being planned and constructed, such as those at Jabal Abu Ghneim and Ra’s Al Amoud district, and existing settlements are being expanded at the expense of neighbouring Arab land, and property illegally confiscated.

The Israeli occupation authorities are also taking illegal unilateral measures to Judaize the City of Al-Quds and alter its character, demographic composition and legal status, thus trying to implement a new fait acompli in violation of the agreements concluded within the framework of the peace process. They still refuse to implement the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 concerning the protection of civilians in times of war. They also seek to undermine the unity of the Palestinian territories and to hinder the free movement of persons and goods. Moreover, the Palestinian people are being subjected to inhuman economic embargos and measures of collective punishment, thus causing a severe deterioration of the living and economic conditions of the Palestinian people and depriving the people of its basic human rights.

The recent resolutions adopted by the General Assembly at its tenth extraordinary session, condemning the construction of settlements and all illegal Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories, are a clear manifestation of the position of the international community and its support for the rights of the Palestinian people, and its disapproval of Israeli policies. However, in defiance of international law Israel still persists in the implementation of its illegal designs.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference has constantly declared its firm support of the peace process in the Middle East aimed at reaching a just and comprehensive solution to the question of Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Any negation of the United Nations resolutions, of the commitments and concluded agreements, constitutes a serious precedent and will lead the whole region into a dangerous situation. At this stage, we are all called upon to coordinate our efforts in such a way as to generate effective action to compel Israel to refrain from its illegal measures and actions in the city of Al-Quds and the Palestinian territories and halt the building of settlements, the Judaization of Al-Quds, and lift the economic blockade and restrictions imposed on the Palestinian people.

The international community is to act firmly to force Israel to abide by the principles of the peace process and implement the agreements signed within its framework, thus enabling the establishment of the desired peace in the Middle East. Peace that ensures Israel’s withdrawal from all the occupied Palestinian and Arab territories, including the city of Al-Quds Al-Sharif, the occupied Syrian Golan and the occupied Lebanese territories, and the exercise of the Palestinian people of its inalienable national rights, including its right to return, to self-determination, and to establish its independent state on its national soil, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital. The Palestinian people are continuing to pin great hopes on the support of the international community to reach these aims.

We are all requested to work closely to coordinate our efforts to attain the noble objective of peace.




E. Messages from specialized agencies of the United Nations system
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization:


Mr. Federico Mayor, Director-General

[Original: English]

On this International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization strongly reiterates its support for the peace process and the agreements already signed in this regard and affirms its unswerving commitment to advancing the cause of peace in the interest of all peoples of the Middle East.

Peace is today endangered, and I call upon all those in a position to influence events in the region to break through the walls of silence and indifference in order to save the peace process.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization will pursue its peace-building efforts in all its fields of competence in the strong conviction that a just peace is the precondition for the effective exercise of the rights of the Palestinian people and that a satisfactory solution to the Palestinian question is vital not only to the security and development of the region but to the cause of peace worldwide.



F. Messages from non-governmental organizations

Associación Cultural Israelita de Córdoba: Mr. Isidoro Libovich, President and
Mr. Fernando Roitter, Secretary

[Original: Spanish]

On the occasion of the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on 29 November 1997, we should like to express our hope for the implementation of General Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947 which provided for the creation of two States on the basis of two peoples.

On the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of resolution 181 (II), we believe that it is absolutely necessary to advance the process towards peace in the Middle East that began in September 1993. Unfortunately, the key actors are no longer the same on the Israeli side, and that has greatly hindered the possibilities for success that were opened up by the creation of the provisional autonomous government, the Palestinian Authority.

The Israeli Government's insistence on unilateral action (the confiscation of land, new settlements etc.) does not help to put an end to the genocidal acts in which innocent civilians are the primary victims of fundamentalism, both in and outside the Middle East.

We should like to express our solidarity with the Palestinian people and with its right to a better life and a sovereign state, which will in turn result in good-neighbourly and peaceful relations between the Jewish and the Arab peoples and all mankind.



Association of Women of the Mediterranean Region: Ms. Yana Mintoff Bland, President

[Original: English]

We, in the Association of Women of the Mediterranean Region, actively support the right of the Palestinian people to justice, equality and peace. We realize that the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of resolution 181 (II) by the General Assembly should signify progress and not regress in meeting the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people. In particular, Palestinian women and children refugees, whose right to development is daily denied, must be given the right to return to their homeland in peace and dignity.

Members of the Association join with you in local activities of solidarity to raise awareness of the cruel conditions suffered by five million Palestinian refugees. Our book Nobody Can Imagine Our Longing: Refugees and Immigrants in the Mediterranean edited by Yana Mintoff Bland (Plain View Press, Austin, Texas, United States of America, 1996), contains eloquent descriptions by Palestinian women refugees.



Association for Social Analysis and Political Education: Dr. Fritz Balke

[Original: German]

Fifty years ago, the General Assembly adopted a decision that Palestine should be partitioned. Of the two States planned, only one - Israel - was established. The Arab people of Palestine rightly demands its own state as well, alongside Israel. The peace process that began in 1993 - with the mutual recognition of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the legitimate representative of the Palestinians - was an encouraging sign. In the meantime, however, this process has reached a total impasse, as a result of the irresponsible policy of the Netanyahu Government, which, despite all protests, has been expanding Israeli settlements, hindering the Palestinian people's independent development in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and repeatedly inflicting collective punishment on that people. Confidence in the process started so hopefully four years ago is now waning.

If the peace process is to be saved, all parties involved in it must show goodwill and no attempt must be made to humiliate the Palestinians. Agreements already concluded must be implemented, and negotiations on key issues -territorial matters, settlement policy and the future of Jerusalem - must start without delay.

Now, more than ever, the Palestinian people needs the international community's active solidarity. The Committee for the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People plays an indispensable role in mobilizing world public opinion, and we support the Committee in its activities.

We, as a non-governmental organization greatly attached to the Palestinians' just cause, will do everything within our power in the future to practice active solidarity. At events of many kinds, we are helping to transmit a realistic picture to the German public. A small humanitarian project already carried out in the Gaza Strip will be followed up by more such projects, so as to help alleviate the catastrophic situation of the poorest Palestinian population groups.

The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People provides us with an opportunity to assure the Palestinian people, which has been much tested by adversity, that we stand at its side in the struggle for its legitimate rights as a nation.



Association sénégalaise des professeurs d’histoire et de géographie:
Mr. Alioune Ndiaye, Secretary-General

[Original: French]

Our Association highly appreciates your efforts to make international opinion increasingly aware of the Palestinian people's just struggle for full recognition of its rights, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly, especially resolutions 32/40 B of 2 December 1977, 34/65 D of 12 December 1979 and 181 (II) of 29 November 1947.

On behalf of the national bureau, I should therefore like to express our Association's unconditional support for and solidarity with the Palestinian people, especially in the current situation of closure of the territories by the Israeli army and resumption by Israel of its policy of confiscating land and building settlements.

Like you, we believe that greater international pressure for the full implementation of the agreements reached and for the observance of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people must be mobilized.

In this connection, in order to enhance mobilization and awareness-raising in our own country, for instance in schools, we should appreciate receiving such documents and information as you consider most relevant on this serious issue of the final settlement of the Palestinian question.



Comité africain du Conseil mondial de la paix

[Original: French]

On 29 November 1947, the General Assembly adopted resolution 181 (II). That resolution provided for the establishment of a Jewish State and an Arab State in the territory of Palestine. The City of Jerusalem was established as a corpus separatum under a special international regime.

Only one of the two States provided for in the resolution (subsequently known as the Partition resolution finally came into being, with the complicity of the international community: the State of Israel. The Palestinian people found itself dispersed in part of the territory, in several Arab countries in the Middle East region and throughout the world. Moreover, since the 1967 war, several groups of Palestinians have been living in territories occupied by Israel and many more are still living in refugee camps.

Since then, the struggle of the Palestinian people to exercise inalienable rights defined by the General Assembly, namely, the right to self-determination, independence and national sovereignty and the right of return, has become the concern of peace and freedom-loving peoples throughout the world.

On 29 November each year, therefore, the World Peace Council and its five regional coordinating committees (Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and North America, Latin America and the Middle East) celebrate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People by publishing declarations, showing films and mounting exhibitions and other activities, in accordance with resolutions 32/40 B of 2 December 1977 and 34/65 Dof 12 December 1979.

Since September 1993, several important positive developments have occurred within the framework of the peace process, including mutual recognition between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization; the signing by the two parties of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements and various subsequent agreements, which led to the withdrawal of Israeli forces from most of the Gaza Strip and the main towns and other parts of the West Bank; the establishment of the Palestinian Authority responsible for administering the territories pending further negotiations on a final settlement; and the election of the Palestinian legislature and the President of the Palestinian Authority.

Today, the African Committee of the World Peace Council, while welcoming developments in the situation in Palestine (signing of the Protocol of Further Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities, gradual withdrawal of the Israeli army from the occupied territories, the election of an interim self-governing authority, the return of Palestinian leaders and the establishment of a Palestinian Authority responsible for administering the areas that become self-governing pending negotiations on a final settlement), expresses its concern at the tensions and climate of violence that still persist in the region, exacerbated by the delays and obstacles that are hindering implementation of the agreements reached.

The African Committee of the World Peace Council, which will take an active part in the events being held in New York from 29 November to 1 December to mark this Day ,therefore calls upon the international community and international public opinion to ensure that the agreements reached with a view to the exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, and to the development of the Palestinian economy, are implemented fully.

The peace process under way in the region should be irreversible.



Committee for Israeli-Palestinian Dialogue: Mr. Latif Dori, Chairman

[Original: Arabic]

On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the historic United Nations resolution on the partition of Palestine and the establishment of a Jewish State alongside a Palestinian State, and on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, we address to you our warm greetings and affirm our full solidarity with the valiant and constant struggle that the Palestinian people has been waging for decades in order to achieve our common goal of ending the hateful Israeli occupation and establishing an independent Palestinian state with its capital at Jerusalem in full implementation of the aforesaid resolution.

The peace camp in Israel is fighting the reckless and foolhardy policy being pursued by the Government, and particularly by Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. It is continuing to promote settlement activity, to demolish homes, to maintain the starvation blockade, to expropriate land and to violate the Oslo agreements on a continuing basis; all of this increases the danger of a renewed outbreak of war in the region. Bibi Netanyahu has declared war on the Palestinian people. So we too, the supporters of peace in Israel, have declared war on him so as to topple him from the seat of power.

We reaffirm, once again, that no power on Earth can prevent the Palestinian people, which has left its mark in the annals of struggle by virtue of the glorious intifadah, from achieving its exalted goal of securing a just and comprehensive peace and living in freedom and dignity on the soil of its homeland and in its own state.

It is our belief that this will be sooner rather than later.


\
Federación de Mujeres Cubanas: Ms. Magalys Arocha Domínguez, Secretary for External Relations

[Original: Spanish]

On this International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Federation of Cuban Women, a non-governmental organization in category II consultative status with the Economic and Social council, expresses its most vigorous condemnation of Israel’s failure to recognize the rights of Palestinians, in spite of all the resolutions of the United Nations and the signing of the peace agreements.

Since the founding of our organization, the women of Cuba have demanded respect for the national rights of the Palestinian people, for their culture and for the rights of Palestinian women to live in peace with dignity.

Every day we see with horror pictures of children killed by the Israeli armed fores; we see how, despite the international community’s condemnation of the violence and growing tension, Israel continues to build settlements in the territories of Gaza and the West Bank.

We, the women of Cuba, view with admiration the sacrifice and self-denial displayed by Palestinian women throughout all these years of struggle and their unyielding determination to continue fighting until their rights are recognized. They do this for their future, but also for their children’s future, so that the children of Palestine may know the peace with dignity to which all the world’s peoples have a right.

We are certain of the future because we are certain that the victory belongs to those who struggle.



General Arab Women Federation: Dr. Manal Younis Abdul-Razzaq, Secretary-General

[Original:English]

Fifty years have passed since the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947, partitioning Palestine between Arabs and Jews. The struggle of the Palestinian people continued up to 1988 when the State of Palestine was established as legal exercise by the Palestinian people of their right to self-determination, as confirmed by international documents.

Annually, on 29 November, the United Nations observes the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People in order to remind the world of the continued tragedy of the Palestinian people.

As an Arab non-governmental organization with consultative status at the United Nations, the General Arab Women Federation stresses on the occasion that any solution of the Palestinian issue which does not take into consideration the basic right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to establish their independent state on their national territory is incompatible with the international human rights law.

The solution of the Palestinian issue is the key to stability in the whole Arab region, because the Palestinian issue constitutes a central political and regional issue for the whole region because of its effects on world peace. Therefore, on this occasion it is necessary to stress positive international solidarity with the Palestinian people to exercise its right to self-determination and establish its independent state in the land of Palestine.



Indo-Palestine Solidarity Organization: Mr. A. Sujanapal, General Secretary

[Original: English]

Indo-Palestine Solidarity Organization Kerala, of the Republic of India greets the people of Palestine on the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the General Assembly resolution for the establishment of an Arab State in Palestine.

We appreciate the efforts taken by the United Nations for the peaceful settlement of the Palestine issue. We welcome the initiative of the United Nations to rally the non-governmental organizations, the Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat, and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in support of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people throughout the world.

On the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, we call upon all States, Governments and non-governmental organizations to exert to the utmost all efforts for the fulfilment of the birth rights of the people of Palestine.

We recollect the words of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of our nation, who said during our struggle for freedom in 1930 that “As Britain belongs to the British, France to the French, Germany to the Germans, there is no doubt that Palestine belongs to Palestinians.”

We are proud that our leaders, like Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, late Prime Ministers of India, extended full support to the cause of Palestinians. People of India too have been extending wholehearted support to the Palestine Liberation Organization and its great leader Yasser Arafat for the fulfilment of the dreams of the people of Palestine to return to its homeland.

We reaffirm our solidarity with the people of Palestine, the Palestine Liberation Organization and its outstanding leader Yasser Arafat as in the past, so in the future.



International Progress Organization: Mr. Robert W. Thabit, Representative at the United Nations

[Original: English]

In conformity with proposals of international law experts and international non-governmental organizations, the International Progress Organization today called upon concerned Member States of the United Nations to invoke the uniting for peace resolution, to have the General Assembly admit Palestine to full participatory membership throughout the entire United Nations system of organizations. The precedent for this step is the General Assembly’s treatment of Namibia when it was under the occupation of the colonial regime of South African apartheid. The International Progress Organization’s proposal stresses that the General Assembly must give the state of Palestine all of the rights, privileges and immunities that it gave to Namibia because Palestine is illegally occupied by a Government that ignores virtually all United Nations resolutions dealing with the rights of the Palestinian people.

The General Assembly must direct, order, recommend and authorize all United Nations subsidiary bodies and organs, specialized agencies, and affiliated organizations and institutions to immediately admit the state of Palestine as a fully-fledged Member State. The General Assembly itself must treat the state of Palestine as a de facto Member State with all of the rights, privileges and immunities of this status. Finally, according to the proposal, the General Assembly must direct and order the Secretary-General to accept any instrument of accession filed by the appropriate authorities of the state of Palestine for any international convention to which the Secretary-General is a depositary, and to receive any other bilateral or multilateral convention concluded by the state of Palestine and submitted for registration pursuant to Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations.

The International Progress Organization points out that the continued Israeli occupation of Palestine and the inability of the Security Council - because of the policies of one of its permanent members - to restore the rights of the Palestinian people, make it imperative that the General Assembly acts on the basis of the provisions of the uniting for peace resolution of 3 November 1950. With this resolution, the General Assembly emphasized its overall responsibility for the functioning of the United Nations in situations where the Security Council was unable to act or enforce its decisions because of super power involvement in the conflicts in question.



Latin American Confederation of YMCAs: Mr. Norberto Rodríguez. Secretary-General

[Original: English]

On behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of YMCAs, we would like to express our deep solidarity with the Palestinian people at the time in which a new anniversary of the resolution 181 (II) adopted in 1947 by the General Assembly is being celebrated soon.



New Zealand Palestine Council: Mr. John Fanning, Secretary

[Original: English]

The New Zealand Palestine Council, representing many hundreds of concerned, ordinary, New Zealand citizens, greets the United Nations on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. We reaffirm our support for the Palestinian people in its long and patient quest for self-determination, and for the national homeland which has been denied it for so long. We pray that the current peace process will succeed, and urge all United Nations Member States to redouble their efforts to remove the present roadblocks to a just and peaceful settlement, acceptable to all parties. Further, we commend the United Nations for its continuing advocacy and support of the Palestinian cause. This is surely one of the most noble achievements of your illustrious Organization.



Organization of Solidarity of the Peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America:
Mr. Ramón Pez Ferro, Secretary-General


[Original: Spanish]

On the occasion of the celebration on 29 November of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Organization of Solidarity of the Peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America (OSPAAAL) appeals to the international community to call upon the Government of Israel to cease carrying out activities which hinder the peace agreements and hereby constitute a serious threat to the peace process in the Middle East.

During the past few months, the situation in the occupied territories has been worsened by the repeated provocations of the Government of Israel, including its construction of new settlements, its refusal to release over 6,000 political prisoners and its failure to implement the various stages of the agreements, acts which have been condemned by the international community and the United Nations. Meanwhile, the Government of the United States of America, despite its supposed role as negotiator, has not concealed its unconditional support for Israel, thereby showing that it is interested, not in achieving a just peace, but solely in achieving domination in the Middle East.

Concerned at the present situation, which is a threat to the just cause of the Palestinian people, OSPAAAL appeals to all peace-loving parties, organizations and people to condemn these acts and to call for a climate conducive to a resumption of the peace negotiations and to ending the violence because, if this serious situation is allowed to continue, it may lead to another war in the region.



The Palestinian Network in Sweden: Ms. Birgitta Altan

[Original: English]

We do wish we could go back 50 years and take part in the discussions in the General Assembly. We also feel very strongly that if the mediator, whom the Assembly on 14 May 1948 decided to appoint, had been given a chance to carry out his task, the situation for the peoples in the Middle East would have been more peaceful today.

It is our firm belief that resolutions from the United Nations must be implemented in all parts of the world. We will continue to support international agreements on national independence and sovereignty for the Palestinian people, and on this particular day of 29 November we do hope you can feel that the international community shares the understanding of an urgent need for constructive actions for a just cause.

With great sympathy and best wishes.




IV. CLOSING STATEMENTS


Mr. Farouk Kaddoumi, Head of the Political Department
of the Palestine Liberation Organization

[Original: Arabic]

At the closing of this solemn meeting to commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, it gives me great pleasure to express my thanks and appreciation to all heads of State or Government, the ministers for foreign affairs and all the friends who kindly sent messages of solidarity to this Committee, reiterating their support for the rights of the Palestinian people. We would also like to express our thanks to the President of the General Assembly, the Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council for their attendance and their statements of solidarity.

This broad international participation shows clearly that the United Nations supports the Palestinian people in its relentless struggle to restore its inalienable rights, return to its home and establish its own independent state.

We deeply appreciate the continued efforts made by Mr. Ibra Deguène Ka, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, as well as the efforts made by the members of the Committee both in supporting the Palestinian question and in attracting more friends to this just cause and to the struggle of the Palestinian people to establish a lasting and just peace.

We would like to thank Mr. Herman Leonard de Silva for his report on the Israeli practices in the Arab territories.

We are fully confident that all these noteworthy international efforts will not be in vain and that, indeed, they will lead to the establishment of a comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East region. They will inevitably help the Palestinian people to recover its inalienable national rights and its right to self-determination.



Mr. Ibra Deguène Ka, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise
of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People

[Original: French]

I wish to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has made this meeting possible, in particular the members of the Division for Palestinian Rights, the Office of Conference Services, the Department of Public Information and the security officers and everyone else who works behind the scenes.

I want to remind everyone that the exhibit arranged by the office of the Permanent Observer of Palestine, under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, will be opened today at 6.00 p.m. in the Public Lobby of the General Assembly building, and that the ceremony will be followed by a reception to which all are cordially invited.


-----

Follow UNISPAL RSS Twitter