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About the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People
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        General Assembly
28 April 1988




Held at Headquarters, New York,
on Thursday, 21 April 1988, at 3 p.m.

Chairman: Mr. SARRE (Senegal)


Adoption of the agenda

Consideration of recent developments affecting the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people

This record is subject to correction.

Corrections should be submitted in one of the working languages. They should be set forth in a memorandum and also incorporated in a copy of the record. They should be sent within one week of the date of this document to the Chief, Official Records Editing Section, Department of Conference Services, room DC2-0750, United Nations Plaza.

Any corrections to the record of this meeting and of other meetings will be issued in a corrigendum.

The meeting was called to order at 3.20 p.m.


1. The agenda was adopted.


2. Mr. GHEZAL (Tunisia) noted that the Security Council was meeting that same day to consider the complaint submitted by Tunisia concerning the clear aggression perpetrated by Israel on 16 April 1988 against Tunisia's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The purpose of the terrorist operation, which had been planned and executed by the Mossad intelligence service with support from the Israeli air force, navy and one elite unit from the army, had been to assassinate Khalil al-Wazir, a prominent figure in the Palestinian resistance. Tunisia had given the Council ample proof that Israel was responsible for that outrage; other countries most probably also had proof, since the plane which had been used in the operation could not have passed undetected. In case any had wished to continue to doubt, the public statements made by several Israeli army officers, congratulating themselves on the operation, confirmed who was responsible for that abominable act which, it turned out, had been planned and decided on at the highest Government level.

3. That was the second aggression perpetrated by Israel against Tunisia. The Security Council had vigorously condemned the first, on 1 October 1985, had demanded that Israel put an end to such activities, which were flagrant violations of the Charter of the United Nations, and had urged Member States to take measures to prevent their recurrence. Tunisia was a peaceable country that believed in the principles of law, but it was determined not to permit any Government to behave like an outlaw without having the international community assume its responsibilities.

4. The history of independence struggles showed that such activities did not discourage resistance to oppression. Just as the repression carried out by South Africa had not checked the struggle of the peoples of South Africa and Namibia, so the assassination would merely galvanize the Palestinian people. Khalil al-Wazir had proudly performed his duty. Now that he had become a martyr, he would continue to serve the Palestinian cause. Nor could Israel bring Tunisia or the other countries that supported the noble struggle of the Palestinian people to fail in their duty to provide support and whole-hearted solidarity. Tunisia would continue to support the Palestinian cause because it believed in the law and in justice. It was clear that the Palestinians would continue to resist until the day of victory, until they were liberated, human dignity was restored and an independent Palestinian State was created in the land of Palestine.

5. Mr. AL-KIDWA (Alternate Permanent Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization) said that the fact that the Security Council, too, was meeting at that very moment to consider, as the Committee was doing, the assassination of Khalil al-Wazir, demonstrated the importance of the assassination and its implications for international peace and security. That further act of terrorism perpetrated by Israel against Tunisia's sovereignty and territorial integrity alsoha d serious implications for the situation in the occupied territories and the efforts being made to restore peace in the Middle East. It also demonstrated that Israel was persisting in its policy and that it would continue to flatly refuse to recognize the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, to repress that people ruthlessly and to take no account of international law, the Charter of the United Nations and the rules of civilized behaviour.

6. Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad) had been not only a military leader but also a major figure in Palestinian history. He had been a source of inspiration and had shown the younger generations the road leading to the achievement of their right to return, to self-determination and to the creation of an independent State in their national territory. Israel had thought that by assassinating him it would be dealing a mortal blow to Palestinian resistance against which it had redoubled its violence by killing people and engaging in intensive deportation. However, these efforts would not succeed. The further act of terrorism which had just been committed would simply strengthen the resolve of the Palestinian people and would increase the solidarity of the countries which supported the Palestinians and all peace-loving forces. In that context, the Palestine Liberation Organization would always be grateful for the sacrifices made by the people and Government of Tunisia; they had always stood by its side.

7. Mr. MAKSOUD (Observer for the League of Arab States) said that the abominable terrorist attack committed by Israel on Khalil al-Wazir, also known as Abu Jihad, was a desperate act which was designed to put an end to the uprising of the Palestinian people by slaughtering their leaders. However, history had shown that the harsher the repression the more resistance was strengthened. Israel was mistaken if it thought that it would be able to stifle the Palestinians' legitimate aspirations thus, if it thought that by physically eliminating Abu Jihad, the historic symbol of Palestinian resistance, it could also eliminate all that he represented. His death had strengthened the Palestinian people in its fierce determination to put an end to the occupation and in its rejection of any compromise. The announcement of his assassination had immediately provoked further uprisings in the occupied territories. The resistance had lost a historic leader, but his death had revived the spirit of unity and reconciliation between the Palestinian and Syrian peoples, as had been demonstrated by the scenes during his funeral, in Damascus, which had been paralleled by similar scenes in Gaza, Nablus and Jerusalem. The unity of the Arab nation and its solidarity with the Palestinian people and with Tunisia had thus been vividly demonstrated.

8. Abu Jihad had been a major figure. A first-class strategist, he had seen the seed which he had sown bear fruit in the uprising of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories. A leader and a soldier, he had been able, despite his high-ranking position, to be the equal of all the other Palestinians. He had been a man of principle who had never sunk into obscurantism or dogmatism; he had combined strong beliefs with a spirit of conciliation, boldness with temperance; he had been a saint and had deeply marked all who had come into contact with him. He had been the embodiment of honour and humanity and had devoted his life to the liberation of Palestine and continued to serve that cause through his death.

9. The CHAIRMAN, speaking on behalf of the Government of Senegal and on his own behalf, expressed the most serious concern and indignation at the assassination of Khalil al-Wazir, known as Abu Jihad, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Palestinian armed forces. The attack, which it had been proved had been planned, financed and executed by Israel, was an act of State terrorism and should be condemned in no uncertain terms as a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Tunisia, perpetrated in total disregard of Israel's obligations under the Charter of the United Nations. Such activities were likely to be repeated unless the international community undertook to tackle the Palestinian problem. It was a tragedy that Israel refused to heed the growing appeal for a peaceful negotiated settlement of that problem and for recognition of the rights of the Palestinian people and that it was trying to achieve a military solution, which was impossible. Repression of the unrest in the occupied territories was intensifying. Many Palestinians, including women and children, had been killed and thousands had been wounded. People were being deported in defiance of Security Council resolution 607 (1988) and 608 (1988), there were prolonged curfews, thousands of people had been arrested without charge or trial, stringent curbs had been placed on freedom of movement, Palestinian organizations had been banned and links to the outside had been restricted or interrupted so as to prevent the world from knowing the extent of the human rights violations, which included acts of provocation committed by Israeli settlers.

10. But those measures of repression had failed. Violence and instability would continue to grow as long as Israel remained in occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territories and as long as it prevented the Palestinian people from exercising its inalienable rights in conformity with the resolutions of the United Nations. Public opinion, even in Israel, was becoming increasingly aware of the need to put an end to the occupation and to find a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine in accordance with the United Nations resolutions. It was therefore necessary to work towards the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East in accordance with General Assembly resolution 38/58 C, which remained the most comprehensive and most widely accepted proposal for advancing towards a settlement. Those who had not yet come around to the idea of such a conference were strongly urged to reconsider their position and to join with the majority of nations.

11. Mr. OUDOVENKO (Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic) strongly condemned the latest act of premeditated State terrorism which Israel had perpetrated against Tunisia and the Palestinian people. In so doing, Israel proved that it sought to annihilate the most active representatives of the Palestinian people and to disrupt efforts to settle the Palestinian question; however, such acts would simply strengthen the Palestinian people in its resolve to secure its inherent rights under the leadership of the PLO. The unrest which had prevailed in the occupied territories for months, despite Israel's brutal repression, was a clear indication of that fierce determination.

12. It was extremely unfortunate that, at the very moment Israel was celebrating its fortieth anniversary, its occupation forces were continuing to oppress the Palestinian people cruelly, losing sight of the fact that repression never succeeded in extinguishing a people's legitimate aspirations. By refusing to acknowledge that truism, Israel and its supporters were impeding the just settlement of the Palestinian problem, which was the crux of the Middle East problem. On the contrary, the strong popular Palestinian movement, which was thoroughly democratic and rejected extremism despite the occupier's provocations, was attracting an ever-wider international following and constituted a powerful force in the search for practical means of bringing about a comprehensive settlement.

13. During his recent meetings with Mr. Arafat, Mr. Gorbachev had observed that conditions were increasingly favourable for such a settlement, the essential prerequisite being, however, that Israel must withdraw from the territories occupied in 1967 and recognize the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. The most effective way to reach a solution was to convene an international conference sponsored by the United Nations and based on the acceptance by all parties of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including its right to self-determination. Conference participants would include representatives of all parties to the conflict, including the Arab Palestinian people, and the permanent members of the Security Council, who would be responsible for creating an atmosphere conducive to negotiation and who might, collectively or individually, make proposals and recommendations to that end. Invitations to the Conference would be issued by the Secretary-General.

14. The Soviet Union was not opposed to interim measures or phases, so long as they were made within the framework of the conference in a manner consistent with the purposes of that meeting. His delegation's position was respectful of principles, yet realistic, taking into account the interests of all parties. The establishment of peace in the Middle East must be a top priority of all peace-loving forces. The attainment of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people was an essential condition if that was to be accomplished.

15. Mr. SCHLICKE (German Democratic Republic) condemned the killing of Khalil al-Wazir, an eminent Palestinian who had devoted all his energy to attaining his people's inherent rights and who had been the victim of an act of State terrorism which was also a violation of Tunisia's territorial integrity. The German Democratic Republic reaffirmed its solidarity with the Palestinian people, which was struggling under the leadership of the PLO so that it could exercise its inalienable rights. His country would soon host the European regional seminar on the question of Palestine at Berlin; the seminar would afford another occasion to contribute towards the attainment of those rights.

16. Mr. ABOU-HADID (Syrian Arab Republic) said that his country was proud to receive the remains of Abu Jihad, who had recently joined so many other Palestinian martyrs who had been victims of Israeli terrorism. That vile murder and the second attack by Israel against Tunisia constituted one more proof of the Zionist racist régime's aggressiveness and its contempt for the principles of international law. Yet Israel must know that the principles which had inspired Abu Jihad would live on and that the murder of a leader could not break the resistance of a people struggling under the direction of its sole legitimate representative, the Palestine Liberation Organization, until its inalienable rights were attained.

17. Mr. BORG OLIVIER (Malta), Rapporteur, said that the Maltese Government and people shared the general feeling of consternation and indignation at the murder of Khalil al-Wazir. The Maltese Government condemned that odious act. Far from discouraging Palestinian resistance, that act would only strengthen it. Malta reaffirmed its readiness to assist the Palestinian people and expressed its solidarity to that people and to Tunisia.

18. Mr. PAIC (Yugoslavia) announced that his delegation would make a statement before the Security Council condemning the terrorist act constituted by Israel's act against Tunisia and the barbarous killing of Abu Jihad. The disappearance of the latter, a highly respected leader whose historic actions would continue to serve as a source of inspiration for all who were denied freedom, would only increase the determination of the Palestinian people, which had risen up to defend its inherent rights.

19. Mr. RIANOM (Indonesia) said he was outraged by the killing of Abu Jihad, one of the most valiant sons of the Palestinian people; he condemned that act of terrorism. Such an act was part of Israel's diabolical strategy to deprive the Palestinian people of its leaders, the better to defeat it. An earlier attack by Israel, condemned by the Security Council, had already been directed at the PLO headquarters in Tunis. However, neither such acts nor the relentless repression in the occupied territories, with the curfews, arrests, acts of brutality, deportations and all the Palestinian deaths it had entailed for four months, would not stop that uprising, which confirmed that the valiant Palestinian people could not be brought to its knees but would continue its legitimate struggle under the leadership of the PLO.

20. Mr. VELAZCO-SAN JOSE (Cuba) paid a tribute to Abu Jihad, freedom fighter. The Zionist leaders were wrong in believing that the murder of a Palestinian political leader would put an end to the struggle of the Palestinian people. On the contrary, such an act of State terrorism, which was also a violation of Tunisia's sovereignty and territorial integrity, would succeed in bringing the ranks of the PLO closer together, just as it would bring together those who supported its struggle, and would constitute a source of inspiration for the occupied Palestinian people.

21. Mr. RATH (India) said that, for the second time in three years, Israel had not respected its obligations under the Charter of the United Nations. India condemned the act of State terrorism represented by the killing of Abu Jihad, an important and respected leader of the Palestinian people, and the flagrant violation of Tunisian sovereignty. Far from weakening the determination of the Palestinian people, that attack would only incite it further to wage the revolution to its glorious end. Abu Jihad had departed, but a hundred others would rise up to take his place.

22. Mrs. CHOHAN (Pakistan) said that the murder which Israel had committed would work against it because that act would encourage the Palestinian people to intensify its fight to obtain its inalienable rights and produce many other militants who would carry on Abu Jihad's work.

23. Ms. MIAO Zaifang (China) paid a tribute to Abu Jihad, freedom fighter. The Chinese Government had already vehemently condemned the sinister Israeli attack, which constituted a violation of Tunisia's sovereignty; the Chinese Government reaffirmed its solidarity with the Palestine Liberation Organization and with Tunisia.

24. Mr. DOST (Afghanistan) paid a tribute to Abu Jihad, a freedom fighter who had met a martyr's death; the killing by Israel of one of the leaders of the struggle against Zionism would encourage the Palestinian people to fight the Zionist occupation with even greater determination until a Palestinian State was established. Neither acts of aggression against a defenceless population nor the deportation of heroic Palestinians, nor even State terrorism would weaken the determination of the Palestinian people to fight to the end.

25. Mr. RAEV (Bulgaria) paid a tribute to Abu Jihad, freedom fighter, whose name would always be linked to the historic struggle waged by the Palestinian people, under the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization, to be able to exercise its right to self-determination and constitute a State. His delegation condemned the act of terrorism perpetrated by Israel; that act had violated the territorial integrity of Tunisia in defiance of the United Nations Charter and international law.

26. Mr. FASEHUN (Nigeria) associated himself wholeheartedly with the words of the Chairman. He paid a tribute to Abu Jihad, freedom fighter, whose murder was indicative of Israel's discomfiture in the face of Palestinian resistance, which was now in a critical phase and would surely lead to freedom and the creation of a Palestinian State.

The meeting rose at 5 p.m.

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