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UNITED
NATIONS
A

        General Assembly
A/49/PV.70
29 November 1994

Official Records

United Nations
General Assembly
Forty-ninth Session
70th Meeting
Tuesday, 29 November 1994, 3 p.m.
New York


President: Mr. Essy...........................................(Côte d'Ivoire)

The meeting was called to order at 3.15 p.m.

Agenda item 42 (continued)

[...]

Agenda item 40

Question of Palestine

Report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (A/49/35)

Report of the Secretary-General (A/49/636)

The President (interpretation from French): I should like to propose that the list of speakers in the debate agenda item 40 be closed in half an hour.

If there is no objection, I shall take it that the Assembly agrees to that proposal.

It was so decided.

The President (interpretation from French): I therefore request those representatives wishing to participate in the debate to inscribe themselves as soon as possible.

I now call on Mr. Kéba Birane Cissé of Senegal, who will speak in his capacity as Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

Mr. Cissé (Senegal), Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of Palestinian People (interpretation from French): It is a pleasure for me, in my capacity as Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and on my own behalf, to congratulate you, Sir, on your election as President of the forty-ninth session of the General Assembly. We are confident that, with your experience, your thorough knowledge of the complex issues at hand and your diplomatic skills, you will successfully guide the deliberations on the agenda item.

Today the world is being transformed right before our eyes. The developments that are taking place everywhere prove this and open up prospects that are new and full of hope but that, unfortunately, are at the same time fragile and not easy to deal with. This change is particularly evident in the Middle East, where for a long time a peaceful settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict has been sought. Today, fortunately, the hope of seeing courage and political wisdom triumph is coming to the fore. Despite the tragic events of the last few weeks, which have once again demonstrated the fragility of the peace process, it is now more important than ever that these hopes not be dashed.

Last year we paid tribute to the wisdom and political realism of the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Yasser Arafat, the Prime Minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, and the Foreign Minister of Israel, Shimon Peres, on the historic signing of the Declaration of Principles. This year I want to congratulate them on the well-deserved recognition of their remarkable accomplishments with the award of the Nobel Peace Prize.

The progress towards peace is undeniable. The three-year-old peace process, which began at Madrid in October 1991, is advancing. Our Committee welcomes the progress made by the parties in various areas, as well as by the determination with which they have set out on the road to peace despite repeated setbacks.

The Committee welcomed the signing on 4 May last of the Israeli-PLO Agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area, which led to the withdrawal of Israeli troops from those areas, the deployment of the first Palestinian police force, the return after many years of exile of Chairman Arafat and other Palestinian leaders to the Gaza Strip and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority.

Further, the Committee noted the signing of the Agreement on Preparatory Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities and the beginnings of Palestinian self-government in a number of areas in the West Bank. The Committee supported these developments, which hold promise for a comprehensive, just and peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine and the exercise by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights.

The signing of the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan was also bound to have a positive effect throughout the region. It is a clear sign that the process of peace in the Middle East is accelerating. We hope that this progress will encourage other parties in the region to move ahead in their respective areas of negotiations. We are also aware that the road the parties have set out upon is thorny and fraught with difficulties.

With a view to consolidating peace, guaranteeing economic development and improving living conditions, the Committee has expressed the hope that the donor community will honour its commitments and take the necessary measures as a matter of urgency. The Committee has undertaken activities to promote this effort. The Committee has also noted with interest the adoption of the Casablanca Declaration by the participants in the recent Middle East/North Africa Economic Summit. Such meetings help improve the economic climate and as a result the political climate, in the entire region.

For almost 20 years the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People has been concerned with all aspects of the question of Palestine, and it has consistently held the view that a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement must be based on respect for Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973); on Israel's withdrawal from all Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, and from other occupied Arab territories; on respect for the right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized boundaries; and on the recognition and exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, particularly its right to self-determination. Those are key principles without which there can be no lasting solution, not only to the question of Palestine, but, above all, to a whole range of regional problems. Today the question of Palestine remains the core issue of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and still awaits a final resolution. A great deal remains to be done. Hence, great patience will be required of the parties in order to bring about, with the support of the international community, a truly just solution to the problem.

In accordance with its mandate, the Committee has cooperated in international efforts to promote the implementation of the Declaration of Principles, and has tried to mobilize international support for and assistance to the Palestinian people during the transitional period. On behalf of the Committee, I thank those States which have supported its work and have facilitated the organization of events by providing venues and participating in the debates.

In 1994 the Committee held a very productive symposium for North American non-governmental organizations in Toronto, Canada; an interesting seminar in Paris on Palestinian trade and investment needs; and a symposium of European non-governmental organizations and a meeting of international non-governmental organizations in Geneva. A seminar and non-governmental-organization symposium for the Latin American and Caribbean region is scheduled to be held next March in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

These events are held with the participation of prominent Palestinian and Israeli personalities, experts from various regions, representatives of donor countries and other governmental and intergovernmental entities, organizations of the United Nations system and non-governmental organizations involved in activity on behalf of the Palestinian people. They have proved, if proof were needed, that the Committee can play a valuable role as a forum for dialogue, exchange of information, mobilization of public opinion and action in support of peace efforts, the exercise of Palestinian rights and Palestinian socio-economic development.

It was the combined efforts of the United Nations, including the Committee, as well as other parties, that made the Madrid peace process a reality. And it was the General Assembly's committed support and endorsement that allowed the parties to move forward despite numerous obstacles and some setbacks.

The negotiations are proceeding, but we should not ignore the serious problems still awaiting resolution in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and in the Gaza Strip, which still jeopardize the peace process. Developments during the transitional period, when the Palestinians are assuming their powers and responsibilities, are a measure of what is yet to be accomplished by the parties and by the international community. On several occasions we have voiced our concern at deadly acts of violence aimed at derailing the peace process. Other matters, too, cause great concern: the continued establishment of settlements in the occupied territory, as well as in and around Jerusalem; the repeated closures of the territory; the destruction of housing and other acts of collective punishment; and the continued imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians under harsh conditions. The Committee believes that the Fourth Geneva Convention must be applied to all the Palestinian territories, and that these activities by Israel, which are in contravention of its obligations under the Convention, should be stopped. This would constitute an important confidence-building measure which would help create an atmosphere more conducive to peace.

Last year the General Assembly, in resolution 48/158 A, reaffirmed that the United Nations had a permanent responsibility with respect to the question of Palestine until the question was resolved in all its aspects in a satisfactory manner in accordance with international legitimacy. This year, during the general debate, many delegations reaffirmed this point of view before the General Assembly, stating that the United Nations must continue to play a role in the peace process, remain seized of the matter and closely monitor the developments on the ground. Delegations also expressed their belief that the United Nations should take on a new role involving the channelling of economic and other forms of assistance to the Palestinians.

In this respect, the Committee welcomed the steps taken by the Secretary-General in support of the peace process, particularly through the appointment of the Special Coordinator to act as a focal point for all United Nations economic, social and other assistance to the Palestinians. The disastrous economic situation in the Gaza Strip, with its concomitant tensions and instability, points up the urgent need for international assistance to generate employment, ameliorate living conditions and provide the indispensable foundation for long-term economic development, without which peace there can be only a precarious peace.
Our Committee believes that as the peace process develops it must be accompanied by a considerable effort on the part of the international community to address the various critical problems involved in the transition to Palestinian autonomy, including unresolved political questions, the rights of the Palestinian people, and the socio-economic situation. The Committee, in the period ahead, will continue to make adjustments in its programme of work to reflect the realities in the region and constantly to make a useful contribution to the international endeavours aimed at bringing about a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement of the question of Palestine in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions. We shall also continue to monitor closely the developments on the ground, promote the full implementation of the agreements reached by the parties and urge the mobilization of the necessary international assistance for the Palestinian people.

Given the new situation created by the signing of the Declaration of Principles and other milestone agreements, and taking into account the evolution of the Committee's approach and its programme of work, the Committee invites all those Member States that support its objectives and activities but have not thus far participated in its work to join it in this important and much-needed effort. This will help to enhance the role played by the United Nations in general and the Assembly in particular in the promotion of peace and stability in the region during this crucial and sensitive transitional period.

The President (interpretation from French): I now call on the representative of Malta, Mr. Joseph Cassar, in his capacity as Rapporteur of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, to introduce the Committee's report (A/49/35).

Mr. Cassar (Malta) (Rapporteur of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People): It is an honour for me, in my capacity as Rapporteur, to present to the General Assembly the report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People covering its work during the past year (A/49/35).

In 1994 the Committee, under the able guidance of its Chairman, Mr. Kéba Birane Cissé, carried out its mandate in conformity with the resolutions adopted by the General Assembly. The report covers the significant developments concerning the question of Palestine and the activities of the Committee in the year since the last report, taking into account the new situation created by the peace process, which the Committee has welcomed and endeavoured to promote.

The introduction to the report is contained in chapter I and outlines the constructive position taken by the Committee with regard to the new situation, as well as the Committee's main concerns.

Chapters II and III are procedural and summarize the respective mandates of the Committee, the Division for Palestinian Rights and the Department of Public Information, and give information on the Committee's organization of work.

Chapter IV reviews the significant developments with regard to the peace process, as well as in the occupied Palestinian territories. The Committee has welcomed the signing by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) of a series of important bilateral agreements in implementation of the Declaration of Principles of 13 September 1993, in particular the Agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area of May 1994 and the Agreement on Preparatory Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities of August 1994 concerning the West Bank. The Committee noted with satisfaction the changes that had taken place on the ground, such as the withdrawal of Israeli military forces, the establishment of the Palestinian Authority and the transfer to it of various powers and responsibilities, the establishment of a Palestinian police force and the release by Israel of 5,000 Palestinian prisoners.

The Committee was pleased to note that Chairman Yasser Arafat had returned to the Gaza Strip to assume the leadership of the Palestinian Authority and that other leaders had also been allowed to return. The Committee has also noted that despite many obstacles and delays, negotiations have started between Israel and the PLO on the issue of Palestinian elections and on the extension of the self-government arrangements to the rest of the West Bank, and hopes that this process will continue speedily. The Committee also hopes that all aspects of the agreements already reached will be implemented. The Committee has also taken note of the treaty of peace between the State of Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, signed on 26 October 1994, and has expressed the hope that it will lead to rapid progress in the negotiations with the other parties to the conflict.

However, despite these positive developments, the Committee was alarmed by the repeated violent incidents aimed at derailing the peace process, including the massacre of Palestinian worshippers at the Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron in February 1994 and subsequent incidents which have highlighted the fragility of the peace process and the awesome difficulties it confronts. The Committee has expressed concern at the continuation of Israeli policies such as the expansion of settlements, repeated closures of the occupied territories and the consequent isolation of East Jerusalem, the imposition of collective punishments, and other practices which aggravate tensions and jeopardize the peace process. The Committee has called for full respect for the Fourth Geneva Convention by Israel as the occupying Power, as well as full implementation of Security Council resolution 904 (1994).

The Committee has been greatly concerned by the disastrous economic situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, particularly the Gaza Strip, after 27 years of occupation, and has endeavoured to promote international assistance for development, which is universally recognized as essential for the achievement of peace. In this regard, the Committee has welcomed with appreciation the appointment of a Special Coordinator by the Secretary-General in the occupied territory to act as a focal point for all United Nations economic, social and other assistance to Palestinians.

Chapter V of the report provides a detailed overview of the various activities of the Committee and the Division for Palestinian Rights in accordance with General Assembly resolutions 48/158 A and B. The Committee closely monitored the situation on the ground and supported international action following the Hebron massacre through a letter addressed by the Chairman to the Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council, as well as appropriate action within the Council. The Committee, through its Chairman, was also represented at meetings of various intergovernmental organizations and presented its objectives and activities. Further, the Committee followed closely, and some of its members participated as necessary in, meetings of United Nations bodies and agencies, the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries and intergovernmental organizations, at which various statements, resolutions and communiqués relevant to this issue were adopted.

As the Chairman has already reported, the Committee sponsored a seminar in Paris on Palestinian trade and investment needs; non-governmental organizations symposiums in Toronto and Geneva for the North American and European regions, respectively; as well as an international meeting of non-governmental organizations. The Committee was encouraged by the active participation in these activities of prominent political personalities, parliamentarians, policy makers and other experts, including Israelis and Palestinians. The Committee believes that these meetings make a positive contribution to peace efforts by providing a forum for a balanced and constructive discussion of the most important issues, including those related to the current situation and the challenges confronting Palestinians during the transitional period. Wishing to involve additional non-governmental organizations in its work, particularly those active in the field of development and humanitarian relief, the Committee also established a set of revised criteria for participation by non-governmental organizations in its activities.

Finally, the report describes very briefly the many activities of the Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat in the field of research, monitoring and publications, and action taken for the establishment of a computer-based information system on the question of Palestine. It also describes the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

Chapter VI of the report covers the work of the Department of Public Information in accordance with General Assembly resolution 48/158 C, including the publications and audiovisual activities of that Department, as well as the journalists' encounters and news missions to the area.

Chapter VII, the last chapter, contains the Committee's recommendations. The Committee believes that these recommendations, which take fully into account the new situation and are intended to make a positive contribution to it, are practical and constructive, and it hopes that they will be adopted by the General Assembly by an overwhelming majority as in the past.

The Committee reaffirms that the United Nations has a continuing responsibility with respect to the question of Palestine until a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement is reached, and believes that the involvement of the United Nations in the peace process is essential for its successful outcome. The Committee also believes that its own role, as the General Assembly body established to deal with the question of Palestine, continues to be useful and necessary until a satisfactory final settlement is achieved.

The Committee reaffirms that such a settlement must be based on resolution 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), the withdrawal of Israel from the Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, and the exercise by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights, in particular the right to self-determination. While remaining firm on this position of principle, the Committee has continued to make adjustments in its approach and programme of work in order to contribute concretely to promoting the implementation of the agreements reached and to mobilize international assistance to the Palestinian people.

The Committee wishes to express its great appreciation to those States which have supported its work and have facilitated the organization of events held under the auspices of the Committee. It considers that a broadening of its membership to include countries that support its objectives but have not hitherto participated in its work would greatly enhance the contribution of the General Assembly to promoting peace at this important stage.

The Committee considers that its seminars on economic and social issues confronting Palestinians have been particularly useful and it has stressed the value of its role as a catalyst in developing a network of non-governmental organizations active in solidarity activities as well as development assistance in support of the Palestinian people. Noting with appreciation the increasing interest and participation of Governments, particularly those of donor countries, United Nations organizations and agencies and others in these events, the Committee has expressed the intention to continue its programme of meetings in various regions in the coming year and to structure its programme for maximum usefulness.

Also, in the light of the new situation on the ground and the recognized need of continued United Nations involvement in the question of Palestine, the Committee will consider holding an event in the territory under Palestinian authority to address aspects of the transitional period.

Further, the Committee has emphasized the essential contribution of the Division for Palestinian Rights as a centre for research, monitoring, the preparation of studies and the collection and dissemination of information on all issues related to the question of Palestine. It has noted with satisfaction the initial establishment of the United Nations computer-based information system on the question of Palestine UNISPAL and has called for cooperation by all concerned with the Division in order to maximize the usefulness of the system.

The Committee also considers that the Special Information Programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information is useful in raising the international community's awareness of the complexities of the question and the situation in the Middle East in general. The Committee believes that the programme is contributing effectively to an atmosphere conducive to dialogue and supportive of the peace process.

In conclusion, the Committee has expressed its determination to continue to strive to achieve maximum effectiveness in the implementation of its mandate and to adjust its programme in the light of developments, in order to continue to contribute, to the extent possible, to the realization of the common United Nations objective of achieving a just and lasting solution of the question of Palestine. The Committee calls on all Member States to support it in this essential endeavour.

Mr. Kaddoumi (Palestine) (interpretation from Arabic): Mr. President, it gives me great pleasure to begin my statement by congratulating you on your election to the presidency of the General Assembly at its current session. I wish you every success in conducting the Assembly's work and in achieving its desired goals. In electing you, the General Assembly has chosen a man of wisdom and experience and, in particular, a representative of the aspirations and the struggles of the peoples of Africa.

I should like also to express our deep appreciation to Mr. Insanally, the President of the forty-eighth session of the Assembly, for having presided so ably and successfully over that session.

I should like to express our gratitude to the Secretary-General, Dr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, for his efforts in discharging his functions and vast international responsibilities.

Permit me also to express our appreciation of the efforts of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and its Chairman, Ambassador Kéba Birane Cissé, the representative of the friendly country of Senegal.

This session of the General Assembly takes place at the threshold of the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations. That may be an occasion for world leaders to meet and seriously deliberate on the political, economic and social conditions prevailing in the world today after the disappearance of the old world order. It is hoped that in so doing they will respond to the need for a new world of stability, justice, security and well-being for all peoples. The building of such a new world order will require a clear far-sighted vision, profound new thinking and a strong will to overcome the problems and difficulties that beset humanity in the form of ethnic conflicts, extremism, bigotry and intolerance, civil wars, social ills and poor living conditions. There is a need for international relations to be based on the equality that is indispensable for maintaining political stability and contributing to the resolution of the problems of underdevelopment and poverty. The Palestine Liberation Organization is very happy to make its modest contribution to the preparations for this great occasion next year.

Over and above what it means to all peoples of the world, the United Nations, to us, is the foster parent of the Palestinian cause. The General Assembly has been considering the question of Palestine ever since the United Nations came into being. It recommended the partition of Palestine into two States, one Arab and one Jewish. Israel was established, while our Arab State has yet to be established on the land of Palestine. The General Assembly of the United Nations has affirmed the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including, in particular, the right to self-determination without external interference and the right to live in peace, independence and freedom. It also affirmed the right of the Palestinian human being to return to his homeland and to his home and his right to compensation for what he suffered as a result of his displacement from his homeland.

Since 1947, the United Nations has been dealing with the question of Palestine, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, through the General Assembly, the Security Council and other organs and specialized agencies, as well as through its economic and social assistance programmes and the efforts of its Secretaries-General and international envoys. The United Nations has, therefore, an abiding responsibility towards the question of Palestine, a legal, political and moral responsibility which the United Nations should continue to shoulder until a just solution is reached for the question of Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict in accordance with the resolutions of international legality. The United Nations has an important indeed an essential role to play at this current stage in bringing the peace process to a successful conclusion on all tracks by actively participating in the political efforts and by providing economic and social assistance to the Palestinian people so that they may build their national institutions and establish their independent State.

As we speak on the question of Palestine, we ought to make an evaluation of the current peace process, which began in Madrid on the initiative announced on 6 March 1991 by the former President of the United States, Mr. George Bush. After lengthy negotiations in Washington at which little progress was made, negotiations were held at Oslo. Anxious to move the peace process from its deadlock, which had lasted for 22 months, the Palestine Liberation Organization agreed to the Declaration of Principles in order to bring back momentum and dynamism to the skilled process, which was simply marking time. By so doing, the Palestine Liberation Organization hoped to breach the thick wall of settlement so that a new ray of hope might come through.

That agreement was an important development in the situation in the Middle East as a whole. The war had begun by Palestine, and peace must begin by Palestine. Our Palestinian people, the peoples of the region and the whole world felt optimistic about those steps and regarded them as the beginning of a just solution to the question of Palestine and of a comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East region.

Following the signature of the Agreement on the Declaration of Principles, the United States convened an international conference to support the Middle East peace process in which many States participated and committed themselves to providing $2.4 billion of aid over the next five years.

We, for our part, have established the Palestinian Council for Development and Reconstruction (PACDAR) to oversee international aid in cooperation and coordination with the donor countries and international organizations. The Secretary-General of the United Nations has appointed Mr. Terry Larsen as United Nations Coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territory, and we thank him for that.

The positive impact of these international moves has strengthened the Palestinian people's hope for a new and better situation that would put behind them the tragic consequences of the long years of Israeli occupation which resulted in the destruction of their economic, political and social infrastructures.

The Declaration of Principles was followed by agreements to implement its provisions. It was also followed by the Palestinian Authority's assumption of some of its responsibilities in the fields and areas prescribed therein. The Declaration of Principles established a transitional period of five years and provided that Israel would first withdraw from Gaza and Jericho and then redeploy its forces stationed in the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories. The Declaration of Principles has yet to be scrupulously implemented, both in terms of abidance by its content and of observance of the timetable agreed upon, which timetable forms an integral part of the Accord.

The withdrawal and redeployment of the Israeli forces are prerequisites for the holding of Palestinian general elections. The holding of those elections would entrench democratic principles, guarantee political stability and constitute a qualitative shift in the peace process.

Israel was expected to take confidence-building measures, but it did the opposite by continuing to hold thousands of Palestinians in Israeli detention camps and prisons. It has released some people but has prevented them from returning to their homes, villages and towns. In effect, it transferred them to other areas.

We must emphasize that Israel, the occupying Power, must desist immediately from pursuing its policies and practices that violate human rights and are in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, such as collective punishment, curfews, closure of the occupied territories, continuous isolation of the city of Jerusalem, the confiscation of lands and demolition of houses. Israel's persistence in building new settlements and the expansion of existing ones constitute a violation of the letter and spirit of the agreement on the Declaration of Principles. Suffice it to recall here the heinous massacre at the Al-Ibrahimi mosque in the city of Hebron, which shocked world public opinion and was condemned by the Security Council.

Israel's persistence in changing the configuration of the city of Jerusalem and building settlements therein and the continued siege and isolation of the city from the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory constitute a violation of United Nations resolutions and are, at the same time, actions that run counter to the commitments and obligations Israel took upon itself in the Declaration of Principles.

Extremism and political instability have become widespread in the Middle East region because of the slow pace of achievement in the peace process. There must be tangible progress on both the Syrian and the Lebanese tracks. However, the intransigent Israeli posture does not give cause for optimism. Rather, it gives rise to the belief that Israel does not wish to establish a comprehensive and just peace, but simply wants to exact a price for its occupation of Arab territory.

Israel continues to invoke the guaranteeing of its security against potential threats. The fact is, however, that with its arsenal of weapons of mass destruction which include nuclear weapons, Israel is cause for Arab concern. This requires that the Middle East region become a zone free of weapons of mass destruction, including all chemical, bacteriological and nuclear weapons, and that Israel should accede to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

In order for genuine peace to reign in the region, such peace should be comprehensive and just. This requires the withdrawal by Israel from all the occupied Palestinian territory, including Al-Quds, from the Syrian Arab Golan and from southern Lebanon, in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978).

Given our commitment to the peace process in the Middle East, we hope that a new breakthrough in that process will become evident at the political and economic levels in order to strengthen the confidence of our people and the peoples of the region in the process and move them forward towards the achievement of peace in the land of peace and in the region as a whole.

Mr. Blandino Canto (Dominican Republic), Vice-President, took the Chair.

Mrs. Kumar (India): My delegation is very happy to have the opportunity to speak on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. This Day demonstrates the support of the international community for the people of Palestine in their quest for peace and justice and the realization of their legitimate goals and aspirations. India has historic ties of friendship and socio-cultural links with the Palestinian people. The Government and people of India once again reaffirm their support for the Palestinian people, who have struggled for decades for the restoration of their legitimate rights.

We are meeting here today in the wake of historic developments that have taken place in west Asia over the past year or more developments that will have far-reaching consequences. The signing, on 13 September 1993, of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, involving mutual recognition by the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, was a courageous first step by visionaries aimed at ending for ever a chapter of feuding and bloodshed and at ushering in a new era of peace, stability and coexistence in the region. In particular, we salute the bold initiatives taken by President Yasser Arafat. The recent award of the Nobel Peace Prize to these visionaries is a fitting testimony to their unflagging endeavours.
India also welcomed the signing, in Cairo on 4 May 1994, of the Agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area and the subsequent creation of an atmosphere conducive to the return of President Arafat and other Palestinian leaders to Gaza and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority. The signing, at Erez on 29 August 1994, of the Agreement on Preparatory Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities regarding the West Bank was a major and significant step in the implementation of the Declaration of Principles. Much, however, remains to be tackled and resolved.

The road to a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in west Asia will be long and arduous. It will take patient, sustained and determined efforts to dismantle psychological barriers and to overcome resistance to the peace process. However, we have no doubt that the leadership on both sides is up to the task.

Alongside political negotiations, it is equally important to focus on economic and technological development in the areas administered by the Palestinian Authority. The challenge posed by pressing requirements of finance and infrastructure merits the urgent attention of the international community. This is especially vital to the task of nation-building. There will have to be a great deal of coordination between the efforts of the United Nations and its agencies. The creation of a coordinating mechanism for United Nations activities and the appointment, in June 1994, of Ambassador Terje Rod Larsen of Norway as Special Coordinator will undoubtedly make it easier to focus on developmental tasks. India stands ready, as in the past, to extend material and technical assistance to the Palestinian people as they consolidate their progress towards self-government.

India will shortly dispatch 100 metric tons of tea to Gaza and Jericho in fulfilment of the pledge that it made at the donors' conference in Washington on 1 October 1993. India has also offered 15 slots under the India Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme for the training of Palestinian paramedical staff in India over a period of two years. This is in addition to scholarships already being awarded to the Palestinians. India has offered to set up in the occupied territories a high-tech centre for computers and electronics. It also regularly contributes to the budget of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

As a country that has participated in the multilateral track of the peace process, India remains committed to the advancement of the cause of peace and security throughout the Middle East and to the resolution of outstanding differences through peaceful negotiations. The progress in negotiations between Israel and Jordan, which culminated in the conclusion of the Washington Declaration on 25 July 1994 and in the signing of the peace Treaty between the two countries on 26 October 1994, gives cause for optimism.

India sincerely hopes that there will be further advances in talks between all the parties concerned, especially on the other tracks of the peace process. That is the only way to consign for ever to history the long period of strife and discord endured by generations. We are convinced that the peace process affords the parties a genuine opportunity to forge peace and to build a new edifice of amity and prosperity for all the people in the region. A Middle East free from tension and conflict would greatly enhance the prospects for world peace and stability.

I wish to conclude by reiterating our commitment to the just cause of the Palestinian people and by expressing my Government's support for the peace process.

Mr. Allagany (Saudi Arabia) (interpretation from Arabic): Consideration of the question of Palestine today by the General Assembly bespeaks recognition of the United Nations abiding responsibility towards the question of Palestine until such time as an effective solution to this question in all its aspects is achieved. It is a responsibility that has been with the United Nations since the establishment of the Organization, beginning with the adoption by the General Assembly of the resolution on the partition of Palestine in 1947.

Since 1991, when the Middle East peace process began in Madrid on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), the world has witnessed very important events in the region, including the beginning of the implementation of the PLO-Israel Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements.

We have seen Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip region and Jericho and the creation of the Palestinian Authority there, and we await the early transfer of competence to the Palestinian authorities in the rest of the West Bank.

My country has participated with the Gulf Cooperation Council in the march towards peace in the Middle East since the peace process began in Madrid. We have cooperated in promoting the bilateral negotiations between the Arab parties and Israel in addition to our effective participation in the multilateral negotiations.
The Arab delegations which participated in this peace process have demonstrated quite clearly the sincerity of Arab desires to achieve a just and lasting peace in the region, taking into account the fact that the multilateral talks are part of the peace process which began in Madrid and that those multilateral negotiations supplement and do not supplant the bilateral talks.

While we note with satisfaction the marked progress made on the Palestinian-Israeli track, we call on the international community and, in particular, on the two co-sponsors of the Peace Conference, the United States and the Russian Federation to take all possible measures to guarantee that Israel will desist from placing more obstacles in the way of the Palestinian Authority's exercise of its duties.

It is true that the Declaration of Principles deferred to a later date consideration of a number of fundamental and important questions such as the question of the holy city of Al-Quds, the Israeli settlements, Palestinian refugees and the borders. Nevertheless, a just and peaceful settlement to the question of Palestine must be based fully on international legality and on Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, in particular resolutions 242 (1967), 267 (1969) and 338 (1973) and on the land- for-peace principle.

We believe that one of the major causes of tension and instability in the occupied territories is the continued existence of Israeli settlements. We note that Israel, since it signed the Declaration of Principles and the agreement with the Palestine Liberation Organization on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area, has resorted to intensifying confiscation of Palestinian lands and expanding the existing settlements. We also note a marked escalation of violent and aggressive behaviour on the part of Israeli settlers who, in most cases, act with impunity. The international reports on the question of Palestine now before us under the item Question of Palestine and the sub-items before the Committees reaffirm that the Israeli settlers continue to threaten Arab civilians, fire on them, beat them, destroy their farms and demolish their properties. The dramatic proof of aggression and violence by the settlers was the massacre of the Arab worshippers at the Ibrahimi Mosque in the city of Hebron on 25 February 1994 during the holy month of Ramadan. The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People affirms in its report in document A/49/35 that the continued Israeli occupation is a major obstacle to the achievement of peace.

The question of the holy city of Al-Quds is at the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict and on that basis we cannot see a lasting peace in the Middle East without a just solution to this question that would take into consideration the resolutions of international legality and in particular resolution 242 (1967) which stipulates Israel's withdrawal from the territories it occupied in 1967 and resolution 252 (1967) concerning the holy city of Al-Quds. On that basis, Israel must commit itself to refrain from effecting any demographic changes that would change the status of the city of Al-Quds or affect in any way future negotiations on the final status of the holy city. Al-Quds, for all Muslims in the world, is the first Qibla and the third holy site of Islam and no Muslim will rest until the Muslims regain all their rights in the holy city.

While the success of the Palestinian Authority in implementing the Declaration of Principles will depend on the efforts of the Palestinians themselves, it will depend also on the material and moral support of the international community. We have participated together with the Gulf Cooperation Council in the international donor conference held in Washington in October 1993 and have participated also with the Gulf Cooperation Council, in contributing to the costs of establishing the Palestinian police force and the cost of its training so that it may perform its duties, and have declared our full support for the Palestinian self-government authorities.

To speak of the makings of the continuance and success of the peace process is to speak, as of necessity, once again, of the responsibility of the international community to find a just, comprehensive and lasting settlement to the question of Palestine. We believe it is high time the Middle East region enjoyed stability and prosperity and became, as it was over the centuries, a fount of civilization, progress and prosperity.

Mr. Yaacobi (Israel): These are fateful days for Israel, for the Palestinians and for the entire Middle East. On the one hand, we are gradually bringing about a great change: from conflict to understanding, from bitter division to advancement. On the other hand, violent extremists are trying to destroy the progress we have already made. By killing innocent human beings they are trying to kill the chance for peace and normalization.

I shall refrain from responding to what was unfortunately said here very recently by the speaker for the PLO. Some of his statements were totally unfounded, but I shall make just one comment to set the record straight.

Forty-seven years ago today, the General Assembly adopted a resolution in which it decided on the establishment of two States in British Mandatory Palestine, the State of Israel and an Arab State. The Jews living under the British Mandate accepted this resolution and established the State of Israel on 14 May 1948. The Palestinians, unfortunately, with the support of all the Arab countries rejected the resolution and launched a war on the State of Israel.

The situation affecting the Palestinian people has undergone dramatic change in the recent past. We are in a new era in which a comprehensive peace is within sight in the Middle East. The world has witnessed, commencing in October 1991 with the initiation of the Madrid peace process, events of historic dimension. The Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, signed in Washington D.C. on 13 September 1993 by the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), was followed by the Agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area, on 4 May 1994, and subsequent implementation agreements relating to the Palestinian Authority. These represent milestones marking the long and arduous journey towards peace in the Middle East. Still ahead are negotiations on core issues, such as the return of Palestinian refugees, Israeli settlements, future boundaries, Jerusalem and the status of Palestine all essential components for a lasting settlement. These developments cannot but have an impact on other areas of the Middle East as well.

Sri Lanka has welcomed all these developments, and we are happy to see Chairman Yasser Arafat in Gaza assume the leadership of the Palestinian Authority as it widens the range of activities falling directly under the responsibility of the Palestinian people.

These far-reaching changes have not affected the essential validity of the basic principles applicable to the complex of issues surrounding the Palestinian question. Indeed, a sense of urgency has now been added to the early realization of these principles all fundamental to a just, viable and enduring peace in the region.

Much remains to be accomplished before these principles can be considered to have been implemented. First, a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestinian and other Arab territory occupied since 1967 has to be effected. Secondly, the inalienable national rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to self-determination, must not only be universally recognized, but be exercised in practical terms. Thirdly, the right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally accepted borders must become a reality.

Until the achievement of these basic conditions has been ensured, the United Nations retains a major responsibility for the Palestinian question. This is not, of course, to minimize the efforts made by a number of countries towards helping the peace process forward. The encouragement and support of the entire international community are essential. The United Nations should provide the central framework for its expression and practical extension.

However, while the favourable developments that have been universally welcomed are unfolding, there remain several factors which tend to retard peace and security. There are delays in the implementation of, and tardiness in compliance with, the undoubtedly complex agreements that have been reached. Extremists on every side have tended to act as a drag on the pace of progress towards peace and stability. Bloodshed and loss of life have continued. While Israeli troop withdrawals have taken place in the Gaza, home to almost a million Palestinians, an Israeli military presence remains concentrated around Israeli security zones, military installations and settlements.

The settlements, which the Security Council holds as having no legal validity, have, in particular, ignited many tragic incidents like the horrific act of violence which took place on 25 February this year at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron. Many of the measures that followed in the wake of this massacre in fact imposed further hardships on the Palestinian people. They included economically crippling curfews and closure of areas of Palestinian habitation. Such measures have often been resorted to in other instances as well. I need not go into detail regarding the plight of the Palestinian people or human rights violations that are occurring in occupied Palestinian territory. These have been considered during consideration of the report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, which I am honoured to chair.

An important aspect of the Palestinian problem which requires urgent priority attention relates to the need for economic development in the Palestinian territories. The legacy of years of subjugation needs to be overcome. The Palestinian people must not only be politically free, but must also have the opportunities to be economically independent. The United Nations has a particularly crucial role to play in this area. The United Nations system has taken preliminary steps to provide coordination of development assistance to the Palestinian people, and agreements have already been reached with regard to programmes of the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and other agencies. The Peace Implementation Programme of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East is geared to improve the lives of Palestinian refugees in Gaza and the West Bank. The Special Co-ordinator of the Secretary-General is expected to serve as a focal point for all economic, social and other assistance to the Palestinians in the occupied territories.

Achievements must match expectations. The courage displayed by all sides to negotiate in good faith agreements that seek to bring to an end years of suspicion and animosity must not be displaced. Nothing must be done that would discourage the peace process, which remains vulnerable. If hopes are frustrated, impatience in the negotiating option can lead to desperation, to anger and to violence. Leaders face intense pressure from their people to make peace really work. The Declaration of Principles signed in September last year must be transformed, through full compliance, into a practical reality which touches the daily lives of the people. Only then can peace take deep root, grow in strength and endure.

At the end of the war, a year later, the State of Israel survived. Some Palestinians became citizens of Israel; some became citizens of Jordan, which had captured the West Bank; some became subjects of Egypt, which had captured the Gaza Strip; and some became refugees in Arab countries.

I hope that we have learned the lessons of the past and can now turn to build a new future. I must say that I had some doubts about this after hearing the speaker for the PLO here.

For all peoples of the Middle East, and especially for the Palestinians and their leadership, these are decisive days. The events of the past 14 months represent an unprecedented turning-point. Even if this is just the beginning, even if many obstacles must still be overcome, the old status quo has been shattered forever.

On 13 September 1993 Israel and the PLO signed the Declaration of Principles. This agreement marked a watershed in the history of relations between Israelis and Palestinians. The Declaration of Principles rests upon several basic tenets: mutual recognition, direct negotiation without preconditions as the only framework to advance peace, and an interim period for confidence-building and for an orderly transition to the permanent status.

The signing of the Declaration of Principles set in motion a process that we hope will gradually lead to a resolution of the issues dividing us. We have already made progress towards this goal. On 4 May 1994, the Agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area was signed by Israel and the PLO in Cairo. It began implementation of the Declaration of Principles on the ground. On 13 May 1994 the Israel Defence Forces withdrew from Jericho. Five days later, on 18 May 1994, they completed their withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Police immediately assumed authority for the security of Palestinians in these areas. Three months later, on 29 August 1994, we signed the Agreement on Preparatory Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities. This early empowerment Agreement transfers powers and responsibilities in five spheres from the Israeli Military Government and its Civil Administration to the Palestinian Authority. Immediately upon signature of the Agreement, responsibility in the area of education was transferred, in order to allow the new school year to begin on time. On 15 November 1994 Israel transferred responsibilities in the fields of welfare and tourism to the Palestinian Authority. In the near future we will see the implementation of early empowerment in the areas of health and direct taxation.

This has been an impressive journey towards fulfilling a common goal: enabling the Palestinians to assume responsibility for their own lives. Much has been accomplished in a relatively short time.

None the less, groups such as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad continue to embrace violence. They are aiming at derailing the progress towards peace, stability and development. As they pursue their terrorist activities, these groups receive support and encouragement from Iran and other countries. In recent months suicide bombers and fanatic gunmen have targeted innocent Israeli civilians and have wrought indiscriminate havoc and bloodshed. Lately, fundamentalist radicals affiliated with these groups have rioted against the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Police in the Gaza Strip. Combating terrorism and violence is essential for increasing security. This, in turn, is essential for increasing trust and cooperation. The struggle is between those who are trapped in the past and those who are trying to build a better future.

For the builders of peace the immediate tasks are clear:

We have to enable the Palestinian Authority to meet its responsibilities under the Declaration of Principles.

All parties to the peace process must cooperate in the fight against terrorism. We cannot allow those who would drag us back to the past to succeed in their vision of renewed war and bloodshed. We have to curb the forces that are supporting the fanatic, radical groups.

Assistance from donor countries is crucial for developing infrastructure, education, health, sanitation and employment in the Gaza Strip, the Jericho area, and eventually in other areas in the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority and the donor countries need to find ways to ensure that funds are quickly transferred to such projects. The donor countries have now convened in Brussels to discuss this issue. We hope that all commitments will soon be fulfilled.

The entire international community must join in the effort to improve the basic conditions in Gaza, in Jericho and eventually in other areas of the West Bank. Every man, woman and child in these places must be able to pick the fruits of peace. If peace is to be rooted firmly in the hearts and minds of the people, it must touch every person individually. Its blessings need to be felt in every house, every school, every workplace and every community. In this way, more and more people will understand that peace is the best security; it is the key to assuming responsibility for oneself and for one's future; and it is the true road to economic, social and human advancement.

I would appeal to the Palestinian representatives to leave the issues which relate to the permanent settlement to their appropriate time, as was agreed by the parties. None of these are relevant to the present stage of negotiations. Let us concentrate on building understanding and cementing the agreement between us.

Israel, for its part, remains committed to the peace process with the Palestinians. Only if both parties meet their obligations under the Agreements signed can we create the better future that is our common goal.

Mr. Kalpagé (Sri Lanka): At the outset I should like to thank Ambassador Cissé, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, for his introductory comments on the work of the Committee. The Committee continues to be a vital rallying point, both within the United Nations and outside it, to focus international attention on the situation of the Palestinian people.

Mr. Elaraby (Egypt) (interpretation from Arabic): The General Assembly deals with the item on the Question of Palestine today at a juncture that has special significance for the history of the Palestinian people as the limited progress achieved so far in the peace process points to the possibility that the day is not far off when every Palestinian will be able to exercise all his rights, including the right to self-determination.

Egypt's delegation wishes to point out that the Middle East peace process, which began at Madrid, three years ago in 1991, did yield significant achievements in 1993. Following the Declaration of Principles and the mutual recognition agreed upon by the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel in September 1993, the Palestinian and Israeli parties reached the May 1994 Cairo agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho area. Next came the August 1994 agreement on the transfer of authority. Then, in October 1994, a peace treaty was signed by Jordan and Israel.

We hope that this series of achievements will lead to the full implementation of all the provisions of the resolutions that formed the frame of reference upon which the peace process was founded, namely, Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). The fundamental content of those two resolutions was: the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, on the one hand, and the withdrawal by Israel from all the Arab territories it has occupied since 1967, and the exercise by the Palestinian people of its legitimate national rights, on the other.

Our position in this regard has a solid foundation of fact, namely the principles agreed upon in the Palestinian-Israeli Declaration of Principles. In that Declaration, the two parties agreed on the principle of withdrawal by Israel from the Occupied Palestinian Territories and that Israel's withdrawal from Gaza and Jericho was to be a first step towards Israel's complete withdrawal from all the territories it occupied in 1967.

The present transitional stage will be a test of confidence-building between the two sides. Each side will have the right to expect from the other confidence-building measures. This transitional stage will also set the scene for the final negotiations, within the framework of international law and the relevant United Nations resolutions on such key issues as Al-Quds, settlements, the refugee problem and borders. We hope that the two parties will succeed in achieving those targets.

Israel bears a special responsibility with regard to making possible the success of this transitional stage. First of all, Israel must honour its obligations as an occupying authority and should refrain from effecting any further changes in the occupied territories, including Al-Quds, that would affect the outcome of the final negotiations. Israel must also refrain from taking measures that could increase the suffering of the Palestinian people, such as closing the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

In the last analysis Israel's own interest dictates that it should give the Palestinian people all possible assistance during the transitional stage and that it should mobilize all possible international support for that purpose. Egypt's delegation wishes to put on record its appreciation for all the constructive steps Israel has taken so far in this connection.

The time has come for the extensive international support for the peace process and for the Palestinian people to be translated into concrete measures to help the Palestinian Authority undertake the task of developing the Palestinian economy and of easing the suffering of many Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority must strengthen its institutions in order for it to be able to shoulder its increasingly heavy responsibilities.

The difficult economic and social conditions endured by the Palestinian people as a result of long years of military occupation, do not augur well for the peace process. Indeed such conditions carry within them grave dangers that threaten the gains achieved through that process so far. This must make it clear to all those interested in peace both in the region and in the world at large that a just, comprehensive peace will be possible only if the Palestinian people get the help they need in order for them to overcome the accumulated problems they face, provided that such assistance is extended to them within an assistance framework that embraces all the peoples of the region and enables them to improve their economies and explore the prospects of regional cooperation. It is in that way that the peace dividend may become visible and elicit wider popular support for the peace process.

While Egypt spares no effort in helping to achieve this objective, Egypt calls upon the international community to shoulder its responsibilities in this respect. It is regrettable indeed that we have to recall that many of the undertakings made at the October 1993 Washington donors conference for assistance to the Palestinian people are yet to be honoured.

The Palestinian people's support for the peace process is closely linked to the expectation that the economic suffering they endure will come to an end. Should such expectations be frustrated, the support the peace process will need in the future may be affected.

In this connection, Egypt's delegation wishes to commend the speedy, effective response by the United Nations system in support of the Israel-Palestinian agreement. We refer in particular to the Secretary-General's appointment of Mr. Larsen as special coordinator of United Nations activities in the occupied territories. The programmes of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) have achieved great success in helping the Palestinians during the transitional stage. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) also plays a major role in supporting economic-development projects in the West Bank and Gaza.

Implementing two Security Council resolutions was the starting point of the Madrid Peace Conference. Therefore, it was only natural for us all to expect an increasingly important role for the United Nations in supporting the implementation of the outcome of the peace process in the light of the great interest the United Nations has always shown in the question of the Middle East, and in the question of Palestine in particular. There is no doubt that agreement between the parties concerned could facilitate the performance by the United Nations of a major role in making it easier to put into practice what the parties concerned may agree upon.

Such a role for the United Nations could go beyond the mere provision of economic and technical assistance to embrace confidence-building and peace maintenance arrangements as well as arms limitation measures in the Middle East.

My delegation would like to commend the efforts of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and the positive role it plays under the able guidance of Ambassador Cissé in promoting the international community's awareness of the question of Palestine and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. We believe that the Committee's role will acquire additional importance in the future, in the light of the recent developments, as it could focus on helping implement the Israeli-Palestinian accord, and on initiating programmes that would enhance awareness by the international community of the needs of the Palestinian people at this new stage in the situation.

Proceeding from this, we hope the Committee will receive greater support from all Member States of the United Nations, and hope that all countries, especially the donor countries, will consider expanding the Committee's membership so that all countries wishing to contribute assistance to the Palestinian people may join in and thereby make it possible for that people to take the final steps we all hope for towards the desired just and lasting peace.

Mr. Maulana Fazlur Rahman (Pakistan) (interpretation from Arabic): At the outset, my delegation would like to extend its gratitude and appreciation to Mr. Kéba Birane Cissé, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, for the most able and distinguished manner in which he has steered the work of the Committee. We would also like to thank him for his very lucid presentation of the report of the Committee.

The United Nations, historically, has taken a principled position on the Palestinian question. Since the outbreak of this conflict, the international community has called upon Israel to respect and honour the legitimate rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people, including their inalienable right to self-determination. Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) therefore continue to provide a viable and just framework for a durable and comprehensive settlement to the Palestinian question. The Government and people of Pakistan remain committed to the expeditious implementation of these two resolutions.

The question of Palestine is being considered by the General Assembly at its forty-ninth session against the backdrop of some positive and encouraging political developments in the Middle East. These historic developments, however, reflect only the first steps towards a permanent settlement. On the positive side, they have resulted in the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area, the establishment of the Palestinian police, the return of Chairman Arafat and other Palestinian leaders to Gaza, the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area, as well as the partial release by Israel of Palestinian prisoners.

My delegation is, however, greatly concerned over the continuation of repressive activities by Israeli troops and attacks by armed settlers. These attacks have been exemplified most tragically by the massacre of innocent Palestinian worshippers at Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron in February 1994. We are also concerned by the report of the Committee regarding the continued Israeli settlement activities in the occupied territories, and in particular those in and around Al-Quds. We firmly believe that during the transitional period, Israel, as the occupying Power under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, remains duty-bound, during the transitional period, to respect the provisions of the Convention in the occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories, including Al-Quds. Another cause for concern is the Israeli Government's policy regarding the closure of the city of Al-Quds and that of the Gaza Strip, for security reasons. We also regret the fact that Israel still holds thousands of Palestinian prisoners inside Israel, in violation of international law.

My delegation would like to take this opportunity to express our admiration and appreciation for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) for its work during the past 40 years in mitigating the suffering of the Palestinian people. We commend the selfless dedication and unwavering commitment of the Commissioner-General of UNRWA and his staff, despite the extremely difficult circumstances under which they operate.

We note with satisfaction that UNRWA has entered a new era in its relationship with the Palestinian people following the landmark developments during the last year. In this regard, we welcome the decision of the Secretary-General on 29 June 1994 to relocate the UNRWA Headquarters from Vienna to the Gaza Strip by the end of 1995. This step is bound to ensure improved coordination, as well as effective monitoring and implementation of UNRWA's activities and projects. We also welcome the Secretary-General's initiative in establishing a task force on the economic and social development of the Gaza Strip and Jericho. We are pleased to note that some of the projects designed to improve the social and economic conditions in the area have already been implemented.

Pakistan commends the Secretary-General's appointment of a Special Coordinator in the occupied territories to facilitate the efforts of the United Nations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This appointment will also facilitate the presence of the United Nations specialized agencies, whose experience and expertise will be an asset in the two self-rule areas. It will also provide the Palestinian authorities with the confidence and training for assuming full responsibility for United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) programmes in the education, health and social services sectors. My delegation is convinced that the coming period will be crucial. It is imperative that major donors to UNRWA recognize their responsibility and correspondingly increase their contribution and support to help maintain stability and usher in an era of peace and security in the region.

Pakistan has always supported the just struggle of the Palestinian people for their right to self-determination and the creation of an independent homeland. We have continued to extend every possible support to the Palestinian people for regaining their sovereignty over the occupied territories.

My delegation is, nevertheless, of the opinion that the recent accords and agreements are no more than a first step towards reaching a just, lasting and comprehensive Middle East peace settlement. These steps must reinforce the obligations of the negotiating parties to address all the issues that are of international concern, particularly the status of Al-Quds Al-Sharif Holy Jerusalem; Israeli settlements; and the implementation of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). It is our sincere hope that a final settlement will conform to international obligations on these issues and lead to the Palestinian people's exercising their right to self-determination through the establishment of an independent homeland.

We also believe that a policy of piecemeal implementation of the accords is fraught with danger. A sincere and concerted effort needs to be made to achieve peace and stability in Palestine on a comprehensive basis.

My delegation fully supports the view that, as an organ of the General Assembly dealing with the question of Palestine, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People can make a valuable, positive contribution to United Nations efforts during the transitional period. In the pursuit of this noble cause, the Committee can count on Pakistan's full and unstinting support.

We hope that we will all be guided by God to peace.

The President (interpretation from Spanish): We have heard the last speaker in the debate on this item for this meeting. We shall hear the remaining speakers tomorrow morning.

Introduction of reports of the Fifth Committee

The President (interpretation from Spanish): The General Assembly will now consider the reports of the Fifth Committee on agenda items 112, 127 and 130. I request the Rapporteur of the Fifth Committee to introduce the reports of the Fifth Committee in one intervention.

Mr. Djacta (Algeria), Rapporteur of the Fifth Committee (interpretation from French): I have the honour to present to the General Assembly the reports of the Fifth Committee on agenda items 112, 127 and 130.

On agenda item 112, entitled "Scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations", the Fifth Committee's report is contained in document A/49/673, in paragraph 5 of which, the Committee recommends to the Assembly the adoption of a draft resolution with the same title. That draft was negotiated in long informal consultations.

I should like to draw the attention of the Assembly to a number of important paragraphs in the draft resolution. By operative paragraph 1, the Assembly decides to establish an ad hoc intergovernmental working group of 25 experts in economics, finance, statistics and related fields. In operative paragraph 2, the Assembly invites the President of the General Assembly to appoint the experts in consultation with Member States, with due regard for equitable geographical representation, and to establish the working group as soon as possible. In the last operative paragraph, the General Assembly decides that the activities of the expert working group shall be funded within existing financial resources, but would welcome voluntary contributions from Member States towards the funding of such activities, including the possible defraying of the costs of participation of their own experts appointed to the group.

A report on the programme budget implications appears in document A/49/684, paragraph 3 of which states the Fifth Committee decided, without a vote, to inform the General Assembly that, should it adopt the draft resolution recommended by the Fifth Committee in paragraph 5 of its report (A/49/673), no additional appropriations would be required in the programme budget for the biennium 1994-1995.

Having said this, I am pleased to recommend to the Assembly the adoption of the draft resolution in paragraph 5 of document A/49/673 without a vote.

The Fifth Committee's report on agenda items 127, entitled "Financing of the United Nations Observer Mission Uganda-Rwanda", and 130, entitled "Financing of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda" is contained in report A/49/687. In paragraph 6 of that report, the Committee recommends to the Assembly the adoption of a draft resolution, which the Committee adopted without a vote.

The President (interpretation from Spanish): If there is no proposal under rule 66 of the rules of procedure, I shall take it that the General Assembly decides not to discuss the reports of the Fifth Committee which are before the Assembly today.

It was so decided.

The President (interpretation from Spanish): Statements will therefore be limited to explanations of vote or position.

The positions of delegations regarding the recommendations of the Fifth Committee have been made clear in the Committee and are reflected in the relevant official records.

May I remind members that under paragraph 7 of decision 34/401 the General Assembly agreed that

When the same draft resolution is considered in a Main Committee and in plenary meeting, a delegation should, as far as possible, explain its vote only once, i.e., either in the Committee or in plenary meeting unless that delegation's vote in plenary meeting is different from its vote in the Committee.

May I also remind delegations that, also in accordance with General Assembly decision 34/401, explanations of vote are limited to 10 minutes and should be made by delegations from their seats.

Before we begin to take action on the recommendations contained in the reports of the Fifth Committee, I should like to advise representatives that we shall proceed to take decisions in the same manner as was done in the Fifth Committee.

Agenda item 112 (continued)

Scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations: reports of the Fifth Committee (A/49/673, A/49/684)

The President (interpretation from Spanish): The Assembly will now take a decision on the draft resolution recommended by the Fifth Committee in paragraph 5 of its report (A/49/673).

The report of the Fifth Committee on the programme budget implications of the draft resolution is contained in document A/49/684.

The Fifth Committee adopted the draft resolution without a vote. May I take it that the General Assembly wishes to do the same?

The draft resolution was adopted (resolution 49/19).

The President (interpretation from Spanish): We have thus concluded this stage of our consideration of agenda item 112.

Agenda items 127 and 130

Financing of the United Nations Observer Mission Uganda-Rwanda: report of the Fifth Committee (A/49/687)

Financing of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda: report of the Fifth Committee (A/49/687)

The President (interpretation from Spanish): The Assembly will now take a decision on the draft resolution recommended by the Fifth Committee in paragraph 6 of its report.

The draft resolution, entitled Financing of the United Nations Observer Mission Uganda-Rwanda and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda, was adopted by the Fifth Committee without a vote. May I take it that the General Assembly wishes to do the same?

The draft resolution was adopted (resolution 49/20).

The President (interpretation from Spanish): We have thus concluded this stage of our consideration of agenda items 127 and 130.

Programme of work

The President (interpretation from Spanish): Members will recall that on 12 October 1994, at the conclusion of the general debate, the Secretary-General, in an address to the General Assembly, gave a disturbing picture of the financial situation of the Organization. The Secretary-General suggested that it was up to the membership of the United Nations to address this problem. Aside from the obvious fact that in fulfilment of Charter obligations all Members should pay their contributions in a timely manner, the Secretary-General pointed out some areas that might merit examination.

Given that this is a serious matter which affects the very functioning of the Organization, I felt compelled to carry out consultations with Member States as to the appropriate response and follow-up to the statement of the Secretary-General.

In this connection, in order to facilitate a wide and comprehensive exchange of views on this matter, the Assembly will hold plenary meetings under agenda item 10, "Report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization", beginning on Monday, 12 December, in the morning. The list of speakers for that discussion is now open.

The meeting rose at 6.25 p.m.


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