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UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York


GA/PAL/904
7 November 2002


Committee on the Inalienable Rights
of the Palestinian People
267th Meeting (AM)

ADOPTING FOUR DRAFT TEXTS, PALESTINIAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE STRESSES
COMMITMENT TO TWO-STATE VISION IN MIDDLE EAST


The General Assembly would reaffirm the need to intensify efforts to achieve a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, according to one of four draft resolutions approved this morning by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

Under a related provision of the text, approved as orally revised, the Assembly would call upon the concerned parties, the Quartet and other interested parties, to exert all necessary efforts to halt the deterioration of the situation and to reverse all measures taken on the ground since 28 September 2000.

A further term would have the Assembly stress the need for commitment to the vision of the two-State solution, the principle of land for peace, and the implementation of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 1397 (2002).

The other three drafts recommended to the General Assembly concerned the work of the Committee, the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat, and the Department of Public Information’s special information programme on the question of Palestine.

Prior to approval of those texts, the Permanent Observer for Palestine to the United Nations, Nasser Al-Kidwa, briefed the Committee on the latest developments and the position of Palestine.  He said the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and the Middle East remained tense and continued to deteriorate on the ground.

He said that Israel, the occupying Power, continued its military campaign, war crimes and State terrorism against the Palestinians.  Despite less media coverage in recent days, the sad truth remained that Palestinians were killed every day, and Palestinian institutions, infrastructure and properties were also being ruthlessly destroyed.

Concerning political developments, he recalled that the new Palestinian Government had recently received a critical vote of confidence from the Legislative Council, in demonstration of Palestinian unity and resistance to outside interference, especially from the Quartet and those not friendly to the Palestinian people and their cause.

On the Israeli side, the worst-ever Israeli Government was now in place, he said.  Examples abounded of the evolution of Israeli politics towards greater extremism and ever more hostile positions with respect to the rights of the Palestinian people.  Indeed, the occupying Power was tightening its pressure and exerting ever greater force against the Palestinian people. 

The draft resolution on the Palestinian Rights Committee would request the Committee to continue to exert all efforts to promote the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, to support the Middle East peace process, and to mobilize international support for assistance to the Palestinian people.

Concerning the Division for Palestinian Rights, the text adopted today would have the Assembly request the Secretary-General to continue to provide it with the necessary resources and to ensure that it continued to carry out its programme of work in consultation with the Committee and under its guidance.

The Assembly would also consider that the special information programme of the Department of Public Information was very useful in raising the international community’s awareness of the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East, according to the fourth text approved today.

Ukraine’s representative informed the Committee of a proposal to hold a United Nations international meeting in support of Middle East peace in 2003 in Ukraine.  That meeting, which would be followed by a non-governmental organization event in solidarity with the Palestinian people, was in line with the Committee’s mandate to promote international support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to statehood.

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People will meet again at a time to be announced.

Background

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People met this morning to consider a series of draft resolutions on the question of Palestine.  The first two dealt with the work of the Committee and the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat.  The second two concern the special information programme of the Department of Public Information (DPI) and the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine.

The draft resolution on the Palestinian Rights Committee, reaffirming that the United Nations had a permanent responsibility towards the question of Palestine until it was satisfactorily resolved, would have the General Assembly request the Committee to continue to exert all efforts to promote the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, to support the Middle East peace process and to mobilize international support for an assistance to the Palestinian people.

Under a related provision, the Assembly would authorize the Committee to make such adjustments in its approved programme of work as it might consider appropriate and necessary in the light of developments and to report thereon to the Assembly at its next session.

Among other terms, the Assembly would request the Committee to keep under review the situation relating to the question of Palestine and to report and make suggestions to the Assembly, the Security Council or the Secretary-General, as appropriate.

According to the draft on the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat, the Assembly would consider that the Division continued to make a useful and constructive contribution.

In that connection, it would request the Secretary-General to continue to provide it with the necessary resources and to ensure that it continued to carry out its programme of work in consultation with the Committee and under its guidance.

The Assembly would also request the Committee and the Division, as part of the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on 2 November, to continue to organize an annual exhibit on Palestinian rights in cooperation with the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations, and would encourage Member States to continue to give the widest support and publicity to the observance.

By the draft resolution on the special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat, the Assembly would consider that the special information programme was very useful in raising the international community’s awareness of the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East, and that the programme was contributing effectively to an atmosphere conducive to dialogue and supportive of the peace process.

The Assembly would request the Department to continue, with the necessary flexibility as might be required by developments affecting the question of Palestine, its special information programme for the biennium 2003-2004.

In particular, it would request the Department to disseminate information on all related activities of the United Nations system; issue and update publications on the various aspects of the question, including materials on recent developments; expand its collection of audiovisual material; and promote fact-finding news missions for journalists to the area, including the territory under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority and the occupied territory.

A fourth draft resolution, on the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine, would have the Assembly, affirming the urgent need for the parties to cooperate with all international efforts, reaffirm the necessity of achieving a peaceful settlement of the question, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the necessity of intensifying all efforts to that end.

In a related provision, the Assembly would also reaffirm its full support for the Middle East peace process, which began in Madrid, and the existing agreements between the Israeli and Palestinian sides, and would stress the need to establish a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.  It would welcome the Arab peace initiative adopted by the Beruit Summit in March.

The Assembly would call upon the concerned parties, the Quartet and other interested parties to exert all efforts and initiatives necessary to halt the deterioration of the situation and to reverse all measures taken on the ground since 28 September 2000, and to ensure a successful and speedy resumption of the peace process and conclusion of a final peaceful settlement.

It would stress the need for commitment to the vision of the two-State solution, the principle of land for peace, and the implementation of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 1397 (2002).

The Assembly would also stress, for the goal of attaining a peaceful settlement of the question, the need for:  an end to Israeli occupation and the withdrawal of Israel from the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967; the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, primarily the right to self-determination and the right to their independent State; and the need to resolve the problem of the Palestine refugees in conformity with Assembly resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948.

A related provision would urge Member States to expedite the provision of economic, humanitarian and technical assistance to the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority during that critical period to help alleviate the suffering, rebuild the Palestinian economy and infrastructure, and support the restructuring and reform of Palestinian institutions.

Statements

VALERY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) said his country was concerned with the volatile situation in the Middle East.  Under the circumstances, it was essential that the international community provide full support to the parties in their efforts to cease the violence, restart political negotiations and achieve peace.  The Committee played an important part in achieving those goals.

He said that after consultations with the Secretariat, he wished to inform the Committee of Ukraine’s proposal to hold the United Nations International Meeting in Support of Middle East Peace in Ukraine, at the end of the first half of 2003, preferably in May.  That meeting would be followed by a non-governmental organization event in solidarity with the Palestinian people.  It would fully meet the Committee’s mandate to promote international support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to statehood.  He hoped the Committee would accept his proposal.

PAPA LOUIS FALL (Senegal), Chairman of the Committee, said the Bureau had already made suggestions regarding the two meetings, and, in accordance with the rule of rotation, he believed the Committee would agree with the proposal to hold the two meetings in Ukraine in support of the process and as an expression of solidarity with the Palestinian people.

The Committee then took note of Ukraine’s proposal.

Developments in Middle East Peace Process

NASSER AL-KIDWA, Permanent Observer for Palestine, briefed the Committee on the latest developments in the region.  He expressed his appreciation for the gracious offer by the representative of Ukraine.  He looked forward both to the political support of that meeting and the beauty of the country.

He said the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and the Middle East remained tense.  The situation on the ground continued to deteriorate.  Israel, the occupying Power, continued with its military campaign, war crimes and State terrorism in violation of the Palestinian people's rights.  With less media coverage in recent days, the sad truth remained that Palestinians were being killed every day.  Palestinians institutions, infrastructure and properties were also being ruthlessly destroyed.

Political developments continued to evolve at the same time, he said.  On the Palestinian side, 10 days ago, the new Palestinian Government won a vote of confidence from the Palestinian Legislative Council by 56 voices in favour to
18 against.  That vote had demonstrated Palestinian unity and Palestinian resistance as a matter of principle to any outside interference, especially from the “Quartet” and those unfriendly to the Palestinian people and cause.

On the Israeli side, he said the worst-ever Israeli Government was now in place.  After the withdrawal of the Labour Party from the Government coalition, Shaul Mafoz had become Defence Minister and Benjamin Netanyahu was Foreign Minister.  Mr. Mafoz had been Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defence Force until recently.  He had been implicated in many war crimes committed by Israeli occupying forces.  He should be facing trial rather than occupying the Defence Ministry.  It was one more example of how Israeli politics were evolving towards greater extremism and ever more hostile positions vis-à-vis the rights of the Palestinian people, with the occupying Power tightening the pressure and exerting progressively greater force against the Palestinian people.  The Palestinians would observe the internal Israeli situation very closely, he said, including the outcome of a number of imminent elections.  Those intra-party elections would have an important impact on the overall Israeli situation.

At the international level, he said the Quartet had been working on the so-called “road map” for achieving peace in the Middle East.  A text had been issued informally to the parties.  The Palestinians had serious reservations about the text, including sections seeking to influence the internal Palestinian situation.  The Palestinian side had made it clear that it rejected proposals to change its political system or election law.  While open to other ideas, and receptive to international assistance on the proviso that Palestinian affairs remained Palestinian matters, they believed it was not for outside parties to interfere in those matters.

He said the Palestinians also had serious reservations about the Quartet text’s language on settlement activities.  Clear and stronger language was needed on the issue:  there was no place for ambiguity on such an important matter.  The Palestinians were ready to proceed, however, in the hope of finalizing the road map in the appropriate way.

The overall position of the Palestinian authorities on the road map remained the same, he said -- which was that the whole approach it recommended would still leave Israel free to destroy the process at any moment.  Mr. Sharon had already said that he was not going to accept a cessation of settlement activities.  The Palestinians still believed that the appropriate approach to achieving peace must be a comprehensive one, one that simultaneously dealt with the political, economic and security dimensions, and with agreement on the final outcome from the very beginning.  Such an approach would create different dynamics in the area on both sides, and would transform the road map into a useful document.  He remained doubtful of the use of any road map if such were not the case.

The United Nations had to play its natural role, he continued.  The Security Council was the body that could and should adopt the necessary resolutions in that regard, thereby ensuring the needed complementarity between the body responsible for international peace and security, on the one hand, and the daily work of the Quartet, on the other.

He observed with apprehension developments related to Iraq.  Palestinians feared that a new war would cause serious problems in the whole region, including in Palestine.  Regarding efforts at the United Nations, he said his delegation had been making serious attempts to produce a revised package of General Assembly resolutions.  Discussions had been held in that regard with a large number of Member States.  A very important task now lay ahead -- namely, preserving the established legal and political position on the question of Palestine in all its aspects.  The Israeli side, sometimes supported by the United States, was trying to undermine that established position.  That was the main challenge.  There would be another meeting of experts of the Non-Aligned Movement today to review the drafts in light of negotiations taking place with other groups, including the European Union.

The battle for the preservation of the established legal and political position of the United Nations went beyond the United Nations itself, he said. From two important reports by two international humanitarian organizations, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, one could see that battle very closely.  Regarding the Human Rights Watch report on suicide bombings, he said it was hard to believe that an international human rights organization would throw international humanitarian law upside down -- without hesitation -- and make it one-sided and biased.  It was a clear violation of the same international law the group claimed to uphold.  It was also a classic example of how political agendas sometimes superseded legal and moral considerations.

From the Amnesty International report on Israeli war crimes, one could easily conclude that there were many good people in the world who believed in international law and justice.  While he did not like everything Amnesty International said, at least it was an organization that tried to maintain its integrity and base its approach on international humanitarian law.

The current situation was a delicate one, he said.  It was a tense and difficult period in which the future was hard to predict.  He remained hopeful, however, that things were not going to get worse.  The world would continue to rely on the steadfastness of the Palestinian people and the support of the international community, including the Committee.

Action on Drafts

The Committee then approved three draft resolutions on:  the work of the Committee; the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat; and the special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information DPI.

When the Committee turned to the draft on the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine, Mr. AL-KIDWA once again praised the Division and the DPI special information programme for their usefulness.  He thanked the DPI for its important work in expanding its collection of audio-visual material on the question of Palestine and preserving that material, with the Committee’s full cooperation.

Introducing proposed changes to the draft on the peaceful settlement of Palestine, he explained that the overall logic had been to update the text and insert language that reflected the new political positions.  The text also sought to take into consideration the recent developments and the situation on the ground.  Attempts had also been made to align the operative portion of the text with the current political situation.  Thus, a reference had been made to the Arab peace initiative. He had also tried to make some changes in operative paragraph 5, on ways of attaining the goal of a peaceful settlement, in order for it to read better.

He read out the following proposed change: in preambular paragraph 12, the word “full” would be added before “compliance”, so that the new provision would read:  “recalled the mutual recognition between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people, and the existing agreements concluded between the two sides and the need for full compliance with those agreements.”

After preambular paragraph 17, he said, the following additional preambular paragraph would be added:

“Emphasizing the importance of the safety and well-being of all civilians in the whole Middle East region, and condemning all acts of violence and terror against civilians on both sides;”

In the operative portion, he proposed the addition of a new paragraph to highlight the reference to the Arab peace initiative.  A reference would also be added to the work of the Quartet.

In operative paragraph 2, after the phrase “and welcomes in this regard” in the fourth line, the rest of that sentence would be replaced with “the efforts of the Quartet”, so that the sentence would read:

“Reaffirms also its full support for the Middle East peace process, which began in Madrid, and the existing agreements between the Israeli and Palestinian sides and stresses the necessity for the establishment of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, and welcomes in this regard the efforts of the Quartet.”

A new third operative paragraph would be added, he said, which would welcome the Arab peace initiative adopted by the Beruit Summit in March 2002.

He also proposed returning to the language of last year’s text for operative paragraph 5, which stressed the need for several measures to be taken towards attaining the goal of a peaceful settlement.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution as orally revised.


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