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        General Assembly
25 May 2004

Original: French

Fifty-eighth session
Official Records

Third Committee

Summary record of the 29th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Monday, 31 October 2003, at 10 a.m.

Chairman: Mr. Maertens ........................................................ (Belgium)



Agenda item 116: Right of peoples to self-determination (continued)

In the absence of Mr. Belinga-Eboutou (Cameroon), Mr. Maertens (Belgium), Vice-Chairman, took the Chair .

The meeting was called to order at 10.15 a.m.


Agenda item 116: Right of peoples to self-determination (continued ) (A/58/115 and A/58/180)

1. Ms. Granda Averhoff (Cuba), speaking on agenda item 116, said that the interference and interventionist tactics of some States were the most serious threat to the peoples' right to self-determination since the beginning of decolonization and impaired the United Nations' ability to prevent wars. The fact that positions of strength and unilateral political decisions governed international relations was intolerable. Cuba shared the concerns of many delegations that condemned the illegal occupation of Arab territories, particularly Palestine, by Israel and the escalation of violence against the heroic Palestinian people. The sovereign right of the Palestinians to self-determination and to an independent State with East Jerusalem as its capital had been recognized by the United Nations 50 years earlier but was still denied.


5. Ms. Tomar (India) ...


9. ...With regard to Palestine, India expressed its unwavering support for and solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle to exercise their inalienable rights, including the right to self-determination; reiterated its support for the peace process and the Quartet's roadmap for a permanent settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and stressed that the international community should ensure that the legitimate freedom struggle of the Palestinian people was not undermined by being equated to terrorist and insurgent activities.


35. Mr. Chedid (Lebanon) ...


37. The resolutions adopted by the General Assembly subsequent to resolution 1514 (XV) and the two International Covenants on human rights reaffirmed the legitimacy of a people's combat against foreign occupation. In the context of the Middle East, the occupation of Arab territories, colonization, Israel's construction of the wall, its refusal to implement the resolutions adopted by the international community over the last 50 years, the siege of Palestinian settlements and the daily killing of Palestinian civilians – elements of an organized state terrorism that the region was experiencing – constituted blatant racism and aimed at depriving the Palestinian population of its land and expelling it from its own country.


43. Ms. Rasheed (Observer for Palestine), speaking on agenda item 116, recalled the definition of the right to self-determination, described the achievement of self-determination and independence by many nations as one of the past century's most important accomplishments and said that the eradication of various forms of colonization, subjugation, alien domination and foreign occupation had given rise to the principles of equality and justice in the world.

44. Despite those significant attainments, peace, stability and democracy continued to be threatened by the existence of new forms of colonization, discrimination and injustice that the international community should endeavour to eradicate. Palestine's occupation since 1967 remained one of the worst forms of colonization in modern history. It was regrettable that, in an age of almost complete decolonization, the Palestinian people continued to be victims of colonialism, racism and oppression. For more than three decades, they had been subjected to a serious situation resulting from an inhumane occupation that robbed them, in violation of the United Nations Charter and many human rights international instruments, of all their rights and liberties, including their national identity on their own land and their right to self-determination, reaffirmed in the declarations and plans of action of several international conferences and special sessions.

45. Every year that passed, the Palestinian people's suffering and misery exacerbated the already destitute living conditions that they faced. That situation affected peace and security not only in the region but also in the entire world. To terminate that situation definitively, it was necessary to address the core issue of the Palestinian people's right to self-determination. Enjoyment of that right was essential to establishing a lasting peace in the Middle East. At the current critical time, it was necessary for the international community to recognize the right of the Palestinian people, like those of any other nation, to self-determination. The Palestinians were entitled to an independent State with East Jerusalem as its capital.

46. The refusal by Israel to recognize that right was illustrated by such repressive practices as building illegal colonial settlements, erecting an expansionist wall, isolating areas in the occupied territory and confiscating land, which constituted flagrant violations of international law and relevant United Nations resolutions. Since September 2000, the Israeli forces had been waging a bloody military campaign against Palestinian civilians throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. Deploying the full force of their arsenal, they had killed more than 2,600 and injured more than 40,000 Palestinians, many of whom had become disabled for life.

47. To achieve their aspiration to exercise their inalienable rights and live in peace and dignity and despite the pain caused by the Israeli occupation, the Palestinian people had made historical compromises. But they would never succumb to oppression, violence, cruelty and injustice. Nothing could make them relinquish their legitimate struggle for freedom and independence against the occupant. The Palestinians would continue to hold steadfast to their inalienable rights and to believe in the day when Palestine would be a Member State of the United Nations. The international community should put an end to the occupation and to all of Israel's illegal practices of and not take refuge in neutrality, a stance that was untenable in the struggle against oppression, injustice and colonialism. The international community's support for the struggle of the Palestinians for dignity, equality, freedom and justice would be an act of collective affirmation on behalf of humanity as a whole.

48. Ms. Salah Ghanmi (Tunisia) ...


51. In the Middle East, the situation deteriorated because of Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people, Israel's about-face in the peace process and failure to fulfil its commitments. The international community should take steps to protect the Palestinian people and lay the foundations for a resumption of negotiations with a view to ensuring peace and stability in the entire region.

52. For an equitable, comprehensive and sustainable peace to be established in the Middle East, the Palestinian people should be reinstated in its rights and an independent State should be set up with Al Qods Al Sharif as its capital.

Statements in exercise of the right of reply


58. Mr. Luria (Israel) regretted that some people characterized the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as racial, although it was of a territorial and political nature. The attempt of the Observer for Palestine and some of her supporters to characterize it as a racial conflict was dangerous and inaccurate. The Observer had blamed Israel for taking measures against the Palestinian population. Unfortunately, Palestinian suffering was due to the activity and inactivity of the Palestinian leaders. Every country had a duty to protect its citizens when their life was at risk. No country could tolerate a situation whereby its citizens were victims of terrorist acts on a daily basis. Israel was no exception. It respected the right of its neighbours, Palestinians and other Arab States, to self-determination and did not in any way wish to dominate the Palestinians, as the Camp David agreements of 1978 and the Oslo agreement attested. Israel supported the establishment of two States living side-by-side in peace and security in accordance with the roadmap, but stressed that the right of a people to self-determination should be exercised with respect for the others' right to self-determination. Historically, there had been peoples who had acceded to self-determination without recourse to terrorism or hatred. No State could accept that terrorists dictated its policy, in disregard for the accepted and approved negotiation procedures.

59. Replying to the observations of the Lebanese delegation, Israel recalled that, according to resolution 425 (1978) of the Security Council, it had withdrawn from the occupied Lebanese territories on 24 May 2000, as confirmed by the Secretary-General and the Security Council. Lebanon on the other hand had still not fulfilled the commitments made under the same resolution and exercised no effective authority in the region. In particular, it did not at all control Hezbollah, one of the cruellest international terrorist organizations, which continued to attack Israeli civilians from the other side of the border. After the Israeli withdrawal, the Hezbollah had carried on its activities in southern Lebanon, violating in particular the borders and abducting four Israelis, three soldiers and one civilian, who were still held prisoners in the Lebanese territory.

60. Mr. Chedid (Lebanon) stated that, as usual, the Israeli delegation tried to politicise the fundamental issue, which consisted of human-rights violations, racism and racial discrimination by Israel in the occupied territories on a daily basis. The statement by the representative of Israel concerning Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in implementation of resolution 425 (1978) was incomplete: it failed to mention that it was Lebanese resistance that had compelled Israel to withdrawal. Israel still occupied some territories, such as the Kafr Shuba hills and Shebaa Farms areas. The representative of Lebanon therefore contested the validity of Israel's statement claiming that Israel had fully implemented resolution 425 (1978).

61. Regarding Hezbollah, Israel was endlessly repeating the same allegations. That party and the other Lebanese resistance parties carried out, on Lebanese territory, resistance that they considered legitimate until Israel's eventual withdrawal from the occupied territories.

62. Regarding the abduction of Israeli soldiers, the representative of Lebanon failed to understand why Israel raised the question, since that abduction took place in the occupied Lebanese territories of Shebaa. Israel's daily practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territories revealed the racial discrimination to which the Palestinian people were subjected and Lebanon categorically denied the statements made by the representative of Israel.

63. Ms. Rasheed (Observer for Palestine) protested, first and foremost, against the expression "contested territories" by which the representative of Israel had referred to the "occupied territories" and stressed that Israel's occupation was a fact. It involved 22 percent of the initial territory of Palestine and was completely contrary to peace, security and human rights. To the Palestinian population, it meant on a daily basis the destruction of homes and farms, the assassination of leaders and their supporters, the cold-blooded murder of children and innocent people, and deliberate humiliation at each control point. The Israeli occupation had also deformed the notion of security, applying that concept only to Israelis and depriving the Palestinians of any form of security – personal, political, legal, territorial, historical, cultural, economic and human.

64. The Palestinian people had shown their good will by participating in the peace process in order to put an end to the occupation. That process had unfortunately been manipulated by Israel, which had used it to implement its policies of expansion, ethnic cleansing and colonization aimed at tightening Israel's grip on the Palestinian population and land, fragmenting them into islets to promote Israeli hegemony.

65. Regarding the roadmap formulated with a view to obtaining results toward a permanent settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of two States, the Israeli Government, contrary to what the representative of Israel had affirmed, had only accepted the roadmap's phases and, by entering 14 reservations, had in fact undermined the outcome. Contrariwise, the Palestinians had accepted the text without any reservations.

66. Regarding Israel's assertions about suicide attacks, the observer reiterated that the Palestinian leaders and the Palestinian Authority firmly condemned such acts. It was, however, Israeli policies and measures that had called forth that reprehensible phenomenon – not the inverse. By devastating three generations of Palestinians, wrecking the tissue of Palestinian society and causing the social ills currently afflicting the Palestinian population, Israel bore the real responsibility for it. Israel was an occupying power and, in that capacity, should not be permitted to carry out illegal policies and measures or to continue its occupation, colonization, expansion and peace-obstruction activities under the pretext of security.

The meeting rose at 11.55 a.m.

This record is subject to correction. Corrections should be sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned within one week of the date of publication to the Chief of the Official Records Editing Section, room DC2-750, 2 United Nations Plaza, and incorporated in a copy of the record.

Corrections will be issued after the end of the session, in a separate corrigendum for each Committee.

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