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Held at Headquarters, New York, on Wednesday, 31 October 2001, at 3 p.m.
Chairman: Mr. Al-Hinai ....................................................................... (Oman)
Agenda item 118: Right of peoples to self-determination
The meeting was called to order at 3.20 p.m.
Agenda item 118: Right of peoples to self-determination (A/56/224, A/56/295 and A/56/462)
5. Mr. Millo (Israel) said that the right to self-determination, universally recognized in United Nations resolutions and important international instruments, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, was of crucial importance to his country. Indeed, the creation of the State of Israel represented the fulfilment of the Jewish people’s inherent right to self-determination. Israel, in turn, recognized the right of all peoples to self-determination. In particular, Israel’s recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to determine their own future formed the basis of the 1993 Oslo Accords and all subsequent agreements.
6. Nevertheless, the right to self-determination did not provide a mandate for any people to unilaterally exercise that right in any manner they saw fit. It certainly did not legitimize the Palestinian campaign of terrorism or the daily murder of Israelis on the street, on buses, in shopping malls and in discotheques. It must be understood that the right to self-determination, as any right, must be exercised with sensitivity to, and awareness of, the rights of others, and that the conflict in the Middle East was not the story of one people’s quest for self-determination, but the story of two peoples, both seeking to live in freedom and security. Yet when Palestinians terrorized innocent people, they not only denied other people the right that they themselves were seeking, they also undermined the foundations of their own society, since those who resorted to violence to achieve political objectives were bound to continue their daily life in terror.
7. Thus the realization of the Palestinian desire for self-determination must be achieved not through force of arms, but through negotiations conducted in an atmosphere free from the pressures and threats of violence. Chairman Arafat had repeatedly committed himself, most notably in his letter of 9 September 1993 to then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, to a non-violent resolution of the conflict. That promise had yet to be implemented. Israel sincerely yearned for the day when there could be a return to a viable political process that would guarantee both the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and the right of the Jewish people to live free from threats of violence and terror, and that would lead to the achievement of peace and security for all the peoples of the region.
12. Ms. Barghouti (Observer for Palestine), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that, contrary to the claim by the representative of Israel, the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination did not emanate from the Oslo Accords or any other agreement: it was an inherent right that the international community must maintain. As stated on other occasions, the existence of an agreement of such importance for the Palestinian people as the Oslo Accords could not contravene international law or the relevant United Nations resolutions. The holding of negotiations did not imply that the Palestinian people must abandon its position and renounce the support of the international community for the attainment of its rights.
13. It was regrettable that Israel had reverted to reprehensible practices and policies; that had not produced results in the past and would not do so in the future. With regard to the question of violence, Israel, as the occupying Power, was the fundamental cause of violence in occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem. The Palestinian people had a legitimate right to resist the occupation. A people subjected to occupation could not be asked to acquiesce in its situation. The violence sprang from oppression; no people resorted to violence unless it was oppressed. Accordingly, the violence could be expected to end as soon as the Israeli occupation ended.
The meeting rose at 3.45 p.m.
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