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


GA/PAL/874
10 October 2001


Committee on Inalienable Rights
Of the Palestinian People
259th Meeting (PM)

SIGNALS OF SUPPORT FROM AROUND WORLD, SUCH AS THAT FOR PALESTINE

STATE, HELP PROMOTE MIDDLE EAST PEACE, COMMITTEE TOLD


Committee on Palestinian Rights Adopts Report to General Assembly


Important signals of support from around the world such as that of the United States for a Palestine State would help promote peace in the Middle East, the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations said this afternoon.

He was talking to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People as it met to consider developments in the Middle East peace process and the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including Jerusalem. Also this afternoon, the Committee adopted its report to the General Assembly.

Continuing, the Observer said that while the position for the Palestinian State had been taken by previous US administrations, it was the first time a Republican administration had taken that stance.

The Committee Chairman said the many disturbing and promising developments during the past year had been outlined in a letter to the Secretary-General. The report covering events of the past year would continue to be updated until it was submitted to the Assembly.

Introducing the report, the Committee’s Rapporteur highlighted parts referring to progress in the Middle East peace process. For example, the report noted that the October statement by United States President George Bush concerning the Palestinian State had been welcome. It also pointed out that while attempts at resuming security cooperation between the Palestinian and Israeli sides had remained inconclusive, a September meeting at Gaza International Airport between the heads of the two sides had been a welcome development creating new expectations of an imminent breakthrough.

Commenting on the report, the representative of Pakistan said it was common knowledge that violence only begot more violence. Nothing would change until the cycle ended and action was taken not only against the perpetrators of crimes but also against the roots of crime and the causes of oppression. The “problem” of the Palestinian people must be resolved with no double standards in applying Security Council resolutions. The Mitchell Plan should be implemented.

Also commenting on the report, India’s representative stressed there must be no selectivity in rooting out terrorism from all corners of the world.

The Committee will meet again at a time to be announced.


Committee Work Programme

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People met this afternoon to consider developments in the peace process in the Middle East as well as the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem. The Committee is also expected to discuss its draft report to the General Assembly, covering the one-year period beginning October 2000. Finally, the Committee is expected to take up other questions relevant to its main work programme.

Statements

PAPA LOUIS FALL (Senegal), the Committee Chairman, opened the meeting by noting that Guinea, a Committee Member, had been elected on 8 October as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, as had Bulgaria and Syria, both of whom were Committee Observers.

Also, he said, two staff from the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation of the Palestinian Authority were currently participating in the professional training program with the Division for Palestinian Rights.

He further reported that on 28 September, a letter had been sent to the Secretary-General outlining the Committee’s position regarding the many disturbing and promising developments during the past year.

NASSER AL-KIDWA, Permanent Observer of Palestine, said that during the Israeli military campaign, which had started with the Al-Aqsa incident, Israeli forces had committed several war crimes and acts of state terrorism, in addition to repeatedly violating international humanitarian law and what had been left of the Palestinian-Israeli agreements.

The outcome had been catastrophic to the Palestinian people, he said. The campaign had resulted in the deaths of 670 Palestinians and injuries to more than 25,000 people. Israel had used helicopters, tanks and heavy weaponry to shell and destroy homes and buildings belonging to the Palestinian authority. This was an ugly record, to which he held the Israeli Government responsible. He hoped that the perpetrators of these atrocities would be brought to justice. In spite of all the untold suffering, the Palestinian authorities remained committed to the peace process on the basis of the Mitchell committee recommendations.

Unfortunately, the day after the long-anticipated meeting between Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres on September, the Israeli occupying forces had waged another military campaign against the Palestinian people. He warned against some of the dangerous statements made by members of the Israeli government, including those by Ariel Sharon himself, trying to link that campaign with the international community’s battle against international terrorism. It was clear that there were elements within the Israeli government who did not want to proceed with peace and instead attempted to impose the Israeli agenda on the international community. Those attempts pushed the battle against the perpetrators of 11 September attacks in the wrong direction.

He welcomed the important signals of support received from around the world, including from the United States in President Bush’s statement expressing the support of the United States for the Palestinian State. While that position had been taken by previous administrations, it was the first time a Republican administration had taken that position. The support from the international community was welcomed and would help in promoting justice and peace in the Middle East.

WALTER BALZAN (Malta), Committee Rapporteur, introduced the Committee’s draft report to the General Assembly covering the one-year period beginning October 2000. He said last-minute additions had been made to reflect the recent attempts at resuming security coordination between the Palestinian and Israeli sides. The report would continue to be updated until the time of submission to the Assembly in order to reflect all latest developments.

In covering events since the Committee’s last report to the Assembly a year ago, he noted that the Al-Aqsa intifadah had continued all year since beginning with events at Al-Haram al-Sharif in September 2001 and that it had seized international attention. He outlined the Committee's objectives and its general perspective on events of the year, highlighting understandings reached by the parties at Sharm el-Sheikh and Taba, Egypt, in October 2000 and January, respectively.

Also of note, he said, had been the establishment in November 2000 of the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee headed by the former United States Senator George Mitchell. Its report in April had offered a practicable way out of the impasse, most importantly because both sides had accepted the recommendations. While subsequent attempts at resuming security cooperation between the two sides had remained inconclusive, a September meeting at Gaza International Airport between the heads of the two sides had been seen as a welcome development creating new expectations of an imminent breakthrough. Finally, the October statement by United States President George Bush concerning the Palestinian State had been welcome.

Noting that the report summarized the mandates of the Committee, the Division for Palestinian Rights and the Department of Public Information, he said the report reviewed developments on the ground, as monitored by the Committee, with an emphasis on various aspects of the intifadah. It therefore reviewed Israeli actions and policies and its settlement activity. It also reviewed the situation of Palestinian prisoners, economy and water resources. It reviewed actions taken by the United Nations system and by the Committee in its work of promoting Palestinian rights in the United Nations and in implementing its own work programme as well as that of the Palestinian Rights Division.

In its conclusions and recommendations, he said the Committee’s report emphasized that more than five decades after the General Assembly’s consideration of the question, the Palestinian people had yet to see the promise of their own State fulfilled. Reiterating that the Committee’s overriding and fundamental objective was to secure the exercise by the Palestinian people of their inalienable rights, he said that would remain key to all the Committee’s activities.

Specifically, he said, the Committee stated in its report that it would express grave concern over the policies and actions of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It would call for the immediate and comprehensive implementation of the Mitchell Committee recommendations and would support the ongoing effort to reconvene the Conference of the High Contracting Parties. It would stress that the United Nations must continue to maintain its permanent responsibility towards all aspects of the question of Palestine and would express its strong belief that the General Assembly and the Security Council must do everything in their power to help resolve this five-decades-old conflict.


Comments on Committee’s Draft Report

SHAMSHAD AHMAD (Pakistan) said the developments of the Middle East situation were of interest to all those struggling to exercise their inalienable rights. People far removed geographically were affected by situations of violence. Every effort to secure peace must be supported, not just step by step but by the framework set down in the Charter.

Everyone knew that “violence only begets violence”, he said. People in the Middle East knew that, as did others, and nothing would change until the cycle ended. Actions must be taken not only against perpetrators of crimes but also those aimed at the roots of crime, the causes of oppression wherever they might occur. The rights of self-determination of the Palestinian people must be secured and the “problem” of the Palestinian people resolved with no double standards in applying Security Council resolutions. The Mitchell Plan should be implemented.

YASHVARDHAN KUMAR SINHA (India) said that India was committed to the Palestinian cause and committed to the United Nations action and international community action to root out terrorism. He stressed that there must be no selectivity in the rooting out of terrorism from all corners of the world.



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