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UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · Geneva


GA/PAL/97/7
1 December 1997

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
OBSERVED AT THE PALAIS DES NATIONS

A special meeting was held at the Palais des Nations this afternoon to mark
the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.


Mr. Vladimir Petrovsky, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, read out a statement on behalf of United Nations Secretary-General Mr. Kofi Annan. The Secretary- General said that since the General Assembly had decided on 29 November 1947 to partition Palestine, each of his predecessors had been deeply involved in the search for an equitable and peaceful settlement of this issue. He pledged to continue these efforts.

The meeting also heard a statement by Mr. Michael Bartolo, Representative of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. Mr. Bartolo said that 50 years after the adoption of the partition resolution and at the threshold of the next millennium, the situation of dispossession and denial of the national rights of the Palestinian people could not continue to be tolerated by the world community. Mr. Nabil Ramlawi, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, also addressed the meeting and stressed that Israel was solely responsible for the stalemate in the peace process after it reneged on all its peace commitments. He underlined the importance of Palestinians achieving self- determination and an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The special meeting was addressed by representatives of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinians and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, the League of Arab States, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Non-Aligned movement, the Organization of African Unity and the International Coordinating Committee for Non-Governmental Organizations on the Question of Palestine.

Messages of support from Tunisia, Malta, Bangladesh, Turkey and the European Union were also distributed at the meeting.


STATEMENTS

Mr. VLADIMIR PETROVSKY, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, read out a statement on behalf of United Nations Secretary-General Mr. KOFI ANNAN in which he said that since the General Assembly had decided on 29 November 1947 to partition Palestine, each of his predecessors had been deeply involved in the search for an equitable and peaceful settlement of this issue. He pledged to continue these efforts. The Secretary-General praised developments in the Middle East peace process, but urged that it was of utmost importance to prevent these achievements from dissipating and to build on them to fulfil the hopes of all the peoples of the region for a future of peace.

"The promotion of social and economic development and of cooperative relationships throughout the region is essential to create an environment favourable to a lasting peace," the Secretary-General said.

"The United Nations continues to attach the utmost importance to improving the living conditions in the Palestinian territories as an essential accompaniment to the peace negotiations. In this regard, I have been seriously concerned at the steady economic decline in the West Bank and in Gaza, particularly in the light of prolonged closures and other punitive measures," said Mr. ANNAN, adding that the serious financial situation faced by UNRWA must also be addressed.

The meeting also heard a statement by Mr. MICHAEL BARTOLO, Representative of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. Mr. BARTOLO said that 50 years after the adoption of the partition resolution and at the threshold of the next millennium, the situation of dispossession and denial of the national rights of the Palestinian people could not continue to be tolerated by the world community. He said it was "absolutely crucial that the situation not be allowed to stagnate further, and that the necessary initiatives be taken to inject new momentum into the peace process."

Mrs. ABSA CLAUDE DIALLO, Representative of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, criticized, among other things, Israel's closure of the occupied territories and use of force during interrogation of Palestinian detainees. She said Palestinians were faced by the virtual breakdown in the peace process and an escalation of human rights violations. She warned that if agreements were not fully implemented, the cycle of violence and conflict would threaten the peace and stability of the region.

Mr. IBRAHIM MIRGHANI IBRAHIM, Representative of the League of Arab States, warned that extremism and militancy controlled Israel's policies and this was reflected in the settlement policies. While Arab countries had chosen peace as their strategic goal, Israel's actions had pushed the region to the edge of an abyss. He said that the Arab people were ready to shoulder the consequences of peace. If the Israeli Government was sincere in its search for peace, then it should only express its readiness to resume serious negotiations to reach this goal.

Mr. NANGUYALAI TARZI read out a statement on behalf of Mr. AZEDDINE LARAKI, Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, in which he expressed concern about Israel's settlement policies in Jerusalem and other Palestinian territories. He urged the international community to act firmly to force Israel to abide by the principles of the peace process and implement signed agreements which would ensure Israel's withdrawal from all occupied Palestinian and Arab territories, including Jerusalem, the

occupied Syrian Golan and the occupied Lebanese territories. The agreements should enable Palestinians to exercise their inalienable national rights, including self-determination and an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.

ALBERTO DIAZ URIB read out a statement on behalf of the President of Colombia which currently leads the Non-Aligned Movement. He said that throughout its history, the Non-Aligned movement had maintained its unwavering support of the Palestinian people and their legitimate rights. The Non-Aligned movement regretted that the atmosphere of harmony which had been achieved had worsened noticeably. It deplored recent events, which led to the loss of innocent lives, and also regretted the radical position of the Government of Israel and its extreme measures which not only went against the spirit of the peace process but also violated the rights of Palestinian people. It was essential to restore confidence among the Middle East parties. The Non-Aligned movement endorsed all the United Nations and Security Council resolutions on Jerusalem, and considered all Israeli measures concerning the holy city null and void.

VENANT WEGE-NZOMWITA, Representative of the Organization of African Unity, said the celebration today was an opportunity for the OAU to reaffirm its solidarity with the Palestinian people. No one could say that there had been progress in implementing the peace agreements entered in freely by the parties including Israel. The present Israeli Government, through it untimely measures to satisfy extremist elements in the country, had endangered the peace process. Israeli authorities continued to confiscate Palestinian land and to establish settlements on it. The OAU reaffirmed its support of the heroic struggle of the Palestinian people for their inalienable rights, including their right to self-determination and an independent state on their territory with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The International Coordinating Committee for Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs) on the Question of Palestine noted that as in most countries in the world, women in the Middle East had not been given a chance to have a leadership role or to be fully involved in the peace negotiations and they remained largely under represented at most levels of government. Mrs. CAROLINE NJUKI, who read out the Committee's statement, said that many women in the region were working for a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She underlined that while the United Nations and many NGOs were committed to the support of the Palestinian cause, much more had to be done by the international community as a whole, not withstanding the inclusion of women in all plans of action.

Mr. NABIL RAMLAWI, Permanent Observer of Palestine, also addressed the meeting and said that the celebration today was especially important because of Israel's flagrant violation of Palestinian rights. The world today realized that the stalement in the peace process between the Arabs and Israel was caused by the reneging of the Israeli Government of the principles of the peace process set by the Madrid conference, including the principle of land for peace. The Government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had reneged on the agreements and refused to implement whatever had been agreed upon so far.

Mr. RAMLAWI said that the building of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territories was a serious violation of international law and reflected Israel's intention to continue its occupation of the Palestinian lands. Israel was also changing the geographic and demographic features of occupied East Jerusalem with the aim of removing its Arab characteristics and religious importance. Israel used terrorism and security as an excuse to run away from its political commitments.

"The Israeli Government's understanding of peace is different from that of the world. When Israel talks of peace, it means security for Israel, increasing its occupation of Palestinian territories and continuing to build settlements there, seizing lands, destructing homes, detaining thousands of Palestinians, implementing mass punishments and reneging on its international commitments according to agreements it signed," Mr. RAMLAWI said.

He affirmed that Israel's reneging on its commitments and the peace agreements it signed has led to the stalemate of the peace process, and that the Israeli Government was solely responsible for this. He underlined the importance of Palestinians achieving self-determination and an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.


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