Acting on four draft resolutions, Palestinian Rights Committee urges action to end Israel’s settlement activities

The Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Papa Louis Fall from Senegal (right) speaking at last year’s conference. Left is Kieran Prendergast, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs. (UN/Stephenie Hollyman)


Meeting formally this morning for the first time since President Yasser Arafat’s death, the Palestinian Rights Committee approved four draft resolutions, including one by which the General Assembly would demand the immediate cessation of all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory as well as Israel’s withdrawal from Palestinian territory occupied since 1967.

The Committee - officially known as the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People - also considered recent developments in the Middle East.

By the terms of a draft resolution entitled “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine”, which, along with the other three, was approved without a vote, the Assembly would reaffirm the need to achieve a peaceful settlement of that question, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, in all its aspects, and to intensify all efforts towards that goal.

It would also reaffirm its commitment to the two-State solution, based on pre-1967 borders. The Assembly would also reaffirm its full support for the Middle East peace process, stress the need to establish a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, and welcome the Quartet’s ongoing efforts.

The other draft resolutions concerned the Palestinian Rights Committee, the Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat, and the Special Information Programme on the Question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information. The latter text requested the Department to continue that programme for the biennium 2004-2005, in particular to organize international, regional and national seminars or encounters for journalists, aimed at sensitizing public opinion to the question of Palestine.

In opening remarks this morning, Committee Chairman Paul Badji (Senegal) said that for decades Mr. Arafat had been a powerful symbol of the Palestinian people’s national aspirations, unity, steadfastness and courage. He had devoted most of his life to the struggle against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and the dream of his people to realize their inalienable rights. He had embarked on the journey to achieve what he had called the “peace of the brave”, as well as the realization of the State of Palestine.

Sadly, Mr. Arafat had not lived to see the culmination of his life’s struggle, he said. By the inspiration of his leadership, however, his work would continue. With the international community’s help, the Palestinian people would carry on with efforts to achieve their inalienable rights in their own sovereign State, with a brighter tomorrow for future generations.

Reporting on developments in the peace process and the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, the observer for Palestine said the Committee was meeting at a time of sorrow and transition as the Palestinian people mourned the death of President Arafat, who had led the Palestinian people for four decades in the struggle to achieve their inalienable rights. He had been recognized worldwide as a symbol of the just cause of the Palestinian people and their dream for peace and freedom.

Noting that the Palestinian people were going through a difficult phase in their national struggle, she said that the transfer of power had been proceeding smoothly and that the Palestinian leadership had met extensively to try to fill the gap left by President Arafat. The leadership had agreed that Rawhi Fattuh would be the interim Acting President, Mahmoud Abbas would be the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and Ahmed Qureia would be the Prime Minister. The main goal now was to conduct free, fair and democratic elections to ensure the legitimacy of executive and legislative institutions.

It was also necessary to work towards a return to negotiations, to end the conflict and achieve a final peace settlement, she said. The Road Map remained the only viable initiative towards that goal and the Palestinian leadership had always supported it. Yet, the occupying Power continued to undermine any effort to implement it. Urging the international community to compel Israel to cease its grave breaches of international law against the Palestinian people, she said that ending the daily death toll in the Palestinian territory was a prerequisite for real change and progress at all levels.

Endorsing the tributes to President Arafat, the representatives of Mali and Tunisia urged the Committee to pursue its work with renewed vigour. The representatives of Lebanon, Sierra Leone and Syria also made comments regarding the draft resolutions.

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

Background

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People met this morning to consider developments in the Middle East peace process and the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. Before it were a number of draft resolutions on the question of Palestine, which, once adopted, would be forwarded to the General Assembly for its consideration.

Summary of Drafts

The first draft resolution, entitled Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, would have the General Assembly express its appreciation to the Committee and request it 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 and assistance to the Palestinian people.

By a further provision of that text, the Assembly would authorize the Committee to make such adjustments in its approved work programme as might be necessary in the light of developments and to report and make suggestions to the Assembly, the Security Council or the Secretary-General, as appropriate.

In addition, the Secretary-General would be requested to circulate the Committee’s report to all competent United Nations bodies, which would be urged to take the necessary action, as appropriate. He would also be asked to continue to provide the Committee with the necessary facilities for the performance of its tasks.

A draft entitled Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat would have the Assembly consider that the Division continues to make a useful and constructive contribution. It would ask the Secretary-General to provide it with the necessary resources and to ensure that it continues to carry out its work programme as detailed in earlier resolutions, in consultation with the Palestinian Rights Committee.

The Assembly would also ask the Secretary-General to ensure the continued cooperation of the Department of Public Information and other units of the Secretariat in enabling the Division to perform its tasks and in covering adequately the various aspects of the question of Palestine.

In a related provision, the Assembly would ask the Committee and the Division, as part of the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on 29 November, to continue to organize an annual exhibit on Palestinian rights or a cultural event in cooperation with the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations.

According to a text entitled Special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat, the Assembly would consider that that programme was very useful in raising awareness of the international community concerning the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East and that it was contributing effectively to an atmosphere conducive to dialogue and support of the peace process.

Further by that text, the Assembly would request the Department, in full coordination with the Committee, to continue its special information programme for the biennium 2004-2005, in particular to: disseminate information on all the United Nations activities relating to the question of Palestine; to continue to issue and update relevant publications; to expand its collection of audiovisual material on that question; and to organize and promote fact-finding news missions for journalists to the area, including the occupied Palestinian territory and East Jerusalem.

The Department would also be asked to: organize international, regional and national seminars or encounters for journalists, aiming in particular at sensitizing public opinion to the question of Palestine; and continue to provide assistance to the Palestinian people in the field of media development, in particular to strengthen the training programme for Palestinian broadcasters and journalists initiated in 1995.

A further text, entitled Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine, would have the Assembly reaffirm the need to achieve a peaceful settlement of that question, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, in all its aspects, and to intensify all efforts towards that goal.

By other terms the Assembly would demand the immediate cessation of all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. It would stress the need for Israel’s withdrawal from the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 and the realization of the Palestinian people’s inalienable rights, primarily the right to self-determination and to their independent State.

The Assembly would stress the need for a speedy end to the reoccupation of Palestinian population centres and for the complete cessation of all acts of violence, including military attacks, destruction and acts of terror. It would call on the parties, the Quartet and other interested parties to exert all efforts necessary to halting the deterioration of the situation, to reverse all measures taken on the ground since 28 September 2000, and to facilitate a speedy resumption of the peace process and conclusion of a final peaceful settlement.

Under a related provision, the Assembly would stress the need to respect the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice of 9 July 2004, and to comply with the legal obligations identified therein, which would contribute greatly towards the peaceful and just settlement of the question of Palestine.

In addition, the Assembly would reaffirm its commitment, in accordance with international law, to the two-State solution, based on pre-1967 borders. It would also reaffirm its full support for the Middle East peace process and stress the need to establish a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East. It would also welcome the Quartet’s ongoing efforts.

Both parties would be called upon to fulfil their obligations in implementation of the Road Map by taking parallel and reciprocal steps in that regard. The importance and urgency of establishing a credible and effective third-party monitoring mechanism, including all Quartet members, would be stressed.

Statements

PAUL BADJI (Senegal), Committee Chairman, opened the meeting by saying that it had been deeply saddened by the passing of Yasser Arafat. For decades he had been a powerful symbol of the Palestinian people’s national aspirations, unity, steadfastness and courage. He had devoted most of his life to the struggle against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and the dream of his people to realize their inalienable rights. He had embarked on the journey to achieve what he had called the “peace of the brave” and the realization of the State of Palestine, living side by side with Israel. Sadly, he had not lived to see the culmination of his life’s struggle. By the inspiration of his leadership, however, his work would continue and with the international community’s help, the Palestinian people would carry on with efforts to achieve their inalienable rights in their own sovereign State, with a brighter tomorrow for future generations.

The Committee then observed a moment of silence.

CHEICK SIDI DIARRA (Mali) endorsed the tribute to President Arafat and stressed how unswervingly his delegation stood with the Palestinian people. The Committee’s existence was warranted by the need to uphold the rights of the Palestinian people. It was duty-bound to pursue the work upon which it had embarked since its inception until the Palestinian people’s cause triumphed.

Mr. BADJI (Senegal), Committee Chairman, agreed that in continuing the legacy of President Arafat, the Committee must redouble its efforts until the Palestinian people achieved a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine.

Informing members about developments since the Committee’s last meeting, on 6 October, he said that on 20 October, the Bureau had held a meeting with the delegation of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. During that constructive meeting, views had been exchanged on the role and contribution of national parliaments and inter-parliamentary organizations in shaping public opinion and formulating policy guidelines. On 11 November, the General Assembly had held a special meeting in tribute to President Arafat.

He said that on 15 November, Terje Roed-Larsen, United Nations Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, had briefed the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. He had told the Council that he saw no alternative to the Road Map and no reason for altering the text at the current point. He had also noted that during the past decade, there had been a marked shift in Israeli and Palestinian attitudes about the peace process. While the prevailing reality in the Middle East remained grim, hope and opportunity remained.

Developments in the Middle East Peace Process and the Situation in the Occupied PalestinianTerritory, Including Jerusalem

SOMAIA BARGHOUTI, observer for Palestine, said the meeting was being held at a time of sorrow and transition as the Palestinian people mourned the death of President Arafat, who had not only been the democratically elected leader of the Palestinian people, but had also played a much larger role. For four decades, he had led the Palestinian people in the struggle to achieve their inalienable rights. He had been recognized worldwide as a symbol of the just cause of the Palestinian people and of their dream for peace and freedom.

She said that President Arafat’s passing was a great loss and that it was deeply tragic that the cause to which he had dedicated his life remained unfulfilled since the Palestinian people continued to suffer due to the Israeli occupation. President Arafat would always hold a central place in Palestine’s history and would always be revered by all peace-loving people around the world. The Palestinian people would remain committed to achieving their national aspirations and the establishment of just and lasting peace.

The Palestinian people were going through a difficult phase in their national struggle, she continued. The transfer of power had been proceeding in a smooth and orderly manner and the Palestinian leadership had met extensively to try to fill the gap left by President Arafat. The leadership had agreed that Rawhi Fattuh would be the interim Acting President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas would be the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and Ahmed Qureia would be the Prime Minister. The main goal now was to conduct free, fair and democratic elections to ensure the legitimacy of executive and legislative institutions. In accordance with the Palestinian Constitution, elections should be held within 60 days, namely on 9 January 2005. In that regard, the international community was requested to support the Palestinian people to ensure the success of that very important endeavour.

She said it was also necessary to work toward a return to negotiations, to end the conflict and achieve a final peace settlement. The Road Map remained the only viable initiative towards that end and the Palestinian leadership had always supported it. Yet, the occupying Power continued to undermine any effort to implement the Road Map. The international community was urged to take the necessary measures to compel Israel to cease its grave breaches of international law against the Palestinian people. Ending the daily death toll in the Palestinian territory was a prerequisite for real change and progress at all levels. Israel must be compelled to comply with its legal obligations and the international community, including the Quartet, must facilitate the Road Map’s implementation. The international community, in particular the United Nations, must play an active role towards ending the occupation. The United Nations had a unique role and a permanent responsibility for the question of Palestine until it was resolved.

ALI HACHANI (Tunisia), associating his delegation with the statement by the observer for Palestine, said he was gratified by the clear vision she had voiced, which represented a continuation of the approach to preserve Palestinian unity and prepare for progress on the question of Palestine. The Committee should take note of the statement and reaffirm the need for the international community to become more deeply involved in the days ahead, not only to overcome existing obstacles, but also to assist the Palestinian people in preparing for elections.

Consideration of Draft Resolutions on Question of Palestine

Mr. BADJI (Senegal), Committee Chairman, said that the four draft resolutions would be submitted to the General Assembly under agenda item 37, entitled “Question of Palestine”. The drafts had been updated to reflect recent developments on the ground and in the peace process.

He then introduced the four draft resolutions, including changes to the texts, on: the Palestinian Rights Committee; the Division of Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat; the Special Information Programme of the Department of Public Information on the Question of Palestine; and peaceful settlement of that question.

The Committee then approved the four texts without a vote.

Mr. BADJI (Senegal), Committee Chairman, said he believed that the drafts were realistic and sensible and that they would receive the General Assembly’s overwhelming support.

Other Matters

Committee Chairman BADJI (Senegal) then announced that the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People would take place on Monday 29 November in the Trusteeship Council Chamber from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and requested that the Committee’s membership be represented at the ambassadorial level.

Related Links

  • Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People
  • UN General Assembly 59th Session
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