The continuing Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory remained the core of the conflict and a negotiated solution was urgently needed to end the occupation, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People states in a draft report to the General Assembly approved by the Committee this morning.
The Committee expressed its continued belief that the “Road Map” was the best way to achieve the goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting solution of the Palestine question through the establishment of two States, Israel and Palestine, based on the 1967 borders. (The Road Map on the Middle East peace process was drawn up in 2003 by the Quartet of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and the Russian Federation).
The Chairman of the Committee, Paul Badji (Senegal) opened the meeting and said the situation on the ground in occupied Palestinian territory remained very volatile. The report could require an update before being submitted to the Secretary-General.
He recalled that the Security Council had met on 4 October in response to massive Israeli military action in the northern Gaza Strip. Thirty speakers had participated in the debate and a draft resolution sponsored by Algeria and Tunisia had been circulated. By that draft, the Council would have demanded an immediate cessation of military operations in the northern Gaza and withdrawal of Israeli forces. It would also have called on Israel to ensure free access and safety for United Nations and humanitarian workers, as well as respect for United Nations-associated facilities.
Action had been taken on the draft yesterday, he continued. It had received 11 votes in favour with 3 abstentions. The negative veto of one permanent Council member had prevented adoption.
Nasser Al-Kidwa, Permanent Observer for Palestine to the United Nations, told the Committee the situation on the ground in the occupied territory was dire, and said the seven Council vetoes similarly exercised under the present administration of the same permanent member were responsible for enabling the occupying Power to continue its actions. The vetoing party should be held accountable for conditions in the occupied territory, but the Council would not be exempted from its responsibilities. The situation would continue to be monitored and, without improvement, would be brought up again.
Reviewing requirements set out in the Road Map, he said actions should be taken in full cooperation with the Palestinian Authority. Also, the international community should take measures to bring about compliance with the International Court of Justice advisory opinion on the illegality of the wall being built on Palestinian land by Israel. Steps should be taken collectively and individually to halt construction by, for example, not cooperating in its completion.
He said the resolutions on Palestine should continue and be strengthened in light of developments and the escalation of oppression by the occupying Power until consensus was achieved on the Palestinian right to self-determination. The negative vote on resolutions in that regard, and the continued conduct of the occupying Power, proved the lack of credibility of the two States concerned. There could not be a call for a two-State solution at the same time as casting votes against the right to self-determination.
He called for a high-level conference in 2005 to build a broad coalition to bring about respect for law, a two-State solution along the 1967 borders and the affirmation of peoples’ rights to live without fear or prejudice. The situation was difficult, but the political process was alive. It awaited further commitment over the next months by the international community under the lead of the United Nations.
The draft report, introduced by Victor Camilleri, the Committee Rapporteur, was adopted after oral amendments from the Permanent Observer and the representatives of Mali, Malaysia and Cuba.
In addition this morning, the Committee heard a report by its Chairman on his participation at two meetings he had recently attended related to the question of Palestine –- the United Nations International Conference of Civil Society in Support of the Palestinian People (New York, 13 and 14 September 2004) and the Fourteenth Ministerial Conference of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries (Durban, South Africa, 19 August 2004).
The Committee adjourned its meeting until a date to be announced.
The draft report before the Committee reviews the situation relating to the question of Palestine and relevant political developments, as monitored by the Committee during the period 10 October 2003 to 8 October 2004. Events mentioned include Israeli actions in response to the Palestinian intifada; settlement activity of the occupying Power; the implications of the construction of the wall in the West Bank and the recent advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the subject.
The humanitarian situation and the state of the Palestinian economy are also dealt with, as are the continuing operational difficulties faced by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
In a section of the report on its conclusions and recommendations, the Committee expresses strong opposition to the continued construction of the wall on Palestinian land and the expansion of settlements. It maintains that the continuing Israeli occupation remains the core of the conflict, and that a negotiated solution is urgently needed to end the occupation and enable the Palestinian people to exercise their inalienable rights.
The Committee expresses its continued belief that the Road Map is the best way to achieve the goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting solution of the question of Palestine through the establishment of two States, Israel and Palestine, based on the 1967 borders. A settlement should be based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003) and other relevant resolutions.
It commends the role of civil society on the Palestine question, and emphasizes the essential contribution of the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat. The Committee states that the special information programme of the Department of Public Information has made an important contribution to informing the media and public opinion on the Palestinian question.
Finally, the Committee invites the General Assembly to again recognize the importance of its role and to reconfirm its mandate with overwhelming support.