|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Committee on the Inalienable Rights
of the Palestinian People
336th Meeting (PM)
Palestinian Rights Committee Asks General Assembly to Stress Urgency of Salvaging
Prospects for Peace, by One of Four Draft Resolutions Approved Today
Palestinian Envoy Reviews Work of Special Committee to Investigate Israeli
Practices, Palestine’s Application for UN Membership, Recent Acceptance by UNESCO
The Palestinian Rights Committee this afternoon unanimously approved four draft resolutions concerning its own work, as well as that of the Division for Palestinian Rights and the Department of Public Information.
It also heard briefings by its Chairman and the Permanent Observer for Palestine on events that had taken place since it last met on 30 September (see Press Release GA/PAL/1210), and one by the Chairman of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories on that body’s recent fact-finding mission to Jordan and first-ever visit to Gaza.
Acting on the first text, titled “peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine”, the Committee recommended that the General Assemblystress the urgency of salvaging the prospects of realizing the two-State solution of Israel and Palestine based on pre-1967 borders. The Assembly would urge the parties to take immediate and concrete steps to resume active, serious bilateral negotiations and urge Member States to expedite economic, humanitarian and technical aid to the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority during this critical period.
Also by the draft, the Committee — formally known as the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People — would underscore the need, following the October 2011 prisoner exchange, to further release prisoners as part of confidence-building measures to improve the situation on the ground. It would also have the Assembly stress the need to remove checkpoints and other obstructions to the movement of persons and goods throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the urgent need to advance reconstruction in Gaza.
By other terms of the text, the Assembly would reiterate its demand for full implementation of Security Council resolution 1860 (2009) regarding the December 2008/January 2009 events in the Gaza Strip and its demand for the complete cessation of all Israel settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the occupied Syrian Golan. Further, it would demand that Israel comply with its international legal obligations to cease immediately the construction of its separation wall in the Territory.
A second draft resolution, titled “Committee of the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People”,would have the Assembly request that body to continue efforts to promote the realization of the inalienable Palestinian rights, including the right to self-determination, to keep the situation under review and report to the Assembly, the Security Council or the Secretary-General, as appropriate. The Assembly would further ask the Committee to continue its cooperation and support to Palestinian and other civil society organizations and parliamentarians, and to continue to involve them in its work, in order to mobilize international solidarity and support, particularly during the current period of political instability, humanitarian hardship and financial crisis.
By a text titled “Division for Palestinian Rights”, the Assembly would request that the Secretary-General continue to provide the Division with the necessary resources, considering that it continued to usefully and constructively help raise international awareness of the question of Palestine, as well as generate international support for the rights of the Palestinian people and for a peaceful settlement. The Assembly would also ask the Secretary-General to ensure the Division’s continued cooperation with United Nations entities addressing the question of Palestine within their programmes.
According to the final draft on the “special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat”,the Assembly would request the Department to continue that programme for the biennium 2011-2012, with the necessary flexibility as might be required by developments, considering its usefulness in raising international awareness on the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East and its contribution to an atmosphere conducive to dialogue and supportive of the peace process.
The programme would include: information dissemination on all United Nations activities on the question of Palestine, as well as on the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy vis-à-vis the peace process; organization and promotion of fact-finding news missions for journalists to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel; continued assistance to Palestinians in media development, particularly to strengthen the annual training for Palestinian broadcasters and journalists; and expansion of audio-visual materials on the question of Palestine, among other things.
Briefing the Committee on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and political developments since its last meeting, Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine, said he was delighted that the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli practices had visited part of the Occupied Territory and hoped they could visit other sections, including East Jerusalem, in the future. He thanked everyone whom had expressed strong solidarity with the Palestinian people, including Palestine’s application for membership to the United Nations.
After discussion of that application in eight sessions, the Security Council’s Admission Committee had submitted a report to the Council that reflected the positions of various Council members, he said. Most were supportive of the application and ready to vote in its favour. A second group had not objected to Palestine’s admission, but wanted to delay a vote to an appropriate time. Only one country objected to the application.
The application was Palestine’s natural, historical and legal right, a right which attracted overwhelming support from many countries, he said. “We are very determined to continue with this exercise until we achieve this,” he said, noting that many other countries had not prevailed during an initial, or second, or third request for membership, but were ultimately successful.
Thus far, more than 130 countries worldwide supported Palestine’s statehood bid, he said.
Palestine was thoroughly studying the Admission Committee’s report and countries’ positions and accompanying arguments, he said. It was consulting with its Arab brothers and friends to determine its next step and exploring all options, including the Council, Assembly, and United Nations agencies.
He pointed to Palestine’s admission as a full member in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), its first membership in a United Nations agency. That acceptance opened many doors for the Occupied Territory to join other United Nations agencies or to access treaties or conventions. He had asked the Committee to send a letter to the Council, urging acceptance of its application.
The Israeli Government had “punished” Palestine for its legal action of joining UNESCO with the illegal action of approving new housing units in East Jerusalem, and the collection of tax monies on imported goods, he said. It was collecting about $100 million monthly and was using the entry into UNESCO as a political tool to discourage Palestine from submitting other applications for membership. Palestine could not negotiate with Israel until it halted its settlement activities, he said.
In addition, he reported that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leaders were scheduled to meet in Cairo next week to implement provisions of their reconciliation agreement. He noted that the support of people around the world would be shown on 29 November, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
Nicaragua’s representative, stressing that Palestine’s recent entry into UNESCO was a “historic achievement”, congratulated Mr. Mansour for all his achievements to advance the Palestinian cause. He reaffirmed his unconditional support for the Palestinian people and encouraged Mr. Mansour to continue with his tireless struggle, with the same courageous spirit.
Palitha Kohona (Sri Lanka), speaking in his capacity as the Chairman of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, briefed the meeting on the Special Committee’s fact-finding mission to Gaza and Jordan from 21 to 28 July. It had concluded that, despite some improvements in the last few months, Israel’s blockade of Gaza remained collective punishment for the civilian population there.
He expressed serious concern over restrictions on freedom of movement within Gaza and on imports of vital reconstruction materials, which had made it impossible to rebuild. Recalling that 51,000 civilians had lost their homes during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in December 2008 and January 2009, he said the situation required immediate attention. During the mission, the Special Committee had heard extensive testimony on the blockade’s grave physical and mental impact on Gaza’s children.
Israel’s continued confiscation of Palestinian land, demolition of Palestinian homes, Jewish settlement expansion and increased settler violence against Palestinians and their property had been among the wide range of serious, urgent matters concerning the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, brought to the Special Committee’s attention, Mr. Kohona said. Israel was building 9,204 housing units for Israelis in the West Bank, most located west of the separation wall, while plans were under way to build thousands more units, especially in East Jerusalem.
Abdou Salam Diallo ( Senegal), Chairman of the Palestinian Rights Committee, provided an update of events since the Committee’s last meeting,recalling that on 11 November the Security Council Admission Committee had adopted its report on Palestine’s application, but had been unable to make a unanimous recommendation to the Council on the request. Earlier, on 1 October, the United States’ Congress blocked nearly $200 million in aid for the Palestinian Authority, after Palestine had submitted the application.
On 31 October, UNESCO’s General Conference voted to admit Palestine as a Member State, he said. After the vote, the United States’ State Department announced that the United States would cut funding to UNESCO, citing a legal requirement of the United States to cut funds to any United Nations agency that recognized a Palestinian State. Three days later, Israel’s Prime Minister ordered the freezing of his Government’s $2 million annual contribution to the Agency.
Mr. Diallo recalled that, on 18 October, Israel and Hamas had begun the first stage of a prisoner exchange agreement, releasing Israeli Sergeant Gilad Shalit and 477 Palestinian prisoners, including 205 who had been transferred to third locations.
Turning to settlement expansion, he said that, on 11 October, Israel had significantly advanced plans to build approximately 2,600 housing units in the Givat Hamatos settlement in East Jerusalem and, on 1 November, Israel’s Prime Minister had ordered accelerated construction of some 2,000 units in East Jerusalem and in the Gush Etzion and Ma’aleh Adumim settlements.
Furthermore, on 4 November, the Israeli Navy had stopped two small boats in international waters off the Gaza coast seeking to break the blockade, he said. The vessels had been brought to an Israeli port. Civil society activists on board from nine countries, among them the United States, Canada, Ireland and Portugal, were later deported.
Among the Committee’s activities, it had facilitated the participation of two Palestinian experts in the 3 to 5 November session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, a global citizen-based forum intended to drum up public support for a just solution to the question of Palestine, he said.
In other business, the Committee approved requests from three civil society organizations seeking accreditation with the Committee: Migratory Letters Campaign (Gaza); Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association (East Jerusalem/Ramallah); and the Palestinian Peace Coalition — Geneva Initiative (Ramallah).
The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m., on Tuesday, 29 November, to commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
* *** *For information media • not an official record