BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE FIFTY-EIGHTH SESSION
OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
ON THE OCCASION OF THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY
THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
1 DECEMBER 2003
Chairman; Mr. Secretary-General, Excellencies, Ladies and
of the Fifty-eighth Session of the United Nations General
Assembly, I am honoured to participate in this solemn meeting.
Mr Chairman, I commend the Committee on the Exercise of
the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for convening
this meeting, and for its contribution to international
efforts to bring peace, security and stability to the Middle
East. In implementing the mandates entrusted to it by the
General Assembly, the Committee continues to play a central
role in focussing the attention of the Assembly, the Security
Council, the United Nations system, and the international
community as a whole, on specific concerns and developments
on the Question of Palestine.
The Question of Palestine has, in fact, been a priority
issue for the United Nations since its earliest years. After
much deliberation, the second session of a nascent General
Assembly on 26 November 1947, adopted resolution 181 (II)
on the Palestinian issue. Reflected in that resolution,
was the decision of the Assembly to partition the Mandate
of Palestine into two states, one Jewish, one Arab, with
Jerusalem to be the subject of a special international regime.
In the year marking the thirtieth anniversary of that landmark
decision, the General Assembly determined, in its resolution
32/40 B of 2 December 1977, which it would annually observe
29 November as the International Day of Solidarity with
the Palestinian People.
The commemoration of this Day of Solidarity, then, is an
affirmation of the United Nations unflagging commitment
to the resolution of the Question of Palestine, and of its
support for the Palestinian people in their aspiration to
exercise their right to self-determination. It provides
further opportunity for the international community as a
whole to reflect on the Question of Palestine, and to continue
to vigorously pursue initiatives that not only make promises,
but that also delivers on those promises, to bring peace,
security and stability to Palestine and to the Middle East.
The current situation, however, is fraught with danger and
far from encouraging. The General Assembly has twice in
the last two months responded to the request of a majority
of its member states by reconvening its tenth emergency
special session on the "Illegal Israeli Actions
in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied
Palestinian Territories', to allow all to express
their concerns on this critical issue. The Assembly, in
its resolution ES-10/12 of 18 September 2003, demanded that
Israel, the occupying power, desist from any act of deportation
and cease any threat to the safety of the elected President
of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat.
The General Assembly has also recognized the danger posed
by Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,
and has stated its opposition to their continued establishment
and expansion as a grave violation of international law
and a serious obstacle to peace. Resolution ES-10/13 adopted
by the resumed tenth emergency special session on 27 October
2003 drew world attention to the danger posed by a separation
barrier that Israel is constructing in the West Bank, including
around East Jerusalem. The resolution reaffirmed the principle
of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by
force, and demanded that Israel stop and reverse the construction
of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including
in and around East Jerusalem, which is a departure from
the Armistice Line of 1949 and a contradiction of international
The Secretary General was requested to periodically report
on compliance with the resolution, and I, as President of
the General Assembly, was authorized to resume the tenth
emergency session upon request from Member States. The Secretary-General
has now reported, and has advised of the non-compliance
with resolution ES-10/13. His report is for the further
consideration of Member States.
History is a persistent reminder that problems between peoples
and states cannot be solved by violence and conflict. We
must look beyond the bleak picture, beyond the crisis and
towards action on which the United Nations, and indeed the
Global community has pronounced itself. A majority of the
Member States of this United Nations, in the fifty-six years
since the partition resolution, have exercised their right
to self-determination, and have joined the community of
nations as sovereign and independent states, underscoring
the right of people to choose to govern themselves, and
not to be governed by others.
There is broad international consensus that the two state
solution is the only one that will bring this longstanding
Middle East conflict to an end. It is a consensus firmly
established by the United Nations Security Council, in its
resolutions 1397 (2002), and upheld in the Quartet's Performance-based
Road Map to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian
Conflict, unanimously endorsed by the Council just two weeks
ago, in its resolution 1515 (2003). The Council's decisive
action must surely provide the impetus to act on the General
Assembly's fifty-six year old decision in respect of Palestine.
Both parties have also been called upon to fulfil their
obligations under relevant provisions of the road map.
This is an opportune time for me to recognise the efforts
of the United Nations - guided by the Secretary General,
supported by his Special Coordinator for the Middle East
Peace Process - and members of the Quartet for their important
and constructive contribution to international efforts aimed
at resolving the conflict and the Question of Palestine.
We must support these efforts, in the interest of making
progress today, and of meeting the considerable challenges
that remain before a just and lasting peace is established
in the region, and importantly, before the vision of the
two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side within
secure and recognized borders, becomes a reality.
I am also encouraged to learn of the participation of civil
society in the search for creative approaches and in offering
new ideas to re-start the peace negotiations. These initiatives
are welcome, should be supported, and as fitting, should
be channelled into broad international initiatives to bring
statehood to Palestine and peace to the Middle East.
The Question of Palestine has a customary place on the agenda
of the General Assembly, a place that reflects the continuing
responsibility of the Assembly for this critical issue,
and for its effective resolution in accordance with the
seminal resolutions of the United Nations.
The General Assembly takes up consideration of the Agenda
Item on the "Question of Palestine" on the afternoon
of 1 December 2003. Given all that is transpiring in the
Middle East and the decisions taken in the Assembly and
the Security Council as well as action taken internationally
in recent months, I look forward to a focussed and serious
debate that will give clear indication of the position of
Member States on the issues.
As President of the General Assembly, I take the important
opportunity offered by this solemn meeting to recognise
and uphold the Assembly's responsibilities in respect of
the Question of Palestine.
I thank you, Mr Chairman.