ISR"L CONTINUING SETTLEMENT ACTIVITIES, EVADING WYE RIVER MEMORANDUM, PALESTINE OBSERVER TELLS GENERAL ASSEMBLY SPECIAL SESSION
ISR"L CONTINUING SETTLEMENT ACTIVITIES, EVADING WYE RIVER MEMORANDUM, PALESTINE OBSERVER TELLS GENERAL ASSEMBLY SPECIAL SESSION
ISRAEL CONTINUING SETTLEMENT ACTIVITIES, EVADING WYE RIVER MEMORANDUM, PALESTINE OBSERVER TELLS GENERAL ASSEMBLY SPECIAL SESSION19990205 Draft Resolution Recommends Meeting of Parties to Fourth Geneva Convention; Israel Says Such a Meeting Precedent for 'Politicized Application' of Convention
Israel was continuing with its settlement activities in occupied Palestinian territory, as well as the confiscation of land, the building of so-called bypass roads, actions against Palestinian Jerusalemites and economic suffocation, said the Permanent Observer for Palestine this morning, as the General Assembly resumed its tenth emergency special session to consider illegal Israeli action in occupied Palestinian territory.
Immediately after signing the Wye River Memorandum, Israel began to evade and postpone its implementation, he told the Assembly. The matter culminated with the Israeli Government suspending the implementation of the Memorandum on 20 December 1998. The suspension, accompanied by a freeze of negotiations on the final settlement, created a very dangerous situation. "We cannot allow the development of a legal and political void in our land and perhaps even the descent of the situation to what it was before the peace process."
By the terms of a draft resolution before the special session, introduced today by the representative of the United Arab Emirates on behalf of the Arab Group of States, the Assembly would again demand the full cessation of settlement activities, including the construction of a settlement in Jabal Abu Ghneim to the south of occupied East Jerusalem. It would also demand that Israel accept the de jure applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the occupied territories and again recommend that steps be taken to hold a conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention on measures to enforce it in the occupied territories, including Jerusalem.
The representative of Israel said the initiative to convene the conference of High Contracting Parties was a political measure directed against Israel and not an effort to improve the conditions of the Palestinians. That anti-Israel initiative could create a mechanism that would be a precedent for selective politicized application of the Geneva Conventions to any conflict. As a result, international humanitarian institutions, which had remained neutral since 1949, would be inevitably compromised.
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He added that the resolution before the Assembly ignored the many cases of real aggression since 1949, and sought to apply the Fourth Geneva Convention selectively in only one case -- Israel. It ignored the fact that today most Palestinians were under the expanding adminstration of the Palestinian Authority, and not under Israeli military adminstration. It also ignored the massive Palestinian non-compliance with the Wye River Memorandum, and blindly asserted that Israel had frozen the peace process. Israel, in fact, had made tangible and, in some cases, irreversible, concessions with the implementation of the Memorandum. Speaking on behalf of the European Union, the representative of Germany said he deplored Israel's failure to respond to the requests of the international community to suspend settlement activities. Such actions violated the Fourth Geneva Convention. He also deplored Israel's refusal to carry out the second phase of withdrawals from the West Bank. The international community should seek solutions to ensure respect for all provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, especially those that apply to the status of the occupied territories, including Jerusalem. The Israeli occupation was the only occupation left in the current century, said the representative of Bahrain. Despite the passing of one year, no agreement had as yet been reached on a meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention. Failure to convene the conference would encourage Israel to persist in ignoring its international commitments to stop the suffering of the Palestinian people. The representative of Malaysia said Israel's policy of establishing new Jewish settlements prolonged the intolerable hardships and sufferings of the Palestinian people. Far from advancing the cause of peace, such policies and practices only prolonged the climate of frustration, hatred and suspicions. His country also urged Israel to adhere to its commitment in the Wye River Memorandum and not resort to finding excuses and blaming the Palestinian side in order to justify its action or non-action. Statements in the special session debate were also made by the representatives of Senegal, Kuwait, Russian Federation, Indonesia, Singapore, Tunisia, Pakistan, South Africa and Cuba. Rights of reply were exercised by the representatives of Israel, Egypt and the Permanent Observer for Palestine. Prior to opening the special session debate this morning, the President of the Assembly, Didier Opertti (Uruguay), extended his deepest sympathy to the Government and the people of Colombia for the tragic loss of life and extensive material damage which had resulted from the recent earthquake in that country. In response, the representative of Colombia, thanking the international community for its concern, said that, so far, there were 4,200 injured, and 200,000 left homeless, in addition to those who had already died from the effects of the earthquake. At least one third of Colombia's water supply had been destroyed, one fifth of its electrical grid was not working, and, as was well known at the international level, the country required 120 metric tons of foodstuff every day to meet the current emergency. The Assembly will continue its emergency special session at 3:30 p.m. Monday, 8 February.
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Assembly Work Programme
The Assembly this morning resumed its tenth emergency special session, which is considering "Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian Territory". It had before it a draft resolution (document A/ES-10/L.5), by which the Assembly would reaffirm four earlier resolutions adopted during the emergency special session (resolutions ES-10/2 of 25 April 1997, ES-10/3 of 15 July 1997, ES-10/4 of 13 November 1997 and ES-10/5 of 17 March 1998).
In those texts, the Assembly demanded the immediate and full cessation of the construction by Israel of a settlement in Jabal Abu Ghneim to the south of occupied East Jerusalem, and of all other Israeli settlement activities, as well as of all illegal measures and actions in Jerusalem. t also demanded that Israel accept the de jure applicability of the 1949 Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians in time of war to all the territories occupied since 1967, and that it comply with the relevant Security Council resolutions.
By other terms of those resolutions, the Assembly demanded that Israel, the occupying Power, immediately cease and reverse all actions taken illegally, in contravention of international law, against Palestinian Jerusalemites. It also demanded that Israel make available to Member States information about goods produced or manufactured in the illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem.
By today's resolution, the Assembly would reiterate its condemnation of Israel's failure to comply with the provisions of those resolutions, and that it reaffirm that all legislative and administrative actions taken by Israel, that have altered the character, legal status and demographic composition of Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory, were all null and void and have no validity whatsoever.
It would also reiterate, in the strongest terms, all demands made of Israel in the previous resolutions of the tenth special session, including the immediate and full cessation of the construction at Jabal Abu Ghneim and of all other Israeli settlement activities, as well as of all illegal measures and actions in Jerusalem. It would also reiterate: the de jure applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention and compliance with relevant Security Council resolutions; the cessation and reversal of all actions taken illegally against Palestinian Jerusalemites; and the provision of information about goods produced or manufactured in the settlements.
By the text, the Assembly would reiterate its previous recommendation to Member States for the cessation of all forms of assistance and support for illegal Israeli activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, in particular settlement activities, and to actively discourage
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activities that directly contribute to any construction or development of those settlements.
The Assembly would also affirm that, in spite of the actual deterioration of the Middle East peace process as a result of the lack of compliance by the Government of Israel with the existing agreements, increased effort must be exerted to bring the peace process back on track. It would also reiterate its recommendation that the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention convene a conference on measures to enforce the Convention in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem. It would invite the Government of Switzerland, in its capacity as the depository of the Geneva Convention, to undertake preparation for the conference, and it would request Secretary-General to make the necessary facilities available for the conference.
Also by the text, the Assembly would express its confidence that Palestine, as a party directly concerned, would participate in the conference.
By the text, the Assembly would decide to adjourn the tenth emergency special session temporarily and to authorize the President of the General Assembly to resume its meeting upon request from Member States.
The draft resolution is sponsored by Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and Palestine.
The resumption of the emergency special session was requested in a letter from the Permanent Representative of Jordan, Hasan Abu-Nimah, to the President of the General Assembly.
The President of the Assembly, DIDIER OPERTTI (Uruguay), informed the Assembly that 42 Member States were in arrears in the payment of their financial contributions to the United Nations within the terms of Article 19 of the United Nations Charter. He reminded delegations that, under that Article, a Member State in arrears in payment of its final contributions to the Organization should have no vote in the Assembly if the amount of its arrears equalled or exceeded the amount of the contributions due from it for the preceding two full years.
The President also informed the Assembly that, for the meetings of the resumed tenth emergency session of the Assembly, the Observer for Palestine would participate in the work of that body, in accordance with Assembly resolution 3237 of the twenty-ninth session of 2 November 1974, resolution 43/177 of 15 December 1988, and resolution 52/250 of 7 July 1998, with no
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further need for a precursory explanation prior to any intervention by Palestine in any meetings of the resumed tenth emergency special session.
M. NASSER AL-KIDWA, Permanent Observer for Palestine, began by wishing King Hussein of Jordan a speedy recovery and full return to health. He also expressed his condolences to the Government and people of Colombia on the casualties they had suffered as a result of the tragic earthquake.
He then asked what had happened to the issues enumerated in the various resolutions of the special session. Delegations needed to start with the demands made of Israel -- the occupying Power. That country had not complied with those demands. It continued the construction of the settlement at Jabal Abu Ghneim, where it completed the infrastructure and recently called for tenders for the building of the first group of units there. Israel continued with its settlement activities in Bab Al-Amud and Burj Al-Laqlaq in occupied Jerusalem, in Al-Khalil (Hebron) and in the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory. Further, it continued with the confiscation of land, the building of so-called bypass rods, actions against Palestinian Jerusalemites, separating the West Bank from the Gaza Strip and economic suffocation.
What had become of the peace process? he asked. In the most recent period of time, the United States intensified its efforts at the highest level to bring the process back on track with the Wye River Memorandum, which was signed on 23 October 1998. The Memorandum was comprised of steps to facilitate the implementation of existing agreements in accordance with a specific timeline -- 29 January, which was one week ago.
In reality, he continued, immediately after the signing of the Memorandum, the Israeli side began its attempts to evade and postpone implementation, as well as imposing new conditions. The whole matter culminated with the Israeli Government suspending the implementation of the Memorandum on 20 December 1998. The suspension was accompanied by a freeze of negotiations on the final settlement, which should be completed by 4 May, the date when the five-year transitional period agreed upon by both sides would come to an end.
All of that pushed the situation towards a very dangerous situation, he said. "We cannot allow the development of a legal and political void in our land and perhaps even the descent of the situation to what is was before the peace process." Referring to the convening of the Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, he said the emergency session recommended the convening of that conference three times, the first time 19 months ago. Later, the session recommended to the Government of Switzerland, in its capacity as the depository of the Convention, to take the necessary measures, including the convening of a meeting of experts before the end of February 1998, which was extended until the end of April 1998.
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Switzerland had made efforts of which "we are appreciative", he said. It organized a meeting between the Palestinian and Israeli sides in the presence of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) from 9 to 11 June 1998 in Geneva for the purpose of examining means to contribute to the effective implementation of the Convention. However, the meeting, as was expected, unfortunately did not lead to any change in Israeli policies and practices in violation of the Convention.
He said Palestine had thoroughly cooperated with Switzerland, "in spite of our serious legal and political concerns, and in spite of our position of principle not to seek selective amelioration through negotiations, and in spite of position of principle on the necessity of convening the conference and the meeting of experts in the manner recommended by the session". Palestine had been very patient, despite the pressure of Israeli violations, and it had also been cooperative, despite the danger of the situation and Israeli intransigence. "Now, we believe that we have reached the end of the line", he said. Negotiations and preparations and the search for a direction had all taken place, and now "we have to take the only required step, which is the reaffirmation of the recommendation to convene the conference on a specified date", which he hoped would be 4 March at United Nations Headquarters.
DORE GOLD (Israel) said the people of Israel had deep feeling for Jordan's King Hussein, and the prayers of all Israel were with him. As for the call for a conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, it was totally unacceptable to Israel, and it was completely divorced from any basic reading of political reality. Since 1949, the High Contracting Parties had never met once to discuss the Fourth Geneva Convention, even after wars of aggression against Member States of the United Nations. Now, a proposal was being made to convene such a meeting with respect to the one case since 1949 that was an unquestionable case of a war of self-defence, the "six-day war" of 4 June 1967.
He said that it was not clear whether the authors of the initiative knew which civilian population was being protected and from whom, and it was doubtful that the initiative would improve the everyday lives of the Palestinian population. In short, it was a political measure directed against Israel and not an effort to improve the conditions of the Palestinians. That anti-Israel initiative could create a mechanism that would be a precedent for selective politicized application of the Geneva Conventions to any conflict. As a result, international humanitarian institutions, which had remained neutral since 1949, would be inevitably compromised. Many United Nations Member States would find themselves to be targets of those sorts of initiatives in the future.
The initiative was being advanced with the political argument that Israel had suspended the Wye River Memorandum, he said. That was completely false. Israel, in fact, had made tangible and, in some cases, irreversible,
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concessions with the implementation of the Memorandum. Among others, Israel had withdrawn from a total of 491.4 square kilometres of West Bank territory. Israel made good on its commitment to complete a protocol for the opening of a Palestinian airport in the Gaza Strip. "Israel fulfils its commitments and takes risks for peace", he said.
The resolution before the General Assembly was wrong and should be opposed, he continued. It ignored the many cases of real aggression since 1949, and sought to apply the Fourth Geneva Convention selectively in only one case -- Israel. It ignored the fact that today most Palestinians were under an expanding administration of Palestinian Authority, and not under Israeli military administration. It also ignored the massive Palestinian non- compliance with the Wye River Memorandum and blindly asserted that Israel had frozen the peace process. The resolution, moreover, violated the Oslo process itself, he said. If Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) had differences over permanent status issues like Jerusalem and settlements, the forum for dealing with such matters was the negotiating table and not an emergency special session of the Assembly. The international community had a fundamental choice. It could vote for a politicized initiative that twisted truth and destroyed international norms, or it could refuse to be a part of that transparent effort. Israel asked that nations vote for peace and the preservation of international humanitarian law.
IBRA DEGUENE KA (Senegal), Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said the breakthrough of the Wye River Memorandum gave Palestinians, and all people who wanted peace, grounds for hope. President Yasser Arafat was convinced that the Memorandum would give a fresh boost to the peace process, and he hoped that it would provide international pressure on Israel to live up to peace agreements.
Unfortunately, he continued, the peace process was beset with uncertainty. Obstacles were blocking the attempt of the Palestinian people to improve their lives. The imposition of new provisions by Israel only delayed the timetable and sent the Memorandum back to the negotiating table. Even before the ink was dry on the Memorandum, Israel had continued its settlement activities on Palestinian lands. The emergency sessions have been intended to bring the world's attention to the plight of the Palestinian people, and they have demonstrated that Israel had violated international law in its policies towards the Palestinians. The resolution before the Assembly should be supported by all Member States.
YACUB YOUSIF AL-HOSANI (United Arab Emirates) introduced the draft resolution on illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the ooccupied Palestinian territory (document A/ES-10/L.5). On behalf of the Arab Group, he expressed anxiety over the health of King Hussein of Jordan. His delegation also expressed condolences to Colombia on the earthquake.
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The occupied territories were now witnessing some of their most complicated and critical moments, he said. The suffering of Palestinians continued, as the Israeli Government confiscated land, imprisoned people and laid siege. Despite the passage of 18 months since the convening of the first plenary emergency session and the adoption of resolutions, the Israeli Government persisted with its illegal actions in the occupied Arab territories. That Government continued its public and reckless defiance of the international community's will. It also continued its illegal settlements and further compromised Arab-Palestinian sovereignty.
He said the causes that had led to the convening of the first plenary emergency session still persisted. He acknowledged efforts by the Government of Switzerland to hold convention of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention last June. He hoped efforts would be doubled. The Convention must be implemented, since it was an international recommendation. He also called for the international community to reiterate its clear condemnation of Israeli actions.
DIETER KASTRUP (Germany), speaking on behalf of the European Union and the associated countries of Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus and Iceland, said that King Hussein of Jordan had been a visionary and a courageous fighter for peace. He would remain a symbol of peace for years to come in the Middle East.
The European Union deplored Israel's failure to respond to the requests of the international community to suspend settlement activities in the occupied territories, he said. Israel's actions were in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which applied to Israel and the occupied territories. The European Union also deplored the refusal of Israel to carry out the second phase of withdrawals from the West Bank.
He said the international community should seek solutions to ensure respect for all provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, especially those that applied to the status of the occupied territories, including Jerusalem. The High Contracting Parties to the Convention should be aware of the goal of improving the situation on the ground and improving the lives of the Palestinian people. The Union remained deeply attached to the peace process as the only way to establish lasting peace and security in the region. The Union called on both parties to make progress on the interim agreement and the Wye River Memorandum.
MOHAMMAD A. ABULHASAN (Kuwait) said the Israeli Government had flouted the decisions of the General Assembly. His country was concerned over illegal Israeli actions in East Jerusalem and appealed to the Israeli Government to end such actions, which flagrantly violated all United Nations resolutions, other earlier decisions adopted at the tenth emergency special session, and the Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians during war. Illegal Israeli
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action in the occupied Palestinian territory was provocative to both Arabs and Muslims, given the religious significance of Al-Quds Al-Sharif to both.
He said the international community should take swift action to halt Israel's actions, since it was trying to change the demographics and composition of the city of Jerusalem. The conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention should be held. The decisions of the tenth emergency session provided encouraging circumstances for the holding of such a conference. The necessary conditions for holding the conference had now been met.
HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said his delegation reiterated its serious concern at, and strong opposition to, Israel's policy of establishing new Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Despite numerous United Nations resolutions that reaffirmed that the settlements were illegal, Israel persisted its policy. His Government had repeatedly expressed its strong views on Israel's discriminatory and repressive policies, which prolonged the intolerable hardships and sufferings of the Palestinian people. Far from advancing the cause of peace, such policies and practices only prolonged the climate of frustration, hatred and suspicion, thereby fuelling the continuing cycle of violence.
He urged Israel to adhere to its commitment in the Wye River Memorandum and not resort to finding excuses and blaming the Palestinian side in order to justify its action or non-action. It was regrettable that the deadline for implementing the Wye River Memorandum had passed. Serious diplomatic effort and pressure should be exerted to ensure that the provisions of the Memorandum were implemented without delay.
Some recent developments, especially the passage of legislation in the Israeli Knesset to extend Israeli law over settlements in the West Bank and Gaza on 27 January 1999, should be of serious concern to the international community, he said. If that legislation became law, it would effectively formalize Israel's annexation of the areas concerned. The legislation clearly ran counter to the final status talks, and his country seriously urged the Government of Israel to desist from such action, which would put the entire peace process in jeopardy.
SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said his country was gravely concerned about the delays in the implementation of the second phase of redeployment of the Israeli troops from the West Bank, the continued construction of settlement in the areas of Ras-Al-Amoud and Jabal Abu Ghneim in East Jerusalem, as well as recent decisions by the Knesset on the issues affecting the permanent status of Jerusalem. The current dangerous situation might provoke new violence and undermine recent progress made in the Palestinian-Israeli negotiating track. He was seriously concerned that the decisions adopted during the previous four stages of the emergency special session still awaited implementation.
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Pursuing active diplomacy in the Middle East and as a co-sponsor of the peace process, his country would continue its efforts aimed at overcoming problems arising in the Palestinian-Israeli track, he said. There should be an early solution of such problems and a settlement of the disputes, in the spirit of reciprocity and strict observance of the agreements reached by the sides. That should be done to ensure the full implementation of transitory measures and the parallel launching of negotiations on final status.
R.M. MARTY M. NATALEGAWA (Indonesia) said that the major impediments to the implementation of the peace accords continued to thwart efforts aimed at achieving a comprehensive peace. There was no doubt that the commitment of the Palestinians to stay on the path to peace, despite the formidable obstacles they faced, would ultimately bear fruit. The international community had to call on Israel to fully implement the relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions and to cease backtracking on the commitments already reached with Palestinian leaders.
He said that the draft resolution had rightly reiterated the important elements of previous resolutions adopted at the resumed tenth emergency special session. Indonesia emphasized the importance of convening a conference by the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention on measures to enforce the Convention in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem. That was all the more significant, in light of the approaching fiftieth anniversary of the four Geneva Conventions and the enforcement of its provisions, particularly regarding the deprivation of the rights of a whole nation and its people for more than five decades. He reiterated his solidarity with the Palestinian people, especially with regard to the exercise of their sovereign and inalienable rights for an independent homeland on Palestinian soil.
RASHID AL-DOSARI (Bahrain) said that despite the passing of one year, no agreement had as yet been reached on a meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, His delegation appealed to concerned parties, especially Switzerland, to make an effort to convene such a meeting no later than 1999 and that Palestine be invited to participate in it. Failure to convene the conference would encourage Israel to persist in ignoring its international commitments to stop the suffering of the Palestinian people. The Israeli occupation was the only occupation left in the current century. Nothing could deter that country from its arbitrary practices in the Arab territories. Israel absolved itself from all responsibilities towards the peace process in the Middle East.
He said the peace process was at a stalemate. The Israeli Government kept putting obstacles in the way of the process and pressure needed to be applied to make Israel comply with agreements. That country was responsible for failing to implement the Wye River Memorandum, including the release of
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Palestinian prisoners and halting the building of settlements. Those had not been done. The international community must take the steps necessary to ensure that Israel honoured its commitments.
KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said the peace process was the only path to lasting peace and security for the Palestinians, as well as for Israel and its neighbours. His country was committed to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace based on Security Council resolutions and within the framework of international law. Singapore would continue to support efforts to bring about the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine. It also urged the Government of Switzerland to convene the conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention on measures to enforce the Convention in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem.
MOKHTAR CHAOUACHI (Tunisia) said that previous meetings of the tenth emergency special session asked that Israel put an end to settlement activities and other illegal actions, such as changing the demographic composition in the occupied territories. Two years since the first meeting of the special session, there had been no indication that Israel intended to respond to those calls. It persisted in settlement activities, which was a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Security Council resolutions and in defiance of the will of the international community. Therefore, it was important to convene a conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention. His country supported such a conference, as well as the resolution before the Assembly. Security and cooperation could not be achieved if Israel insisted on reneging on its commitments. The ambitions of the Palestinian people could not be realized until the goals of the peace process were achieved.
AHMAD KAMAL (Pakistan) said that as the occupying Power, Israel continued to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention. That Convention specified a mechanism to deal with grave breaches committed by a party to the Convention. Article 148 of the Convention emphasized that "No High Contracting Party shall be allowed to absolve itself or any other High Contracting Parties of any liability incurred by itself or by any other High Contracting Party in respect of grave breaches." Assembly resolutions on that subject reiterated a collective commitment to the Convention. It was, therefore, essential that a conference of the parties was convened as soon as possible on measures to enforce the Convention in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem, and to ensure its respect in accordance with the common Article 1 of all of the four Geneva Conventions.
His Government, as a signatory of the Fourth Geneva Convention, supported the convening of that conference on 8 April 1999, as proposed in the resolution that was before the Assembly today, he said. Israel must fully abide by the provisions of the agreements it had concluded with the
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Palestinians, including the Wye River Memorandum, and amicably resolve all pending issues with the Palestinian Authority. The draft before the Assembly contained essential measures which must be implemented by the Israeli authorities, in order to restore mutual trust and understanding between the two parties.
PIETER VERMEULEN (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that he was concerned over Israel's persistent violation of the existing agreements, including illegal settlement activities, repressive measures and economic suffocation of the Palestinian people. As recently as last week, the Israeli Parliament had adopted legislation that would make it more difficult to effect Israeli withdrawal from occupied Palestinian territory. Dismayed by Israel's recent decision to suspend the Wye River Memorandum's implementation and negotiations on a final settlement, he reiterated the call for increasing efforts to ensure compliance by Israel with the existing agreements and their timely implementation, including the Memorandum.
The international community could not stand by while Israel refused to implement relevant Assembly and Security Council resolutions, he said. It had to demand that Israel halt all settlement activity and other illegal activities in the occupied territories and cease actions that exacerbated the suffering of the Palestinian people. The High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention needed to act expeditiously to convene the conference on measures to enforce the Convention in the Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem. He called on Switzerland to undertake the necessary preparations in that regard. The realization of the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people was long overdue.
RAFAEL DAUSA CESPEDES (Cuba) said the settlement policy of Israel was still being pursued, with more dwellings built, along with bypass roads linking them. Settlers were putting mobile homes on Palestinian land and Palestinians were being denied their rights. Such action was against international and humanitarian law. The hope engendered by the Wye River Memorandum was evaporating daily. If that course continued, the peace process was doomed. The United Nations and its Member States must step up efforts to break the present stagnation in the process.
In 24 resolutions, the Security Council had reaffirmed the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the protection of civilians in war, he said. Israel persisted in not acknowledging those facts. His Government responded positively to the initiative of the Government of Switzerland to convene a meeting of experts in October 1998. While recognizing the usefulness of that meeting, there was still a need for a conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention to be convened, with Palestine as a participant.
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Rights of Reply
Mr. Al-KIDWA, the Permanent Observer of Palestine, said the basic problem had always been the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian people. Israel continued to make attempts to deny that occupation, using terms like "areas under Israeli adminstration". That reflected an ideological problem, where Israel denied preventing the Palestinian people from realizing its rights on its own soil. Every Palestinian on Palestinian soil was still subject to occupation. The fact remained that it was impossible to bring a can of milk in or out of Palestinian land without the approval of occupying forces. The goal of the Israeli system was to create a "bantustan-type" system. The amount of land under Palestinian self-rule represented only 2 per cent of the land considered Palestine under the British mandate before 1948. Yet, Israel expected Palestinians to feel so happy that they lived in that land.
The holding of a conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Conventions had already been approved by Member States, he continued. Therefore, there should not be renewed discussion on whether to hold such a conference. The representative of Israel said parties of the Convention had never met in the past. While that was true, it did not mean that such a meeting should not take place in the future. Israel had continued to violate agreements with the Palestinians for more than 30 years of occupation. Those 30 years represented continuous colonialist occupation of Palestinian lands and it was the sole and unique colonialist situation in the world. The Palestinian delegation wanted peace based on equality, while respecting the rights of the people of neighbouring countries. It respected the principle of two States in the region.
Mr. GOLD (Israel) said there were often different versions of what land was under dispute -- there were sometimes references to land designated under Security Council resolutions, sometimes to land designated by General Assembly resolutions. If one looked at the official stationary of the PLO mission to the United Nations, the map drawn on the stationary showed Palestine as being all the territory of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Israel on the official stationary of the PLO had basically been eliminated.
Continuing, he said that Israeli policies of preserving its Jewish communities in the West Bank and Gaza were in line with the Oslo agreements. None of those agreements prevented the existence of or the protection of Jewish communities. Israel made the commitment not to uproot any settlement or interrupt their construction and natural growth. Further, the idea of an emergency special session was originally conceived for an international emergency. However, yet again such a session had been called to discuss condominium construction. Considering the grave problems of the world, to
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have this special session was a complete abuse of the United Nations and the United Nations system.
NABIL A. ELARABY (Egypt) said the falsification heard today ran against the historic facts. Israel's representative repeated that Israel was established by a defensive war, rather than an offensive war in 1967. He knew that Israel had planned for that war, and initiated the act of aggression. Israel's planned aggression was designed to block any progress in peace talks at the time. The acts were not done in self-defence.
Mr. AL-KIDWA, the Permanent Observer of Palestine, said he wished to draw Israel's attention to the fact that his delegation was referred to as the Permanent Observer of Palestine. Israel's attempts to return to old discussions, and references to insignia on his delegation's letterhead, were regrettable and shameful. The insignia was the original map of Palestine. Israel had never informed the United Nations of its borders. If the Permanent Representative of Israel informed the Organization of his country's borders, then a map of Palestine could be drawn.
He said settlements were illegal under Security Council and United Nations resolutions and international law, and would remain so, forever. It was sufficient to say that Palestinians were uprooted from their land in 1947 and 1948. It was also sufficient to accept common grounds and accept justice. But to be asked to accept more annexations -- that would be rejected now and in the future.
Mr. GOLD (Israel) said the Permanent Representative of Egypt should clarify three essential points. Did he deny that, in 1967, 100,000 Egyptian troops were placed on the Egyptian/Israeli border? Did he deny that his country had blocked the Tiran Straits? Could he deny that the Egyptian President in 1967 had called for the destruction of Israel? Those were the conditions of 1967. The question was also raised about Israel's borders. The 1967 war created a new situation and was recognized by United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). Israel was prepared to negotiate sure and recognizable borders. That was its position in the past, present and future.
Mr. ELARABY (Egypt), in response to questions posed by Israel, said his country was entitled to have its military forces anywhere it wanted within its borders. He added that Egypt had never called for the destruction of Israel, neither in the United Nations nor in public speeches. The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) tried to find a single statement calling for the destruction of Israel by Egyptian officials and it could not find one. On Security Council resolutions, he said the United Nations had found that the use of force could not be legally used to obtain land and that was why resolution 242 (1967) called on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories. * *** *