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2014 - International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

Background Information

When the United Nations was founded on 24 October 1945, the territory of Palestine was still administered by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland under a Mandate received in 1922 from the League of Nations. Among the issues that had to be dealt with by the Mandatory Power was the question of a Jewish home in Palestine. Increasing Jewish immigration to Palestine following the Second World War was strongly opposed by the Arab inhabitants, who in the mid-1940s comprised about two thirds of the territory’s population of 2 million. Faced with escalating violence, the United Kingdom decided, in February 1947, to bring the question of Palestine before the United Nations.

The United Nations has been seized with the question of Palestine since 1947, when the General Assembly adopted resolution 181 (II). It provided for the establishment of an Arab State and a Jewish State in Palestine, with a special status for the holy city of Jerusalem. No other problem has engaged the attention of the world Organization as intensively or as extensively. From 1948 there have been wars, destruction, suffering and loss of lives of Palestinians and Israelis alike engaging the United Nations in a continuing search for a solution to the problem.

The hostilities that accompanied the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 led to the flight of some 750,000 refugees from Palestine. Most of these refugees fled to the West Bank, then held by Jordan, to the Gaza Strip, held by Egypt, and to Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and even further afield. The Arab-Israeli war of 1967 led to yet another displacement, this time of more than 500,000 Palestinians, nearly half of whom were refugees uprooted for a second time.

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People was established by the General Assembly by its resolution 3376 (XXX) of 10 November 1975, with the task of recommending a programme designed to enable the Palestinian people to exercise its inalienable rights, as recognized by the Assembly in its resolution 3236 (XXIX) of 22 November 1974.

The recommendations made by the Committee in its first report to the General Assembly (A/31/35) were endorsed by the Assembly as a basis for the solution of the question of Palestine. In its subsequent reports, the Committee has continued to stress that a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, must be based on the relevant United Nations resolutions, including Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), as well as on the following essential principles: the withdrawal of Israel, the occupying Power, from the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, and from the other occupied Arab territories; respect for the right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized boundaries; and the recognition and exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. The recommendations of the Committee contained in its first report could not be implemented, and each year the Assembly has renewed the Committee's mandate and requested it to intensify efforts in pursuit of its objectives.

The Committee has consistently supported the objective of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side within secure and recognized borders on the basis of the 1949 armistice lines, in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions, including Security Council resolutions 1397 (2002) and 1515 (2003). The Committee welcomed and supported the Quartet's road map and called upon the parties to implement it. In keeping with its mandate, the Committee has continued to work towards creating conditions for the successful conduct of negotiations on a permanent settlement allowing the Palestinian people to realize its inalienable rights. The Committee has also promoted support and assistance by the international community to the Palestinian people.

On 30 November 2012, the General Assembly renewed the mandate of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (resolution 67/20), requested the Secretary-General to continue to provide the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat with the necessary resources to carry out its programme of work (resolution 67/21) and requested the continuation of the special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat (resolution 67/22). The Assembly also adopted resolution 67/23, entitled "Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine".