|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Committee on the Inalienable Rights
of the Palestinian People
331st Meeting (PM)
Palestinian Rights Committee Reviews Political Developments, Including Intention
of Palestinian Leader to Form Unity Government, Hold Elections Within Six Months
Veto in Security Council of Resolution to Halt Israeli Settlements in Occupied
Territory also Discussed; Vienna Meeting Report on Palestinian Prisoners Adopted
Following protests across the Occupied Palestinian Territory in recent weeks, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had announced his intention to establish a unity Government and to conduct elections within six months, said a representative of Palestine at United Nations Headquarters today.
Riyad Mansour, the Permanent Observer from Palestine, told the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People that Mr. Abbas would soon be visiting the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip to meet with Hamas leaders to that effect. The move came after thousands of Palestinians had taken to the streets to demonstrate “under the twin slogans of ending occupation and ending division between Palestinian people”, he said.
Addressing the Committee as it met to review recent political developments and discuss upcoming meetings, Mr. Mansour said that the announcement had come yesterday — the same day that Mr. Abbas had sent a letter to the Presidents of the Security Council and the General Assembly, as well as to the Secretary-General, expressing condemnation of the expanded settlement activities and objecting to the force being used by Israel against civilians.
In his briefing to the Committee, Mr. Mansour also reviewed other recent developments. He said that he was involved in collective efforts to encourage countries to formally recognize the State of Palestine. He asked all countries and all members of the Committee to continue their efforts in that regard. To date, 112 countries had recognized the State, and he hoped that more would soon follow.
The Observer said he hoped the Security Council would be able to adopt a resolution to declare the illegality of settlements, although a draft resolution to that effect had recently been voted down. Despite not being adopted, the resolution’s large number of co-sponsors — 135 countries — demonstrated wide support for its content, he said.
Palestine was also continuing its efforts with the diplomatic Quartet, which it hoped would adopt a statement outlining the parameters of a solution in line with what had been stated in the Security Council by the representative of the United Kingdom, on behalf also of France and Germany, when a single veto had been exercised. That statement had stressed, among other points, that Israeli settlements in the contested areas were illegal and that any adjustment of the borders would have to be agreed by the two States. Deliberations in support of stopping all illegal settlement activities continued among interested parties.
Additionally, he said, a meeting of the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) was planned for next week to consider a report of the Secretary-General on strengthening the management capacity of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
Also reviewing recent developments relating to the Palestinian situation, Abdou Salam Diallo, Committee Chairman, said that a number of States had formally declared or renewed their recognition of the State of Palestine over the past few months. A number of European Union member States had also upgraded the status of Palestinian representation in their capitals. On 5 February, the Quartet principals had met in Munich, Germany, where they had reiterated their support for concluding Israeli-Palestinian negotiations by September.
Among other developments, he noted that United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay had visited Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, saying at the end of her visit that the settlement of Israeli citizens in the Occupied Territory “should be stopped altogether”. He also recalled the single opposing vote to the 18 February draft resolution in the Security Council demanding that Israel cease those settlement activities.
He reported that, on 12 March, in the wake of the killing of five Israelis in the Itamar settlement, the Israeli Government had approved the construction of 500 houses in the West Bank Settlement.
The Committee then turned its attention to the Report of the United Nations International Meeting on the Question of Palestine, which had taken place on 7 and 8 March in Vienna. Mr. Diallo reviewed a summary of that report.
The theme of the Meeting had been “The urgency of addressing the plight of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons and detention facilities”. Representatives of 45 Governments, as well as international organizations, civil society and the media, were in attendance. The objective of the meeting was to raise awareness of the plight of Palestinian political prisoners and to strengthen the support of the international community for a solution to that issue — namely, their speedy release and reintegration into Palestinian society.
According to recent statistics, there were some 6,000 Palestinians held in 22 prisons and detention camps in Israel. Of those, about 300 were under the age of 15 and 37 were women. The organizers of the meeting had emphasized that the security of Israel was no justification for routine violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. They noted with concern that the conditions of detention centres were often extremely poor and, in some cases, life-threatening, and called upon Israel to guarantee that appropriate standards of detention were maintained and that all detainees were brought to trial without delay, among other demands.
“The participants expressed grave concern at Israel’s widespread use of administrative detention, without charges, trial or a right of defence,” said Mr. Diallo. He noted that the organizers of that Meeting had also taken note with interest of a suggestion to explore the possibility of raising the legal issue of the status of Palestinian political prisons with the appropriate legal bodies of the United Nations, including the International Court of Justice.
The Committee decided to take note of the Report of the United Nations International Meeting on the Question of Palestine.
It then turned its attention to the upcoming United Nations Latin American and Caribbean Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace, to be held in Montevideo, Uruguay on 29-31 March. The theme of that Meeting would be “The urgency of realizing a two-State solution”, said Mr. Diallo, who then reviewed the objectives.
Among other goals, the Montevideo conference sought to encourage broad international action, including by Latin American and Caribbean States, in support of a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the Palestinian question. The Meeting would examine obstacles and opportunities on the road to achieving that solution, and discuss the role of non-governmental actors in Latin America and the Caribbean in promoting a permanent settlement of the conflict.
Invitations had been sent to United Nations members and observers, parliamentarians, representatives of inter-governmental organizations and civil society, among others.
The Committee then approved the provisional programme of work for that Meeting.
In other business, the Committee bid farewell to Hamidon Ali, the representative of Malaysia and a longstanding member of the Committee. Mr. Ali addressed the Committee and thanked its members for their kind words.
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