COMMITTEE ON THE EXERCISE OF THE INALIENABLE RIGHTS
OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 64th MEETING
Held at Headquarters, New York,
on Monday, 30 March 1981, at 3 p.m.
Chairman: Mr. SARRE (Senegal)
Election of officers (continued)
This record is subject to correction.
Corrections should be submitted in one of the working languages. They should be set forth in a memorandum and also incorporated in a copy of the record. They should be sent within one week of the date of this document to the Chief, Official Records Editing Section, Department of Conference Services, room A-3550, 866 United Nations Plaza.
Any corrections to the record of this meeting and of other meetings will be issued in a corrigendum.
The meeting was called to order at 3.45 p.m.
ELECTION OF OFFICERS (continued)
1. The CHAIRMAN said that the Committee had authorized the present officers to continue their work on a provisional basis and had decided to elect new officers for 1981 at a later meeting. The representative of India had suggested that all officers should be re-elected but, as some delegations had been opposed to that suggestion, consultations had been necessary. The consultations had not borne fruit and it had become urgent to settle the matter. Through the Palestine Liberation Organization, the President of the Palestine National Council had invited the Committee to attend the Council's annual meeting in Damascus. The Committee had agreed that it would be represented by its Chairman and must take a final decision on the election of its officers at the present meeting. The Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization had therefore postponed his departure for Damascus so that he could transmit the Committee's reply to the Palestine National Council. As agreement had not been reached on the Indian proposal, perhaps another delegation might be able to make a suggestion in order to put an end to the stalemate.
2. Mr. GAUCI (Malta) said that the meeting of the Palestine National Council was of special importance to the Committee, which had been invited to attend for the first time and which should not miss the opportunity of being represented by a duly elected Chairman having the support of all members. He therefore suggested that despite the normal practice of the Committee, which was to elect all its officers at the same time, a new Chairman should be elected at the present meeting and that the other officers should continue their work until a decision was reached on the matter.
3. Mr. TRAORE (Mali) said that he fully supported the proposal of the representative of Malta, although he regretted that the Committee had not yet succeeded in effectively solving the problem of elections, as it had very important work before it. He wished to complement the Maltese proposal by calling on the Committee to agree that all officers other than the Chairman should continue on a provisional basis until a solution was found.
4. Mr. SREENIVASAN (India) said that the Maltese proposal was acceptable to him if it maintained the status quo, i.e. if all officers were provisionally re-elected until such time as the matter was solved in the consultations and definitive elections could take place. However, he could not support the proposal if a distinction was made between the different offices.
5. Mr. SCHRÖTER (German Democratic Republic) said that thus far the officers had carried out their mandate to the full and there was therefore no reason not to maintain the same appointments, as the representative of India had suggested. His own delegation was firmly opposed to any futile debate which detracted the Committee's attention from the more serious problem of upholding the inalienable rights of the Palestinians. Anyone who put obstacles in the way of the work of the Committee in order to defend specific political interests would be entirely responsible for the consequences.
6. Mr. GAUCI (Malta) said that it was unnecessary to harden existing positions. Nothing had changed: the consultations were continuing, the officers were carrying out their duties on a provisional basis and there was no question of going back on decisions which had already been taken. The only new element was the important invitation to attend, at a critical moment for the Palestinians, the meeting of the Palestine National Council, which had clearly indicated that it wished to see the Committee represented by an elected and not an acting Chairman. The time factor must also be taken into account, since the Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization had postponed his departure in order to have a reply from the Committee that day.
7. Mr. KHANDOGY (Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic) said that he was opposed to a separate election for the Chairman and other officers, as it might create a precedent which might make the task expected of the Committee by the Palestinian people even more difficult. The reappointment of all members of the Bureau should not create any problem as they had all done excellent work in 1980. It was regrettable that the Committee, whose task was to defend the inalienable rights of a whole people should become enmeshed in unnecessary discussions as a consequence of narrow political objectives. He supported the Indian proposal.
8. Mr. SOURINHO (Lao People's Democratic Republic) appealed for a spirit of goodwill to permit the Committee to find a compromise solution to a problem which had taken up too much of its time. A consensus, which his delegation had supported had seemed to be emerging in favour of the Indian proposal. His delegation was of the opinion that the officers had given complete satisfaction, as had been noted by the Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization, the only authentic representative of the Palestinian people. To wish to introduce into the Committee differences between certain countries on other matters in other forums could only harm the cause of the Palestinian people, who had been driven out of their country and dispossessed of all they owned. It was time to bring an end to discussions of matters that were trifling in comparison with the suffering of the Palestinian people. The Committee, which was dedicated to the cause of justice, should not commit an injustice by ousting an officer who had always shown his dedication to the goals of the Committee.
9. Mr. HA HUY TAN (Observer for Viet Nam) said that during 1980 the members of the Committee, and its officers in particular, had made every effort to carry out the mandate entrusted to it by the General Assembly. It therefore seemed appropriate to extend the officers' term of appointment as the representative of India had suggested. A more urgent task was awaiting the Committee – that of settling the Palestinian problem and taking up the challenge made by the Zionist authorities to the international community.
10. Mr. HALIM (Malaysia) said that, in view of the urgent need to take a decision on the election of officers, he supported the Maltese proposal, which was reasonable in that it made it possible for the Chairman to have the desired authority when attending the discussions in Damascus.
11. Mr. NAIK (Pakistan) observed that established practice accorded the regional groups complete freedom to decide amongst themselves on the composition of the Bureau. The fact that in the present case the regional groups had spent several months discussing the matter without reaching an agreement meant that the matter was particularly sensitive. Other United Nations bodies had experienced the same kind of difficulty and had always reached a compromise solution. Nobody was questioning the commitment of any of the officers to the Palestinian cause. However, it was important that the Committee should be represented by a duly elected Chairman at the Damascus meeting, which would be of considerable importance for the cause. He therefore fully supported the Maltese proposal.
12. Mrs. UNAYDIN (Turkey) said that, without wishing to prejudice the outcome of the consultations on the composition of the Bureau, she supported the Maltese proposal in view of the urgency of the matter. The Chairman must be unanimously elected prior to the Damascus meeting.
13. Mr. BUDAI (Hungary) said that his delegation, like many others, could not accept the solution of separate elections. All the officers merited the Committee's support. He therefore supported the Indian proposal and regretted that the lengthiness of the consultations had prevented the Committee from proceeding with its main task.
14. Mr. TERZI (Observer, Palestine Liberation Organization) expressed regret that three months had proved insufficient for the Committee to appoint its officers – which was difficult for him to announce to the National Council – and did not see how the Committee could be represented at Damascus by an acting Chairman. It was the practice for regional groups to decide together on the appointment of officers. When the Committee had first been established, one of the regional groups had waived its rights in that respect, as it was of the opinion that the Palestinian cause transcended matters of geographical division. Had that group thereby done a service – or a disservice – to the Palestinian cause? However that might be, he urged members of the Committee to forget their differences. The Committee was heterogeneous but that diversity was itself the symbol of the unity of all for the Palestinian cause and the sacredness of that cause.
15. Mr. IBRAHIM (Indonesia) said that the election of officers was an important matter and that the proposal of the representative of Malta was the most acceptable and most reasonable. His delegation therefore supported it.
16. Mr. ADEYEMI (Nigeria) said that the Committee had a duty to do everything possible to overcome all internal obstacles which might hamper it in its work. In view of the importance of the Damascus meeting, it would be unwise to send an acting Chairman and it was therefore preferable to delegate a duly elected Chairman with full powers. The decision on the definitive appointment of officers could be taken at a later meeting.
17. He urged members of the Committee to put the Palestinian cause above all other considerations in order to allow the Palestinian people to exercise its inalienable rights as speedily as possible. For that reason his delegation was in favour of the proposal of the representative of Malta, supported by India.
18. Mr. GAUCI (Malta) recalled that his country had stated its official position at a previous meeting and would have liked all the officers to be elected. However, the consultations which had taken place on the subject had indicated that the election was raising difficulties for certain delegations. In order to get out of the current impasse and in view of the Committee's commitment to the Palestinian cause, his delegation proposed once again that all the officers should be elected; failing that, the Committee should at least elect its Chairman, in order to be properly represented at the meeting of the National Council of the PLO, with the understanding that consultations would continue in the meantime.
19. Mr. SREENIVASAN (India) explained that his delegation supported the proposal initially made by the representative of Malta to the effect that the Committee should elect all the officers. Any attempt to draw a distinction between the various members of the Bureau would be unacceptable. However, should it not be possible to elect all the officers, it would be advisable for the Committee to accept the invitation to attend the meeting of the Palestine National Council and decide to be represented at that meeting by an acting Chairman.
20. Mr. KHANDOGY (Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic) asked whether it would be possible for an acting Chairman to participate at the session of the Palestine National Council without having his candidature endorsed at the present meeting in accordance with the proposal put forward by the delegation of India. If so, he proposed that that solution should be adopted.
21. Mr. SOURINHO (Lao People's Democratic Republic) asked the Chairman whether he had participated in the summit meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Ministerial Meeting of the Non-aligned Countries as acting Chairman or as Chairman. He feared that to send an acting Chairman to Damascus because the officers had not been elected would tarnish the image of the Committee. He therefore appealed to the members of the Committee not to oppose the re-election of all the officers at its current meeting.
22. The CHAIRMAN said he had attended the meeting of the Islamic Conference and the Ministerial Meeting of the Non-aligned Countries as a representative of the Committee and not as its Chairman.
23. The fact that the Committee had been unable to achieve a consensus on such an important question as the election of its officers by no means implied that the Committee was disinterested in the Palestinian issue. Consequently, in view of the appeal made by the representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization and in the interest of unity and solidarity, he asked the members of the Committee to agree to the proposal of the representative of Malta, with the understanding that they should finally solve the problem of the election of officers during the month of April.
24. Mr. TERZI (Palestine Liberation Organization) said he did not recall having recommended that the proposal put forward by the representative of Malta should be supported.
25. The CHAIRMAN said he thought that the representative of the PLO had stated that it would be unfortunate for the representative of the Committee to attend the meeting of the Palestine National Council without being able to announce that the officers had been elected and that in view of the circumstances it would perhaps be advisable for an acting Chairman to represent the Committee.
26. Mr. TERZI (Palestine Liberation Organization) said he fully realized that the Committee could ask anyone, including an acting Chairman, to represent it. However, according to the letter and instructions that he had received, the invitation was addressed to the Chairman and not to a representative of the Committee.
27. Mr. SHAMMA (Observer for Jordan) said that many Committee members appeared to think that it would be inadvisable to send an acting Chairman to the session of the Palestine National Council. The Committee currently had before it two proposals: one was to elect a Chairman and to hold consultations prior to electing the other officers, and the other was to elect all the officers. He hoped that, in the interest of solidarity with the cause of the Palestinian people, the Committee would be able to choose one of the proposals before the end of the current meeting.
28. The CHAIRMAN said that the meeting would be suspended in order to allow
delegations to hold fresh consultations.
The meeting was suspended at 4.50 p.m. and resumed at 6.15 p.m.
29. The CHAIRMAN suggested that, with a view to arriving at a consensus in regard to safeguarding the interests of the Palestinian people, the meeting should be adjourned and the election of the officers should be postponed until his return from Damascus, where he could represent the Committee at the meeting of the Palestine National Council.
30. Mr. SY (Senegal) noted the absence of the interpretation services and summarized in English the Chairman's suggestion that he should represent the Committee in Damascus as acting Chairman.
31. Mr. TRAORE (Mali) requested clarification; he had been under the impression that the Chairman in his statement, had simply indicated that he would represent the Committee, whereas the representative of Senegal was saying that the Chairman would do so in his capacity as acting Chairman.
32. The CHAIRMAN specified that if he went to Damascus it would be as acting Chairman and not as Chairman, since he had not yet been elected.
33. Mr. TRAORE (Mali) observed that the representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization had not invited an acting Chairman to the meeting in Damascus.
34. Mr. SY (Senegal) summarized in English the statement of the representative of Mali.
35. Mr. GAUCI (Malta) said he was under the impression from the consultations that had taken place that the Chairman wanted to arrange for the Committee to meet and settle the question of representation before the meeting in Damascus. In the view of his delegation, the Chairman should represent the Committee at the highest level in Damascus, exercising fully his powers as Chairman, in accordance with the invitation of the Palestine National Council. It was to be hoped that the Committee would be able to settle that question before the departure of the Chairman.
36. Mr. SY (Senegal) summarized in French the statement of the representative of Malta.
37. The CHAIRMAN suggested that the Committee should meet on Thursday, 2 or Friday, 3 April.
38. Mr. NAIK (Pakistan) said he would prefer that the date should not be fixed yet because the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and his Minister for Foreign Affairs were currently abroad carrying out the conciliatory mission entrusted to them by the Islamic Conference and he had to wait for their return in order to receive instructions.
39. The CHAIRMAN summarized in French the statement of the representative of Pakistan.
40. He urged the members of the Committee to bear in mind the Palestinian cause. He recalled that the Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization had stressed that the invitation to Damascus had been addressed to the elected Chairman and not to the acting Chairman. Since the Committee took its decisions by consensus and had not as yet elected its Chairman, he had suggested that the Committee should not be represented. However, as such absence could be very badly construed by world opinion and by the National Council itself, he would be prepared to go to Damascus, provided that he received the Committee's authorization. He expected. though, that before his departure, or at least before his return, the Committee would have reached agreement on the composition of the Bureau.
41. Mr. SY (Senegal) summarized in English the statement by the Chairman.
The meeting rose at 6.30 p.m.