Statement made by the representative of Turkey at the 10th meeting of the Committee on 31 March 1976*
I believe that the task of this Committee is important on two counts. It is important, first of all, because the matters the Committee is called upon to tackle are crucial.
But it is important also for another reason. During the debate in the General Assembly a number of countries opposed the resolution creating our Committee. There might therefore, be an expectation and impression that our Committee could not achieve much. We have to prove that this scepticism is erroneous and that we can make a real and substantial contribution to the momentum that the movement to settle the Palestinian question has gathered over the last two years.
The position of Turkey with regard to Palestine has been clearly evident for almost a century. When the Zionist movement which started in the nineteenth century was gaining strength, its leader Theodor Herzl approached the Sultan Abdul Hamid with the aim of securing permission to establish a Jewish State in Palestine, then part of the Province of Syria, in the Ottoman Empire. This demand was unequivocally rejected despite the offer he made to pay off the Ottoman debt to European creditors and to finance the most elaborate economic programmes. After the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire and the establishment of the Republic of Turkey, the close spiritual and cultural bonds between the Turkish and Arab peoples continued unaltered. In consistency with this historical stand, in 1947 we stood for the granting of independence to Palestine when at that time the Arab inhabitants were in the overwhelming majority, and we voted against resolution 181 (ll) calling for the partition of Palestine. We have continuously supported the principle that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live in peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so. Turkey, from the very beginning, has been closely associated with the discussion of the question of Palestine in the United Nations. Indeed, we are a member of the Palestine Conciliation Commission, which was created by resolution 194 (III) in 1948. We are also a member of,the Working Group on the Financing of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which was established in 1970 by the General Assembly to assist the Secretary-General and the Commissioner-General of UNRWA in raising funds for the support of the Agency. Recently, we supported the historic resolution 3236 (XXIX), adopted by the General Assembly in 1974, defining and reaffirming the inalienable rights of the Palestinians, including their rights to self-determination and to independence and sovereignty, and their right to return to their homes and property' from which they have been displaced and uprooted.
In the larger context of the Middle East problem we have always maintained that Israel should immediately and unconditionally withdraw from all the territories it has occupied since 1967, and that a settlement should make it possible for all the countries in the area to safeguard their independence, their sovereignty and the security of their borders.
The principles to which we adhered have, as a matter of fact, been increasingly endorsed by the international community as a basis for a peaceful and just solution of the question of Palestine, and hence of the problem of the Middle East as a whole. The work of our Committee will proceed, therefore, within a well-delineated framework.
It is in the light of these considerations that we have listened with great interest to the statements made by the representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Egypt, Syria and Jordan. Those statements, revealing once more the magnitude of the injustice done to the Palestinian people, have further enlightened us about the roots and implications of the problems we are facing and have helped to clarify the perceptions of the parties directly concerned regarding the ways of solving them. Our task is not -an easy one, as the voluminous document of unimplemented United Nations resolutions bears out. But, on the other hand, we draw encouragement from the developments since from the adoption of resolutions 3236 (XXIX), 3375 (XXX) and 3376 (XXX) by the General Assembly, from the wider recognition and support for the PLO and the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people in Palestine, and from the deliberations of the Security Council in January and last week.
The objective of our work is to elaborate a programme of implementation as defined in resolution 3376 (XXX). There is no doubt that, as our discussions progress, we shall gradually identify the elements which such a programme should encompass. But we can perhaps already offer our comments regarding various ideas and suggestions put forward in the statements we have heard so far.
As has already been pointed out, we have to determine the ways and means to employ regarding contacts with various States and international organizations, as stipulated in operative paragraph 5 of the resolution. We have already decided to invite the PLO, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Jordan and Mauritania to take part in our deliberations. It has been suggested that we should also establish contact with Israel. We know, of course, the initial negative attitude of the Israeli Government, but this should not prevent us from making our position clear in this respect.
The possibility of appropriate consultations with the members of the Security Council, with its permanent members in particular, has also been mentioned. We think that this is very pertinent, since the programme of implementation will inevitably require some action by the Security Council. We have already received data from the High Commissioner of UNRWA on displaced Palestinians, and I suppose that we might eventually decide to contact other organizations and agencies, as was suggested at our meeting yesterday.
On the substance of the programme, the representative of the PLO has limited his early suggestions to the rights of Palestinians to return to their homes, indicating that later he will provide us with suggestions concerning the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty. His central idea within this framework was that the Committee should recommend, as a first step, the exercise of the right of return of Palestinians displaced from territories occupied since June 1967. We consider that that suggestion reflects a judicious approach and believe that it should be very carefully studied in all its aspects.
In this respect the representative of India has asked for certain clarifications and we have heard a supplementary statement by the representative of the PLO which further elucidated the issues involved. We are also looking forward to the suggestions that the representative of the PLO has promised to make to us regarding the right to.self-determination, national independence and sovereignty of the Palestinian people.
The representative of Egypt has reminded us that his Government calls for the reconvening of the Peace Conference on the Middle East with the participation of the Palestine Liberation Organization on an equal footing, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 3375 (XXX). We do not know at the present time the degree to which this call is actively supported by the participants in the Geneva Conference and other concerned parties, and to what extent it can be integrated into a programme of implementation. However, we see merits in the Egyptian approach,as this could lead to another step in the direction of bolstering the role of the PLO in the quest for peace. In this connexion, I think that we have to take into consideration eventually the need to inject into the programme of implementation a process of negotiations.
It is clear that the report which this Committee will produce will entail action on the part of the Security Council, as the representative of Syria particularly emphasized. What we should recommend to the Security Council is a delicate matter and we are all aware of the limits which we are confronting in this respect. However, the Security Council at its meetings in January, although it failed to adopt a resolution, definitely indicated a constructive change in its approach to the inalienable rights of the Palestinians. The recent discussion in the Council in connexion with the situation in the occupied Arab territories has further strengthened this tendency and has underlined a greater awareness of the problems and more determined support for the principles which should form a basis for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. We might perhaps explore, inter alia, the possibilities existing for the adoption by the Security Council in due time of a resolution which would preserve the substance of the draft presented by six countries in January.
I have outlined the initial views and comments of my delegation. As the parties mainly concerned expand and complement their suggestions, we shall try to contribute further to our discussions. It goes without saying that in doing so we shall continue to be inspired by our sincere desire to join our efforts with those of other countries in the search for a lasting and just peace in the Middle East and by our unflinching support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, to which we feel attached by deep-rooted bonds.
* Distributed in accordance with a decision of the Committee.
Document Type: Statement
Document Sources: Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), General Assembly, Special Unit on Palestinian Rights (SUPR) (See also - CEIRPP > DPR)
Subject: History, Middle East situation, Palestine question
Publication Date: 31/03/1976