COMMITTEE ON THE EXERCISE OF THE INALIENABLE
RIGHTS OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 20th MEETING
Held at Headquarters, New York,
on Friday, 15 April 1977, at 10.30 a.m.
Chairman: Mr. FALL (Senegal)
Organization of work
This record is subject to correction.
Corrections should be submitted in one of the working languages, preferably in the same language as the text to which they refer. They should be set forth in a memorandum and also, if possible, 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 LX-2332.
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 11.05 a.m.
ORGANIZATION OF WORK
1. The CHAIRMAN said that the purpose of the meeting was to exchange views on activities which the Committee might undertake in order effectively to promote the recognition and exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 31/20. In that resolution the Assembly had urged the Security Council to consider once again the recommendations made by the Committee in its first report, taking into account the observations made during the Assembly's discussion on the question of Palestine. That request to the Security Council was very important, first, because the implementation of most of the Committee's recommendations required the active involvement of the Security Council and, secondly, because the discussion in the General Assembly had revealed that there was virtual unanimity on the importance of the Palestine issue in reaching a settlement of the Middle East conflict and on the recognition of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people as a fundamental element in any peaceful solution to the problems of that region. Accordingly, the Committee should strive to ensure that the Security Council took positive action when it was next called upon to consider the problem of Palestine and the establishment of just and lasting peace in the Middle East.
2. Mr. TERZI (Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization reported that a political communiqué had been issued after the recent ministerial meeting of the Bureau of the Non-Aligned Countries. Two paragraphs of that communiqué were relevant to the work of the Committee; in one, the Bureau noted with satisfaction that the General Assembly had adopted the Committee's report and, in the second, it called upon the Security Council to take measures for the immediate implementation of the Committee's recommendations so as to enable the Palestinian people to exercise their inalienable national rights, as a prerequisite for just and lasting peace in the Middle East. The Bureau had also referred to the decision taken at the Fifth Conference of Non-Aligned Countries on the need to bring pressure on Israel in the United Nations and its specialized agencies, especially in the Security Council, with a view to securing Israel's compliance with United Nations resolutions. In that connexion the communiqué referred specifically to the use by the United States of its veto in the Security Council in June 1976.
3. The CHAIRMAN said that in view of the fact that the General Assembly had in resolution 31/20 urged the Security Council to take measures to ensure the exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, the Committee should endeavour to gauge the attitude which the countries concerned might take in future discussions of the subject in the Security Council. To that end, he proposed, subject to the Committee's consent, to send letters to the permanent representatives of Israel and of five Western States – the United States, France, the United Kingdom, the Federal Republic of Germany and Canada – which were members of the Security Council. He had selected certain encouraging statements made by official representatives of those States and would, in the letters which he was proposing to send, ask the permanent representatives whether those statements did in fact reflect the official position of their Governments. Their replies would supply useful background material for the Committee for the coming Security Council discussion on the Middle East question. In the case of the United States, for example, he had selected a statement made by the President on 16 March 1977 and a statement made by the former Permanent Representative during the Security Council discussion in January. Similarly, the representative of the Netherlands had made a statement in the General Assembly on 28 September 1976 on behalf of the European Economic Community; the Committee's letters to the permanent representatives of the United Kingdom, France and the Federal Republic of Germany would ask whether their Governments endorsed that statement. In the
case of Israel, he had selected a statement made by the Foreign Minister during the visit of the United States Secretary of State in mid-February 1977. In each case the Committee would request a reply in writing as to whether the
statements cited correctly represented the position of the Governments involved.
4. Mr. GAUCI (Malta) supported the Chairman's proposals; it followed from the report of the Committee to the General Assembly that the countries mentioned should share with the Committee their latest thinking on a situation which was continuously changing. In that connexion, the Committee should be in a position to act rapidly whenever necessary and should therefore have available a task force to keep abreast of events in the Middle East region and call a meeting of the entire Committee when required. The Committee already had a small subsidiary body, which had been formed as a drafting group but could also perform the role he envisaged for the task force.
5. The CHAIRMAN suggested that one of the three new members of the Committee, namely, Guyana, should also be a member of the task force.
6. Mr. TÜRKMEN (Turkey) supported the Chairman's ideas on stimulating the work of the Committee. He was not sure, however, that the proposed letters to the permanent representatives of Israel and certain Western Governments would have any practical results. There would probably be no reply from Israel and the replies of the other Western representatives were likely to take the form of confirming that the statements made did indeed reflect their Governments' policy on the Middle East and Palestine questions, but that implementation of the political objectives referred to in them depended on negotiations between all the parties concerned.
7. He believed that the Committee should sound out other Security Council members on the issue of timing and on how best to approach the Security Council on the Palestine question. It should also solicit the views of Arab countries on the latest diplomatic initiatives in connexion with the Middle East question.
8. The CHAIRMAN said that the answer which the Committee needed to receive from the permanent representatives was precisely that the statements concerned did reflect their Governments' position, but that the political aims expressed therein had to be realized within the framework of negotiations. Those Governments would then be unable to deny the Palestine Liberation Organization a place at the negotiating table at any time in the future. The main purpose of the action was to strengthen the Committee's case when it brought the question of Palestine before the Security Council, by confronting members of the Security Council with their own written endorsements of a policy line with which the Committee's recommendations were entirely consistent. Above all, members of the Security Council had to be induced to respect the resolutions of the General Assembly which stipulated that the Palestine Liberation Organization should participate fully in the Geneva peace negotiations as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
9. Mr. DATCU (Romania) said that his delegation had always taken the view that the Committee should take practical steps to fulfil its mandate. The Chairman's suggestions were a step in the right direction.
10. It was clear that certain members of the Security Council were indeed beginning to adopt a more realistic attitude towards solving the Middle East conflict, and recognizing the right of the Palestinian people to a national identity. The Security Council acknowledged the desirability of reconvening the Geneva Conference, and the main point at issue was still whether the Palestine Liberation Organization should be allowed to participate in that Conference on an equal footing with the other parties. Accordingly, it was vital that an active dialogue should be established between the Committee and the participants in the Geneva Conference with a view to promoting a negotiated solution to that problem. The Committee might well be able to clarify or even influence the position of participants to that end, since it had already demonstrated its impartiality. One step in that direction would be the sending of the suggested letters.
11. He agreed with Malta's proposal on a task force to keep abreast of international developments and diplomatic initiatives and report to the Committee as necessary.
12. Mr. VUKOVIC (Yugoslavia) said that, while the suggestions so far made would help to clarify the future role of the Committee, he would have preferred the Committee to adopt a different approach. The intention when the Committee had been established had been that it would maintain contact with the parties concerned and send missions to individual countries in order to find out their exact position and to put the views of the Committee to them. The action so far proposed was more in the nature of administrative correspondence than of real contact. Besides, under General Assembly resolution 3376 (XXX), the Committee was required to establish direct contact at governmental level rather than at the level of permanent representatives in preparation for the debate in the Security Council. He accordingly proposed that a mission should be sent to the Governments in question to discuss the Committee's report, so that the Committee would be better prepared for the Security Council debate and would demonstrate that it was taking overt political action.
13. Mr. ABDALLAH (Tunisia) agreed that it would be useful to send letters to the permanent representatives concerned but, like Romania, felt that the Committee should try to be more dynamic. As the target date set by the Committee was drawing close, he believed that the Committee should take speedy action; it might even send a mission to the Foreign Ministers of the countries concerned. The suggestions made so far were not mutually exclusive and, together, they would help to clarify the issue for all delegations both in New York and in the regions.
14. The CHAIRMAN explained that he had suggested the letter-writing procedure in the light of his own earlier experience. In 1976, prior to the Security Council debate on the question of Palestine, he had contacted all the permanent members of the Security Council. At that time, the Permanent Representative of the United States had indicated that he was in a position to endorse the Committee's report, but at the ensuing meeting of the Security Council he had not done so, and there had been no written proof of the assurances given to the Committee Chairman. So, if the Security Council was to be induced to endorse the Committee's point of view, its members had to be persuaded to give a written statement of their position, especially as some of them argued that because they had not voted in favour of resolution 3376 (XXX), they were not obliged to recognize the Committee.
15. As far as publicity was concerned, it was for members of the Committee to decide whether and how they wished to publicize its work. On the matter of direct contact with Governments, it had to be remembered that there was no time to lose if the Committee's information and views on the question of Palestine were to be brought before the Security Council before the end of June. In his experience, missions were time-consuming, and there was no reason why the permanent representatives in New York should not answer for their own Governments.
16. Mr. GAUCI (Malta) agreed that the first step should be to send letters to the permanent representatives concerned. Once that had been done, other suggestions made at the current meeting could be discussed and appropriate measures taken to increase the Committee's dynamism. The task force might be asked to examine the suggestions and to consult the Chairman on the possibilities open to the Committee; it could then suggest appropriate action to the Committee.
17. Mr. TERZI (Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization) agreed that the Committee should make written contact with the permanent representatives of the countries concerned in order to ensure that their Governments, some of which had previously refused to recognize the Committee, entered into contact with it. In his view, to send a mission to the countries concerned would, as matters stood, be a waste of time and effort. The Committee would also benefit from finding out the views of the Arab countries with regard to current efforts to reconvene the Geneva Conference. The task force should compile the views expressed by delegations at the thirty-first session of the General Assembly, together with the replies sent by permanent representatives in response to the letters suggested by the Chairman, so that the Committee would be able to put concrete information before the Security Council in May, when the Council President would be a member of the group of non-aligned countries.
18. Mr. MAUERSBERGER (German Democratic Republic) agreed that it might be useful to send the proposed letters to certain Member States, in particular those which were not yet prepared to co-operate with the Committee. Every possible means should be used to advance the work of the Committee, including contacts with permanent representatives and Governments and making statements before such bodies as the Economic and Social Council. His delegation would support any idea which might advance the preparations for a meeting of the Security Council on the question of the rights of the Palestinian people. He agreed that the task force had proved useful during the previous year and that it should continue its work.
19. Mr. MULYE (India) supported the Chairman's suggestion that letters should be sent to certain Western countries and to Israel.
20. With reference to the observations on timing made by the representative of Turkey, he agreed with the Chairman that any discussion of the question of the rights of the Palestinian people by the Security Council would probably take place in May or June. However, the question of timing could not be looked at in isolation; the situation in the region itself also had to be considered.
21. The suggestion made by the representative of Yugoslavia also deserved careful consideration before any final decision was taken.
22. Mr. SIBAHI (Observer for the Syrian Arab Republic) said that his delegation entirely agreed with the suggestions made by the Chairman. On the other hand, while it might be useful to send delegations to establish direct contact with Governments, the administrative and financial obstacles to the dispatch of such missions were likely to be formidable.
23. He agreed with the representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization that a meeting of the Security Council should be convened at a time when the Presidency was occupied by a non-aligned country. He also agreed with the representative of Tunisia that the Committee should act as rapidly as possible, given the limited time remaining before the opening of the thirty-second session of the General Assembly.
24. The CHAIRMAN said that, if he heard no objection, he would take it that the Committee wished letters to be sent to the permanent representatives of Canada, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
25. It was so decided.
26. The CHAIRMAN said that, in conjunction with the Secretariat, he would investigate the possibility of establishing direct contact between the Committee and Governments, although he was not very optimistic as to the outcome. Given the limited time available, it might be better to hold discussions with permanent representatives in New York.
The meeting rose at 12.35 p.m.