Statement made by the representative of Madagascar at the 16th meeting of the Committee on 19 May 1976*
On behalf of my delegation I should like to make a brief statement now that we have arrived at the end of the first stage of our work.
Through you, Mr. Chairman, I wish to congratulate Ambassador Fall of Senegal for the effective way in which he has conducted our work. That has enabled us to prepare within the established time-limit a series of recommendations which I am sure will be unanimously adopted by the Committee. I would congratulate you, Sir, too and all the other officers of the Committee, in particular our brilliant Rapporteur. I would not wish to overlook all those among us who have participated in the meetings of the Drafting Group or the members of the Secretariat who have made it possible for us to complete our work.
On behalf of my delegation I wish to thank also the countries and organizations, such as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees and the League of Arab States, which were good enough to lend us their co-operation. I shall certainly be expressing the general opinion here when I stress the fruitful contributions of the delegations of the Arab countries affected by the conflict, and in particular the contributions of the representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization, to whom we have always listened with interest.
It is regrettable that despite the Chairman's invitation the delegation of Israel and the delegations of certain other Powers did not take the opportunity offered to them to come here and discuss with us the important questions that the Committee had to examine. At this time when the foundations of the awakening of Palestinian nationalism have been laid and when the masses of the people are rising up in opposition to oppression and in order to rid themselves of the occupation forces, those delegations have doubtless not yet realized that the ostrich policy does not pay and that it is not by avoiding discussion that they can hope to show their devotion to negotiated settlements and the restoration of peace to the regions concerned. For our part, we cannot but express our astonishment at the inability of those delegations to understand the urgency of the situation in Palestine, which, in our opinion, requires that — today more than ever — no opportunity be neglected to make progress towards the achievement of just and lasting solutions.
My delegation believes that Israel's participation in our work would have been profitable, if only to demonstrate that Israel has an interest in the search for peace that is at least equal to the interest-that the other parties to the conflict evidenced by coming here. But that does not mean that Israel's absence can in any way undermine the results of our work. At least that is my delegation's opinion.
The programme that we are going to adopt and present to the Security Council is characterized by political realism, moderation and good will, and therefore is self-recommendatory. The principles and considerations on which its preparation was based cannot but be supported by my delegation, and we agree that the question of Palestine is at the heart of the Middle East problem and that no solution to the problem can be envisaged which does not take into account the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.
As a co-sponsor of General Assembly resolutions 3236 (XXIX) and 3375 (XXX), our delegation recognizes the legitimate and inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to return to their homes and, to regain possession of their property, as well as their right to self-determination, sovereignty and national independence. For the same reason, we support the thesis that the participation of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people, is essential to all efforts, deliberations and conferences on the Middle East which are held under the auspices of the United Rations . Having always supported the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, we regard withdrawal from the territories occupied in violation of the principles of the Charter and the relevant resolutions of the United Nations as a basic element of the proposed programme, especially since the Palestinian people can fully and completely exercise their inalienable rights only in a liberated and independent Palestine.
Apart from the fact that it takes into account the foregoing considerations the programme itself seems to us to have other merits; in particular, it offers an integrated approach to a situation involving, at one the same time, the exercise of individual rights and national rights, the protection of civilian persons in times of war, withdrawal from occupied territories, peace-keeping, operations, interim administration, the establishment of communications, economic and technical assistance by the United Nations, and the restoration of peace. In a word, this is a very delicate and complicated situation, and the search for solutions to all those problems would have been very difficult if not impossible if our Committee had not been guided towards the following ideas:
First, to ensure an invincible legal basis for these recommendations; whether it is a question of the Palestinians' right to return, of the right to self-determination and independence, of the protection of civilian persons, or of the prohibition to establish new settlements and the requirement to withdraw from those already established, our basic texts are well known: they are the relevant resolutions of the United Nations and the 1949 Geneva Convention.
Secondly, to strengthen the role of the United Nations in the settlement process, by taking into account, as resolution 3376 (XXX) provides, all the powers conferred by the Charter upon the principal organs of the United Nations , without ignoring the fact that at the appropriate moment the parties to the conflict will have their role to play and must take the stage. We find here the recommendations on the provision of temporary peace-keeping forces, the provisional administration of the liberated territories by the United Nations, United Nations assistance in economic, technical and communications fields, and United Nations participation in the settlement of the problems of substance.
Thirdly, to call upon the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, well-known bodies that have had experience in Palestine, for the solution of logistical problems.
Finally, to demonstrate a practical spirit by dividing the problems into several chronological elements or phases, with the corresponding appropriate recommendations.
It will perhaps not be easy for those who have not participated in our work to realize the efforts we made in regard to the last point, where indeed, at least in connexion with two questions, our method of approaching the matter by elements or stages could give rise to doubts about our true intentions.
The first question relates to the recommendation on the establishment of a time-table of one year — that is, 1 January 1977 — for withdrawal. That recommendation should not, in our view, be interpreted by Israel as indicating that, if circumstances warranted it, we would not insist before that date on the complete cessation of an occupation which has lasted only too long. It should not be regarded either as authorization to that country to remain for a longer period in the territories occupied since 1948.
The second question concerns the exercise of the right of return by the Palestinians displaced since 1967. Those Palestinians would be able to return immediately and unconditionally, whereas those displaced since 19^8 would have to await the conclusion of other arrangements. The same restriction as those which I have just mentioned should apply here, and, as the representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization rightly said, this chronological priority does not mean that the return of the persons displaced in 1967 is more urgent than the return of the Palestinians expelled in 1948, nor that the right of a given group is more obvious than that of another. Our recommendation is dictated solely by practical, chronological considerations.
Having made those remarks, my delegation is happy to be able to join in the consensus in favour of the adoption of our report. We are sure that this report is an important contribution to the efforts being made to bring peace, justice and freedom to Palestine.
* Distributed in accordance with a decision of the Committee. English text based on the interpretation from the French.
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: 19/05/1976