COMMITTEE ON THE EXERCISE OF THE INALIENABLE RIGHTS
OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 65th MEETING
Held at Headquarters, New York,
on Monday, 4 May 1981, at 10.30 a.m.
Chairman: Mr. SARRE (Senegal)
Adoption of the agenda
Election of officers (continued)
Report of the Acting Chairman on his participation in the meeting of the Palestine national Council, held in Damascus, Syria
Report of the Rapporteur on the 2nd meeting of the Working Group, held on
22 April 1981
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 11.05 a.m.
ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA
1. The agenda was adopted.
ELECTION OF OFFICERS (continued)
2. The CHAIRMAN said that, as a result of intensive consultations and thanks to the goodwill of all concerned, it had been possible to reach a consensus on the proposal of the representative of India that all the previous officers should be re-elected for 1981. Accordingly, the post of Chairman would continue to be held by the representative of Senegal, the posts of Vice-Chairman by the representatives of Cuba and Afghanistan and the post of Rapporteur by the representative of Malta. If he heard no objections, he would take it that the Committee wished to approve the composition of the Bureau thus proposed.
3. It was so decided.
4. The CHAIRMAN thanked members of the Committee for having re-elected a representative of his country as Chairman. That tribute reflected the fact that Senegal had always sought to find a just settlement of the Middle East problem and to promote the exercise of all the rights of the Palestinian people. To that end, Senegalese heads of State had visited the region, and his country's representatives had always contributed their best efforts to the work of the Committee. Thanks to the spirit of co-operation prevailing in the Committee and to the support of all members of the Secretariat, in particular the Secretary-General and the Under-Secretary-General for Political and General Assembly Affairs, the Committee had made progress in promoting the rights of the Palestinian people; that momentum would be maintained with a view to bringing peace to the Middle East and restoring the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.
5. Mr. BUFFUM (Under-Secretary-General for Political and General Assembly Affairs), speaking on behalf of the Secretary-General, praised the important consensus reached in connexion with the election of officers; such progress would further expedite the Committee's programme of work.
REPORT OF THE ACTING CHAIRMAN ON HIS PARTICIPATION IN THE MEETING OF THE PALESTINE NATIONAL COUNCIL, HELD IN DAMASCUS, SYRIA
6. The CHAIRMAN said that, as a representative of the Committee, he had been invited by the Chairman of the Palestine National Council to attend its meeting held from 11 to 15 April 1981 in Damascus. The representatives of 65 countries and or organizations had participated in that meeting, a fact which reflected the extent to which the cause of the Palestinian people was of interest throughout the world. However, it had been the first time that a representative of the Committee had been present.
7. In his report to the Palestine National Council, he had described the background of the Committee's mandate and had outlined its activities directed towards improving the international public's understanding of the Palestinian problem. In that connexion, he had drawn attention to the work of the special session of the General Assembly, held in July 1980, and to that of the thirty-fifth regular session. He had also reported briefly on the results of the seminars held at Arusha and Vienna and on the proposals to hold additional seminars, for example in Asia and Latin America. The Palestine National Council had expressed appreciation for the remarkable work done by the Committee in improving understanding of the Palestinian cause. He had met with the Chairman of the National Council, with the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and with the Head of the PLO Political Department, all of whom had expressed gratitude for the Committee's efforts and had asked him, in particular, to thank the Secretary-General and the Under-Secretary-General for Political and General Assembly Affairs.
8. His participation in the work of the Palestine National Council had been very fruitful. It was clear, from the statements made, that hopes for a just, peaceful, honourable and lasting settlement of the problems facing the Palestinian people continued to be placed in the United Nations. Such faith should encourage the Committee in its task. Accordingly, he suggested that the decisions taken by the Council, as well as the documentation resulting from its meetings, should be studied by the Committee in the context of its mandate.
9. Mr. TERZI (Observer, Palestine Liberation Organization) remarked that the Committee would surely continue vigilantly to implement its mandate and to seek to find a feasible programme to ensure that the Palestinian people were able to exercise their inalienable rights, including their right to return to their homes and property, their right to self-determination and independence and their right to establish their own State on their own territory.
10. The recent meeting of the Palestine National Council had provided the Chairman with a better understanding of the way in which the Palestine Liberation Organization functioned and of its determination to recover the rights of the Palestinian people. The Palestine National Council was very grateful for the work of the Special Unit on Palestinian Rights, and it was particularly interesting to note that the effectiveness of the work of the Committee and of the Unit helped to strengthen the Palestinian people's faith in the effectiveness of the United Nations as a whole, especially at a time when many voices were hostile to the United Nations and attempts were being made to undermine its work. He expressed particular appreciation to the Government of Senegal for the support it had frequently extended to the Palestinian cause and assured members of the Committee that they would continue to enjoy the full support of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
REPORT OF THE RAPPORTEUR ON THE 2nd MEETING OF THE WORKING GROUP, HELD ON 22 APRIL 1981
11. Mr. GAUCI (Malta), Rapporteur, said that the Committee should take note of the fact that the representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization had become a member of the Palestine National Council. That was an important development as it would help to promote the exchange of information between the Committee and the Council.
12. Referring to the suggestion that had been made some 18 months earlier to the effect that the Committee might direct its efforts towards promoting understanding of the Palestine question and the rights of the Palestinian people, he said that recent news reports indicated that that was being achieved.
13. In connexion with its discussion of the Committee's programme of action for the coming year, the Working Group had held consultations on the election of the officers of the Committee. It had considered the possibility of taking practical steps within the United Nations to concentrate discussion on the question of Palestine and related issues. It had been suggested that the report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories and the report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People could be considered in a single debate. If members of the Committee agreed, consultations between the two Committees could proceed, so that at the next session of the General Assembly work on the question of Palestine and related matters could be more concentrated.
14. All the necessary arrangements concerning the proposed seminar in Sri Lanka had been completed and a date had been set. A list of proposed panelists had been distributed to Committee members. He hoped that it could be approved, so that the Special Unit on Palestinian Rights could send out the necessary invitations. The Working Group had suggested that the Committee should co-operate more closely with the Department of Public Information, to ensure, in particular, that all interested persons were aware of the forthcoming seminar in Sri Lanka.
15. Interest in Palestine had developed since the last meeting of the Working Group. In that connexion, he drew attention to the seminar to be organized by the Scottish trade unions. Negotiations were still under way to set a date for the seminar in Latin America and, although the first country which had been approached was unable to host that seminar, owing to the fact that the proposed dates were not convenient, he did not anticipate any major difficulty in organizing the seminar.
16. He recalled that the Committee had received an invitation from the Soviet Union to attend a meeting of the Soviet Afro-Asian Solidarity Committee. The Committee had been unable to accept a similar invitation some two years earlier, and it was to be hoped that the present invitation could be accepted. He suggested that whoever represented the Committee at the Sri Lanka seminar should also attend the meeting in the Soviet Union, provided that the latter meeting took place immediately prior to or immediately following the
17. With regard to the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, he pointed out that since 29 November would fall on a Sunday, it had been suggested that the observance should be scheduled for the following day. It might be better to devote only half a day to an actual meeting so that there would be time for the opening of exhibits, and screening of films. A list of studies, many of which were due to be published early in the summer, was currently being prepared. Finally he informed the Committee that work on the posters, stamps and exhibits was proceeding on schedule.
18. Mr. SHEHATA (Observer for Egypt) noted that the recent escalation of Israeli aggression in southern Lebanon had heightened tensions in that region. His delegation strongly condemned the Israeli aggression and its land and sea attacks and had expressed deep concern at the dangerous development. All parties involved had been called on to terminate those attacks, which had resulted in loss of life among Palestinians and Lebanese and were detrimental to the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. The Egyptian Government had made statements to that effect in a recent communiqué.
19. The Egyptian Government strongly objected to the Israeli plans outlined in document A/36/187 concerning a hydroelectric power project. Those plans were tantamount to a plot to annex more territory and to create a de facto permanent Israeli presence there. The Egyptian Government had expressed its opposition to the plans directly to the Israeli Government and had asked European countries to reject any requests for financial or technical participation in the project.
20. Finally, he pointed out that his Government had sent a reply to the Chief of the Special Unit on Palestinian Rights accepting the invitation to the Sri Lanka seminar. He asked why the Egyptian representatives were not listed in the document circulated by the Secretariat.
21. Mr. YOGASUNDRAM (Chief, Special Unit on Palestinian Rights) replied that the list contained the names of persons who were to present papers at the seminar. It had been his understanding that the individuals who would represent the Egyptian Government would be attending as observers.
22. Mr. SHEHATA (Egypt) pointed out that other observers were mentioned by name in the document. The representatives of his Government could also present a paper at the seminar.
23. Mr. TERZI (Observer, Palestine Liberation Organization) asked whether he was correct in assuming that panelists were selected on their own merits, not as representatives of their Governments.
24. The CHAIRMAN suggested that the matter should be clarified after the meeting.
25. Mr. TRAORE (Mali) said that the Repporteur had been quite right to emphasize the need for the conclusions of the Palestine National Council to be published within the framework of the activities of the Committee so as to make the work of the Committee known to a wider audience. Immediately after the meeting of the Palestine National Council, the Israeli authorities had issued a statement saying that the conclusions of that meeting were aimed solely at eliminating Israel. By publishing the conclusions, the Committee would be helping to clarify what had really been decided and to demonstrate that it was supporting a just cause.
26. He expressed some surprise at the fact that the Committee had been unable to accept the invitation from the Soviet Union to attend a meeting in that country. The Committee should make sure that it was able to accept such invitations, so that its work could be publicized all over the world.
27. Mr. YOGASUNDRAM (Chief, Special Unit on Palestinian Rights), in reply to a question from the representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said that the reports of the Arusha and Vienna seminars would be ready by the end of the month.
28. The CHAIRMAN pointed out that the first Latin American country which he had contacted in connexion with the seminar to be held in that continent could not host the seminar at the time which the Committee deemed most convenient. He had therefore contacted another country and hoped to have an answer within the next few days.
29. He suggested that members of the Committee who were interested in attending the Sri Lanka seminar should inform the Special Unit on Palestinian Rights, which would then contact the Working Group, so that a decision could be made.
30. It was so decided.
31. Mr. NIAK (Pakistan), reporting on the fifth ministerial meeting of the Jerusalem Committee of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which had been held on 23 and 24 April 1981 in Fez, Morocco, and which he had attended both as the representative of his country and as a member of the Committee, explained that the purpose of the meeting had been to conduct an exchange of views on ways of attaining common objectives. His Majesty King Hassan II of Morocco had presided over the meeting, which had also been attended by the Presidents of Bangladesh and Guinea. It was therefore clear that the Organization of the Islamic Conference attached the highest importance to the work of the Jerusalem Committee.
32. The deliberations of the fifth ministerial meeting had been conducted in the framework of the resolutions and final communiqué issued at the Third Islamic Conference, which were contained in document A/36/138, and specific measures had been selected for the implementation of those resolutions in various fields. The foremost objective was to mobilize world public opinion in order to achieve a just, comprehensive and lasting settlement in the Middle East, based on the well-known principles of the withdrawal of Israeli forces from all the occupied territories, the restoration of Jerusalem to Arab sovereignty and the implementation of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including their right to return to their own land and to establish an independent State there. Efforts would also be directed towards enabling the international community to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. Accordingly, the Jerusalem Committee had decided that the leaders of Moslem countries would contact the leaders of Western and other States, in particular the new United States Administration, as well as the leaders of the Latin American and other non-aligned countries, in order to ensure that the decisive, final stage of discussions on the Middle East issue was conducted at the highest political level.
33. Since another objective was to ensure a better understanding of the Palestinian cause, specific recommendations had focused on information activities, for example on the widest possible distribution of the document on the Holy City of Jerusalem, which was to be published shortly. Also with a view to gaining support for the Palestinian cause, it had been suggested that international seminars should be held in Washington, D.C., and in other Western capitals. Another important recommendation had concerned the establishment of associations similar to the France-Al-Quds Association. Additional details about such decisions would be contained in the final document of the fifth ministerial meeting, which was to be circulated shortly.
34. In conclusion, he noted that there was a need for greater co-operation between the Committee and other intergovernmental associations in order to ensure that all related efforts supplemented each other. Such co-operation was consistent with the relevant General Assembly resolutions, which recommended the strengthening of co-operation within the United Nations as well as with individual Governments and organizations (see resolution 35/169 D, paras. 4 and 5).
35. The CHAIRMAN thanked the representative of Pakistan for his report and asked the Rapporteur to take into account the very important recommendations of the Jerusalem Committee.
36. Mr. KACHURENKO (Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic) said that the thirteenth session of the Council of the Afro-Asian Peoples' Solidarity Organization had been held at Aden in Democratic Yemen from 20 to 26 March 1981. Delegations from most of the countries of Africa and Asia had attended the session and the Palestine Liberation Organization had been represented by its leader, Yassar Arafat. At a special meeting devoted to solidarity with the Arab people of Palestine, the Commission on the Middle East had adopted a special resolution on the Palestinian question. He suggested that the Working Group might study those documents, take account of them in its work and review the possibility of including their consideration in the work of the Committee.
37. The CHAIRMAN said that one member of the Committee, Guinea, had been present at the meeting in Aden in the person of Ambassador Coumbassa, who had attended in his capacity as member of the Special Committee against Apartheid. He suggested that the representative of Guinea might give an account of the Aden conference at a later meeting of the Committee.
38. Mr. TERZI (Observer, Palestine Liberation Organization) said it was common knowledge that Israel was escalating its genocidal attacks on the Palestinian people in southern Lebanon and as far north as Beirut and beyond. Menachem Begin had already spoken of working towards the destruction of the "PLO infrastructure". Such a statement was a matter of great concern and reflected the aims of the Israeli authorities, the military Junta and the Zionist movement with respect to the Palestinian people. Equally disconcerting was the statement made by Brigadier General Yaakov, an Israeli military chief, that Israel would "penetrate the so-called borders of the so-called sovereign State of Lebanon". It was a matter of some gravity when such statements were made by leading members of the Junta in Tel Aviv.
39. He had brought for the Committee's attention copies of "Al-Fajr", an English language newspaper published in Jerusalem, every item in which had been passed by the Israeli censor. That newspaper had reported interference in the election of the patriarch, which was a violation of the religious rights of Christians in Jerusalem, rights which had survived even in the Ottoman dark ages. Indeed, there was enough material in that publication for another letter to the Security Council, in order to draw the attention of the Commission established under resolution 446 (1979) to the events in the area.
40. He noted that the Secretariat's résumé of developments affecting Palestinian rights, dated 3 April 1981, contained much information which was out of date, including reports which had appeared in the press as long ago as December 1980. That was of little use to a Committee which was supposed to exercise vigilance and observe the latest developments in the region.
41. He was pleased to say that the previous day, in reply to the Secretary-General's statement of 1 May 1980 appealing for observance of the cease-fire, Chairman Arafat had affirmed the commitment of the Palestine Liberation Organization to promises and undertakings made at the Arab summit conference and to the Secretary-General of the United Nations concerning military operations or shelling from Lebanese territory directed at occupied Palestine. However, it was difficult to do nothing when subjected to the most brutal attacks.
42. He was distressed that the United States of America had appeared to give the green light to Israeli attacks through statements made by the Chief of the National Security Council, who had said that Israel had ample justification to attack so-called terrorists.
43. Finally, he felt that the Committee should take note of all the acts of aggression and issue a statement reflecting its position as soon as possible.
44. Mr. KACHURENKO (Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic) agreed that the Committee should react to events in Palestine. It would do well to follow the example of the Special Committee against Apartheid, which periodically published statements to be circulated as General Assembly documents under specific agenda items and also issued a series of press releases concerning the questions before it.
45. The CHAIRMAN said that, while there had indeed been some delay in the publication of material relating to certain events, he would like to stress that, as Acting Chairman, he had had occasion to draw the attention of the Secretary-General and the Security Council to events affecting the occupied territories at the request of the Special Unit on Palestinian Rights.
46. Mr. YOGASUNDRAM (Chief, Special Unit on Palestinian Rights) said that the old material had been included in the résumé because it had appeared in journals which were not normally available to the Unit. The material in question had been considered useful, not because of its topicality, but because it might help the Committee better understand the origins of certain problems.
47. Mr. GAUCI (Malta) said that over the years the Committee had acted when necessary on information from the daily press and from the parties concerned. That pattern should continue. He felt it would be useful if the Special Unit on Palestinian Rights distinguished between current events and recurring events of a historical nature. It would also be of great benefit to the Unit if it had at its disposal the most relevant and revealing sources of information. Accordingly, arrangements should be made to ensure that the Unit received all English language publications that could help it in its work.
The meeting rose at 12.40 p.m.