Statement made by the representative of the Arab League at the 13th meeting of the Committee on 22 April 1976*
One of the main reasons behind the creation of the United Nations was to establish international peace and security which had both been shattered by the Second World War. Thus, the Charter of this Organization stipulates, among other things, that self-determination, independence and sovereignty are inalienable Rights of all peoples. These principles, in fact, are the vantage point towards establishing and maintaining peace and order.
Due to endless United Nations efforts in that realm, many countries achieved their independence. They became new Members of that august body, working to consolidate the principle of universality that this Organization is based upon, has universality been achieved? Where is Palestine? Where are Namibia and Zimbabwe — and others? We do not see them as Members of the world Organization.
Confining oneself to the Palestinian problem, one could single it out as representing the bitterest and most serious tragedy of our time. The Palestinian people not only are deprived of their inalienable rights, but also are deprived of their homes and of their national land. The Israeli colonialist dispersed the Palestinian people into splinters; some of them are living in tents on charities they never asked for, while others are contained in their homeland by Israeli forces, not as Palestinians but as third class citizens subjected to all the atrocities of occupation and racial discrimination. We have only to look back there a few weeks ago to see the uprising of these people. We can see what the Israeli usurpers are doing now to the indigenous Palestinians in the West Bank.
In this context the United Nations bears a great responsibility for that tragedy. Such responsibility is basically attributable to two mistakes: (l) the Partition Plan, and (2) the admittance of Israel, the aggressor, to membership in the United Nations. In its resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947, the General Assembly imposed the partition on Palestine against the expressed wishes of the majority of its population.
According to the Partition Plan, the United Nations divided Palestine into two States, granting 57 per cent of the territory — including most of the fertile land to European Jewish settlers, thus leaving the overwhelming majority of Palestinian Moslems and Christians less than 43 per cent of the total area of the land.
In spite of the unjust nature of the Partition Plan, which violated the inherent right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and independence, the Zionists constantly kept expanding their State at the expense of the territories allocated to the Arabs.
When the armistice agreements were concluded in 1949, Israel came into control, by force of aggression, of about 78 per cent of the total area of Palestine. This meant that the Zionist forces conquered 22 per cent more of Palestinian territory than was allocated to them by the said Partition Plan.
Moreover, the Zionists challenged the world with a fait accompli by proclaiming the State of Israel on the same day the Mandate ended, in complete disregard of two-month period provided for the establishment of the Arab and Jewish States after the withdrawal of the British mandatory forces, and during which the administration of Palestine should have been turned over to the Commission of five Member States elected by the General Assembly.
The usurpation of Arab land and the forceful establishment of the Israeli entity was accompanied by the expulsion of Palestinians from their country. Except for nearly half a million who live as third class citizens, the remaining 3 million Palestinians live as refugees in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip or in other Arab States and foreign countries.
When the United Nations realized the tragic implications of the Partition Plan, it adopted on 11 December 1948 resolution 194 (lll). Paragraph 11 of that resolution states:
"… Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible."
Israel did not flout all these resolutions silently. In fact, high Israeli officials declared that not a single Palestinian Arab will be allowed to return.
However, Israel did not respect that resolution as it did not respect resolution 181 (II). It considers both merely as scraps of paper. In spite of such an illegal, irresponsible position, the United Nations decided in its resolution 273 (ill) to admit Israel to membership in the world body. This resolution was another mistake made by the United Nations since it consolidated the existence of the Zionist aggressor entity at the expense of the Palestinian people who had already become outsiders in their homeland.
This implication is very clear in Israel's disregard of the obligations incumbent upon it according to resolution 273 (lll). The fifth paragraph of the preamble of this resolution linked Israel's admission to its fulfilment of the obligations contained in resolutions of 29 November 1947 and 11 December 1948 of the General Assembly.
Since the admittance of Israel almost 20 years ago, the United Nations has concentrated its efforts on the humanitarian aspect of the Palestinian problem through the activities of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. In a sense, the United Nations did not address itself during that span of time on how to solve the Palestinian problem at its roots — how to put an end to Israel's defiance of the United Nations Charter and resolutions dealing with Palestine.
Consequently, the problem was worsening constantly. Three wars broke out in the area putting the whole world on the verge of war and chaos — the Tripartite Aggression of 1956, the Israeli aggression in 1967 which forced 200,000 Palestinians out of the West Bank and drove 110,000 Syrians and Palestinians from the Golan Heights, and finally the October 1973 war which confirmed that the Arabs will never give in to Israel's colonialism and aggression.
It may be indicative here to remember Mr. Ben Gurion's declaration that the Mixed Armistice Agreement is dead and buried. That agreement has been unilaterally killed and buried by Israel, in spite of the fact that the United Nations and four Arab countries were parties to it.
The aforementioned escalation of tension in the area that culminated at its apex in the war of 1973 made the United Nations realize again that the Palestinian problem cannot be treated only through humanitarian efforts. The United Nations found that it should address itself to the core of the problem now, that is, the restoration of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. General Assembly resolution 3236 (XXIX) represents a shift in the United Nations treatment of that problem. That resolution categorically defines those rights, namely:
"l. … the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people in Palestine, including:
(a) The right to self-determination without external interference,
(b) The right to national independence and sovereignty,
2…. the-inalienable right of the Palestinians to return to their homes and property from which they have been displaced and uprooted." Furthermore, in its resolution 3376 (XXX), the United Nations set a programme of action in order to restore the usurped rights of the Palestinian people. According to that resolution, the United Nations decided to establish a Committee with a precise task, namely,
"to consider and recommend to the General Assembly a programme of implementation, designed to enable the Palestinian people to exercise the rights recognized in paragraphs 1 and 2 of Assembly resolution 3236 (XXIX)
The establishment of that Committee illustrates the United Nations attempt to correct the situation vis-a-vis the Palestinian people.
The task of that Committee is complex but feasible at the same time. The feasibility of its task is attributed to the fact that there is an international consensus recognizing the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. However, the task of the Committee remains complex because Zionism will not fail to do its utmost to foil any just action taken by the Committee.
In my delegation's view, coherence should characterize the work exerted by this Committee. Coherence here means that we should consider the nature of the Palestinian inalienable right in its right framework, that is, firstly that the rights of the Palestinians are inseparable; secondly, that they are the core of the Middle East crisis;, and, thirdly, that they are also a cornerstone in maintaining international peace and security.
With regard to the inalienable rights of the Palestinians, they are inseparable since they boil down to one tangible right, that is, the right of every Palestinian to fulfil his humanity. Humanity implies the sovereignty of Palestinian Man in his free independent country. Consequently, the Palestinian rights are inseparable and of two facets, the individual facet and the national one. The individual facet implies the Palestinian Man's right to return to his country and his property, the national facet implies the right of Palestinians to self-determination, dependence and sovereignty.
Yet the link between the individual right and the national right is so integrated — in the sense that the fact that the return of Palestinians is the first step to enable them to practise their national rights inside Palestine plains that the national rights cannot be practised in a vacuum but rather among people who live in their homeland, and who are entitled to such practice.
Restoration of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people is the vantage point towards establishing a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. This that the Palestine Liberation Organization, as the authentic representative if the Palestinian people., should participate equally in all international peace efforts. Insisting on that participation is not merely a procedural measure. It is in fact an assertion that there will be no settlement, no peace in the area as long as the Palestinian people are deprived of their inalienable rights.
The cohesive work of the Committee implies that one should focus on the relationship between the implementation of the inalienable rights of Palestinians and international peace and security. Such relation speaks for itself to the extent that it does not need further elaboration. However., my delegation would , like to focus on the vital role, the vital responsibility, of the Security Council as the organ which is directly involved in maintaining world peace and security. To that end, the Security Council should promote its utmost efforts to enable the Palestinian people to practise their rights without pressure or interference.
The envisaged implementation of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people can be realized through the help of institutions. My delegation suggests that the Committee recommend the Security Council to establish a certain machinery under its auspices. The task of this machinery is to materialize the programme of implementation. Meanwhile, the Security Council should empower this machinery with all the authorities that are necessary to enable it to function effectively.
Some other institutions could also be helpful to the task of that machinery, such as UNRWA, the International Red Cross, and so on.
In this context my delegation declares that the Arab League is ready for any effort that could lead to the restoration of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.
The United Nations has empowered this Committee for the restoration of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, under your guidance Mr. Chairman. My delegation is convinced that the task of the Committee would be a landmark in the contribution for the achieving of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.
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, Inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, Middle East situation, Palestine question
Publication Date: 22/04/1976