COMMITTEE ON THE EXERCISE OF THE INALIENABLE
RIGHTS OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 23rd MEETING
Held at Headquarters, New York,
on Tuesday, 9 August 1977, at 10.30 a.m.
Chairman: Mr. FALL (Senegal)
Tribute to the memory of His Beatitude Archbishop Makarios, President of the
Republic of Cyprus
Organization of work
Dissemination of information
Recent developments: report of the Chairman
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 a.m.
TRIBUTE TO THE MEMORY OF HIS BEATITUDE ARCHBISHOP MAKARIOS, PRESIDENT OF THE
REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS
1. At the invitation of the Chairman, the Committee observed a minute of silence in tribute to the memory of His Beatitude Archbishop Makarios, President of the Republic of Cyprus.
ORGANIZATION OF WORK
2. The CHAIRMAN reminded the Committee that, at its request, he had asked the Secretary-General to draw the attention of all competent United Nations bodies to resolution 31/20 and to request them to take appropriate measures to promote its implementation. The Secretary-General had informed him that the Committee's report had been brought to the attention of all the competent United Nations bodies and that the text of the Chairman's letter had been transmitted to the Office of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and to the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine.
DISSEMINATION OF INFORMATION
3. The CHAIRMAN reported that, at a meeting with the Assistant Secretary-General for Public Information on 1 August 1977, he had emphasized the great importance that the Committee attached to dissemination of information about its work and its wish that the Office of Public Information should devise a radio and television campaign in English, French and Arabic to publicize the Committee's work. It was important that the public should realize that the Committee's function was not to support any one country against another but to deal with a problem affecting international peace and security. In fact, OPI had already been instructed to give greater publicity to the Committee's work and plans were in hand to launch a radio and television programme which would get maximum coverage world-wide. In addition, OPI intended to give the widest possible publicity to the Committee's report, which was to be published shortly.
4. In his capacity as Chairman of the Committee, he had been interviewed on the previous day by OPI and he understood that the representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization had made a statement for use on United Nations Radio. He invited members of the Committee to make suggestions on the content and emphasis of the proposed broadcasting programme.
5. Mr. TERZI (Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization) said that, together with representatives of the Syrian Arab Republic, Egypt and Jordan, he had been interviewed in English and Arabic for a programme which, he understood, would be broadcast in three parts. It was to be hoped that a Spanish-speaking member of the Committee would also consent to give an interview.
6. Mr. ALLAF (Observer for the Syrian Arab Republic) said that he was gratified to note that the competent United Nations authorities recognized the importance of informing world opinion about the true facts of the Palestinian problem, which had been too long ignored. Such a campaign by the United Nations was necessary to correct the distorted version of the facts being disseminated by the Zionist establishment and Israeli leaders. He welcomed the Chairman's report on his contacts with the Office of Public Information and expressed the hope that all members of the Committee would make a contribution to the proposed campaign.
7. He suggested that the competent authorities should be asked to organize a competition for a design for an official United Nations stamp on the theme of the rights of the Palestinian people. Other steps that might be taken were the designation of an international day of solidarity with the Palestinian people and the publication of articles on the rights of the Palestinian people in the United Nations Monthly Chronicle. Reports from non-Arab, non-aligned and other sources on such matters as instances of torture in the occupied territories should be brought to the attention of public opinion; the co-operation of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories would be helpful in that respect. Moreover, the Office of Public Information should be asked to publish a series of booklets on individual aspects of the Palestinian problem. For instance, resolution 242 (1967) merited such a booklet, if only to remind the world of the international consensus that that resolution provided only part of the solution.
8. Mr. KHALEF (Observer for Iraq) said that there was no doubt that a just and objective presentation of the Palestinian question would counteract efforts to enlist world opinion in support of the Zionist cause. The Office of Public Information could play an influential role through its network of information centres throughout the world. He supported the Syrian suggestion for a day of solidarity with the Palestinian people and proposed that, should it be decided to hold such an event, the Chairman of the Committee, the Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization and a representative of the Office of Public Information should together work out what kinds of literature, exhibitions or other material were required. The OPI should concentrate its efforts on getting the widest possible television and radio coverage. In general, the Syrian suggestions would help the Committee to implement that part of resolution 31/20 which referred to dissemination of information.
9. Mr. MUJEZINOVIC (Yugoslavia) said that his delegation unequivocally supported the campaign for the dissemination of information on the Palestinian question. The discussion on such a campaign was timely, since developments in the Middle East were at an important stage and much confusion existed about the rights and future destiny of the Palestinian people. The Committee should devise ways of improving the coverage of the question by national and international mass media. For several years there had been a press agencies pool of the non-aligned countries whose services were much appreciated by both the non-aligned and other countries. He therefore proposed that the Committee should get in touch with the co-ordinating committee of the agencies pool with a view to establishing regular contact and exchanging information on the Palestinian cause.
10. Mr. DATCU (Romania) said that his delegation had expressed its position on the dissemination of information at several previous meetings. His delegation was gratified by the manner in which the Chairman had discharged his mission. The letter sent by the Chairman to the President of the Security Council (S/12377) and his statements to the press and on television were steps in the right direction.
11. He supported the proposals made by the representatives of Syria, the PLO, Iraq and Yugoslavia. The OPI was indeed in a position to state the truth, which would otherwise be buried in the archives of the United Nations, utilized only by specialists or by Governments in pursuit of their own interests. Public opinion should be brought to understand the decisions of the United Nations and the history of its involvement with the Palestinian question. There was genuine public interest in the question of the Middle East and in the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, although many people failed to understand the difference between a statute for refugees of a people and that people's right to independence and a national territory. Publications on the question should be strictly documentary in nature, simple, and accurate in their coverage of the significant historical events.
12. He supported the proposal that the Chairman should be authorized to contact all interested parties, and was confident that effective liaison would continue with countries which were not members of the Committee. The activities undertaken by the Chairman would continue to have the full support of his delegation. He suggested that at the end of any meeting of the Committee, the Chairman should make a press statement summarizing the main points which had been covered. Above all, it should be made clear that the Committee worked in a spirit of objectivity, with the sole purpose of seeking solutions to the problem which constituted its mandate. As a committee of the United Nations, its role was not to accuse or defend any party.
13. Mr. MAUERSBERGER (German Democratic Republic) said that his delegation agreed that there was an urgent need for a more effective dissemination of information concerning the resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly on the Palestinian question, as part of the search for a just and lasting peace. The inalienable rights of the Palestinian people had to be respected if the peoples of the region were to live peacefully together. The task of the Committee was to ensure that the true issues were not forgotten, and the proper way to proceed was on the basis of the General Assembly resolutions. The Chairman's activities were particularly timely in view of the illegal new settlement policy by Israel. There was an urgent need to strengthen United Nations public information activities concerning the real issues involved in the search for a Middle East solution and the attainment by the Palestinian people of their inalienable rights.
14. Mr. KORNEYENKO (Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic) said that his delegation supported all activities directed to disseminating information on the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. As it had emphasized both in the Committee and in the General Assembly, his delegation's view was that the attainment of those rights was impossible without a settlement of the basic problem. The useful proposals that had been made on the dissemination of information deserved the serious attention of the Committee and were generally supported by his delegation.
15. Mr. SIDDIQ (Afghanistan) said that the just and legitimate cause of the Palestinian people should be given adequate publicity by the United Nations. He supported some of the ideas put forward by Syria and other members of the Committee, such as the designation of an international day of solidarity with the Palestinian people, the issue of a United Nations stamp, and the publication of information in the United Nations Monthly Chronicle. He agreed with other representatives that insufficient publicity had so far been given by the United Nations to the just cause of the Palestinian people, and supported any measures which would improve that situation.
16. Mr. VELLA (Malta) said that he was somewhat concerned to note that no effective action had yet been taken on a General Assembly resolution adopted some 9 or 10 months earlier. If a General Assembly resolution did not lead to immediate action by the United Nations, the Committee could not expect sovereign States to take prompt action on its own recommendations. The communications media were full of information on the Middle East which was frequently erroneous, yet the United Nations was only beginning to make the true facts known to the world at large. If any progress was to be made by the end of the year, the public would need to be given more, and more accurate, information. His view was that a General Assembly resolution should automatically lead to immediate action. Unfortunately, the Committee had allowed nine months to elapse without tangible results. The wider dissemination of information was a sound objective and one which would provide a good beginning for the report to the General Assembly.
17. The CHAIRMAN said that a number of imponderable factors had prevented the Committee from beginning work immediately on the General Assembly resolution. However, it was true that more could have been done at an earlier stage.
18. Mrs. GBUJAMA (Sierra Leone) commended the Chairman on his leadership over the previous few months. She supported all the proposals made by the representative of Syria, which were very timely, since conflicting reports were being issued by the news media on the Palestinian struggle under the leadership of the PLO. The proposal on disseminating information through the Monthly Chronicle and by publishing booklets on the question could be acted upon immediately. The proposals on organizing an international day of solidarity and on issuing a United Nations stamp would require consultations, which could be undertaken by the Chairman. The kind of information the Committee was seeking to have issued would remove much of the confusion about the true objectives of the PLO. Only the United Nations media were in a position to state the correct facts.
19. Mr. DOUKOURE (Guinea) said that the mass media were frequently manipulated, and the United Nations was in the best position to re-establish the truth. The Palestinian problem was itself a creation of the United Nations, and United Nations organs should therefore be used to rehabilitate the Palestinian people and establish its rights. The Palestinians were being subjected to severe discrimination, but the human rights issues involved were not fully understood by public opinion, and the major task of the Committee was to establish the true facts.
20. Mr. EL-HENDAWY (Observer for Egypt) said that he supported the proposals put forward by the representatives of Syria and of the PLO. However, some of the measures proposed would require thorough preparation. As the item would again be discussed at the General Assembly within a short time, he suggested that the OPI should be asked, as a matter of urgency, to publish a pamphlet containing the report and the recommendations of the Committee in order to facilitate discussion of the matter outside the United Nations. A second pamphlet should be published immediately setting forth the position of the United Nations on the question of settlements in the occupied territories, and should be issued to all Member States before the item was considered at the General Assembly. With regard to the dissemination of information on the work of the Committee, he suggested that audio-visual material should be provided, recounting the whole United Nations involvement with the Palestinian question.
21. The CHAIRMAN welcomed the suggestions and proposals made by members of the Committee. He would prepare a letter to the Secretary-General requesting that the matter of issuing a United Nations stamp in support of the Palestinian people and their struggle should be considered immediately. He suggested that the proposal on a day or week of solidarity with the Palestinian people might be included in a draft resolution on the question of Palestine for submission to the General Assembly at its coming session; similar demonstrations of solidarity with the Palestinian people took place regularly in a number of countries, including his own. He would consult the Assistant Secretary-General for Public Information immediately about the publication in the Monthly Chronicle of articles dealing with the work of the Committee and noteworthy events in Palestine.
22. With regard to the Yugoslav proposal to make full use of the press agencies pool of the non-aligned countries for publicity purposes, he would write to the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka requesting the support of the non-aligned countries for the proposal. On the subject of press releases on the Committee's work, he reminded members that its meetings had formerly been closed to the press, but that since the recent decision to have open meetings, in the interest of greater publicity, he had drafted a press release after each meeting.
23. He suggested that the representative of Cuba, as the Spanish-speaking member of the Committee, should be requested to consider making a radio statement for the Office of Public Information explaining the work of the Committee. In that connexion, he himself felt that such statements could be confined to the report and recommendations of the Committee, as adopted by the General Assembly. The report and recommendations contained, in his view, all the elements required for a solution of the Palestine question.
24. The representative of Syria had mentioned the confusion prevailing in some circles with regard to the establishment of a Palestinian State. The Committee did not need to be reminded that a Palestinian State had been established along with the Jewish State as a result of General Assembly resolution 181 (II), which embodied the plan of partition of Palestine. That resolution had not been supported by the Arab States and could therefore not be considered a pro-Arab resolution. Such facts required careful explanation and presentation to the international community. The same was true of Security Council resolution 242 (1967), which had been adopted in the specific context of establishing an armistice between Israel and the Arab States. Since the focus of the latter resolution had been on the armistice, the Palestinian people, as such, did not feature in it, but, any attempt to solve the Middle East problem would have to treat the question of the Palestinian people as the heart of the problem. That resolution, therefore, did not in itself provide all the necessary elements for a just and lasting peace.
RECENT DEVELOPMENTS: REPORT OF THE CHAIRMAN
25. The CHAIRMAN informed the members of the Committee that he had sent a letter (S/12377) to the President of the Security Council in connexion with the recent official approval by the Prime Minister of Israel of the establishment of three Israeli settlements in the West Bank area of Jordan. That measure had been condemned by the international community, including Israel, as contrary to international law and likely to aggravate tension in the region, create a further obstacle to the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and undermine the prospects for a just and lasting settlement of the Middle East problem. As Chairman of the Committee, therefore, he had expressed his deep concern at those recent violations of the Committee's recommendations and of resolutions and decisions of the Security Council and the General Assembly.
26. Mr. TERZI (Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization) said that since the previous meeting there had been a number of developments on matters within its terms of reference. There were clear indications that attempts were being made by two Powers, and notably by the new Tel Aviv Government, to bypass the provisions of General Assembly resolution 31/20. Mr. Begin's views on the future of Palestine and his actions since becoming Prime Minister spoke for themselves, and he welcomed the Chairman's decision to send a letter to the President of the Security Council about the question of Zionist settlements in the occupied territories. The legalization of such settlements could only encourage the Zionists to establish more. As far as the position of the United States Government was concerned, President Carter had said that his own preference was that the Palestinian entity, whatever form it might take and whatever area it might occupy, should be tied in with Jordan and not be independent. That view was totally contrary to the Committee's recommendations, as endorsed by the General Assembly. Through the mass media, the Committee should try to make it clear to public opinion and to Governments that those recommendations implied acceptance of the concept of an independent, sovereign Palestinian entity.
27. He understood the Committee's hesitation in deciding on the timing of its
appearance before the Security Council, and he suggested that the task force might hold one or more meetings to ascertain what outcome it expected from the Security Council meeting.
28. Finally, he had been instructed by the leader of the Palestine Liberation
Organization, Mr. Arafat, to extend an invitation to the Chairman to discuss the current and future work of the Committee with him. He sincerely hoped that the invitation would be accepted and a meeting arranged at a time convenient to the Chairman.
29. The CHAIRMAN requested the Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization to thank Mr. Arafat for his kind invitation and stated that, subject to the Committee's agreement, he would be pleased to accept the invitation in principle and would be contacting the Observer to fix a suitable date. Such a meeting would undoubtedly be very helpful for the Committee's work.
30. Mr. KHALEF (Observer for Iraq) supported the Chairman's acceptance of the invitation to have a meeting with Mr. Arafat. He hoped that, if and when the Chairman visited the Middle East, he would also arrange a meeting with the authorities in Damascus.
31. Mr. MAUERSBERGER (German Democratic Republic), supported by Mr. DATCU (Romania) and Mr. DOUKOURE (Guinea), endorsed the proposal for a meeting between the Chairman and the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Meeting of the Security Council to discuss the Committee's recommendations
32. The CHAIRMAN suggested that the task force which had been established at the Committee's 20th meeting should meet as soon as possible to study the matter of the Security Council meeting called for in paragraph 4 of General Assembly resolution 31/20 and to determine the best time for the meeting and the strategy which should be adopted. The group would, of course, work in close co-operation with the members of the Committee which were also members of the Security Council. It might also make some minor amendments to the Committee's report and bring some of its recommendations up to date.
33. It was so decided.
World Conference for Action against Apartheid
34. The CHAIRMAN observed that some members of the Committee had expressed the hope that the Committee would be invited to participate in the World Conference for Action against Apartheid to be held at Lagos towards the end of August 1977. He had therefore requested the Secretary of the Committee to approach the Special Committee against Apartheid on the subject. He asked the Secretary of the Committee to report on the outcome of his approach.
35. Mr. YOGASUNDRAM (Secretary of the Committee) said that the Secretary of the Special Committee against Apartheid had stated in his reply to the Committee that the Working Group of the Special Committee had decided to limit invitations to the World Conference to United Nations bodies whose mandate included the problems of apartheid, racial discrimination and colonialism in southern Africa.
36. Mr. ALLAF (Observer for the Syrian Arab Republic) said he could not accept the reply from the Secretary of the Special Committee against
Apartheid. Neither he nor any delegation associated with the Committee which was also a member of the Special Committee against Apartheid had been consulted on the very logical request submitted by the Committee.
37. He believed, however, that it was not too late to take further action, and urged the Chairman to contact the Chairman of the Special Committee against Apartheid directly; members of the Committee which were also members of the Special Committee against Apartheid should, if necessary, call for a special meeting of that Committee. His delegation would, if the Committee deemed it appropriate, request such a special meeting. The link between the struggles of the Palestinian and the African peoples was enshrined in numerous decisions of the United Nations and Afro-Arab bodies.
38. Mr. TERZI (Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization) supported the statement made by the representative of Syria. He could not see how a conference organized by the United Nations to deal with one particular aspect of the world struggle against racism could exclude from participation bodies concerned with another aspect of that struggle.
39. Mr. DOUKOURE (Guinea) supported the proposal made by the Observer for the Syrian Arab Republic and said that his delegation, as a member of the Special Committee against Apartheid, would raise the matter at the forthcoming meeting of the Special Committee.
40. Mr. MAUERSBERGER (German Democratic Republic) said that his delegation, as a member of the Special Committee against Apartheid, was also dismayed by the reply from the Secretary of the Special Committee. Many States and organizations had been invited to participate in the forthcoming World Conference, including some which tended to impede progress in the struggle against apartheid and some bodies of the United Nations system which were not solely concerned with the problems of apartheid.
Report of the Committee to the General Assembly
41. The CHAIRMAN said that it was time to consider the form of the Committee's report to the General Assembly. He suggested that the drafting group should begin its work on the report as soon as the Rapporteur returned to New York.
42. He informed the Committee that at the recent meetings of the Council of Ministers and of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity a separate resolution had been adopted in which the OAU had endorsed the report of the Committee and its recommendations. He would submit the text of the resolution with a covering letter to the Secretary-General for distribution as an official United Nations document.
The meeting rose at 1.05 p.m.