COMMITTEE ON THE EXERCISE OF THE INALIENABLE
RIGHTS OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 27th MEETING
Held at Headquarters, New York,
on Wednesday, 15 February 1978 at 10.30 a.m.
Chairman: Mr. FALL (Senegal)
Adoption of the agenda
Programme of work of the Committee
Establishment of the Special Unit on Palestinian Rights
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The meeting was called to order at 11.05 a.m.
ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA
1. The agenda was adopted.
PROGRAMME OF WORK OF THE COMMITTEE
2. Mr. SIDDIQ (Afghanistan) said that he was acting as Chairman of the Task Force in the absence of the representative of Malta. The Task Force had met on 16 January to carry out the instructions given to it by the Committee at the 26th meeting.
3. It had first considered the drafts of letters to the President of the General Assembly, the President of the Security Council, the Secretary-General and the "confrontation States" and had approved them.
4. With regard to the preparation of the programme of work of the Committee for 1978, it had been decided that a letter should be sent to the President of the Security Council, at a time to be decided upon by the Committee, requesting that a decision should be taken by the Council, as the Assembly had urged in paragraph 4 of resolution 32/40 A, on the recommendations endorsed by the General Assembly in resolution 31/20.
5. Thereafter the Task Force had considered the action to be taken under paragraph 7 of resolution 32/40 A. The sending of the letters approved by the Task Force constituted action under paragraph 7, which authorized the Committee "to continue to exert all efforts to promote the implementation of its recommendations". The Task Force had made no recommendations concerning the sending of "delegations or representatives to international conferences", because the full calendar of conferences had not been available at the time of its meeting and decisions on that matter could be taken when the need arose. It had also been decided that the Committee might repeat the action it had taken in 1977 by inquiring of the competent bodies what action they had taken in pursuance of paragraph 5 of the resolution.
6. The action to be taken under paragraph 1 of resolution 32/40 B had also been considered. The Task Force had made no decision with regard to the annual observance of an International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, for which provision was made in paragraph 1 (c); the Committee might wish to revert to that question at a later date. It had been felt that the studies and publications mentioned in paragraph 1 (a) might concentrate on resolutions 181 (II), 194 (III), 3236 (XXIX) and 3375 (XXX) of the General Assembly, Security Council resolutions 237 (1967), 242 (1967) and 333 (1973), the question of settlements in the occupied territories, the decisions of the United Nations and the history of its involvement with the Palestinian question and the work of the Committee and its recommendations.
7. The CHAIRMAN said that the proposed programme of work would be transmitted to members of the Committee and Observers, and could be discussed at a later stage. He announced that only Lebanon and Egypt had so far replied to the letters addressed to all representatives of the "confrontation States"; both countries had confirmed their support for the positions taken by the Committee and reaffirmed the principle of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.
8. The representative of Lebanon had stated that the principles formulated by the Committee had always governed Lebanese policy within the framework of the Arab consensus. He had attached to his letter the text of an address made on 6 January 1978 by the President of the Republic of Lebanon to the members of the diplomatic corps and had stressed the importance of that address in view of the crisis prevailing in Lebanon and throughout the Arab world because of the Palestinian question.
9. The representative of the Arab Republic of Egypt had transmitted a letter from the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in which it was pointed out that the Arab Republic of Egypt considered that the Palestinian question was at the heart of the problem of the Middle East and that no settlement could therefore be reached without taking into account the rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people. Moreover, President Sadat had repeated in his address in the Knesset on 20 November 1977 that an over-all Middle East settlement should be based on Israel's withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1967 and the achievement of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people, including self-determination and the right to set up its own State. Egypt had firmly maintained its position during the subsequent talks, namely that any settlement should be such as to resolve all aspects of the conflict and to guarantee the rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination. Egypt, as its Observer had pointed out at the 26th meeting of the Committee, had invited all parties to the conflict, including representatives of the PLO, to the preparatory conference in Cairo. It had thought it essential that representatives of the Palestinian people should participate in any talks involving its interests and it had reaffirmed its full support for the fundamental principles set out in the report of the Committee to the General Assembly at its thirty-first session.
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE SPECIAL UNIT ON PALESTINIAN RIGHTS
10. The CHAIRMAN reported that the Secretary-General was preparing to select the future staff members of the Special Unit on Palestinian rights. The Committee had expressed the view that the Unit should not include nationals of countries that had opposed its establishment, at least in the initial stages. That decision had been made after the representative of Israel had made a surprising statement to the effect that his Government would try to obstruct the operation of the new unit. It had also been thought desirable that the Unit should not include nationals of the countries too closely involved with the Palestinian issue, particularly the "confrontation States".
11. The Committee had taken that position for the sole purpose of ensuring the credibility of the Unit, which should be composed of impartial, competent persons. That position was not rigid and it might well be that at a later stage some exceptions to the rule might be made. The Secretary-General therefore had complete freedom of action in forming the unit, and the Committee simply reserved the right to tell him if it considered a given appointment inappropriate. In any event, the selection process would shortly be complete and the Special Unit should be formally established in the near future.
12. Mr. TERZI (Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization) said that the explanations given by the Chairman would reassure members of the Committee who might be wondering whether the delay in establishing the Unit was not deliberate. It was his hope that the Special Unit would be in a position to perform its functions satisfactorily in the months to come.
13. The CHAIRMAN said that he had had the opportunity to describe the work of the Committee at a recent meeting at Jedda of the Committee on Jerusalem of the Islamic Conference. Following his statement, it had been decided that a letter would be sent to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People thanking its members and commending them on their work.
14. He sent a telegram to the Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights asking him to urge the Commission to deal with the question of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the violations of human rights in the occupied Arab territories. In that connexion he read out a dispatch from Agence France Presse reporting that the Commission had acceded to his request by affirming that the Palestinian people had the right to self-determination and to the establishment of a State and that they were entitled "to regain their rights by all means in accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter". The Commission had urged all States to extend "their support to the Palestinian people through its representative, the Palestine Liberation Organization" and had unanimously called upon Israel "to abide by … the Geneva Convention in the territories occupied since 1967". It had also adopted by a large majority a resolution condemning the use of torture in the occupied Arab territories.
15. Although that resolution might be regarded as gratifying, it was regrettable that the dispatch in question had stated that those rights were being recognized for the first time by a United Nations body, whereas the recognition of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people went back as far as 1946, and a great many United Nations resolutions had reaffirmed them since that time. Such inaccuracies showed that public knowledge of the Palestinian problem was still poor, even among those whose business it was to keep public opinion informed. The establishment of the Special Unit accordingly seemed particularly timely, and the Committee itself should actively pursue its information work.
16. Mr. KEILAU (German Democratic Republic) said that the Committee was performing very important work, as the results it had already attained demonstrated. With the experience it had gained, the Committee could make an effective contribution to the just struggle of the Palestinian people and satisfactorily fulfil the mandate given to it by the General Assembly. The Committee could also do useful work by correcting the misinterpretations and misconceptions prevailing with regard to the rights of the Palestinian people.
17. Mr. ABDALLAH (Tunisia), referring to the agency dispatch mentioned by the Chairman, proposed that the Committee should issue a correction in order to make it quite clear that the United Nations had recognized the rights of the Palestinian people since 1946.
18. It was so decided.
19. Mr. TERZI (Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization) suggested that the Committee should arrange for the Office of Public Information to issue a communiqué to press agencies stressing that self-determination was a concept with a very precise meaning which should not be confused with self-government or participation in the administration of a country, and that it was not an instrument to be used for bargaining purposes but an inalienable right of the Palestinian people.
20. The CHAIRMAN suggested that the Committee should issue a single press release on the lines suggested by the Tunisian delegation and the Observer for the PLO.
21. It was so decided.
22. Mr. KHALEF (Observer for Iraq) said that his Government was gratified by the Committee's activities. He drew attention to the fact that BBC Television planned to show a film entitled "The holocaust" during the spring. That film was undoubtedly pro-Zionist propaganda. The Christian Defense League had issued a statement urging States and individuals who supported the Palestine cause to express their indignation about the showing of that film and to oppose it strongly: the Committee might wish to associate itself with those statements. On another matter, he said that it was his earnest hope that the Special Unit should start to function as soon as possible in order to fulfil the mandate entrusted to it by the General Assembly in resolution 32/40 B.
23. The CHAIRMAN, replying to the Observer for Iraq, said that it would be very difficult to oppose the showing of the film he had mentioned, particularly since it was not the only pro-Zionist film.
24. He observed that the Secretary-General had sent a letter to the President of the Security Council asking him to draw the Council's attention to paragraphs 3 and 4 of resolution 32/40 A. The Security Council was accordingly still seized of the question of Palestine and the Committee's report.
25. He announced that a film "The Key" had been supplied by the Palestine Liberation Organization to the Special Unit and thanked the PLO for its generous gesture. He invited the members of the Committee to attend a showing of that film.
The meeting rose at 11.50 a.m.