COMMITTEE ON THE EXERCISE OF THE INALIENABLE
RIGHTS OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 22nd MEETING
Held at Headquarters, New York,
on Tuesday, 7 June 1977, at 10.30 a.m.
Chairman: Mr. FALL (Senegal)
Chairman's report on his contacts with Western members of the Security Council
Draft letter to the President of the Security Council
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.
CHAIRMAN'S REPORT ON HIS CONTACTS WITH WESTERN MEMBERS OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL
1. The CHAIRMAN said that, between 31 May and 3 June, he had met with the Permanent Representatives of the Federal Republic of Germany, Canada, France, the United States and the United Kingdom, none of whom had replied to his letter requesting additional information concerning the position of their Governments on the Palestine question. In those meetings he had emphasized that the Committee's main goal was to make a constructive contribution to the peace process in the Middle East by concentrating exclusively on the question of the rights of the Palestinian people, and that it had always sought the views of all Member States in carrying out its mandate as determined by the Security Council; furthermore, it was a body duly constituted by the General Assembly and its recommendations therefore carried the authority of United Nations resolutions. Answering letters from the Committee was therefore an act of courtesy and would in no way prejudice the position of Governments on the Committee's work. The Permanent Representatives of the five States had all given as their main reason for not replying the fact that they had not voted for General Assembly resolutions 3376 (XXX) and 31/20. In his view the arguments that countries which had not voted in favour of those resolutions were entitled to disregard the Committee's work involved a dangerous contradiction. It not only risked paralysing the Organization but could also undermine the de jure status of Israel, which had been established by a resolution for which certain countries had not voted.
2. The representative of the Federal Republic of Germany had indicated that his Government's position on the matter remained unchanged, and that there had therefore been nothing new to communicate to the Committee; he had also expressed the view that direct communication with the Committee might prejudice the bilateral efforts under way to find a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict. The Permanent Representative had, however, authorized the Committee to mention that Chancellor Schmidt's statements represented the position of his Government on the Palestine problem and had added that he would get in touch with the representatives of the other Western members of the Security Council to see whether means could possibly be found to meet the Committee half way.
3. The representative of Canada had stated that the position of his Government had evolved but that a Security Council debate on the question at the current stage would not be timely in view of the bilateral steps being taken with the Arab world as well as with Israel. His Government was, however, prepared to move in the direction of the right of the Palestinian people to a homeland and would reconsider its position.
4. The Permanent Representative of France was of the opinion that answering the Committee's letter would be tantamount to participating in the Committee's work. He would inform his Government of the steps taken by the Committee and, in the meantime, was following the Committee's work with great interest.
5. The Permanent Representative of the United States had pointed out that his Government had an important role to play with regard to the Middle East question and that the importance of that role was underlined by the fact that President Carter was dealing with the matter himself. He believed, however, that more could be accomplished in bilateral talks with those concerned than through public debate. On the question of the Committee's letter, the Permanent Representative had said that he would convey the Committee's views to both President Carter and the State Department.
6. The representative of the United Kingdom had said that his delegation had not voted in favour of General Assembly resolution 3376 (XXX) and had not therefore participated in the work of the Committee. On 17 February his delegation had written to the Secretary-General summarizing his Government's position (A/AC.183/L.31/Add.1) which was that the different elements of the Middle East conflict could not be isolated from one another, whereas the Committee was solely concerned with one aspect of the problem. Either the Committee should have been given a mandate to consider the whole of the Middle East question or alternatively another committee should have been asked to examine what additional factors needed to be added to the Palestine question with a view to a comprehensive study of the whole Middle East problem. His delegation would nevertheless reconsider the Committee's letter and would furnish a response indicating the reasons why it was unable to answer it.
7. He believed that those meetings had been constructive in so far as they had enabled him to understand the position of the five Powers concerned. He had concluded that they felt no hostility towards the Committee and that they believed that its activities could make a positive contribution in certain areas. They seemed to appreciate too that, when the Security Council came to consider the Middle East question, the Committee's report would figure largely in its deliberations. It was clear that all five felt that the Committee's actions could not be isolated from the Middle East question as a whole. It was also clear to him that the five would continue to act in concert in the future. With regard to an immediate meeting of the Security Council, all shared the opinion that, in view of the bilateral steps currently being taken, it would be better if such a meeting were deferred.
8. Mr. TERZI (Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization) thanked the Chairman for his enlightening account of his discussions with the five Western Powers. He pointed out that his organization had supported bilateral contacts for the past 10 years. Nevertheless, the recommendations of the Committee had been endorsed by the General Assembly in its resolution 31/20 and consequently had the full authority of recommendations of the General Assembly itself. The Committee's duty was therefore clearly to ensure that the resolution was implemented. In that connexion the Security Council should consider discussing the question before the thirty-second session of the General Assembly.
9. Mr. NUSEIBEH (Observer for Jordan) said he endorsed the report of the Committee (A/31/35) but noted that it confined itself to stressing broad principles. He reminded the Committee that the problem of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people had existed for 30 years and that much of the available factual information was out of date. The Secretariat should therefore be requested, as a matter of urgency, to assist in updating facts on such matters as water resources, property rights, repatriation, and compensation. The value of the Committee's work would be enhanced if its proposals dealt with such practical problems.
10. Mr. ALLAF (Observer for the Syrian Arab Republic) thanked the Chairman for his efforts in meeting with the Permanent Representatives of the five Western Powers. He was sure that those contacts would lead to a better understanding of the Committee's work by those representatives. The circumstances relating to a possible meeting of the Security Council had been explained very clearly by the Chairman. He could not understand why the Security Council should not meet to discuss the Committee's report and considered it essential that the Council should do so before the next session of the General Assembly. The fact that certain Powers had not voted for the resolution did not mean that they should ignore the Committee. In that respect, there was a clear parallel with the resolution establishing Israel. He believed that there was a lack of information on the facts and realities of the Middle East problem on the part of the general public. Pending discussion of its report by the Security Council, the Committee could, with the assistance of the Secretariat, devote its attention to clarifying the facts through an information campaign, particularly in regard to the purposes of General Assembly resolutions 181 (II) and 194 (III). Such a campaign would help to offset such misrepresentations as those to the effect that there were no United Nations resolutions establishing either a homeland or compensation for the Palestinians. General Assembly resolution 31/20 itself called for the dissemination of information, so that the Committee would be working within its terms of reference. The Chairman had already done valuable work with the representatives of the five Western Powers in that connexion, but those efforts should be supplemented by a public campaign using television, the press, and publications to explain what the United Nations resolutions entailed.
11. Mr. ABDALLAH (Tunisia) expressed his delegation's appreciation of the Chairman's discussions with the Permanent Representatives of the major Western Powers, which would doubtless lead to an increased awareness on their part of the Palestine problem and the work of the Committee. His delegation was concerned, however, that the meeting of the Security Council to consider the question of Palestine should not be unduly delayed, as General Assembly resolution 31/20 had in effect established a time-limit for consideration of the Committee's report by the Security Council. Time was running out and a date for the Security Council meeting on the question should be chosen. He supported the Syrian suggestion that the Committee and the Secretariat should increase their efforts to disseminate information on the Palestine problem and the work of the Committee to the public at large.
12. The CHAIRMAN assured the observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization that the report of the Committee and its recommendations remained valid and that under resolution 31/20, paragraph 4, the Security Council must consider once again the Committee's recommendations and report. The Committee would also make every effort to ensure that the relevant resolutions were implemented.
13. Replying to the observer for Jordan, he said that the Committee's report had numerous practical aspects and was not only idealistic in nature. The report raised certain practical questions and gave indications concerning the action which should be taken. The matter of compensation was discussed in the report and he felt that it was still not appropriate to attempt to establish any amount for such compensation. The first step must be repatriation, which involved determining which Palestinian refugees wished to return.
14. Replying to the observer for the Syrian Arab Republic, he said that there was no question of deferring consideration of the report by the Security Council indefinitely. The Security Council was required under resolution 31/20, paragraph 4, to consider once again the Committee's report and the Committee had been given the responsibility of overseeing the implementation of the relevant United Nations resolutions.
15. Replying to the representative of Tunisia, he said that there was sufficient time before the end of the thirty-second session of the General Assembly for the Security Council to consider the Palestine question.
16. With regard to information and publicity, he reminded members of the Committee that it had prepared and issued a document containing all the relevant resolutions on the Palestine question (A/AC.183/L.2) and that that document had been sent to all Member States. There were, however, limits to the Committee's possibilities, since it could distribute information but could not force others to read it. However, repetition could do no harm, especially since some elements of the problem did not receive sufficient attention or tended to be selectively ignored.
17. Mr. TERZI (Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization) stressed that the main concern of his organization was the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to return to their homes. The matter of compensation was secondary and would arise only in the case of those who chose not to return.
18. He agreed that information on the Palestine question should be disseminated, on a world-wide basis if possible, as there had been many inquiries as to the nature and significance of the various United Nations resolutions and decisions on the Palestine question. It was not well known, for instance, that resolution 181 (II) had been adopted as a result of scandalous pressure on the part of the United States and that Israel's membership in the United Nations had been accepted under resolution 273 (III) on the condition that Israel would allow the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. Israel's refusal to do so made its membership in the Organization questionable. It should be realized that the rights of the Palestinian people were being held hostage by international hijackers which included Israel and its Western supporters.
19. Mr. NUSEIBEH (Observer for Jordan) said that the timing of the Security Council meeting on the Palestine question should be linked to prospects for its success. There was a need for continuing consultation on the matter and when a favourable decision seemed possible the meeting should be called. In the meantime the Committee should devote its attention to some of the practical problems which he had referred to earlier. The United Nations had adopted the Committee's recommendations and was called upon to play an important role in resolving the Palestinian question; the Secretariat should, therefore, assist the Committee in every way, for instance by updating the information and studies made by various United Nations agencies concerning the Palestine refugees. Information on the relevant United Nations resolutions should also be disseminated.
20. Mr. ALLAF (Observer for the Syrian Arab Republic) said that the primary target for information should be international world opinion rather than States Members of the United Nations, which were already adequately informed by the documentation prepared by the Secretariat. It should be remembered that the Committee had an important task and a noble cause; there was a great need to reach the public at large, to explain the facts and to counteract distortion. He suggested the holding of press conferences by the Committee's Chairman and the Secretariat the organization of debates and seminars and the preparation of films and pamphlets. He noted that the problem was not a new one since the Palestinian State had been created at the same time as Israel; since that time, however, there had been much misrepresentation of United Nations decisions and resolutions by Zionists and their supporters. The Committee should follow the example of the Committee against Apartheid and the United Nations Council for Namibia in pursuing its noble cause through action and information.
21. Mr. MAUERSBERGER (German Democratic Republic) thanked the Chairman for his efforts to persuade certain Western countries that a just and lasting peace was possible only if the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people were implemented. It was regrettable that the countries concerned were not yet willing to endorse that point of view, because respect for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people was one of the main elements of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.
22. He agreed with the Observer for the Syrian Arab Republic that the Committee had a duty to inform public opinion of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to their own State. It also had a duty to explain how the fundamental rights of the Palestinians were still being violated, as was demonstrated in recent press reports emanating from the occupied territories and in statements from persons in key government positions in the aggressor State. The General Assembly, in resolution 31/20, had requested the Committee "to promote the greatest possible dissemination of information on its programme of implementation". That task was of the utmost importance in preparing for the Security Council debate and paving the way for a peace conference with the full participation of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. The need to disseminate accurate information was all the more urgent because of the distorted or inadequate accounts appearing in the press. The Office
of Public Information should be asked to assist the Committee in its task. Furthermore, it was the duty of all organizations in the United Nations system responsible for maintaining peace and safeguarding human rights to co-operate with the Committee in promoting the cause of the Palestinian people.
23. MR. DOUKOURE (Guinea) welcomed the Chairman's initiative of explaining to the permanent representatives of the Western Powers that they could not shrug off responsibilities entrusted to the Security Council by the General Assembly.
24. He endorsed the comments of the Observer for the Syrian Arab Republic concerning the dissemination of information. By publishing readily comprehensible information on United Nations resolutions and their background, the United Nations could make public opinion fully aware of the scope of the Palestinian problem. To that end, the Secretariat should take advantage of the long experience of the Committee against Apartheid in the area of public information.
25. The CHAIRMAN, summing up the discussion, said that there appeared to be a consensus that the Committee should request the Secretariat to issue documentation that would inform public opinion of the background to the Palestinian problem. At the same time, he doubted whether the publication of such information was likely to influence the Security Council debates, and he counselled against too much optimism on that score.
26. On the question of the right of return and compensation, the Committee appeared to agree that the United Nations Secretariat should study the first phase of the operation, namely how the procedures for the implementation of the right of return of the Palestinians would operate. The second phase – compensation for those who did not wish to return – could not be worked out until there was some idea of the numbers involved.
27. With regard to his own role in advancing the cause of the Palestinian people, he reminded members that he had made a statement in the Economic and Social Council on the Palestinian questions and had held press conferences to promote the work of the Committee. In addition, he had sent a telegram to the World Health Organization (WHO), drawing attention to the health conditions of Palestinians in the occupied territories, and had ensured that the Committee's report was also sent to WHO, with a note requesting that it be circulated to the members of that organization.
DRAFT LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL
28. The CHAIRMAN suggested that the Committee should not wait until the Security Council discussed the Palestine question, as had been originally envisaged, but should send the draft letter prepared by the Drafting Group immediately. In that way the Security Council would be reminded of its duty as set forth in General Assembly resolution 31/20, to consider the recommendations in the Committee's report.
29. Mr. ALLAF (Observer for the Syrian Arab Republic) endorsed the Chairman's suggestion. The letter would help to keep the Palestinian question to the forefront. If appropriate, the Committee could send a second letter when the Security Council decided to discuss the Palestine question.
30. Mr. ABDEL MEGUID (Observer for Egypt) agreed with the view that the letter, which reflected recent developments relating to the Palestinian problem, should be sent immediately.
31. Mr. NUSEIBEH (Observer for Jordan) endorsed the Chairman's suggestion for the reasons expressed by the observers for the Syrian Arab Republic and Egypt.
32. Mr. GAUCI (Malta), Rapporteur, said the time of dispatching the letter assumed critical importance and could not be dissociated from the contents. It appeared from the Chairman's report on his talks with the Permanent Representatives of some Western countries that a positive trend was developing. The Committee should take advantage of that welcome development. Its aim should be to consolidate the trend and to create a climate of comprehension and confidence, particularly among members of the Security Council. He suggested that the representatives of front-line countries, the Palestine Liberation Organization and concerned members of the Security Council, together with the officers of the Committee, should continue their informal contacts with the Western members of the Security Council. A cautious approach was advisable, and it might be preferable if two or three more weeks elapsed before the Security Council decided to discuss the Palestine question. He doubted whether it would be desirable for the Committee to send more than one letter to the President of the Security Council.
33. Mr. DATCU (Romania) said that the letter would constitute an organic element in the efforts to induce States which had an important part to play in the resolution of the Palestine question to enter into a dialogue with the Committee. It would also serve to prepare the way for the Security Council meeting. The letter should be sent by the Chairman, on behalf of the Committee, to the President of the Security Council and should be issued under a Security Council symbol.
34. Mr. MATSEIKO (Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic) said that his delegation had received the draft letter only that morning and would have liked more time in order to study the contents more thoroughly. Nevertheless, it was of the opinion that the letter should be sent without delay. It would, however, welcome a reference, in the paragraph describing the outcome of the discussions at the thirty-first session of the General Assembly, to General Assembly resolutions 31/61 and 31/62, particularly as the subject of those two resolutions, namely a comprehensive settlement in the Middle East, was referred to in the letter.
35. Mr. ABDALLAH (Tunisia) said that his delegation, as a member of the Drafting Group, was in favour of sending the letter to the President of the Security Council.
36. The CHAIRMAN drew attention to the dangers of citing General Assembly resolutions 31/61 and 31/62. Some of the Western States believed that the Committee should be concerned with the rights of Israel and its population. He had pointed out to them that the Committee had been given a specific mandate, namely to consider the rights of the Palestinian people, not the global situation in the Middle East. While the Committee might well refer to those resolutions in future reports, he believed that it should err on the side of caution in the contents of its letter to the President of the Security Council.
37. Mr. ALLAF (Observer for the Syrian Arab Republic) said, with regard to the letter to be sent to the Security Council, that there might be no need for any subsequent letters but, if that need arose, such letters might well not only be procedural but also contain some substance, in the light of any developments in the situation which might have followed the sending of the first letter. He agreed with the Chairman that the letter ought not to mention any specific resolutions on the question of Palestine, since there were many such resolutions; references to such resolutions should be general.
38. He had no difficulty with the text of the letter as submitted by the Drafting Group, but he felt that the letter would be improved if the second paragraph, to whose substance he had no objection, were moved to a new position just before the fourth paragraph from the end, beginning with the words "I would remind you …". The tone of the second paragraph seemed somewhat apologetic and there was no need to have such a paragraph so near the beginning of such an important letter. The transfer of the second paragraph would have the desirable result of stressing the third paragraph.
39. Mr. MAUERSBERGER (German Democratic Republic) said that his delegation, too, was not entirely happy with the second paragraph, which seemed somewhat defensive; he suggested that the last part of the paragraph, following the words "terms of reference", should read "and that the implementation of the Committee's mandate is the main element of a comprehensive settlement of the situation in the Middle East and the achievement of a just and lasting peace".
40. With regard to the suggestion made by the representative of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, his delegation felt that it could usefully serve as a reminder to the Security Council of the most recent resolutions adopted by the General Assembly on the Middle East question.
41. Mr. TERZI (Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization) felt that the letter should not refer to any specific General Assembly resolutions. Such references could be made by Committee members in their statements before the Security Council.
42. The CHAIRMAN observed that there seemed to be a consensus in the Committee that the letter should not refer to any specific United Nations resolutions.
43. With regard to the suggestion by the representative of the Syrian Arab Republic concerning the second paragraph of the letter, he stressed that the paragraph was in no way apologetic. Its effect was rather to inform members of the Security Council why certain statements made about the Committee and its work were irrelevant as they ignored the fact that the Committee had been established by a General Assembly resolution and had received a specific mandate. The Committee had not been called upon to solve the over-all problem of the Middle East but was required to confine its work to the matter of the exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. The mandate of the Committee was quite precise and the Committee could therefore not be accused of being selective because it had not considered aspects of the Middle East problem which were beyond its mandate.
44. Mr. DATCU (Romania) said that his delegation would have liked to propose some changes in the text of the letter, but in a spirit of compromise would accept that text as it stood. It could also accept the Syrian amendment, which in its understanding involved changing the position, but not the wording, of the second paragraph.
45. The CHAIRMAN observed that all the suggestions made concerned the form rather than the substance of the letter. He took it that it was the wish of the Committee that the Rapporteur and the other officers should review those suggestions and prepare a final text for dispatch to the President of the Security Council.
46. It was so decided.
47. The CHAIRMAN referred to a statement by the representative of Tunisia at the 21st meeting to the effect that the representative of India had been quoted as saying that the Committee did not intend to be represented at the World Conference to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination. The representative of India had written to explain that his remark had been in the context of his personal opinion that the Committee should not dissipate its efforts; he had not, however, spoken on behalf of the Committee, nor had he said that the Committee had taken any such decision. The matter was therefore closed.
The meeting rose at 1.15 p.m.