U N I T E D N A T I O N S
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Committee on Rights of Press Release GA/PAL/17
Palestinian People 22 April 1976
13th Meeting (AM)
PALESTINIAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE HEARS STATEMENTS BY TUNISIA,
LEAGUE OF ARAB STATES AND CUBA
The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, continuing its general debate, heard statements this morning by the representatives of Tunisia, the League of Arab States, and Cuba. The representative of the League of Arab States spoke as an observer.
Before adjourning the meeting so that the Committee could continue its
closed informal discussions, the Chairman, Medoune Fall (Senegal), in response
to a question by the representative of Tunisia as to when the informal discussions would be ended and the work of the Committee taken up in publicmeetings, said that the Committee should discuss this point during its closed session this morning.
RACHID DRISS (Tunisia), referring to recent demonstrations by Christian
and Moslem Palestinians against the discriminatory expropriatory measures
of the Israeli authorities for the benefit of the Jewish population, asked
how anyone could fail to understand why these people refused to give up their
homes and land for perpetual refugee status. The Palestinians had never
given up their fundamental and inalienable rights, and it was only by fully
realizing these rights that a definitive solution to the 30-year situation
in the Middle East could be found, he said.
Seeking a solution through the recognition of Israel was a "simplistic"
view which failed to take account of the profound causes of the Palestinian
tragedy, he went on. How could Israel and its allies continue to call for
this recognition when Israel continued to appropriate additional Palestinian
land and to establish new Israeli settlements, he asked.
Security Council resolution 242 (1967), adopted in the aftermath of the
1967 war, was based on a defective equation: that peace depended on recognition, evacuation of occupied lands, and a solution to the refugee problem, Mr. Driss said. This equation left out the fourth and most essential element to peace in the Middle East, that of the fate of the Palestinian people themselves, he declared.
Referring to the recent municipal elections in the West Bank, he said
that the Palestinian people had awakened world public opinion to this
fact and to the true intentions of Israel.
Likening the situation in Palestine to that in Namibia and Rhodesia,
he said that the Palestinians had no choice but to continue their liberation
struggle. However, he went on, the situation in the Middle East was
more complex than other colonial situations because the United Nations,
troubled by the "Jewish problem" at the end of the Second World War, had
partitioned Palestine on racial and religious criteria, thus satisfying
the Zionists, but creating problems for the non-Jews which led to four
wars in the area.
Speaking of Israel's military arsenal, which he said was one of the
more sophisticated in the world, he said that it was about to be increased
by the acquisition of nuclear arms. This would not lead to security,
however, he warned, because others could acquire similar weapons and,
besides, the Middle East was such a small area that the danger from such
weapons was equal for all.
For these reasons, a solution to the problem had to lie in the establishment of a secular and democratic??? State, with co-habitation of the peoples of the area on a non-discriminatory basis which was the spirit of
the United Nations Charter.
Referring to a proposal before the Security Council last January, he
said that this document contained the basis for a Middle East peace, recognizing the rights of the Palestinians, calling for the establishment of a
sovereign State in Palestine and the withdrawal of occupying forces along
with necessary guarantees for maintaining the peace. However, Mr. Driss
said, the draft resolution had not passed because of one vote out of 15.
While the Committee was considering a two-phase programme of return
for the Palestinian refugees for practical reasons, he said, it should not
lose sight of the principles involved and contained in General Assembly
resolution 194 (III) which was the key to a just solution. Referring to
General Assembly resolution 181 (II), the representative of Tunisia said
that, despite drawbacks to this resolution, it should not be ignored by the
Committee because that resolution contained the juridical support and legal
framework for the solution.
The Committee, in making its recommendations, should emphasize that
Israel should immediately cease its transfer of property from Palestinians,
and that as soon as the first phase of the two-phase return is completed
the United Nations should provide economic and technical assistance proportional to the sufferings of the Palestinians.
Even a solution based on resolution 181 would not resolve all the
problems, but it would establish a foundation for peace and co-habitation of
the peoples of the area, something that was in the interests not only of the
region but of mankind as a whole, he concluded.
AMIN HELMY II (League of Arab States), speaking as an observer,
recalled that the United Nations had been established to insure peace and
security which had been shattered by World War II, and had been based on,
among other things, the principles of self-determination, independence and
sovereignty for all peoples. While this had been achieved in many places,
universality had not yet been established: Palestine, Namibia, Zimbabwe,
and others were still not Members of the Organization. Of all of these
cases, he said, that of Palestine was the most serious because not only
were the people deprived of their inalienable rights but also of their
homes and land.
The United Nations, he said, bore a great responsibility for this
tragedy because of two mistakes it had made: the Partition Plan and the
admission to membership of Israel, an aggressor State.
The Partition Plan had ceded most of the land area including most of
the fertile land to the European Jewish settlers, but, despite this original
injustice, the Zionists had continued to expand their State at the expense
of the Arabs, he said.
The United Nations, realizing the tragic implications of its Partition
Plan, had recognized the right of the refugees to return to their homes
in resolution 194 (III), but Israel openly flouted this resolution, he
said, adding that, despite Israel's "illegal, irresponsible position", it
was admitted to membership, a fact he termed the second mistake the United
Nations made in handling the situation.
For the first 20 years, the United Nations did not address itself to
the real problems in the area — that of the refugees and of Israel's
flouting of various United Nations resolutions — so that the situation
continued to deteriorate and the Organization finally realized that it
could not treat the Palestinian people through its humanitarian offices
only, and in General Assembly resolution 3236 (XXIX) began to address
itself to the core of the problem, the restoration of the inalienable rights
of the Palestinian people, he said.
The task before the Committee was complex, he said, because of Zionist
intransigence, but a solution was feasible because of the international
consensus recognizing the rights of the Palestinians, calling for equal
participation by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in all inter-
national peace efforts as recognition of the fact that these rights were
inseparable from any lasting peace in the area.
The Security Council, he went on, should establish machinery to insure
that the rights of the Palestinians were protected, and it should empower
that machinery with the necessary authority to enable it to function effectively.
RICARDO ALARCON DE QUESADA (Cuba) said that the Committee had been give
precise guidelines by the General Assembly on the inalienable rights of
the Palestinians and that the Committee's task was to organize a specific
programme of action within these guidelines.
He was sure that the Committee's working group would come up with such
a programme, he said, but he was equally sure that obstacles would be
raised to any such programme by the forces of imperialism and colonialism.
For this reason, the peoples of Africa, Asia, and South American saw their
own struggles mirrored in the Middle East, he said, making references to
recent improvements in the relations between Israel and South Africa.
The obligation of the Security Council and its permanent members was
clear, the representative of Cuba said: to ensure that Israel and its allies
implemented the relevant United Nations resolutions on the question.
Calling for equal participation of the PLO in all peace efforts, he
said that the forces of imperialism were trying to isolate that organization
through manipulation of public opinion in the capitalistic countries.
The United Nations, in its turn, should mobilize world public opinion and
strengthen international solidarity with the Palestinian people through
co-operation with various trade union, economic, and social organizations
within the countries supporting the Zionists, he concluded, calling for
the next session of the General Assembly to be the turning point for such
a "truly universal effort".
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Document Type: Meeting record, Meeting records
Document Sources: Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP)
Subject: Palestine question
Publication Date: 22/04/1976