Sixth United Nations International NGO Meeting on the Question of Palestine
30 August – 1 September 1989
Austria Centre, Vienna
Declaration of the non-governmental organizations at the sixth United Nations International NGO Meeting on the Question of Palestine
Statement by Mr. Ronald I. Spiers, Under-Secretary-General for Political and General Assembly Affairs and
Secretariat Services, on behalf of the Secretary-General of the United Nations
Message from Mr. Yasser Arafat,
Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization
List of participants and observers
The Sixth United Nations International NGO Meeting on the Question of Palestine was held under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People at the Austria Centre, at Vienna, from 30 August to 1 September 1989. The Meeting was convened in pursuance of General Assembly resolution 42/66 B of 2 December 1987.
The Meeting was attended by a total number of 351 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), 138 of which attended as observers. It was attended by H.E. Mr. Alois Mock, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Austria and by Mr. Ronald I. Spiers, Under-Secretary-General for Political and General Assembly Affairs and Secretariat Services, Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The Meeting was also attended by several observers from Governments, intergovernmental organizations, United Nations specialized agencies, bodies and programmes, and Palestine.
The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People was represented by a delegation composed of H.E. Mrs. Absa Claude Diallo (Senegal), Chairman of the Committee, H.E. Mr. Alexander Borg Olivier (Malta), Rapporteur of the Committee, H.E. Mr. Abdul Halim bin Ali (Malaysia), H.E. Mr. Guennadi I. Oudovenko (Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic) and Mr. Zuhdi Labib Terzi (Palestine).
The programme of the Meeting was elaborated by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in consultation with the International Co-ordinating Committee for NGOs on the Question of Palestine (ICCP). Its main theme was "Intifadah: the continuing struggle of the Palestinian people for independence".
A panel entitled "Two peoples, two States: future relations" was held with the participation of the following experts:
Mr. Abraham Bardugo (Israel); Mr. Faisal Husseini (Palestinian); Mr. Nabil Sha'ath (Palestinian) and Mr. Hillel Shinker (Israel).
Six workshops were established on the following topics: (a) (i) Protection of the Palestinian population: the role of United Nations organs in the occupied Palestinian territory; (ii) Protection of the Palestinian population: the role of NGOs; (b) The role of NGO assistance in meeting the future economic development requirements of economic self-determination of the Palestinian people; (c) Mobilization for the release of Palestinian prisoners and potential deportees; (d) Mobilization of international support for Palestinian education and cultural institutions; (e) (i) Building support for an independent Palestinian State with the Jewish communities; (ii) Building support for an independent Palestinian State among Israelis; and (f) The promotion of the peace process and the role of the mass media. A number of special interest groups were also organized during the Meeting.
The Meeting adopted a declaration, the text of which is reproduced in annex I.
A. Opening statements
The Meeting was opened by H.E. Mrs. Absa Claude Diallo (Senegal), Chairman of he Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
Statement of the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Austria
In his statement, H.E. Mr. Alois Mock, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Austria, after expressing his Government's satisfaction that the meeting was taking place in Vienna, went on to reiterate Austria's strong support for the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people. Austria had consistently raised its voice for the need to respect the most fundamental rights of the Palestinian people, and had repeatedly protested against the practices of the occupying Power in the occupied Palestinian territory. For a long time, Austria had been in favour of a comprehensive, just and lasting solution of the question of Palestine, based on the principle "peace for land". It also continued to support the idea of an international conference under the auspices of the United Nations with the participation of all parties to the conflict, including the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the permanent members of the Security Council.
Mr. Mock went on to say that the historic decisions of the Palestine National Council's Congress at Algiers as well as the subsequent clarifications giver by Chairman Arafat at Stockholm and Geneva had generated a new momentum in the search for a just and peaceful solution. Another major element in this process was the decision of the United States Government to open a substantive dialogue with the PLO, a factor which could be instrumental in initiating a direct Israeli-Palestinian dialogue and in bringing Israel to the negotiating table. The Israeli Government's initiative for elections in the occupied Palestinian territory – provided that certain conditions were met – could be a first step towards peace if they were linked to a framework for a comprehensive settlement. Austria had welcomed the proclamation of the independent Palestinian State and subsequent developments and stood ready, as well as many other European countries, to play a useful role in this process.
A statement was made by Mr. Ronald I. Spiers, Under-Secretary-General for. Political and General Assembly Affairs and Secretariat Services, on behalf of the Secretary-General of the United Nations (annex III).
Statement by the Chairman of the Meeting
H.E. Mrs. Absa Claude Diallo, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, in her statement pointed out how, during the past year, the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory had deteriorated. The intifadah was entering its twentieth month, proving the unequivocal determination of the Palestinian people to resist and to put an end to the Israeli domination and occupation and to exercise its inalienable national rights. The historical decisions adopted by the Palestine National Council and the declaration of Chairman Yasser Arafat at Geneva not only had given more impact to the struggle of the Palestinian people, but also had created a new momentum for peace. The proclamation of the State of Palestine had been recognized by more than 90 countries and had been welcomed as a concrete positive step towards peace. Another positive development had been the decision of the United States Government to open a dialogue with the PLO.
The growing international consensus on the necessary elements for a comprehensive, just and lasting solution of the Middle East conflict, the core of which is the question of Palestine, had resulted in the adoption by the General Assembly of resolution 43/176 of 15 December 1988 calling for the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East under the auspices of the United Nations with the participation of all parties to the conflict including the PLO, on an equal footing, and the five permanent members of the Security Council, based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people, primarily the right to self-determination. The resolution had also spelled out a number of principles for the achievement of peace. For the first time, it had received the support of all regional groups, and only two countries had voted against it. However, no concrete measures had followed. Meanwhile, harsher measures had been taken by the occupying Power in the occupied Palestinian territory. More than 700 Palestinians had been killed since the beginning of the intifadah, and one in five of those victims was under the age of 16. Thousands had been arrested and deportations and various forms of collective punishment had continued. It was therefore extremely urgent to take measures guaranteeing the protection of the Palestinian population under occupation, while continuing the efforts towards a negotiated settlement. The Committee counted on the devotion and expertise of the international NGO community to contribute to the ongoing efforts in this direction.
Statement by the Chairman of ICCP
Don Betz, Chairman of the International Co-ordinating Committee for NGOs on the Question of Palestine (ICCP), said that the intifadah had provoked the unprecedented succession of dramatic events that had marked the last year. Because of the intifadah, the world also knew more and cared more about the fate of the Palestinian people than at any time in contemporary history. The NGOs had come to Vienna to devise new strategies for assisting the Palestinian people and for supporting a viable peace process. The NGO support had contributed to the change in public opinion. Much had been accomplished by NGOs, but more remained still to be done. The role of ICCP was to co-ordinate all the diverse activities and to disseminate information about the various individual, regional and global initiatives. The task of changing public opinion and influencing various government policies lay with each member of the NGO community. Two projects aimed at attracting a broader base of popular support were currently under way: the petition campaign by the North American Co-ordinating Committee entitled "Peace for Palestine and Israel in 1989" and the non-violent March for Peace in the Middle East.
Mr. Betz went on to say that the Palestinians had proven that they were a persistent people whose passage to freedom and self-determination would not be denied. The United Nations and the NGOs could fulfil their roles by protecting people with their actions and tangible support and with their refusal to accept nothing short of peace with justice unshakably rooted in Palestinian self-determination. The sacrifice of the Palestinian people merited nothing less than co-ordinated and effective action.
A message from Mr. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the PLO, was read by Mr. Daoud Barakat, Permanent Observer for Palestine to the United Nations Office at Vienna (annex IV).
B. Panel discussion
Panel: "Two peoples, two States: future relations"
On this panel, two Palestinians and two Israelis made presentations.
Mr. Faisal Husseini, Director of the Arab Studies Center in Jerusalem, described the historical phases of the struggle of the Palestinian people for independence and national unity since the beginning of the century. Following the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, Palestinians had succeeded in uniting the struggle under one leadership and within the organization, the PLO.
He went on to say that Israel had initially succeeded in driving the Palestinian revolution outside Palestine. While the people in the occupied territory struggled to remain steadfast on the land, those outside struggled to liberate the occupied territory. However, there were many problems and contradictions, internal and external, and Palestinians became involved in conflicts to which they were not a party. After the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and its efforts to destroy the PLO infrastructure and to push it away from the borders of Palestine, the Palestinians in the occupied territory had witnessed the heroic struggle of the PLO in Beirut and its capacity to re-establish itself and to have a political presence on the international scene.
The intifadah had resulted from an accumulation of the sufferings and struggles of the Palestinian people for more than 20 years. The Palestinian struggle was thereby brought back onto the land of Palestine and was freed from limitations and ties imposed by previous circumstances.
The PLO was able to convene the nineteenth extraordinary session of the Palestine National Council (PNC) in Algiers in 1988 where the peace initiative was adopted. The message of the intifadah was that the Palestinian people was struggling for its liberation, for the establishment of its own State and for guaranteeing a safe future for its coming generations. It did not want to dominate any other people, to destroy any other State or to threaten the coming generations of any other people in the area. The object of the struggle was to have a Palestinian State and an Israeli State, living side by side. The Palestinian people wanted peace with the enemy, which could only be achieved through a dialogue. If the Israelis wanted peace, they had to speak with the representatives of the Palestinians, that is, with the PLO and at its head, Mr. Yasser Arafat.
Mr. Husseini affirmed that the Palestinians wanted to reach a solution with the other party, and therefore had been using and resorting to limited tools and means in their struggle against occupation. However, Israel had attempted to destroy the intifadah through ruthless oppression and political games, and had expressed willingness to deal only with the Palestinians in the occupied territory. This was unacceptable because the Palestinian people were a complete people and not just the inhabitants of a certain area or district. The Palestinians in the occupied territory had selected their representative, namely, the PLO. Democratic life had been exercised within the framework of the PLO, and the PNC was the fruit of elections among popular Palestinian institutions. The Palestinian people believed in elections, but rejected the Shamir plan for elections in the occupied Palestinian territory.
The establishment of a Palestinian State for the Palestinian people was the key to peace and stability in the region as it would enable the Palestinians to realize their national aspirations and to end their status as refugees. It would make clear that the right of return and the right to self-determination would be exercised within that State. Otherwise, unfulfilled national and political aspirations would ensure continued conflict in the region. Following the example of Europe, the countries of the Middle East should work together to create a new prosperity and provide peace and security for the coming generations. The resolution of the Palestine question was the key to the success of such an endeavour.
Mr. Hillel Shinker, Israeli panelist, pointed out that the only possible solution to the conflict was a solution based upon the mutual right to self- determination for both peoples, i.e. two peoples, two States. Israeli policy makers faced several options. The first was to maintain the status quo. From 1967 to 1987, that had been a manageable option in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The status quo had been shattered by the intifadah, and after initial illusions that it could be repressed, the perception was now evolving that the intifadah was the new status quo, painful and costly, but also manageable.
He went on to say that the second option was autonomy, which had been a favourite tactic of former Prime Minister Begin. However, today, delaying tactics would not work, and therefore, that option could not be considered. The third option was annexation. If annexation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip was accompanied by the granting of equal rights to all Palestinians, within 20-25 years, Palestinians would be a majority in the land of Israel/ Palestine and there would be no Jewish State. Without the provision of equal rights to Palestinians, it would be the end of the dream of a democratic State. The option of annexation would therefore put Israel in an impossible situation and would be opposed by the entire world.
Mr. Shinker continued that the fourth option, "transfer" or deportation, was a dangerous option supported not only by the extreme right in Israel, but also by at least 40 per cent of the youth. However, a large percentage of Israeli Jews opposed that option and any attempt to impose it could lead to civil war within Israel. A clear majority of world Jewry, as well as the international community, was also opposed to it. Mass deportation could be attempted only in the course of another war, which could have potentially disastrous consequences for both peoples. The only logical option left was accordingly the two-State solution, a conclusion reached by the Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, Israel's major strategic think-tank. That was viewed as the best option from the perspective of Israel's fundamental security and economic needs.
Unfortunately, Prime Minister Shamir had not understood that logical conclusion and was opposed to both a Palestinian State and to talking with the PLO, which was recognized by the Israeli peace movement as the authorized representative of the Palestinian people. According to public opinion polls, 58 per cent of the Jewish Israelis believed that the Israeli Government would talk with the PLO within the next five years. Time, however, was running out and there was an increasing danger of violence and militancy on both sides. Looking at the future, Israelis and Palestinians were like Siamese twins and their fates were intertwined. Former Labor Party Secretary-General, Lova Eliav, had spoken about a vision that he called Isfalur [a confederation of Israel, Falastin (Palestine) and Urdun (Jordan)]. Former Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban had spoken about a Benelux-like solution. The original United Nations Partition Plan had also called for the establishment of two States with an economic union. The two States in the future should serve as the basis for a Middle Eastern common market.
Mr. Shinker added that the convening of an international peace conference with the participation of all the concerned parties, particularly the Israeli Government and the PLO, was the approach that enjoyed the widest support but could not realistically be expected to happen soon. Mutual fears required the assistance of third parties, including the United Nations, the NGOs, and the super-Powers, in that process. In his view, pending the convening of the Conference, the PLO might find it worth-while to seriously consider using the proposal for elections in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a means of moving the political process forward, if acceptable modalities could be negotiated.
Mr. Nabil Sha'ath, Chairman of the Political Committee of the Palestine National Council, spoke of the Palestinian vision of the future over the past 40 years. The first vision was a humanistic one, of a democratic State for two people of three religions: a State that was non-discriminatory, non-racist and that allowed individuals and groups within it to grow and prosper in a non-chauvinistic, non-sectarian and secular fashion. That vision was shared by only a small minority of Israelis who were able to overcome the original Israeli fears that had developed not in the context of their conflict with the Palestinians and the Arabs, but in the context of the history of Jewish suffering. In the Arab/Israeli conflict, the fear was rather on the Palestinian side, which was faced with two options: either transfer, or suffering under a very heavy-handed occupation by the Israelis.
The Jewish fear of oppression and the Palestinian fear of the Israelis had made it impossible to envision a future in which the two peoples would live at peace in one country. Out of the two fears had come the Israeli rejection of the idea of the democratic State. By 1974, the Palestinians had therefore made their first offer of a two-State solution in a resolution of the PNC which accepted the establishment of a Palestinian State on a part of Palestine, rather than insisting on a unified democratic State over all of Palestine for Christians, Moslems and Jews.
Mr. Sheath went on to say that the intifadah had brought in a new Palestinian vision and a new tolerance and realism that resulted in the 1988 Declaration of Independence, and established for the first time the idea of a two-State solution based on the legitimacy of General Assembly resolution 181 (11), despite the historical injustice of that resolution. It was that start that had allowed the PNC to come out with the Palestinian peace plan based on the principles of self-determination and direct negotiations in the context of an international peace conference, leading eventually to the creation of an independent Palestinian State on those parts of Palestine occupied in 1967, that is, the West Bank, the Gaza and East Jerusalem and leading to a contractual peace between the Palestinian State, all the Arab countries surrounding it, and Israel. This new vision of "two peoples, two States" would allow them to move voluntarily and in peace to an arrangement whereby they would link themselves to each other and progress from confrontation to peaceful co-operation within an overall Middle East context.
However, in order for the two States to move from dependence to independence and interdependence, a few questions had to be solved. Firstly, the question of fear on both sides could only be resolved by ending Israeli occupation and oppression of all kinds. The second question to be addressed was credibility. The Palestinians had always honoured their commitments, such as the 1981 cease-fire in Lebanon, the 1987 Cairo Declaration and the 1988 PLO Declaration by which they had committed themselves against the use of force against civilians. This showed that Palestinians would follow through, if a real peace was negotiated. The third question related to ideology. It was necessary in that regard to create new symbols and new languages. He expressed the hope that there would be more forums of the same kind, permitting the exchange of new ideas, particularly between Palestinians, Arabs in general, Israelis and Jews around the world. The Israeli laws against contacts between Israelis and Palestinians had been an impediment and therefore NGOs should make efforts to strike down such laws and barriers to the communication that was so significant for the success of the two new States Mr. Sha'ath pointed out that before moving towards interdependence with Israel, the new Palestinian State would need to strengthen its own independence, particularly by rebuilding its infrastructure almost destroyed by the Israeli occupation. The new State should become a haven for all Palestinians. Any solution of the Palestine problem leading to real peace had to be based on a solution that encompassed all of the five and a half million of Palestinians inside and outside Palestine. It was an absolute necessity that those outside Palestine enjoy the inalienable right of return. The Palestinians who chose to remain outside Palestine should have the right of compensation and the right of citizenship in the new State of Palestine.
Those who were Israeli citizens should have the option of retaining their citizenship and their rights on their land, while they might also be given the right of accepting Palestinian citizenship. It was estimated that at least one million Palestinians would choose to go back to the Palestinian State. Their right should be absolutely non-negotiable and they should enjoy world support and assistance to build the infrastructure and housing required to absorb them. Regarding the Palestinians of 1948 who wished to return to their homes in Israel, their rights could not be abrogated, but the modalities by which that right could be implemented had to be part of the negotiation process leading to a viable two-State solution.
Mr. Abraham Bardugo, Israeli panelist, said that a real war was going on in the occupied Palestinian territory. A whole nation was fighting and paying the full price for that war. The fact that there was no other solution except that of "two States for two nations" did not make it an easier task to deal with the situation. Among a large part of the Israeli population continued to prevail the dream of the "great Israel", which had been deeply rooted in people's minds for the past 20 years. On both sides, there were fears, but particularly on the Israeli side, because of what they had done to the Palestinians in building their own State and which might not be forgiven.
The situation was to be dealt with without further delay since every additional day of repression in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip was generating increased hatred. Israelis had to convince their own people of the importance of the Palestinian State not only for Palestinians but also for Israelis. Because of the intifadah, Israelis were made aware of facts up to now unknown to them. They had realized, for example, that a large part of the national budget was shared unequally, the settlements being allocated the same amount as unemployment. Unemployment was currently one of the most hurtful problem of the Israeli economy, since in Israel there were 150,000 unemployed. Further, because of the fact that 20,000 settlers were getting the same amount as 150,000 unemployed, it was necessary to take action. These facts should be widely disclosed to the Israeli people and an end should be put to building settlements, unless Israel would declare that those settlements in the West Bank would some day be negotiable for those who were going to return. Otherwise, it would be clear that the money invested in settlements was really part of the effort to suppress the intifadah.
The immediate problem was how to convince urgently those who made up the electoral base of the parties in the Government that their policy of suppressing the intifadah was against their own interest. The Palestinian State was of great importance to the Israelis. Security needs were always invoked to prevent debate on internal problems such as unemployment, welfare, education. However, once it was understood what the real issues were, people would fight against the Israeli policies. The issue was no longer whether the Palestinians would have their own State, but how soon they would have it. Israelis needed to be persuaded that the Palestinian leadership had already made the necessary commitments and that the two-State solution was in Israel's best interest. Time was running out. Palestinians were suffering increasingly in the occupied territory, and in these conditions the situation was becoming dangerous and even less conducive to a logical solution.
In his concluding remarks, the representative of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People stated that the Meeting had provided an opportunity for sharing first-hand information, experiences and strategies and had opened up new possibilities for action. The Meeting had also offered an invaluable forum for promoting mutual understanding and dialogue between the parties concerned. The debates had shown the need to intensify efforts towards a negotiated settlement in accordance with United Nations resolutions and to take urgent measures to provide protection and relief to the Palestinians in the occupied territory and to devise adequate programmes to enable them to build the infrastructure of their future State.
He expressed the Committee's satisfaction at NGO efforts to mobilize various constituencies in support of Palestinian rights and at the large participation of NGOs in the Meeting, including many Israeli and Jewish groups. Those organizations had a particularly crucial task to perform and he called on them to mobilize even greater numbers in support of peace in the region. He also reiterated that the Committee attached great importance to its continued collaboration with the NGO community.
DECLARATION ADOPTED BY THE SIXTH UNITED NATIONS
INTERNATIONAL NGO MEETING ON THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE
1. We, the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) gathered at the Sixth International NGO Meeting on the Question of Palestine, totally uphold the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and fully support their continuing struggle for independence, as expressed in the intifadah and by all other internationally legitimate means. We recognize and uphold the historic proclamation of the independent State of Palestine made on 15 November 1988. We recognize the proclamation not only as the expression of the will of the heroic people of the intifadah, but also as the expression of the fundamental principle of the self-determination of peoples, enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. We call on all Governments of States Members of the United Nations which have not yet done so, to recognize the proclamation of the independent State of Palestine, in unequivocal terms and without delay.
2. We particularly note and welcome the statement made by President Arafat at the meeting of the General Assembly held at Geneva, on 13 December 1988, in which he recognized the right of all States in the Middle East region to exist in peace and security, including the States of Palestine and Israel. We uphold the Palestinian right of return, in a spirit of justice and of reconciliation, without prejudicing the situation of the people in Israel, details to be negotiated between the Israeli Government and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on the basis of all relevant United Nations resolutions.
3. We vigorously renew the call for the early convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East in accordance with General Assembly resolution 43/176 of 15 December 1988, with the participants to include the five permanent members of the Security Council, the PLO, Israel, the Arab States parties to the conflict and other concerned States, on an equal basis and with equal rights. The emphasis must be on reaching a peaceful, just and comprehensive permanent settlement between Israel and independent Palestine as defined in the Algiers proclamation of the independent State of Palestine and in all relevant United Nations resolutions, for the mutual advantage of all the peoples of the region and of the world.
4. Reaffirming the international consensus that the PLO is the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, we note the great strengthening of the consensus by the unwavering support for the PLO by the people of the intifadah and by the united national leadership of the intifadah. We therefore urge all Governments fully to recognize the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and the State of Palestine, and to press for its participation on an equal footing with other parties to the conflict at the International Peace Conference as the representative of the Palestinian people.
5. We uphold the right of the people of the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem, democratically to elect their representatives as part of the comprehensive settlement, but we reject the spurious plan for so-called elections put forward by the Prime Minister and Government of Israel, and whose principal international advocate is the Government of the United States of America. The plan is the opposite of democracy, designed not to advance but to prevent independence and to lead to the annexation of the territories and the forcible expulsion of the rightful inhabitants. For full and free elections to take place as part of a definite process leading to the establishment of the independent State of Palestine, we call for Israeli withdrawal from the Palestine territory occupied in 1967 and for full and effective international supervision by the United Nations.
6. Recalling that the Fifth International NGO Meeting on the Question of Palestine expressed its condemnation of all the numerous acts of Israeli repression, including killing, wounding, especially women and children, mass arrests, demolition of homes, expulsions, starvation, uprooting of trees, confiscation of land and sexual harassment of women prisoners, we note that these abhorrent practices have actually increased. That they have less media coverage arises not from any lessening of repression but because the media are prevented from reporting and can themselves be penalized for doing so. We call for effective international political and economic pressure on Israel to make it comply with its obligations under the fourth Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949 and to accept United Nations Security Council resolutions. We appeal to the Security Council to establish an immediate United Nations presence in the post-1967 Israeli occupied territories, to bring an immediate end to the escalating violations of human rights, to protect the people and to bring the perpetrators of these practices to justice. We strongly recommend an expansion of United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Refugee Affairs Officer (RAO) Programme as a practical expression of international concern for the protection of the Palestinian people under occupation. We express grave concern at the situation of the Palestinians in Lebanon, call for help for them and for the strengthening of the United Nations presence in Lebanon and Israeli withdrawal in accordance with Security Council resolution 509 (1982).
7. Given the grave intensive and escalating situation in the occupied Palestinian State, including the complex of emergency and development needs and the gradual collapse of Israeli controlled services, we call on all United Nations bodies (UNRWA, UNDP, WHO, UNICEF, UNCTAD, UNIDO, ILO and others) where constitutionally possible, to admit the State of Palestine to membership and to generate a creative and intensive dialogue with the PLO and with Palestinian non-governmental organizations for a wide, effective and comprehensive United Nations involvement in the health and socio-economic fields, independent of Israeli control.
8. There is now an organized attempt by the Israeli Government to destroy Palestinian society, of which one of the most pernicious manifestations is the denial of education to Palestinian children through the permanent closure of schools and other educational institutions, accompanied by the penalizing of parents for trying to teach their children in their own homes, even in such basic skills as reading and writing. This calculated attempt to try to produce an illiterate generation of Palestinians is not only contrary to every relevant article of the fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, but an affront to all civilized values. We note that international protest forced the reopening of certain junior schools but also note that this affected only a small part of the education system, much the greater part of which remains permanently closed. We call upon Governments, educational and cultural institutions, professional associations, trade unions and individuals world-wide, to utilize all cultural relations to pressure Israel (including sanctions), to cease these practices.
9. While noting changing attitudes in the United States of America towards Israel, we consider the changes by the Administration to be inadequate and we condemn their continuing support for the Israeli Government despite the letter's persistent and flagrant violations of Palestinian human and national rights. We consider these to be unhelpful for the achievement of progress towards the convening of the International Peace Conference.
10. Noting world-wide efforts for the reduction of nuclear weapons, we deplore that Israel introduced nuclear weapons into the Middle East and we deplore the escalation in research into nuclear weapons and the proliferation of chemical weapons which this has created. We call upon Israel and all other States in the region to sign the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, to dismantle its nuclear weapons and to open its nuclear installations to international inspection and to observe its treaty obligations, such as those it has with Norway for inspection to ensure the proper use of nuclear material supplied specifically for peaceful use. We deplore the growing use by Israel and other States in the region of chemical weapons against people and against crops. We call for the release of the prisoner of conscience, Mordechai Vanunu.
11. We strongly uphold the forces of peace in Israel which support the International Peace Conference and an independent Palestinian State. We strongly condemn the penalizing of Israeli peace activists. We express support for those growing numbers who refuse military service in occupied Palestinian territories and other occupied territories of Arab countries, and we call upon the Israeli Government to recognize the right of Israelis to conscientious objection. We urge the Israeli parliament to repeal the so-called "anti-terrorism" act of August 1986 which prohibits contacts between Israeli citizens and representatives of Palestinian organizations.
12. We strongly condemn the proposed new Amendment Number 3 and urge the Israeli parliament not to pass it as it would provide arbitrary and dictatorial powers of confiscation of the assets of charitable and educational NGOs and close to them all avenues to aid from international sources. We call for an urgent international campaign against the amendment by Governments, NGOs and all peace-loving peoples.
13. We note the strong desire for peace and justice in the Middle East expressed at the European Nuclear Disarmament Convention in Spain in July 1989. We fully support the Convention proposal for a non-violent march for peace in Israel and Palestine on 29, 30 and 31 December 1989. We urge all NGOs world-wide to organize to participate in this important event.
14. Much of our work in this Meeting was conducted in workshops and in meetings of special interest groups. We endorse their conclusions and recommendations. We draw attention to the fact that NGO opinion has consistently been more progressive and creative than official governmental thinking and we urge all Governments, in the interest of peace and justice, seriously to consider the options defined by NGOs in this Declaration and elsewhere
15. It is important for NGO effectiveness to be increased. We commend the activities and work of the International Co-ordinating Committee for NGOs on the Question of Palestine (ICCP) and its secretariat in Geneva. We call upon the United Nations to offer every possible assistance to ICCP and its secretariat We urge the United Nations to convene an international meeting in the first week of September 1990, the venue and format to be decided, and to maintain its programme of regional symposia.
16. We request the Chairman of the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People to convey this Declaration to the General Assembly at its forty-fourth session as part of the Committee's report. Recognizing the vital importance of information, we urge that records of this meeting be disseminated as widely as possible, to NGOs, Governments and the media.
17. We thank the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for convening this Meeting and we greatly appreciate the presence of the members and observers of the Committee. We thank the Division for Palestinian Rights and all of the United Nations Secretariat, including the interpreters who assisted in this Meeting. We express our appreciation to the distinguished experts who spoke here. All those mentioned herein contributed greatly to the success of our Meeting. We warmly thank the Austrian Government for welcoming us to Vienna and for the excellent facilities they placed at our disposal.
Workshop 1 (A): Protection of the Palestinian population: the role of the United Nations organs in the occupied Palestinian territory
Clearer definition of the mandates of United Nations organizations in the occupied Palestinian territory in order to increase and enhance their roles.
What NGOs are prepared to do to achieve these objectives
1. Ask for expansion of mandates of United Nations organizations to include protection provisions for the Palestinians and not merely services.
2. Ask for clearer definition of status of occupied Palestinian territories.
3. Request (through their Governments) for the General Assembly to establish the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as trust territories until official Palestinian Government can take over.
4. Ask United Nations organizations to produce a weekly fact sheet, newsletter listing human rights violations and send to member Governments, NGOs, and international news media.
Workshop 1 (B): Protection of the Palestinian population: role of NGOs
We recommend that NGOs take action to provide protection for the Palestinian population both in the West Bank and Gaza, and inside the Green Line, by:
(a) Actively working in support of the International Co-ordinating Committee for NGOs on the Question of Palestine (ICCP) campaign for the convening of a special session of the United Nations General Assembly to address the issue of protection;
(0) Mounting a more effective information campaign in defense of the Palestinian population by providing speedy and accurate information about human rights violations to:
(i) The mass media, through an effective media monitoring project;
(ii) Human rights organizations, "watch" committees, and lawyers' committees;
(iii) Government officials and organizations;
(iv) Religious organizations;
(v) Business and professional organizations.
(c) Working on specific human rights cases and issues, and "twinning" projects, in order both to protect individuals and to educate the public with a real human situation with which they identify. This includes:
(i) NGO campaigns such as that in support of Terry Boulata, which will be provided to NGOs as an effective model for action;
(ii) Individual cases of issues such as expulsions on which the ICCP office alerts the NGOs to take action;
(iii) "Twinning" projects, models of which will be provided to NGOs by the special interest group on "twinning".
(d) Implementing delegations and eyewitness projects upon request from Palestinians and within an NGO "code of conduct" which has been drafted by this workshop and which we request the International Co-ordinating Committee for NGOs on the Question of Palestine to circulate to all NGOs.
(e) Taking immediate action to prevent enactment of the Israeli "Prevention of Terrorism" Amendment, using urgent action material already developed by the ICCP and by the special interest group on the Amendment.
(f) Opposing every means by which the human and democratic rights of Palestinians and progressive Israelis are repressed. The use of laws such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Emergency Defense Regulations is aimed at blocking and repressing the increasingly effective co-operation between Israelis who struggle against the occupation, and Palestinians. Such co-operation is another direct form of protection and must be defended by NGOs.
(g) Building a grassroots campaign to reduce United States aid to Israel in direct proportion to the amount spent on the occupation and suppressing and intifadah:
(i) NCOs can bring pressure on the United States Congress to reduce military and economic assistance to Israel owing to its violations of fundamental human rights in occupied Palestine; other NGOs can urge their own Governments to bring pressure on the United States and Israel as well;
(ii) Other economic pressures, including boycotts of Israeli products and the divestment of support to the Jewish National Fund and removal of its tax-free status, should be pursued, particularly in Europe.
Workshop 1 (B): Code of conduct for NGO delegations and visiting individuals in occupied Palestine
Recommendation of the workshop on the protection of the Palestinian population on the role of the NGOs,
Recognizing the limited resources of and difficulties confronting Palestinian institutions and individuals under occupation, and;
Mindful of the demonstrable danger to Palestinians who host and assist foreign observers, and
In keeping with our commitment as NGOs to contribute to the protection of the Palestinian population under occupation,
The workshop urges that the plenary meeting and ICCP disseminate a recommended code of conduct for all delegations and witnesses to occupied Palestine which will include a call for them to undertake:
(a) To declare and define the purpose of any visit or presence in occupied Palestine which includes a detailed plan for follow-up work in their country of origin, preferably in co-ordination with other NGOs;
(b) To make available to their Palestinian hosts all reports, products, and outcomes resulting from their visit;
(c) To campaign in defense of their hosts who suffer imprisonment, expulsion, or other punishments;
(d) To support the Palestinian people's struggle for economic independence and self-sufficiency by purchasing Palestinian goods and services and boycotting Israeli products and services when a Palestinian or other non-Israeli alternative exists;
(e) To consult with their Palestinian hosts and to respect their recommendations on appropriate behaviour and action to avoid unnecessary danger, compromise, or culture offense.
Workshop 2: The role of NGO assistance in meeting the future economic development requirements for economic self-determination of the Palestinian people
The brief introductions to topic made by the resource persons set a good basis and framework for the discussions. They can be summarized as follows:
(a) In considering economic development assistance, a distinction had to be made between: (i) immediate needs to ensure survival; (ii) short-term needs which support and strengthen the independent struggle and (iii) long-term projects towards supporting an economically viable and independent Palestinian State.
(b) Classical development models based on peace-time conditions are not applicable to the occupied territories whose people are engaged in a liberation struggle and whose economic activities are obstructed by the Israeli Government's policies intended to keep the economy of the occupied territories ancillary to its own. Flexibility was needed to take into account the fluid situation.
(c Agriculture remained the major economic activity. Development was prevented by Israel's control of land, water supply, licensing and access to markets. Irrigation was limited and none of the Palestinian universities has been able to establish agricultural colleges.
(d) There was an urgent need to develop industry to diversify the economy and provide employment.
The discussion focused primarily on immediate and shorter-term needs. There was a strong call for better co-ordination among NGOs, and for a forum for discussion and facilitation of such co-ordination.
NGOs can assist in two ways:
(a) Directly with small income-generating and home-based projects proposed by local Palestinian organizations. Although such assistance was marginal to the total development process, it responded to immediate needs and provided moral support and a sense of achievement.
(b) NGOs can support new economic initiatives designed to evade Israeli destruction on development of industry and access to markets, and those that require pressure to break down Israeli obstructions. They can also assist in promoting contacts between Palestinian and Western business persons to develop industries, markets, business training and the creation of credit institutions.
NGOs were urged to keep in touch with the economic department of the PLO about their development plans.
A number of requests were made to ICCP:
(a) To seek the good offices of the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People to obtain clarification on the specific mandates of United Nations agencies operating in the occupied territories and make this information available to the network of ICCP
(b) To disseminate information about the activities of United Nations agencies in the occupied territories.
(c) To monitor Israeli measures obstructing or preventing economic assistance and activity, and trade with the aim of organizing international pressure against such measures.
Two specific projects were proposed for which organizations took responsibilities:
(a) International and local NGOs should adopt the issue of developing and licensing food processing as a way in which they can co-ordinate in a practical manner their campaigning, human rights and development agendas.
(b) Bring together Israeli NGOs to disseminate information on particular economic measures which are constraints on Palestinian economic development and to organize opposition to those measures.
Workshop 3: Mobilization for the release of Palestinian prisoners and potential deportees
After extensive discussions, the workshop participants recommended the following plan of action for NGOs:
(a) Launch a campaign in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners which will culminate in a week of solidarity with Palestinian prisoners beginning on 17 April 1990 (International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners). This campaign will focus on: (i) administrative detainees; (ii) women prisoners; (iii) children prisoners; (iv) all other prisoners. We note that it may be more effective to launch campaigns on behalf of types of prisoners, such as lawyers, health care workers, journalists, etc. further we call on Israel not only to release the administrative detainees, but also to close all detention centres, especially Ansar III, and cease building and expanding and creating detention facilities. It must be noted that Israel demolishes the homes of many prisoners. Protest visits to United States embassies and consulates during this week of solidarity are encouraged in order to demonstrate to the United States Government that NGOs hold it largely responsible for Israel's illegal actions. Further, NGOs request that Palestinian NGOs provide the NGO network with lists of prisoners and prisoners' families that need our solidarity and financial support.
(b) NGOs should tour deportees throughout the world to relate personally their experiences and the experiences of the Palestinian people.
(c) We call on Israel to stop obstructing visitations between Palestinian deportees and their families.
(d) NGOs should support the effort to bring four Palestinian doctors, each from different health organizations, for training at the Centre for the Victims of Torture in Copenhagen.
Workshop 4: Mobilization of international support for Palestinian education and cultural institutions
Introductions by three resource persons made clear to the participants that educational and cultural institutions in the occupied territories are severely handicapped by the increasing repressive measures against the intifadah)
Five areas of action were suggested:
(a) Reopening and keeping schools open as a basic right requirement. The following are certain suggestions on ways and means of how NGOs can participate in this regard:
(i) Urge the need for one or two volunteers from respective NGO groups to work in co-ordination with Palestinian NGOs for the documentation of information about the educational system in the occupied territory;
(ii) Urge NGOs to sponsor tours of Palestinian students to meet with students and educators;
(iii) Support the General Union of Palestinian Students' appeal for the reopening of schools and adopt their call for an international strike in schools and universities on December 8;
(iv) Encourage twinning of schools and universities (meaning structural contacts on all levels). A possibility on the personal level is pen friends between Palestinian and non-Palestinian students.
(b) Urging NGOs to provide assistance if requested in secure, specialized training and in meeting other educational needs.
(c) Urging that NGOs focus attention on the need for the protection of children in transit and in schools and requesting the United Nations to declare the first week of December as the week of the Palestinian child, and urge NGOs to focus on this theme.
(d) The participants noted that Israeli policy of closures and curfews made it virtually impossible for Palestinians to express their cultural identity.
Therefore, it is suggested that NGOs:
(a) Ask professional and cultural institutions to call for the release of Palestinian writers and artists.
(b) Sponsor Palestinian theatre productions as well as art and folklore outside the territories.
Workshop 5 (A): Building support for an independent Palestinian State with Jewish communities
To find ways of involving Jewish communities in the drive for peace and extending the participation of Jewish organizations and individuals in NGO work.
Proposals for action
1. To use the visit of Chairman Arafat to the United Nations in New York at the end of September as a focus for specific activities drawing public attention to support for his presence.
2. To promote a fund-raising campaign for Israeli peace movements based on the approach: "Are you giving to Israel this year? Which Israel?"
3. To undertake educational activities based on the teach-in idea, which would focus on the issues blocking greater involvement of Jewish communities and national peace movements in promotion of a two-State solution.
4. Work for the inclusion of the issues of peace and Palestinian freedom in celebrations of Passover- a festival associated with liberation.
Workshop 5 (B): Building support for an independent Palestinian State among Israelis
Israeli public opinion is critical to the process of peace. Therefore, the strategy to change attitudes of the Israeli public is important. Change could come from the grassroots as well as from the leadership, from within society or from outside it. To mobilize support among Israelis for peace built on justice, the following activities were suggested for NGO action:
(a) NGOs should facilitate Israeli-Palestinian exchange on political and humanitarian issues to deal with negative stereotypes and to reach trust and mutual respect between the two peoples.
(b) NGOs should work to correct the Oriental Jews' concerns for equality with Palestinian concerns for statehood, through interpretation of the media, through common cultural activities, debate and through education.
(c) In mobilizing Israeli public opinion for peace, the rights of the Israeli Palestinians should be emphasized. Equality for all everywhere should be the guiding principle for peace.
(d) To the Israelis, the social and economic cost of war and the benefit of peace should be made clear. One example is to highlight the cost of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories and its relation to the 150,000 unemployed Israelis. "Peace will pay."
(e) To deal with the Israeli fear of the future, the question of the right of return must be faced squarely as a symmetrical right for both Palestinians and Israelis. The implementation of the right to return should be left: to official negotiations between the two sides.
(f) All Israeli peace groups should join hands, build mutual trust, and influence Israeli public opinion through:
(i) The continuation and intensification of dialogue meetings and exchange visits with the Palestinians in occupied Palestine;
(ii) The intensification of education for peace and equal rights, while carefully and adequately addressing peoples' human, emotional and psychological problems;
(iii) Further humanize the perceptions of Palestinians and publicize the aims of the intifadah and its leadership through education and to promote the Palestinians' right to visit their destroyed homes (within the range of the law).
(g) The mobilization of external influence on Israel from the United States and Europe is important.
(h) The continuation of the non-armed struggle by the Palestinians is considered essential. New methods of non-violent struggle among the Israelis could be stimulated.
Workshop 6: The promotion of the peace process and the role of the mass media
Get the intifadah back to the he headlines of the mass media, and provide more background information.
What NGOs are prepared to do to achieve those objectives
1. Protest against Israeli Government effort to restrict the access of foreign journalists to the occupied territories, including in particular the prohibition of the use of fax machines in Gaza, the closure of local press agencies and the general suppression of information in order to silence the intifadah. Journalists should be encouraged and helped to visit the occupied territories.
2. NGOs should try to monitor the mass media in their own countries in order to work for a balanced coverage, more background information on the roots of the conflict and to stress the Israeli-Palestinian co-operation which exists in order to promote the peace process.
3. NGOs which are responsible for delegations visiting the Palestinian occupied territories and Israel should ensure that the delegations come better prepared and that the delegation members are interviewed by the mass media in their respective countries on their return.
4. The NGOs themselves encourage the Unified National Leadership to continue to assist the foreign press to cover all the aspects of the intifadah and the Israeli Government's reaction to it, which are not currently receiving the attention it deserves in the Western media.
STATEMENT BY MR. RONALD I. SPIERS, UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL
FOR POLITICAL AND GENERAL ASSEMBLY AFFAIRS AND SECRETARIAT SERVICES,
ON BEHALF OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS
It is an honour for me to welcome you, in the name of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to the Sixth United Nations International NGO Meeting on the Question of Palestine.
This important meeting has been convened by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian people in fulfilment of its mandate as defined in the resolutions of the General Assembly of the United Nations. It is my pleasant duty to convey to you this statement for the Secretary-General, Mr. Javier Perez de Guellar, who has asked me to do so on his behalf.
The Committee has been engaged for 13 years in persistent efforts aimed at securing for the Palestinian people the exercise of its inalienable rights. The recommendations formulated by it in 1976 to achieve that objective have been endorsed by the General Assembly at each of its subsequent sessions. The Committee has undertaken a number of important and useful activities in the fulfilment of its mandate. The regional seminars and symposia, the international non-governmental organizations meetings like this one, the publications and studies issued under the Committee's guidance, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People commemorated each year on 29 November and the Committee's support to the activities undertaken by the Department of Public Information, have all contributed to the increased awareness of the Palestinian cause in all parts of the world.
This meeting is taking place at a time of important developments regarding the question of Palestine. The uprising in the occupied territories, the intifadah, which began in December 1987, and the harsh measures enforced to suppress it, remain a matter of grave concern for the international community. The Secretary-General is particularly disturbed at the large number of deaths and injuries among the civilians, including women and children. Moreover, detention of thousands of Palestinians and numerous deportations, in violation of Security Council resolutions, underscore the seriousness of the situation. The Secretary-General on a number of occasions has urged the Israeli authorities to exercise maximum restraint in the occupied territories. He has also appealed to Israel, as the occupying Power, to abide in full by its obligations under the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949.
Some other very important and positive developments should be recalled. They include the nineteenth extraordinary session of the Palestine National Council, held in November 1988 at Algiers, the consideration of the question of Palestine by the General Assembly at its forty-third session at Geneva in December 1988 and the important statement and remarks made on that occasion on behalf of the Palestinian people by Mr. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), as well as the decision of the United States Government to enter into a dialogue with the PLO. These are encouraging events. However, the path to a just peace in the Middle East is a difficult one and all possible efforts must be undertaken to bring parties to the negotiating table to achieve it.
The General Assembly, in resolution 43/176 of 15 December 1988, called for the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East under the auspices of the United Nations, with the participation of all parties to the conflict, including the PLO, on an equal footing, and the five permanent members of the Security Council, based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people, primarily the right to self-determination. The General Assembly requested the Security Council to consider measures needed to convene the International Peace Conference, including the establishment of a preparatory committee. It also requested the Secretary-General to continue his efforts with the parties concerned and, in consultation with the Security Council, to facilitate the convening of the Conference.
In recent years, we have witnessed an improvement in the international political climate which has resulted in tangible progress towards the settlement of several regional conflicts. The protracted and explosive nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict makes it all the more urgent for us to concentrate our efforts in this area. The Secretary-General has drawn attention to the dangers inherent in a lack of progress towards a comprehensive settlement. He has intensified his own efforts for the convening of an international peace conference on the Middle East with the participation of all the parties concerned, including Palestine. He will continue this task in accordance with the mandate entrusted to him by the Security Council and the General Assembly.
I would like to avail myself of this opportunity to express appreciation, on behalf of the Secretary-General, to all the non-governmental organizations who have come to Vienna from all parts of the world to strengthen international and national efforts aimed at reaching a just settlement of the question of Palestine. Your presence here in such a large number testifies to your resolve to consolidate your bonds with the United Nations in the pursuit of a comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East.
I would also like to express our appreciation to the members of non-governmental organizations from the occupied territories and from Israel, who represent differing points of view but have joined in an international endeavour to uphold just causes.
The Secretary-General continues to believe that an enlightened and mobilized public opinion, through the invaluable activities of NGOs, can play a very important role in helping to bring about a peaceful solution to this long-standing conflict. In this connection, the Division for Palestinian Rights, under the guidance of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, will continue and expand its co-operation with the world-wide community of NGOs in order to promote our common objectives.
In conclusion, I would like to take this opportunity to express the Secretary-General's appreciation of the work of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian people, which has carried out its mandate with dedication under the wise and able leadership of its distinguished Chairman, Ambassador Absa Claude Diallo of Senegal, and its Bureau.
On behalf of the Secretary-General, and on my own behalf, I wish this International NGO Meeting all success.
MESSAGE FROM MR. YASSER ARAFAT,
CHAIRMAN OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE PALESTINE LIBERATION ORGANIZATION
On the convening of your distinguished Meeting, I have the pleasure to address to all of you the warmest fraternal greetings and the most sincere and heartfelt wishes for the success of your work.
I take the opportunity of the convening of this Meeting at Vienna to convey, on behalf of our struggling Palestinian Arab people, the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and myself, our deep appreciation for the constant positions of support and backing adopted by the friendly Republic of Austria, its President, its Chancellor, its Government and its people, for our just Palestinian cause. Austria has embodied these positions in its speedy recognition of the independent State of Palestine and by raising its level of diplomatic relations with the PLO. We also express our deep gratification to the Government of Austria for hosting your distinguished Meeting and providing it with additional facilities for the success of its work.
I also take this occasion to express, on behalf of the Palestinian Arab people and the Executive Committee of the PLO, our deep appreciation for the vital and important role played by Mr. Javier Perez de Cu011ar, Secretary-General of the United Nations, at the head of this international institution, in promoting international peace and security and the implementation of the Charter of the United Nations and its exalted principles. I convey our deep gratitude for the role played by him in connection with the implementation of the resolutions of the United Nations relating to the question of Palestine. I further convey our profound appreciation to the Chief of the Division for Palestinian Rights in the United Nations Secretariat for the efforts made by him and his staff in order to affirm the national inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.
Your distinguished Meeting is being held at a time when our Palestinian people is continuing its hallowed uprising, now entering its twenty-first month, despite enormous sacrifices and harsh suffering, with ever greater determination and ever firmer resolution, in order to secure its freedom and independence. We are sure that you are following developments in the uprising of our people and in its daily confrontation with the Israeli occupation army and the bands of Zionist settlers who, together, are implementing the policies of the "iron-fist" and the breaking of bones pursued by the Government of Israel against our struggling and unarmed people which, with the naked breasts of its sons and their hallowed stones, are confronting the most up-to-date means of oppression, tyranny and systematic State terrorism. This is particularly so since the Israeli Government has decided recently, with the failure of the plan for elections under occupation, the so-called "Shamir plan", to escalate its "iron-fist" policy in order to quench the spirit of resistance among our people, stifle its revolutionary uprising, consolidate the Israeli occupation of our occupied land as a fait accompli and deny our people its inalienable right to self-determination.
The Israeli Government has received unlimited support from the United States Administration despite its persistent and flagrant violations of the human rights of the Palestinians and despite its violations of international instruments and international law and custom, which have been condemned by the entire international community. This indicates that the United States Administration is adopting a double standard with respect to our just Palestinian cause. While the United States pursues the defence of human rights everywhere, it is defending the violation by the occupation authorities of the national and human rights of our people.
As a result of savage Israeli measures of oppression, hundreds have been killed and thousands wounded, tens of thousands of civilians detained and hundreds of homes demolished. The closure of universities, schools and kindergartens has continued for two successive years, during which time the sons of our people have been deprived of their natural right to education. The expulsion of dozens of our people's freedom-fighters also continues in the framework of the policy of collective punishments pursued by the occupation authorities. This is in addition to the economic and supply blockade, the starvation of our people and its deprivation of such basics of life as water and electricity. The material losses to our people under occupation have amounted to more that $2 billion, and they are losses in industry, employment, tourism and agriculture.
Despite its suffering, its torment and the enormous sacrifices it has made for its freedom and independence, our people, at the nineteenth extraordinary session of the Palestine National Council, adopted a courageous peace initiative reflecting its genuine desire to achieve peace in our Palestinian land and in our region on the basis of the resolutions of international legitimacy. The Palestinian peace initiative has called for the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East on the basis and in the framework of the relevant United Nations resolutions and attended by the five permanent members of the Security Council and all parties to the conflict, including the PLO on an equal footing with the other parties.
Our peace initiative has been welcomed, supported and endorsed by the international community. It was endorsed by the Extraordinary Arab Summit Conference held at Casablanca in June; the Madrid summit of the countries of the European Economic Community expressed its support and endorsement on 26 June 1989; and the summit conference of the group of socialist countries has expressed its support and backing and its full recognition of the independent Palestinian State. This is in addition to the support of the countries of the non-aligned group, the Organization of African Unity and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The United States Administration responded to the Palestinian initiative by opening a substantive dialogue with the PLO. Despite the fact that this dialogue is essential and important, the United States nevertheless continues to pursue policies that are unhelpful for the achievement of tangible progress in the peace process.
It does so by its support for the Shamir plan to hold elections in the occupied Palestinian territory under the desolation of the occupation, and by hindering the international efforts made for the speedy convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East.
These developments confirm the need for the concerted efforts of all popular non–governmental forces, side by side with intergovernmental efforts, in order to bring pressure to bear on the United States Administration and influence its position so that it will desist from its blind partiality for hostile Israeli policies denying the national rights of our people, primarily its right to self-determination, and will utilize its strong influence with the Israeli leaders to persuade them to return to sense, rationality and wisdom and endeavour to achieve a just peace that will guarantee security and stability for all peoples of the region, including our Palestinian people within secure borders in its independent Palestinian State.
I should here like to stress that your struggles mean much for our people. Your efforts over the past months have added enormous moral momentum to the uprising of our people. It would not have been possible, without the role played by you, to reveal to the world the full dimensions of Israeli crimes against our people inside the occupied homeland. It would not have been possible, without the role played by you, for assistance to have been sent to alleviate part of the suffering of our people. You are the conscience of the world and its eyes and ears and, through your presence and your role, you have been creating a world public opinion to exert pressure against repression in all its various forms. You demonstrate that it is impossible, in the last quarter of the twentieth century, to permit anyone to commit an all-embracing crime against an entire people in silence and without the conscience of the world taking note and acting to expose it and halt its commission.
I should like to add here that your role will acquire redoubled importance in the coming stage. The insistence of the Israeli Government on continuing to pursue a policy of occupation and murder places enormous additional burdens on your shoulders. Your role is becoming of the most extreme importance with its recent focus on support for the sustained build-up of the structure of the Palestinian national economy through support for the establishment of clinics, classrooms and small-scale industrial enterprises.
We are confident that your distinguished Meeting will thoughtfully examine recent developments relating to our just cause and that it will adopt decisions in support of the just struggle of our people and its hallowed uprising and endorsing the Palestinian peace initiative and the international efforts being made for the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East.
In conclusion, I reiterate to you my sincere greetings and I wish your Meeting success in its work.
It indeed a revolution unto victory!
Download Document Files: [get_file_name file_url=”https://unispal.un.org/pdfs/90-07520.pdf“]
Document Type: Meeting report, Publication, Report
Document Sources: Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
Subject: Education and culture, Intifadah I, NGOs/Civil Society, Palestine question, Prisoners and detainees, Protection, Self-determination, Statehood-related
Publication Date: 30/08/1989