Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
Committee on the Inalienable Rights
of the Palestinian People
311th Meeting (PM)
PALESTINIAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE APPROVES PROVISIONAL WORK PROGRAMME FOR DECEMBER
MEETING TO BE HELD IN CHILE; APPROVES NICARAGUA’S MEMBERSHIP REQUEST
The Palestinian Rights Committee, hearing a briefing on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, today approved the provisional programme for a United Nations meeting in support of Israeli-Palestinian peace, to be held in Santiago, Chile, in December.
It also agreed to forward to the General Assembly a request by Nicaragua for membership in that body, formally known as the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
Providing an update of the Committee’s activities since its last meeting, on 14 July, Chairman Paul Badji of Senegal drew attention to a 22 July debate in the Security Council in which he expressed the Committee’s serious concern about Israel’s continuing settlement activities and plans to build more than 3,000 apartments in and around East Jerusalem. Those settlement blocs, together with the separation wall, severed Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank, thus posing an enormous challenge to permanent-status negotiations.
Noting the 6 August meeting between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and their negotiating teams in Jerusalem, he reported that the two leaders had discussed concerns about the political upheaval in Israel and its impact on peace talks. A second such meeting had taken place on 31 August, also in Jerusalem.
He said Committee members had learned with deep regret on 9 August about the death of the beloved Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, whose work articulated the Palestinian people’s dreams of independence and a State of their own.
On 25 August, Israel had released 198 political prisoners, he said, adding that some 11,000 Palestinians remained in Israeli jails.
Briefing the Committee on the situation on the ground, Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, said there had been no noticeable improvement. According to Peace Now, a well-known Israeli human rights organization, settlement activities had doubled in the year since the Annapolis process had begun and, in fact, they were more intense than they had been in a long time.
He said the acceleration and intensification of settlement activities, which contravened international law, the Fourth Geneva Convention, Security Council and other United Nations resolutions, in addition to Israel’s commitment under the Road Map and the spirit and decisions of Annapolis, had led the Arab Group to examine in June and July whether the Security Council would shoulder its responsibility and adopt a simple resolution reflecting the same sentiment as that of the Quartet, which had called on Israel to immediately cease all settlement activities and dismantle its outposts.
During 45 days of negotiations with the 15 Council members, the Arab Group had demonstrated tremendous responsibility and flexibility, submitting a draft resolution in blue form, which was before the Council, he said. It had concluded, however, that the Council was “not ready to assume that responsibility, although we feel -– and many Members in the United Nations system feel -– that the Security Council should have acted”. Significant powerful members in the Council had indicated that they were not yet ready to adopt that limited, simple text.
He went on to voice his hope that it would be possible to return to that issue because negotiations and settlement activities were a contradiction in terms. In fact, the whole peace process could collapse completely with the continuation of settlement activities, an issue that could not be ignored. “When we create the appropriate moment for it in the Security Council, we should come back to it,” he added.
There was also the issue of the prisoners, he said, welcoming the recent releases, which, this time, had included the oldest national of any country in contemporary history, who had been imprisoned for 31 years. Another released prisoner had been held for 28 years. Their release had broken an Israeli taboo that prisoners with blood on their hands would never be liberated, thus breaking Israel’s intransigence regarding the release of such prisoners. Despite the release of 198 prisoners, some 11,000 more were still detained.
Turning to the situation in Gaza, he said he was pleased that the crossings were being opened to people and goods, in accordance with the relevant agreements. Regarding the imminent departure of Prime Minister Olmert, the Palestinian people would deal with any Israeli leadership as long as it respected the obligations, agreements and negotiating principles, including land-for-peace, as well as the relevant Security Council resolutions, the Road Map and the Arab Peace Initiative. Recent meetings between the Prime Minister and the Palestinian Authority President had not produced much. Either there would be agreement on all six points -– Jerusalem, borders, refugees, settlements, water and security -– or there would be no agreement.
“We are negotiating in good faith, but we don’t see significant results,” he said of the Palestinian side. It was not easy to be an optimist if the talks did not produce good results, but the Palestinian side was trying as hard as possible while others were not being as flexible as they should be. “Time is running out and, although we are continuing to put all necessary effort and negotiating in good faith, we are not there, and it seems things are getting more difficult, including because of the departure of Mr. Olmert.”
He said he did not know whether the Prime Minister’s replacement would be “strong enough” to achieve a peace treaty acceptable to both sides before the end of United States President George W. Bush’s term. A tough time lay ahead, but there was cause for confidence that the Committee would continue to fight for justice for the Palestinian people with stronger determination than before.
The Committee, which has 22 members and 26 observers, then approved Nicaragua’s request for membership. Following that, Maria Rubiales de Chamorro, Nicaragua’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said the Nicaraguan people had themselves experienced occupation at various times throughout their history and could not fail to support the Palestinian people in their struggle for sovereignty and independence. In fact, Palestinians were now an integral part of Nicaraguan society, a relationship that led Nicaragua to better understand their situation.
She said that, beginning in July 1979, her country had changed its voting patterns at the United Nations in total support of the Palestinian people. During its membership of the Security Council from 1983 to 1984, the Middle East and the Palestinian question had been among Nicaragua’s priorities.
The current situation must come to an end, she said, adding that the situation of the Palestinian people was intolerable, and stressing the need for a just, lasting and peaceful solution. Resolving the situation in Palestine, and the Middle East in general, required the political commitment of all the parties directly involved and the active participation of the international community. In solidarity with the Palestinian people, Nicaragua sought full membership in the Committee.
Ambassador Mansour said Nicaragua had indeed been a very active Committee member in the 1980s and expressed his confidence that it would be very active once more. Hopefully, others would change from observer status to full membership, as that would help improve the Committee’s work.
The Committee then approved the provisional programme for the United Nations Latin America and Caribbean Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace and United Nations Public Forum in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace. Chairman Badji said the objective of the Meeting -– to be held from 11 to 13 December in Santiago — was to encourage broad international action, including by Latin American and Caribbean States, in support of Israeli-Palestinian peace and the two-State solution. From the regional perspective, the Meeting would consider ways to consolidate and synergize current international peace efforts, while considering how Latin American and Caribbean States could contribute to those efforts through their actions in national and intergovernmental mechanisms.
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For information media • not an official record
Document Type: French text, Press Release
Document Sources: Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), Department of Public Information (DPI)
Subject: Inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, Palestine question, Peace process, Prisoners and detainees, Settlements
Publication Date: 02/09/2008