SPECIAL UNIT ON

PALESTINIAN RIGHTS

Office of the Under-Secretary-General

for Political and General Assembly Affairs

Translated from French

Bulletin No. 8

August 1979

THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE BEFORE THE SECURITY COUNCIL

Table of contents:

(a)   A draft resolution on the question of Palestine is placed before the Security Council
(b)   Consideration of the draft resolution
(c)   Difficulties encountered by the Committee in discharging its mandate
(d)   Adjournment of the vote on the draft resolution
Annex I:    Text of the draft resolution
Annex II:   Recommendations of the General Assembly
Annex III:  Security Council resolution 242  (1967)
Annex IV:   Security Council resolution 338  (1973)


(a) A draft resolution on the question of Palestine is placed before the Security Council

The United Nations Security Council postponed sine die its consideration of the question of Palestine, having devoted several meetings to the discussion of that subject, at the end of which a draft resolution was placed before the members of the Council (see annex I).

Begun on 29 June 1975 at the request of the members of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and pursuant to the General Assembly's wish expressed in its resolution 33/28, paragraph 8, the consideration of the question of Palestine was continued during meetings which the Council held on 27 July and 23 and 24 August 1979.

The draft resolution was introduced on behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People by its Chairman, Mr. Medoune Fall, Permanent Representative of Senegal, after several members of the Committee, representatives of States Members of the United Nations and the representative of the PLO had taken the floor to assess the problem of Palestine in all its aspects.

It may be recalled that the members of the Council have been considering the question of Palestine since the partition of that country in 1947 and that in June 1976, after deliberations relating to the recommendations of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the Security Council found itself unable to take a decision.

A year later, in October 1977, the Council, having once more had the question of Palestine placed before it at the request of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, was unable to take a decision on the question and deferred its deliberations until a later date.

The resumption of the consideration of the question of Palestine last June, after more than a year of postponement, attests on the one hand to the complexity of the problem of Palestine and on the other to the international community's efforts to find a way out which would satisfy the various parties to the conflict.

The efforts exerted by the international community since 1947 cover various aspects of the question, including that related to the rights of the Palestinian people.  Indeed, once it is acknowledged that the question of Palestine is the core of the conflict in the Middle East, it is in practice easy to define the various aspects of that question.  The United Nations General Assembly was thus able to determine that those aspects were none other than the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. Accordingly, those rights continue to be the subject of consideration by the international community, and in particular by its organ entrusted with the maintenance of international peace and security, the Security Council.

The latter, as indicated above, has before it a draft resolution dealing with the rights of the Palestinian people, which have on a number of occasions been reiterated by the United Nations General Assembly.

In his statement to the Council the Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People said that the draft resolution before the Council contained no provisions that were contrary to the Charter or to United Nations resolutions.

Observing that the draft resolution merely reiterated the General Assembly's recommendations concerning the rights of the Palestinian people (see annex II), the Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Ambassador Medoune Fall of Senegal, gave the reasons underlying the preparation of the draft resolution, which its sponsors termed "sober" and "prudent".

"In preparing this draft resolution, our Committee even agreed that the wording used by the General Assembly with regard to representation of the Palestinian people and its right to an independent State should be somewhat amended so as to win the support of those who said they had difficulty with some of the terms. The Committee had to make major sacrifices in order to accept these concessions. The Committee did so in the desire to work for peace. However, for the members of the Committee, the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people are not negotiable and, if we have to seek reconciliation with other delegations, this must in no way affect the fundamental questions."

The Chairman of the Committee also indicated that concessions had been made by the sponsors of the draft resolution in order to facilitate its unanimous adoption by the Council. A study of the draft resolution reveale, however, that the elements contained in the Committee's recommendations, namely, the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and its right to return, were incorporated therein.

(b) Consideration of the draft resolution

In his introduction of the draft resolution before the members of the Security Council, the Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Ambassador Medoune Fall of Senegal, stated, among other things:

"This draft is made up of two parts, a preambular and an operative part. The preamble consists of seven paragraphs subdivided into three sections. The first two paragraphs state what is happening in the Security Council which has been convened at the request of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and has heard the parties concerned, including the representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).  The second section, containing three paragraphs, recalls the concerns of the international community by reaffirming the conviction that the question of Palestine is the core of the Middle East conflict and the urgent need to establish a just a lasting peace through a comprehensive settlement based on full respect for the principles and purposes of the Charter.  The third paragraph of this second section expresses the concern of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People at the continuing deterioration of the situation in the Middle East and the fact that it deeply deplores Israel's persistence in its occupation of the Arab territories and its refusal to implement the relevant resolutions of the United Nations.

"The Committee also observes in this section of the draft resolution that the city of Jerusalem forms an integral part of the occupied Arab territories.

"Finally, the third section of the preamble recalls two fundamental elements, namely, the principle of the inadmissibility of acquisition of territories by the threat or use of force, and the resolutions which have been adopted on the Middle East and on the question of Palestine by the General Assembly and more especially by the Security Council: resolution 237 (1967) on the right of return of the refugees resolution 242 (1967) (see annex III), and resolution 338 (1973) (see annex IV).

"The operative part of the draft contains two paragraphs. Operative paragraph 1 is divided into two subparagraphs, and recalls the principles which have been adopted by the United Nations regarding the question of Palestine. Paragraph 1 (a) affirms that the Palestinian people should be enabled to exercise its inalienable right to self-determination, including the right to establish, if it so wishes, an independent State in Palestine in accordance with the United Nations Charter and the relevant resolutions of the Security Council. Paragraph 1 (b) affirms the right of Palestinian refugees wishing to return to their homes to do so and the right of those choosing not to return to receive compensation for their property.

"Operative paragraph 2 decides that the provisions contained in operative paragraph 1, that is to say the paragraph which speaks of the inalienable right of the Palestinian people and its right to return, should be taken fully into account in all international efforts and conferences organized within the framework of the United Nations for the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. Consideration of the draft resolution in question also suggests that its substance would meet with the agreement of most of the members of the international community, who have on several occasions stated their support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people."

In that regard, the Chairman of the Committee recalled that most of the statements made before the Security Council and leading up to the introduction of the draft resolution now before the Council reaffirmed the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. The Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People also outlined the obstacles encountered by the international community in the implementation of its resolutions relating to the rights of the Palestinian people.

"All the members of the Council have, at one time or another, actually spoken out in favour of the rights of the Palestinian people, whether they be known as national or legitimate rights. But as soon as it comes to the recommendations of the General Assembly, certain members, in spite of their proclamations in favour of the rights of the Palestinian people, adopt an inflexible negative attitude, a particularly unjustified attitude. This conduct, in which they seem to have been inspired by their protege in the Middle East, does a great deal to put a curb on the peace process in the Middle East. In so doing, they are blocking any progress towards the search for a settlement of the Palestinian problem which would take account of the legitimate national rights of all the parties concerned."

(c) Difficulties encountered by the Committee in discharging its mandate

In his statement to the Security Council on 27 July 1979, the Rapporteur of the Committee, Ambassador Gauci of Malta, also recalled the difficulties encountered by the Committee in discharging its mandate. Thus, referring to the criticism of the Committee and of the draft resolution by which it was established, the Rapporteur of the Committee said, among other things:

"It has been said, for instance, that the resolution setting up the Committee was specifically designed to bypass Security Council resolution 242 (1967). I think that the fact that the Committee has referred its recommendations to the Security Council and throughout its report has laid stress on the paramount role of the Council should conclusively prove that there was certainly no intention of bypassing either the Council or any of its resolutions.

"Neither did the Committee at any time ignore the importance of Security Council resolution 242 (1967). We only put that resolution in the proper perspective. It was adopted in response to a tragic episode at a particular time, an episode which nevertheless represented but one link in the deadly chain of events which have afflicted the Middle East over the past three decades. These events continue to pose a threat to peace up to the present day and have caused profound changes in the area each has elicited a timely response from the United Nations.  All this was taken into account by the Committee. Manifestly, therefore., the Committee has not attempted to bypass either the Security Council or its resolution 242 (1967) – or any other resolution for that matter."

Referring to the working relationship between the Committee and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Ambassador Gauci stated:

"The Committee's severest detractors have also asserted that the Committee from its inception has been a pliant tool in the hands of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). May I recall that the Committee is composed of 23 Member States coming from all geographical regions. It works by consensus.  It is and will remain open to the opinions of all Members that wish to state their views. It has repeatedly gone out of its way to hear all sectors of opinion. It has conscientiously analysed the stated opinions of all interested parties.

"Nevertheless, the members of the Committee felt the obvious necessity – and it is in our opinion futile for others to deny this – to listen in all fairness with particular attention to the point of view of the people most directly concerned, the Palestinians, officially represented here at the United Nations and elsewhere by the PLO. The position maintained by the PLO has been re-echoed in many letters and statements received and heard by the Committee from many influential persons in the occupied territories. All these letters and statements have been published …

"The significance of this endorsement should not be overlooked or underestimated. On the contrary, it should be stressed that the Committee's recommendations enjoy the support of most of the parties directly concerned in the Middle East conflict. More significantly, the Committee's recommendations were also endorsed by the Palestine National Council in 1977 as a 'positive and constructive step towards the establishment of peace'. The Committee has therefore incorporated in its findings the two key elements in the Middle East equation, elements that were formerly missing and without which a balanced solution would not be feasible."

With regard to the Committee's mandate, which the critics have not spared, the Rapporteur of the Committee stated:

"It has also been said, finally, that the Committee's mandate was circumscribed, and that it did not cater to the rights of other people in the area.  That is quite true, but the Committee has never claimed otherwise. The reason for the limited mandate inexorably arises from the situation in the area. On this question, after all it is only the Palestinian people who have not so far attained their inalienable rights, and it is precisely that situation that the Committee and, through it, the United Nations, wishes to remedy, to the extent possible, exclusively by peaceful means and in execution of its own decisions."

On the subject of the Committee's recommendations, the Rapporteur, replying to criticism of the Committee and its work, said:

"The recommendations, however, are and remain the collective responsibility of the Committee, and they owe their acceptance only to the fact that they are legally and equitably founded, that they advance the prospects of peace, and that they promote the attainment of universally recognized rights.

"It is also contended that the Committee's recommendations constitute "… for all practical purposes a thinly disguised formula for the dismantlement of the State of Israel in stages'. That is an unfortunate example of extreme rhetoric. The truth is the exact opposite. Despite the Committee's restricted terms of reference, its report underlines the right of all States in the area to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries.

"The Committee and the General Assembly, on the basis of the Committee's recommendations, have in fact strongly reaffirmed the political validity of previous General Assembly decisions. What was approved by less than 40 countries in 1947 has been strongly reaffirmed by the present greatly enlarged membership, on the latest occasion in 1978."

(d) Adjournment of the vote on the draft resolution

As indicated in the preceding pages of this bulletin, the recommendations of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People concerning the Palestinian people's rights of return and self-determination were used as a guide in formulating the draft resolution which is now before the Security Council.

In their statements, the members of the Council outlined the positions of the Governments which they represent.

Before announcing that the date and time of the next meeting of the Security Council for further consideration of the question of Palestine would be fixed following consultations among the members of the Council, the President of the Council for the month of Augusts Ambassador Young of the United States, said, among other things, on the question of Palestine:

"For too long, too little has been done to move beyond rhetoric and violence to a process of discussion and negotiation, which alone can bring about recognition and realization of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians. As a result, the problem of the Palestinians remains unresolved. This need not be so. For its part, the United States has committed itself to the search for peace in the Middle East, including the resolution of the Palestinian question in all its aspects."

Annex I

Senegal: draft resolution 

The Security Council,

Having considered the report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People,

Having heard the representatives of the parties concerned, including the Palestine Liberation Organization,

Convinced that the question of Palestine is the core of the conflict in the Middle East,

Reaffirming the urgent necessity of the establishment of a Just and lasting peace through a comprehensive settlement based on full respect for the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations, as well as for its resolutions concerning the problem of the Middle East and the question of Palestine,

Expressing its concern over the continuing deterioration of the situation in the Middle East, and deeply deploring Israel's persistence in its occupation of the Arab territories, including Jerusalem, and its refusal to implement the relevant United Nations resolutions,

Reaffirming the principle of the inadmissibility of acquisition of territories by the threat or use of force,

Reaffirming also its resolutions on the Middle East and the question of Palestine, particularly 237 (1967), 242 (1967), 252 (1968), 338 (1973) and other relevant resolutions,

1.  Affirms:

(a) That the Palestinian people should be enabled to exercise its inalienable rights of self-determination, national independence and sovereignty in Palestine, in accordance with the United Nations Charter and relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly;

(b) The right of Palestinian refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours to do so and the right of those choosing not to return to receive compensation for their property, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and General Assembly resolutions, in particular resolution 194 (lll) of 11 December 1948;

2. Decides that the provisions contained in paragraph 1 should be taken fully into account in all international efforts and conferences organized within the framework of the United Nations for the establishment of a Just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

Annex II

Recommendations of the Committee endorsed by the General Assembly at its thirty-first session

I.  BASIC CONSIDERATIONS AND GUIDELINES

59. The question of Palestine is at the heart of the Middle East problem, and, consequently, the Committee stresses its belief that no solution in the Middle East can be envisaged which does not fully take into account the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.

60. The legitimate and inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to return to their homes and property and to achieve self-determination, national independence and sovereignty are endorsed by the Committee in the conviction that the full implementation of these rights will contribute decisively to a comprehensive and final settlement of the Middle East crisis.

61. The participation of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people, on an equal footing with other parties, on the basis of General Assembly resolutions 3236 (XXIX) and 3375 (XXX) is indispensable in all efforts, deliberations and conferences on the Middle East which are held under the auspices of the United Nations.

62. The Committee recalls the fundamental principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and stresses the consequent obligation for complete and speedy evacuation of any territory so occupied.

63. The Committee considers that it is the duty and the responsibility of all concerned to enable the Palestinians to exercise their inalienable rights.

64. The Committee recommends an expanded and more influential role by the United Nations and its organs in promoting a just solution to the question of Palestine and in the implementation of such a solution. The Security Council, in particular, should take appropriate action to facilitate the exercise by the Palestinians of their right to return to their homes, lands and property. The Committee, furthermore, urges the Security Council to promote action towards a just solution, taking into account all the powers conferred on it by the Charter of the United Nations.

65. It is with this perspective in view and on the basis of the numerous resolutions of the United Nations, after due consideration of all the facts, proposals and suggestions advanced in the course of its deliberations, that the Committee submits its recommendations on the modalities for the implementation of the exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

II.  THE RIGHT OF RETURN

66. The natural and inalienable right of Palestinians to return to their homes is recognized by resolution 194 (lll), which the General Assembly has reaffirmed almost every year since its adoption. This right vas also unanimously recognized by the Security Council in its resolution 237 (1967); the time for the urgent implementation of these resolutions is long overdue.

67. Without prejudice to the right of all Palestinians to return to their homes, lands and property, the Committee considers that the programme of implementation of the exercise of this right may be carried out in two phases:

Phase one

68. The first phase involves the return to their homes of the Palestinians displaced as a result of the war of June 1967. The Committee recommends that:

(i) The Security Council should request the immediate implementation of its resolution 237 (1967) and that such implementation should not be related to any other condition;

(ii) The resources of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and/or of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Hear East, suitably financed and mandated, may be employed to assist in the solution of any logistical problems involved in the resettlement of those returning to their homes. These agencies could also assist, in co-operation with the host countries and the Palestine Liberation Organization, in the identification of the displaced Palestinians.

Phase two

69. The second phase deals with the return to their homes of the Palestinians displaced between 1948 and 1967.  The Committee recommends that:

(i) While the first phase is being implemented, the United Nations in co-operation with the States directly involved, and the Palestine Liberation Organization as the interim representative of the Palestinian entity, should proceed to make the necessary arrangements to enable Palestinians displaced between 1948 and 1967 to exercise their right to return to their homes and property, in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions, particularly General Assembly resolution 194 (III);

(ii) Palestinians not choosing to return to their homes should be paid just and equitable compensation as provided for in resolution 194 (ill).

III.  THE RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION, NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE AND SOVEREIGNTY

70. The Palestinian people has the inherent right to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty in Palestine. The Committee considers that the evacuation of the territories occupied by force and in violation of the principles of the Charter and relevant resolutions of the United Nations is a conditio sine qua non for the exercise by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights in Palestine. The Committee considers, furthermore, that upon the return of the Palestinians to their homes and property and with the establishment of an independent Palestinian entity, the Palestinian people will be able to exercise its rights to self-determination and to decide its form of government without external interference.

71. The Committee also feels that the United Nations has an historical duty and responsibility to render all assistance necessary to promote the economic development and prosperity of the Palestinian entity.

72. To these ends, the Committee recommends that:

(a) A time-table should be established by the Security Council for the complete withdrawal by Israeli occupation forces from those areas occupied in 1967; such withdrawal should be completed no later than 1 June 1977;

(b)  The Security Council may need to provide temporary peace-keeping forces in order to facilitate the process of withdrawal;

(c) Israel should be requested by the Security Council to desist from the establishment of new settlements and to withdraw during this period from settlements established since 1967 in "the occupied territories. Arab property and all essential services in these areas should be maintained intact;

(d) Israel should also be requested to abide scrupulously by the provisions of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, and to declare, pending its speedy withdrawal from these territories, its recognition of the applicability of that Convention;

(e) The evacuated territories, with all property and services intact, should be taken over by the United Nations, which, with the co-operation of the League of Arab States, will subsequently hand over these evacuated areas to the Palestine Liberation Organization as the representative of the Palestinian people;

(f) The United Nations should, if necessary, assist in establishing communications between Gaza and the West Bank;

(g) As soon as the independent Palestinian entity has been established, the United Nations, in co-operation with the States directly involved and the Palestinian entity, should, taking into account General Assembly resolution 3375 (XXX), make further arrangements for the full implementation of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, the resolution of outstanding problems and the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the region, in accordance with all relevant United Nations resolutions;

(h) The United Nations should provide the economic and technical assistance necessary for the consolidation of the Palestinian entity.

Annex III

Resolution 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967

The Security Council,

Expressing its continuing concern with the grave situation in the Middle East,

Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security,

Emphasizing further that all Member States in their acceptance of the Charter of the United Nations have undertaken a commitment to act in accordance with Article 2 of the Charter,

1.  Affirms that the fulfilment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:

(i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;

(ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;

2.  Affirms further the necessity

(a) For guaranteeing freedom of navigation through international waterways in the area;

(b) For achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem;

(c) For guaranteeing the territorial inviolability and political independence of every State in the area, through measures including the establishment of demilitarized zones;

3.  Requests the Secretary-General to designate a Special Representative to proceed to the Middle East to establish and maintain contacts with the States concerned in order to promote agreement and assist efforts to achieve a peaceful and accepted settlement in accordance with the provisions and principles in this resolution;

U.  Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council on the progress of the efforts of the Special Representative as soon as possible.

Adopted unanimously at the 1382nd meeting 

Annex IV

Resolution 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973

The Security Council,

1.  Calls upon all parties to the present fighting to cease all firing and terminate all military activity immediately, no later than 12 hours after the moment of the adoption of this decision, in the positions they now occupy;

2.  Calls upon the parties concerned to start immediately after the cease-fire the implementation of Security Council resolution 242 (1967) in all of its parts;

3.  Decides that, immediately and concurrently with the cease-fire,

negotiations shall start between the parties concerned under appropriate auspices   aimed at establishing a just and durable peace in the Middle East.

Adopted at the 1747th meeting by 14 votes to none

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