General Assembly

GA/PAL/1019


Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York


Committee on the Inalienable Rights

of the Palestinian People

296th Meeting (AM)

PALESTINIAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE TOLD OF PLANS FOR WORLDWIDE PROTESTS

TO MARK FORTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF ISRAELI OCCUPATION

 

Report to General Assembly Notes Proposals from Civil Society Conference

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People this morning took note of a report containing a Plan of Action adopted by the International Conference of Civil Society in Support of the Palestinian People at its meeting in Geneva on 7 and 8 September, as it also adopted the draft report it would submit to the General Assembly.

Reporting on the civil society conference, Committee Chairman Paul Badji ( Senegal) said that the event had afforded an opportunity for organizations from all regions to discuss the situation, promote programmes and develop action-oriented proposals.  Four workshops had focused on issues such as consolidating global constituencies and mobilizing public opinion, including through media strategies.  The Conference had generated much interest among Geneva’s international community.

The Plan of Action committed the organizations to ending the occupation and achieving the still unrealized rights of the Palestinian people, he continued.  It also committed them to work together, and with the Palestinian civil society, to mark the fortieth anniversary of the occupation with protest activities in all parts of the world.  The Plan and the report itself would soon be available online.

Continuing, he said the Committee report adopted this morning covered the past year and, in it, the Committee expressed particular concern over the Israeli incursions into Gaza during recent months, and the destructive effect of those actions on the Palestinian people and on their hopes for peace.  The Committee also welcomed the signing of the National Conciliation Document, the decision to form a national unity Government and the designation of President Mahmoud Abbas as the person in charge of negotiations with Israel.  The Committee emphasized the role of the Division for Palestinian Rights and requested it to continue providing substantive and secretariat support.  International meetings and conferences were recognized for focusing attention on issues crucial for advancing a peaceful settlement to the conflict.

Further, he said the Committee commended civil society for efforts to uphold the international legitimacy of the question of Palestine through advocacy and other initiatives.  It requested the United Nations Department of Public Information to continue its special information programme on the matter, and reiterated its goal of contributing to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement to the question, also calling on States to join the endeavour.

Briefing the Committee on developments since its last meeting on 19 July, Mr. Badji said the Quartet, composed of the United Nations, United States, European Union and Russian Federation, had met on 20 September to take stock of developments in the region and to welcome efforts by Mr. Abbas to form a Government of national unity.  The Quartet had also encouraged greater donor support to meet the needs of the Palestinian people, endorsed continuation and expansion of the Temporary International Mechanism for a three-month period and welcomed the initiative of the Secretary-General to ask James Wolfensohn to report on the situation on the ground.  The Security Council had met the next day at the ministerial level on the situation.

In his report to the Committee, the Permanent Observer for Palestine to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, said the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, had gone through unfortunate events during the last few days because tens of thousands of public employees had not received salaries, Gaza had been blockaded and the Palestinian people under occupation had been denied economic aid from many countries.  Moreover, taxes averaging between $50 to $60 million monthly, collected by Israel on behalf of Palestine, were being withheld.  Those factors, combined with a lack of progress on the political front, had caused tremendous frustration and depression.  But, at the end of the day, a national unity Government would be formed that would move towards ending the occupation and finding a just solution to the problem of the Palestinian refugees and the formation of an independent State with East Jerusalem as its capital.  Hopefully, that could be accomplished before the end of the American President’s term.

Israel’s assertion that the withdrawal from Gaza had terminated the occupation of Gaza was a misconception, he said.  Gaza had remained under the effective control of Israel, including its external borders and air and sea space.  Gaza had become an area where inhabitants were imprisoned and exposed to sonic booms, shelling of homes, extrajudicial executions and psychological terror.  The result was a grave humanitarian crisis.  The poverty level in Gaza stood at 75 per cent.  The often heard assertion, that Israel had withdrawn from Gaza so that the Palestinians could make it into paradise but had instead made it into a haven for terrorists, was a lie.  Israel had not withdrawn from Gaza, but instead had made it into a “hellish prison”.  The situation in the West Bank was not much different.

He said he would focus on eight areas during the current Assembly session, in addition to the usual package of resolutions.  He would emphasize that the Security Council’s role should be expanded to follow up on the ministerial meeting of 21 September.  Palestine would leave open the option to call for a resumption of the tenth emergency session of the Assembly, with a view to adopting actions against companies and individuals involved in constructing the separation wall.  It would also consider calling for a meeting of the high contracting parties to the Geneva Convention.

Finally this morning, the Committee confirmed that its next international meeting in December would be held in Kuala Lumpur, and the January international meeting would be held in Doha.  The annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People would take place from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, 29 November in the Trusteeship Council Chamber.  The Assembly would begin considering the agenda item on the question of Palestine that afternoon.

The Committee will meet again at a time to be announced.

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For information media • not an official record