THE ELEVENTH UNITED NATIONS SEMINAR ON THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE
Theme: "The inalienable rights of the Palestinian people"
Georgetown, 17-20 June 1985
Report of the Eleventh United Nations Seminar on the Question of Palestine
Statement by His Excellency Mr. Rashleigh Jackson, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guyana
Statement by His Excellency Mr. Massamba Sarré, Permanent Representative of Senegal to the United Nations and Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People
Message from Mr. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization
Statement by His Excellency Mr. Gajanan Wakankar, High Commissioner of India in Georgetown, on behalf of the Chairman of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries
Message from His Excellency Mr. Sayed Sharifuddin Pirzada, Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference
Papers presented at the Seminar
The International Peace Conference on the Middle East, the need for such a conference, efforts and prospects to promote a successful outcome, and benefits thereof
Joshua Chowritmootoo (Guyana), Member of Parliament, Guyana
Ernesto Vera Mendez (Cuba), Deputy of the National Assembly and Secretary-General of the Journalists' Union of Cuba
José Luis Villavicencio (Nicaragua), Member of the Foreign Relations Committee of the National Assembly of Nicaragua
The role of the Palestine Liberation Organization
Juan Abugattás A. (Peru), Major National University of San Marcos, Lima
Chas Mynals (Suriname), Member of the National Assembly of Suriname
The question of Palestine and Latin American public opinion
Cesar Arias Quincot (Peru), Professor at the University of the Pacific, Peru
Thomas W. Gittens (Guyana), Lecturer of Political Science and International Affairs, University of Guyana
Arturo Muñoz Ledo (Mexico), Vice-President of the International Progress Organization
Statements by Representatives of United Nations Organs
Special Committee against Apartheid
Special Committee with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration of the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples
List of participants and observers
I. REPORT OF THE ELEVENTH UNITED NATIONS SEMINAR
ON THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE
1. The Eleventh United Nations Seminar on the Question of Palestine was held at the Pegasus Hotel, Georgetown, Guyana, from 17 to 20 June 1985 in accordance with the terms of General Assembly resolution 38/58 B. Five meetings were held at which eight panelists presented papers on different aspects of the question of Palestine.
2. The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People was represented by His Excellency Mr. Massamba Sarré (Senegal), Chairman, H.E. Mr. Alberto Velazco-San José (Cuba), H.E. Mr. David Karran (Guyana), Mr. Miklós Endreffy (Hungary) and Mr. Zehdi L. Terzi (Palestine Liberation Organization). Mr. Massamba Sarré was Chairman and Mr. David Karran, Rapporteur of the Seminar.
3. The Seminar was opened by H.E. Mr. Rashleigh Jackson, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guyana and was attended by many distinguished personages, including H.E. Mr. Ptolemy Reid, Deputy Leader of the People's National Congress, Vice-Presidents and cabinet ministers as well as heads of diplomatic missions.
4. Mr. Jackson, in his opening remarks, warmly congratulated Ambassador Massamba Sarré of Senegal, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and stated that the Committee had played a valuable supportive role in the Palestinian struggle by drawing up a. structured programme of action for the achievement of the objectives which had inspired its creation. The Seminar, which was part of that programme of action, had provided an opportunity for the Latin American region to have attention focused on the Committee's perspectives and thereby assist in the overall co-ordination of the strategies of the supporters of the Palestinian cause in all regions of the world.
5. In a sense, the Seminar was not restricted to the question of Palestine alone, because a number of principles were at stake which were of a universal nature and which were cardinal to the national policies of many States, including Guyana. Amongst them were the right of peoples to self-determination and independence, respect for independence, sovereignty and non-acquisition of territory by force.
6. The situation of the Palestinian people was one of the more sordid tragedies, of recorded history. Like many people of Africa and Asia, the Palestinians were in the diaspora and had suffered the indignities of living in refugee camps and of being the objects of global compassion. However, dispersion and degradation, occupation and repression had served only to reinforce the determination of the Palestinian people to intensify their struggle under the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Guyana congratulated the Palestine Liberation Organization for the effectiveness of its policies and its activities in the political and diplomatic fronts which had earned the Palestine Liberation Organization international respect and support.
7. The question of Palestine was the crux of the Middle East situation and lasting peace in the region would remain elusive until the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people were fully respected. The struggle of the Palestinian people was also an integral part of the worldwide struggle against foreign domination. The Government and people of Guyana had always been firm in their support for the rights of the Palestinian people. Guyana's participation in the work of the Committee was testimony of its commitment to that cause. The Committee could count on Guyana's abiding support.
8. Much needed to be done. Such issues had suffered much from media neglect or deliberate distortion and disinformation. The world's people needed to be educated about the question of Palestine. At the same time, every effort should be made to convene an International Peace Conference on the Middle East, a proposal which had great merit and enjoyed widespread international support. Israel should be made to realize that its best interests would be served by participating in such a Conference.
9. H.E. Mr. Massamba Sarré, welcoming participants, recalled that His Excellency the Foreign Minister had, as the distinguished representative of Guyana to the United Nations, been one of the earliest members of the Committee and participated actively in its work at a time when the Committee was charting its course. Guyana had always been an active member of the Committee and the fact that it had so kindly provided the venue for the Seminar as well as the presence of His Excellency the Foreign Minister and other distinguished guests at the opening were a reflection of the importance that Guyana attached to the question of Palestine and its commitment to finding a just and lasting solution to the problem.
10. The Committee laid great stress on the value of world public opinion on the Palestine question and was convinced that a knowledge of all the facts of the case would lead to a better understanding of the issues and promote a lasting solution. The Seminar was intended to alert public opinion in the Latin American and Caribbean region to the various aspects to the question of Palestine since public opinion could make a valuable contribution towards making the. voice of reason heard in the formation of policies. In the course of the Seminar, the views of several influential policy-makers would be heard on the role of Latin American and Caribbean public opinion. Their views and the discussions that would take place would be of the greatest value in assessing what still needed to be done in that field.
11. The Committee also, along with a majority of States, fully endorsed the convening of an International Peace Conference on the Middle East as a valuable step forward in the search for peace in the region. Consequently, it had made it the focus of its work in 1985. It was for that reason that one of the panels of the Seminar was devoted exclusively to the International Peace Conference. It was the Committee's hope that the views expressed at the Seminar would help to promote the convening of such an important Conference.
12. At the opening meeting the Seminar also heard a message from Mr. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, conveyed by Mr. Zehdi L. Terzi, Permanent Observer of the Palestine Liberation Organization to the United Nations. In his message Mr. Arafat expressed his deep gratitude for the tremendous efforts being made to promote the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people and in defence of their inalienable rights.
13. The Palestinian cause was presently witnessing a dangerous phase since Israel was intensifying its repression of the Palestinian people both inside and outside the occupied territories. Those acts were perpetrated with the sole aim of expelling and forcibly deporting the Palestinian people from their land and homes. At the same time, the United States Administration was intensifying its hostile policies against the Palestinian people and increasing its support of Israel militarily and financially. In addition, it denied the Palestinian people their inalienable rights. In spite of such enormous challenges, the Palestinian people continued their struggle and resistance to the hostile policies of Israel and the United States.
14. The Palestine Liberation Organization had availed itself of every opportunity in the search for peace in the firm belief that justice, peace and stability in the area as well as international peace and security should be achieved. It would continue its efforts to achieve a joint Arab political plan aimed at the attainment of a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the Middle East conflict.
15. Chairman Arafat expressed his gratitude to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and its Chairman, H.E. Mr. Massamba Sarré, and to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Javier Pérez de Cuéllar. In conclusion, he thanked the people and Government of Guyana for hosting the Seminar and for Guyana's consistent and militant support.
16. H.E. Mr. Gajanan Wakankar, High Commissioner of India to Guyana, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, stated that the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries had always felt a particular bond of kinship with the Palestinian people. The issue of Palestine had been in the forefront of the deliberations and activities of the Movement from the time of the first non-aligned summit in 1961. The non-aligned countries had been particularly active in mobilizing international support in favour of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and against Israel's action in the occupied territories.
17. The non-aligned summit held at New Delhi, India, in March 1983 had affirmed that a just and durable peace in the Middle East could not be established without a just solution of the problem of Palestine on the basis of the attainment and exercise in Palestine of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.
18. The Meeting of Ministers and Heads of Delegation of the Non-Aligned Countries to the thirty-ninth session of the United Nations General Assembly had in October 1984 stressed the necessity for the early convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East. More recently, the Committee of Eight at the Level of Ministers had, on 20 April 1985, endorsed the proposal for the convening of the Conference. They had also decided to continuer actively their collective and individual efforts to mobilize all means available with a view to realizing implementation of United Nations General Assembly resolutions and to ensure the convening of the Peace Conference.
19. The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People had made a significant contribution in its search for a just solution to the question of Palestine. The efforts of the Committee towards an early convening of the Peace Conference and to mobilize public support for the Palestinian cause had been untiring.
20. India had consistently supported the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and that was one of the hallmarks of India's foreign policy. India's support was rooted in tradition and history and was matched by concrete action.
21. Mr. Miklós Endreffy, speaking on behalf of the Special Committee against Apartheid, stated that the international community had recently witnessed developments culminating in further suffering for the people of Palestine. Such events reaffirmed the view of peace-loving peoples all over the world that it was impossible to ensure a comprehensive settlement of the Middle East conflict without resolving its core – the question of Palestine.
22. That could not be achieved while the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territories continued. The Government of Israel persisted in its attempts to subdue the desire of the Palestinian people to free themselves. It carried out policies with cruelty and without respect for the human rights of the Palestinian people. However, in spite of Israel's denial of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and its policy of oppression and intimidation in the occupied territories, the desire of the Palestinian people for freedom could not be conquered.
23. Each year, the Special Committee against Apartheid submitted a special report to the General Assembly and the Security Council on recent developments concerning relations between Israel and South Africa. That report pointed out very clearly the seriousness of the alliance between those two régimes. Their collaboration constituted an alliance detrimental to the interests of the African and Arab peoples.
24. The Special Committee, in co-operation with the League of Arab States had convened in Tunis in August 1984, a Conference of Arab Solidarity with the Struggle for Liberation in Southern Africa. That Conference had considered the threat facing the Arab and the African peoples as a result of the alliance between Israel and South Africa and adopted several pertinent resolutions.
25. Mr. Engin Ansay, Deputy Permanent Observer of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to the United Nations, in an address to the Seminar, on behalf of H.E. Mr. Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada, Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, stated that that Organization considered the cause of Palestine and Al-Quds al-Sharif the foremost cause of the Muslim Ummah because of its justness and because of the existence of Islamic holy shrines under occupation. Accordingly, the Organization of the Islamic Conference member States had given their unreserved support to the cause of the Palestinian people.
26. In spite of Israel's aggressive policies, the Arab States had made clear their serious desire to bring about a lasting, comprehensive and just peace in the Middle East. For its part, the Palestine Liberation Organization had demonstrated total flexibility with regard to the peace process. The United States and Israel, however, had rejected every proposal and initiative and would no doubt reject any proposal that recognized the Palestinians right to self-determination and statehood. The question of Palestine was first and foremost a problem of colonialism, secondly it was an issue brought about by the aggressiveness of one entity at the expense of another; thirdly it was an issue based on the dangerous doctrine of aggression against a neighbouring country.
27. The Organization of the Islamic Conference believed that as long as the question of Palestine was not settled on the basis of United Nations approved resolutions, there would be no peace or stability in the Middle East and world peace would continue to be threatened.
28. In defiance of all United Nations resolutions, Israel had announced in 1980 the annexation of Al-Quds and almost every day committed flagrant sacrilegious acts against Islam. Moreover, Israel's policy of settlements in the occupied Arab territories created one of the greatest threats to peace in the region. Its settlements policy was intended to preempt any achievement by the Palestinian people towards the affirmation of their inalienable rights.
29. The Organization of the Islamic Conference maintained that peace was essential to the Middle East but the minimum condition for its realization was the recognition of the Palestinian people's right to their own territory and homeland. Hence the convening of an International Peace Conference on the Middle East constituted the ideal solution since it ensured the participation of all parties concerned.
30. At the fourth meeting H.E. Mr. Alberto Velazco-San José, speaking on behalf of the United Nations Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, stated that the tenets that governed the work of the Special Committee – the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples – proclaimed that the subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constituted a denial of fundamental human rights, was contrary to the Charter and was an impediment to the promotion of world peace and co-operation.
31. Within that context the Special Committee viewed with deep concern the plight of the people of Palestine who had been denied their fundamental and inalienable right to determine their destiny and had been subjected to cruel, repressive measures at the hands of their oppressor.
32. Although the Palestinian question continued to be one of the most complex, difficult and dangerous issues facing the United Nations, that should not discourage the international community in its search for a just solution to the problem. On the contrary, it should reinforce with a grave sense of urgency, the international community's commitment to the goal as set forth in a number of resolutions of the United Nations. It became all the more important therefore that the international community should firmly rededicate itself to the promotion of a genuine and lasting settlement of the Middle East conflict. The attainment of that objective would continue to be elusive unless the core of the Middle East conflict, namely the Palestine question, was resolved in its totality. Concerted action was long overdue to persuade the supporters of Israel to compel it to respond to relevant United Nations resolutions and to the will of the international community on the question of Palestine.
33. He acknowledged with appreciation the very important work carried out by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, under the outstanding and dedicated leadership of Ambassador Massamba Sarré of Senegal. It was his confident hope that the holding of the present Seminar would take everyone a step closer to the fulfilment by the United Nations of its obligations to the Palestinian people.
34. The closing meeting on Thursday, 20 June 1985, was attended by His Excellency Mr. Rudy Collins, Head of Department II in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Guyana. The meeting was addressed by His Excellency Mr. Rudy Collins and the Chairman of the Seminar.
35. Three panels were established at the Seminar. These, and the panelists who presented papers on these aspects of the question, were as follows:
36. It was decided that in accordance with established practice, the report of the Seminar would reflect only the main points that emerged during the discussions and that the full texts of the papers presented would be published in due course.
The role of the Palestine Liberation Organization
37. The first discussion panel in the Seminar dealt with the role of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
38. It was stated that the Palestine Liberation Organization had served the purpose of reconstructing Palestinian social existence. It was experiencing difficulty in this task because of the spiritual and socio-political complexities of the Middle East region.
39. There was no basis to the claim that the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian people were two distinct entities and that therefore it would be possible to deal with the Palestinian people without dealing with the Palestine Liberation Organization. The development of the Palestine Liberation Organization was nothing but the result of the development of the social, economic and political institutions of the Palestinian people and, particularly, their social and political conscience.
40. Moreover, the expulsion of the Palestinian people from their homeland and their fragmentation into several communities of refugees living in several Arab countries were the consequence of both the Zionist denial of the existence of the Palestinian people and of British policies in mandated Palestine. Consequently, the Palestinian people had to struggle first and foremost not only to have their existence recognized but their existence as a people as well.
41. This struggle had started mainly in the refugee camps, where, unfortunately, traditional social solidarity had been broken and, consequently, new types of social relations based on social co-operation and mutual aid were the basis of the Palestine Liberation Organization's social and economic institutions as well as its educational and cultural efforts.
42. Reconstruction of social life had started with the displaced Palestinians and later extended to those living under occupation, resulting in an open and democratic process which was now a basic character of all the institutions that constituted the Palestine Liberation Organization. In order to be effective, however, the Palestine Liberation Organization had had to propose an alternate concept of "nationalism" in order to avoid both the dangers of sectarianism and of racism. The alternative proposed was the notion of the secular and non-sectarian State, a formula by which the Palestine Liberation Organization had been able to avoid the problems which divide and weaken States in the Middle East. It had placed itself in a position of antagonism, both in relation to Israel and zionism as well as to United States interests. It had also become a kind of vanguard of the anti-imperialist struggle in the Arab world. Moreover, its structure had proved that it was capable not only of withstanding political pressure, but also, and most importantly, military aggression.
43. Furthermore, by insisting on reminding the Arab States of their responsibility to continue to help in the task of liberating Palestine and by insisting that they should use their resources for the promotion of their common interests, the Palestine Liberation Organization had placed them in a position in which they were opposed to a power that some of them considered their ally. The Arab States had reaffirmed their support to the Palestine Liberation Organization at the summit meeting held in Fez in 1982, when they adopted a series of principles, including the reaffirmation of the recognition of the Palestine Liberation Organization as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
Latin American public opinion and the question of Palestine
44. During the discussion on the question of Latin American public opinion and the question of Palestine it was stated that the development of informed public opinion on any issue or set of issues was rarely an easy or automatic process. It was indisputably, however, a necessary task in the context of the question of Palestine where the rights of a people were being infringed.
45. It was also difficult to discuss Latin American public opinion in general as a region, as its tradition of full participation of its peoples in decision-making varied and at varying junctures of history was interrupted and sometimes seriously disrupted. There were a number of reasons for this, among them low literacy rates, limited media coverage and access to media source, and a tendency for public debate and expression to be restricted to the middle and upper classes.
46. All this was accentuated by the fact that the main sources of information were the Western news agencies whose reporting of issues was not necessarily impartial or disinterested. In fact, often there seemed to be a deliberate effort at misinformation or disinformation. Furthermore, the extent of coverage was often circumscribed by the importance of the issue to the regional or national public.
47. There had been little interest in the question of Palestine in the Latin American region until the mid-1970s when the aggravation of the situation in the Middle East resulted in more media coverage and, in turn, more interest in the issues, particularly, the question of Palestine. Despite the fact that events in the Middle East in the 1980s tended to eclipse the real issue, which is the plight of the Palestinian people, it was essential that the international community should always remember that the crucial issue remained the question of Palestine.
48. It was important that the public media should play a more responsive role in providing a more balanced reporting on the Middle East and, in particular, on the plight of the Palestinians as a dispossessed and harassed people. It was also essential that greater efforts must be made to reach the public at large with information that is presently confined to limited sections of the people. Institutions such as universities, colleges, research institutes, churches and other religious establishments as well as national and international non-governmental organizations have a crucial role to play in the formation of public opinion. These institutions should be urged to give wider coverage and more balanced treatment to the question of Palestine through special features and articles, through the organization of lectures and seminars and through every other possible means of playing an educative role in the formation of informed public opinion. Furthermore, elementary school textbooks should take a new approach to third world history which breaks with the colonialist pattern found in encyclopaedias and with religious texts which, within a biased value system, stated the existence of "chosen people" and "master races" as fact.
49. Symposia organized by the United Nations or other organizations were a pressing necessity for the Latin American non-governmental organizations. Through these means the powerful Latin American churches, labour unions, women's groups and service clubs could be sensitized. Special consideration should also be given to wider observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, which has been established by United Nations General Assembly resolution 34/65 D to be 29 November each year, and the occasion should be taken to give maximum coverage to the question of Palestine. United Nations offices in the region should make greater efforts to disseminate information on the issue.
50. The suggestion was also made that the Palestine Liberation Organization should be given facilities to establish information centres throughout the Latin American and Caribbean region and that its representatives should be invited periodically to tour the region, and be given the opportunity to present their case since this would dramatize the extent of the suffering endured by the Palestinian people and prove to be of inestimable value in the formation of public opinion.
The International Peace Conference on the Middle East
51. The Seminar discussed in depth the question of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East. It was agreed that the international community needed peace now more than ever so that it could devote itself wholeheartedly to solving the present economic and developmental problems facing it and to halting the arms race to avoid the danger of another world conflagration which would have catastrophic effects on the human race. To achieve peace it was necessary to extinguish the hotbeds of tension that could reach dangerous proportions and bring mankind to the brink of war. The Middle East was undoubtedly one of the principal hotbeds of international tension today. Only by finding a just and lasting solution to that conflict could the international community move forward towards the elimination of the dangers of another holocaust.
52. An analysis of the ramifications of the Middle East conflict led to the conclusion that the only way to establish a just and lasting peace in the region was by convening a peace conference on the Middle East under the auspices of the United Nations and with the participation of all parties concerned, particularly the Palestine Liberation Organization, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
53. The question of Palestine is at the core of the Middle East problem and there could be no peace in the region until a just and lasting solution was found for this issue. Such a solution had to be founded on the recognition of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including, the rights to self-determination and to a homeland in Palestine.
54. The International Conference on the Question of Palestine held in Geneva in August 1983 had recognized the essential linkage between the question of Palestine and peace in the Middle East and the call for the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East was motivated by a sense of urgency and concern that no just solution to the problem of Palestine had been achieved over the years. A solution to the question of Palestine had to focus on the wider issues to make up a comprehensive settlement which would meet the guidelines endorsed by the overwhelming majority of the international community.
55. The Geneva Declaration adopted by the International Conference on the Question of Palestine envisioned that the Peace Conference would be convened under the auspices of the United Nations. The United Nations, in addition to its sacred trust and responsibility to the Palestinian people, was eminently suited for providing an umbrella and a forum for negotiation and to facilitate the meeting of all the parties to the conflict. In spite of its shortcomings, the United Nations provided a forum where all parties could sit around the same table and express their views.
56. The Geneva Declaration had also called for the participation of all parties to the conflict, including the Palestine Liberation Organization, as well as the United States of America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and other concerned States on an equal footing and would take as its guidelines the various proposals consistent with the principles of international law.
57. The, guidelines adopted by acclamation by the Conference and endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly were:
a. The attainment by the Palestinian people of its legitimate inalienable rights, including the right to return, the right to self-determination and the right to establish its own independent State in Palestine;
b. The right of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people, to participate on an equal footing with other parties in all efforts, deliberations and conferences on the Middle East;
c. The need to put an end to Israel's occupation of the Arab territories, in accordance with the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and, consequently, the need to secure Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem;
d. The need to oppose and reject such Israeli policies and practices in the occupied territories, including Jerusalem, and any de facto situations created by Israel as are contrary to international law and relevant United Nations resolutions, particularly the establishment of settlements, as these policies and practices constitute major obstacles to the achievement of peace in the Middle East;
e. The need to reaffirm as null and void all legislative and administrative measures and decisions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which have altered or purported to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, including the appropriation of land and property situated thereon, and in particular the so-called "Basic Law" on Jerusalem and the proclamation of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel;
f. The right of all States in the region to existence within secure and internationally recognized boundaries, with justice and security for all the people, the sine qua non of which is the recognition and attainment of the legitimate, inalienable rights of the Palestinian people as stated in subparagraph (a) above.
58. These guidelines were important and relevant for the focus on the central issues while fully acknowledging that the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people remained fundamental to any solution.
59. The Seminar regarded the fact that the majority of States in the international community as well as several major intergovernmental organizations had expressed their strong support for the holding of the Conference to be a significant factor and testimony to the vital importance of such a conference. It hoped that all those in support of the Conference, and this was the overwhelming majority of the international community, would unite to overcome the obstacles posed by the refusal of Israel and the United States of America to agree to participate in such a conference. It was the refusal of theme two States alone that obstructed the progress desired by the international community.
60. The time was ripe to move forward in a peace process. Genuine peace was attainable through negotiations provided that all the parties to the problem participated actively and there existed the necessary political will. The proposal for the International Peace Conference provided such an opportunity and waft the most viable mechanism to establish the process for ensuring a lasting peace in the Middle East.
61. The aims of the International Peace Conference should be to work out legally binding agreements which would combine in an organically interrelated fashion, the various components of a settlement, ensuring the realization by the Palestinian people of their legitimate national rights, including that of self-determination, return to their homeland and the right to an independent to State of their own and the establishment of peace between all States in the region. These elements could be combined with effective guarantees of compliance by the parties involved and the international community could perform its role as a guarantor for the agreement that emanated from the deliberations.
The Seminar conveyed to Chairman Arafat of the Palestine Liberation Organization its thanks for his message to the Seminar and expressed its support for the just cause of the Palestinian people. It also conveyed its strong support for the early convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East with the participation of the permanent members of the Security Council, as well as of the parties most directly involved in the conflict, particularly the Palestine Liberation Organization, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, as a positive and constructive step in the search for a solution to the question of Palestine.
63. The Seminar also adopted by consensus a motion proposed by the panelists, which reads as follows:
II. STATEMENT BY HIS EXCELLENCY MR. RASHLEIGH JACKSON, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF GUYANA
It is with keen pleasure and great cordiality that I bid you welcome to Latin America and the Caribbean and to our capital city, Georgetown, where this Regional Seminar on the Question of Palestine is being held. Within the limitations imposed by our resources, we have sought to cater for the needs dictated by your desire that the Seminar be efficient and productive and for your reasonable comfort. I sincerely hope that during your all too brief sojourn in Guyana you will be able to savour our hospitality.
Cde. Chairman, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People has been playing a valuable supportive role in the Palestinian struggle. Established in 1975 and led always by a brilliant and committed son of Senegal – now in the distinguished person of Ambassador Massamba Sarré, whom I warmly congratulate – the Palestinian Rights Committee has articulated a structured programme of action for the achievement of the objectives which inspired its creation. The full implementation of that programme of action must be pursued vigorously.
This Seminar is part of that programme. Like others which have preceded it, the Seminar will provide an opportunity for this region to have attention focused on its perspectives and thereby assist in the overall co-ordination of the activities and strategies of the supporters of the Palestinian cause in all regions of the world.
Though overwhelmingly concerned about the restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people, the Seminar is in a sense not restricted to that issue, for at stake on the question of Palestine are a number of principles which are of a universal nature and which are cardinal to the national policy of many States, including Guyana. Among them is the right of peoples to self-determination and independence. No less important are principles such as respect for independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-use of force in the settlement of disputes and non-acquisition of territory by force. All these principles are, alas, trampled underfoot in respect of the Palestinian people. Their widespread violation can create a situation which would pose even graver dangers for global peace and security.
The theme of this Seminar, "The inalienable rights of the Palestinian people", is succinct and deceptively short; but underlying it are the objectives assigned to the Committee, that is, the termination of generations of denial and suffering, pain and destruction and the dispossession of an entire people.
The Palestinian fate is, I venture to suggest, one of the most sordid tragedies of recorded history. The state of the Palestinian actuality was captured graphically by the distinguished Palestinian scholar, Edward Said, himself for some time a member of the Palestine National Council (PNC). In describing the results of the actions of zionism and of Israel from the beginning when treating with the Palestinians, he pointed to the refusal to admit and to deny the existence of Palestinian Arabs. Said concluded that "the question of Palestine is therefore the contest between an affirmation and a denial".
Like many peoples of Africa and Asia, the Palestinians too are in a diaspora and have suffered the indignities of living in refugee camps, many in virtual sight of their country, and of being objects of global compassion. The proud Palestinian people continue to be a nation without a State. But the evidence is overwhelming that dispersion and degradation, occupation and oppression have served to reinforce the determination of the Palestinians to intensify their struggle for their right to lead lives as dignified citizens in their own independent State. In that struggle, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has channelled the energies of the Palestinian people and has given them authentic leadership.
Guyana congratulates the Palestine Liberation Organization for keeping alive the flame of Palestinian nationalism, for its serious and dedicated approach to the solution of the problems of the region and for the maturity and effectiveness of its policies on the political and diplomatic fronts, internationally. Those policies have earned the PLO the respect and support of a preponderant majority of the international community and made it a symbol of Palestinian resistance to tyranny and of their aspirations for a settled life in their own independent homeland.
This burning quest by the Palestinian people for a homeland is inextricably bound up with that complex of issues known as the Middle East situation. Indeed, few now deny that the question of Palestine is the crux of the Middle East situation and that lasting peace in this region will be elusive until the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people are fully respected, including importantly their right to their own independence. To believe that the rights of the Palestinian people can be wished away or permanently negated is to pursue a fantasy.
The States of the region involved in this wider drama are in a geographical area immemorially linked with the sacred beliefs of vast numbers of humankind; it is an area made famous throughout history for its rich and diverse cultures. The seat of ancient conflicts, the Middle East, today sits on either side of the communications route through which passes a great part of the petroleum resources used by the industrialized countries of the West, and therefore takes on a strategic significance.
Such strategic considerations impose their own dynamics on the Middle East situation and, as a consequence, on the Palestinian question.
The struggle of the Palestinian people is also in integral part of the world-wide struggle against foreign domination, a struggle which is being waged not only in the Middle East but also in southern Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean, especially in Central America. We would do well to comprehend the true dimensions and implications of the Palestinian struggle.
The Government and people of Guyana have always been firm in their support for the rights of the Palestinian people. Our position has been forthright and it has been unequivocal. Our active participation in the work of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People since its inception is a testimony of our commitment to the cause.
Our unswerving position contains the following indispensable elements:
a. Respect for the rights of the Palestinian people and their entitlement to a homeland in Palestine;
b. The right of the States in the Middle East to exist within secure and international recognized boundaries;
c. Non-acquisition of territory by force,
d. The withdrawal of Israel from all occupied Arab territories. You and your Committee can count on Guyana's abiding support.
I want, on behalf of the Government and people of Guyana, to address a special word to the Palestinians who are present here and to ask them to convey our deeply felt feeling of solidarity, to all our Palestinian brothers and sisters. We in Guyana are acutely aware of their historical experience and their aspirations. Their tragedy could have been ours. How many people today are cognizant of the fact that,. in the wake of the Balfour Declaration of 1917, Guyana was seriously examined as a possible country for the settlement of Jewish refugees escaping persecution in Europe? For earlier in this century President Roosevelt of the United States of America had appointed a joint Anglo-American Commission which made recommendations to this effect. The outbreak of the second European civil war, and other intervening factors, put paid to those plans.
It is now nearly four decades that the United Nations has been grappling with the various intertwined aspects of the enduring and perplexing Middle East situation and the Palestine Question. What emerges with clarity out of those years of effort is that the prospects for lasting peace in the Middle East begin and end with the satisfaction of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. Let us not forget that it was the United Nations which played a crucial role in the birth of the State of Israel. No one dare suggest that it was in the contemplation of the United Nations that Israel's existence should be at the expense of Palestine's national rights or premised on their denial. In fact, it is meet to recall that the United Nations Partition Plan adopted in 1947 provided for the establishment of a Palestine State side by side with its Jewish counterpart. It is therefore a solemn obligation of the United Nations to ensure that it does not allow its decision of 1947 to have the effect of permanently dispossessing the Palestinian nation whose existence and inalienable rights it has formally recognized.
The mandate of your Committee is fully in keeping with that requirement. Since its establishment, great strides have been made. Extensive political and moral support has been rendered to the struggle being waged by the Palestinian people. We applaud your efforts.
A task to which your Committee has devoted enormous attention is educating the world's people about the Palestine question and exposing to them the nature and scale of the historical and present Palestinian condition. But more needs to be accomplished, for there are few issues of global impact which have suffered from media neglect, and I dare say deliberate distortion and disinformation, more strikingly than that of the plight of the Palestinian people.
On this occasion, you will doubtless give special emphasis to informing the Latin American and Caribbean people and it is my hope that additional insights will be obtained to help you win the goal of dissemination to the wider international community. For the task is urgent. In assessing the popular conception in the West of the Palestinian, and his rights, said summed it up as this: "Palestine does not exist except as a memory or, more importantly, as an idea, a political and human experience". The media has been a powerful instrument in creating that image.
We have to change that image. Repetition of the truth is a sine qua non. But contemporaneous with such action should be further initiatives to have launched an International Peace Conference on the Middle East which the General Assembly called for since 1983. The proposal has great merit and appropriateness and continues to enjoy widespread international support. Such a forum providing for the participation of the permanent members of the Security Council, Israel, the Palestine Liberation Organization on behalf of the Palestinian people and other concerned parties would offer a unique opportunity of a break-out of the current stagnation in the Middle East peace efforts and for a comprehensive discussion of the interests of all the parties concerned. The sad truth, however, is that an International Peace Conference is being opposed and its realization frustrated by obstacles of one kind or another. Israel is intransigent and the United States and other Israeli backers are vacillating. It is lamentable indeed that implementation of such a constructive proposal, conceived to bring about a peaceful settlement of differences through dialogue, in a region as volatile as the Middle East, is being blocked by such intransigence and vacillation. Your Committee, all of us members of the United Nations and the progressive and peace-loving peoples and movements must not relent. Israel must be made to realize that the best interests of its people would be served by participation in such a Conference.
Meanwhile, there is a current focus of attention on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and on efforts to initiate negotiations for the future of those territories. I venture to suggest that this aspect of the Middle East situation shows with starkness the need for an early and comprehensive settlement. For it is here that the purblind attachment to so-called "greater Israel", implying as it does an indissoluble, external non-negotiable bond to those territories, is executing the most penetrating and enduring injuries to Arab and Palestinian nationalism.
As if in a race against time, and manifesting a fear of history itself, Israeli bulldozers raze to the ground evidences of Arab and Palestinian identity. New attitudes are struck and new facts erected – structures whose emplacement violates the General Assembly Partition Plan and the provisions of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War which Israel ratified in 1951. These structures are symbols to injustice. They are also obstacles to peace in the region and they must not be allowed to become permanent. So long as they subsist, the state of war is perpetuated and there is a seemingly unending Spiral of violence and suffering.
What all this points to is that, in a profound sense, it is Israel that needs to be liberated from the territories it is now occupying. It must certainly be a duty of your Committee, indeed of the whole international community, to assist Israel's liberation from its own self-established prison. Lebanon should be a salutary lesson for Israel.
As we seek to do so, let us be conscious of the growing number of Jews in Israel and in communities throughout the world who reject those postures of Israel which seek to justify the violation of every basic right of the Palestinian people. More and more it is being recognized within the Israeli society by persons who ardently desire an Israel living in peace and security with her neighbours that this cannot be permanently secured at the expense of the Palestinians. Support for a coming-to-terms with the Palestinian reality is growing inside Israel. Your Committee must expose and exploit these contradictions within Israeli society.
Guyana cannot accept, your Committee cannot accept, nor can the international community accept that the unlawful use of force can bestow advantages, that such so-called gains are non-negotiable and that expansionism is a virtue. Those positions fly in the face of, and undermine the Charter of the United Nations and the régime of inter-State relations based on the rule of law which it seeks to promote. They are a prescription for permanent instability. Israel must be made to fully respect the provisions of the Charter and implement the decisions of its organs.
Security in the Middle East, as in any other region, cannot be unilaterally determined. The price of Israel's security cannot be to her neighbours' cost, nor can that security be based on the permanent dispossession of a whole people – the Palestinians – and the usurption of their land.
It is my sincere hope that this Seminar will help to make clear where the prospects of peace in the Middle East, and especially Palestine, truly lie.
I therefore wish you all success as you begin your Seminar. Let us resolve that this will not simply be an occasion for discussions. Let this be an action-oriented Seminar. The cause of Palestinian liberation requires modalities for exerting maximum pressure on those who stand in the way of that process. Let us also have always in mind that this Seminar is about much more than the Palestinians or their need to recover their inalienable national rights – as fundamental as that is. Your Seminar is also about the strength and the capacity of the United Nations to have its decisions respected and implemented, it is about the extent to which States are prepared to make the Charter of the United Nations a living force in the conduct of their relations with other States. Finally, it is about peace – a durable peace so that the peoples of the Middle East can live within mutually recognized boundaries, and the Palestinians can last devote their energies and their talents to their happiness and prosperity in their own homeland, in Palestine.
I declare this regional seminar open.
III. STATEMENT BY HIS EXCELLENCY MR. MASSAMBA SARRE, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF SENEGAL TO THE UNITED NATIONS AND CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE EXERCISE OF THE INALIENABLE RIGHTS OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
On behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, I have the pleasure to welcome you to the eleventh United Nations Seminar on the Question of Palestine. At the same time, I would Like to extend my heartfelt thanks to His Excellency Minister Jackson, who is with us today, and to-the Government and people of the Republic of Guyana for their kind co-operation and assistance in enabling us to hold this Seminar in their beautiful capital.
It is particularly interesting for us to recall that His Excellency the Minister of Foreign Affairs was, as representative of Guyana to the United Nations, one of the founding members of our Committee and a leading participant in its work – at a time when the Committee laid the foundation for its future activity after drawing up a concrete programme which would enable the Palestinian people to exercise its inalienable rights.
Guyana, as an active member of our Committee, has always demonstrated the importance that it attaches to the question of Palestine and to the urgent need for a just and lasting solution to it. Its willingness to provide a venue is yet another reflection of the importance Guyana attaches to this issue and of its commitment to finding a just solution.
In convening this Seminar, the Committee continues to fulfil the mandate entrusted to it by the General Assembly. The results of our previous seminars have convinced us both of the usefulness of the exchange of views such as we are about to embark on and of the importance of the contribution our deliberations will make towards a better and deeper understanding of the problem of Palestine.
It is our hope that the dialogue that we commence today amongst parliamentarians, academics, journalists and policy makers from all parts of the Latin American and Caribbean region will afford us a unique opportunity to evaluate the possible contribution that the public opinion of this region can make to a solution of the problem of Palestine and, at the same time, exert a significant influence on the formulation of policies calculated to enable the Palestinian people to exercise its inalienable rights to self-determination and independence – rights which it has been unjustly denied for so long.
Latin American and Caribbean public opinion must be mobilized, along with that of all the other regions, to make the voice of reason in world affairs better heard and to promote more awareness of all the aspects of the question of Palestine. It is the Committee's view that greater awareness of the facts pertaining to the question of Palestine will serve the cause of justice and thereby make a significant contribution to the search for peace in the Middle East.
The tragedy of the Palestinian people has engaged the attention of the United Nations almost since its very inception. Although almost 40 years have passed since the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 181 (II), which recommended the creation of two States – an Arab State and a Jewish State – so far it has been implemented only to the extent of the creation of the State of Israel. The struggle of the Palestinian people for the self-determination and independence it has unjustly been denied has not only led to conflict in the region but constitutes a permanent danger for international peace and security.
Because of this danger, all nations in every region of the world today feel concerned by and are more and more aware of the implications of this difficult and complex question of Palestine. Indeed, the basic elements of the question are so closely interwoven that any partial or unbalanced settlement could only place greater obstacles in the way of a solution. Then again, there is a further element in this tragic situation. While strenuous attempts have been made to break the deadlock, the already complex situation is further complicated by actions taken in the region – oppressive measures taken by the occupying Power against the Palestinians of the occupied West Bank and Gaza, the illegal establishment of Israeli settlements in those areas, and the implementation of policies which are also in direct contravention of United Nations resolutions and international law – actions which, by exacerbating tension in the area, can only hinder the attempt to find a peaceful solution.
Those actions by the Government of Israel and its persistent refusal to abide by international law and conventions bring about a daily deterioration in the situation and highlight the urgency of a just solution of the problem of Palestine, which is recognized by the international community as the core of the conflict in the Middle East.
It was as a result of the recognition that the question of Palestine was at the core of the conflict of the Middle East as well as the realization by the international community that no solution to that problem was possible until the Palestinian people had achieved its inalienable rights that the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People was established in 1975.
The Committee was given the mandate of studying and recommending to the United Nations General Assembly a programme of action to enable the Palestinian people to exercise its inalienable rights, previously defined by the General Assembly as:
a. The right of self-determination without external interferences
b. The right to independence and national sovereignty,
c. The right of Palestinians to return to their homeland.
A programme of action, drawn up in 1976, was immediately confirmed by the General Assembly, which has reaffirmed its validity and relevance at each of its subsequent sessions.
However, the implementation of this programme has so far come up against the intransigent opposition of the State of Israel, which persists in denying the Palestinians their inalienable rights to a homeland, encouraged in that, it must be said, by the situation in the Security Council, the organ charged with maintaining international peace and security which, owing to the exercise of the veto by one of its permanent members, has still not approved the Committee's recommendations.
This has been most discouraging. Just as discouraging is the fact that other proposals for a just, comprehensive and lasting solution which rely on the uniqueness of the United Nations have not found acceptance either, although many of them contain positive elements which could form the basis of a just and durable solution. There are obstacles, therefore, in the path of any significant progress, and the Committee has found it necessary to take every action that might contribute to overcoming the impasse.
The Committee has always felt the need to disseminate objective information on the question of Palestine as a means of building up public opinion and ensuring objective coverage of developments in the region with a view to promoting a solution on the basis of United Nations resolutions. We are convinced that it is essential to present all the facts surrounding the question of Palestine, because there is no doubt that, once these facts are known, the resultant understanding of the question will convince those in the international community who have not so far been convinced of the justice of the Palestinian people's cause.
It is for this reason that the Committee has taken the initiative in organizing seminars such as we have here today, as well as symposia for non-governmental organizations and journalists' encounters, indeed, this was the reason behind the Committee's initiative in calling for the International Conference on the Question of Palestine which took place two years ago.
That Conference, which was attended by 137 nations, formulated a number of basic principles, including the right of all States in the region to exist within secure and internationally recognized boundaries with justice and security for all people, including, of course, a future Palestinian State. It went on to recommend the convening of an International Peace Conference on the Middle East under the auspices of the United Nations, with the participation of all parties to the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the Palestine Liberation Organization, the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, on an equal footing. The Conference did this in the conviction that the best way out of the impasse was to bring the parties concerned together around the same table and that the United Nations was the most appropriate means for that purpose.
Our Committee fully recognizes, along with the majority of the States Members of the United Nations, the importance of such a Peace Conference. It is indeed necessary that the international community should intensify and unite its efforts to ensure the convening without delay of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East as an instrument for the establishment of a just and comprehensive peace and of security and stability in the Middle East, white at the same time ensuring the attainment of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. Accordingly, the Committee has decided that, this year, it should make the International Peace Conference on the Middle East the focal point of its work programme.
It is for this reason that we have in this Seminar, and in fact in all our others seminars and symposia for this year, a panel which will deal exclusively with the question of the Peace Conference. We have also attempted to mobilize all non-governmental organizations throughout the world that are interested in the question of Palestine in an effort which, we hope, will have a profound effect in bringing about the convening of the Peace Conference.
In our dealings with non-governmental organizations we have repeatedly stressed the importance of this Conference and those non-governmental organizations themselves took the initiative of launching, on 29 November 1984, a signature campaign throughout the world appealing for the convening of this Peace Conference. Already several thousand signatures have been collected. It is our hope that those gathered here today will participate actively in that signature campaign in their countries and help to make it a complete success.
I have referred already to the emphasis that the Committee places on the development of public opinion on this question. In the course of this Seminar, we shall hear the views of several influential policy-makers on the role Latin American and Caribbean public opinion can play. Their views, and the discussions that take place on this aspect, will be of the greatest value to us in assessing what still needs to be done in this field.
The work we are about to embark on is undoubtedly of the greatest importance. The General Assembly solemnly entrusted us with the task of ensuring that the rights of the Palestinians are respected. The Charter of the United Nations, both in spirit and in letter, enjoins not only its signatures but also all those who are gathered together here, to work without respite for the attainment of this noble objective – the more so as mankind will shortly observe the fortieth anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Charter and the coming into being of the world Organization.
The Committee is convinced that this Seminar will sensitize world public opinion to the question of Palestine and contribute to ensuring that the Palestinians will one day be able to exercise their civil and political rights on their awn soil. As we commence our work, we can be confident in the knowledge that ours is a noble task and one of which we can all be justifiably proud.
On behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, I should like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all of you who are here with us today and to those of you who have taken the time to prepare papers which will contribute to the success of this Seminar.
IV. MESSAGE FROM MR. YASSER ARAFAT, CHAIRMAN OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE PALESTINE LIBERATION ORGANIZATION, CONVEYED BY W. ZEHDI L. TERZI, PERMANENT OBSERVER OF THE PALESTINE LIBERATION ORGANIZATION TO THE UNITED NATIONS
It gives me great pleasure, on this day of the convening of your Seminar on the rights of the Palestinian people, to express to you, in the name of our Palestinian Arab people, in the name of my brothers, members of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and in my personal name, our heartiest greetings.
We express to you our high esteem and profound gratitude for your efforts to promote the legitimate struggle of our people and for your infallible support to the national inalienable rights of our people, including their right to return to self-determination without external interference and to the establishment of their independent State, and to the attainment of those rights.
It gives me also great pleasure to express to you the tremendous pride that we feel for your continuous efforts in defence of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and for the fulfilment of peace in one of the most dangerous, tense and explosive regions of the world.
You are fully aware that our Palestinian cause is at present witnessing a dangerous phase as a result of the intensification of the Israeli aggressive policies which receive the support of successive American Administrations.
The Government of the Zionist Israeli enemy is intensifying its repression, oppression and terror against our Palestinian people inside and outside our occupied homeland and persistently exercises illegitimate racial practices by dispossessing them of their basic human rights, paralysing civilian life, destroying the Palestinian economy, expropriating land and water resources, establishing armed colonial settlements in the occupied territories encouraging, supporting and financing the terrorist Zionist gangs whose aim is to perpetrate criminal actions against our people. All these acts are being perpetrated with the sole aim of expulsion and forced deportation of our people from their land and homes, for the implementation of the Israeli plan of Judaization of the occupied Palestinian areas and achievement of their ultimate annexation to the Zionist enemy entity.
The Zionist parties compete in the expression of their hostility and racial extremism against our Palestinian people by granting protection and by preserving rules and regulations based on the Zionist racist ideology.
Additionally, there is the declared policy of Israel of non-withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian Arab territories, the non-recognition and non-respect of the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people, the non-return of Jerusalem to Palestinian sovereignty and the non-establishment of the Palestinian State in Palestine and the rejection of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
On the other hand, the American Administration is intensifying its hostile polices and stands against our Palestinian people, and continues to increase its support to the Israeli enemy entity and to its aggressive expansionist policies, by establishing with the said enemy a strategic military alliance aimed against our Palestinian people and the peoples of our Arab nation.
The American Administration also establishes with the Israeli entity a free-trade zone to support its deteriorated economy which is basically devoted to war, to expansionism and to, establishment of colonial settlements. This is in addition to the financial and military aid provided to Israel in the form of non-refundable grants and the moral, political and diplomatic support granted by the United States Administration on all international levels to the extent that it hinders the implementation of the international law of the international community and impedes the condemnation of the crimes and aggressive measures against the Palestinian people under occupation.
They American Administration similarly denies our people their inalienable rights as endorsed and reaffirmed by the resolutions of the entire international community and permanently attempts to bypass the Palestine Liberation Organization, the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and attempts to distort its image by all possible means.
In face of the these enormous challenges imposed on our people, our people nevertheless continue their struggle and resistance to the oppressive and aggressive Israeli policies and to the hostile United States policies.
The ordeals and hardships will never dissuade nor impair our people's resolve in their struggle, which meets with the support of the peoples of the world and of their democratic peace- and justice-loving forces.
Similarly, the Palestine Liberation Organization has availed itself of every opportunity in the search for peace. This emanates from its firm belief in the need to achieve justice, peace, stability and development in our explosive area, in the interest of international peace and security.
This feeling of responsibility has prevailed among our people and their representatives in the consecutive Palestine National Councils, which have repeatedly reaffirmed the determination of our Palestinian people to attain a just peace based on the fulfilment and exercise of the national inalienable rights of our people, including their right to return, to self-determination without external interference and to the establishment of their independent Palestinian State in Palestine.
Based on the resolutions of our consecutive Palestine National Councils sessions, and in particular the sixteenth and seventeenth sessions, and also based on the principles of the Fez Summit, which reflect the peaceful will of our Arab nation, and in accordance with international resolutions, the Palestine Liberation Organization continues its efforts to achieve a joint Arab political plan which aims to contribute to the attainment of a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the Middle East conflict.
In the name of our people who are suffering the immense ordeals of war, oppression and occupation and who strive to achieve peace, in the name of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and in my own personal name, l wish to express to you our profound gratitude for the valuable efforts deployed by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and by holding symposia and international conferences which have greatly contributed to clarifying and unveiling the justice of the Palestinian cause and in informing the peoples of the world of the legitimacy of the Palestinian struggle for liberation as well as in acquiring the respect and esteem of the peoples of the world for the struggle of our people.
I wish to express here my profound gratitude to Mr. Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to Ambassador Massamba Sarré, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and to all those who have contributed to the success of these seminars in the service of the justice of the Palestinian cause.
As your Seminar is convening, our Palestinian brothers in the refugee camps in Lebanon, in Beirut and other localities are being subjected to brutal acts bordering on mass extermination and genocide. We have addressed an appeal to His Excellency Secretary-General Pérez de Cuéllar to find ways and means to put an immediate end to violence committed against our brothers and to prevent yet another mass displacement of Palestinians. The United Nations and the international community are historically responsible for the plight of the Palestinians and are responsible to provide protection, security and safeguards to the Palestinian refugee camps.
Allow me in conclusion to express to the people and Government of Guyana our high appreciation and gratitude for their hosting of this Seminar, and for their principled firm stand of solidarity and identification with the just struggle of our people for the regaining of our national inalienable rights. Our people will always remember the militant support of Guyana at all levels, be it in the forum of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries or in the United Nations Security Council and in its active and positive participation in the work of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, of which Guyana is a member.
I extend to you my sincerest wishes for the success of the work of this Seminar.
Revolution until victory.
V. STATEMENT BY HIS EXCELLENCY M. GAJANAN WAKANKAR, HIGH COMMISSIONER OF INDIA IN GEORGETOWN, ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRMAN OF THE MOVEMENT OF NON-ALIGNED COUNTRIES
Mr. Chairman, H.E. Mr. Massamba Sarré, H.E. Mr. Rashleigh Jackson, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, H.E. Dr. Ptolemy Reid, Deputy Leader of the Palestine National Council, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
It is a great pleasure for me to be here with you this afternoon to participate in the Eleventh United Nations Seminar on the Question of Palestine. I would like to thank the Committee for the invitation to address the Seminar extended to the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, which it is my honour to represent today.
Non-aligned countries – and naturally the Government and people of India among them – have always felt a particular bond of kinship with the Palestinian people. From the time of the first non-aligned summit meeting held in Belgrade in 1961 the question of Palestine has been in the forefront of the deliberations and activities of the non-aligned Movement. Non-aligned countries have been particularly active in mobilising international support in favour of the inalienable rights of the Palestinians and against Israel's action in the occupied territories. It has largely been at their initiative that the majority of United Nations resolutions on the subject have been adopted. Indeed, the support of the non-aligned Movement for the just Palestinian cause and the solidarity of the non-aligned countries with the Palestinian people have been firm, continuous and unwavering, and there is an overwhelming consensus within the Movement on the basic principles pertaining to Palestine and West Asia.
The heads of State or Government of non-aligned countries, meeting in New Delhi is March 1983, had the opportunity to re-examine exhaustively the question of Palestine. They affirmed that:
The committee of Eight at the level of ministers and senior officials has held several meetings over the last two years and has addressed itself to efforts that should be made in the light of the rapidly deteriorating situation is the region. At its recent meeting at ministerial level, held in New Delhi on 20 April 1985, the non-aligned Committee of Eight reviewed the situation particularly in the light of United Nations General Assembly resolution 39/49 D, which endorses the proposal for the convening of an International Peace Conference on the Middle East. The ministers greatly appreciated the efforts of the Secretary-General of the United Nations towards the convening of the Peace Conference and expressed their regret at the negative response of some Governments for the proposed Conference. hey decided to continue actively their collective and individual efforts to mobilise all means available with a view to implementing the United Nations General Assembly resolutions and ensure the convening of the Peace Conference in which all parties to the Arab-Israeli conflict will be invited to participate, including the Palestine Liberation Organization, the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. Ministers were of the opinion that the convening of this Conference, under the aegis of the United Nations, and with the particular involvement of the Security Council, offers the best if not the only path to the attainment and exercise of the inalienable rights of the-Palestinian people and to a comprehensive, just and durable peace in the Middle East.
The meeting of ministers and heads of delegation of non-aligned countries to the thirty-ninth session. of the United Nations General Assembly, held in New York in October 1984, stressed anew the necessity for the early convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East. It reaffirmed that the question of Palestine was the core of the Middle East problems and the root cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Therefore, any partial solution or any solution limited to some aspects of the conflict and excluding the rest will not be possible.
If I have gone into the activities of the non-aligned Movement in support of the Palestinian cause at some length, it is to emphasize that support for and solidarity with our Palestinian brothers and sisters has been a fundamental feature of our movement.
I wish to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in its search for a just solution to the question of Palestine. The Committee's contribution in this regard has been significant. The programme of implementation of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people drawn by the Committee has repeatedly been endorsed by the General Assembly by large majorities. The efforts of the Committee towards the early convening of the Peace Conference and to mobilise public support for the Palestinian cause have been untiring. No doubt much of the credit goes to the diligent efforts of the Chairman of the Committee.
Now I would like to speak a few words about the existence of deep sympathy and solidarity in India for the Palestinian cause. As early as in the 1920s and 1930s, when the Indian National Freedom Struggle was on, Mahatma Gandhi raised his voice against the suffering and humiliation heaped unto the innocent people of Palestine. He wrote in his paper Young India:
In another context he wrote:
Jawaharlal Nehru, the architect of modern India, repeatedly emphasized the central theme, that is:
The Government of India, both under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru as well as Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, supported the cause of the Palestinian people whole-heartedly. India accorded full recognition to the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1980 as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. Indira Gandhi, speaking at a dinner hosted for Mr. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the PLO on that occasion, stated:
This consistent support for the Palestinian people has been one of the hallmarks of our foreign policy. Right since the Indian National Congress Party observed Palestine Day to express its solidarity with the Palestinian people in 1936, solidarity with the Palestinian people has been one of the basic tenets of our foreign policy.
At the non-aligned summit of 1983 as well as at the Commonwealth summit of 1983, and at the thirty-ninth session of the United Nations General Assembly in October 1984, India has consistently supported the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. The stress now is on the need for a concerted internal effort to guarantee the implementation of the Arab Peace Plan issued at the Arab summit in Fez, Morocco recently.
India's support has not been merely lip-sympathy but is rooted in tradition and history and has been matched by concrete action. Besides giving material and moral support to the PLO, besides giving hundreds of Palestinian students facilities of higher education in India, India supports the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) looking after Palestinian refugees. India has consistently supported the exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people in the United Nations at non-aligned conferences and all other international forums. We demand an unconditional Israeli withdrawal from all Arab territories occupied since 1967 including the Holy City of Jerusalem, the exercise of the rights of the Palestinian Arab people, including the right to establish an independent State in their homeland and the right of all States in the region, including Arab Palestine, to live within secure borders.
In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that the struggle of the Palestine people might be long and arduous but we have no doubt that ultimate victory will belong to them. The present occasion inspires us all to rededicate ourselves to the Palestinian cause which is undoubtedly our own. Our voice will be one with theirs till victory is won. On behalf of the Chairman of the non-aligned Movement, I extend sincere good wishes for the success of this Seminar.
VI. MESSAGE FROM HIS EXCELLENCY MR. SAYED SHARIFUDDIN PIRZADA, SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE ORGANIZATION OF THE ISLAMIC CONFERENCE, CONVEYED BY MR. ENGIN ANSAY, DEPUTY PERMANENT OBSERVER OF THE ORGANIZATION OF THE ISLAMIC CONFERENCE TO THE UNITED NATIONS
It gives me pleasure, first of all, to convey to you the greetings of His Excellency Mr. Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada, Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, who has deputed me to represent him ant deliver his address to this Seminar.
Allow me first and foremost to express my deep gratitude and appreciation to the State and Government of Guyana for graciously hosting this Conference and extending facilities for its success.
I avail myself of this opportunity to congratulate you, Mr. Chairman, as your election to preside over the Seminar and conduct its deliberations. I am confident that your wise direction and useful interventions will have a positive impact on our work.
I must also express my thanks and appreciation to the Organizers of this Seminar for the valuable efforts they have made to confirm the historical and inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to their country and to support their just cause.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference has been anxious to participate in the series of regional symposia organized by the United Nations on the question of Palestine. It is happy today to participate also hi this important Seminar so as to materialize the close ties and strong co-operative relations between our organization and the United Nations. These relations cover various fields mad most importantly, of course, the question of Palestine.
I shall not fail to commend the role of such symposia as this one is malting the question of Palestine better known to world public opinion. Perhaps one of the most striking results of these symposia is the solid conviction that we observe today throughout the world as to the legitimacy of this cause and the right of the Palestinian people to exercise sovereignty over their own land.
The topic under discussion at this international Seminar is at the root of the establishment of our Organization. The Organization of the Islamic Conference considers the cause of Palestine and Al-Quds al-Sharif the foremost cause of the Muslim Ummah because of its Justness and because of the existence of Islamic holy shrines under occupation. Accordingly, the OIC member States, backed by the entire Muslim Ummah, have given their unreserved support to this cause and to the Palestinian people, putting at their disposal all the resources available to the Muslim world. We have proclaimed, at our successive conferences, our full commitment to all proposals and solutions that ensure the inalienable historical rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to return, their right to self-determination and their right to establish their own independent State on their national soil with Al-Quds al-Sharif as capital and under the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), their legitimate and sole representative.
Despite all massacres that Israel has committed, the present situation in the Middle East signals to the whole world the serious desire of the Arab side to bring about a lasting, comprehensive and just peace in the area. As required, the Palestinian side, represented by the PLO, has demonstrated total flexibility with regard to the peace process. It has endorsed the Fez peace plan which has been adapted by the League of Arab States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Moreover, the Arab Group, including the PLO, has accepted the principle of negotiations for the achievement of peace in the area, through as international conference in which all the parties concerned must participate on an equal footing.
The United States and Israel, however, have rejected all these proposals and initiatives and will indeed reject any proposal that recognizes the Palestinians' rights to self-determination and statehood.
Ever since the beginning of this century, the Palestinian people have been struggling to assert their identity and prove their existence. Despite the great sacrifices they have made they have proclaimed to the whole world that they will not relinquish their historical and legitimate rights and that they will continue their struggle until they win victory on their own land over the oppressors and usurpers.
The Palestine issue has become the concern of the whole world. It is firm belief, in the Organization of the Islamic Conference, that the Palestine issue does not concern the Palestinian people or the Arab Ummah alone, based on the fact that parts of Palestinian territories are under Israeli occupation, nor is it the exclusive concern of the Islamic Ummah because of the desecration of its holy shrines in Al-Quds al-Sharif by the colonialist Power. Indeed, it is the concern of the whole international community, being first and foremost a problem of colonialism which the United Nations has been fighting with various means. Second, it is an issue brought about by the expansionism of one entity at the expense of another through occupation of neighbouring territories. Third, it is an issue based on the most dangerous doctrine to the international community i.e., the doctrine which authorizes a country to commit aggression against any neighbouring country and to occupy its territory for security purposes, provided that it possesses enough force to carry out such a policy. In other words, a country can justify its expansionist policy with the security of its borders. We need not mention who used to advocate such a theory or that the latter is rejected by the entire world community.
It is our belief that as long as this issue is not settled along the lines of the resolutions approved by the United Nations, i.e., recognition of the national inalienable rights of the Palestinian people; its right to self-determination; its right to its homeland; and its right to set up an independent Palestinian State, there will be no peace or stability in the Middle East region and world peace will continue to be threatened with a conflagration.
The PLO, which is recognized as sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people by most countries, has approved these principles in its national councils, although, in so doing, it has renounced part of its historical rights. Thus, in its concern for world peace and security it has responded to the said principles, renounced historically and universally recognized rights of the Palestinian people and its just cause, and accepted the setting up of an independent Palestinian State on only part of the Palestinian territory.
The PLO's acceptance of these principles was highlighted at the National Council held is Al-Jazaier, which endorsed the Fez peace plan drawn up by the 1982 Arab Summit at Fez and endorsed by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, by its Al-Quds Committee and by the last Non-Aligned Summit.
Such was the attitude of the Palestinians and of the PLO towards the world views for the settlement of the Middle East issue.
Let us now see how Israel reacted to the proposed settlement.
Israel, the racial Zionist entity, has continued its defiance of world feelings and international resolutions and derided even the fact that the Palestinians constitute a people and therefore are entitled to self-determination.
Israel went further by waging a relentless genocidal war against the Palestinian people with the purpose of obliterating its personality and its very existence. It has bean carrying out this policy against the Palestinian people wherever it may be, both inside and outside the occupied territory. Even Palestinian residents who did not leave the country is 1918 and are regarded as Israeli nationals are subjected is different ways to the same war. Worse still, Israel has persecuted Palestinian youth as far as Europe and other countries and assassinated a number of PLO representatives abroad.
The latest of Israeli criminal action was the war against Lebanon, which was aimed at liquidating the Palestinian people and the Palestinian issue altogether.
Israel embarked on this war with the whole might of its military and human machine using the latest weaponry produced by the United States arms factories and with a firing intensity that exceeded that of the Second World War considering the area and time involved.
In spite of all this, the Palestinian people led by the PLO, its sole legitimate representative, out of belief in its just cause and out of determination to recover its full rights, put up a fierce resistance.
In so doing, it has made clear to the whole world that there is no alternative to peace with the realization of Palestinian national rights but armed struggle in defence of peace.
Although the entire world called upon the Government of the Zionist entity to stop building settlements in the 1967-occupied territories, as a first step towards the settlement of the Middle East issue, Israel has continued erecting such settlements regardless of world public opinion. On the contrary, it has coupled this with the expulsion and deportation of Palestinians, thus ceaselessly pursuing the policy of Judaization aimed at wiping out every characteristic of the Palestinian people and history, of Al-Quds, the holy city of the entire Islamic world, and of the First Qibla and Third Holy Shrine. In spite of all resolutions adopted by the United Nations, the Security Council and international organizations, including the Organization of the Islamic Conference, to the effect that the Israeli occupation was illegal, Israel announced in 1980 the annexation of Al-Quds and has been committing almost every day flagrant sacrilegious acts against Islam and Muslims through continued desecrations of Islamic shrines. Most steps taken by Israel in this regard were actually aimed in some way at preventing Muslims from performing their religious obligations.
The illegal Zionist policy of establishing settlements in the occupied Arab territories creates one of the greatest threats to peace in the region. In its fanatic expansionist settlement policy, the Zionist entity is annexing more Arab lands and displacing Palestinians who have been the legitimate owners of their land throughout the past centuries.
But the more sophisticated Israeli aim behind its settlements policy is to pre-empt any progress by the Palestinian people towards the affirmation of their inalienable rights, foremost amongst them the right of self-determination in their historic country. With this evil policy of expansionism Israel is aiming towards the future, where any political solution that does not wield total Israeli sovereignty over occupied Palestinian territories will not even be considered during any form of future negotiations.
It is high time that the United States and the world at large ceased the practice of ignoring the illegal Zionist settlement activities.
Consequently, we say that peace is essential to the area, but the minimum condition for its realization is the recognition of the Palestinian people's right to their territory and homeland. Hence the convening of the International Conference on Peace in the Middle East, which is upheld by the United Nations an endorsed by regional groupings, constitutes the ideal solution since it ensures the participation of all parties concerned.
We see that we have to reiterate this: the peace process for the area cannot be carried out without the full participation of the PLO as a principal party to any dialogue or negotiation. There will be no peace without the recognition of the historical and inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including their rights to return, to self-determination and to the establishment of their own independent State, with AI-Quds al-Sharif as capital, on their national soil under the leadership of the PLO, their legitimate and sole representative.
In the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which groups 45 Islamic countries, we fully support the PLO in its just demands for the recognition of its inalienable rights to self-determination, to return to its homeland and to set up an independent Palestinian State.
VII. PAPERS PRESENTED AT THE SEMINAR
A. The International Peace Conference on the Middle East, the need for such a Conference, efforts and prospects to promote a successful outcome and benefits thereof
1. Joshua Chowritmootoo,
Member of Parliament, Guyana
As a member of the highest law-making body of this nation, as a representative of the People's National Congress, the governing party of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, I feel a sense of deep commitment to a just cause in taking advantage of this opportunity to address this Seminar organized by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
My personal experience on such a forum is not limited to today. I have on previous occasions represented my Government at meetings such as this one called to discuss the Palestinian question and more specifically the plight of the dispossessed people of Palestine. Moreover, Guyana, as a member of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, is forever supportive of all efforts to secure the legitimate rights of the Palestinians and to promote their just cause.
In 1972, following Israel's callous invasion of Lebanon, the National Assembly of Guyana, moved to speak out against Israeli atrocities aimed at the extermination of the Palestinian people and their recognized representative, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), demanded:
It is safe to assume that this Seminar which is held here is in recognition of our position and role on the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. The continued denial of these rights is a crime against humanity and unless and until this issue is settled, world peace remains threatened.
The question of Palestine is the core of the Middle East problem. No other problem of our time is so deeply rooted in the past and no other problem of contemporary history deserves more attention to correct an injustice created by the naked manipulations of imperialism than the question of Palestine. This question has been engaging the attention of the United Nations continually, and indeed, of peoples of the world who care about justice, about humanity and about peace. Despite all these efforts, a comprehensive and just settlement of the problem seems as far away as it was in 1947. Guyana has consistently advocated that a just and comprehensive solution to the problem should be founded on the recognition of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and that complete respect for these rights is a fundamental element in establishing a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. Comrade L. F. S. Burnham, President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana and leader of the People's National Congress, in an address before the Seventh non-aligned summit Conference held in India in 1983, set this position in clear perspective when he said that peace in the Middle East would be illusory "unless Israel withdraws from the occupied Arab lands, the right of the Palestinian to a homeland is recognized and the right of all States to live within secure boundaries is respected".
In 1917, Palestinian Arabs and Christians were living on 98 per cent of the land known as Palestine and comprised 92 per cent of the total population. Today, there are millions of Palestinians who have been dislocated and are living in squalid overcrowded refugee camps scattered all over the Middle East. They have no homey their properties were usurped, they are denied the right to live in peace within secure boundaries. The Palestinians remain a nation that has no right to self-determination.
Unhappily, if not frustratingly, efforts of the international community in support of the Palestinians have been largely futile in the face of Israel's persistent expansionist designs and acts of illegal annexation of Palestinian, lands as well as acts of aggression and continuing hostility against the Palestinian people. Zionist punitive operations against the Palestinians have spilled over into many areas of the Middle East. The atrocities in Lebanon remain a horrible testimony to this reality. "Peace for Galilee" was a thinly veiled cover for acts of naked aggression aimed at the physical annihilation of the Palestine Resistance Movement and the destruction of the PLO military and political structure. Terrorism was raised to the level of State policy. But the flagrant genocide and monstrous slaughter only served to strengthen the will of the Palestinians to survive and to reinforce international efforts, such as this Seminar, to bring peace to the area.
In 1983, an International Conference on the Question of Palestine was convened by the United Nations in Geneva to seek effective ways and means to enable the Palestinians people to attain and the exercise their inalienable rights. In so doing, the Conference recognized the essential linkage between the Palestinian question and peace in the Middle East, and the call for the convening of an International Peace Conference was motivated by a spirit of urgency and a concern that no just solution to the problem of Palestine had been achieved over the years. In its stead, there has been the continued violation of the rights of the Palestinian people. A solution to the Palestinian question, therefore, had to focus on the wide issues that were to make up a comprehensive settlement. Thus, in order to reconcile the aspirations and vital interests of all the parties concerned, such a settlement needed to meet the following conditions: the withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied territories, 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, and, finally, a just settlement of the Palestinian problem based on the recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including self-determination and the return of their homeland.
This is the essence of the Geneva Declaration and its call for an International Peace Conference in the Middle East. The Geneva Declaration envisioned that the Peace Conference would be convened under the auspices of the United Nations. This Organization, in addition to its sacred trust and responsibility to the Palestinian people, is eminently suited for providing an umbrella and a forum for negotiations, and to facilitate the meeting of the parties to the conflict. For all its shortcomings, the United Nations provides the forum where enemies can sit around the same table and express their views. It is also the main world body in which all nations represented have committed themselves to maintaining friendly relations among States and to respecting the principles of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.
In addition, the Declaration has called for the participation of all parties to the conflict, including the PLO, as well as the United States of America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and other concerned States, on an equal footing and would take as its guidelines various proposals consistent with the principles of international law which had been presented and endorsed by the Conference. These guidelines are important and relevant for they focus on the central issues while fully acknowledging that the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people remain fundamental to any solution.
The guidelines are also clear about the need to put an end to Israel's occupation of the Arab territories, in accordance with the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and, consequently, the need to secure Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem. Similarly, they emphasize the need to oppose and reject such Israeli policies and practices in the occupied territories, including Jerusalem, and any de facto situation created by Israel as are contrary to international law and relevant United Nations resolutions, particularly the establishment of settlements, as these policies and practices constitute major obstacles to achievement of peace in the Middle East. There is also the need to confirm as null and void all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which have altered or purported to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, including the expropriation of land and property situated thereon, and in p articular the so-called "Basic Law" on Jerusalem and the proclamation of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Speaking before the seventh emergency special session of the United Nations General Assembly on the question of Palestine, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guyana Comrade Rashleigh Jackson had this to say:
It must be recorded here that the idea of convening such a Peace Conference has been endorsed by the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, of which Guyana is a dedicated and committed member. The Movement, from its inception, has consistently advocated a comprehensive solution to the problem. More recently, at the Seventh Conference of Heads of State or Government of Non-Aligned Countries, held at New Delhi in March 1983, the question was carefully examined and the fundamental principle for the solution of the problem were again reaffirmed. In reaffirming the bases on which a just and durable peace in the Middle East must be established, the Movement emphasized the urgent need to undertake endeavours to achieve a just and comprehensive peace on the basis of the principles enunciated above in this Declaration. No action should be taken which is inconsistent with these principles or would adversely affect the struggle of the Arab countries for the liberation of their territories and of the Palestinian people for the liberation of their homeland, Palestine, and the exercise of their inalienable rights therein.
Why then are we still addressing the question of whether there is need for such a Conference? The involvement of the two super-Powers in any peace process is of vital importance to its success and at least one super-Power, the Soviet Union, has come forward in full support of the Peace Conference. The other paradoxically itself a hostage to Israel's manipulations, finds it inconvenient to reproach its friend for the latter's consistent intransigence and breach of principle, and it is well known that the primary reason for the lack of progress in the peace process is the arrogance and intransigence of Israel with the misguided support from its friends, especially the United States. Israel, by its very conduct, is bent on rejecting the principle of equal rights and self-determination. It is ironic that Israel, which was created by an act of the United Nations, is now refusing to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization, the organization which the United Nations has recognized as the true representative of the Palestinian people and whose participation in such a capacity, on an equal basis with other parties, was deemed "indispensable" in all deliberations and conferences.
Despite this negative development in the efforts towards genuine peace in the Middle East, there is reason for optimism. Non-aligned solidarity with Palestinian's nationalism and aspiration has remained steadfast. The rights of the Palestinian people and the role of the Palestine Liberation Organization have come increasingly to be widely recognized, even in non-traditional quarters. Western European States within the European Economic Community have joined the overwhelming majority of the international community in censuring Israel regarding its settlement policy, violation of basic human rights and attempts to make Jerusalem its capital. Many of them have also underlined the necessity of association the Palestine Liberation Organization in any negotiation for a solution of the problem.
The time is ripe to move forward in a peace process. Genuine peace is attainable through negotiations, provided all the parties to the problem participate actively, and there exists the necessary political will. The proposal for the International Peace Conference under the Geneva Declaration provides such an opportunity. It would seem to me at this time the most viable mechanism to establish the process for ensuring a lasting peace in the Middle East, the genesis of a lasting world peace.
The Geneva Declaration has identified a role in the process for all States, individually and collectively, and stressed particularly the obligation of all Member States under the Charter of the United Nations, to enable the United Nations, through an expanded and more effective role, to fulfil its responsibility for achieving a solution to the question of Palestine.
Israel and the representatives of the Palestinian people must sit down at the negotiating table and negotiate. The international community must spare no effort to bring about this result. It has not been possible so far. It is my view that if this can be achieved there will certainly be the prospect for a successful outcome. The possibilities exist in the Peace Conference.
However, it would seem to me that the Security Council, and particularly its permanent members, have an important role to play and an obligation to the rest of humanity in bringing this about. The problem of mutual recognition can only be handled in one way. Israel must select its representatives and PLO must be allowed to do likewise. With the exercise of the individual member influence on the two most concerned parties good sense can prevail and a historical wrong can be corrected.
Thereafter there would be a role for the international community to act as guarantor for whatever agreement emanates from the deliberations. This would be imperative and hence the need for the international Conference with the participation of all parties, including PLO and the two super-Powers.
It is pertinent to note here that it was possible for the USSR and the United States to come to an agreement in order to bring about a solution in October 1973, when the conflagration in the Middle East threatened the world. They can now together participate in finding a durable peace to the Middle East problem.
Suggestions were advanced at an earlier Seminar on this problem, and with these I agree, that the aims of an international peace conference should be to work out legally binding agreements which will combine in an organically interrelated fashion the various components of a settlement, namely, the question of withdrawal of Israeli troops from all occupied Arab territories, ensuring the realization to the Palestinian people of its legitimate national rights, including the right to an independent State of their own, the right of Palestinians to return to their homeland and the establishment of peace between all States of the region and means to ensure their independent development in an atmosphere of peace and security without interference or intervention by outside Powers. These elements could be combined by effective guarantees of compliance by the parties involved. Obviously, the arrangements suggested would have to be worked out as a whole package, since any piecemeal approach will have the danger of upsetting vital balances and would endanger the prospects of a comprehensive and durable settlement.
In summary there appears to me to be every justification for an International Peace Conference on the Middle East as provided for by the Geneva Declaration and endorsed by General Assembly in its resolution 38/58 C of 13 December 1983. Such a Conference has been proposed after an intensive and exhaustive examination of the question of Palestine and has the broad support of the international community.
With the necessary political will and determination to find a just and lasting solution to the problem, there is every prospect for a successful outcome.. Such an outcome would restore the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, and particularly their rights to a homeland, it would achieve justice and peace in the Middle East and indeed make a major contribution to the cause of international peace.
Let it be noted again that Guyana, like all peace-loving nations, is committed to the just cause of the Palestinian people, and a solution which includes the rights of the Palestinians will always find favour with my Government and people. We have no, difficulty whatsoever in supporting the call for an international peace conference on the Middle East.
2. Ernesto Vera Mendez,
Deputy of the National Assembly and
Secretary-General of the Journalists' Union of Cuba
The interesting topic we are considering today, the need to convene an international peace conference on the Middle East, prospects and efforts to bring about a satisfactory outcome and the consequent benefits of a just and lasting peace in the region, in our view requires that we analyse what led to the creation of that dangerous hotbed of tension and. the forces which are struggling to impose their interests on the region at the expense of the rights of the Palestinian people in particular and the Arab peoples in general.
The fortieth anniversary of the victory over fascism and the end of the Second World War, a holocaust in which some 50 million people lost their lives, thousands were mutilated and enormous material losses were suffered, was celebrated all over the world on 9 May 1984. It might have been assumed that, after such a devastating experience, mankind would enjoy a long period of peace and that peaceful coexistence of countries with different political régimes and respect for the self-determination of peoples would be seen, once and for all, to be essential if mankind were not to find itself once again on the brink of another world conflagration. However, that did not happen; even before the flames of the Second World War had completely died out local conflicts began to erupt owing to the unbridled ambitions of the United States imperialists and the inability of the former colonial Powers to resign themselves to the loss of their large profits.
The Middle East was one of the main arenas where peoples were fighting to obtain their independence from the Western Powers which had exercised control over the region until the end of the Second World War. One of the conflicts which broke out in the region was the Arab-Israeli wart to date it has caused numerous armed confrontations and has seriously endangered international peace and security on more than one occasion.
In November 1947, the adoption of General Assembly resolution 181 (II) – which called for the creation of two independent States in Palestine, one Jewish, the other Arab, and inter alia sought to make up, to some extent, for the suffering endured by the Jewish people and for the mass extermination of that people by the Hitlerian hordes – was used by the international Zionist movement, in complicity first with the ex-colonial Power and later with the United States, to rob the Arab people of Palestine of its inalienable rights thus fostering hotbeds of tension. To date these have caused five bloody armed conflicts in the region and their main problems have yet to be resolved.
It is paradoxical that the Jews – themselves one of the major victims of the conflagration which had just ended – should have played the leading role in this very great injustice and that they, turning from victims into oppressors and claiming biblical and historical rights to the land of Palestine, should have deprived the Arab people of Palestine of all their land and property.
At the same time the Middle East became one of the main channels for the expanding monopolies of the United States and other capitalist countries. Naturally its military strategic importance in the post-war plans of the imperialists grew and therefore military circles in the United States began to take a keen interest in closer collaboration with the nascent State of Israel.
United States military plans included a plan to create an iron circle to contain the growing world socialist system, the Soviet Union in particular, and the Middle East had a crucial role to play in this. Since that time, in elaborating the implementing its Middle East strategy, Washington has always borne in mind the interests of the United States Zionist "lobby" and those of the State of Israel, its principal ally in the region.
Since its creation Israel has set itself against the Arab world and its national struggle for liberation. It has emerged as yet another capitalist State, its main policy is to pursue growth based on the occupation by military force of the territory of neighbouring Arab States. Its ideas are carbon copies of those of the German Nazis and Fascists who, in other times, were the executioners of the Jewish people.
Immediately after the proclamation of the State of Israel, on 14 May 1948, war broke out between the Jews and the Arabs who did not wish to recognize that State. Although that war was triggered by Zionist greed for territories in which to expand it was really provoked and encouraged by the colonial and neo-colonial Powers which were seeking to retain their positions in the Middle East.
The Arab Israeli war of 1948 demonstrated that Israel was better prepared militarily than its Arab neighbours. The latter were heavily dependent at that time on the colonial Powers and their armies were, to all intents and purposes, headed by those Powers. The Zionists defeated those armies and seized part of the territory which, according to the United Nations resolution, had been destined for the Palestinian State; that State was never created. In other words from the 14,000 square kilometres assigned to it Israel grew to almost 21,000 square kilometres, it expelled the Arab population en masse from the territory which it had occupied and their goods and properties were handed over to the "National Jewish Fund" or placed under the protection of the Government.
The land was rented for fixed period to Jewish agricultural settlements, thus thousands of immigrants were settled in the houses which the Arabs were compelled to abandon.
This made it obvious that the plan to expel the Palestinian Arabs had been prepared in advance. The Zionist troops not only appropriated to themselves the lands belonging to the expelled Arabs they also demolished most of the homes in order to prevent the Arabs from returning.
Most of the Arabs who remained in Israel, notwithstanding the campaign of terror, were resettled in so-called "security zones". Deprived of the right to travel in the country, even from one zone to another, they were also subjected to serious restrictions which made it virtually impossible for them to return if they left the country temporarily. At the same time, the military police carried out systematic searches, arrests and tortures in the Arab villages, confiscating property.
These actions reveal the Zionists' intention of gradually implementing their plan to set up Eretz Israel.
The 1967 war brought about a substantial change in the general situation in the Middle East for the aftermath of the war created a new situation for Palestinians and for Arabs. Israel now occupied the whole of Palestine. and part of Egypt and the Syrian Arab Republic. A new Palestinian exodus swelled the ranks of refugees throughout the region.
Arab military activity against Israel – previously opposed by nearly all Arab régimes – now seemed inevitable in order to recover at least part of those territories. The situation opened new possibilities for Palestinian organizations which had already been engaging in guerrilla activities against Israel. Their different military tactics seemed to offer a viable alternative to that of conventional Arab armed forces.
The fourth Arab-Israeli war broke out in October 1973; it is known as the Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) campaign because it began on 6 October. In it the commandos of the Palestine resistance participated actively on the Egyptian and Syrian fronts. That conflict, which lasted 18 days, differed from previous wars in the way it started and developed and in its effects. For the first time, Israel lost a portion of the occupied territory and its army suffered significant human and material losses.
This forced the United States imperialists to again reveal their bias towards Israel when they quickly came to its assistance, replacing with unusual speed by means of an airlift nearly all the war material that had been destroyed and loaning pilots and technical forces, thus helping to change the outcome of the conflict. Although Israel had suffered a severe blow in the early days of the conflict, towards the end, the picture had changed completely.
At this point diplomatic negotiations began, carried out by the then Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, who engaged in what came to be known as "shuttle diplomacy"; this led to the agreements on the separation of forces and unquestionably was the genesis of the Camp David accords which were signed some years later (in September 1978) and which created a great stir in the Middle East for, in breaking away from the Arab forces and signing a peace agreement separately with Israel, Egypt created a schism in the Arab ranks.
The success of the United States Zionist policy fostered the development of further aggressive lines in the region and, on 15 March 1978, Israel invaded southern Lebanon with an army of 32,000. The air force, navy, armoured units and heavy artillery took part in the attack on a front 100 kms. wide. The purpose of that new aggressive action was to strike at the basis of Palestinian resistance and to establish a security zone all along the Lebanese border. The patriotic and Palestinian forces offered stubborn resistance and this led to the partial failure of the Zionist plans.
The Government of Israel considered the operation as a means of safeguarding its borders, for this purpose it imposed a series of changes on the social and political structure of the southern areas of Lebanon and strengthened the rightist Christian groups there, training them on Israeli territory.
On 19 March the Security Council held an emergency meeting and adopted a resolution condemning Israel for its military intervention and calling for the immediate, withdrawal of Israeli troops from southern Lebanon. A decision was taken to establish a United Nations peace-keeping force for the purpose of restoring order in the country. The so-called "blue berets" were to take over the positions which Israel would abandon in its withdrawal.
Nevertheless, in May 1978, when Israel decided to withdraw its troops from Lebanon in stages, ignoring the decisions of the United Nations, it handed over control of the region to the rightist militia commanded by a deserter from the Lebanese army, Major Saad Haddad, who established himself in those towns, ignoring the authority of the United Nations peace-keeping forces. Israel's withdrawal concluded on 10 June, under the conditions outlined above, in open defiance of the United Nations resolution.
In June 1981 Israel bombed the Iraqi Centre for Nuclear Research at Tarmuz, close to Baghdad. Israel qualified that serious action as part of its so-called "preventive operations", alleging the possibility of an Arab nuclear attack. International scientists were able to prove that the Iraqi reactor had been built for peaceful purposes and that it was entirely in keeping with Iraq's needs to increase electric power production and to combat desertification.
In mid-December 1981, the Israeli Knesset decided officially to annex the Syrian Golan Heights which it had occupied since 1967. That action led the Security Council to adopt a resolution declaring the so-called "Golan Act" to be null and void.
1981 was also a year of countless attacks by the Zionist occupation forces in the occupied Arab territories in order to strengthen their policy of colonial settlements. They used terrorist methods designed to force the indigenous population to leave their lands so that Jews could be settled on them. Another barbarous policy was to expel Arab nationalist leaders, to impose illegal provisions allowing the military authorities to confiscate lands from the Palestinians, on occasion to withhold water for agriculture and other necessities and to withhold farming tools.
"Israel's security" has been used hundreds of times as a pretext for the most criminal actions against the Arabs and also to facilitate the building of settlements in the occupied territories.
As of April 1981, Israel had built more than 138 military settlements, most of them on the West Bank.
In July 1981, the Tel Aviv Government again launched a wave of indiscriminate bombings on southern Lebanon, Beirut and other Lebanese cities; as a result nearly 500 people were killed and more than 1,300 were wounded, primarily among the Palestinian population.
On 6 June 1982, the Zionist Government of Israel launched a new and violent aggression against Lebanon, calling the operation "Peace for Galilee". This misleading name was a cover for one of the most brutal and criminal aggressions carried out by Israel in the Middle East with the consent and support of the United States imperialists. The principal aim of the invasion was to liquidate Palestinian resistance, to expel the Syrian troops deployed in Lebanon under the command of the League of Arab States as part of the Armed Deterrent Forces and, after brutally pounding the patriotic and progressive Lebanese forces, to install in power in phalangist Government that favoured Israel's interests and objectives.
Once again the Zionist aggressors resorted to scorched earth tactics, reducing all in their path to ashes and ruins. Several thousand men participated in the attack together with hundreds of tanks and armoured cars with air support from fighter planes and troop-carrying helicopters and sea support from warships, calling to mind the blitzkrieg and scorched earth style of warfare of the Hitlerian hordes.
It is worth pointing out that the Israeli army carried out this action with ultra-modern and sophisticated weapons of the United States arsenal and that Lebanon served as a testing ground for such ultra-modern weapons are suction or vacuum bombs and others.
With this new aggression in Lebanon, Israel again openly violated the prohibition of the use of force in international relations which is enshrined in the United Nations Charter. It became evident to the international community, from that premeditated aggression aimed at occupying the territory of a sovereign, independent State, that Israel was trying to establish in Lebanon a new order which would serve its interests.
It should be pointed out that Israel has pursued a policy of genocide against the Lebanese and against the Palestinians, massacring the civilian population by bombing peaceful cities and villages by land, sea and air. Fragmentation bombs, napalm bombs, phosphorous bombs, toxic substances, vacuum or suction bombs, pellet bombs, cluster bombs and others have been used in Lebanon. Concentration camps have been created and inmates have been treated with a cruelty that can only be compared with the cruelty used by the Nazis during the Second World War and have been subjected to physical and psychological humiliation and abuse. Hospitals and clinics protected by the insignia of the Red Cross or Red Crescent have also have bombed.
After two and half months of criminal attacks by air, sea and land and faced with the heroic resistance of the Palestinian fighters and the patriotic Lebanese forces which converted West Beirut into an impregnable bastion, the Zionist Government was compelled to agree to the plan to evacuate the Palestinian resistance forces.
Thus concluded essentially the battles of what has been called the fifth Arab-Israeli war, the longest and cruelest because of the indiscriminate use of ultra-modern war techniques against the civilian population.
It is estimated that the Zionist invasion resulted in 17,825 deaths and 30,130 casualties as well as in the loss of millions of dollars worth of property. These were the estimate at the conclusion of the fighting and these figures have been revised upwards considerably during the more than two years of fighting inside Lebanon – unquestionably a direct consequence of the criminal Israeli action.
The plan to evacuate the Palestinian leaders and fighters from Beirut was carried out with the entry into Lebanon of the so-called mediation forces – consisting of troops from France, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States – which, it was assumed, would prevent attacks on the forces being evacuated and on the civilian population once the Palestinian forces had left.
The imperialists again took advantage of the situation to establish a physical presence for their troops and fleet in Lebanon and their supposed protection was seen for what it was.
The falsity of these claims was soon made manifest for, shortly after the departure of the Palestinian forces from Beirut, the Israeli troops burst into west Beirut, which had until then been impregnable, and occupied the entire area. In addition, two months after the evacuation of the Palestinians came the savage massacre of peaceful Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.
In this savage massacre, patterned on the pogroms carried out by the Hitlerian hordes, the Zionists unleashed all their hatred on the defenceless inhabitants of these refugees camps in retaliation for the Israeli army having been thwarted at the gates of Beirut (the army was able to enter Beirut only after the withdrawal of the defending Palestinian forces).
These events and later actions carried out by the United States forces against the Lebanese population, including the shelling of the city by ships anchored off the coast of Beirut one of which, the destroyer New Jersey, in a single night fired 350 shells, including 50 weighing 1,232 kilos – convincingly demonstrate what were the real intentions of the imperialist when they sent their troops to Lebanon.
Only the unceasing struggle of the patriotic and progressive Lebanese forces and their constant actions compelled the Israeli occupying forces to withdraw to southern Lebanon in search of greater security. Likewise the mediation forces were compelled to withdraw from the country, driven out by the Lebanese forces who inflicted considerable casualties on the United States and French forces.
Notwithstanding all this, nearly three years after the Israeli invasion Lebanon continues to suffer the presence of the invading troops and to be a hotbed of tensions that endanger international peace and security.
Distinguished delegates, as you will see we have endeavoured in this brief synthesis to give a very general outline of the serious dangers which threaten peace in the Middle East and of the forces that are fighting to impose their interests of the region.
It is clear that there cannot be a peaceful solution unless the rights of the Arab peoples of the region, particularly those of the Arab people of Palestine, which has seen its land plundered and its population massacred, are taken into account.
The falsity of the Zionist claims regarding their biblical and historical rights to the land of Palestine – which, from their point of view even justify the extermination of the legitimate inhabitants of that land and the flagrant violation of the most elementary norms of international law and of the precepts established in the Charter of the United Nations – is manifest.
The complicity of the colonial Powers to begin with and later that of the United States, which facilitated and supported the creation of the State of Israel and its development and expansion to the detriment of the rights of the Arab people of Palestine and other Arab peoples in the region, is also demonstrated.
The problems of the Middle East reflect the influence of the colonialists and the imperialists who are seeking to attain their strategic goals in the region – the creation and expansion of the Zionist State of Israel is vital to the attainment of these goals – and other aggressive actions carried out directly – such as the invasion of Lebanon by the Yankee marines in 1958.
The principal aim of the United States, with the support of its principal ally, Israel, is to establish bases in Arab countries and to carry out military manoeuvres in the region using intimidation and threats against States which reject its policy of dominating the region's oil wealth and converting the region into a trench around the USSR. From the United States point of view, this calls for liquidating the Arab national liberation movement, starting with the cause of the Palestinian people, either through Israel or by direct military intervention.
The United States considers the Middle East as a region of its vital interests and it determines its alliances according to the capacity of a régime to execute its policy in the region; it is for that reason that its relationship with Israel is a strategic political, military and economic alliance all in one Israel is the most powerful State in the area and the most dependable ally of the United States since the interests and plans of the two countries converge in essence although at times they appear to differ in form.
There is no doubt that Israel has violated the most elementary norms of international law against the Arab people of Palestine with the assistance of the United States; the latter has used its right of veto on countless occasions in order to prevent its principal ally in the region from being condemned and to allow it to continue acting with impunity.
There is no doubt that all these armed aggression carried out by Israel with the complicity of the United States have endangered international peace and security on more than one occasion.
It is also clear and irrefutable that the Middle East conflict cannot be settled unless the Palestinian problem – the key to the achievement of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East – is resolved first. If that is to be done the policy of plunder to which the Palestinian people has been subjected must be stopped and the joint policy of Israel and the United States, aimed at depriving the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights to self-determination and to the creation of a free and independent State of Palestine, must be abandoned.
This analysis of the ramifications of the Middle East conflict leads us to conclude that the only way to establish a just and lasting peace in the region is by convening a peace conference on the Middle East under the auspices of the United Nations and with the participation of all parties concerned, particularly the PLO, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
This idea, which was proposed in the Soviet peace plan for the Middle East, has been approved by the majority of Arab States, they have come out in favour of convening of such a conference as has the PLO in particular. So far, the main opposition to the conference has come from Israel and the United States who continue to cling to their policy of imposing solutions that would favour their interests in the region and deny the Palestinian people its inalienable rights to self-determination and the creation of a sovereign and independent State.
Only moral pressure brought to bear by the international community on the United States and its principal ally, Israel, will bring them to agree to negotiate a just and lasting solution to the Middle East conflict and that is what we must strive for with all our might.
The international community needs peace now more than ever so that it may devote itself wholeheartedly to solving the pressing economic and developmental problems facing it, to halting the arms race at all cost and avoiding the danger of another world conflagration which might lead to the disappearance of the entire human race from the face of the earth. For that it is necessary to extinguish the hotbeds of tension that can reach dangerous proportions and bring mankind again to the brink of war.
The Middle East is undoubtedly one of the principal hotbeds of international tension today. Only, I repeat, only by finding a just and lasting solution to that conflict which has lasted for almost 37 years can we move forward towards the elimination of the dangers of another world holocaust which would undoubtedly mean the end of the human race and also restore to the suffering and heroic Palestinian people the enjoyment of its inalienable rights.
3. José Luis Villavicencio,
Member of the Foreign Relations Committee
of the National Assembly of Nicaragua
The current situation in the Middle East urgently requires the international community to redouble its efforts to find a solution to the Palestinian problem and to the problem of the Middle East in general.
The terrible plight of the Palestinian people, as illustrated by the massacres which have been taking place in the camps of Shatila and Burj al Barajneh-al Barajavich, makes this need a pressing one.
The Palestinian problem is at the heart of the Middle East conflicts and its solution requires the full recognition of the inalienable rights of this people, rights which are today usurped and which include the right to self-determination, the right to return to their homes and the right to their own State in Palestine.
Israel has occupied the territory of the Palestinians and is now engaged in "legitimizing" this occupation. The majority of the Palestinian people has been displaced and turned into refugees, their property has been expropriated and they have been victims of brutal murders and systematic massacres.
Moreover, in the territories which are under occupation today, 18 years after they were occupied in 1967, the Israeli authorities have confiscated more than a third of the land on the West Sank and have established colonies of settlers there.
They have also stepped up their confiscation of the water resources in the occupied territories, seeking in this way to obtain in time a cheap source of labour and at the same time an important market for their product in view of the restrictions they have imposed on the setting up of a new industries. This process is contributing to the economic strangulation of the occupied territories and establishes an unjust and permanent dependency on and subjection to the State of Israel, the future State of Palestine so often espoused by the United Nations, and more specifically by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, as the inalienable right of the Palestinian people.
The solution to the Middle East problem requires dialogue among all the parties concerned, including the Palestinian people themselves, represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
We feel that the struggle of the Palestinian people for freedom and independence is the cause of all the members of the General Assembly, a cause espoused and defended by the United Nations, because it is one which is defended by a new world governed by the rule of law and justice and not by force.
Over the last 37 years, Israel has deliberately and flagrantly violated all the resolutions adopted by the United Nations. Not only has the United States attitude in this regard been complacent, it has also directly or indirectly opposed every resolution that has been adopted.
The alliance between the United States and Israel has been progressively strengthened, with Israel receiving more weapons, financial aid and assistance to pursue its policy of aggression and occupation, which constitutes a grave threat to the security of the Arab States and to peace in the region and the world. The policy of the United States, faithfully copied by Israel in the Middle East, is a challenge to the international. community, to the rule of international law and to the principles of the United Nations.
We cannot fail to point out that the assistance provided to Israel by the United States is the real cause of the sufferings of the Palestinian people, who continue to be denied the right to have their own State in their own land. The suffering, fear, oppression and injustice of which the Palestinian people are victims are a consequence of the politics of force and of the imperialist policies being pursued in the Middle East.
The current United States Administration, in keeping with its warmongering and its policy of the use of force to resolve disputes by military means, continues, as it is doing in Central America and in southern Africa, to place obstacles in the path of the serious efforts being made in search of peace. It is therefore opposed to the convening of an international conference on peace in the Middle East, just as it is opposed to the Latin American initiatives of the Contadora Group.
The world watches in outrage how the United States has supplied Israel with millions upon millions of dollars in military assistance since 1965. The total of such assistance for last year alone was almost $3,000 million.
Similarly, in Central America, it has armed El Salvador and Honduras and is militarizing Costa Rica, in order to set fraternal peoples against each other.
The United States seeks struggle between the countries of Latin America in order to benefit from its policy of domination and dependence in Central America (divide and rule).
We ask ourselves: Why does the United States, as a permanent member of the Security Council, veto the resolutions of that major organ in order to prevent the implementation of United Nations decisions relating to the Middle East?
By what right does the United States classify peoples, dividing them into those who may have an independent State and those who may not or should not have an independent State?
How long will the peoples continue to suffer the yoke of United States imperialism?
The international conference on the Middle East must be held. The Palestinians are not alone: mankind and the United Nations support their just and worthy cause.
The international community is convinced, on the basis of United Nations General Assembly resolutions 38/58 C and 39/49 D, that that peace conference constitutes the best opportunity for bringing a just and lasting peace to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The international community has made it clear that the participation of the parties concerned, including the PLO, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, is essential for the success of the conference.
Our people, is in turn, suffering today what the Palestinian people is suffering, as a result of the illegal and inhumane policies of force of the United States of America.
Our people, like the Palestinian people, will continue to defend the highest values, national dignity and independence, until the final victory.
B. The role of the Palestine Liberation Organization
1. Juan Abugattás A.,
Major National University of San Marcos, Lima
The reply to the question on the role of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which might be interpreted as entailing an overall evaluation of its historical function in all the fields in which it has been and is active, may be summed up in one sentence: the PLO has contributed to the reconstitution of the Palestinian body social. The fact that such reconstitution is so far-reaching and arduous is due not only to the historical and socio-political context in which it took place, but primarily to the fact that the spiritual environment which forms the background to the task is reluctant to think in the terms in which, since 1964, the Palestinians have been framing their policy. Our question may well be reworded, then, as a question about the motives harboured by all the political actors of the Middle East, both those who reside in the area and those who feel that they have vital interests there, in so far as they perceive the fulfilment of the national aspirations of the Palestinian people as a threat. What delicate strings have the Palestinians played on? What strange balances, what links of crystal threaten to break when they raise their voices to claim their right to live as, since the world had been divided up into nations, all the other peoples of the world have lived? This is the question I would like to present now for analysis and discussion.
The Palestine Liberation Organization, the Palestinians and Zionism
Unquestionably, the usurpation of which the Palestinians have been the victims, including the expulsion of the majority of them from their ancestral homeland and their dispersion throughout the Arab world, is the most salient feature in their recent history as a people. However, this fact cannot be comprehended in all its magnitude unless account is taken of the political theories and speculations which underlie it and are its deep-seated causes. The obstacles which the PLO has had and still has to overcome in order to achieve its objectives derive their magnitude from the fact that, from the outset. its leaders had proposed to take the causes, not merely the visible consequences, of the events of 1948 and 1967. If the PLO had set itself the task of overcoming the dispersion of the Palestinian people, its efforts would have been crowned with success, because overcoming the dispersion would be achieved by settling the Palestinians in some territory and giving them some type of State organization. Such is, precisely, the essence of the theory of Ariel Sharon, the main proponent of the so-called "Jordanian solution" to the Palestinian problem. Obviously, in recognizing the existence of a " Palestinian" problem, Sharon has made many concessions, being forced to do so by the partial success of the PLO, in comparison with the " founding fathers" of zionism, as Noam Chomsky calls them, who simply denied the existence of the Palestinians.
The Zionists' denial of the existence of the Palestinians, reiterated during her government by Golda Meir, and the imperialist disdain of the British Government for the claims of the Arabs of Palestine, as evidenced by the famous memorandum of clarification known as the Balfour Declaration, are the causes to which I referred earlier and are the target of PLO endeavour. When the PLO, i.e. the Palestinian people through the institutions with which it has endowed itself in order to take effective action, set itself the task of reconstructing itself as a group of persons in the full sense of the word, i.e. as a group of human beings whose aspirations cannot be ignored and whose fate may not be decided by others. In the modern world, which is a world of nations, that objective can be achieved only through the establishment of an independent State on the territory which history has made the ancestral home of each people. The Palestinians, therefore, could not and cannot renounce their claims to the territory of historical Palestine without admitting the validity of the arguments on the basis of which they were expelled therefrom.
Following the usurpation, the Palestinians had two historic tasks to fulfil: to prove that they existed as a people and to re-establish their group life on the terms dictated by circumstances, i.e by reconstituting themselves as a nation in their native territory. For the reasons stated above, both tasks involved a confrontation both with zionism and with imperialism. However, and the importance of this third element can be more accurately assessed when viewed from the perspective of the present, the emancipation of the Palestinian people also led to a collision with certain ambitions and certain political and conceptual structures prevailing in the Arab world.
It is precisely these last-mentioned factors that explain, in part, why in the years between 1948 and 1964, the date on which the PLO constitution was formalized in Jerusalem, the Palestinian problem did not disintegrate into a broad range of personal problems of the Palestinians who had been displaced and subjected to Israeli occupation on Arab territory. It is, moreover, conceivable that, in other circumstances, at least some Palestinians could have tried to cast off their new "pariah" status by "integrating", as Foster Dulles would have wished, with other Arab "nationalities". If that did not happen, that was to some extent because, in most of the Arab countries, there existed neither the will nor the machinery to assimilate the displaced Palestinians.
On the other hand, the fact that large numbers of Palestinians continued to be international pariahs accelerated the process of building PLO. This can be better understood if it is borne in mind that many of these outcasts were at the same time refugees, in other words, people in need of assistance. If the fact of the dispersal largely explains the democratic nature of PLO, the presence of the refugees accounts for the strength and variety of its organizational infrastructure. In order to be of real service to the refugees, both initially and after the 1967 usurpation, and to the Palestinian population of Gaza and the West Bank who had to withstand the campaign of harassment to which they were subjected by the Zionist occupiers, PLO had to develop an infrastructure of services in all fields – educational, cultural, medical, etc. The efforts in the sphere of education and culture were of particular importance, both in helping many refugees escape from their situation of powerlessness by giving them a profession and a job and – their main function – in promoting the development and coming to maturity of the Palestinian national consciousness.
In the policy sphere, the creation of a Palestinian national structure was not only intended to solve the problem of the dispersal, which scarcely calls for flexibility and decentralization of administrative functions, but was to be brought about taking into account, in addition to the factors, already mentioned, which relate to the manner in which the Zionist and imperialist threat made itself felt, the ethnic and religious diversity of the Palestinian population.
It is common knowledge that Arab societies today are structured on the basis of tribal groups, clans and religious congregations. Up to 1948, the Palestinian people was no different. These traditional forms of association were weakened, and in some cases destroyed, among the refugees by the violence of the usurpation and the resultant expulsion and uprooting of a large part of the Palestinians from their homeland.
The strength of the PLO and its deep roots among the refugees are attributable to the fact that its institutions grew from below, as the refugees created new types of solidarity and new forms of social co-operation to replace those which had previously existed and so face the hard conditions of their new existence. This fact, more than any other, explains the profoundly democratic and participatory nature of the PLO, which is not a finished structure, heaven-sent or a product of the leaders' minds, but has grown out of the camps and therefore has deep-rooted links with the Palestinian's social awareness.
This democratizing trend received a strong impetus from the need to find an alternative and emotive response to the challenge posed by Zionist doctrine, with its exclusivist characteristics and its heavy charge of sectarianism. If, in establishing the PLO, the Palestinians had not been able to overcome and relegate to a secondary, insignificant place their religious differences, which were somewhat accentuated by the intolerance practised by the Ottoman State during the closing state of its occupation of the Middle East, they would have been unable to create an organization which was truly a national body, that is to say one representing all Palestinians, and would have fallen into the trap set by the British in Palestine, when they imposed Zionist sectarianism and structured it almost on a district-by-district basis. From the outset, the Palestinians realized that sectarianism in all its forms must be left aside, and replaced by a principle of unconditional and universal tolerance. This conviction was reflected in the formulation of the principle, the necessary conceptual foundation was laid for the establishment of a pluralist State in the Middle East, something which both zionism and imperialism were and are determined to prevent.
Without seeking to, then, driven by the force of circumstances, the PLO became a profoundly innovative organization in its environment, one might even say radical in its proposals. Nevertheless, no one in the PLO has ever sought to question the fact that the Palestinian people belong to the Arab world and that the Palestinian revolution is an Arab revolution. The structure of the PLO, then, is flexible in administrative matters, democratic in its representativeness and the sources of its legitimacy, and tolerant and pluralist in its treatment of the religious diversity of its members and in its intentions for the future.
On the other hand, the Palestinian people, by banding together in the PLO, inevitably placed themselves in the front line of the struggle against imperialism in the Middle East. This is so not only because the tangible and main target of the Organization's struggle is zionism, but because, by developing the political and conceptual means of avoiding all the traps set by zionism and imperialism for the Arab peoples, it has become a "bad example" to them, and has drawn down upon itself the wrath of those who wish to keep the Arab world in the marasmic state it has been in for so long.
Clearly, too, the re-establishment of its collective awareness and identity which the Palestinian people has effected through the PLO has not been simply a process of rebuilding. The Palestinian people of today is no longer what it was in 1948, since with no loss of historical continuity, a qualitative change which must be recognized has taken place in its body social.
The social solidarity and the cementing of the collective Palestinian awareness, which has taken the form of a national awareness, is now in fact stronger than ever. The destruction of the PLO, which is the ultimate objective and the frequent dream of not a few in the Middle East and elsewhere, would thus be equivalent to the destruction – the real destruction this time – of the Palestinian people.
2. The Palestine Liberation Organization in the context of the Arab world
The above explains, in my view, why the Palestinian people conceives of its struggle to recover its land and its humanity as a struggle for national liberation. But to set oneself the objective of establishing a national State in the Middle East is no simple matter, and not for the reasons Bashir Gemayel, the late Lebanese Falangist leader, used to give, that the problem with the Middle East is that there are four States and five peoples, and that therefore one people, the Palestinian people, is left over. The question is not whether or not there is space, or whether or not there is enough land. The heart of the matter lies in the very nature of the Palestinian proposal, which we have just reviewed. A brief analysis of the modern concept of "nation" would enable us to examine this point in greater detail and to have a better understanding of the attitude of most of the Arab States towards the PLO.
As it well known, "nations" began to be conceived by European theoreticians and jurists around the fourteenth century, when pressure from the emerging commercial bourgeoisie and from the kings and princes, at first coincidental and later allied, began to dissolve the feudal structures and to make obsolete the ideal of a universal State headed by the Pope "Nationalism" (so called because the term "nation" had been chosen to designate the new corporations into which Christianity was to be subdivided on the basis of the common languages of the peoples and groups which composed it) has, in the Western context, had a secular, lay and even anti-religious character.
Nationalist doctrines were transplanted to the Middle East towards the middle of the last century. The Arabs' most immediate experience with nationalism was the Greeks' fight for their independence from the Ottoman Empire. Initially, the Ottomans did not interpret the meaning of this struggle correctly, seeing it as a religious rebellion of Greek Christians against Moslems. This misinterpretation is what led the Ottomans to view the Arab Christians of Palestine, Lebanon and other regions as potential fifth-columnists of the Greeks and other "Christian" Powers. Only later did the Ottomans, and gradually the Arabs, begin to adopt nationalism and to use a tone of nationalist struggle in their demands for autonomy and independence. The first Ottoman reaction was a traditionalist one, expressed by an emphasis on pan-Islamism by virtue of which nationalism was adopted by the Ottomans themselves, and as Turkish nationalism developed, the idea began to arise in the Arab provinces of the Empire of an Arab nationalism – pan-Arabism, as it was later to become known.
Although opposite in terms of origin, both pan-Islamism and pan-Arabism were doctrines with a certain unitarian character. Accordingly, they came into conflict with the fragmenting forces of which we spoke earlier, such as religious sectarianism, local regionalism, the clan mentality, etc., which colour life in the Middle East and which the Ottomans never did anything to suppress, because, as Samir Amin rightly pointed out, they kept most of the peoples under their control as mere tributaries. When the European Powers became interested in gaining control over the Arab territories of the Ottoman Empire, they sought to encourage and inflame the rivalries which for centuries had divided the human groups of these regions. The European Powers, at first, and later zionism and the United States of America, have always desired the fragmentation and parcelling of the Middle East. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Arab reaction to Western intervention took, and is still taking, the form of either a violent pan-Islamism or a violent pan-Arabism. Nor should it be surprising that, in an initial stage, many Palestinian leaders subscribed to one or the other of these doctrines.
But today's Arab world was not designed by pan-Arabist theoreticians; rather, its structure is part of the colonialist legacy. In other words, it is the a provincializing, divisionist and balkanizing doctrines, and not the integrationist formulas, which prevail and which serve as justification and legitimizing argument for most Arab Governments. This means that the Arab Governments are either structurally weak and depend for their survival on alliances among themselves or with Powers outside the region, or they conceive of the State as a fiefdom and as the property of the clan or religious group to which they belong. This lack of conceptual definition explains the political instability of the region and its propensity to suffer from periodic outbreaks of violence.
Placed in this context, the PLO, which is present, through the Palestinian communities, in nearly all the countries of the region and has the representative structure described above, has become a source of irritation which constantly points up just how fragile the Governments are.
Paradoxically, the PLO military successes have helped accentuate this negative perception on the part of the Arab régimes. From the battle of Karame onwards, through the three Israeli invasions of Lebanon (particularly the 1982 invasion) down to the current Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon as a result of the war of attrition waged by joint Palestinian-Lebanese forces during the past three years, PLO has proved to the Arab peoples time and again that the enemy is not invincible and that the real strength of a political-military apparatus derives from the soundness of the social structure which sustains it. The defeat in 1967 of the regular Arab armies contrasts strikingly with the PLO campaigns, which have prevented zionism and successive United States Administrations from achieving their strategic objectives in the Middle East.
At the same time, given that most Arab régimes rely on their alliances and contacts with the United States for their survival and "security", they tend to shy away from the possibility that open support for the PLO would result in their becoming involved too directly in a confrontation with their principal ally. To understand this situation, one must remember that the United States is using "Israel" simply to keep the Arab countries "in line" and, consequently, decides how "dangerous" each of these countries is in terms of the degree to which they are hostile to zionism or, what amounts to the same thing, the degree to which they support the PLO. The Arab Governments not only feel threatened by each other, or by their own peoples but (and in the case of the Gulf countries this feeling has intensified since the overthrow of the Shah) they believe that the United States is their sole guarantee against attacks from outside the region. In the face of this reality, the PLO has had to learn how to ensure that the passivity vis-à-vis the Palestinian question to which the Arab countries have condemned themselves does not become open hostility towards the Organization itself and towards the Palestinians living in areas under the control of those Governments. When such efforts have failed, or when Arab Governments have perceived the "Palestinian presence" as an obstacle, acts of genocide have taken place.
Nevertheless, and in spite of its hesitations, fears and recantations, the PLO has succeeded in maintaining unchanged the recognition by all members of the League of Arab States of its capacity as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. This recognition, which gives the Palestinian people a national identity within the group of Arab countries, has served as a basis for United Nations resolutions in which most Member States of that Organization have endorsed it.
Another highly positive element of the PLO contribution to the political awakening of the Arab world has been its insistence that the financial and natural resources of the region should be used in terms of collective interests and as instruments in the play of international power. To the extent that the PLO has been heeded, steps have been proposed to strengthen South-South co-operation and offset to some extent the imperialist pressures on the Arab region. In promoting these initiatives, the PLO is helping to accord Arabs their rightful place in the movement to emancipate the third world and advance the cause of non-alignment in one of the world's most dependent and aligned regions.
From whatever perspective one looks at it, whether in terms of its contribution to the rebuilding of the Palestinian people, or in terms of its function in the Arab world, the role of the PLO places that Organization at the very centre of contemporary Middle Eastern history. There can be no doubt, however, that these people, whose interests Lord Balfour and the Zionists did not deign to take into account in 1917, are today the key to peace in the Middle East; they are also the only ones today who are formulating, in language that is appropriate to the situation of the international community, proposals that can lift the Arab world out of its age-old torpor and put the region in a position from which it can make a dynamic contribution to the emancipation of the third world. In articulating the aspirations of the Palestinians, the PLO has also articulated the aspirations of Arabs in general. The direction to be taken by the Arab world in the immediate future thus depends on the fate of the PLO.
2. Chas Mynals,
Member of the National Assembly of Suriname
Most esteemed representatives of the countries of our region, the presence of all of you here from so many different countries of this region demonstrates that something important brought us together.
At this Regional Seminar we will reflect on great problems with the aim of approaching a solution.
We are gathered here to discuss and to make recommendations which should bring a solution to the state of the harassed Palestinian people.
In spite of the resolutions of the United Nations and other international and regional organizations, such as the Organization of African Unity, the rights of the Palestinian people have still to live within the borders of their fatherland. A right which is cruelly denied. Up to this moment their inalienable rights have been trampled.
The struggle of the Palestinian people for their national sovereignty, which is carried out under the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization, is well-known and they have repeatedly gained attention in the international community because of dramatic developments.
The Palestinian people have been driven out of their territory, they have become exiles in neighbouring countries and have often experienced the most brutal forms of repression. While they constantly have to struggle against zionism, they have often been stabbed in the back by pall-bearers of imperialism. But the struggle of the Palestinian people is much more extensive. It is a struggle against imperialism and zionism is only a means of executing it.
It is therefore not strange that the same powers which support Israel also support the racist apartheid régime of South Africa, the repressive régimes of Central America and the terrorists which attack the Nicaraguan revolution. It is these same Powers with which all people who have decided to choose their own path to build a strong national economy come into conflict.
This is why the struggle of the Palestinian people under the leadership of the PLO has international dimensions, and this is why we of, this international Organization, are here to reflect on the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people led by the PLO.
Above all, the observation I make is related to the result and the meaning of this Seminar and, consequently, to its reason.
It is important that we work towards directly achieving tangible results which can contribute towards the struggle of the Palestinian people.
It should never be that this Seminar should exclusively restrict itself to a forum whereby everyone gets the opportunity to express their solidarity and takes it upon themselves to voice their indignation about the aggression against the Palestinian people.
This will undoubtedly be a valuable contribution to the struggle of the Palestinian people, but at this Seminar we should do our utmost to achieve more tangible, concrete results. Naturally We here, with our modest contribution, will never be able to solve such a great international problem, but nevertheless, at this Seminar, let us work towards conclusions and recommendations which are as concrete as possible. The Palestinian people have been carrying out a heroic struggle which arises out of the situation of their banishment. The PLO, as a legitimate and recognized representative of the Palestinian people, has been able to establish a solid militant, united organization in spite of the severe attacks of zionism and the repression they endured in the many countries over which they were spread, after being driven out of their own territory. it has also been able to organize and mobilize the people and to undertake the responsibility for education, health-care and the well-being of the Palestinians.
I may remind you, honourable delegates, that this is taking place under the most difficult circumstances you could imagine.
In spite of this, the struggle of the PLO has gained great international recognition and esteem. This is clearly seen in the position taken by the United Nations concerning the conflict in the Middle East. The PLO has, as a full-fledged member of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, the total recognition of this organization of third-world countries and can be assured of the support and solidarity of its members. It can further rely on the support of all peace-loving peoples and all anti-imperialist Powers in the world. Although the struggle of the Palestinian people is very exerting and has already required a high toll, they are attaining great success. Imperialism is using everything within its power but it has not succeeded on bringing an end to the struggle, the Palestinians' resistance remains steadfast. But history has not stood still, however, and over the past decade many countries in the world which were humiliated to a colonial situation gained their independence and many of those countries chose their own path based on sovereignty and strove to build a strong national economy of their own.
International policies have been radically changed, and no longer can imperialism place its will above that of other peoples of the world. More and more, people are standing up, demanding their national rights and resisting imperialism. This historical development is an objective factor in favour of the Palestinian people.
My country is one from this category. This year makes it exactly 10 years since Suriname gained its political independence; on 25 February 1985, we celebrated the first lustrum of our revolution. Exactly five years ago, we decided to break ties with imperialism and to pursue our own policy in order to establish an independent and just society. This was not appreciated, and we found ourselves confronted by the same enemies as the Palestinian people.
It is important to note at this forum that all peoples of the world who try to pursue their own independent path will sooner or later find themselves confronted by the same Powers which are now doing their utmost to destroy the organized struggle of the Palestinian people in order to continue to divide and suppress them.
Suriname has since then taken every opportunity to express its solidarity and support for the struggle of its Palestinian brothers. We believe that international solidarity is a valuable contribution to the struggle of the PLO. This is why I propose to this Seminar to express its solidarity for the PLO in the most strongly-worded way. Our voice can contribute to preventing another Sabra and Shatila.
Undoubtedly, our voice will be heard in the struggle of the Palestinian people and will be a contribution to bringing about final peace in the Middle East.
The PLO has a central position in the Middle East conflict. There is no solution to the conflict in that region without a solution to the Palestinian problem and peace is not possible in the Middle East while the Palestinian people are in exile.
Zionism, which is the direct cause of the conflict in the Middle East, is a system which stands for a theistic State with discrimination against all others. This pernicious system tries to turn back history and to ignore the achievements of mankind. The PLO, however, stands for a national State in which there is room for Moslems, Jews and Christians who are building a nation in solidarity.
Zionism is not able to meet the actual needs of the people. On the contrary, they use the most severe forms of repression to maintain injustice. It is, therefore, not strange that all over the world where the legitimate struggle of a people reach a high point, the people are confronted with Israeli weapons and instructors.
The struggle of the Palestinian people for national liberation is at the same time a frontal attack against imperialism. Probably that is the most profound meaning of the PLO struggle and why they, therefore, deserve the greatest support possible.
At this Seminar, final conclusions and recommendations should be clearly stated. It must express, in the most strongly-worded manner, its solidarity and support for the struggle of the Palestinian people under the leadership of their only legitimate representative, the PLO. It must also clamour for peace in the Middle East which cannot exist without a suitable solution for the Palestinian people.
This Seminar should also take up a strong position against the recurring intervention of imperialism in the Middle East and against zionism.
Finally, this Seminar should recommend that an International Peace Conference should be held for the Middle East which could make a contribution to the struggle of the Palestinian people. The PLO and the Israeli Administration as well as representatives of the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics should participate in this Peace Conference under the chairmanship of the United Nations.
Only by taking strong positions against imperialism and zionism, which ignore the voice of the majority of the countries in the world, can we force them and put them under pressure to end their aggressive policies. But we believe that the struggle of the Palestinian people will still take some time and that is why we, as Surinamese delegates, however modest our contribution may be in international events, would like to make use of this forum to wish the Palestinian people and the PLO a militant struggle and to assure them that they can always rely on our support in their struggle for a peaceful existence in Palestine where Palestinians, Jews, Moslems and Christians live side by side in peace with each other.
C. The question of Palestine and Latin American public opinion
1. Peru – Government, Public Opinion and the Palestinian Problem
Cesar Arias Quincot,
Professor at the University of the Pacific, Peru
Before examining the specific subject before us, a few general remarks on the domestic and foreign policy of Peru are necessary.
After 12 years of reformist military régime, Peru today has a representative and democratically elected Government. In 1980, Belaúnde was elected and with him the right returned to power.
This restorationist imposed neo-liberal economic policies which had disastrous consequences. His response to the guerrilla war and the irrational terrorism of the Maoist group Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) was crude and bloody, thus leading to an escalation of violence.
This restorationist spirit was not wholly reflected in the country's foreign policy. There was no "purge" in the diplomatic service and Peru continued its policy of non-alignment, although its third-world emphasis became notably subdued to the point where it almost disappeared.
As regards the Middle East and the Palestinian problem, while the office of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Lima was maintained, relations with Israel improved. An occurrence of significance was the incident caused by Peru's vote at the United Nations on Israel's annexation of the Golan. In keeping with the tradition established by the military Government, foreign ministry officials voted to condemn Israel's action. This caused a scandal in the conservative press and among parliamentarians of different tendencies, and even led to a personal démarche by the Ambassador of Israel to the President. This pressure led to a call for the dismissal of those officials responsible for the vote. Faced with this situation, the Director-General of the Foreign Ministry chose to resign, thus saving his subordinates who would have had to bear the consequences.
The recent electoral victory of the Alianza Popular Revolucionaria América (APRA) will no doubt result in changes in Peru's domestic policy, with inevitable repercussions on its foreign policy.
APRA, a party with a history that goes back to the 1920s, will be coming to power for the first time. It currently advocates a nationalist policy of depressed regions of the country.
One issue in which both the domestic and foreign policies of the future Government are reflected is the handling of the foreign debt. The way in which the problem is handled politically, the refusal to accept International Monetary Fund prescriptions and the search for Latin American solidarity on this issue will reinforce the progressive aspects of the country's foreign policy.
APIA advocates support for the Contadora Group, opposition to the policy of the Reagan Administration in Central America and the strengthening of links with the third world and with the non-aligned. countries in particular.
Having presented this brief overview of the general political situation, it is necessary to take a look at the major communications media in the country.
Dailies: The oldest and financially strongest newspaper is El Comercio, a daily founded in 1839 and a vehicle for the political views of the Peruvian right. For many years it was virtually the only daily with any political influence.
From the 1930s onwards it was involved in a bitter confrontation with APRA and in L974, it was expropriated, along with all other national dailies, by the Government of General Velasco.
In 1980, like the other daily newspapers, it was returned to its owners, and its position in national politics is much more moderate. On international issues, El Comercio highlights news that is unfavourable to the Union of Soviet Socialists Republic (e.g., Poland, Afghanistan, the " Bulgarian plot"); it attacks the Sandinist revolution, campaigns against the progressive elements of the Church (liberation theology) and opposes the PLO line.
Expresso, daily which is associated with former Premier Manuel Ulloa, maintains a conservative line and has a popular and superficial style. Its conservatism is less rigid on international issues.
Ojo is a daily which is currently sympathetic to APRA and which lacks a clear position on international issues; its reporting on such issues is minimal.
La República is the daily with the highest circulation in Peru. Its line is one oif the opposition to the Government of Belaúnde and of sympathy towards APRA without being a party newspaper. Some of its journalists are sympathetic to the "United Left" bloc.
Hoy is a daily which is broadly sympathetic to APRA. It does not place much emphasis on international reporting, even though it supports Nicaragua and disagrees with United States policy towards Latin America.
The privately-owned television channels (2, 4, 5 and 9) are basically conservative in their coverage of international news. Positions of solidarity with the struggles of the third world (Central America, South Africa, Palestine) can be maintained only in a few special programmes. At present there is only one such programme, screened for one hour's duration a week, which deals mainly with national issues.
Radio tends to concentrate on local news. There are two exceptions to this general pattern: an FM station which broadcasts only news about international events, from UPI reports, and a station which reaches all of Peru and is basically news-oriented; this station provides more balanced coverage of the international scene.
The most important periodicals, Caretas, Oiga and Gente, are conservative. Of these, only Caretas is at all open to progressive international positions, although not in the case of the Palestinian question.
The Palestinian problem as viewed from Peru
Political life in Peru has been characterized by a certain provincialism, and the same is the case with news. International problems have rarely been the subject of major interest or detailed news reports, and when they have, the news has related to Latin American, Europe or the super-Powers.
The overall situation in the Middle East is viewed by most Peruvians in an isolated and confused manner, although some progress can be noted in so far as an understanding of the Palestinian problem and the relationship between PLO and Peruvian political forces are concerned.
A look at the way the problem is dealt with by the Government and the political parties reveals the following:
a. Peru voted at the United Nations in favour of the birth of Israel and until 1968 enjoyed friendly relations with that country, while maintaining a distant attitude towards the Arab world.
b. With the advent of the military Government in 1968 and the policy of opening up towards the third world, Peru grew closer to some Arab countries, the Palestinian problem became better understood and a PLO office was opened at Lima.
c. The rapprochement between Israel and the Chilean Government of General Pinochet and the discussion of Israeli arms sales in Ecuador gave rise to a degree of wariness between the Peruvian military and Israel.
d. During the 1970s, the vast majority of professional diplomats began to support the basic principles of non-alignment and, in that context, the rights of the Palestinian people.
e. Leftist political elements also favoured efforts on behalf of the Palestinians.
f. The Aprista Party has had an interesting history in that respect. The old leaders displayed, in isolated references, obvious sympathy with Israel they did not deal with the problem as a whole and kept their distance from the subject.
Even recently, during the debate raised regarding Peru's vote at the United Nations on the question of Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights, an Aprista leader criticized Peru's condemnation of that action.
However, the young generation sees things from a different viewpoint. For them, support for the rights of the Palestinian people forms part of the consistent anti-imperialist line favouring "the oppressed peoples, classes and races of the world" laid down by the party's founder, Maya de la Torre, in the 1920s.
From the point of view of the Palestinians, then, there is cause for hope if one thinks of official spheres and the most important political parties and groups. The picture is different, however, if one sees the actual opportunities for action and the awareness of the problem which exists in public opinion in Peru.
With regard to the former, it must be understood that Peru has to face some serious problems: poverty and pauperization, economic crisis, terrorism, inefficiency and corruption in the State machinery, and a foreign debt that cannot be paid off.
In the area of foreign policy, problems such as debt, Central America and the Malvinas and military expenditures in South Africa will consume the energies of the next Government. While it is quite possible that the Palestinian cause will be viewed more favourably, it is unlikely that this commitment will extend to the point where it might create new problems.
As for public opinion and the way in which the mass media have been dealing with the subject, it should be noted that the first general characteristic is the low profile maintained on the subject. The situation is viewed as if from afar, and only on very rare occasions are explanations given which would make it possible to understand the real nature of the problems involved.
In addition to fragmentary news coverage, manipulation is used by much of the mass media in their insistence on stressing the "terrorist" nature of PLO. There is also pressure from those who side with Israel.
On television, it is very difficult to find time for the Palestinian cause. Conspiring against it are not only the conservative ideology of the network executives but also the pressure from announcers who feel ties to Israel.
In one case, several years ago, a programme was cancelled because it contained an interview with Yasser Arafat, after protests by the Israeli Embassy and pressure from some journalists, political leaders and a group of newscasters.
In the newspapers there is more variety. Business takes a clear position against the PLO. In its news coverage it emphasizes the violent or " terrorist" acts of the Palestinians or other Arab groups, while it does not do the same for similar acts committed by Israel; it defends the Zionist State as a democracy and refers to ties between the PLO and the Soviet Union, Cuba and Nicaragua.
The newspaper Ojo was the one which published – with big headlines – the story that the PLO was supposedly linked to the Peruvian terrorist group Sendero Luminoso; this triggered a short campaign against ties between Peru and the Palestinians.
The magazine Oiga is very strongly opposed to the PLO and to third-world positions in general. It has used the anti-PLO argument to oppose the foreign policy of the military Government.
The newspapers La República and Hoy are the most open-minded in dealing with the Palestinian points of view; however, this does not mean that they are committed to the cause or give it wide coverage.
Some radio stations allow airtime for broadcasting Palestinian points of view, but these are special cases.
One of the reasons for the scarcity of news about the Palestinians in the mass media is the pressure from the small but active Jewish community in Peru. Almost equal in number to the Arab-Palestinian group and with approximately the same level of influence, Peruvian Jews are better organized and more involved in the matter.
Actually, whereas most Peruvian immigrants become integrated, the Jewish community has remained somewhat isolated, uninterested in the problems of Peru and very concerned about Israel's problems. It has a Zionist core group, connected with Israel, which travels frequently, sends its children there for short periods and reacts aggressively to any questioning of Israeli policy.
A special case, which might serve as an example to give some insight into how the problem is dealt with in Peru, was the forum organized by a private university in Lima. In this forum, the problem was fully discussed at eight sessions, during which the viewpoints of Peruvian experts and of representatives of the PLO, Israel and Egypt were expressed.
In conclusion, it can be said that in the case of Peru, the priority is to publicize the problem in its entirety and complexity, in order to break down the wall, of silence, superficiality and distortion which prevents public opinion in Peru from making a realistic appraisal of the Palestinian points of view.
At the official level, all indications are that the situation will be more favourable after the change of Government, although it should be clearly understood that there cannot be very radical changes in view of the domestic situation in Peru and its external ramifications.
2. Thomas W. Gittens,
Lecturer of Political Science and International Affairs,
University of Guyana
I. Introduction – Historical overview
What today is referred to as the "Palestinian question" may be said to have had its origin in the 1947-1949 period when the State of Israel was create, if not earlier with the Balfour Declaration of 1917. In the latter year the British Government declared its intention to promote the establishment of a national homeland for the Jews of the diaspora in the "uninhabited" (or so it was held) land of Palestine. Following the atrocities committed by the Nazis against the Jewish people during the Second World War, the momentum and urgency of such a project became much accelerated. Indeed, the British who had gained mandatory control over Palestine and other parts of the Middle East following the post-World War I Versailles settlement found themselves in the interwar period constantly harassed by the Zionist nationalists seeking to consummate their dream and project an independent sovereign homeland for the Jews. The creation of the State of Israel in 1948 in part of Palestine was thus the culmination of decades of agitation, colonialist-imperialist sponsorship and international great-Power collusion.
In 1947 the United Nations General Assembly gave effect to the partitioning of the land of Palestine between the Zionists and the Arab population in situ . By 33 votes in favour, 13 against and 10 abstentions the General Assembly adopted a resolution partitioning Palestine and thereby creating an Arab State with 42.88 per cent of the land, a Jewish State with 56.47 per cent of the land, and in international régime for the City of Jerusalem with 0.65 per cent of the land. Thus was formalized the process of " in-gathering" of the Jews, the displacement and dispersion of the Palestinian Arabs as a consequence of this in-gathering (however unintended by the United Nations sponsors of this process) and the genesis of what today we call the Palestinian question. Indeed what was fundamentally ignored at that point in history was that the land of Palestine through its history possessed a deep religious, emotional and psychological attraction for both Arab/Muslim and Jew, that the in-gathering of the Jews and the establishment of a Jewish State were bound to give rise to population shifts and displacements in Palestine; and that cumulatively these were all bound to result in the further development of a reactive Palestinian Arab nationalism, resentment, and possibly conflict between Arab and Jew. A most cursory reading of the literature will reveal that this was precisely what happened.
What is worst, the policies of the new State of Israel enacted after 1948 did not help matters much. To be sure, pursuant to its admission to the United Nations in 1949, Israel had declared before the Ad Hoc Political Committee of the United Nations, which had deliberated upon its request for membership, and again before the United Nations General Assembly at which membership was conferred, that it would respect United Nations General Assembly resolutions of 29 November 1947 and 11 December 1948 which respectively set the boundaries of the new State of Israel and laid down conditions for the treatment of refugees – respect for their rights and preservation of their property. These principles had again been reaffirmed and fully embraced by Israel when it signed the Lausanne Protocol of 1949 which seemingly signified a desire on both sides to settle outstanding problems of territory and population in pursuance of the principles governing the partitioning of Palestine. Yet in its Law of Return of July 1950 and its Nationality Law of 1952, Israel self-evidently repudiated these various principles which it had hitherto accepted. According to the first law every Jew had a right to return to the homeland; while the second asserted that the conferment of citizenship thereupon was automatic. Conversely, however, since only a Jew was entitled to citizenship, non-Jews (and significantly the original Arab population) by definition could not be admitted to all of the rights and perquisites attendant to citizenship in the "Jewish State". According to Anis F. Kassim:
What is more, the land settlement policies, land acquisition procedures, population, employment and social security provisions adopted in the ensuing decades all discriminated juridically and in practice against the non-Jewish population. A resident Jew or a returnee had an automatic right to land, to a job, to social security; while the rights of Arabs (in so far as they had legal rights) were circumscribed by specifications as to residence, length of residence, limitations as to where and in what occupations they could obtain employment, the acquisition of land designated as the inalienable patrimony of all Jews, and finally in terms of employment of the social security and welfare largesse of the State of Zion. 2/ In practice Palestinian Arabs were repressed, dispossessed, discriminated against, and pushed out of a land which for generations they had considered their homeland. This naturally bred hostility and gave rise to acts of retaliation which in their turn prompted further acts of dispossession and repression on the part of the Israeli State. Group punishment, destruction of the home of a "terrorist", banishment and imprisonment soon became the hallmarks and instruments of the Israeli security State. The rising tide of opposition from surrounding and other Middle East States, the stepped up internal violence and further acts of repression all increased the drive for "Eretz Israel" from whence emerged the security dilemma of Israel and the rejection of this doctrine by the displaced and dispossessed Palestinians and their Arab backers.
The inevitable culmination of all of this was the Six Day June 1967 war in which the Israeli Blitzkrieg sought to "settle" the problem by conquest, expulsion and a show of military might. The results of that war totally and seemingly irreversibly destroyed the underlying assumptions and terms of the 1947 Partition Agreement. The conquest and occupation of the West Bank of the Jordan, the city of Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula widened the contours of the Palestinian question and brought Israel into direct confrontation with her Arab neighbours. Jordan, the Syrian Arab Republic and Egypt were thereby brought into the conflict not simply as backers of the displaced and irredentist Palestinian people, but more crucially as aggrieved parties whose territories had been captured and occupied by an expansionist if not imperialist Israel. This of course set the scene for the irredentist 1973 Yom Kippur War started by the above countries – but, as Chancellor Bismarck remarked in the 1860s, the aggressor is not always the one who started the War.
The conquest and occupation of Arab territory in the 1967 War – in effect the scrapping of the 1947 Partition Agreement – thenceforth have served to define the Palestinian question itself and, paradoxically enough, the only terms under which the question can be settled and a lasting peace secured in the Middle East. An immediate and enduring consequence of Israeli expansionism during this period was a further wave of Palestinian refugees fleeing from Israeli-occupied territory. Whereas the 1947 Agreement had specified the boundaries of a Palestinian Arab State, the conquest and subsequent occupation of the West Bank and Gaza by Israel (along with its treatment of – the Palestinians over the ensuing years) produced a steady outflow of Palestinians in a new diaspora into southern Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and other Arab States, producing problems for those States as the 1975 Lebanese Civil War well attest to. 3/ Indeed, it was precisely this refugee problem, and the attendant escalation of the Middle East conflict (the inclusion of Egypt, the Syrian Arab Republic and Jordan as aggrieved protagonists) which United Nations Security Council resolution 242 (1967) had sought to address. Resolution 242 (1967) in substance called for the withdrawal of Israel from territory captured in the June War and with respect for the rights of the Palestinians to a homeland, and reiterated the need for a settlement of the issue [along the lines of the 1947 Partition Agreement.)
At this juncture therefore, the only viable solution to the Palestinian question must necessarily be the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Israel from all Arab occupied territory, and in particular from the West Bank and Gaza which, in conformity with the United Nations 1947 Partition Agreement, will then form the basis of a Palestinian State and homeland. It is within this context also that a viable and lasting peace in the Middle East is to be found. The years since the Yom Kippur War of 1974 have, however, witnessed a general deterioration of the situation in the Middle East, and in particular a worsening of the plight of the Palestinian people – both those remaining in Israeli-occupied territory and those who have fled to neighbouring States as refugees. Israel has continued its repressive and discriminatory acts against those Palestinians who fall within its civil and military purview. Further, its policy of setting up Jewish settlements in occupied territory in the face of world opinion, and in obvious violation of the rights of the Palestinians and others, has resulted in a hardening in the lines of conflict between Israel and her Arab neighbours.
Regionally, the Palestinian refugee problem has tended since the 1973 War to overflow into other Middle Eastern States. The sheer problems of assimilating sizeable influxes of refugees, the presence of large refugee encampments, and the transference of the Palestinian armed anti-Zionist struggle to their territories with concomitant Israeli retaliations, have all tended to widen the area of instability and render a peaceful solution at best intractable. 4/ Indeed, in a dialectical sense, the resultant generalized Arab hostility to Israel has tended to heighten her drive for security with a concomitant militarization of the region. Israel is thus caught in a bind: it may wish peace (and certainly on its terms) but its perception of its security needs impels it to arm itself to the teeth, which in turn further increases the hostility of its Arab neighbours. The Arab States themselves are caught in a binds they too may wish peace, but the Palestinian refugee problem (which can only be solved by the creation of a Palestinian State), the intractability of Israel, and the perceived threat an armed Israel poses to their security in turn impel them to adopt a hostile adversarial position even though the more moderate States may be prepared to accept de jure (as Sadat's Egypt did) the existence and right to exist of an Israeli State within secure borders. But the Palestinian question continues to impose itself.
Nor did the Camp David Accords of 1978 between Egypt and Israel necessarily bring peace any closer. One may object to the partial nature of the peace treaty between the two countries which did not address the Palestinian question in its essentials – Israel still continues to ignore if not reject United Nations resolution 242 (1967). Again, although the peace treaty spoke of the establishment of a self-governing authority in the West Bank and Gaza which could evolve into full autonomy after a five-year transition period, the subsequent activities of the Israeli Government in essence derogate from this admittedly limited framework for peace. The ousting in 1982 of freely elected pro-PLO mayors in the West Bank and Gaza, a continuation of the policy of establishing Israeli settlements and, again in 1982, the attack on Beirut under the Sharon Plan to politically and militarily wipe out tie PLO – Begin's "Peace for Galilee" strategy – all seem to indicate that Israel's solution to the Palestinian question is not that contained in embryo in the Camp David Accords. And that is essentially where the game rests in 1985.
Presently the Palestinian question is wrapped up in the events unfolding in Lebanon. Since 1975, that country has been wracked by violence and instability. The National Peace between Muslims and Christians which had been the favourite example of theorists of consociational democracy has effectively been shattered. Upon this civil war has been imposed the internecine struggles of the Palestinians within the PLO. Further compounding the issue has been the involvement of Syria and Israel in Lebanon – the first to "pacify" the warring PLO factions and not immediately to impose an order favourable to its own security interests, the latter to wipe out Palestinian bases in southern Lebanon and again, like the Syrian Arab Republic, to impose an order favourable to its interests. Indeed, according to Ambassador Ghassan Tueni:
Through an this the Palestinian question festers and its resolution becomes even more urgent.
II. Latin American Public Opinion on the Palestinian Question 6/
It is not easy to write about Latin American public opinion in general, for as a region it has not developed a tradition of full participation of its people in decision-making and the prior requirement of public debate of pressing issues of the day. This has been so for a number of reasons: inter alia low literacy rates (except for some of the Caribbean countries), limited media coverage and accessibility to media sources, a monopolization of public debate and expression among the middle and upper classes and, frankly speaking, a tendency of Governments to discourage public debate on "sensitive issues" (which in some cases could include almost any issue). The above operate to an even greater extent where issues external to the individual countries and more so to the region are concerned. To the extent that these do intrude upon the attention of the public, the lines of communication tend to be through the Western news agencies whose reporting of the issue or incident is not necessarily or in every case an impartial or disinterested one. 7/ Again, what gets reported and the extent of its coverage is often circumscribed by the importance of the issue to the regional or national public. The same may be said for the receptivity of Governments to international issues.
The Palestinian question has been by and large under-reported in the region, limited to a reporting of the "terrorist" activities of the PLO and other Palestinian groups, and until the OPEC oil shock and the 1973 war, of limited interest to Latin American public at large.
There are no generalized historical and emotive ties between the Palestinians, or indeed the Arabs, of the Middle East and the people of Latin America. To be sure there are pockets of Lebanese, Syrians and Jews in the region, and small numbers of adherents of the Muslim faith. By and large, however, these are small, Latin Americanized and have not retained (at least publicly) any deep and abiding attachment to their original homeland. By way of comparison, the horrors of apartheid in South Africa have been much more reported and aroused much more public discussion than the Palestinian question, one would suspect, because of the sizeable black population of the Caribbean and northern South America.
Again the concerns of Latin Americans have been somewhat different as is shown by their specific history and conditions of existence. Similarity of experiences breeds empathy. But, except for the problems of pockets of native Indians (which majority of Latin American public opinion does not want to hear about), or the historical problems of the dispossessed Indians of North America (which the North American press invariably ignores), there is little experience in the region of a similar or comparable "Palestinian question". Argentina's 1982 Malvinas War with Britain, one would suspect, intruded upon the consciousness of the region and aroused more public debate than the 1982 Israeli massacre of Palestinian refugees in Beirut. It is not simply a question of geographical distance (and one admits that distance is important), but more crucially one of psychology and a feeling of personal involvement. Latin Americans necessarily need to be educated to interest themselves in issues beyond their limited world.
The Governments of the region likewise have tended to exercise a selectivity in regard to the Palestinian question. As Governments operating in an international space they could hardly be unaware of the issues involved. That awareness, however, and subsequent action thereto are often circumscribed by what are perceived as policies pursuant to national interests. As we shall see later, some Latin American Governments have been forthright in their condemnation of Israel, and others have fully subscribed to United Nations resolutions on the Palestinian question. Many others have historically not been prepared or impelled to go much further. In the 1960s and up to the 1973 war, the Middle East and the Palestinian question were issues which could conveniently be placed on the back burner. The increased financial power of the OAPEC States, their tying of the issue of oil supplies to the conflict in the Middle East and, frankly, the perceived ability of the OAPEC States to strangle the world of fossil fuel (or at least seriously disrupt net oil-importing economies), impelled Latin American States to make statements and adopt positions on the Palestinian question and the wider Middle East conflicts. Thenceforth, of course, the Palestinian question became a matter for public discussion. Because Governments in the region invariably give the lead to public opinion, both the positions of Latin American international public opinion through governmental positions and domestic public opinion will be discussed.
III. International public opinion
As noted above, Latin American States did not in general find it necessary to devote much attention to the Palestinian question until as late as the OPEC oil price increase in 1973. Prior to that the plight of the Palestinians was at best a matter of the usual disinterested support for United Nations resolutions and weak exhortations that the Palestinians deserved better treatment. Through all of this it was business as usual with Israel and the maintenance of diplomatic and other relations with Tel Aviv. The 1973 Yom Kippur War, the OAPEC oil price hike and the demonstrated intention of Arab oil exporters to use oil supplies as a weapon in their struggles with Israel did not only convince the developed West (who were the immediate target of OAPEC boycotts), but also many of the Latin American States that the Arab and more specifically Palestinian cause deserved more attention and sympathy. As a member of OPEC and a close collaborator with the OAPEC States, Venezuela was clear in her policy of support for the Palestinian cause. (Although perhaps unrelated to the Venezuelan position, it must nevertheless not be forgotten that the famous "terrorist" Carlos was reputed to have been of Venezuelan extraction). The Security Council resolutions and the reaffirmation of resolution 242 (1967) as the basis of a Middle East settlement have over the years attracted the warm support of Latin American Governments.
At the Algiers fourth non-aligned summit of 1973, resolution number 2 on the Middle East situation and the Palestine problem, inter alia, reads as follows:
The matter was of course put to and discussed in the General Assembly were Israel was roundly criticized. While at that time (and still to date) most Latin American States were not members of the non-aligned movement, the exhortations of the above resolution and subsequent United Nations resolutions were largely subscribed to. In the post-1973 period countries like Guyana, Jamaica and Venezuela broke off relations with Israel, while many others (and the CARICOM grouping as a matter of policy) limited their contacts with the Zionist State. 8/ When zionism was declared by the United Nations as a form of racism, Latin American States as a whole voted in support of the resolution.
At the sixth summit conference of the non-aligned movement, held in Havana in 1979, the Palestinian question vis-à-vis the Egypt-Israel Camp David Accords was much discussed. The overriding position was that peace between Egypt and Israel in so far as it did not provide for a settlement along the lines of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) was at best a chimera, and at worst a betrayal of the Palestinian cause. At that Conference Cuba, Grenada, Guyana and Argentina made strong and stirring declarations in support of the Palestinian cause. Cuba's President Castro argued that:
Prime Minister Maurice Bishop of Grenada was even more strident in his criticisms of the Camp David Agreement arguing that:
In the above extracts both President Castro and Prime Minister Bishop were of course expressing positions not only against the perceived iniquities of the Camp David Agreement, but also against United States involvement in the Middle East. As is well known and as Margaret Arakie has convincingly argued, almost since its establishment, the State of Israel has enjoyed a guarantee of security (and massive defence and economic underwriting) by the United States 9/ which, as former United States Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs Harold Saunders has admitted, has not always been in the interest of Washington and indeed compromises Washington's relations with moderate Arab States. 10/ The ideological and political differences between Cuba and Grenada, and the United States should, however, not be construed from the principled support of the former two, of the rights of the Palestinian people – these only affect the form of the rhetoric. In like measure more "moderate" Latin American States, while supporting the United Nations majority position on the Middle East and the Palestinian question, have chosen to express this support in less strident rhetoric and less flamboyant action.
Reflecting a less strident position and inclination not to attack outright any party to the Camp David Agreement, the statement by Prime Minister Burnham at the Havana non-aligned summit may be taken as echoing the more "moderate" Latin American position on the Palestinian question. This position is characterized by a certain correctness and studied embrace of United Nations resolutions on the issue:
The statement of the Argentine Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Roberto Francisco Cavandoli, in clear and studies language again reflects this moderate position:
This position is significant since it must be recalled that Senor Cavandoli in 1979 was representing a conservative military dictatorship whose human rights record and attachment to democratic freedoms was at best questionable. Its attachment to the United States-led Western camp was of course less than questionable. Indeed, Argentina at that time could be said to have been a leader of the conservative Latin American States.
What the above short discussion of the public statements of some Latin American States has sought to demonstrate is that the region has (at least at the level of rhetoric) come out in support of the Palestinian people within the context of the majority United Nations position on the Palestinian question. In the decade of the 1980s, the Middle East conflict is often in danger of being reduced to the level of the civil war and instability in Lebanon with a concomitant and unfortunate tendency to eclipse the real issue – the plight of the Palestinian people. The activities of the Syrian Arab Republic and Israel in Lebanon; the United Nations peace-keeping mission to Lebanon and its unfortunate history; the suicide missions of PLO activists against the United States and French peace-keeping forces leading to the hasty withdrawal of United States forces in 1984; the Iran-Iraq war; and finally the diminished status, and evident decline, of solidarity within the Arab bloc, have all tended to remove the attention of the world community from the core of the issue. Latin American States and, indeed, the global community of States must never lose sight of the fact that despite the permutations of the Middle East imbroglio, the crucial and core issue is still the Palestinian question. Our sense of humanity and devotion to the concept of justice should never be so devalued and diminished as to lead us to forget this simple fact.
IV. Domestic Public Opinion
Latin American domestic public opinion on the Palestinian question as mentioned above is informed by both what appears through the media and the positions of the respective Governments. To date it is largely unformed and somewhat impressionistic. The man-in-the-street knows little about the happenings in the Middle East or the plight of the Palestinians beyond what he gets from the snatches of news in the media. Indeed this is invariably confined to reports of Palestinian guerrilla attacks on Israeli buses, or "terrorist" suicide bombings of peace-keeping forces and Israeli occupying forces, or internecine squabbles in the PLO, or assassinations of PLO leaders. The actual sufferings of the Palestinians, the treatment of women and children, the injustices they suffer at the hands of the Israeli occupying forces, and their pleadings for justice and a homeland rarely if ever get reported in the media. Small wonder then that in the minds of the public, the Palestinian question gets lost in the wider and somewhat separate issue of relations among the States in the Middle East. It is therefore self-evident that the public media must play a more responsible role in providing a more balanced reporting on the Middle East, and in particular, the plight of the Palestinians as a distressed and harassed people.
Again, Governments of the region are also somewhat responsible for this lack of knowledge and of balance on the part of the public in regard to the Palestinian question. The plight of the Palestinians is never an issue at election times (in so far as there are elections) nor is there the need apparently to propagandize the public on the Government's (or other political groups) position on the issue. Consequently, the issue tends to remain . at the rarefied level of international relations where it rests above and beyond the access of the public at large. Informed citizens, the occasional symposium or debate on world affairs, politics and international relations courses in the regional universities and colleges, and research institutes with limited contacts with the public at large, are invariably the only forums or occasions in and through which a small part of the public is exposed to the issues. There is an obvious need on the part of the Governments and those in the region with specialist knowledge or expertise to make greater efforts to reach the public at large. A more informed public is better able to pressure its Government (in so far as the Government is open to such pressures) to tape strong and principles positions, including breaking of relations with Israel where these still exist.
In the formation of public opinion institutions such as the churches, the Red Cross, Amnesty International and other national and international NGOs have a crucial role to play. Of course they themselves need in the first instance to acquaint themselves with the issues, or be so acquainted. In this regard the United Nations-sponsored conferences on the question of Palestine held over the past few years are a welcome and indispensable mode of publicizing the question. Seminars such as the North American NGO Symposium on the Question of Palestine held at the United Nations Headquarters in June 1984 and the present conference are an excellent vehicle through which NGOs could be made to play a greater role in educating the public. A similar symposium for Latin American NGOs is a pressing necessity through which the powerful Latin American churches, labour unions, women’s groups, and service clubs could be sensitized, and thereafter sensitize their members on the Palestinian question.
The development of an informed public opinion on any issue or set of issues is rarely an easy or automatic process. Where it involves events happening continents away, and on issues somewhat removed from the day-to-day material concerns of a public which has over the years been the subject of systematic disinformation if not misinformation, it is even more difficult. It is indisputably, however, a necessary task in the context of the Palestinian question and similar questions where the rights of people are infringed, as part of the collective "conscientization" of the human race through which it can be hoped that a more humane and just world order can be constructed. Finally, in pursuance of this task of conscientization of the Latin American public and specifically on the question of Palestine, the following recommendations are hereby submitted.
In conclusion may I thank the sponsors for inviting me to prepare and deliver this paper at this conference on the question of Palestine. Further may I congratulate them on organizing this conference which is both timely and a moral imperative. If nothing else the holding of such a conference will serve to assure the suffering Palestinians that their plight is not unnoticed in the distant land of Latin America.
1. Annis F. Kassim, "The Right of Nationality in the State of Israel" in A. W. Kayyali, Zionism, Imperialism and Racism, London, Croom Helm Ltd., 1979, p. 116.
2. For a fuller discussion of such Israeli discrimination see Michael Adams, "Israel's Treatment of the Arabs in the Occupied Areas", in Kayyali, op. cit.
3. See Ghassan Tueni, "Lebanon: A New Republic?", Foreign Affairs, vol. 61, No. I (Fall 1982).
4. See Harold H. Saunders, "An Israeli-Palestinian Peace", Foreign Affairs, vol. 61, No. I (Fall 1982).
5. Ghassan Tueni, op. cit., pp. 88-89.
6. It is difficult to speak of public opinion in any holistic sense since societies rarely achieve a total consensus on any particular issue. At best, therefore, one may merely speak of "majority positions" while bearing in mind that there may be sizeable minority positions.
7. The Arab-Israeli conflict, and the plight of the Palestinians specifically, have been subject to a rather biased reporting on the part of the Western and particularly North American media. The "terrorist" and irredentist sides of the issue receive disproportionately more attention than the moral issue of the rights of the Palestinians.
8. Despite this seemingly common agreement, Israelis are reputed to be engaged in sizeable export-agricultural activities in Jamaica, having been so welcomed by the post-1980 Seaga Government.
9. Margaret Arakie, The Broken Sword of Justice, London, Quartet Books Ltd., 1973.
10. Harold Saunders, op. cit.
3. Arturo Muñoz Ledo,
Vice-President of the International Progress Organization
1. Public opinion in Latin America and the historical background
1.1. The Old Testament
The parts of the Bible's Old Testament dealing with the search for the "promised land" tend to give the reader the impression of a manifest right, under a "divine mandate", to occupy the land of Canaan and the coastal regions inhabited by Canaanites and Philistines.
AIl the accounts of wars and the references to occupation in the Biblical texts ace Manichean. For anyone who has seen a film inspired by the Bible on the story of David and Goliath, the good and the bad side are readily apparent; the same would be true of the fall of Jericho or Samson and Delilah.
1.2. The religious tradition
Religious teaching in Latin America is almost entirely Catholic in origin. From when they are small, children become accustomed to admire religious heroes, and despite their "sins", crimes and acts of treason, all the ancients are heroes of the people of Israel. The only occasion in which Catholic religious teaching questions the conduct of Israelites (the judges) is the trial of Jesus. Even in the modern office of the mass, the first reading consists of an Old Testament passage and the words of the prophets, that is to say those who were leaders or guides in the invasion of the land of Palestine.
This term and its meaning are in fact not well known to public opinion. Probably, when the Jewish immigration into Palestinian territory since the end of the Last century is thought of as a return to Zion, it is viewed in a sympathetic light, as the reunion of the Diaspora with a lost homeland. Perhaps this coincides chronologically with a Syrian-Lebanese migration to Latin America; these ethnic groups are customarily identified by the term "Turks", and this is how they were generally known. In the economic and trading competition between the former Sephardic communities in Spain and the Turks, conflict between them or with the local population is not seen as an issue.
2. Public opinion in Latin America and recent events
2.1 The mandate for Palestine
The fall of the Ottoman Empire and the establishment of the British Mandate for Palestine did not have a major impact on the awareness of the Latin American peoples, who were almost all undergoing an era of revolutions and a process of consolidation of quasi-colonial military régimes.
2.2 Establishment of the Palestinian State
As a result of General Assembly resolution 181 (II) (November 1947), an Israeli propaganda campaign aimed at Latin America was initiated entailing economic incentives to the transfer of young people to the kibbutzim. The information media were encouraging the Latin American population to look favourably on the justice being done – after so many centuries – to the suffering Jews recently slaughtered by the Nazis.
2.3 Occupation of Palestinian land
The events of May 1947 and immediately after did not leave a significant impact in public opinion except for the occupation of Jerusalem, which affected believers but was counterbalanced by incentives to tourism. The Six-Day War and the annexation of Cisjordan are viewed as part of a purely Arab-Israeli conflict; public opinion sees the Arabs as the aggressors and the Palestinian Fedayeen terrorists as unscrupulous murderers seeking to undermine the legitimacy and the existence of the State of Israel.
2.4 Palestine exile and the Palestine Liberation Organization
As a result of the above events the Palestinians emigrated and established a provisional government in Jordan, then in Lebanon and finally in Tunisia. For Latin American intellectuals, and especially Mexicans, this is something like Juarez carrying the Republic around on his shoulders. To the man in the street, it is institutionalized terrorism, with no distinction between Habbash and Arafat.
3. Latin American public opinion and the current situation
"Black September" and the Palestinian attempts to achieve autonomy and break out of their confinement in the camps in Transjordan are not clearly understood, and it is the transnational news agencies which make much of these events as a brutal quarrel among Arabs which justifies Israel's firm stand within its borders and in occupied Cisjordan.
The incursion of the Israeli army into Lebanon and the Sabra and Shatila massacres by Haddad's Maronite Christians are finally leading informed persons to distinguish Palestinian refugees from Arabs and from the violent Fedayeen, and for the first time the suffering of the civilian population, including children and old people, is being recognized.
3.3 Egypt, Syria and other Arab countries
Where Egypt and Syria during the Six-Day War and the Ramadan (Yom Kippur) War are concerned, it was seen as a settlement of territorial accounts with respect to the Sinai and the Golan and in Egypt's case as reflecting oil, and in Syria's case geopolitical (Greater Syria), interests. As for the position of Iraq, the countries of the Arabian peninsula and the Maghreb with regard to the Middle East question (or, more specifically, the question of Palestinian territory), it is viewed as an old struggle between Arabs and Jews, with the former not allowing the latter security and existence for reasons of Islamic sovereignty.
4. The international legal framework
4.1 General Assembly resolutions
The General Assembly resolutions are not well known and are frequently thought of as constituting mere paper, a dead letter, a waste of time and money. Ultimately the "might is right" principle will prevail. They are sometimes regarded as exercises in good will but as theoretical in nature.
4.2 Security Council resolutions
These are less known and it is recognized that their implementation will always be impossible because of the veto of one or other of the five "Powers".
5. Concrete plans for dissemination and communication activities to orient Latin American public opinion
5.1 School education and the mass media
Elementary school textbooks should take a new approach to third-world history which breaks with the colonialist patters found in encyclopaedias and with the religious texts which, within a biased value system, state the existence of chosen peoples and master races as fact. The information media, comprising radio, television and publications – i.e. the third world's sources of guidance – could play a useful role, through truthful reporting in bringing into being a non-aggressive humane and accessible awareness in order to sensitize the common people of Latin America.
5.2 Stimulation of Governments' mental attitude and of political awareness among the population
The mental attitude of Governments in the Latin American countries is affected to a large extent by the individuals responsible for information, education and foreign affairs. They should be impartial, and not biased towards positions of transnational interest (see Domingo Alberto Rangel, Havana Seminar 1981). Likewise, the political parties, which in their turn are responsible for politicizing the population, should include in their statements the position they adopt with respect to international underdevelopment issues, including the question of Palestine.
It is the responsibility of PLO offices to promote these activities, with a high level of performance and public relations input, openly, without fear of rejection, since the cause is an entirely just one, and making clear distinction between the problem of the Palestinian people and all the other elements which form the setting for it. These promotional activities should include, as a matter of priority, appealing to the conscience of public figures of Jewish origin or of the Jewish faith, who are nationals of Latin American countries.
VIII. STATEMENTS BY REPRESENTATIVES OF UNITED NATIONS ORGANS
M. MIKLOS ENDREFFY (HUNGARY)
ON BEHALF OF THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE AGAINST APARTHEID
I wish, on behalf of the Chairman of the Special Committee against Apartheid and on my own behalf, to express thanks to you and to the members of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for the invitation to participate in this meeting.
The international city has recently witnessed developments culminating in further suffering for the people of Palestine. Such events reaffirm the view of peace-loving peoples all over the world that it is impossible to ensure a comprehensive settlement of the Middle East conflict Without resolving its core – the Palestinian question. The long-awaited solution must recognize the right of the Palestinian people to selfdetermination, to return to their homeland and to establish their own independent State is Palestine. This cannot be achieved while the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territories is continuing. Furthermore, the establishment of Israeli settlements in those territories is contrary to international, law and to numerous resolutions adopted by the United Nations, as well as by regional, global, governmental and non-governmental organizations.
The Israeli Government continues in its attempts to subdue the desire of the Palestinian people to free themselves. Israeli measures have been applied with cruelty and without respect for the human rights of the Palestinian people. Israeli practices have led to loss of life and constant intimidation of the oppressed people of Palestine. There is always a racist element behaviour in the Israelis in the handling of this question.
Israel, in denying the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, thought it might overcome the problems through oppression and intimidation inside the occupied territories, as well as by escalating its aggression against Arab States. However, the desire of peoples for freedom cannot be conquered through force and intimidation.
Every year, the Special Committee submits a special report to the General Assembly and to the Security Council on recent developments concerning relations between Israel and South Africa. The report points out very clearly the seriousness of the alliance between these two régimes. Israeli assistance to South Africa in the military end nuclear fields has become a serious obstacle to the efforts of the United Nations to eradicate apartheid, from the continent of Africa.
Our concern at the collaboration between these two régimes stems from the fact that they constitute an alliance detrimental to the interests of the African and Arab peoples. The General Assembly has repeatedly called for the cessation of that diabolical alliance.
South Africa, Namibia and Palestine are questions that have appeared on the agenda of the United Nations almost since its inception. Namibia and Palestine are two Territories for which the international community assumed a sacred trust more than 60 years ago under League of Nations Mandate, but their peoples are not yet free. South Africa has been oppressed by racist domination following colonial domination for more than 70 years.
The Special Committee, in co-operation with the League of Arab States, convenes at Tunis in August of last year a Conference of Arab Solidarity with this Struggle for Liberation in Southern Africa. That Conference considered the threat facing the be and the Africans as a result of the alliance between Israel sad South Africa. It adopted a declaration and four resolutions, among them a resolution on the special responsibility of the international community towards the peoples of Namibia, South Africa and Palestine. The resolution proclaimed that the United Nations and the international community have an inescapable responsibility for securing the freedom and independence of the peoples of Namibia, South Africa and Palestine. It also called upon all Governments to refrain from any relations with the régimes in South Africa and Israel until the peoples of Namibia, South Africa and Palestine are enabled to exercise their inalienable rights, in particular their right to genuine self-determination.
On behalf of the Special Committee, I should like to reaffirm the Committee's support for the resolutions of the General Assembly relating to the question of Palestine, to wish this Seminar success in its endeavours and to affirm our resolute support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.
STATEMENT BY HIS EXCELLENCY MR. ALBERTO VELASCO-SAN JOSE (CUBA), REPRESENTATIVE OF THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON THE SITUATION WITH REGARD TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE DECLARATION ON THE GRANTING OF INDEPENDENCE TO COLONIAL COUNTRIES AND PEOPLES
On behalf of the Special Committee of 24 on decolonization, I wish to thank the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for having organized this important Seminar on the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.
It is indeed of particular significance that this Seminar is taking place in Guyana, a country whose Government and people have consistently demonstrated their commitment to the cause of peace, justice and freedom and, in particular, to the Organization's endeavours to bring about the total eradication of oppression, racism and exploitation of the peoples concerned. Indeed, their stalwart support for and dedication to this nobel cause remains an exemplary source of inspiration to us all.
I wish to take this opportunity to pay a special tribute to The Honourable Linden S. Burnham, O.E., S.C., President of the Republic of Guyana, an eminent statesman, under whose able guidance Guyana continues to extend its unreserved support to the millions of peoples fighting for human dignity, freedom and justice.
The tenets that govern the work of the Special Committee on decolonization – the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, adopted without any dissension by the overwhelming majority of the General Assembly 25 years ago – proclaimed that the subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and is an impediment to the promotion of world peace and co-operation. The historic document further declared that any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter.
It is within this context that the Special Committee on decolonization, which is the major United Nations organ mandated by the General Assembly to seek the most suitable ways and means to accelerate the process of decolonization, views with deep concern the plight of the people of Palestine. They have been denied their fundamental and inalienable right to determine their destiny, they have been subjected to cruel, repressive measures at the hands of their oppressor. They have been dispossessed and uprooted from their homes, they cannot re-enter what used to be their towns and homes as their country was taken away from them.
While the Palestinian question continues to be one of the most complex, difficult and dangerous issues facing this Organization, this should not discourage the international community in its search for a just solution to the problem. On the contrary, our commitment to the goal as set forth in a number of related resolutions of the United Nations must be reinforced with a grave sense of urgency.
The situation today remains most critical and explosive, as uncertainty, discord and violence continue to prevail in the area. At this important seminar, it becomes all the more important, therefore, that we should firmly rededicate ourselves to the promotion of a genuine and lasting settlement of the Middle East conflict. It is evident that the attainment of such objective will continue to elude us unless the core of the Middle East conflict, namely, the Palestinian question, is resolved in its totality. We must, therefore, work diligently for the realization of that objective and for the creation of all the conditions favourable to a just and lasting peace in the area. These include the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including the right to establish an independent State, the right of all States in the area to an independent existence and the strict observance of the principle of non-acquisition of territory by force.
While the Palestinian resistance has awakened the conscience of the international community and has earned universal support and sympathy for a just and legitimate cause, time is overdue for concerted action to persuade the supporters of Israel to compel it to respond to relevant United Nations resolutions and to the will of the international community on the question of Palestine. It must be impressed upon Israel that it can no longer systematically ignore United Nations resolutions and world public opinion on the question of Palestine. Above all, Israel must be made to comply fully with General Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 1947, leading to the establishment of an independent Palestine State. The underlying principle is that the recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians is one of the basic conditions for lasting peace in the region and that the Palestine Liberation Organization must be involved in comprehensive peace negotiations.
Before concluding, I should like to acknowledge with appreciation the very important work carried out by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People under the outstanding and dedicated leadership of Ambassador Sarré of Senegal.
It is my confident hope that the holding of this Seminar would take us a step closer to the fulfilment by the Organization of its obligations to the Palestinian people. I therefore extend to you, Mr. Chairman, and to the Committee, my best wishes for a successful outcome of your deliberations.
IX. LIST OF PARTICIPANTS AND OBSERVERS
Delegation of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People
H.E. Mr. Massamba Sarré (Senegal), Chairman
H.E. Mr. David Karran (Guyana)
H.E. Mr. Alberto Velasco-San José (Cuba)
Mr. Miklós Endreffy (Hungary)
Mr. Zehdi L. Terzi (Palestine Liberation Organization)
Prof. Juan Abugattás (Peru)
Prof. César Arias Quincot (Peru)
Mr. Joshua Chowritmootoo (Guyana)
Prof. T. O. Gittens (Guyana)
Dr. Arturo Muñoz Ledo (Mexico)
Mr. Chan Mynals (Suriname)
Mr. Ernesto Vera Méndez (Cuba)
Mr. José Luis Villavicencio (Nicaragua)
States Members of the United Nations
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
Non-member States represented by observers
Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Republic of Korea
Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General
Mr. Yogaraj Yogasundram, Chief
United Nations Division for Palestinian Rights
United Nations organs
Special Committee Against Apartheid
Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples
United Nations Council for Namibia
Movement of Non-Aligned Countries
Organization of the Islamic Conference
National liberation movements
Palestine Liberation Organization
Mr. Zehdi L. Terzi, Representative of the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization
Guyana Committee for Solidarity and Peace
Mass media representation
Guyana Broadcasting Corporation
Guyana National Newspaper Ltd.
Guyana News Agency
Ministry of Information
University of Guyana
Guyana Film Centre
National News Services
Download Document Files: 85-31665.pdf 85-31665f.pdf
Document Type: French text, 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: Human rights and international humanitarian law, Inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, PLO/Palestine, Palestine question, Peace conference, Public information
Publication Date: 20/06/1985