UNITED NATIONS NORTH AMERICAN REGIONAL NGO SYMPOSIUM
ON THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE
United Nations Headquarters, New York
27-29 June 1990
1 – 7
8 – 23
A. Panel I
B. Panel II
8 – 19
20 – 23
24 – 29
Declaration and Plan of Action adopted by the North American Regional
NGO Symposium on the Question of Palestine
Resolutions adopted by the North American Regional
NGO Symposium on the Question of Palestine
1990-1991 North American Co-ordinating Committee for NGOs
on the Question of Palestine
Message to the Symposium from H.E. Mr. Yasser Arafat,
Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization
List of participants and observers
1. Pursuant to General Assembly resolution 44/41 B of 6 December 1989, the Seventh United Nations North American Regional NGO Symposium on the Question of Palestine was convened, under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, at United Nations Headquarters in New York, from 27 to 29 June 1990. The theme of the Symposium was "The inalienable rights of the Palestinian people".
2. One hundred and ten non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from Canada and the United States of America, 43 of these as observers, participated in the work of the Symposium. Eleven panelists and 35 workshop facilitators and resource persons attended the Symposium and its 12 workshops.
3. The Symposium was opened by H.E. Mrs. Absa Claude Diallo of Senegal, who as Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, addressed the meeting on behalf of the Committee. In her statement, Mrs. Diallo stressed that the North American countries could greatly contribute to encouraging the peace process; in that regard, the NGO community had a vital role to play by influencing the official views and policies of their respective Governments. The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People had taken note with appreciation of the wide range of activities undertaken by the NGOs, and of the important role as catalyst played by the North American Co-ordinating Committee for NGOs on the Question of Palestine (NACC).
4. She emphasized that the current situation in the Middle East was dangerous and worrisome. The recent violent incidents in the occupied Palestinian territory and in Israel itself, and the growing influx of Jewish immigrants made it most urgent for NGOs together with Governments, intergovernmental organizations and all sectors of the international community to intensify their efforts towards a breakthrough in the peace process, for the protection of the Palestinian people and for the achievement of a just settlement of the question of Palestine.
5. Mr. Zuhdi Labib Terzi, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, read out a message from H.E. Mr. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The message is reproduced in annex III below.
6. Ms. Jeanne Butterfield, Chairman of the NACC, said that during the year, spectacular changes had taken place in the international situation; regional conflicts had been settled in many corners of the globe, nations like Namibia had finally taken their first breath of freedom, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States were joining to lead the international community to a future of peace and coexistence.
7. Responding with fresh energy and initiatives to the new dynamics created by the Palestinian intifadah and the PLO's initiative, the North American NGOs had launched a series of activities at all levels: ranging from various campaigns to the establishment of networks. The first month of 1990 had been marked by an increase in the intransigence of the Israeli Government. The occupation as well as the attempts to crush the intifadah had continued, and a number of measures had been undertaken by Israel to increase and expand the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory. The suspension of the United States and PLO dialogue as well as the vetoing of the United Nations Security Council resolution which would have sent a team to investigate the situation had further highlighted the vulnerability of the Palestinians living under occupation and the extreme and urgent need for their most basic protection. North American NGOs as well as NGOs around the world had to renew vigorously their call for suspension of aid to Israel and for resumption of the dialogue with the PLO. In particular, they should demand that Governments fulfill their responsibilities as signatories to the Fourth Geneva Convention and take immediate steps to monitor Israeli human rights violations and to extend protection to the Palestinian people under occupation.
I. PANEL DISCUSSION
A. Panel I
"Breaking the impasse: moving towards Israeli-Palestinian
peace and convening the International Peace Conference
on the Middle East"
8. Mrs. Absa Claude Diallo, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Senegal to the United Nations and Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said that for over 40 years the question of Palestine had been a focus of concern for the United Nations, because the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people lay at the very heart of the ideals and principles which had led to the creation of the General Assembly, namely, respect for the dignity of peoples and the sovereignty of States, as well as the establishment of relations of peace, friendship, solidarity and co-operation among all nations of the world. She recalled that until 1969 the question of Palestine had featured in the agenda of the United Nations essentially as a refugee problem. That approach subsequently was abandoned when in 1970 the General Assembly declared that the problem of the Palestinian Arab refugees had arisen from the denial of their inalienable rights and that "full respect for the inalienable rights of the people of Palestine (was) an indispensable element in the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East". In 1974, the Assembly defined those rights as the right to self-determination without external interference, the right to national independence and sovereignty and the right of the Palestinians to return to their homes and dispose freely of their property. In order to make the realization of those objectives possible, the General Assembly, on 10 November 1975, had established the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. In the following year, that Committee, in its recommendations, had laid down a programme of action that would give effect to the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. The International Conference on the Question of Palestine, held under the auspices of the United Nations at Geneva from 29 August to 7 September 1983, had adopted by acclamation the Geneva Declaration on Palestine and the Programme of Action for the Achievement of Palestinian Rights.
9. She recalled a number of significant and encouraging developments during the past two years, namely the nineteenth extraordinary session of the Palestine National Council (PNC) held at Algiers in November 1988; the consideration of the question of Palestine by the General Assembly meeting at Geneva in December 1988 during its forty-third session; and the statement made at that session by Mr. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the PLO. In recent years, the resolutions on the question of Palestine had received steadily increasing support in the General Assembly. It was, however, regrettable that the Security Council was not yet able to take the measures needed to convene an international peace conference on the Middle East. She called on the Council to recognize that the international consensus was based on the affirmation by a great majority of States Members of the United Nations, that the problem of Palestine lay at the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict; that peace and security in the Middle East depended closely on a comprehensive and just solution of the question of Palestine; that the acquisition of territory by force was inadmissible, and all States in the region, including Palestine and Israel, had the right to exist within secure and internationally recognized boundaries; and lastly, that the peaceful settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict required international guarantees. She concluded by stating that the international community should increase its support to the United Nations and convince some of its still-hesitant Members to join the consensus, with a view to making Israel comply with its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention and to enter into the peace process in accordance with the relevant General Assembly resolutions.
10. Mr. Mahdi F. Abdul Hadi, President, Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, Jerusalem, said that the 1988 PNC initiative confirmed that the Palestinians were willing to make peace. The intifadah was also a message of peace and coexistence. The new Israeli Government was not moving towards the implementation even of any of its own proposals for a political process. Another aspect of the impasse was the policy of the United States in the Middle East. He proposed that the United States should use its leverage and its huge economic support of Israel to bring the Israeli Government to reason and to a peace process. He suggested that the following steps be taken to break the existing impasse: the international community should guarantee the security and safety of the Palestinian people in the occupied territory; the international community and particularly the North American NGOs should continue to persuade the United States Administration to agree to the International Peace Conference on the Middle East; the United States Administration should use different options to get Israel to the negotiation table with the PLO; the NGOs should deal with all matters directly with the Palestinians; the NGOs should work towards the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East as the only means of achieving a just and comprehensive settlement in the region.
11. Mr. Shmuel Amir, one of the founders of the "Peace and Security" movement in Israel, stated that his movement had been founded in the aftermath of the 1967 war and that it stood for the return of the occupied territory. The founders of the movement believed at the time that Israeli occupation could not last. The "secret" of the continuing occupation was the unfailing financial, military and economic support of Israel by the United States, without which the maintenance of the status quo would have been impossible. He further stated that the United States over the years had made clear its opposition to: (a) the establishment of a Palestinian State alongside Israel; (b) the recognition of the PLO as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people; (c) the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East attended by the permanent members of the Security Council, Israel and the PLO. Since a real breakthrough to peace could only be based on the "two States" solution and the recognition of the PLO, the negative attitude of the United States could only be judged as an obstruction to a peace settlement in the Middle East. Addressing the question of the United States policy in the region, he maintained that it was in the interest of American global and Middle Eastern policy to maintain such a strong, loyal and dependable ally as Israel in a region of vital interest in terms of global strategy and oil supply. There was no Israeli Government, either Likud or Labour, he said, which would act in open defiance of American policy. The bone of contention in the debate between the Likud and Labour concerned the limits of American support for the Israeli policies. There was a basic agreement between the Likud and Labour on the concept of Israel as a strategic asset to the United States. The difference between the two was mainly one of style and appearance rather than of substance. He concluded by stating that in that time of historic changes all over the world, it was impossible to believe that those changes would not affect the Middle East. Nothing could stop peace and understanding emerging between the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples.
12. Mr. Edward Said, Professor in the Humanities, Department of English Literature, Columbia University, said that it was only partially accurate to use the terms "impasse", "stalemate" or "status quo" as far as resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was concerned. Far from being static, the situation in the occupied territory was steadily worsening. Palestinian rights were actively violated on a daily and even on a minute-to-minute basis. Words like "impasse" and "status quo" therefore concealed both the extent of Palestinian suffering and the moral imbalance that required Palestinian individuals to pay the continued price of Israeli intransigence, insensitivity and obdurate hypocrisy. He declared that the intifadah was not just a negative reminder of the Israeli occupation, but also the positive response of a whole people, through its resistance to occupation and the creation of all the institutions of a State. The documents of the 1988 PNC session were a concrete act of will whereby the whole Palestinian nation – dispersed, dispossessed, under military occupation – gathered itself for the momentous journey to peace, not peace in the abstract but peace with Israel.
13. He stated that the United States had been funding Israel's occupation with unlimited largesse. The special relationship between Israel and the United States had granted Israel a stunning array of special privileges, all of them underwritten by huge cash outlays amounting to over $50 billion over the past decade. Whenever the timidest reminder by the United States of its displeasure at Israel's actions had been uttered, it had routinely been accompanied by more outlays of money, more declarations of undying, unqualified support for Israel, and more abuses and deprivations for Palestinians. The information was there; the evidence was in, the bodies were there to be counted, the process towards peace was there to be pursued in reality and not by the convoluted and ultimately spurious logic of the Baker-Shamir plan, the singular property of which had been disavowed and discredited by its very authors. Palestine belonged with and should be associated with the case against apartheid, the world-wide cause for freedom, the case for human rights everywhere, for truth and accountability in government, for responsible journalism and (above all where United States citizens were concerned) for common cause in decency. Only then could the impasse be broken and a certain assured future for two peoples be assured.
14. Ms. Maha Mustaklem Nassar, representative of the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees, Jerusalem, said that the Palestinian people had struggled over the past 20 years in many forms ranging from military to peaceful: in 1974 and 1976 demonstrations of support of the PLO and resistance to the occupation civil administration, the April 1982 uprising resisting the Camp David accords and autonomy plans, protesting the invasion of Lebanon in 1982. The intifadah, which began in December 1987, was able to reach all sectors of the Palestinian people. The Unified National Leadership (UNL), as the steering body of the intifadah had formed its own popular committees such as for health, food supply, security, agriculture, popular teaching, etc. in every neighbourhood, village or refugee camp as an attempt to create an alternative popular authority to end occupation. The intifadah, she continued, came as a surprise to the Israeli policy-makers who thought that it would be a temporary rage which could be suppressed in a couple of days through killings, arrests, curfews, and other forms of oppression.
15. She contended that the initiative proposed by Mr. Shamir, Prime Minister of Israel, aimed at creating an alternative leadership to replace the PLO, to abort the intifadah politically and to undermine Palestinian unity. Consequently, it had been rejected by the Unified National Leadership (UNL) and the PLO. She felt that through the plan proposed by Mr. Baker, the United States attempted to isolate the PLO from decision-making on the future of the Palestinian people.
16. Addressing the issue of Jewish immigration, she said that, the United States policy was to force Jews to immigrate to Israel and that it would result in an imbalance in the demographic situation of the occupied territory for the benefit of Israeli strategies. To the Palestinians, that immigration meant more land confiscations, an increase in unemployment, less water resources and more suffering. The Palestinians would never accept any alternative to the rights of return, self-determination and the establishment of an independent State of Palestine. Until then, she said, the Palestinian people demanded international protection and the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East with participation of all parties concerned, including the PLO.
17. Mr. Jack O'Dell, International Affairs Director of the National Rainbow Coalition, said the intifadah affirmed the dignity of the Palestinian people and its determination to be free. The impasse in moving towards Israeli-Palestinian peace had to be seen in the context of United States policy towards third world nations, which aimed at policing them as a source of cheap labour and materials. It used economic strangulation either directly, through boycotts, or indirectly, through the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It used military force either directly or indirectly, through support for surrogates. The collaboration between Israel and South Africa represented an aspect of the geopolitical strategy embodied in United States policy. Yet public attitudes in the United States were now changing, and that could lead to a change in public policy, he said. At this decisive moment, the United Nations should take the initiative to convene an international peace conference on the Middle East. If any of the concerned parties chose not to attend, that would be their decision. Although it would be regrettable if the United States chose not to participate, it should be remembered that the United States had refused to participate in a similar International Conference on Sanctions against South Africa; yet soon after that meeting, the United States Congress had legislated comprehensive sanctions over the veto of President Ronald Reagan. There was an urgency now to raise the issue of an international conference with the full assurance that public opinion in the United States could be mobilized to support it as a reasonable remedy in which everyone gained. Peace was possible in the Middle East if world public opinion asserted itself in support of that kind of United Nations initiative.
18. Mr. Joel Beinin, Professor of History, Stanford University, said that there were at least five distinct elements in the United States-Israeli relationship, namely: (a) since the Second World War, Americans had felt an obligation towards the Jewish people due to widespread feelings of guilt over the past because the United States had done little to save the Jews of Europe from the attempted Nazi genocide. Support for zionism and the establishment of the State of Israel were integrated into the liberal anti-Fascist political agenda in the United States. That was reinforced by the fact that many liberal Jews had become activists of or contributors to the Democratic Party; (b) Christian redemptionist theology had become substantial in the United States during the first Reagan administration, with groups like the Moral Majority; (c) the central role of Jews in the United States intelligentsia; (d) the role played in the United States by the Zionist lobby, operating through its grassroots organizations a powerful policy network monitoring public discussion and intimidating those who deviated from positions it regarded as acceptable; (e) the concept of Israel as a strategic asset to the United States.
19. Speaking about the Palestinian uprising, he pointed out that in a time of relaxation of tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union, and with the end of the cold war, the intifadah had altered the balance of forces that made Israel such a valuable strategic asset to the United States and accentuated Israel's current, as well as potential liabilities to the United States. He declared that the pivot of the United States-Israeli relationship was the annual $3.7 billion United States aid to that country. A large-scale public campaign in opposition to continuing current levels of such aid could help deepen the split between the Bush administration and Israel. It would constitute a form of direct pressure on Israel to make it modify its current policies.
B. Panel II
20. Ms. Zahira Kamal, Chairman, Palestinian Federation of Women's Action Committees, Ramallah, pointed out that the intifadah confirmed that it was the struggle by all sectors of the Palestinian people against the occupation in all its forms: economic, military and political. Moreover, it confirmed the impossibility of returning to the conditions which preceded it. The brutal Israeli measures against the Palestinians participating in the intifadah were also an example of Israel losing its international credibility. The Palestinian people's lives had been exposed to danger daily due to the actions of the Israeli army and the settlers using live ammunition, plastic-coated bullets, tear gas and severe beatings. Those actions had caused the deaths of at least 887 Palestinians from the beginning of the intifadah. During the same period, 65,000 Palestinians had been detained. Investigations carried out by Al-Haq (Law in the Service of Man) showed that 620 Palestinian houses were demolished. During the intifadah 58 Palestinians had been deported. Educational institutions, from kindergartens to universities, were repeatedly subjected to closures for "security reasons". The occupation authorities had bulldozed 85,321 olive and almond trees.
21. Speaking about immigration of Jews from the Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries, she said that the Palestinian people believed in the right of every person to move and travel. The Palestinians were denied the right to return to their lands. The continuation of Jewish immigration from the Soviet Union and the Eastern European countries could lead to demographic changes in the region and facilitate the annexation of the Palestinian land by the Israeli Government.
22. Ms. Chaya Weisqal-Amir, representative, Women's Organization for Political Prisoners, Working Group for Juvenile Political Prisoners, stated that there were currently anywhere between 10 and 20,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. Most of them were men, about 400 of them were children and youths between the ages of 12 and 18, and another 50 to 100 were women, some of them pregnant or nursing mothers or mothers of small children. She emphasized that a very large number of those prisoners were administrative detainees, i.e. people arrested and held for six months, a year or more without any charges being pressed against them. She added that the Israeli authorities, at times, imprisoned Palestinians in Israel and not in the occupied territory. Such practice was contrary to international laws. Very often, reports of arrests were withheld, denied or distorted by the Israeli authorities. Concerning the conditions of imprisonment, she observed that there was a lack of minimal facilities for washing and no adequate heating. The health of the prisoners, their chronic or newly acquired illnesses were simply ignored. There existed a blatant discrimination between Jewish and Palestinian prisoners. She concluded by drawing attention to the tragic fate of three Palestinian prisoners: Mr. Sami Muhammad Salim Zeid al-Kilamy, a writer and lecturer at Al-Najah University; Mrs. Ne'eme el-Hily, a leading figure in the Palestinian Union of Women's Action Committees in the Gaza Strip; and Ahmed, a 13-year-old Jerusalem boy.
23. Mr. Hillel Bardin, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, said that of the two messages of the intifadah, namely, the refusal of Palestinians to live under occupation and their desire to maintain good neighbourly relations with Israel, only the first one was heard. The intifadah had not yet found a means to show Israel the conciliatory aspect of contemporary Palestinian thought. He pointed out that the numerous conversations he had had, made him believe that Palestinians were ready for a settlement of the question of Palestine acceptable to the majority of Israelis. He felt that constantly "bombarding" the Israelis with the message of reason and peace might considerably promote the cause of establishing an independent Palestinian State living in peace with the reassured Israel.
II. CLOSING STATEMENTS
24. Ms. Jeanne Butterfield, Chairman of the North American Co-ordinating Committee of Non-Governmental Organizations on the Question of Palestine, read out a message from the participants to Mr. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization. In the message, the participants expressed support for Mr. Arafat's efforts to open a substantive dialogue for peace in the Middle East. They reaffirmed their support for the struggle of the Palestinian people to exercise its "legitimate and inalienable national rights". The suspension of the dialogue by the United States Government with the PLO, it said, was a serious set-back for the peace process. It expressed the hope that the Symposium would contribute to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict, of which the question of Palestine was the core. She then presented to the Committee a declaration and resolutions adopted by the Symposium.
25. Rev. Ibrahim Ayad, President, Palestine Committee for Non-Governmental Organizations, said that the "iron-fist" policy of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir was spreading terror, destruction and death and that there was a definite and planned Israeli policy of extermination of the Palestinians. The "Black Sunday" was a reflection of Israel's new government policy. All those inhuman practices indicated racism in its most evident forms. A clear evidence of the Zionist racism was the "Law of Return" which gave the right to every Jew in the world to come to Palestine while it forbade the Palestinians expelled by the force of arms to come back to their land, homes, towns and villages.
26. The real obstacle to peace in the Middle East was the unjust and unsustainable position of the United States Administration regarding the occupied Palestinian territory. Moreover, the massive Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union was due to the long and continuous work of the United States which had always pressed the Soviet Government by different inducements to let them go.
27. While the Israelis were planning to resolve the question of Palestine by the "iron-fist" policy, the world, the United Nations and international public opinion had repeatedly proposed the holding of an international peace conference to resolve the conflict.
28. He said that while the Palestinian people in the occupied territory continued to be killed, wounded, tortured and oppressed, the NGOs had the courage to take risks and try by all means to end that terrifying situation. A great deal in the political and information fields had been achieved and the justice of the Palestinian cause had advanced in many parts of the world with positive changes being achieved in international public opinion. Non-governmental organizations had a vital role to play in their respective countries in promoting greater awareness of the Palestine issue. The American people had a particular role to play in redressing the wrongs done by their Administration to the Palestinians through cutting of American military and financial aid to Israel and by urging the protection of the innocent civilian Palestinian population by sending a United Nations Emergency Force.
29. H.E. Mr. Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada (Cuba), Vice-Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said in his closing statement, on behalf of the Committee, that the Symposium had provided an opportunity to identify a number of actions and programmes which the NGO community could undertake towards the achievement of a peaceful, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine. The deliberations had been extremely fruitful and all plans and strategies for the future to be undertaken by the NGO community deserved full support. He stressed that the Palestinians were waging a heroic struggle to secure for themselves the basic rights enjoyed by others and it was right and proper that they should be helped to attain such rights. Finally, he assured the Symposium that the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People would continue to co-operate on a regular basis with the North American NGO community in accordance with its mandate and within the means available.
DECLARATION AND PLAN OF ACTION
ADOPTED BY THE NORTH AMERICAN REGIONAL NGO SYMPOSIUM
ON THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE
29 June 1990
1. We, the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) participating in the Seventh United Nations North American Regional NGO Symposium on the Question of Palestine, wish to thank the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for making this meeting possible. We are indeed honoured by the reception, and the presence of the members and observers of this distinguished United Nations body.
2. We wish also to thank the Chief of the Division for Palestinian Rights and are especially grateful for his enthusiastic support throughout our deliberations. We wish to thank also the Liaison Officers, the staff of the Division and the Department of Conference Services of the United Nations Secretariat for their invaluable assistance in the preparation and execution of this meeting.
3. We honour the victims of Israel's brutal and senseless repression of the heroic Palestinian uprising, with specific homage to the children of the stones and the sufferings and agonies they have endured. We commit ourselves to provide moral, political and material support to all the Palestinian people in their struggle for self-determination and freedom.
4. We are heartened by the substantive contributions of the expert panelists, workshop organizers, resource persons and facilitators, as well as the insightful input of the record number of NGOs which participated and observed in this Symposium.
5. We resolutely reaffirm the overwhelming international majority decision that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. We affirm the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people in conformity with all relevant United Nations resolutions, including the right to self-determination without external interference, the right to establish an independent Palestinian State on its own national territory under the leadership of the PLO, and the right of return. We absolutely reaffirm the position of an overwhelming international majority as expressed through General Assembly resolution 43/177 of 15 December 1988 acknowledging the proclamation of the State of Palestine by the Palestine National Council and the decision that the designation "Palestine" should be used in place of the designation "Palestine Liberation Organization" in the United Nations system, without prejudice to the observer status and functions of the PLO within the United Nations system, in conformity with relevant United Nations resolutions and practice.
6. We condemn the persistent attempts by the United States Government to prevent Palestine's full participation in United Nations agencies and affiliated bodies.
7. We welcome the Palestinian peace initiative as a practical means towards the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the region. We call upon the Governments of the United States and Israel to respond positively to this initiative by supporting the immediate convening of the international peace conference in accordance with General Assembly resolutions 43/176 of 15 December 1988 and 44/42 of 6 December 1989, which demonstrated for the first time the support of all members of the European Community. The PLO has explicitly accepted these resolutions, whereas some recent statements on the part of the newly formed Government of Israel cast doubt on its adherence to Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).
8. We deplore the decision of the United States Government to suspend dialogue with the PLO. We consider such suspension to encourage Israel's occupation and confiscation of, and expanded settlement on, Palestinian land.
9. We undertake to intensify our efforts to complement international efforts to alleviate the suffering of those who have been the targets of Israeli violence, especially the children, many thousands of whom have been maimed, permanently disabled and emotionally traumatized. We call upon the United Nations system agencies, organizations and programmes, especially United Nations Children's Fund, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, World Health Organization, the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the International Labour Organisation and the United Nations Development Programme, to intensify their efforts to address the educational, medical, housing, and general economic and social needs of the Palestinian people in co-operation with Palestinian communities, popular committees and grass-roots organizations. We call upon States Members of the United Nations to increase their contributions and support for such efforts. We once again call for an expansion of the refugee affairs programme, and call for the UNRWA Refugee Affairs Officer Programme to be encouraged to take a pro-active role, and not merely a passive observer role.
10. We welcome greater co-ordination among United Nations agencies on the Palestine question, and particularly encourage their co-ordination with NGOs whose work complements United Nations programmes. We are gratified by the first United Nations-sponsored meeting of the Latin American and Caribbean NGOs at Buenos Aires this year, and by their formation of a co-ordinating committee on the question of Palestine. We look forward to interacting with NGOs in that region and support the successful convening of the next meeting in 1991.
11. We recognize and express our continued concern for the role that de facto and de jure racism plays in Israel's treatment of the Palestinian people, both those in the occupied territory and those citizens of Israel who — without the benefit of "Jewish nationality" — are denied most basic rights under Israeli law. Actions by the State of Israel directed against Palestinians, supported by United States aid in violation of United States law, demonstrate how racism forms an element of Israel's state ideology which denies the Palestinian people their inalienable rights. This is of continued concern as the demolition of Palestinian homes and villages, as well as the confiscation of Palestinian land and water, are accelerating, both within Israel and in the occupied territory under cover of the intifadah.
12. We deplore the United States veto of the Security Council proposal for a United Nations force to be dispatched to the occupied territory that would protect the Palestinian civilian population. We encourage the General Assembly to invoke the "Uniting for Peace" resolution, which would legally empower it to act in such a critical situation in accordance with the inherent right of collective self-defence in customary international law. We further call upon all States parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under common article 1 of that Convention to "ensure respect" for the Convention by monitoring, recording of and intervening in Israeli human rights violations against Palestinians in the occupied territory.
13. We are convinced that Soviet Jewish immigration to Israel presents a further assault on all segments of the Palestinian community in every part of historic Palestine. More Palestinian lands are slated for confiscation, existing Jewish settlements are being expanded and the planning and building of new settlements continue unabated on Palestinian land with Israeli government subsidies, in spite of official statements to the contrary. This is true whether it is within the "green line", where the last phases of "Judaization" are in progress, or in the territory occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem. We, therefore, call for an immediate ban on all Israeli confiscation of, and settlement on Palestinian land. We further call for a ban on United States government funding of Soviet Jewish immigration to Israel until Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem has ended. We further call upon the United States and Canadian Governments to open their doors to Soviet Jewish immigration.
14. We applaud this year's NGO concern with United States aid to Israel and we consider such focus as essential to breaking the present impasse created by the United States and Israeli intransigence and obstructionism to the peace initiative of the nineteenth session of the Palestine National Council. We believe that the continuation of United States aid to Israel under current circumstances is morally, politically, and legally wrong. We insist that the United States Government enforce its own laws regulating military and economic assistance, particularly considering Israel's violations of United States human rights provisions and arms export restrictions, and further insist that the United States apply to Israel the principles embodied in the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986. We call upon the Canadian Government to impose economic and other sanctions against Israel in view of the persistent, systematic and massive violence in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
15. We denounce Israeli laws which prohibit contacts between Israeli citizens and the PLO. Such laws explicitly obstruct dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian individuals, given that virtually all Palestinians stand by the PLO.
16. We join the anti-apartheid community in its deep concern over the continued military collaboration between Israel and South Africa. We take note also of General Assembly resolution 44/113 of 15 December 1989, which calls for an investigation of Israeli-South African collaboration in the development of medium-range nuclear missiles, and we look forward to the upcoming report of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research.
17. We applaud Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress for their position that black South Africans and Palestinians both suffer under a "unique form of colonialism". We further commend Mr. Mandela for his principled refusal on numerous occasions during his visit to the United States to distance himself from and sever solidarity with the Palestinian struggle and the PLO. We take inspiration from the anti-apartheid movement in North America in its successful sanctions campaign against South African apartheid. We endeavor to take similar action vis-à-vis Israel. We believe our efforts and those of the anti-apartheid movement are complementary, reciprocal and together advance the cause of world justice and peace.
18. The aim of this meeting is to develop practical organizing strategies and support projects for concerted action by North American NGOs. Our primary work was conducted in workshops and we receive their recommendations as appended below, and commend them to all NGOs for their careful consideration and implementation.
Workshop I: Background on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
This workshop recommends that the NACC facilitate identification of inaccurate information, as well as disinformation, in the education system.
We recommend that NGOs respond to the openness for education on the Palestine-Israeli conflict in the secondary and higher education systems.
Workshop II: Settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, demographics and immigration
This workshop recommends that NGOs work to oppose mass Soviet Jewish immigration to Israel and to oppose Jewish settlement in occupied Palestine (i.e., the Palestinian areas conquered by Israel in 1967, including East Jerusalem) while Palestinians have no similar right to return.
Workshop III: Human rights violations in the occupied territory – special concern regarding children
This workshop recommends that the NACC facilitate a campaign calling for sanctions against the Government of Israel because of its continuing, systematic, and massive violations of the most basic rights of Palestinians, including the most basic rights of Palestinian children, as guaranteed by the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The campaign should emphasize, among other things, Israeli use of live, lethal and damaging ammunition, beatings and toxic gases, all on a massive scale, brutal and arbitrary arrests, torture, summary trials, and inhumane conditions of detention, expulsion, house demolitions, assaults in homes, intimidation, humiliation, and harassment, including sexual harassment.
As NGOs in the United States and Canada, we intend to urge our respective Governments to press the Government of Israel to refrain from further interference with the schooling of Palestinian children, and in particular, (1) to cancel its plans to delay the reopening of schools in 1990, (2) to rescind the military orders criminalizing education, and (3) to permit Palestinian educators to address the need for remedial education.
As NGOs we intend to encourage churches, labour unions, development and humanitarian agencies, among others, to address the educational and health care needs of Palestinian children by developing and implementing suitable projects in Palestine.
We urge NGOs to participate in a concerted effort to raise public awareness of the extent and nature of Israeli assaults on Palestinian children and their families, the special needs that assault has created and of the urgency both of putting an end to those assaults and of addressing the needs they have created by such means as (1) disseminating information on the subject, (2) touring injured children with their mother, (3) bringing some children for medical treatment not available in Palestine, (4) utilizing audio-visual materials relevant to the subject, (5) holding public meetings on the subject, and (6) drawing the attention of churches, synagogues and mosques to the realities of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and settler violence against Palestinian children.
Workshop IV: United States aid to Israel
The workshop recommends that the NACC staff undertake as their primary focus in the United States in the coming year, the urgent task of mobilizing and facilitating a co-ordinated national campaign aimed at reducing aid to Israel. This campaign would ideally integrate all organizations committed to working on this issue. It should ideally include organizations with lobbying experience, as well as all other organizations within and without our current NGO community. While a concerted national effort is vital for maximum impact, such a campaign should not supersede or discourage any national or local efforts working on this same issue.
This workshop recommends that the NACC survey all those NGOs which are interested in or are working on the issue of aid to Israel and assist in co-ordinating their efforts through an ad hoc co-ordinating committee.
We recommend that NGOs mobilize their constituencies and other organizations in their communities for a campaign on ending or curtailing or suspending United States aid to Israel, similar to the North American anti-apartheid movement's successful efforts on sanctions against South Africa. Such a campaign would include acts of civil disobedience on a nationally co-ordinated level.
We recommend the NGOs follow the Cambridge "Ballot 5" model and establish similar ballot proposals in their communities.
Workshop V: Middle East witness project
This workshop recommends that the NACC facilitate the sharing of information on organizations sponsoring fact-finding delegations to Israel-Palestine.
We recommend that NGO-sponsored delegations to Palestine-Israel include representatives of all races, religions, ethnic groups and gender categories and that there be careful screening and orientation to ensure cultural and political sensitivity to the risks Palestinians take in hosting foreigners. Returning delegation members should be exposed to the breadth of NGOs in their community and the various political options for action.
Workshop (i): Organizing NGO constituencies – Christian community
This workshop recommends that the United States NGOs make a concerted effort to get their constituencies to demand that the Congress and the United States Administration condition the continued provision of aid to Israel on (1) the demonstrated engagement of Israel in peace negotiations with the PLO, (2) the immediate cessation of expansion of settlements in the occupied territories of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and (3) the cessation of the violation of human rights of Palestinians by Israel in accordance with the provisions of the Foreign Assistance Act and internationally accepted human rights standards.
We further recommend that the United States NGOs work to ensure that a Congressional hearing be held in the fiscal year 1991 for the purpose of public accountability of Israel's usage of United States taxpayers' money.
Alarmed by the diminishing of the Christian community in Israel-Palestine in recent years, we urge NGOs, and particularly church-related groups, to work to ensure that the three faiths continue as viable and pluralistic communities in Israel-Palestine.
Workshop (ii): Organizing NGO constituencies – Jewish communities
This workshop recommends that the NGOs representing Jewish constituencies consider carefully how the increased public concern and discussion of United States aid to Israel can be productively integrated with our support for Palestinian rights and the Israeli peace movement. We feel strongly that the question of aid should be linked to human rights concerns and to Israel's support for South Africa, clarifying the role of the United States as a participant to the conflict rather than the outsider to it.
We further recommend that the NACC make a formal request to appropriate Jewish Israeli peace activists that they prepare an analysis and position paper on the question of aid to Israel. Based on this work, North American NGOs representing Jewish constituencies will prepare an informational packet for usage in work with our constituencies.
We further advocate the following activities which have proven successful in outreach to the Jewish community and others: (1) teach-ins, (2) pairing Israeli and Palestinian speakers, and (3) holding such programmes in synagogues and other Jewish settings.
This workshop suggests that the word "aid" is problematic and NGOs should discuss alternative terminology.
Workshop (iii): Organizing NGO constituencies – Muslim communities
The Muslim community will develop a multi-level educational programme on the question of Palestine which can be presented in mosques throughout North America. An important aspect of this programme will be response to the immediate material and political needs to support the intifadah.
The Muslim community will conduct educational and lobbying campaigns to reduce United States aid to Israel based on domestic needs and the fundamental issues of justice and morality.
The Muslim communities will take it upon themselves to continue fund-raising efforts to support the intifadah, in its political and human aims. This is undertaken not as a favour to the Palestinian people, but as an Islamic duty and an honour for those who wish to give of themselves and of their resources.
This workshop encourages NGOs representing religious communities to build inter-religious coalitions concerning Palestine based on the principle that there is an oppressed and an oppressor and that such coalitions should include all religious faiths.
Workshop (iv): Organizing NGO constituencies – Women
Workshop (v): Organizing NGO constituencies – Trade movement
This workshop recommends that the North American Co-ordinating Committee for NGOs on the Question of Palestine invite a representative of the General Federation of Palestinian Trade Unions as a major plenary speaker at the 1991 Symposium and in addition, invite Hani Beydoun in order to resist Israeli attempts to block international solidarity with Palestinian workers; and send a letter to the State Department and Israeli Embassy expressing concern over trade unionists who have been arrested, with a particular focus on Hani Beydoun.
It also recommends that NGOs:
1. Work on building and strengthening relationships with North American labour movements in order to urge them to divest their union pension funds of Israeli bonds. Such sanctions have been crucial for anti-apartheid internationally and successful in bringing about positive change in South Africa;
2. Also identify elected representatives (such as Senator Heflin) who have publicly endorsed purchase of Israeli bonds past intifadah and to criticize these actions;
3. Join the Palestinian Labour Action Network (PLAN) and do outreach work to local, national and international union organizations in order to build support for Palestinian rights;
4. Work to establish links with the rank and file of union locals as well as the union hierarchy and work to persuade these locals to exercise their power to act autonomously in support of the Palestinian trade movement.
Workshop (vi): Organizing NGO constituencies — Educators
The educators workshop, with more than 45 participants, undertook a spirited and informative interaction that focused on strategies for organizing support in North America on behalf of Palestinian educational institutions at all levels. Additional relevant comments were offered on curriculum development and the challenges of teaching about the Middle East and Palestine in North America.
Based on the insightful presentations of the resource persons and the interventions by many of the participants, the workshop offers the following recommendations to the Symposium and to the NACC to seriously consider as it develops its programme of work for the coming year:
1. We call on the NACC and all NGOs in the United States to contact their members of Congress and the Senate to urge co-sponsorship and support for H. Con. Res. 315 and Senate Res. 288, initially introduced in the House by Rep. Howard Hielson (R.-UT). This Congressional action will send a clear message to the Israeli Government to "take immediate steps to reopen the universities in the West Bank and Gaza". As of this date, 50 members of the House and 4 Senators have agreed to co-sponsor these resolutions.
2. We encourage all NGOs with the appropriate interests to encourage schools, colleges and universities in the United States and Canada to establish relations with sister institutions in occupied Palestine. These relations should be vigorously pursued through contacts between students, teachers, teachers' unions, professors, and college and university administrations. The current relationships that have been established should be expanded.
3. We urge NGOs in North America to provide the means to support the visits of teachers and professors to occupied Palestine within the coming year. We firmly believe that informed teachers become resource persons in each school, college, university and community in North America. Texts on the Middle East should be systematically reviewed for accuracy.
4. We further resolve that North American NGOs will undertake activities to push Israel to allow Palestinian educational institutions from pre-K through college to reopen. Further, Israel must refrain from the collective punishment of arbitrary interruption of the educational process of the Palestinian people through involuntary closures of educational institutions.
5. We call on all NGOs in North America to demand that Israel release all Palestinian teachers and students detained during the uprising and permit them to resume their educational functions without fear of future arrests or detention.
6. We further call on all North American NGOs to demand that Israel lift its policy of censoring textbooks and other educational materials, prohibiting Palestinian universities from expanding their facilities and academic programmes and interfering in the design of curricula and the appointment of faculty.
7. Finally, we call on the Government of Israel to rescind the orders that criminalize alternative education. The legalization of alternative education is vital to the maintenance of acceptable standards of literacy in occupied Palestine.
Workshop (vii): Organizing NGO constituencies – Business community
There exists a large business stake in the Middle East: 180 million Arabs with financial resources of some $300 billion. American business interests in the Middle East — current and potential — require stability in the region. The most solid contribution to confidence in inaugurating new ventures (which would be mutually enhancing) is the two-State solution in Israel/Palestine. Treating this core issue justly would be the single best event towards a viable future.
1. Develop a directory of American businesses currently engaged, or potentially interested, in doing business in the Middle East;
2. Develop seminars (using filmstrips, videos, etc.) for outreach to potential big and small businesses that could be engaged in Middle East markets, showing the need of such stability;
3. There needs to be better correlation of Arab-American organizations — more co-operation, even mergings. A more united front could be better effective to overcome current political realities of United States Government policy that needs change in order to bring about the above-mentioned stability. Also, businesses owned by Arab-Americans may be more induced to contribute to a more united voice.
4. A list of NGOs from various areas (e.g. from New York and New Jersey) should be compiled in order to bring them together for strategy meetings in the near future to enable the above suggestions. Such groups can be regional, statewide, or local.
RESOLUTIONS ADOPTED BY
THE NORTH AMERICAN REGIONAL NGO SYMPOSIUM
ON THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE
We condemn the Israeli Government's massive and systematic state child abuse directed against Palestinian children which has resulted in serious injuries to tens of thousands of Palestinian children, the deaths of over 200 children, the detention of up to 10,000 under inhumane conditions for extended periods of time, the detention of thousands of others for short periods during which they have been brutally treated, humiliated, and sometimes tortured.
We condemn the Israeli Government's systematic and continuing assault on the education of Palestinian children, the continued criminalization of con alternative education and the systematic assault on the Palestinian health care system, with serious consequences for the health of Palestinian children and adults.
In view of Israel's persistent and massive violations of the most elementary human rights of Palestinian children in particular, and of Palestinians in general, in flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, among other instruments of international humanitarian law,
We call on the Government of the United States to honour its own laws regarding foreign aid by cutting military and economic aid to Israel, and
We call on the Governments of the United States and Canada to impose economic and other sanctions on the Government of Israel until these abuses are brought to an end.
NEAR EAST CULTURAL AND EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION OF CANADA
THE UNION OF PALESTINIAN WOMEN'S ASSOCIATIONS
The North American Regional NGO Symposium on the Question of Palestine,
Guided by the principles of the United Nations Charter, the principles of international law, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1949 Geneva Convention,
Considers that the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza by Israel since 1967 is a violation of the above-mentioned principles;
Condemns Israel for committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide against the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza since 1967 and in particular since the beginning of the intifadah;
Calls upon the United States Administration and Congress to stop its military, economic, financial and political aid to Israel, because such aid is making the United States Administration and Congress accessories to the crimes committed by Israel;
Calls upon the United States to join with other Members of the United Nations in compelling Israel to withdraw its armed forces from the West Bank and Gaza and to replace them by United Nations Forces for keeping peace and order pending a solution of the Palestine problem in accordance with international law and justice and United Nations resolutions since 1947;
Decides to send a delegation of fifty representatives of the NGOs to meet with President Bush, Secretary of State Baker and members of Congress to impress upon them the urgency of this resolution.
ARAB WOMEN'S COUNCIL
ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN UNIVERSITY GRADUATES
THE WORLD MUSLIM CONGRESS
THE WORLD MUSLIM LEAGUE
The North American Regional NGO Symposium on the Question of Palestine,
Being fully aware of the immense significance of Mordechai Vanunu's action in providing proof that Israel is manufacturing and in the possession of nuclear weapons,
Strongly condemning his illegal abduction in Rome by Israeli agents and his subsequent trial in Israel sentencing him to 18 years in prison,
Particularly emphasizing the fact that his was an ultimate expression of moral courage, highest concern for the prevention of nuclear war and therefore an exemplary service to the cause of humanity and specifically to all peoples in the Middle East including Israel,
Wish to appeal to all peace-loving individuals and organizations to make the utmost effort at publicizing Vanunu's act for peace and helping to secure his freedom from cruel incarceration by the authoritarian Israeli régime violating international law,
This resolution assumes particular meaning in today's continuing nuclearization of the Middle East providing a new possibility of unleashing a nuclear disaster of universal proportion.
THE CHURCH OF HUMANISM
THE FEDERATION OF ARAB-AMERICAN ORGANIZATIONS
THE INTERNATIONAL JEWISH PEACE UNION
WHEREAS Israel is a signatory party to the 1949 Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (commonly known as the Fourth Geneva Convention, and hereinafter referred to as "the Convention");
WHEREAS since 1967, Israel has been in belligerent occupation of the territory belonging to the Palestinian people and known as the West Bank and Gaza Strip;
WHEREAS as an occupying Power, Israel violates and has violated the fundamental human rights of the Palestinian people;
WHEREAS under article 1 of the Convention, signatory States parties have a responsibility "to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances," and that the term "ensure respect" means that all signatory Powers have a responsibility for any situation of belligerent occupation and must endeavour to ascertain that an occupying Power is required to facilitate the work of the protection Power;
WHEREAS the Convention recognizes the need for monitoring other States in its concept of a protecting Power;
WHEREAS under article 143 of the Convention, the representatives of a protecting Power have the right to visit members of the occupied population anywhere in the occupied territory, including in places of incarceration;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the North American Non-Governmental Organizations:
Call on all signatory States parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention to ensure respect for the Convention by monitoring through their embassies and consulates the activities of Israel as an occupying Power in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and to take whatever lawful actions are necessary to ensure that Israel is complying with the Convention, and further,
Specifically demand that the United States and Canadian Governments establish human rights monitoring sections in their embassies/consulates in the area which would actively monitor compliance with the Convention by observing, for example, courts, hospitals, places of incarceration, curfewed areas and scenes of confrontation in the occupied territory. Such human rights monitors should be provided with clearly marked vehicles which would be used to enter any of these areas under occupation, including closed military zones, and that Israel not interfere with any of the monitors' activities.
Calls on all signatory States parties to the Convention to support the appointment of a neutral signatory State as a protecting Power in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in order to protect the occupied Palestinian population.
AMERICAN ARAB ANTI-DISCRIMINATION COMMITTEE
INTERNATIONAL JEWISH PEACE UNION
NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD
PALESTINE AID SOCIETY
PALESTINE HUMAN RIGHTS INFORMATION CENTER/DATA BASE PROJECT
PALESTINE SOLIDARITY COMMITTEE
Since the beginning of the Palestinian intifadah, which began on 8 December 1987 in occupied Palestine, the imposed Israeli military occupation has authorized an escalation of its repression and violence against the total Palestinian population, with its use of live ammunition, rubber bullets encased with metal, metal bullets, teargas and rocket launching stone machines. Credible United States and international human rights organizations have documentation to show that Israeli human rights violations against Palestinians living in occupied Palestine are on the rise. But even more astonishing, is the increased human rights violations against women and children.
Close to 44 per cent of Palestinian children have been wounded by the Israeli military forces and Israeli settlers since the beginning of the intifadah … and this percentage is on the rise. The percentage of Palestinian women who are imprisoned, detained, under town arrest, tortured, beaten, killed, deported, and women who have suffered through aborted pregnancies due to the inhalation of teargas, has subsequently increased. The impact of the worsening situation in the occupied territory and throughout the diaspora, has stifled Palestinians' social, economic and political gains.
While the quality and preservation of Palestinian life goes unprotected, the Palestinian woman's story is imbued with collective alternative self-help programmes to ensure the survival and very existence of her family … and her shared efforts to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
The Union of Palestinian American Women (UPAW) strongly encourages the North American United Nations NGOs to promote the formation of a "United Nations-NGO Women's Network for Peace Committee" which would emphasize the priority needs of women and children.
The United Nations-NGO Women's Network for Peace would embark upon the following issues dealing with Palestinian human rights issues and peace initiatives in general, but with special emphasis on women and children:
1. Develop a stronger coalition network of women, with the various American, Jewish, Afro-American, Palestinian and other third world women's organizations, with the purpose of serving to unite and co-ordinate our joint efforts and activities, as women;
2. Send a United Nations-NGO women's fact-finding delegation to the occupied territory and Lebanon to meet with Palestinian and Israeli women and protest and demand the release of women and children prisoners;
3. Establish committees to materially support Palestinian women's cottage industries and textiles;
4. Bring the severely wounded and/or maimed Palestinians (in particular, women and children and ex-prisoners) to the United States for treatment and expose their cases to the media and to United States government officials;
5. Strengthen the social and economic development of Palestinian women and children in the occupied territories, Lebanon and inside the green line.
WHEREAS the Israeli occupation has resulted in widespread violation of Palestinian trade union rights, including:
WHEREAS a Palestinian Labour Action Network (PLAN) has been organized this year to build solidarity between North American and Palestinian unionists through:
THEREFORE, it is resolved that the North American Non-Governmental Organizations on the Question of Palestine applaud the formation of the Palestinian Labour Action Network and earnestly support the attainment of its goals. To that end we urge all North American non-governmental organizations:
– To join the Palestinian Labour Action Network and participate in its campaigns, and
– To build support for Palestinian trade union rights through active outreach to local, national and international union organization in the United States and Canada.
1990-1991 NORTH AMERICAN CO-ORDINATING COMMITTEE
FOR NGOs ON THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
4201 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 500,
Washington, DC 20008
United States of America
Canadian Council of Churches
c/o Tad Mitsui
40 St. Clair Avenue East, Suite 201,
Toronto, Ontario M4T 1M8
2025 Eye Street, N.W., Suite 1120,
Washington, DC 20006
United States of America
General Board of Global Ministries – United Methodist Church
c/o Mia Adjali
Church Center for the United Nations
777 United Nations Plaza,
New York, NY 10017
United States of America
International Jewish Peace Union (IJPU)
P.O. Box 20854
Tompkins Square Station
New York, NY 10009
United States of America
NAJDA – Women Concerned About the Middle East
P.O. Box 7152
Berkeley, CA 94707
United States of America
c/o Ann Barhoum
Berkeley, CA 94709
United States of America
Near East Cultural and Educational Foundation (NECEF)
c/o Jim Graff
106 Duplex Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario M5P 2A7
The Middle East Justice Network
c/o Hady Amr
P.O. Box 558
Cambridge, MA 02238
United States of America
The National Lawyers Guild
c/o Colleen F. McGuire
401 Broadway, Suite 2700
New York, NY 10013
United States of America
The Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC)
P.O. Box 27462
San Francisco, CA 94127
United States of America
c/o Jeanne Butterfield
1833 Summit Place, N.W., #102
Washington, DC 20009
United States of America
The Presbyterian Church (USA)
475 Riverside Drive,
New York, NY 10115
United States of America
MESSAGE TO THE SYMPOSIUM FROM H.E. MR. YASSER ARAFAT,
CHAIRMAN OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE
PALESTINE LIBERATION ORGANIZATION
As the North American Regional Seminar on the Question of Palestine convenes, I have the pleasure to convey to you all, on behalf of the Palestinian people and my colleagues the members of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, as well as on my own personal behalf, the warmest greetings and the most sincere and heartfelt wishes for the success of the work of the Seminar and the achievement of its worthy objectives.
I take this opportunity to transmit, through you, the warmest greetings and highest respects to His Excellency Mr. Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and to convey to him our high esteem and great sense of obligation for the role he plays in the search for appropriate ways of implementing the United Nations resolutions relating to our people's recovery and exercise of its inalienable national rights and to the achievement of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East region.
I also salute and express my appreciation to the Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat and to Ambassador Absa Claude Diallo, to whom I further address my thanks and esteem for the worthy manner in which she guides the work of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and for her steadfast support of the just struggle of our people and of its national uprising to bring an end to occupation and achieve freedom and independence.
That the theme of your Seminar is "Peace and justice for the Palestinian people: an imperative for the 1990s" reflects your deep understanding of the importance of achieving a just peace for the Palestinian people and of the impact that would have on world peace in a decade which began by witnessing an important historical turning point for the achievement of international reconciliation, for the elimination of regional tensions and for an end to the perils of the arms race and nuclear confrontation between the great Powers, a turning point to which the Palestinian people attuned itself, in its desire for peace in the region and in the world, with the adoption by the Palestine National Council of a historic and courageous peace initiative at its nineteenth extraordinary session on 15 November 1988.
I also take this opportunity to greet and to convey our high esteem to the non-governmental organizations at their Symposium and to express our deep gratitude for the important role that such organizations play in enhancing popular support for the just cause of Palestine in all parts of the world, in lending assistance to its just struggle and to the popular uprising and in influencing the positions of Governments so as to promote an equitable peace arrived at by the convening of the International Peace Conference in implementation of the relevant United Nations resolutions.
The holding of the Regional Seminar and the Regional Symposium at United Nations Headquarters in New York reflects the importance and the hopes that the participants attach to the essential role being played by the United Nations in bringing about a just and comprehensive peace in our region and in the world as a whole.
As your meetings begin, the Palestinian people continues to wage its struggle for freedom from Israeli occupation, to pursue its blessed intifadah, which has now entered its thirty-second month, and to maintain its defiance of the Israeli occupation authorities with their advanced means of repression and of the bands of Zionist settlers supported by the occupation army. Despite the rigours of defiance and the magnitude of the sacrifices required, our people reaffirms its legitimate insistence on pursuing its course until such time as it achieves its national goals of freedom, independence and sovereignty over the soil of its homeland under the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization, its sole legitimate representative. During the period of the intifadah, we have suffered more than 1,200 dead and 80,000 wounded, of whom some 7,000 were rendered disabled, 6,500 cases of miscarriage caused by gunshot trauma and asphyxiation by internationally outlawed toxic gases, and there have been 85,000 detainees in mass detention centres in the worst possible conditions of physical repression and psychological torture which recall those of the Nazi concentration camps.
You know, my friends, that in the programme announced by the new Israeli Government there is a plan for the crushing of the intifadah and the absorption and settlement of millions of Jewish immigrants. This Government treats our Palestinian people in our occupied Palestinian land as strangers in their own country. Such features of the programme of the Israeli governing coalition presage the danger of a war of extermination against our Palestinian people accompanied by exercises in mass expulsion in implementation of the transfer plan embraced by the most fanatical of Israeli extremists, who are those who go to make up this Government. This Government is a Government of war against international legitimacy, the resolutions of the international community and the fundamental national rights of the Palestinian people. This Government relies on an approach based on the arrogance of power, the rejection of international legitimacy and international law and the imposition of the fait accompli by means of the murder, intimidation and expulsion of our people in order to clear our land of its inhabitants and settle Jewish immigrants in their place prior to annexing these territories and establishing a Greater Israel.
This Israeli scheme represents an open defiance of the international community and is, moreover, a fundamental breach of the national rights of our people, just as it represents a serious threat to peace and security in the region and in the world. We caution the international community against the dangers posed by the Israeli Government's plan, which presages an imminent catastrophe bringing the region to the brink of war.
Today more than ever, the United States is called upon to renounce its blind prejudice in favour of Israeli Zionist policies of aggression and to adopt a new political stance characterized by decisiveness, even-handedness and support for Palestinian rights and in keeping with the resolutions of the international community and of international legitimacy as represented by the United Nations, including those resolutions relating to the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East as the best mechanism for ensuring the achievement of peace in the region.
We are saddened to see that the United States Administration pursues an unjust policy biased in favour of Israel. The United States Administration impedes international legitimacy by using its power of veto at the United Nations, which it has done six times this year, and it is that Administration which provides Israel with every form of support and assistance and at all levels. Without such support, Israel would be unable to persist in its intransigence and its rejection of peace, including the ideas and proposals put forward by the United States Administration itself. The announcement by President Bush breaking off the dialogue with the PLO is a new factor that makes for increased tension in the region, gives new strength to extremism and clearly reveals the blind partiality of the United States Administration towards Israel and its encouragement of Israel to persist in its occupation and aggression. We hold the United States Administration responsible for the lack of progress on the road to peace, and any deterioration in the situation and any increase in the violence, killing and destruction will be of the making of that Administration.
Accordingly, you yourselves have the major responsibility of defending the justice of the Palestinian cause and the justice of the struggle of our Palestinian people. We are confident that your meeting will give serious consideration to these recent developments and will adopt fitting resolutions to expose the grave dangers that will ensue from continued denial by the Israeli Government of the national rights of our people and from continued United States support for the Israeli Government, as well as the dangers arising from the inflow of Jewish immigrants and their settlement in our occupied Palestinian land. We are also confident that you will adopt appropriate resolutions to increase support and assistance to our just Palestinian cause, to the legitimate struggle of our people for freedom and to the national uprising until such time as Israeli occupation is brought to an end and our people regains the exercise of its inalienable national rights, including the right to return, to exercise self-determination and to establish an independent Palestinian State with its capital at Jerusalem.
In conclusion, I once again offer you my heartfelt greetings and my wishes for the success of the work of your Seminar.
LIST OF PARTICIPANTS AND OBSERVERS
AFRO-ASIAN PEOPLES SOLIDARITY ORGANIZATION
AMERICA-ISRAEL COUNCIL FOR ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PEACE
AMERICAN ARAB ANTI-DISCRIMINATION COMMITTEE (ADC)
AMERICAN ARAB RELATIONS COMMITTEE
AMERICAN JEWISH ALTERNATIVES TO ZIONISM (AJAZ)
AMERICANS FOR MIDDLE EAST UNDERSTANDING
AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR MEDICAL AID (ASMA)
ARAB PALESTINE ASSOCIATION OF CANADA
ARAB WOMEN'S COUNCIL
ASSOCIATION OF ARAB-AMERICAN UNIVERSITY GRADUATES
ASSOCIATION OF PALESTINIANS FOR RETURN (APR)
CANADIANS CONCERNED FOR THE MIDDLE EAST
CANADIAN COUNCIL OF CHURCHES
CAPITAL DISTRICT COMMITTEE FOR PALESTINIAN RIGHTS
CATHOLIC NEAR EAST WELFARE ASSOCIATION
CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES
CENTRE D'ETUDES ARABES POUR LE DEVELOPPEMENT (CEAD)
CHRISTIAN PEACE CONFERENCE
CHURCH OF HUMANISM
CHURCH WOMEN UNITED – UNITED NATIONS OFFICE
CHURCH WOMEN UNITED
CLERGY AND LAITY CONCERNED – NEW YORK OFFICE
CLERGY AND LAITY CONCERNED – OHIO OFFICE
COMMITTEE FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM IN THE ISRAELI OCCUPIED TERRITORIES
COMMITTEE FOR A DEMOCRATIC PALESTINE
DATA BASE PROJECT ON PALESTINIAN HUMAN RIGHTS
FEDERATION OF AMERICAN-ARAB ORGANIZATIONS
FELLOWSHIP OF RECONCILIATION
FRIENDS COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL LEGISLATION
FRIENDS OF NEW OUTLOOK
GENERAL BOARD OF GLOBAL MINISTRIES – UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
GENERAL BOARD OF CHURCH AND SOCIETY – UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
GENERAL UNION OF PALESTINE STUDENTS (GUPS)
INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF DEMOCRATIC LAWYERS
INTERNATIONAL FELLOWSHIP OF RECONCILIATION
INTERNATIONAL JEWISH PEACE UNION – New York
INTERNATIONAL MOVEMENT FOR UNITY AMONG RACES AND PEOPLES – New Jersey Office
INTERNATIONAL MOVEMENT FOR UNITY AMONG RACES AND PEOPLES – New York Office
JEWISH COMMITTEE FOR ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PEACE
JEWISH PEACE FELLOWSHIP
JEWS FOR A JUST PEACE (JJP)
LAWYERS' COMMITTEE FOR INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS
MEDICAL AID FOR PALESTINE
MERCY CORPS INTERNATIONAL
MIDDLE EAST FELLOWSHIP OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
MIDDLE EAST INSTITUTE
MIDDLE EAST JUSTICE NETWORK
MIDDLE EAST OUTREACH COUNCIL
MIDDLE EAST RESEARCH AND INFORMATION PROJECT
MOBILIZATION FOR SURVIVAL – Massachusetts Office
MOBILIZATION FOR SURVIVAL – New York Office
MUSLIM WORLD LEAGUE
NAJDA: WOMEN CONCERNED ABOUT THE MIDDLE EAST
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF ARAB AMERICANS (NAAA)
NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF BLACK LAWYERS
NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES OF CHRIST IN USA
NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD
NEAR EAST CULTURAL AND EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION OF CANADA (NECEF)
NETUREI KARTA – Friends of Jerusalem
NEW JEWISH AGENDA
PAKISTAN DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE (PDC)
PALESTINE AID SOCIETY (PAS)
PALESTINE HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN – Illinois Office
PALESTINE HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN – Oklahoma Office
PALESTINE RED CRESCENT SOCIETY – Canada
PALESTINE RED CRESCENT SOCIETY – New York
PALESTINE SOLIDARITY COMMITTEE – Washington
PALESTINE SOLIDARITY COMMITTEE – New York
PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH – (USA)
PRINCETON MIDDLE EAST SOCIETY
SAVE THE CHILDREN FEDERATION
UNION OF PALESTINIAN AMERICAN WOMEN ASSOCIATIONS
UNION OF PALESTINIAN AMERICAN WOMEN
UNION OF PALESTINE WOMEN
UNITED HOLY LAND FUND
U.S. OMEN (United States Organization for Medical and Education Needs)
WAR RESISTERS INTERNATIONAL
WOMEN'S INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE FOR PEACE AND FREEDOM
WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES – UNITED NATIONS OFFICE
WORLD MUSLIM CONGRESS
WORLD ORGANIZATION OF JEWS FROM ISLAMIC COUNTRIES
WORLD PEACE COUNCIL
ADVISORY ASSOCIATES INTERNATIONAL INC.
ALL PEOPLES CONGRESS (APC)
ARAB STUDIES SOCIETY
ASIAN COMMITTEE OF SOLIDARITY WITH ARABS
CANADA PALESTINE CULTURAL ASSOCIATION
CANADIAN AUTO WORKERS UNION
COMMITTEE FOR PALESTINIAN AND JEWISH STUDIES
FAIRNESS AND ACCURACY IN REPORTING
FINNISH ARAB FRIENDSHIP SOCIETY
GLOBAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATES
INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION OF JURISTS
ISLAMIC CENTER OF SOUTH CALIFORNIA
ISLAMIC COMMITTEE OF PALESTINE
LUTHERAN WORLD FEDERATION
METHODIST FEDERATION FOR SOCIAL ACTION
MIDDLE EAST CULTURAL AND INFORMATION CENTER
MIDDLE EAST FORUM
MIDDLE EAST WITNESS
MOSLEM POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE
NATIONAL COMMITTEE FOR INDEPENDENT POLITICAL ACTION
ORGANISATION CANADIENNE POUR LA SOLIDARITE ET LE DEVELOPPEMENT
PALESTINE ARAB FUND
PALESTINE DEMOCRATIC YOUTH ORGANIZATION
PALESTINE RELIEF FOUNDATION
PALESTINE SOLIDARITY COMMITTEE FOR NGOs
PALESTINE YOUTH ORGANIZATION
PALESTINIAN ASSOCIATION OF ENGINEERS AND SCIENTISTS
PALESTINIAN DEMOCRATIC WOMEN ORGANIZATION
PALESTINIAN FEDERATION OF WOMEN'S ACTION COMMITTEE
PALESTINIAN WOMEN AND CHILD'S CARE SOCIETY
PARLIAMENTARY ASSOCIATION FOR EURO-ARAB COOPERATION
ST. ANTONIUS INSTITUTE
SOVIET AFRO-ASIAN SOLIDARITY COMMITTEE
UNION OF PALESTINIAN WOMEN'S COMMITTEE
UNITED METHODIST NEWS SERVICE
WESTCHESTER CAMPAIGN FOR MIDDLE EAST JUSTICE
WOMEN FOR RACIAL AND ECONOMIC EQUALITY
WOMEN IN BLACK
WOMEN STRIKE FOR PEACE
WOMEN'S INTERNATIONAL DEMOCRATIC FEDERATION
NGO co-ordinating committees
African Co-ordinating Committee for NGOs on the Question of Palestine
Asian Co-ordinating Committee for NGOs on the Question of Palestine
European Co-ordinating Committee for NGOs on the Question of Palestine
International Co-ordinating Committee for NGOs on the Question of Palestine
North American Co-ordinating Committee for NGOs on the Question of Palestine
Mahdi ABDUL-HADI, founder of the Arab Thought Forum and President of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, Jerusalem
Chaya WEISQAL-AMIR, free-lance writer, editor and translator; representative of the Women's Organization for Political Prisoners and the Working Group for Juvenile Political Prisoners, Tel Aviv
Shmuel AMIR, one of the founders of "Peace and Security Movement", Israel
Hillel BARDIN, Hebrew University, Jerusalem; member of "Rapprochement Movement"
Joel BEININ, Professor of History, Stanford University; editor, Middle East Report
Absa Claude DIALLO, Permanent Representative of Senegal to the United Nations in New York; Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People
Zahira KAMAL, Chairman, Palestine Federation of Women's Action
Committees; teacher at the Women's Training College in Ramallah
Maha Mustaklem NASSAR, Union of Palestinian Women's Committees in East Jerusalem
Jack O'Dell, International Affairs Director, National Rainbow Coalition; Chairman of the Board, Pacifica Radio network; member, National Board of SAVE/FREEZE and its Strategy Commission
Edward SAID, Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities, Department of English Literature, Columbia University; member, Palestine National Council
Workshop facilitators and resource persons
J. Richard Butler
Gasser M. Hathout
Philippe Le Blanc
Imam Ali Rashed
Agha K. Saeed
Members and Observers of the Committee on the Exercise
of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People
States Members of the United Nations
United Nations bodies and specialized agencies
Asian African Legal Consultative Committee
League of Arab States
Organization of the Islamic Conference
* *** *
Document Type: Meeting report, Publication, Report
Document Sources: Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
Subject: Children, Economic issues, Human rights and international humanitarian law, NGOs/Civil Society, Palestine question, Social issues
Publication Date: 29/06/1990