U N I T E D   N A T I O N S

Press Section

Office of Public Information United Nations, N.I.



The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian. People heard a statement this morning by the observer from Jordan as it continued its general debate. In addition, comments were made by the representa­tives of Syria, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), India and Tunisia.

On the proposal of its Chairman, Medoune Fall (Senegal), the Committee also established an eight-member working group to begin drafting its report to the Security Council, which is to be submitted to the Secretary-General by 1 June this year. In addition to the Rapporteur (Malta), members of this group are the representatives of Afghanistan, Cuba, Guinea, India, Senegal, Tunisia and the PLO.

The Chairman said that the working group would meet simultaneously with the Committee when it was working on recommendations in closed meetings. Participation in the working group would also be open to all other delegations represented on the Committee.

The Committee will meet again at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, 23 March, when the representatives of Pakistan, Cyprus, Ukraine and Afghanistan will speak in the general debate.

At its meeting this morning the Committee also granted observer status to the delegation of Mauritania. The Committee previously had agreed to I observer status for Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Syria and the PLO.

Statement by Jordan

SHERIF ABDUL HAMID SHARAF (Jordan), in his statement this morning, said that the task of the Committee was both very simple and very complex; simple because Palestinian rights were clear and distinctive, and complex because of the circumstances surrounding those rights and the layers of oppression which had been imposed over the years.

The mandate of the Committee, he noted, was simple, but its task was difficult, because of the opposition by the "ruthless and aggressive force" which had strong roots in some of the most powerful nations of the world. How could any State fail to see the horrible injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people or fail to support their claim for justice? he asked.

The road to justice would be agonizing and tortuous, he continued, but the Committee must chart that road leading to the exercise of Palestinian rights and the establishment of a just peace in the Middle East, which were joint goals, organically linked and inseparable.

The people of Jordan, he said, knew that any solution must be global. The question of Palestine had altered the course of history in the region and had decided the relationship of the Arab world to the world at large.

he said that, during the 1930s and 1940s,  colonialism had not yet been reduced to its present impotence. Therefore, the Zionist programme of colonizing Palestine had succeeded, despite the resistance of the Palestinian people and their support by the not-yet-free Arab world.

Jordan, he said, rejected recent Israeli attempts to equate Jordan with Palestine or to relieve itself of guilt by pushing the problem towards Jordan or forcing the Palestinians to seek an alternative homeland. The historic borders of Palestine were well-known, he declared.

When Israel had launched its unpremeditated attack in June 1967, Jordan was among those who had absorbed the major shock of the aggression, he said. Jordan had joined  others in recognizing the PLO as the legitimate represen­tative of the Palestinian people. Jordan continued to support the Palestinian people and would not stop giving assistance to its brothers under foreign occupation.

The Committee and the United Nations faced a specific task, and his Government would cooperate fully, he continued, adding that there were certain principles which must govern any just solution.  There must be Israeli with­drawal from all occupied territories and the United Nations must throw its weight behind the requirements of a just settlement. The United Nations must not be an observer, but must be ready to mobilize its resources to enforce its resolution, he stated.

He went on to say there were two aspects of the problem; one was the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, a right which had been confirmed by numerous United Nations resolutions. The Committee must develop a plan of action to implement that right of return.

There was also the right of the Palestinians to self-determination. That right, he said, was opposed by Israel's physical presence, among other things. All Palestine was under Israel's de facto jurisdiction. In his view, the Committee must awaken the United Nations to its role and responsibility in that respect.

Another responsibility of the Committee, he said, was to refocus inter­national attention on the essentials of the Palestinian question. It must concentrate on mobilizing world public opinion and United Nations resources behind the implementation of the resolutions which had been adopted.

He hoped that when the Committee was preparing its report to the Security Council it would keep in mind the need for future follow-up action and the establishment of machinery for the necessary implementation.

Comments Made

MOWAFFAK ALLAF (Syria), referred to his statement to the Committee on 15 March when he had suggested that the United Nations might create a United Nations Council for Palestine in order to carry, out the proposed programme of implementation of the rights of the Palestinian people. He was surprised that a New York newspaper had misinterpreted the idea, saying that the proposed Council would be a quasi-governmental entity. Nothing was further from truth, he said.

He went on to quote from his earlier intervention when he had said that it was up to the people of Palestine to decide when and how their national independence should be expressed. No other party had the right to dictate to the Palestinian people, he declared.

In order to avoid any misunderstanding or misinterpretation, he asked that the Secretariat reformulate two sentences of his statement (page 32, lines 18 to 24, of the transcript of the Committee's meeting on 15 March).

As reworded, the passage would read; "The United Nations should consider imposing against Israel the same sanctions it is imposing against the South African regime. If needed, an appropriate United Nations machinery should be envisaged in order to carry out the proposed programme of implementation,  of the rights of the Palestinian people." He asked that the revision appear in the official records of the Committee.

ZEHDI LABIB TERZI (PLO) said he would clarify points made in his statement before the Committee on 9 March and would respond to questions put by delegations, particularly the representative of India.

The Committee, he said, was not engaged in defining the rights of the Palestinian people. Its task was to formulate a programme of implementation to enable the Palestinian people to exercise those rights; the attainment of one right could not weaken another. Exercising sovereign independence could  not be a substitute for the physical return of all Palestinians to their homeland.

His original statement, he continued, had focused on the right to return and he had suggested that the first phase of implementation of that right should consist of the return of Palestinians to the territories occupied since 1967. Such a return would take place immediately; and some measures would be  instituted to enable all Palestinians to exercise their right to return during a second phase of implementation.  The suggested priority was one of time only, he stated, and was not meant to imply that the right of one group, was clearer the right of another.

He recalled that the representative of India had asked him whether it would be realistic to expect Palestinians to return voluntarily while Israel continued to occupy territories it had taken in 1967.

In the opinion of the PLO, he went on, the Committee could recommend that the Security Council demand that the Palestinians displaced in 1967 be permitted to return, without awaiting any political arrangements that might be under consideration. The PLO opposed the continuation of occupation and demanded immediate withdrawal, but it was unwilling to see the return delayed, he stated.

In his statement on 9 March, he had also mentioned the possibility of the Committee's seeking advice from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on certain issues and the representative of India had asked for formulations of such legal questions as might be referred to the Court, he said.

The PLO, he said, envisaged two types of legal questions on which an opinion might be sought. If Israel refused to permit displaced Palestinians to return, as called for by the General Assembly on numerous occasions, Israel would probably invoke the principle of national sovereignty. Under those circumstances an advisory opinion could be requested on whether recognition by the Assembly of the inalienable right of the Palestinians to return was in fact an infringement of Israel's sovereignty.

In addition, legal questions might arise on which the Committee might wish to seek advisory opinions from the Court even if Israel did not refuse to let the displaced Palestinians return, he said. The right of return meant, in the view of the PLO, full equality after returning, he said. Therefore, it would be the responsibility of the United Nations to ensure that the rights of the Palestinians were not abridged as a result of laws now on the books of Israel. In his view, the Court might review those laws to see if they were compatible with the provisions of the Partition Plan by which Israel was bound.

RIKHI JAIPAL (India) referred to the parallel which had been drawn by the representative of Syria on 15 March between the case of Palestine and that of South West Africa. He cited the League of Nations mandates and said that in his view, South West Africa fell into a separate category while Palestine had been linked with Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. The termination of the two mandates was different, and he did not think it would be necessary to establish a United Nations Council for Palestine to administer territories that might be released by Israel; the people of Palestine would be in a position to govern themselves.

On a further point, he referred to a previous comment by the representative of Syria concerning Israel's membership in the United Nations and asked for a clarification.

Mr. ALLAF (Syria) said he had stated during his intervention in the general debate that there was much in common between the situations of Palestine and South West Africa as in both cases, the racist regimes were defying the United Nations and its resolutions by refusing to stop their illegal occupation.

This analogy referred to the defiance and stopped there, he added, He had drawn the comparison in order to suggest that the United Nations should deal with the regime in Tel Aviv in the way it was doing with the regime in Pretoria.

He went on to say that his country was not only bound by the decision of Rabat that the PLO was the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, but it was also committed to the view that any liberated Palestinian territory should immediately come under the leadership of the PLO.

As to the question of Israel's membership in the United Nations, he said Israel had violated its commitment to observe the principles of the United Nations Charter and also had violated its commitments undertaken in General Assembly resolutions l8l (ll) and 194 (lll).

RACKED DRISS (Tunisia) said the Committee should look to the future. The plan of action for the return of Palestinians, as suggested, was an excellent one, he stated. He was pleased that the PLO representative had mentioned the element of time, which showed that the PLO was not only viewing the problem in the light of principles but was also realistic.

In eight years, he said, the Council for Namibia had not arrived at a solution of the problem of Namibia; Palestine could not wait for eight years.