Committee on Palestinian rights approves four draft resolutions on question of Palestine, calls for immediate extension of 2008 ceasefire to West Bank

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Committee on the Inalienable Rights
of the Palestinian People
313th Meeting (AM)

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People met today to consider the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and developments in the political process, and approved four draft resolutions, by consensus, on the question of Palestine.

The first, a draft resolution on the Committee itself, would have the General Assembly request that body to continue its efforts to promote the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to self-determination, and to continue to review the situation and report to the Assembly, the Security Council or the Secretary-General, as appropriate. The text would further request the Committee to continue to extend its cooperation and support to Palestinian and other civil society organizations, and to continue to involve them in its work, in order to mobilize international solidarity and support for the Palestinian people, particularly in light of the current period of financial and humanitarian crisis.

By the terms of a draft resolution on the Division for Palestinian Rights, the Assembly, considering that the Division continued to make a useful and constructive contribution to raising international awareness of the question of Palestine, and generating international support for the rights of the Palestinian people and a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine, would request the Secretary-General to continue to provide the Division with the necessary resources. The Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to ensure the continued cooperation of the Department of Public Information and other units of the Secretariat in enabling the Division to perform its tasks.

According to a draft resolution on the special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat, the Assembly, considering that the Special Information Programme was very useful in raising the awareness of the international community concerning the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East, would request the Department to continue, with the necessary flexibility as might be required by developments, the programme for the biennium 2009-2010.

That programme would include, among other things: the dissemination of information on all the activities of the United Nations system relating to the question of Palestine, as well as on the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Special Coordinator vis-à-vis the peace process; the organization and promotion of fact-finding news missions for journalists to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel; and continued provision of assistance to the Palestinian people in the field of media development, in particular to strengthen the annual training for Palestinian broadcasters and journalists.

The Committee finally approved a draft resolution on the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine, by which the Assembly, reaffirming the illegality of the Israeli settlements in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, would reiterate its demand for the complete cessation of all Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, and call for the full implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions.

The Assembly would call for the continued respect by both sides of the June 2008 ceasefire agreement for the Gaza Strip and southern Israel, and for its immediate extension to the West Bank.

It would reaffirm the necessity of achieving a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, in all its aspects, and of intensifying all efforts towards that end. The Assembly would call upon both parties to fulfil their obligations under the Road Map by taking immediate parallel and reciprocal steps in that regard.

The Assembly would stress the need for a speedy end to the reoccupation of Palestinian population centres, including by, among other things, removal of checkpoints and other obstructions to movement, and the need for respect and preservation of the territorial unity, contiguity and integrity of all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

Further, the Assembly would call upon Israel, the occupying Power, to cease all of its measures that were aimed at altering the character, status and demographic composition of the Territory land. It would demand that Israel, the occupying Power, immediately cease its construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

The Assembly would call upon the parties to accelerate direct peace negotiations, and urge Member States to expedite the provision of economic, humanitarian and technical assistance to the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority. It would welcome, in that regard, the continuing efforts of the Quartet's Special Representative, Tony Blair, to strengthen Palestinian institutions, promote Palestinian economic development and mobilize international donor support.

After approval of the draft resolutions, Committee Chairman Paul Badji ( Senegal), who also introduced the texts, said the Committee had just approved "realistic and sensible" texts, which should receive the Assembly's broad support.

Briefing the Committee on new developments, the observer for Palestine, Riyad H. Mansour, said this was a very special historical moment for the region, owing to the results of the American election and the upcoming election in Israel this February. The new American Administration had expressed a desire to continue dealing with the situation in Palestine, and negotiations would continue with renewed efforts, in light of the changes in both Washington, D.C. and in Israel.

He said the situation on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territory was critical, due to the intensification of Israeli settlement activities. Israel was not abiding by the "core" mission of the Quartet, which had called on Israel to stop all settlement activities immediately, dismantle the outposts, and remove the checkpoints that made it "next to impossible" for the movement of people and goods, thereby crippling the Territory's economic vitality. Indeed, it was ironic that a year after Annapolis, there had been an increase in Israeli settlements from 540 to 630, the highest increase "in a long time". Those, along with the siege of the Gaza Strip, in which Palestinians were living "literally in a prison camp", and the languishing of 11,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails, were not conducive to moving forward in the peace process and did not engender hope of success.

The time between now and the governmental changes in Israel and Washington early next year should not be wasted, nor should Israeli settlement activities be allowed to continue at the present accelerated rate, he stressed, adding that if "business as usual" was to continue, the situation would not be conducive to peace when the parties sought to continue negotiations in February. The Palestinian Authority had fulfilled its responsibilities under the Road Map, but Israel had not. Furthermore, Tony Blair, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and various Israeli Generals had all acknowledged that much had been accomplished on the security front by the Palestinian Authority. Thus, he said, the checkpoints were not necessary and should be removed to show that the peace process was producing positive results.

He also called attention to the planned meeting of all of Palestine's various political groups to have been held in Egypt. It had not taken place, owing to the last minute withdrawal of several parties for "not convincing reasons". That was unfortunate, since national reconciliation was needed. A paper was to have been submitted at the meeting, which called for the creation of a national reconciliation cabinet to be approved by all political groups. The cabinet would organize governmental and parliamentary elections, as well as move towards the reunification of the two parties of the political system, so that the administration could be ready for the unfolding events, following the inauguration of the new administration in Washington in January.

At the outset of the meeting, the Committee's Chairman summarized some of the activities that had taken place since the Committee's last meeting on 6 October (see Press Release GA/PAL/1098), saying that Ms. Rice, while visiting the region, had met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni, as well with President Mahmoud Abbas. Yesterday, the Quartet had met at Sharm-el-Sheikh at the principals' level. Closing the meeting, he reminded Committee members that the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People would take place on Monday, 24 November.

For information media - not an official record