NAM Committee on Palestine, Along with Security Council NAM Caucus,

Meets in South Africa

The Committee on Palestine of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) held a Ministerial Meeting in Pretoria, South Africa on 3 May 2001. The NAM members of the Security Council (NAM Caucus) were invited and participated in the meeting. The meeting was convened to consider the tragic situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, the derailment of the Middle East peace process, and the dangerously deteriorating situation in the Middle East as a whole.

The States Members of the Committee on Palestine at the meeting included Algeria, Bangladesh, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Palestine, Senegal, Zambia and Zimbabwe, while the members of the NAM Caucus of the Security Council included Colombia, Jamaica, Mali, Mauritius, Singapore and Tunisia. (It should be noted that Bangladesh is a member of both the Committee and the Caucus.) Egypt and Jordan were also invited to participate in the meeting. The meeting was chaired by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of South Africa, representative of the Chairman of the Movement. Also participating were the U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, representing the U.N. Secretary-General, and the Chairman of the U.N. Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (Ambassador of Senegal).

The meeting was extremely important given the urgency of the situation in the Middle East and given the fact that it was the first time in years for the Committee on Palestine to meet at such a high level, independently from any larger NAM gathering. It was also the first time that members of the Security Council NAM Caucus attended a meeting of any committee of NAM. Furthermore, the participation of Committee members and invited States at a high level, as well as the contributions made by President Mbeki of South Africa and President Arafat of Palestine, who briefed the meeting at length, all signified the commitment of the Movement to the cause of Palestine and added to the importance of the meeting.

An in-depth and interactive discussion was held among the Ministers and high-level representatives at the meeting, which led to the adoption of two documents - a Statement by the Chair and the Communique of the Ministerial Meeting. The Statement by the Chair explained the proceedings of the meeting, stressing the address of President Mbeki as well as that of President Arafat, with emphasis on his forward-looking and positive statements regarding the issues of the prevailing violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and resumption of the peace process. The statement also listed the above-mentioned participants in the meeting.

The Communique, on the other hand, reaffirmed the principle positions of NAM regarding the situation of the Palestinian people under occupation and the peace process and identified four specific objectives for the Committee on Palestine and the Movement as a whole in this regard. Those four objectives are: 1) reinvigorating the Middle East peace process; 2) cessation of violence, destruction and punishing measures; 3) provision of protection for Palestinian civilians under Israeli occupation; and 4) enforcement of the 4th Geneva Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem.

During the meeting, the Ministers allotted time as well to discuss the role of the U.N. and what had happened and what could happen in the future with regard to the Security Council. The Communique emphasized the specific responsibilities of the Security Council and expressed appreciation to the Councilís NAM Caucus for their efforts.

The Palestinian side believes that this Ministerial Meeting will give impetus to the ongoing efforts aimed at ending the current tragedy in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and to different, relevant initiatives in international fora, especially in the U.N. It is also believed that the meeting will give impetus to the members of NAM, especially its Chair, to coordinate positions and actions in this regard, including pushing for the resumption of the peace process and the achievement of peace in the Middle East.

The following is the text of the Communique of the Ministerial Meeting (excluding the first paragraph regarding the participants, venue etc., which were discussed above):

  • The Ministers reiterated the traditional support of the Movement for the Palestinian people and the realization of their inalienable rights, including the establishment of the Independent State with Jerusalem as its capital. They reiterated the Movementís support for the Middle East peace process on its agreed basis, including the principle of land for peace, and stressed the importance of the establishment of comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

  • The Ministers also reiterated the permanent responsibility of the U.N. towards the question of Palestine. In this regard, they stressed the specific responsibilities of the Security Council in accordance with the Charter of the U.N. They welcomed the involvement of the Secretary-General in the Middle East peace process and they also expressed their support for the work of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

  • Guided by the clear positions taken by the XII Summit of NAM held in Durban, South Africa in September 1998, as well as the Ministerial meetings held since the Summit, the Ministers specifically called for the following:

  1. Reinvigorating the Middle East peace process:

    The Ministers called for the immediate implementation of the existing Palestinian-Israeli agreements and for the resumption of negotiations on a final settlement agreement covering all issues, with the aim of implementing Security Council resolution 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and taking into consideration the progress made by the parties in previous negotiations.

    The Ministers called upon the cosponsors of the peace process and all other concerned and interested parties to support existing Israeli-Palestinian agreements and their implementation as well as to increase their engagement towards the successful and speedy conclusion of a final settlement. The Ministers expressed their support in this regard for the Egyptian-Jordanian initiative. In this regard they welcomed the commitment made and support expressed by President Arafat to the said initiative.

  2. Cessation of violence, destruction and punishing measures:

    The Ministers called for an end to the excessive use of force by the Israeli occupying forces, cessation of destruction, closures, extrajudicial killings and all kinds of collective punishment against the Palestinian people. They also called for the immediate and full cessation of all settlement activities, which are illegal under international law. The Ministers also called on the parties to take the necessary steps and confidence building measures to bring the bloodshed and deterioration of the situation to an end. The Ministers called for the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1322 (2000) and resolution ES-10/7 of the 10th emergency special session of the General Assembly. They also called for the immediate implementation of the understandings reached at Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt, including the return to positions and arrangements prior to 28 September 2000.

  3. The provision of protection for Palestinian civilians under Israeli occupation:

    The Ministers noted previous attempts to provide for appropriate international presence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, to contribute in the provision of protection for Palestinian civilians. They also noted with appreciation the recent initiatives by the NAM Caucus to establish through the U.N. Security Council a mechanism for such protection, including the establishment of a U.N. observer force. The Ministers stressed the critical importance for the provision of protection for Palestinian civilians, including through action by the Security Council.

  4. Enforcement of the 4th Geneva Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem:

The Ministers stressed the necessity of upholding international humanitarian law and recalled the obligations of the High Contracting Parties to the four Geneva Conventions to respect and ensure respect of the Conventions in accordance with common article 1 of the four Conventions. They called for the resumption of the Conference of High Contracting Parties to the 4th Geneva Convention in accordance with the statement adopted by the Conference on 15 July 1999 in Geneva and in light of the continuing grave breaches and serious violations of the Convention by Israel, the occupying Power.

  • In conclusion, the Ministers decided to remain seized with the matter and called for all Members of the Movement to lend their full support towards achieving the above-mentioned goals. In this regard, they expressed their appreciation to the Members of the NAM Security Council Caucus for their efforts. They also urged Members of the international community to work with Members of the Movement with the aim of reaching agreement on the necessary steps to be taken. The Ministers recommended that the Movement mandate the Chair to work with the various forces influential in the Middle East conflict for the achievement of a just, durable and comprehensive peace which will enable the Palestinian people to exercise their inalienable rights in freedom and sovereignty in their independent homeland.