Palestine and The U.N. in Retrospect: The Seventies

(Part 4 of 6)

This is the fourth in a series of six retrospects, listed chronologically by decades, looking back at the most important events related to the question of Palestine that have taken place at the United Nations (U.N.) since the inception of the organization in 1945. Those events have greatly influenced both the history and the present of the Palestinian people and will affect their future also, as the permanent responsibility of the U.N. towards the question of Palestine must be upheld until it is solved in all its aspects.

The General Assembly, on 4 November 1970, adopts resolution 2628 (XXV), calling for talks under the auspices of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative with a view to implementing Security Council resolution 242 (1967).

On 25 November 1970, General Assembly resolution 2645 (XXV) is adopted, condemning all acts of aerial hijacking and interference with civil air travel.

The General Assembly, on 8 December 1970, adopts resolution 2672 A, B, C, D (XXV) regarding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Adopted every year, the resolution renews UNRWA’s mandate; regrets Israeli failure to implement repatriation or compensation for the Palestine refugees; recognizes that the people of Palestine are entitled to equal rights and self-determination in accordance with the Charter of the U.N.; continues assistance to displaced inhabitants; and calls upon Israel to take immediate steps for the return of the displaced persons.

In response to the report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories, the General Assembly adopts resolution 2727 (XXV) on 15 December 1970. Similar resolutions are passed yearly, calling on Israel to desist from violating the human rights of the inhabitants of the occupied territories, expressing grave concern at Israeli violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention and calling upon Israel to comply with its provisions.

The Security Council, on 25 September 1971, adopts resolution 298 (1971), which deplores the failure of Israel to respect U.N. resolutions concerning measures and actions by Israel purporting to change the status of Jerusalem; confirms that all legislative and administrative actions taken by Israel to change the status of the City of Jerusalem, including the expropriation of land and properties, transfer of populations and legislation aimed at the incorporation of the occupied section are totally invalid and cannot change that status. In this resolution, the Council also urgently calls upon Israel to rescind all such measures and actions and to take no further steps in the occupied section of Jerusalem.

Resolution 2787 (XXVI) is adopted by the General Assembly on 6 December 1971, confirming the legality of people’s struggle for self-determination and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and alien subjugation, notably in southern Africa, as well as by the Palestinian people, through all available means consistent with the Charter of the U.N.

General Assembly resolution 2799 (XXVI), reaffirming that the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East should include the principles outlined in Security Council resolution 242, is adopted on 13 December 1971.

On 8 December 1972, the General Assembly adopts resolution 2949 (XXVII), expressing grave concern at the continuation of the Israeli occupation of Arab territories, and calling upon states not to recognize changes carried out by Israel in the occupied Arab territories and to avoid actions, including aid, that could constitute recognition of that occupation.

The Security Council adopts resolution 331 on 21 April 1973, requesting the Secretary-General to submit a comprehensive report on the efforts of the U.N. regarding the situation in the Middle East since June 1967 and to invite Ambassador Gunnar Jarring, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, to be available during the Council’s meetings.

On 22 October 1973, following the outbreak of an Arab-Israeli war, the Security Council adopts resolution 338 (1973) calling for a cease-fire and for the implementation of resolution 242 (1967) in all of its parts and for negotiations between the parties concerned under the appropriate auspices aimed at establishing a just and durable peace in the Middle East.

Security Council resolution 339 (1973) is adopted one day later, confirming resolution 338 (1973) and calling for the dispatch of U.N. observers to supervise the cease-fire. Within two days, a United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) is set-up by the Security Council in resolution 340 (1973).

On 12 December 1973, the General Assembly adopts resolution 3102 (XXVIII) which, inter alia, urges that national liberation movements be invited as observers in the Diplomatic Conference on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law Applicable in Armed Conflicts.

On 15 December 1973, the Security Council, adopts resolution 344 (1973), which, noting that a Peace Conference for the implementation of resolution 242 (1967) is to begin shortly in Geneva under the auspices of the U.N., expresses the hope that the Conference will make speedy progress towards the establishment of a just and durable peace in the Middle East; expresses its confidence that the Secretary-General will play a full and effective role at the Conference; and requests the Secretary-General to provide all necessary assistance and facilities for the work of the Conference. (All permanent members of the Council abstained except China.)

The General Assembly, on 17 December 1973, adopts resolution 3175 (XXVIII), affirming the right of the Arab States and peoples whose territories are under foreign occupation to permanent sovereignty over all their natural resources, and affirms the right of the Arab States and peoples whose territories are under Israeli occupation to the restitution of and full compensation for the exploitation and looting of, and damages to, the natural resources, as well as the exploitation and manipulation of the human resources of the occupied territories. That same resolution is adopted every year.

For the first time since 1952, the item "Question of Palestine" is added to the agenda of the 29th session of the General Assembly, at the request of 55 member states, and on 14 October 1974, General Assembly resolution 3210 (XXIX) is adopted, inviting the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to participate in the deliberations on the question of Palestine in plenary meetings.

On 13 November 1974, Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the PLO, becomes the first representative of an entity other than a member state to address the General Assembly. (With the exception of the ceremonial occasion when Pope Paul IV addressed the Assembly.)

Resolution 3236 (XXIX) is adopted on 22 November 1974, reaffirming the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination, the right to national independence and sovereignty, and the right to return to their homes and property. The resolution also requests the Secretary-General to establish contacts with the PLO on all matters concerning the question of Palestine.

On that same day, the PLO is granted observer status under General Assembly resolution 3237 (XXIX), which invited the PLO to participate in the sessions and the work of the General Assembly, and of all international conferences convened under the auspices of the General Assembly and other organs of the U.N.

The General Assembly, on 9 December 1974, adopts resolution 3263 (XXIX) calling for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East. This same resolution is adopted every year.

On 8 May 1975, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) adopted resolution 1949 (LVIII), amending rule 73 of its rules of procedure to provide for the participation of national liberation movements as observers in the deliberations of the Council.

The PLO, on 10 November 1975, is invited to participate in the efforts for peace in the Middle East by the General Assembly in resolution 3375 (XXX).

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People is established on 10 November 1975 by the General Assembly, in resolution 3376 (XXX). Composed of twenty member states, the Committee is to recommend a program for the implementation of the rights of the Palestinian people. A similar resolution is adopted annually under the agenda item "Question of Palestine".

The General Assembly adopts resolution 3379 (XXX) on 10 November 1975, determining that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.

On 5 December 1975, the PLO participates for the first time in official meetings of the Security Council. Since the request for participation was not made under either article 37 or article 39 of the rules of procedure of the Council, the Council adopts a procedural decision, by 9 votes, under which the PLO is granted the same rights of participation as if it were a member state under article 37.

The General Assembly adopts resolution 3411 (XXX) on 10 December 1975, condemning the strengthening of relations and collaborations between the racist regime of South Africa and Israel.

On 9 June 1976, the Security Council meets to consider the report presented by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. The draft resolution introduced by Tanzania under agenda item The Question of the Exercise of the Palestinian People of their Inalienable Rights was vetoed by the U.S. on 29 June 1976.

Resolution 31/62, calling for the convening of a Peace Conference on the Middle East under U.N. auspices, is adopted by the General Assembly on 9 December 1976.

General Assembly resolution 31/110 of 16 December 1976 is adopted, requesting the Secretary-General, in collaboration with the relevant U.N. organs and specialized agencies, to prepare and submit to the General Assembly, a report on the living conditions of the Palestinian people living in the occupied territories; the same resolution is adopted every year.

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People is enlarged by 3 member states by the General Assembly on 22 December 1976.

In April 1977, the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) adopts resolution 36 (IV), recommending to ECOSOC the amendment of ESCWA’s terms of reference so that the PLO could be included in its membership. In July 1977, ECOSOC adopts this recommendation in resolution 2089 (LXIII) and the PLO becomes a full member of ESCWA.

The General Assembly, on 28 October 1977, adopts resolution 32/5, deploring recent illegal Israeli measures in the occupied territories designed to change the legal status, geographic nature and demographic composition of those territories in contravention of the principles of the Charter of the U.N. and of Israel’s international obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.

Condemning Israel for its political, diplomatic, economic, military and nuclear collaboration with South Africa, General Assembly resolution 32/35 is adopted on 28 November 1977.

On 19 March 1978, the Security Council adopts resolution 425 (1978), which calls for the strict respect for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized boundaries; and calls upon Israel immediately to cease its military action against Lebanese territory. In the resolution, the Council also decides to establish immediately under its authority a United Nations Interim Force for Southern Lebanon (UNIFIL).

General Assembly resolution 33/71 is adopted on 14 December 1978, requesting all states to refrain from military and nuclear collaboration with Israel.

On 20 December 1978, the General Assembly adopts resolution 33/147, calling for the provision of assistance to the Palestinian people.

The Security Council adopts resolution 446 (1979) on 22 March 1979, which determines that the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East; calls once more upon Israel, as the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, to rescind its previous measures and to desist from taking any action which would result in changing the legal status and geographical nature and materially affecting the demographic composition of the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, and in particular, not to transfer parts of its own civilian population into the occupied Arab territories. The resolution also establishes a Commission consisting of three members of the Security Council to examine the situation relating to settlements and requests the Commission to submit a report to the Council.

On 20 July 1979, the Security Council adopts resolution 452 (1979), considering that the policy of Israel in establishing settlements in the occupied Arab territories has no legal validity and constitutes a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The resolution calls upon the government and people of Israel to cease, on an urgent basis, the establishment, construction and planning of settlements; and requests the Commission, in view of the magnitude of the problem of settlements, to keep under close survey the implementation of the present resolution and to report back to the Security Council.

General Assembly resolution 34/29, adopted on 16 November 1979, calls upon the Israeli authorities to rescind the deportation order issued against the Mayor of Nablus.

On 29 November and 12 December 1979, the General Assembly adopts resolutions 34/65 A, B, C, D on the question of Palestine, reaffirming the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, declaring that the Camp David Accords have no validity in determining the future of the Palestinian people, and calling for PLO participation in the deliberations on the Middle East.

General Assembly resolution 34/89, strongly condemning any attempt by Israel to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East, is adopted on 11 December 1979.