30 September 1996 (Not distributed)

Note from Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the U.N., to the Secretary-General of the United Nations: (Peaceful Settlement of the Question of Palestine Resolution)

The Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations presents his compliments to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and has the honor to refer to His Excellency's note verbale (50/84 - GA/P), dated 30 August 1996, regarding General Assembly resolution 50/84 D, entitled "Peaceful Settlement of the Question of Palestine", and seeks to convey the position of the Palestinian leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian National Authority on this matter.

Resolution 50/84 D was adopted in the General Assembly by an overwhelming majority (143-3-3), a reflection of the strong convictions of the international community with regard to the content of the resolution. The resolution recalls several principles of international law and the Charter of the United Nations. It provides support for the peace process and a more active and expanded role for the United Nations in this process. It also provides the basis for the just settlement of the Question of Palestine, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, by the end of the process. As such, the resolution should serve as an acceptable basis for all parties to work on these important issues.

In operative paragraph 2 of resolution 50/84 D, the General Assembly once again "expresses its full support for the ongoing peace process, which began in Madrid, and the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, as well as subsequent implementation agreements, and expresses the hope that the process will lead to the establishment of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East."

Since that resolution, some additional positive developments on the Palestinian-Israeli track of the peace process have taken place, in particular the redeployment of the Israeli army from major cities in the West Bank, with the exception of Al-Khalil (Hebron), and the holding of the Palestinian general election for the President of the Palestinian National Authority and the Palestinian Legislative Council. Unfortunately, several negative developments followed, including the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, tragic bombing attacks against Israeli civilians, the imposition of an almost continuous Israeli siege of the Palestinian territory and the postponement of the redeployment from Al-Khalil.

Since the new Israeli government of Prime Minister Netanyahu took office, there has been further deterioration of both the situation on the ground and in the status of the peace process. The Israeli government has adopted guidelines which contradict the letter and spirit of the two binding agreements signed with the Palestine Liberation Organization, namely the Declaration of Principles of 1993 and the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip of 1995. The Israeli government has made it clear that the timetables agreed upon will not be respected and it persists with dangerous violations of the agreements, such as the continued siege of the Palestinian territory and intentional delays in redeployment from Al-Khalil as well as ongoing attempts to create new facts with regard to occupied East Jerusalem. The government has also resumed colonial settlement activities in the occupied territory, which violate the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and could reverse the peace process as a whole.

In addition to the above-mentioned, on 24 September 1996, the Israeli government opened an entrance to a tunnel in the vicinity of Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, which led to tragic events resulting in a high number of casualties among Palestinian civilians caused by the Israeli army and police including more than 50 killed and over one thousand injured. Clashes also took place between Palestinian police and the Israeli army. The situation remains a very tense and dangerous one at this stage.

In preambular paragraph 7 of resolution 50/84 D, the General Assembly affirmed "the illegality of the Israeli settlements in the territory occupied since 1967 and of Israeli actions aimed at changing the status of Jerusalem." That position acquires increasing importance in light of the resumption of Israeli settler colonialism. Further, the Assembly, in operative paragraphs 4 and 5, stressed the need for "the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, primarily the right to self-determination; the withdrawal of Israel from the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967"; and also stressed the need for "resolving the problem of the Palestine refugees in conformity with its resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948."

The Palestinian side believes that operative paragraphs 4 and 5 are of great importance and it strongly believes that the international community, represented by the General Assembly, should always uphold the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, international law, international humanitarian law and the validity of Security Council resolutions. As such, the General Assembly has to uphold its positions related to the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, and it should maintain its positions related to the elements of the final settlement (final status issues), where Israel has already created illegal, de facto situations, until negotiations on those issues take place and conclude in the second stage of the peace process and the final settlement is effectively achieved.

Operative paragraph 7 of the same resolution, "emphasizes the importance for the United Nations to play a more active and expanded role in the current peace process and in the implementation of the Declaration of Principles." The Palestinian side welcomes the progress made in this regard, especially in the fields of providing economic, social and other assistance to the Palestinian people. It welcomes in particular the work of the "United Nations Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories" in the field of coordinating United Nations, as well as international, assistance to the Palestinian people. It also welcomes the moving of the headquarters of UNRWA to Gaza City and affirms the need for the continuation of the valuable and important work of UNRWA in other fields of operation outside of the occupied Palestinian territory and the continuation of all field offices, including the field office in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, the United Nations did not participate in the observation of the Palestinian elections as called for in operative paragraph 7.

The Palestinian side hopes that the United Nations will be involved in keeping the peace process alive and in assisting in the achievement of serious progress in the process. Involvement of the Security Council would also be a very important factor in the interest of the peace process.

Indeed, the Security Council did contribute in salvaging the peace process by responding to the most recent events in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, by adopting Security Council resolution 1073 (1996) of 28 September 1996. We recall that the Council did similarly contribute positively after the massacre in Al-Khalil (Hebron) in Al-Ibrahimi Mosque by adopting resolution 904 (1994).

The Palestinian side, as it did in previous years, would like to underscore the request made by the General Assembly in resolution 50/84 D for the Secretary-General to continue his efforts with the parties concerned, and in consultation with the Security Council, for the promotion of peace in the region and to submit progress reports on developments in this matter.

Finally, the Palestinian side believes that for the peaceful settlement of the Question of Palestine to be achieved through the continued success of the current Middle East peace process, it is necessary to respect the basis upon which the process was initiated, namely the principle of the return of land for peace and the implementation of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). It is equally important for the parties to comply with the agreements reached and to implement those agreements in good faith and without delay. The international community, especially the cosponsors of the peace process, have a great responsibility in this regard.