Statement of: Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, before the United Nations Security Council, 18 March 1994:

(Original: Arabic)

Mr. President,

At the outset, I would like to express our thanks and appreciation to the members of the Security Council for adopting the important resolution contained in document S/1994/280. We worked hard with you, including the co-sponsors of the Middle East peace process, to remove all hurdles and problems which existed in the path of the adoption of this resolution. In this respect, we would like to convey special thanks to the members of the Non-Aligned Movement for all the valuable support and assistance they have given us.

At the same time, we cannot but note the lapse of three weeks time since the appalling massacre which was committed against our people in Al-Haram Al-Ibrahimi in Al-Khalil. This long period of time has undoubtedly generated a lot of suspicion and questions among the Palestinian people and in the Arab region as a whole with regard to the desire of the Council, or its ability for that matter, due to the position of a permanent member, to effectively uphold its responsibilities, with the required speed, when it comes to the Question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East. We hope that the future will bring about the reversal of this picture.

Mr. President,

Prior to putting before you our understanding of today's Security Council resolution and its place in the overall context of the situation in the Middle East, we would like to draw your attention to two important issues. The first issue concerns what has been happening in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, since the massacre, and also the emerging facts about the massacre itself. The repressive measures of the occupying authorities, particularly the Israeli army, against our people in the occupied territory are continuing. Such measures include extensive curfews and indiscriminate shooting, which have resulted in a number of casualties, both killed and injured, exceeding the number of casualties from the massacre itself. We strongly demand immediate cessation of all those illegitimate practices, which have been condemned repeatedly by this august Council.

With regard to the emerging details about the massacre itself, including the sudden and suspicious absence of the Israeli security elements at the beginning of the massacre and their participation in the shooting afterwards, and the policies which have been carried out by the security forces of Israel, the occupying power, towards the Israeli settlers; those details confirm once more the validity of our general position that the massacre and all other heinous manifestations are only the natural product of the ideology and mentality of settler colonialism in our Palestinian land. The problem then is the illegal presence of the settlers on our land. This cannot be reduced to the presence only of extremist settlers, in spite of the fact that they are the worst, and it definitely cannot be reduced to Mr. Baruch Goldstein, in spite of the fact that he has become the symbol of the problem. Thus, Mr. President, there can be no serious or real solutions of this problem without the adoption of new policies aimed at the reversal of the situation existing today and, at a later stage, the dismantlement of the settlements.

The second issue, Mr. President, which we raise as a result of some discussions, which have taken place around this Council and have been tainted by disinformation, regards the reference to Jerusalem as part of the occupied territories since 1967 in the text of this Security Council resolution, and the relationship between this reference and the Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of Principles. You know, of course, that reference to Jerusalem as part of the occupied territories has been a consistent practice of the Council for a long time. In fact, every single resolution relating to the Palestinian issue, which has been adopted by the Council in the past, has contained this language formulation. Thus, adoption by the Council of the same language today only reflects continuation of this policy. On the contrary, any attempt to change the language carries the danger of a change in this policy. Here we wish to express our disappointment and concern over the abstention today of the delegation of the United States of America in the vote on the last preambular paragraph in the resolution, which included the above-mentioned language. We hope that in the future the United States delegation will again conform with the long-held position of the U.S. on this sensitive issue.

I must now refer to the question of the impact, or potential impact, of the Declaration of Principles on the issue of Jerusalem and other important issues such as settlements and refugees, which have been postponed until the second stage of negotiations between the two sides. Here we would like to affirm in absolute terms that the legal and political status of those issues is determined by international law and international legitimacy. Further, postponement of negotiations on them definitely has no bearing on their existing legal and political status. The settlements, for example, according to international humanitarian law, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, and according to several Security Council resolutions, are illegal and obstacles to peace and they remain so, whether there has been no negotiation on them at all or there shall be negotiations tomorrow or after two years. The same applies to Jerusalem.

Mr. President,

Arab East Jerusalem is an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territory since 1967, and according to several relevant Security Council resolutions and the principles of international law, all measures taken by Israel, the occupying Power, aimed at changing the status of Jerusalem are null and void. If the Declaration of Principles has any bearing on this, it should be understood in favor of the position of the international community and not the opposite, since Israel accepted in principle that the final status of Jerusalem will be subject to negotiation. We hope, Mr. President, that no party would contemplate distortion of the facts or would attempt to change the realities related to these important issues, because such attempts would certainly lead to dangerous results, which must be avoided.

Mr. President,

The resolution adopted today by your august Council is undoubtedly an essential and important step forward. It demonstrates that the Council has upheld its own responsibilities towards the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem. In this resolution, the Council, after it strongly condemns Al-Khalil massacre; calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, given its obligations and responsibilities, to take specific measures, including confiscation of arms, with the aim of preventing illegal acts of violence by Israeli settlers. The Council, at the same time, also calls for measures to be taken to guarantee the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilians throughout the occupied territory, including a temporary international or foreign presence. The Council then requests the co-sponsors of the peace process to undertake the necessary support for the implementation of those measures.

The main issue here, as you know, is the provision of protection for the Palestinian civilians under occupation. The materialization of such protection will lead to the creation of a new situation in which our people may start to have a normal life, albeit a limited one, until the end of the occupation. The Security Council, as is clear from the resolution, did not get into the details of this issue. That fact does not, however, absolve the Council from its responsibilities towards the implementation of the resolution in the direction defined by the Council today, and decided in its previous resolutions, specifically resolution 681 (1990).

We believe that the main task now is the implementation of the resolution. From our side, we will work with the concerned parties to immediately begin implementation. The experience of our people with previous Security Council resolutions is not a happy one, and we strongly hope that things will be different this time.

With regard to the relationship between this resolution and the peace process, we do agree with those who assert that this resolution cannot be regarded in isolation from the peace process, and we do believe that the resolution will have a positive impact on that process. However, the real positive and qualitative impact will take place with the implementation of the resolution, not only with its adoption, and with the creation of a concrete, material situation which can be felt by the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory. That can be basically realized by means of the international presence mentioned in the resolution.

Mr. President,

We do have a vested interest in the peace process and its success and we are committed to it. At the same time, we say that the resumption of this process, as if nothing has happened, is not feasible, and suggesting such a thing is unacceptable, and even immoral. The resumption of the process and its successful conclusion depend on its credibility, the credibility of its co-sponsors and the credibility of its participants, especially the Israeli government, which should adopt clear measures to respond to the pains and the needs of our people, and not only to deal with the negative impact of the massacre on the Israeli side.

We have taken due note of the Israeli measures taken until now and we have said that these measures are in the right direction, however, they definitely fall short of meeting the requirements for rescuing the peace process. In the past, we have repeatedly enumerated steps, which are the duty of Israel to adopt in this regard. These steps include the official and total cessation of all settlement activities, the disarming of the settlers, the removal of settlers from towns and villages, especially from Hebron, and expediting negotiations on the final solutions for those settlements. Such steps could create a different situation, and all of them fit within the framework of the Declaration of Principles and are in congruity with its provisions.

The Palestinian people need to be convinced that Israel is serious about peace. That, however, will be very difficult to do without them first becoming convinced that no more massacres will be committed against them in the future.