Statement by H.E. Mr. Farouk Kaddoumi, Head of
the Political Department of the Palestine Liberation Organization, before the General
Assembly Plenary, Agenda item: Question of Palestine, 1 December 1997: (Original:
It gives me pleasure to speak today, and to begin my statement by greeting and
congratulating you, Sir, on your assumption of the presidency of the General Assembly in
these turbulent international circumstances. We trust in your wisdom to ensure the success
of this session. We would also like to express our appreciation to your predecessor, Mr.
Razali Ismail, who presided over the previous session with success. I should also like to
express our appreciation to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the
Palestinian People, and to its Chairman, Mr. Ibra Degučne Ka, who continues to work
tirelessly on the question of Palestine.
We are returning here to the General Assembly to examine the question of Palestine after
the shock that international public opinion underwent as a result of the impasse in the
peace process, especially when Mr. Netanyahu became Prime Minister of Israel last year
following the success of the Likud coalition in the recent elections. In those elections,
the extremist right in Israel was victorious. Everyone knows that the extremist and
fundamentalist parties have bolstered their position. They won more parliamentary seats,
resulting in an imbalance in the composition of the Israeli Knesset. This is a proof that
the current of extremism inside Israeli society is continuing to enjoy a majority, which
ensures its overwhelming success.
In the wake of the assassination of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, it was
expected that the parties and groups that advocate peace would be successful. But the
situation has been reversed, with the fall of the Labor party and the triumph of Likud
and its extremist allies.
Moreover, Israeli extremism has been manifested in the creation of pretexts and facts on
the ground, which concretely reaffirm the Israeli Government's rejection of the concluded
agreements and its reneging on previous obligations. It has therefore called for
re-examination of the agreement concerning redeployment from Hebron, which was signed by
the previous Labor Government. That redeployment was supposed to have been completed
before the Israeli elections in order for redeployment to be resumed from the rural areas,
labeled B, and the departure of the Israeli army from over 600 Palestinian villages. But
Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, insisted on discussing the departure from Hebron
thus wasting seven months and, in the end, winning 20 per cent of the territory of the
city following its partition, keeping for Israel the historical, commercial and industrial
parts of the city, even though the town of Hebron is 100 per cent Palestinian.
Regrettably, instead of the United States playing a positive role to prevent a recurrence
of the cycle of violence and to reduce the tension, Mr. Christopher, the former United
States Secretary of State, sent a letter to Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, in
which he acknowledged the right of freedom to redeploy the Israeli army, to set a date for
that redeployment and its geographical extent and to determine the degree to which more
powers would be transferred to the Palestinian National Authority. All of that was without
negotiations with the Palestinians, thus contravening the provisions of the accord that
called for the withdrawal of Israeli forces and their redeployment from 30 per cent of the
territory of the Palestinian West Bank immediately following the implementation of the
Despite the agreement reached between the Palestinian and Israeli sides on an accord on
the city, the Government of Israel immediately started the construction of settlements in
Jabal Abu Ghneim in the occupied area of Jerusalem/Bethlehem while it was supposed to
start withdrawing its forces from the rural areas instead of starting to confiscate
Palestinian lands and building settlements on them.
With regard to Jerusalem, Israel continues its violations. It confiscates Palestinian
homes and other buildings, especially inside the walled Holy City of Jerusalem. Israel has
developed a blueprint, in a very short period of time, to confiscate 18 Palestinian homes
in order to house 18 Jewish families, thus challenging the international community, the
spiritual dimension of all faiths and the principles of coexistence among all these
faiths. This is in addition to its refusal to implement the relevant Security Council
resolutions, especially resolutions 465 (1980), 476 (1980), 478 (1980) and 1073 (1996).
Since the signing of the Hebron Protocol and up to the present, negotiations and direct
and indirect contacts, at times through concerned intermediaries, have been conducted. In
addition, the United States, as a sponsor of the peace talks, is undertaking timid efforts
to convince the Israeli Government to fulfil its obligations, to no avail.
When Ms. Albright became Secretary of State she made little effort in that direction. As
she put it, she was waiting for the two parties, the Palestinian and the Israeli sides, to
reach an understanding, in order for her to visit the region to give the peace march a
push and put it back on track.
When the state of tension heightened in the region with a new cycle of violence, Ms.
Albright came to the region and convened meetings with all the parties concerned in the
peace process, whether Arab or Israeli.
She herself witnessed first hand human and material manifestations which condemn Israeli
conduct and prove the necessity of intensifying efforts to prevent the deterioration of
the situation in the region. Ms. Albright herself witnessed the suffering of the
Palestinian people under occupation and under the strict Israeli blockade.
When she returned to Washington, she addressed an invitation to the Palestinians and to
the Israelis to meet at a negotiating session in New York in the last third of September
1997. After the meeting she outlined four points at a press conference. She emphasized the
security questions and the need to combat terrorism and its infrastructure. But she failed
to make a clear reference to the need to put an end to settlement activity and the
construction of settlements. At the same time, she referred to the redeployment of the
Israeli army, but linked that withdrawal to conditions that would, in point of fact, lead
to the non-fulfillment of such a withdrawal.
However, Ms. Albright knows full well that these two points are the underlying causes of
the current tension and the resurgence of the cycle of violence in the region.
As is known, the Israeli Government has committed provocative acts, such as the opening of
the tunnel adjacent to the holy Moslem shrine, the Haram al-Sharif, in Jerusalem which
resulted in violent clashes in September of last year leaving 83 Palestinian martyrs and
more than 1,300 other casualties.
At that time, the Security Council adopted resolution 1073 (1996), in which it condemned
these provocative acts. At that meeting of the Security Council, which took place during
the session of the General Assembly, the Foreign Ministers of the permanent members of the
Security Council, along with other Ministers of the Member States of the United Nations
took part in the Security Council's discussions.
America's position remains hesitant. It is not playing its role effectively as a sponsor
of the peace process. The parties concerned have accepted the initiative put forward by a
former American President, Mr. George Bush, in 1991, and the Madrid Peace Conference was
convened on the basis of the land-for-peace formula and the withdrawal of Israeli forces
from occupied Arab and Palestinian territories that were occupied in 1967, including
Jerusalem, in accordance with Security Council resolutions 242 1967), 338 (1973) and 425
(1978), which relates to withdrawal from Southern Lebanon.
But, as usual, the Israeli Government turned its back completely on the resolutions of the
Security Council and on all the other accords and obligations. The United States was
supposed to play a vital and active role in reviving the peace process and bringing
pressure to bear on Israel, utilizing its special means. That gave Israel valuable time in
which to confiscate more Palestinian land, build more Israeli settlements, tighten its
blockade against the Palestinian people, economically and militarily, and paralyze the
movement of the Palestinian citizens.
The Israeli blockade prevents Palestinian citizens from moving, hampers the transfer of
goods and the movement of the populace within the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and between
them, prevents entry and departure to and from the Palestinian territories, erects
checkpoints, and isolates towns and villages, preventing the population from moving
between them. Such measures have led to a severe shortage of primary materials and
foodstuffs, resulting in economic paralysis. They have also raised the rate of
unemployment to about 65 per cent and had a serious adverse impact on national and foreign
investments, which have declined substantially.
Moreover, the Israeli Government has withheld tax revenues which it collected from
Palestinian citizens, and which are due to the Palestinian National Authority. This was
substantiated by the report of the Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, of 26 June 1997
At the same time, Israel has backtracked from the agreement that was reached on the return
of displaced Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza Strip who were expelled as a result of
the aggression committed in 1967. The total number of these displaced persons is no less
than 750,000. That commitment should have been implemented, in pursuance of Security
Council resolution 237 (1967), as well as under the 1993 Declaration of Principles. Israel
also continues to deny to those refugees who were ejected from Palestine in 1948 their
right to return to their homes under General Assembly resolution 194 (III) of 1948.
Here it should be kept in mind that Israel was born in the United Nations under General
Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 1947 and did not emerge through history. That partition
resolution was a birth certificate not only for Israel but also for an independent Arab
State of Palestine. In this context, it is very bizarre that today we hear the current
Israeli Prime Minister threatening to annex Palestinian territory if the Palestine
Organization were to declare an independent State of Palestine.
Four years have elapsed, and Israel continues to prevaricate and is engaged in an exercise
of subterfuge and circumvention in its interpretation of the provisions of the accords and
agreements that were reached. It continues to Judaize more and more Palestinian territory
through the confiscation of Palestinian land, the building of more and more settlements
and the tightening of the siege imposed upon the Palestinian Authority, in order to
cripple its effectiveness and obstruct the path of the Palestinian people with a view to
denying them their right to exercise sovereignty over their national territory and
Israel denies the Palestinian people their national rights, and is engaged in intensive
efforts to perpetuate the settler presence on Palestinian territories and increase the
number of settlements and settlers constantly. The objective is to make the Israeli
settlements not only difficult, but impossible, to dismantle in accordance with Security
Council resolution 465 (1980), which, by a unanimous vote, called for their dismantlement.
Successive Security Council resolutions have emphasized that Israeli policies and
practices of building settlements are illegal and are serious impediments to the
achievement of a comprehensive and lasting peace. Furthermore, they contravene the Fourth
Geneva Convention of 1949 as well as international law. The Security Council went even
further than that. Resolution 465 (1980), unanimously adopted by the Security Council in
March 1980, called on Israel to dismantle the Israeli settlements that were in existence
at that time.
Since then we have noted a regression in the position of the United States of America. The
United States took no action beyond pro forma protests regarding Israel's settlement
activity. Indeed, on certain occasions, the United States allowed Israel to complete
construction activities in some settlements, even though perceiving in those settlements
an obstacle to peaceful settlement and a factor that complicates the peace process.
We have noticed recently that the United States, regrettably, has started to look at the
issue from an Israeli perspective. It has stated that the United Nations no longer has a
role to play in the questions pertaining to a peaceful, political settlement such as of
Israeli settlements, Jerusalem, the Palestinian refugees and Palestinian sovereignty.
Most recently, the United States exercised its veto twice in one week in the Security
Council, in order to prevent the Council from undertaking its responsibilities. That
action by the United States led to the convening of the tenth emergency special session of
the General Assembly, the first in 15 years. I wish to take this opportunity to pay
tribute to those Member States which supported the convening of that special session and
voted in favor of the important resolutions it adopted. We continue to hope that those
resolutions will be implemented.
By backtracking on the accords that have been reached, Israel deliberately seeks to
tighten its control and hegemony over Palestinian land and resources in order to continue
its settlement activity without hindrance. Israel has built bypass roads linking the
Israeli settlements, of which there are now 183 in the West Bank. These bypass roads do
not run through Palestinian villages, but around them. Indeed, they are a siege against
those Palestinian villages and towns. Israel uses those bypass roads for its military and
security purposes, thereby managing to isolate the Palestinian villages and towns and cut
them off from each other, creating for them severe economic, social and security problems.
This is an accurate account of developments in the Palestinian-Israeli negotiating track.
As to the other tracks, namely the Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Lebanese, these are still
frozen. But more serious than that, the Israeli Government is now scheming against those
two sister countries. The Israeli army is committing repeated acts of aggression against
sister Lebanon, creating scores of civilian casualties and destroying the country's vital
centers. Yet Israel claims that it is prepared to withdraw first from southern Lebanon and
then expresses its wish for peace while continuing to commit acts of aggression against
Facts and events show that the peace process in the Middle East is at an impasse owing to
the behavior of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and his political group and the
provocative measures taken by that country. As a sponsor of the peace process, the United
States should have played its role in reviving the peace process. The situation today
requires a reaffirmation by the United Nations of its permanent responsibilities with
regard to the maintenance of international peace and security and in ensuring the
implementation of the relevant resolutions of the Security Council calling for Israel to
withdraw from all territories occupied since 1967 so that the cycle of violence and
tension will not recur, particularly given the disappearance of confidence between the
parties to the conflict.
The United Nations has previously taken practical measures to address numerous
international problems. Is it not now time for the Organization to take concrete steps to
preserve the peace, to halt the deterioration of the security situation in the region, and
to preserve and revitalize the peace process on the basis of the principles set forth at
the Madrid Conference? Israel's persistence in its approach makes it impossible to achieve
success in political negotiations or to reach a solution, which would keep peace and
security in the region. The perpetuation of Israeli occupation and its continuation of
settlement activities inevitably doom the peace process, which demands first and foremost
Israel's withdrawal from all Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967,
including Jerusalem, and from the Syrian Golan and southern Lebanon. Israel must also
dismantle the Israeli settlements. Unless those things are accomplished, the entire region
of the Middle East will continue to be vulnerable to explosions and successive wars.
There is no doubt that the decision by the Arab States to suspend the normalization of
relations with Israel and to stay away from meetings of the various multilateral
commissions, as well as the absence of most of the Arab States from the recent economic
forum in Doha, Qatar, are definite evidence of the loss of confidence in the success of
the peace process.
The requirements of peace and security call for all Member States to respect Security
Council resolutions and to commit to their implementation so that the United Nations may
remain an effective mechanism for addressing regional problems by peaceful means. However,
we see that some Powers are acting according to a double standard and that they exempt
Israel from compliance with United Nations resolutions, including Security Council
resolutions, even though that country is the party that threatens peace and security in
the region thanks to its possession of weapons of mass destruction and its refusal to
accede to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons while continuing to
impede the peace process, freezing it.
The continued sanctions against Iraq, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and the Sudan have begun
to raise questions in world public opinion about the duration of such sanctions. Is it not
time that such unjust sanctions be lifted and that conditions be created that could bring
relief to the Iraqi population, so that Iraqi children might have the basic life
requirements of foodstuffs and medical supplies and the country have a chance to return to
international life as an effective member of the world community?
We look forward to the full implementation of United Nations resolutions, especially those
adopted at the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly, including those
regarding the convening of a conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth
Geneva Convention of 1949 in order to examine the necessary coercive measures to be
adopted to ensure respect for that Convention and the implementation of its provisions in
the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 by Israel, including Jerusalem.
We also hope that at this session the General Assembly will endorse the full participation
of Palestine in the proceedings of the United Nations and ensure that participation by
Israel in those proceedings is in line with the provisions of international law and those
of the Fourth Geneva Convention with regard to the Arab territories occupied since 1967,
especially with regard to Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan.
We stand for comprehensive and lasting peace based on the principles of the Madrid
Conference and in keeping with the provisions of United Nations Charter and its
resolutions. However, we reject surrender to a fait accomplis or the recognition of
illegal de facto conditions created on the ground by Israel's actions in the occupied
Palestinian and other Arab territories. We shall resist that injustice and aggression on
the basis of our right to existence and to self-determination as a nation that has lived
on that land for thousands of years and established there its glorious civilization.