Statement by, Ms. Feda Abdelhady, Second Secretary, Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the U.N., before the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee), 48th Session, 28 October 1993:

Mr. Chairman,

Since this is the first time that we take the floor before this committee, I would like, on behalf my delegation, to begin by congratulating you and your colleagues in the bureau upon your election to this important committee.

Mr. Chairman,

Information and its distribution constitute a vital channel for communication and understanding in our vast, modern world. The influence and impact that the dissemination of information has upon our societies is quite immense. This impact can be observed among all aspects of a society, as it affects the directions chosen with regard to the various social, political, economic, technological and cultural issues before a people.

We therefore, Mr. Chairman, strongly believe that the availability and distribution of information can play a powerful and integral role in the course of international relations, and can be quite effective in furthering the different interests of all nations. It is for this reason that we believe that the Department of Public Information should maintain and further develop its Special Programme on Palestine.

In the past few years, the programme has been useful in raising the awareness of the international community on the complexities of the Question of Palestine and the plight of the Palestinian people and on the situation in the Middle East in general. It has contributed also to an atmosphere conducive to dialogue and supportive of the peace process.

We would like, at this time, to express our satisfaction with work being done by DPI with regard to the Special Programme on Palestine. DPI has fulfilled the mandate it was given in General Assembly resolution 47/64C of 11 December 1992. This has included the successful carrying out of several events, with the exception of the postponement of a fact-finding news mission for journalists to the region, including the occupied territory, as called for in operative paragraph 2(d) of the above-mentioned resolution, which we hope will take place as soon as possible.

Mr. Chairman,

In light of the recent events concerning the Question of Palestine, it seems clear that DPI still has an important role to play in furthering the Palestinian cause. The signing of the Declaration of Principles in Washington, D.C., on 13 September 1993, between the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Government of Israel, which was preceded by mutual recognition by the two sides, constitutes a major step towards the achievement and incremental establishment of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East.

However, the road ahead for this peace is a long one, laden with many difficult tasks. This includes the need to accomplish similar progress on the other Arab-Israeli tracks of negotiation and the need for the effective implementation of the Declaration of Principles, in accordance with the agreed timetable. Most important of the work ahead is the final negotiation between the Palestinians and Israelis, to commence as soon as possible but not later than the third year of the interim period, on several crucial elements of the final settlement, including the status of Jerusalem and the rights of the Palestinian refugees, of which the international public and journalists must remain updated and informed.

With these realities in mind, we believe that the work of the United Nations in the field of information related to the Question of Palestine will become even more important, rather than diminish. With certain adjustments and redirection, in accordance with the new developments and political realities, the continued work of DPI on the Question of Palestine will be very valuable during the upcoming period. DPI can constructively help in directing international media attention to the ongoing peace process, including the immediate advances and achievements and the status and progression of important long-run goals, such as the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to self-determination and to establish an independent state. DPI could also help to focus attention on the needs of the Palestinian people in the field of development and reconstruction in all aspects of daily life during the transitional period.

In the expected new period in the occupied territory, we believe that DPI should provide assistance in the field of Palestinian media development, with the aim of fostering growth, diversification and stability in the areas needed. Further, DPI could contribute its expertise in the training of Palestinian journalists and other members of the Palestinian media community, which could be done in cooperation with various international media organizations. It may also be possible to offer training for Palestinian journalists during the course of the session at the United Nations.

Naturally, DPI should also continue to follow and publicize the ongoing work of the U.N. system with regard to the Question of Palestine and its expected enlarged role in the reconstruction of Palestinian society during the interim period. This should include coverage during the coming period on the engagement and work of the various organizations and agencies of the U.N. system in the ongoing peace process and in the occupied territory.

Mr. Chairman,

Essentially, as we see it, the Special Programme on Palestine of DPI should follow and reflect realities related to the new experiences of the Palestinian people, while continuing to disseminate information about the just cause of the Palestinian people, in addition to continuing its support of a dialogue in the effort to build peace. At this time, we wish to reaffirm the permanent responsibility of the U.N. towards the Question of Palestine, until it is resolved in all its aspects and a just, comprehensive and lasting peace is attained.

Mr. Chairman, during the 47th Session, the General Assembly adopted resolution 47/64C by an overwhelming majority. It is our hope that this year, in light of the new situation, the Assembly will be able to adopt the resolution by consensus, for it would be difficult to understand opposition to the continuation of such a valuable programme as the Palestinian people enter such a crucial stage on the path towards the fulfillment of their cause. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.