Statement by Mrs. Somaia Barghouti, Counsellor, Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the U.N., Before the Third Committee, Agenda Item 109: Right of Peoples to Self-Determination, 51st Session, 6 November 1996:

Madame Chairperson,

Agenda item 109, "Right of peoples to self-determination", is of paramount importance to all members of the international community and deserves our full attention and confederation. In this regard, the international community must exert greater efforts to combat all forms of discrimination, oppression and all human rights violations. It is the responsibility of the United Nations to guarantee the enjoyment by all peoples of fundamental rights, mainly the right to self-determination, regardless of race, color or religion.

Today, the world is witness to various positive developments, including the broader awakening of the principles of democracy and equality and the combating of racism. However, peace and stability continue to be threatened by the prevalence of different forms of racism and racial discrimination and the denial or violation of human rights. The existence of such phenomena contradicts the principles of the United Nations Charter and provisions of all other relevant instruments. The first preambular paragraph of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: "Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world".

Madame Chairperson,

Achievement by the Palestinian people of their inalienable rights, including and mainly their right to self-determination and statehood, is a prerequisite for the achievement of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in our region and imperative for peace and security to prevail in the Middle East.

After the mutual recognition and the signing of the Declaration of Principles in 1993 between the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Government of Israel, the Palestinian people expected and awaited the recognition of their right to self-determination. It has also been our hope that all governments would bear responsibility for the restoration of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people including their right to self-determination, as a matter of principle, and thus uphold such positions with regard to the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations.

Contrary to our expectations Israel, the occupying power, continues to deny the Palestinian people their basic and fundamental rights, which they have for so long sought to fulfill. They continue to be subjected to discrimination and oppression on a daily basis. The Israeli government’s creation of new facts on the ground, such as the illegal settlements, and continuous restrictions on the freedom of movement, the detainment of prisoners and the problems of the refugees and displaced persons, has worsened the situation of Palestinian people.

The heroic struggle of the Palestinian people will continue until they achieve their freedom and their independence and the full exercise of their inalienable rights. They will be content with nothing less than an independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem its capital. It is only through the practice of their fundamental rights that the Palestinian people can truly determine their own political destiny and devote all of their efforts and abilities toward the development and building of their society.

Madame Chairperson,

My delegation wishes to reiterate that the right of the Palestinian people to self- determination could be exercised within the course of the peace process and that the recognition of this right will not prevent the parties from pursuing their own political preference with regard to the outcome of the peace process. It is therefore very important at this stage that member states of the United Nations extend their support to this basic right of the Palestinian people.

My delegation will submit to this committee a draft resolution concerning the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. The adoption of this resolution by consensus will indeed be a positive step towards the realization by the Palestinian people of their aspirations for peace, freedom and justice.