Press Release (28 April 1995)

Today a letter regarding recent Israeli land confiscation orders in the Occupied Palestinian Territory was sent by the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E. Dr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and to the President of the Security Council for the month of April, H.E. Mr. Karel Kovanda. The Permanent Observer of Palestine requested the distribution of the letter as an official document of the United Nations. The text of that letter reads as follows:

I have been instructed to bring the following to your immediate attention.

The Israeli government has taken a dangerous and destructive step as part of its overall illegal practices and policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem. Yesterday, the government declared confiscation orders of fifty-three (53) hectares of Palestinian land within the area of illegally annexed East Jerusalem. Thirty-three (33) hectares are near Beit Hanina and the other twenty (20) hectares are located near Beit Safafa. The government also declared that the land would be appropriated to further build Israeli illegal settlements.

Such an action flagrantly violates international humanitarian law and relevant Security Council resolutions, as well as the Declaration of Principles of 13 September 1993, signed by the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

The General Assembly and the Security Council have repeatedly confirmed the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem. Both bodies also repeatedly affirmed that Israeli measures and actions which aim to alter the status of Jerusalem are null and void and called upon Israel to rescind all such measures and to refrain from taking any such steps in the future.

In the Declaration of Principles, the two parties agreed that permanent status negotiations on remaining issues, including Jerusalem, would commence as soon as possible, but not later than the beginning of the third year of the interim period. This recent action taken by the Israeli government greatly endangers negotiations and represents a clear attempt to prejudge their outcome. This seriously undermines the peace process as a whole and shatters confidence in the commitment made by the Israeli government.

Your Excellency, I must also refer to other equally illegal actions by the Israeli authorities in and around Jerusalem, including the continuing seizure and closure of the city in the face of the Palestinian people. Israeli digging in the vicinity of Al-Haram Al-Sharif has almost reached Al-Aqsa mosque and threatens its integrity and foundations, as do the repeated attacks and attempts by illegal settlers and religious fanatics to impose their presence on, and overtake, Al-Haram Al-Sharif.

We formally call upon the Security Council to take urgent measures to redress this grave situation and bring an end to the above-mentioned Israeli violations. We believe that the Council has the duty to order the Israeli authorities to desist from taking any further illegal measures and, specifically, to rescind the declared confiscation orders.