Statement by Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, Ambassador, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the U.N., before the Resumed 10th Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly on "Illegal Israeli Actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the Rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory", 18 October 2000, United Nations, New York: (Original Arabic)

Mr. President,

At a time when we all believe that the international community is succeeding in achieving decolonization and eradicating the remnants of foreign occupation, the Israeli occupation of our Palestinian land stands as a unique phenomenon, which has stubbornly continued for more than 33 years. Worse still is that this occupation is coupled with obvious colonial behavior through the illegal transfer of the population of the occupying Power to the Occupied Territory and the attempts to colonize this land. Israel is the only state considered at this time to be an occupying Power and, on top of that, it combines its occupation with obvious colonial behavior.

Does the malignance stop at this point? The experience of the Israeli occupation of our Palestinian people indicates that there is still greater malignancy. That is when occupation and colonialism are combined with the excessive and unjustified use of force by the occupying forces in many instances, leading to a large number of casualties among the people. During approximately the past three weeks, the occupying Power has killed more than 90 Palestinian martyrs and injured more than 3,000, many of them who remain in serious condition. One-third of these killed and injured are children under the age of 18. During this period, the occupying forces have even used heavy weaponry, helicopter gunships and, in many cases, willfully caused a large number of casualties and losses among our people.

In addition to all this malignancy, Israel, the occupying Power, attempts to combine all of this with unrelenting attempts to lay the blame on the Palestinian side - to lay the blame on those who have been killed and injured. Occupation is to be forgotten. Colonial behavior is to be forgotten. Heavy weaponry is to be forgotten. The large number of Palestinian victims, including children, is to be forgotten. And, the Palestinian side must be blamed because it dared to scream. The Palestinian people must be blamed because they have expressed their anger and frustration through demonstrations and throwing stones at the soldiers of occupation. And they can even be accused of things reflective of the racist thinking of the occupying Power, the least accusation of which is that the Palestinian people are instigated and that the leadership intentionally pushes our children to be killed by Israeli fire.

You can imagine then the magnitude of the tragedy that our people are living and you can imagine the amount of anger, pain, and desperation that they feel, especially since all this is happening after years of swallowing our suffering out of our concern for the continuation of the peace process and the hope of reaching a different reality - one without settlements, without restrictions on freedom of movement, and with better living conditions - and arriving at a Palestinian State and its coexistence between Israel. Now our people ask: If this is peace, what then is occupation and what then is war?

The recent tragic events, which began on the 28th of this past September, started with the mal-intentioned visit of the infamous Ariel Sharon to Al-Haram Al-Sharif, the first qiblah and the third of the holy sites of Islam, in Occupied East Jerusalem and then what followed the next day when the Israeli occupying forces stormed Al-Haram and attacked the innocent worshippers. Our people saw all of this as a flagrant aggression against their holy places and as a prelude to other steps aimed at undermining their rights and possibly establishing other illegal realities by the occupying Power in East Jerusalem. In facing this, the whole of our people have expressed their rejection of these acts and their rejection of occupation, as well as their determination to defend their Islamic and Christian holy places and the Arab nature of East Jerusalem and their determination to achieve their natural rights, including the establishment of their independent State with Jerusalem as its capital.

In response to the Palestinian protest, Israel, the occupying Power, has used its huge war machine to launch a bloody campaign of repression against our people, including a number of willful killings, including several children, and willfully causing numerous serious injuries and great pain for the civilians. Needless to say, these constitute grave and serious breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 1949, and some of these acts constitute war crimes according to the Convention.

In addition to the above, Israel has also imposed severe restrictions on the movement of persons and goods. It has closed international crossing points and Gaza International Airport. It has also used tanks and other heavy weapons to impose a siege on Palestinian cities and many villages and other Palestinian locations.

Why all this savagery and brutality on the part of Israel? We are not sure yet because it is difficult to imagine any reason that justifies these actions. However, it could be possible that the Israeli political leadership believed that by doing this it would break the political will of the Palestinian people and leadership, thus imposing unacceptable concessions in the peace process. It could be possible that the Israeli political leadership concluded that it had no future unless it created a new situation in Israel so that it could try to build an enlarged government. It could be possible that some officers, for their own reasons, are responsible for the use of this huge amount of force. All of these are ugly possibilities and I do not think there is any other less ugly possibility.

Mr. President,

Israel, the occupying Power, in an attempt to divert attention from the realities of what is happening, has tried to stress that some Palestinian policemen and other armed persons exchanged fire with the Israeli occupying forces. In reality, there was not one single bullet shot by the Palestinian side at least for the first three days of the bloody Israeli campaign. Even after that, individual arms were used after the great shock caused by Israeli brutality. And even then, and until this moment, and in spite of everything that has happened, there have not been any comprehensive or even broad exchanges by the Palestinian police with the Israeli occupying forces. We must also remember the illegal presence of the Israeli settlers and that most of those extremists are armed with weapons delivered by the Israeli army that exceed whatever the little arms are in the possession of the Palestinian side. Those settlers, who are present on our land illegally, have committed many atrocities against our people. They must be stopped, they must be held accountable and, more importantly, their colonial presence must be terminated and they must leave the Palestinian land.

I want now to deal with two mistakes committed by some angry Palestinian civilians, which should never have happened in spite of everything. The first relates to the tomb of Joseph near the city of Nablus and the damage that occurred to it. Over the past years, Israel transformed this place into a fortified military outpost and, during the days preceding the Israeli withdrawal from it, eighteen Palestinian people were killed around this place, which explains the angry reaction of the people there. Despite this, we have clearly condemned what happened and instructions were issued immediately to repair the place, which has actually happened. Before the occupation and after, we have maintained this place over the many years and there is no change in our position in this regard. We expect that Israel do the same thing, for example with regard to the historic mosque, which was burned by Israelis in the city of Tiberias.

The second relates to the two Israeli soldiers who were killed by some individuals who broke into the police station in the city of Ramallah, despite the attempts by the police there to protect the two soldiers. Those individuals had strong reasons to believe that the two soldiers belonged to a special military unit called "al-mustaribeen unit". This is a unit that has on previous occasions infiltrated Palestinian areas and committed a various savage acts against Palestinians, including the summary execution of some individuals. It is extremely difficult to believe the Israeli version that the two soldiers lost their way into the heart of the city of Ramallah in light of the current situation and the number of Israeli checkpoints surrounding the city. Despite this, we have clearly condemned the killing of the two soldiers and, furthermore, instructions were issued to apprehend those who committed this act because it was illegal and is incompatible with our values.

These issues and even other issues cannot change the actual nature of all that is happening - the excessive and unjustifiable use of force by the occupying Power and the committing of many atrocities by the occupying forces against a whole people, who are expressing their anger and frustration because of the occupation and attempting to defend their holy places.

Mr. President,

There is an issue that the General Assembly had to consider, giving its importance and dangerous nature, which is the brutality used by the Israeli police against Arab Israeli demonstrators in Israel itself, resulting in 15 killings and hundreds of injuries. They were expressing their anger and their rejection of what is being done by the occupying Power against the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and they were expressing their solidarity with their brethren there. But the Israeli government confronted that with the use of deadly force in a way that does not differ much from its practices as an occupying Power. What happened reminds us of the many questions about the so-called Israeli democracy, its nature, and whether it applies to all its citizens.

Mr. President,

The Security Council has dealt with the bloody events in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, with great seriousness. A large number of Member States, through their participation in the debate of the Council, added more importance and seriousness to the work of the Council. After a few days, the Security Council did indeed, despite the difficulties it faced, adopt a very important resolution, which is resolution 1322 (2000) of 7 October 2000. We must here thank the members of the Council, in particular the President of the Council for this month. We must also thank the members of the Council who are members of the Non-Aligned Movement for their cosponsorship of the resolution and their insistence on the need for the Council to fulfill its responsibilities.

Despite the adoption of the resolution, however, the situation on the ground did not change and Israel, the occupying Power, did not comply with any of the provisions of the resolution. Then came the dangerous Israeli escalation, including the shelling of some Palestinian locations in Ramallah and Gaza, which took place on the 12th of October and which was tantamount to a declaration of war against the Palestinian people. Then we returned to the Security Council once again and called upon the Council to adopt an immediate resolution to end the escalation and prevent the region as a whole from falling into comprehensive confrontation. Unfortunately, we were not successful in this regard, and a permanent member of the Security Council declared inside the Council and outside the United Nations that they would use their right to veto any resolution regardless of its content. This clearly means that the Council will not be enabled to take any action. At that point, we and the Arab Group had no choice but to request the resumption of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly, in accordance with the "uniting for peace" formula, to consider this dangerous situation and the "illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory". Following this, the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement unanimously supported the Arab request, which we highly appreciate.

Mr. President,

The new development here is the convening of the Sharm El-Sheikh Summit on the 16th and 17th of this month. We highly appreciate the efforts exerted for the convening of this Summit and we express our gratitude to the host country, sisterly Egypt, and all the other participants apart from the two concerned parties. This Summit and, before it, the meetings in Paris and Sharm El-Sheikh, which was boycotted by Israel, all represent serious attempts to rescue the situation and possibly later to revive the peace process. These attempts deserve our support and backing. Nevertheless, we must note that there was no signed communique issued by the Summit and at the same time there were certain ambiguities with regard to the understandings reached. There is also the constant concern stemming from our previous experiences of Israelís non-compliance with anything agreed upon.

The important thing remains to see what will happen on the ground, especially with regard to the withdrawal of tanks and other heavy weapons and the lifting of the siege on the Palestinian territory and its cities and other steps towards a return to the situation prior to the present crisis. There will not be anyone happier than the Palestinian people if these bloody events cease and if the occupation is brought to an end and a comprehensive and lasting peace is achieved. On our part, we will exert our efforts towards making these understandings a success, but we also want to see what Israel will do, and we believe that the world also wants to see and will continue to follow the situation closely. We will review the draft resolution we have submitted to you in consultation with the interested parties in light of these developments and in light of what will happen in the coming hours and hope that, as always, we will receive your support.

Mr. President,

We welcome the participation of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan, representing this international organization in the Sharm El-Sheikh Summit as well as all of his efforts exerted during his visit to the region. We hope that this will lead to the effective participation of the United Nations in the mechanism of inquiry into what has happened, which was called for by Security Council resolution 1322 (2000) and agreed upon by the parties in Sharm El-Sheikh. We believe that the speedy establishment of this committee and its immediate work will have an effective impact on bringing an end to the situation created during the last three weeks. We also hope that the Secretary-General will inform the General Assembly of the outcome of his visit and his efforts immediately after his arrival to New York, and we look forward to hearing from him on Friday.

Mr. President,

We thank you all and we especially thank you Mr. President for the convening of this tenth emergency special session and we look forward to your support. We also look forward to a better situation in our country, Palestine, and in the region as a whole. Our people want a life free of occupation, want independence, and want the establishment of a state and its membership at the United Nations, like other peoples of the world.