Right of Reply by Ms. Feda Abdelhady-Nasser, First Secretary of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations 

Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee) - Agenda Item 89: Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, 13 October 1999:

 Mr. Chairman,

              I regret taking the floor in exercise of my right of reply, however, I wish to respond to certain comments made today by the delegation of Israel as well as to calls for an end to the work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices.

           This Committee was mandated to investigate Israeli policies and practices pending the complete termination of the Israeli occupation.  The undisputed fact remains that the occupation continues and that gross violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people by the occupying Power continue.  Accordingly, the Committee, without question, must continue its work.   It is not an anachronism, as is being claimed.

           The existence of the peace process and the progress made in the process at different intervals unfortunately has not yet brought about the termination of the occupation or the cessation of Israeli violations. 

         The existence of the peace process requires urgent changes on the Israeli part, not on the part of the international community, upholding international law and the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.  The existence of the peace process requires, for example, that Israel accept the applicability of the 4th Geneva Convention and abide by its provisions.  It certainly does not require that the international community abandon international humanitarian law.

           The existence of the peace process requires that Israel cease all settlement activities, which destroy the peace process.  It does not require the international community to accept such an illegal form of colonization at the end of the 20th Century.  The necessary change, in short, is a change in the Israeli position and attitude towards the United Nations through a change in position on international law. This is the key for peace in the region and for a different situation at the United Nations.

           With regard to Occupied East Jerusalem, the distortions and falsifications presented in this Committee today are lamentable.  It is a well-known fact that Israeli policies and measures in Jerusalem over the decades have specifically aimed at altering the demographic composition of the city in Israel’s favor.  The fact remains that Jerusalem has historically been comprised of a Christian and Muslim majority. 

Mr. Chairman, 

         The Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, remains occupied territory – all of it.  Whether Israeli tanks and Israeli soldiers are inside Ramallah city, for example, or surrounding that city, does not make real legal difference.  Israeli claims that the majority of Palestinian people are not subject to Israeli occupation under the present circumstances are untrue.  Such claims, however, are indicative of Israeli thinking which contemplates an apartheid-system as a solution.  That is totally unacceptable.

           The Israeli occupation of all the territory occupied since 1967 must end.  That in itself is a historic comprise made by the Palestinian people towards achieving peace in the Middle East.

           Finally, Mr. Chairman, it is regrettable that once again the Israeli delegation’s arrogance blatantly insults the work of this august organization and the members of this Committee in particular.