Statement by Mrs. Somaia Barghouti, Counsellor, before the Third Committee, Agenda Item 115: Right of peoples to self-determination, 54th Session of the U.N. General Assembly, 25 October 1999: 

Mr. Chairman,

            Agenda item 115, “Right of peoples to self-determination” is a very important issue on our agenda and deserves our full attention. The realization of the right of peoples to self-determination is enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and embodied in human rights instruments.  It is the responsibility of the international community, mainly the United Nations, to guarantee the enjoyment by all peoples of this fundamental right. Combating inequality, oppression and securing the right of peoples to self-determination should be among the international community’s top priorities.  More serious actions are required in this regard, especially for people living under foreign occupation or alien domination.  

Mr. Chairman,            

The Palestinian people have for too long suffered from the Israeli occupation and its oppressive measures. They are still being denied their basic and fundamental right to self-determination. All the known ills of occupation continue. Israel, the occupying Power, continues to create new facts on the ground, foremost of which are the illegal colonial settlements, which represent the antithesis of freedom and self-determination for the indigenous people. Moreover, the plight of the refugees and displaced persons is ongoing.  They remain deprived not only of their right to self-determination, but also of their right of return.

 Mr. Chairman,

              In the Declaration of Principles of 1993, the two sides recognized their mutual, legitimate and political rights.  A genuine commitment to such recognition by necessity requires recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.  We still prefer to believe that this recognition was not undertaken by the Israeli side for only tactical reasons, as we are hopeful that the current peace process will result in full recognition and that it will be manifested in the existence of the Palestinian State.

              Real engagement in the peace process requires the recognition by Israel of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.  It is inconceivable to recognize your adversary as a people, while at the same time refusing to recognize their right to self-determination.  This peace process cannot reach its normal, logical, and successful conclusion without such recognition. 

            At the same time, let me make it clear that the establishment of the independent State of Palestine, in exercise of the right of Palestinian people to self-determination, cannot be subject to any veto – neither within the peace process nor outside of it. This is a natural and inalienable right, which cannot be negated or supplanted.   During the negotiations of the final settlement between the Israeli and Palestinian sides, the parties will agree on other serious and important issues, including the exact borders and the relationship between the two states on the basis of international law and international legitimacy.

 Mr. Chairman,

              The Central Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization postponed its final decision regarding the declaration of the independent Palestinian State upon completion of the five-year transitional period in May of this year.  That decision was partly determined by, and possibly a result of, an international consensus that emerged on the need for conclusion of the peace process within one year.  This consensus became clear in the Berlin Declaration of the European Union Summit of 25 March 1999, President Clinton’s letter to President Arafat on 26 April 1999, and of course the well-established position of our friends who have already recognized the State of Palestine. With the recent signing of the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum on 4 September 1999, the parties themselves agreed to achieve a final settlement by September 2000. 

Based on the above, Mr. Chairman, we trust that in the Millennium Summit of the General Assembly, with all of its significant meaning for the international community, Palestine will participate as a full member of the United Nations.  We are confident of your support in this regard. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.