NAM Ministerial Delegation Makes Solidarity Visit to Palestine Visit in Follow-up of Declaration Adopted at Durban

On 2 June 2002, a ministerial delegation of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) visited Palestine in an expression of solidarity with the Palestinian people and their President, Yasser Arafat.

Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the Foreign Minister of South Africa, in the capacity as Chair of Coordinating Bureau of NAM, led the delegation visit to Palestine. Also part of the delegation were the Foreign Ministers from Malaysia, India, Indonesia, Mauritius and Zimbabwe, in addition to a representative of Jordan. Jordan provided helicopters to transport the Ministers from Amman to Ramallah and back.

The visit was undertaken in follow-up of the Declaration of the NAM Ministerial Committee on Palestine, which was adopted by both the Committee and the Ministerial Meeting of the Coordinating Bureau of NAM at Durban, South Africa on 27 April 2002. In that Declaration, which stands as perhaps the most important Declaration on Palestine adopted by the Committee in recent years, the Ministers, inter alia, "agreed to organize, through the Chair of the Movement, a delegation to visit Palestine and to meet with President Arafat, in expression of solidarity with the President and the people of Palestine". [The full text of the Declaration follows this article.]

The visit marked the first time that a NAM ministerial delegation visited Palestine. The decision to undertake this important visit was made in light of the grave situation of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian leadership as a result of the lethal and destructive Israeli military siege and assault throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly since 29 March 2002. The NAM Ministers determined to express their solidarity and support for the Palestinian people under these difficult circumstances as part of their ongoing and overall efforts to address the deteriorating situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem.

The NAM delegation was received by President Arafat in Ramallah on 2 June. During their meeting, President Arafat briefed the Ministers on the latest developments in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. He spoke about the ongoing illegal actions being carried out by the Israeli occupying forces against the Palestinian people, including the continuing military assaults, raids, killings, abductions and detentions. He also discussed the imposition by the occupying forces of even more restrictive measures on the freedom of movement of the Palestinian people, resulting in the separation of Palestinian cities, villages and refugee camps into isolated areas and the socioeconomic suffocation of the entire population.

During their meeting with President Arafat, the NAM Ministers reiterated the Movementís condemnation of the continuing illegal Israeli occupation and the escalation of killings, destruction and other atrocities being committed by the Israeli occupying forces against the Palestinian people. The Ministers also condemned the economic strangulation of the Palestinian people and condemned the continuation of Israelís illegal settlement activities, particularly in and around Occupied East Jerusalem.

Moreover, the Ministers reaffirmed to President Arafat the principled positions of NAM in support of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to the establishment of their independent State with East Jerusalem as its capital, according to the borders of 4 June 1967. In this regard, they commended President Arafat on the signing of the "Basic Law" of Palestine, which they viewed as an important step towards the establishment of constitutional Palestine Law.

In addition, the Ministers took the opportunity to express the support of NAM for all international efforts aimed at achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting solution. In this regard, they expressed full support for the Arab peace initiative as well as for the efforts of the Quartet. The Ministers stressed that such efforts by the international community should lead to the convening of an international conference aimed at the establishment of a road map for the attainment of a lasting peace, on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978) and the principle of land for peace, as established at the Madrid Peace Conference.