International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is Commemorated: On 29 November 1999, the U.N. convened a solemn meeting in observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.  The date coincides with the adoption by the General Assembly of resolution 181 (II), 52 years ago on 29 November 1947, which partitioned Palestine into two states – one Arab and one Jewish.  As in years past, this commemoration, which has been observed annually since 1978, was well attended.   H.E. Ambassador Ibra Ka, of Senegal, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), presided over and addressed the meeting.

The meeting was also addressed by the following: H.E. Mr. Theo Ben-Gurirab, President of the 54th Session of the General Assembly; H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the U.N.; H.E. Ambassador Danilo Turk of Slovenia, President of the Security Council; H.E. Ambassador John de Saram of Sri Lanka, Chairman of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices; H.E. Ambassador Dumisana Kumalo of South Africa, Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement; H.E. Ambassador Michel Kafando of Burkina Faso, Chair of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Mr. Abdelkader Mesdoua of Algeria, Chair of the Organization of African Unity (OAU); and H.E. Mr. Said Kamal, Under-Secretary-General for Palestine Affairs of the League of Arab States.  A statement was also read on behalf of the many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) supporting the Palestinian people and their just cause.

President Yasser Arafat sent a message in observance of the occasion at the United Nations, which was delivered at the meeting by Ambassador Nasser Al-Kidwa, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the U.N.  H.E. Mr. Farouk Kaddoumi, Foreign Minister of Palestine and Head of the Political Department of the PLO, delivered concluding remarks to the meeting, in which he conveyed the gratitude of Palestine for the numerous affirmations of support and solidarity with the Palestinian people that were so strongly expressed by the international community that day.

During the meeting, Ambassador Ka also announced a list of letters received by the CEIRPP from Heads of State and Government, Foreign Ministers and regional organizations in observance of the International Day of Solidarity. In this regard, letters were sent by the following: Brazil, Malaysia, Indonesia, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Guinea, Afghanistan, Egypt, Ecuador, Qatar, Namibia, Cyprus, Guyana, Viet Nam, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Peru, Poland, Mexico, Russian Federation, Laos, Pakistan, Thailand, China, Malta, India, Lesotho, Bangladesh, Turkey, Syria, Japan, Ukraine, Oman, Argentina, Madagascar, Colombia, Morocco, Finland, Uruguay, Zimbabwe, OIC, OAU, and a few NGOs.

On that same day in the afternoon, the General Assembly began its plenary debate to address item 44 on its agenda, the Question of Palestine.  A total of 28 countries, including Palestine, participated in the debate, which lasted for two sessions and was followed by commencement of the debate on item 43, the situation in the Middle East.

On the evening of the 29th, the annual exhibit displayed at the visitors lobby of the U.N. in commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was inaugurated by Ambassador Ka and Minister Kaddoumi.  The exhibit was sponsored by the CEIRPP and was coordinated in cooperation with the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine.  On display from 29 November to 12 December 1999, the exhibit was entitled “Follow the Star… Images from the Palestinian City of Bethlehem on the New Millennium” and consisted of a collection of artwork by 12 Palestinian artists coordinated by Al-Wasiti Arts Center in Jerusalem. The exhibit’s inauguration ceremony was attended by Ambassadors, U.N. officials, delegates, and members of the Palestinian community and other guests and was followed by a reception. 

         Consultations with NGOs on the Question of Palestine: The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) convened, on 26 November 1999, a consultation meeting with a number of representatives from non-governmental organizations (NGO), who have been actively working in solidarity with the Palestinian people for many years.  The aim of the consultation was to finalize the part of the Committee’s program related to NGOs and to achieve the best possible cooperation in this regard.  Some positive and new ideas were raised with regard to a cooperation mechanism and program, and all stressed the solidarity nature of the NGO movement and the U.N. resolution as the basis for its work.  The participants in the meeting came from various regions, including the U.S., Latin America, Europe, Asia, the Arab world, Palestine and Israel.  During the second half of the day, the NGO participants also held lengthy discussions regarding their work with the Division for Palestinian Rights at the U.N.