Excerpts from the text of the statement of Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, before the Resumed Tenth Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly on 15 July 1997:

Isn't it time that the United Nations take one step forward? Only one step forward to warn the aggressor and to give hope to our people. We hope so. And this is what we are asking of you today.

There are two clear legal frameworks with regard to the question of Palestine. The first framework, and the most basic, is comprised of the relevant provisions of international law and resolutions of international legitimacy, particularly Security Council resolutions, which all affirm the illegality of the Israeli occupation of Arab territories since 1967 and the illegality of Israeli settlements and measures aiming to change the legal status of Jerusalem and its character and demographic composition.

The second framework, which came later, is comprised of the agreements reached between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, which include the Declaration of Principles of 1993 and the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip of 1995. Needless to say, these agreements do not substitute the basic framework. They could not and should not negate or diminish the validity of international law and international legitimacy.

The agreements reached supplement international legitimacy, and any matter that was not consensually agreed upon clearly between the parties will remain governed by international law and relevant United Nations resolutions. Hence, the Israeli settlements and all Israeli measures in Jerusalem that are in violation of international law are illegal and have no legal validity whatsoever, and will remain so. Any action based on illegal foundations shall remain illegal and no recognition can be granted to it or its results, irrespective of the passage of time or the change of conditions.

In addition to their being determined illegal under the first framework, the resumption of the campaign of settler colonialism being carried out by the Israeli government and its attempts to continue the judaization of Jerusalem and to change its status also grossly violate the letter and spirit of the agreements reached between the two parties. These actions represent a resumption of the conflict and the preemption of the upcoming negotiations.

The building of the settlement at Jabal Abu Ghneim must be stopped. Colonial settlement, in all its aspects, must be stopped. The attempts to judaize and seize Jerusalem must be stopped. They must be stopped because they grossly violate international law and legitimacy, as well as the agreements reached between the parties. They must be stopped to salvage the peace process, and because refraining from the violation of international law and Security Council resolutions should be the norm.

It is regrettable here that some try to exempt Israel, in a manner unprecedented in contemporary history, from its responsibilities in accordance with the first framework, i.e. international law and resolutions of the United Nations, attempting to impose a de facto situation on the Palestinian side, leaving it under the mercy of the imbalance of power on the ground. Worse still is that some do not do what should be done to protect the second framework, which is the agreements reached. When there are binding agreements, it must not be said that "it is up to the parties". What must be said is that the parties should fulfill their contractual obligations in accordance with the agreements reached.

Why is the Government of Israel doing all this? This government is aware of what it is doing. It officially planned the resumption of colonial settlement activities to forcibly acquire more Palestinian land and to seize Jerusalem and it attempted to change the foundations of the peace process and to impose different agreements and frameworks on the Palestinian side. In order to achieve this, the Israeli government attempts to exert as much pressure as possible, including through economic suffocation and through a vicious defamation campaign against the Palestinian Authority.

The Israeli government is attempting to destroy the basis of the historical reconciliation and mutual recognition of the existence and rights of the two parties. It attempts to retain what it gained from this historic reconciliation, while at the same time denying that gain for the other party. It attempts to retain recognition, peace and security for itself, while transferring the conflict onto the occupied territories with the aim of annexing the largest portion of it and assuring the seizure of Jerusalem. This is a distasteful, reactionary, colonial mentality, which is in no way related to the peace process, and it is totally rejected and will in no way ever be acceptable. Israel must choose whether there is peace or not, whether there is mutual recognition or not.

Our Palestinian people made many concessions with regard to their historic rights in their homeland in order to achieve peace. They offered more than one vision to solve this historic conflict; visions which were progressive and democratic in nature. Recently, they accepted what the whole world said, in spite of the injustice inflicted upon them. They accepted a solution based on Security Council resolutions 242 and 338. A solution based on the principle of returning the territories occupied since 1967 for peace. The area of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip constitutes only about 22% of the area of Mandated Palestine. The compromise, which received world consensus, although it was unjust for us, is one on Mandated Palestine. It is never one on the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 1967, which must be returned in its entirety.

The whole world is unanimous in rejecting Israeli practices related to settlements and to Jerusalem. It is also unanimous with regard to the basis of the peace process and the need for the implementation of the agreements reached. The time is approaching when Israel will have to decide whether it is a member of the family of nations or outside that family.

Our people remain steadfast, defending their land and rights, and no power in the world, enemy or friend, will be able to convince them otherwise. Our people remain steadfast and continue in their collective expression of their rejection of occupation and oppression, in spite of the sacrifices they make in this regard.

The escalation of Israeli oppression in the face of the people's rejection of such policies, especially in Hebron and Al-Muwasi of Khan Younis, and the sanctioned daily harassment by settler gangs, challenging our people to the extent of insulting our Blessed Prophet, will only lead to further violence and deterioration of the situation. Furthermore, Israel's use of its military might and its irresponsible threats, including the threat to reoccupy the areas from which the occupying army withdrew, will only lead to a real catastrophe. The Israeli accusations that the rejection by our people of the policies of occupation is fraudulent and that the expression by the masses of this rejection is instigated reflect racist thinking and mentality, which deprive the people from their humanity and their natural reaction against Israeli policies.

The Palestinian people and the Palestinian leadership are still committed to their strategic decision to engage in the peace process and to uphold the agreements reached. We still have not completely lost hope for a qualitative change in the Israeli position necessary to salvage the peace process and bring it back on track. We hope that the cosponsors of the peace process, others concerned, and the influential parties, as well as the entire international community will exert additional pressures to achieve that goal.

In all cases, we have the unshaken, deep conviction that our people will be able to regain all of their inalienable rights and will be able to establish their independent state with Jerusalem as its capital, and consequently will be able to substantially contribute in building a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. For that, and for the guarantee of our rights, we will continue to work at the United Nations, to return to the Emergency Special Session and to return to the Security Council. We are hopeful that the United Nations will be enabled to apply one single standard and that it will be effectively enabled to exercise its responsibilities.