Highlights

  • Thirty Years of Occupation at the United Nations: To mark the thirtieth year of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) held a special meeting at the United Nations on 9 June 1997. The meeting, which was chaired by Ambassador Ibra Deguene Ka of Senegal, was attended by most U.N. member states. The Secretary-General of the U.N., Mr. Kofi Annan, the President of the Security Council (Russian Federation) and the Vice-President of the General Assembly (Philippines) also attended and addressed the meeting. President Yasser Arafat sent a message on the occasion, in which he stated that "Today's meeting reminds us all of the origin of the problem, which is the existence of the Israeli occupation and its continuity. It also affirms that bringing this occupation to an end and reversing its consequences, in accordance with international law and legitimacy, are the most important conditions for the establishment of peace."

Various other messages were sent on the occasion and were delivered at the meeting, including those from the President of Colombia, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement; the Foreign Minister of Indonesia, on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference; the President of Zimbabwe, on behalf of the Organization of African Unity; and by the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States. As the meeting coincided with the annual U.N. North American Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Symposium on the Question of Palestine, many NGO representatives were also in attendance.

  • African Summit: The 33rd Summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was held in Harare, Zimbabwe from 2 to 4 June 1997, and was attended by President Arafat, who met bilaterally with a number of African heads of state and government at the Summit. Palestine maintains observer status in the OAU, and the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East are permanent items on the agenda of the OAU's Council of Ministers. The final report of the Summit reaffirmed consistent African support for the Palestinian people and a just solution to the question of Palestine, and further called for "the initiation of all possible measures to ensure Israel's adherence to the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference and the principle of land for peace and its full implementation of all the agreements and commitments entered into by the parties concerned during the peace talks."
  • The U.S. Congress and Jerusalem: Defying international law and intervening in sensitive and complex issues at this difficult stage in the negotiations of the peace process and, in some cases, siding against their own citizens, several U.S. Congress members have made recent attempts to establish new facts with regard to the status of Jerusalem. One example of such dangerous undertakings is a recent resolution (non-binding) introduced in Congress "celebrating the 30th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem" and reaffirming Congress' commitment that Jerusalem remain an undivided city. Another such attempt has been the introduction of a bill (H.R. 1298) in the House of Representatives which would require the State Department to list "Jerusalem, Israel" as the place of birth of American citizens born in Jerusalem, rather than the listing "Jerusalem", which has been customarily used. Both the resolution and the bill ignore the fact that the government of the United States does not recognize the illegal, de facto Israeli annexation of Occupied East Jerusalem and, moreover, that the entire international community has never recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and maintains that East Jerusalem remains an integral part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
  • Report of the Secretary-General: Several concerned parties continue to follow-up the issue of the report of the Secretary-General, which was requested by the 10th Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly in resolution ES-10/2 on the illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. In this regard, the Secretary-General sent a note to member states requesting their submission of any information relevant to the implementation of that resolution by 12 June 1997. Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Political Affairs at the U.N., Sir Kieran Prendergast, is scheduled to visit the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel as part of the preparation for the report as well. The Palestinian side has stressed the importance of following-up the resolution and has emphasized the need for a resumed Emergency Special Session if Israel maintains its intransigent position and continues its illegal settlement activities, particularly in Jabal Abu Ghneim.