Excerpts from the statement of Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, before the Resumed Tenth Emergency Special Session on 17 March 1998:
Member States of the United Nations are obliged today to reaffirm their commitment to "Uniting for Peace" in a resumption of the Tenth Emergency Special Session for the third time. The reason for this is clear and simple - Israel has refused to comply with the provisions of the resolutions of the Tenth Emergency Special Session and has even expressed its contempt for those resolutions. Israel continues to violate them and to violate relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. Indeed, it continues violating the Charter of the United Nations and international humanitarian law, in addition to the agreements signed between the Israeli side and the Palestinian side within the framework of the Middle East peace process.
In addition to this primary reason, there is also another reason, namely that the mechanism recommended by the Emergency Special Session for insuring respect for the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 relative to the Protection of Civilians in the Time of War, through the convening of a conference for the High Contracting Parties on measures to enforce the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and also a meeting of experts of the High Contracting Parties, which should have preceded the conference and been convened by a target date no later than the end of February 1998, has not been implemented. The adoption of a new resolution is thus required to reaffirm the recommendations of resolutions ES-10/3 and ES-10/4 with the extension of the target date of the meeting of experts until, for instance, the end of April 1998.
Article 1 common to the four Geneva Conventions affirms the treaty obligations of the High Contracting Parties, that is to say all of you, without exception, to undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances. Article 148 states that no High Contracting Party shall be allowed to absolve itself or any other High Contracting Party of any liability incurred by itself or by another High Contracting Party in respect of grave breaches referred to in article 147. Article 147 enumerates those grave breaches, including, inter alia, unlawful deportation or transfer of protected civilians and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly. To complete the bleak picture of the existing situation, I will only refer to section 3, and specifically to article 49 of the Convention, which clearly states that "the occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."
Needless to say, Israel, the occupying Power, has committed grave breaches of the Convention and has violated many of its provisions on a daily basis, for a period exceeding thirty years. Israel has committed all kinds of oppression against the protected Palestinian civilians, ranging from killing, detention, and administrative detention to deportation. It has perpetuated extensive destruction of the properties of the Palestinian people, destroyed homes and farms, and exploited natural resources, including water, and confiscated private, communal and public land. Israel has also transferred approximately 350,000 of its civilian population to the occupied territories, settled them there, 25,000 of which represent an increase in the last year alone, armed many of them, and established a structure of living for them separate from that of the Palestinian people. All of this has taken place and has continued on our land for thirty years, and has been witnessed by the whole entire world. It is high time to put an end to all of that in a decisive way, through the mechanism recommended by the Tenth Emergency Special Session.
Israel claims innocence and occasionally asks - why Israel? Why was a conference not held for other cases? The answer is simple. The Israeli occupation is a unique case that is unparalleled in our world today. Israel is the only State officially considered by the Security Council to be an occupying Power. It has been as such, until now, for a period of over thirty successive years. Israel is the only party in the world that refuses the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to all the territories it occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem. It rejects this applicability, in spite of the international consensus on that matter, and it continues to violate the provisions of the Convention, claiming that it abides, de facto, by the humanitarian provisions of the Convention, a claim which is absolutely preposterous. Israel is the only Member State of the United Nations which has publicly and continuously rejected the relevant Security Council resolutions. The Council, as you know, reaffirmed the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the occupied territories since 1967, including Jerusalem, in twenty-four resolutions. Some of these called specifically upon Israel to abide by the provisions of the Convention and in one of them, called upon Israel to accept the de jure applicability of the Convention. Israel has rejected all of those resolutions.
Israel is the only country in the world that is engaged in settler colonialism at the end of the twentieth century. Is there any other name for the system through which Israel confiscated the land of our people, pushed the people onto isolated islands, established settlements for Jewish settlers, and placed our natural resources at the disposal of those foreign settlers? What else could such system be called other than settler colonialism? It is a system that negates the national existence of the Palestinian people, and even their human existence, one which reflects an expansionist ideology that should be condemned, ceased, and reversed.
The problem here obviously is not the existence of limited numbers of Israeli violations of the agreements reached, or even the existence of many Israeli violations, whether for security reasons or on the basis of so-called reciprocity, or for reasons of any other Israeli invention. It is much bigger than that. The problem is the ideological position of the current Israeli government, which is in direct contradiction to the essence and texts of the agreements reached, and which, in turn, has lead to the systematic and continuous violations of those agreements by that government, with the aim of casting them aside and imposing a new framework on the Palestinian people, or what the Israeli Prime Minister called to lower the expectations of the Palestinian side.
In spite of all of the above, we have not lost hope yet. But we call upon the international community, particularly upon the co-sponsors of the peace process, the United States and the Russian Federation, and all other interested parties, including the European Union, to intensify their efforts to save the peace process, which is on its last breath, and to impose respect of the agreements reached and compliance with their provisions, before it is too late. In the coming few days, our region will receive the Secretary-General of the United Nations. It is our strong hope that his visit will reflect positively on the situation as a whole.
Let us always remember that the League of Nations placed Palestine under the mandate system and that the United Nations partitioned mandated Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state with a special international regime for Jerusalem. Let us always remember that the United Nations has a permanent, legal, moral, and political responsibility towards the question of Palestine until it is effectivelysolved in all its aspects.