From the 50th Anniversary to the 51st Session

The United Nations should remain the guardian of Palestinian rights until they are fully realized

Last year, on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations, the world witnessed the most impressive gathering of world leaders to ever take place. 128 heads of state or government participated in the three days of the Special Commemorative Meeting. The occasion was an opportunity for leaders to reaffirm the importance of the United Nations, their support for the organization and their adherence to the Charter of the United Nations, which represents one of the most important documents of international law. The successful meeting and the declaration adopted by the participants symbolized a victory for ideals over narrow calculations and of future visions based on international cooperation over unilateralism and isolationist policies.

For the Palestinian people, this summit was even more significant because it brought with it additional international support. During that meeting, the United Nations came the closest ever to dealing with Palestine as a state. In fact, the General Assembly decided that the arrangements applying to member states should also be extended to Palestine, in its capacity as observer, along with the Holy See and Switzerland.

By random selection, President Arafat was given the chance to address the Special Commemorative Meeting of the General Assembly during the first session and was positioned to speak before the foreign ministers of member states scheduled during that same session. This was an important milestone in the continuous Palestinian struggle at the United Nations.

We are now in the midst of the 51st session, a little more than one year following that major event. While we still maintain the spirit of the 50th Anniversary, we nevertheless suffer the realities on the ground as we pursue the tasks before us at the United Nations this session. The stalemate of the peace process and the serious dangers emanating from Israeli policies and measures of the government of Mr. Netanyahu threaten to destroy that process. We are faced with the continuous deterioration of the situation of the Palestinian people, including their living conditions and their social and economic status. All of this must be reflected in the host of positions and resolutions to be adopted during the current session.

For the observer delegation of Palestine at the United Nations, there have always been certain principles guiding our work, which have remained valid and necessary after the start of the Middle East peace process and particularly after the signing of the Declaration of Principles in 1993.

The first principle is the permanent responsibility of the United Nations towards the question of Palestine. This legal, political and moral responsibility, which began with the General Assembly's partition of Palestine, does not end with the beginning of the peace process; it ends only with the achievement of a solution to the question of Palestine in all its aspects.

The second principle is the necessity for the international community to uphold the United Nations' Charter, international law and relevant Security Council resolutions. These remain valid in all circumstances and cannot be neutralized by the existence of the peace process or substituted by any transitional arrangements.

The third principle, which arose after the peace process, is that the international community should provide the necessary support for the process. This includes supervision of compliance by the parties with the agreements reached, affirmation of positions against violations and the provision of assistance to the Palestinian people in the building of their institutions and economy.

These principles, coupled with the evaluation of the actual situation, will serve as the basis for the twenty resolutions we plan to introduce to the General Assembly this session under various agenda items. These resolutions will naturally include clear and unwavering positions on all final status issues, such as Jerusalem, refugees and settlements, as well as positions on Israeli practices and measures. Most importantly, they will include reaffirmations of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. In this regard, clearly the United Nations should remain the guardian of Palestinian rights until they are fully realized.