Palestine & The U.N. in Retrospect

The Nineties

(Part 6 of 6) 

This is the sixth in a series of six articles, appearing chronologically by decade, looking back at the most important events related to the question of Palestine that have taken place at the United Nations since the inception of the organization in 1945.

  • On 25 May 1990, the Security Council meets in Geneva, with Chairman Yasser Arafat in attendance, after the U.S. refuses to grant him a visa to attend the meeting in New York. The Security Council holds the debate on the situation in the occupied territories, and on 31 May 1990, in a meeting in New York, a draft resolution is vetoed by the U.S.
  • On 12 October 1990, the Security Council unanimously adopts resolution 672, condemning the acts of violence committed by Israeli security forces on 8 October 1990 at Al-Haram Al-Sharif in Jerusalem and requesting the Secretary-General to send a mission to the region. During the debate, the Palestinian delegation shows a video tape documenting the Israeli aggression.
  • On 24 October 1990, the Security Council unanimously adopts resolution 673, deploring the refusal of the Israeli government to receive the mission of the Secretary-General and urging it to comply with resolution 672 (1990).
  • During the 45th Session of the General Assembly, no vote is taken on the report of the Credentials Committee as required by the rules of procedures. This was a compromise reached by the President of the General Assembly in light of a proposed amendment to the resolution on the report of the Credentials Committee, indicating that "the credentials of the delegation of Israel do not relate to or cover the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem; and the Syrian Golan."
  • On 28 November 1990, the General Assembly once more adopts resolution 45/37, calling upon all states concerned to accord the delegations of national liberation movements recognized by the Organization of African Unity and /or by the League of Arab States, the facilities, privileges and immunities necessary for the performance of their functions, in accordance with the provisions of the Vienna Convention on the Representation of States in their Relations with International Organizations of a Universal Character.
  • On 4 December 1990, the General Assembly adopts resolution 45/52 calling upon all countries of the Middle East to place their nuclear activities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards; and in its resolution 45/63 the General Assembly condemns Israel’s refusal to renounce any possession of nuclear weapons, and calls upon all states to end aid to Israel in this field. *
  • The General Assembly adopts resolutions 45/67 A,B,C on 6 December 1990 on the Question of Palestine, endorsing the recommendations of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and requesting continuation of the work of the Division for Palestinian Rights and the special information program on the question of Palestine. Under the same agenda item, the General Assembly adopts a resolution calling for the convening of an international peace conference on the Middle East under the auspices of the United Nations, and a resolution on the intifada, the uprising of the Palestinian people. *
  • On 11 December 1990, the General Assembly adopts resolutions 45/73 A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J,K on UNRWA. The resolutions respectively call for contributions to UNRWA and endorse assistance to Palestine refugees; call upon Israel to permit the return of displaced Palestinians and to remove obstacles to the establishment of Al-Quds University for Palestinian refugees; request the Secretary-General to take appropriate steps for the protection and administration of Arab refugee property, assets and property rights; and condemn Israeli raids on UNRWA premises, as well as Israeli policies against Palestinian educational institutions. *
  • The General Assembly adopts resolutions 45/74 A,B,C,D,E,F,G on 11 December 1990 on Israeli practices affecting human rights in the occupied territories, condemning the continued and persistent violation by Israel of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949; reaffirming the applicability of the Convention to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied since 1967; condemning Israel’s policies of settlements and annexation in the occupied territories, as well as its measures against civil and educational freedom there, and for its expulsion of Palestinian leaders. *
  • On 13 December 1990, the General Assembly adopts resolutions 45/83 A,B,C on the situation in the Middle East. The three resolutions consist of an omnibus resolution on the Middle East, a resolution on the Syrian Golan and a third on the status of occupied Jerusalem. *
  • On 20 December 1990, the Security Council, after lengthy discussions and maneuvering, adopts resolution 681, on ways and means of ensuring the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilians under Israeli occupation: urging the government of Israel to accept the de jure applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Convention to ensure respect by Israel, for its obligations under the Convention in accordance with article 1 thereof. The resolution also requests the Secretary-General to develop further the idea of convening a conference for the High Contracting Parties of the Convention, deplores Israel’s decision to resume deportation of Palestinian civilians from the occupied territories and requests the Secretary-General to present periodic reports on the situation. In the resolution the Council took into consideration the Presidential Statement of the same date, in which the Council first agreed upon the idea of an international peace conference on the Middle East, appropriately timed and properly structured.
  • On 21 December 1990, the General Assembly adopts resolution 45/183, requesting the international community to provide assistance to the Palestinian people in cooperation with the Palestine Liberation Organization. *
  • On 24 May 1991, the Security Council unanimously adopts resolution 694, deploring Israel’s deportation of Palestinians and declaring that this action is in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.
  • In October 1991, the Middle East Peace Conference convenes in Madrid. This development is welcomed by the 46th Session of the General Assembly. At the same time, the package of resolutions related to the issue of Palestine are retained almost intact, while the resolution on the Syrian Golan is not presented during this session, and the omnibus resolution on the situation in the Middle East is dropped.
  • On 16 December 1991, the General Assembly adopts resolution 46/86, revoking the determination in General Assembly resolution 3379 (XXX) of 10 November 1975. (The latter resolution had determined Zionism to be a form of racism and racial discrimination.)
  • On 6 January 1992, the Security Council adopts resolution 726, condemning the decision by Israel to deport twelve Palestinian civilians from the occupied Palestinian territories.
  • On 18 December 1992, the Security Council adopts resolution 799, strongly condemning the deportation by Israel of hundreds of Palestinian civilians, and affirming that the deportation of civilians constitutes a contravention of Israel’s obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Council demands that Israel, the occupying Power, ensure the safe and immediate return to the occupied territories of all those deported.
  • On 22 December 1992, the General Assembly adopts resolution 47/172 on the economic and social repercussions of Israeli settlements on the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and the Arab population of the occupied Syrian Golan. *
  • On 14 September 1993, Chairman Arafat visits the U.N. to meet with the Secretary-General to brief him about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements at the White House a day earlier.
  • During the 48th Session, the package of resolutions related to the Question of Palestine undergoes several changes, including the combination of some of them and a general revision of their language. All relevant agenda items are retained, as are positions on all basic issues, the two Committees and the necessary budgetary allocations. Also during that session the resolution on the Middle East peace conference under the agenda item of the Question of Palestine is transformed into a resolution entitled "Peaceful settlement of the Question of Palestine". The vote on this resolution and the package as a whole rises dramatically, with the European countries casting positive votes. The U.S., in cooperation with Norway and the Russian Federation, introduces a new resolution in support of the Middle East peace process, and the resolution on assistance to the Palestinian people is adopted by consensus. The report of the Credentials Committee is voted upon according to normal procedures.
  • On 10 December 1993, the General Assembly adopts decision 48/417, establishing a working relationship between the Advisory Commission of UNRWA and the Palestine Liberation Organization.
  • On 18 March 1994, the Security Council adopts resolution 904, strongly condemning the massacre in Al-Khalil (Hebron) committed against Palestinian worshipers in Al-Haram Al-Ibrahimi (Mosque of Ibrahim) on 25 February 1994 during the holy month of Ramadan; calling upon Israel, the occupying Power, to take and implement measures to prevent illegal acts of violence by Israeli settlers including the confiscation of arms; and calling for measures to guarantee the safety and protection of Palestinian civilians, including a temporary international or foreign presence within the context of the peace process. (The U.S. sought a rare procedure of a paragraph-by-paragraph vote and the resolution as a whole was adopted without a vote.)
  • On 25 May 1994, the Secretary-General appoints Ambassador Terje Larsen of Norway as Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories to ensure coordination of the work of the agencies of the United Nations involved in providing assistance to the Palestinian people.
  • On 2 December 1994, the General Assembly adopts resolution 49/21 B on special economic assistance to individual countries or regions, requesting the Secretary-General to designate a United Nations agency to disburse the voluntary contributions given by donors for salaries and other start-up costs of the Palestinian police force. On 13 April 1995, the General Assembly adopts resolution 49/21 O, requesting the Secretary-General to designate UNRWA once again to disburse the contributions.
  • On 23 December 1994, the General Assembly adopts resolution 49/149, reaffirming the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, and urging all states, specialized agencies and organizations of the United Nations system to continue to support the Palestinian people in their quest for self-determination.
  • In October 1995, the United Nations convenes a Special Commemorative Meeting on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations. In resolution 49/12 B of 24 May 1995, the Preparatory Committee and the General Assembly decide that the same arrangements extended to member states with regard to participation in the commemoration will be extended to Palestine in its capacity as observer (in addition to Switzerland and the Holy See). As a result, for the duration of the Special Commemorative Meeting, Palestine is treated as a member state. President Arafat attends the meeting and addresses the General Assembly during its first session before the Foreign Ministers of member states who spoke in that session.
  • On 28 September 1996, the Security Council adopts resolution 1073 on the action by the Government of Israel to open an entrance to a tunnel in the vicinity of Al-Haram Al-Sharif in Jerusalem. The resolution calls for the immediate cessation and reversal of all acts which resulted in the aggravation of the situation, and also calls for ensuring the safety and protection of the Palestinian people and for the timely implementation of agreements reached.
  • On 13 December 1996, the General Assembly adopts an additional resolution 51/133 on the Israeli settlements, reaffirming that Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and in the Syrian Golan are illegal and an obstacle to peace and economic and social development and demanding complete cessation of all Israeli settlement activities.
  • On 16 December 1996, the General Assembly adopts an additional resolution 51/190 on the Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources. The resolution reaffirms the right of the Palestinian people and the population of the Syrian Golan over their natural resources, including land and water, and recognizes the right of the Palestinian people to claim restitution as a result of any exploitation, loss or depletion of their natural resources.