Palestine Delivers Strong Statement at General Debate of 55th Session

For the 3rd year, Palestine participated in the General Debate of the General Assembly following the upgrade of its status by resolution 52/250 in 1998. The debate this year began a week after the Millennium Summit, which President Arafat traveled to New York for and participated in. Palestine’s address to the 55th Session of General Assembly was delivered by Ambassador Al-Kidwa, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the U.N., on 19 September 2000.

Palestine’s address, which was made prior to the recent deterioration of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, focused on ongoing difficulties in the peace process and in the lives of the Palestinian people due to persisting obstacles and lack of progress as a result of Israeli intransigence. Ambassador Al-Kidwa presented, inter alia, a review of the status of the peace process, including an account of the positions of the parties on issues of the final settlement during the Camp David Summit. Throughout the statement, he corrected various Israeli distortions of all of the above issues and discussed several possible measures for fostering progress in the situation. The following are excerpts from that statement:

"The current government did not implement any of the provisions of the agreements except those provisions that the prior government explicitly committed itself to implementing in the Wye River Memorandum of October 1998. This government did not carry out redeployment from one centimeter more than what Mr. Netanyahu had committed himself to implementing and it also failed to carry out the third redeployment. Illegal settlements, which are also destructive to the peace process, continued even in Jabal Abu Ghneim… A number of other illegal measures and practices also continued, creating a negative and tense climate."

"The Palestinian side has accepted, despite the historic injustice, to establish its State in accordance with the partition resolution, which gave us less than half of mandated Palestine, and has accepted Security Council resolution 242 (1967) as the basis for settlement, which gives us less than a fourth of mandated Palestine. Is there a more historic concession than this? Is it possible to forget this and only look at positions taken during the Camp David negotiations in isolation from the past?"

"The signed agreements state that Jerusalem will be an issue for negotiation, which means the whole of Jerusalem, i.e. Occupied East Jerusalem and West Jerusalem, which is under de facto Israeli control. From our side, we have accepted that West Jerusalem be under Israeli sovereignty and the capital of Israel. We have demanded the end of the occupation of East Jerusalem for it to be under Palestinian sovereignty and the capital of Palestine… In return for this flexibility, Israel is not satisfied with recognized sovereignty over West Jerusalem, but seeks also to usurp parts of Occupied East Jerusalem."

"Israel seeks not only sovereignty over the Western Wall, but further challenges our sovereignty over Al-Haram Al-Sharif and seeks to maintain some form of sovereignty over it, something which will not be accepted by any Palestinian, Arab or Muslim leader, not now, not in the future."

 

"…Israel refuses to recognize its responsibility for this human tragedy and refuses to recognize the rights of the refugees, including their right of return, and wants to only compensate them, and even that, at the expense of others and not in its capacity as the party that seized their lands and properties."

"During the Millennium Summit a lot of great things were said about the U.N. and its role in the past and in the future… we add that the U.N. is indispensable when it comes to the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East… If we arrive at a dead end, God forbid, despite all that we have offered and done for the success of the peace process, then we will come to you and we expect to receive your protection and support. We will work for the achievement of membership and we will work to enhance the resolutions of the U.N…"

"Let this year be the year of bringing an end to the historic injustice that has befallen our people, and let it be a new beginning for life in the Middle East for all its States and all its peoples and all future generations."