Palestinian Priorities during the 53rd Session of the General Assembly

The 53rd session of the United Nations General Assembly has begun against the backdrop of the strong and clear results of the 52nd session on Palestinian issues, as well as the results of the Tenth Emergency Special Session (ESS) on illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Only recently, the General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted resolution 52/250 of 7 July 1998 on the upgrade of Palestine’s representation at the U.N., and the 10th ESS resumed twice in the period of that session, adopting two strong resolutions. Obviously, these achievements were possible largely because of the conviction of Member States of the need to realize the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, as well as their concerns about the deteriorating situation in the Middle East and the stalemate in the peace process due to the policies and positions of the Israeli Government. During the 53rd session, we must build upon the results achieved in the 52nd session with the hope that forthcoming achievements will help create a new situation for Palestine and the Middle East, reviving the peace process and bringing it to its ultimate fruition.

The following are the priorities of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations for the 53rd Session of the General Assembly:

  1. The package of annual resolutions: Last session, the Assembly adopted 19 Palestinian resolutions, plus one on Palestine’s participation. We believe that the package was reasonable, comprehensive and balanced and should be reaffirmed. One important change should be effected, however, with regard to the resolution on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, in which we intend to add the right to establish an independent state. Under the current circumstances, we expect that the resolution will continue to enjoy overwhelming support. We also hope that the votes will improve on the resolutions on the mandates of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) and the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories. Both have carried out necessary and valuable work.
  2. Israeli credentials: We believe that the Israeli representation in the work of the General Assembly should be in conformity with the international law, thus ensuring that Israeli credentials do not cover the occupied territories since 1967, including Jerusalem. This exact language was adopted by the Twelfth NAM Summit, held in Durban, South Africa, which alone could provide for the adoption of an amendment of this nature to the General Assembly resolution on the report of the Credentials Committee. We do hope, however, that such a step would receive wide support since it is perfectly in line with the established position of the international community on the illegality of the Israeli occupation and the status of the occupied territory.
  3. The convening of the conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention on measures to enforce the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and to ensure its respect in accordance with common article 1: The convening of this conference was recommended by resolutions, ES-10/3, ES-10/4 and ES-10/5. A meeting of experts of a general nature is scheduled to take place in Geneva near the end of October (as part of a package proposed by the Swiss Government). During that meeting, we will ask the participating High Contracting Parties to adopt a decision on the convening of the conference in implementation of the recommendations of the 10th ESS, hopefully before the end of this year. In general, we must follow up, in a serious manner, the results of the 10th ESS, especially with regard to the recommendation for States to take the necessary measures on a national or regional level in fulfillment of their obligations under article 1 of the Convention, to ensure respect by Israel, the occupying Power, of the Convention, as well as its recommendation to Member States to actively discourage activities which directly contribute to any construction or development of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, as those activities contravene international law. We will, of course, request the resumption of the 10th ESS if the Israeli side takes any steps in violation of the demands made in the resolutions of the 10th ESS, especially with regard to Jerusalem and in particular with regard to Jabal Abu Ghneim and Ras al-Amud.
  4. Bethlehem 2000: A new item (159), entitled "Bethlehem 2000" has been added to the General Assembly’s agenda for the 53rd session. The item was proposed by the members of the Bureau of the CEIRPP in recognition of the significance and relevance of the Bethlehem 2000 commemoration for all humankind and the need for the U.N. to address this issue through the General Assembly. We hope that a resolution will be adopted by consensus on this matter, and we will strive to attain this in cooperation with all interested delegations.

Another extremely important issue will be pursued later in the 53rd session, as the Palestinian leadership has repeatedly announced its intention to reaffirm the declaration of independence of the State of Palestine in May 1999 by the end of the five-year transitional period in accordance with the existing Palestinian-Israeli agreements. Accordingly, the immediate issue thereafter will be the full membership of Palestine at the U.N. In this regard, it is our hope that the Security Council will be enabled to adopt the necessary recommendation to the General Assembly in this regard, with the support of all five permanent members of the Council for this historic and natural development.

The Palestinian side has always maintained a clear vision with regard to the necessary work of the United Nations on Palestinian issues. This has been based on positions of principle, the most important of which is the permanent responsibility of the United Nations towards the question of Palestine until it effectively resolved in all its aspects.