Non-Aligned Movement Firm on Palestinian Issues

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) convened its XIIth Summit of Heads of State or Government in Durban, South Africa from 29 August to 3 September 1998. The recent Summit was particularly special because it was held for the first time ever in South Africa after the dismantlement of apartheid and the establishment of a democratic government in that country. The XIIth Summit of NAM was attended by many Heads of State or Government, who expressed their high hopes that the Movement will play an even greater role in the international arena in the future.

President Yasser Arafat attended the Summit and delivered a statement as well. Among the many important issues addressed in his statement, President Arafat stated the following:

"From this rostrum, I declare that the Israeli government bears full responsibility for the comprehensive stagnation in the peace process and for the uncontrollable chaos which will spread throughout the entire region if the peace march stops."

"We, brothers and friends in our Movement, need more of your support and assistance in this critical stage of our people’s heroic march, in order to enable us to succeed in the 4th of May, 1999 historic decision, completing our 1988 Declaration of an independent state of Palestine in the occupied territories since 1967, which then received your support and recognition. God willing, this great national project will succeed, since our people are determined to achieve their sacred right to self-determination. The recent General Assembly resolution upgrading the representation of Palestine in the United Nations, which was adopted overwhelmingly, reaffirms once more the solid support of the international community for our legitimate aspirations of freedom, independence and sovereignty. "

President Nelson Mandela of South Africa delivered a powerful opening statement at the Summit, which included firm remarks concerning Palestine and the rights of the Palestinian people. In this regard, President Mandela, stated the following:

"We remain gravely concerned about the situation in the Middle East, especially the positions taken by the Netanyahu administration in Israel, which has blocked progress towards a just and peaceful solution, including the formation of a sovereign state of Palestine."

"The international community, and the United States in particular, has a responsibility to ensure that this matter is addressed expeditiously. We should not allow that the narrow, chauvinistic interests of the current administration in Israel should succeed to block the prospect of a permanent and just peace throughout the Middle East."

In general, the Summit adopted a strong position on Palestine and the Middle East. The Final Communique’ adopted by the NAM Summit included an entire section entitled "Palestine and the Middle East", which appeared under Chapter II, Analysis of the International Situation. That section consisted of subsections on Palestine, the Syrian Golan, Lebanon and the Middle East peace process. The following is the text of the subsection on Palestine:

  • The Heads of State or Government reiterated their traditional long-standing solidarity with the Palestinian people, and noted that these days mark the 50th Anniversary of the dispossession of the Palestinian people from their land, homes and properties. They called for the implementation of all U.N. resolutions on the question of Palestine including those related to Palestinian refugees. They reiterated their support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to return to their homeland and to have their own independent State with Jerusalem as its capital, and they reiterated their demand for the withdrawal of Israel, the occupying Power, from all the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and the other Arab territories occupied since 1967.
  • The Heads of State or Government reaffirmed their position on Occupied East Jerusalem, the illegal Israeli settlements, and the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem. They demanded that Israel, the occupying Power, implement relevant Security Council resolutions in this regard and abide by its legal obligations. They reiterated their support for the recommendations contained in the resolutions adopted during the Tenth Emergency Special Session (ES-10/2, ES-10/3, ES-10/4 and ES-10/5) including, inter alia, the recommendation to convene a 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 fulfillment of their collective responsibility as stipulated in common article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
  • The Heads of State or Government welcomed the adoption by the U.N. General Assembly of Resolution 52/250 on the participation of Palestine in the work of the U.N. and expressed confidence that Palestine will enjoy full membership in the U.N. in the near future, preferably during the 53rd session of the General Assembly. They also reiterated that Israeli representation in the work of the General Assembly must be in conformity with international law, thus ensuring that Israeli credentials do not cover the occupied territories since 1967, including Jerusalem.
  • The Heads of State or Government strongly condemned the decision of the Government of Israel on 21 June 1998 to take further steps to expand the jurisdiction and planned boundaries of Jerusalem. In this regard, they highly appreciated the efforts deployed by His Majesty Hassan II, King of Morocco, Chairman of Al-Quds Committee for the safeguard of Jerusalem. They fully supported the content of the Final Communiqué and recommendations adopted by the Committee at its XVII Session held in Casablanca on 29-30 July 1998.
  • The Heads of State or Government expressed their deep concern over the current deadlock of the Palestinian-Israeli track of the Middle East peace process as a result of the policies of the Israeli Government, in violation of the existing agreements, including settlement activities, repressive measures and economic suffocation of the Palestinian people. In this regard, they condemned in particular the recent killing and wounding by the Israeli army of scores of Palestinian civilians. They called for increasing efforts to ensure compliance by Israel with the existing agreements and their timely implementation.