Statement by Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, Ambassador, Permanent
Observer of Palestine to the U.N., before the Resumed 10th
Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly on "Illegal Israeli
Actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the Rest of the Occupied
Palestinian Territory", 20 December 2001, United Nations, New York
Statement by Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, Ambassador, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the U.N., before the Resumed 10th Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly on "Illegal Israeli Actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the Rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory", 20 December 2001, United Nations, New York: (Original Arabic)
We would like to express our thanks and appreciation to you for your positive response to the request made by the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement to resume the tenth emergency special session. This resumption comes in light of the failure of the Security Council to fulfill its primary responsibilities for the maintenance of international peace and security due to the exercise by one of the permanent members of the Council of the veto during the vote on a draft resolution in the early hours of last Saturday, 15 December 2001. We then meet today in the framework of "Uniting for Peace", on the basis of the collective responsibilities of Member states of the United Nations towards the maintenance of international peace and security and due to the dangerous and deteriorating situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and its negative repercussions in the situation and the region as a whole.
We expect that Member states uniting for peace will, with great majority, adopt the same text of the draft resolution which was presented to the Security Council, as well as adopt another draft resolution on the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and the important Declaration adopted by the Conference of High Contracting Parties on 5 December 2001 in Geneva. As such, members will fulfill their responsibilities and send the right message to the occupying Power, to the people under occupation and to the peoples and governments of the region and frankly, also to the Security Council.
Some might wonder whether all of this might change the situation on the ground. On our part, we believe that resolutions of the emergency special sessions have special strength, even if this is not the case, they, like resolutions of the General Assembly and other United Nations organs have at least, the moral authority embodied in the international community and its representatives and at best, the power of law. These should change the situation on the ground and if this does not happen, as has been the case with the Palestinian situation over the years, it then underlines in a glaring way the obscene situation of one state that considers itself above the law and publicly expresses its contempt for United Nations resolutions with the cover and automatic protection by the super Power of the world. This is the situation, which needs to be tackled and brought to an end, not the international will nor meetings and resolutions of the United Nations organs.
In this respect, the abnormal situation in the Security Council, when it comes to the Question of Palestine, which has lasted for a long time must be brought to an end. Prevention of the Security Council from fulfilling its responsibilities when it comes to the situation on the Middle East and on the question of Palestine cannot continue. Considering those important issues as off limits for the Security Council cannot be accepted. There is then a problem, and it is a huge problem, that affects negatively the situation in the Middle East, the credibility of the Council and its ability to move effectively in different places.
The important question here, relevant perhaps to the entire matter of international relations and perhaps to the future of this organization, is whether this Council is being used by some only when it suits them or whether this Council is representative of and acting on behalf of all members of the international community and is actually responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security in all places and at times and to with whose will all members of the organization comply without exception. On our part, we will continue working and cooperating with all members of the Council hoping to overcome the existing crisis in a way which would enable the Council to fulfill its natural role and we will be the first to comply with its resolutions. But for this to happen, the matter needs your collective support and effort.
On 16 December 2001, President Yasser Arafat addressed the Palestinian people on the first day of the Holy Eid Al-Fitr insisting on the cease-fire and the necessity for compliance with the decisions of the Palestinian Authority. The President said, "I once more reaffirm today the immediate and comprehensive cessation of all military actions and I call again for the cessation of any acts especially the suicide attacks, which we have always condemned and whose perpetrators and planners will be held accountable as well as the mortar shelling that have no goal but giving justification to Israeli attacks against us." This address and its content represents a new Palestinian attempt to stop the dangerous deterioration on the ground and a big leap to change the existing dismal situation towards reviving peace efforts. But, the most prominent feature of this address is that it comes from the victim, from the people under occupation all while the Palestinian cities and villages remain under siege and every Palestinian is being suffocated, almost to death. We did that, nevertheless, not only because of the unbearable pain and suffering of our people, but also because of what we saw as a clear international will and because of our wish to reach out to our Israeli neighbor, irrespective of the Israeli policies. We did that because we believe that all of us, the people of the region, deserve a better chance.
We were and we still remain hopeful for a real change in the position of the Israeli government. Unfortunately, this has not been the case and we underline the huge danger of that. Suffice to indicate that on the next day of the address the Israeli occupying forces killed four Palestinians, including two children, and one case of an extra-judiciary execution. Suffice also to indicate that the Israeli side is trying now to invent new mechanisms to maintain or to elongate the existing dangerous situation. We have not lost hope yet, but the international community has to exercise serious pressure on the Israeli side so that we can see a real change in its practices and policies. Absence that, in spite of the last Palestinian initiative, it will have grave consequences that only God knows its limits.
The current Israeli government adopted policies undermining the peace efforts from the first day this government came into power. Mr. Sharon has declared on more than one occasion that he does not want to reach a final settlement and that he only wants an agreement on ending belligerency. Mr. Sharon has also repeatedly declared his animosity towards the Mitchell Committee and later to its recommendations. In fact, in order to evade implementation of the recommendations, he invented the condition of "7 quiet days" - as if a period of quiet would lead to implementation of the recommendations and not that the implementation of these recommendations will lead to the quiet period, an end to the violence and a resumption of the peace process. Once Mr. Sharon succeeded in burying the Mitchell recommendations for a long period of time, and maybe to abort attempts to revive them again, he came up with a new declaration regarding the necessity for the Palestinian Authority to first combat and end terrorism, and meanwhile Israel would continue to assault this Authority and its institutions, including the security apparatus, disabling them from functioning. And finally, he came with the announcement to boycott the Palestinian Authority, which means the abandonment of the negotiation process and appears to be a prelude to the abandonment of existing agreements between the two sides.
These basic political announcements by the Israeli government and its leader all firmly convey the persistence of this government to continue its confrontation and violence as well as its rejection of all attempts to establish peace. It is regrettable for me to say here that some tried to provide cover for some of these positions, whether deliberately or not, thus encouraging the Israeli government to continue with its destructive policies and its aggression against our people.
Recently, Israel, the occupying Power, escalated its bloody military campaign against our people and the Palestinian Authority in a vicious manner. It has intensively used military warplanes, F-16s, helicopter gunships and tanks and other weaponry. It has reoccupied parts of the areas under full Palestinian control, fortified its siege of Palestinian cities, and destroyed many Palestinian institutions and symbols of the Authority and main utilities such as Gaza International Airport and the Voice of Palestine Radio. All of this has been accompanied, of course, with significant human losses and a situation of widespread fear and terror among Palestinian civilians. Prior to this escalation, the Israeli campaign was incessant since the infamous visit of Ariel Sharon to Al-Haram Al-Sharif on 28 September 2000. During this period, Israeli occupying forces have killed more than 830 Palestinians in addition to the hundreds of other Palestinians martyred as a result of the occupation in different ways such as the prevention of the movement of ambulances. Israeli occupying forces have also injured approximately 30,000 Palestinians, many of them suffering from permanent disabilities, and caused tremendous suffering for all the Palestinian people.
The occupying forces have committed deliberate killings and Israel, the occupying Power, has adopted the policy of extra-judiciary executions as an official policy. Israel has also caused widespread destruction of individual and public properties, including of economic institutions and including the uprooting of thousands of trees and the razing of agricultural lands. All of the above-mentioned represent grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The occupying Power has also committed other serious violations of the Convention, including the imposition of severe restrictions on the movement of persons and goods and the imposition of closure and suffocation and collective punishments. Reference should be made here to the Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, which was convened on 15 July 1999 and recently reconvened on 5 December 2001 and unanimously adopted an extremely important Declaration. We register here our appreciation to High Contracting Parties that took the step of convening the Conference for the first time in the history of the Conventions and register our appreciation to Switzerland for its important contributions in its capacity as the Depository. The Declaration called, inter alia, upon the occupying Power to immediately refrain from committing grave breaches of the Convention involving any of the acts mentioned in article 147 and to refrain from any other violations of the Convention. With all regret, Israel has continued and even escalated these violations.
Here, and on the basis of the clear provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Additional Protocol 1, and here before the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly, we charge the Government of Mr. Ariel Sharon, the Government of the occupying Power, with war crimes committed against the Palestinian people pursuant to the official policies of this Government. Further, we hold it responsible for all other war crimes committed by members of the occupying army and by Israeli settlers, in accordance with article 29 of the Convention. The responsibilities of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention are very clear as defined in common article 1 and article 148. We also charge Israel, the occupying Power, of committing state terrorism against our people as it has engaged in the killing of civilians and the vast destruction of property with the aim of instilling fear and terror among the population and forcing them to submit to its political will. The responsibilities of the international community are clear, particularly in light of the campaign against international terrorism. Our people and our region and many in our world are looking to see how the international community will deal with this grave and tragic matter.
In all cases, the Israeli occupation of our land and our people remains the main predicament and the origin of all the disasters. The only solution for the situation we are in is an end to the occupation and the realization of the rights of our people, including the establishment of their Independent State with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital. This realization and the coexistence between the two States, Palestine and Israel, is what will bring security, stability and peace for both sides and for the region. In this regard, we would like to express our appreciation for what was stated by President George Bush before the General Assembly and the statement made by Secretary of State Powell on 19 November with regard to the Middle East. We accept the content of this statement as a basis for moving forward, both with regard to dealing with the current situation on the ground and with regard to the final settlement between the two sides.
We also express our appreciation to the envoys of some concerned parties, including the United States, the Russian Federation, the European Union and the United Nations Secretary-General, and of course to all of our friends, including the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement for their principled and continuous support. Our thanks also goes to our Arab fraternal brothers.
We are confident that this emergency special session will contribute in bringing the current dangerous crisis in our region to an end and will contribute to the efforts for the realization of the rights of our people and the establishment of peace in the Middle East. We warmly thank you all.