Statement by Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the U.N., before the Resumed Tenth Emergency Special Session of the U.N. General Assembly, "Illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory", 15 July 1997:(Original: Arabic)

Mr. President,

At the outset, I would like to extend to you our gratitude and appreciation for the resumption of this Tenth Emergency Special Session, in accordance with paragraph 13 of resolution ES-10/2 and upon the request of the Arab Group and the endorsement of the Non-Aligned Movement, as well as the endorsement of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. The convening of the Tenth Emergency Special Session, despite all the difficulties, was and still is a victory for right, justice and the collective will of the international community, in the face of violations of the Charter, international law and United Nations resolutions, and in the face of the arrogance of power and the mentality of occupation, as well as in the face of the abuse of veto power and attempts to neutralize the Security Council.

We have been united and we are still uniting for peace in order to stop all illegal Israeli measures in Jerusalem, to stop settlement activities, to salvage the peace process in the Middle East, and to establish a just, permanent and comprehensive peace in the region. We meet today in this resumed session to reaffirm our seriousness, to show that the international community means what it says, to prove that no country is above international law and that challenging the will of the international community is unacceptable. Today, let us adopt additional recommendations for the necessary collective measures, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 377 (V), to guarantee compliance with the will of the international community.

Mr. President,

We all received the report of the Secretary-General, H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan, presented in accordance with the request of paragraph 9 in resolution ES-10/2. Allow me at this time to express our gratitude and great appreciation to the Secretary-General for his efforts in the preparation of this report, which represents an important document illustrating the real picture with regard to the implementation of the General Assembly resolution, in particular with regard to the Jabal Abu Ghneim settlement and all illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It is a document which should serve as a new shock to the international community concerning the reality of what Israel is undertaking and should also serve as an additional reason for the international community to take decisive measures in this regard.

We have seen in the report that Israel tried to impose certain restrictions on the scope of the mission which the Secretary-General had intended to send, leading to his decision not to send the mission. It is not new for Israel to reject United Nations resolutions, including resolutions of the Security Council and Emergency Special Sessions of the General Assembly, for Israel has the arrogance and the automatic protection which has enabled it to do so in the past. However, this is the first time that we witness not only the illegal Israeli rejection of the resolution of the Tenth Emergency Special Session, but also an attempt to impose the Israeli position on the Secretary-General of the United Nations. We should strongly condemn this new level of Israeli arrogance and we should make sure that this will not be repeated in the future.

We have seen also in the report, in terms of substance, the reality of what Israel has been doing Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. We have seen that the Israeli government rejects all the demands mentioned in the resolution ES-10/2. We have seen that it continues to build the new settlement at Jabal Abu Ghneim, in spite of the extraordinary dangers that it represents. We have seen that Israel continues in confiscating land, expanding existing settlements, building bypass roads, and that it continues in taking measures to impose additional changes in the character, demographic composition and legal status of Jerusalem and that it treats Palestinians as "resident immigrants". We have seen that it still rejects the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention, that it acts to dismember the Palestinian territory and to restrict the freedom of movement of peoples and goods, and to cause a serious deterioration in the economic situation and the living conditions of our people. Furthermore, Israel continues with many activities which violate international law, raise tensions, and jeopardize the peace process and the rights of the Palestinians in the occupied territories. Faced with all of the above, what can be done? Can we be silent? Will we just reiterate our previous positions in light of Israel’s flagrant defiance and rejection of these positions?

We must also recall the permanent responsibility of the United Nations towards the question of Palestine as the Charter of the United Nations affirms respect of international law and human rights and the right of peoples to self-determination. It was the General Assembly which partitioned Mandated Palestine after it inherited the problem from the League of Nations, and it was the Security Council which adopted twenty-five resolutions affirming the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, reaffirming further in some of them that settlements are illegal and declaring the Israeli measures in Jerusalem null and void.

At the same time, this United Nations somehow allowed all such Israeli actions to continue for thirty years. Just a month ago, the United Nations commemorated the thirtieth year of occupation, and this is an occasion to recall that this year also marks fifty years since the partition of Palestine and the adoption by the General Assembly of resolution 1818 (II). Fifty years of exile and thirty years of occupation, and our people, of all the peoples of the world, are still oppressed, deprived of their own State and, in addition to all that, subject to settler colonialism and the judaization of their Holy City.

Isn’t it time that the United Nations take one step forward? Only one step forward to warn the aggressor and to give hope to our people. We hope so. And this is what we are asking of you today.

Mr. President,

There are two clear legal frameworks with regard to the question of Palestine. The first framework, and the most basic, is comprised of the relevant provisions of international law and resolutions of international legitimacy, particularly Security Council resolutions, which all affirm the illegality of the Israeli occupation of Arab territories since 1967 and the illegality of Israeli settlements and measures aiming to change the legal status of Jerusalem and its character and demographic composition. The second framework, which came later, is comprised of the agreements reached between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, which include the Declaration of Principles of 1993 and the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip of 1995. Needless to say, these agreements do not substitute the basic framework. They could not and should not negate or diminish the validity of international law and international legitimacy.

Mr. President,

There are two clear legal frameworks with regard to the question of Palestine. The first framework, and the most basic, is comprised of the relevant provisions of international law and resolutions of international legitimacy, particularly Security Council resolutions, which all affirm the illegality of the Israeli occupation of Arab territories since 1967 and the illegality of Israeli settlements and measures aiming to change the legal status of Jerusalem and its character and demographic composition. The second framework, which came later, is comprised of the agreements reached between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, which include the Declaration of Principles of 1993 and the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip of 1995. Needless to say, these agreements do not substitute the basic framework. They could not and should not negate or diminish the validity of international law and international legitimacy.

The agreements reached supplement international legitimacy and any matter that was not consensually agreed upon clearly between the parties will remain governed by international law and relevant United Nations resolutions. Hence, the Israeli settlements and all Israeli measures in Jerusalem that are in violation of international law are illegal and have no legal validity whatsoever, and will remain so. Any action based on illegal foundations shall remain illegal and not recognition can be granted to it or its results, irrespective of the passage time or the change of conditions. In addition to their being determined illegal under the first framework, the resumption of the campaign of settler colonialism being carried out by the Israeli government and its attempts to continue the judaization of Jerusalem and to change its status also grossly violate the letter and spirit of the agreements reached between the two parties. These actions represent a resumption of the conflict and the preemption of the upcoming negotiations.

For all of the above reasons, the illegal Israeli actions must be stopped. The building of the settlement at Jabal Abu Ghneim must be stopped. Colonial settlement, in all its aspects, must be stopped. The attempts to judaize and seize Jerusalem must be stopped. They must be stopped because they grossly violate international law and legitimacy, as well as the agreements reached between the parties. They must be stopped to salvage the peace process, and because refraining from the violation of international law and Security Council resolutions should be the norm.

It is regrettable here that some try to exempt Israel, in a manner unprecedented in contemporary history, from its responsibilities in accordance with the first framework, i.e. international law and resolutions of the United Nations, attempting to impose a de facto situation on the Palestinian side, leaving it under the mercy of the imbalance of power on the ground. Worse still is that some do not do what should be done to protect the second framework, which is comprised of the agreements reached. When there are binding agreements, it must not be said that "it is up to the parties". What must be said is that the parties should fulfill their contractual obligations in accordance with the agreements reached, which were witnessed by the two cosponsors of the peace process and several other important parties.

Mr. President,

Why is the Government of Israel doing all this? Is it doing all this because of reasons beyond its will, or because of certain fears, or in reaction to actions taken by the Palestinian side, as claimed by this government? With much regret, the answer to all these questions is no. This government is aware of what it is doing. It officially planned the resumption of colonial settlement activities to forcibly acquire more Palestinian land and to seize Jerusalem and it attempted to change the foundations of the peace process and to impose different agreements and frameworks on the Palestinian side. In order to achieve this, the Israeli government attempts to exert as much pressure as possible, including through economic suffocation and through a vicious defamation campaign against the Palestinian Authority.

The Israeli Prime Minister revealed to several Israeli officials what can be referred to as "Netanyahu’s Plan" for peace. This plan includes the establishment of "Greater Jerusalem", the establishment of a wider security zone along the Jordan River, a buffer zone along the truce line, and the annexation of Israeli settlement blocs, consequently leaving less than half of the occupied territory without even geographical contiguity, thus ensuring the prevention of the realization of Palestinian national rights. This plan, in addition to the general guidelines of the government, reflects exactly the reality of what Israel is practically doing on the ground.

The Israeli government is attempting to destroy the basis of the historical reconciliation and mutual recognition of the existence and rights of the two parties. It attempts to retain what it gained from this historic reconciliation, while at the same time denying that gain for the other party. It attempts to retain recognition, peace and security for itself, while transferring the conflict onto the occupied territories with the aim of annexing the biggest portion of it and assuring the seizure of Jerusalem. This is a distasteful, reactionary, colonial mentality, which is in no way related to the peace process, and it is totally rejected and will in no way ever be acceptable. Israel must choose whether there is peace or not, whether there is mutual recognition or not.

Our Palestinian people made many concessions with regard to their historic rights in their homeland in order to achieve peace. They offered more than one vision to solve this historic conflict; visions which were progressive and democratic in nature. Recently, they accepted what the whole world said, in spite of the injustice inflicted upon them. They accepted a solution based on Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 – a solution based on the principle of returning the territories occupied since 1967 for peace. The area of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip constitutes only about 22% of the area of Mandated Palestine. In spite of that, for some to come from the Israeli side and attempt to negate responsibility for the official Israeli acceptance of the solution, which received international consensus, by rejecting the principle of exchanging land for peace or by proposing to reach a compromise between the two sides on the territories occupied since 1967, is a shameless position, insulting our national feelings and the will of the whole world. The compromise, which received world consensus, although it was unjust for us, is one on Mandated Palestine. It is never one on the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 1967, which must be returned in its entirety.

The whole world is unanimous in rejecting Israeli practices related to settlements and to Jerusalem. It is also unanimous with regard to the basis of the peace process and the need for the implementation of the agreements reached. That unanimity was expressed recently by the Arab League in Cairo, by the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Islamabad and Rabat, the Organization of African Unity in Harare, the Non-Aligned Movement in Cartagena and New Delhi, the European Union in Amsterdam and the Summit of Industrialized Nations in Denver, as well as by the Tenth Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly. Only Israel considers the Denver Communique as one-sided, and only Israel attacks the report of the Secretary-General. The time is approaching when Israel will have to decide whether it is a member of the family of nations or outside of that family.

Mr. President,

In facing the official Israeli policies that are destroying the peace process, in facing the vicious colonial settlement campaign and the attempts to judaize Jerusalem, and in facing the systematic destruction of our economy and the exacerbation of their daily suffering, our people remain steadfast, defending their land and rights, and no power in the world, enemy or friend, will be able to convince them otherwise. Our people remain steadfast and continue in their collective expression of their rejection of occupation and oppression, in spite of the sacrifices they make in this regard.

The escalation of Israeli oppression in the face of the people’s rejection of such policies, especially in Al-Khalil (Hebron) and Al-Muwasi of Khan Younis, and the sanctioned daily harassment by settler gangs, challenging our people to the extent of insulting our Blessed Prophet, will only lead to further violence and deterioration of the situation. Furthermore, Israel’s use of its military might and its irresponsible threats, including the threat to reoccupy the areas from which the occupying army withdrew, will only lead to a real catastrophe. The Israeli accusations that the rejection by our people of the policies of occupation is fraudulent and the expression by the masses of this rejection is instigated reflect racist thinking and mentality, which deprive the people from their humanity and their natural reaction against Israeli policies.

The realization of security and stability depend on the progress made to achieve pace and providing normal living conditions. The occupation and its mentality and policies are the opposite of security and stability and will never lead to that. Furthermore, Israel must understand that equality between nations is the key to coexistence. This requires that Israel understand and accept that the achievement of its security is linked to the achievement of Palestinian security and Arab security as a whole.

Mr. President,

The Palestinian people and the Palestinian leadership are still committed to their strategic decision to engage in the peace process and to uphold the agreements reached. We still have not completely lost hope for a qualitative change in the Israeli position necessary to salvage the peace process and bring it back on track. We hope that the cosponsors of the peace process, others concerned, and the influential parties, as well as the entire international community, will exert additional pressures to achieve that goal.

In all cases, we have the unshaken, deep conviction that our people will be able to regain all of their inalienable rights and will be able to establish the independent State with Jerusalem as its capital, and consequently will be able to substantially contribute to the building of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. For that, and for the guarantee of our rights, we will continue to work at the United Nations, to return to the Emergency Special Session and to return to the Security Council. We are hopeful that the United Nations will be enabled to apply one single standard and that it will be effectively enabled to exercise its responsibilities. I thank you, Mr. President.