Right of Reply by Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, Ambassador, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, Resumed 10th Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly, 5 February 1999:

I do not want to describe the Israeli statement today with adjectives, and I will limit myself to presenting the following comments:

The basic problem was, and still is, the Israeli occupation of our people and Israeli attempts to deny such an occupation, exactly as we heard today, where the Israeli representative used terms such as "territories under Israeli administration", which reflects an ideological vision, the essential aim of which is colonizing the land and preventing the Palestinian people from realizing their national rights on their own land.

The Israeli representative said that some 97% of Palestinians are living under Palestinian control, therefore are not occupied by Israel. Once again, this reflects an ideological vision, the crux of which is expansionism and colonialism of our land. In addition to being false information, I want to affirm that every single Palestinian in the Palestinian territory is still subject to Israeli occupation. Whether the Israeli tanks are inside the city of Ramallah, for example, or around the city only, the fact remains that it is not possible to get a can of baby milk in or out without the approval of the occupying authorities. Moreover, the mere Israeli claim indicates the wish to establish a new apartheid system, to build bantustans for the Palestinians, or maybe even to put them in camps, in order to allow the Israeli settlers to enjoy their lives as respected colonizers in the Palestinian land.

As the Israeli representative is interested in figures, I would like to refresh his memory. The whole of mandated Palestine comprised 27,000 square kilometers. The partition plan allotted the Jewish State around 54% of this area, and during the war of 1948 Israel illegally occupied additional areas and extended Israeli law upon them. That whole territory totaled around 78% of mandated Palestine, which means that the West Bank and Gaza Strip comprise only 22%. Recently, Israel redeployed from less than 10% of this territory, that is less than 2% of the territory of mandated Palestine. This is the territory of which the Israeli representative wants us to live happily in.

The Israeli representative has to understand that the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 1967, all of it, is occupied territory. And that, if there is any disputed territory, it is the one between the borders as decided in the partition resolution and the lines of the Armistice Agreements of 1949, that is the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

On our part, we will not engage in discussion on the principle of convening a conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, because this has already been decided and accepted by the overwhelming majority of Member States. We will not as well get into discussions on the violations of the Wye River Memorandum, because the knowledge and position of everyone is clear in this regard.

What the Israeli representative said about concerning the point that the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention have not met before to consider specific cases is true. But this is an unfortunate fact and it definitely does not mean that such a meeting should not happen in the future. On the other hand, what the Israeli representative said about the Palestinian situation was wrong. It was as if the Israeli violations of the Convention were not important. These violations have been continuing over the last thirty years. They have destroyed the social and economic fabric of the Palestinian population under occupation and now they constitute continuous colonialism of our land. In fact, this is the only colonialism in our contemporary time, the aim of which is to negate the existence of the Palestinian people.

During the second Right of Reply exercised by Dr. Al-Kidwa, the following points were made:

The title of this delegation is the Permanent Observer Delegation of Palestine, and I request that the representative of Israel use the proper name. The mere fact that he cannot do that - that he cannot utter the name Palestine – is again indicative and regrettable.

The terms of reference are clear. It is relevant U.N. resolutions and international legitimacy.

With regard to the map on our stationary, to which the representative of Israel referred to, as he takes us back to an old and regrettable discussion: this is the map of historic Palestine. On the other hand, Israel, which is a Member State of the United Nations, has no map, despite the fact that it assured the United Nations, upon acceptance of its membership, that it would comply with resolution 181. In any case, we would be more than happy when the Israeli representative tells us about Israel’s map so we can draw our map of Palestine on our stationary.

What the Israeli representative said about settlements is again a problem. It is actually a political scandal. We must reiterate here that Israeli settlements are illegal and they will remain so forever. It is enough that the Palestinian people were uprooted from their homes and properties in 1947 and 1948. It is totally unacceptable now to continue colonizing what is left of their land. We are ready for peace based on justice, albeit minimum justice, and based on equalities between neighbors and the existence of two states.