Statement by Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, before the Resumed Tenth Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly, "Illegal Israeli Actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, 13 November 1997, United Nations, New York:(Original: Arabic)

Mr. President,

At the outset, I would like to extend my gratitude and appreciation for the resumption of the tenth emergency special session, in accordance with operative paragraph 13 of resolution ES-10/3 and upon the request of the Arab Group and the support of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement for this request. I would also like to convey deepest thanks and appreciation to all these fraternal and friendly nations.

The tenth emergency special session is of great importance for the Palestinian people, and I believe, for the United Nations as well. We are grateful to you for the convening of this session and, at the same time, we take pride in our contribution, however modest, to the process of democratizing international relations and giving more importance to the General Assembly and the general membership of the United Nations.

The convening of the tenth emergency special session was not an easy task and it was not intended to superficially deal with the issue of illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The convening of an emergency special session for the first time in fifteen years, following the failure of the Security Council to exercise its responsibilities for the maintenance of peace and security, was definitely intended to take serious positions and adopt recommendations for collective measures, within the context of General Assembly resolution 377 A (V), to ensure the cessation of illegal Israeli actions. This session must therefore continue and so should the determination with regard to implementation of the demands of the General Assembly. Collective measures should be escalated until this is achieved and until Israel, the occupying Power, complies with the demands of the General Assembly.

As of yet this has not happened. The tenth emergency special session adopted two resolutions, ES-10/2 and ES-10/3, by an overwhelming majority. These two resolutions contain clear demands, which are: First, the immediate and full cessation of the construction in Jabal Abu Ghneim and of all other Israeli settlement activities, as well as of all illegal measures and actions in Jerusalem. Second, that Israel accept the de jure applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949 to all the territories occupied since 1967, and that it comply with relevant Security Council resolutions in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. Third, that Israel, the occupying Power, immediately cease and reverse measures all actions taken illegally under international law against Palestinian Jerusalemites. Fourth, that Israel, the occupying Power, make available to Member States the necessary information about goods produced or manufactured in the illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem.

Israel has not complied with any of these demands and has actually continued to carry out its illegal measures. Its only reaction to these resolutions has been to scorn the will of the international community, with some Israeli officials describing resolution ES-10/3 as "shameful" and "morally bankrupt".

We believe that the international community should never retreat when faced with Israeli intransigence and arrogance. The international community should uphold international law and the principles of the Charter as well as its positions until Israel ceases all illegal actions. The time has come to stand firm in this regard, even if just once, against Israeli violations of international law and United Nations resolutions on the occupied territory, which have continued for the past thirty years.

Mr. President,

This tenth emergency special session considers the second report of the Secretary-General and its addendum, submitted in accordance with operative paragraph 10 of resolution ES-10/3, following consideration of his first valuable report, contained in document A/ES-10/6, S/1997/494. The Secretary-General included in his report and its addendum information that he received from the government of Switzerland, in its capacity as depository of the Fourth Geneva Convention. This information consists of the replies that the Swiss government has received from the High Contracting Parties to the Convention, in response to the memorandum in which the Swiss government requested their views in follow-up to operative paragraph 10 of the resolution, including the issue of convening a conference. In this regard, I would like to express our deep gratitude to H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, for his important report.

The report and its addendum informed about the collective responses that were received from the Chairman of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States and the Council of the European Union, in addition to the individual response received from seventy-four High Contracting Parties. These responses obviously indicate that the overwhelming majority of the High Contracting Parties agree upon the need for the convening of the conference in one form or another. We believe that both the recommendation mentioned in operative paragraph 10 of resolution ES-10/3 and the information contained in the report of the Secretary-General necessitate the convening of 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 accordance with common article 1. It is our hope that today we will adopt a paragraph to this extent in the expected resolution by an overwhelming majority. It is also our hope that the Swiss government, in its capacity as depository of the Convention, will commence with the necessary preparatory measures for the convening of the conference.

In this regard, we welcome any meetings to prepare for the conference, including for example, a meeting of experts, as suggested in the letter of the European Union, on the understanding that such a meeting will be convened in an urgent manner not later than three months from this date. We believe, of course, that our participation, in our capacity as the party directly concerned, in the conference and in any preparatory meetings in this regard is necessary and cannot be overlooked. Generally speaking, we hope that some parties will reconsider their positions in order to preserve the integrity and credibility of international humanitarian law and their obligations as High Contracting Parties, as well as compliance with international legitimacy and Security Council resolutions. It should be mentioned that the Security Council has adopted twenty-five resolutions in which it affirmed the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem. There is also international consensus in this regard, including by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Only Israel rejects this. It does not stop with rejecting this, but it has also continuously violated the provisions of the Convention for the past thirty years. There is no other such outrageous case in the world, and Israel is the only Member State of the United Nations that is named an occupying Power by the Security Council.

Mr. President,

What gives our action today more importance and urgency is the severe deterioration of the peace process in the Middle East as a result of the policies and practices of the Israeli government, to the extent that this process is on its last breath. Many members of the present Israeli government have clearly expressed their rejection of the basis of the peace process, which is based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and the principle of land for peace, and they have also expressed their extreme disdain of the agreements reached between the Palestinian and Israeli sides. From the beginning, this Israeli government adopted general guidelines which do not conform with the basis of the peace process or the agreements reached. The government has resumed its colonial settlement campaign through the confiscation of more Palestinian land, the theft of natural resources, the construction of settlements and the transfer of more settlers to the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967. The government has also resumed its campaign to judaize Occupied Arab East Jerusalem by making more changes to its legal status and demographic composition, including by building colonial settlements and abrogating the right of Palestinian Jerusalemites to live in their city, in addition to opening the tunnel in the vicinity of Al-Haram Al-Sharif and attempting to change the situation of the surrounding area, most recently starting the construction of the settlement in Jabal Abu Ghneim to the south of Occupied East Jerusalem.

The Israeli government has also continued to suffocate the Palestinian economy and to grossly exploit the Palestinian market by imposing sieges and closures and by restricting the freedom of movement of persons and goods in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and between this territory and the outside world. It has prevented any possibility for genuine economic development, all of which has resulted in suffering and the severe deterioration of the living conditions of our people. In addition to the above, the Israeli government has increased direct oppressive measures against our people, such as the demolition of homes, kidnappings, collective administrative detentions and even killings and assassinations. Only yesterday a nine-year-old boy in the city of Bethlehem was shot in the head by an Israeli soldier.

The present Israeli government has not implemented any of the provisions of the agreements reached despite the fact that many of them are overdue, including the stages of Israeli redeployment from the West Bank and other important issues such as the return of displaced persons, the safe passage between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and the construction of the Gaza seaport. Israel has also continued to prevent the operation of the Gaza airport, which is ready to operate. The only exception to this lack of implementation, as we know, has been the withdrawal from Al-Khalil (Hebron), which was achieved only as a result of serious pressure by the United States and following a series of measures by Israel that constituted a direct threat to the whole peace process.

All of the above is a result of the established policies of the Israeli government; not an actual reaction to any particular event. It appears that the real aim of the current Israeli government is to get rid of the existing agreements, while bearing the least possible responsibility for that before its people, the peoples of the region and the international community as a whole. For some time the Israeli government has been making initiatives, publicly suggesting shelving these agreements and moving on to the final status negotiations. It has also described its visions for a final solution which completely destroy the essence of the peace process and the essence of the mutual recognition between the Palestinian and Israeli sides. This is the crux of the problem and it necessitates serious intervention by the international community, particularly by the two cosponsors of the peace process. Such an intervention should reject these Israeli policies and positions, ensure respect for the basis of the peace process and the agreements reached, and call for implementation by the parties of their contractual obligations in accordance with these agreements.

Mr. President,

What is the Israeli side’s argument for evading its responsibilities for all of this? They focus on the bombings in Israel carried out by the enemies of peace from the Palestinian side. Contrary to what the previous Israeli government did, this current government has attempted to place responsibility in this regard on the Palestinian National Authority. It has also claimed that these bombings are the reason behind the lack of progress in the peace process. We do, of course, acknowledge the deep negative impact of these bombings and of all the actions carried out by the enemies of peace, including the Israeli enemies of peace, from the perpetrator of the massacre at Al-Haram Al-Ibrahimi in Al-Khalil (Hebron) to the assassin of Yitzhak Rabin.

However, we do believe that the above-mentioned policies of the Israeli government are not the result of these actions, which we firmly condemn. These policies are actually the result of predetermined positions, aimed at achieving specific objectives that contradict the peace process. Further, we believe that these Israeli policies are partially responsible for facilitating the actions of the enemies of peace and for making it more difficult to fight against these actions. These policies are responsible for the state of frustration among the Palestinian people, the tension prevailing in the region and the decline of the hope for peace among its peoples.

In spite of all of this, I would like to make our position clear. We are against violence and terrorism. We condemn them, work against them and will continue to do so, and we believe that this is in the interest of our people. At the same time, success in confronting all of this is obviously linked to the political and economic reality and to abolishing the environment that generates violence and terrorism. We call on all the concerned parties to fully bear their responsibilities in this regard.

Mr. President,

The Israeli side has also stated, in what appears to be a campaign shared by certain parties and mouthpieces, that our complaints to the United Nations and all of our work today is in violation of the agreements reached and that they harm the peace process. Nothing is more ludicrous. I wish first to refer to the permanent responsibility of the United Nations toward the question of Palestine and the fact that the agreements reached compliment international law and relevant Security Council resolutions and do not supercede or negate them. It will remain our right and duty to achieve the maximum possible involvement by the United Nations with all its organs, including the Security Council and the General Assembly, in the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East.

Of course, it is nice to see that the Israeli side suddenly remembers the agreements reached. However, it is unacceptable for the Israeli side to attempt to insult our collective awareness and intelligence with talk about the violation of these agreements, while Israel is categorically and continuously violating these agreements and creating new facts on the ground which preempt the future negotiations, not to mention its violations of international law and Security Council resolutions and all other relevant United Nations resolutions.

It seems that the Israeli government, along with some of its friends, not only wants to get rid of the framework of the agreements reached but also intends, until this is accomplished, to try to get rid of the framework of international legitimacy. This is preposterous and it aims at abolishing our existence as a people and abolishing our rights and placing us in cantons under Israeli control according to what this respected government sees as its final settlement.

It is the responsibility of the international community to reiterate its rejection of all of this, with the possibility that perhaps this government will come to its senses and return to compliance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations and the agreements reached between the two parties.

On our side, the Palestinian people and the Palestinian leadership remain committed to their strategic decision to become engaged in the peace process and are still committed to the agreements reached. In all cases, we have an unshaken, deep faith that our people will be able to realize their inalienable rights and establish their independent state, with Jerusalem as its capital, and will consequently be able to integrally participate in the realization of a just, permanent and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. I thank you, Mr. President.