Press Releases

    GA/PAL/983
    10 March 2005

    Round-up of Session

    United Nations International Meeting on Question of Palestine Concludes Two-Day Session

    Final Document Calls on International Community to Persuade Israel to Comply with Opinion of International Court of Justice on Wall in Occupied Territory

    (Reissued as received.)

    GENEVA, 9 March (UN Information Service) -- A two-day United Nations International Meeting on the Question of Palestine concluded this afternoon at the Palais des Nations after adopting a final document in which participants called on the international community to adopt measures that would persuade the Government of Israel to comply with international law and the advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the construction of a wall in the occupied Palestinian territory.

    The final document, which was read out at the closing session by Victor Camilleri, the Rapporteur of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, which convened the Meeting, expressed the serious concern of the participants at the continued settlement activities in the West Bank including in and around East Jerusalem, and cautioned against any transfer of Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.  The participants also expressed serious concern at the Israeli Government’s continuation of the construction of the wall in defiance of the advisory opinion of the Court which was adopted in July last year.

    Among other things, the participants called on the international community to adopt measures that would persuade the Government of Israel to comply with international law and the ruling of the ICJ.  They also supported the continued engagement of the Quartet in efforts to resolve the conflict and stressed that the Palestinian State should be territorially contiguous along the 1967 borders, which included the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

    The participants were greatly dismayed that the continued construction of the wall further exacerbated the already deteriorating socio-economic situation of the Palestinians and stressed that urgent attention by donor countries and the international community was needed to redress this dismal and unacceptable situation.

    Speaking at the closing session was Abdullah Abdullah, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Palestinian Authority, who said the discussion taking place at the Meeting should not be perceived as either pro-Palestinian or anti-Israeli but rather as an expression of respect for international law.

    Paul Badji, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said the Meeting had confirmed that the construction of the wall was illegal and that Israel should immediately cease its construction, dismantle the structure, and make reparations for all damages caused by the construction of the wall.

    During the course of the Meeting, three thematic discussions were held on “the significance of the advisory opinion and a legal analysis of it”; “the responsibility of governments and international organizations in upholding international law”; and “the role of parliaments and civil society in advocating adherence to international law”.

    Final Document

    Participants expressed strong support and urged the speedy implementation of recent promising developments stemming from the election of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on 9 January 2005, followed by the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit on 8 February 2005, where President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reaffirmed their commitment to the “Road Map” and reached a number of understandings, including a mutual declaration to end violence.  The participants also welcomed the commitment reaffirmed by the London Meeting on Supporting the Palestinian Authority, hosted by the British Government on 1 March 2005, which had agreed on steps for international support to be taken in the areas of governance, security and economic development.

    While welcoming Israel’s intention to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank as an initial step to the implementation of the Road Map, the participants underscored the importance of coordinating this process closely with the Palestinian Authority, and implementing it within the framework of the Road Map.  The participants expressed serious concern at the continued settlement activities in the West Bank including in and around East Jerusalem, and cautioned against any transfer of Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.

    The participants also expressed serious concern at the Israeli Government’s continuation of the construction of the wall in defiance of the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice and in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and United Nations resolutions.  The participants were also greatly dismayed that the continued construction of the wall further exacerbated the already deteriorating socio-economic situation of the Palestinians and stressed that urgent attention by donor countries and the international community was needed to redress this dismal and unacceptable situation.

    Welcoming the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice of 9 July 2004, the participants called it an historic development, noting that it was the first time that the highest judicial body of the United Nations had addressed a substantive issue related to the question of Palestine.  The participants stressed the importance of the steps taken by the United Nations Secretary-General to establish a register of damage caused to all natural or legal persons concerned and drew attention to the General Assembly’s request to all Member States of the United Nations to comply with their legal obligation, as outlined in the advisory opinion.

    The participants called on the international community to adopt measures that would persuade the Government of Israel to comply with international law and the ruling of the International Court of Justice.  They also supported the continued engagement of the Quartet in efforts to resolve the conflict and stressed that the Palestinian State should be territorially contiguous along the 1967 borders, which included the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.  Reiterating the central role of the Quartet in the peace process, the participants called on the members of the Quartet to redouble their efforts at this critical stage and to continue to work closely with the parties together with other international and regional actors to implement the Road Map in order to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the conflict based on relevant United Nations resolutions.

    The participants reaffirmed the permanent responsibility of the United Nations with respect to all the aspects of the question of Palestine, until it was resolved in conformity with relevant United Nations resolutions and norms of international law and until the inalienable rights of Palestinian people were fully recognized.  The participants also noted with appreciation the deliberations in some national parliaments intended to highlight the advisory opinion and to encourage their respective governments to adhere to the ruling.  They were also apprised of the various initiatives of civil society organizations in support of the advisory opinion and encouraged civil society to continue their efforts in educating public opinion on the issues and promote a solution on the basis of international law.

    Statements

    ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Palestinian Authority, said the discussion during the course of the two days should not be perceived as either pro-Palestinian or anti-Israeli but rather as an expression of respect for international law.

    The Palestinians would now revitalize and reorganize their work in line with the parameters of international law in order to assist those who adhered to those principles and to force the occupier and violator of international law to come to respect those rules.  The wall was just one by-product of the occupation.  The Palestinian people would continue the struggle against all manifestations of the occupation while realizing the vision of a viable and contiguous Palestinian State that encompassed the territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.  Moreover, the Palestinian people counted on the support expressed by the international community.

    PAUL BADJI, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said the Meeting had heard thought-provoking presentations by distinguished experts, as they shared their legal analysis of the ruling of the International Court of Justice, analysed the responses by the parties concerned to the advisory opinion, and examined the reaction of the international community.  Those who took the floor reaffirmed the primacy of international law as they mapped out viable options for individual and collective actions by governments, intergovernmental organizations and the United Nations in pursuit of the implementation of the advisory opinion.

    The advisory opinion reconfirmed the applicability of the basic norms of international law to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  The Meeting confirmed that the construction of the wall was illegal and that Israel should immediately cease its construction, dismantle the structure, and make reparations for all damage caused by construction of the wall.

    In the course of the Meeting, participants underscored that the Court also addressed and resoundingly reaffirmed a number of principles of international legality, which were not directly related to the construction of the wall, but also had far-reaching implications which went beyond the case at hand.  The speakers observed that, in reaching its conclusions, the Court upheld the principle that the occupying Power owed compensation to the Palestinian people for the damages caused by its actions.

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