Press Releases

    GA/PAL/994
    11 November 2005

    Palestinian Rights Committee Marks Its Thirtieth Anniversary; Delegates Commend Work, Regret Lack of Progress

    Four Draft Resolutions Approved; Israeli Withdrawal from Gaza Noted, with Appeal for Swift Disposal of Many Remaining Issues

    NEW YORK, 10 November (UN Headquarters) -- Upon the commemoration today of its thirtieth anniversary, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People approved four traditional draft resolutions, including one on the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine, to which several substantive updates had been made.   

    Among its terms, the Assembly would demand that Israel, the occupying Power, comply with its legal obligations, including the immediate cessation of the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. 

    The Assembly would reiterate its demand for the complete cessation of all Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, and call for the full implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions.

    Taking note of the Israeli withdrawal from within the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank and of the dismantlement of the settlements therein, the Assembly would emphasize the need for the parties to speedily resolve all remaining issues in the Gaza Strip, including the border crossings, particularly at Rafah, the airport, the seaport, the removal of rubble and the establishment of a permanent physical link between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. 

    Further by the text, the Assembly would call on both parties to fulfil their obligations under the Road Map by taking "parallel and reciprocal" steps in that regard, and it would stress the importance and urgency of establishing a credible and effective third-party monitoring mechanisms, including all Quartet members.  

    The Committee also recommended adoption by the Assembly of three additional texts on:  the work of the Committee; the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat; and on the special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information (DPI) of the Secretariat.

    Before taking action on the drafts, the Permanent Observer for Palestine to the United Nations, on behalf of the President of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian National Authority, said that the anniversary of the Committee's establishment was an occasion to recall with gratitude and pride the constant, unwavering support of the United Nations vis-à-vis the question of Palestine over decades.  Yet, it was an occasion marked with sadness and a day to reflect upon the reality that the tragedy of the Palestinian people remained unresolved. 

    On behalf of the Arab Group, Egypt's representative said the Committee's activities were vital and deserving of unconditional support.  Until the stated objective was achieved, he strongly objected to any attempt to use the United Nations reform process as a pretext to eliminate the Committee or to limit its activities. 

    In other business, the Committee approved the request of Venezuela to join it as an Observer.  It also approved the application request of seven non-governmental organizations for accreditation.

    The Chairman of the Committee and several other speakers condemned yesterday's attacks in Amman, Jordan, and expressed their condolences to the victims, their families and the Government of Jordan.  Many also paid tribute to President Arafat on the eve of the anniversary of his death. 

    Highlighting upcoming activities, the Chairman drew attention to the event commemorating the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, on 29 November, for which he sought representation at the ambassadorial level, as was customary.  He also strongly urged members and observers to actively participate in the General Assembly debate on the "Question of Palestine", beginning the same day.  The debate would culminate with action on today's draft resolutions.

    Statements were also made by the representatives of Nigeria (for the African Group), Yemen (for the Organization of Islamic Conference), Malta (Committee Rapporteur), Malaysia (for the Non-Aligned Movement), Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Jordan, and Cuba.  

    The Committee will meet again at a time to be announced in The Journal.

    Background

    The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People met this afternoon to review developments in the Middle East peace process and the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.  It was also expected to consider four draft resolutions on the question of Palestine, along with a draft on the Committee's thirtieth anniversary.

    The four drafts concerned:  the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine; the Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat; the special information programme of the Department of Public Information (DPI) on the question of Palestine; and the work of the Committee itself.

    The Committee was established by the General Assembly in 1975, one year after the Assembly invited the Palestine Liberation Organization to participate in its work as an observer.  The Committee continues to work as the Assembly's subsidiary organ to promote international support for and assistance to the Palestinian people and heightened international awareness of the question of Palestine.  Chaired by Senegal, the Committee has 22 members and 25 observers.

    Summary of Drafts

    According to the draft resolution on the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine, the General Assembly, convinced that achieving a final settlement of the question, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, was imperative for lasting peace and stability in the Middle East, would call on both parties to implement the Road Map by taking parallel and reciprocal steps in that regard. 

    In the context of the Road Map, the Assembly would stress the importance and urgency of establishing a credible and effective third-party monitoring mechanism, including all Quartet members. 

    It would demand that Israel, the occupying Power, comply with its legal obligations, as mentioned in the advisory opinion (of the International Court of Justice) of 9 July 2004, including the immediate cessation of the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.  It would call on all Member States to comply with their legal obligations, as mentioned in the advisory opinion. 

    The Assembly would take note of the Israeli withdrawal from within the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank and of the dismantlement of the settlements therein, and emphasize the need for the parties to speedily resolve all remaining issues in the Gaza Strip.  It would welcome the positive role being played in that regard by the Special Envoy of the Quartet, James Wolfensohn.

    Also, the Assembly would stress the need for the complete cessation of all acts of violence, including military attacks, destruction and acts of terror, and stress also the need for the immediate implementation of the Sharm el-Sheikh understandings, including the withdrawal of the Israeli occupying forces to pre-September 2000 positions outside Palestinian cities and populations centres, the release of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, and the return of deportees.

    Further, according to the text, the Assembly would stress the need for the withdrawal of Israel from the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 and for the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, primarily the right to self-determination and the right to their independent State. 

    It would urge Member States to expedite the provision of economic, humanitarian and technical assistance to the Palestinian people and Palestinian Authority during this critical period, to help alleviate the humanitarian crisis being faced by the Palestinian people, to rebuild the Palestinian economy and infrastructure and to support restructuring and reform of Palestinian institutions. 

    The draft on the Palestinian rights committee would have the Assembly, reaffirming that the United Nations had a permanent responsibility towards the question of Palestine until the question was resolved in all its aspects in a satisfactory manner in accordance with international legitimacy, request the Committee to continue to exert all efforts to promote the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, to support the Middle East peace process and to mobilize international support for assistance to the Palestinian people. 

    In that connection, the Assembly would authorize the Committee to make such adjustments in its approved programme of work as it might consider appropriate and necessary in the light of developments and to report thereon to the Assembly and its next session and thereafter.

    The Assembly would also request the Committee to continue to keep the situation under review and to report to the Assembly, the Security Council and the Secretary-General, as appropriate.  It would further ask it to continue to extend its cooperation and support to Palestinian and other civil society organizations, in order to mobilize international solidarity and support for the achievement by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights and for a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine, and to involve civil society organizations in its work.

    Among its other provisions, the text would have the Assembly request the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, established under General Assembly resolution 194 (III), and other United Nations bodies associated with the question of Palestine, to continue to cooperate fully with the Committee and to make available to it, at its request, the relevant information and documentation they had at their disposal.  All Governments and organizations would also be invited to cooperate with the Committee in the performance of its tasks. 

    By the terms of the draft resolution on the Division for Palestinian Rights, the Assembly would consider that the Division continued to make a useful and constructive contribution and request the Secretary-General to continue to provide it with the necessary resources and to ensure that it continue to carry out its work programme, in consultation with the Committee and under its guidance.

    In particular, that included:  the organization of meetings and conferences in various regions with the participation of all sectors of the international community; the further development and expansion of the documents collection of the United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine; the preparation and widest possible dissemination of publications and information materials on various aspects of the question; and the provision of the annual training programme for staff of the Palestinian Authority.

    A draft concerning the special information programme on the Question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information would have the Assembly, convinced that the worldwide dissemination of accurate and comprehensive information and the role of civil society organizations remained of vital importance in heightening awareness of and support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, consider that the special information programme was very useful in raising awareness and was contributing effectively to an atmosphere conducive to dialogue and supportive of the peace process.

    The Assembly would request the Department to continue its special information programme for the biennium 2006-2007, in particular, to disseminate information on all the activities of the United Nations systems relating to the question of Palestine; to continue to issue and update publications on the various aspects of the question; to expand its collection of audio-visual material on the question; organize and promote fact-finding news missions for journalists to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem; to organize international, regional and national seminars or encounters for journalists, aimed at sensitizing public opinion to the question; and to continue to assist the Palestinian people in the field of media development, particularly to strengthen the training programme for Palestinian broadcasters and journalists initiated in 1995. 

    Statements by Bureau

    The Chairman of the Committee PAUL BADJI ( Senegal), read a statement by the Committee's Bureau to mark the 30th anniversary of the Committee's establishment.  The statement said it was not a cause for celebration but rather an opportunity to reflect upon decades of failed efforts to resolve the question of Palestine.  In resolution 3376 (XXX), adopted thirty years ago, the General Assembly expressed its deep concern that no just solution to the problem of Palestine had yet been achieved, and recognized that the problem continued to endanger international peace and security.  The Committee remained the only intergovernmental body in the entire United Nations system devoted exclusively to political aspects of the question of Palestine.

    The statement noted that in a report to the Security Council in 1976, the Committee had reaffirmed that the question of Palestine was at the heart of the Middle East problem, and that no solution could be envisaged without taking full account of the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.  The Committee had also supported the view that the United Nation, which had always had a historical responsibility to the Palestinian people, should render to Palestinian authorities the necessary economic and technical assistance to contribute to the socio-economic development of the new Palestinian State.  While its initial recommendations had not been adopted by the Council, they had been supported, by an overwhelming majority in the General Assembly. 

    In September, the Committee had expressed the view that the removal of the Israeli settlements from the Gaza Strip was a promising step that could revive negotiations within the framework of the Road Map and move forward the stalled peace process.  Yet, in response to events, the statement continued, the Committee still voiced its concern about the creation by Israel, the occupying Power, of new facts on the ground, including settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and accelerated construction of the illegal wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. 

    Today, the Committee was committed to helping the Palestinian people to fulfil their inalienable rights and realize their national aspirations in a State of their own and would carry on with the important mandate entrusted to it for the benefit of the Palestinian people.  (For full text of statement, see Press Release GA/PAL/993 .)

    Statements

    RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for Palestine to the United Nations, expressed his condolences to the people of Jordan on the bombings in Amman. 

    Reading out a statement by Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian National Authority, he said the 30th anniversary of the Committee's establishment was an occasion to recall with gratitude and pride the principled positions and the constant support of the United Nations vis-à-vis the question of Palestine over decades.  Yet, it was an occasion marked with sadness and a day to reflect upon the reality that the tragedy of the Palestinian people remained unresolved.  The Palestinian leader's statement notes that the United Nations had been unwavering in its efforts to contribute to a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.  Indeed, the international community had affirmed that the United Nations had a permanent responsibility towards the question of Palestine until it was satisfactorily resolved in accordance with international law.  That responsibility was unequivocally reaffirmed by the International Court of Justice in its historic advisory opinion of 9 July 2004. 

    In its very first report, the statement added, the Committee reaffirmed that the question of Palestine was at the core of the Middle East problem.  As early as 1976, the Committee, among other things, had urged an end to the establishment of the illegal settlements established by Israel, the occupying Power, in its fervent campaign to colonize and to illegitimately de facto annex the Palestinian land it occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem.  The Committee had also urged Israel to accept the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, a principle consistently reaffirmed by the United Nations.  Regrettably, the same issues initially highlighted by the Committee had not only persisted, but had also been compounded with the passage of time as Israel, the occupying Power, continued to commit grave breaches of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and to violate United Nations resolutions.

    The statement noted that tomorrow marked the one-year anniversary of the passing of President Arafat, who for decades had courageously led the Palestinian people in the struggle to exercise their inalienable human rights.  It was he who had first come before the Assembly in 1974, as the representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization, reaffirming the commitment of his people to peace, urging the international community to support the Palestinian people and to shoulder their historic responsibilities in that regard.  The Palestinian leader said that today he renewed that call on the international community to intensify its efforts towards achievement of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.  It was clear the Committee's mandate remained valid, in line with the permanent responsibility of the United Nations towards the question of Palestine.  He looked forward to the day when the Committee would have fulfilled its mandate, a day when the Palestinian people would have achieved the exercise of their inalienable rights, including their right to self-determination.

    MAGED ABDELFATTAH ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt), on behalf of the Arab Group, expressed his heartfelt condolences and sympathy to the people and Government of Jordan.  He reiterated his condemnation of that cowardly terrorist act, which caused the death and injury of scores of people. 

    He noted that the thirtieth anniversary of the Committee coincided with the first anniversary of the death of President Arafat.  The meeting was taking place at a time when the world was still witnessing daily the suffering of the Palestinian people, under Israeli occupation, and the refusal of the Israelis to give the Palestinians a chance to exercise their fundamental human rights.  Rather, it undertook exceptional measures to prevent them from doing so. 

    Regrettably, he said, despite the unilateral withdrawal of Israel from the Gaza Strip and some settlements in the West Bank, there had been no positive developments enabling the Palestinian Authority to exercise its responsibility in Palestinian territories.  In areas that had witnessed a withdrawal, the situation remained unchanged.  The policy of closures and the building of the wall continued, heaping ever more suffering on the Palestinian people. 

    He said Israel also continued to assassinate Palestinian activists, even in the areas from which it had withdrawn, in clear contradiction of all of its international obligations.  Despite the continued efforts of the Committee, and the United Nations, as a whole, and despite the resolutions they adopted each year reaffirming the legitimate and inalienable right of the Palestinians and demanding that Israel withdraw from all territories to the pre-1967 borders, the international community had been unable to implement its resolutions or put an end to the persistent bitter conflict.

    Deeming the Committee's activities to be vital and deserving of unconditional support, he said it also deserved the provision of accurate data and information as a basis for its work.  Until the stated objective was achieved, he strongly objected to any attempt to use the United Nations reform process as a pretext to eliminate the Committee or limit its activities.  He said he reaffirmed the Arab Group's continued and complete support for the Committee's activities, until the time when the Palestinian people could truly enjoy their rights and establish their own independent State.  He also reiterated complete support for all international efforts aimed at establishing an independent Palestinian State and the "balanced and honest" implementation of the Road Map.  The Palestinian Authority must be able to use all necessary means to achieve its people's political security and stability.  It was also essential for Israel to abide by its obligations as an occupying Power, particularly its obligations to improve the conditions of the Palestinian people and desist from any actions that would harm them.

    On behalf of the African Group of member countries, AMINU BASHIR WALI ( Nigeria) said that, upon the celebration of the Committee's thirtieth anniversary, tremendous contributions had been made to the peace process in the Middle East.  Africa shared the Committee's aspiration, and that of the United Nations, for the region.  That was why the Organization for African Unity (OAU), and now the African Union, had issued several resolutions in support of the rights of Palestinian people.  Their demands were just and legitimate, and Africa fully supported their struggle.  The Palestinian people had inalienable national rights, including their right to self-determination and to the establishment of an independent State. 

    He said that Africans urged the international community to firmly support a globally-promoted solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the relevant resolutions, the Arab Peace initiative and the Road Map, which remained the only viable plan for robust, just and comprehensive peace.  In that connection, he welcomed the understanding between the Palestinian- and Israeli-elaborated Sharm el-Sheik document, which addressed the cessation of violence as a first important step towards implementing the Road Map.  He called on both parties to fully commit to its implementation, in order to create the necessary conditions for further negotiations, including the total withdrawal of Israeli forces and the release of prisoners.  There was also the need to end expansion of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. 

    The practical and courageous steps taken by the Palestinian leadership were commendable, especially the holding of democratic municipal elections, the reform and streamlining of Palestinian security forces, and the conduct of a national dialogue with Palestinian factions.  Finally, Africa appealed to the international community and the Quartet to provide the necessary political and financial support, to work with the Palestinian leadership for accelerated implementation of the Road Map and to undertaken necessary measures to reinvigorate dialogue and negotiations, in order to salvage the peace process. 

    AHMED HASSAN (Yemen) on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, expressed sympathy to the people and Government of Jordan who had fallen in yesterday's terrorist attacks in Amman, which he said he strongly condemned. 

    He said the Committee today commemorated its thirtieth anniversary, and its important task and mission in the service of the Palestinian people, who had, for more than 50 years, suffered from occupation, torture and suffering.  The ceremony was taking place at a time when the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories was deteriorating, with worsening barbarous acts by the Israeli occupying forces.

    He paid tribute to the Committee, saying its position had reinforced the responsibility of the United Nations to the Palestinian people, under UN resolutions and international law which the Israeli authorities continued to defy.  The reports presented by the Committee to the General Assembly confirmed the grave nature of Israeli actions such as persecution and racism and the building of the wall in defiance of the International Court of Justice's decision.  He said Israel was also trying to make Jerusalem a Jewish city by depriving it of its Arabic and Muslim characteristics, and by seizing agricultural lands.  The Israeli occupying forces continued their barbarous acts against the Palestinian people.  Stressing the importance of continuing the Committee's work, he appealed for a renewal of its mandate to counteract any effort to undermine its role until the Palestinian people recovered all their inalienable rights.

    VICTOR CAMILLERI ( Malta), Committee Rapporteur, said the Committee's thirtieth anniversary was a sad reminder that the task assigned to the Committee had not yet been fulfilled.  At the same time, the commemoration served as a reaffirmation of the fundamental values and principles through which the United Nations approached the issue of Palestine, namely the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms, self-determination, and the settlement of disputes by peaceful means in accordance with international law.

    In that spirit, he said the Committee had welcomed the peace process launched at Madrid, as well as the Oslo process.  In recent years, it had supported all international efforts directed at stopping the violence and resuming the peace negotiations.  In 2002, the Committee had welcomed the affirmation of a vision for a two-State solution and had urged the swift realization of that objective through a concrete, step-by-step mechanism covering the political, economic and security aspects of that goal within a specified time frame.  It had also supported the Quartet's efforts in that regard. 

    He said that one important element of the Committee's work had been its role in organizing various meetings and conferences on the question of Palestine, to which it invited people from all spheres, including in the political and academic ones.  That activity was linked to another dimension of the Committee's work, namely its link with civil society.  Over the years, it had established dynamic relationships with civil society organizations, and its range of contacts in that regard had become very extensive covering different sectors of societies in many countries, including Israel.  The Committee also interacted with key regional organizations. 

    Another dimension of its activities, he said, was its direct participation in the work of its parent body, the General Assembly, for which it prepared four draft resolutions each year.  The main one, on the Palestinian question, was traditionally adopted by a large majority of Member States. 

    Later, he noted, the Committee enjoyed the assistance of the Division, whose responsibility included the organization of meetings and conferences under the Committee's guidance.  It also undertook studies and publications on the issues, which it promoted widely.  The Division had also established a computer-based information system called UNISPAR.  In addition, it was responsible for an annual training programme of staff of the Palestinian Authority. 

    He said that although a peaceful settlement must be made by the parties, the international community should support them in taking bold, and often difficult, decisions.  He reaffirmed the Committee's noble objectives, and hoped those objectives would finally achieved in the foreseeable future. 

    HAMIDON ALI (Malaysia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed condolences to the people and Government of Jordan in light of the terrorist attacks in Amman.   He said the Committee had made significant contributions over the past thirty years pursuant to its mandate and terms of reference as encapsulated in operative paragraphs four and five of resolution 3376 (XXX).  Those contributions had been well documented in the Committee's reports since 1976.  The Committee's establishment was a testimony to the culmination of the efforts in the past to remedy a situation that had inflicted considerable injustice on the Palestinian people.  More important, its establishment helped to focus public attention on the fact that the solution of the question of Palestine rested with the complete restoration and exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. 

    The restoration and exercise of those rights, he added, could be facilitated through the complete withdrawal by Israel from all occupied Arab territories, and allowing Palestinian refugees and displaced persons to return to their homes and property.  His delegation called on Israel to extend to the Palestinians the opportunity to exercise their inalienable rights without delay.  He recalled that in its first report, the Committee had, among other things, affirmed that the question of Palestine was at the heart of the Middle East problem, and that no solution could be envisaged without fully taking into account the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.  The Committee had further expressed the view that the United Nations had the historical duty to render all assistance to promote the economic development and prosperity of the future Palestinian entity. 

    He said the Non-Aligned Movement remained steadfast in its support for the legitimate and inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to return to their homes and property and to achieve self-determination, national independence and sovereignty.  It also reaffirmed its support to the Committee's work.

    PRASAD KARIYAWASAM ( Sri Lanka), Chairman of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices, joined other speakers in condemning the terrorist acts in Jordan.

    He paid tribute to the memory of President Arafat.  Upon the celebration of the Committee's thirtieth year, he said that despite all the difficulties encountered, the Committee had been able to accomplish a great deal and take the lead in organizing many meaningful activities aimed at sensitizing the international community around the world to the dire situation of the Palestinian people.  This year, the United Nations international meeting on the question of Palestine, held in March in Geneva, focused on implementation of the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the illegal construction of the wall. 

    He noted that today the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonisation) had completed its debate on the report of the Special Committee.  In his introductory statement, he had expressed that Committee's "deep anxiety" regarding the continuing dire humanitarian situation in the occupied territories and the occupied Syrian Golan.  Among the factors contributing to that dire situation was the persistence of negative Israeli practices, notwithstanding the withdrawal from Gaza in August. 

    Also continuing unabated, he said, was the construction of the wall, which was daily affecting the lives of Palestinians, who had been deprived of the contiguity of their land and control over vital resources.  That had also impeded access to jobs, schools and health facilities.  The wall's construction, simply stated, violated all human rights of the Palestinians in all spheres. 

    The respective Committees had each tried to remind the Israeli authorities of their international obligations, particularly the need to demonstrate tangible signs of political will to bring about real progress in the occupied territories in all aspects.  Unfortunately, much remained to be done by the Israeli side; meanwhile the Committees should stay the course. 

    RAVAN A. G. FARHÂDI ( Afghanistan), Vice-Chairman of the Committee, expressed sympathy to the people and Government of Jordan for the brothers and sisters who had lost their lives yesterday in Amman. 

    The Committee's thirtieth anniversary was a historic day, he said.  For thirty years, the Committee had had the duty of conveying the voice of the Palestinian people throughout the world.  It also had the responsibility of emphasizing the need to implement the various resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly.  He said he was pleased that the Secretariat had a division dedicated especially to the rights of the Palestinian people, staffed by specialists in the field.  Indeed, the suffering of the Palestinian people was worsening, especially with the construction of the wall, which was entirely illegal.  As long as such actions continued, the Committee's activity would also continue. 

    As for Jerusalem, he said few people were aware of the fact that it was not only an Arab question, but an Islamic one.  He was also pleased with the role played by Malta, a member of the European Union, in the Committee.  The doors of the Committee must remain open to other Europeans.  He hoped the day would come when the right to the self-determination, including the right to an independent State, would be fulfilled with East Jerusalem as its capital.  That was not only essential for peace in the Middle East, but also for peace around the world.

    HARON HASSAN (Jordan) thanked the Committee for the many expressions of condolences to the families and Government of Jordan.  His Government condemned such terrorist criminal acts and would continue to follow those responsible for such criminal acts and bring them to justice.

    ORLANDO REQUEIJO GUAL ( Cuba), Vice-Chairman of the Committee, also expressed condolences for the people of Jordan.  He said today was an important day for the Committee as it celebrated thirty years of work to achieve the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.  Established through the express mandate of the General Assembly, the most democratic United Nations body, the Committee had much more to do, and its legitimacy remained.  With the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people still trampled on, the Committee's mandate applied. 

    He said he could only condemn the attitude of some Member States that wanted to set as an objective the Committee's elimination, as well as that of the Division for Palestinian Affairs and the Committee on the Investigation of Israeli Practices, as if they were things from a distant past.  As long as the rights of the Palestinian people were not obtained, he said, the Committee must continue to express solidarity with the just cause of the Palestinian people.  The free peoples of the planet must support that struggle so that one day the Palestinian people could fully exercise their right to self-determination and join the family of nations as fully fledged partners.

    The Chairman of the Committee, Mr. BADJI, thanked Cuba's representative for his contribution to the Committee, on his last appearance before concluding his work at the United Nations, and expressed confidence that Cuba's torch in the Committee would be firmly grasped by his successor.

    The Committee then approved the application of Venezuela as Committee observer.  Venezuela's representative thanked the Committee and expressed her delegation's pride to be part of a body that was carrying forward the noble cause of promoting the achievement of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.  Among those were the right to self-determination and respect for all human rights. 

    The Chairman added that it was important, in the present pivotal time, that Venezuela had pledged its support to the Palestinian people.

    Next, acting without a vote, the Committee approved the four draft resolutions before it.  Those concerned, respectively:  the work of the Committee; the Division; the special information programme of the DPI on the question of Palestine, and peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine. 

    The Chairman drew members' attention to substantive changes in both the preambular and operative portions of the fourth text. 

    Following approval of the draft resolution, the Chairman said they were realistic and sensible, and should receive the usual broad support from the General Assembly.

    The Committee then approved the application request for accreditation of seven non-governmental organizations, as follows:  Jewish Voice for Peace; Palestinians without Borders; Al-Marsad -- The Arab Center for Human Rights; Australians for Justice and Peace in Palestine; Justice for Peace; Arab Cultural Institute; and Talk Through Conflicts Initiative.

    Mr. MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for Palestine, expressed his delegation's thanks and appreciation to the kind words from many delegations on the occasion of the one year passing of Chairman Arafat.  He expressed thanks to all speakers, not only for supporting the work of Committee but also the struggle of the Palestinian people to achieve their inalienable rights.  That strong message was an encouraging sign for his people to continue with their goals and objectives.  He thanked members and observers for their tireless efforts and work for advancing the cause of Palestine.  He thanked in particular the representative of Cuba for his leadership role as a Committee Vice-Chairman, and his tireless efforts in fighting for justice for the Palestinian people.  He hoped the day was not far away when the people of Palestine would rest from the aggression they suffered from the Israeli occupation.

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