1992 Speech

Statement before the Forty-Seventh Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations by Ambassador Gaafar M. Allagany, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations, Concerning Item 30: 'The Question of Palestine', New York, December 1, 1992

In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate

Mr. President:
The Palestinian issue still occupies the interest of the international community because of its repercussions on international peace and security.  From the early years when the United Nations was founded, the Palestinian issue has been on the agenda of the General Assembly.  In its 29th session, the assembly passed its Historic Resolution 3236, in which it affirmed the right of the Palestinian people for self-determination, and their right for independence and sovereignty in their homeland, Palestine.

The General Assembly established the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in Resolution 3376 of November 10, 1975, to conduct studies and submit recommendations whose aim is to enable the Palestinian people to practice their legitimate rights.  The committee submitted its report to the current session welcoming again the Middle East peace conference, which was opened in Madrid on October 30, 1991, and which was co-sponsored by the United States of America and the former Soviet Union, as a significant step towards establishing a complete and just peace in the region.

Mr. President:
The concept of nationalism is based on two fundamental principles:  the first is that national rights evolve from a nation which is aware of its independent identity, and the second is that self-determination is a fundamental right for achieving national rights.  And without self-determination, which is practiced without foreign pressure or repressive practices, no nation will have any political choices.  Consequently, national rights, including the rights og independence, sovereignty, and return, are the result of the actual and authentic practice of self-determination.

One of the aims of founding the United Nations was to establish friendly relations founded on the principle of equitable rights and the right of self-determination for people all over the world.  I would like here to refer to General Assembly Resolution 2672, which affirmed the right of the Palestinian people to enjoy equitable rights and self-determination in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and according to which it was declared that complete respect for the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people is an intrinsic element in achieving a permanent and just peace in the Middle East.

Mr. President:
The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People expressed in its report before us its deep concern over the increased deterioration in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel's continuing harsh repressive practices in violation of international law and United Nations resolutions.  The committee condemned in particular Israel's continuing use of armed force in suppressing the intifada which is in its fifth year.  The committee affirmed in its report that Israel's continuing occupation of the Palestinian land and depriving the Palestinian people of their inalienable rights, including their right of self-determination without foreign intervention, is the main obstacle in the face of achieving a permanent and just peace.

Israel's violations of international law, and in particular its obligations according to the Fourth Geneva Convention concerned with the protection of civilians during armed conflicts, make it a priority for the international community to take specific measures to guarantee Israel's respect and application of this convention in all circumstances in accordance with its obligations under Article One of that convention.  The second article of the convention specifies that military necessity does not give an occupying army the right to deprive the people under occupation of basic protection.  The report says that the number of Palestinians who were killed during the fourth year of the intifada (1991) was 117.  Children represent 37.6 per cent of that number, bearing in mind that 50 per cent of the dead were assassinated by secret units which consist of persons from the Israeli Army, the border forces, and the Shin Beth Police, who disguise themselves in Arab garb and shoot Palestinian youth indiscriminately and without warning.

Israel continues to violate the Fourth Geneva Convention by appropriating land and building settlements in the occupied territories.  The report of the committee on the exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people says that the Israeli authorities appropriated, by military decrees, 60 percent of the West Bank and Gaza between 1967 and 1992; 230,000 Israelis were settled in 212 settlements all over the occupied territories, including the holy city of Jerusalem.  Israel continues in its projects to alter the demographic status of the old section of Jerusalem and the areas  surrounding it in order to alter the Arab and Islamic identity of Jerusalem.  The Israeli authorities are executing regional plans to exploit the natural resources in the Palestinian land by appropriating water resources and controlling them and by restricting the use of water by the Palestinian people for use in irrigation and other necessities.

The Israeli Housing Ministry has lately allocated huge amounts of money to execute projects that connect the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza with Israeli areas in an attempt to eliminate the borders between Israel and the occupied Arab territories.  It continues to destroy the West Bank by harming the fabric of Palestinian society, which worsens the dilemma facing the Palestinians and deprives them of the right to work and movement and exposes them to collective punishment like school and university closures for long periods of time, the disruption of health care, and arbitrary mass arrest.  And according to reports by international human rights organizations to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the Israeli authorities killed at least 1,062 Palestinians from December 1987 to June 1992, most by bullets.  As collective punishment, the cities and villages in the occupied Palestinian territories were subjected to 11,500 days of curfew, and more than 145,000 trees were destroyed.

Mr. President:
The report of the committee (A/AC.183/1992/CRP.2/REV.1 of October 27, 1992) says: "The committee reiterates its most urgent appeal to the Security Council, to the high contracting parties to the Geneva Convention and to all concerned to take all necessary measures to insure the safety and international protection of the Palestinians in the occupied territories pending the withdrawal of Israeli forces and the achievement of a just settlement."  The committee also calls upon the international community to "take all possible measures to halt the rapid deterioration in the living conditions of the Palestinian people and to develop socio-economic structures that will lead to genuine development of the occupied Palestinian territory in preparation for independent nationhood."

In this regard, I would like to say that the Arab countries have affirmed their sincere wish for establishing a permanent and just peace in the Middle East.  They also proved their positive positions within the framework of participating in the peace negotiations, co-sponsored by the United States of America and the Russian Federation, and according to Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and the other related resolutions.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has given its full support to the peace process in the Middle East.  It believes that no real peace in the Middle East could be established unless there is a just and permanent solution to the Palestinian question, and unless there is a complete Israeli withdrawal from Arab occupied lands, foremost among which is the holy city of Jerusalem, which is an integral part of the occupied Arab territories.

The question of the holy city of Jerusalem is a constant to which the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia gives full importance according to the resolutions by the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference concerned with this issue.  Therefore, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia believes that the success of the current peace process in the Middle East depends on Israel's clear and serious adherence to the implementation of legitimate international resolutions and to the complete withdrawal from occupied Arab land, including the holy city of Jerusalem.  Then there is hope for security, peace, and prosperity in the region.