16 July 2001


(Received from a UN Information Officer.)

NEW YORK, 13 July (UN Heaquarters) -- United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People will convene the United Nations International Meeting on the Question of Palestine on 17 and 18 July in Madrid. The Meeting will be followed by a United Nations Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Meeting in Solidarity with the Palestinian People on 19 July 2001. Both events are organized in accordance with General Assembly resolutions 55/52 and 55/53 of 1 December 2000.

In the past several months, the Committee has joined the international community in expressing grave concern over the dangerous escalation of violence in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and the persistent stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The Committee is particularly concerned by the excessive use of force by the occupying Power, settlement expansion, extrajudicial "targeted assassinations" of Palestinian activists, the disastrous state of the Palestinian economy caused by repeated closures of the occupied Palestinian territory, and other illegal Israeli practices.

The Committee firmly believes that the international community has a moral responsibility towards the Palestinian people and towards the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the region. The Committee's position of principle is that the United Nations should maintain its permanent responsibility towards all the aspects of the question of Palestine, until it is resolved in a satisfactory manner, in conformity with relevant United Nations resolutions and norms of international law, and until the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people are fully realized.

The theme of the Meeting is "The Road to Israeli-Palestinian Peace". Experts will review the Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and the agreements reached to date; assess the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem; and discuss ways out of the current crisis, in particular, the various international initiatives for the resumption of the peace process. Invited to the Meeting are eminent personalities, including high-level officials from the host Government and the Palestinian Authority; internationally renowned experts, including Israelis and Palestinians; representatives of United Nations Member States; parliamentarians; representatives of the United Nations system and other intergovernmental organizations; academics; representatives of non-governmental and other civil society organizations; as well as the media.

The opening session of the Meeting will take place on Tuesday, 17 July, at 10.30 a.m., in the Casa de América, in the centre of Madrid. The session will be addressed by senior officials from the host Government, Palestine, the United Nations, as well as by representatives of governments, intergovernmental organizations and United Nations agencies. Josep Piqué, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Spain, will deliver the opening address. Palestine will be represented by Nabil Sha’ath, Minister for Planning and International Cooperation of the Palestinian Authority. Terje Roed-Larsen, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, will represent the United Nations Secretary-General. The European Union will be represented by Miguel Angel Moratinos, Special Envoy to the Middle East Peace Process, while Ambassador Ibra Deguène Ka, Chairman of the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, will speak on behalf of the organizers.

Plenary I, entitled "The Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts: an overview", will start at 3 p.m., Tuesday, 17 July. Presentations will be made by, among others, Nabil Sha’ath, Minister for Planning and International Cooperation, Palestinian Authority; Yossi Katz, Member of the Israeli Knesset; Valerian Chouvaev, Head of the Division for Palestine and Israel of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Manuel Marín, Member of the Spanish Parliament; and Ignacio Alvarez-Ossorio, Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Alicante. The presentations will be followed by a discussion with the participants.

On Wednesday morning, 18 July, at 10 a.m., Plenary II will be devoted to "The Situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem". Scheduled speakers include Rawya Shawa, Member of the Palestinian Council; Luisa Morgantini, Member of the European Parliament from Italy; Jeff Halper, Coordinator of the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions; Francis Okelo, Deputy United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process; and Felipe Sahagun, Professor of International Relations, Complutense University. A broader discussion will follow.

Plenary III, starting at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 18 July, is entitled "The road to peace". Speakers include Mahdi Abdul Hadi, Head of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs; Richard Murphy, Senior Fellow at the United States Council on Foreign Relations; Yael Dayan, Member of the Knesset; and Hussein A. Hassouna, Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States to the United Nations in New York. A broader discussion will again follow.

The closing session will take place on Wednesday, 18 July, at 5.30 p.m.

The report of the Meeting will later be issued as a publication of the Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat.

Invitations to attend the Meeting have been sent to all United Nations Member States and observers, United Nations agencies, bodies and programmes, as well as interested intergovernmental organizations. Non-governmental organizations accredited with the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and a number of other NGOs interested in the subject, have been invited to attend the Meeting, as well. NGO representatives will have the opportunity to discuss in greater detail the role of civil society vis-à-vis the question of Palestine at the United Nations NGO Meeting in Solidarity with the Palestinian People, to be held in the same venue on Thursday, 19 July, starting at 10 a.m.

- The working languages of the Meetings will be Arabic, English, French and Spanish.

Participants are required to register and obtain special badges prior to entering the Meeting area. A registration desk will be set up at the main entrance of the Casa de América and advance registration will take place on Friday, 13 July, and on Monday, 16 July, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Registration on Tuesday, 17 July, will start at 9 a.m. Participants are kindly requested to take advantage of the advance registration in order to avoid delays on Tuesday morning, prior to the opening of the Meeting.

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