Press Releases

    9 April 2002


    (Reissued as received.)

    NEW YORK, 8 April (UN Headquarters) -- The Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People adopted the following statement at its meeting in New York on 5 April 2002:

    The Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People expresses its grave concern at the latest developments in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem. In the past several days, the Israeli forces have re-entered areas under the full control of the Palestinian Authority and have been carrying out an unprecedented attack against the Palestinian people, the Palestinian Authority and its institutions. Israel is conducting its massive military offensive against the defenceless Palestinian people in arrogant defiance of the expressed opinion of the entire international community and its bodies, most importantly, the United Nations Security Council. The ensuing loss of life and destruction of property seems to be of no concern to the occupying Power.

    Adding to a long list of illegal actions it has been systematically carrying out, such as extrajudicial executions, excessive use of force in civilian areas, house demolitions, stifling closures of the Palestinian territory, wide-scale destruction of infrastructure and continuing settlement expansion, the occupying Power has now attacked the very centre of the Palestinian Authority, its elected and internationally recognized President, Yasser Arafat. As if the virtual house arrest that Chairman Arafat had been subjected to for months was not enough, the Israeli forces have now invaded the Palestinian Authority headquarters in Ramallah and have been besieging Chairman Arafat in the last building of the compound still standing. Moreover, the rapid escalation of Israeli military activity around the Ramallah compound is now posing a very real danger to the personal safety of Chairman Arafat. The Israeli Government is reported to be pondering his fate, as though it was their right to decide on the life and death, imprisonment or expulsion of the democratically elected leader of the Palestinian people.

    Tragically, the blood of innocent people, Palestinians and Israelis, is shed almost every day, adding to fear and despair. Attacks by militants have so far succeeded in arresting the political process and efforts to achieve peace. Israeli assaults on Palestinian towns, villages and refugee camps have wreaked havoc and have badly damaged the livelihood of the civilian population, harming children, women and the elderly. We strongly condemn all acts of violence against innocent civilians, irrespective of their nationality or religion, and irrespective of the alleged motives of the perpetrators. All such attacks must be ended forthwith.

    At the same time, we cannot but recognize the injustice done to the Palestinian people, which has been denied its inalienable rights for too long. Thirty-five years of occupation, dispossession and humiliation, the illegal acts perpetrated by the occupier and the continuing military and economic suppression are at the root of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. No viable solution to the conflict can be found unless the occupation is ended.

    We deplore the utter disrespect shown by Israel vis-à-vis its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention, international humanitarian law and United Nations resolutions. We call upon the Israeli Government to return to the road of international legality before more harm is inflicted upon the Palestinian people and the Israeli people, and before the entire region is engulfed by war.

    We are encouraged by the recent action by the United Nations Security Council and the adoption of resolutions 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002). It is now critical that these resolutions are implemented without delay. We welcome the decision of the United States Administration to intensify its peace- making efforts. We also fully support the efforts of the United Nations Secretary-General and of his Special Coordinator, as well as of the special envoys of the United State, the Russian Federation and the European Union in the framework of the "Quartet", who continue their contacts with the parties. We urge the international community to intervene most urgently in order to help the parties extricate themselves from the present quagmire, restore normality and return to the political process. This should lead them towards a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine, on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002) and the fundamental principle of "land for peace", as envisaged by the Arab peace initiative adopted on 28 March 2002 in Beirut at the League of Arab States Summit. A State of Palestine, with Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side with Israel, within secure and recognized borders, should be turned from vision to reality without delay.

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