20 April 2006

Palestinian Rights Committee Approves Programme for Seminar to Be Held in Cairo, 26 - 27 April

NEW YORK, 19 April (UN Headquarters) -- The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People today approved its programme for the United Nations Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People, to be held in Cairo, Egypt, on 26 and 27 April.

The two-day event is part of the 2006 programme of work of the Committee, by which that subsidiary body of the General Assembly seeks to enhance its responsiveness to developments in the Middle East peace process and the situation on the ground, as well as to increase its effectiveness in promoting the exercise by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights.  Through its programme of international meetings and conferences, the Committee facilitates discussion and analysis of the various aspects of the question of Palestine, highlighting the most pressing issues, such as the need to end the violence, stop settlement activities and improve the living conditions of the Palestinian population.

Updating the Committee on developments since it last met on 10 February, its Chairman, Paul Badji (Senegal) said he had addressed a Security Council meeting on 30 March regarding the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, and expressed the Committee's concerns about the Israeli Government's recent announcement of its plans for the unilateral definition of its permanent borders, the expansion of settlements, particularly the E-1 Plan, the recent Israeli strategy in the Jordan Valley and the continued building of the separation wall.  On the same date, he had addressed a letter to the Council President reiterating the Committee's continuing objection to the deletion of items relating to the exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East.  Those items were of special concern not only to the Committee, but also to the majority of Member States.

At the Security Council's 17 April meeting under the same agenda item, he had expressed the Committee's deep concern over intensified Israeli military action and extrajudicial assassinations, as well as the firing of missiles and artillery rounds at Palestinian targets.  He had also expressed the Committee's strong condemnation of the latest suicide bombing in Tel Aviv.

Also addressing the Committee today, Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer for Palestine to the United Nations, said that the situation in the occupied Gaza Strip, as well as in towns and cities in the occupied West Banks, had come under severe Israeli attacks.  In Nablus, as everyone knew, there had been an invasion of 80 Israeli army cars and military units, which had injured several Palestinians and led to the imprisonment of scores more.  The situation was extremely tense.  The daily bombardment on Gaza was very heavy, and the average daily shelling, particularly on the northern and eastern part of the Gaza Strip, averaged beyond 300 shells every day.  The effort in the Security Council had been aimed at stopping that aggression and defusing that extremely explosive situation.

He said "we did not succeed" in having a position from the Council, which should shoulder its responsibility with regard to the maintenance of international peace and security and intervene to stop that Israeli aggression -- the third chapter of the Israeli onslaught against the Palestinian people since the 25 January election.  Those punishments -- the economic siege, economic boycotts, and military onslaught -- were a rejection of the democratic election held in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  The international community was duty-bound to continue the pressure on the Israeli Government to stop the aggression and contain the situation, in order to pave the way for the resumption of the peace process.

Hopefully, despite the fact that the Council had taken no formal decision or position, the Israeli Government had taken strong note of the strong reaction from the international community, he said.  A large number of countries of the United Nations had called on the Israeli Government to restrain itself from continuing that aggression and to abide by its obligations under international law particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention, as an occupying Power.  (For details of that debate, see Press Release SC/8692 .)

The Committee Chairman informed members that the Committee delegation to the Conference would be composed of Ravan Farhadi (Afghanistan), Committee Vice-Chairman; Victor Camilleri (Malta), Committee Rapporteur; Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations; and himself, as Committee Chairman.

Before the meeting was adjourned, Egypt's representative said his Government would do its utmost to ensure the success of the upcoming Seminar.

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