His Excellency Dr. Azeddine Laraki
Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference
on the Occasion of
the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
29 November 1999
The international community celebrates each year on the 29th of November the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, in conformity with the UN General Assembly’s resolution No. 32/40-B of the Year 1977, in commemoration of resolution 181 adopted by the UN General Assembly on 29/11/1947, the resolution crystallized the commitment of the World States and peoples to the necessity of doing justice to the Palestinian people and offering them solidarity in their just struggle for the recovery of their legitimate inalienable national rights.
Allow me to extend on this occasion my sincere thanks and appreciation, on behalf of the OIC member States, to the United Nations and its various bodies and institutions for their consistent efforts in clarifying the dimensions of the Palestinian issue and projecting its reality to the world as well as for their assistance to the Palestinian people at all levels.
This year as we are commemorating this Day of Solidarity, the Palestinian issue and the Arab-Israeli conflict are going through a most crucial and critical watershed. Indeed, two months after the signing of the Sharm Al Sheikh Memorandum, Israel has redeployed its forces after withdrawing from a part of the occupied Palestinian territories and released 350 Palestinian prisoners in two batches. The Southern safe-passage way between the West Bank and Gaza Strip has been opened.
Nevertheless, and despite this progress, there still remain a number of matters relevant to the Sharm Al Sheikh Memorandum that are yet to be resolved, such as the start of the construction of a sea-port, the negotiations on the third stage of redeployment, the framework agreement, the return of the displaced Palestinian citizens to their homeland, and so many issues relating to the transition stage.
However, the most serious issue in all this affairs is the manner in which the Israeli Government dealt with the issue of the 42 settlement pockets. The Israeli Government proceeded to a manoeuvre aimed at deceiving world public opinion, with the object of establishing two issues: One relating to concepts, for it considers its decisions as the legal reference for the settlements, rather than the peace process itself, the resolutions of international community and the world consensus which view the entire process of settlement building, as an illegitimate and unlawful exercise and is entirely null and void and destructive to the peace process.
The second matter is that the Israeli government has failed to dismantle the settlements but rather anchored them: indeed, while it did dismantle twelve settlements, it also legitimized another further thirty-five. This stand on the part of the Israeli Government has been accompanied by its pressing ahead with its settlement policy through the expansion of the existing settlements with the purpose of tearing apart the Palestinian nation, denying the Palestinians the possibility of reunion and perpetrating the Israeli hegemony over the Palestinian territories. On the other hand the City of Al-Quds continues to be the subject of aggressions, being isolated from the rest of the Palestinian towns and villages, the Palestinian people are denied free access to it, they are also denied the right to perform worship there; attempts continue to evacuate it of its Arab Palestinian citizens through the demolition of their homes and confiscation of their property. These practices which are in blatant violation of international law and the resolutions of international community as well as the agreements concluded within the framework of the peace process, are aimed at establishing a new fait accompli ahead of the outcome of the negotiations concerning the final status. There are four million Palestinian who continue to live in refugees camps, waiting for the realization of international justice, and the implementation of the resolutions of the international community as well as putting an end to half a century of refugees living in exile.
The international community which welcomed the peace process in the Middle East is today called upon to put in its greatest efforts and ensure international sponsorship for the negotiations, including the active involvement of the United Nations as a key partner in this joint diplomatic effort, for indeed, the settlement of the Palestinian issue from all its aspects, forms the core of the final status negotiations and objective. And the implementation of the UN Resolutions No. 242, 338 and 194 forms an international responsibility in the implementation of which the United Nations, as the parent world institution, could play a direct role.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference holds the view that there are immutable links between peace and what is one’s legitimate right, and hence its commitment to peace as a strategic option based on right and justice and on enabling the Palestinian people to exercise their sovereignty on their national homeland, which would require, as a fundamental requisite, putting an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, and enabling the Palestinian people to exercise their legitimate and inalienable national rights, including their right to return to their homeland, their right to self-determination and their right to establish their independent state on their national territory, with Al Quds as its capital. Likewise, the Organization feels that the negotiations need to be resumed on both their Syrian and Lebanese tracks, from the point at which they were interrupted in February 1996, in line with the results achieved then, and on the same bases on which they were first started in Madrid and in accordance with Security Council Resolutions no. 242, 338 and 425 and the “Land for Peace Formula”.
I am fully confident that our joint efforts will contribute towards ensuring the Palestinian people’s right to exercise their inalienable, and legitimate national rights, as well as towards achieving peace and stability in the Middle East, based on justice, and in an atmosphere of tolerance and peaceful coexistence among the peoples of the region. We nurture great hopes for the achievement of these mutual objectives.
With the advent of the new millennium, I call for launching a common appeal, by all of us, for peace and security among all nations and for the focusing of efforts, potential and resources in favour of construction and development efforts, instead of violence, occupation and conflict.
I thank you.