OIC Press Release
|25 July 2001|
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has said that Britain deplored settlement activity in the Occupied [Arab] Territories; while France’s Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine stressed the importance of the Mitchell Committee report and highlighted his country’s endeavors with regard to the full implementation of the recommendations it contained.
Those stances were expressed in two reply messages received by His Excellency Dr. Abdelouahed Belkeziz, the secretary-general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) from the two countries foreign ministers respectively.
Dr. Belkeziz had sent messages to the two foreign ministers as well as to those of the permanent member states of the U.N. Security Council and to the latter organization’s secretary-general, once again calling their attention to the grave situation prevailing in the occupied Palestinian territories and the plight of the Palestinian people as a result of Israel’s bellicose policies.
The OIC secretary-general urged the five permanent member states of the Security Council to ensure the necessary international protection to the Palestinian people.
In his reply message, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw reviewed his government’s efforts, within the context of the European Union (EU), aimed at putting an end to the violence and the excessive use of foreign against Palestinians. He also dwelt on the British government’s endeavors to prompt both Palestinians and Israelis to carry out the recommendations of the Mitchell Committee report which, in his terms, "showed the way forward."
Mr. Straw said, in his reply: "We deplore settlement activity in the Occupied Territories (including East Jerusalem). It is illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace. This is a position shared by our EU partners and the international community." In this respect, the head of Britain’s diplomacy underscored the necessity to freeze the building of settlements and lift the closures, by Israel, of the Palestinian areas. Similarly, he emphasized the necessity to halt violence on the part of the Palestinians.
The foreign secretary also said that the British government supported the right of return and compensation for Palestinian refugees as approved in UN General Assembly Resolution 194. Furthermore, he clearly mentioned that the Fourth Geneva Convention applied to the Occupied Territories.
In conclusion, Mr. Straw affirmed that peace based on the "land for peace" principle, the end of occupation and giving way to the emergence of a Palestinian State was the only way for Israel to live in security, both now and in the future.
For his part, French Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine said in his message that he shared the OIC secretary-general’s preoccupation with the situation obtaining in the Middle East. He pointed out that resuming the dialogue and defining the political perspectives would make it possible to break the current deadlock. He added that implementation of what was mentioned in the Mitchell Committee report had become an urgent matter, especially that the said report constituted, in the "optique" of France and the international community as a whole, the only instrument that would make it possible to get out of the impasse.
The foreign minister went on to say, in his message to the OIC secretary-general that the deployment of international observers constituted an extension of the Mitchell Committee report to provide the best possible protection for the "Palestinian populations," and that France was in favor of any mechanism of a nature as to contribute to monitoring human rights in the region and protecting the "civilian populations."