2006 UN "Day of Solidarity" with the Palestinian People

Panels display during the meeting of
the Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP)

I - The Palestinian People

[ Text of Panel ]

Who are they?

People striving for self-determination in their homeland.

People claiming the right to return to their homes from which they were uprooted. As a result of wars in 1948 and 1967 stemming from conflicting claims to the land of Palestine, the Palestinian people lost control over their destiny, and their lives were disrupted and dislocated. Since 1993, the year of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self Government, also known as the "Oslo Accords," a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict became a possibility.

The propaganda war:
1) Despite the apparent commitment to the Roadmap formula of the parties negotiating final status issues, the display presses the case for "the right to return to their homes from which they were uprooted."
2) The 1948 war and the 1967 war were not touched off by Arab armies promising to emasculate the Jewish state, but were merely about two parties with conflicting claims to territory.

[ Text of Panel ]

How many Palestinians are there?

Between 7 and 8 million. They live in areas in Palestine administered by the Palestinian Authority. Or they are refugees in nearby lands. Others are scattered far and wide through the Middle East. Also in Latin America, Europe and the US. They are teachers, engineers, managers, doctors, service workers. Some are citizens of their adopted countries.

The propaganda war:
3) The UN claims there 7 or 8 million Palestinians. According to the previous panel Palestinians are "people claiming the right to return to their homes from which they were uprooted." The numbers would clearly bring to an end the Jewishness of the state of Israel.
4) There is no mention of Jordan (with its majority Palestinian population) as anything but a way station for refugees or an "adopted country."

Where do they come from?

From Palestine. An ancient land of great civilizations and cultures. A holy land for Christians, Jews and Muslims. In 1947, the UN General assembly partitioned Palestine. The Assembly envisaged independent Arab and Jewish states, and a special international regime for Jerusalem.

The propaganda war:
5) Suggestion that Jewish sovereignty is discomforting.
6) Jerusalem, we are reminded, was envisaged as an international city -- 58 years ago -- again raising concern about Jerusalem as a Jewish capital city today.

Map 1: Territories occupied by Israel since June 1967

Map 2: UN partition plan 1947, UN Armistice Lines 1949

Map 3: Southeastern Mediterranean

II - Palestinian Refugees

[ Text of Panel ]

How many and where are they?

4 Million

About half the Palestinian people are refugees registered with UNRWA and living in the Gaza strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. More than 1.25 million still live in camps set up for them in those areas 50 years ago.

Captions for three photos:

1. a Palestinian refugee
2. a Palestinian refugee, one of UNRWA's 229 404 special hardship cases.
3. Arab refugees making the difficult crossing of the King Hussein Bridge from the Israeli-occupied West Bank of the Jordan river in to Jordan in June 1967.

Assistance to Palestinian refugees

For 50 years UNRWA has worked to help the hundreds of thousands of people displaced, uprooted and made homeless by the Arab-Israeli conflict, providing them with basic services -- food, shelter, health care, education and training, and community development.

Many other UN agencies provide assistance to the Palestinian people, including: UNDP, UNICEF, WHO, ILO, UNESCO.

Caption of bottom photo: Food rations distribution at Burj el-Shamali camp for Palestinian refugees in South Lebanon.

[ Text of Panel ]

The Occupied Palestinian Territory

The international community, through the UN, has shown deep concern over the living conditions and human rights of the Palestinian people during the uprising (1987-1993) and during the on-going intifada which began in September 2000. These uprisings have focused the attention of the international community on the plight of the Palestinian people and the urgent need for a solution to the question of Palestine.

For many years, the UN, though its different organs, has dealt with the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. In numerous resolutions, UN bodies have addressed such issues as the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949, relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, Israeli settlements and the status of Jerusalem.

The propaganda war:
7) The only concern for the "uprisings" is with the human rights of the Palestinian people. There is no mention of a deep concern over the Israelis that have lost their lives as a result of these uprisings.
8) The uprisings and the intifada are described as a success. They focused attention of the international community on the plight of the Palestinians. Violence works.

III - The Search for a Solution to the Question of Palestine

[ Text of Panel ]

Since its inception the UN has been seized with the question of Palestine. For many years the question was treated largely as a refugee problem. But by the early 1970s, growing Palestinian nationalism had brought its political aspects to the forefront.

Both the General Assembly and the Security Council repeatedly took up the issue. In its resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), in particular, the Security Council laid out the principles for a just and lasting peace and called for negotiations to achieve that objective.

In 1974, the PLO was recognized as the representative of the Palestinian people by the General Assembly, where it was granted Observer status. As an Observer, the PLO participates in all the work of the Assembly and in intermediate conferences convened under UN auspices. In addition, the Security Council has, since 1976, consistently invited the representatives of the PLO to participate in its debates on the situation in the Middle East, the question of Palestine and related issues. Over the years, the General Assembly conferred additional rights and privileges to Palestinians.

[ Text of side panel ]
The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People:
    In 1975, the General Assembly expressed its deep concern that a just solution to the question of Palestine had not been found and decided to establish a committee while recommending a program by which the Palestinian people could exercise their rights. The recommendations made by the Committee in 1976 on how the Palestinian people could exercise their right of return and self-determination have been endorsed repeatedly by the General Assembly.

The propaganda war:
9) Omitted is the fact that the Committee was created on the very same day, in 1975, as the UN General Assembly adopted the 'Zionism equals racism' resolution. That idea remains intertwined with the UN Palestinian bodies, which continue to operate after the resolution's repeal in 1991.

IV - The Peace Process

[ Text of Panel ]

In the wake of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and into the 1990s, efforts were made in different fora to achieve a comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on Security Council resolutions 242 and 338. Global changes such as the end of the Cold War, and the Gulf War and its aftermath, affected the Middle East situation. The negotiation process between the Arabs and the Israelis resumed in earnest in October 1991, with the convening of the Peace Conference on the Middle East in Madrid under the twin chairmanship of the US and the Soviet Union. A representative of the UN Secretary General attended the conference as an observer. By mid-1993, however, it appeared that the talks had stalled on a variety of political and security issues. Parallel to these public diplomatic efforts, secret talks were taking place in Norway between Israel and the PLO. These talks were brought to conclusion in late august 1993, and the news of an Israel-PLO agreement was broken to a startled and hopeful world.

On 10 September 1993, Israel and the PLO exchanged letters of mutual recognition, and on 13 September, in a ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C., in the presence of U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Andrei V. Kozyrev, Israeli and Palestinian representatives signed the declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements. Following the signing, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat shook hands. The historic agreement opened the way for Palestinian self-rule in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. It marked the beginning of a process to lead to a negotiated settlement of permanent status issues. At its 1993 session in a resolution entitled "Peaceful Settlement of the Question of Palestine," the General Assembly expressed support for the Declaration of Principles while reaffirming a number of principles of its own that should guide the final settlement. Moreover, the Assembly reaffirmed the UN's abiding responsibility for the question of Palestine until the question of Palestine is solved in all its aspects.

The propaganda war:
10) The UN has the right answers to the conflict, and has a central role to play in bringing about a solution based on its answers, rather than a freely-negotiated conclusion reached by the parties.

[ Text of Panel ]

In July 1994, Yasser Arafat returned to Palestine to establish the Palestinian Authority in Gaza and the Jericho area of the West Bank. Subsequent agreements brought more areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority.

Talks have begun on "final status" agreements to end the conflict. Difficult issues remain on the agenda: Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Palestinian Territory, final borders, refugees, settlements, the status of Jerusalem. A new era has opened in the Middle East.

On 28 September 1995, the historic Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza strip, Oslo II, was signed, which superseded the 1993 declaration of principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements. Oslo II provided for the dissolution of the Israeli military government and division of the West Bank into three areas, each with varying degrees of Israeli and Palestinian responsibility. The UN General Assembly has expressed full support for the achievements of the peace process so far.

In Palestine, the first general election was held in January 1996. Chairman Arafat was elected President of the Palestinian Authority. He subsequently appointed a 21-Member Executive Authority of the Palestinian Council. The Security Council warmly welcomed the election as "a major step forward in the Middle east peace process."

After staggered peace negotiations in the mid to late 90s, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and President Yasser Arafat formalized the Sharm el-Sheik Memorandum on 4 September 1999. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan warmly welcomed the agreement.

[ Caption of photo ]
Political, socio-economic and humanitarian conditions have steadily deteriorated in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

[ Text of Panel ]

The peace process halted once again after negotiations encountered problems caused by settlement construction and continued violence.

In July 2000, President Clinton convened the Middle east Peace Summit at Camp David. Secretary General Kofi Annan welcomed it and expressed hope for a "Peace of the Brave" between Israel and the Palestinians. However, Prime Minister Barak of Israel and President Arafat of the Palestinian Authority were unable to bridge the gaps and reach an agreement . By September 2000, the second Palestinian uprising - intifada -- broke out.

Another effort was made in early January 2001 when Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met in Taba, Egypt. In a joint statement the two sides said they never had been closer to a final settlement. However, impending elections in Israel led Prime Minister Barak to suspend the talks. Ariel Sharon was elected as Israel's new prime minister.

Political, socio-economic and humanitarian conditions have steadily deteriorated since September 2000. During 2002 the Security Council adopted a number of resolutions that expressed grave concern over the deteriorating situation and called for an end to violence and terrorism, the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian cities, and respect for international humanitarian law.

In a landmark resolution passed in March 2002, the Security Council affirmed a vision of a region where 2 states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side within secure and recognized borders.

The propaganda war:
11) The peace process halted because, number one, settlements were constructed. The continued violence was not an instigator. The Palestinian uprising "broke out" spontaneously. The only party specifically "called upon" to act is Israel - withdraw Israeli troops. The terrorist has no name.
[ Caption of bottom photo ]
Secretary General Kofi Annan playing ball with girls from UNWRA girl's school. The school provides psychological counseling to the girls through play activities, painting and acting.

[ Text of Panel ]

[ Caption of top photo ]
The wall in Sawahrah near Jerusalem.

The "Road Map," to achieve this vision, which was elaborated by the Quartet (US, EU, Russia, UN), envisaged parallel steps by Israelis and Palestinians leading to a final and comprehensive peace settlement by the end of 2005.

The 2 sides made a firm commitment to implement the Road Map at the Aqaba summit in June 2003. The Security Council endorsed the Road Map in November 2003.

Despite some signs of progress, the cycle of violence, retaliation and revenge continued, and the peace process stalled.

In response to Israel's decision to construct a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, the General Assembly asked the International Court of Justice in December 2003 for an advisory opinion on the legal consequences of the construction of the wall. The Court found in July 2004 that the route of the wall in the occupied Palestinian territory was contrary to international law, and advised that Israel is obliged to terminate the building of the wall, to dismantle parts already built and to make reparations for all damage caused to Palestinian property.

Israel announced in early 2004 a plan to withdraw from most of the Gaza strip and a small part of the West Bank. The Quartet set out in May 2004 principles for such withdrawal, stating that the withdrawal should be complete, and that it must lead to similar steps in the West Bank. The Quartet also stated that all final status issues, such as borders and refugees, should be negotiated by the parties on the basis of the internationally accepted framework for the peace process.

Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory has continued to deteriorate. The Security General has repeatedly called on the international community to do all it can to alleviate the plight of the Palestinian people, and urged Israelis and Palestinians to take the required steps to reach a peace settlement without delay.

The propaganda war:
12) final status negotiations are still subject to the UN's own view of an "internationally accepted framework."
13) the only plight of interest to the UN is that "of the Palestinian people", not of Israelis forced to send their children into the army over almost 6 decades in order to protect themselves, and subject to terrorism in every aspect of daily life.

Produced by the UNDPI in November 2004 in accordance with General Assembly resolution 58/20 of 3 December 2003.