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22 December 1980
Special meetings to commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
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The meeting was called, to order at 3.20 p.m.
SPECIAL MEETINGS TO COMMEMORATE THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
I take pleasure now in calling on the President
of the International Progress Organization.
Mr. KOECHLER (International Progress Organization): The International Progress Organization (IPO) has devoted its activities to the promotion of peaceful co-existence and international understanding through broadening the horizons of national self-comprehension. The realization of human rights constitutes, therefore, one of the main points of concern of the IPO.
We try to contribute to a self-critical and rational dialogue between the various political systems and ideologies insofar as each system respects the freedom to independent existence of the other. Therefore, the negation of tolerance will not be accepted by us. This would mean self-negation of the democratic principle of dialogue. And that, we think, applies also to the entire Middle East question.
For several years we have been working for a more just and better balanced evaluation of the whole Middle East question on the part of international public opinion, especially in the Western world. We believe that a legal and scientific approach may be helpful for an objective, non-partisan judgement of this complicated problem. This was the reason why the IPO recently convened an international conference of experts in international law and human rights on the legal aspects of the Palestine problem, with special regard to the question of Jerusalem".
As a consultative organization of the United Nations and of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), we want to emphasize that a solution of the Palestine problem may only be achieved within the framework of United Nations resolutions, recognition of the PLO as the sole., legitimate representative of the Palestinian people being one of the fundamental conditions for a realistic solution. According to the principles of international law, current bilateral agreements have no significance because one of the parties concerned -the Palestinian people - did not take part in the negotiations.
The IPO respects and appreciates the endeavours of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for a peaceful - that is, comprehensive - solution of the conflict. We think that the rule of law has to be restored over the whole territory of Palestine. The international community can never accept the right of the conqueror. Armed forces can never be the instrument of creating claims of sovereignty. The rules of international law - which, according to United Nations declarations, have to be in conformity with the fundamental principles of human rights -must never be neglected by referring to certain religious traditions. Zionism, understood in this sense - meaning that Zionism, which considers its territorial claims as being above or as being more fundamental than individual human rights - will always be rejected by peace-loving people.
It should be made very clear: it is not the community of people believing in the Jewish religion we criticize; it is only this amalgam of religious, historical and political claims that is in contradiction to the rules of conduct of the international community, insofar as it leads to the negation of the individual human rights of the people living in the area.
The IPO considers it a sign of real hope that so many prominent Jewish personalities inside and outside Israel are ready to recognize the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and to accept Palestinians as partners on an equal level. Our recently-held international conference has strengthened this hope: prominent Israeli participants were discussing a possible solution with experts and representatives of Arab countries and of the PLO. As one of our lecturers - Ramsey Clark, from the United States - has said we must never give up working for the realization of human rights, and we cannot discriminate in that field. It means we cannot exclude a certain people from our human rights considerations. This was also stated in the message which participants in our conference have sent to President-elect Ronald Reagan, warning him of the dangerous consequences of his one-sided anti-PLO declarations which are, frankly speaking, a negation of the basic human rights of the Palestinian people.
We hope to present our message to the political leaders and to public opinion, especially in the Western world, where one-sided judgement still prevails. Initiatives taken by Western leaders, such as that of Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky, are most promising, in our view. We also hope that the sense of Justice and fairness displayed by the Austrian Chancellor will have its impact on the Governments of the United States of America and Europe.
The IPO will continue to strive for the realization of human rights in all regions of the world, without any discrimination. Palestine will therefore have a prominent place in our activities. We are glad to render the limited services we can offer to the United Nations and its Palestine Committee.
Let me express the hope that the Palestine Liberation Organization will gain final victory in building a sovereign, democratic and secular State on Palestinian soil. This, in our view, does not mean destruction, as the enemies of a peaceful solution declare; it just means restoration of a state of peace and respect for the individual human rights of all citizens living in the area.
Only the United Nations, with its multilateral structure and not any kind of bilateral agreement - can be the framework for these legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people and its sole, legitimate representative, the Palestine Liberation Organization.
The Chairman (interpretation from French): The International progress Organization enjoys consultative status with the United Nations and therefore shares its ideals, as has just been stated by Mr. Hans Koechler.
The sound relations between this Committee and the International Progress Organization have been demonstrated by my presence at the meeting called by Mr. Hans Koechler, at which I was able to meet with experts from more than 30 countries, including an expert from Israel who agrees completely with the ideals just stated by Mr. Koechler.