Vienna, 20 October 2000/P/RE/16935c-is

In a statement issued today, the President of the International Progress Organization, Professor Hans Koechler, welcomed the convening of an emergency Arab summit aimed at defining a joint Arab stand in confronting the Israeli occupation of Palestine and in restoring Arab sovereignty over Al-Quds.

The President of the I.P.O. stated that the so-called "Oslo peace process" was flawed from the very beginning because it is based on the de facto negation of the Palestinian people’s right to national self-determination. The Oslo process has brought the enlargement of Israeli settlements in all occupied territories, particularly Jerusalem; it led to continued confiscation of Arab lands, demolition of Palestinian houses, etc. The Oslo accords – and the later Sharm El-Sheikh accord and other agreements – were part of a strategy to eternalize the occupying power’s hegemony over the Arabs and to establish a system of colonial tutelage similar to the one practiced by the former apartheid regime in South Africa, Professor Koechler said. He reiterated his view that a Palestinian Bantustan – as it exists now in the so-called self-rule areas where all matters of national sovereignty are decided by the occupying power – can never be the solution to the problem of Palestine and Jerusalem.

On numerous occasions since 1991, the President of the I.P.O. has warned of the dangerous consequences of a policy that negates Arab national rights in Palestine and that is aimed at selling limited rights of local self-administration as surrogate for full independence and national sovereignty. In light of recent events, it was a grave mistake – on the part of those trying to liquidate the Palestinian issue – to believe that the situation resulting from the 1991 Gulf War could be used to try to impose a colonial solution in Palestine by exploiting disunity among the Arabs. The heroic resistance of the Arab people of Palestine has clearly exposed this conspiracy. The old British-colonial policy of divide et impera is not only immoral, it has proven to be counterproductive if one really aspires lasting peace.

At the International Conference on Palestine and Jerusalem organized by the I.P.O. as early as 1980, the famous American-Jewish critic of Israeli politics, Dr. Alfred Lilienthal, warned of the dangerous consequences of establishing a Palestinian Bantustan and selling this as a permanent peace settlement.

Professor Koechler reiterated the view of the I.P.O. – consistently advocated since its foundation nearly thirty years ago – that it is a dangerous illusion to believe that lasting peace can be based on subjugating an entire people. This illusion led to the Intifadah of the eighties and it triggered the Al-Quds Intifadah which we witness today.

The Palestinian struggle – as resistance against foreign occupation – is fully justified in terms of international law and human rights. However, decisive action on the part of the international community – whether by the United Nations or the European Union – can only be expected if there as a joint and coherent Arab position in the defense of Arab national rights in Palestine and Jerusalem. The President of the I.P.O. expressed his sincere hope that the forthcoming Arab summit will establish the basis for such an efficient international strategy and that the Summit will go beyond mere condemnation of human rights violations committed by the Israeli occupation forces.