International Conference on the Legal Aspects of the Palestine Problem with Special Regard to the Question of Jerusalem

(Vienna, 5-7 November 1980)


The International Progress Organization held an International Conference on the Legal Aspects of the Palestine and Jerusalem Problem at the Hilton Hotel, Vienna, from 5 to 7 November 1980. Approximately 120 academicians, social scientists, lawyers and public affairs theorists from 31 countries participated in the conference. The Federal Chancellor of Austria, H. E. Bruno Kreisky, gave an official reception for the participants at the government's building in Vienna.

Separate panels of experts presented papers on the following subjects:

I.  The Palestinian people and the right of self-determination;
II. The status of Jerusalem under international law;
III. Political and administrative measures of the Israeli authorities in the occupied territories seen from the viewpoint of humanitarian law;
IV. Israeli law in the light of general principles of human rights

Special guests who also made presentations included: Mr. Willibald Pahr, Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Austria; Mr. Ramsey Clark, ret. Attorney-General of the United States; Mr. Mohamed Ibn Slama, Deputy Secretary-General, League of Arab States; Mr. Falilou Kane, Chairman, Committee for the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People of the United Nations; Mr. Rouhi El-Khatib, Mayor of East Jerusalem; Mr. Joseph Algazy-Galili, Secretary, The Israel League for Human and Civil Rights.

The conference dealt with:

I. The Palestinians' right to self-determination

The conference agreed that the Palestinians, as people, have a right to self-determination and that all efforts have to be made to allow them uncompromisingly to exercise this right freely and without any constraint within the framework of the rules of international law.

II. The problem of Jerusalem as inseparable from the Palestine question

The conference agreed that the status of Jerusalem must conform with the relevant Unitcd Nations resolutions and rnust ultimately be permanently resolved in the total context of the Palestine settlement. Any unilateral change of this status, any unilateral annexation is and shall remain unacceptable from the viewpoint of international law. Consequently, the annexation by Israel must be considered null and void.

III. Administrative measures in the occupied territories

1. Israel's policy in its capacity of being in power, has not been in conformity with the provisions of the law pertaining to armed conflict in general since 1967, and with the Geneva Convention (IV) in particular. Therefore, this policy in itself represents a severe breach of humanitarian law, and its consequences are: the responsibility of the state of Israel in the light of international law should be assessed as well as the penal responsibility of any individual having committed such infringement in actual case and practicing the Israel policy in the occupied regions.

2. All possible means to make the international public aware of this policy and the infringements of humanitarian rights should be explored; this action must be developed by information and mass media as well as by other appropriate means to arouse public awareness; at the same time the actions should operate legally in order that international law may be applied.

3. In this context, the role of non-governmental organizations is very important and all possibilities must be explored by which they could act; in particular by organizing proper and impartial investigation on the occupied territory as such.

4. The possibilities of sanctions against Israel will have to be explored in order to force it to cease the infringement of international law.

The participants expressed sincere appreciation of the contributions of the Israeli delegates whose attitude gave definite hope for the possibility of a peaceful living together.

The participants urged the new Reagan government of the U.S.A. to pursue an impartial and international legally accepted attitude to the Palestine problem.