GENEVA (Aug. 30)
The secretary-general of the United Nations has called on non-governmental organizations to exert international pressure on Israel to “promote an effective negotiating process and to help create the conditions necessary for it to succeed.”
Javier Perez de Cuellar also recommended Tuesday that the international community make a concerted effort to persuade Israel to accept the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to the administered territories.
The convention prohibits the expulsion “for any reasons whatsoever” of civilians from an area under military occupation. Israel insists that the convention does not apply to the territories, since it has not extended Israeli law to the areas it administers.
Perez de Cuellar was addressing the fifth international meeting of Non-Governmental Organizations at U.N. European headquarters here.
The secretary-general referred to the NGOs as a “network of organizations” devoted to “the achievement of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people in conformity with U.N. resolutions.” He described the NGO role as “pivotal.”
While describing certain measures taken to deal with the emergency situation in the territories, Perez de Cuellar also strongly emphasized that “measures to enhance the safety and protection of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories, though urgently needed, will neither remove the causes of the recent tragic events nor bring peace to the region.”
He emphasized the need for a political settlement to the problem, “which responds both to the refusal of the Palestinian population of the territories to accept a future under Israeli occupation and to Israel’s determination to ensure its security and the well-being of its people.”
The secretary-general’s statement followed by two days his meeting with Yasir Arafat, the Palestine Liberation Organization chairman, Arafat told the U.N. leader Sunday that establishing a Palestinian government in exile is one of the ideas he plans to present next month at a meeting of the Palestine National Council in Algiers.
During the meeting of the NGOs, which has been addressing the “question of Palestine,” PLO representatives have described atrocities allegedly carried out by Israel Defense Force soldiers.
Zehdi Terzi, the PLO’s permanent observer to the United Nations, said that since December 1987, Israeli authorities have brutalized his people by burning and burying them alive, shooting them with live as well as rubber bullets, using lethal gas and breaking bones. He accused Israel of flaunting “any of the norms of civilized society.”
There appeared to be much sympathy for the PLO position here.
Mikko Lohikoski, chairman of the NGO coordinating committee, said, “The mass-based popular uprising of Palestinian people of the West Bank and Gaza has forcefully demonstrated that the Palestinian people, united in resistance to the Israeli occupation, is demanding a political settlement based on the recognition of the right of self-determination in the form of an independent Palestinian state.”
DIPLOMATIC RECOGNITION URGED
He said the “intifada” has “exposed to the daylight various plans that failed to recognize and respect the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to their own independent state in the West Bank and Gaza with its capital in East Jerusalem.”
He added, “The international community must raise its voice to protest against the action of Israel.”
An Italian member of the European Parliament, Luciana Castellina, said the NGOs had to urge their countries’ governments to “recognize the Palestinian state” and, as soon as it would be created, the “provisional Palestinian government.”
But the British representative, Ernie Ross, said London “would not recognize any government in exile for the Palestinians in the same way it recognizes states.”
Nevertheless, Ross said that “all NGO action should now be in support of the intifada and to help the Palestinians toward an international peace conference, so that peace might be achieved.”