I am pleased to join you, Mr. Chairman, and the other members of the Committee in commemorating the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
When the General Assembly decided, 16 years ago, to set aside this Day - the anniversary of the partition of Palestine - it was to demonstrate its concern for and sympathy with the plight of a people long denied their legitimate rights, including their right to a homeland. The designation of this special Day reaffirmed the Assembly's conviction that the attainment of political, economic and social justice by this dispossessed people was essential to a comprehensive and lasting settlement of the conflict in the Middle East.
As we meet on this occasion, we are happy to note the progress that has been made on the question of Palestine. The recent agreement reached between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel, providing for mutual recognition and for Palestinian self-rule in the occupied territories, augurs well for a solution to this long-standing conflict. Both parties are therefore to be commended for this courageous step towards the establishment of peaceful relations between their peoples.
In welcoming this positive development, we urge them to display the necessary political will and good faith to bring their negotiations to full fruition. It would be a pity if a resurgence of violence were to be allowed to jeopardize the process now under way. Another opportunity for reconciliation may not soon present itself. It is imperative therefore that this breakthrough be explored to the full.
At this critical juncture, therefore, the United Nations must be vigilant against any erosion of the Washington agreements. It must be ready to play a role in creating whatever confidence building measures may be necessary to dissipate the hostility and mistrust which continue to alienate the peoples of the region one from the other. It must also promote, in the larger interest of world peace and stability, earnest negotiations between Israel and its neighbours, leading to reliable security arrangements.
This Committee, under your dedicated leadership, Mr. Chairman, has done much to focus the world's attention on the suffering of the Palestinian people. It must be particularly satisfying for you to see that they are on the verge of realizing their aspirations. Your task, however, is far from finished. As the Palestinians prepare to exercise their right to self-determination, they will require the generous assistance of the international community to set up the machinery for their autonomy. The Committee must therefore work to ensure that these needs are met so that the Palestinians may one day take their proper place in the family of nations. I wish you, therefore, all success in your future endeavours.