Ambassador Tanin Chairs United Nations International Meeting About Palestinian Political Prisoners
On the 7th and 8th of March, H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, chaired the United Nations International Meeting on the Question of Palestine, by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People at the United Nations Office in Vienna.
The opening message by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, delivered by Mr. Maxwell Gaylard, Deputy United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, was welcomed with appreciation by the organizers and the participants of the Conference.
The purpose of the two-day meeting, was “to raise awareness of the plight of Palestinian political prisoners and to strengthen the support of the international community for a solution to this issue, namely their speedy release and reintegration into Palestinian society.”
The first plenary chaired by Ambassador Tanin, “The current situation and conditions of imprisonment of Palestinians in Israeli prisons and detention facilities” on Monday, 7 March 2011. Among other plenary meetings, he also attended meetings of delegation members, with Mr. Yury Fedotov, the head of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and H.E. Mr. Issa Qaraqe, the Palestinian Authority’s Minister for Prisoners’ Affairs.
The arrests and detentions of Palestinians by Israel were discussed at the meetings through the lens of International Humanitarian law. The meeting also considered the issue of Palestinian political prisoners in the context of the Israeli- Palestinian political process and discussed ways of strengthening the role of the wider international community, including non-governmental actors, in promoting a solution on the basis of international law. The situation of imprisoned women and minors also received particular attention at the meetings.
The organizers agreed with the view of many participants that the issue of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention could be discussed separately from the peace negotiations; however peace will not be achieved completely without the release of all Palestinian prisoners.
Furthermore, the organizers underscored that the root cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the illegal Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. Hence, the recognition by a number of Latin American countries of the State of Palestine based on the 1967 lines was welcomed by the organizers, who also urged countries that have not yet recognized the State of Palestine to do so as soon as possible.
The important role of the United Nations and the international community was a theme throughout the discussions.