PLACE DU PETIT-SACONNEX
1211 GENEVA 19 SWITZERLAND
Press release of the Inter-Parliamentary Union
On Monday, at its 163rd session, the Inter-Parliamentary Council adopted the report of the Committee on the Question of the Affiliation of Palestine by 85 votes to 63, with 37 abstentions, out of a total of 148 votes.
The report states on the one hand that the Palestine National Council does not at present fulfil the conditions for membership of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), as it was not "created by decision of a Parliament constituted in conformity with the laws of a sovereign State whose population it represents and on whose territory it functions" (Article 3 of the IPU Statutes). The report goes on to say that the Palestine National Council "does not have legislative power or the right to oversee the action of government."
On the other hand, in its report the Committee "expressed the wish to receive further information relating to the Palestinian Legislative Council which was established under the Oslo Agreement and which functions on the territory coming under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, this with a view to attaining the objective sought by the Inter-Parliamentary Council".
Mr Taysir Qub'Ah, Deputy Speaker of the Palestine National Council, disagreed with the report, pointing out that the affiliation of the Palestine National Council to the IPU would strengthen Palestine's presence and contribute to a state of lasting peace and justice and to greater recognition by the international community.
Speaking on behalf of the Arab Group of the IPU, Dr Ahmed Fathy Sorour (Egypt) disagreed with the Committee on the Question of the Affiliation of Palestine and deplored the fact that it was "in breach of the terms of its mandate by considering, in the second part of its motion, only the Palestine Legislative Council established under the Oslo Agreement". "Yet, in his letter to the Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Mr Yasser Arafat specified that the Palestine National Council, considered in the first part of the motion, is the supreme legislative body of Palestine", said Dr Sorour in conclusion.
Mrs Leni Fischer (Germany) and Mrs Sue Knowles (Australia) pointed out that the Palestine National Council alone did not meet the requirements for membership of the Union and called on delegates to approve the report.
"The fact that Palestine's sovereignty has international recognition cannot be called into question", said Mr Ali El-Khalil (Lebanon), prior to calling for a vote against the motion contained in the report.
Following the vote by 163rd session of the Inter-Parliamentary Council, Mr Martínez expressed a wish for greater participation by Palestine in the Union. "The Inter-Parliamentary Union cannot accept that the Palestine National Council should be less well-represented in the Union than in the United Nations", President Martínez concluded.
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