Non – Aligned Movement and Palestine

Upon its creation in the 1950s, the Non-Aligned Movement has been committed to the defence of peoples’ aspirations for freedom and self-determination, and has deployed support actions to the peaceful conduct of national liberation movements. In accordance with these principles, the Non Aligned Movement is a firm believer that the key to peace and stability in the Middle East region can only be achieved through the cooperation of the people of the region and not through acts of aggression In pursuit of the aforementioned objective, NAM has taken effort towards a just and comprehensive settlement of the problems of Palestinians and sought for a peaceful solution with the other conflicting party, namely Israel.
Palestine was accepted as a member state by the Non Aligned Movement in August 1976. The first mention of the Palestinian problem in a NAM summit was at Sixth final summit of NAM countries at Havana in 1979 where NAM considered the problem of cause of occupied Palestine as the cause of all the Non Aligned countries and the Palestinian question was linked to the NAM’s espousal of the rights of natives against external aggressors.  NAM also endorsed the cause of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and asserted that no settlement to the problem could be acceptable without the PLO participating in it as a sovereign party and having parity with the other parties involved in the Palestine dispute.  At the Seventh Final Summit held at Delhi in 1983, NAM called upon the United Nations Security Council to implement the resolutions 37/86 and 37/120 on the question of Palestine. The UNSC resolution 37/86 of December 1982 called for recognition of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. Resolution 37/120 concerned the plight of the Palestinian refugees and urged the international community to provide humanitarian assistance to such refugees.
During the Eight Final Summit of the NAM countries held in Harare in 1986, NAM affirmed that regaining and exercising the legitimate and inalienable rights of the Palestinian people was in conformity with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and the relevant resolutions. Alongside, it was recognized that the PLO had the right to implement free and independent decision making.
In 1987, the tensions between Israelis and Palestinians over land, control of sacred sites, resources and suicide terrorism boiled into the First Intifada (Palestinian Uprising). For the Palestinians, their objective was to remove the Israeli troops and civilians from territory they considered ‘occupied land’ and to declare an independent Palestinian State. At this time of conflict, NAM played a major role in bringing about peace through its initiatives.
At the Ninth Final Summit of NAM countries held at Belgrade in 1989, NAM welcomed the peace initiative announced by President Yasir Arafat at the UN General Assembly session in Geneva on 13 December 1988.  At the 10th Summit of the Non Aligned Movement held at Jakarta in 1992, NAM leaders reaffirmed the position on Palestine adopted by the previous summit conferences concerning the need for a just and comprehensive settlement under the auspices of the United Nations and for the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people for self-determination, independence, and statehood.
The 11th NAM summit at Cartagena in 1995 further welcomed the peace initiatives and advocated the social and economic development of the Palestinian people by advocating the widening of the Agreements relating to the formation of a Palestinian interim self government. At the 12th summit in Durban in 1998, NAM leaders called for the resolutions on Palestine to be respected by the parties involved in the conflict.  At the 13th NAM summit held at Kuala Lumpur in 2003, NAM leaders reaffirmed their support for the rights of the Palestinian people to national independence and the exercise of sovereignty in their State, Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital. They welcomed, in this regard, the universally-supported vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in secure and recognized boundaries.
The Non Aligned Movement has also kept a close watch on the international efforts to solve the Palestine refugee problems. At the 14th NAM summit in Havana, it rejected efforts by some parties to pursue the integration of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) under the mandate of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. NAM contends that the mandates and objectives of the two Agencies differ and that the mere intention to merge them is completely rejected in light of the long-standing and unique situation of the Palestine refugees.
NAM has repeatedly advocated for the independence and inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. It further needs to be appraised that NAM has shown flexibility and dynamism in addressing the question of Palestine. It has given due respect to the international conventions. At one level, the NAM wants the UN General Assembly and the Security Council to play a major role in the Israel-Palestine Conflict. This is evident from the successive NAM summit declarations whereby NAM urges all parties to respect the pertinent resolutions on Palestine. NAM also advocates the increasing participation of Palestinian leaders in the peace process. It was this ideological disposition that led NAM to condemn Israel in the wake of a decision by Jerusalem to bar a number of foreign ministers from a meeting in support of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.
The Palestinian issue has been and remains a central concern of the Non-Alignment Movement, which continues to uphold the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the establishment of an independent state. This interest is reflected in the Movement’s strong support to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) through the adoption of resolutions from the first meeting of the Summit held in 1961 in Belgrade, and numerous initiatives at the United Nations (UN) and specialized agencies. It can thus be postulated the stand of NAM on Palestine problem is a reflection of its broader ideological dispositions of maintaining peace by strengthening of independence and territorial integrity of states and resisting the influence of hegemonic powers in international relations.

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