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Bulletin mensuel de la DDP - Vol.XXXIV, No. 1 - bulletin ComitÚ pour l’exercice des droits inaliÚnables du peuple palestinien, DDP (janvier 2011) - publication de la DDP Franšais

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Source: Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP)
Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
31 January 2011




January 2011

Volume XXXIV, Bulletin No. 1


Bulletin
on action by the United Nations system and
intergovernmental organizations
relevant to the question of Palestine

Contents
Page
I.UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reports on implementation of resolution 15/6 on Gaza conflict
1
II.
Secretary-General deplores destruction of Shepherd’s Hotel in East Jerusalem
2
III.
Palestinian Rights Committee alarmed by Israeli settlement activity
3
IV.
UNRWA condemns demolition of Bedouin homes
4
V.
Security Council holds open debate on situation in Middle East
5
VI.
Secretary-General opens 2011 session of Palestinian Rights Committee
9





The Bulletin can be found in the United Nations Information System
on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL) on the Internet at:
http://unispal.un.org





I. UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS REPORTS ON IMPLEMENTATION OF RESOLUTION 15/6 ON GAZA CONFLICT

On 5 January 2011, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights submitted a report on the implementation of Human Rights Council resolution 15/6, entitled “Follow-up to the report of the Committee of independent experts in international and human rights law established pursuant to Council resolution 13/9. The following are excerpts from the report (A/HRC/16/28):



In paragraph 1 of resolution 15/6 the Council requests the Secretary-General to follow up on the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (A/HRC/12/48), in accordance with Council resolution S-12/1. In paragraph 2 of resolution 15/6 the Council requests the same from the High Commissioner.

The implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, as of 13 September 2010, is comprehensively addressed in the report of the Secretary-General entitled “Progress made in the implementation of the recommendations of the Fact-Finding Mission by all concerned parties, including United Nations bodies, in accordance with paragraph 3 of section B of Human Rights Council resolution S-12/1” (A/HRC/15/51). In accordance with paragraph 1979 of the Fact-Finding Mission’s report, OHCHR will give attention to the Mission’s recommendations in its periodic reporting on the occupied Palestinian territory to the Human Rights Council. In this regard, it is noted that the High Commissioner will submit a periodic report on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory to the Council at its sixteenth session (A/HRC/16/71). The report will cover the period of 4 February to 30 November 2010.

In paragraph 5 of resolution 15/6 the Council urges the Palestinian Independent Investigation Commission to complete its investigations in order to cover the allegations relating to the occupied Gaza Strip, as contained in the report of the Fact-Finding Mission. In paragraph 6 of resolution 15/6 the Council urges Israel to complete investigations in conformity with international standards of independence, thoroughness, effectiveness and promptness into the serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law reported by the Fact-Finding Mission.

As of the submission of this report, OHCHR has not received or otherwise become aware of any information regarding the implementation of either paragraph 5 or 6 of resolution 15/6. It is expected that the Committee of independent experts in international humanitarian and human rights law established pursuant to Council resolution 13/9, as resumed and renewed by resolution 15/6, will report on the implementation of these paragraphs to the Council at its sixteenth session.

In paragraph 8 of resolution 15/6 the Human Rights Council decides to renew and resume the mandate of the Committee of independent experts, established pursuant to Council resolution 13/9, and requests the Committee to submit its report to the Council at its sixteenth session. In the same paragraph the Council also requests the High Commissioner to continue to provide the members of the Committee with administrative, technical and logistical assistance to enable them to fulfil their mandate promptly and efficiently.

As of the submission of this report, OHCHR has become aware that two members of the Committee of independent experts, Christian Tomuschat and Param Cumaraswamy, are unable to continue in their capacity under the renewed and resumed mandate. OHCHR has also become aware that Justice Mary McGowan Davis is able to continue as a member under the renewed and resumed mandate. It is envisaged that the two members who are unable to continue will be replaced by two new members, and that the Committee will submit its report to the Council at its sixteenth session. Also as of the submission of this report, the High Commissioner is establishing a secretariat to provide the members of the Committee with all administrative, technical, and logistical assistance required to enable them to fulfil their mandate promptly and efficiently.

II. SECRETARY-GENERAL DEPLORES DESTRUCTION OF
SHEPHERD'S HOTEL IN EAST JERUSALEM

On 10 January 2011, the Spokesman for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued the following statement (SG/SM/13340; PAL/2139):

The Secretary-General deplores yesterday’s destruction of the Shepherd’s Hotel in occupied East Jerusalem to make way for new settlement units in the heart of a Palestinian neighbourhood, which only serves to heighten tensions. It is deeply regrettable that growing international concern at unilateral expansion of illegal Israeli settlements is not being heeded. Such actions seriously prejudice the possibility of a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Secretary-General once again calls on the Government of Israel to take whatever steps are necessary to freeze settlement activity anywhere in occupied territory.



III. PALESTINIAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE ALARMED
BY ISRAELI SETTLEMENT ACTIVITY

On 14 January 2011, the Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People adopted the following statement (GA/PAL/1179):

The Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People is greatly alarmed by the recent upsurge in Israeli settlement activity. The Israeli Government has ignored the international community’s repeated calls for a complete cessation of settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which are illegal under international humanitarian law and constitute a major obstruction to the efforts to resume the peace process towards achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine. These illegal policies run counter to all international efforts at helping the permanent status negotiations succeed. The recent decision of the Israeli Government to allocate more than half a billion United States dollars worth of subsidies for the expansion of settlements through the year 2012 is signalling Israel’s clear intent to continue its illegal policies, thus rendering the negotiations with the Palestinians futile and further threatening the possibilities for achieving the two-State solution on the basis of the pre-1967 borders.

Following the expiration of the partial settlement moratorium last September, construction of more than 1,600 settlement units has already been undertaken in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem. Palestinian homes continue to be demolished to make room for illegal settlers, in defiance of universal condemnations of such unlawful and provocative practices. The Committee would like to remind Israel that a complete halt to settlement construction, including natural growth, is an Israeli obligation under the Quartet’s Road Map. The Security Council, by its resolution 446 of 22 March 1979, determined that settlements were both contrary to international law and an impediment to peace. The Committee calls upon Israel to extend the moratorium indefinitely, apply it to East Jerusalem, and remove the unauthorized outposts in line with the Road Map. In addition, actions by settlers — such as the uprooting of olive trees belonging to Palestinians, vandalism, theft, desecration of cemeteries, and harassment and intimidation of Palestinians — have become an almost daily occurrence and often seem to be tolerated by the Israeli authorities. Such actions violate Palestinian human rights, raise tensions between the two sides and must be halted.

The Committee is of the view that the implementation of a renewed settlement moratorium would contribute significantly to a resumption of meaningful direct negotiations between the parties. These crucial talks can only succeed in an atmosphere of mutual trust and good faith. Settlement construction is contradictory to the goal of ending the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and gravely undermines trust and the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to live in a viable State of their own. The Palestinian leadership has demonstrated political maturity by engaging in direct negotiations with Israel, while making it abundantly clear at the outset that Israel would have to choose between settlements and peace. The Committee fully supports that principled stance.

There is an unambiguous international consensus with regard to the illegality of the settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. What is lacking is the political will to take action in order to stop settlement expansion with a view to eventually remove them from the occupied land. While appreciative of the efforts in recent years by the Quartet and its individual members to promote a settlement freeze and a return to negotiations, the Committee strongly urges the Security Council, the Quartet, and the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to unequivocally reaffirm their position of principle on the settlement issue with a view to compelling Israel to live up to its obligations. The future of the peace process hangs in the balance. The international community should send a clear and unambiguous message: settlement activity is illegal and incompatible with peace. It must stop. This is imperative for having credible negotiations that can achieve the stated objective of the peace process on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid principles, including the land-for-peace principle, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet Road Map.

IV. UNRWA CONDEMNS DEMOLITION OF BEDOUIN HOMES

On 14 January 2011, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East issued the following press release:

Filippo Grandi, the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, today condemned the demolition of homes, and partial demolition of a school, by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on 12 January in the Bedouin herding community of Dkaika, in the West Bank. He said: “I condemn this demolition in the strongest terms. Fifty people have been made homeless, including 30 children, many of whom were about to take an exam when the bulldozers arrived to destroy part of their school. Instead of sitting down to their exam, the children faced the traumatic scene of watching their homes and classroom be demolished. This is unacceptable.

“This community of refugees was originally displaced in 1948 from their ancestral land in the Negev. Now, they face the devastating consequences of another forced displacement. Demolitions of the kind we have seen in Dkaika this week affect a growing number of Palestinians, and reflect a policy of discrimination. I call on Israel to immediately cease demolitions of Palestinian properties in the occupied Palestinian territory and to respect and ensure the rights of Palestine refugees in accordance with its obligations under international law, as repeatedly called for by the international community.”

The structures demolished on Wednesday in the small south Hebron village include nine residential structures, part of the village school and a large animal shelter.


Since yesterday, 15 children have been attending classes outdoors. UNRWA has given the community emergency food parcels, mattresses and blankets, and will be granting cash assistance to cover expenses related to the lost homes. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) handed out tents and kitchen sets to the affected families.

Bedouin communities in Area C (the 60 per cent of the West Bank under full Israeli control) are among the most vulnerable refugees. These communities have been drastically affected by Israeli policies and practices in Area C of the West Bank, including closures, restrictions on movement, settlement expansion, and the Barrier and its associated regime, which have led to the collapse of their traditional herding livelihood. In some areas, almost 80 per cent of the population is unable to afford basic food. In October 2009, research showed that around 34 per cent of children in Area C herding communities suffered from chronic malnutrition or stunted growth.


Forced displacement disrupts livelihoods, sharply reduces living standards, and limits access to basic services, such as water, education and health care. In most cases, demolitions affect families and communities that already live close to or below the poverty line.


In 2010, the Israeli military destroyed more than 349 Palestinian structures in Area C of the West Bank (under full Israeli control), leaving almost 485 Palestinians, half of them children, homeless. This represents a significant increase over 2009, when 191 structures were demolished. Another 2,606 have seen their property or livelihood destroyed or damaged. According to official information provided by the Israeli Ministry of Defense, there are over 3,000 outstanding demolition orders for Area C structures.


V. SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS OPEN DEBATE ON SITUATION IN MIDDLE EAST

On 19 January 2011, the Security Council held an open debate on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.” The following are excerpts from a briefing given by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe prior to the debate (S/PV.6470):

As a new year begins — one in which we hope there will be some progress in Middle East peacemaking — several immediate challenges are present. Israeli-Palestinian negotiations remain at a deadlock. Developments in both the occupied Palestinian territory and in Lebanon have heightened tensions in the reporting period.
On the Israeli-Palestinian track, we appreciate and support United States efforts to engage in parallel talks on substance with the parties. United States Envoy Mitchell visited the region in late December, and Israeli and Palestinian negotiators held separate consultations with the United States in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. I would like to reiterate the Secretary-General’s call on the parties to seriously engage on final status issues, and welcome United States intentions to be a proactive participant offering ideas and proposals when appropriate. We also appreciate the diplomatic efforts of a number of other world leaders who have recently visited the region.

However, the target dates supported by the Quartet for reaching an Israeli-Palestinian framework agreement on permanent status and for completion of the Palestinian Authority’s two-year State-building programme will be upon us in eight to nine months from now. In this regard, the viability of the political process and the credibility of the Quartet are also at stake this year. We are seriously concerned at the continuing lack of progress in the search for a negotiated settlement. Peace and Palestinian statehood cannot be further delayed.

Quartet members will meet in Munich on 5 February. The Secretary-General also recently underlined to League of Arab States Secretary-General Amre Moussa his commitment to ensuring close coordination, and efforts are continuing to convene a meeting between the Quartet and the Arab League Follow-Up Committee. We take note of the Arab League position lending support to the position of President Abbas on settlements and its call for the provision of parameters by the United States and the Quartet to facilitate a negotiated endgame based on the 1967 lines.

During the reporting period, a further number of Latin American countries extended recognition to a State of Palestine based on the 1967 lines. During his visit to the occupied Palestinian territory yesterday, President Medvedev reiterated the Russian Federation’s long-standing support to the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to an independent State with its capital in East Jerusalem.

Further settlement expansion in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, continues to undermine trust and prejudices final status discussions. The sharp increase in Israeli settlement construction activity recorded at the end of the settlement moratorium on 26 September 2010 has continued, with construction work beginning on up to 2,000 units in the West Bank since that time.

On 9 January, the Secretary-General issued a statement deploring the demolition of Shepherd’s Hotel in the heart of a Palestinian neighbourhood in East Jerusalem. The Secretary-General expressed deep regret regarding Israel’s failure to heed growing international concern over the expansion of illegal settlements. We are also worried about plans being developed to expand the Gilo settlement in East Jerusalem, near Bethlehem. reiterate the Secretary-General’s call on Israel to freeze all settlement activity in conformity with international law and the Road Map.

Despite mounting challenges on the ground, the Palestinian Authority continues to make strides in its State-building agenda. We alert donors to an estimated $100-million shortfall in external financing of recurrent expenditures of the Palestinian Authority from last year. The Palestinian Authority continues to seek to reduce its reliance on this financing, but it is nevertheless vital that donors continue to provide predictable, adequate and timely support.

The Palestinian Authority has continued its efforts to promote security in Area A. We also note positively a recent decision to cease bringing civilians before Palestinian Authority military tribunals. We believe that Israel can and must do more to enable Palestinian efforts to improve both security and economic conditions by easing restrictions on movement and access and facilitating Palestinian Authority efforts in Area C.

We note that Israeli security forces conducted 486 search operations in the West Bank. While we are cognizant of the security concerns that Israel cites in the context of these actions, we believe that they seriously undermine the Palestinian Authority when the strategic goal should be the opposite. Eighty-seven Palestinians were injured and 251 arrested in Israel Defense Forces (IDF) actions. However, most worrying were the deaths of four Palestinians in separate incidents, which warrant more transparent investigations and measures of accountability from Israel. The authorities must take greater precautions to ensure the protection of the civilian population under occupation and refrain from excessive use of force.

The most serious incidents include the killing of an unarmed man at a checkpoint on 2 January and of a 65 year-old man in his bed during an incursion in Hebron on 7 January, aimed at arresting alleged Hamas militants released by Palestinian security forces the day before for lack of evidence. In addition, a Palestinian woman died on 31 December after inhaling tear gas used by the IDF to disperse demonstrators protesting the barrier. A Palestinian man was also shot and killed at a checkpoint on 8 January; Israeli soldiers reported the discovery of two pipe bombs and a knife on his body. Some 43 others were arrested while protesting the barrier during the reporting period, and an anti-barrier Israeli activist was sentenced to 16 months in jail. In addition, 13 Palestinians were injured by Israeli settlers. Four settlers and seven members of the Israeli forces were injured by Palestinians during the reporting period.

On 12 January, a Palestinian involved in organizing protests against Israeli settlements in Silwan was expelled for four months to the West Bank. The fate of three Hamas-affiliated Palestinian legislators from East Jerusalem who have taken refuge in a compound of the International Committee of the Red Cross since July remains unresolved, while a legislator earlier transferred to Ramallah has not been allowed to return. We continue to be concerned about the human rights situation of Palestinian East Jerusalemites and to oppose any measures of forcible transfer. On 4 January, the Israeli authorities announced the arrest of two Palestinian East Jerusalemites in connection with an alleged plot to fire a missile into the Jerusalem football stadium.

During the reporting period, 30 Palestinian structures were demolished in East Jerusalem and 41 in Area C of the West Bank, displacing 148 Palestinians. This is worrying and gives rise to serious humanitarian concerns, while contributing to heightened tensions. I am also concerned by the difficulties faced by impoverished Palestinian communities in Area C that have no adequate access to basic services because of problems in obtaining permission from the IDF to develop infrastructure in their areas. The Humanitarian Coordinator has supported a humanitarian response plan to meet a first set of urgent needs in education, water and shelter in Area C, which has received limited facilitation by the Israeli
authorities thus far.
We remain concerned about the situation in Gaza, including a recent increase in tensions. Palestinian militants fired 31 rockets and 47 mortar shells into Israel — which represents approximately a four-fold increase from the previous reporting period — while Israel conducted 11 incursions and 26 air strikes in Gaza. On 21 December, an Israeli child was wounded after a rocket landed near a kindergarten, while two foreign workers in Israel were wounded by a mortar on 8 January. Four Palestinian civilians, including persons apparently accessing lands in the Israeli-declared buffer zone for civilian purposes, were killed by Israeli fire. Eleven Palestinian militants were also killed. Nineteen Palestinian civilians and 15 Palestinian militants were injured. An Israeli soldier was killed and four others were wounded by friendly fire during a clash with Palestinians on 7 January.

We condemn the indiscriminate firing of projectiles towards Israeli civilian areas by Palestinian militants. We equally stress that all parties must refrain from actions contrary to international humanitarian law that target or endanger civilians. The Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process was active during the reporting period to promote a restoration of calm. Egyptian authorities have urged Hamas to put an end to violence. The de facto Hamas authorities in Gaza recently stated publicly their commitment to maintaining calm, and claimed that there is inter-factional agreement on this. All responsible parties should cease acts of violence. A new outbreak of major hostilities would be devastating, and must be avoided.

We can report no progress in efforts to further Palestinian reconciliation. We continue to monitor internal tensions.

A fundamental goal of the United Nations continues to be the revitalization of Gaza’s economy and the search for an end to the Israeli closure policy within the framework of resolution 1860 (2009). Import and export levels have improved from the period before Israel’s 2010 policy adjustment, but are still significantly below pre-2007 levels. On United Nations projects, on 6 January, Israel approved an additional $26.4 million in projects of the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), including seven additional UNRWA schools. That brings the total portfolio of approved United Nations projects to $136.4 million.

Looking ahead, the scaling-up of the scope of goods allowed for export and the scale at which they are permitted to exit the Strip remains a key priority. The United Nations will also continue to put forward new programmes of work to the Government of Israel that complement those already presented, including programming to revitalize the private sector and rehabilitate public health infrastructure. These are already under active discussion with Israeli authorities. We appreciate the strong support of the Palestinian Authority for these efforts. We continue to engage Israeli authorities on the need to ensure sufficient crossings capacity.

Allow me to reiterate our continuing concern at the detention by Hamas of Staff Sergeant Gilad Shalit, and to once again appeal for his release and for humanitarian access to be granted without further delay. We continue to follow the situation of Palestinian prisoners, including women and children and persons held without trial, and underline the importance of progress in prisoner releases by Israel.



Efforts to bring Israelis and Palestinians to engage seriously on final status issues will be at the top of the agenda when the Quartet meets in Munich. Our collective task remains to spare no effort to support the search for a negotiated solution that will end the occupation that began in 1967 and end the conflict, establishing an independent and viable Palestinian State with Jerusalem emerging as the capital of two States living side by side in peace and security. We will continue to do all we can to promote dialogue and preserve the stability and security of the region as a whole, in pursuit of the comprehensive regional peace envisaged in the Madrid terms of reference, the relevant resolutions of the Council and the Arab Peace Initiative.


VI. SECRETARY-GENERAL OPENS 2011 SESSION
OF PALESTINIAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE

The following is the text of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message delivered at the opening of the 2011 session of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, held on 21 January 2011 (SG/SM/13359; GA/PAL/1181). At the meeting, the Committee adopted its programme of work for 2011, as contained in document A/AC.183/2011/1.

I congratulate you [Chairman] and your distinguished colleagues on your re-election to the leadership of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

As we enter a new year, I am very concerned at the lack of progress towards peace between Israel and the Palestinians. I have repeatedly expressed my regret that Israel has not frozen settlement activities, as have the Quartet, the European Union, the United States, numerous other Member States, and this Committee.

I have also stated my position on settlements, both publicly and in one-on-one conversations with leaders. Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory are illegal under international law, contravene the Road Map obligations of Israel, undermine confidence, prejudge the outcome of the permanent status negotiations, and hamper efforts at bringing the parties back to the negotiating table. I deplore the recent demolition of the Shepherd Hotel in East Jerusalem, and I am concerned at continued house demolitions and evictions of Palestinian families in other parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which heighten tensions. I reiterate my call on Israel to freeze all settlement activities.

We need to move beyond the current stalemate and return the parties to meaningful negotiations aimed at resolving all permanent status issues and achieving a historic agreement. The target dates supported by the Quartet for reaching an Israeli-Palestinian framework agreement on permanent status, and for completion of the Palestinian Authority’s two-year State-building programme, will be upon us in eight months. We cannot afford to lose any further time.

The Quartet and the Arab Peace Initiative have important roles in this regard. I look forward to fruitful discussions with my Quartet counterparts in Munich on 5 February.

The Palestinian people have the right to an independent and viable State of Palestine, living side-by-side with the State of Israel in peace and security. Similarly, there should be no doubt about the legitimate right of Israel to exist in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders, and to be fully integrated into the region, as suggested by the Arab Peace Initiative. We must find a way for Jerusalem to emerge as a capital of two States, with arrangements for the holy sites acceptable to all. There is no place for irresponsible rhetoric that calls into question these fundamentals, seeks to de-legitimize the others’ heritage or incites hatred and violence.

The past year has brought renewed confidence within the international community in the ability of the Palestinians to govern themselves. The Palestinian Authority has made major strides in strengthening its institutions. It continued to deliver improved governance, transparency, economic opportunity and security to the Palestinians in areas under its control. It deserves recognition as a dependable partner. I am encouraged by the World Bank’s assessment that the Palestinian Authority is well-positioned for the establishment of a State at any point in the near future. I call on donors to continue their crucial support for the Palestinian State-building plan.

I remain concerned by the situation in and around Gaza. Even though the year 2010 saw reduced levels of violence overall, the recent escalation of rocket attacks by Palestinians and Israeli air strikes have the potential to spiral out of control. The shootings of unarmed Palestinians in the vicinity of the Gaza border are also unacceptable. My representative on the ground and his colleagues are working hard to promote calm. While Israel’s legitimate security concerns are not in doubt, I call on all parties to demonstrate responsibility, to de-escalate tensions, and fully ensure the protection of civilians. The provisions of Security Council resolution 1860 (2009) should be fully respected. The residents of Gaza and southern Israel deserve to live in an atmosphere free from fear of rocket and air attacks.

Gaza’s civilian population deserves better living conditions. Frustration at the humanitarian situation and the lack of opportunity is especially acute among Gaza’s young people. Israeli measures to ease the closure go in the right direction, but much more needs to be done to enable full-scale reconstruction and recovery. The United Nations will continue to work to that end. Continued support of donors for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency [for Palestine Refugees in the Near East] (UNRWA) will be critical.

Regrettably, yet another year has passed without progress towards intra-Palestinian reconciliation. Efforts to move forward on this important issue must be pursued further. I also regret that Israeli Staff Sergeant Gilad Shalit is still in detention, and I continue to call for his release. The issue of Palestinian prisoners in Israel is also of critical importance. Israel should release prisoners as called for by the Palestinian Authority. This would serve as a significant confidence-building measure.

I know we all share the hope that this year will see a decisive upsurge of efforts to bring an end to the conflict and to the 43 year-old occupation — through the creation of a State of Palestine living side-by-side with Israel in peace and security, and
through comprehensive peace in the region, consistent with Security Council resolutions, previous agreements, the Madrid framework, the Road Map and the Arab Peace Initiative.

This Committee can make a positive contribution to this mission. For my part, I will continue to pursue a just and lasting peace with all the means available to me.

_________________

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