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Souveraineté permanente des ressources naturelles dans les TPO, Golan – Introduction par la Deuxième Commission du rapport/déclaration de la Palestine – Communiqué de presse (extraits) Français
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General Assembly
GA/EF/3296

        Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fifth General Assembly
Second Committee
26th & 27th Meetings (AM & PM)


ISRAELI RESTRICTIONS DEEPEN PALESTINIAN HARDSHIPS, SECOND COMMITTEE TOLD AS IT

CONSIDERS ARAB SOVEREIGNTY OVER NATURAL RESOURCES IN OCCUPIED LANDS
 
Delegates Debate International Trade and Development,
Stressing Importance of Combating Protectionism, Concluding Doha Round


Israel’s continuing restrictions on Palestinian movement and access to natural resources, its expansion of settlements, and its military offensive against the Gaza Strip in December 2008 and January 2009 had deepened the hardship suffered by the Palestinians, Amr Nour, Director of the United Nations Regional Commissions New York Office, told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today.

Israeli settlements on the West Bank, which had stood at 301,200 in September 2009, had grown by 4.9 per cent in that year, while the Israeli population growth rate was just 1.8 per cent, he said as the Committee took up its agenda item on the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources.

Presenting the report of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) on the economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian living conditions, he said that as of February 2010, more than half of the Israeli separation barrier had been constructed, and it would isolate about 9.5 per cent of the Palestinian territory, including some of the West Bank’s most agriculturally productive lands. Israel’s blockade of Gaza and its ban on imported building materials had prevented reconstruction of most of the 3,500 homes destroyed and 2,900 severely damaged during the Israeli offensive.

The embargo had also reduced the availability of essential medicines, crippled the private sector, and left the Palestinian economy dependent on goods smuggled through tunnels from Egypt, he said, adding that the Palestinian people depended on the public sector to provide employment and social transfers. “The Palestinian Authority has reached the limits of its ability to act as ‘employer of last resort’, and has had to embark on fiscal reforms that include hiring and wage freezes, and the elimination of utility subsidies.”

Expressing similar concerns, a representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine conveyed “messages” from the usurped water, polluted air and burned harvests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, resulting from Israel’s actions, which aimed to debilitate and evict the Palestinians, and to replace them with illegal Israeli settlers. The latter had devastated the current olive harvest, the main source of income for most Palestinian farmers, by uprooting and burning trees, stealing crops and flooding agricultural land with waste-water, he said.

In Gaza, Israel still denied Palestinian farmers access to their lands in the so-called “buffer zone”, home to the Strip’s most fertile lands, and prevented fishermen from using Gaza’s marine wealth, he said. Cut off from their West Bank water resources, which were diverted to Israeli cities and illegal settlements, Palestinian households had just 70 litres of water daily, which was below the minimum level recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), causing dire health risks and losses in agricultural production.

He said those alarming actions had destroyed the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Palestinians, he said, calling on the international community to compel Israel to respect international law and conventions, as well as United Nations resolutions affirming the rights of Palestinians and Syrians in their respective occupied territories to permanent sovereignty over their natural resources. “We emphasize that the credibility of our international system as a whole will be undermined if Israel, the occupying Power, is allowed to continue these illegal practices with impunity.”

Israel’s representative retorted that her country had expanded the flow of civilian good and materials into Gaza for projects aimed at improving water quality, sewage systems and the natural environment, despite terrorist attacks from Gaza. Although the Hamas terrorist organizations continued to rule in Gaza, Israel had authorized many civilian projects there for the well-being of Palestinian civilians, she said, adding that it continued to seek cooperation with its neighbours through joint capacity-development programmes on agriculture, food security, forestry, desalination and water management.

She went on to say that her country Israel shared the same concerns as its neighbours over preserving and protecting the region’s natural environment, reminding the Committee that the Joint Working Group on Water, Environment and Energy met regularly to address shared challenges. Discussions on such issues should take place between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, not in the Committee, she said, stressing that today’s debate did not promote the Palestinian cause or better understanding between parties in the region. On the contrary, it politicized an agenda item that singled out and condemned Israel.

Syria’s representative said Israel continued to exploit resources, dump nuclear waste and confiscate land in the occupied Golan, while expanding its own settlements there. In a letter to the Secretary-General, Syria’s Foreign Minister had discussed Israel’s latest violations, including diverting water to an artificial reservoir and selling it back to Syrians at high prices. Such actions were in flagrant violation of international law, the Fourth Geneva Convention, and Security Council resolution 465 (1980), he said, emphasizing that Member States had a moral responsibility to Syrians and other peoples under occupation that they must not evade. Israel must implement the relevant resolutions, end its “heinous” occupation and pay compensation to the occupied peoples, he added.

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Background

The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning to begin its consideration of the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources.

It was expected subsequently to later take up macroeconomic policy questions, including international trade and development, and to hear the introduction of a number of draft resolutions relating to information and communications technology for development, sustainable development, globalization and interdependence, and agriculture development and food security.

Before the Committee was a note by the Secretary-General transmitting an Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) report on economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan (document A/65/72–E/2010/13).

The report states that the occupation, arbitrary detentions, the use of disproportionate force, property destruction, home demolitions, mobility restrictions, lack of building permits and closure policies continue to intensify the economic and social hardships of the Palestinian residents. Despite those constraints, however, the Palestinian Authority continued to make progress in implementing its reform agenda and security plan, and in building its institution.

According to the report, 67 Palestinians were killed and 145 injured by Israeli military operations between February 2009 and February 2010. Attacks by Palestinian militants and the launching of rockets into Israel from Gaza continued, although to a lesser extent than in previous years. Israeli authorities demolished 220 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem, displacing more than 400 Palestinians. In occupied East Jerusalem, authorities demolished about 80 Palestinian-owned structures between February 2009 and March 2010, displacing about 260 Palestinians.

Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, which entered its third year as of August 2009, detrimentally affects reconstruction and economic recovery in the enclave and exacerbates humanitarian conditions, the report says. Despite a general relaxation of crossing procedures at most checkpoints east of the barrier in the West Bank, there has been a steady increase in the number of “flying”, or ad hoc, checkpoints erected for short periods since November 2009. Contrary to its obligations under the Road Map, Israel continued to build illegal settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. On 26 November 2009 it announced a 10-month “freeze order” on construction in the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem.

The report recalls that in his 12 February message to the United Nations International Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace, the Secretary-General said it was vital for the Palestinian Authority to continue efforts to establish the economic, social and institutional basis of Palestinian statehood while striving to fully meet its other Roadmap obligations. He also expressed profound concern over the protracted suffering of civilians in Gaza, saying the “the continued blockade is unacceptable and counter-productive, destroying legitimate commerce and denying aid organizations and the United Nations itself the means to begin civilian reconstruction”. The Secretary-General condemned the rocket fire from Gaza, which indiscriminately targets Israeli civilians.

According to the report, Israel’s occupation of the Syrian Golan, in effect since 1967, continues to affect the lives and human rights of the Syrian citizens living there.

Regarding the Syrian Golan, the Committee had before it a letter dated 15 October 2010 from the Permanent Representative of Syria to the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly (document A/65/520).

With respect to international trade and development, the Committee had before it the report of the Trade and Development Board on its forty-eight executive session (document A/65/15 Part I), which the Chair’s summaries of the Report of the Working Party on the Strategic Framework and the Programme Budget on its fifty-fourth session, and the Progress Report on Enhancing the Functioning of the Working Party.

Additional documentation before the Committee included the report of the Trade and Development Board on its forty-ninth executive session (document A/65/15 (Part II), held in Geneva from 8 to 9 June 2010, containing the Chair’s summary of contributions by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to the implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic and social fields; the report of the Trade and Development Board on its fiftieth executive session (document A/65/15 (Part III), held in Geneva on 8 July 2010, which contains the Chair’s summary of UNCTAD’s activities in support of Africa; and the report of the Trade and Development Board on its fifty-seventh executive session (document A/65/15 (Part IV) and Corr. 1), held in Geneva from 15 to 28 September 2010, which lists action by the Board on substantive agenda items such as economic development in Africa, evaluation and review of UNCTAD’s implementation of the Accra Accord, and its technical cooperation activities and their financing.

Introduction of Report

AMR NOUR, Director, United Nations Regional Commissions New York Office, introduced the ESCWA report, saying it discussed developments before the end of March 2010. As of February 2010, about 58 per cent of the Israeli separation barrier had been constructed and another 10 per cent was under construction, he noted, adding that, if continued as planned, the barrier would isolate approximately 9.5 per cent of Palestinian territory, including occupied East Jerusalem and some of the West Bank’s most agriculturally productive lands. Meanwhile, Israel continued its settlement activity in the West Bank, where the number of settlements had been estimated at 301,200 in September 2009, a 4.9 per cent increase which was considerably higher than the 1.8 per cent average Israeli population growth rate.

The approximately 550 closure obstacles inside the West Bank as of February 2010 further restricted Palestinian movement, and were just one of several layers of a complex system of restrictions, he said. As for the blockade of Gaza entered, the import-clearance process was still long, unpredictable and lacking in transparency. The shortage of industrial fuel for Gaza’s sole power plant had exacerbated the chronic electricity shortage in the Strip, and the ban on imported building materials had prevented the reconstruction of most of the 3,500 homes destroyed and 2,900 homes severely damaged during Israel’s offensive of December 2008 and January 2009.

He said the blockade had also reduced the availability of medicine, adding that as of December 2009, 24 per cent of the essential-drug list and 18 per cent of essential medical disposables were of out stock. Gaza’s economy was sustained largely by goods smuggled through tunnels from Egypt. The partial destruction of Palestinian productive capacity, loss of land and natural resources to settlements and barriers, in addition to restrictions on access and movement, high political risk and layers of institutional and administrative obstacles had undermined investment. That in turn had reduced the private sector’s ability to create jobs and caused a greater dependence on the public sector to provide employment and social transfers.

“The Palestinian Authority has reached the limits of its ability to act as ‘employer of last resort’ and has had to embark on fiscal reforms that include hiring and wage freezes, and the elimination of utility subsidies,” he continued. Unemployment had stood at 31.4 per cent in the third quarter of 2009, compared to 32.7 per cent in the same period a year earlier, and almost 1.6 million people, or 38 per cent of the population, was food-insecure, due mainly to poverty, the rate of which stood at 57.3 per cent.

Turning to the situation in the occupied Syrian Golan, he said Israel continued its settlement expansion in the region, despite renewed resolutions calling on it to desist. Syrian citizens there suffered from a lack of job opportunities and prospects for economic development. Israeli measures and policies, including discriminatory water quotas and tariff schemes, favoured Israeli settlers and restricted Syrian citizens’ access to land and water. That severely constrained the agricultural activities of Syrian citizens, whose livelihoods traditionally relied on them.

Discussion

The representative of Syria, reaffirming the importance of the report and the need to discuss it in each General Assembly session, called for a return to the previous practice whereby the Executive Secretary of ESCWA submitted the report in person. It was to be hoped that future reports would reflect practical proposals aimed at complimenting the content of related resolutions.

Associating with those comments, the representative of the Observer Mission of Palestine added that the number of victims in the West Bank and Gaza Strip should be listed together rather than separately. He also asked whether ESCWA had any detailed information on Israeli violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and if so, the extent of such violations.

Mr. NOUR responded by saying that Rima Khalaf, the new Executive Secretary, had just assumed her functions this week and had not been able to be present today. He assured delegates that he would convey to her their observations regarding future reports.

Statements

RABII AL-HANTOULI, Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine, conveyed “messages” from the water, air and harvest in the Occupied Palestinian Territory resulting from heinous Israeli crimes. “These messages say that the water is usurped, the environment is polluted, and the air is imprisoned behind the walls, and the harvest is burned and destroyed under the bulldozers of the settlements and the vandalism of the settlers,” he said. Such systematic and deliberate acts aimed to pressure and debilitate the Palestinian population, to evict them forcibly from their homes and to replace them with illegal Israeli settlers. The actions violated international norms and laws and had been committed since 1948 without accountability.

He said cultivation of the land was the pillar of Palestine’s economy and of food security for its people, notably the cultivation of olives, which was integral to Palestinian history and culture. It was the main source of income for most Palestinian farmers, generating revenues in the tens of millions of dollars. During the current olive harvest season, illegal settlers had carried out barbaric raids and attacks on Palestinian farmers, while enjoying the protection of Israeli occupation forces. They had uprooted and burned trees, stolen crops and flooded agricultural land with waste-water in Burin, Beit Ommar and other places. Residents of the illegal colonial settlement of Alon Moreh had sabotaged the Palestinian olive harvest season by polluting 660 trees with waste-water in Deir al-Hatab, east of Nablus, he said, adding that Israel had also dumped and buried toxic industrial waste from factories it had set up on Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Israel continued to confiscate land and raze fields so as to build its own settlements at the expense of the Palestinian population, he said, recalling that in the past 12 years, it had confiscated thousands of dunums of Palestinian land and destroyed more than 2,450 buildings, 80 per cent of them in the so-called “C” area of the West Bank. That was one of the Territory’s poorest areas, in which agriculture and livestock were the main income source. In Gaza, Israel still prevented farmers from entering their lands in the so-called “buffer zone”, which comprised the most fertile lands. Israel’s continued blockade of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza prevented the entry of food and agricultural supplies, deepening the affected population’s food security, he said, adding that the Israelis continued to prevent Palestinian fishermen from using Gaza’s marine wealth. The unjust blockade had completely destroyed the enclave’s fishing sector.

Israel’s racist annexation wall isolated 10 per cent of the most productive agricultural land and obstructed landowners’ access to it, he continued, noting that it also kept many Palestinians from water resources, causing health risks and losses in agricultural production, including more than half the annual olive crop. It cut livestock herders off from grazing land, while more than 500 military checkpoints continued to hinder life in the West Bank, including access to natural resources. Israel’s water policies continued to deprive Palestinians of their right to sovereignty over their water and other natural resources, he said. It exploited 220 million cubic metres of water from the West Bank to give to its cities and illegal settlements, while the water available to the Palestinians amounted to hardly 100 million cubic metres, or a per capita rate of 70 litres per household daily, which was below the minimum level recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Those alarming actions had destroyed the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Palestinians, he said. He called on Member States and the international community to compel Israel to respect international law and conventions, as well as United Nations resolutions affirming the rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the Arab people in the occupied Syrian Golan to permanent sovereignty over their natural resources. “We emphasize that the credibility of our international system as a whole will be undermined if Israel, the occupying Power, is allowed to continue these illegal practices with impunity,” he said in conclusion.

MOHAMED ALI ALFAYEZ (Saudi Arabia), calling for a “global view” of the situation in the Middle East, emphasized the great danger arising from Israel’s occupation of Arab lands, which had led to violence, suffering and humanitarian crises for the Palestinian people. Its choking off of the Occupied Palestinian Territory had halted the work of humanitarian agencies and caused a severe dearth of food, water, energy and electricity. Israeli settlements had polluted the environment and impeded development and modernization, he said, stressing that his country stood next to its Arab brothers in their quest for a fair, equitable peace. He stressed that the occupying Power’s separation barrier was not in step with international law and international humanitarian law, and failed to recognize dozens of United Nations resolutions.

KARTIKA HANDARUNINGRUM ( Indonesia) said it was deplorable that, due to foreign occupation, a number of countries and territories had yet to enjoy fully the rewards of development. Today’s meeting was being held against the backdrop of continuing suffering on the part of the Palestinian and other Arab peoples at the hands of the occupying Power, she said, noting that Israel’s failure to extend its moratorium on settlement construction on the West Bank further delayed the prospect of Palestinian development. “We cannot ignore the fact that foreign occupation impedes national development plans,” she stressed, pointing out that the Millennium Goals Summit outcome document called for concerted actions to remove obstacles to the full enjoyment of the rights of peoples under foreign occupation to pursue the Goals.

ABDELAZIZ AL OUMI ( Kuwait) said Israel had total control over most of the water resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, both above and below ground. Further, Israeli authorities and water companies were drawing water from that Territory to supply Israeli cities and selling the surplus to Palestinians. Owing to the destruction of water networks by Israel’s military activities, a Palestinian received only a one fourth of the water received by an Israeli. Turning to the occupied Syrian Golan, he reaffirmed his country’s support for the relevant Security Council resolutions, which deemed the expansion of Israeli jurisdiction, judicial mandate and administration over the region null and void, with no international legal effect. Kuwait was committed to the Arab Peace Initiative issued by the Beirut Arab Summit of 2002, which would help reach a just and comprehensive peace as well as a total withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories, including the Syrian Golan.

JABER ALSHEHHI ( United Arab Emirates) noted that 75 per cent of families in the Gaza Strip now lived under the poverty threshold and 38 per cent suffered from food insecurity. Moreover, observers had predicted a spike in poverty levels due to closures and restrictions on movement. Nearly 60 per cent of Gaza’s population now went without electricity, he said, adding that, overall, Palestinians continued to endure physical and psychological damage inflicted by Israeli military forces. The occupying Power’s actions contravened international humanitarian law, yet Israel persisted, despite resolutions aimed at ending its illegal settlements and barrier wall, he said, reaffirming his country’s solidarity with the Palestinian and Arab people. The international community must put pressure on Israel to cease its aggressive behaviour and withdraw completely from the occupied lands. Furthermore, the recommendations of the Goldstone report should be implemented, he stressed.

LIZWI NKOMBELA ( South Africa) emphasized the need for a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, recognizing that the Palestinian people continued to suffer Israel’s brutal actions. The blockade and restrictions were in violation of international humanitarian law and to the Arab Peace Initiative. “One surely cannot expect the occupied people of the Palestinian territories and the Syrian Golan to suffer quietly,” he said, adding that the international community must strengthen the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to provide basic services, stabilize its fiscal situation and work towards economic growth. South Africa called for the provision of sufficient financial resources to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). It also called on Israel to allow essential foodstuffs, medicine and building materials into Gaza, and to create an environment conducive to peaceful negotiations — rather than one that intensified the mistrust between Israelis and Palestinians.

AMAR A. I. DAOUD ( Sudan) noted that Israeli restrictions on the movement of people, goods and materials had extended to humanitarian aid operations heading into the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The blockade had further impoverished the Palestinian people, leading to a breakdown in health and water services. The separation wall had locked Palestinians into a sort of “prison”, contrary to international law and the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice. Moreover, Arab natural resources had not been spared devastation by Israel, he said, pointing out that the Palestinians were only allowed 9 per cent of available resources to meet their needs. Israeli’s redirection of Palestinian water resources contravened the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, while Assembly resolution 61/27 stated that its annexation of the Syrian Golan was illegal. Yet the occupying authorities had expanded their settlements there. Sudan urged the international community to require the occupying Power to comply with international law and human rights law.

RABEE JAWHARA ( Syria) said Israel continued to exploit resources in the occupied Syrian Golan, while expanding its settlements, confiscating land owned by Syrians and dumping nuclear waste in the region. With regard to water, Syria’s Foreign Minister had sent a letter to the Secretary-General, briefing him on the latest Israeli violations, including the diversion of water to an artificial reservoir and the sale of water back to Syrians at high prices. Such actions were in flagrant violation of international law, the Fourth Geneva Convention, and Security Council resolution 465 (1980), he stressed.

When the Committee discussed the issue and approved resolutions on it during every Assembly, it sent a clear-cut message that the policy of occupying the territories of others was against human nature. Several countries within the international community paid lip service to human rights but when it came to foreign occupation — and particularly the case of Israel — most were not up to discussing it. The United Nations had a moral responsibility to peoples under occupation that Member States must not evade, he stressed, adding that Israel must implement the relevant resolutions, end its “heinous” occupation and pay compensation to the occupied peoples, he said.

ELYES LAKHAL ( Tunisia), describing Gaza’s socio-economic indicators as among the world’s worst, said that was due to Israel’s occupation and aggression. Unemployment and poverty were extremely high and food insecurity was also a problem, as indicated by reports of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The international community must shoulder its responsibility to rectify the situation, he said, adding that it should support the construction of infrastructure to end Palestinian dependence on foreign aid and enable the Palestinians to work towards an independent State. The international community must promote justice so that peace could come to the region and in order to create solutions to the Palestinian question in all its aspects while giving the Palestinian people the ability to regain sovereignty over their natural resources.

JASSER JIMÉNEZ ( Nicaragua) noted that Palestinian had suffered over 60 years of struggle under foreign occupation. Their land was illegally occupied, they had no freedom of movement, their infrastructure was being destroyed and their people were being locked up. “Palestinians cannot focus on development if their primary concern is to survive Israeli army bombings,” he stressed, describing the separation wall as a form of mass crime since it locked occupied people in and kept them from moving around. More than 200,000 Palestinian children were in need of schooling, a number that would increase by 9,000 each year, he said, adding that they were entitled to education as a basic human right. Recalling that his country had also suffered occupation, he confirmed the legitimacy of the Palestinian struggle. Nicaragua condemned Israeli violations of international law and United Nations resolutions, as well as its “genocidal practices”, urging the Committee to ensure that schools were built. “We cannot accept any more destruction; we need construction,” he added.

DIANA AL-HADID ( Jordan) said Israel was in complete control of Palestinian resources through its economic and trade polices and its blockade of Gaza. Israeli settlements in the West Bank were contaminating the environment and destroying environmental diversity. The settlers were dumping waste-water and allowing it to infiltrate into Palestinian areas while they razed Palestinian land. Israel’s demolition of homes, razing of lands, destruction of olive crops, and economic blockade contravened international law and would endanger peace in the region, in addition to hampering Palestinian prospects for economic growth, she said. It was not possible to improve the socio-economic situation because of the restrictions on the movement of goods and people, she said, calling on Israel to end all measures that would exacerbate living conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

AHMAD MOHAMED AL-HORR ( Qatar) noted that Israel continued to build the “apartheid” wall in “obvious and blatant” violation of humanitarian values and international law, describing the construction as practically an annexation of parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. In addition, it was being built on the fertile land that was the Palestinian people’s most important natural resource and their source of water. The United Nations had reaffirmed that Israel’s use of that water, as well as the geographic and demographic changes it was carrying out, were a violation of the Geneva Conventions and other relevant international instruments. The crimes committed by heavily armed Israeli settlers against unarmed Palestinian citizens were particularly savage, he said, emphasizing that the international community must redouble efforts to prevent the continuation of violations and punish the perpetrators. Peace-loving nations, particularly Arab ones, must continue to provide steady economic aid to ensure that the Palestinian people were able to exercise their basic rights to education, health and income.

ALI A. ALI KURER ( Libya) said socio-economic and psychological damage continued to “choke” the Palestinian people in spite of United Nations resolutions and the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice. There had been calls for the barrier to be torn done as it denied Palestinians the opportunity to return to their lands, while separating Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank and keeping Palestinians from their places of work and worship. Libya was also greatly concerned about the situation in the occupied Syrian Golan, he said, stressing that the occupying Power must be held responsible for the damage it had caused in Arab lands.

MOHAMED KHALIL ( Egypt) noted that Israel’s siege against the Gaza Strip was in its fourth year and affected reconstruction and economic recovery. In addition, Israel’ closure policy remained a major cause of poverty and the humanitarian crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, preventing Palestinian access to natural resources, basic social services, employment and markets. As the occupying Power, Israel continued exploiting and depleting those natural resources, confiscating Palestinian land, and building the separation wall, in defiance of General Assembly resolution 10/15, which stressed the incompatibility of the wall with international law. Additionally, the Syrian Golan remained under occupation since 1967, although Security Council resolution 497 (1981) deemed Israel’s decision to impose its own laws and jurisdiction on the region null and void. Those practices were real evidence of Israel’s systematic destruction of the Syrian Golan’s economic life as well as social and environmental conditions, and it was now up to the international community to compel Israel to respect international law. Egypt would submit a draft resolution to emphasize permanent Palestinian sovereignty, he said.

SHULI DAVIDOVICH ( Israel) expressed disappointment that “precious time” that could have been directed at pressing global issues was instead being used to discuss the issue at hand. Members exploited the professional forum of the Committee to politicize an agenda item that singled out and condemned Israel. She stressed that her country shared its neighbours’ concern for preserving and protecting the region’s natural environment, and the only appropriate way to resolve their mutual concerns was through meaningful discussion and cooperation on the ground between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Reminding the Committee that the Joint Working Group on Water, Environment and Energy met regularly to address shared challenges, she called upon the Palestinian Authority to proceed with the numerous projects previously approved in the Joint Working Group as well in other professional working groups. Israel continued to seek ways to cooperate with its neighbours through a variety of efforts, including joint capacity-development programmes on agriculture and food security, forestry, desalination and water management. The Committee should be discussing those issues at the present time, she added.

Despite terrorist attacks launched by Hamas from the Gaza Strip, she said, Israel had expanded the flow of civilian good and materials into the enclave for projects under the supervision of international organizations, particular those for improving water quality, sewage systems and natural environment. Although the Hamas terrorist organization continued to rule in Gaza, Israel had authorized many civilian projects there and would continue to work with United Nations agencies, Member States and other partners to implement them for the well-being of Palestinian civilians. She reiterated that the present discussion did not belong on the Committee’s agenda and did not promote the Palestinian cause or improve the understanding between the parties.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine, responding to the statement by Israel’s delegate, said the daily suffering of the Palestinian people and the systematic destruction of their natural resources deprived them of their sovereignty. The discussion was not about making political points, he stressed, describing the tragic reality of his people. If the issue could not be discussed at the United Nations, where could it be discussed? The only way to discontinue the Committee’s consideration of the agenda item was to end Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory.

Many reports by specialized agencies described in detail, and with figures to back them up, the catastrophic economic consequences of Israeli practices, he said, adding that the Palestinians were being deprived of a normal life. Many international reports on Gaza had called for the immediate lifting of Israel’s blockade, he said, emphasizing that the only terrorism one could discuss was the State terrorism perpetrated by Israel, which was depriving the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza of their fundamental human rights.

The representative of Syria said the Israeli delegate’s statement accused some members of politicizing the matter at hand, whereas it was an important item on the Committee’s agenda. Israel had taken an opposing position that totally isolated it from the international community. What the Israeli representative had said was an attempt to mislead the international community and distract attention from the fundamental issue of continuing Israeli occupation of Arab territory, he said, emphasizing that the item under discussion would remain on the agenda as long as the Israeli occupation continued. The statement reflected the Israeli Government’s official political position, which was based on a lack of respect for international law, failure to implement United Nations resolutions and an effort to mislead international public opinion, he said.

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Introduction of Reports

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LUIS MANUEL PIANTINI MUNNIGH ( Dominican Republic), President of the Trade and Development Board, presented its report (documents A/65/15 Parts I through IV and A/65/16/PartIV/Corr.1), saying that in light of the still-fragile and uneven economic recovery, the longer-term scenario remained uncertain and there was a need to promote domestic demand. Job creation should be the keystone of policies emerging from the crisis, he said, adding that States must participate more actively in the recovery, with macroeconomic policies playing an important role in such efforts. Furthermore, income policies should adjust wage increases to growth in productivity.

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... He said the report noted the concern of delegates with regard to the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, especially the Gaza Strip, and underscored the need for the complete lifting of the blockade. The report also suggested that the enclave should receive preferential treatment similar to that given to least developed countries.

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