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Source:
31 December 1998
YEARBOOK OF THE
UNITED NATIONS
1998 VOL. 52

...

Chapter VI

Middle East

In 1998, the United Nations continued to support the Middle East peace process and remained involved in the region in a number of ways-through its peace-keeping operations, through the good offices of the Secretary-General, as well as through programmes of economic, social and other forms of assistance. The peace process, which began in Madrid, Spain, in 1991, regained momentum in late October with the signing of the Wye River Memorandum between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Despite the revived peace negotiations, however, one of the principal stumbling blocks to the peace process remained the growth of settlements throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, especially in and around Jerusalem. Settlement activities led to an increase in tensions and violence, further undermining the confidence between Israelis and Palestinians. No headway was made in the Israel-Syrian Arab Republic negotiations. In March, the Secretary-General visited the region, including Israel, Lebanon and Syria.

In view of Israel's decision to broaden the jurisdiction and planning boundaries of Jerusalem, the Security Council met in June to discuss the issue. The President of the Council issued a statement calling on Israel not to proceed with the expansion of the municipality and not to take any other steps that would prejudice the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.

In March, the General Assembly resumed its tenth emergency special session, which first convened in 1997, to discuss the item "Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory". The Assembly demanded, among other things, that Israel comply with the provisions of the resolutions adopted by the emergency special session in 1997 and recommended that the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (Fourth Geneva Convention) hold a conference on measures to enforce the Convention in the occupied Palestinian territory. The Assembly also recommended that the Government of Switzerland, as the depository of the Convention, undertake the necessary steps to prepare for that conference.

In July, the Assembly conferred on Palestine additional rights and privileges, including the right to participate in the general debate, to speak under any agenda items in the plenary, and to exercise the right of reply. However, Palestine would not have the right to vote.

The Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories served as the focal point for UN assistance to the Palestinians. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for the Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) continued to provide a wide-ranging programme of education, health, relief and social services to over 3.5 million Palestinian refugees living both in and outside camps in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as in Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic. Faced with the prospect of financial insolvency, UNRWA had been obliged to enforce austerity measures and to make an extraordinary appeal for additional contributions to avoid a disruption in services.

During the year, the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories reported to the General Assembly on the situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People continued to mobilize international support for the Palestinians.

The situation in southern Lebanon remained volatile and dangerous during 1998, with a rising level of hostilities and an increase in the number of civilian casualties. In the context of Israel-Lebanon negotiations, the Israeli Ministerial Committee for National Security decided to accept Security Council resolution 425(1978) [YUN 1978, p. 312], by which the Israel Defence Forces were to leave southern Lebanon under proper security arrangements, while the Lebanese Government was to assume control of the area and guarantee that its territory was not used as a base for terrorist activities against Israel. The withdrawal had yet to take place at the end of 1998. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) pursued efforts to limit the conflict and protect inhabitants from its consequences. The mandates of UNIFIL and of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights were both extended twice during the year, and the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) continued to assist both peace-keeping operations in their tasks.

By decision 53/426 of 8 December, the General Assembly deferred consideration of the agenda item entitled "Armed Israeli aggression against the Iraqi nuclear installations and its grave consequences for the established international system concerning the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons and international peace and security" and included it in the provisional agenda of its fifty-fourth (1999) session. The item had been inscribed yearly on the Assembly's agenda since 1981, following the bombing by Israel of a nuclear research centre near Baghdad [YUN 1981, p. 275].

Peace process

Overall situation

The first nine months of 1998 were marked by a stalemate in the peace negotiations. Continued settlement activities by Israel and the failure to hold a conference of the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (Fourth Geneva Convention), as recommended by the General Assembly at its tenth emergency special session in 1997, led to the reconvening of the emergency session in March.

A break in the deadlock took place in October, however, with the signing by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) of the Wye River Memorandum. The Memorandum, which was signed in Washington, D.C., on 23 October by PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and witnessed by United States President William J. Clinton, outlined steps to facilitate implementation of the 1995 Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (Interim Agreement) [YUN 1995, p. 626] and other related agreements, including the 1997 Hebron Protocol [YUN 1997, p. 384]. Agreement on the Memorandum was reached following the Middle East peace talks (Wye River, Maryland, 1623 October), which were sponsored by the United States.

In a November report [A/53/652-S/1998/1050] on the question of Palestine (see below, under "Issues related to Palestine") and the situation in the Middle East, the Secretary-General observed that the signing of the Wye River Memorandum was a promising development. That agreement complemented and added details to past accords between the parties and paved the way to permanent status negotiations, and it was hoped that it would bring to an end the delays and unilateral actions that had hampered progress in the peace process for far too long. The primary obligations of the Palestinians and Israelis were clear: respectively, to take all legal measures to combat violence and terrorism, and to carry out, on time, further redeployments in the West Bank as laid down in the agreement. The Secretary-General also welcomed the fact that the Wye agreement offered economic opportunities for the Palestinian people, which were essential if peace in the Middle East was to prosper. The United Nations would continue to support progress in the Israeli-Palestinian talks and to provide economic, social and other assistance to the occupied territories. It was further hoped that advances in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations would create favourable momentum for the resumption of the Israel-Syrian Arab Republic and Israel-Lebanon talks. That would be essential for the settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242(1967) [YUN 1967, p. 257], 338(1973) [YUN 1973, p. 213] and 425(1978) [YUN 1978, p. 312].

In resolution 53/42 of 2 December, the General Assembly, expressing the hope that the Wye River Memorandum would be fully implemented, voiced its full support for the ongoing peace process, which began in Madrid in 1991 [YUN 1991, p. 221], and the 1993 Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements [YUN 1993, p. 521], as well as subsequent agreements, including the Interim Agreement. It also expressed the hope that the process would lead to the establishment of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

Committee on Palestinian Rights. In its annual report [A/53/35], the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (Committee on Palestinian Rights) welcomed the signing on 23 October of the Wye River Memorandum, which provided, among other things, for: further Israeli redeployment from 13 per cent of the West Bank; the steps to be taken by the parties in the area of security; the renewal of negotiations on safe passage between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; the agreement to address without delay the issue of the Port of Gaza; and the commitment to resume permanent status negotiations.

Occupied territories

Communications (January-March). In a 13 January letter [A/52/766-S/1998/31] to the Secretary-General, the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations said that, on 8 January, the Israeli Government approved the construction of 574 new units in the occupied territory and, on 10 January, plans were revealed by the Israeli Housing Ministry for the construction of more than 30,000 additional units in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem. Also on 8 January, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had described the capture of the West Bank during the 1967 war as the most important strategic development in the history of the Jewish State other than its inception. Those kind of statements reflected expansionist intentions, violated international law and sustained illegal claims by the Israeli Government to at least parts of the territory occupied since 1967, the Permanent Observer stated.

By a 19 January letter [A/52/769-S/1998/48], the Permanent Observer said that, on 14 January, the Israeli Government took a decision establishing that Israel's vital and national interests in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley would constitute the basis of the interim agreement with the Palestinians. Those vital interests included, among other things, the area surrounding the Jerusalem region, the areas of the Israeli communities, the eastern and western security zones, infrastructure interests and historic sites sacred to the Jewish people. The Permanent Observer said that decision represented a grave breach of the existing agreements between the parties and jeopardized the entire peace process.

By a 12 March letter [A/52/827-S/1998/224], the Permanent Observer of Palestine informed the Secretary-General of the latest developments in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem. According to the letter, between 10 and 11 March Israeli soldiers shot and killed three Palestinian labourers and wounded many others at an army checkpoint and in subsequent clashes in the West Bank. It was pointed out that Israeli army checkpoints, which remained positioned throughout the West Bank owing to delays in the redeployment of the Israeli army, were often the scenes of harassment and violence against the Palestinian people. The Permanent Observer said that the situation was characterized by the deadlock in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process owing to continuous Israeli violations and noncompliance with the agreements reached between the two sides. Moreover, there had been a serious deterioration of the living conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, as a result of Israeli policies and practices. The Permanent Observer called for the resumption of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly to address Israeli actions in East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory.

Emergency special session

In accordance with General Assembly resolution ES-10/4 [YUN 1997, p. 408] and at the request of the Syrian Arab Republic [A/ES-10/21], as Chairman of the Group of Arab States at the United Nations, supported by the Coordinating Bureau of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries [A/ES-10/22], the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly was resumed on 17 March 1998 to discuss "Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory". The session was first convened in April 1997 [YUN 1997, p. 394] and met twice in resumed sessions in July and November of that year.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 17 March [meeting 9], the General Assembly adopted resolution ES-10/5 by recorded vote (120-3-5) [draft: [ES-10/L.4/Rev.l & Add.l] [agenda item 5].
Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East
Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory

The General Assembly,

Reaffirming its resolutions ES-10/2 of 25 April 1997, ES-10/3 of 15 July 1997 and ES-10/4 of 13 November 1997,

Determined to uphold the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, international humanitarian law and all other instruments of international law, as well as relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions,

Increasingly concerned about the persistent violations by Israel, the occupying Power, of the provisions of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, including its settlement construction at Jebel Abu Ghneim to the south of occupied East Jerusalem, and its failure to accept the de jure applicability of the Convention to the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and the rest of the Arab territories occupied since 1967,

Aware that the necessary steps recommended in paragraph 5 of resolution ES-10/4, including the convening of a meeting of experts with a target date not later than the end of February 1998 in order to follow up on the recommendations mentioned in paragraph 10 of resolution ES-10/3 and paragraph 4 of resolution ES-10/4, remain to be fulfilled,

1. Reiterates its condemnation of the failure of the Government of Israel to comply with the provisions of resolutions ES-10/2, ES-10/3 and ES-10/4; 2. Reiterates all the demands made in resolutions ES-10/2, ES-10/3 and ES-10/4, and stresses the necessity of the full and immediate implementation by Israel, the occupying Power, of those demands;

3. Reiterates once again its recommendation that the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of war, of 12 August 1949, convene a conference on measures to enforce the Convention in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and to ensure its respect in accordance with common article 1;

4. Reiterates its recommendation to the Government of Switzerland, in its capacity as the depository of the Geneva Convention, to undertake the necessary preparatory steps, including the convening of a meeting of experts in order to follow up on the above-mentioned recommendation;

5. Extends the target date for the convening of the meeting of experts of the High Contracting Parties until the end of April 1998;

6. Reiterates the request made in paragraph 6 of resolution ES-10/4 to the Government of Switzerland to invite the Palestine Liberation Organization to participate in the above-mentioned conference and in any preparatory steps for that conference;

7. Reiterates its decision that, in case of continued lack of compliance by Israel, the occupying Power, with the provisions of resolutions ES-10/2, ES-10/3 and ES-10/4, it shall reconsider the situation with a view to making further appropriate recommendations to the States Members of the United Nations in accordance with its resolution 377 A (V) of 3 November 1950;

8. Decides to adjourn the tenth emergency special session temporarily and to authorize the President of the most recent General Assembly to resume its meeting upon request from Member States.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION ES-10/5:

In favour Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bhutan, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Cote d’lvoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Egypt, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, View Nam, Zimbabwe. Against: Israel, Micronesia, United States. Abstaining: Australia, Bulgaria, Marshall Islands, Romania, Swaziland.

Speaking before the vote [A/ES-10/PV.8] the Assembly President drew attention to the Conference in Support of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (Brussels, Belgium, 24-25 February), organized by the Committee on Palestinian Rights in cooperation with the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the League of Arab States (LAS) (see below, under "Committee on Palestinian Rights").

The Permanent Observer of Palestine said that Israel had refused to comply with the provisions of the resolutions that the Assembly had adopted during the tenth emergency special session in 1997 and that it had repeatedly violated the agreements signed within the framework of the Middle East peace process. In addition, the Israeli Government had continued its settlement activities and its attempts to change the legal status and demographic composition of Jerusalem. The Permanent Observer noted that Israel had almost completed the first stage of the construction of the settlement at Jebel Abu Ghneim, to the south of occupied East Jerusalem, while it continued to deport Palestinian Jerusalemites from the city. The Permanent Observer concluded that the main problem was the ideological position of the Israeli Government, which was in direct contradiction to the essence and texts of the agreements reached.

Israel said that the emergency special session had been resumed even before the session's 1997 recommendation that a meeting of experts be convened to consider the holding of a conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention (resolution ES-10/4) [YUN 1997, p. 408] could be implemented. The current resumed session had been convened to adopt a resolution that tried to supersede what had been previously decided. Israel pointed out that it had redeployed from Hebron; it had freed Palestinian prisoners; it had transferred large funds to the Palestinian Authority (PA); it had lifted the closure of border crossings, more than doubling the number of Palestinian workers benefiting from the Israeli economy; and, in March 1997, it had offered the first phase of further redeployment, in accordance with its commitments, which the PA refused to accept. According to Israel, the PA had chosen a deliberate strategy of constant crisis. The underlying assumption was that, under conditions of diplomatic impasse, international political pressure would automatically build on Israel, forcing it to make concessions that went beyond the 1993 Declaration of Principles [YUN 1993, p. 521] and the 1995 Interim Agreement [YUN 1995, p. 626] (the so-called Oslo agreements).

The Acting Chairman of the Committee on Palestinian Rights said that, in terms of the peace negotiations, 1997 was largely wasted, owing to the measures taken by the Israeli authorities. Although attempts at restarting the negotiations on certain issues had been made in Washington, D.C., the overall frustration had taken its toll and had allowed the level of mistrust and suspicion between the two sides to grow over the months. The latest flare-up of violence in the West Bank was another signal of the illegal nature of Israeli actions in the occupied Palestinian territory and of the pressing need to ensure Israel's acceptance of the de jure applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to all the territories occupied since 1967.

Tunisia said that the Assembly in resolution ES-10/4 had recommended that the Government of Switzerland, in its capacity as the depository of the Fourth Geneva Convention, undertake the necessary steps to prepare for a conference on measures to enforce the Convention in the occupied territories, including the convening of a meeting of experts. That meeting, for which the Assembly had set a target date not later than February 1998, had not been convened, despite the fact that the Swiss Government had contacted and held consultations with the High Contracting Parties.

The United States opposed the call for Switzerland to convoke experts to prepare for a meeting of the Convention's High Contracting Parties to enforce the Convention in the occupied territories. It believed that it was unreasonable to ask the Government of Switzerland, a nonmember observer State, to respond to a non-binding Assembly resolution. The United States said that the November 1997 resolution was and remained another step towards politicizing the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Observer of Switzerland, who participated in the debate at the Assembly's invitation, said that his Government had held informal consultations in order to draw up a plan for following up on paragraphs 4 and 5 of resolution ES-10/4. On 5 March, Switzerland had submitted a proposal to the main parties concerned, suggesting the holding of a closed meeting, which could be repeated if necessary, between Israel and the PLO. The Observer requested that Switzerland's proposal be given a chance and that a dialogue at least be attempted.

Fourth Geneva Convention meetings. A closed meeting, convened by Switzerland, was held between Israel and the PLO, in the presence of representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) (Geneva, 9-11 June), to examine measures and machinery that could contribute to the effective implementation of the Fourth Geneva Convention in the occupied Palestinian territories. The participants exchanged views on the possibility of enacting specific implementation measures and they agreed to meet again to consider ideas and suggestions that could promote respect for the Convention, that meeting did not take place in 1998.

Switzerland also convened a meeting of experts of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention (Geneva, 27-29 October) on general problems in implementing the Convention, including in the occupied territories. The participants identified ways to put an end to violations of the Convention and to prevent future breaches. Among the measures mentioned was the organization of meetings in which States or entities particularly concerned would participate to consider specific situations, as had been the case with the June meeting between Israel and the PLO.

Included among the 17 measures mentioned in the report of the Chairman of the meeting was consideration of the timing and modalities of conferences on specific situations, such as those recommended by the General Assembly in the case of the occupied Palestinian territories. Convening such a conference, however, raised many questions that the Geneva Conventions and their additional protocols did not resolve and which only the States parties could address.

Despite the consultations undertaken since mid-1997, and in spite of the questions raised by its delegation at the October meeting of experts, Switzerland, as the depositary of the Convention, did not receive a conclusive reply regarding the holding of the conference recommended by the Assembly.

Communications (April-June). In a 1 April letter [A/52/862-S/1998/290] to the Secretary-General, the Permanent Observer of Palestine noted that while on a visit to an Israeli settlement in the West Bank on 31 March, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu referred to the settlement as a part of greater Jerusalem. The statement was made only one day after the conclusion of the visit to the region by the United States Special Envoy to the Middle East peace process, Dennis Ross, which did not produce any tangible results owing to continuing intransigence by Israel, added the Permanent Observer.

On 14 May [A/52/899-S/1998/393], the Permanent Observer, in a letter to the Secretary-General, said that in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of al-nakba (the catastrophe), which marked the dispossession and uprooting of more than 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and land, marches were organized throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israeli soldiers opened fire against the participants, killing eight people and injuring approximately 400 others. In addition, Bab AlGhawanima, one of the gates of Al-Haram Al-Sharif and one of the holy places in Jerusalem, had been burned by some Israeli fanatics, according to the letter.

By a 15 May letter [A/52/906-S/1998/400] to the Secretary-General and to the Security Council President, Saudi Arabia, as Chairman of the Arab Group for May, lamented the killing and wounding of Palestinians by the Israeli army during the commemoration of al-nakba. It added that the Middle East peace process had reached a dangerous crossroads as a result of the intransigence of the Israeli Government and its defiance of the will of the international community.

On 26 May [A/52/921-S/1998/436], Egypt and France transmitted to the Secretary-General the text of an appeal for peace issued by the President of France, Jacques Chirac, and the President of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, following a meeting in Paris on 18 May. The two Presidents expressed concern at the continuing deadlock on all aspects of the Middle East peace process, and in particular at the lack of progress on the Palestinian aspect, despite efforts being made by the United States to relaunch the negotiations. The two Presidents reaffirmed their commitment to the peace process launched in Madrid in 1991 [YUN 1991, p. 221] and believed that security could be assured only through the establishment of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, based on the implementation of Security Council resolutions 242(1967), 338(1973) and 425(1978) and on the principles agreed at Madrid, notably the exchange of land for peace and the attainment of the legitimate political rights of the Palestinian people. That in turn should lead to the exercise of the right of the Palestinian people to establish its own independent State, based on its right of self-determination. The two Presidents also emphasized the need to respect the agreements signed within the framework of the Oslo process and to refrain from unilateral measures, in particular the building of settlements. Egypt and France proposed a conference of countries that were determined to save the peace process. Such a conference would maintain and confirm all existing principles and agreements.

By a 29 May letter [A/52/926-S/1998/444] to the Secretary-General, the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine reported that on 24 May Israeli authorities had staged a military parade in Jerusalem to mark the thirty-first anniversary of the occupation of East Jerusalem, in violation of international law and relevant UN resolutions. Israel's actions threatened to plunge the region into an even more unstable situation, even when attempts were being made by the United States and the international community to save the peace process.

On 8 June [A/52/947-S/1998/481], the Permanent Observer of Palestine informed the Secretary-General that Israel had started archaeological excavations in the area of Burj al-Laqlaq inside the Old City of East Jerusalem. The excavation work was taking place as part of preliminary activities to build an illegal new Jewish settlement in the heart of occupied East Jerusalem, and it was being carried out following a failed attempt on 25 May by the Jewish settler group Ateret Cohanim to establish the nucleus of a new settlement in that area. In addition, another Jewish settler group, Elad, had taken over four housing units in the Silwan neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, instigating clashes with Palestinians. The Permanent Observer called on the Security Council and the international community to take action against such Israeli violations and illegal practices.

On 9 June [A/52/948-S/1998/487], the Permanent Observer of Palestine informed the Secretary-General that the Interior Ministry of Israel had approved the construction of 58 housing units for Jewish settlers in the area of the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem. That decision was yet another example of an intensified expansionist policy for the colonization and Judaization of Arab Jerusalem, he said.

By a 15 June letter [A/52/949-S/1998/511] to the Secretary-General, the Permanent Observer of Palestine said that on 11 June the Israeli army issued an order allowing for the establishment of the so-called civil guards, or armed militia, in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank. On the same day, the Israeli army issued another order granting the settlement "Ariel" the formal status of a city, implicitly indicating that it was no longer part of the occupied territory.

Also on 15 June [A/52/952], Israel, in a letter to the Secretary-General, said that it was seeking to complete a new set of understandings with the PA, through the assistance of the United States, with the aim of putting the peace process back on track. Israel was hopeful that those understandings would provide a framework for achieving Palestinian compliance with commitments made at the time of the 1997 Hebron Protocol [YUN 1997, p. 384].

Israel's insistence on Palestinian compliance had chiefly focused on the area of security, for since the signing of the Oslo agreements hundreds of Israelis had died from terrorist attacks emanating from PA controlled territory. Restoring security required not only constant action by the Palestinian security services, but also creating an environment free from incitement to violence, stated Israel. The letter noted that since May 1998 the PA had escalated its widespread incitement to violence in all of its official media. PLO Chairman Arafat had participated in that campaign, which culminated in massive demonstrations during the commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of what the PLO called al-nakba. In addition, Chairman Arafat's security forces had failed to crack down specifically on the Hamas military capability. Hamas military operatives, even those involved in bomb attacks, had not been kept imprisoned. Israel stated that according to Colonel Jabril Rajoub, head of the PA's preventive security agency in the West Bank, the PA had no responsibility for preventing attacks on Israel from area B the area of full Palestinian civilian control and shared Israeli-Palestinian security control. That was a critical fact since the process of further redeployment involved converting large tracts of the West Bank from area C (full Israeli security control) to area B status.

For Israel, the peace process was not a temporary truce, but an irreversible commitment to reach a permanent reconciliation with the Palestinian people and the Arab world. If the Palestinian commitment to comply with the Oslo agreements was established in both word and deed, then, stated Israel, the peace process could move.

By an 18 June letter [A/52/958-S/1998/535] to the Secretary-General, the Permanent Observer of Palestine said that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had announced a programme to strengthen Israel's hold on Jerusalem, which included the creation of an "umbrella municipality" with administrative powers over nearby towns in Israel, thus expanding the border of Jerusalem, as well as over some Jewish settlements in the West Bank. It included construction of roads for those settlements, a multi-year housing investment plan and new infrastructure. Regarding the Israeli attempt to build a new settlement at Jebel Abu Ghneim (Har Homa) to the south of East Jerusalem, the Israeli Prime Minister was reported as saying that houses would be built in that area by the year 2000.

In a follow-up letter of 22 June [A/52/963-S/1998/557], the Permanent Observer stated that on 21 June the Israeli Government approved the programme announced by the Israeli Prime Minister aimed at expanding Jerusalem's municipality. Noting that the Security Council had adopted 16 resolutions regarding Jerusalem and had repeatedly declared that all measures taken by Israel to change the legal status, demographic composition and character of the city were null and void and without any legal validity, the Permanent Observer stated that the Council was under an obligation to take specific concrete measures to prevent the plan from being implemented. The Council was asked to consider the situation in a formal meeting and take the necessary measures.

On 26 June [A/52/971-S/1998/579], the Sudan transmitted to the Secretary-General and to the Security Council President a 25 June statement issued by an emergency meeting of the Council of LAS concerning the decision of Israel to expand the municipality of Jerusalem. The LAS Council stated that Israel's decision threatened to erase the Arab identity of Jerusalem and destroy the city's landmarks. Israel's action also entailed the illegal appropriation of land and the loss of the rights of Palestinian citizens in the occupied territories. The LAS Council called on the United States to compel Israel to comply with the terms of reference of the Madrid Peace Conference and urged the Russian Federation and the European Union (EU) to adopt decisive positions concerning Israeli practices. The United Nations, particularly the Security Council, was urged to convene an emergency session to discuss that serious matter, which would have grave repercussions for the entire peace process.

SECURITY COUNCIL CONSIDERATION (30 June)

At the request of the Sudan [S/1998/558], the Security Council, on 30 June, discussed the situation in the occupied Arab territories [meeting 3900]. In its capacity as Chairman of the Arab Group for the month of June and on behalf of the members of LAS, the Sudan requested a formal Council meeting to consider Israel's decision to expand the boundaries of the municipality of Jerusalem. In that regard, the Sudan referred to the 22 June letter from the Observer of Palestine (see above). With the Council's consent, the President invited Algeria, Bangladesh, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Norway, Oman, Peru, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Sudan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen, at their request, to participate in the discussion without the right to vote. The President also invited the representative of Palestine to participate, at his own request [S/1998/587] and in accordance with the Council's provisional rules of procedure and previous practice. Invitations were also extended to the Permanent Observer of OIC, at the request of Qatar [S/1998/592], to the Charge d'affaires of the Office of the Permanent Observer of LAS, at the request of Bahrain [S/1998/588], and to the Chairman of the Committee on Palestinian Rights, at his own request.

The first speaker, the representative of Palestine, said that Israel's decision to expand the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem constituted a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, several Security Council resolutions and those of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly. Moreover, the policies and practices of the Israeli Government were clearly aimed at the systematic destruction of the agreements reached between the two sides within the framework of the Middle East peace process. Given the existence of the Israeli plan for Jerusalem, it was not possible to imagine the peace process being revitalized and continuing, the representative stated.

Israel said it was determined to protect Jerusalem for all its residents and had therefore taken a ministerial-level initiative to strengthen the city. That was not a new political programme affecting the political status of Jerusalem, nor was it a plan to gerrymander district lines in order to affect political outcomes. It consisted of a municipal blueprint for bolstering the city's economy and infrastructure and was fully in accordance with the Interim Agreement, which provided that Jerusalem remain under Israeli jurisdiction while remaining an issue for permanent status negotiations.

Israel rejected allegations that its plan was developed within the context of annexing more Palestinian territory; rather, it was intended to provide land for housing and high-technology industries, thereby creating affordable homes and new employment opportunities for Jerusalem's residents. Neither did the plan call for the incorporation into Jerusalem of the populations of the major western suburbs. Any decision to shift the municipal boundary of the city would be strictly limited to areas westward of Jerusalem that were within the pre-1967 lines. The so-called "umbrella municipality" was merely a coordination mechanism between Jerusalem and surrounding communities, said Israel. It did not entail a shift in municipal boundaries or the extension of municipal authority over any Israeli settlements. Israel also pointed out that plans had been approved for the construction of 100 housing units for the Palestinian Arab residents of the A-Tur neighbourhood in Jerusalem, just next to the Mount of Olives, and not 58 housing units for Jewish settlers as had been reported by the Palestinian Observer in a 9 June letter (see above).

Israel noted that the greatest problem for Jerusalem was Palestinian noncompliance in fighting terrorism and preventing violence. Since the signing of the Oslo agreements, nearly 250 Israelis had been killed in successive suicide bombings that emanated from areas under the control of the PA. Bomb factories belonging to the Hamas organization were operating in Ramallah and in Bethlehem, and the bulk of the infrastructure used for repeated suicide bombing attacks in the heart of Jerusalem remained intact.

The United States regretted the announcement by Israel that it planned to create an "umbrella municipality" and to broaden the jurisdiction and planning boundaries of Jerusalem. The United States viewed Israel's decision as unhelpful to the peace process and reiterated that all parties had to refrain from unilateral actions that could prejudice the outcome of the permanent status negotiations. Nevertheless, it welcomed Israel's statement that there would be no change in the political status of Jerusalem pending the outcome of those negotiations. The United States had offered a fair and balanced set of ideas to break the stalemate, to which the Palestinians had already agreed in principle. It was currently working with the Israelis to determine whether they could also accept what was outlined so that both sides could begin the task of negotiating the core issues of permanent status.

The LAS representative said that Israel's decision to annex to the municipality of Jerusalem several villages west of the city and some settlements in the Palestinian territories was designed to tighten the Israeli grip on the Holy City and to separate it from the other Palestinian territories. He added that Israel controlled 84 per cent of the territory of Jerusalem, with Arabs owning 14 per cent and foreigners 2 per cent. With regard to the possession of the territory of East Jerusalem, Israelis controlled 74 per cent and Arabs 26 per cent.

In view of the stalling of the peace process as a consequence of Israel's actions in the occupied territories, LAS called on the sponsors of the peace process the United States and the Russian Federation to take a stand against Israel's measures. It also called on the Council to take action against Israel's plan and practices, which represented a contravention of international legitimacy and the position adopted by the international community.

Communication. By an 8 July letter [A/52/975] to the Secretary-General, Egypt transmitted the joint communique of the Jordan-Palestine-Egypt tripartite summit held in Cairo on 5 July. The President of Egypt, the King of Jordan and the Chairman of the PA urged the United States to make public the results of its efforts based on the initiative that it had proposed to the Palestinians and Israelis and that had met with the agreement of the Palestinian side, but which had not been accepted by the Israeli Government.

The leaders affirmed their unconditional rejection of the plan for the Judaization of Jerusalem. They called on Israel to abandon the plan forthwith and to refrain from taking any measures to implement it on the ground. They further urged Israel to desist from taking unilateral measures, and in particular from engaging in settlement activity, from expropriating land and from demolishing homes, in conformity with the agreements concluded that prohibited any of the parties from taking measures that might prejudice the issues for the final status negotiations.

The three leaders stressed that the only way to save the peace process was full and meticulous commitment to the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference, namely Security Council resolutions 242(1967) and 338(1973) and the principle of land for peace on all respective tracks, in such a manner as to ensure withdrawal from the occupied Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian territories and the exercise by the Palestinian people of its legitimate rights, primarily the right to exercise self-determination and establish an independent Palestinian State with its capital in Jerusalem. They reaffirmed the need for compliance with the agreements already concluded, including the implementation of all three stages of further redeployment in accordance with the commitments given and the observance of all deadlines set by the Interim Agreement.

The leaders expressed their support for the Egyptian-French initiative for the convening of an international conference of those countries that were determined to save the peace process.

SECURITY COUNCIL ACTION (13 July)

On 13 July [meeting 3904], the President of the Security Council issued the following statement [S/PRST/1998/21] on behalf of its members:

The Security Council has considered the letters dated 18 and 22 June 1998, as well as the letters dated 8,9 and 15 June 1998, from the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, and the letter dated 23 June 1998 from the Permanent Representative of the Sudan to the United Nations, on behalf of the States members of the League of Arab States, relating to the issue of Jerusalem.

The Council recognizes the importance and sensitivity of the issue of Jerusalem to all parties and expresses its support for the decision of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Government of Israel, in accordance with the Declaration of Principles of 13 September 1993, that the permanent status negotiations shall cover the issue of Jerusalem. The Council therefore calls upon the parties to avoid actions which might prejudice the outcome of these negotiations.

In the context of its previous relevant resolutions, the Council considers the decision by the Government of Israel on 21 June 1998 to take steps to broaden the jurisdiction and planning boundaries of Jerusalem a serious and damaging development. The Council therefore calls upon the Government of Israel not to proceed with that decision and also not to take any other steps which would prejudice the outcome of the permanent status negotiations. Further, the Council calls upon Israel to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and responsibilities under the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949.

The Council supports the efforts of the United States aimed at breaking the stalemate in the peace process, calls upon the parties to respond positively to these efforts, notes that the Palestinian side has already given agreement in principle to the proposals of the United States, and expresses the hope that the permanent status negotiations can resume and progress can be made towards the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace based on Council resolutions 242(1967) of 22 November 1967 and 338(1973) of 22 October 1973.

The Council will keep Israeli actions under review.

Communications (July-November). By a 27 July letter [A/52/995] to the Secretary-General, Israel addressed the issue of the Palestinian National Covenant, the founding charter of the PLO. According to Israel, almost all of the articles in the Covenant explicitly or implicitly denied Israel's right to exist and rejected any peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Covenant also denied the existence of the Jewish people as a nation and any ties it might have to the land of Israel. For that reason, the Israeli Government had insisted on the revision of the Covenant as a fundamental requirement in any process of mutual recognition and reconciliation between Israel and the PLO.

While the Palestinian National Council (PNC) declared its readiness in April 1996 to change the document, the only practical step taken was the empowerment of a legal committee to draft a new Covenant for presentation at a future date. In May 1996, PNC Chairman Selim Zaanoun asserted that the Covenant had been amended but added that no specific articles were cancelled, and in an interview on 22 January 1998 the head of the PNC's legal committee, Faisal Hamdi Husseini, stated that the changes had not been carried out. Israel pointed out that Chairman Arafat had committed himself to the Note for the Record of the Hebron Protocol, an agreement which included the principle of reciprocity: Israel would not be expected to implement its commitments if the PLO did not fulfil its pledges, including its pledge to revise the Covenant.

Israel noted that the Covenant stated that any amendment had to be approved by a two-thirds majority of the PNC in a special session. It said the PLO's obligation to convene the PNC in order to amend the Covenant remained unfulfilled and insisted that the amendments had to be carried out in a clear-cut and indisputable manner.

By a 31 July note verbale [A/53/212-S/1998/716] to the Secretary-General, Morocco transmitted the final declaration of the seventeenth session of the Al-Quds "Jerusalem" Committee (Casablanca, 29-30 July), which stated that Israel was attempting to Judaize Jerusalem by carrying out unilateral acts aimed at altering the demographic and geographic status of the city, such as the expansion of the boundaries of Jerusalem's municipality. The Committee reaffirmed its solidarity with the PLO in its struggle to end the Israeli occupation and, among other things, to reestablish the Palestinian people's right to self-determination and to statehood with Jerusalem as the capital. All legislative and settlement related steps and measures that were designed to alter the legal status of the city were null and void and inconsistent with the decisions of international legitimacy, the declaration affirmed.

The Committee, among other things, called on the Security Council to ensure the implementation of its resolutions on the protection of the status of Jerusalem and to revive the International Supervision and Control Committee entrusted with preventing settlement activities in the city and in other Palestinian and Arab territories in accordance with resolution 446(1979) [YUN 1979, p. 400]; urged those Islamic countries that had normalized relations with Israel in the context of the peace process to reconsider such relations; and requested all countries to refrain from moving their diplomatic missions to Jerusalem, which Israel considered as its capital. The Committee welcomed the invitation extended by the Swiss Government to hold, before the end of the year, a meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention in order to take the necessary measures to ensure the observance of the Convention in the Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem.

On 26 August [A/53/289-S/1998/807], Austria transmitted to the Secretary-General a statement issued by the Presidency of the EU, which expressed concern about reports that on 19 August an Israeli ministerial committee approved a plan to expand settlements in the Golan Heights. Under the plan, 2,300 new housing units and 2,500 holiday units were to be built. The plan, if implemented, would represent a significant setback to the efforts to resume the Israeli-Syrian negotiations and would raise questions about Israel's commitment to the peace process. The EU urged Israel not to implement the new settlement plan in the Golan Heights and reiterated its position that settlements in the occupied territories were illegal and in contravention of international law.

By a 27 August letter [A/52/1025-S/1998/816] to the Secretary-General, the Permanent Observer of Palestine said that the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem had given final approval to build a new settlement in the Ras al-Amud neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem, which was inhabited by 11,000 Palestinians. The Permanent Observer called on the Security Council to bring an end to Israel's violations.
By an 8 October letter [A/53/475-S/1998/932], the Permanent Observer informed the Secretary-General that on 7 October Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had announced further construction of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, as well as the transformation of the settlement "Ariel" in the West Bank into a city, a step tantamount to a de facto annexation. In addition, in the city of Al-Khalil (Hebron), a cornerstone had been laid by the Israeli authorities for future construction of a settlement in Tel Rumeida. Those acts came at a time of increased tension and conflict in the city; during clashes in Al-Khalil, Israeli soldiers killed one Palestinian and injured 20 others.

On 20 October [A/53/532-S/1998/984], Israel informed the Secretary-General that on the previous day Palestinian terrorists had hurled two fragmentation grenades at a crowd of passengers in Beersheba's central bus station, injuring over 64 individuals. The attack, said Israel, had been timed to coincide with the Israeli-Palestinian Wye River summit meeting, taking place in the United States, in order to undermine its success.

On 30 October [ A/53/561-S/1998/1021], Israel forwarded a letter by its Foreign Minister to the Secretary-General, which detailed the contents of the Wye River Memorandum.

Israel had undertaken, among other things, a number of commitments as a result of the negotiations: the transfer of land in Judea and Samaria (West Bank), which would result in the PA's controlling 40 per cent of the territory in those two areas, and exercising its jurisdiction over 98 per cent of the Palestinian inhabitants; the release of Palestinian prisoners incarcerated in Israel, before the expiration of their sentences; the conclusion of a protocol on the opening of the international airport in Gaza; agreement on arrangements to permit the opening of the Gaza Industrial Estate (at Kami); and agreement to renew negotiations on the "safe passage" of goods and people between Gaza and the West Bank, with the intention of concluding an agreement within a week of the Wye River Memorandum's entering into force.

Israel's commitments were conditional upon the Palestinian side's abiding by its obligations. They included: zero tolerance for terror and violence and the implementation of a work plan to ensure the systematic and effective combat of terrorist organizations and their infrastructures; the criminalization of unlicensed weapons, and their collection and appropriate handling; a reduction in the numbers of Palestinian police; the annulment of the Palestinian National Covenant by the convening of the PNC, as well as the representatives of other Palestinian organizations; and an end to incitement to violence in the Palestinian media, to be monitored by a United States-Israel-Palestinian committee.

Israel said that the Memorandum had to be utilized to reinvigorate the peace process. To that end, it anticipated the reconvening of bilateral negotiations between Israel and Syria and Israel and Lebanon; the strengthening of "people-to-people" programmes in order to engender grassroots support for the peace process and encourage reconciliation; an end to the denigration of Israel in international forums; and the full reconvening of the multilateral track.

Israel expressed the hope that, following the Memorandum, the General Assembly would not put forth resolutions that prejudged the outcome of the final status negotiations, including the issue of statehood. Israel also expressed the view that outdated resolutions re-adopted by the Assembly year after year, which no longer reflected current realities and achievements, should be finally removed from the annual agenda. In that context, the Israeli Foreign Minister stated that Israel's exclusion from any regional grouping in the UN system had deprived it of its right to be a full participant in all UN bodies. As Israel was prevented from joining its natural regional group in Asia, owing to the objection of certain Member States, it was seeking a way of gaining membership, at least temporarily, in another group.

On 6 November [A/53/646-S/1998/1044], Israel notified the Secretary-General that on that day a car laden with explosives detonated on Jaffa Street in downtown Jerusalem. Two individuals, apparently the terrorists, were killed in the blast, and about two dozen passersby were injured. The attack followed in the wake of other Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israel, which were perpetrated by individuals who came from territories under the control of the PA, asserted Israel. Under the Wye River Memorandum, the Palestinian side had pledged to do everything in its power to prevent such acts. The ongoing implementation of the Memorandum was conditional upon Palestinian fulfilment of their agreed-upon security responsibilities.

By a 13 November letter [A/53/671-S/1998/1075], the Permanent Observer of Palestine informed the Secretary-General that Israel had decided to invite tenders for the construction of housing units in a new settlement to be established in Jebel Abu Ghneim in the West Bank to the south of occupied East Jerusalem. Israel had also decided to pave 13 new so-called bypass roads in the West Bank to service the Jewish settlements, which would require additional confiscation of land. Those decisions violated, among other agreements, the Wye River Memorandum. The Permanent Observer called for the resumption of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly.

On 19 November [A/53/686-S/1998/1101), Israel informed the Secretary-General that the use of anti-Semitism had not stopped in official Palestinian media since the Wye River Memorandum. In addition, the PLO leadership had violated the fundamental principles of the Memorandum and the Oslo agreements by incitement to violence.

Special Committee on Israeli Practices. In its thirtieth report [A/53/661], the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories (Special Committee on Israeli Practices) stated that, according to information received by it, 194 Jewish settlements had been established in occupied Palestinian territory, 67 of which had been expanded or built since the signature of the Oslo agreements. The Special Committee was told that the new settlements were built and the existing ones expanded not only for social but also for political and strategic purposes, believed to be aimed at isolating Palestinian towns and villages. The construction of settlements had given rise to the displacement of the population inhabiting the area, and it had resulted in acts of violence between Palestinians and Israeli settlers. In addition, Israeli authorities had allowed the establishment of armed settler militia's to patrol the areas around settlements and bypass roads.

The Special Committee welcomed the resumption of dialogue in the peace process through the signing of the Wye River Memorandum. Nevertheless, in a later report [A/54/325], it noted that Israeli settlement activity accelerated markedly after signature of the Memorandum.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 3 December [meeting 78], the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Fourth (Special Political and Decolonization) Committee [A/53/598], adopted resolution 53/55 by recorded vote (150-3-2) [agenda item 84].

Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan

The General Assembly,

Guided by the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and affirming the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force,

Recalling its relevant resolutions, including those adopted at its tenth emergency special session, as well as relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 242(1967) of 22 November 1967, 446(1979) of 22 March 1979, 465(1980) of 1 March 1980 and 497(1981) of 17 December 1981,

Reaffirming the applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and to the occupied Syrian Golan,

Aware of the Middle East peace process started at Madrid and the agreements reached between the parties, in particular the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements of 13 September 1993 and the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip of 28 September 1995,

Expressing grave concern about the decision of the Government of Israel to resume settlement activities, including the construction of the new settlement in Jebel Abu Ghneim, in violation of international humanitarian law, relevant United Nations resolutions and the agreements reached between the parties,

Gravely concerned in particular about the dangerous situation resulting from actions taken by the illegal armed Israeli settlers in the occupied territory, as illustrated by the massacre of Palestinian worshippers by an illegal Israeli settler in Al-Khalil on 25 February 1994,

1. Reaffirms that Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan are illegal and an obstacle to peace and economic and social development;

2. Calls upon Israel to accept the dejure applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and to the occupied Syrian Golan and to abide scrupulously by the provisions of the Convention, in particular article 49;

3. Demands complete cessation of the construction of the new settlement in Jebel Abu Ghneim and of all Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan;

4. Stresses the need for full implementation of Security Council resolution 904(1994) of 18 March 1994, in which, among other things, the Council called upon Israel, the occupying Power, to continue to take and implement measures, including, inter alia, confiscation of arms, with the aim of preventing illegal acts of violence by Israeli settlers, and called for measures to be taken to guarantee the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilians in the occupied territory;

5. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-fourth session on the implementation of the present resolution.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 53/55:

In favour: Albania, Algeria, Andorra. Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Cote d’lvoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Surname, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, Micronesia, United States.

Abstaining: Marshall Islands, Swaziland.

Communication (December). On 22 December [A/53/772-S/1998/1222], the United Arab Emirates transmitted to the Secretary-General the text of the final communique and Abu Dhabi declaration adopted at the nineteenth session of the Supreme Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Abu Dhabi, 7-9 December), which the Secretary-General had attended. With regard to developments in the Middle East peace process, the Supreme Council welcomed the Wye River Memorandum and called on Israel to honour its obligation to implement it.

The Council also expressed condemnation of the settlement policy pursued by Israel in the occupied Arab territories and of Israel's decision to expand Jerusalem's geographical boundaries, and demanded an end to such activities.

The Supreme Council urged the United States, the Russian Federation and the EU to continue their efforts to put the peace process back on track and to insist on the need for negotiations to be resumed on the Syrian track from the point at which they broke off, as well as on the Lebanese track.

Jerusalem

The issue of Jerusalem continued to be a focal point of concern for the United Nations in 1998. East Jerusalem, where most of the city's Arab inhabitants lived, was one of the most sensitive issues in the Middle East peace process, and Israel's June decision to extend Jerusalem's municipal boundaries, thereby creating a greater Jewish majority in the city, was a contributing factor in the resumption of the General Assembly's tenth emergency special session (see above).

Communication. By a 3 March letter [A/52/812-S/1998/188] to the Secretary-General, the Syrian Arab Republic, in its capacity as Chairman of the Group of Arab States for the month, transmitted a note verbale stating that Israel was holding several events in Jerusalem as part of its fiftieth anniversary celebrations under the pretext of Jerusalem being the capital of Israel. Those events, it said, constituted a violation of a number of Security Council resolutions and were aimed at predetermining the status of the city.

Special Committee on Israeli Practices. In its annual report [A/53/661], the Special Committee on Israeli Practices described restrictions Imposed by the Israeli authorities on Jerusalem's Palestinian population and Israeli violation of their human rights.

The confiscation of Palestinian-owned land in the heart of the Old City exclusively inhabited by Arabs greatly contributed to the housing shortage in East Jerusalem. Since the occupation of Jerusalem in 1967, 34 per cent of East Jerusalem had been completely annexed while 52 per cent had been designated as a "green zone", where building was not allowed. However, that designation had on occasion been removed to allow for building by Jewish inhabitants. The demolition of houses in Jerusalem had intensified, with more than 150 Arab-owned houses demolished in 1997. According to testimony received by the Special Committee, the confiscation of Arab-owned houses in the Old City was done through falsified documents, which had been proved as such in Israeli courts. Only 5 per cent of the cases filed with courts by legal Arab house owners had been successful since 1967. The situation was compounded by the fact that members of the Palestinian Bar were not allowed to speak and appear in Israeli courts.

The situation relating to identity cards for the Arab inhabitants of Jerusalem was particularly serious. The municipal boundaries of Jerusalem were being redrawn by the Israeli authorities to exclude neighbourhoods inhabited by Arabs, which entailed automatic loss of a Jerusalem identity card and residency rights, thus further reducing the number of Palestinians in the city. It was estimated that the redrawing of the boundaries had already placed some 60,000 to 80,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites outside the city limits. In addition, Palestinian inhabitants risked losing their identity cards if they lived outside Jerusalem for five years, while the residence permits of some Arab Jerusalemites had been withdrawn after only one year of absence. Those measures were in keeping with the policy of the Israeli authorities to maintain a Jewish majority in the city.

The Special Committee was told that Israel was trying to suppress the national identity of Palestinians in Jerusalem through education and a system of administrative and legal changes. An example of an administrative attempt to create new territorial and demographic conditions was the 21 June decision of the Israeli authorities to extend Jerusalem's municipal boundaries, thereby creating a greater Jewish majority in the city by including settlements on occupied Palestinian territory in the West Bank (see above).

The situation in Jerusalem was also described by witnesses as moving from a territorial to a religious dispute, which was conducive to a consolidation of the Arab-Israeli conflict, with the Israeli Government providing the context through settlers. The Special Committee received information that Israeli policemen and border guards had, among other things, restricted the access of worshippers to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem on Fridays, while often denying access on ordinary days.

Over the preceding four or five years, many tribunals for Palestinians in Jerusalem had been closed and other techniques of pressure had been used with a view to breaking down institutions and causing a gradual movement of the Arab population out of the city. In addition, heavy taxation, the sealing of shops, the confiscation of goods on account of nonpayment of taxes and lack of trade had led to a paralysis of the social and economic system of East Jerusalem and, consequently, to the development of a general sense of hopelessness and despair among the Palestinian inhabitants of the city.

Transfer of diplomatic missions

Report of Secretary-General. On 3 November [A/53/550], the Secretary-General reported that 10 Member States had replied to his request for information on steps taken or envisaged to implement General Assembly resolution 52/53 [YUN 1997, p. 416], which addressed the transfer by some States of their diplomatic missions to Jerusalem in violation of Security Council resolution 478(1980) [YUN 1980, p. 426] and called on them to abide by the relevant UN resolutions.

Committee on Palestinian Rights. In its annual report [A/53/35], the Committee on Palestinian Rights said that it was particularly concerned about settlement activities in and around Jerusalem, where Palestinian residency rights were under increasing threat. In June, an extremist settler group took over four housing units and a plot of land in the Silwan neighbourhood. At the end of August, the Israeli authorities gave final approval for the construction of 132 units in the Ras al-Amud neighbourhood of the city. On Jebel Abu Ghneim, the infrastructure stage of construction of the "Har Homa" settlement had been completed and the Government had declared that building was soon to begin. Following Israel's decision to further expand the boundaries of Jerusalem and create an umbrella municipality that would include a number of settlements in the West Bank, the Security Council met on 30 June to consider the situation in the occupied Arab territories (see above) and the Chairman of the Committee had participated.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 2 December [meeting 76], the General Assembly adopted resolution 53/37 [draft: A/53/L.52 & Add.l] by recorded vote (149-1-7) [agenda-item 40].

Jerusalem

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolutions 36/120 E of 10 December 1981,37/123 C of 16 December 1982,38/180 C of 19 December 1983,39/146 C of 14 December 1984,40/168 C of 16 December 1985, 41/162 C of 4 December 1986, 42/209 D of 11 December 1987,43/54 C of 6 December 1988, 44/40 C of 4 December 1989, 45/83 C of 13 December 1990,46/82 B of 16 December 1991,47/63 B of 11 December 1992, 48/59 A of 14 December 1993, 49/87 A of 16 December 1994, 50/22 A of 4 December 1995,51/27 of 4 December 1996 and 52/53 of 9 December 1997, in which it determined that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which have altered or purported to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, in particular the so-called "Basic Law" on Jerusalem and the proclamation of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, were null and void and must be rescinded forthwith,

Recalling also Security Council resolution 478(1980) of 20 August 1980, in which the Council, inter alia, decided not to recognize the "Basic Law" and called upon those States which had established diplomatic missions at Jerusalem to withdraw such missions from the Holy City,

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General,

1. Determines that the decision of Israel to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem is illegal and therefore null and void and has no validity whatsoever;

2. Deplores the transfer by some States of their diplomatic missions to Jerusalem in violation of Security Council resolution 478(1980) and their refusal to comply with the provisions of that resolution;

3. Calls once more upon those States to abide by the provisions of the relevant United Nations resolutions, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations;

4. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-fourth session on the implementation of the present resolution.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 53/37:

In favour: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria. Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Conga Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirate, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel.

Abstaining: Costa Rica, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Swaziland, United States, Uzbekistan, Zambia.

Economic and social situation

A report [A/53/163-E/1998/79] on the economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of Palestinians in the occupied territory, including Jerusalem, and of the Arab population of the occupied Syrian Golan was prepared by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), in accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 1997/67 [YUN 1997, p. 417] and General Assembly resolution 52/207 [ibid., p. 418]; it covered the period from June 1997 to May 1998.

Reviewing Israel's settlements policy, the report noted that there had been an explosion in building construction throughout the occupied territories during the second half of 1997.

The unemployment situation among Palestinians in the occupied territories remained critical, in particular owing to border closures and increased reliance of Israel on expatriate workers from outside the region. The average number of Palestinian workers in Israel dropped from 120,000 on a monthly basis in 1992 to some 25,000 in 1996. In 1997, gross domestic product was estimated to have grown by 1.2 per cent, down from 5.5 per cent in 1996, according to the PA and the International Monetary Fund, while population growth was estimated at 4.5 per cent.

While incentives and investment continued to promote the Israeli civilian presence in the Syrian Golan, the Arab population faced further deterioration in their living conditions owing to Israeli settlements, restrictions on employment opportunities and education, as well as prohibitive levels of taxation.

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL ACTION

On 29 July [meeting 45], the Economic and Social Council, by decision 1998/239, took note of the ESCWA report. On the same date, the Council adopted resolution 1998/32 [draft: E/1998/L.26] by recorded vote (44-1) [agenda item 11].
Economic and social repercussions of the Israeli
occupation on the living conditions of the
Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian
territory, including Jerusalem, and the Arab
population in the occupied Syrian Golan

The Economic and Social Council,

Recalling General Assembly resolution 52/207 of 18 December 1997,

Recalling also its resolution 1997/67 of 25 July 1997,

Guided by the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, affirming the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, and recalling relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 242(1967) of 22 November 1967, 465(1980) of 1 March 1980 and 497(1981) of 17 December 1981,

Reaffirming the applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967,

Stressing the importance of the revival of the Middle East peace process on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242(1967), 338(1973) of 22 October 1973 and 425(1978) of 19 March 1978, and the principle of land for peace, as well as the full and timely implementation of the agreements reached between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people,

Reaffirming the principle of the permanent sovereignty of peoples under foreign occupation over their natural resources,

Convinced that the Israeli occupation impedes efforts to achieve sustainable development and a sound economic environment in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan,

Gravely concerned about the deterioration of economic and living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and of the Arab population of the occupied Syrian Golan, and the exploitation by Israel, the occupying Power, of their natural resources,

Aware of the important work being done by the United Nations and the specialized agencies in support of the economic and social development of the Palestinian people,

Conscious of the urgent need for the development of the economic and social infrastructure of the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and for the improvement of the living conditions of the Palestinian people as a key element of a lasting peace and stability,

1. Stresses the need to preserve the territorial integrity of all of the occupied Palestinian territory and to guarantee the freedom of movement of persons and goods in the territory, including the removal of restrictions on going into and from East Jerusalem, and the freedom of movement to and from the outside world;

2. Also stresses the vital importance of the operation and construction of the Gaza airport, the seaport in Gaza and safe passage to the economic and social development of the Palestinian people;

3. Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to cease its measures against the Palestinian people, in particular the closure of the occupied Palestinian territory, the enforced isolation of Palestinian towns, the destruction of homes and the isolation of Jerusalem;

4. Reaffirms the inalienable right of the Palestinian people and the Arab population of the occupied Syrian Golan to all their natural and economic resources, and calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, not to exploit, endanger or cause loss or depletion of these resources;

5. Also reaffirms that Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan, are illegal and an obstacle to economic and social development;

6. Stresses the importance of the work of the organizations and agencies of the United Nations, and of the United Nations Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories under the auspices of the Secretary-General;

7. Urges Member States to encourage private foreign investment in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, in infrastructure, job-creation projects and social development, in order to alleviate the hardship of the Palestinian people and improve living conditions;

8. Requests the Secretary-General to submit to the General Assembly at its fifty-fourth session, through the Economic and Social Council, a report on the implementation of the present resolution and to continue to include, in the report of the Special Coordinator, an update on the living conditions of the Palestinian people, in collaboration with relevant United Nations agencies;

9. Decides to include the item entitled "Economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan" in the agenda of its substantive session of 1999.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 1998/32:

In favour Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba. Czech Republic, Djibouti, El Salvador, Finland, France, Germany, Guyana, Iceland, India, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Latvia, Lebanon, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, New Zealand, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom, Viet Nam,

Against: United States.

The United States, speaking before the vote, said that it would continue to oppose all resolutions that stated or implied Arab or Palestinian sovereignty over Jerusalem and territories that were the subject of direct negotiations.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 15 December [meeting 91], the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Second (Economic and Financial) Committee [A/53/612], adopted resolution 53/196 by recorded vote (144-2-12) [agenda item 97].
Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people
in the occupied Palestinian territory, including
Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the
occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolution 52/207 of 18 December 1997 and Economic and Social Council resolution 1998/32 of 29 July 1998,

Reaffirming the principle of the permanent sovereignty of peoples under foreign occupation over their natural resources,

Guided by the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, affirming the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, and recalling relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 242(1967) of 22 November 1967, 465(1980) of 1 March 1980 and 497(1981) of 17 December 1981,

Reaffirming the applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967,

Expressing its concern at the exploitation by Israel, the occupying Power, of the natural resources of the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967,

Aware of the additional, detrimental economic and social impact of the Israeli settlements on Palestinian and other Arab natural resources, especially the confiscation of land and die forced diversion of water resources,

Expressing its concern at the difficulties facing the Middle East peace process which started at Madrid on 30 October 1991 and which is based on Security Council resolutions 242(1967), 338(1973) of 22 October 1973 and 425(1978) of 19 March 1978 and the principle of land for peace,

1. Takes note of the report transmitted by the Secretary-General;

2. Reaffirms the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the population of the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources, including land and water;

3. Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, not to exploit, to cause loss or depletion of or to endanger the natural resources in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan;

4. Recognizes the right of the Palestinian people to claim restitution as a result of any exploitation, loss or depletion of, or danger to, their natural resources, and expresses the hope that this issue will be dealt with in the framework of the final status negotiation between the Palestinian and Israeli sides;

5. Requests the Secretary-General to report to it at its fifty-fourth session on the implementation of the present resolution, and decides to include in the agenda of its fifty-fourth session the item entitled "Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources".

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 53/196:

In favour: Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Cote d’lvoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstaining: Bahamas, Barbados, Cameroon, El Salvador, Fiji, Georgia, Grenada, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Paraguay, Swaziland, Uzbekistan.

Other aspects

Special Committee on Israeli Practices. On 11 November, the three-member Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, established in 1968 [YUN 1968, p. 556], reported for the thirtieth time to the General Assembly on events in the territories it considered to be occupied the Golan Heights, the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

In addition to that annual report [A/53/661], the Special Committee, at the request of the Assembly, submitted two periodic reports in 1998, one in June [A/53/136], covering the period from 30 August to 31 December 1997, and the other in November [A/53/136/Add.l], covering the period from 1 January to 31 May 1998. The three reports contained information obtained from the Arab and Israeli press; testimony from persons from the occupied territories given at hearings held in Amman, Jordan, Cairo, Egypt, and Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic; and communications and reports from Governments, organizations and individuals. The Committee had benefited from the cooperation of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Palestinian representatives, UN offices in the field and UN information centres. As in the past, the Committee received no response from Israel to its requests for cooperation and was unable to obtain access to the occupied territories, which had been the case since 1968.

The Special Committee observed that the Israeli authorities had put in place a comprehensive and elaborate system of laws and regulations and administrative measures which affected all aspects of the lives of the Palestinian and Syrian peoples in the occupied territories. They were designed to meet the policy objectives of the Israeli Government and to enhance its control over the territories and their population.

The evidence received by the Committee showed that restrictions with respect to land, housing and water severely affected the Palestinians' quality of life in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. The expropriation of Palestinian-owned land continued during the period under review. The land confiscated (more than 74 per cent of the land in the West Bank and some 40 per cent of land in the Gaza Strip) was used for the building of new Israeli settlements, the expansion of existing ones, for stone quarries and for the construction of bypass roads, which were used only by settlers and linked settlements to each other while bypassing towns and villages inhabited by Palestinians.

Israeli officials had taken various kinds of actions regarding housing. According to witnesses, Israel had made maps that did not allow for more building or expansion of Palestinian housing in so-called "green areas", on paths leading to settlements or near bypass roads. At the same time, the Israeli human rights organization Betzelem reported that the rate of house demolition had risen 75 per cent over the past three years and that 1.16 houses were demolished every day in the occupied territories.

Israel continued to control the principal water sources supplying Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It was estimated that the 3,000 to 4,000 settlers living in Gaza used 75 per cent of the available groundwater while the approximately 1 million Palestinians used less than 25 per cent. For the past five years, the majority of Palestinians' homes had often been without water in the summer.

Restrictions relating to the freedom of movement in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem were administered by way of passports, identity cards, travel permits and closures. The Special Committee was informed that there had been fewer closures of the occupied territories which could be described as "dramatic" but that, in general, the Palestinian population did not feel that any significant improvements had taken place. The Gaza Strip, which was described by witnesses as an open prison, was divided into three main areas northern, central and southern despite the fact that the peace accords had stipulated that there should be freedom of movement for Palestinians in Gaza. During absolute closures, Gaza was completely isolated from Israel, the West Bank and Egypt. In addition, closures had adverse economic effects in the West Bank on farmers who were denied access to their fields for hours or days at a time.

The implementation of restrictions took place in the following ways: delays and difficulties in granting authorization; checkpoints; interrogation procedures; administrative detention and conditions of detention; imprisonment and conditions of imprisonment; the use of force; the proposed law absolving persons of liability to compensate; aspects of the administration of justice, including military courts; and the lack of access to legal representation and intelligence files. The policy pursued by the Israeli authorities that limited the number of workers from the occupied territories who were allowed to work in Israel was seen as one of the principal factors for the bad economic and social situation in those areas, in particular the Gaza Strip. According to Palestinian sources, the unemployment rate was 63 per cent in Gaza and 46 per cent in the West Bank, while the poverty rate was 36 per cent and 10.5 per cent, respectively. The Special Committee was told by witnesses that there were no employment opportunities in Gaza. The borders were closed and all goods going in and out of the Strip had to transit through Israel. Some families were unable to send children to school as they could not afford clothes for them and some inhabitants could not afford even the cheapest medical treatment. The Committee was alerted also to the emergence of malnourishment of children in the Gaza Strip, which was said never to have occurred before.


Three decades of Israeli occupation and the prevailing disastrous economic situation had seriously affected the children of the occupied Palestinian territories. More than 50 per cent of the Palestinian population was under 15 years of age. During 1997 and the first half of 1998, 17 children were killed by the Israeli army and settlers, while others (some 425 in 1997) were injured by land-mines and unexploded ordnance, tear gas, rubber-coated and live bullets, stabbing and beatings by soldiers and settlers. Children between the ages of 14 and 16 years had been placed in administrative detention as political prisoners where they had been subjected to the same treatment as adult prisoners. Soldiers and settlers had carried out 35 raids on schools, especially in the Hebron area.

In the Gaza Strip, 49 per cent of the inhabitants were below 18 years of age. Approximately 21 per cent of Palestinian children in Gaza suffered from anxiety disorders resulting from the unemployment of parents and overcrowding in refugee camps. Child labour in the 12 to 16 year age group had gone from 22 to 44 per cent since 1995 due to the serious economic situation. More than 15 per cent of children in the Gaza Strip were underweight for their age, while 25 per cent suffered from malnutrition.

The Special Committee also visited the Syrian Arab Republic and reported on the Israeli occupied Syrian Golan Heights (for details see below, under "Peace-keeping operations").

The Special Committee reaffirmed the recommendations made in its reports of past years and called on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in consultation with the Secretary-General, to establish a system of continuous communication with the Israeli authorities with a view to improving the difficult circumstances under which the Palestinian and Syrian peoples of the occupied territories lived. In a later report [A/54/73], the Committee presented updated information on the human rights situation in the occupied territories at the end of 1998, providing details on restrictions relating to land, housing and water, as well as those affecting the movement of Palestinians within and between the occupied territories; the manner of implementation of restrictions and their economic, social and cultural effects on the Palestinian population. Also included was information on the occupied Syrian Golan.

Report of Secretary-General. On 18 August [A/53/264], the Secretary-General informed the Assembly that Israel had not replied to his May request for information on steps taken or envisaged to implement Assembly resolution 52/67 [YUN 1997, p. 422] demanding that Israel, among other things, cease all practices and actions which violated the human rights of the Palestinian people and accelerate the release of all remaining Palestinians arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 3 December [meeting 78], following consideration of the Special Committee's annual and periodic reports and four reports of the Secretary-General on specific aspects of the situation in the occupied territories [A/53/259, A/53/260, A/53/264, A/53/660], the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Fourth Committee [A/53/598], adopted resolution 53/56 by recorded vote (151-2-4) [agenda item 84].
Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the
Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian
territory, including Jerusalem

The General Assembly,

Recalling its relevant resolutions, including those adopted at its tenth emergency special session, and the resolutions of the Commission on Human Rights,

Bearing in mind the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, the most recent of which are resolutions 904(1994) of 18 March 1994 and 1073(1996) of 28 September 1996,

Having considered the reports of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories and the reports of the Secretary-General,

Aware of the responsibility of the international community to promote human rights and ensure respect for international law,

Reaffirming the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force,

Reaffirming also the applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967,

Recalling the signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements by the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington, B.C., on 13 September 1993, as well as the subsequent implementation agreements, including the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip signed in Washington, D.C., on 28 September 1995,

Noting the withdrawal of the Israeli army, which took place in the Gaza Strip and the Jericho area in accordance with the agreements reached between the parties, and the initiation of the Palestinian Authority in those areas,

Noting also the redeployment of the Israeli army from six cities in the West Bank,

Concerned about the continuing violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people by Israel, the occupying Power, especially the use of collective punishment, closure of areas, annexation and establishment of settlements and the continuing actions by it designed to change the legal status, geographical nature and demographic composition of the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem,

Expressing its deep concern in particular about the closure by the Israeli authorities of the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, which prevents the freedom of movement of persons and goods and is the cause of great economic and social hardship, in violation of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, and the agreements reached between the two sides,

Convinced of the positive impact of a temporary international or foreign presence in the occupied Palestinian territory for the safety and protection of the Palestinian people,

Expressing its appreciation to the countries that participated in the Temporary International Presence in Hebron for their positive contribution,

Convinced of the need for the full implementation of Security Council resolutions 904(1994) and 1073 (1996),

1. Determines that all measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, in violation of the relevant provisions of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, and contrary to the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, are illegal and have no validity and that such measures should cease immediately;

2. Demands that Israel, the occupying Power, cease all practices and actions which violate the human rights of the Palestinian people;

3. Stresses the need to preserve the territorial integrity of all of the occupied Palestinian territory and to guarantee the freedom of movement of persons and goods within the Palestinian territory, including the removal of restrictions on movement into and from East Jerusalem, and the freedom of movement to and from the outside world;

4. Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to accelerate the release of all remaining Palestinians arbitrarily detained or imprisoned, in line with agreements reached;

5. Calls for complete respect by Israel, the occupying Power, of all fundamental freedoms of the Palestinian people, pending the extension of the Self-Government arrangements to the rest of the occupied territory;

6. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-fourth session on the implementation of the present resolution.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 53/56:

In favour: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Cote d’lvoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstaining: Cameroon, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Zambia.

By resolution 53/136, the Assembly reaffirmed the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, without excluding the option of a State, and urged all States, as well as UN specialized agencies and organizations, to continue to support the Palestinian people in their quest for self-determination (see PART TWO, Chapter II).

Work of Special Committee

In an August report [A/53/259], the Secretary-General stated that all necessary facilities had been provided to the Special Committee on Israeli Practices, as requested in General Assembly resolution 52/64 [YUN 1997, p. 423]. Arrangements had been made for it to meet in March, July and September, and a field mission was carried out to Egypt, Jordan and the Syrian Arab Republic in July. Two periodic reports [A/53/136 & Add.l] and the thirtieth annual report of the Special Committee [A/53/661] had been circulated to Member States. The Department of Public Information continued to provide press coverage of Special Committee meetings and to disseminate information materials on its activities (see below).

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 3 December [meeting 78], the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Fourth Committee [A/53/598], adopted resolution 53/53 by recorded vote (86-2-67) [agenda item 84].
Work of the Special Committee to Investigate
Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights
of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs
of the Occupied Territories

The General Assembly,

Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

Guided also by the principles of international humanitarian law, in particular the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, as well as international standards of Human Rights, in particular the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenants on Human Rights,

Recalling its relevant resolutions, including resolution 2443(XXIII) of 19 December 1968, and relevant resolutions of the Commission on Human Rights,

Recalling also relevant resolutions of the Security Council,

Aware of the lasting impact of the uprising (intifada) of the Palestinian people,

Convinced that occupation itself represents a primary violation of human rights,

Having considered the reports of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories and the relevant reports of the Secretary-General,

Recalling the signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements by the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington, D.C., on 13 September 1993, as well as the subsequent implementation agreements, including the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip signed in Washington, D.C., on 28 September 1995,

Expressing the hope that, with the progress of the peace process, the Israeli occupation will be brought to an end and therefore violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people will cease,

1. Commends the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories for its efforts in performing the tasks assigned to it by the General Assembly and for its impartiality;

2. Demands that Israel cooperate with the Special Committee in implementing its mandate;

3. Deplores those policies and practices of Israel which violate the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories, as reflected in the reports of the Special Committee covering the reporting period;

4. Expresses concern about the deterioration of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, as a result of Israeli practices and measures and the difficulties confronting the Middle East peace process;

5. Requests the Special Committee, pending complete termination of the Israeli occupation, to continue to investigate Israeli policies and practices in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, especially Israeli lack of compliance with the provisions of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, and to consult, as appropriate, with the International Committee of the Red Cross according to its regulations in order to ensure that the welfare and human rights of the peoples of the occupied territories are safeguarded and to report to the Secretary-General as soon as possible and whenever the need arises thereafter;

6. Also requests the Special Committee to submit regularly to the Secretary-General periodic reports on the current situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem;

7. Further requests the Special Committee to continue to investigate the treatment of prisoners in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967;

8. Requests the Secretary-General:

(a) To provide the Special Committee with all necessary facilities, including those required for its visits to the occupied territories, so that it may investigate the Israeli policies and practices referred to in the present resolution;

(b) To continue to make available such additional staff as may be necessary to assist the Special Committee in the performance of its tasks;

(c) To circulate regularly to Member States the periodic reports mentioned in paragraph 6 above;

(d) To ensure the widest circulation of the reports of the Special Committee and of information regarding its activities and findings, by all means available, through the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat and, where necessary, to reprint those reports of the Special Committee that are no longer available;

(e) To report to the General Assembly at its fifty-fourth session on the tasks entrusted to him in the present resolution;

9. Decides to include in the provisional agenda of its fifty-fourth session the item entitled "Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories".

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 53/53:

In favour: Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Cote d'lvoire, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Qatar, Saint Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstaining: Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Monaco, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Samoa, San Marina Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Zambia.

Fourth Geneva Convention

At its tenth emergency special session (see above), the General Assembly, in resolution ES-10/5, recommended that a conference be convened by the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention on measures to enforce the Convention in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and to ensure respect for the Convention. That conference had yet to be convened.

In November [A/53/660], the Secretary-General informed the Assembly that Israel had not replied to his May request for information on steps taken or envisaged to implement Assembly resolution 52/65 [YUN 1997, p. 424] demanding that Israel accept the dejure applicability of the Convention in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and that it comply scrupulously with its provisions. Also in May, the Secretary-General noted, he had drawn the attention of all States parties to paragraph 3 of resolution 52/65 calling on them to exert all efforts to ensure respect by Israel for the Convention's provisions.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 3 December [meeting 78], the General Assembly, on die recommendation of the Fourth Committee [A/53/598], adopted resolution 53/54 by recorded vote (155-2-2) [agenda item 84].
Applicability of the Geneva Convention relative
to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time
of War, of 12 August 1949, to the occupied
Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem,
and the other occupied Arab territories

The General Assembly,

Recalling its relevant resolutions,

Bearing in mind the relevant resolutions of the Security Council,

Having considered the reports of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories and the relevant reports of the Secretary-General,

Considering that the promotion of respect for the obligations arising from the Charter of the United Nations and other instruments and rules of international law is among the basic purposes and principles of the United Nations,

Noting the convening of the meeting of experts of the high contracting parties to the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, at Geneva, from 27 to 29 October 1998, at the initiative of the Government of Switzerland in its capacity as the depositary of the Convention, concerning general problems of application of the Convention in general and, in particular, in occupied territories,

Stressing that Israel, the occupying Power, should comply strictly with its obligations under international law,

1. Reaffirms that the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, is applicable to the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967;

2. Demands that Israel accept the dejure applicability of the Convention in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, and that it comply scrupulously with the provisions of the Convention;

3. Calls upon all States parties to the Convention, in accordance with article 1 common to the four Geneva Conventions, to exert all efforts in order to ensure respect for its provisions by Israel, the occupying Power, in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967;

4. Reiterates the need for speedy implementation of the recommendation contained in its resolutions ES-10/3 of 15 July 1997, ES-10/4 of 13 November 1997 and ES-10/5 of 17 March 1998 with regard to the convening of a conference of the high contracting parties to the Convention on measures to enforce the Convention in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and to ensure its respect in accordance with common article 1;

5. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-fourth session on the implementation of the present resolution.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 53/54:

In favour: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Cote d’lvoire. Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Surinam, Swaziland, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstaining: Marshall Islands, Micronesia.

Palestinian women

In a January report [E/CN.6/l998/2/Add.2] to the Commission on the Status of Women, the Secretary-General, in response to Economic and Social Council resolution 1997/16 [YUN 1997, p. 426], reviewed the situation of Palestinian women and described assistance provided by UN organizations in 1997. He stated that the situation of Palestinian women living in the Palestinian self-rule areas and in the occupied territories had not improved and that daily life in those areas continued to be affected by the imposition of security-related measures by the Israeli authorities, which had a detrimental impact on the economic and social situation. As in the past, Palestinian women were experiencing the gender-specific impact of those measures, which was reinforced by existing inequalities in society between women and men.

The deterioration of the economic situation, aggravated by Israel's policy of border closure, had a negative impact on women. Economic pressure was also contributing to the erosion of the social fabric, resulting in delayed marriages and an increase in the divorce rate.

The closure affected the health conditions of the Palestinian population, especially in Gaza. Patients needing specialized treatment available only in Israeli hospitals frequently did not receive entry permits. Women's reproductive health was of particular concern. At least seven pregnant women were believed to have died for want of ready access to better-equipped medical facilities.

In the Palestinian self-rule areas and occupied territories, progress had been reported with regard to the elimination of some discriminatory laws and practices. The draft Palestinian constitution emphasized the principle of equality between men and women. Women could obtain a passport without written consent of so-called guardians, widows could obtain passports for their children without the permission of a brother or father, women could take driving lessons without a male chaperone and married students were no longer dismissed from school. The action plan to implement the Beijing Platform for Action [YUN 1995, p. 1170], entitled "Strategies for a Post-Beijing Palestinian Governmental Plan of Action Through the Year 2000", was prepared under the leadership of an Inter-governmental Coordinating Committee, which included representatives of the various ministries, the Directorate for Women's Development and a committee of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), jointly with the EU, launched a "Post-Beijing Follow-up Operation" in the occupied territories and Palestinian self-rule areas, as well as in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic and Yemen.

Information provided by the UN system showed that an increasing number of agencies and programmes paid attention to gender aspects in development and continued to provide support to Palestinian women, in particular in the field of conference follow-up, income generation, health, education and training.

UNIFEM was supporting the effective implementation of the Palestinian action plan, its translation into national projects, and the establishment of institutional and human capacities within women's committees and NGOs at the national and regional levels. Furthermore, UNIFEM launched a women in development facilitation initiative to better coordinate and exchange information on projects for women as carried out by donors, the PA and NGOs. It included the establishment of a database of institutions and workshops on the use of the Internet. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was providing support to established women's departments in a number of PA ministries.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), despite a serious funding crisis, continued to assist disadvantaged refugees, especially women, to raise their economic status through skills training, production units, group savings and credit provision. Women were particularly interested in utilizing group savings and loan schemes for home improvement and income generation. Other organizations within the UN system that provided assistance to Palestinian women included the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), ESCWA, the International Trade Centre (WTC), the World Bank, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Food Programme (WFP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Within the UN Secretariat, the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Department of Political Affairs organized a round table on promoting equality and the full participation of women in society as part of the UN Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People (Amman, 20-22 May 1997).

The Secretary-General observed that, in the follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women [YUN 1995, p. 1169], the international community, including the United Nations, had provided assistance at various levels to implement the recommendations contained in the Platform for Action, to prepare a Palestinian strategy of action, to collect data disaggregated by sex, and to establish women-specific projects, especially in the field of income generation. Further efforts and assistance were needed to implement the policies on main-streaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the UN system.

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL ACTION

On 28 July [meeting 44], the Economic and Social Council, on the recommendation of the Commission on the Status of Women [E/1998/27 & Corr.I], adopted resolution 1998/10 by recorded vote (40-1-2) [agenda item 14 (a)].

Palestinian women

The Economic and Social Council,

Having considered with appreciation the report of the Secretary-General concerning the situation of Palestinian women and assistance provided by organizations of the United Nations system,

Recalling the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women, in particular paragraph 260 concerning Palestinian women and children, and the Platform for Action adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women,

Recalling also its resolution 1997/16 of 21 July 1997 and other relevant United Nations resolutions,

Recalling further the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women as it concerns the protection of civilian populations,

Concerned about the stalemate facing the Middle East peace process, including the lack of implementation of the agreements reached in Washington, D.C., between the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Government of Israel, and the deterioration of the socio-economic conditions of the Palestinian people as a result of the Israeli positions and measures,

Concerned also about the continuing difficult situation of Palestinian women in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and about the severe consequences of continuous illegal Israeli settlement activities, as well as the harsh economic conditions and other consequences for the situation of Palestinian women and their families resulting from the frequent closures and isolation of the occupied territory,

1. Stresses its support for the Middle East peace process and the need for speedy and full implementation of the agreements already reached between the parties;

2. Reaffirms that the Israeli occupation remains a major obstacle for Palestinian women with regard to their advancement, self-reliance and integration into the development planning of their society;

3. Demands that Israel, the occupying Power, comply fully with the provisions and principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Regulations annexed to The Hague Convention IV of 18 October 1907 and the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, in order to protect the rights of Palestinian women and their families;

4. Calls upon Israel to facilitate the return of all refugees and displaced Palestinian women and children to their homes and properties in the occupied Palestinian territory, in compliance with relevant United Nations resolutions;

5. Urges Member States, financial organizations of the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations and other relevant institutions to intensify their efforts to provide financial and technical assistance to Palestinian women for the creation of projects re spending to their needs, especially during the transitional period;

6. Requests the Commission on the Status of Women to continue to monitor and take action with regard to the implementation of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women, in particular paragraph 260 concerning Palestinian women and children, and the Platform for Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women;

7. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to review the situation and to assist Palestinian women by an available means and to submit to the Commission o the Status of Women at its forty-third session a report on the progress made in the implementation of the present resolution.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 1998/10:

In favour: Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Cuba, Czech Republic, Djibouti, El Salvador, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Guyana, India, Italy, Japan, Lesotho, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Oman, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom, Viet Nam.

Against: United States.

Abstaining: Colombia, Iceland.

Speaking before the vote, the United States said that parts of the draft resolution were unacceptable because they addressed the status of issues that the parties had agreed would be the subject of direct negotiations in the Middle East peace process. Other language was one-sided, lacked objectivity and would not advance the status or well-being of women in society.

Issues related to Palestine

General aspects

The General Assembly continued to consider the question of Palestine in 1998. Having discussed the annual report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (Committee on Palestinian Rights) [A/53/35], the Assembly adopted four resolutions, reaffirming, among other things, the necessity of achieving a peaceful settlement of the Palestine question the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict and stressing the need for the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinians, primarily the right to self-determination, for Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 and for resolving the problem of the Palestine refugees. The Assembly considered and adopted a draft resolution on the participation of Palestine in the work of the United Nations, conferring upon Palestine additional rights and privileges.

At the request of the Committee, the Assembly also adopted a resolution welcoming the celebration in Bethlehem in the year 2000 of the birth of Jesus Christ and the beginning of the third millennium.

In commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, celebrated annually on 29 November in accordance with Assembly resolution 32/40 B [YUN 1977, p. 304], the Committee, on 30 November, held a solemn meeting and other activities. Under the Committee's auspices, an exhibit entitled "Bethlehem 2000" was presented by the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine.

Report of Secretary-General. In a November report on the question of Palestine [A/53/652-S/1998/1050], the Secretary-General made observations on the Middle East peace process (see above, under "Peace process").

By a 31 August note verbale, the Secretary-General sought the positions of the Governments of Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic, as well as the PLO, regarding steps taken by them to implement the relevant provisions of resolution 52/52 [YUN 1997, p. 428]. As at 30 October, only the PLO had responded. The PLO stated that, since the adoption of the resolution, the deadlock in the peace process had continued, owing to Israel's policies and actions; no progress had been made in regard to the implementation of the agreements reached and the economic and living conditions of the Palestinians had deteriorated. The Israeli Government had continued its colonial settlement activities in the occupied territories in order to change the status and demographic composition of Jerusalem. The tunnel it had opened in the vicinity of Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem had not been closed, in flagrant violation of Security Council resolution 1073(1996) [YUN 1996, p. 384].

The Palestinian side welcomed the fact that the United Nations played an expanded role in the peace process and in the implementation of the 1993 Declaration of Principles [YUN 1993, p. 521], especially in providing economic, social and other assistance to the Palestinian people. It hoped that the Organization would contribute to the efforts being made to salvage the peace process and to bring it back on track, as the Security Council had done by responding to some serious events in the occupied Palestinian territory on more than one occasion.

For a peaceful settlement of the Palestine question to be achieved within the framework of the current peace process, it was necessary to respect the mutual recognition between the two sides and the basis on which the process was initiated, namely, the principle of the return of land for peace and the implementation of Council resolutions 242(1967) [YUN 1967, p. 257] and 338(1973) [YUN 1973, p. 213]. All actions violating those agreements, international law and relevant Council resolutions had to cease completely; the international community, especially the cosponsors of the peace process, had a great responsibility in that regard, the PLO stressed.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 2 December [meeting 76], the General Assembly adopted resolution 53/42 [draft: A/53/L.51 & Add. 1] by recorded vote (154-2-3) [agenda item 39].

Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine

The General Assembly,

Recalling its relevant resolutions, including resolutions, adopted at the tenth emergency special session,

Political and security questions

Recalling also the relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 242(1967) of 22 November 1967 and 338(1973) of 22 October 1973,

Aware that 1997 marked fifty years since the adoption of resolution 181(11) of 29 November 1947 and thirty years since the occupation of Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem,

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General submitted pursuant to the request made in its resolution 52/52 of 9 December 1997,

Convinced that achieving a final and peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, is imperative for the attainment of a comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East,

Aware that the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples is among the purposes and principles embodied in the Charter of the United Nations,

Affirming the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war,

Affirming also the illegality of the Israeli settlements in the territory occupied since 1967 and of Israeli actions aimed at changing the status of Jerusalem,

Affirming once again the right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders,

Recalling the mutual recognition between the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people, and the signing by the two parties of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements in Washington, D.C., on 13 September 1993, as well as the subsequent implementation agreements, including the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, signed in Washington, D.C., on 28 September 1995,

Recalling also the withdrawal of the Israeli army, which took place in the Gaza Strip and the Jericho area in 1995 in accordance with the agreements reached by the parties, and the initiation of the Palestinian Authority in those areas, as well as the beginning of the redeployment of the Israeli army in the rest of the West Bank in 1996,

Noting with satisfaction the successful holding of the first Palestinian general elections,

Noting with appreciation the work of the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories and its positive contribution,

Welcoming the convening of the Conference to Support Middle East Peace in Washington, D.C., on 1 October 1993, as well as all follow-up meetings and the international mechanisms established to provide assistance to the Palestinian people,

Concerned about the serious difficulties facing the Middle East peace process, and expressing the hope that the Wye River Memorandum, signed in Washington, D.C., on 23 October 1998, will be fully implemented towards full compliance with the existing agreements,

1. Reaffirms the necessity of achieving a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, in all its aspects;

2. Expresses its full support for the ongoing peace process which began in Madrid and the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements of 1993, as well as the subsequent implementation agreements, including the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip of 1995, and expresses the hope that the process will lead to the establishment of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East;

3. Stresses the necessity for commitment to the principle of land for peace and the implementation of Security Council resolutions 242(1967) and 338(1973), which form the basis of the Middle East peace process, and the need for the immediate and scrupulous implementation of the agreements reached between the parties, including the redeployment of the Israeli forces from the West Bank and the commencement of the negotiations on the final settlement;

4. Calls upon the concerned parties, the cosponsors of the peace process and other interested parties, as well as the entire international community to exert all the necessary efforts and initiatives to bring the peace process back on track and to ensure its continuity and success;

5. Stresses the need for:

(a) The realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, primarily the right to self-determination;

(b) The withdrawal of Israel from the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967;

6. Also stresses the need for resolving the problem of the Palestine refugees in conformity with its resolution 194(111) of 11 December 1948;

7. Urges Member States to expedite the provision of economic and technical assistance to the Palestinian people during this critical period;

8. Emphasizes the importance for the United Nations to play a more active and expanded role in the current peace process and in the implementation of the Declaration of Principles;

9. Requests the Secretary-General to continue his efforts with the parties concerned, and in consultation with the Security Council, for the promotion of peace in the region and to submit progress reports on developments in this matter.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 53/42:

In favour: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria, Burkina Faso. Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde. Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary. Iceland. India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique. Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstaining: Marshall Islands, Nicaragua, Uzbekistan.

Speaking before the vote, the United States said the text injected the Assembly into questions that were the subject of direct negotiations. The United States wanted to support that process rather than focus on issues that divided or polarized.

Israel stated that the draft resolution was an attempt to impose a particular solution that was in keeping with the interests of one party and against the interests of the other, in violation of the agreements already reached between the sides.

Speaking after the vote, the Syrian Arab Republic explained that its vote in favour did not mean that it either supported or opposed the 1993 Declaration of Principles referred to in the text. Syria stated that complete Israeli withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories and the establishment of a just and comprehensive peace, in accordance with the principles and mandate of the Madrid conference [YUN 1991, p. 221] and the principle of land for peace, was the only way to enable the people of the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized boundaries.

Participation of Palestine in UN work

In July, at the request of the Sudan, as Chairman of the Arab Group for June [A/52/953], the General Assembly considered a draft resolution on participation of Palestine in the work of the United Nations. By the draft, the Assembly would confer on Palestine additional rights and privileges. The proposal had already been debated in December 1997 [YUN 1997, p. 429] but was not put to the vote.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 7 July [meeting 89], the General Assembly adopted resolution 52/250 [draft: A/52/L.53/Rev.2 & Add.l] by recorded vote (124-4-10) [agenda item 36].

Participation of Palestine in the work of the United Nations

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolution 181(11) of 29 November 1947, in which, inter alia, it recommended the partition of Palestine into a Jewish State and an Arab State, with Jerusalem as a corpus separatum,

Recalling also its resolution 3237(XXIX) of 22 November 1947, by which it granted observer status to the Palestine Liberation Organization,

Recalling further its resolution 43/160 A of 9 December 1988, adopted under the item entitled "Observer status of national liberation movements recognized by the Organization of African Unity and/or by the League of Arab States", in which it decided that the Palestine Liberation Organization was entitled to have its communications issued and circulated as official documents of the United Nations,

Recalling its resolution 43/177 of 15 December 1988, in which it acknowledged the proclamation of the State of Palestine by the Palestine National Council on 15 November 1988 and decided that the designation "Palestine" should be used in place of the designation "Palestine Liberation Organization" in the United Nations system,

Recalling also its resolutions 49/12 A of 9 November 1994 and 49/12 B of 24 May 1995, through which, inter alia, arrangements for the special commemorative meeting of the General Assembly on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations, in addition to applying to all Member and observer States, were also applied to Palestine, in its capacity as observer, including in the organizing process of the list of speakers for the commemorative meeting,

Recalling further that Palestine enjoys full membership in the Group of Asian States and the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia,

Aware that Palestine is a full member of the League of Arab States, the Movement of Non-aligned Countries, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and the Group of 77 and China,

Aware also that general democratic Palestinian elections were held on 20 January 1996 and that the Palestinian Authority was established on part of the occupied Palestinian territory,

Desirous of contributing to the achievement of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, thus attaining a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East,

1. Decides to confer upon Palestine, in its capacity as observer, and as contained in the annex to the present resolution, additional rights and privileges of participation in the sessions and work of the General Assembly and the international conferences convened under the auspices of the Assembly or other organs of the United Nations, as well as in United Nations conferences;

2. Requests the Secretary-General to inform the General Assembly, within the current session, about the implementation of the modalities annexed to the present resolution.
ANNEX

The additional rights and privileges of participation of Palestine shall be effected through the following modalities, without prejudice to the existing rights and privileges:

1. The right to participate in the general debate of the General Assembly;

2. Without prejudice to the priority of Member States, Palestine shall have the right of inscription on the list of speakers under agenda items other than Palestinian and Middle East issues at any plenary meeting of the General Assembly, after the last Member State inscribed on the list of that meeting;

3. The right of reply;

4. The right to raise points of order related to the proceedings on Palestinian and Middle East issues, provided that the right to raise such a point of order shall not include the right to challenge the decision of the presiding officer;

5. The right to cosponsor draft resolutions and decisions on Palestinian and Middle East issues. Such draft resolutions and decisions shall be put to a vote only upon request from a Member State;

6. The right to make interventions, with a precursory explanation or the recall of relevant General Assembly resolutions being made only once by the President of the General Assembly at the start of each session of the Assembly;

7. Seating for Palestine shall be arranged immediately after nonmember States and before the other observers, and with the allocation of six seats in the General Assembly Hall;

8. Palestine shall not have the right to vote or to put forward candidates.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 52/250:

In favour: Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, United States.

Abstaining: Bulgaria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Honduras, Liberia, Malawi, Paraguay, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Zambia.

Before the vote, the United States stated that if the draft resolution was adopted, it would undermine efforts to get the peace process back on track and would hurt everyone's interests, including those it was most intended to help. Moreover, its adoption would also set a precedent. By overturning decades of Assembly practice and precedent governing the participation of nonmembers and observers, others who did not enjoy full member status in the United Nations could press their own claims for enhanced status.

According to Israel, the draft resolution misrepresented previous UN resolutions, attempted to affect the outcome of the permanent status negotiations over the West Bank and Gaza Strip, contradicted the bilateral basis of the Arab-Israeli peace process begun in Madrid in 1991 and violated the principles of the Oslo agreements.

Speaking after the vote, the Observer of Palestine expressed his gratitude to all those States that had sponsored the resolution since December 1997 and to those UN Members that supported it. He hoped that the United Nations would accept Palestine as a Member State in the near future.

Note of Secretary-General. In August [A/52/ 1002 & Corr.l], pursuant to resolution 52/250, the Secretary-General informed the Assembly about the implementation of the modalities contained in the resolution's annex.

Committee on Palestinian Rights

As mandated by General Assembly resolution 52/49 [YUN 1997, p. 433], the Committee on Palestinian Rights, established in 1975 by Assembly resolution 3376(XXX) [YUN 1975, p. 248], continued to review the situation relating to the Palestine question, reported on it and made suggestions to the Assembly or the Security Council. The Committee monitored the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and developments in the peace process.

In accordance with previous decisions to streamline its programme of meetings, and in the light of the need to redeploy funds towards other initiatives, the Committee decided not to hold the annual meeting of consultations with the coordinating committees of NGOs in 1998, and to review that decision in the context of its programme for 1999.

The Committee continued to follow the Palestine-related activities of inter-governmental bodies, such as the Organization of African Unity and the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, and, through its Chairman, participated in a number of high-level meetings of those bodies. Through its Bureau, the Committee made efforts to involve additional Member States in its work, in particular the members of the EU.

In cooperation with the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the League of Arab States, the Committee organized the Conference in Support of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (Brussels, Belgium, 24-25 February), The organizers of the Conference stated that the stalemate in the peace process was caused by setbacks and obstacles put in place by the Government of Israel and underlined the fact that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and Arab lands, including Jerusalem, had to be brought to an end without delay. They referred to Israeli violations of the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, its settlement policies, attempts at altering the demographic, historical and cultural character and status of Jerusalem and the imposition of an economic blockade on the Palestinian territory.

In its annual report to the Assembly [A/53/35], covering the period from 5 November 1997 to 4 November 1998, the Committee stated that the reluctance of the Israeli Government to abide by the existing agreements precluded the possibility of a constructive dialogue and the continuation of the peace process in accordance with the agreed timetable. Essential aspects of the agreements, such as further Israeli withdrawals from the West Bank, safe passage between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the Gaza airport and seaport, and the release of prisoners, remained unimplemented in the year under review. The signing of the Wye River Memorandum in October (see above) was viewed as an important breakthrough in the efforts to restart the peace process. Noting the intensification of settlement activities, the Committee reported that the settler population in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip grew by 3.3 per cent, to a total of 169,339 in the first six months of 1998, with 163,173 settlers in the West bank and 6,166 in the Gaza Strip. In addition, some 180,000 settlers were estimated to be living in the Jerusalem area. Since the beginning of the year, some 112 Palestinian homes had been demolished in the West Bank and 14 in East Jerusalem, resulting in the displacement of more than 440 Palestinians. As at August 1998, some 1,800 Palestinian homes were reportedly targeted for demolition and were being destroyed at a rate of about one a day.

To encourage settlement, prospective settlers were offered various incentives in the form of low-rate loans, favourable purchase prices and grants. In addition to the expansion of existing settlements, new ones had been or were being established. According to reports, they included, in June, a new settlement known as "Radar Betar", south of Bethlehem, as well as approval for the construction of 150 new housing units in "Kiryat Arba", east of Hebron; allocation by the Knesset Finance Committee of some $24 million for the construction of 400 new units in village settlements; and approval by the Ministry of Defence of the transfer of 150 mobile homes to three existing settlements, in response to a campaign by settlers against further Israeli redeployment in the West Bank. In late July, the Civil Administration approved the construction of a new neighbourhood of 200 units in "Kiryat Arba". Further housing units, including mobile homes, were added to a number of other settlements, in particular in the area of Hebron still under occupation, where clashes between settlers and Palestinians had generated increasing tension. It was reported in August that 5,235 new units were under construction throughout the occupied territory.

The presence of settlements exacerbated an already tense situation because of the provocative actions of extremist and armed settler groups, noted the Committee. On numerous occasions, settlers had moved illegally into Palestinian areas, forcefully occupying housing or beginning the construction of new housing under Israeli police protection. Violent confrontations with Palestinian civilians had often ensued. On 11 June, the Israeli army authorized the creation of civil defence militias that operated alongside Israeli police and security forces inside settlements in the West Bank.

Another issue of concern to the Committee was the continued imprisonment of Palestinians in Israel, with a total of 3,228 detainees as at August without counting those held under administrative detention or jailed in facilities run by the Israel Defence Forces. Information reviewed by the human rights treaty bodies indicated that the Israeli authorities had continued to use psychological and physical torture against Palestinian detainees. The Committee called on Israel to respect its obligations under human rights treaties and to release the prisoners in implementation of the bilateral agreements signed to date.

The Committee observed with concern that, during the year, the Palestinian economy continued to suffer, in particular owing to the prolonged closures of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the resulting fragmentation of the territory under the Authority, which restricted the movement of workers and goods and led to a decline in output, exports, investment and income. Economic conditions in the Gaza Strip were particularly precarious, with an unemployment rate of some 30 per cent. Overall, the gross national product per capita had declined by at least 20 per cent since 1993.

The Committee reported that water shortages in the occupied Palestinian territory were seriously harming Palestinian agriculture. Increasing industrial pollution, including groundwater pollution resulting from Israeli industrial activity in the occupied territory, had emerged as an issue for concern.

The Committee was encouraged by the international community's continued efforts to meet emergency needs and to promote the Palestinians' economic and social development. It welcomed the continued assistance rendered to the Palestinian people by the UN family of organizations and noted with appreciation the dedicated efforts of the UN Special Coordinator and of UNRWA, which provided much-needed services to refugees and families despite its difficult financial situation (see below). The Committee reiterated that the involvement of the United Nations in the peace process, both as the guardian of international legitimacy and in mobilizing and providing international assistance, was essential for the successful outcome of that process.

In making its recommendations, the Committee noted that in 1998 the dispossession of the Palestinian people had passed the half-century mark, and that 4 million Palestinians lived in refugee camps under precarious conditions while still yearning for the establishment of their own State. The Committee stressed that the continuation of that situation and the widespread suffering it entailed was unacceptable, particularly since agreements outlining the framework for a peaceful solution had already been reached by the parties. The policies and practices of occupation violated the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and statehood and made the achievement or real peace impossible. The Committee would continue to review and assess its programme in order to achieve maximum effectiveness in its activities, and to respond adequately to developments on the ground and in the peace process.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 2 December [meeting 76], the General Assembly adopted resolution 53/39 [draft: A/53/L.48 & Add.l] by recorded vote (110-2-48) [agenda item 39].

Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolutions 181 (II) of 29 November 1947, 194(111) of 11 December 1948, 3236(XXIX) of 22 November 1974, 3375(XXX) and 3376(XXX) of 10 November 1975, 31/20 of 24 November 1976,32/40 A of 2 December 1977, 33/28 A and B of 7 December 1978, 34/65 A of 29 November 1979 and 34/65 C of 12 December 1979, ES-7/2 of 29 July 1980, 35/169 A and C of 15 December 1980, 36/120 A and C of 10 December 1981. ES-7/4 of 28 April 1982,37/86 A of 10 December 1982. 38/58 A of 13 December 1983, 39/49 A of 11 December 1984,40/96 A of 12 December 1985,41/43 A of 2 December 1986, 42/66 A of 2 December 1987, 43/175 A of 15 December 1988,44/41-A of 6 December 1989, 45/67 A of 6 December 1990, 46/74 A of 11 December 1991, 47/64 A of 11 December 1992, 48/158 A of 20 December 1993, 49/62 A of 14 December 1994, 50/84 A of 15 December 1995, 51/23 of 4 December 1996 and 52/49 of 9 December 1997,

Having considered the report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People,

Recalling the signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, including its Annexes and Agreed Minutes, by the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington, D.C., on 13 September 1993, as well as the subsequent implementation agreements, in particular the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, signed in Washington, D.C., on 28 September 1995,

Reaffirming that the United Nations has a permanent responsibility with respect to the question of Palestine until the question is resolved in all its aspects in a satisfactory manner in accordance with international legitimacy,

1. Expresses its appreciation to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for its efforts in performing the tasks assigned to it by the General Assembly;

2. Considers that the Committee can continue to make a valuable and positive contribution to international efforts to promote the effective implementation of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements and to mobilize international support for and assistance to the Palestinian people during the transitional period;

3. Endorses the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee contained in chapter VII of its report;

4. Requests the Committee to continue to keep under review the situation relating to the question of Palestine and to report and make suggestions to the General Assembly or the Security Council, as appropriate;

5. Authorizes the Committee to continue to exert all efforts to promote the exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, to make such adjustments in its approved programme of work as it may consider appropriate and necessary in the light of developments, to give special emphasis to the need to mobilize support and assistance for the Palestinian people and to report thereon to the General Assembly at its fifty-fourth session and thereafter;

6. Requests the Committee to continue to extend its cooperation and support to Palestinian and other non-governmental organizations in order to mobilize international solidarity and support for the achievement by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights and for a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine, and to involve additional non-governmental organizations in its work;

7. Requests the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, established under General Assembly resolution 194(111), and other United Nations bodies associated with the question of Palestine to continue to cooperate fully with the Committee and to make available to it, at its request, the relevant information and documentation which they have at their disposal;

8. Requests the Secretary-General to circulate the report of the Committee to all the competent bodies of the United Nations, and urges them to take the necessary action, as appropriate;

9. Also requests the Secretary-General to continue to provide the Committee with all the necessary facilities for the performance of its tasks.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION S-3/39:

In favour: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Cote d'lvoire, Cyprus, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland. Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstaining: Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan.

The United States said that the draft resolution, as well as all of those introduced under the agenda item on the question of Palestine, promoted institutions whose activities and approach to Middle East peace were unbalanced and outdated and did nothing to support the process of negotiations under way. Instead, they drained away millions of dollars each year that could better serve economic development in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Israel stated that, since its inception, the Committee on Palestinian Rights had obstructed dialogue and understanding through its one-sided and distorted portrayal of the Arab-Israeli conflict in general and its Palestinian component in particular.

Austria, on behalf of the EU, welcomed the ongoing dialogue with the Committee on Palestinian Rights. The EU would continue that exchange of views with the particular aim of adapting the mandate and activities of the Committee to the spirit of the Madrid and Oslo accords.

Bethlehem 2000

By a 15 May letter [A/53/141] to the Secretary-General, members of the Bureau of the Committee on Palestinian Rights (Afghanistan, Cuba, Malta, Senegal) requested the inclusion of an item entitled "Bethlehem 2000" in the agenda of the fifty-third session of the General Assembly. The event would celebrate the two thousandth anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ and the beginning of a new millennium. The commemoration would begin at Christmas 1999 and conclude at Easter 2001. The Bureau members fully supported the PA decision to honour that legacy and noted that a High Committee for the Bethlehem 2000 project, headed by PA President Arafat, had been established.

In order to increase the engagement and participation of the international community, a Bethlehem 2000 Participants Conference was convened by the Bethlehem 2000 project, in association with the European Commission, UNDP, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Bank (Brussels, 11-12 May).

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 18 November [meeting 61], the General Assembly adopted resolution 53/27 [draft: A/53/L.37, orally revised, & Add.1] without vote [agenda item 157].

Bethlehem 2000

The General Assembly,

Recalling the fact that the Palestinian city of Bethlehem is the birthplace of Jesus Christ and one of the most historic and significant sites on earth,

Noting that the world will celebrate in Bethlehem, a city of peace, the onset of the new millennium in a global vision of hope for all peoples,

Stressing the monumental importance of the event for the Palestinian people, for the peoples of the region and for the international community as a whole, as it comprises significant religious, historical and cultural dimensions,

Aware of the Bethlehem 2000 project as a multifaceted undertaking for commemoration of the event, which will begin at Christmas, 1999, and conclude at Easter, 2001,

Aware also of the needed assistance with regard to the above-mentioned project, and expressing appreciation for the steps taken towards increasing the engagement and participation of the international community, including donor countries, and organizations of the United Nations system, in particular the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank, as well as the European Commission, religious institutions and others,

Expressing the need for immediate change in the situation on the ground in the vicinity of Bethlehem, especially with regard to ensuring freedom of movement, Stressing the need for ensuring free and unhindered access to the holy places in Bethlehem to the faithful of all religions and the citizens of all nationalities,

Expressing the hope for rapid progress in the Middle East peace process and the achievement of the final settlement between the Palestinian and Israeli sides within the agreed time, so that the millennium may be celebrated most appropriately in an atmosphere of peace and reconciliation,

1. Welcomes the impending arrival of this global, historic celebration in Bethlehem of the birth of Jesus Christ and the onset of the third millennium as a symbol of the shared hope for peace among all peoples of the world;

2. Expresses support for the Bethlehem 2000 project and commends the efforts undertaken by the Palestinian Authority in this regard;

3. Notes with appreciation the assistance given by the international community in support of the Bethlehem 2000 project, and calls for increased assistance and engagement by the international community as a whole, including private sector participation, to ensure the success of the Bethlehem 2000 project and the fruition of this monumental commemoration;

4. Requests the Secretary-General to mobilize the pertinent organizations and agencies of the United Nations system to increase their efforts to ensure the success of the Bethlehem 2000 project;

5. Decides to include in the provisional agenda of its fifty-fourth session the item titled "Bethlehem 2000" so that the General Assembly may have a renewed opportunity to reaffirm its further support for the event immediately prior to the occasion of its commemoration.

Division for Palestinian Rights

Under the guidance of the Committee on Palestinian Rights, the Division for Palestinian Rights of the UN Secretariat continued to function as a centre for research, monitoring, preparation of studies, and collection and dissemination of information on all issues related to the Palestine question. The Division continued to respond to requests for information and to prepare and disseminate the following publications: a monthly bulletin covering action by the Committee, UN bodies and agencies, and inter-governmental organizations concerned with Palestine; a periodic bulletin entitled "Developments related to the Middle East peace process"; a monthly chronology of events relating to the question of Palestine, based on media reports and other sources; reports of meetings organized under the auspices of the Committee; a special bulletin on the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (29 November); and an annual compilation of relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, decisions and statements.

The Committee, in its annual report [A/53/35], noted that the Division had published a study on the status of Jerusalem and had updated and reissued information notes on the work of the Committee and the Division, and on the activities of the United Nations and those of NGOs on the question of Palestine. It had also prepared publications on the European Symposium of NGOs on the Question of Palestine (Brussels, 26 February); the United Nations International Meeting of NGOs on the Question of Palestine (Cairo, Egypt, 25-26 April); a Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People (Cairo, 27-28 April); the Latin American and Caribbean Seminar and Symposium of NGOs on the Question of Palestine (Santiago, Chile, 26-29 May); and the North American Symposium of NGOs (New York, 15-17 June). The Committee stated that the Division, in cooperation with relevant technical services of the Secretariat, had continued to develop the electronic information system on the question of Palestine (UNISPAL), as mandated by Assembly resolution 46/74 B [YUN 1991, p. 228]. The technical resources of the Division were also used to assist in the electronic conversion of the records of the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, in accordance with Assembly resolution 51/129 [YUN 1996, p. 423].

The Committee requested the Division to continue its publications programme, particularly the further development of UNISPAL, and to complete the modernization of the records of the Conciliation Commission. It also requested that the annual training programme for staff members of the PA be continued.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 2 December [meeting 76], the General Assembly adopted resolution 53/40 [draft: A/53/L.49 & Add.l] by recorded vote (111-2-48) [agenda item 39].

Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat

The General Assembly,

Having considered the report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People,

Taking note in particular of the relevant information contained in chapter V.B of that report,

Recalling its resolutions 32/40 B of 2 December 1977, 33/28 C of 7 December 1978, 34/65 D of 12 December 1979, 35/169 D of 15 December 1980, 36/120 B of 10 December 1981,37/86 B of 10 December 1982,38/58 B of 13 December 1983, 39/49 B of 11 December 1984, 40/96 B of 12 December 1985,41/43 B of 2 December 1986, 42/66 B of 2 December 1987, 43/175 B of 15 December 1988,44/41 B of 6 December 1989, 45/67 B of 6 December 1990, 46/74 B of 11 December 1991, 47/64 B of 11 December 1992, 48/158 B of 20 December 1993, 49/62 B of 14 December 1994, 50/84 B of 15 December 1995, 51/24 of 4 December 1996 and 52/50 of 9 December 1997,

1. Notes with appreciation the action taken by the Secretary-General in compliance with its resolution 52/50;

2. Considers that the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat continues to make a useful and constructive contribution;

3. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to provide the Division with the necessary resources and to ensure that it continues to carry out its programme of work as detailed in the relevant earlier resolutions, in consultation with the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and under its guidance, including, in particular, the organization of meetings in various regions with the participation of all sectors of the international community, the further development and expansion of the documents collection of the United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine, the preparation and widest possible dissemination of publications and information materials on various aspects of the question of Palestine, the provision of assistance in completing the project on the modernization of the records of the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, and the provision of the annual training programme for staff of the Palestinian Authority;

4. Also requests the Secretary-General to ensure the continued cooperation of the Department of Public Information and other units of the Secretariat in enabling the Division to perform its tasks and in covering adequately the various aspects of the question of Palestine;

5. Invites all Governments and organizations to extend their cooperation to the Committee and the Division in the performance of their tasks;

6. Notes with appreciation the action taken by Member States to observe annually on 29 November the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, requests them to continue to give the widest possible publicity to the observance, and requests the Committee and the Division to continue to organize, as part of the observance of the Day of Solidarity, an annual exhibit on Palestinian rights in cooperation with the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 53/40:

In favour: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saint Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstaining: Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation. Samoa, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan.

Special information programme

As requested in General Assembly resolution 52/51 [YUN 1997, p. 436], the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) in 1998 continued its special information programme on the question of Palestine, which included the convening of a regional seminar in New Delhi, India, on 3 and 4 February, and an international seminar in Prague, Czech Republic, on 24 and 25 June, on the theme "Prospects for peace".

The DPI Public Inquiries Unit responded to 481 requests for information and the Group Programmes and Community Liaison Unit organized nine briefings on the Palestine question and the Middle East.

The Dissemination and Communications Unit distributed material by electronic mail. DPI also provided press coverage of all meetings held at UN Headquarters, including those of the Committee on Palestinian Rights, as well as coverage of seminars and symposia held under the auspices of the Committee in Belgium, Chile and Egypt.

The quarterly publication UN Chronicle continued its comprehensive coverage of the Palestine question, including General Assembly and Security Council action, and an interview with the Chairman of the Committee on Palestinian Rights, which was conducted by a group of Palestinian media practitioners undertaking a training programme at UN Headquarters.

The Radio and Central News Service covered all aspects of the Palestine question in daily news bulletins, weekly current affairs magazines and feature programmes in official and nonofficial languages for dissemination throughout the world.

In connection with the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, DPI provided assistance in organizing the "Bethlehem 2000" exhibit. Print and electronic media coverage of the International Day was extensive, and panel discussions and forums, with the participation of UN and government officials, delegations of Palestine and NGOs, were among several activities organized by UN information centres. Also, throughout the year, many centres dealt with the Palestine question in their periodic newsletters and bulletins, organized media activities and special events, issued information materials in local languages and disseminated documents.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 2 December [meeting 76], the General Assembly adopted resolution 53/41 [draft: A/53/L.50 & Add.l] by recorded vote (156-2-2) [agenda item 39].

The General Assembly,

Having considered the report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People,

Taking note in particular of the information contained in chapter VI of that report,

Recalling its resolution 52/51 of 9 December 1997,

Convinced that the worldwide dissemination of accurate and comprehensive information and the role of non-governmental organizations and institutions remain of vital importance in heightening awareness of and support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people,

Aware of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements signed by the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington, D.C., on 13 September 1993, and of the subsequent implementation agreements, in particular the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip signed in Washington, D.C., on 28 September 1995, and their positive implications,

1. Notes with appreciation the action taken by the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat in compliance with resolution 52/51;

2. Considers that the special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department is very useful in raising the awareness of the international community concerning the complexities of the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East in general, including the achievements of the peace process, and that the programme is contributing effectively to an atmosphere conducive to dialogue and supportive of the peace process;

3. Requests the Department, in full cooperation and coordination with the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, to continue, with the necessary flexibility as may be required by developments affecting the question of Palestine, its special information programme for the biennium 1998/1999 and, in particular:

(a) To disseminate information on all the activities of the United Nations system relating to the question of Palestine, including reports on the work carried out by the relevant United Nations organizations;

(b) To continue to issue and update publications on the various aspects of the question of Palestine in all fields, including materials concerning the recent developments in that regard and, in particular, the prospects for peace;

(c) To expand its collection of audiovisual material on the question of Palestine and to continue the production of such material, including the updating of the exhibit in the Secretariat;

(d) To organize and promote fact-finding news missions for journalists to the area, including the territories under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority and the occupied territories;

(e) To organize international, regional and national seminars or encounters for journalists;

(f) To continue to provide assistance to the Palestinian people in the field of media development, in particular to strengthen the training programme for Palestinian broadcasters and journalists initiated in 1995.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 53/41:

In favour: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Paso, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiria, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstaining: Marshall Islands, Uzbekistan.

Assistance to Palestinians

UN activities

Report of Secretary-General. In a June report [A/53/153-E/1998/75], the Secretary-General described UN assistance to the Palestinian people between June 1997 and May 1998, assessed ongoing programmes and needs still unmet and presented specific proposals for additional assistance. Chinmaya R. Gharekhan (India) continued to serve concurrently as the Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories and as the Secretary-General's Representative to the multilateral peace talks on the Middle East. Throughout the reporting period, the Special Coordinator focused his efforts on coordinating donor-funded projects to alleviate unemployment and related socio-economic hardship and to encourage employment generation; working with partners in the development effort to provide budgetary support to the PA and to address the budget deficit; strengthening institution-building programmes and targeted technical assistance so that greater progress could be made towards achieving sustainable socio-economic development; encouraging greater private sector involvement in order to stimulate growth, economic development and employment generation; providing logistic and other assistance to the PA in the preparation of the Palestinian Development Plan, 1998-2000; and expediting donor disbursements so that the Plan could be implemented. The Plan, which represented the PA's commitment to developing national capacity in medium-term development planning and in the implementation of development projects, was presented to the donor community at the fifth meeting of the consultative group for the West Bank and Gaza Strip, convened by the World Bank (Paris, 14-15 December 1997). Pledges were made for $750 million in grants, loans and equity towards development activities in 1998 and a further $150 million was pledged in political risk guarantees for private investment. The United Nations was involved as donor or implementing partner in 102 of the total of 658 projects in the Plan project catalogue, with a combined value of some $224 million.

As part of his efforts to improve UN coordination, the Special Coordinator convened the fourth UN inter-agency meeting in Gaza on 2 and 3 July 1997. Representatives of 23 agencies attended the meeting in order to forge a common development strategy in response to needs and priorities identified by the PA. As in previous years, the meeting provided a forum for finalizing the document entitled "United Nations programme of cooperation for the West Bank and Gaza Strip", which outlined UN strategies, priorities and plans for 1998/1999.

By decision 1998/282 of 30 July, the Economic and Social Council took note of the Secretary-General's report.

Living conditions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip

The pattern of economic growth and development in the West Bank and Gaza Strip had been largely conditioned by the Israeli economy. The results of the integration of the West Bank and Gaza Strip into the Israeli economy had included significant labour flows from the former to the latter, a narrow range of Palestinian exports, and a large flow of Israeli exports to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Licensed monthly average labour flows from the West Bank and Gaza Strip to Israel were about 15 per cent higher in 1997 than in the previous year, at approximately 38,000 workers. The relative stabilization in the movement of goods and persons during 1997 led to a corresponding stabilization in tax revenues and improved public finances; the recurrent budget of the PA for 1998 envisaged no deficit. However, despite improvements in labour and commodity flows, as well as marginal reductions in unemployment and underemployment, per capita incoming levels registered further declines in 1997. Continuing the trend witnessed since 1992, population growth exceeded income growth, resulting in falling average incomes.

Notwithstanding the modest economic improvements during the reporting period, the Secretary-General stressed that significant economic and social progress depended principally on meaningful advancement in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Such political progress had to entail greater Palestinian access to vital resources, such as land and water, and to external markets for inputs and exports. That would create a more stable environment, enhance private investment and generate economic growth and employment.

The private sector

The Secretary-General noted that, in the long term, economic growth and development would be generated by the private sector. Excluding agriculture, there were over 50,000 individual private establishments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, principally small, sole proprietorships with average capitalization levels of approximately $10,000. Commerce and services made up 75 per cent of those businesses, while manufacturing accounted for up to 20 per cent. The relatively large number of commerce and service businesses accounted for about 50 per cent of the value of privately produced output, with manufacturing accounting for about 20 per cent of such output.

A survey of private sector specialists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, undertaken by the Office of the Special Coordinator, found near unanimity in the view that closures and the unclear business operating environment were the main problems facing private businesses. The majority also indicated that better management and planning techniques, and better market access, were the most important things needed to develop private businesses.

UN agencies and programmes

The Special Coordinator gave an update on assistance provided to the Palestinian people in the occupied territories during the reporting period by UN departments, agencies and programmes. The update included information from the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the UN Secretariat, ESCWA, FAO, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), ILO, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), ITC, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), UNDP, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), UNIFEM, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), UNRWA, the Office of the UN Special Coordinator, WFP and WHO.

Seminar on assistance to Palestinian people. By an 18 June letter [A/53/152-E/1998/71], the Chairman of the Committee on Palestinian Rights transmitted to the Secretary-General the report of the 1998 Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People (Cairo, 27-28 April), which had as its theme "Facing the challenges of the year 2000: promoting Palestinian national development". The Seminar's plenary session discussed planning Palestinian national development while the round-table meetings discussed the Palestinian Development Plan, the results of the Palestinian census and the role of the international community. Representatives of 62 Governments, three inter-governmental organizations, 10 UN bodies and agencies and 27 NGOs participated in the seminar, at which nine experts from various regions presented papers.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 7 December [meeting 81], the General Assembly adopted resolution 53/89 [draft: A/53/L.54/Rev.l] without vote [agenda item 20(d)].

Assistance to the Palestinian people

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolution 52/170 of 16 December 1997,

Recalling also previous resolutions on the question,

Welcoming the signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements of 1993 between the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. The representative of the Palestinian people, as well as the signing of the subsequent implementation agreements, including the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip of 1995,

Gravely concerned about the difficult economic and employment conditions facing the Palestinian people throughout the occupied territory,

Conscious of the urgent need for improvement in the economic and social infrastructure of the occupied territory and the living conditions of the Palestinian people,

Aware that development is difficult under occupation and best promoted in circumstances of peace and stability,

Noting, in the light of recent developments in the peace process, the great economic and social challenges facing the Palestinian people and their leadership,

Conscious of the urgent necessity for international assistance to the Palestinian people, taking into account the Palestinian priorities,

Noting the convening of the United Nations Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People, entitled "Facing the challenges of the year 2000: promoting Palestinian national development", held at Cairo on 27 and 28 April 1998,

Stressing the need for the full engagement of the United Nations in the process of building Palestinian institutions and in providing broad assistance to the Palestinian people, including assistance in the fields of elections, police training and public administration,

Noting the appointment by the Secretary-General in June 1994 of the United Nations Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories,

Welcoming the results of the Conference to Support Middle East Peace, convened in Washington, D.C., on 1 October 1993, and the establishment of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee and the work being done by the World Bank as its secretariat, as well as the establishment of the consultative group,

Welcoming also the establishment by the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee of the Joint Liaison Committee, which provides a forum in which economic policy and practical matters related to donor assistance are discussed with the Palestinian Authority,

Welcoming further the fifth meeting of the consultative group in Paris on 14 and 15 December 1997, in particular the pledges of the international donor community and the presentation of the first Palestinian Development Plan for the years 19982000,

Welcoming the results of the Ministerial Conference to Support Middle East Peace and Development, held in Washington, D.C., on 30 November 1998, and expressing appreciation for the pledges of the international donor community,

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General,

1. Takes note of the report of the Secretary-General;

2. Expresses its appreciation to the Secretary-General for his rapid response and efforts regarding assistance to the Palestinian people;

3. Also expresses its appreciation to the Member States, United Nations bodies and inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations that have provided and continue to provide assistance to the Palestinian people;

4. Stresses the importance of the work done by the United Nations Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories and of the steps taken under the auspices of the Secretary-General to ensure the achievement of a coordinated mechanism for United Nations activities throughout the occupied territories;

5. Urges Member States, international financial institutions of the United Nations system, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations and regional and interregional organizations to extend, as rapidly and as generously as possible, economic and social assistance to the Palestinian people in close cooperation with the Palestine Liberation Organization and through official Palestinian institutions;

6. Calls upon relevant organizations and agencies of the United Nations system to intensify their assistance in response to the urgent needs of the Palestinian people in accordance with the Palestinian priorities set forth by the Palestinian Authority, with emphasis on national execution and capacity-building;

7. Urges Member States to open their markets to exports of Palestinian products on the most favourable terms, consistent with appropriate trading rules;

8. Calls upon the international donor community to expedite the delivery of pledged assistance to the Palestinian people to meet their urgent needs;

9. Suggests the convening in 1999 of a United Nations-sponsored seminar on the Palestinian economy;

10. Requests the Secretary-General to submit a report to the General Assembly at its fifty-fourth session, through the Economic and Social Council, on the implementation of the present resolution, containing:

(a) An assessment of the assistance actually received by the Palestinian people;

(b) An assessment of the needs still unmet and specific proposals for responding effectively to them;

11. Decides to include in the provisional agenda of its fifty-fourth session, under the item entitled "Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance", the sub-item entitled "Assistance to the Palestinian people".

By decision 53/424 of 7 December, the Assembly requested that the Secretary-General should continue to use the term "Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem", when appropriate, in accordance with General Assembly resolutions, in relevant reports to the Assembly, including the report under the item entitled "Assistance to the Palestinian people", bearing in mind the need to take account of future relevant Assembly resolutions and progress in the Middle East peace process.

UNRWA

In 1998, stagnation in the Middle East peace process and a serious funding crisis combined to confront the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) with one of the most difficult years in its nearly 50 year history. The effects of austerity measures and budget constraints, dictated by a widening gap between the financial resources available to fund the Agency's programmes and the natural growth of the Palestine refugee population, were more acutely felt than ever during the year.

In carrying out its humanitarian work, UNRWA continued to coordinate its activities closely with the host authorities, including the PA, with its major donors and with the refugees themselves. As funding shortfalls put pressure on the Agency's three traditional service areas-education, health and relief and social services as self-financing income-generation programme, aimed at creating sustainable job opportunities by providing working-capital loans to small businesses or micro-enterprises, became a fourth major area of activity for UNRWA, as well as an important factor in depressed local economies.

In his annual report on the work of the Agency (1 July 199730 June 1998) [A/53/13], the UNRWA Commissioner-General said that the critical financial situation had necessitated the imposition of another round of austerity measures in late 1997, with a direct negative impact on service delivery. For the second consecutive year, the Agency had been compelled to make an extraordinary appeal for additional contributions to avoid a disruption in services. Despite the additional support and the measures taken, the Agency only narrowly averted insolvency during 1997, ending the year with the fifth consecutive year-end deficit in its approved budget, as well as depleted cash and working capital reserves. However, progress was achieved in combating the ongoing deficit problem through new approaches to traditional programme activities, while the reform effort initiated in the previous reporting period continued to produce results in enhancing organizational efficiency and effectiveness.

The Agency continued to provide basic services for Palestine refugees and contributed to improving socio-economic conditions in refugee communities. Living standards in those communities remained poor throughout the area of operation, and were characterized by high unemployment, falling household income, overburdened infrastructure, and restrictions on employment and mobility.

UNRWA's humanitarian work was carried out against the backdrop of the continuing impasse in the various tracks of the peace process (see above).

On 30 June 1998, 3.52 million Palestine refugees were registered with UNRWA, an increase of 3 per cent over the 1997 figure of 3.42 million. The largest refugee population was registered inJordan (1.5 million, or 41.6 per cent, of the Agency wide total), followed by the Gaza Strip (773,000, or 21.9 per cent), the West Bank (555,000, 15.8 per cent), the Syrian Arab Republic (about 366,000, 10.4 per cent) and Lebanon (about 365,000, 10.4 per cent).

Peace Implementation Programme

UNRWA's Peace Implementation Programme (PIP) continued to contribute to the quality of life of the Palestine refugees, with generous donor support. Launched in October 1993 [YUN 1993, p. 569] after the signing of the Declaration of Principles between the PLO and Israel, PIP aimed to demonstrate the tangible benefits of the peace process by developing infrastructure, improving living conditions and creating employment opportunities in refugee communities. In its fifth year, PIP remained the main channel for extra-budgetary project funding of activities carried out under the umbrella of UNRWA programmes in education, health, relief and social services and income generation. The infrastructure development component of PIP focused on constructing or expanding facilities to meet increasing demand for Agency services, maintaining or upgrading existing facilities to an adequate standard, and improving housing and environmental health conditions in camps. PIP also allowed the Agency to meet urgent needs that it might otherwise have been unable to address, and to prevent a qualitative deterioration in services. The latter aspect was becoming increasingly significant in view of continuing budget short-falls.

By the end of 1998, $221.3 million had been pledged or contributed towards PIP. The number of projects funded under PIP was 332 at mid-1998. Between mid-1997 and mid-1998, PIP funding enabled UNRWA to complete construction of four schools, 44 additional classrooms, two specialized rooms, a remedial education centre, a vocational training centre workshop, two health centres or points, five women's programme centres and one community rehabilitation centre. The Agency rehabilitated 463 shelters for special hardship families and performed comprehensive maintenance on two schools. Work to upgrade facilities was carried out on two vocational and technical training centres, and three health centres were renovated. PIP also helped to sustain regular Agency programmes by providing for additional hospitalization assistance and medical supplies in Lebanon, funding additional teacher posts in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and university scholarships for refugee students, and supporting the income-generation programme.

Cash expenditure under PIP totalled $31 million between mid-1997 and mid-1998, accounting for 10 per cent of total Agency expenditure. In view of the marked decrease in pledges and contributions compared to previous reporting periods, as well as financial constraints experienced by major donors and the establishment of new channels of implementation, the Agency assumed that funding for PIP had peaked.

Lebanon appeal

With available resources insufficient to cope with the growing needs of the refugee community in Lebanon, UNRWA had launched a special emergency appeal in July 1997, seeking $11 million in additional contributions to support essential services activities for the 365,000 Palestine refugees registered in that country. Most of those refugees faced deplorable living conditions and depended almost entirely on UNRWA for basic services. The deteriorating socio-economic situation in the country, combined with the inability of refugees to gain full access to the job market or avail themselves of public health facilities, heightened their desperation and misery. Eight countries and one inter-governmental organization responded generously to the appeal, announcing total pledges of $9.3 million by 30 June 1998. The Agency had received $8.7 million of that amount and allotted $8.2 million by mid-1998. Of total pledges, $4.6 million was for hospitalization assistance, procurement of medical supplies and other projects in the health sector; $3.8 million was for the construction, equipping and running costs of two secondary schools, and the introduction of new training courses at the Siblin training centre; and $900,000 was for other activities, mainly shelter rehabilitation. Most of those projects were under way at mid-1998.

Major service areas

Education

During the 1997/98 school year, the 649 UNRWA schools in the Agency's five fields of operation had a total enrolment of 447,268 pupils, mainly in the elementary and preparatory cycles, but also including 649 students in two Agency secondary schools in Lebanon. Total enrolment increased by 2.5 per cent, or 11,099 pupils, over the 1996/97 school year. However, growth in enrolment was unevenly distributed, with rapid growth in the Gaza Strip (7.2 per cent), moderate growth in the West Bank and Lebanon (4.4 per cent and 3 per cent, respectively), zero growth in the Syrian Arab Republic (0.1 per cent increase) and negative growth in Jordan (1.7 per cent decrease). The education programme remained UNRWA's single largest area of activity, with the 14,372 education personnel representing more than two thirds of all Agency staff.

Steadily rising enrolment at UNRWA elementary and preparatory schools was a permanent feature of the Agency's operating environment, which, in turn, increased the demand for teachers. UNRWA had to continue to rely on contract teachers at rates of pay lower than those of equivalent Agency posts. In the 1997/98 school year, 592 contract teachers were in the Gaza field (15.2 per cent of the field's teaching force); 138 contract teachers and 28 daily paid teachers in the West Bank field (10.3 per cent); and 248 daily paid teachers in the Jordan, Lebanon and Syria fields combined (3.5 per cent).

The overall capacity of the Agency's education system was not keeping up with enrolment growth. Between the 1993/94 and 1997/98 school years, the number of school buildings increased by 1.2 per cent and the number of schools by 1.4 per cent, while total enrolment increased by 12.2 per cent. The excess increase in enrolment was accommodated by expanding classroom sizes, building or renting additional classrooms and converting schools from single to double shift. Moreover, many Agency schools, especially those constructed in the 1950s or 1960s, had become dilapidated beyond the point of economical repair and were in need of replacement. Overcrowding within the Agency's education system continued, owing to limited resources to hire teachers or build new schools and classrooms. The average classroom occupancy rate Agency wide was 43.6 pupils in the 1997/98 school year, the fifth consecutive increase. UNRWA sought to obtain project funding, particularly under PIP, to improve and expand its education infrastructure. During the 1997/98 reporting period, UNRWA completed construction of 10 school buildings to expand capacity or replace unsatisfactory rented premises or dilapidated structures; 76 additional classrooms to avoid triple shifting and replace unsafe classrooms; and six specialized rooms, such as libraries, science laboratories, computer rooms, vocational education rooms or multipurpose rooms, for school premises that lacked those facilities. Another five schools, 12 classrooms, two specialized rooms and four toilet blocks were under construction.

As UNRWA's basic education programme followed that of the host authority in each field of operation as a matter of policy, changes in host authority education programmes had implications for the Agency. The most significant issue in that regard was the extension of the basic education cycle in the West Bank and Gaza Strip from nine to 10 years, which the Agency remained unable to carry out owing to financial constraints and lack of funding for a $25.5 million project proposal. A project proposal in the amount of $370,000 to introduce the tenth grade at Agency schools in Jerusalem also remained unfunded. In March 1998, the PA approved the new Palestinian curriculum to replace the Jordanian curriculum in the West Bank and the Egyptian curriculum in Gaza. The new curriculum was to be phased in over five years starting in the 2000/01 school year. In Syria, a new study plan, curriculum and textbooks for the elementary and preparatory cycles were being gradually introduced. In Lebanon, a new education structure, curriculum and textbooks for the elementary and preparatory cycles were to be implemented in Agency schools over a three year period beginning in the 1998/99 school year. The implementation of curricular changes in national school systems was undertaken by the host authorities in cooperation with UNRWA. In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the joint UNRWA PA technical coordination committee discussed a range of issues including textbooks, school buildings, in service teacher training, vocational and technical training, introduction of the tenth grade, and developments in the preparation of the new Palestinian curriculum. UNRWA provided the PA with several in service teacher training programmes and related instructional materials, as well as a short course in measurement and evaluation techniques for 24 newly appointed PA school supervisors in the West Bank. UNRWA continued to cooperate with the PA in offering short-term vocational training courses for released prisoners in the West Bank. The eight UNRWA vocational and technical training centres had a total enrolment of 4,560 in the 1997/98 school year, an increase of 116 over the previous year. At the post preparatory level, 22 two year vocational training courses were offered to male trainees in the building, electrical, electronic, mechanical and metalworking trades, and to female trainees in hairdressing, clothing production and dressmaking. At the post-secondary level, 26 two-year technical/semiprofessional courses were offered to male and female trainees in a variety of technical, paramedical and commercial skills. Women accounted for 62 per cent of all trainees enrolled in technical/ semiprofessional courses in 1997/98. Course offerings varied from centre to centre according to local labour market needs and the availability of training opportunities at other institutions. Besides the two-year training course, which remained the principal mode of job preparation utilized by UNRWA, Agency training centres in Jordan and the West Bank offered 11 short-term training courses organized in cooperation with NGOs or the PA. Those courses covered executive secretary skills, electrical installation, building decoration, radio and television repair and refrigeration and air-conditioning repair. The Agency also sponsored 44 Palestine refugee students in vocational training courses at private institutions in Lebanon and the West Bank, mainly with project funding. According to surveys conducted by the Agency, 79 per cent of the 1996 graduates of its training centres were employed in 1997.

The three branches of the Educational Sciences Faculty in Jordan and the West Bank provided pre-service and in-service teacher training leading to a first-level university degree, as part of the process to upgrade the qualifications of UNRWA teaching staff to meet revised standards set by the Government of Jordan and the PA. The four-year pre-service programme, which granted university-level degrees in classroom teaching, Arabic, English, mathematics, science, vocational education or Islamic education, was offered to 811 secondary school graduates, including 598 women, at three training centres. The three-year in-service programme was offered at the Amman centre to 644 teachers holding two-year teacher training diplomas, including 212 women, to upgrade their qualifications to a first-level university degree. In 1997/98, 151 students graduated from the pre-service programme and 177 from the in-service programme. Of the 378 pre-service graduates to date, 46 had been recruited by the Agency on a competitive basis to meet staffing requirements in the West Bank and Jordan.

During the 1997/98 school year, UNRWA awarded scholarships to 1,055 refugee students, including 488 women, for study at 44 universities in 11 countries in the region. Following the freeze on the regular budget allocation for university scholarships in August 1997, the entire scholarship programme was funded through project contributions.

The education budget of $160.3 million for 1998 accounted for half of UNRWA's total budget. Actual expenditure for the year was expected to be less than the amount budgeted owing to austerity and other cost-reduction measures taken in response to funding shortfalls. In all fields except Gaza, nominal contributions at prescribed rates were collected from pupils and trainees on a voluntary basis for use in improving the facilities and equipment of schools and training centres. In March 1998, the Agency issued a request for donor-funded technical expertise to assist in education planning, to which one donor responded favourably. Another donor pledged technical assistance and funding to introduce computer training at UNRWA training centers.

The education programme was run in cooperation with UNESCO, which assumed technical responsibility by providing a group of seven senior managers to UNRWA, including the Director of Education.

Health

UNRWA's health programme remained focused on comprehensive primary health care, including a full range of maternal and child health (mch) and family planning services, school health services, health education and promotion, outpatient medical care, prevention and control of communicable diseases and of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes mellitus and hypertension, and specialist care, with an emphasis on gynecology and obstetrics, pediatrics and cardiology. Those services were provided through a network of 122 primary health-care facilities-including 89 health centres, 23 health points offering a wide range of health-care services on a part-time basis, and 10 MCH centres offering comprehensive family health services supported by basic services such as X-ray and laboratory facilities. During the reporting period, Agency outpatient facilities handled 5.4 million medical and 0.5 million dental visits, as well as 1.2 million visits for nursing services, such as dressings and injections. Essential medical supplies, supplementary feeding for vulnerable groups and rehabilitation of physical disabilities were also provided within the primary health-care programme.

The health programme had a budget of $62.6 million for 1998. Actual expenditure was expected to be less than the amount budgeted owing to austerity and other cost-reduction measures taken in response to funding shortfalls. Average budgeted health expenditure for 1998 stood at $15.3 per refugee per year, well below expenditures by other health-care providers in the region. Approximately two thirds of the health budget was allocated to medical care services, comprising treatment and support services, family health, and disease prevention and control, with the remaining third divided equally between environmental health services and the supplementary feeding programme. Approximately 63 per cent of cash allocations to the health programme were for the costs of UNRWA's 3,500 locally recruited health staff, who implemented all core programme activities. Workloads in UNRWA primary health-care facilities remained high, with an average of 100 patients seen by each doctor each day Agency-wide, compared to about 51 a day seen by a PA doctor in the Gaza Strip.

Family health continued to be emphasized as an integral part of UNRWA's regular health programme. During the reporting period, Agency MCH care clinics and centres cared for some 201,600 children below the age of three, representing approximately 6 per cent of the registered refugee population, and some 69,000 pregnent women. Over 21,400 family planning acceptors were registered during the reporting period, bringing the total number of women utilizing the Agency's family planning services to more than 58,000. The number of health centres providing intrauterine devices increased from 61 in mid-1997 to 74 in mid-1998. Overall coverage of maternal antenatal services Agency-wide approximately 70 per cent of the target population, while coverage of child health care was approximately 75 per cent.

Performance indicators were developed measure progress in coverage and quality of a tenatal, postnatal and family planning service The Agency conducted studies of infant an early child mortality in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Gaza Strip, which revealed that the infant mortality rate among Palestine refugees ranged between 27 and 35 deaths per 1,000 live births, consistent with regional rates as reported by the host authorities. The UNRWA studies also found that a major proportion of infant deaths fell within the early neonatal period, when they were normally more difficult to prevent. In national, regional and international meetings sponsored by WHO and other health organizations, the Agency's field experience in reproductive and family health continued to be regarded as a major asset in developing appropriate intervention strategies to improve standards throughout the region.

UNRWA exerted special efforts to maintain and further develop an effective programme to address the prevention and control of communicable diseases preventable through immunization, such as poliomyelitis and tetanus; vectorbor diseases transmitted through environmental channels, such as brucellosis and intestinal parasites; newly emerging infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS; re-emerging infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis and noncommunicable diseases associated with lifestyles, such as diabetes mellitus hypertension, heart disease and cancer. To that end, the Agency maintained optimal immunization coverage against the major childhood diseases, participating in the spring of 1998 in two rounds of national immunization days for eradication of poliomyelitis, in the context of WHO regional strategy implemented in coordination with local health authorities. Using vaccines donated by UNICEF, the Agency immunized 211,800 refugee children under age five in the first round and 187,000 in the second. Special care, comprising close monitoring and management of diabetes mellitus and hypertension, was provided through all Agency health centres, benefiting 71,400 patients during the reporting period. Special attention continued to be paid to early detection and management of micronutrient disorders, especially iron-deficiency anaemia, which was highly prevalent among preschool children and women of reproductive age. The Agency was also taking steps to strengthen its tuberculosis surveillance and control measures and coordinate them with those of public health authorities throughout the area of operations, based on the directly observed short-course treatment strategy and the recommendations of a WHO technical adviser on communicable diseases, who conducted an assessment of UNRWA's tuberculosis programme in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria in May/June 1998. A generous contribution of human insulin from a United States corporation channelled through an NGO helped the Agency to meet its requirements for treatment of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in 1997 and 1998.

Palestine refugees received assistance with secondary care through partial reimbursement of costs incurred for treatment at governmental or non-governmental hospitals or contractual agreements with non-governmental or private hospitals, depending on the field of operation. Secondary care was also provided directly by the Agency at two facilities in the West Bank, the 43-bed Qalqilia hospital and a small maternity unit in Nur Shams refugee camp. The steadily rising cost of secondary care as a result of revised rates by governmental and non-governmental hospitals continued to jeopardize the sustainability of the hospitalization programme, making effective management of resources paramount. Hospitalization services in Lebanon could be maintained at the current level only through extra budgetary contributions, without which services would have been seriously curtailed. Hospitalization accounted for approximately 27 per cent of the 1998 medical care budget, with the highest per capita allocations in the West Bank and Lebanon. Given the severe strain under which the hospitalization programme was operating, any further cost-containment measures would likely endanger the lives of needy refugees, particularly in Lebanon, while threatening the sustainability of some non-governmental hospitals, which depended on contracts with UNRWA, such as Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem.

UNRWA continued to implement a wide range of health education activities aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle and raising public awareness within the refugee community. Counselling sessions and audiovisual programmes were offered on a continuous basis for health centre attendees, schoolchildren were targeted through planned activities organized by a health tutor in each Agency school, and community health education campaigns were organized on an occasional basis, mainly in camps.

More than 1.1 million Palestine refugees in 59 camps benefited from environmental health services provided by UNRWA in cooperation with local municipalities, including sewage disposal, management of storm water runoff, provision of safe drinking water, collection and disposal of refuse, and control of insect and rodent infestation. The Agency continued to play an active role, particularly in the Gaza Strip, in planning and implementing large-scale projects for the installation of sewerage, drainage and water networks in camps and the expansion of solid-waste collection and disposal capacity.

UNRWA continued to cooperate closely with the PA in the health sector and provided assistance for projects to enhance health infrastructure. A close dialogue was maintained among UNRWA, the PA and the EU to reach a common understanding on the commissioning and future operation of the European Gaza Hospital, which had been built by UNRWA with multilateral and bilateral European funding near Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. The Agency cooperated with the PA and concerned donors on projects for construction of a public health laboratory in the West Bank, the upgrading of UNRWA's Qalqilia hospital in the West Bank and improvements to environmental health infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. It also maintained close cooperation with health ministries in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, including the exchange of information, coordination of disease-control measures and participation in national conferences and immunization campaigns.

Relief and social services

UNRWA assisted refugee families unable to meet basic needs for food, shelter and other life essentials through its special hardship programme. The number of refugees in households meeting the stringent eligibility criterion male adult medically fit to earn an income, and no other identifiable means of financial support above a defined threshold-increased by 5.6 per cent, from 185,259 at mid-1997 to 195,616 at mid-1998. The proportion of special hardship cases within the total registered refugee population increased slightly, from 5.4 per cent to 5.6 per cent. The overall increase in special hardship case enrolment generally corresponded to the introduction of the cash subsidy for food support. The percentage of refugees enrolled in the programme continued to be highest in Lebanon (10.3 per cent) and the Gaza Strip (8.6 per cent) and lowest in Jordan (2.6 per cent).

Assistance to special hardship case families included food support, selective cash grants, shelter rehabilitation, poverty alleviation initiatives, higher hospitalization subsidies and preferential access to UNRWA training centres. Implementation of a modified form of food support introduced in the previous reporting period, under which a cash subsidy equivalent to $40 per person per year replaced certain lesser-valued commodities in the food ration (with the other commodities still being distributed in kind), continued to proceed smoothly. Special hardship case families in Lebanon continued to receive a full complement of rations in kind, in accordance with previous arrangements. However, in view of the dire socio-economic conditions facing such families in Lebanon, and following consultations with donors, it was decided to provide the same level of cash subsidy to those families, over and above the full complement of rations that they had been receiving, starting in January 1998.

With project funding, UNRWA rehabilitated a total of 505 shelters of special hardship case families, compared with 600 in the previous period. Work for shelter rehabilitation was carried out either on a self-help basis, with the Agency providing financial and technical assistance and beneficiary families arranging volunteer labour, or by small camp-based contractors, with the aim of creating employment within the refugee community. Following the freeze of the regular budget allocation for shelter rehabilitation in August 1997, the entire shelter rehabilitation programme was funded through earmarked contributions, with one donor making available $1 million for that purpose. Nonetheless, available resources continued to fall far short of identified need. It was estimated that some 12,516 special hardship case families, representing 25 per cent of the total and comprising 48,904 persons, still lived in housing which did not meet minimally acceptable standards for structural soundness, hygiene, ventilation and space relative to family size. Those families tended to be living in extreme socio-economic hardship, and in some cases the condition of their shelters posed a hazard to the safety and health of occupants. Need was particularly great in Lebanon where a large number of special hardship case families inhabited substandard shelters and many families were living outside camps in desperate conditions. With project funding, UNRWA completed a facility to accommodate 55 displaced and impoverished refugee families in Beddawi camp in north Lebanon.

Under its poverty alleviation programme, UNRWA continued to assist disadvantaged refugees, especially women, to raise their socio-economic status through skills training, production units, group-guaranteed savings and loan schemes and credit provision. During the reporting period, 58 grants and 118 loans were awarded to special hardship cases and other impoverished families to assist them in establishing micro-enterprises. Though some of the credit extended was in the form of soft loans (70 per cent grant and 30 per cent loan), the programme's emphasis shifted towards fully repayable loans, which allowed capital to be recovered and reinvested. UNRWA staff provided training in credit provision and served as trainers in courses organized by other UN organizations in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Group-guaranteed savings and loan schemes benefited 143 participants in Jordan and Syria with loans to promote sustainable income-generation activities or improvements to participants' homes or shelters. Like a small community bank, each group had its own seed capital that provided loans to members, mainly women, through a revolving fund established with pooled savings and Agency support. A total of 25 skills-training and production units were in operation, including income-generation projects established at women's programme centres and community rehabilitation centres. The poverty alleviation programme totalled 1,331 participants during the reporting period.

Participation in UNRWA's community-based social development programmes for women, youth and persons with disabilities increased by 18.5 per cent, from 32,407 at mid-1997 to 38,417 at mid-1998. The focal point for the programmes was the network of 128 Agency-supported community centres, comprising 70 women's programme centres, 32 community rehabilitation centres and, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, 26 youth activities centres. Activities at the women's centres emphasized income-earning projects and training; lectures and workshops on issues of concern to women and the community, including a special educational programme on HIV/AIDS; courses to enhance women's social development; and provision of support services for women, such as kindergartens and legal advice bureaux. The community rehabilitation centres worked to raise community awareness of the needs and rights of the disabled; integrate persons with disabilities into mainstream activities such as schooling; help disabled persons and their families cope with disability; assist disabled adults to obtain training and employment; offer referrals to specialist services; and provide equipment such as hearing aids and prosthetic devices. The youth activities centres offered sports, recreational and cultural activities, which were increasingly open to young women; organized community service activities, such as training of volunteer rehabilitation workers; and held lectures and workshops on issues of community concern. UNRWA supported the community centres by providing financial and technical support and promoting institution-building in the framework of a five-year plan (1995/1999) to achieve their full managerial and financial sustainability. By 30 June 1998, 68 of the 70 women's programme centres were managed by local committees, up from 52 the previous year, as were all community rehabilitation and youth activities centres. The Agency provided small subsidies to each centre towards an approved annual programme plan and budget, helped the committees establish income-generation projects to provide revenue for the centre and income for participants, and trained community volunteers in fund-raising skills. The centres derived most of their income from participation fees for activities and contributions from external sources, with support from UNRWA accounting for less than half of most centres' operating requirements. In the Gaza Strip, self-sustainability was promoted through a special organizational development unit, which provided intensified training and assistance to community centres.

In May 1998, a comprehensive UNRWA service compound was inaugurated in Waqqas, in the Jordan Valley, where more than 18,000 registered refugees lived. Built with project funding on a site provided by the Government of Jordan, the compound, comprising a women's programme centre, a community rehabilitation centre, a health point, a kindergarten and a nursery, was the largest community centre in the area. Besides enhancing the quality of services, the project was the first of its kind in terms of making a variety of Agency services available at one location.

Further progress was achieved by mid-1998 in developing a unified registration system to integrate electronically three sets of UNRWA records: a computerized database containing registration data for Palestine refugees; a computerized database containing socio-economic data on special hardship cases; and a hardcopy archive of an estimated 700,000 family files. Following the decentralization of the registration database in previous reporting periods, a pilot version of the field social study system was installed in the West Bank in October 1997, ahead of full installation in all fields by late 1998. An enhanced version of the socio-economic database, the system would enable data to be updated at the field and area level for better programme planning and management.

Income generation

UNRWA's income-generation programme supported small-scale enterprises and micro-enterprises within the refugee community by providing capital investment and working capital loans through field-based revolving loan funds, as well as technical assistance. The programme aimed to create and maintain jobs, generate income for participants, support sustainable enterprises and encourage the participation of women in economic life. The capacity of the programme and its range of activities continued to expand.

In the Gaza Strip, where UNRWA's income-generation efforts were concentrated, business activity was heavily influenced by closures and movement restrictions, which contributed to unemployment, hindered movement of finished goods and raw materials and increased business costs. Those conditions resulted in a shortage of working capital for many small enterprises and micro-enterprises, which were increasingly faced with trading conditions which dictated that they purchase in cash but sell on credit. The programme continued to target such enterprises, in both the formal and informal sectors of the economy, through a range of flexible collateral and guarantee mechanisms, including business plan-based lending and individual, group and cheque-guarantee methods, all backed by workable enforcement procedures. Those mechanisms enabled the Agency to lend to target groups at minimal risk, while increasing financial sustainability. Despite a decrease in donor contributions to the Gaza programme, the number of loans increased from 4,452 loans valued at $5.4 million in the previous reporting period to 6,193 loans valued at $7.3 million by mid-1998. Some 53 per cent of borrowers were women. UNRWA's solidarity group lending programme provided short-term working capital loans to women working in micro-enterprises who, because of the size and informal nature of the businesses, had no access to formal credit.

A small-scale enterprise programme in the West Bank continued to operate at full capacity, issuing 79 loans valued at $1.1 million during the reporting period. In the absence of additional contributions to expand the capital base, the programme relied entirely on revolved principal, limiting possibilities for growth. The programme had a capital base of $1.7 million at mid-1998 and an overall recovery rate of 94 per cent. A micro-enterprise credit programme was launched in the Nablus area of the West Bank in April 1998, and by the end of June had disbursed 288 loans valued at $243,380.

UNRWA also operated revolving loan funds for small-scale enterprises in Jordan and Lebanon, though on a smaller scale than in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. In Jordan, the income-generation programme was in abeyance from August 1997 pending conclusion of a more favourable agreement with the local bank. At mid-1998, some 100 loan applications were under review, ahead of the expected reactivation of the programme in August 1998. In Lebanon, the Agency awarded 35 loans valued at $223,500 during the reporting period. At mid-1998, the Jordan and Lebanon programmes had capital bases of $494,208 and $330,000 and overall recovery rates of 96 per cent and 99 per cent, respectively.

Advisory Commission. By a letter of 28 September to the Commissioner-General, included in his report [A/53/13], the Advisory Commission of UNRWA confirmed its support for the Middle East peace process, but noted its concern about the lack of progress in the preceding year, which had directly and indirectly affected Palestine refugee communities. While noting that, unlike in each of the two preceding years, it had not been necessary to convene an extraordinary meeting on UNRWA's financial situation, the Commission voiced concern about the negative effects, in both the short and long terms, of funding shortfalls and the depletion of the Agency's working capital. It agreed that the partnership approach, drawing together the host authorities, the donors and UNRWA, should continue to be actively pursued to enable the Agency to regain a viable financial footing and ensure the continuation of its activities. The Commission appealed to the international community to share in making that partnership possible and requested the prompt payment of pledges and other funds to UNRWA.

The Commission noted with appreciation the internal restructuring and reforms initiated by the Commissioner-General in 1996 and encouraged the Agency to expedite financial and administrative reforms. It expressed concern about the continuing deterioration of living conditions of the Palestine refugees in all the fields of UNRWA operations and hoped that additional contributions to UNRWA would ease the situation. In particular, the Commission appealed to the international community to back with contributions its political support for Palestine refugees for the stability of the region and the peace process. It also called on the Israeli authorities to do their part to ensure that Agency operations proceeded unhampered.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 3 December [meeting 78], the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Fourth Committee [A/53/597], adopted resolution 53/46 by recorded vote (157-1-2) [agenda item 83].

Assistance to Palestine refugees

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolution 52/57 of 10 December 1997 and all its previous resolutions on the question, including resolution 194(111) of 11 December 1948,

Taking note of the report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East covering the period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998,

Welcoming the signature in Washington, D.C., on 13 September 1993 by the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the people of Palestine, of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements and the subsequent implementation agreements, and also the signature of the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in Washington, D.C., on 28 September 1995,

Encouraging the Multilateral Working Group on Refugees of the Middle East peace process to continue its important work,

Welcoming the completion of the transfer of the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East to Gaza, to its area of operations,

1. Notes with regret that repatriation or compensation of the refugees, as provided for in paragraph 11 of its resolution 194(111), has not yet been effected and that, therefore, the situation of the refugees continues to be a matter of concern;

2. Expresses its thanks to the Commissioner-General and to all the staff of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, recognizing that the Agency is doing all it can within the limits of available resources, and also expresses its thanks to the specialized agencies and to private organizations for their valuable work in assisting refugees;

3. Notes with regret that the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine has been unable to find a means of achieving progress in the implementation of paragraph 11 of General Assembly resolution 194(111), and requests the Commission to exert continued efforts towards the implementation of that paragraph and to report to the Assembly as appropriate, but no later than 1 September 1999;

4. Notes the significant success of the Peace Implementation Programme of the Agency since the signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, and stresses the importance that contributions to this Programme are not at the expense of the General Fund;

5. Welcomes strengthened cooperation between the Agency and the World Bank and other specialized agencies, and calls upon the Agency to make a decisive contribution towards giving a fresh impetus to the economic and social stability of the occupied territories;

6. Urges all Member States to extend and expedite aid and assistance with a view to the economic and social development of the Palestinian people and the occupied territories;

7. Reiterates its deep concern regarding the persisting critical financial situation of the Agency, as outlined in the report of the Commissioner-General;

8. Commends the efforts of the Commissioner-General to move towards budgetary transparency and internal efficiency, and hopes that such moves will continue;

9. Notes with profound concern that the structural deficit problem confronting the Agency portends an almost certain decline in the living conditions of the Palestine refugees and that it, therefore, has possible consequences for the peace process;

10. Calls upon all Governments, as a matter of urgency, to make the most generous efforts possible to meet the anticipated needs of the Agency, urges non-contributing Governments to contribute regularly, and encourages contributing Governments to consider increasing their regular contributions;

11. Decides to extend the mandate of the Agency until 30 June 2002, without prejudice to the provisions of paragraph 11 of General Assembly resolution 194(111).

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 53/46:

In favour: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman. Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela. Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel.

Abstaining: Micronesia, United States.

The Assembly, on the same date [meeting 78] and also on the Fourth Committee's recommendation [A/53/597], adopted resolution 53/50 by recorded vote (157-2-2) [agenda item 83].

Operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolutions 194(III) of 11 December 1948, 212(III) of 19 November 1948, 302(IV) of 8 December 1949 and all subsequent related resolutions,

Recalling also the relevant Security Council resolutions,

Having considered the report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East for the period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998,

Taking note of the letter dated 28 September 1998 from the Chairman of the Advisory Commission of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East addressed to the Commissioner-General, contained in the report of the Commissioner-General,

Having considered the reports of the Secretary-General submitted in pursuance of its resolutions 48/40 E, 48/40 H and 48/40 J of 10 December 1993 and 49/35 C of 9 December 1994,

Recalling Articles 100, 104 and 105 of the Charter of the United Nations and the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations,

Affirming the applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem,

Aware of the fact that Palestine refugees have, for over five decades, lost their homes, lands and means of livelihood,

Also aware of the continuing needs of Palestine refugees throughout the occupied Palestinian territory and in the other fields of operation, namely, in Lebanon, Jordan and the Syrian Arab Republic,

Further aware of the valuable work done by the refugee affairs officers of the Agency in providing protection to the Palestinian people, in particular Palestine refugees,

Deeply concerned about the critical financial situation of the Agency and its effect on the continuity of provision of necessary Agency services to the Palestine refugees, including the emergency-related programmes,

Aware of the work of the new Peace Implementation Programme of the Agency,

Recalling the signing in Washington, D.C., on 13 September 1993 of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements by the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the subsequent implementation agreements, including the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, signed in Washington, D.C., on 28 September 1995,

Taking note of the agreement reached on 24 June 1994, embodied in an exchange of letters between the Agency and the Palestine Liberation Organization,

Aware of the establishment of a working relationship between the Advisory Commission of the Agency and the Palestine Liberation Organization in accordance with General Assembly decision 48/417 of 10 December 1993,

1. Expresses its appreciation to the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, as well as to all the staff of the Agency, for their tireless efforts and valuable work;

2. Also expresses its appreciation to the Advisory Commission of the Agency, and requests it to continue its efforts and to keep the General Assembly informed of its activities, including the full implementation of decision 48/417;

3. Welcomes the completion of the transfer of the headquarters of the Agency to Gaza and the signing of the Headquarters Agreement between the Agency and the Palestinian Authority;

4. Acknowledges the support of the host Government and the Palestine Liberation Organization for the Agency in the discharge of its duties;

5. Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to accept the de jure applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, and to abide scrupulously by its provisions;

6. Also calls upon Israel to abide by Articles 100, 104 and 105 of the Charter of the United Nations and the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations with regard to the safety of the personnel of the Agency and the protection of its institutions and the safeguarding of the security of the facilities of the Agency in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem;

7. Calls once again upon the Government of Israel to compensate the Agency for damage to its property and facilities resulting from actions by the Israeli side;

8. Requests the Commissioner-General to proceed with the issuance of identification cards for Palestine refugees and their descendants in the occupied Palestinian territory;

9. Notes that the new context created by the signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements by the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization and subsequent implementation agreements has had major consequences for the activities of the Agency, which is henceforth called upon, in close cooperation with the United Nations Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories, the specialized agencies and the World Bank, to continue to contribute towards the development of economic and social stability in the occupied territory;

10. Notes also that the functioning of the Agency remains essential in all fields of operation;

11. Notes further the significant success of the Peace Implementation Programme of the Agency;

12. Expresses concern over the remaining austerity measures which have affected the quality and level of some of the services of the Agency;

13. Requests the Commissioner-General to consider the possibility of modernizing the archives of the Agency;

14. Urges all States, specialized agencies and non-governmental organizations to continue and to increase their contributions to the Agency so as to ease current financial constraints and to support the Agency in maintaining the provision of the most basic and effective assistance to the Palestine refugees.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 53/50:

In favour: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstaining: Micronesia, Zambia.

UNRWA financing

Throughout 1998, UNRWA continued to face a critical financial situation, characterized by large funding shortfalls in the regular budget, continued enforcement of austerity measures, depleted working capital and cash reserves and cumulative deficits in certain project accounts. The structural deficit-representing the inability of contributions to keep pace with natural growth in the refugee population and inflation, which increased the cost of maintaining a constant level of services-showed no sign of improving. Although the Agency was already operating well below earlier levels, it had been able to avert insolvency in 1997 only by introducing additional austerity measures and issuing extraordinary appeals for additional funding to allow services to continue without disruption.

UNRWA began 1998 with depleted working capital, low cash reserves and no indication of a significant increase in overall income. As expected cash income for 1998 fell far short of the $314 million regular budget for the year, the Agency was obliged to carry forward all austerity measures previously implemented, including those announced in August 1997 and not rescinded. Expected cash expenditure was also reduced slightly by other factors, such as managed higher vacancy rates and delayed recruitment for international and local posts in the context of the general recruitment freeze; realization of benefits from previous and ongoing restructuring measures, mainly contract teachers and reduced international staffing; and non-utilization in certain budget lines owing to stricter financial controls. At 30 June 1998, expected 1998 cash expenditure in the regular programme was $253 million, as compared to expected 1998 cash income of $252 million. Additional contributions were being sought to overcome the estimated core deficit of $1 million. Nevertheless, the Agency's 1998 budget remained only partially funded, and the estimated 1998 budget deficit remained high, at $62 million. Available resources remained insufficient to enable the lifting of any of the austerity and other cost-reduction measures previously imposed, which represented non-implementation of certain activities included in the General Assembly-approved budget. The cash position remained extremely weak, forcing the Agency to live from hand to mouth in terms of balancing incoming funds and outgoing payments. Working capital was for all practical purposes nonexistent, making the Agency vulnerable to any change in expected income or expenditure.

Repeated funding shortfalls in previous years had severely eroded UNRWA's cash position the amount of cash on hand in Agency bank accounts at any point in time that could be used to meet basic obligations. On 31 December 1997, outstanding cash pledges under all accounts amounted to $71 million, of which $24.7 million related to the regular budget and $46.3 million to projects. In addition, the Agency had not been reimbursed by the PA for payments of value-added tax and port and related charges, which amounted to $17.7 million at the close of 1997. Those factors exerted further strain on the Agency's cash position, making it especially difficult to meet obligations in time towards the end of the fiscal year.

The 19961997 General Fund budget included a provision in the amount of $12.7 million per year to be set aside towards an estimated $ 127 million in termination indemnities payable to local staff upon the eventual dissolution of UNRWA. The overall amount was later revised to $121 million to reflect termination indemnities paid to staff in connection with the relocation of UNRWA headquarters to the area of operations. Accordingly, the termination indemnities provision included in the 19981999 budget was in the amount of $12.1 million per year. Owing to financial constraints, the provision was unfunded in both 1996 and 1997, although termination indemnities represented a contingent liability on the Agency.

UNRWA's financial report and audited financial statements for the biennium 19961997 were submitted by its Commissioner-General to the General Assembly [A/53/5/Add.3], together with the report of the UN Board of Auditors on UNRWA.

Working Group.

The Working Group on the Financing of UNRWA held two meetings in 1998, on 3 September and 22 October. In its November report to the General Assembly [A/53/569], the Group noted that UNRWA ended the 1997 financial year with a deficit of $1.9 million in its cash budget, representing the difference between actual cash expenditures of $252.4 million and actual cash income of $250.5 million. However, the difference between cash income and the cash budget of $312 million for the year meant that the Agency recorded a budget deficit of $61.5 million in 1997. Total cash and in-kind income received by the Agency in 1997 was $317.2 million, of which $270.9 million was for the regular budget; with the remainder, $46.3 million, being for projects. The Agency's total cash expenditure in 1997 was $281.5 million, of which $252.4 million was for the regular budget and $29.1 million for projects.

The Working Group noted that UNRWA began 1998 with depleted working capital, low cash balances, and no indication of a significant increase in overall income. As at the end of June, cash expenditure for the regular programme in 1998 was expected to be $253 million, compared with expected 1998 cash income of some $252 million. The revised projection of cash income of $252 million for 1998 represented an increase of $16 million from the projection made at the end of the first quarter of the year due to an additional $12 million in income from pledges announced at an informal meeting of major donors and host authorities held in May 1998, together with some $4 million in savings resulting from developments on international currency markets and the early payment of some regular contributions. The Agency's 1998 budget remained only partially funded, and the estimated 1998 budget deficit remained high, at $62 million. If UNRWA received the same amount from donors in 1999 as was expected for 1998, the Agency would still face a budget deficit of $71 million in 1999. That figure made no provision for the restoration of cuts made in previous years or for the cost of termination indemnities. A further complicating factor brought to the Working Group's attention was the issue of the Agency's outstanding claims for the repayment of value-added tax and other charges by the PA. As at August 1998, the value of those claims had reached some $19 million.

The Working Group expressed alarm at the continuing negative effect of five years of austerity measures due to shortfalls in funding. Those measures had prevented programmes from expanding at a rate commensurate with the growth in the refugee population, necessitated curtailments in ongoing programme activities, and precluded certain actions that would normally have been part of the Agency's regular programme activities. Most seriously, restrictions on hiring had led to increased class sizes in Agency schools, rising patient/staff ratios in the health services and higher caseloads for social workers dealing with the poorest refugees. The employment of teachers on a contract basis had made a significant contribution to reducing costs in the Agency's largest programme, education. However, the Working Group appreciated that that action was not a long-term solution to securing funding of the Agency's regular activities on a sustainable basis, and that it could have potential negative effects on the Agency's relations with its area staff, who were the bedrock on which UNRWA's continued functioning depended.

As for the effects of other austerity measures, the Working Group was concerned that the freeze on regular budget allocations for university scholarships, shelter rehabilitation and selective cash assistance had not only reduced the Agency's activities in those areas, but made them dependent on extra budgetary contributions; that cuts in allocations for facilities maintenance had led to the deterioration of the Agency's extensive physical assets; and that reductions in hospitalization allocations had meant that some patients who required hospital care may have been unable to receive it. The Working Group agreed that while the problem of the refugees was deeply rooted in a political issue that had originated more than half a century before, the problems now faced by the refugees were humanitarian ones that had to be addressed as a shared international responsibility. Any further reduction in the services provided by UNRWA would not only unfairly deprive the refugees of the minimum level of support to which they were entitled, but could also have a destabilizing effect on the entire region.

The Working Group expressed the hope that the international support for UNRWA embodied in annual General Assembly resolutions recognizing the importance of the Agency's work and requesting that Governments contribute to it would be translated into measures for ensuring the survival of the Agency on a secure financial basis. The Group urged Governments to continue contributing generously and to consider additional contributions to finance deficit amounts so that services could continue uninterrupted.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 3 December [meeting 78], the General Assembly, on the Fourth Committee's recommendation [A/53/597], adopted resolution 53/47 without vote [agenda item 83].


Working Group on the Financing of the
United Nations Relief and Works Agency
for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolutions 2656(XXV) of 7 December 1970, 2728(XXV) of 15 December 1970, 2791 (XXVI) of 6 December 1971, 52/58 of 10 December 1997 and the previous resolutions on this question,

Recalling also its decision 36/462 of 16 March 1982, by which it took note of the special report of the Working Group on the Financing of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East,

Having considered the report of the Working Group,

Taking into account the report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East for the period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998,

Deeply concerned about the persisting critical financial situation of the Agency, which has affected and affects the continuation of the provision of the necessary Agency services to Palestine refugees, including the emergency-related programmes,

Emphasizing the continuing need for extraordinary efforts in order to maintain, at least at the current minimum level, the activities of the Agency, as well as to enable the Agency to carry out essential construction,

1. Commends the Working Group on the Financing of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East for its efforts to assist in ensuring the financial security of the Agency;

2. Takes note with approval of the report of the Working Group;

3. Requests the Working Group to continue its efforts, in cooperation with the Secretary-General and the Commissioner-General, for the financing of the Agency for a further period of one year;

4. Requests the Secretary-General to provide the necessary services and assistance to the Working Group for the conduct of its work.

Displaced persons

In an October report [A/53/471] on compliance with General Assembly resolution 52/59 [YUN 1997, p. 450], which called for the accelerated return of all persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities to their homes or former places of residence in the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, the Secretary-General said that since UNRWA was not involved in arrangements for the return of either refugees or displaced persons not registered with it, Agency information was based on requests by returning registered refugees for the transfer of their entitlements to their areas of return. Displaced refugees known by UNRWA to have returned to the West Bank and Gaza Strip since June 1967 numbered about 17,100. Records indicated that, between 1 July 1997 and 30 June 1998, 534 refugees had returned to the West Bank and 177 to the Gaza Strip. Some of the refugees might not have been displaced in 1967, but might be family members of a displaced registered refugee whom they either had accompanied on return or had joined later.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 3 December [meeting 78], the General Assembly, on the Fourth Committee's recommendation [A/53/597], adopted resolution 53/48 by recorded vote (156-2-1) [agenda item 83].

Persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolutions 2252(ESV) of 4 July 1967 and 2341 B (XXII) of 19 December 1967 and all subsequent related resolutions,

Recalling also Security Council resolutions 237(1967) of 14 June 1967 and 259(1968) of 27 September 1968,

Taking note of the report of the Secretary-General submitted in pursuance of its resolution 52/59 of 10 December 1997,

Taking note also of the report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East for the period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998,

Concerned about the continuing human suffering resulting from the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities,

Taking note of the relevant provisions of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, signed in Washington, D.C., on 13 September 1993 by the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, with regard to the modalities for the admission of persons displaced in 1967, and concerned that the process agreed upon has not yet been effected,

1. Reaffirms the right of all persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities to return to their homes or former places of residence in the territories occupied by Israel since 1967;

2. Expresses the hope for an accelerated return of displaced persons through the mechanism agreed upon by the parties in article XII of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements;

3. Endorses, in the meanwhile, the efforts of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East to continue to provide humanitarian assistance, as far as practicable, on an emergency basis, and as a temporary measure, to persons in the area who are currently displaced and in serious need of continued assistance as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities;

4. Strongly appeals to all Governments and to organizations and individuals to contribute generously to the Agency and to the other inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations concerned for the above purposes;

5. Requests the Secretary-General, after consulting with the Commissioner-General, to report to the General Assembly before its fifty-fourth session on the progress made with regard to the implementation of the present resolution.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 53/48:

In favour: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt. El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstaining: Micronesia.

Education, training and scholarships

In an October report [A/53/472], the Secretary-General transmitted responses received to the General Assembly's 1997 appeal contained in resolution 52/60 [YUN 1997, p. 450] for States, specialized agencies and NGOs to augment special allocations for scholarships and grants to Palestine refugees, for which UNRWA acted as recipient and trustee.

In the 1997/98 academic year, Japan awarded 11 fellowships to Palestine refugees, of which 3 were to vocational training staff employed by UNRWA, 2 were fellowships in vocational training administration and 6 were fellowships in community health. All the fellowships were for training in Japan. Under Japanese grants of $400,000 made annually between 1992 and 1994, $500,000 in 1995 and $600,000 in both 1996 and 1997, some 494 students were participating in the UNRWA university scholarship programme during 1997/98. Contributions from Switzerland in 1997 totalling $338,000 enabled 334 Palestinians to pursue university studies. UNESCO offered seven new scholarship awards to Palestinian students in 1997/98, while WHO provided 50 fellowships or study tours for candidates nominated by the PA, and the United World Colleges offered one scholarship for 1998/99 for its branch in Canada.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 3 December [meeting 78], the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Fourth Committee [A/53/597], adopted resolution 53/49 by recorded vote (160-0-1) [agenda item 83].


Offers by Member States of grants and scholarships
for higher education, including vocational
training, for Palestine refugees

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolution 212(111) of 19 November 1948 on assistance to Palestine refugees,

Recalling also its resolutions 35/13 B of 3 November 1980, 36/146 H of 16 December 1981, 37/120 D of 16 December 1982, 38/83 D of 15 December 1983, 39/99 D of 14 December 1984, 40/165 D of 16 December 1985, 41/69 D of 3 December 1986, 42/69 D of 2 December 1987, 43/57 D of 6 December 1988, 44/47 D of 8 December 1989, 45/73 D of 11 December 1990, 46/46 D of 9 December 1991, 47/69 D of 14 December 1992, 48/40 D of 10 December 1993, 49/35 D of 9 December 1994, 50/28 D of 6 December 1995, 51/127 of 13 December 1996 and 52/60 of 10 December 1997,

Cognizant of the fact that the Palestine refugees have, for the last five decades, lost their homes, lands and means of livelihood,

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General,

Having also considered the report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East for (he period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998,

1. Urges all States to respond to the appeal in its resolution 32/90 F of 13 December 1977 and reiterated in subsequent relevant resolutions in a manner commensurate with the needs of Palestine refugees for higher education, including vocational training;

2. Strongly appeals to all States, specialized agencies and non-governmental organizations to augment the special allocations for grants and scholarships to Palestine refugees, in addition to their contributions to the regular budget of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East;

3. Expresses its appreciation to all Governments, specialized agencies and non-governmental organizations that responded favourably to its resolutions on this question;

4. Invites the relevant specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system to continue, within their respective spheres of competence, to extend assistance for higher education to Palestine refugee students;

5. Appeals to all States, specialized agencies and the United Nations University to contribute generously to the Palestinian universities in the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967, including, in due course, the proposed University of Jerusalem "Al-Quds" for Palestine refugees;

6. Appeals to all States, specialized agencies and other international bodies to contribute towards the establishment of vocational training centres for Palestine refugees;

7. Requests the Agency to act as the recipient and trustee for the special allocations for grants and scholarships and to award them to qualified Palestine refugee candidates;

8. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-fourth session on the implementation of the present resolution.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 53/49:

In favour: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay. Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: None

Abstaining: Israel.

Proposed University of Jerusalem "Al-Quds"

In response to General Assembly resolution 52/63 [YUN 1997, p. 451 ], the Secretary-General submitted an October report [A/53/551] on the proposal to establish a university for Palestine refugees in Jerusalem. First mentioned by the Assembly in resolution 35/13 B [YUN 1980, p. 443], the issue had been the subject of annual reports by the Secretary-General.

To assist in the preparation of a feasibility study and at the Secretary-General's request, the Rector of the United Nations University again asked expert Mihaly Simai to visit the area and meet with Israeli officials. In response to the Secretary-General's note verbale of 25 August, requesting Israel to facilitate the visit, Israel in a 9 October reply stated that it had consistently voted against the resolution on the proposed university and that its position remained unchanged. It charged that the resolution's sponsors sought to exploit higher education for political purposes extraneous to genuine academic pursuits. Accordingly, Israel was of the opinion that the proposed visit would serve no useful purpose. The Secretary-General reported that it had not been possible to complete the study as planned.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 3 December [meeting 78], the General Assembly, acting on the Fourth Committee's recommendation [A/53/597], adopted resolution 53/52 by recorded vote (156-2-2) [agenda item 83].

University of Jerusalem "Al-Quds" for Palestine refugees

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolutions 36/146 G of 16 December 1981, 37/120 C of 16 December 1982,38/83 K of 15 December 1983, 39/99 K of 14 December 1984, 40/165 D and K of 16 December 1985, 41/69 K of 3 December 1986,42/69 K of 2 December 1987,43/57 J of 6 December 1988,44/47 J of 8 December 1989,45/73 J of 11 December 1990,46/46 J of 9 December 1991,47/69 J of 14 December 1992,48/401 of 10 December 1993,49/35 G of 9 December 1994, 50/28 G of 6 December 1995, 51/130 of 13 December 1996 and 52/63 of 10 December 1997,

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General,

Having also considered the report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East for the period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998,

1. Emphasizes the need for strengthening the educational system in the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 5 June 1967, including Jerusalem, and specifically the need for the establishment of the proposed university;

2. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to take all necessary measures for establishing the University of Jerusalem "Al-Quds", in accordance with General Assembly resolution 35/13 B of 3 November 1980, giving due consideration to the recommendations consistent with the provisions of that resolution;

3. Calls once more upon Israel, the occupying Power, to cooperate in the implementation of the present resolution and to remove the hindrances that it has put in the way of establishing the University of Jerusalem "Al-Quds";

4. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-fourth session on the progress made in the implementation of the present resolution.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 53/52:

In favour: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea. Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstaining: Micronesia, Zambia.

Property rights

In response to General Assembly resolution 52/62 [YUN 1997, p. 452], the Secretary-General submitted a November report [A/53/644] on steps taken to protect and administer Arab property, assets and property rights in Israel and to establish a fund for income derived there from, on behalf of the rightful owners. He indicated that he had transmitted the resolution to Israel and all other Member States, requesting information on any steps taken or envisaged with regard to its implementation.

In a 19 August reply, reproduced in the report, Israel stated that its position on the resolutions on Palestine refugees had been set forth in successive annual replies, the latest of which had been included in the Secretary-General's 1997 report on the subject [YUN 1997, p. 452]. Israel regretted that the resolutions regarding UNRWA remained rife with political issues irrelevant to the Agency's work and detached from the new reality in the area. While Israel believed that UNRWA could play an important role in promoting the social and economic advancement foreseen in agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, and accordingly looked forward to continuing cooperation with UNRWA, Israel considered it essential that the Assembly consolidate the UNRWA resolutions into one directly related to the Agency's humanitarian tasks.

Report of Conciliation Commission. The United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, in its fifty-third report covering the period from 1 September 1997 to 31 August 1998 [A/53/518], noted that, pursuant to Assembly resolution 51/129 [YUN 1996, p. 423], the Secretariat had engaged a contractor to modernize the existing records; the project would be completed in early 1999. The Commission had authorized access by the PLO to its records in the UN archives for the purpose of making a scanned image of them.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 3 December [meeting 78], the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Fourth Committee [A/53/597], adopted resolution 53/51 by recorded vote (156-2-1) [agenda item 83].

Palestine refugees' properties and their revenues

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolutions 194(111) of 11 December 1948, 36/146 C of 16 December 1981 and all its subsequent resolutions on the question,

Taking note of the report of the Secretary-General submitted in pursuance of its resolution 52/62 of 10 December 1997,

Taking note also of the report of the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine for the period from 1 September 1997 to 31 August 1998,

Recalling that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the principles of international law uphold the principle that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or her property,

Recalling in particular its resolution 394(V) of 14 December 1950, in which it directed the Conciliation Commission, in consultation with the parties concerned, to prescribe measures for the protection of the rights, property and interests of the Palestine Arab refugees,

Taking note of the completion of the programme of identification and evaluation of Arab property, as announced by the Conciliation Commission in its twenty-second progress report, and of the fact that the Land Office had a schedule of Arab owners and file of documents defining the location, area and other particulars of Arab property,

Recalling that, in the framework of the Middle East peace process, the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Government of Israel agreed, in the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements of 13 September 1993, to commence negotiations on permanent status issues, including the important issue of the refugees, and calling for the commencement of those negotiations,

1. Reaffirms that the Palestine Arab refugees are entitled to their property and to the income derived there from, in conformity with the principles of justice and equity;

2. Requests the Secretary-General to take all appropriate steps, in consultation with the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, for the protection of Arab property, assets and property rights in Israel, expresses its appreciation for the work done to preserve and modernize the existing records of the Commission, and requests the Secretary-General to complete this task;

3. Calls once more upon Israel to render all facilities and assistance to the Secretary-General in the implementation of the present resolution;

4. Calls upon all the parties concerned to provide the Secretary-General with any pertinent information in their possession concerning Arab property, assets and property rights in Israel that would assist him in the implementation of the present resolution;

5. Urges the Palestinian and Israeli sides, as agreed between them, to deal with the important issue of Palestine refugees' properties and their revenues in the framework of the final status negotiations of the Middle East peace process;

6. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-fourth session on the implementation of the present resolution.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 53/51:

In favour: Albania. Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde. Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Cote d’lvoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius. Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstaining: Micronesia.

Peace-keeping operations

In 1998, the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), originally set up to monitor the cease-fire called for by the Security Council in May 1948 in newly partitioned Palestine, continued its work. UNTSO's unarmed military observers fulfilled changing mandates-from supervising the original four armistice agreements between Israel and its neighbours (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic) to observing and monitoring other cease-fires, as well as performing a number of additional tasks.

During the year, UNTSO personnel worked with the two remaining UN peace-keeping forces in the Middle East the Observer Group Golan with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights, and the Observer Group Lebanon with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). In July, through an exchange of letters between the Secretary-General [S/1998/679] and the President of the Security Council [S/1998/680], Slovakia and Slovenia were added to the list of Member States providing military observers to UNTSO.

On 25 February [S/1998/183], the Secretary-General informed the Council President of his intention to appoint Major-General Timothy Roger Ford (Australia) as the new Chief of Staff of UNTSO, replacing Major-General Rufus Kupolati (Nigeria). By a 2 March letter [S/1998/184] to the Secretary-General, the Council agreed to the new appointment.

Lebanon

The situation in southern Lebanon remained volatile and dangerous in 1998, with a heightened risk of escalation. In the second half of the year, UNIFIL recorded the highest number of operations ever against the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) by armed elements resisting the Israeli occupation of the area.

By a 6 April letter [S/1998/301], Israel informed the Secretary-General that on 1 April the Ministerial Committee for National Security had decided to accept Security Council resolution 425(1978) [YUN 1978, p. 312]. As a result, IDF would leave Lebanon with appropriate security arrangements, so that the Lebanese Government could restore its control over southern Lebanon and assume responsibility for guaranteeing that its territory would not be used as a base for terrorist activity against Israel. IDF would continue its activity against terrorist threats in the "security zone" until the necessary security arrangements were effected. Israel called on Lebanon to begin negotiations to restore its effective control over territories that were under IDF control. Israel viewed the guaranteed security and safety of the residents of the "security zone" and the soldiers of the South Lebanese Army (SLA) as an integral part of the implementation of resolution 425(1978).

Referring to Israel's letter, Lebanon, in similar letters dated 21 April to the President of the Security Council [S/1998/341] and to the Secretary-General [A/52/878-S/1998/352], said that the acceptance of resolution 425(1978) was issued not by the Israeli Government but by the Committee for National Security. The Government itself had not issued any clear statement as to its position.

Lebanon asserted that Israel's proposal was an attempt to exact the principle of negotiation and the principle of security arrangements, contrary to the meaning of resolution 425(1978), which made no provision for negotiation and did not allow Israel to gain security guarantees at the expense of Lebanese sovereignty. Any negotiations between Lebanon and Israel could only be on subjects relating to resolutions 242(1967) [YUN 1967, p. 257] and 338(1973) [YUN 1973, p. 213), Arab rights, the situation of the city of Al-Quds (Jerusalem), the rights of the Palestinian refugees and a future framework for peaceful relations, concluded Lebanon.

Lebanon transmitted to the Secretary-General a letter of 23 June from its Minister for Foreign Affairs [A/52/969-S/1998/570] on the subject of the approximately 213 Lebanese detainees held in Israeli prisons and detention centres in southern Lebanon. According to Lebanon, the Israeli High Court of Justice announced on 4 March that Lebanese detainees could continue to be held without trial as hostages and as a bargaining chip despite the fact that they had been in detention for years. That decision, said Lebanon, was a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and of all humanitarian principles. Lebanon called for the closing down of the Khiyam detention centre and for the release of the Lebanese detainees. Israel's claim that SLA was in charge of the Khiyam detention centre did not exonerate Israel from responsibility, as SLA could survive only with Israel's support, stated Lebanon.

On 3 November [A/53/572-S/1998/1030], Lebanon informed the Secretary-General that Israeli forces had excavated hundreds of tons of soil in the occupied areas of southern Lebanon in order to transport it into Israeli territory for the purpose of reclaiming Israeli agricultural land. That action inflicted environmental damage on the surrounding area and caused harm to farm owners, whose land had been so transformed that they were no longer able to cultivate it and were forced to abandon it.

By a 23 December letter [A/53/768-S/1998/1215] to the Secretary-General, Lebanon stated that on the previous day Israeli military aircraft fired missiles on the area around the village of Janta, killing seven people, including six children. Though Israeli officials had announced that the bombing was committed unintentionally, Lebanon asserted that it was in fact the outcome of a policy of aggression against its territory and people. In a series of monthly communications (A/52/763-S/1998/20, A/52/796-S/1998/138, A/52/830-S/1998/237, A/52/874-S/1998/338, A/52/888-S/1998/379, A/52/954-S/1998/522, A/52/987-S/1998/666, A/52/1013-S/1998/738, A/53/441-S/1998/900, A/53/536-S/1998/989, A/53/666-S/1998/1070, A/53/740-S/1998/1161], Lebanon detailed Israeli attacks on southern Lebanon and the Western Bekaa and its practices against the civilian inhabitants of those areas.

UNIFIL

The Security Council twice extended the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon in 1998, in January and July, each time for a six-month period. UNIFIL, which was established by Council resolution 425(1978) [YUN 1978, p. 312] following Israel's invasion of Lebanon [ibid., p. 296], was originally entrusted with confirming the withdrawal of Israeli forces, restoring international peace and security, and assisting the Lebanese Government in ensuring the return of its effective authority in southern Lebanon. Following a second Israeli invasion in 1982 [YUN 1982, p. 428], the Council, in resolution 511(1982) [ibid., p. 450], authorized the Force to carry out, in addition to its original mandate, the interim task of providing protection and humanitarian assistance to the local population, while maintaining its positions in the area of deployment. The Force headquarters, based predominantly in Naqoura, provided command and control, as well as liaison with Lebanon and Israel, UNDOF, UNTSO and a number of NGOs.

Composition and deployment

As at December 1998, UNIFIL comprised 4,483 troops from Fiji (588), Finland (492), France (247), Ghana (646), India (617), Ireland (611), Italy (46), Nepal (604) and Poland (632). At the end of November, an Indian battalion was deployed in the east sector, replacing the Norwegian unit, which departed UNIFIL after more than 20 years of service. UNIFIL was assisted in its tasks by 51 military observers of UNTSO. In addition, UNIFIL employed 486 civilian staff, of whom 142 were recruited internationally and 344 locally. Major-General Jioji Konousi Konrote (Fiji) continued as Force Commander.

Since the establishment of UNIFIL, 222 members of the Force had lost their lives: 76 as a result of shooting or bomb explosions, 92 in accidents and 54 from other causes. A total of 334 had been wounded by shooting or by mine or bomb explosions.

UNlFlL's military component comprised a force headquarters, six infantry battalions and a mobile reserve company, together with supporting logistic and administrative units. The battalions were deployed throughout southern Lebanon in a network of 151 positions, staffed 24 hours a day and consisting of: checkpoints, for the control of movement on the principal roads in the UNIFIL area of operation; observation posts, for observing movement on and off the roads in the area of operation; and checkpoints/observations posts, which combined the functions of control and observation. The battalions were supported in their task by a Force Mobile Reserve consisting of a composite mechanized company used to reinforce positions during rotation and deployed during serious incidents. UNTSO military observers assisting UNIFIL manned a number of observation posts along the Israel-Lebanon armistice demarcation line and operated mobile patrols in the area of operation controlled by Israel. A helicopter wing was maintained with the primary function of patrol and reconnaissance flights over the mission area; it also undertook coastal patrols, medical evacuations and search and rescue operations.

Activities

Report of Secretary-General (January). In a report [S/1998/53] on developments from 17 July 1997 to 15 January 1998 in the UNIFIL area of operation, the Secretary-General said that hostilities continued between IDF and its local Lebanese auxiliary, the de facto forces (DFF), on the one hand, and armed elements who had proclaimed their resistance to the Israeli occupation, on the other.

During the reporting period, UNIFIL recorded 249 operations by armed elements against IDF/DFF, a significant increase over the 154 operations recorded in the previous reporting period [YUN 1997, p. 460]. There were also reports of almost 200 operations north of the Litani River, the vast majority of which were carried out by the Islamic Resistance, the military wing of the Hizbullah organization. A number of them were carried out by the Shiite movement Amal, while the Islamic Jihad movement took responsibility for one. The armed elements fired more than 2,517 mortar rounds, rockets and antitank missiles and also used small arms, rocket-propelled grenades, recoilless rifles and explosive devices, causing a number of casualties. IDF/DFF, in response to attacks or in operations they initiated, employed artillery, mortars, tanks, helicopter gunships, fixed-wing aircraft and explosive devices. IDF continued its practice of conducting preemptive artillery bombardments and long-range patrols beyond its forward positions. UNIFIL recorded more than 10,539 rounds of artillery, mortar, tank and missiles fired by IDF/DFF. Israeli air raids were all against targets north of the Litani River, except for two attacks in the Nepalese battalion sector on 23 and 24 November. The Israeli navy continued to patrol the Lebanese territorial waters in the south and to impose restrictions on local fishermen.

The Secretary-General reported a significant increase in civilian casualties, with 34 civilians killed as compared to nine in the previous reporting period. In addition, the Secretary-General reported the deaths of seven UNIFIL soldiers. Five soldiers were killed in a helicopter crash during a routine exercise, one was killed in a traffic accident and one died of natural causes.

UNIFIL continued in its efforts to limit the conflict and to protect the inhabitants from the fighting through its network of checkpoints and observation posts and an active programme of patrolling, as well as continuous contacts with the parties.

Although IDF and the Islamic Resistance showed restraint in carrying out operations in the vicinity of UNIFIL positions, 73 firings 41 by IDF, 26 by armed elements and 6 by unidentified elements at or close to UNIFIL positions and personnel were recorded, which were promptly protested to the authorities concerned. The monitoring group set up in accordance with the understanding of 26 April 1996 [YUN 1996, p. 428] held 12 meetings at UNIFIL headquarters to consider complaints by Israel and Lebanon.

Within the Israeli-controlled area (ICA), Israel continued to maintain a civil administration and security service. The infrastructure of ICA was improved, primarily due to aid provided by the Government of Lebanon. However, ICA remained economically dependent on Israel, where more than 2,000 of the inhabitants worked. IDF/DFF carried out sporadic search operations in several villages in ICA and made several arrests, while its security apparatus restricted the movement of the inhabitants on a number of occasions.

UNIFIL extended assistance to the civilian population in its area of operation in the form of medical care, casualty evacuation, harvest patrols, clothes, blankets, food, engineering works and the distribution of educational material and equipment to poorer schools. In addition, water projects, equipment or services for schools and orphanages, and supplies to social services and needy people were provided from resources made available by troop-contributing countries. UNIFIL medical centres and mobile teams provided care to an average of 5,200 civilian patients per month. UNIFIL also assisted the Government of Lebanon in distributing supplies to ICA villages facing shortages owing to restrictions imposed by IDF/DFF. Throughout the period, UNIFIL cooperated on humanitarian matters with the Lebanese authorities, UN agencies, ICRC and other organizations and agencies operating in Lebanon. In addition, UNIFIL carried out 101 controlled explosions of unexploded ordnance in its area of operation.

The Secretary-General observed that the situation. in southern Lebanon remained volatile and continued to give cause for serious concern. Although UNIFIL had been prevented from implementing the mandate contained in resolution 425(1978), its contribution to stability and the protection it was able to afford the population of the area remained important. Therefore, he recommended that the Security Council accede to the request of Lebanon (see below) and extend the mandate of UNIFIL for another period of six months, until 31 July 1998.

Communications (January)

By a 6 January letter [S/1998/7] to the Secretary-General, Lebanon requested the Security Council to extend the mandate of UNIFIL for a further interim period of six months, until 31 July. Lebanon emphasized that the full implementation of Security Council resolution 425(1978), which called on Israel to withdraw its forces from all Lebanese territory, remained the only way to stop the violence in southern Lebanon.

Referring to Lebanon's letter, Israel, by a 27 January letter to the Secretary-General [S/1998/75], pointed out that the fundamental cause of the volatile situation in southern Lebanon was the terrorist activities carried out by the Shiite Muslim Hizbullah and other terrorist organizations, both Lebanese and Palestinian, acting under its umbrella. Such terrorist activities were supported and encouraged by the Government of Lebanon. Consequently, Israel had been forced to exercise its right of self-defense in order to protect the lives of the civilian population in its northern towns and villages.

Israel stated that it was prepared to implement the withdrawal envisaged in resolution 425(1978), but only within a framework that would guarantee the implementation of all elements of the resolution, including UNIFIL's goals of assisting the Government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of its effective authority in the area. Such effective authority would have to include, among other things, arrangements for the protection of all residents in the area.

SECURITY COUNCIL ACTION (January)

On 30 January [meeting 3852], the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1151(1998). The draft text [S/1998/80] had been prepared in consultations among Council members.

The Security Council,

Recalling its resolutions 425(1978) and 426(1978) of 19 March 1978, 501(1982) of 25 February 1982, 508(1982) of 5 June 1982,509(1982) of 6 June 1982 and 520(1982) of 17 September 1982, as well as all its resolutions on the situation in Lebanon,

Having studied the report of the Secretary-General of 20 January 1998 on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, and taking note of the observations expressed and the commitments mentioned therein,

Taking note of the letter dated 6 January 1998 from the Permanent Representative of Lebanon to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General,

Responding to the request of the Government of Lebanon,

1. Decides to extend the present mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon for a further period of six months, that is until 31 July 1998;

2. Reiterates its strong support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized boundaries;

3. Reemphasizes the terms of reference and general guidelines of the Force as stated in the report of the Secretary-General of 19 March 1978, approved by resolution 426(1978), and calls upon all parties concerned to cooperate fully with the Force for the full implementation of its mandate;

4. Condemns all acts of violence committed in particular against the Force, and urges the parties to put an end to them;

5. Reiterates that the Force should fully implement its mandate as defined in resolutions 425(1978), 426(1978) and all other relevant resolutions;

6. Encourages further efficiency and savings provided they do not affect the operational capacity of the Force;

7. Requests the Secretary-General to continue consultations with the Government of Lebanon and other parties directly concerned with the implementation of the present resolution and to report to the Security Council thereon.

At the same meeting, the President made a statement on behalf of the Council [S/PRST/1998/2]:

The Security Council has noted with appreciation the report of the Secretary-General of 20 January 1998 on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, submitted in conformity with resolution 1122(1997) of 29 July 1997.

The Council reaffirms its commitment to the full sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Lebanon within its internationally recognized boundaries. In this context, the Council asserts that all States shall refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.

As the Council extends the mandate of the Force for a further interim period on the basis of resolution 425(1978), the Council again stresses the urgent need for the implementation of that resolution in all its aspects. It reiterates its full support for the Taif Agreement of 22 October 1989 and for the continued efforts of the Lebanese Government to consolidate peace, national unity and security in the country, while successfully carrying out the reconstruction process. The Council commends the Lebanese Government for its successful effort to extend its authority in the south of the country in full coordination with the Force.

The Council expresses its concern over the continuing violence in southern Lebanon, regrets the loss of civilian life, and urges all parties to exercise restraint.

The Council takes this opportunity to express its appreciation for the continuing efforts of the Secretary-General and his staff in this regard. The Council notes with deep concern the high level of casualties the Force has suffered and pays a special tribute to all those who gave their lives while serving in the Force. It commends the troops of the Force and troop-contributing countries for their sacrifices and commitment to the cause of international peace and security under difficult circumstances.

Report of Secretary-General (July). In a report [S/1998/652] on developments during the period from 16 January to 15 July 1998, the Secretary-General noted that the number of operations conducted by armed elements against IDF/DFF had increased significantly. UNIFIL recorded 348 such operations, a 40 per cent increase over the previous reporting period and the highest number in many years. There were also reports of about 300 operations north of the Litani River, most of which were carried out by the Islamic Resistance. The Shiite movement Amal increased its activities, taking responsibility for about 60 operations. A number of operations were carried out by other Lebanese groups, while Palestinian groups conducted two operations. The armed elements fired more than 3,500 mortar rounds, rockets and antitank missiles.

IDF/DFF in response to attacks or in operations they initiated, employed artillery, mortars, tanks, helicopter gunships, fixed-wing aircraft and explosive devices. IDF continued its practice of conducting preemptive artillery bombardments and long-range patrols beyond its forward positions. Close to 10,300 rounds of artillery, mortar, tanks and missiles fired by IDF/DFF were recorded by UNIFIL. IDF also conducted air raids, the majority of which were carried out against targets north of the Litani River.

Within ICA, Israel maintained a civil administration and security service and carried out search operations in several villages. A number of civilians were arrested and imprisoned in Khiyam, while others were expelled from their villages and ordered to leave ICA. On 25 and 26 June, the remains of an Israeli serviceman and those of armed elements were exchanged with the help of ICRC. In the context of the exchange, some 60 people imprisoned in Khiyam were released.

UNIFIL continued its efforts to limit the conflict and did its best to prevent the area of operation from being used for hostile activities. The Force was also deployed, as necessary, to provide a measure of protection to villages and to farmers working in the fields.

In carrying out its functions, the Force encountered hostile reactions by both armed elements and IDF/DFF. It also recorded a total of 72 firings 25 by armed elements, 42 by IDF/DFF and 5 by unidentified elements at or close to its positions and personnel.

UNIFIL continued to assist in the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the civilian population and to cooperate on humanitarian matters with the Lebanese authorities, UN agencies, ICRC and other organizations. The disposal of unexploded ordnance also continued, with 69 explosions being carried out in UNIFIL's area of operation. The monitoring group set up in accordance with the understanding of 26 April 1996 held 16 meetings at UNIFIL headquarters to consider complaints by Israel and Lebanon. From 17 to 26 March, the Secretary-General visited the Middle East, including Israel, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic. The implementation of Security Council resolution 425(1978) was discussed in his meetings with the leaders of the three countries. The Secretary-General conducted further meetings in New York with the Prime Ministers of Israel and Lebanon and with officials of other interested countries. On 1 April, the Ministerial Committee for National Security of the Government of Israel adopted a decision on Israel's acceptance of resolution 425(1978) (see above).

The Secretary-General reported the death of four members of the Force during the period under review. Two soldiers were killed in a traffic accident and two died of natural causes.

The Secretary-General observed that the situation in south Lebanon remained volatile and continued to give cause for serious concern. After visiting UNIFIL headquarters during his trip to the Middle East, the Secretary-General reaffirmed his belief that UNIFIL's contribution to stability and the protection it provided to the population of the area remained important. Therefore, he recommended that the Force's mandate be extended for another six months, until 31 January 1999, as requested by Lebanon on 26 June [S/1998/584]. Noting that there was a serious shortfall in UNIFIL funding, with unpaid assessments amounting to some $ 103.5 million, the Secretary-General appealed to Member States to pay their assessments promptly and in full to clear all arrears.

SECURITY COUNCIL ACTION (July)

On 30 July [meeting 3913], the Security Council adopted resolution 1188(1998) unanimously. The draft text fs/l998/682] had been prepared in consultations among Council members.

The Security Council,

Recalling its resolutions 425(1978) and 426(1978) of 19 March 1978, 501(1982) of 25 February 1982, 508(1982) of 5 June 1982,509(1982) of 6 June 1982 and 520(1982) of 17 September 1982, as well as all its resolutions on the situation in Lebanon,

Having studied the report of the Secretary-General of 16 July 1998 on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, and taking note of the observations expressed and the commitments mentioned therein,

Taking note of the letter dated 26 June 1998 from the Permanent Representative of Lebanon to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General,

Responding to the request of the Government of Lebanon,

1. Decides to extend the present mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon for a further period of six months, that is, until 31 January 1999;

2. Reiterates its strong support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized boundaries;

3. Reemphasizes the terms of reference and general guidelines of the Force as stated in the report of the Secretary-General of 19 March 1978, approved by resolution 426(1978), and calls upon all parties concerned to cooperate fully with the Force for the full implementation of its mandate;

4. Condemns all acts of violence committed in particular against the Force, and urges the parties to put an end to them;

5. Reiterates that the Force should fully implement its mandate as defined in resolutions 425(1978), 426(1978) and all other relevant resolutions;

6. Encourages further efficiency and savings provided they do not affect the operational capacity of the Force;

7. Requests the Secretary-General to continue consultations with the Government of Lebanon and other parties directly concerned with the implementation of the present resolution and to report to the Security Council thereon.

After the adoption of the resolution, the President made a statement on behalf of the Council [S/PRST/1998/23]:

The Security Council has noted with appreciation the report of the Secretary-General of 16 July 1998 on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, submitted in conformity with resolution 1151(1998) of 30 January 1998.

The Council reaffirms its commitment to the full sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Lebanon within its internationally recognized boundaries. In this context, the Council asserts that all States shall refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.

As the Council extends the mandate of the Force for a further interim period on the basis of resolution 425(1978), it again stresses the urgent need for the implementation of that resolution in all its aspects. It reiterates its full support for the Taif Agreement of 22 October 1989 and for the continued efforts of the Lebanese Government to consolidate peace, national unity and security in the country, while successfully carrying out the reconstruction process. The Council commends the Lebanese Government for its successful effort to extend its authority in the south of the country in full coordination with the Force.

The Council expresses its concern over the continuing violence in southern Lebanon, regrets the loss of civilian life, and urges all parties to exercise restraint.

The Council takes this opportunity to express its appreciation for the continuing efforts of the Secretary-General and his staff in this regard. The Council notes with deep concern the high level of casualties the Force has suffered and pays a special tribute to all those who gave their life while serving in the Force. It commends the troops of the Force and troop-contributing countries for their sacrifices and commitment to the cause of international peace and security under difficult circumstances.

Communications (October). By a letter of 16 October [S/1998/975], the Secretary-General informed the President of the Security Council that Norway had decided to withdraw its infantry battalion from UNIFIL at the end of November 1998. The Government of India had agreed to make available an infantry battalion to replace the Norwegian contingent. The Secretary-General proposed that India be added to the list of Member States providing military personnel to UNIFIL.
On 20 October [S/1998/976], the President of the Council stated that the Council agreed to the Secretary-General's proposal.

Financing

Reports of Secretary-General and ACABQ (February and April). In a February report [A/52/804], the Secretary-General submitted the financial performance report of UNIFIL for the period from 1 July 1996 to 30 June 1997, for which resources of $125,722,800 gross ($122,665,800 net) were provided. Corresponding expenditures amounted to $126,744,400 gross ($123,504,400 net), resulting in additional requirements of $1,021,600 gross ($838,600 net). Of the additional requirements, an amount of $639,356 related to a 1996 incident at Qana [YUN 1996, p. 429], when the headquarters of the Fijian granted under the terms of General Assembly resolution 51/233 (YUN 1997, p. 463]. The remaining additional requirements in the amount of $382,244 gross ($199,244 net) were attributable mainly to the upward revision in local staff salaries, UNlFIL's share of the financing of the United Nations Logistics Base (Brindisi, Italy) and the recording of certain expenditures pertaining to the financial period ending 30 June 1996. Also in February [A/52/806], the Secretary-General presented the proposed budget for UNIFIL for the period from 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999, in the amount of $136,719,500 gross ($132,706,700 net), reflecting an 11.9 per cent increase in gross terms compared with the previous 12-month period. The increase was mainly due to the upward revision in local staff salaries (61.8 per cent), the proposed establishment of 52 additional posts and the replacement of vehicles and communications equipment. The budget provided for maintaining the Force, consisting of 4,513 troops (3,518 infantry and 995 logistics), supported by a civilian establishment of 528 (146 international and 382 local level) posts.

In a May addendum [A/52/806/Add.l], the Secretary-General provided information on the estimated cost to UNTSO of direct support provided to UNIFIL for the bienniums 19961997 ($5,012,100) and 19981999 ($5,589,400).

The Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), in an April report [A/52/860/Add.6], recommended against the additional appropriation of $382,244 gross ($199,244 net) for the period from 1 July 1996 to 30 June 1997. The additional requirement of $639,356, which related to the Qana incident, was to be treated in accordance with the terms of resolution 51/233.

With regard to the proposed budget for the period from 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999, ACABQ recommended an appropriation of $135,831,900 gross ($131,980,500 net).

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 26 June [meeting 88], the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Fifth (Administrative and Budgetary) Committee [A/52/932], adopted resolution 52/237 by recorded vote (109-2) [agenda item 122 (b)].

Financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon

The General Assembly,

Reaffirming its resolution 51/233 of 13 June 1997,

Having considered the reports of the Secretary-General on the financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon and the related report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions,

Bearing in mind Security Council resolution 425(1978) of 19 March 1978, by which the Council established the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, and the subsequent resolutions by which the Council extended the mandate of the Force, the latest of which was resolution 1151 (1998) of 30 January 1998,

Recalling its resolution S8/2 of 21 April 1978 on the financing of the Force and its subsequent resolutions thereon, the latest of which was resolution 51/233,

Reaffirming that the costs of the Force are expenses of the Organization to be bornt by Member States in accordance with Article 17, paragraph 2, of the Charter of the United Nations,

Recalling its previous decisions regarding the fact that, in order to meet the expenditures caused by the Force, a different procedure is required from that applied to meet expenditures of the regular budget of the United Nations,

Taking into account the fact that the economically more developed countries are in a position to make relatively larger contributions and that the economically less developed countries have a relatively limited capacity to contribute towards such an operation,

Bearing in mind the special responsibilities of the States permanent members of the Security Council, as indicated in General Assembly resolution 1874(SIV) of 27 June 1963, in the financing of such operations,

Noting with appreciation that voluntary contributions have been made to the Force,

Mindful of the fact that it is essential to provide the Force with the necessary financial resources to enable it to fulfil its responsibilities under the relevant resolutions of the Security Council,

Concerned that the Secretary-General continues to face difficulties in meeting the obligations of the Force on a current basis, including reimbursement to current and former troop-contributing States,

Concerned also that the surplus balances in the Special Account for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon have been used to meet expenses of the Force in order to compensate for the lack of income resulting from nonpayment and late payment by Member States of their contributions,

1. Takes note of the status of contributions to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon as at 15 May 1998, including the contributions outstanding in the amount of 106.2 million United States dollars, representing 3.8 per cent of the total assessed contributions from the inception of the Force to the period ending 30 June 1998, notes that some 18.3 percent of the Member States have paid their assessed contributions in full, and urges all other Member States concerned, in particular those in arrears, to ensure the payment of their outstanding assessed contributions;

2. Expresses concern about the financial situation with regard to peace-keeping activities, in particular as regards the reimbursement of troop contributors, which bear additional burdens owing to overdue payments by Member States of their assessments;

3. Expresses its deep concern that Israel did not comply with General Assembly resolution 51/233;

4. Stresses once again that Israel should strictly abide by General Assembly resolution 51/233;

5. Requests the Secretary-General to take the necessary measures to ensure the full implementation of paragraph 8 of General Assembly resolution 51/233, stressing that Israel shall pay the amount of 1,773,618 dollars resulting from the incident at Qana on 18 April 1996;

6. Expresses its appreciation to those Member States which have paid their assessed contributions in full;

7. Urges all other Member States to make every possible effort to ensure payment of their assessed contributions to the Force in full and on time;

8. Takes note of the observations and recommendations contained in the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions;

9. Requests the Secretary-General to take all necessary action to ensure that the Force is administered with a maximum of efficiency and economy;

10. Also requests the Secretary-General, in order to reduce the cost of employing General Service staff, to continue efforts to employ locally recruited staff for the Force against General Service posts, commensurate with the requirements of the force;

11. Decides, as an ad hoc arrangement, to appropriate to the Special Account for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon the amount of 142,984,560 dollars gross (139,133,160 dollars net) for the maintenance of the Force for the period from 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999, inclusive of the amount of 7,152,660 dollars for the support account for peace-keeping operations, to be apportioned among Member States at the monthly rate of 11,915,380 dollars gross (11,594,430 dollars net), in accordance with the composition of groups set out in paragraphs 3 and 4 of General Assembly resolution 43/232 of 1 March 1989, as adjusted by the Assembly in its resolutions 44/192 B of 21 December 1989, 45/269 of 27 August 1991, 46/198 A of 20 December 1991, 47/218 A of 23 December 1992, 49/249 A of 20 July 1995, 49/249 B of 14 September 1995, 50/224 of 11 April 1996, 51/218 A to C of 18 December 1996 and 52/230 of 31 March 1998 and its decisions 48/472 A of 23 December 1993 and 50/451 B of 23 December 1995, and taking into account the scale of assessments for the years 1998 and 1999, as set out in its resolution 52/215 A of 22 December 1997, subject to the decision of the Security Council to extend the mandate of the Force beyond 31 July 1998;

12. Decides also that, in accordance with the provisions of its resolution 973(X) of 15 December 1955, there shall be set off against the apportionment among Member States, as provided for in paragraph 11 above, their respective share in the Tax Equalization Fund of the estimated staff assessment income of 3,831,400 dollars approved for the period from 1 July 1998 to 30 June

13. Decides further that there shall be set off against the apportionment among Member States, as provided for in paragraph 11 above, their respective share of the estimated other income of 20,000 dollars for the period from 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999;

14. Decides that, for Member States that have fulfilled their financial obligations to the Force, there shall be set off against their apportionment, as provided for in paragraph 11 above, their respective share of the unencumbered balance of 3,098, 190 dollars in respect of the reserve account for the third-party liability insurance of helicopters;

15. Decides also that, for Member States that have not fulfilled their financial obligations to the Force, their share of the unencumbered balance of 3,098,190 dollars in respect of the reserve account for the third-party liability insurance of helicopters shall be set off against their outstanding obligations;

16. Decides further that the additional requirement of 639,356 dollars, which relates to the incident at Qana, for the period from 1 July 1996 to 30 June 1997, will be treated in accordance with the terms of General Assembly resolution 51/233;

17. Invites voluntary contributions to the Force in cash and in the form of services and supplies acceptable to the Secretary-General, to be administered, as appropriate, in accordance with the procedure and practices established by the General Assembly;

18. Decides to include in the provisional agenda of its fifty-third session, under the item entitled "Financing of the United Nations peace-keeping forces in the Middle East", the sub-item entitled "United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon".

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 52/237:

In favour: Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Lithuania, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

The Assembly and the Committee adopted the first pre-ambular paragraph and operative paragraphs 3,4,5 and 16 by a recorded vote of 68 to 2, with 41 abstentions, and 51 to 2, with 38 abstentions, respectively. After the vote, the United States stated that its opposition to the resolution was based on its relationship to resolution 51/233, which had decided that costs of $1,773,618 which stemmed from the incident at Qana in 1996 should be borne by Israel. The United States believed that the use of an Assembly funding resolution to pursue claims against a Member State was not correct procedurally. In addition, it believed that the resolution politicized the work of the Fifth Committee.

Lebanon said that the resolution reaffirmed that it was up to the aggressor, in this case Israel, to fulfil its international obligations and implement all the resolutions adopted by the Security Council and the Assembly. Lebanon believed that Israel's continuing occupation of parts of Bekaa and southern Lebanon, its failure to respect Council resolution 425(1978) and its repeated acts of aggression were responsible for the cycle of violence and the problems faced by UNIFIL and the Lebanese civilians in southern Lebanon.

The Syrian Arab Republic stated that in adopting the resolution the Assembly had again affirmed Israel's responsibility for the expenses resulting from its attack on Qana. United Nations soldiers were threatened every time Lebanese civilians took refuge in the headquarters of the Force. Syria reaffirmed its position that Israel should be called on to pay not only the costs of its aggression against UNIFIL's headquarters, but that it should also be responsible for the complete financing of the Force.

By decision 53/458 of 18 December, the Assembly decided that the Fifth Committee should continue consideration of UNIFIL's financing at the resumed fifty-third session in 1999.

Syrian Arab Republic

In 1998, the General Assembly continued to call for Israel's withdrawal from the Golan Heights in the Syrian Arab Republic, which it had occupied since 1967. The area was effectively annexed by Israel when it extended its laws, jurisdiction and administration to the territory towards the end of 1981 [YUN 1931, p. 309].

Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the population in the Golan Heights and other occupied territories were monitored by the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories (Committee on Israeli Practices) and were the subject of resolutions adopted by the Commission on Human Rights (see PART TWO, Chapter III) and the Assembly.

Committee on Israeli Practices. In its annual report [A/53/661], the Committee on Israeli Practices stated that it had visited Damascus as well as Quneitra province, which bordered the occupied area, where it heard information from witnesses on the current situation in the Syrian Arab Golan. The Committee was informed that some 20,000 Syrians lived in five villages under Israeli occupation, compared with some 110,000 or more who lived in some 244 towns and villages at the time of the occupation in 1967. Witnesses described some Israeli practices in the Golan, such as the levying of heavy taxes on the inhabitants and the confiscation of land and water resources. Families were fragmented as a result of the occupation and lacked the possibility to obtain permits to visit family members residing in Syria. Families of prisoners were also subjected to reprisals. In addition, permits were denied to persons who had not paid taxes. A witness stated that Israel was trying to change the vestiges of Arab history and culture in the region by abolishing the Syrian educational curriculum and by imposing a special one for "Israeli Arabs". Job discrimination also appeared to have taken place. The Committee was provided with documentation by the Syrian Government, which was included in the report.

The Special Committee considered it extremely important that the General Assembly and other relevant UN bodies, as well as the Secretary-General, continue in their efforts to ameliorate the living conditions of the Syrian people in the occupied territory. It stated that the Israeli annexation of the occupied Golan had not been recognized by the international community and in particular the United Nations.

Reports of Secretary-General. On 12 August [A/53/260], the Secretary-General reported that no reply had been received from Israel to his May request for information on any steps it had taken or envisaged concerning implementation of resolution 52/68 [YUN 1997, p. 467], by which the Assembly had called on Israel to desist from changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the Golan, and from its repressive measures against the population.By a 3 November report [A/53/550], the Secretary-General transmitted replies from 10 Member States received in response to his request for information on steps taken or envisaged with regard to implementation of Assembly resolutions 52/54, which dealt with Israeli policies in the Syrian territory occupied since 1967 [YUN 1997, p. 466], and 52/53 [ibid., p. 416] on the transfer of some States of their diplomatic missions to Jerusalem (see above).


GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 2 December [meeting 76], the General Assembly adopted resolution 53/38 [draft: A/53/L.53 & Corr.l & Add.l] by recorded vote (172-58) [agenda item 40].

The situation in the Middle East: the Syrian Golan

The General Assembly,

Having considered the item entitled "The situation in the Middle East",

Taking note of the report of the Secretary-General,

Recalling Security Council resolution 497(1981) of 17 December 1981,

Reaffirming the fundamental principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations,

Reaffirming once more the applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the occupied Syrian Golan.

Deeply concerned that Israel has not withdrawn from the Syrian Golan, which has been under occupation since 1967, contrary to the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions,

Stressing the illegality of the Israeli settlement construction and activities in the occupied Syrian Golan since 1967,

Noting with satisfaction the convening at Madrid on 30 October 1991 of the Peace Conference on the Middle East, on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242(1967) of 22 November 1967, 338(1973) of 22 October 1973 and 425(1978) of 19 March 1978 and the formula of land for peace,

Expressing grave concern over the halt in the peace process on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks, and expressing the hope that peace talks will soon resume from the point they had reached,

1. Declares that Israel has failed so far to comply with Security Council resolution 497( 1981);

2. Declares also that the Israeli decision of 14 December 1981 to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan is null and void and has no validity whatsoever, as confirmed by the Security Council in its resolution 497(1981), and calls upon Israel to rescind it;

3. Reaffirms its determination that all relevant provisions of the Regulations annexed to the Hague Convention of 1907, and the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, continue to apply to the Syrian territory occupied by Israel since 1967, and calls upon the parties thereto to respect and ensure respect for their obligations under those instruments in all circumstances;

4. Determines once more that the continued occupation of the Syrian Golan and its de facto annexation constitute a stumbling block in the way of achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region;

5. Calls upon Israel to resume the talks on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks and to respect the commitments and undertakings reached during the previous talks;

6. Demands once more that Israel withdraw from all the occupied Syrian Golan to the line of 4 June 1967 in implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions;

7. Calls upon all the parties concerned, the cosponsors of the peace process and the entire international community to exert all the necessary efforts to ensure the resumption of the peace process and its success;

8. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-fourth session on the implementation of the present resolution.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 53/38:

In favour: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus. Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeri, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Vanuatu. Venezuela, Viet Nam. Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstaining: Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Samoa, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Zambia.

Speaking after the vote, Israel reaffirmed its willingness to resume negotiations with Syria without any preconditions, but stated that the language of the resolution attempted to predetermine the outcome of those negotiations. In addition, the resolution referred to the principle of land for peace. The terms of reference of the Middle East peace negotiations, as defined in the letter of invitation to the Madrid Peace Conference sent in October 1991, did not make any reference whatsoever to that principle.

The Syrian Arab Republic stated that the principle of land for peace stemmed from the text of resolution 242(1967), which referred to the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and which also called for Israel's withdrawal. In addition, during the peace talks between Syria and Israel under United States sponsorship, Israel had promised to withdraw from the Golan up to the line of 4 June 1967 in order to implement that principle. Thus, according to Syria, Israel was reneging on that promise.

On 3 December [meeting 78] the Assembly, under the agenda item on the report of the Committee on Israeli Practices and on the Fourth Committee's recommendation [A/53/598], adopted resolution 53/57 by recorded vote (150-16) [agenda item 84].

The occupied Syrian Golan

The General Assembly,

Having considered the reports of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories,

Deeply concerned that the Syrian Golan occupied since 1967 has been under continued Israeli military occupation,

Recalling Security Council resolution 497(1981) of 17 December 1981,

Recalling also its previous relevant resolutions, the last of which was resolution 52/68 of 10 December 1997,

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General submitted in pursuance of resolution 52/68,

Recalling its previous relevant resolutions in which, inter alia, it called upon Israel to put an end to its occupation of the Arab territories,

Reaffirming once more the illegality of the decision of 14 December 1981 taken by Israel to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan, which has resulted in the effective annexation of that territory,
482
Political and security questions

Reaffirming that the acquisition of territory by force is inadmissible under international law, including the Charter of the United Nations,

Reaffirming also the applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the occupied Syrian Golan,

Bearing in mind Security Council resolution 237(1967) of 14 June 1967,

Welcoming the convening at Madrid of the Peace Conference on the Middle East on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242(1967) of 22 November 1967 and 338(1973) of 22 October 1973 aimed at the realization of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace, and expressing grave concern about the stalling of the peace process on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks,

1. Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to comply with the relevant resolutions on the occupied Syrian Golan, in particular Security Council resolution 497(1981), in which the Council, inter alia, decided that the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan was null and void and without international legal effect, and demanded that Israel, the occupying Power, should rescind forthwith its decision;

2. Also calls upon Israel to desist from changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan and in particular to desist from the establishment of settlements;

3. Determines that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken or to be taken by Israel, the occupying Power, that purport to alter the character and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan are null and void, constitute a flagrant violation of international law and of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, and have no legal effect;

4. Calls upon Israel to desist from imposing Israeli citizenship and Israeli identity cards on the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan, and to desist from its repressive measures against the population of the occupied Syrian Golan;

5. Deplores the violations by Israel of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949;

6. Calls once again upon Member States not to recognize any of the legislative or administrative measures and actions referred to above;

Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-fourth session on the implementation of the present resolution.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 53/57:

In favour: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain. Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands. New Zealand, Niger,, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel.

Abstaining: Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Swaziland, United States, Uruguay, Zambia.

UNDOF

The mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, established by Security Council resolution 350(1974) [YUN 1974, p. 205], to supervise the observance of the cease-fire between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights area and ensuring the separation of their forces, was renewed twice in 1998, in May and November, each time for a six-month period.

UNDOF maintained an area of separation, which was some 80 kilometres long and varied in width between approximately 10 kilometres in the centre to less than 1 kilometre in the extreme south. The area of separation was inhabited and policed by Syrian authorities and no military forces other than UNDOF were permitted within it. Both the Austrian battalion deployed in the northern part of the area of separation and the Polish battalion in the south conducted mine-clearing operations.

Composition and deployment

As at October 1998, UNDOF comprised 1,046 troops from Austria, Canada, Japan, Poland and Slovakia. It was assisted by 80 UNTSO military observers. Major-General Cameron Ross (Canada) became Force Commander on 1 October, taking over from Major-General David Stapleton (Ireland), who completed his tour of duty on 31 August. The Secretary-General informed the Security Council on 14 September [S/1998/873] of his intention to appoint General Ross; the Council took note of that intention on 21 September [S/1998/874].

On 28 April [s/1998/363], the Secretary-General proposed to the Council that Slovakia be added to the list of Member States providing troops to UNDOF; the Council agreed with that proposal on 1 May [s/1998/364]. The Slovakian platoon was deployed within the Austrian battalion at the end of May, replacing an Austrian platoon.

UNDOF was entirely deployed within and close to the area of separation with two base camps, 44 permanently manned positions and 11 observation posts. The UNDOF headquarters was located at Camp Faouar and an office was maintained in Damascus.

The Canadian and Japanese logistic units, based in Camp Ziouani with a detachment in Camp Faouar, performed second-line general transport tasks, rotation transport, control and management of goods received by the Force and maintenance of heavy equipment.

Activities

UNDOF continued in 1998 to supervise the area of separation between Israeli and Syrian troops in the Golan Heights, to ensure that no military forces of either party were deployed there, by means of fixed positions and patrols. The Force, accompanied by liaison officers from the party concerned, also carried out fortnightly inspections of armament and force levels in the areas of limitation. As in the past, both sides denied inspection teams access to some of their positions and imposed some restrictions on the Force's freedom of movement.

UNDOF assisted ICRC with facilities for mail and the passage of persons through the area of person through the area of separation. Within the means available, medical treatment was provided to the local population upon request.

Reports of Secretary-General (May and November). Before the expiration of the UNDOF mandate on 31 May and again on 30 November, the Secretary-General reported to the Security Council on UNDOF activities that took place between 15 November 1997 and 14 May 1998 [S/1998/391] and between 15 May and 14 November 1998 [S/1998/1073]. Both reports noted that UNDOF continued to perform its functions effectively, with the cooperation of the parties. In general, the cease-fire in the Israel-Syria sector was maintained without serious incident and the UNDOF area of operation remained calm. Since November 1997, earthworks had been under way in the area of separation for a large agricultural project funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). IDF had expressed concern about the possible military implications of the work, particularly stone walls made up of rocks cleared from the fields. UNDOF discussed the matter with IFAD and the Syrian authorities, who agreed to make a number of adjustments.

The Secretary-General observed that, despite the quiet in the Israel-Syria sector, the situation in the Middle East continued to be potentially dangerous and was likely to remain so, unless and until a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem could be reached. He hoped for determined efforts by all concerned to tackle the problem in all its aspects, with a view to arriving at a just and durable peace settlement, as called for by Security Council resolution 338(1973) [YUN 1973, p. 213]. Stating that he considered the Force's continued presence in the area to be essential, the Secretary-General, with the agreement of both Syria and Israel, each time recommended that the UNDOF mandate be extended for a further six months, until 30 November 1998 in the first instance and 31 May 1999 in the second.

In making his recommendations, the Secretary-General drew attention to the serious shortfall in the funding of the Force, with unpaid assessments totalling $50.3 million in May and $52.9 million in November. Those amounts, representing money owed to the troop-contributing countries, were far larger than the Force's current annual budget. He therefore appealed to all Member States to pay their assessments promptly and in full and to clear all remaining arrears.

The Secretary-General, as part of his tour of the Middle East, visited UNDOF headquarters on 22 March and met with the Force Commander and his senior military and civilian staff.

SECURITY COUNCIL ACTION

On 27 May [meeting 3885], the Security Council adopted resolution 1169(1998) unanimously. The draft [S/1998/422] was prepared during consultations among Council members.

The Security Council,

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 14 May 1998 on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force,

Decides:
(a) To call upon the parties concerned to implement immediately Security Council resolution 338(1973) of 22 October 1973;

(b) To renew the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force for another period of six months, that is, until 30 November 1998;

(c) To request the Secretary-General to submit, at the end of this period, a report on the development in the situation and the measures taken to implement resolution 338(1973).

On 25 November [meeting 3947], the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1211(1998). The draft [S/1998/415] was prepared during consultations.

The Security Council,

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 14 November 1998 on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force,

Decides:
(a) To call upon the parties concerned to implement immediately Security Council resolution 338(1973) of 22 October 1973;

(b) To renew the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force for another period of six months, that is, until 31 May 1999;

(c) To request the Secretary-General to submit, at the end of this period, a report on the development in the situation and the measures taken to implement resolution 338(1973).

After the adoption of each resolution, the President made the following statement [S/PRST/1998/15, S/PRST/1998/33) on behalf of the Council:

As is known, the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force states, in paragraph 10-18 [in the November report]: "Despite the present quiet in the Israeli-Syrian sector, the situation in the Middle East continues to be potentially dangerous and is likely to remain so, unless and until a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem can be reached. That statement of the Secretary-General reflects the view of the Security Council.

Financing

Reports of Secretary-General and ACABQ.

On 21 January, the Secretary-General presented a report [A/52/771] on the financial performance of UNDOF, covering the period from 1 July 1996 to 30 June 1997, for which resources of $32,254,900 gross ($31,342,900 net) were provided. Expenditures amounted to $32,393,100 gross ($31,534,500 net), resulting in additional requirements of $138,200 gross ($191,600 net), which was primarily due to UNDOF's prorated share of the cost of maintaining the UN Logistics Base in Brindisi, Italy, as well as to the recording of expenditures pertaining to the prior financial period ending 30 June 1996.

On 13 February, the Secretary-General presented the proposed budget of UNDOF [A/52/771/Add.l & Add.l/Corr.l] for the 12 month period from 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999, totalling $33,643,900 gross ($32,750,200 net), which reflected a 3.9 per cent increase in gross terms compared with the resources approved for the preceding 12 months. The increased requirements related to replacement of vehicles and data-processing equipment. The budget provided for maintaining the Force at a level of 1,037 troops (821 infantry and 216 logistics personnel), supported by a civilian establishment of 120 (36 international and 84 local). In addition to approving the proposed appropriation, the Assembly was required to take a decision to credit Member States with the surplus balance of $2,742,000 for the period from 1 December 1994 to 30 November 1995. In a May addendum [A/52/77l/Add.2], the Secretary-General provided information on the estimated cost to UNTSO of direct support provided to UNDOF for the bienniums 19961997 $8,159,000) and 19981999 ($9,074,500).

The Secretary-General noted that assessments on Member States in respect of UNDOF and the United Nations Emergency Force for the period from inception to 31 December 1997 totalled $1,145.6 million, while contributions received as at 31 December 1997 for the same period amounted to $1,096.2 million. Outstanding assessments were reduced by $4.2 million pursuant to General Assembly resolution 50/83 [YUN 1995, p. 406]. The outstanding balance of $49.4 million included an amount of $36 million transferred to a special account in accordance with Assembly resolution 36/116 A [YUN 1981, p. 1299].

On an April report [A/52/860/Add.5], ACABQ stated that there was no need to authorize an additional appropriation of $138,200 gross for UNDOF for 1 July 1996 to 30 June 1997. As to the proposed programme budget for 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999, it recommended approval of the Secretary-General's proposal that the Assembly appropriate $33,643,900 gross ($32,750,200 net), subject to the extension of the Force's mandate by the Security Council. It further recommended that Member States be credited their respective shares in the surplus balance of $2,742,000 for the period from 1 December 1994 to 30 November 1995.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 26 June [meeting 88], the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Fifth Committee [A/52/931], adopted resolution 52/236 without vote [agenda item 122 (a)].

Financing of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force

The General Assembly,

Having considered the reports of the Secretary-General on the financing of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force and the related report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions,

Recalling Security Council resolution 350(1974) of 31 May 1974, by which the Council established the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, and the subsequent resolutions by which the Council extended the mandate of the Force, the latest of which was resolution 1169(1998) of 27 May 1998,

Recalling also its resolution 3211 B (XXIX) of 29 November 1974 on the financing of the United Nations Emergency Force and the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force and its subsequent resolutions thereon, the latest of which was resolution 51/232 of 13 June 1997,

Reaffirming that the costs of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force are expenses of the Organization to be borne by Member States in accordance with Article 17, paragraph 2, of the Charter of the United Nations,

Recalling its previous decisions regarding the fact that, in order to meet the expenditures caused by the Force, a different procedure is required from that applied to meet expenditures of the regular budget of the United Nations,

Taking into account the fact that the economically more developed countries are in a position to make relatively larger contributions and that the economically less developed countries have a relatively limited capacity to contribute towards such an operation,

Bearing in mind the special responsibilities of the States permanent members of the Security Council, as indicated in General Assembly resolution 1874(SI V) of 27 June 1963, in the financing of such operations,

Noting with appreciation that voluntary contributions have been made to the Force,

Mindful of the fact that it is essential to provide the Force with the necessary financial resources to enable it to fulfil its responsibilities under the relevant resolutions of the Security Council,

Concerned that the surplus balances in the Special Account for the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force have been used to meet expenses of the Force in order to compensate for the lack of income resulting from nonpayment and late payment by Member States of their contributions,

1. Takes note of the status of contributions to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force as at 15 May 1998, including the contributions outstanding in the amount of 50.1 million United States dollars, representing 4.3 per cent of the total assessed contributions from the inception of the Force to the period ending 31 May 1998, notes that some 20.4 per cent of the Member States have paid their assessed contributions in full, and urges all other Member States concerned, in particular those in arrears, to ensure the payment of their outstanding assessed contributions;

2. Expresses concern about the financial situation with regard to peace-keeping activities, in particular as regards the reimbursement of troop contributors, which, bear additional burdens owing to overdue payments by Member States of their assessments;

3. Expresses its appreciation to those Member States which have paid their assessed contributions in full;

4. Urges all other Member States to make every possible effort to ensure payment of their assessed contributions to the Force in full and on time;

5. Takes note of the observations and recommendations contained in the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions;

6. Requests the Secretary-General to take all necessary action to ensure that the Force is administered with a maximum of efficiency and economy;

7. Also requests the Secretary-General, in order to reduce the cost of employing General Service staff, to continue efforts to employ locally recruited staff for the Force against General Service posts, commensurate with the requirements of the Force;

8. Decides, as an ad hoc arrangement, to appropriate to the Special Account for the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force the amount of 35,400,100 dollars gross (34,506,400 dollars net) for the maintenance of the Force for the period from 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999, inclusive of the amount of 1,756,200 dollars for the support account for peace-keeping operations, to be apportioned among Member States at the monthly rate of 2,950,008 dollars gross (2,875,533 dollars net), in accordance with the composition of groups set out in paragraphs 3 and 4 of General Assembly resolution 43/232 of 1 March 1989, as adjusted by the Assembly in its resolutions 44/192 B of 21 December 1989,45/269 of 27 August 1991,46/198 A of 20 December 1991,47/218 A of 23 December 1992,49/249 A of 20 July 1995,49/249 B of 14 September 1995,50/224 of 11 April 1996, 51/218 A to C of 18 December 1996 and 52/230 of 31 March 1998 and its decisions 48/472 A of 23 December 1993 and 50/451 B of 23 December 1995, and taking into account the scale of assessments for the years 1998 and 1999, as set out in its resolution 52/215 A of 22 December 1997, subject to the decision of the Security Council to extend the mandate of the Force beyond 30 November 1998;

9. Decides also that, in accordance with the provisions of its resolution 973(X) of 15 December 1955, there shall be set off against the apportionment among Member States, as provided for in paragraph 8 above, their respective share in the Tax Equalization Fund of the estimated staff assessment income of 878,700 dollars approved for the period from 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999;

10. Decides farther that there shall be set off against the apportionment among Member States, as provided for in paragraph 8 above, their respective share of the estimated other income of 15,000 dollars for the period from 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999;

11. Decides that, for Member States that have fulfilled their financial obligations to the Force, there shall be set off against the apportionment, as provided for in paragraph 8 above, their respective share of the surplus balance of 1,071,000 dollars for the period from 1 December 1994 to 30 November 1995 and of the interest income of 1,671,000 dollars for the period from 1 December 1994 to 30 November 1995;

12. Decides also that, for Member States that have not fulfilled their financial obligations to the Force, their share of the surplus balance of 1,071,000 dollars for the period from 1 December 1994 to 30 November 1995 and of the interest income of 1,671,000 dollars for the period from 1 December 1994 to 30 November 1995 shall be set off against their outstanding obligations;

13. Invites voluntary contributions to the Force in cash and in the form of services and supplies acceptable to the Secretary-General, to be administered, as appropriate, in accordance with the procedure and practices established by the General Assembly;

14. Decides to include in the provisional agenda of its fifty-third session, under the item entitled "Financing of the United Nations peace-keeping forces in the Middle East", the sub-item entitled "United Nations Disengagement Observer Force".

On 18 December, the Assembly decided that the Fifth Committee would continue consideration of the item on the financing of UNDOF at the resumed fifty-third session in 1999 (decision 53/458).

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