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44th plenary meeting
Tuesday, 11 November 2008, 10 a.m.
In the absence of the President, Mr. Cujba (Republic of Moldova), Vice-President, took the Chair.
The meeting was called to order at 10.10 a.m.
Agenda item 65 (continued)
Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance
(c) Assistance to the Palestinian people
Report of the Secretary-General (A/63/75)
The Acting President: I call on the Permanent Observer of Palestine.
Mr. Mansour (Palestine): We are here today to discuss an issue to which the Palestinian people attach great importance: international assistance. For the Palestinian people, international assistance represents the unwavering commitment of the international community to the Palestinian people and the ultimate realization of their inalienable rights. Over the past six decades, this assistance has been key to the resilience of the Palestinian people and to ensuring that they, the majority of whom are dispossessed refugees, are not forgotten or forsaken despite many years of conflict, turmoil and suffering.
This assistance has time and again served as a reaffirmation of the right of the Palestinian people to live a life of dignity and to build their societal institutions to enable them to survive and withstand the imposed misery of military occupation and prepare for a tomorrow free from its shackles. This assistance is a reflection of a clear political will to stand by international legitimacy and the principles of international law, a commitment for which the Palestinian people will always extend their gratitude and thanks to the international community.
The past eight years have seen mounting burdens on Palestinian society; as well as on international donors; as a direct result of deliberate, systematic and illegal actions and policies by Israel, the occupying Power. These policies and actions have, on numerous occasions, directly targeted donor-funded projects, retarding the path of internationally supported Palestinian development and forcing, on both the Palestinian people and the international donors, an agenda of emergency relief, rather than development and sustainability.
In fact, aggressive Israeli policies against the Palestinian people have imposed a process of “de-development” in the occupied Palestinian territory, including occupied East Jerusalem. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Israel’s continued illegal construction of the wall and settlements and its regime of closures, siege and military checkpoints have been the direct cause of this de-development, as well as of the erosion of productive capacity in the occupied Palestinian territory. In 2004 alone, the projected income loss was $4 billion — an intolerable price to pay for a people living under occupation and struggling to lift themselves out of dependency and hardship.
Despite the best efforts of the Palestinian Authority and the international donor community, recovery from this forced plunge into deep poverty and economic shrinkage has been slow and extremely difficult because neither the painful daily reality of occupation nor its devastating consequences has changed.
International agencies including all United Nations agencies, the Quartet’s Special Envoy, the World Bank and many others widely recognize Israel’s closure policy as the most devastating factor limiting the Palestinian economy. In this regard, Ms. Karen Koning AbuZayd, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Works Agency and Project for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, recently said: