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The meeting was called to order at 10.10 a. m.
Agenda item 16: Economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan (A/71/86-E/2016/13 and E/2016/L.22)
50. Mr. Alami (Director, Emerging and Conflict-related Issues Division, Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia), introducing the note of the Secretary-General on the economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan (A/71/86-E/2016/13), said that Israeli policies and practices continued to violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law and undermine the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.
51. Israel had created two different justice systems in the West Bank: the Israeli domestic legal system, which was applied for Israeli settlers, and the military system, which was applied for Palestinians. Under the Israeli zoning and planning policies, applications for construction permits for Palestinians were mostly rejected, forcing Palestinians to build without Israeli construction permits, leaving them vulnerable to home demolition and displacement. With the aim of securing a Jewish majority and attaining full control over East Jerusalem, Israel employed policies that stifled the natural growth of the Palestinian population in the city, violated a wide array of Palestinian rights and had resulted in Palestinians living in poverty and suffering from neglect and lack of services.
52. Palestinians continued to suffer from excessive use of force by Israeli security forces and lack of protection from Israeli settler attacks. The detention of Palestinians was often coupled with violations of their rights and international humanitarian law, including the excessive use of administrative detention without charge or trial. Reports of inherent and institutionalized cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and medical negligence of Palestinian detainees, including children, continued to emerge.
53. In the West Bank, Palestinians continued to face displacement mainly owing to policies and practices such as home demolition or takeover, land confiscation, harassment and violence, access restrictions and revocation of residency permits. Israel had resumed home demolition as a punitive measure against families of suspected Palestinian attackers, which was a clear violation of international humanitarian law. Israeli settlers continued their attacks on Palestinians, their property and religious sites with impunity.
54. The nine-year blockade of the Gaza Strip amounted to the collective punishment of 1.8 million Palestinians and had had a devastating effect on the population, economy and infrastructure, including impeding projects by the United Nations and other organizations. . The massive destruction to the water, electricity and wastewater infrastructure and the agricultural sector during the 2014 offensive in Gaza had exacerbated the water and sanitation crisis and the dire environmental conditions.
55. In the West Bank, discriminatory Israeli policies had left Palestinians with limited access to their own water and land. Israeli settlers and companies continued to exploit natural resources and pollute the environment in the Occupied Territory.
56. Longstanding Israeli restrictions, practices and destruction of Palestinian infrastructure had stifled Palestinian economic activity and resulted in an aid-dependent economy, with staggering unemployment rates, high food insecurity rates, a deteriorating health sector and a lack of schools.
57. Israeli violations of international law continued in the occupied Syrian Golan, which Israel had illegally annexed in 1981, with a continued transfer of settlers into Syrian territory, expansion of settlements and exploitation of natural resources. Syrian citizens living under occupation faced discriminatory policies, such as unequal water allocation, restrictions on construction in their villages and expanding their boundaries, whereas Israeli settlements received Israeli Government support and incentives, including active plans to increase their numbers.
58. Israel continued to employ measures and practices in the Occupied Palestinian and Syrian Territories that violated some of the basic principles of the United Nations, including the inadmissibility of acquiring land by force, the principle of non-discrimination and the right of peoples to self-determination. Fifty years of occupation had not only witnessed the obstruction and, at times, reversal of Palestinian socioeconomic development, but also Israel’s consolidation of control of the Occupied Territories through a three-tiered approach: population displacement, land grab and suppression of any form of resistance. Israel must end its occupation and comply with international law and legitimacy, otherwise there would be no prospects for peace.
59. Ms. Rasheed (Observer for the State of Palestine) said that the report attested to a systematic pattern of violations of human rights, international law and international humanitarian law as a result of the illegal, oppressive and destructive policies and measures of Israel. It indicated a steep and alarming deterioration of the situation on the ground that had led to a human rights crisis among the Palestinian population living under occupation. Every aspect of the lives of the Palestinian people was infringed upon and each one of their human rights continued to be violated as the occupying Power persisted in further entrenching its occupation.
60. The assessment of the report represented only a fraction of the violations that Israel, its military forces and settlers continued to perpetuate against the Palestinian people and their land with total impunity, as the international community continued to fail to hold Israel accountable in accordance with the law. The situation had deepened the pervasive sense among the Palestinian people of insecurity and hopelessness regarding any possible redress of that appalling injustice. The occupying Power had not only continued but also intensified all of its illegal actions, including its never-ending colonial settlement enterprise in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the apartheid wall, despite calls by the international community to halt its illegal policies and measures. Israel seemed more interested in consolidating its control over Palestinian land than achieving peace and security. All violations must cease and Israel must be compelled to respect international law. Unless the urgent matter of accountability was addressed, Israel’s impunity against the Palestinian people would surely be further emboldened, with disastrous consequences.
61. In Gaza, the existing crisis had affected every single aspect of life, with vastly negative short- and long-term socioeconomic implications that were depriving and disfiguring Palestinian society. The nine-year Israeli blockade of Gaza, which was a repugnant form of collective punishment amounting to a war crime and the source of countless human rights violations, had persisted, deepening poverty, food insecurity, unemployment, health problems and many other social and economic ills. The blockade had in effect imprisoned and isolated the entire population, suffocated socioeconomic life and impeded all efforts for any real recovery.
62. In order to end the suffering of the Palestinian people and make tangible progress towards peace, security and prosperity, Israel must end its prolonged occupation and comply with international law without exception. Failure to expedite that outcome would only increase the human suffering and lead to further destabilization of the grave situation. Such an outcome was imperative to enable Palestine to pursue genuine development in line with the 2030 Agenda and ensure viable economic and social conditions for the Palestinian people. The State of Palestine thus appealed for the continued support of all concerned Member States and the United Nations and its specialized agencies and programmes to assist the Palestinian people in their steadfast efforts to achieve their rights, including to self-determination, fulfil their legitimate national aspirations and live in justice and dignity in their independent State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side with Israel, on the basis of the pre-1967 borders.
63. Mr. Mounzer (Observer for Syrian Arab Republic) said that Israel’s extensive human rights violations were well known. Supported by various powers, that country continued its oppressive practices, which included the confiscation of land and resources for settlement projects. Its settlers exhausted natural resources, commercialized what was produced in those territories, and imposed taxes and other fees on local Arab inhabitants.
64. International support was crucial for those living under the occupation to cope with the terrorist threat posed by non-State actors as well as Israel. Future reports of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia should refer to that Government’s support of terrorism in the Golan Heights and the repercussions thereof on the economic and social life of its inhabitants.
65. Ms. Pereira (Observer for Ecuador), reiterating comments made during a recent Security Council open debate on the Middle East, said that her delegation was preoccupied by the lack of action by that body with respect to the conflict. Ecuador, which supported the Palestinian cause, was encouraged by recognition of the occupation as key to unrest in the region and acknowledgment of the two-State solution as the path to peace. A great deal of human suffering could have been avoided if the international community had acted in a timely manner. Resolution of the conflict required political solutions that would make it possible to avoid breaches of international humanitarian law and the restriction of human rights.
66. Mr. Bessedik (Algeria) said that Algeria stood in solidarity with the brotherly Palestinian people and denounced the violations committed against them. It was with regret that his delegation observed the prevailing impunity with which Israel flouted United Nations decisions and resolutions, demonstrating once again the inability of the international community to end the suffering of the Palestinian people.
67. The international community, through the Economic and Social Council, was called upon to put an end to the suffering thereby enabling the Palestinian people to exercise their fundamental human rights and to live independently and freely on their territory.
68. Mr. Shaker (Observer for Saudi Arabia) said that future Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia reports should mention other factors that impacted the Palestinian economy, including property seizures, severe restrictions on fishing zones, and the inability of the Palestinian people to share in the benefits of tourism or the development of oil fields in maritime areas.
Draft resolution E/2016/L.22: Economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan
69. Ms. Chartsuwan (Observer for Thailand), introducing the draft resolution, said that developments during the most recent reporting period had exacerbated hardships experienced by the Palestinian and Syrian peoples living under occupation, in particular in the Gaza Strip. Already negative trends had worsened, causing further displacement and increased levels of poverty and prevalence of health-related issues, among others. The draft resolution would contribute to the alleviation of the ills suffered by those living under the occupation.
70. Mr. Dolbow (United States of America) said that his delegation, disappointed by the draft resolution, felt obligated to call for a vote. In the same way as past resolutions, the text did not address the conflict in a balanced manner, nor did it contribute to advancing the Palestinian and Israeli peoples’ aspirations for a secure, peaceful and prosperous future. His Government was committed to supporting the Palestinian people in practical and effective ways. The largest bilateral donor to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, the United States had contributed over $380 million in 2015 and over $316 million thus far in 2016 to the Agency. It also contributed significant amounts to bilateral and multilateral programmes and supported United Nations efforts to improve conditions in the region.
71. A permanent status agreement to end the conflict could only be achieved through direct bilateral negotiations. Both Israelis and Palestinians must demonstrate, through their policies and actions, a genuine commitment to the two-State solution in order to reduce tensions, rebuild trust, restore hope and avoid escalation of the conflict.
72. Mr. Altinors (Observer for Turkey) said that he wished to join the sponsors of the draft resolution.
73. The President said that the draft resolution had no programme budget implications.
74. Ms. O’Connor (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), speaking on behalf of the European Union in explanation of vote before the voting, said that European Union members of the Council would support the draft resolution with the understanding that the use of the term “Palestine” should not be construed as recognition of a State of Palestine. In addition, such usage was without prejudice to the individual positions of European Union member States on that issue and, consequently, on the question of validity of an accession to the conventions and treaties mentioned in the draft resolution. Moreover, the European Union had not expressed a legal qualification with regard to the term “forced displacement” used in the draft resolution.
75. At the request of the representative of the United States of America, a recorded vote was taken on draft resolution E/2016/L.22.
Afghanistan, Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Congo, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, India, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Serbia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe.
Australia, United States of America.
Honduras, Panama, Togo.
76. Draft resolution E/2016/L.22 was adopted by 42 votes to 2, with 3 abstentions.
77. Mr. Amer (Observer for Israel) said that once again the forum of the Economic and Social Council had been transformed into a veritable circus exploited by the Palestinians to pursue their campaign of inflammatory diatribe against Israel. The resolution, which was biased and misleading, was an example of that campaign.
78. The report presented by the representative of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia reflected poorly on the United Nations as it was based on information from unreliable sources, such as unverified newspaper articles and data gathered by biased non-governmental organizations. It also ignored the major obstacles hindering Palestinian development. With respect to the 2014 hostilities, no mention was made of Hamas’ control of the Gaza Strip. The report was unable to maintain neutrality even with respect to human life, failing to adequately cover acts of violence committed by Palestinians against Israelis. Given its determination to blame Israel for every problem suffered by the Palestinians, what else could be concluded except that the Commission was obsessed with Israel?
79. Both the resolution and the report ignored the role of Hamas as well as the failure of the Palestinian leadership to take responsibility for the welfare of the Palestinian people. It was ironic that the report should commend the Palestinian leadership for improved governance given that a recent Palestinian Centre for Policy Research study showed that 79 per cent of Palestinians in the West Bank perceived their government institutions to be corrupt. It was also ironic that the resolution should call on the parties to fulfil their obligations with respect to the Middle East Quartet when earlier that month the Palestinians had proudly announced their intention to severe relations with it. Furthermore, in urging Israel to open its borders and facilitate visits to the Syrian Arab Republic, his Government was essentially being asked to send people into the bloody abyss of civil war.
80. Council members should realize that the resolution did not enhance cooperation or improve lives. The conflict inflicted socioeconomic hardships on both sides and efforts to resolve it should begin at the negotiation table.
81. Ms. Rasheed (Observer for State of Palestine) said that the adoption of the resolution reaffirmed the rights of Palestinians and reflected the role the United Nations must play in safeguarding human rights and upholding international law. Multilateral diplomacy could make a tangible difference in the promotion of the rule of law and the amelioration of the conditions born of its absence.
82. The absurdities pronounced by the representative of Israel required a response. The report introduced by the representative of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia was not a distortion of the truth. Rather, it contained proven facts about the actions of the Israeli Government, many of which amounted to war crimes.
83. It was not an “obsession” with Israel that singled that country out, but rather its own non-compliance with international law and utter disrespect for the United Nations and the international community. And although Israel would qualify the adoption of the resolution as a “circus”, the fact that 42 Member States had voted in favour of the resolution pointed to the contrary.
84. The representative of Israel had failed to mention that the half-century of oppression, dispossession and subjugation of the Palestinian people lay at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It was time for Israel to acknowledge its occupation of Palestinian land and control and illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip, a fact recognized by the overwhelming majority of Member States.
85. The Palestinian leadership, which had declared its intention to pursue all legal and peaceful means to end the unjust occupation, categorically rejected the Israeli representative’s claim of incitement. Conversely, Israel encouraged violence and instability, stoking religious and ethnic tensions and feeding the cycle of violence.
86. It was foolish to think that the Palestinians would ever welcome the occupation. Was it truly difficult to understand the Palestinian desire to be free in their homeland? Even the Secretary-General had pointed out that it was human nature to react to occupation, which was a potent incubator for hatred and extremism. The international community must urgently act to uphold international law, bring an end to Israel’s crimes and pave the way to a lasting solution to the conflict. No amount of crime or oppression could lower the resistance of the Palestinian people or cause them to surrender their right to live in a free and dignified manner in their home.
87. The President said that he took it that the Council wished to take note of the note by the Secretary-General on the Economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan (A/71/86-E/2016/13).
88. It was so decided.
The meeting rose at 1.20 p.m.