The Economic and Social Council adopted seven resolutions and one decision on issues ranging from Haiti’s long-term development, to the economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation, and support for Non-Self-Governing Territories, as it launched the third round of its 2017 Coordination and Management Meetings today.
The Council’s two previous rounds — during which it reviewed the reports of its subsidiary and expert bodies, and considered special country or regional situations — were held from 19 to 21 April and from 7 to 9 June, inclusive of 6 July.
In a recorded vote of 45 in favour to 2 against (Australia, United States), with 3 abstentions (Burkina Faso, Honduras, Japan), the Council adopted a resolution titled “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.
Ecuador’s delegate introduced the draft on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, stressing that it reaffirmed the sovereignty of peoples living under colonial occupation over their natural resources and called on Israel to repair property destroyed by its military operations.
Tarik Alami, Director of the Emerging and Conflict-Related Issues Section, United Nations Economic Commission for Western Asia, who introduced the related report by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), said 50 years of occupation of Syrian and Palestinian land had limited economic and social development. Adherence to international law was imperative to ensure justice.
Several delegates expressed their views on the report, with Lebanon’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, pointing out that the term “Israeli security forces”, regarding the occupation forces, gave an erroneous impression of the nature of those forces. Syria’s delegate likewise said that the report did not refer to the 2016 meeting of the Israeli Cabinet in the Syrian Golan. The representative of the Observer State of Palestine, meanwhile, said the Knesset’s adoption of racist laws and statements by Israeli officials on the West Bank to include Jerusalem settlements required that such issues were considered seriously.
Economic and Social Repercussions of the Israeli Occupation
TARIK ALAMI, Director of the Emerging and Conflict-Related Issues Section, United Nations Economic Commission for Western Asia, introduced the Secretary-General’s note, containing the report prepared by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) 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 (document A/72/90-E/2017/71).
He said the note outlined serious concerns over the use of force and unlawful killings by Israeli forces that might amount to extrajudicial killings. During the reporting period, 12 Israelis had been killed in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, and 162 were injured in attacks by Palestinians. Israeli authorities continued to delay the return of Palestinians who were alleged to have carried out attacks, a practice which could amount to a collective penalty and contravene the Fourth Geneva Convention. The number of children in detention, including those under the age of 12, numbered 335 in February 2017. Some 1,122 Palestinians had been displaced due to home demolitions, while Israeli settlement policies continued to violate Security Council resolutions, especially resolution 2334 (2016), and the settler population had doubled since the Oslo accords.
Moreover, he said, more than 70 per cent of Gaza’s residents received international aid, the bulk of which was food assistance, which had grown 10-fold between 2000 and 2016. On the Syrian Golan, he said according to Syria, Israel restricted Syria’s use of land to 18 hectares while Israelis were allowed to use 140,000 hectares. Water was limited for Syrian farmers, and likely to be reduced, while settlers received, in practice, as much as they required. Israeli and foreign companies continued to exploit water, gas and oil resources, after receiving licenses from Israel. Fifty years of occupation of Syrian and Palestinian land had created limitations on economic and social development, he said, stressing that adherence to international law was imperative to ensure justice and peace for all.
MARWAN FRANCIS (Lebanon), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, welcomed the report, expressing hope to review it during the seventy-second General Assembly session. The report used the term “Israeli security forces”, regarding the occupation forces, for example, in paragraphs 8 and 20, giving an erroneous impression of the nature of those forces. In its 2015 report, the Council had adopted “Israeli forces” as in paragraphs 21 and 31 of that report, or Israeli military and security forces” in previous reports. Moreover, the report should distinguish between the Israeli military, Israeli settlers and Israeli citizens, notably in paragraph 10, using the appropriate terminology. In paragraph 45 of the Arab version, the report referred to “the wall” Israel was building in Palestinian territories, but in English, the word used was “barrier”. He reiterated the request to give the importance due to the occupation and the repercussions on Palestinians.
ROUA SHURBAJI (Syria) said the ESCWA report outlined Israeli violence, maltreatment, property confiscation and settlement policies, among the practices that violated international law. However, it did not reiterate the position on one of the most dangerous practices, the 2016 meeting of the Israeli Cabinet in the Syrian Golan and the Israeli declaration that contravened resolution 497 (1981). “We don’t need proof or evidence that the occupation force pays no heed to hundreds of resolutions of the United Nations,” she said. Israeli violations were well known and included measures taken at Al-Aqsa mosque. She rejected any investment of the occupying force in developing local Syrian communities as if those people did not suffer under “null and void” authority. She called on ESCWA to incorporate into the report all such Israeli practices and reject them, including their role in supporting terrorism.
CRISTIANE ENGELBRECHT (Venezuela), noting that the ESCWA report outlined obstacles faced by Palestinians, said natural resources must be managed sovereignly. Their illegal exploitation by settlers and colonial forces led to impoverishment. Access to such resources was essential for sustainable growth. “How can the Palestinians meet these goals if they don’t have freedom,” she asked, requesting more information on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development in the occupied territories.
ABDULLAH ABU SHAWESH, Observer State of Palestine, associating with the Arab Group, welcomed efforts by the Working Group that prepared the report. He noted the shorter length of the current report from last year. It outlined facts that were out of context, he said, citing paragraph 6. On paragraph 51, the report on the electricity dispute, referred to a January 2017 United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) report, of which there was no evidence. Information regarding the Knesset press and the law on settlement planning was erroneously based on Israeli sources. Paragraph 20, on Palestinian fishermen, was based on a 2016 report by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and included an Israeli justification for such behaviour. He cited racist laws adopted by the Knesset and statements by Israeli officials on the West Bank to include Jerusalem settlements, calling for such issues to be considered seriously.
Mr. ALAMI replied that the Secretary-General’s note compiled data from reliable and credible sources, including United Nations bodies and agencies, as well as renowned international and Israeli non-governmental organizations and such credible sources as the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics and the United States Department of State. It was a collaborative effort by 14 United Nations agencies.
ANDRES CORDOVA (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced the resolution titled, “Economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan” (document E/2017/L.34). The text contained 42 preambular and 22 operative paragraphs, most of which were similar to last year’s resolution. It reaffirmed the permanent sovereignty of peoples living under colonial occupation over their natural resources and called on Israel to repair property destroyed by its military operations. It also called for renewed international efforts on the basis of Security Council resolutions, the land for peace principle, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Arab Road Map. He expressed hope it would be adopted by consensus.
Ms. RAADIK (Estonia), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that while her delegation would support the resolution, use of the term “Palestine” could not be construed as recognition of a State of Palestine. The European Union had not expressed a legal qualification to the term “forced displacement”, she said, and considered that the term “Palestinian government” referred to the Palestinian Authority. The bloc had not expressed itself on certain legal terms in the resolution.
The representative of Ecuador asked which delegation had requested the vote.
The Secretariat official responded that the United States delegation had done so.
STEFANIE AMADEO (United States) expressed disappointment over another one-sided and biased resolution which the United States could not support due to the anti-Israeli bias that existed in ESCWA. It unfairly singled out Israel in a forum that was not intended to be politicized. The United States was committed to support Palestinians in practical ways, including through funding for UNRWA. It contributed $359 million in fiscal 2016 and announced contributions of $189 million for fiscal 2017. She expressed deep concern over humanitarian conditions in Gaza, stressing that the United States shared the goal of advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace. A comprehensive agreement could only be achieved through direct bilateral negotiations.
By a recorded vote of 45 in favour to 2 against (United States, Australia), with 3 abstentions (Burkina Faso, Honduras, Japan), the Council then adopted resolution L.34.
The Council then took note of the Secretary-General’s report on assistance to the Palestinian people (document A/72/87-E/2017/67).
The representative of the Observer State of Palestine thanked all those that had voted in favour of the text, calling the report “weak”.
NIZAR AMER (Israel) called the text another example of a one-sided inflammatory diatribe against his country. The resolution and report were deeply misleading, presenting an extremely distorted picture of the situation on the ground. The resolution did not mention that Hamas controlled Gaza through the denial of human rights and misuse of natural resources. A reader of it would not even know Hamas existed. It also ignored that the Palestinian leadership had never assumed responsibility for the well-being of its people. It was no surprise it mentioned no positive developments, such as the September 2016 agreement resolving a decade-long electricity dispute or the handing over of a power plant to the Palestinians, one of a planned four to be handed over. Any solution to the situation must start at the negotiating table.
RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela) expressed repudiation for the position of his Israeli counterpart. Israelis tried to present themselves as victims of violence, when the heart of the violence was the Israeli occupation.
For information media. Not an official record.