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Séminaire des Nations Unies sur l’assistance au peuple palestinien (Doha, 5-6 février 2007) - Rapport - Publication de la Division des droits palestiniens Français
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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
24 May 2007





UNITED NATIONS SEMINAR ON ASSISTANCE
TO THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE

Doha
5 and 6 February 2007










I. Introduction

A. Organization of the Seminar

1. The United Nations Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People was held in Doha on 5 and 6 February 2007, under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and in accordance with the provisions of General Assembly resolutions 61/22 and 61/23 of 1 December 2006.

B. Participation

2. The seminar was attended by representatives of 51 Governments, Palestine, three intergovernmental organizations, 11 United Nations bodies and 10 civil society organizations, as well as special guests of the host country and representatives of academic institutions and the media.

3. The Committee was represented at the meeting by a delegation comprising Paul Badji (Senegal), Chairman of the Committee; Rodrigo Malmierca-Díaz (Cuba), Vice-Chairman of the Committee; Victor Camilleri (Malta), Rapporteur of the Committee; Ali Hachani (Tunisia), member of the Committee; and Riyad Mansour (Palestine).

4. The following Governments were represented at the Seminar: Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, China, Cuba, Cyprus, Djibouti, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain,
Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and Yemen.

5. The following organizations, agencies and other entities of the United Nations system participated in the seminar: International Labour Organization (ILO); United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA); Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO); United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD); United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat); United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA); and World Food Programme (WFP).

6. The following intergovernmental organizations were represented at the seminar: the European Union, the Islamic Development Bank and the League of Arab States.

7. The following civil society organizations participated in the seminar as observers: Afro-Asian People's Solidarity Organization, Cairo; Al-Quds University, Jerusalem; Alternative Information Center, Jerusalem; Arab Association of Human Rights (HRA), Nazareth; Ittijah – Union of Arab Community based Associations, Haifa; Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute (MAS), Ramallah; Palestine Return Centre, London; Rand-Qatar Policy Institute, Doha; Right of Return Congress Palestine Land Society, Kuwait; and Saudi Fund for Development, Riyadh.

8. The following dignitaries and experts presented papers: Khaled Abdel Shafi, Head of UNDP Gaza Office; Samir Abdullah, Director General, Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute; Alexander Costy, Head of Coordination and Socio-economic Affairs at the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO); Mahmoud Elkhafif, Officer-in-Charge, Assistance to the Palestinian People Unit, Globalization and Development Strategies Division, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development; Shir Hever, economic researcher, Alternative Information Center, Jerusalem; Zahava Gal-On, Member of Knesset (Meretz), Tel Aviv; Salam Fayyad, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Ramallah; Sari Nusseibeh, President, Al-Quds University, East Jerusalem; Allegra Pacheco, Chief, Information and Advocacy Unit, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA); Sara Roy, senior research scholar, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts ; Mohammad Shtayyeh, President, Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR), Ramallah; Lex Takkenberg, Director of Operational Support, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Amman; and Ahmad Tibi, Member of the Knesset (Arab Movement for Change Party), Tel Aviv.

C. Agenda

9. The seminar consisted of an opening session, three plenary sessions and a closing session. During the plenary sessions, presentations were made by 13 experts, including Palestinians and Israelis. Following the plenary sessions, a discussion period was open to all participants. The themes of the plenary sessions were: “Socio-economic and humanitarian emergency in the Occupied Palestinian Territory”; “International response to the needs of the Palestinian people”; and “Looking ahead: creating conditions for Palestinian economic recovery”.

II. Opening session

10. The Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People was opened by Ahmad bin Abdullah al-Mahmoud, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar. The message of the United Nations Secretary-General was delivered by Angela Kane, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs. Statements were also made by Paul Badji, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and Nabil Sha’ath, Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and representative of Palestine. Representatives of Cuba, Tunisia, the League of Arab States, Chile and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees also took the floor.

11. Ahmad bin Abdullah al-Mahmoud, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Qatar, said the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and their illegal practices, including the economic siege and the restrictions imposed on movement had led to the deterioration of the economic and social conditions of the Palestinian people. Last year, the humanitarian situation was further exacerbated by the withholding of Palestinian taxes by Israel and of financial assistance by the international community following the Hamas victory in the elections. The number of poor families and unemployment had risen, and the health and social conditions had deteriorated to unprecedented levels, thus prompting economic collapse and a major humanitarian crisis that might trigger unrest in the Palestinian Territory and in the region as a whole. Those mostly affected by the deteriorating living conditions in the Palestinian Territory were the most vulnerable groups including women, children and the elderly.

12. He said the seminar was an attempt to assess the gravity of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, highlight the conditions and muster support from all international actors who might play a role in alleviating the situation. The General Assembly had repeatedly stressed the need to provide international assistance to the Palestinian people, as had the international community. The contribution of the United Nations and its specialized agencies in rebuilding Palestinian institutions and the provision of assistance to the Palestinian people was all the more necessary and complementary to the role of the various agencies of the United Nations concerned with the Palestinian issue, including the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. The services provided by UNRWA in basic education, and health and relief services constituted the minimum necessary to enable Palestinian refugees to live a decent productive life. It was important to continue to support UNRWA so that it could play its vital role. The provision of international assistance to the Palestinian people to alleviate their economic and social plight and to support their economic recovery was a human duty. The international community bore a moral responsibility towards them.

13. He emphasized that the State of Qatar had spared no effort to provide support to the Palestinian people, whether it was financial support in the form of financial assistance and salaries, moral support through sincere good offices geared towards resolving the differences among the Palestinians or through contributions to efforts to achieve a lasting and just solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. However, all efforts to provide assistance to the Palestinian people were remedies only for the symptoms. The major change that would improve the economic and social conditions was to end the occupation of the Palestinian Territory, and to achieve a permanent, comprehensive and just settlement with the establishment of a Palestinian State within secure and internationally recognized borders.

14. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, in a statement delivered by Angela Kane, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said that, despite recent violence, the Quartet agreement on the need to revive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and to re-energize its own efforts had brightened the political landscape. In addition, Israeli and Palestinian leaders had resumed a direct dialogue and had begun to implement the understandings between them. It was vital to build on those steps with a credible political process that the world community supported. Both sides would measure any progress by its impact on their daily lives, and by its ability to propel the parties towards an end to their conflict through a two-State solution. The political process would not succeed without bold steps to guarantee the security of the Palestinian and Israeli civilian populations and without tangible measures to enable the Palestinians to lead a normal economic life.

15. He expressed alarm over the precarious state of the Palestinian economy and the serious humanitarian emergency in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Israeli restrictions, ongoing settlement activities and barrier construction continued to have a devastating effect. Israel’s release of some of the withheld tax revenues was a welcome step, and he urged Israel to take further steps in that direction without delay. The Palestinians, for their part, must take firm steps to cease rocket fire and other indiscriminate attacks against Israeli citizens.

16. He stressed the importance of a concerted effort by the international community, and urged all international donors to be generous and to step up their efforts at delivering emergency and other forms of assistance to the Palestinian people. He stated that he would work closely with the parties, regional partners and colleagues in the Quartet to revive the peace process. Only a permanent political settlement that ended the occupation could provide a sustainable solution to the economic and humanitarian problems of the Palestinian people and lasting security for Israel.

17. Paul Badji, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said that, despite the financial aid provided in the past year by contributions from Arab and other donor countries, and the Temporary International Mechanism created by the European Union, the Palestinian Authority’s fiscal situation remained bleak. Elements necessary for economic recovery and development are not in place in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The Palestinian economy was in dire straits, and ordinary Palestinians were the main victims. Palestinians, desperate for work, who were trying to enter Israel were shot at. So were children who threw stones at Israeli soldiers invading their towns. The Israeli Government needed to understand that as long as Palestinians did not have a sound economy that provided jobs and food, peace would remain elusive. He stressed that attempts to punish the Palestinian people collectively would not bring security, and called on Israel to become a partner in the rehabilitation of the Palestinian economy.

18. He pointed out that Palestinian economic development depended on trade. The Agreement on Movement and Access of 2005 already existed as a formula that allowed Palestinians to maintain commercial activities while taking into consideration Israel’s security concerns, but it had never been given a chance to work. He emphasized that it was crucial to make a serious effort to implement the Agreement as a priority for building trust and confidence in a future peace process. He said the security situation needed to be improved urgently to allow for investments. First and foremost the Palestinians had to find a way to overcome their differences in a peaceful manner and to seek national unity as a matter of great urgency. The Palestinian Authority needed to take responsibility for law and order in the territory under its control. At the same time, Israel must stop all activities that might prejudge the final outcome of the permanent status negotiations with the Palestinians. The understandings reached between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in the December meeting should be implemented without delay. The transfer of US$100 million in Palestinian tax money collected by Israel was a move in the right direction.

19. He called on the international donor community to redouble efforts to deliver emergency assistance. He drew attention to the Quartet’s recent appeal for continued international assistance and encouraged donors to focus on preserving and building the required institutions for Palestinian governance, as well as the development of the Palestinian economy. At the same time, he said, the international community should remind the Israeli Government that under the Fourth Geneva Convention, it had the duty as the occupying Power to protect the Palestinian population. That included the provision of basic services such as food, medical care and education. Efforts to provide economic and humanitarian assistance should be accompanied by genuine and robust efforts to revitalize the political process.

20. Nabil Sha’ath, Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and Representative of Palestine, said Palestinians were proud of the role of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, which had spared no effort to support the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. The Committee had continued to play its important role in spite of its critics. Although it was now the twenty-first century, Palestinians were still unable to enjoy their inalienable rights. After 25 years of Palestinian efforts to reach a just peace based on a two-State solution and another 15 years of a peace process, the Palestinian people were still suffering under an occupation that was getting worse every day. Moreover, mass sanctions had been imposed on the Palestinian people, because some States did not approve of the results of the Palestinian democratic election.

21. Palestinians did not want to be a burden to the international community, but wanted to be able to build their future with their own hands, he said. From 1995 to 2000 they had made numerous achievements and had been trying to reach a solution that would bring peace and stability. The Palestinian Authority built institutions for the future Palestinian State and negotiated a just and lasting peace. Today, Palestinians were suffering from sieges and could not exercise sovereignty. They were also facing a domestic problem. The Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority had a responsibility to resolve their domestic crisis, but those problems were the result of occupation, poverty and desperation. It was an attempt to keep the Palestinian people under siege in the hope that it would implode. The solution would come only with the ending of the occupation. The physical siege preventing the movement of goods and people was used to throw the people into poverty.

22. He pointed out that the economic siege was destroying the infrastructure and the Palestinian economy, which would be affected for years to come. The financial siege had resulted in stopping all payments and assistance to Palestinians. Among other things, salaries could not be paid. Moreover, in the past, remittances from Palestinians abroad had been important for the financial stability of the people. Those remittances were now frozen. Palestinians needed humanitarian assistance because they could no longer produce for themselves or interact with the outside world. Palestinians had hoped that the Quartet and the international community would have put an end to the unfair siege, but it had not. Consequently, Palestinians were obliged to ask for international assistance, lest they die of hunger. No doubt the solution remained political; the failure of the previous attempt left the peace process a process without a peace. He called for a comprehensive permanent solution that would result in an independent Palestine.

23. Statements were also made by representatives of Governments and intergovernmental organizations. The representative of Cuba, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said he was gravely concerned at the dire humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people. He called for the provision of emergency assistance to them. He said the international community had the duty to address that issue seriously and to avoid the application of any kind of conditionalities when sending assistance to the Palestinian people. Non-aligned countries were very concerned that the flow of resources in assistance to the Palestinians had suffered in recent times because of political considerations in donor countries.

24. The representative of Tunisia said the political and economic siege on Palestinians could only be described as disastrous. The seminar could not stop at talking about current events, but must focus on immediate action to be taken by the international community to end the crisis. There was no doubt that the international community and its institutions, as well as Israel, had a huge responsibility for the current situation. The Permanent Observer of Palestine had referred to the grave economic and social conditions being faced by the Palestinian people. It was the duty of the international community to listen to the Palestinians and provide them with the assistance they needed.

25. The representative of the League of Arab States, quoting former British Prime Minister William Gladstone and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., respectively, said “Justice delayed is justice denied” and “Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere”. The international community had failed so far to compel Israel to respect international solutions or agreements it had signed with the Palestinian people. A dire consequence of the siege had been the internal and political security strife that impeded the establishment of a national unity government. The descent into chaos and violence would have widespread implications. Israel must be aware that it would not be able to keep the Arab territories it had occupied. He called on the international community to find an end to the current situation and put an end to the suffering of the people.

26. The representative of Chile said that unless the internal violence came to an end, the chances of the Palestinians achieving their inalienable rights would be lessened. Unless there was an end to the violence, one could not expect to see peace in the near future. He supported all the efforts of the international community to achieve peace and called on the parties directly concerned to work to that end through their own efforts.

27. The representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said his agency’s mandate did not extend to the majority of the Palestinian refugees. It had no mandate in the UNRWA area of operation. However, 23,000 Palestinians living in Baghdad were registered with UNHCR. They had never been recognized as refugees, but they had been protected and enjoyed a relative high standard of living under the former Iraqi regime. Today, Palestinians in Iraq were targets of arbitrary arrest, detention and extrajudicial killings. Many had been harassed by Iraqis who accused them of being close to the former regime. A large number had fled to camps in Jordan and Syria. The Government of Iraq had the primary responsibility for their protection. UNHCR had appealed to Israel to allow Palestinians with direct ties to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to be allowed to return. UNHCR had called on neighbouring States to keep their borders open and to ensure that no Palestinian was subjected to forced return.

III. Summary of the plenary sessions

Plenary I

Socio-economic and humanitarian emergency
in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

28. The first plenary, entitled “Socio-economic and humanitarian emergency in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” comprised presentations by five experts. The sub-themes were the impact of the occupation on the Palestinian economy; the socio-economic decline of the Gaza Strip; and the plight of the most vulnerable: living conditions of Palestinian women, children and the elderly.

29. Salam Fayyad, Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said the meeting was taking place against the backdrop of the extreme hardship being experienced by the Palestinian people. There had been a significant intensification of closures and financial restrictions imposed on Palestinians. National income accounts data suggested a 15 per cent decline in gross domestic product (GDP) on an annual basis during the first three quarters of 2006. It is estimated that GDP would have declined by about 20 per cent during 2006, which would be the deepest recession in the Palestinian economy since 1967. There had also been a major increase in unemployment. The International Labour Organization statistics did not reflect the real unemployment number. Unemployment increased from 22 per cent to 24 per cent between the third quarter of 2005 and that of 2006. The discouraging effect of lingering unemployment exacerbated the recessionary conditions. Those who no longer applied for jobs were dropped from the statistics. It was estimated that 70 per cent in the West Bank and Gaza were living under the poverty level.

30. At the end of 2006, the number of checkpoints in the West Bank rose to 528, an increase of 40 per cent in a year and a half, and Gaza was pretty much closed completely, he said. The Rafah Crossing had been open 10 per cent of the scheduled opening time, while the Karni crossing had been open 50 per cent of the scheduled time and Eretz had been virtually completely closed for Palestinians. Mobility restrictions seriously impacted development. Financial aid for budgetary purposes had increased by US$ 533 million over that of 2005. One of the consequences of the restrictions was that it was difficult to monitor funds. Since the economy had declined in 2006, it was assumed that the clearance revenues had decreased. Israel deducted a certain portion of the revenues for services like electricity. The increase in foreign aid had offset the decline in clearance revenues. Consequently, one asks, how did the Palestinians end up with a fiscal difficulty? Restrictions on banking caused banks to fear that the Palestinian Authority would become insolvent. It was clear that there was a decline in resource availability in the period from 2005 to 2006. Government spending had declined by 35 per cent in 2006, while in 2005 there had been an increase in Government spending over that of 2004.

31. He indicated that another source of fiscal difficulty has been the decline in domestic revenues directly collected by the Palestinian Authority, estimated at about US$ 15 million per month, in addition to a total loss estimated at about US$ 135 million over the period April- December 2006. He called attention to the increase in private investment and a drop in public investment. There had also been a drop in the quality of public investment. Money in the private sector translated into job creation. The reorientation of foreign aid away from development to humanitarianism was not the quality necessary for higher growth.

32. Ahmad Tibi, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, Head of Arab Movement for Change Party, Tel Aviv, said the seminar was devoted to the adverse effects of the siege. He called attention to the human losses, the high number of deaths and injured; the strangulation of the Palestinian people by movement restrictions and the end of freedom of trade, thus preventing even a slight economic recovery. In the West Bank, there were roads earmarked for Israeli settlers and others for Palestinians. The international community had remained idle in the face of the creation of an apartheid regime in the West Bank. The barrier wall had made the territories a virtual prison. The agricultural sector had incurred US$ 282 million in losses.

33. The Palestinian industry had also been hit hard. The Palestinian economy remained unable to be self-sufficient and autonomous. Israel recently had been denying Palestinians access to their jobs. Children who formerly could go to school in two minutes now needed 40 minutes because of the wall. The international community was punishing the Palestinian people because of the outcome of the elections, although it was the democratic choice of the people. International assistance came in various forms, either official or private, he said. Among other things, the assistance provided funds for education and created more job opportunities for women and their integration into the economy. However, it failed to erase the impact on the economic situation. In many respects it was not earmarked for productive projects.

34. He went on to say that not everything was linked to whether or not funds could be transferred. Even citizenry law had been amended to ban marriage between Palestinians on the two sides of the wall. Different rules applied to Palestinians and Israelis. Palestinians were also prevented from marrying citizens of what were deemed to be enemy countries such as Syria, he said. In 20 or 25 years, there might be an equal number of Palestinians and Jews in Israel. That caused considerable concern among Israelis. The international community could not apply double standards. What was applicable to one must be applicable to the other. The siege must be lifted and Palestinians must be compensated for all the losses they had suffered under the occupation.

35. Allegra Pacheco, Chief, Information and Advocacy Unit of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Jerusalem, said the number of people receiving food assistance had increased by ten-fold. Her Office analysed the situation in terms of access, the PA fiscal crisis and the protection of civilians, which was an increasing concern. Child deaths had increased by 200 per cent and there had been a dramatic rise in injuries. Most of the deaths had been in Gaza, but one could not ignore the West Bank, where the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) was very active in terms of arrests.

36. Regarding access, she said that there were 529 checkpoints, the majority being in the West Bank. There were 69 road gates that blocked access from villages to main roads. There were also 56 road blocks, as well as 291 earth mounds, which affected Palestinians but not Israelis. Road barriers required Palestinians to take a taxi to one side of the earth mound, climb over the mound and take a taxi on the other side. Trucks unloaded their goods and carried them over the mound to waiting trucks. The Jordan Valley was virtually closed off from the West Bank. There were approximately 150 “flying” checkpoints set up each week for Palestinian cars only, which were identified by their different license plates. Moreover, in some places, the West Bank barrier separated Palestinians from each other and from their agricultural land. To cross through a gate one had to get a permit from the IDF. An OCHA-UNRWA survey of 57 communities affected by the barrier found that 40 per cent of agricultural families had not received permits and could not reach their lands.

37. The issue of the barrier was not only how much West Bank land had been taken onto the Israeli side, but also its location, she said. It prevented access to water in many places and cut off villages from each other and the main service centres like Jerusalem and Bethlehem. About 58 per cent of the barrier had been completed. As an example of the hardships imposed, she cited the city of Qalqilya, which was now cut off from the two towns dependent upon it. While formerly it would have taken 10 minutes to access the city, now it was taking two hours. The Israeli solution was to create underpasses and tunnels for Palestinians. The primary routes were reserved for Israelis, while Palestinian traffic was increasingly diverted onto secondary roads connected by tunnels. The trend was leading to the entrenchment of the settlements and Israeli settler road infrastructure, fragmenting the West Bank into isolated enclaves.

38. Khaled Abdel Shafi, Head, Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Gaza , said it was no coincidence that 2006 had been described as the worst year in the recent history of Gaza in terms of socio-economic conditions. When, in 2004, Prime Minister Sharon announced his unilateral withdrawal plan, it had been welcomed and supported by the international community, especially the Quartet, which had appointed a special envoy for the Gaza disengagement. The PA, supported by the international community, started preparing major development plans to improve living conditions and support economic recovery in the Gaza Strip. Yet, there had been a rise in the culture of violence. More than a year had passed since the disengagement, but hopes of recovery had faded. The killings and the attacks on institutions like public universities showed how the quality of life in the Territory was deteriorating. There had also been a rise in criminality. The number of crimes in 2006 had surpassed the total number of crimes recorded from 1948 to 2005. The resulting increase in emigration was not limited to business people. The trend was growing among technical and professional people and their families. If it was not stopped, it would be very difficult to reverse.

39. He pointed out that the main cause for the current unprecedented deterioration remained the Israeli occupation policies towards the Palestinians. The disengagement plan had been part of Mr. Sharon’s vision for the final status settlement to be carried out by force, imposing it on the Palestinian people. The other part of that vision was the barrier. The Israelis had closed the Gaza Strip and delayed the implementation of the Agreement on Movement and Access. The Israelis had made life miserable for the Palestinian people, while preventing the Palestinian Authority from achieving or receiving credit for any positive results. A “perfect environment” was created for Hamas to win the elections and to dominate the Gaza Strip. This had given Israel and the international community all justifications to take isolation measures against the Palestinians and the PA.

40. Total Palestinian dependency on humanitarian and relief efforts of the international community had been the result of international isolation. Development and private sector projects and efforts had been replaced by food distribution and emergency job creation, turning the whole population into beggars. He compared Gaza with a big prison where prison dynamics prevailed and people started to kill and fight each other. Earlier, the unemployment rate in Gaza had been at 7 per cent, access was working and political conditions were improving. But the situation had deteriorated to such an extent that there was an urgent need to act before it was too late.

41. Sara Roy, Research Associate, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University, said that by the time of the second intifada, Israel’s enforced closure policy was entrenched. During the Oslo period, there had been a 36 per cent decline in income, a rise in unemployment, poverty and economic deterioration. When the border was closed in 1991 and later more permanently in 1993, no viable economic and political structure could emerge. There had been an intensification of the conflict in the last six years. Eighty-eight per cent of people in Gaza and 55 per cent in the West Bank lived below the poverty level. Add to that the poorly functioning Authority, lack of control among Palestinian policymakers, internecine conflict and the reduction of net aid levels, it was easy to understand why the economic situation was so dire. Israel was now seeking to preclude the emergence of a State and a viable economic base upon which to build it. It was imposing measures to reduce the Palestinians to a humanitarian problem to which the international community was expected to respond.

42. She said that at that time over one third of the West Bank was inaccessible to Palestinians. Fewer than 30 per cent were eligible to apply for permits for movement and fewer than 10 per cent received permits. Gazans were prohibited from residing in the West Bank. Israel could veto any law passed in the Palestinian Parliament. Those measures impacted the economy directly and indirectly. More and more Israelis were benefiting from the occupation. The integration of the settlement blocks was no longer extraordinary or contentious and was considered normal and desirable by the Israelis. Separation from the Palestinians became permanent and routine. There was less talk of territorial continuity for Palestinians. The unrelenting Israeli imperatives to accommodate its territorial design gave rise to a noticeable shift in the way the international community framed Israeli-Palestinian relations. They emphasized humanitarian issues over political issues. It was not surprising that Israel transferred revenues with conditions that the money be only used for humanitarian purposes.

43. She said unilateral disengagement illustrated the shift in Israel’s intentions towards the Palestinians and their territories from occupation to annexation and imposed sovereignty, a shift that was accepted by the international community following Hamas’ victory and its unwillingness to renounce terror and recognize Israel. Resolution lay ultimately in reciprocity, she said. If Palestinians were offered something in return for what was being demanded of them, the end or the beginning of the end of the occupation, then the process would become mutual and had some hope of achieving meaningful results. The goal should not be to honour previous agreements, but to rewrite them. Palestinian and Israeli national and economic rights must be addressed equally and simultaneously. Anything short of that would fail.

Plenary II

International response to the needs of the Palestinian people

44. The second plenary, entitled “International response to the needs of the Palestinian people”, discussed the presentations of four experts. The sub-themes were support by the United Nations system; international donor assistance, including the Temporary International Mechanism; and the role of regional donors.

45. Lex Takkenberg, Director of Operational Support, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Amman, reviewed the Agency’s mandate for humanitarian and human development responsibilities towards more than 4.3 million Palestine refugees who had lost their homes and livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict. Key programmes included education, health, relief and social service in five fields of operations, including the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. UNRWA employed 28,000 staff, most of whom were Palestinian refugees. Education was the largest programme, servicing almost half a million school children and about 663 elementary and preparatory schools. Micro-finance and micro-enterprise programmes remained the largest providers of micro-credit in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Quoting recent surveys, he said that 87 per cent of the Gaza Strip and 56 per cent of the West Bank residents lived below the official poverty line and were unable to support their families without international assistance. Widespread unemployment had generated a dramatic increase in demand for UNRWA emergency relief services. The Agency had added to its food distribution rolls in Gaza alone some 23,000 Palestinian Authority employees. However, the challenges were surmountable and there had never been a better time for the United Nations to invoke the ideals of the Charter.

46. He quoted UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen Koning Abu Zayd, stressing that the Agency’s role evolved in response to pressures and influences that were themselves consistently shifting beyond the UNRWA theatre of operations. The Agency’s ultimate strength lay in its ability to serve refugees and stakeholders as a steady source of support and a competent and reliable partner. That required a delicate balancing act. UNRWA’s service orientation meant that UNRWA staff lived and worked in close proximity to and with Palestine refugees. In 2006, there were new reasons for shock and dismay and for asking the old rhetorical questions, such as "How much longer can we allow Palestinians to remain unprotected?”. The Agency spoke to States and other political actors on behalf of the refugees and reminded States of the need to keep in view the human dimension of the refugees.

47. He said the Agency served as champion of the Palestine refugee issue and encouraged approaches that incorporated humanitarian issues into the search for a solution. It was aware that the legitimacy of its advocacy role rested on remaining within the boundaries of its humanitarian mandate. Ultimately, the relevance of the UNRWA advocacy role was inversely proportional to the constructive engagement of States and other political actors. As long as political actors played their part and showed the necessary leadership, the need for UNRWA to exhort and cajole from the sidelines would diminish. In the current circumstances, however, the Agency could not remain silent. The issue of the well-being of Palestine refugees could not be separated from or treated differently than that of their enjoyment of rights and freedoms. UNRWA took a comprehensive approach that was grounded in a steadfast commitment to the human advancement of each Palestine refugee.

48. Shir Hever, Economic Researcher, Alternative Information Center, Jerusalem, said the Palestinian economy was under extreme duress. The most serious damage resulting from the Israeli occupation and other recent restrictions had led to the unemployment of 69 per cent of working-age Palestinians. Although the Israeli occupation was responsible for the low standard of living of the Palestinians, it was the international community that was providing assistance. Emergency humanitarian assistance was the only thing staving off hunger and disease in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. International assistance was a source of revenue for Israel, since 74 per cent of Palestinian imports were from Israel. Palestinians paid customs dues to the Israeli Government with assistance money. Administrative hurdles prevented the purchase of cheaper goods from Jordan or Egypt. The Israelis also controlled utilities, for which Palestinians paid more than Israelis. Foreign aid thus perpetuated a situation in which the Palestinians were a nation of consumers of primarily Israeli goods. The Palestinians’ desperate need became a lever to promote the prosperity of their Israeli occupiers and relieved Israel of its responsibility for destroying the Palestinian economy.

49. While in 1991 the number of Palestinian workers inside Israel and in the illegal settlements was 120,000, the number now was 10 per cent of that. Israel was no longer interested in employing Palestinian workers, although, according to the Paris Protocol, Israel was obliged to allow Palestinian workers to enter Israel and work there. That contributed to the current unemployment that is exacerbating the living conditions of Palestinians. At the same time, Israel also interfered with the delivery of humanitarian aid. Closures, which increased humanitarian deprivation and the necessity for aid, reduced the effectiveness of the aid. The piling on of barriers to block aid to Palestinians was evidence that Israel did see the aid as a threat to its control. Although in early 2004 Israel asked donor countries and organizations to increase their donations to prevent the complete collapse of the Palestinian Authority, it called for international sanctions following the election of Hamas in 2006. When it appeared that those sanctions were working too well, Israel found itself scrambling to restore aid to the Palestinians in order to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe. They were now beginning to understand their responsibility in such a catastrophe.

50. Nevertheless, he continued, the Israeli economy as a whole did not profit from the occupation. Israelis paid about US$ 9 billion a year to maintain the settlements and Israel’s military control over the Palestinians. The cost was much more than the profits. In Israel itself, inequality was expanding, poverty was increasing and the Government’s assets were being liquidated. International donations intended to foster development of an independent Palestinian economy were countered by Israeli measures, but the donors had not demanded restitution. Prospects for an independent Palestinian State continued to recede. An independent Palestinian State required the abolition of the occupation, implementation of the right of return and compensation for damages caused by the occupation, coupled with massive investments to create jobs and sources of income for the Palestinian economy. Israel’s debt to the Palestinians continued to swell and could be paid in full only when the occupation ended.

51. Mahmoud Elkhafif, representative of the Assistance to the Palestinian People Unit of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Geneva, reviewed the agency’s work in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and assistance delivered to the Palestinian Authority such as building a modern and sovereign Palestinian Customs Administration; facilitating Palestinian trade through the establishment of the Palestinian Shippers Council; and training Palestinian Authority economic experts in the use of quantitative techniques for trade, labour and macroeconomic policy-making. He said that although the prospects for Palestinian statehood had been illusive over the past years, UNCTAD continued to insist on the need to focus on long-term development goals and had proposed a framework for linking relief and rehabilitation efforts to those goals, seeking to decrease the Palestinian economic dependency on Israel.

52. He went on to say that his agency had pointed out the need to base economic policies on a clear understanding of the economic growth pattern. He called attention to the existing trade regime, as defined by the Paris Protocols, which had locked the Palestinian economy in adverse path dependence, as evidenced by the economy’s confinement to low-skill, labour-intensive activities and the chronic inability to accommodate the growing labour force. Conditions of conflict and political instability should be recognized, as well as elusive sovereignty and much promised statehood. The period between 1994 and 2000 saw the institutionalization of Israeli restrictive measures in a policy of asymmetric containment, whenever Israel deemed a situation as constituting a security non-compliance by the Palestinians. These measures have weakened the economy’s productive capacity and the Palestinian Authority institutions in a way that is unlikely to be reversed upon the achievement of political stability.

53. He said the greatest developmental restraints facing the Palestinian people were related to the fact that they do not have their own State. Most Palestinian governance failures in the past 10 years were induced by external constraints, including occupation and to some extent donors’ agenda. Recovery and reconstruction must proceed under adverse conflict and war-like conditions, intensified mobility restrictions, lack of national sovereignty, an ambitious development agenda and systematic dependence on foreign aid. UNCTAD emphasized that the Quartet’s Temporary International Mechanism should remain temporary, international and a mechanism. Any future phase of economic rehabilitation and “peacebuilding” in the region could not set as its goal a return to the pre-crisis situation. At the same time, humanitarian and relief assistance must take into account long-term development needs. Reform efforts should respond to the strategic imperatives of Palestinian national sovereignty, and not to reforming public institutions intended for a transitional phase. The Palestinian people should set out the goals, policies and institutions for an independent democratic and modern state, including an economic road map to statehood to ensure cohesion between immediate and strategic goals, where efforts are focused on addressing the economy’s structural weaknesses and poverty reduction.

54. Alexander Costy, Head of Coordination, United Nations Office of the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Process (UNSCO), said that despite many reports about the severity of the 2006 economic situation, international assistance to Palestinians had not decreased. The change had not been in the level of aid, but rather in its structure. In particular, the humanitarian portion of international assistance had gone up. About a third of total aid was provided for life-sustaining humanitarian programmes – food aid, cash assistance and emergency support to the social sectors. Implemented by the United Nations and non-governmental organizations, humanitarian assistance had doubled over the past three years, and the pattern of growth in humanitarian assistance was most likely to continue in 2007. The United Nations and non-governmental organizations humanitarian programmes added to other emergency measures under the Temporary International Mechanism accounted for a quarter or even a third of the gross domestic product of the Palestinian economy in 2006.

55. He said that the United Nations had stepped into new spaces in order to alleviate the effect of the crisis. In the past year, the United Nations created 2.5 million work-days for Palestinians, distributed food assistance to 2 million Palestinians in the OPT and made emergency medical purchases of medical supplies to ensure that essential medical supplies were maintained. The United Nations had been repeatedly challenged to demonstrate that a humanitarian emergency was unfolding. It was clear to any observer that Palestinians and their economy and society were becoming increasingly dependent on humanitarian handouts and that dependency was growing fast. Despite one of the highest levels of aid in the world, Palestinian poverty had risen by 30 per cent in the last year. Public institutions had been weakened, and the fiscal crisis and a new kind of violence had intensified. Deaths and injuries resulting from intra-Palestinian violence had increased ten-fold in the last year. United Nations programmes in the Gaza Strip were under threat and few international staff remained on the ground. United Nations Palestinian staff had been asked to stay at home. Without emergency programmes, however, the situation on the ground could be much worse.

56. Meanwhile, Palestinian communities had sought to cope in an economy that was increasingly fragmented, localized and inequitable, he said. Although Palestinian institutions could still provide a framework for governance and service delivery, the international community should be careful, as the bar was falling in 2006. The year 2006 demonstrated the limits of what international assistance, in particular humanitarian aid, could accomplish on its own merits. While the international response reflected the international community’s commitment to meeting the growing needs of the Palestinian people, increasing amounts of aid were provided to the Occupied Palestinian Territory outside of any framework or process. Increasingly that aid had no bearing on long-term development prospects or on the building of the institutions of the Palestinian State. Outside of a political framework, and outside of an enabling economic environment such as that envisaged by the Access and Movement Agreement, aid would only contain the spread of social grievances and instability. Throughout last year’s crisis, the United Nations maintained that a Palestinian national unity government and a resumed political dialogue between the Israeli and Palestinian leadership offered the best chance for overcoming the impasse peacefully and for returning long-term aid investments to the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Plenary III

Looking ahead: creating conditions for Palestinian economic recovery

57. The third plenary, entitled “Looking ahead: creating conditions for Palestinian economic recovery”, comprised four presentations. Experts addressed the following sub-themes: urgent political imperatives – resuming the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue; restoring the Palestinian Authority’s economic capacity; and addressing socio-economic and humanitarian priorities.

58. Mohammed Shtayyeh, former Minister of Public Works and Housing, Palestinian Authority, and President, Palestinian Economic Centre for Development and Reconstruction, Jerusalem, said there was no lack of initiatives, but rather lack of implementation of existing agreements. All indications pointed to a growing emergency situation. There was lack of funding for the expenses of the Palestinian Authority. Palestinians were unable to control their natural resources, land water and borders. The economy was not able to absorb labourers formerly employed in Israel. The wall was sneaking into Palestinian Territory, putting an end to the concept of a viable Palestinian State, dividing the territory into north, middle and south, totally isolating Jerusalem from the land. Infrastructure was also under the control of the Israelis, including telecommunications. Roads that formerly went from north to south were redesigned to go from east to west. About 184 Palestinian villages still do not have drinking water, while the settlers were swimming in swimming pools.

59. He went on to say that the Palestinian Authority had built certain aspects of the infrastructure, but there was no political frame to determine if the focus was an interim period or a Palestinian State. The Palestinian geography was totally fragmented. The Palestinian market was small. The goal of development should focus on a productive economic base to alleviate poverty and unemployment and redirect aid to the development effort on the ground. Israel must regenerate hope for the Palestinian people that it would end the occupation. It should lift its internal closure for Palestinians who needed to go from one part of the Territory to another. If the road map was in fact the only option, Israel should also be required to implement it. Palestinians must provide a stable security situation and a stable administrative structure.

60. He opined that the Palestinian case was so unique that there was no developmental paradigm for it to follow. The Palestinian case was a cocktail of a settler-colonial, internal-colonial, classical colonial and dependency paradigms. When focusing on the future, Palestinians should not ignore the political frame. The development of education was critical because Palestinians had more history than geography and the land was shrinking every day. Palestinians were 42 years behind the region. They could not afford to walk, but must jump. It was not enough to talk about private sector development. Palestinians must have their own industrial development to create jobs for people rather than be dependent on Israel. The target of donor money should be economic aid that would include financial risk insurance to attract international investment in the Palestinian Territory. Another interim agreement would be a failing enterprise. Israelis and Palestinians must go to final negotiations for a permanent solution. There was no room for unilateral measures. Meanwhile, Palestinians must re-establish a national address for donor aid. Today it was dispersed in many directions; there was a need for aid to be focussed.

61. Zahava Gal-on, member of the Knesset, said that, despite the gloomy situation, there were some encouraging signs. There was growing understanding in the international community of the urgency to make progress in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel’s biggest mistake was that it took too long to open negotiations with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas after his election. It should have made a sincere effort to strengthen him and his moderate supporters. Another huge mistake was that the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza did not transfer control to an organized qualified agency capable of implementing it and jump-start the peace process. It was not utilized to build channels of communication, provide the Palestinians with horizon for political hope on improving their living conditions. The unilateral approach was a flawed concept. It should have been negotiated with President Abbas. In addition, the American administration, after pressing hard for the Palestinians to hold elections, backed Israel’s refusal to talk with the Hamas government, a decision that imposed greater economic hardship on the Palestinian civilian population. The Israeli tendency to rely on force instead of dialogue had proven ineffective.

62. It was time for the international community to reassess its approach to the conflict, she said. The only plan on the table was the road map, which had been seen, since its inception, as a smokescreen to hide the American indifference to what happened in the region. The Quartet’s meeting the week before had failed because of the hierarchy in the Palestinian Authority and the political weakness of Prime Minister Olmert. The road map was dead. Any solution should take into consideration the broader political implications of occupation, the security situation and the political conditions on both the Palestinian and the Israeli sides. For progress to occur there must be a Palestinian unity government, inclusion of the West Bank in the ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians, return of the captured Israeli soldier in exchange for Palestinian prisoners and, most importantly, a new vision for peace with greater involvement of the international community. Peace would be achieved if Israel withdrew from all land occupied in 1967.

63. Continuing, she said that the Gaza Strip was the key for the future of the West Bank. The way forward was to push for third party involvement, a multinational force that would be deployed for a short time, first in Gaza and later in the West Bank. The best chance for change under the basic conditions in Gaza and for the rehabilitation and recovery of the Palestinian Authority lay in the introduction of a multinational force. The force, which would be deployed between Gaza and Israel and between Gaza and Egypt, would be responsible for rebuilding the wrecked civilian systems in the Gaza Strip, helping to prevent a humanitarian crisis and rebuilding a stable socio-economic civilian structure. If the effort was successful, the force would next be deployed in the West Bank. Its presence would prevent Israeli military incursions and address Israeli fear of Palestinian rockets. It would also be responsible for daily coordination between Israel and the Palestinians, supervising the implementation of the ceasefire and other agreements and mediating between the relevant parties.

64. Samir Abdullah, Director General, Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute, Ramallah, said Palestinians woke up every morning to find their resources further diminished. They were addicts to foreign assistance. Describing difficulties faced by Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, he said that, under Israeli occupation, it was impossible to create the climate necessary for growth. Yet, they could not remain idle in the face of destruction and must improve the mechanisms of development. With a view to achieving this, Palestinians needed to take into account a number of principles. The first principle was that economic support must accompany political support. That required tireless efforts at the diplomatic, official and civil society levels. There must be an end to the top-down approach created by external forces. An end must also be put to donor-driven development, and a link should be made between emergency and rescue work with development. Palestinians must give priority to ending security anarchy and to establishing law and order. If they could not themselves control the situation, it would be difficult to break the cycle. They must pay salaries in a timely manner, dissolve all armed gangs, collect all weapons, strengthen the judiciary system and improve the court system so as to establish the rule of law. Without the establishment of law and order they could not make progress in other fields.

65. Education was the only sector that allowed Palestinians to build political capital, he said. It relied totally on foreign aid and faced huge deficits. Its collapse would affect future generations. At the same time, there was a notable deterioration in health services, which were under extreme pressure with scarce resources. They needed fresh funds. A major challenge was unemployment. The unemployment figures did not include the 100,000 workers who were so frustrated that they no longer sought work. There were actually 212,000 unemployed Palestinians. The problem exploded acutely when Israel stopped Palestinian workers from coming to Israel. The withholding of Palestinian revenues and the building of the wall made the situation worse. Unemployment would deteriorate further, as Israel had decided to refuse any employment to Palestinians as of 2008. The Territory needed high economic growth to absorb the unemployed and to accommodate the new labour force, whose accommodation required US$ 500 million annually.

66. Unless the investment climate was created, there would not be an environment for the Palestinian economy to grow, he continued. Exemptions must be increased to attract investments from regional investors. Exports must be encouraged and insured and micro-credit provided. Israel must allow Palestinians to cross into neighbouring countries for trade. That would help recreate the infrastructure. The other challenge was poverty. Indications were that 2.1 million Palestinians lived under the poverty level. Forty-nine per cent lived in abject poverty, and the problem was even worse in the Gaza Strip. Yet, Palestinians were facing a situation of impoverishment, not poverty. Those who were capable of working must be provided with jobs to extricate them from poverty. Since 1967, the Palestinians had been facing a permanent struggle between construction and destruction. The more Palestinians constructed, the more the occupation destructed what they built. The Palestinians should not stop reconstruction; they must not allow the forces of destruction to win.

67. Sari Nusseibeh, President, Al-Quds University, Jerusalem, said the reports discussed in the meeting indicated that financial support had increased but the situation in the Occupied Territory remained grim. There was lack of funds in the areas that needed resources. In the field of education, teachers were receiving a portion of their salaries. Students could no longer pay their tuition fees and the Palestinian Authority could not pay its dues to the universities. The universities in the Occupied Territory faced a crisis that was impacting the future of Palestinians who depended on education. The inability to attract people to come back to work in the universities would have a negative effect on Palestinian development. He said the best way to foresee what was going to happen in the future was to review the past. He quoted an Israeli writer, who, 20 years ago on the occasion of 20 years of occupation, had said that the dual infrastructure constructed by Israel had become a fait accompli that could not be reversed; a reality that would persist to the extent that the implementation of a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would became impossible. He went on to say that the maps that had been exhibited by OCHA in an earlier session, reflecting the situation on the ground, could have been predicted 20 years ago, when he himself had said that the two-State solution was not possible. Another solution was needed.

68. He continued to say that Palestinians could not plan economically without a political vision. He asked whether the assistance funds, emergency or non-emergency, were really useful or if they were injurious. Some felt that human needs had to be met until a solution was found, while others felt that the assistance was a tranquilizer, rather than a remedy. The leadership must have a common vision that was pragmatic and implementable. Some of the internal fighting among Palestinians was a result of the external pressure, but some related to the lack of consensus about the shape of the solution with Israel. Unless the different Palestinian parties had a common vision, there would be no possibility for political vision and consequently none for economic planning. He asked if a two-State solution was possible today, when it had not been possible 20 years ago. It had not been accepted by Palestinians in 1967, when supporting Security Council resolution 242 (1967) was considered an act of treason. The two-State solution gradually became acceptable, but Israeli actions could again compel Palestinians to gradually reject it as a solution. What had been happening in the last 20 years was preceded by Israeli actions in West Jerusalem in 1967, when it was annexed to Israel. It ended up as one city. There was no possibility of a two-State solution as envisaged by Mr. Sharon.

69. He emphasized that the two-State solution could be applied only through extraordinary international intervention and pressure. The United States and the Quartet should effectively intervene and move into the Territory and ask the two sides to work out a solution. Visiting the area two or three times a year was not effective. To apply the two-State solution, there was a need to return to thinking about an international campaign spearheaded by the United Nations and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, with the emphasis on “inalienable”. He suggested the imposition of a boycott on Israeli merchandise or any kind of peaceful sanction. That step should be targeted towards achieving a political objective. He concluded by drawing attention to the predicaments afflicting Al-Quds University, stemming not only from lack of funds, but also from the fact that Israel did not recognize the University’s diplomas because it was a Palestinian institution located in Jerusalem. Israel was chasing Palestinians and Palestinian institutions out of Jerusalem.

IV. Closing session

70. At the closing session, statements were made by the representative of the host Government, Ambassador Mohammed Abdullah al Rumaihi, Assistant Foreign Minister of Follow-up Affairs of Qatar; the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour; and the Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Paul Badji.

71. Mohammed Abdullah al Rumaihi, Assistant Foreign Minister of Follow-up Affairs of Qatar, commending the contribution of the experts and participants of the seminar, said that their views had converged into the goal of providing assistance to the Palestinian people. The Palestinian people were facing hardships on all fronts, in particular the deterioration of the political, security, economic and humanitarian conditions, which threatened an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe in the light of the lack of a genuine desire to restore comprehensive and just peace. All this had led to further violence and deterioration of the humanitarian conditions that claimed the Palestinian people as victims, including the living conditions of women and children. He agreed with the views that highlighted an urgent political imperative for the resumption of the Palestinian-Israeli dialogue and for the Palestinians to regain their economic capability. It was necessary to find immediate and suitable solutions to create prosperity and a decent life for the Palestinian people. He said that the State of Qatar was interested in the views that supported the Palestinian people in the establishment of a community characterized by justice, equality, freedom, peace and security, where there was no place for violence and counter-violence.

72. Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, said that the Temporary International Mechanism did not enable the Palestinian Authority to meet the dire needs of the Palestinian people. The United Nations agencies were working in the Occupied Palestinian Territory for a noble purpose - to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians under occupation - but the suffering and the disaster continued. The situation called for concern. At the time of the Nakba in 1948, the Palestinian cause was transformed into a refugee and humanitarian cause and UNRWA had emerged. The dangerous trend taking shape now threatened the re-emergence of a new Nakba, which would transform the cause once again into a refugee and humanitarian cause. The European Union and the international community were paying the price for Israel’s occupation. Israel wanted to keep the occupation without bearing responsibility for it. When the European Union and the international community concentrated on humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people, they appeared to the Palestinian consciousness as conspirators trying to cover up the Israeli occupation. The occupation had to be uncovered and its true colours shown. But first Palestinians had to organize their ranks and produce one political discourse and reach a national unity government. Palestinians had to create the environment to end the occupation and establish a Palestinian State, and he asked the world to help Palestinians achieve that objective.

73. Paul Badji, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, reviewing the deliberations of the seminar, said that emergency assistance alone would not provide for the sustainable development of the Palestinian people, and that basic conditions for economic recovery needed to be created without delay. He said that, if fully implemented, the Agreement on Movement and Access of 15 November 2005 could serve as a comprehensive mechanism that allowed a flow of humanitarian aid and trade, simultaneously taking into account Israel’s security concerns. He agreed with participants that national unity among Palestinians must be achieved by peaceful means without delay. Rebuilding a functioning government structure and its institutional capacity was an indispensable element for long-term economic development. He expressed the Committee’s appreciation for the tireless work of the different United Nations agencies on the ground to meet the increased demands in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. He said the seminar’s deliberations showed that the capacities of United Nations entities were limited and could not be a substitute for established Palestinian institutions. Unless a political solution was achieved with regard to the question of Palestine, all those valuable efforts would not lead to a sizeable social or economic recovery. Sustainable economic and social development would materialize only in a viable Palestinian State created on the basis of the 1967 borders, in conformity with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002) and 1515 (2003), and supported by the road map and the Arab Peace Initiative.


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