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Substantive session of 2006
PROVISIONAL SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 35th MEETING
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Friday, 21 July 2006, at 3 p.m.
President: Mr. ČEKUOLIS (Lithuania)
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL REPERCUSSIONS OF THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION ON THE LIVING CONDITIONS OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE IN THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY, INCLUDING JERUSALEM, AND THE ARAB POPULATION IN THE OCCUPIED SYRIAN GOLAN ( continued)
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL REPERCUSSIONS OF THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION ON THE LIVING CONDITIONS OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE IN THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY, INCLUDING JERUSALEM, AND THE ARAB POPULATION IN THE OCCUPIED SYRIAN GOLAN ( continued) (A/61/67-E/2006/13)
Mr. RAHMAN (Chief, Regional Commissions New York Office), introducing the report of the Secretary-General on regional cooperation in the economic, social and related fields (A/61/67-E/2006/15 and Add.1), said that an important part of the work of the regional commissions during the reporting period had been reform and restructuring, initiatives launched by both United Nations Headquarters and the regional commissions’ own Member States. In the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), the process was finished and had yielded a draft resolution that was before the Council for action. In the other regional commissions, the process was ongoing and was described briefly in document E/2006/15.
In early 2006, all five regional commissions had had meetings at the ministerial level. The main results of those sessions were presented in document E/2006/15/Add.1. Three draft resolutions had been submitted for action by the Council: the one already mentioned, on ECE reform; another, on membership of Japan in the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean; and a third, on the Dominican Republic’s offer to host the Commission’s thirty-second session in 2008.
Speaking on behalf of Ms. Tallawy, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), he introduced a 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 Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan (E/2006/13). The note was submitted pursuant to Economic and Social Council resolution 2005/51 and General Assembly resolution 60/183. It clearly indicated that the socio-economic situation in the occupied Palestinian territory was deteriorating. Continued settlement expansion and construction by Israel of the barrier in the West Bank had gravely compromised the establishment of a viable Palestinian State and the two-State solution. Israeli measures, including military operations and the closure system, remained primary causes of poverty and humanitarian crisis in the occupied Palestinian territory. They restricted Palestinian access to health and educational services, employment, markets and social and religious networks.
Unemployment and poverty rates remained high, estimated at 23 per cent and 62 per cent, respectively. Malnutrition and other health problems afflicted a growing number of Palestinians at a time of curtailed access to needed services. Chronic malnutrition affected 350,000 children under the age of five. Exacerbating the suffering of the population was the disproportionate use of force by the Israeli army throughout the occupied territory. As of 2005, Israeli settlers had occupied 33 settlements in the Syrian Golan. The Arab population there was generally unable to travel to the Syrian Arab Republic to visit family members and had experienced growing limitations on land use owing to military and environmental zoning restrictions imposed by Israel. A large amount of acreage traditionally used for pasture had been lost, resulting in changing production, commercial and land use patterns. Recent events in the Middle East, the perpetuation of the conflict and the suffering of the Palestinian and Syrian populations under occupation only proved that there was no military solution. The only path remained that of a negotiated settlement that would achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace based on the relevant United Nations resolutions and international law.
Mr. ANNAN (Observer for the Syrian Arab Republic) said that what was now being shown on satellite television was the true picture of the situation in the Syrian Golan where, for over thirty years of Israeli occupation, crimes worse than war crimes or crimes against humanity had been committed. Hundreds of children had recently been murdered, and laboratory analyses of their corpses revealed severe burns due to Israel’s use of prohibited weapons. Israel had also targeted the ambulances and civilian vehicles of the Lebanese Red Cross. Even orphanages had not been spared by Israeli air raids. The report before the Council inaccurately counted Israeli settlements as numbering 33, whereas the 44 cited in the previous year’s report was still the accurate figure. Similarly, the current report made no reference to racial discrimination against the Syrian population with respect to employment, water supply and other services. It did not mention the arrest and unjust sentencing of dozens of individuals. It did not speak of Israel’s use of border areas between the Syrian Arab Republic and the Golan to dispose of nuclear wastes, sparking fears about radioactivity and a future ecological crisis. Israel had still not complied with the relevant international agreements and refused to allow international monitoring of such areas.
Israel’s occupation of the Syrian Golan had left 121 villages and 250 farms in ruins. Israel continued to flout the historical heritage of the region, disregard all relevant international conventions and hoard all the water resources of the Golan. It had placed landmines in about 40 per cent of the Golan, hemming in populated areas owing to displacement of the mines by torrential rains. To date, 66 mines had exploded, killing or mutilating many people, including children playing near their homes. Israel had recently announced that it wanted to sell 30,000 hectares in the Golan for the construction of tourist establishments, but only Jewish enterprises were entitled to buy. A Syrian citizen living in the occupied Golan did not have the right to acquire land in his or her own country.
There were now over 500,000 Arabs from the occupied Syrian Golan living as refugees in other regions of the country, unable to return to their homes and villages until decisions adopted by the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other United Nations bodies were implemented. It was unacceptable for Israel to remain exempt from application of that arsenal of decisions of the international community while its armies made incursions into neighbouring countries and devastated them under the pretext of implementing one single General Assembly resolution. How long would a State that 59 per cent of the population of Europe said constituted the greatest threat to international peace and security remain exempt from resolutions adopted by all the members of the Security Council - even the United States, which had long provided the necessary political, economic and other cover so that Israel could perpetrate its crimes against humanity in Israel and in Palestine? How long would the United Nations continue to adopt resolutions and decisions which immediately became a dead letter?
The international community was now at a crossroads. The credibility and legitimacy of the United Nations was under threat owing to the Israeli exception, a form of political immunity accorded to it by the American veto, which was now the basic cause of the chaos reigning in international relations, instead of being an instrument for the maintenance of international peace and security.
In conclusion, he said that the interests of peoples throughout the world were imperilled by useless ideological wars. Intolerance was spreading and urgent steps must be taken to promote rapprochement so as to move towards peace and prosperity for all peoples through the application of all the decisions of the international community, failing which the entire world would be at the mercy of interminable wars.
Mr. KHAN (Pakistan) recalled that the Palestinians and other Arab populations had been living under foreign occupation for almost 30 years. In recent years, hope had been generated by the vision of a two-State solution and the implementation of the road map to peace. Unfortunately, the latter had been delayed by continued violence and attacks against Palestinian civilians, the construction of the illegal separation wall, restrictions on the movement of Palestinians and a continued decline in socio-economic and humanitarian conditions. While Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza had temporarily raised hopes that the peace process might be revived, those hopes had been quashed, ironically, following the democratic elections in the occupied Palestinian territories, after which the flow of revenue and financing for the Palestinians had dried up and violence, including aerial attacks and targeted executions, had resurged.
The Council was discussing the issue at a poignant moment for the entire Middle East. The latest Israeli intervention in Gaza, together with the economic siege of the Palestinian people, had worsened conditions immeasurably. The result could be seen in the increasing number of casualties, deaths and injury among civilians, including innocent women and children, and the destruction of vital public utility infrastructure, power plants and water supply systems. Clearly, those actions were a gross violation of the rules of international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention. They could not be allowed to continue with impunity.
The latest Israeli incursion into Palestinian territories and Lebanon had undermined hopes for peace in the region. The situation demanded restraint and a return to diplomacy and negotiations. The Security Council, the major Powers and the quartet must act immediately and resolutely to stop the attacks and the spiralling violence and put the peace process back on track. His delegation hoped that hostilities would soon cease and that the plight of the Palestinian people would be addressed through a resolute and collective effort by the international community.