Question of Palestine home
9 November 1999
Summary record of the 36th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Tuesday, 9 November 1999, at 3 p.m.
Mr. Niculescu (Vice-Chairman)......................................... (Romania)
: Mr. Brauzzi (Vice-Chairman)................................... (Italy)
Agenda item 103: Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources (
In the absence of the Chairman, Mr. Niculescu (Romania), Vice-Chairman, took the Chair
The meeting was called to order at 3.15 p.m
Agenda item 103: Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources
(Bahrain) said that the report submitted by the Secretary-General (A/54/152-E/1999/92) drew attention to the activities being carried out by the Israeli authorities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including the expansion of settlements and the destruction of Arab homes, and the negative impact those activities were having on the health of the population. Other similar activities included the seizure of Palestinian property and the diversion of water resources from Palestinian lands to Israeli lands without consideration of the harmful effects of these actions.
6. The dumping of toxic waste by the Israeli forces and the expansion of settlements in the territories occupied since 1967 in violation of the provisions of the Geneva Conventions, particularly the one relative to the protection of civilian persons in time of war and of the resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council, particularly Security Council resolutions
which established that those practices constituted a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East and were causing damage in the territories and aggravating pollution in the region.
7. There was no disputing the fact that the Israeli practices in the occupied territories were not conducive to the peace process in the Middle East since the peace process could only go forward if the Arabs recovered their legitimate rights in accordance with international law, the conferences on the subject and the principle of “land for peace”, and with the provisions of Security Council resolutions
. It also required respect for the rights of the Palestinian people to their own State with Jerusalem as its capital and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from all occupied Arab territories, including the Syrian Golan, up to the frontiers which had existed in June 1967, which also meant withdrawal of the forces occupying southern Lebanon.
8. The practices of the Israeli forces in the occupied territories were not in conformity with ongoing negotiations in the context of the peace process and contravened the provisions of
General Assembly resolution 53/196
of 15 December 1998, which reaffirmed the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the population of the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources, and called upon Israel not to exploit, to cause loss or depletion of or to endanger the natural resources in the occupied Palestinian territory, ncluding Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.
(Tunisia) said that the practices of the occupying Power, Israel, in the occupied Arab territories violated the letter and the spirit of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, particularly the one relative to the protection of civilian persons in time of war, and the relevant resolutions of the United Nations. The report of the Secretary-General on the subject listed the issues which distressed the Arab population, highlighted the intention of the Israeli authorities to try to make the policy on settlements a fait accompli and drew attention to the violations of the rights of the Arab population whose property was being confiscated and who were being pushed out from their own land.
10. The practices of exploitation and expropriation being carried out by the Israeli authorities against the Palestinian population — which was being deprived of drinking water — made it impossible for Palestinians to work on their own land; they were thus being deprived of the possibility of leading a decent life. The restrictions imposed on the Palestinian population extended to such areas as transport and food and also included the closure of the territories and the exploitation of the natural resources.
11. The report of the Secretary-General drew attention to the laws and proceedings which were being applied by the Israeli authorities in the occupied territories against the Arab population in such areas as investments, trade, the economy and the environment and the harmful effects this was having on the health of the inhabitants of the territories, and it revealed the suffering of the Arab population of the Syrian Golan which Israel had occupied.
12. All the commitments undertaken regarding the various aspects of the peace process must be implemented; the process was being threatened by the actions of the occupying Power itself. The success of the process would depend on observance of the fundamental principle upon which all the agreements designed to promote peace were based; elimination of all imposed restrictions, fulfilment of all the commitments undertaken so that the Palestinian people could exercise its right to self-determination and establish its own State and withdrawal of Israel from all occupied Arab territories, including the Syrian Golan.
Mr. Aboul Gheit
(Egypt), after expressing the hope that the information contained in the Secretary-General’s report on the item under consideration would continue to be updated, said that Egypt had led and continued to lead the way as regards the adoption of measures to achieve peace in the Middle East region. The strategic approach guiding Egypt’s actions was based on fundamental principles,
the need to respect the sovereignty of peoples, including that of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories, including Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan, over their natural resources.
14. The policies and practices pursued by successive Governments of Israel in regard to settlements and the unjust exploitation of natural resources were contrary to the interests of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory and those of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan; they were also contrary to the continuing efforts of all players in the region to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East. Those practices, which deprived the owners of the territories of their natural right to exercise sovereignty over their resources in a manner corresponding to their legitimate aspirations for development and progress, clearly violated the basic rights reaffirmed in the relevant resolutions of the United Nations and established under international law.
15. Referring to certain aspects of the Secretary-General’s report, he pointed out, in the first place, that the Israeli practices reflected a systematic strategy of seizing the bulk of the territories by imposing a fait accompli in the field and pursuing policies designed to expel the real owners for the benefit of a minority of occupiers. Secondly, the economic domination imposed by the Israeli authorities hindered the economic development of the Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan, in violation of the norms of international law and the fundamental norms of respect for human rights.
16. The discrimination that was practised in respect of the right to water for daily use and for agriculture was a clear example of the Israeli practices. Moreover, those discriminatory practices encouraged pollution that was detrimental to the inhabitants of the occupied Arab territories since polluting industries were attracted to those territories because they received tax exemptions. That was a premeditated policy on the part of the Government of Israel regarding the application in the occupied Arab territories of internationally recognized norms concerning the environment. Israel also limited the right of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan to education, thereby expropriating the future of an entire generation of young people and violating the natural right of the people to better their standard of living.
17. In all their resolutions on the subject, the General Assembly and the Security Council condemned the practices pursued by Israel in the settlements and the adverse social and economic repercussions of these practices on the Arab population of the occupied territories, and reaffirmed that the Geneva Convention of 1949 relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War was applicable to the Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem. That was especially true of Security Council resolution 465 (1980) which reaffirmed the need to consider measures for the impartial protection of private and public land and property, and water resources of the Arab and Palestinian population.
18. He expressed the hope that the Government of Israel would take the necessary steps to put an end to the unlawful practices pursued in the territories, which were worsening the situation that the inhabitants of those territories had to deal with daily. The definitive solution to all aspects of the peace process in the region would require Israel to recognize the inevitability of strict implementation of the fundamental principle of “land for peace” on which the Madrid negotiations were based. Application of that principle should lead to the withdrawal of Israel from all occupied Arab territories, including East Jerusalem, thus clearing the way to achievement of a lasting solution to the conflict on the basis of the right of all to security; establishment of an independent Palestinian State in the territories occupied after 5 June 1967, including East Jerusalem; withdrawal of Israel from the occupied Syrian Golan and southern Lebanon; and promotion of peaceful and good-neighbourly relations between the countries in the region based on cooperation, security and peace for all.
(Sudan) said that it was becoming increasingly evident that the establishment of many settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan had created a multitude of serious problems for the peace process in the Middle East and that the solution of those problems should be based on the provisions of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978) and on the principle of “land for peace”.
20. As in previous years, the report submitted by the Secretary-General referred to the difficulties facing the Palestinian people in the occupied territories as a result of the policies and practices of the Israeli authorities; the latter included the closure of the occupied territories, which further worsened the living conditions of the Palestinian people and of the Arab inhabitants of the occupied Syrian Golan. The report also reiterated the serious repercussions of Israeli occupation, particularly on health services for the Palestinians, and denounced the restrictions Israel imposed on students who, in order to attend class regularly, had to pass through checkpoints established by Israel and face other obstacles.
21. One of the most serious manifestations of the Israeli occupation and of the settlements established in the occupied territories was the adverse impact it was having on the provision, quality and quantity of drinking water available to the Palestinians. The control which Israel exercised in the occupied Palestinian territory and in the occupied Syrian Golan and its disregard for those issues were having negative repercussions on the environment. Several important watercourses which flowed towards Galilee and into the river Jordan, the Banias and Dan rivers had their sources in the Golan; those were Israel’s main sources of water.
22. Israel must withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and from the Syrian Golan. Restrictions on the movement of persons and commercial goods must be removed, as must all limitations on entry into and exit from Jerusalem. It was necessary to demand that Israel put an end to all its unlawful practices in the occupied territories, since they were impeding economic development and the achievement of lasting peace in the region.
(Lebanon) said that Lebanon had endured the unjust Israeli occupation for more than 21 years and it shared the concern of the international community at the inhuman practices of the occupying forces against the population of the occupied Palestinian territory and the occupied Syrian Golan.
24. The Israeli occupation had many economic and social repercussions on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and on the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan. Palestinian lands were still being confiscated, Palestinian homes were still being demolished, illegal settlements were still being built in the occupied territories and Israel was still trying to annex East Jerusalem and to drive out the Palestinians; people continued to be killed by the occupying forces and by the settlers, the occupation continued to have a serious impact on medical care, education and the environment in the occupied territories, and the restrictions and security measures continued to make peoples’ daily lives a torment; Lebanon could, unfortunately, attest to all that. Likewise, territory in the Syrian Golan under Israeli control was being annexed, settlements were being established, water resources that originated in the Golan were being diverted and stolen, the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan was being held hostage due to the security restrictions and exorbitant taxes which were forcing the population to live without work and with enormous difficulties.
25. His delegation supported the efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East. Israel’s continued occupation of the Arab territories and its pursuit of a policy of expanding the settlements contravened the spirit of the peace process.
26. The international community must insist that Israel put an end to those unlawful practices and respect the relevant United Nations resolutions which reaffirmed the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and called on Israel to withdraw from southern Lebanon and from the occupied Arab territories, including Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan. Israel must also withdraw to the 1967 borders.
27. His delegation urged the General Assembly to adopt the proposed new recommendation reiterating the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources.
(Qatar) said that the report submitted by the Secretary-General showed how far Israel had gone with its practices of confiscating land and diverting natural resources in the occupied territories and in the unlawfully occupied Syrian Golan.
29. Israel was forgetting the peace process that had been initiated in Madrid eight years earlier, according to which Israel was to put an end to all those practices. It was unfortunate that the relevant United Nations resolutions, particularly those of the Security Council, which established that Israel’s colonization was unlawful and an obstacle to the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the region. It was also worth mentioning that the international community had condemned the annexation of the Syrian Golan and considered it without validity.
30. His delegation wished to draw attention to General Assembly resolution 53/196 which reaffirmed the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the population of the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources and called upon Israel,
, not to exploit, to cause loss or depletion of or to endanger the natural resources in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.
31. His delegation called upon Israel, once again, to take serious steps to achieve stability in the region, to stop provoking the Arab citizens and to desist from the practice of confiscating land and natural resources. It also urged Israel, as a matter of urgency, to resume the peace process with the Syrian Arab Republic and Lebanon at the point where it had left off and to begin withdrawing from the territories occupied since 1967. His delegation looked forward to a twenty-first century free from war, and one in which peace and security reigned in the region.
(Pakistan) said that the occupation of the Palestinian territory had had serious economic, social and environmental repercussions for the people of Palestine who were being denied their legitimate rights in their homeland. Israel had created a system of restrictions that prevented the Palestinians from utilizing their own resources to meet their basic needs. Most of the Israeli activities posed serious health risks to the Palestinian people; the problem was being compounded by the burden of financing health care services and by the rising unemployment.
33. Not only was the unemployment situation in the occupied Palestinian territories critical but those who were employed were paid far less than the minimum wage received by other inhabitants; such discrimination was a violation of the fundamental rights of workers. The continued occupation had also aggravated macroeconomic problems, and the ambiguity of the legal and political situation had inhibited investment and growth.
34. The situation in the Syrian Golan was no different; the movement of the Arab population remained restricted and that population was facing further deterioration in living conditions resulting from restrictions imposed by Israel on employment and education and also because of the tax policies.
35. Frequent border closures and the uncertainty prevailing in those areas had affected trade, particularly exports, and it had not been possible to revitalize private investment. Accordingly, he stressed that the provisions of the Oslo Accords and the Wye River Memorandum should be implemented, the upsurge in settlement expansion should be stopped immediately and occupied land should be returned to the Palestinians.
36. History had demonstrated that the struggle of people against foreign occupation and for the realization of their right to self-determination could not be suppressed for long. Proponents of democracy should not apply a double standard to the right to self-determination, particularly for people under foreign occupation. It was incumbent on the international community to ensure that the Palestinian people were able to live in its homeland with honour and dignity and to put an end to alien domination in all parts of the world in the interests of securing international peace and security.
The meeting rose at 5.15 p.m.
This record is subject to correction. Corrections should be sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned within one week of the date of publication to the Chief of the Official Records Editing Section, room DC2-750, 2 United Nations Plaza, and incorporated in a copy of the record. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session, in a separate corrigendum for each Committee.