6. The Committee emphasized in its report to the General Assembly at its sixty-second session that the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territory was the root cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For 40 years, the occupying Power has systematically altered the Palestinian land by implementing its illegal policy of building settlements and, more recently, constructing a wall in the West Bank, including in and around East Jerusalem. Continued closures, the sealing-off of the Gaza Strip, unrelenting Israeli incursions into Palestinian population centres and the humiliating system of checkpoints throughout the West Bank have had an extremely destructive effect on the lives of the Palestinian people and have rendered the Palestinian Authority nearly dysfunctional. The situation has further deteriorated owing to the polarization within Palestinian society, which led, in June 2007, to an armed takeover of Palestinian Authority institutions in the Gaza Strip by Hamas forces. The Committee calls upon Israel to end its military operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and to stop any other measures that further undermine Palestinian institutions. It again reminds Israel, the occupying Power, that it is bound by the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, which obliges parties to the Convention to protect civilians during hostilities. The applicability of that Convention to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, has been repeatedly confirmed by the General Assembly and the Security Council. Israel must release, immediately and unconditionally, all imprisoned Cabinet members and parliamentarians, as well as other Palestinian prisoners, including women and children. The Committee strongly condemns the killing of innocent civilians by either side. The Committee is strongly opposed to the expansion of settlements in the West Bank and the construction of the wall. The Committee reiterates its position of principle that these activities are contrary to international humanitarian law and numerous resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly, adopted since 1967, the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice of July 2004 and the provisions of the road map. Israel must cease and reverse all illegal actions in the Palestinian Territory it has occupied since 1967. The Committee is encouraged by the establishment of the United Nations Register of Damage Caused by the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, enabling it to commence the mandated work.
7. The Committee expressed concern at the continuation by Israel of illegal settlement activities and the construction of the wall in and around East Jerusalem. These activities are further isolating the city from the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and further fragmenting the territory and destroying its unity, contiguity and integrity. The construction is also having a detrimental impact on the lives of Palestinians, gravely affecting their socio-economic situation and displacing thousands and prejudging a permanent status agreement on Jerusalem. The Committee reiterates that resolving the question of Jerusalem is indispensable for achieving a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which should take fully into account the legitimate concerns of both sides.
8. The Committee is deeply concerned about the worsening economic and social conditions, the humanitarian emergency and the increasing isolation of the Gaza Strip, which are increasing tensions and instability and provide fertile ground for the radicalization of parts of the Palestinian population. Owing to the continued imposition of prolonged closures by Israel, the Gaza Strip remains isolated from other parts of the Palestinian Territory, so that only basic humanitarian goods are allowed to enter. The situation was exacerbated by the decision of the Government of Israel in September 2007 to declare the Gaza Strip “hostile territory” and to apply additional sanctions, including reducing the supply of such vital services as fuel and electricity and completely obstructing access to food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies. In the West Bank, normal life is being disrupted by routine Israeli military operations, hundreds of checkpoints, the settlements infrastructure, the construction of the wall and periodic closures. Economic activity throughout the Palestinian Territory has been stifled. The Committee, in that regard, emphasizes the critical importance of international donor assistance for the functioning of the Palestinian institutions at this time of crisis. It urges the international donor community to continue its assistance programmes and to address, with fresh thinking, the rapidly worsening humanitarian situation. It is encouraged by the results of the donor conference held in Paris in December 2007.
9. The Committee calls upon the Palestinian leadership, the leaders of all factions and all Palestinians to unite in support of President Abbas, his government and all democratically elected Palestinian institutions and to resolve their political differences by peaceful means. The Committee calls for the restoration of the situation in the Gaza Strip to that which existed prior to the events of June and for measures to be taken to preserve the territorial unity and integrity of the Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. The Committee firmly believes that the unity of the Palestinian people is an essential condition for achieving a viable resolution of the question of Palestine. The Committee supports national dialogue among Palestinians to achieve national reconciliation. The Committee reiterates its long-standing position that the Palestine Liberation Organization is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people in any negotiations aimed at resolving the question of Palestine by peaceful means.
10. The Committee reiterates that only a negotiated solution can bring about the goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine through the establishment of two States, Israel and Palestine, based on the 1967 borders. A settlement should be based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002) and 1515 (2003) in particular, and other relevant resolutions. It is incumbent on the Security Council to ensure the speedy and full implementation of its own resolutions. The Council should decide on effective steps to protect the civilian population, end hostilities and guide the parties, with the active involvement of the Quartet and regional partners, to a negotiated settlement.
11. The Committee is encouraged by international efforts to relaunch the peace process. It welcomed the holding of the Annapolis conference as a pivotal point for relaunching permanent status negotiations aimed at ending the occupation and establishing a viable Palestinian State in all the areas occupied by Israel in 1967, including East Jerusalem, living side by side with Israel and its neighbours in peace and security. The Committee is of the view that it is critically important for the parties not to lose the current momentum and to move forward to addressing all permanent status issues, without exception, namely, borders, Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, security, and water resources. If success is to be achieved, it will be necessary to reach concrete performance-based agreements relating to those issues and to establish a timeline for their implementation. Any diplomatic process needs to be buttressed by urgent and meaningful steps on the ground, including confidence-building measures. The continued support of the international community is crucial for advancing the process, namely, a consistent and sustainable dialogue between the Quartet and the parties, and the inclusion of regional partners. The Arab Peace Initiative also remains an important element for advancing peace in the region and should be seized upon. States Members of the European Union are encouraged to take a more proactive role in international efforts at resolving the conflict. The Committee welcomes the outcome of the Paris donors’ conference as a much-needed demonstration by the international donor community of its support for the establishment of a viable Palestinian State.
12. The Committee reaffirms that the United Nations should play an active and facilitating role in these efforts and maintain its permanent responsibility with respect to all aspects of the question of Palestine, until it is resolved in all its aspects in conformity with relevant United Nations resolutions and norms of international law. As requested by the General Assembly, the Committee will continue to keep the situation under review and to promote a constructive analysis and discussion of these issues by the international community.