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Bulletin mensuel de la DDP - Vol. XXVIII, No.3 - Bulletin du Comité pour l’exercice des droits inaliénables du peuple palestinien/DDP (mars 2005) - Publié par la Division des droits palestiniens Français

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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP)
31 March 2005


March 2005

Volume XXVIII, Bulletin No. 3

Bulletin
on action by the United Nations system and
intergovernmental organizations
relevant to the question of Palestine


Contents


Page
I.
Secretary-General addresses London Meeting on Supporting the Palestinian Authority
1
II.
Quartet reaffirms commitment to help Israelis and Palestinians
3
III.
Human Rights Special Rapporteurs issue reports.
4
IV.
United Nations International Meeting on the Question of Palestine convenes in Geneva
5
V.
Security Council President issues statement on London Meeting
9
VI.
Commission on the Status of Women recommends draft resolution on Palestinian women
10
VII.
Gulf Cooperation Council issues statement at its ninety-fourth session
12
VIII.
Secretary-General visits the Middle East
14
IX.
Secretary-General addresses Arab Summit
15
X.
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs briefs the Security Council
17


The Bulletin can be found in the United Nations Information System
on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL) on the Internet at:
http://domino.un.org/UNISPAL.nsf, as well as at:
http://www.un.org/Depts/dpa/qpal/pub_bltn.htm



I. SECRETARY-GENERAL ADDRESSES LONDON MEETING
ON SUPPORTING THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY

On 1 March 2005, the United Kingdom hosted an international conference initiated by Prime Minister Tony Blair under the title “London Meeting on Supporting the Palestinian Authority”. The Palestinian Authority was represented by a delegation headed by its President, Mahmoud Abbas. The meeting was also attended by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the Presidency of the European Commission, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the Foreign Ministers of European and Arab and other countries. Following is the text of the remarks delivered by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, as contained in press release SG/SM/9743-PAL/2021:

All of us are here today to express our full and strong support for the reform efforts of the Palestinian Authority.

The Prime Minister is to be warmly congratulated for his timely initiative in bringing us together for this work, which is central to the search for peace in the Middle East.

This is a moment of promise and potential. The sense of expectation is palpable. There is a real feeling that, after long years of suffering, bitterness and despair, better days may lie ahead. When appalling acts of terror do take place, such as last Friday’s bombing in Tel Aviv, we must all condemn them, while also affirming our resolve that such violence will not deter us. In the shadow of this latest tragedy, I am encouraged that both sides are working together to find those responsible and prevent further attacks.

Indeed, despite suffering old and new, we must do our best to keep our eyes on our long-standing objective: a just, lasting and comprehensive peace - so long desired, so long denied. And that means sustaining and building on the positive momentum that has developed in the last few months.

The historic elections in January showed the determination of the Palestinians to seek peaceful and democratic means of ending the occupation, resolving differences, running their affairs and building their nation.

Mr. President, you have acted courageously to restrain violence. And you have articulated, with great clarity and purpose, a vision of your people’s future based on dignity and justice.

That is why this is also a moment to consolidate international support for an independent, democratic, viable and contiguous Palestinian state. The Palestinian Authority’s efforts to reform its institutions need and deserve support, in terms of both financial resources and technical assistance. The international community should also do its part politically to sustain the momentum generated by the breakthrough meeting last month at Sharm el-Sheikh. Under the leadership of the Quartet, the international community should continue to support both parties in implementing the “Understandings" reached there, and in taking further steps towards full implementation of the Road Map and of Security Council resolutions 242, 338, 1397 and 1515. And, of course, we must promote a comprehensive peace on all tracks, including the Syrian-Israeli and Lebanese-Israeli tracks.

Here today in London, we are focusing our energies on mechanisms and means in three main areas of Palestinian reform: governance, security and economic development.

Good governance is essential if the Palestinian public is to have confidence in its leadership and public administration, and the international community is to sustain assistance. To its great credit, the Palestinian Authority has acknowledged the need for reform of its governing institutions and structures. Palestinians have adopted their own plan for reform, and undertaken a number of commitments in the context of the Task Force for Palestinian Reform. The United Nations and its agencies continue to help the Authority build up its capacity, and we look forward to working with the Authority and with other international partners to review the progress that has been made.

Security is likewise a fundamental factor in improving prospects for peace. Put simply, lack of security undermines everything - the day-to-day safety of Palestinians and Israelis, the long-term national aspirations of the Palestinian people and a settlement of the conflict itself. The United Nations welcomes the new coordinating group on security, which is meant to work towards the goal of an end to all acts of violence against Israelis and Palestinians, wherever they are. The United Nations will do its utmost to provide support to the new group, and to the security forces of the Palestinian Authority.

Economic development is the third pillar of the progress we hope to see achieved. A viable Palestinian economy is essential in its own right, but it can also make a vital contribution to governance and security. Without real and discernible change on the ground - such as more job opportunities and the removal of checkpoints and roadblocks - the Palestinian economy will continue to struggle, with all the prolonged, pervasive despair among the Palestinian populace that that implies. The international community must work constructively with the Government of Israel to create an environment in which this aspect of reform is also addressed. The United Nations welcomes a review of existing international aid structures and mechanisms. We will do our part to ensure they are as effective as possible.

The United Nations system has worked closely with the Palestinian Authority since its very formation. We have been a partner during periods of confidence, and during difficult times when negotiations stalled and the terrible logic of violence took hold. We will continue to work with the Authority, the Government of Israel, the Quartet, donors and other partners to seize the current opportunity. The Quartet, as you know, will meet later today to review the situation and assess how to move forward. As we do so, let me stress that our work with the parties should build on proven, effective, successful mechanisms, in order to avoid duplication and to ensure consistency and coherence.

The prevailing mood is one of optimism. What makes this meeting so encouraging is that the parties have proclaimed to each other, to the world, and in clear, persuasive language to their own constituencies, their determination to work together. They have begun to recapture some of the goodwill that once brought a comprehensive solution tantalizingly close.

When peace processes are moving forward, anything seems possible. But when they stand still, they are actually moving backward, as positions harden, resentment builds, opportunities are missed, and the slightest provocation or misunderstanding risks sparking great damage. Such has been the experience, all too often, with the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. But at long last, we can all sense a new wave of movement. I urge everyone to engage, do the hard work, and turn today’s opening into a real end to the conflict.


II. QUARTET REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT TO HELP ISRAELIS
AND PALESTINIANS

On 1 March 2005 on the sidelines of the London Meeting on Supporting the Palestinian Authority, the Quartet met at the principal level: Secretary-General Kofi Annan; Russian Federation Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov; EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana; US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The following statement was issued by the Quartet:

The Quartet met in London today and strongly reaffirmed our commitment to help Israelis and Palestinians make progress toward the two-state solution which is so deeply in both their interests. The Quartet condemned in the strongest possible terms the terrorist attack that occurred in Tel Aviv on February 25, which killed and wounded dozens of innocent victims and undermines the recent positive steps taken by Israel and the Palestinians. The Quartet called for immediate action by the Palestinian Authority to apprehend and bring to justice the perpetrators. The Quartet welcomed President Abbas’ condemnation of the attack and pledge to act against those responsible, noted the initial steps taken in this regard, and stressed the need for further and sustained action by the Palestinian Authority to prevent acts of terrorism. Noting the fragility of the current revived momentum in discussions the Quartet encourages the two parties to continue on the path of direct dialogue and negotiation.

The Quartet recognizes the importance of the Sharm el-Sheikh summit of February 8 at which President Abbas announced a halt to violence against all Israelis, and Prime Minister Sharon announced a halt to military activities against all Palestinians, and expresses its appreciation to Egypt and Jordan for their roles. The Quartet urges the full implementation of the mutual commitments made at the summit by both parties, and urges all countries to support their efforts. The Quartet commends the Israeli cabinet’s recent approval of the initiative to withdraw from Gaza and parts of the West Bank, and reiterates that withdrawal from Gaza should be full and complete and should be undertaken in a manner consistent with the Roadmap, as an important step toward the realization of the vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. The Quartet calls for the resumption of progress towards the implementation of both parties’ obligations under the Roadmap. The Quartet reiterates its view that no party should undertake unilateral actions that could prejudge the resolution of final status issues. Quartet members agree on the need to ensure that a new Palestinian state is truly viable, including with contiguous territory in the West Bank. A state of scattered territories will not work.

The Quartet welcomes the recent vote of confidence by the PLC for a new Palestinian cabinet, as well as today's international meeting in London to support Palestinian institution building. The Quartet urges the international community to review and energize current donor coordination structures, with a view to streamlining them in order to increase their effectiveness. The Quartet emphasizes the need for the international community to play a vital role in providing additional financial support to the Palestinians, which is essential in order to support needed reforms, and to help prepare the Palestinian Authority prepare to assume control over areas from which Israel intends to withdraw. The Quartet members encourage an early meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee to prepare for a pledging conference shortly afterwards.

The Quartet members reiterated their commitment to the positions and principles outlined in their joint statements of 4 May and 22 September 2004. The Quartet remains ready to engage actively, reaffirms its encouragement and support for both sides for the progress they have made in recent weeks, and reiterates its commitment to the fulfillment of the vision of two states, a safe and secure Israel and a sovereign, contiguous, democratic Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.


III. HUMAN RIGHTS SPECIAL RAPPORTEURS ISSUE REPORTS

The Commission on Human Rights Special Rapporteur Miloon Kothari issued on 3 March 2005 his report on the right to adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living (E/CN.4/2005/48). The report focused on homelessness and its causes and impacts, including on women and children from a human rights perspective. The following section concerns the demolition of houses in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

...

36. Demolition of homes and destruction of property, including land and crops, is not always merely an indirect result of conflict. Housing and land have increasingly become strategic targets. The Special Rapporteur has repeatedly expressed his concern about the demolition of Palestinian houses and other buildings and the confiscation of Palestinian land becoming a common and widespread measure used by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories (see E/CN.4/2003/5/Add.1). These acts have left thousands of residents homeless and have harmed the livelihood of thousands more. During 2004, Israel is reported to have demolished 181 homes in the occupied Palestinian territories as a means of punishment and 1,357 homes on the claim of military necessity. These demolitions left an estimated 11,500 Palestinians homeless. Since 1987, Israel is reported to have demolished 4,100 homes, rendering an estimated 28,000 Palestinians homeless. 17

...

Notes

17 B’Tselem, B’Tselem’s 2004 Summary Statistics (http://www.btselem.org/english/statistics/20043112_2004_statistics.asp) and Planning and Building


Following is the conclusion contained in the report entitled “Question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine”, by John Dugard, Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights, issued on 3 March 2005 (E/CN.4/2005/29/Add.1):

IX. Conclusion

23. This is a time of hope for both Israel and Palestine. If the ceasefire is to hold, it is essential that the Palestinian Authority exercise control over militant groups responsible for violence against IDF and settlers within Palestine and for suicide bombings within Israel. There are signs that the Palestinian Authority may succeed in this endeavour. Palestinians are exhausted by the second intifada, which has resulted in great suffering, and militant groups, notably Hamas, have now turned their attention to participation in the Palestinian political process. It is equally important that Israel keep its side of the bargain. However, it is not sufficient for Israel to only cease its military activity against Palestinians. It must address, with great expedition, the causes of Palestinian militancy, the issues that have given rise to terrorism against the Israeli people. In the longer term the questions of the return of refugees, the status of Jerusalem and the occupation must be confronted, but in the short term Israel must address the release of prisoners, the abandonment of checkpoints, the dismantling of the wall and the evacuation of all settlements in Palestinian territory. If it fails to do so, it will forfeit an opportunity for peace that may not again arise.




IV. UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL MEETING ON THE QUESTION
OF PALESTINE CONVENES IN GENEVA

On 8 and 9 March 2005, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People convened the United Nations International Meeting on the Question of Palestine at the United Nations Office at Geneva. The theme of the Meeting was “Implementing the ICJ Advisory Opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory - The role of Governments, intergovernmental organizations and civil society”. The Meeting focused on the significance of the Advisory Opinion, the responsibilities of governments and intergovernmental organizations, as well as the role of parliaments and civil society in advocating adherence to international law. Participating experts provided legal analysis of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling and discussed the response by the parties and the international community.

On the first day of the meeting, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the International Meeting on the Question of Palestine was delivered by Sergei Ordhonikidze, Director-General, United Nations Office at Geneva. The following is the text of the message, as contained in press release SG/SM/9752, GA/PAL/980:

This is a moment of promise in the search for peace in the Middle East. There is once again a real sense that, after long years of suffering, bitterness and despair, better days may at last lie ahead.

The summit in Sharm el-Sheikh in January heralded a fresh start in efforts to end four years of bloodshed among Israelis and Palestinians. The agreement by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to end violence signalled a new attitude of cooperation and the rebuilding of trust between the two sides.

Last week's meetings in London built on that breakthrough. The session on Palestinian reform hosted by Prime Minister Blair pointed the way towards important changes in governance, security and economic development that are vital for the creation of an independent, democratic, viable and contiguous Palestinian State. The Quartet expressed full support for those efforts, and pledged to help Israelis and Palestinians implement the Sharm el-Sheikh understandings and their obligations under the Road Map. I am determined that the United Nations will continue to work with the Palestinian Authority, the Government of Israel, the Quartet, donors and other partners to create an environment in which these new initiatives will take root and flourish.

You are meeting to discuss the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the barrier being built in the occupied Palestinian territory. As you know, in January I sent a letter to the President of the General Assembly in which I outlined a framework for the register of damage the Assembly has asked me to establish. Work is proceeding on this, and I expect to report shortly.

The long-cherished dream of a vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians has been to live a normal life in peace and security. At long last, all of us can sense a newfound movement towards that dream. I urge everyone - the parties and the international community - to refrain from any actions that would be detrimental to the resumption of negotiations and implementation of the Road Map, or that could prejudge the resolution of final status issues. Let us all remain focused on our long-standing objective of two States - Israel and Palestine - living side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders, as called for by relevant Security Council resolutions. And let us do our utmost to turn the current moment of potential into a real end to the conflict.

On 9 March the meeting adopted a final document, the text of which is reproduced below:

Final Document

1. The United Nations International Meeting on the Question of Palestine was held on 8 and 9 March 2005, at the United Nations Office at Geneva, under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. The theme of the Meeting was “Implementing the ICJ Advisory Opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory – The role of Governments, intergovernmental organizations and civil society”. Participants in the Meeting included eminent personalities, internationally renowned legal experts, including Israelis and Palestinians, representatives of the United Nations, Members and Observers, parliamentarians, representatives of the United Nations system and other intergovernmental organizations, the academic community, representatives of civil society organizations, as well as the media.

2. The Meeting took place against the backdrop of a series of promising developments, including the election of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on 9 January 2005, followed by the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit on 8 February 2005, where President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had reaffirmed their commitment to the Road Map and reached a number of understandings, including a mutual declaration to end violence. A set of concrete trust-building measures on the ground initiated by both sides signaled the emergence of a new spirit of goodwill. The participants expressed strong support for the new positive momentum and urged the speedy implementation of those understandings in order to pave the way for the resumption of the peace process.

3. The participants welcomed the London Meeting on Supporting the Palestinian Authority, hosted by the British Government on 1 March 2005, and noted that the Meeting had supported and encouraged steps outlined by the Palestinian Authority and agreed steps for international support to be taken in the areas of governance, security and economic development. They also welcomed the commitment reaffirmed by the London Meeting participants to achieving a resolution of the conflict through direct negotiations leading to the goal of two States – a safe and secure Israel and a sovereign, independent, viable, democratic and territorially contiguous Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.

4. While welcoming Israel’s intention to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank as an initial step to the implementation of the Road Map, the participants underscored the importance of coordinating this process closely with the Palestinian Authority, and implementing it within the framework of the Road Map. The participants, however, expressed serious concern at the continued settlement activities in the West Bank, including in and around East Jerusalem, and cautioned against any transfer of Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.

5. Furthermore, the participants also expressed serious concern at the Israeli Government’s continuation of the construction of the wall in defiance of the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice and in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and United Nations resolutions. They considered that the construction of the wall, if not reversed, might be viewed by Israel as a permanent political boundary thus predetermining final status negotiations.

6. The participants were also greatly dismayed that the continued construction of the wall further exacerbated the already deteriorating socio-economic situation of the Palestinians. Since the construction began, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have lost their land and property, as well as access to their work, family, educational and medical institutions. The closures regime associated with the construction of the wall has caused untold suffering particularly for the Palestinians along the route of the wall. More than 60 per cent of households have lost more than half of their income and over half a million are now completely dependent on food aid. The participants stressed that urgent attention by donor countries and the international community was needed to redress this dismal and unacceptable situation.

7. In view of the gravity of these developments, the participants expressed their appreciation to the Committee for convening this timely Meeting. Welcoming the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice of 9 July 2004, the participants called it a historic development, noting that it was the first time the highest judicial body of the United Nations addressed a substantive issue related to the question of Palestine. They supported the Court’s position that the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, and its associated regime, were contrary to international law.

8. The participants welcomed also the adoption by the General Assembly of resolution ES-10/15 of 20 July 2004, highlighting its demand that Israel comply with its legal obligation to cease the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem; to dismantle segments of the wall already built; to repeal all legislative and regulatory acts adopted in view of the construction of the wall; and to make reparation for the damage arising from its unlawful conduct. The participants stressed the importance of the steps taken by the United Nations Secretary-General to establish a register of damage caused to all natural or legal persons concerned. They welcomed the ongoing work for the establishment of the register and looked forward to its early completion. The participants drew attention to the General Assembly’s request to all States Members of the United Nations to comply with their legal obligations, as mentioned in the Advisory Opinion. Moreover, they urged Member States to prohibit individuals or entities under their jurisdiction from assisting in the construction of the wall.

9. The participants called on the international community to adopt measures that would persuade the Government of Israel to comply with international law and the ruling of the International Court of Justice.

10. The participants also supported the continued engagement of the Quartet in efforts to resolve the conflict. In this regard, they welcomed the statement issued by the Quartet in London, emphasizing the need to ensure that a new Palestinian State was truly viable, including with contiguous territory, and stressing that a State of scattered territories will not work. Participants stressed that the Palestinian State should be territorially contiguous along the 1967 borders which include the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Reiterating the central role of the Quartet in the peace process, the participants called on the members of the Quartet to redouble their efforts at this critical stage and continue to work closely with the parties together with other international and regional actors to implement the Road Map in order to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the conflict based on relevant United Nations resolutions, including Security Council resolutions 242, 338, 1397 and 1515.

11. The participants reaffirmed the permanent responsibility of the United Nations with respect to all the aspects of the question of Palestine, until it is resolved in conformity with relevant United Nations resolutions and norms of international law, and until the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people were fully realized.

12. The participants noted with appreciation the deliberations in some national parliaments intended to highlight the Advisory Opinion and to encourage their respective Governments to adhere to the ruling. They were also apprised of the various initiatives of civil society organizations in support of the Advisory Opinion and encouraged civil society to continue their efforts in educating public opinion on the issues and promote a solution of the conflict on the basis of international law.

13. The participants also expressed gratitude to the United Nations Secretary-General for his continued commitment to and support for the work of the Committee, and to the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva for hosting this Meeting and for the assistance and support extended to the Committee and the United Nations Secretariat in its preparation.


V. SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT ISSUES STATEMENT ON
LONDON MEETING

At the 5136th meeting of the Security Council, held on 9 March 2005, in connection with the Council's consideration of the item entitled "The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question", the President of the Security Council made the following statement on behalf of the Council (S/PRST/2005/12):

“The Security Council welcomes the conclusions of the London Meeting on supporting the Palestinian Authority on 1 March. The Council supports the objectives of the London Meeting to help the Palestinian leadership strengthen the institutions needed for a viable and independent Palestinian State.

“The Security Council hopes that the London Meeting will be part of the longer-term process of international support to the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority and a contribution to helping both sides implement the Road Map endorsed by the Security Council in resolution 1515 (2003) and agreed to by the parties as the path towards a lasting comprehensive negotiated settlement to the Middle East conflict, based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 1397 (2002).

“The Security Council stresses the crucial importance of security, good governance and development of the Palestinian economy. In this context, the Council welcomes President Abbas’s comprehensive plan presented at the London Meeting for strengthening the Palestinian Authority’s institutions in these three areas.

“The Security Council stresses the key role of the international community in assisting the Palestinian Authority in taking forward this plan. The Council welcomes the international community’s commitments to respond to the plans of the Palestinian Authority by providing financial and political support. The Council recognizes the important role of the “Quartet” in international efforts aimed at providing assistance to the Palestinian Authority in the fields of security, economic development and governance.

“The Security Council supports the proposals for follow-up to the London Meeting and looks forward to their early implementation.

“The Security Council supports the Joint Statement of the Quartet issued following the meeting of the Quartet in the margins of the London Meeting, and looks forward to the Quartet’s active engagement over the forthcoming period, while recognizing also the important role of other interested parties.

“The Security Council reiterates its call for full respect by the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority of understandings reached at the Sharm el-Sheikh summit on 8 February, in particular that all Palestinians will stop all acts of violence against all Israelis everywhere and that Israel will cease all its military activities against all Palestinians everywhere.

“The Security Council reiterates its call on both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to ensure continued progress in the peace process towards full implementation of the Road Map in direct contact with the Quartet. It stresses the need for concerted and sustained action by the Palestinian Authority to fulfil its security-related commitments and welcomes in this context President Abbas’s commitment to exert every effort towards that end. The Council stresses also the need for Israel to implement its Road Map commitments.

“The Security Council reiterates its demand for immediate cessation of all acts of violence, including all acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction.

“The Security Council reiterates its commitment to the vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security.”


VI. COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN RECOMMENDS DRAFT RESOLUTION ON PALESTINIAN WOMEN

At its forty-ninth session, held from 28 February to 11 March 2005, the Commission on the Status of Women considered the report of the Secretary-General on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women submitted pursuant to Economic and Social Council resolution 2004/56 (see E/CN.6/2005/4 of 10 December 2004).

On 11 March 2005, the Commission on the Status of Women considered the draft resolution on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women, sponsored by Jamaica on behalf of the Group of 77, as contained in the document E/CN.6/2005/L.7. The text of the orally revised draft resolution was adopted, by a recorded vote of 38 in favour to 1 against (United States), with 2 abstentions (Canada, Iceland), and was recommended to the Economic and Social Council for adoption. The text of the amended draft resolution is reproduced below, as contained in document E/2005/27-E/CN.6/2005/11 of 22 March 2005.

Situation of and assistance to Palestinian women

The Economic and Social Council,

Having considered with appreciation the report of the Secretary-General on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women,

Recalling the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women, in particular paragraph 260 concerning Palestinian women and children, the Beijing Platform for Action adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women and the outcomes of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”,

Recalling also its resolution 2004/56 of 23 July 2004 and other relevant United Nations resolutions,

Recalling further the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women as it concerns the protection of civilian populations,

Expressing the urgent need for the full resumption of negotiations within the Middle East peace process on its agreed basis and towards the speedy achievement of a final settlement between the Palestinian and Israeli sides,

Concerned about the grave situation of Palestinian women in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, resulting from severe impact of ongoing illegal Israeli settlement activities and the unlawful construction of the wall, as well as the severe consequences arising from Israeli military operations on and sieges of civilian areas, which have detrimentally impacted their social and economic conditions and deepened the humanitarian crisis faced by them and their families,

Recalling the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice on the “Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory”, and recalling also General Assembly resolution ES-10/15 of 20 July 2004,

Recalling also the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and affirming that these human rights instruments must be respected in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,

Expressing its condemnation of all acts of violence, including all acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction, especially the excessive use of force against Palestinian civilians, many of them women and children, resulting in injury and loss of human life,

1. Calls upon the concerned parties, as well as the international community, to exert all the necessary efforts to ensure the full resumption of the peace process on its agreed basis, taking into account the common ground already gained, and calls for measures for tangible improvement of the difficult situation on the ground and the living conditions faced by Palestinian women and their families;

2. Reaffirms that the Israeli occupation remains a major obstacle for Palestinian women with regard to their advancement, self-reliance and integration in the development planning of their society;

3. Demands that Israel, the occupying power, comply fully with the provisions and principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Regulations annexed to the Hague Convention IV of 18 October 1907 and the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949, in order to protect the rights of Palestinian women and their families;

4. Calls upon Israel to facilitate the return of all refugees and displaced Palestinian women and children to their homes and properties, in compliance with the relevant United Nations resolutions;

5. Calls upon the international community to continue to provide urgently needed assistance and services in an effort to alleviate the dire humanitarian crisis being faced by Palestinian women and their families and to help in the reconstruction of relevant Palestinian institutions;

6. Requests the Commission on the Status of Women to continue to monitor and take action with regard to the implementation of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women, in particular paragraph 260 concerning Palestinian women and children, the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of the special session of the General Assembly entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”;

7. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to review the situation, to assist Palestinian women by all available means, including those laid out in the report of the Secretary-General entitled “Situation of and assistance to Palestinian women” and to submit to the Commission on the Status of Women at its fiftieth session a report, including information provided by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, on the progress made in the implementation of the present resolution.



VII. GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL ISSUES STATEMENT AT ITS
NINETY-FOURTH SESSION

The following are excerpts from the press statement issued at the ninety-fourth regular session of the Ministerial Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council, held in Riyadh on 13 March 2005. The statement was transmitted to the United Nations Secretary-General by the permanent representative of Bahrain to the United Nations on 22 March 2005, as contained in document A/59/761-S/2005/215:

The Ministerial Council held its ninety-fourth regular session on Sunday, 3 Safar A.H. 1426 (13 March A.D. 2005), in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, under the chairmanship of His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifah, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the State of Bahrain and chairman of the current session of the Ministerial Council. Attending was His Excellency Abdul Rahman bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).



The Ministerial Committee reviewed the developments in the Palestinian question and in the Middle East peace process and resolved as follows:

- To congratulate and welcome President Mahmoud Abbas, who holds the chairmanship of the Palestinian National Authority, and to express hope that the new Palestinian Government will successfully continue to be united in solidarity and cooperation in meeting the challenges ahead so that the fraternal Palestinian people may achieve its aspirations for the establishment of its own independent State on its national soil, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital;

- To commend the prudence and sense of responsibility shown by the Palestinian leadership and influential forces on the Palestinian stage in dealing with developments and events in a positive manner likely to bring about calm, using such appropriate opportunities and circumstances as are available to resume negotiations and revive the peace process in order to serve their just cause and thereby achieve the hopes and aspirations of the fraternal Palestinian people in obtaining all of their legitimate rights;

- To welcome the outcome of the Sharm al-Shaykh summit held on 8 February 2005, which affirmed the commitment of both parties to the ceasefire, and to express its hope that it will help to put the peace process back on track as soon as possible, in accordance with the principles and requirements contained in the road map, the Arab initiative and the resolutions that embody international legitimacy;

- To emphasize that the achievement of a just and comprehensive peace demands the full Israeli withdrawal from all occupied territories in Palestine, from the occupied Syrian Golan Heights to the line of 4 June 1967 and from the Shab`a farmlands in southern Lebanon;

- To express appreciation to President George W. Bush for the ongoing efforts of the United States Administration aimed at preparing the right climate and providing the necessary support for the resumption of negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides, and at using the positive atmosphere in the Middle East to move towards the achievement of a just and comprehensive peace for all parties, in which context the Ministerial Council congratulated Ms. Condoleezza Rice on her assumption of the office of United States Secretary of State and urged her to continue the effective efforts in that regard;

- To welcome the outcome of the London conference in support of the Palestinian Authority, held on 1 March 2005, to express appreciation for the tremendous efforts of the British Prime Minister Tony Blair aimed at reviving the peace process and to call on the Quartet to pursue the efforts to follow up implementation of the road map;

- To call on the international community to take action to turn the Middle East, including the Gulf region, into a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction, and to bring pressure to bear on Israel to accede to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and subject all of its nuclear facilities to the international inspection regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency, to be regarded as a basis for any future security arrangements.


VIII. SECRETARY-GENERAL VISITS THE MIDDLE EAST

Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrived in the Middle East on an official visit from 13 to 16 March 2005. Following are excerpts of the press release (SG/T/2439) published on the activities of the Secretary-General during his visit:

Following his arrival in Jerusalem on Sunday afternoon, 13 March, the Secretary-General met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Before entering the meeting, the Secretary-General told reporters that he had been very encouraged by recent developments in the region, including the Sharm el-Sheikh agreement. He added that, as a member of the Quartet, he looked forward to working with Prime Minister Sharon and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

During the meeting, the Prime Minister thanked the Secretary-General for his stand against anti-Semitism and for his strong backing of the recent General Assembly special session to mark sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of the death camps.

The Prime Minister briefed the Secretary-General on his assessment of the peace process and current relations with the Palestinians. Both agreed that it was a time of opportunity.

Mr. Sharon provided a more detailed briefing on disengagement and plans to close 24 settlements.

The Secretary-General reiterated his support for the Gaza disengagement and said he hoped that it would lead to full implementation of the Road Map. The Secretary-General was encouraged that coordination had begun between the parties. The Quartet, consisting of the European Union, the Russian Federation, the United Nations and the United States, would offer any assistance to the parties as the disengagement plan moved forward.

The Prime Minister said he was committed to helping the United Nations move staff and humanitarian goods through to the West Bank and Gaza.



While at the UNRWA office, the Secretary-General laid a wreath at a memorial stone commemorating Iain Hook and Kamal Abdul Rahman Salem, staff killed in the line of duty.

The Secretary-General then left for Ramallah for a series of meetings with the leadership of the Palestinian Authority and, while there, he laid a wreath at the tomb of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

He held meetings with the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas; with Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei; and had a working lunch with Foreign Minister Nasser al Kidwa and other cabinet members.

He told reporters afterward that he and President Abbas had discussed Israeli disengagement from Gaza, economic reconstruction and the progress in the Palestinian Authority. He told the press, “With a clear determination and good will on both sides, a lot can be done.”

He was asked about the Israeli barrier, and said that he had also discussed the United Nations register, which would list damage claims from the barrier. Following his return to Jerusalem, the Secretary-General travelled to Government House, the Jerusalem headquarters of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, to meet with staff from the various United Nations peacekeeping missions and agencies represented in the region. He paid tribute to the hard work and dedication of the staff, whose work is done under difficult circumstances in an area where tensions run high.



On Tuesday morning, the Secretary-General met with Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, with whom he discussed the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Security Council resolution 1559 and United Nations-Israel relations.

At a press encounter later, he said that, in his discussions the previous day with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Mr. Abbas had said he hoped the talks with Palestinian groups in Cairo on Tuesday would result in an understanding on a cease-fire and non-use of violence. Such an outcome, the Secretary-General said, should be seen as a first step towards a peace leading to two States, living side by side in peace and security.

The Secretary-General later had a bilateral meeting with French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin. They exchanged views on the Middle East peace process and the Prime Minister expressed his strong support for the Secretary-General’s efforts in preparing the 2005 General Assembly high-level event.



He also had a constructive working lunch with Israeli Vice-Prime Minister Shimon Peres, to continue discussions on the peace process, as well as the implementation of resolution 1559.



Before a dinner hosted by President Katsav, the Secretary-General met with the Speaker of the Knesset, Reuven Rivlin. The Speaker shared with the Secretary-General his views on the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. He also briefed the Secretary-General on his recent visit to Cairo, where he participated in an international meeting of parliamentarians.



The Secretary-General returned to New York on Wednesday, 16 March.


IX. SECRETARY-GENERAL ADDRESSES ARAB SUMMIT

Secretary-General Kofi Annan attended the Summit of the League of Arab States in Algiers on 23 March 2005. The following are excerpts of the Secretary-General’s address to the Summit, as contained in press release SG/SM/9776:

I would like to thank President Bouteflika for his leadership and for hosting this meeting at such a critical time for the Arab world and for the United Nations.

I would also like to express my appreciation to Amr Moussa, for the leadership he continues to show as Secretary-General of the League of Arab States and for his important role as a distinguished member of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, which recently submitted its report with important recommendations for us all.

I have urged world leaders to unite behind the Panel's proposal for a definition of terrorism, and to conclude a comprehensive convention on terrorism before the end of the sixtieth session of the General Assembly. I urge you to bring your own experience to bear, and to take the lead in this effort.

Of course, where there are genuine grievances that encourage people to support or sympathize with terrorism, then we must find peaceful ways to redress those grievances, and convince the population that terror is not the way to solve them. Nowhere is that clearer than in the occupied Palestinian territory, which I visited last week.

Yet again, I encountered the daily hardships faced by Palestinians, their concerns at continuing unilateral acts in the shape of Israeli settlement activity and land confiscation, their anger at the separation barrier or wall in the West Bank, their yearning to see all political prisoners released. But I also sensed a new mood of optimism and hope after a long and bitter period of bloodshed and despair. I would like to congratulate Egypt and Jordan on their leadership in bringing President Abbas and Prime Minister Sharon together in Sharm el-Sheikh. Both sides have made positive steps towards implementing the commitments they made at that Summit. The task that faces us now is to transform opportunity into achievement. As a member of the Quartet, the United Nations will continue to press for full implementation by both sides of their Road Map obligations, and of Security Council resolutions 242, 338, 1397 and 1515, a just, lasting and comprehensive peace on all tracks, including the Syrian-Israeli and Lebanese-Israeli tracks.

We live in a difficult and unsettled world. All of us are deeply pained by basic injustice, and by needlessly prolonged suffering. The wounds they inflict help dictate the public mood. But even as they remain unresolved, they need not, indeed should not, impede action to meet the deep thirst for change, and particularly for more popular participation, in our societies. This effort must proceed in parallel.

In recent months, Iraqis, Palestinians and Lebanese have shown a strong appetite for democratic solutions to their problems. In other places, where the yearning for wider participation is felt just as keenly, political systems are showing increased openness. Arab men and women are growing more determined to make their diverse voices heard. In the Arab world, and everywhere else, democracy is not a solution in itself. But it is the best means we have to solve problems, promote peace, nurture development, and create inclusive, cohesive societies based on the rule of law. The United Nations, already your close partner in so many ways, will continue working with you to achieve these objectives, too.

In conclusion, I would like to remind you that my report, “In Larger Freedom”, is now before you, along with those of the High-Level Panel and the Millennium Project. I believe that the September summit offers us a chance to make the current moment of uncertainty turn into a moment of opportunity in our quest for peace, prosperity and human rights. The Arab region, as much as any part of the world, stands to benefit if this agenda is adopted and implemented. And therefore, I hope to see all of you at the Summit, where we will have important decisions to take.


X. UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS BRIEFS
THE SECURITY COUNCIL

On 24 March 2005, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast briefed the Security Council on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”. The following are excerpts of the briefing (S/PV.5149):

I would like to use the opportunity afforded me by this month’s briefing to focus on the Secretary-General’s visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory from 13 to 16 March.

The primary reason for the visit was the invitation extended to him by the Government of Israel to attend the inauguration of the new Holocaust History Museum at Yad Vashem.



The Secretary-General used the occasion of his visit to hold meetings with a range of Israeli and Palestinian leaders, including Prime Minister Sharon and President Abbas. The visit confirmed his belief that Palestinians and Israelis have taken the first steps along the road towards a full resumption of the peace process. He came away with feelings of cautious hope and optimism, but also with the sense that setbacks and delays are inevitable. The Secretary-General is strongly of the view that active support and encouragement from the Quartet and the international community are more essential now than ever.

Israelis and Palestinians told the Secretary-General much about the progress and the setbacks of recent weeks and about the remaining steps to be taken and the wider requirements for resuming peace negotiations.



I would like to stress here the concern of the United Nations over Israel’s failure thus far to dismantle settlement outposts and freeze settlement expansion. The Government’s recent report on outposts by former Chief State Prosecutor Talia Sasson found that various ministries, as well as the Israel Defence Forces and the World Zionist Organization, had supported construction of unauthorized outposts. The Cabinet approved the report on 13 March, including the core recommendation that the Government “take into its hands responsibility for what is happening in the outposts in the territories and not sit on the sidelines watching as the settlers do whatever they want, without anyone stopping them”.

Yet this week there have also been unofficial reports of a Government decision to approve the building of at least 3,500 new settlement housing units this year, linking the major Israeli settlement of Maaleh Adumim to Jerusalem. The road map states clearly that Israel should dismantle outposts and freeze settlement activity, and the Quartet’s position is that neither party should undertake actions that threaten to prejudge final status talks. We believe that a halt to such actions is needed now to preserve hope of a viable future for the Palestinian people.

Our concerns over Israel’s settlement policy cannot be separated from the issue of the barrier. The recently approved route still incorporates a significant percentage of Palestinian land and has a negative impact on the livelihoods of many Palestinians. Israel states that the barrier is a temporary structure to meet security needs. However, no one could observe its scope and its route without being concerned over possible implications for the contiguity of the future Palestinian State. We reiterate our regular call on Israel to abide by its legal obligations as set forth in the 9 July 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice and General Assembly resolution ES-10/15 and to find alternative ways to address its legitimate security concerns.

During the reporting period, implementation of the commitments made at the 8 February Sharm al-Sheikh summit continued, but not as quickly as the initial steps reported in last month’s briefing. It was only on 16 March that outstanding issues related to the handover of Jericho - the first of five West Bank cities and their environs to be transferred to Palestinian control - were fully resolved. Tulkarem was handed over on 21 March after similar delays. Negotiations on the transfer of Bethlehem, Qalqiliya and Ramallah are under way, but difficulties remain. The transfer of three other major urban centres in the West Bank - Nablus, Jenin and Hebron - has been left by the parties for discussion at a later date.

Meanwhile, the joint Israeli-Palestinian ministerial committee on Palestinian prisoners did not reach the hoped-for agreement on the release of an additional 400 Palestinian prisoners. Similarly, only 16 out of 60 Palestinian deportees have been allowed to return to Bethlehem so far. I would like to reiterate the Quartet’s position and urge the full implementation by both parties of the mutual commitments made at the Sharm el-Sheikh summit.

The single most significant outcome of the Sharm el-Sheikh summit was the announcement by Prime Minister Sharon and President Abbas of a halt to violence and military operations. That important goal will be difficult to achieve, especially with militant extremists whose agenda is to derail the peace process. The 25 February suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, which left five Israelis dead and which injured more than 50, was a tragic reminder of the fragility of the process. The Secretary-General condemned that attack and called on the Palestinian Authority to take action against all those organizing and perpetrating terror and violence.



As the Council knows, the Secretary-General travelled this week to Algiers to attend the Arab Summit. He welcomes the decision taken there by the Arab leaders to relaunch the Arab peace initiative. Arab involvement in the peace process is essential. A lasting solution to the conflict will have to address the regional tracks.

There are many obstacles and challenges. But the deadlock has been broken. At the 1 March London conference and at the Quartet meeting held at the margins of the conference, the international community clearly manifested its will to re-engage and actively assist Israelis and Palestinians. Our focus, as the Secretary-General has repeatedly emphasized to both Israelis and Palestinians, should not be limited to the immediate next steps. We need to prepare ourselves for the disengagement, with all its practical implications, but also for the day after. This is a task not just for the parties, but also for the international community. It goes without saying that the continuation of the current process remains primarily the responsibility of the parties. But we, the international community, should stand ready to assist them along the stony path from violence and terror, bloodshed and suffering, towards a better life in peace and security. And in so doing, we should not - we must not - forget our final destination: a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, an end of the 1967 occupation, and two States - Israel and a sovereign, viable, contiguous and democratic Palestine - living side by side.


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