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Bulletin mensuel de la DDP - Vol.XXX, No.10 - Bulletin du Comité pour l’exercice des droits inaliénables du peuple palestinien/DDP (octobre 2007) - publication de 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 October 2007


October 2007

Volume XXX, Bulletin No. 10

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


Contents
Page
I.
Palestinian Rights Committee submits report to the General Assembly
1
II.
Organization of the Islamic Conference condemns excavation at Al-Haram Al-Sharif
4
III.
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs briefs the Security Council
5
IV.
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs briefs journalists on the humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
10
V.
Secretary-General condemns rocket fire by Palestinian militants, says punitive measures by Israel against Gaza unacceptable
11
VI.
Secretary-General appoints Deputy Special Coordinator for Middle East Peace Process, ad interim
11




The Bulletin can be found in the United Nations Information System
on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL) on the Internet at:
http://unispal.un.org.





I. PALESTINIAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE SUBMITS REPORT TO
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

On 4 October 2007, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People issued its report to the General Assembly. The following are the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee contained in the report (A/62/35):

The year 2007 marked 40 years of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. The Committee emphasizes that the occupation is 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 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 a most 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 the Gaza Strip by Hamas forces. The Committee noted rising international awareness of the fact that a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the region would remain elusive until the national rights of the Palestinian people have been realized. In addition, there appears to be greater consciousness that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the major underlying factors of the rift between Western and Islamic societies.

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 Times of War, which obliges parties to the Convention to protect civilians during hostilities. Its applicability 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. The Committee strongly condemns the killing of innocent civilians by either side. It denounces rocket attacks on Israel and calls for a cessation of these activities by Palestinian armed groups. The Committee is strongly opposed to the expansion of settlements in the West Bank and to efforts to complete 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, as well as 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 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 June events 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 solution of the question of Palestine. The Committee supports national dialogue among Palestinians to achieve national reconciliation. In this regard, the Committee reiterates its long-standing position that the Palestine Liberation Organization is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and, as such, an essential party to any negotiations aimed at resolving the question of Palestine by peaceful means.

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 a 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 actors, to a negotiated settlement. The Committee notes the steps taken by the Board and its secretariat to commence the mandated work on the United Nations Register of Damage Caused by the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and requests all involved to expedite their efforts to render the Register operational. The Committee is encouraged by international efforts to relaunch the peace process. For it to succeed it is necessary to achieve concrete performance-based agreements relating to permanent status issues and the establishment of a timeline for their implementation. Any diplomatic process needs to be buttressed by urgent and meaningful steps on the ground. The continued support of the international community is crucial for advancing the process, namely a consistent dialogue between the Quartet and the parties, and the inclusion of regional partners. The Arab Peace Initiative remains a crucial element for advancing peace in the region. Member States of the European Union are encouraged to take a more proactive role in international efforts at resolving the conflict.

The Committee is convinced that, through the programme of mandated activities of the Division for Palestinian Rights, it will be able to continue to generate heightened international awareness of the various aspects of the question of Palestine, international support for the rights of the Palestinian people and the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine. In this connection, the Committee emphasizes the essential contribution of the Division in support of its mandate aimed at enabling the Palestinian people to exercise their inalienable rights. It notes with satisfaction: (a) the level of dialogue, engagement and support of the international community for its programme objectives, for instance, in terms of both participation at the meetings convened and the use of printed and electronic information materials provided by the Division; (b) the number of civil society organizations that have received accreditation to the Committee; and (c) the number of pages viewed on the United Nations website on the question of Palestine. The Committee also considers that the annual training programme for staff of the Palestinian Authority has proved its usefulness and requests that it be continued.

The Committee considers that its programme of international meetings and conferences contributes to focusing the attention of Governments, intergovernmental and civil society organizations and the general public on current issues and the need for advancing a peaceful settlement of the conflict. The meetings also contribute to raising international awareness of the root cause of the conflict, namely the occupation by Israel of the Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and to mobilizing international support for efforts to resolve the conflict. The Committee will continue the programme to foster support for the attainment by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights, the right to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty, and the right of Palestine refugees to return. The Committee, through its Bureau, will regularly assess the outcomes of the international meetings and conferences and, where required, decide on steps to enhance their contribution to the mandated goals of the Committee. In its meetings programme for 2008, the Committee intends to address issues such as the responsibility of all Governments to apply international law to all aspects of the question of Palestine, in accordance with the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice; the need to convene the Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention in view of the systematic violation by the occupying Power of international humanitarian law; the sixtieth anniversary of the Nakba and the need to find a just solution for the Palestine refugee issue; the adverse consequences of the settlement policy and the construction of the wall for the achievement of a two-State solution; the collective international responsibility to protect the Palestinian people; the need to alleviate humanitarian and socio-economic hardships, including the plight of Palestinian women and children; and continuing efforts of civil society to build an effective international solidarity movement.

The Committee commends civil society organizations for their efforts to uphold international legitimacy with regard to the question of Palestine through advocacy and the mobilization of public opinion and for their initiatives aimed at alleviating the plight of the Palestinian people. It welcomes the efforts by organizations worldwide to mark 40 years of the occupation, thus raising public awareness of the issue. The Committee appreciates the support it receives from the Secretariat in strengthening cooperation with civil society. The Committee encourages civil society organizations to broaden their base, involving trade unions and other large organizations, and to focus and harmonize their advocacy efforts at the local, national, regional and international levels with respect to the legal obligations of Governments, as emphasized in the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice. It supports all humanitarian and assistance initiatives geared towards improving the daily lives of the Palestinians. The Committee will continue to involve parliamentarians in its programme of international meetings and conferences. The Committee is of the opinion that the experience and political influence of lawmakers and their organizations can be instrumental in consolidating the democratic process and institution-building in the territory under the Palestinian Authority, strengthening political dialogue between the parties, and in applying norms of international law to efforts at resolving the conflict.

The Committee requests the Division to continue its substantive and secretariat support; the programme of research, monitoring and publications and other informational activities, such as the further expansion and development of UNISPAL, including the graphic enhancement of the “Question of Palestine” website; the annual training programme for staff of the Palestinian Authority; and the annual observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

The Committee is of the view that the special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information has made an important contribution to informing the media and public opinion of the relevant issues. The Committee requests the continuation of the programme, with the necessary flexibility, as warranted by developments relevant to the question of Palestine.

Wishing to make its contribution to the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine, and in view of the many difficulties facing the Palestinian people and besetting the peace process, the Committee calls upon all States to join it in this endeavour and to extend their cooperation and support to the Committee, and invites the General Assembly again to recognize the importance of its role and to reconfirm its mandate.

II. ORGANIZATION OF THE ISLAMIC CONFERENCE CONDEMNS
EXCAVATION OF AL-HARAM AL-SHARIF

On 17 October 2007, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations Munir Akram, in his capacity as Chair of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Group at New York, forwarded to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon a statement by the OIC Group on the decision of the Israeli Government to resume excavation work at Al-Haram Al-Sharif in East Jerusalem. The statement is reproduced below (A/62/506):

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Group strongly condemns the decision of the Israeli Government to resume excavation work beneath the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound and the demolition of the historic road connecting Bab Al-Maghariba with the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound, which are seriously undermining its foundation and threatening it with collapse.

The OIC Group reaffirms its grave concern over the nature and objective of the Israeli archaeological work at the Haram El Sharif, which could alter the outstanding universal cultural value of the Haram El Sharif and the old city of Jerusalem.

The OIC Group believes that such actions on the part of Israel have a negative impact on the current efforts to create the appropriate political environment between the Palestinian and Israeli sides to revive the peace process and to resume the final status negotiations.

The OIC Group demands that Israel fully comply with its legal obligations according to international law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which is applicable to all of the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including East Jerusalem.

The OIC Group calls upon the international community, particularly the Security Council, to compel Israel, the occupying Power, to rescind its decision and to cease all such actions and measures aimed at the judaization of the Holy City of Al-Quds Al-Sharif and changing its legal status, character and demographic composition.

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

On 24 October 2007, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe briefed the Security Council on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.” The following are excerpts from the briefing (S/PV.5767):

The period since the last briefing has seen both Israeli-Palestinian political dialogue and international diplomatic engagement with the Middle East peace process reach their most intensive levels in years. However, there have also been several developments of concern on the ground in the West Bank and a further serious deterioration of the situation in Gaza.

The Quartet offered its strong support for the bilateral talks between Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas when it met in New York on 23 September. The Quartet also pledged to support a serious and substantive international meeting and to work toward its success and for implementation of its conclusions. The Quartet met with the League of Arab States Follow-up Committee, underscoring the importance it attaches to the Arab Peace Initiative, to regional engagement in the effort underway and to the ultimate goal of a comprehensive regional peace.

President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert have continued their meetings and tasked their teams, led respectively by former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Qurei and current Israeli Vice-Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Livni, to work intensively on a framework document for the international meeting. United States Secretary of State Rice visited the region for several days in mid-October to encourage progress and is expected in the region at least twice more in the coming period. I will attend a Quartet envoys meeting soon, as part of the process of consultations in preparation for the international meeting.

On 24 September, the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee met and expressed its support for the reform agenda outlined by Prime Minister Fayyad, as well as for the efforts of Quartet Representative Blair. It endorsed the establishment of a multi-donor budget funding arrangement and the holding of an inclusive donor conference.

The Palestinian Authority is rapidly developing its Palestinian Reform and Development Plan, which sets out its budget support and reform and investment priorities for the coming three years. The plan will serve as the basis of the Palestinian Authority’s funding package for the donor conference, which is planned to take place in Paris in the period after the international meeting and will be jointly chaired by the Governments of France and Norway and the Quartet Representative.

The Palestinian Authority Government has succeeded in paying public sector salaries and anticipates that all arrears will be paid by the end of the year, but a major fiscal gap for 2008 is anticipated and urgent additional donor support will be needed, if crucial salary payments are not to be interrupted once more. The Government has also secured from Israel permits for around 3,400 family reunions in the West Bank - out of a total of 54,000 pending cases. Israel also released a further 86 Palestinian prisoners. We hope that more confidence-building measures will be forthcoming.

The Palestinian Authority Government continues its efforts to improve law and order but faces challenges, including in its plan to deploy 500 Palestinian Authority security personnel into Nablus. We urge the Palestinian Authority to do everything possible on the security front, in accordance with Phase 1 of the Road Map. We welcome initial steps in that regard and strongly encourage Israel and the Palestinian Authority to enhance cooperation on security, freedom of movement and economic rejuvenation, in close cooperation with the Quartet Representative.

According to the Government of Israel, 24 road blocks in the West Bank and one checkpoint have been removed. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which monitors implementation of the Agreement on Movement and Access, reports that the total number of obstacles to movement currently stands at 562, compared with 563 during the previous reporting period.

Socio-economic conditions in the West Bank remain a source of serious concern. Economic activity and humanitarian operations will be seriously affected by the decision of Israel to further restrict access for West Bank residents - including United Nations Socio-economic conditions in the West Bank remain a source of serious concern. Economic activity and humanitarian operations will be seriously affected by the decision of Israel to further restrict access for West Bank residents - including United Nations staff - to East Jerusalem and to the “seam zone” between the barrier and the Green Line. In addition, the announced intention to reduce the number of crossing points for goods from 12 to six, and the imposition of “back to back” transport procedures and new customs regulations, would, if implemented, significantly increase the cost of transportation of humanitarian supplies and result in possibly unsustainable operational obstacles. The United Nations is actively engaged with the Government of Israel to seek a reconsideration of those measures, in view of their impact on essential humanitarian operations.

Construction of the barrier has continued throughout the reporting period in the occupied Palestinian territory, despite the 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice. Settlement activity continued this month, despite the Quartet’s call for “immediate additional steps to meet previous commitments, including under the Road Map”. Settlement activity breaches the Fourth Geneva Convention, prejudges final status issues and undermines the political process. It is also a major factor in determining the extent and character of the closure regime and the route of the barrier and consequent hardship for the Palestinian population. Urgent action on an Israeli settlement freeze and the dismantling of settlement outposts is required as part of a genuine effort to resolve the conflict.

The approval by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) this month of an order to confiscate almost 300 acres of Palestinian land in and around East Jerusalem is a matter of great concern. The confiscated land would be used to create an alternative road network, linking the northern and southern West Bank and bypassing Jerusalem. Quartet members received a strong complaint from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) regarding this unacceptable land confiscation, which Palestinians fear would further undermine prospects for territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian State and further cut already heavily restricted Palestinian access to Jerusalem.

The internal Palestinian divide remains. The Palestinian Authority continues to insist that Hamas reverse its measures of the last several months and accept the decisions taken by the President. Hamas continues to reject a return to the status quo ante, while stating that it does not intend its administration of Gaza to be permanent. Hamas has also indicated that it opposes President Abbas’s negotiations with Prime Minister Olmert and the international meeting in the absence of an internal Palestinian consensus.

In Gaza, Hamas continues to confiscate weapons and vehicles of clans and rival factions, which sometimes leads to heavy clashes between Hamas forces and forces of other factions or clans. It has appointed personnel to key parts of the administrative apparatus, and it is imposing taxes on smuggled goods. Hamas’s efforts to assert military and administrative control over the Strip are accompanied by allegations of human rights abuses. Allegations of abuses have also been made against Palestinian Authority forces in the West Bank. Four Palestinians have been killed and 69 injured in Palestinian violence, mostly in Gaza.

Twenty-seven rockets and 90 mortars were fired by militants in Gaza - some at crossings, others at Israeli civilian population centres. On 7 October, for the first time in over a year, a standard Grad rocket was fired from Gaza, at the city of Netivot. The Government of Israel has stated to the United Nations that weapons continue to be smuggled into Gaza. IDF raids and incursions into West Bank cities have continued, leading to casualties. The IDF claims it has foiled attacks against Israel during the reporting period.

In Israeli-Palestinian violence, 31 Palestinians, including one child, have been killed, and 153 have been injured, including 26 children, while one Israeli has been killed and six injured. Two hundred Palestinians have been detained by the IDF. One of the approximately 11,000 Palestinian prisoners remaining in Israeli jails died after injuries sustained when prison guards put down a prison riot in circumstances that are not yet clear. IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit is in his seventeenth month of captivity in Gaza.

The Secretary-General continues to condemn all acts of terrorism, as well as all military acts which target, endanger or harm civilians, because of their disproportionate or indiscriminate character.

Members of the Council will recall Israel’s decision last month to designate Gaza a hostile territory, to restrict the passage of goods, to reduce the supply of fuel and electricity and to place new restrictions on movement of people to and from the Gaza Strip. The Secretary-General expressed his deep concern at this decision and called on Israel to reconsider it, warning against any measures of punishment of the population.

While the Israeli cabinet decision stated that Israel would take into account “both the humanitarian aspects … and the intention to avoid a humanitarian crisis”, the humanitarian situation in Gaza is deteriorating alarmingly. In June and July, approximately 100 truckloads of humanitarian goods were entering Gaza daily; today, the number is approximately 50. Reversing a previous trend, food prices have jumped by almost 10 per cent in two months, even as poverty levels increase. Many businesses and tens of thousands of workers have lost income with the loss of materials and markets due to closures.

In July, an average of 40 critical medical cases a day crossed Erez into Israel for essential medical treatment unavailable in Gaza; in the last month, the daily average was five. According to Human Rights Watch, at least three patients that were denied exit permits have died since June, and others have lost limbs or sight due to untreated injuries and disease. Hospitals in Gaza briefly ceased conducting operations in recent days citing a lack of nitrous oxide.

Over 1,000 Palestinians remain stranded in Egypt, unable to cross into Gaza with the closure of Rafah for over four months. Over 7,000 Gaza Palestinians who study or work abroad have not been allowed to leave the Strip. Cash transfers from banks in the West Bank will be subject to new restrictions.

We are also concerned that one of the two crossings that remain open for humanitarian goods, Sufa, is slated to be closed towards the end of this month. Since mid-June, 5,936 trucks have gone through Sufa, compared with 1,654 through Kerem Shalom, the crossing that will remain open. While it has been upgraded, Kerem Shalom is unlikely to have the capacity to process the number of trucks required to meet the humanitarian needs of the population of Gaza.

It is difficult to see how security concerns can justify the hardship that these measures are causing. I repeat the Secretary-General’s strong injunction against the punishing of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. We also reiterate the Quartet’s urgent concern about the continued closure of Gaza and its calls for continued emergency and humanitarian assistance without obstruction and the provision of essential services.



The Secretary-General has asked me to convey to the Council his strong backing of the current diplomatic efforts. He remains committed to the creation of an independent and viable Palestinian State living side by side in peace with Israel, and a comprehensive peace in the region, in accordance with Security Council resolutions, the Road Map and the Arab Peace Initiative.

To this end, the Secretary-General hopes for an international meeting that deals with the substance of permanent peace, has broad Arab participation, produces results that positively affect the lives of Israelis and Palestinians and leads to a serious follow-on process. He therefore encourages the parties to be bold in reaching understandings on core issues and on a clear process following the international meeting. And he calls for urgent efforts by the parties to build confidence and to improve the situation on the ground by taking further steps in accordance with the Agreement on Movement and Access and Phase I of the Road Map. All of the relevant international actors should help the parties take such steps. A failure of this process would be a major setback with wide-ranging consequences.

The Secretary-General remains deeply concerned for the welfare of the civilian population of Gaza and reiterates the commitment of the entire United Nations system to do its part to meet their needs. The Secretary-General regrets the continued division of the occupied Palestinian territory and fears that that will become harder to overcome the longer it is left unaddressed. He hopes that the concerned parties and regional and international players will address the situation in Gaza with wisdom, foresight and a sense of responsibility.

Finally, I would like to inform the Council that the Deputy Special Coordinator and Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Kevin Kennedy, resigned from the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) at the end of last month. On behalf of the Secretary-General, I thank Mr. Kennedy for his outstanding contribution to the work of UNSCO and the entire United Nations system on the ground, which was the culmination of a distinguished career leading United Nations efforts in many complex emergencies and supporting those efforts in senior leadership positions at Headquarters. He is sorely missed, and we wish him well. The Secretary-General is moving quickly to fill both the Special Coordinator and Deputy positions. He will ensure that, pending long-term appointments, arrangements are in place for leadership of the United Nations country team at this critical time.
IV. UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS
BRIEFS JOURNALISTS ON THE HUMANITARIAN SITUATION
IN THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY

On 25 October 2007, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes briefed journalists at the United Nations Office at Geneva on the humanitarian situation in Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). Below are the highlights of the press conference:

Squeeze Tightening on the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Mr. Holmes said that he had called this briefing to underline the great concern of OCHA and all the international humanitarian agencies over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The situation had been continuing for some months now in which normal economic activity in Gaza strip had been restricted, however, it was worsening apace.

“The squeeze was tightening all the time”, Mr. Holmes said. Whereas over the summer when the UN had been managing to get through over 3,000 truckloads of humanitarian aid in July, through a number of crossing points, that volume had been steadily falling, and had only been 1,508 in September. Last week, 663 truckloads had gone through, as compared with the 793 just the previous week.

The main crossing point for goods, Karni, had been closed since June, with only one conveyor belt available twice a week, and of the smaller ones that were still open - those at Sufa and Kerem Shalom - it was believed the Sufa crossing point would be closed by the end of the month. For people, the main crossing point, Rafah, had been closed since June, and the available crossing points were clearly insufficient.

In the field of employment, much of industry in the OPT was closing down for lack of outlets. Some 70,000 workers had been laid off from industrial and social service sectors. The same was true for the agricultural sector. As for health care, in July, 40 patients a day had been allowed to cross into Israel, which had fallen to under 5 a day in September. “Denial of freedom of movement for medical reasons would appear to be a breach of international humanitarian law”, Mr. Holmes noted.

Israeli Threats of Electricity Cuts to Gaza

As everyone was aware, Israel had declared the Gaza Strip as a hostile territory a few weeks ago, and had threatened to cut electricity and fuel supplies if the launching of rocket attacks from Gaza continued. Of course, the UN condemned those attacks. However, “it did not appear an appropriate response to those rocket attacks to punish the population of Gaza”, Mr. Holmes stressed.

Upcoming Peace Talks in the United States

“It was hard to reconcile the continuing deterioration on the ground with expected progress in the Annapolis talks that were due to take place in a couple of weeks”, Mr. Holmes commented. He appealed to Israel to relax the restrictions on humanitarian aid and to lift the economic blockade on Gaza as the best method to promote peace there.

A Serious Humanitarian Crisis

Asked how long the people in the OPT could survive in the current situation, Mr. Holmes would not give a number of days. What was clear was that the situation that was being created meant that increasingly the population was dependent on aid to survive. “That is not a good situation for their livelihoods, their dignity and the possibility of their participating in any kind of peace process”, he observed. People were not dying of hunger yet, “but in terms of a serious humanitarian crisis, yes, they were there already” Mr. Holmes said.

V. SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS ROCKET FIRE BY PALESTINIAN
MILITANTS TARGETING ISRAEL, SAYS PUNITIVE MEASURES
BY ISRAEL AGAINST GAZA UNACCEPTABLE

The following statement was issued by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 29 October 2007 (SG/SM/11245; PAL/2089):

The Secretary-General reiterates his call for the cessation of indiscriminate rocket attacks by Palestinian militants targeting Israel, and strongly condemns these actions. However, he also believes strongly that punitive measures taken by Israel, which harm the well-being of the entire population of the Gaza Strip, are unacceptable. The limitation of fuel and electricity supplies deepens the humanitarian distress of the 1.4 million residents of Gaza, as does the reduction of the supply of essential commodities and the tightening of restrictions on movement and access. The Secretary-General calls upon Israel to reconsider its actions and for all concerned to protect civilians and to meet their obligations under international law.

VI. SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS DEPUTY SPECIAL COORDINATOR
FOR MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS, AD INTERIM

The following statement was issued on 30 October 2007 by the Office of the UN Deputy Secretary-General (SG/A/1106):

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asked Max Gaylard (Australia), a senior United Nations official with extensive experience in humanitarian and development coordination, to serve as Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process ad interim. The Secretary-General has asked Mr. Gaylard to travel to the region this week to lead the United Nations country team in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Mr. Gaylard is currently serving as the Director of Mine Action with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and has previously served as the Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator in Somalia and as the Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq.
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