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Bulletin mensuel de la DDP - Vol. XXVIII, No.8 - Bulletin du Comité pour l’exercice des droits inaliénables du peuple palestinien/DDP (août 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 August 2005

August 2005

Volume XXVIII, Bulletin No. 8



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



Contents


Page
I.
Human Rights Rapporteurs call for compliance with the ICJ Advisory Opinion on the wall
1
II.
Secretary-General reports on the work of the Organization
2
III.
Secretary-General reports on political and economic coercion
3
IV.
Secretary-General considers Israeli disengagement a moment of hope
4
V.
Secretary-General commends Israel, condemns terror attack on Palestinians
4
VI.
Special Rapporteur reports on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
5
VII.
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development reports on 2004 technical cooperation activities
7
VIII.
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs briefs the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
7
IX.
Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People welcomes the removal of Israeli settlements
11
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, or at:
http://www.un.org/Depts/dpa/qpal/pub_bltn.htm.


I. HUMAN RIGHTS RAPPORTEURS CALL FOR COMPLIANCE WITH THE
ICJ ADVISORY OPINION ON THE WALL

Eight Special Procedures mandate holders of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights issued the following appeal on 4 August 2005 to mark the one-year anniversary of the International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion concerning the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (Press release HR/05/92).

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its 9 July 2004 advisory opinion held, inter alia, that the construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is illegal; that Israel should dismantle the wall; that Israel should pay reparation to those individuals who had suffered as a consequence of the construction of the wall; and that the United Nations should consider what action to take, in accordance with the Opinion, to ensure compliance with the Opinion. In August 2004, in resolution ES-10/15 the General Assembly called upon Israel and other parties to comply with their legal obligations as mentioned in the opinion. Further to that resolution, the Secretary-General is taking steps to compile a register of the persons who have suffered as a result of the construction of the wall.

However, neither the General Assembly nor the Security Council have considered the Opinion since.

In large measure it seems that the ICJ’s Opinion has been ignored in favour of negotiations conducted in terms of the Road Map process. The exact nature of these negotiations is unclear but it seems that they are not premised on compliance with the Opinion of the ICJ. They seem to accept the continued presence of some settlements, which were found by the ICJ to be unlawful, and by necessary implication the continued existence of some parts of the wall in Palestinian territory. In short, there seems to be an incompatibility between the Road Map negotiations and the Court’s opinion that should be of concern to the United Nations, which is also a party to the Quartet. The United Nations clearly cannot make itself a party to negotiations that are not based on the Opinion of its own judicial body.

The Special Procedures mandate holders would like to express their concern at the fact that the wall violates Israel’s obligations under international human rights law, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discriminations against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The wall particularly violates freedom of movement, as well as the rights to adequate housing, food, family life, education, and health. Furthermore, the wall violates important norms of international humanitarian law prohibiting the annexation of occupied territory, the establishment of settlements, the confiscation of private land and the forcible transfer of people. The disproportionately severe impact of the wall on women and children is also a grave concern that calls for immediate action.

On this, the first-year anniversary of the ICJ Wall Opinion, the Special Rapporteurs would like to:

· affirm that the continued construction of the wall constitutes a violation of Israel’s human rights obligations;

· call upon Israel to stop construction of the wall being built in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, to dismantle the structure therein situated, and to repeal or render ineffective all legislative and regulatory acts relating thereto;

· call upon Israel to make reparation for all damage caused by the construction of the wall;

· remind States that they are under an obligation not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction;

· draw attention to the fact that every effort should be made to ensure that the United Nations, operating within the Quartet and engaged in the Road Map process, does its utmost to ensure compliance with the ICJ Opinion and fulfils its role in upholding international human rights standards;

· call on the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to act on this matter.


Signed:

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 Prof. John Dugard

Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living Mr. Miloon Kothari

Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences Ms. Yakin Erturk

Special Rapporteur on the right to education Mr. Vernor Munoz Villalobos

Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health Mr. Paul Hunt

Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance Mr. Doudou Diène

Chairperson, Rapporteur, Working Group on arbitrary detention Ms. Leila Zerrougui

Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children Ms. Sigma Huda


II. SECRETARY-GENERAL REPORTS ON THE WORK OF THE ORGANIZATION

On 8 August 2005 the report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization was issued (A/60/1). An excerpt is reproduced below.



Conflict prevention and peacemaking



15. Violence dropped sharply in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as actions by leaders on both sides generated new hopes for peace. The summit meeting held at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on 8 February 2005 produced a series of commitments - including a halt to violence and military activities – aimed at rebuilding trust and breaking the cycle of bloodshed. Although formal negotiations were not resumed, the two parties agreed to hold direct discussions to coordinate the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank, scheduled to take place in August.

16. I welcomed the new momentum with cautious optimism, aware there would likely be setbacks and delays. During a visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory in March 2005, I urged the two sides to seek further progress through direct dialogue and negotiations. In May, I appointed a new Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative to the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization. The United Nations has also remained engaged through its participation in the Quartet for Middle East peace, which has met five times in the period since September 2004, and in April 2005 I appointed a Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement. Despite the improved climate for peace, I continued to express grave concern about the Israeli barrier and its humanitarian impact. In response to a request from the General Assembly, I proposed a framework for a registry of damage caused by the barrier.


III. SECRETARY-GENERAL REPORTS ON POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC COERCION

On 12 August 2005 the Secretary-General submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 58/198 of 23 December 2003 a report entitled “Unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries” (A/60/226), which is excerpted below, reflecting information received from the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia..

Israel has employed unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion in the occupied Palestinian territories. Such measures include movement restrictions, house demolitions, land confiscation and the erection of a barrier. These measures have had detrimental repercussions on the living conditions of the Palestinian people. World Bank estimates for overall economic performance show that in 2004, Palestinian gross domestic product (GDP) was lower by 20 per cent compared to 1999 while GDP per capita was lower by 37 per cent. In terms of United States dollars, GDP estimates dropped from $4.1 billion in 1999 to $3.3 billion in 2004, while GDP per capita fell from $1,493 to $934 over the same period. 1

________

1 The World Bank, “Disengagement, the Palestinian economy and the Settlements”, 23 June 2004 (table 1, p. 30).



IV. SECRETARY-GENERAL CONSIDERS ISRAELI DISENGAGEMENT
A MOMENT OF HOPE

The following statement was issued on 15 August 2005 by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan (Press release SG/SM/10044):

The Secretary-General is following attentively the process of Israeli disengagement from Gaza and the northern West Bank, which begins today and is expected to last into the month of October. This is to be the first Israeli withdrawal from Occupied Palestinian Territory. He is hopeful that it will be executed in a peaceful and smooth manner, building on the coordination efforts of James Wolfensohn, the Quartet Special Envoy for Disengagement.

Quartet members have been briefed by Mr. Wolfensohn about the progress achieved in the past two months and the considerable work that remains ahead. They have been discussing the role of the international community in promoting a revitalization of the peace process on the basis of the Road Map. They will meet in mid-September to assess matters jointly.

The Secretary-General believes this is a moment of promise and hope. Success will demand statesmanship of the highest order, on a sustained basis, on the part of all concerned.



V. SECRETARY-GENERAL COMMENDS ISRAEL, CONDEMNS TERROR
ATTACK ON PALESTINIANS

The following statement was issued on 18 August 2005 by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan (Press release SG/SM/10051):

If there is to be peace in the Middle East, it will require leadership, vision and the willingness of leaders on both sides to make sacrifices for the greater good.

In this context, the Secretary-General commends the courageous decision of Prime Minister Sharon to carry through with the painful process of disengagement from the Gaza Strip and part of the northern West Bank. The Secretary-General hopes that both Palestinians and Israelis will exercise restraint in this challenging period. He condemns the terror attack of 17 August against Palestinian civilians, and sends his condolences to the families of the victims and to the Palestinian Authority.

The Secretary-General believes that a successful disengagement should be the first step towards a resumption of the peace process, in accordance with the Road Map. He notes that it is an important opportunity for the Palestinian Authority to demonstrate its commitment to peace and security by establishing the rule of law in Gaza following the withdrawal.


VI. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR REPORTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE
OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY

On 18 August 2005 the Secretary-General transmitted to the General Assembly the report submitted by John Dugard, Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967 (A/60/271). The summary of the report is reproduced below.

During the past year, Israel’s decision to withdraw Jewish settlers and troops from Gaza has attracted the attention of the international community. This focus of attention on Gaza has allowed Israel to continue with the construction of the wall in Palestinian territory, the expansion of settlements and the de-Palestinization of Jerusalem with virtually no criticism. This report focuses principally on these matters.

Although uncertainty surrounds the full extent and consequences of Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, it seems clear that Gaza will remain occupied territory subject to the provisions of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilians in Time of War, of 12 August 1949 (Fourth Geneva Convention) as a result of Israel’s continued control of the borders of Gaza. The withdrawal of Jewish settlers from Gaza will result in the decolonization of Palestinian territory but not result in the end of occupation.

In its advisory opinion of 9 July 2004, the International Court of Justice held that the wall currently being built by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is contrary to international law. It accordingly held that construction of the wall should cease and that those sections of the wall that had been completed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory should be dismantled. The Government of Israel has paid no heed to the advisory opinion and continues with the construction of the wall.

The wall has serious consequences for Palestinians living in the neighbourhood of the wall. Many thousands are separated from their agricultural lands by the wall and are denied permits to access their lands. Even those who are granted permits frequently find that gates within the wall do not open as scheduled. As a result, Palestinians are gradually leaving land and homes that they have occupied for generations.

Most Jewish settlers in the West Bank are now situated between the Green Line (the accepted border between Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory) and the wall. Moreover, existing settlements in this zone - known as the “closed zone” - are expanding and new settlements are being built. Emboldened by the support they receive from the Government and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), settlers have become more aggressive towards Palestinians and settler violence is on the increase.

The construction of the wall, the de-Palestinization of the “closed zone” and the expansion of settlements make it abundantly clear that the wall is designed to be the border of the State of Israel and that the land of the “closed zone” is to be annexed.

Israel has embarked upon major changes in Jerusalem in order to make the city more Jewish. Jewish settlements within East Jerusalem are being expanded and plans are afoot to link Jerusalem with the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim with a population of 35,000, which will effectively cut the West Bank in two. Palestinian contiguity in East Jerusalem is being destroyed by the presence of Jewish settlements and by house demolitions. Some 55,000 Palestinians at present resident in the municipal area of East Jerusalem have been transferred to the West Bank by the construction of the wall. The clear purpose of these changes is to remove any suggestion that East Jerusalem is a Palestinian entity capable of becoming the capital of a Palestinian State.

The international community has proclaimed the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the need to create a Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security with Israel. This vision is unattainable without a viable Palestinian territory. The construction of the wall, the expansion of settlements, and the de-Palestinization of Jerusalem threaten the viability of a Palestinian State.

The occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory continues to result in major violations of human rights. There are some 8,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, whose treatment is alleged to fall well below internationally accepted standards. Freedom of movement is radically undermined by over 600 military checkpoints. Social and economic rights are violated. A quarter of the Palestinian population is unemployed and half the population lives below the official poverty line. Health and education services suffer and Palestinians have severe difficulties in accessing safe water. Housing remains a serious problem as a result of house demolitions conducted by the IDF in previous years. Women suffer disproportionately from these violations of human rights.

In 2004 the International Court of Justice handed down an advisory opinion in which it condemned as illegal not only the construction of the wall but many features of the Israeli administration of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The advisory opinion was endorsed by the General Assembly on 20 July 2004 in resolution ES-10/15. Since then little effort has been made by the international community to compel Israel to comply with its legal obligations as expounded by the International Court. The Quartet, comprising the United Nations, the European Union, the United States of America and the Russian Federation, appears to prefer to conduct its negotiations with Israel in terms of the so-called road map with no regard to the advisory opinion. The road map seems to contemplate the acceptance of certain sections of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the inclusion of major Jewish settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in Israeli territory. This process places the United Nations in an awkward situation as it clearly cannot be a party to negotiations that ignore the advisory opinion of its own judicial organ.


VII. UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON TRADE AAND DEVELOPMENT
REPORTS ON 2004 TECHNICAL COOPERATION ACTIVITIES

The report by the Secretary-General of UNCTAD “Review of Activities Undertaken in 2004” (TD/B/WP/181/Add.1) issued on 22 August 2005 is excerpted below.

23. Results: Despite the difficult conditions in the field, UNCTAD continues to successfully implement a diverse programme of technical cooperation with the Palestinian Authority (PA)/civil society, assisting it to develop its capacity and reform programme in several areas. Two secretariat reports on UNCTAD assistance to the Palestinian people were deliberated on widely and noted with satisfaction by the Trade and Development Board. The majority of the Board members echoed the reports' key themes and stressed the need to increase support for assistance to the Palestinian people in UNCTAD. The impact of advisory services provided by UNCTAD, in response to the PA requests, is manifested in the fact that eight of the PA's policy papers/draft laws are being reformulated in response to, or drawing on, these services. The secretariat activities, in the areas of technical cooperation, research and analysis, and training, continue to have a positive impact on PA policy-making and capacity in the area of customs, debt management, trade facilitation, private sector development and economic analysis and management. The selective and flexible mode of operations adopted by the secretariat in the past three years has effectively produced tangible results. This is reflected in the integration of UNCTAD's ideas and adoption of its recommendations at various levels, building of institutional, technical and human capacities, and the enrichment of public debate on related policy issues. The secretariat activities have helped the PA to maintain the focus on work on key institution-building projects, while addressing the urgent relief needs generated by the ongoing crisis.




VIII. UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS BRIEFS
THE SECURITY COUNCIL ON THE SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE
EAST, INCLUDING THE PALESTINIAN QUESTION

On 24 August 2005 Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Ibrahim Gambari, briefed the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. Excerpts from the briefing are reproduced below (S/PV.5250)

Israeli disengagement from Gaza and northern parts of the West Bank, which began on 15 August as announced, overshadowed other Middle East issues in the past month. Despite the dramatic scenes, which we have all seen on television and in newspapers, of Israeli military and police personnel removing settlers from their houses in Gaza, the operation mostly proceeded smoothly and with surprising speed, aided by the restraint generally observed by militant Palestinian factions. The evacuation of Israeli settlers from Gaza was completed on Monday. Evacuation of settlers from the settlements earmarked for removal in the northern West Bank was carried out yesterday. However, the success of the implementation of the operation was marred by the senseless and unprovoked murders of Palestinians, before and during the disengagement, by what Prime Minister Sharon himself has described as Jewish terrorists in the West Bank.

Quartet envoys met last week in Jerusalem to assess the situation and to prepare for the Quartet principals’ meeting, which is due to take place on 20 September here at United Nations Headquarters. While the settlers will long since have been evacuated by that time, Israeli military personnel will almost certainly still be in the Gaza Strip, discharging the tasks that remain to be carried out before they withdraw completely, hopefully some time in October. The Secretary-General looks forward to the opportunity to assess with his Quartet partners the progress of withdrawal, as well as to discuss the issues that will be left pending in connection with withdrawal, as outlined by Mr. James Wolfensohn, the Quartet’s special envoy for disengagement. The Quartet will also have an opportunity to chart the next steps in pursuance of the vision to which the Quartet remains committed, namely, that of two States, Israel and a sovereign, viable, democratic and contiguous Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.

In four trips to the region before the start of disengagement, Mr. Wolfensohn continued to focus his efforts on resolving six key issues. Those issues are border crossings and trade corridors linking Gaza and the West Bank, movement within the West Bank, the Gaza airport and seaport, the houses in Israeli settlements and the greenhouses in the settlements. On all those issues, coordination between the Israeli and Palestinian sides intensified in the last month and continues to this day. Members of the Council will agree that since those matters are still under discussion, it would not be wise to air them publicly at this time, lest the outcome be jeopardized.



For its part, the Palestinian Authority renewed its commitment to a smooth and peaceful withdrawal and to cooperate and coordinate with the Israeli side to that end. On 9 August President Abbas told the Palestinian Legislative Council that “a successful withdrawal and maintaining security is the responsibility of all Palestinians, so that we can show the world we deserve our freedom and our independence”. On 14 August a large force of Palestinian police began to deploy in several areas of the Gaza Strip adjacent to Jewish settlements to provide buffer cordons and to deter the firing of home-made rockets and mortars. The Palestinian side’s cooperation has been manifest throughout the evacuation.

With regard to security and violence, I would like to report that a spate of kidnappings of foreigners in the Gaza Strip over past months reflects a decline in the internal security situation during the run-up to disengagement. It also illustrates the breadth of the security problem, which extends beyond armed factions to other family-controlled armed groups.

The President of the Palestinian Authority, other high-level officials and community leaders have condemned the kidnappings. The United Nations has therefore been compelled to increase security measures, but the critical humanitarian, emergency and security staff of the United Nations remain in Gaza and all operations and the delivery of services continue unchanged. It is hoped that the Palestinian Authority will implement promised changes and enhancements in the internal security arrangements without any further delay.

On the other hand, the renewed commitment to the ceasefire by Palestinian armed groups has led to a significant reduction in the number of Palestinian attacks on Israeli targets inside the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel, and it facilitated the smooth implementation of the disengagement from Gaza.

United States Security Coordinator General Ward continued his assistance to the Palestinian Authority in putting together the necessary resources to ensure that disengagement went smoothly. There will be a continuing need for international assistance so that over time the goal of a robust Palestinian security sector that ensures that the “one authority, one weapon” policy can be realized.

Amongst the killings in the past month, two incidents were particularly shocking because they took place in the period immediately prior to, and during, the Israeli disengagement. On 4 August, an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldier who had deserted from the army to protest the disengagement opened fire on the passengers of a civilian bus in the Arab town of Shfa’Amr, killing four people and injuring at least 12 other passengers.

In a reminiscent act of terror, on 17 August an Israeli killed four Palestinians and wounded two others when he opened fire on a group of Palestinians in the industrial area of the West Bank settlement of Shiloh. The acts in themselves were utterly horrendous and inexcusable. However, those extremists who have used inflammatory language bordering on incitement carry a heavy responsibility for creating the atmosphere in which the attacks took place.

Thus, while Israel’s bold first withdrawal from occupied Palestinian territory is welcome, the situation elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian territory continues to fester, with many Palestinians fearing that Israel is consolidating its occupation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Of concern in that connection are recent statements by Hamas leaders that they will carry their resistance to the West Bank.

In our view, violence as a means to achieve any objective should be rejected. At the same time, it would be unwise to lose sight of the concern of mainstream Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank that their legitimate aspirations may be put off indefinitely.

With regard to settlement activity, reports by non-governmental monitoring groups indicate that settlement activity in the West Bank continued during the past month. The Ministry of Housing and Construction has issued tenders for the building of 235 housing units in settlements this year, the majority of which are for location in settlements near metropolitan Jerusalem. On 4 August 2005, the Housing Ministry also issued two tenders for the building of 72 housing units in the settlement of Betar Ilit, which is situated between Jerusalem and the Etzion bloc of settlements in the southern West Bank. In Jerusalem, on 25 July 2005, the Israeli local planning committee of the Jerusalem municipality approved a scheme presented by the Ministry of Housing to construct a new Jewish settlement in the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City.

In late July 2005, the economic ministerial committee of the Knesset approved a three-year aid plan to provide 97 million shekels to improve infrastructure, agriculture and settlement expansion in the Jordan Valley area. The project is to be carried out in cooperation with the settlement councils in the area and with the Ministries of Housing and of Finance.

It was reported in the Israeli press that Prime Minister Sharon, in a speech last Sunday, confirmed his intention to continue building in the settlement blocs in the West Bank, ensuring a permanent territorial link between Israel and the Ariel settlement and also uniting the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim with Jerusalem.

With regard to the issue of barrier construction, settlement expansion cannot be separated from the ongoing construction of Israel’s security barrier. Last month, my colleague Alvaro de Soto, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, reported the approval by the Israeli Cabinet of the remaining details of the route of the barrier around Jerusalem, to be completed in September.

This week, land expropriation orders for approximately 396 acres were issued in the Jerusalem governorate. The orders are for the construction of a portion of the already approved barrier around the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement. That route would cut a reported 23 kilometres into occupied Palestinian territory, and would separate the northern West Bank from the south. Confiscation of land and barrier construction continued during the past month throughout the West Bank.



I would now like to turn to the issue of elections. President Abbas signed the amendments made to the Palestinian Basic Law on 14 August, pursuant to the amendments to the electoral law adopted by the Palestinian Legislative Council in June. The President recently decreed that the legislative elections would be held on 25 January 2006. The amended law stipulates that the term of the President of the Palestinian Authority is four years. It also stipulates that Palestinian Legislative Council elections will be held every four years.



In conclusion, I would like to say that neither party should be exempt from its road map obligations. President Abbas must take up the difficult challenge of transforming and developing the security sector and must ensure that the Palestinian Authority holds the monopoly on the use of force. We believe that in facing that challenge, President Abbas will need all possible support from his own people, as well as from Israel and the international community. For its part, Israel should freeze all settlement activities in the West Bank. The creation of new facts on the ground, which prejudice final status issues, can but make the search for negotiated solutions far more difficult than it already is.




IX. COMMITTEE ON THE EXERCISE OF THE INALIENABLE RIGHTS OF
THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE WELCOMES THE REMOVAL
OF ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS

On 30 August 2005, the Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People issued the following statement (Press release GA/PAL/990).

Together with the rest of the international community, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People has been watching closely the removal of Israeli settlements from the occupied Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank. The Bureau of the Committee views this development as a promising step that could revive negotiations within the framework of the Road Map and move forward the stalled peace process. The Bureau of the Committee welcomes the swift and determined implementation of the removal of settlers by the Israeli side. The Palestinian Authority, for its part, has fully demonstrated its ability to control the security situation throughout this critical period.

Although the decision of the Israeli Government to remove settlements from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank was a unilateral one, it resulted in a resumption of direct security coordination between the parties. This created a favourable opportunity, which has to be built upon and widened by the two sides in order to lay the groundwork for future cooperation in security and other areas.

The Bureau of the Committee emphasizes that the Gaza pull-out should be complete and irreversible, allowing the Palestinian Authority to exercise control over its borders, crossing points, sea and airspace. Also indispensable are guaranties for an unhindered flow of people and goods into and out of Gaza. The construction and operation of a seaport and an airport, as well as a permanent geographical link to the West Bank are absolutely vital for the Palestinian economy.

The international community has voiced its readiness to support all efforts of the Palestinian Authority aimed at revitalizing the economy of the Gaza Strip.

The Bureau of the Committee commends the donor community for the first important steps taken in support of the economic rehabilitation and development of the Gaza Strip after the Israeli withdrawal. We also urge the donor community to live up to its commitments and provide the necessary assistance in an expeditious and efficient manner.

The Bureau of the Committee expresses the hope that the positive momentum gained as a result of the removal of settlements from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank will be followed by similar steps in the rest of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and breathe new life into the political process, leading to a comprehensive, just and lasting solution of the question of Palestine and the exercise by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights.


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