Bulletin mensuel de la DDP - Vol. XXVIII, No.2 - Bulletin du Comité pour l’exercice des droits inaliénables du peuple palestinien/DDP (février 2005) - Publié par la Division des droits palestiniens Français
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Volume XXVIII, Bulletin No. 2
This report contains findings of my visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) on official mission from 13 to 18 June 2004. It addresses the impacts of the conflict and the occupation on women, in particular its implications for violence against women. The report identifies key measures and initiatives needed to ensure the protection and promotion of the rights of women and the elimination of violence against women in the OPT. As such, the report does not focus on violence against women in Israel.
Human rights violations in the form of violence are pervasive throughout the OPT as a result of the protracted conflict and occupation. Security measures by the Israeli occupying forces combined with the response this provoked among various Palestinian elements have contributed to an integrated system of violence, which intersects with a traditional patriarchal gender order that creates traumatizing impacts on Palestinian women.
The report highlights the role of Israeli security measures on human rights and humanitarian law in the OPT. Within such a disenabling environment, an integrated system of violence at the intersection of occupation and patriarchy subjugates women through a continuum of violence linking all spheres of life. Women experience violence as a direct and indirect effect of security measures, as well as violence within the family and community that is heightened as a result of the security situation.
In creating an enabling environment to combat violence in the OPT, it is important that Israel immediately cease its violations of international law and that a sustainable resolution of the conflict be reached. Such a resolution rests on an effective response to the core of the conflict in the region - i.e. the dispossession of the Palestinian people from their land.
I join the appeal of Palestinian women to Israeli society, particularly to Israeli women, to pressure the Government of Israel to end the occupation. I call on the Government and the Palestinian Authority to implement the road map toward the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian State and sustainable peace in the region. In this regard, and in accordance with Security Council resolution 1325 (2000), I emphasize the importance of the full involvement of Palestinian and Israeli women in the peace process.
I urge the Government of Israel to observe international law to ensure the rights and protection of Palestinian civilians, with particular emphasis on the right to health and the provision for expectant mothers and the ill to receive immediate access to medical care. In this context, freedom of movement must be allowed to United Nations staff and other humanitarian agencies operating in the OPT. I further urge the Government of Israel to include treaty-body reporting, particularly on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), information on its compliance with its obligations to promote and protect women’s rights in the OPT.
I call on the Palestinian Authority to adopt a policy of zero tolerance to all forms of violence, including terrorism; to work toward the development of a democratic, secular State that protects women’s rights; to establish a unified domestic legislation criminalizing sexual assault, domestic violence and honour crimes; to provide legal, political and financial support to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs; and to increase political representation of women. I call on the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) to adopt the Bill of Rights for Women and promote the implementation of all draft bills geared toward gender equality.
I call on the international community to be increasingly active in promoting accountability for observance of international law by Israel in the OPT; to enhance the Palestinian Authority’s capacity to enable it to comply with its obligations; to support, through bilateral and multilateral funding, civil society initiatives to improve women’s status; and to support the Palestinian and Israeli women promoting peace and conflict resolution throughout the region. I urge the Security Council to authorize an international mechanism in the OPT to ensure the observance of human rights and humanitarian law and the implementation of existing Council resolutions; to complement these efforts, expand the mandate of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) field office in the OPT to include a monitoring function.
The Secretary-General’s statement, as contained in press release SG/SM/9710-GA/PAL/976, is reproduced below. The Chairman of the Committee introduced the draft programme of work of the Committee for the year 2005. The Committee approved the programme, as contained in document A/AC.183/2005/CRP.1.
Statement by the Secretary-General
It is a pleasure to join you today, at the opening of a new session of the Committee. The year ahead is a very important one for the cause of peace in the Middle East.
The year began auspiciously, with the successful conduct of the Palestinian presidential election. Palestinians can be proud of the peaceful and competitive atmosphere which marked the election campaign. The United Nations is glad to have been able to provide assistance to the electoral authorities, as we will for the upcoming Palestinian Legislative Council elections.
The Palestinian people voted in large numbers for a candidate opposed to violence and committed to implementation of the Road Map. I applaud them for doing so. And I congratulate the new President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, on the significant moves he has made in his first weeks in office. I am pleased that Prime Minister Sharon has also taken important steps.
This new attitude of cooperation between the parties has already borne fruit. Security coordination has been restored. The two sides are now in almost daily contact. And tomorrow, President Abbas and Prime Minister Sharon will meet in Sharm El Sheikh, together with Egyptian President Mubarak and Jordanian King Abdullah. This is a welcome initiative.
Yet the situation remains fragile. The parties must be encouraged to deepen their political dialogue, and to match their positive words with action on the ground. In his inaugural address, President Abbas confirmed his readiness to restart final status negotiations with Israel. He also committed himself to restructuring Palestinian security forces, strengthening Palestinian institutions, and carrying forward democratic reform. I am sure he will move swiftly to act on these commitments. On the Israeli side, I also look forward to the early implementation of Prime Minister Sharon’s disengagement plan, in coordination with the Palestinian leadership, as an important step leading to the implementation of the Road Map.
I urge all Member States to help the parties meet their commitments and strengthen their cooperation, so that the opportunity for progress towards peace now at hand is firmly grasped. The United Nations will continue to work with our partners in the Quartet for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace, based on Security Council resolutions, and within the framework of the Road Map.
Meanwhile, the economic plight of the Palestinians demands attention and action. Alleviating their suffering and providing economic opportunity is a humanitarian imperative and an important contribution to peace. United Nations agencies, including the UNRWA, the UNDP, the WFP and the UNICEF, bring help and opportunity to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who desperately need it. Those efforts need the strong and sustained support of donors.
I thank this Committee for its contribution to the goal of achieving peace in the Middle East. I wish you all success in carrying out your mandate during this year of such importance to the future of the Palestinian people.
III. SECRETARY-GENERAL COMMENDS SHARM EL-SHEIKH SUMMIT, CEASEFIRE
The Secretary-General warmly welcomes the statements of Palestinian President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Sharon today in Sharm el-Sheikh. He believes that their joint announcements to cease violence after four years of death and suffering provide an opportunity for the peace process to resume. The Secretary-General commends the steps taken by the Israeli and Palestinian leaders and looks forward to further cooperation as part of the implementation of their obligations under the Road Map.
The Secretary-General also commends Egyptian President Mubarak for organizing the Sharm el-Sheikh summit and for his leadership in the peace process. He believes that the active participation of Egypt and of King Abdullah of Jordan will greatly enhance the chances of achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the critical months ahead.
IV. SECURITY COUNCIL WELCOMES SHARM EL-SHEIKH SUMMIT, CEASEFIRE
The Security Council welcomes the Summit in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, on 8 February 2005, and the resumption of direct talks between Prime Minister of Israel Mr. Ariel Sharon and President of the Palestinian Authority Mr. Mahmoud Abbas. The Council expresses its appreciation to President Hosni Mubarak of the Arab Republic of Egypt for the invitation to both parties to the Summit, and to King Abdullah II Bin al Hussein of Jordan for his participation.
The Security Council underlines the understandings reached by the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, 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 calls for the full respect by the parties of their commitments in this regard.
The Security Council recognizes these understandings, along with other recent positive developments, as primary steps towards restoring confidence between the two parties and as a significant opportunity to enhance a new spirit of cooperation and to promote an atmosphere conducive to the establishment of peace and coexistence in the region.
The Security Council commends the role being played by Egypt and Jordan in facilitating a successful resumption of dialogue between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority within the framework of the Road Map.
The Security Council welcomes the initiative of the United Kingdom Government in convening an international meeting in London on 1 March to support Palestinian efforts to prepare the ground for a viable Palestinian State. The Security Council also welcomes the upcoming Quartet meeting at the ministerial level which will convene in the margins of the London meeting.
The Council looks forward to further engagement by the Quartet with the two parties to ensure continued progress in the peace process and the full implementation of the Road Map and relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002), and 1515 (2003), towards the creation of an independent, viable, democratic and sovereign State of Palestine living side by side with Israel in peace and security.
The Security Council looks forward to the establishment of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
The hope flows from the summit meeting between President Abbas and Prime Minister Sharon that took place in Sharm el-Sheikh on 8 February, hosted by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, in the presence of Jordan’s King Abdullah. At Sharm el-Sheikh, President Abbas and Prime Minister Sharon reaffirmed their commitment to the road map. Signalling their desire to break away from bloodshed and despair, the two leaders agreed that “all Palestinians [would] stop all acts of violence against Israelis everywhere” and that “Israel [would] cease all its military activity against all Palestinians everywhere”.
Both parties have since taken actions to keep up the momentum generated by the summit. Indeed, it is our hope and expectation that the understandings reached at the summit will be implemented fully and on time. The Government of Israel announced that it would release 900 prisoners and withdraw from five West Bank cities and the surrounding areas. On 21 February, 500 Palestinian prisoners were released. Negotiations to resolve impediments to the Israeli withdrawal are continuing, and we hope that Jericho, as well as Tulkarem, Qalqiliya, Bethlehem and Ramallah, will soon be handed over to the Palestinian Authority.
We commend Israel’s decision to halt punitive house demolitions. Israel also reopened the three crossing points into Gaza — Erez, Rafah and Karni — after temporarily closing them in the wake of Palestinian attacks. Israel announced, moreover, that it was issuing more work permits, bringing the total number of workers authorized to enter Israel via Erez to 1,600. New permits were issued to 300 merchants and 600 labourers for the Erez industrial zone.
On the Palestinian side, President Abbas has acted courageously to end violence. In the past month, the Palestinian Authority deployed 1,000 security officers along the Gaza Strip’s northern border with Israel and hundreds more in the central and southern districts of Gaza. President Abbas also relieved three top security commanders in Gaza of their duties following a raid by militants against a Palestinian Authority prison in Gaza, during which three inmates were killed, and the firing of dozens of mortar shells against Israeli settlements on 10 February. Fulfilling an important obligation under the road map, Abu Mazen also restructured the security services into three main branches — the national forces, the intelligence forces and the police — all of which will report to the Palestinian Prime Minister.
Together, those steps demonstrate President Abbas’s determination to prevent future attacks. An important result of his efforts came on 12 February, when Hamas and Islamic Jihad agreed to a temporary ceasefire. We call on those groups to eschew terror and armed confrontation with Israel and to choose the peaceful, democratic road of negotiations and political activism. The path taken by President Abbas will not be easy. If he is to prevail against those who favour violence over peace, he will need strong support from both Israel and the international community.
In addition to the positive steps taken by each party, we are most encouraged by the resumption of direct engagement between them. Most significantly, Prime Minister Sharon has reiterated his readiness to coordinate with the Palestinians the disengagement plan from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank, and the first meetings to that effect have taken place. Vice-Premier Peres has met with a number of senior Palestinian officials to begin coordinating the civilian and economic aspects of Israel’s withdrawal. We commend Prime Minister Sharon’s steady commitment to disengagement in the face of a serious escalation in threats and protests from his domestic opponents. In an important decision, on 20 February the Israeli Cabinet approved in principle the evacuation of settlements under the disengagement plan. The Knesset also demonstrated support for the Prime Minister by passing, on 16 February, the Compensation and Evacuation Law. That law is an essential step in carrying out the withdrawal plan .
As members of the Council will have noted, there are many positive developments to be welcomed and encouraged. At the same time, we need to be aware that the conflict continues and that it continues to bring an unacceptable toll of death and suffering.
Over this past month, 54 Palestinians and 8 Israelis were killed, and 150 Palestinians and 46 Israelis were injured. On 13 January, Hamas, the Popular Resistance Committees and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade attacked the Karni crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, killing six Israeli civilians. In response, Israel announced that it would temporarily cut all ties with the Palestinian Authority, and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) renewed military incursions into Palestinian areas, which had been suspended since the Palestinian presidential elections. On 15 and 16 January, eight Palestinians were killed in Israeli military operations throughout the Gaza Strip. Palestinian militants fired large numbers of Qassam rockets and mortar shells, which critically wounded a 17-year-old Israeli girl in Sderot on 15 January. I am very sorry to report that she died six days later.
On 31 January, a 10-year-old Palestinian girl was killed in the yard of a school of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in the southern Gaza Strip. This is the fourth tragic incident in the past year in which a Palestinian child has been killed by Israeli fire into an UNRWA school. As we have stated here before, all United Nations buildings and installations — but especially schools — must be kept safe and protected at all times. Our concern has been conveyed to the Government of Israel, and we are now awaiting the outcome of an IDF investigation into the incident.
Despite the vastly improved political climate and the initial measures that Israel has instituted, most movement restrictions for Palestinians remain in place, in the form of checkpoints, curfews and the permit system. The lack of improvement in the daily lives of ordinary Palestinians poses a serious threat to the viability of a renewed peace process.
Closure continues to impact on humanitarian operations, as well. Frequent and prolonged closure of the Karni crossing into Gaza has created a backlog at Ashdod port of more than 900 containers destined for UNRWA, costing the Agency storage and demurrage charges of more than $30,000 a day. With an additional 390 empty containers remaining inside the Gaza Strip at a daily cost of $7,000, UNRWA has incurred total storage and demurrage charges of more than $4.5 million since March 2004. We hope that current Israeli efforts to alleviate this situation will lead to a satisfactory and lasting solution.
On 20 February, the Israeli Cabinet approved the revised route of Israel’s barrier in the West Bank, which, although it has been moved closer to the Green Line, still incorporates a large amount of Palestinian land. To the south of Jerusalem, the new route places the Gush Etzion settlement block on the Israeli side of the barrier and surrounds four Palestinian villages with some 18,000 residents, plus a sizeable amount of Palestinian agricultural land. The Government restarted barrier construction in the Salfit area of the northern West Bank around the settlement of Ariel, raising concerns that large amounts of Palestinian territory might end up being incorporated on the Israeli side. Barrier activity also intensified in the Jerusalem area, where a large number of confiscation orders have recently been served to landowners.
We recognize Israel’s right and duty to protect its people against terrorist attacks. But, now more than ever, we urge the Government of Israel to address its legitimate security needs in ways that do not increase suffering among Palestinians, prejudge final status issues or threaten the longer-term prospects for peace by making the creation of a viable and contiguous Palestinian State more difficult. We reiterate our call on Israel to abide by its legal obligations as set out in the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice and General Assembly resolution ES-10/15.
The international community has come together in support of the new momentum to assure the parties that they are not alone and that we will accompany them along the road to a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.
The Quartet principals will meet on the margins of the London conference on 1 March, following contacts at the envoy level during the past month. They will review the progress that the parties have made to date and decide on further action over the coming months.
The London conference, hosted by the Government of the United Kingdom, will bring together the members of the Quartet, the Group of Eight, a range of key donors and the Palestinian Authority. Prime Minister Qureia will present the Palestinian Authority’s reform agenda and, together with the other participants, will assess suitable mechanisms to help the Palestinians lay the groundwork for an independent, sovereign, viable, contiguous and democratic state. The Secretary-General will attend this important and constructive meeting.
The London conference, while not a donor event, offers an opportunity for the international community to be updated on the Palestinian Authority’s precarious fiscal situation and to provide urgently needed funds for short-term assistance. At the end of January, the Palestinian Authority had received only $20 million from the United States and $5 million from Norway, out of a total of $660 million pledged for the year. The United States and others have since announced plans for additional support. Consolidated action is needed from the international community to ensure the financial stability of the Palestinian Authority at this pivotal time.
By their meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh and the measures taken subsequently, Prime Minister Sharon and President Abbas have stirred widespread hope that Israelis and Palestinians may finally be on the path to peace. They have effectively restarted the process to implement the provisions of the road map, as endorsed by the Council in its resolution 1515 (2003). The end goal remains settling their conflict, ending the occupation and establishing a Palestinian State living side by side with a secure Israel. We are convinced that 2005 is a year of opportunity. We fervently hope that, as the Secretary of State of the United States, Condoleezza Rice, put it, the international community will help the parties to transform opportunity into achievement.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) today presented a blueprint for a better future for four million Palestine refugees to the international donor community in Geneva. The Agency is requesting an additional US$1.1 billion over the next five years to allow it to improve the life chances of the refugees and enhance their ability to support themselves.
UNRWA’s Medium Term Plan (MTP) is the product of many months of dialogue between the Agency and the donor community and has been influenced by the recommendations of a major conference held in Geneva in June 2004 to examine the future of humanitarian assistance to the Palestine refugees.
Peter Hansen, UNRWA Commissioner-General, said: “This is not a presecriptive plan, it is an outline meant to accommodate changing realities and needs on the ground. It is a testimony to the commitment of UNRWA and its donor partners to help the Palestine refugees live in dignity and achieve their ambitions for self-reliance and development.”
In recent years UNRWA resources have not kept pace with the growing needs of the refugees and, by many indicators, the refugees are slipping backwards in comparison with the non-refugees they live amongst. Refugee education and health facilities are often hugely overcrowded and under-equipped. Refugee homes, especially those of the one-third who live in camps, are in a dilapidated condition, while UNRWA’s tools for helping refugees out of poverty are woefully overstretched.
By implementing its MTP, UNRWA would enhance the quality of its education, health and social services, but also better promote self-reliance among the refugees by extending the Agency’s microcredit programme, increasing its provision of vocational training and upgrading the conditions in the refugee camps.
The MTP has four main objectives: to achieve parity of UNRWA services with host authority and international standards; to address the needs of the most vulnerable refugees; to maximize the economic potential of refugees; and to build capacity within UNRWA itself.
In education, priorities include matching host authority curricula, reducing the use of rented schools, reducing classroom overcrowding and creating special educational needs centres to work with the most vulnerable children. In health, the MTP focuses on reducing the excessive workloads of medical staff, expanding psycho-social support and early detection of disabilities among children. The environmental health conditions for the poorest refugees in the camps will also be tackled.
The delivery of social safety-net services will be enhanced by bringing down UNRWA’s social worker-client ratio, expanding the Agency’s network of community centres for women, youth and refugees with disabilities and increasing the financial assistance the Agency gives to the very poorest refugees. The Agency’s mircocredit programme will expand the reach of its lending programme and introduce a new housing finance product that will help refugees better their own living conditions. UNRWA will also create a camp development unit to oversee a programme of urban renewal in the 59 refugee camps scattered across the Middle East.
The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest possible terms the suicide bomb attack in Tel Aviv this evening.
He expresses his hope that immediate action will be taken to apprehend and bring to justice the perpetrators. This terrorist act should not be allowed to undermine the recent positive steps taken by both sides.
The Secretary-General offers his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims.
VIII. SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS TEL AVIV ATTACK
Members of the Security Council condemn in the strongest possible terms Friday’s terrorist attack in Tel Aviv by a suicide bomber, which killed or wounded dozens of innocent Israelis, and offer their deepest sympathy to the victims, their families, and the Israeli people.
The Security Council members also condemn such terrorist attacks because they undermine the hopes and aspirations of the Israeli and Palestinian people as they seek a just, durable, and peaceful solution.
Members of the Council note that the Palestinian leadership has condemned the attack as an act of sabotage against peace, and welcome its commitment to pursue and punish those responsible. Council members urge the Palestinian leadership to take immediate, credible steps to find those responsible for this terrorist attack and bring them to justice and encourage further sustained action to prevent other acts of terrorism.
Council members call for international support for the Palestinian Authority in its efforts to continue with the reform and strengthening of its institutions, including its security apparatus.
Members of the Security Council again underline the understandings of the Sharm el-Sheikh summit and reaffirm its call for the full respect by the parties of their commitments for a full cessation of violence.
In the light of the recent positive steps taken by both sides and on the eve of important meetings in London, Council members call on all parties to exercise maximum restraint and to continue on the path of direct dialogue and negotiation in order to implement the Road Map and to realize the vision of two States living side by side in peace and security.