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Bulletin mensuel de la DDP - Vol.XXIX, No.11 - Bulletin du Comité pour l’exercice des droits inaliénables du peuple palestinien/DDP (Novembre 2006) - 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)
30 November 2006




November 2006

Volume XXIX, Bulletin No. 11


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

Contents
Page
I.
    UNRWA Commissioner-General tells General Assembly of the need for a political solution in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
1
II.
    Secretary-General issues statement on violence and Israeli military operations in northern Gaza
2
III.
    Secretary-General expresses shock over Israeli military operation in Beit Hanoun
2
IV.
    Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 issues statement on the situation in Gaza
3
V.
    UNICEF expresses concern over renewed violence in Gaza
3
VI.
    UNRWA condemns Israeli military operation in Beit Hanoun
4
VII.
    Non-Aligned Movement issues statement on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem
4
VIII.
    General Assembly adopts resolution on permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources
6
IX.
    Special Rapporteur on adequate housing urges Israel to stop destruction of houses and infrastructure in the Gaza Strip
9
X
    Human Rights Council adopts resolution on recent Israeli military actions in northern Gaza
10
XI.
    General Assembly tenth emergency special session adopts resolution on illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory
11
XII.
    UNRWA Commissioner-General launches Beit Hanoun flash appeal
13
XIII.
    Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs briefs Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
14
XIV.
    OCHA launches 2007 consolidated appeal for the Occupied Palestinian Territory
16
XV.
    UNRWA issues report on prolonged crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: recent socio-economic impacts
19
XVI.
    Secretary-General welcomes Gaza ceasefire
24
XVII.
    Human Rights Council adopts resolution on Israeli settlements
24
XVIII.
    Secretary-General delivers statement on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
28
XIX.
    General Assembly considers the question of Palestine
29
XX.
    United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights briefs Human Rights Council on her trip to the Middle East
32
XXI.
    World Bank issues report entitled “Coping with crisis: Palestinian Authority institutional performance”
34
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. UNRWA COMMISSIONER-GENERAL TELLS GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF
THE NEED FOR A POLITICAL SOLUTION IN THE OCCUPIED
PALESTINIAN TERRITORY

On 1 November 2006, the General Assembly discussed UNRWA’s annual report (A/61/13). During the session, UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen Koning AbuZayd discussed the deteriorating conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, expressing the need for a political solution. The following press release includes excerpts from her statement.

“If the picture I have painted is dismal and depressing, it is because the reality is dismal and depressing,” United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Commissioner-General Karen Koning AbuZayd said when presenting her annual report. “These trends are not in the region’s or the international community’s interests. The need for a political solution has never been more evident or more urgent.”

Living conditions in Gaza have plummeted owing in part to increased violence and unrelenting armed conflict with Israel, which carried out over 292 air strikes between July and October, leaving 298 dead and 1,000 injured. New surveys showed 87 per cent of residents living below the poverty line, and severe movement restrictions have caused unprecedented levels of unemployment, with 80 per cent of residents depending on UNRWA food aid.

Land expropriations, settler violence, daily military incursions and Israel’s separation barrier have caused similarly severe and deplorable hardships in the West Bank, where 56 per cent of residents live below the poverty line, the report stated.

“Especially frightening to see is the impact of the prolonged crises on every aspect of the Palestinian body politic,” she said. “Law and order is deteriorating, community cohesion is unraveling and the youth are increasingly radicalized.”

But, Ms. Koning AbuZayd said, despite those harsh realities UNRWA sees that “the challenges are surmountable” and she appealed to all parties to use the momentum of the diplomatic success of Lebanon and Israel’s recent ceasefire to broker a solution.

“The conflict in Lebanon and the prevailing conditions in Gaza are grotesque monuments to the tragic futility of the resort to force,” she warned. “At the same time, the ceasefire in Lebanon and the current high-level international attention focused on bringing about a breakthrough in the current political impasse between Israel and the Palestinians provide an indication of what can be achieved when international political will is mobilized effectively.”

“We ask that political actors find the courage and political will to test new, or to revitalize past, policy directions” she said. “Elements of reason and willingness to compromise for the sake of a larger cause than narrow self-interest can be found on both sides. These tendencies need to be cultivated and encouraged to grow, so that we can restore the belief in the possibility of achieving peace and a better future for all, by peaceful means.”
II. SECRETARY-GENERAL ISSUES STATEMENT ON VIOLENCE
AND ISRAELI MILITARY OPERATIONS IN NORTHERN GAZA

The following statement was issued on 3 November 2007 by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan (SG/SM/10713-PAL/2061).

The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the continuing escalation of violence and the rising death toll caused by the Israeli military operation in northern Gaza. Military operations in populated areas inevitably cause civilian casualties, and in this operation several civilians have already been killed or wounded, including women and at least one Palestinian child.

The Secretary-General urges Israel to exercise maximum restraint, do their utmost to protect civilians and refrain from further escalating an already grave situation. He also calls on Palestinian militants to stop firing rockets against Israeli civilian targets.

All concerned should remember that continuing violence is liable to make the search for a just and lasting peace in the region even more difficult.

III. SECRETARY-GENERAL EXPRESSES SHOCK OVER ISRAELI MILITARY OPERATION IN BEIT HANOUN

The following statement was issued on 8 November 2006 by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan (SG/SM/10722- PAL/2062).

The Secretary-General was shocked to learn about the Israeli military operation carried out early today in a residential area in Beit Hanoun, which has resulted in the deaths of at least 18 Palestinians, including 8 children and 7 women. He extends his condolences to the bereaved families of the victims.

Only last Friday, the Secretary-General expressed his deep concern about the rising death toll caused by the Israeli military operation in northern Gaza, given that such operations inevitably cause civilian casualties. The Secretary-General reminds both sides of their obligations under international humanitarian law regarding the protection of civilians in armed conflict.

The Secretary-General reiterates his call to the Government of Israel to cease its military operations in Gaza without delay, and calls on the Palestinian side to also halt attacks against Israeli targets.

He further takes note of the reported announcement by the Government of Israel of a full investigation into this latest incident, and looks forward to its early results.

IV. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
IN THE PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES OCCUPIED SINCE 1967
ISSUES STATEMENT ON THE SITUATION IN GAZA

John Dugard, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, issued the following statement on 8 November 2006.

On 25 June 2006, Israel embarked on a military operation in Gaza that has resulted in over 300 deaths, including many civilians; over a thousand injuries; large-scale devastation of public facilities and private homes; the destruction of agricultural lands; the disruption of hospitals, clinics and schools; the denial of access to adequate electricity, water and food; and the occupation and imprisonment of the people of Gaza. This brutal collective punishment of a people, not a government, has passed largely unnoticed by the international community.

The Quartet, comprising the United Nations, the European Union, the United States of America and the Russian Federation, has done little to halt Israel's attacks. Worse still, the Security Council has failed to adopt any resolution on the subject or attempt to restore peace to the region. The time has come for urgent action on the part of the Security Council. Failure to act at this time will seriously damage the reputation of the Council.

V. UNICEF EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER RENEWED VIOLENCE IN GAZA

The following excerpts from a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) press statement on 8 November 2006 reflects the concerns of the UNICEF representative in the Occupied Palestinian Territory for children’s safety in Gaza amid renewed violence.

“The situation in northern Gaza, and in particular in Beit Hanoun, is very serious and is getting worse”, UNICEF representative in the Occupied Palestinian Territory Dan Rohrmann said earlier this week. “There are tanks everywhere, shelling, house demolitions and there is fighting in the streets. People are getting quite desperate.”

“The children are terrified by everything going on, including seeing family members being taken away”, added Mr. Rohrmann.

“Health is a major issue and at the moment people do not have access to primary health care facilities because of the curfew, the lack of health staff and the lack of drugs. People fear leaving their homes to go to health clinics”, explained Mr. Rohrmann.

“The most important thing right now is to stop the violence and to guarantee that the United Nations and non-governmental organizations have unhindered access to Beit Hanoun in order to deliver the critical assistance that is needed”, asserted Mr. Rohrmann. And in a statement issued after today’s violence in Beit Hanoun, UNICEF reiterated its conviction that protecting civilians in such circumstances was an obligation under international law.
VI. UNRWA CONDEMNS ISRAELI MILITARY OPERATIONS
IN BEIT HANOUN

UNRWA issued the following press release in Gaza on 8 November 2006.

UNRWA's Commissioner-General Karen Koning AbuZayd expressed shock and dismay at the killing of yet more Palestine refugees, many of them women and children, in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun this morning.

A barrage of tank shells hit civilian homes in Beit Hanoun early Wednesday morning, causing 19 fatalities and leaving more than 60 people injured. The Al-Athamneh family lost 17 members, including four women, five children and two infants, one of them two years old, the other nine months old. The Al-Athamneh family are Palestine refugees under UNRWA’s mandate.

"This morning's tragedy is yet more evidence, if any were needed, that this futile cycle of inhuman violence must end" Ms. AbuZayd said.

Ms. AbuZayd visited the centre of Beit Hanoun yesterday, shortly after Israeli forces left the area. She witnessed first hand the despair and fury of people trying to come to terms with death and destruction on a scale not seen in Gaza for many years. Israeli military ground forces had withdrawn from Beit Hanoun on Tuesday after a six-day siege in which 50 people had been killed.

Since 2000, Israeli military operations have caused extensive destruction throughout the Beit Hanoun area. Preliminary assessments indicate that during the recent siege, dozens of houses were destroyed and hundreds more damaged, in addition to serious damage to the 850 year old Um al-Nasser Mosque in the centre of Beit Hanoun.

Military operations also caused extensive damage to UNRWA schools and health centres in Beit Hanoun.

VII. NON-ALIGNED MOVEMENT ISSUES STATEMENT ON THE SITUATION
IN THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY, INCLUDING
EAST JERUSALEM

In letters addressed to the President of the Security Council (S/2006/882 and A/61/572) the Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations in his capacity as Chairman of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement transmitted a statement by the Movement concerning the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. The statement is reproduced below.

Statement of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement concerning the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem

The Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement expresses once again its grave concern at the continued deterioration of the situation on the ground in the occupied Palestinian territory during the recent period, particularly as a result of the excessive, indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force by Israel, the occupying Power, which has caused extensive loss of civilian Palestinian life and injuries, including among children and women.

The Movement condemns, in particular, the military assaults being carried out by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Gaza Strip, which have caused loss of life and extensive destruction of Palestinian property and vital infrastructure.

The Movement reaffirms the continued validity of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 446 (1979), 1322 (2000), 1397 (2002), 1402 (2002), 1403 (2002), 1435 (2002), 1515 (2003) and 1553 (2004).

The Movement emphasizes the need to preserve the institutions of the Palestinian National Authority and Palestinian infrastructure and properties.

The Movement expresses grave concern at the dire humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people and calls for the provision of emergency assistance to them.

In light of the present situation, the Movement urges the Security Council to shoulder its responsibility according to the United Nations Charter in the preservation of international peace and security by taking the following measures:

(a) Demanding that Israel, the occupying Power, immediately cease its aggression against the Palestinian civilian population in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and immediately withdraw its forces from within the Gaza Strip to positions prior to June 2006;

(b) Calling for an immediate ceasefire between the Israeli and Palestinian sides;

(c) Calling also for the establishment and dispatch of a United Nations observer force to supervise the ceasefire;

(d) Calling upon Israel, the occupying Power, to scrupulously abide by its obligations and responsibilities under the Geneva Conventions relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949. In that regard, the Movement calls upon the international community, including the Quartet, to take immediate steps, including confidence-building measures between the parties, with the objective of resuming peace negotiations and restarting the peace process.

The Movement will remain seized of this important issue.
VIII. GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS RESOLUTION ON PERMANENT
SOVEREIGNTY OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE IN THE
OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY, INCLUDING
EAST JERUSALEM, AND OF THE ARAB POPULATION
IN THE OCCUPIED SYRIAN GOLAN OVER THEIR
NATURAL RESOURCES

On 20 November 2006, the General Assembly at its sixty-first session considered agenda item 40, under which it adopted a resolution entitled “Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources” (resolution 61/184). The Assembly had before it the report of the Second Committee (A/61/418). For a record of the vote on the draft resolution, see documents A/61/PV.83 and A/AC.183/L.2/Add.28. The text of the resolution is reproduced below.

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolution 60/183 of 22 December 2005, and taking note of Economic and Social Council resolution 2006/43 of 27 July 2006,

Recalling also its resolutions 59/251 of 22 December 2004 and 58/292 of 6 May 2004,

Reaffirming the principle of the permanent sovereignty of peoples under foreign occupation over their natural resources,

Guided by the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, affirming the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, and recalling relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967, 465 (1980) of 1 March 1980 and 497 (1981) of 17 December 1981,

Recalling its resolution 2625 (XXV) of 24 October 1970,

Reaffirming the applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949,1 to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967,

Recalling, in this regard, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights2 and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,2 and affirming that these human rights instruments must be respected in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, as well as in the occupied Syrian Golan,

Recalling also the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,3 and recalling further its resolution ES-10/15 of 20 July 2004,

Expressing its concern at the exploitation by Israel, the occupying Power, of the natural resources of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967,

Expressing its grave concern at the extensive destruction by Israel, the occupying Power, of agricultural land and orchards in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the uprooting of a vast number of fruit-bearing trees,

Expressing its concern at the widespread destruction caused by Israel, the occupying Power, to vital infrastructure, including water pipelines and sewage networks, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which, inter alia, pollutes the environment and negatively affects the natural resources of the Palestinian people,

Aware of the detrimental impact of the Israeli settlements on Palestinian and other Arab natural resources, especially as a result of the confiscation of land and the forced diversion of water resources, and of the dire economic and social consequences in this regard,

Aware also of the detrimental impact on Palestinian natural resources being caused by the unlawful construction of the wall by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, and of its grave effect on the natural resources and economic and social conditions of the Palestinian people,

Reaffirming the need for the immediate resumption of negotiations within the Middle East peace process, on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973, 425 (1978) of 19 March 1978 and 1397 (2002) of 12 March 2002, the principle of land for peace and the Quartet performance-based road map to a permanent two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,4 as endorsed by the Security Council in its resolution 1515 (2003) of 19 November 2003, and for the achievement of a final settlement on all tracks,

Noting the Israeli withdrawal from within the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank and the importance of the dismantlement of settlements therein as a step towards the implementation of the road map,

Recalling the need to end all acts of violence, including acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction,

Taking note with appreciation of the note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report prepared by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia on the economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan,5

1. Reaffirms the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the population of the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources, including land and water;

2. Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, not to exploit, damage, cause loss or depletion of, or endanger the natural resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan;

3. Recognizes the right of the Palestinian people to claim restitution as a result of any exploitation, damage, loss or depletion, or endangerment of their natural resources resulting from illegal measures taken by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and expresses the hope that this issue will be dealt with in the framework of the final status negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides;

4. Stresses that the wall being constructed by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, is contrary to international law and is seriously depriving the Palestinian people of their natural resources, and calls in this regard for full compliance with the legal obligations mentioned in the 9 July 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice3 and in resolution ES-10/15;

5. Notes the Israeli withdrawal from within the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank and the dismantlement of the settlements therein as a step towards the implementation of the road map;

6. Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, in this regard, to comply strictly with its obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, with respect to the alteration of the character and status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem;

7. Also calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to cease the dumping of all kinds of waste materials in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, which gravely threaten their natural resources, namely the water and land resources, and pose an environmental hazard and health threat to the civilian populations;

8. Further calls upon Israel to cease its destruction of vital infrastructure, including water pipelines and sewage networks, which, inter alia, has a negative impact on the natural resources of the Palestinian people;

9. Requests the Secretary-General to report to it at its sixty-second session on the implementation of the present resolution, and decides to include in the provisional agenda of its sixty-second session the item entitled “Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources”.

_____________
1/ United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 75, No. 973.
2/ See resolution 2200 A (XXI), annex.
3/ A/ES-10/273 and Corr.1.
4/ See S/2003/529, annex.
5/ A/61/67-E/2006/13.



IX. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON ADEQUATE HOUSING URGES
ISRAEL TO STOP DESTRUCTION OF HOUSES AND
INFRASTRUCTURE IN THE GAZA STRIP

The following statement was issued on 10 November 2006 by the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, Miloon Kothari (HR06142E).

As Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, I condemn in the strongest possible terms the artillery shelling of Palestinian homes by the Israeli Defense Forces in Beit Hanoun that killed 19 innocent civilians and injured 60, including women and children. The explanation by Israeli authorities that this wantonly criminal act was a mistake is unacceptable. The shelling and subsequent killing of civilians indicates a premeditated military tactic constituting a form of collective punishment against the Palestinian people.

Since 25 June 2006, the data of the most recent Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip, I continue to receive alarming reports about deliberate attacks by Israeli forces resulting in the destruction of homes, civilian property and infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. Such acts have a devastating impact on civilians, particularly women and children, and create insecurity and psychological trauma. Thus, these forced evictions and the unjustifiable destruction constitute breaches of international laws on human rights and war and of humanitarian norms. International law strictly prohibits the destruction of private or public property when not absolutely necessary for military operations. According to UNRWA, the military operation in Beit Hanoun itself led, in a six-day military siege, to the destruction of dozens of houses. Israel’s practices of confiscating Palestinian land, demolishing Palestinian homes, closures and the implantation of illegal settlements also continue throughout the West Bank and Jerusalem, including those in connection with the separation wall. I also have learned of the colonization activities in the Jordan Valley, in particular, including the active involvement of the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish National Fund. Such dispossession and destruction across the green line, within the continuum of population transfer policies and practices, are factors that underlie the ongoing conflict. I urge the State of Israel to cease these practices and restitute confiscated lands in the interest of regional peace and security.

These latest killings by Israel must act as a call for the international community to awaken from the inaction and hesitation that has marked its attention to the grave crisis in Gaza. In this context, I fully support the statement by John Dugard, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, calling on the Security Council to urgently address the crisis in Gaza. I urgently call for an international independent investigation of the events and the deployment of international forces in the region. I also urge the international community, in view of their human rights and humanitarian law obligations, to reconsider the continuation of military cooperation with Israel in the light of the overwhelming evidence of violations of a range of human rights, including the right to adequate housing.

X. HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS RESOLUTION ON RECENT
ISRAELI MILITARY ACTIONS IN NORTHERN GAZA

On 15 November 2006, the Human Rights Council convened its third special session at which it discussed the Israeli military incursions in Northern Gaza and the assault on Beit Hanoun. The Council adopted resolution S-3/1, entitled “Human rights violations emanating from Israeli military incursions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the recent one in northern Gaza and the assault on Beit Hanoun”. The text of the resolution is reproduced below.

The Human Rights Council,

Affirming the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,

Gravely concerned at the continued violation by the occupying Power, Israel, of the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,

Recognizing that the Israeli military incursions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the recent incursion in northern Gaza and the assault on Beit Hanoun, constitute a collective punishment of the civilians therein and exacerbate the severe humanitarian crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,

Taking note of the sense of shock expressed by the Secretary-General on the Israeli military operations carried out in Beit Hanoun on 8 November 2006,

Emphasizing that the Israeli wilful killing of Palestinian civilians, including women and children, constitutes a gross violation of human rights law and international humanitarian law,

Affirming that, under international humanitarian law, the medical personnel and means of transport of the Palestine Red Crescent Society must be protected and respected in all circumstances,

1. Expresses its shock at the horror of Israeli killing of Palestinian civilians in Beit Hanoun while asleep and other civilians fleeing earlier Israeli bombardment;

2. Condemns the Israeli killing of Palestinian civilians, including women and children, as well as of medics in Beit Hanoun and other Palestinian towns and villages, and calls for bringing the perpetrators thereof to justice;

3. Denounces the Israeli massive destruction of Palestinian homes, property and infrastructure in Beit Hanoun;

4. Expresses its alarm at the gross and systematic violations of human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory by the occupying Power, Israel, and calls for urgent international action to put an immediate end to these violations, including those emanating from the series of incessant and repeated Israeli military incursions therein;

5. Calls for immediate protection of the Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in compliance with human rights law and international humanitarian law;

6. Urges all concerned parties to respect the rules of international humanitarian law, to refrain from violence against the civilian population and to treat under all circumstances all detained combatants and civilians in accordance with the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949;

7. Decides to dispatch urgently a high-level fact-finding mission, to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, to travel to Beit Hanoun to, inter alia: (a) assess the situation of victims; (b) address the needs of survivors; and (c) make recommendations on ways and means to protect Palestinian civilians against any further Israeli assaults;

8. Requests the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide all administrative, technical and logistical assistance required to enable the fact-finding mission to fulfil its mandate promptly and efficiently;

9. Requests the fact-finding mission to report to the Council no later than the middle of December 2006 on progress made towards the fulfilment of its mandate.

XI. GENERAL ASSEMBLY TENTH EMERGENCY SPECIAL SESSION
ADOPTS RESOLUTION ON ILLEGAL ISRAELI ACTIONS IN
OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM AND THE REST OF THE
OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY

On 17 November 2006, the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly adopted resolution ES-10/16 entitled “Illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory”. The text of the resolution is reproduced below.

The General Assembly,

Recalling its relevant resolutions, including resolutions of the tenth emergency special session,

Reaffirming Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967, 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973, 446 (1979) of 22 March 1979, 1322 (2000) of 7 October 2000, 1397 (2002) of 12 March 2002, 1402 (2002) of 30 March 2002, 1403 (2002) of 4 April 2002, 1405 (2002) of 19 April 2002, 1435 (2002) of 24 September 2002, 1515 (2003) of 19 November 2003 and 1544 (2004) of 19 May 2004,

Reaffirming also the applicability of the rules and principles of international law, including humanitarian and human rights laws, in particular the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949,1 to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,

Expressing grave concern at the continued deterioration of the situation on the ground in the Palestinian Territory occupied by Israel since 1967 during the recent period, particularly as a result of the use of force by Israel, the occupying Power, which has caused extensive loss of civilian Palestinian life and injuries, including among children and women,

Deeply deploring the military actions being carried out by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Gaza Strip, which have caused loss of life and extensive destruction of Palestinian property and vital infrastructure,

Deeply deploring also the killing of many Palestinian civilians, including children and women, by Israel, the occupying Power, that took place in Beit Hanoun on 8 November 2006,

Deeply deploring further the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel,

Emphasizing the importance of the safety and well-being of all civilians and condemning all attacks against civilians on both sides, and stressing that the parties must respect their obligations, including by putting an end to violence,

1. Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to immediately cease its military operations that endanger the Palestinian civilian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and to immediately withdraw its forces from within the Gaza Strip to positions held prior to 28 June 2006;

2. Calls for the immediate cessation of military operations and all acts of violence, terror, provocation, incitement and destruction between the Israeli and Palestinian sides, including extrajudicial executions, bombardment against civilian areas, air raids and the firing of rockets, as was agreed in the Sharm el-Sheikh understandings of 8 February 2005;

3. Requests the Secretary-General to establish a fact-finding mission on the attack that took place in Beit Hanoun on 8 November 2006 and to report thereon to the General Assembly within thirty days;

4. Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to scrupulously abide by its obligations and responsibilities under the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949,1 in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem;

5. Calls upon the Palestinian Authority to take immediate and sustained action to bring an end to violence, including the firing of rockets on Israeli territory;

6. Emphasizes the need to preserve Palestinian institutions, infrastructure and properties;

7. Expresses grave concern about the dire humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people, and calls for the provision of emergency assistance to them;

8. Emphasizes the urgency of ensuring that medical and humanitarian organizations are granted unhindered access to the Palestinian civilian population at all times and of allowing the severely injured a speedy exit outside the Occupied Palestinian Territory for needed treatment, and emphasizes also the importance of the implementation of the Agreement of Movement and Access of November 2005;

9. Calls upon the Quartet, together with the international community, to take immediate steps to stabilize the situation and restart the peace process, including through the possible establishment of an international mechanism for the protection of civilian populations;

10. Calls upon the parties, with the support of the international community, to take immediate steps, including confidence-building measures, aimed at the early resumption of direct peace negotiations towards the conclusion of a final peaceful settlement;

11. Stresses the importance of and the need to achieve a just, comprehensive, and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on all relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002) and 1515 (2003), the Madrid terms of reference, the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative adopted by the League of Arab States at its fourteenth session, held in Beirut on 27 and 28 March 2002,2 and the road map;3

12. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly on the implementation of the present resolution in a timely manner;

13. Decides to adjourn the tenth emergency special session temporarily and to authorize the President of the General Assembly at its most recent session to resume its meeting upon request from Member States.

____________
1/ United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 75, No. 973.
2/ A/56/1026-S/2002/932, annex II, resolution 14/221.
3/ S/2003/529, annex.
XII. UNRWA COMMISSIONER- GENERAL LAUNCHES
BEIT HANOUN FLASH APPEAL

On 20 November 2006, UNRWA issued a report on the situation in Beit Hanoun and launched a flash appeal for immediate response. UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen Koning AbuZayd made the following appeal (BeitHanoun_FA_Nov06).

It is with a heavy heart that I present to you this flash appeal for Beit Hanoun. The optimistic predictions of late last year, following the disengagement of Israeli troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip, are already a distant memory. They only serve to provide a cruel contrast between the hopes, then, that 2006 would prove to be a better year for the Palestine refugees, and the harsh reality with which they have since been confronted.

The staggering decline of the economy and of the physical, humanitarian and social conditions in Gaza are, alas, not a recent phenomenon. The downturn started in 2000, when over a hundred thousand Palestinians lost their livelihoods because of the impossibility to work in Israel. It continued with major military operations in many of the cities of the Gaza Strip, and the large-scale destruction of houses, agricultural land and infrastructure. It worsened dramatically with the sanctions regime imposed upon the Palestinian Authority following the results of the Palestinian Legislative Council elections earlier this year, when both foreign economic aid and Palestinian public income were summarily withheld. And finally, it culminates today with the humanitarian disaster brought about by the Israeli military assault on the town of Beit Hanoun, leaving 82 Palestinians dead, including 39 women and children, 260 wounded and more wanton destruction. I fully recognize the right and responsibility of Israel to protect its citizens and its legitimate concern about the home-made rockets fired from Gaza, but for humanitarian agencies such as UNRWA it is becoming increasingly difficult to deal with the aftermath of such military operations without questioning their justification, their proportionality and their effects.

The tragic events in Beit Hanoun have provided the clearest proof yet that the vicious circle of violence must be brought to an end.

In Beit Hanoun, and in concert with other agencies, UNRWA stepped in immediately with a rapid response programme to ameliorate the situation of the beleaguered civilian population, providing water, food, medical assistance and temporary shelter. We now face the challenge of repairing damage to over 1,000 houses and shelters, meanwhile ensuring that the distressed homeless refugees have a roof over their heads.

UNRWA cannot undertake this additional task without your support. We are grateful for the encouragement we have received to launch this appeal and we sincerely hope that the international community will once again choose to demonstrate to a despairing and increasingly angry Palestine refugee population that the world continues to care.

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

On 21 November 2006, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari briefed the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestine question (for the full text, see S/PV.5568). Excerpts from the briefing are reproduced below.

There have been intense confrontations between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Palestinian militants, as the IDF’s rolling military operation in Gaza enters its sixth month. The operation is aimed at curbing the launching of rockets by Palestinian militants against Israeli civilian targets. The Council has already been briefed on the tragic events in Beit Hanoun, in which a week-long Israeli incursion included an artillery attack that killed more than 20 Palestinian civilians. In addition to the high number of human casualties, the IDF operation in Beit Hanoun resulted in an estimated $3.7 million in damage to local infrastructure, according to United Nations Development Programme figures.

In the West Bank and Gaza, a combined total of at least 128 Palestinians were killed and over 380 were injured during the past month, including at least 19 children. One Israeli soldier and one civilian were killed, and many injuries were reported.

Palestinian militants fired over 200 rockets and mortars this month into the western Negev region, including several that struck just as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, was visiting Sderot earlier today. The rockets have caused one death, multiple injuries and significant damage. Schools in the area have been closed intermittently since October. The town of Sderot, in particular, has borne the brunt of these indiscriminate attacks. Israel also expressed concern that weapons and explosives continue to be smuggled into Gaza, enabling militants to continue and possibly intensify their attacks against Israeli targets.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has continued negotiations on a national unity government with Hamas and other Palestinian factions, and there now appears to be an understanding in principle on the elements for the composition and programme of a new government.

Despite the reported progress, announcement of a full agreement on the government is not necessarily imminent. Negotiations encompass a number of outstanding issues, including the release of the Israeli soldier who remains captive in Gaza. The official nomination of the next Palestinian prime minister is expected to occur only if and when the entire agreement is concluded.

The Palestinian Authority’s unprecedented fiscal crisis looms in the background of these political negotiations.

The fiscal crisis has contributed to a serious decline in the delivery of public services. A large majority of public schools in the West Bank remain closed, and West Bank public health facilities offer only emergency treatment, chemotherapy and dialysis. Stocks of essential drugs and medical disposables throughout the occupied Palestinian territory have been depleted, and health centres in Gaza have been hampered by electricity shortages.

Prime Minister Olmert visited the United States of America this month and held talks with Administration officials in Washington on a number of issues, including, of course, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Regarding movement and access, I would like to observe that one year ago, on 15 November, the Agreement on Movement and Access was concluded. Implementation of that Agreement, intended to promote peaceful economic development and to improve the situation in the Gaza Strip, has been limited. Despite the stationing of European Union observers, the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt has been open for only 58 per cent of scheduled opening hours over the past year and for only 9 per cent of the scheduled time since June of this year. The Karni crossing has been open for only 44 per cent of scheduled opening hours, with opening hours changing on an almost daily basis.

No Palestinian worker has been allowed to cross at Erez to access jobs in Israel since March 2006, and no progress has been reported on bus or truck convoys between Gaza and the West Bank.

This month, the Israeli press reported that the Government of Israel and the Settlers Council had agreed on a plan to evacuate 15 illegal outposts, partially evacuate four and legalize eight.

Israel also continued construction on the barrier. The Secretary-General’s report (A/ES-10/361) on the establishment of a register of damage related to Israel’s construction of the wall was submitted to the General Assembly on 17 October. The report presents the institutional framework required for the register of damage, the establishment of which was requested by the General Assembly.

We have seen another month of violence in the Middle East, one that, for the tragedy at Beit Hanoun, will almost certainly be remembered as a dark hour in this very protracted and tragic conflict.

The events of this month highlight once again the fact that this conflict cannot be resolved through military means.

It is of critical importance to return to the political track.
At this moment, however, it is difficult to see a breakthrough without the establishment of a new Palestinian government.

Movement in the right direction should be encouraged by the international community and rewarded when it occurs. The United Nations, therefore, continues to encourage the efforts of President Abbas to establish a Palestinian government whose political programme reflects the basic tenets of the peace process, as the Quartet agreed on 20 September. Formation of such a government would also help lift the restrictions on donor funding to its institutions, which is crucial, given the gravity of the Palestinian Authority’s fiscal crisis.

Israel, for its part, must also act responsibly to calm the situation and bring about conditions in which negotiations can resume.

We hope that, with the assistance of the international community, Israeli, Palestinian and other regional leaders will be able to achieve such progress before the end of this year. Certainly, the people of the region deserve no less.

XIV. OCHA LAUNCHES 2007 CONSOLIDATED APPEAL FOR THE
OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY

On 23 November 2006, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs launched, under the consolidated appeals process, the 2007 appeal for the occupied Palestinian territory. The executive summary of the appeal is reproduced below.

1. Executive Summary Since the beginning of 2006, political, economic and social conditions have sharply deteriorated for Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory. A political impasse has taken hold, characterized by economic and military pressure by Israel, including the withholding of Palestinian customs revenues, increasing divisions within the Palestinian Authority, and the diversion of direct international assistance away from key Palestinian Authority institutions.

Ordinary Palestinians have been the main victims of this crisis. Poverty rates stand at 65.8 per cent and continue to rise; food insecurity has risen by 13 per cent during 2006. Restrictions on the movement of Palestinian goods, workers, businessmen, officials and public service providers have intensified dramatically. A wave of public sector strikes, which swept across the occupied Palestinian territory in September 2006, has severely debilitated the delivery of public services, leading to the closure of public schools and hospital wards in the West Bank.

In Gaza, residents live in a war environment with almost daily Israeli military strikes from land, air and sea, which is further exacerbated by the firing of Palestinian rockets into Israel. Between 25 June and 12 October 2006, 261 Gazans died in this violence, 60 of them children - over 10 times more than during the same period in 2005 (23). During the same period, two Israelis were killed and 15 injured by home-made rockets fired out of the Gaza Strip.

The Gazan population is undergoing a virtual “siege” by historical standards. Normal market mechanisms have faltered and aid dependency has risen. Palestinian goods have consistently been impossible to move out of the Strip; businesses have closed and have moved elsewhere. Exports are a tiny fraction of what the Agreement on Movement and Access foresaw in November last year. Failing public security structures have given way to a dangerous fragmentation of armed factions and private militias. These have clashed with increasing frequency, killing 64 people, and have resorted, according to United Nations field observations, to the increasing use of “traditional justice” within Gaza communities.

The number of checkpoints and roadblocks in the West Bank has increased by 40 per cent in 2006. The West Bank is being divided into increasingly small pockets, with checkpoints diverting Palestinians off the main roads that are reserved for Israelis to reach their settlements. Jerusalem, the cultural and economic heart of Palestinian life, is open only for those who hold the correct permit, which excludes the vast majority of Palestinians. And the Jordan Valley is now off-limits to all but a few Palestinians living there or working in Israeli settlements. In addition, over half of the 703 km-long barrier route has been constructed, despite the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, which declared the route to be in contravention of international law.

The international community has made genuine efforts to spare ordinary Palestinians the worst effects of the crisis by supporting the temporary international mechanism and by pledging increased humanitarian assistance at the Geneva and Stockholm conferences. Nonetheless, for most residents of the occupied Palestinian territory, the situation at the end of 2006 was worse than in 2005 and holds little reason for hope in 2007. As explained in this document, the United Nations country team predicts that the current impasse will endure well into 2007. In this context, reliance on United Nations emergency programmes is expected to rise. The consolidated appeal for 2007, set at $453.6 million, focuses attention on the four main areas that are considered critical in sustaining livelihoods and preventing further decline:

(a) Employment generation and food assistance will be enhanced to address the abrupt increases of poverty and food insecurity registered during the year;

(b) Targeted action will be undertaken in the areas of health and education in order to ease, temporarily, the effects of weakening public delivery systems;

(c) New efforts will be made in the areas of agriculture, livestock, water and sanitation in order to strengthen the sustainability of livelihoods among communities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip;

(d) Monitoring systems will be enhanced in order to better assess humanitarian protection needs. This will help to better inform donor decision-making and better calibrate United Nations and other international humanitarian responses. The programmes in the 2007 appeal take fully into account efforts already under way to ease the increasing burden of the crisis on individual Palestinian families. In tandem with the temporary international mechanism, which focuses investments primarily on low-income workers and non-salary support for public services, the United Nations will focus its employment and food assistance programmes on the unemployed and on vulnerable households in need of steady, predictable food assistance that will support domestic coping strategies. Likewise, programmes will focus on areas, such as agriculture, that are not sufficiently covered by ongoing initiatives. It is hoped that during the course of 2007 these measures will be buttressed by concrete progress on the implementation of the Agreement on Movement and Access, particularly as it concerns commercial transit via Karni and Rafah and the easing of movement within the West Bank.

The scope of the consolidated appeal for 2007 reflects the increased pressures borne by the Palestinian economy and society as a result of the renewed crisis and deepening uncertainties about the immediate future. By itself, the appeal will not resolve the structural aspects of the unfolding crisis. Nor will it replace a Palestinian Authority that cannot deliver services, salaries and internal security. The solution lies beyond the appeal. But through this appeal, United Nations agencies and programmes will work to alleviate the impact on Palestinians, to help retain human dignity and to mitigate further deterioration into full-scale poverty, institutional collapse and instability.

XV. UNRWA ISSUES REPORT ON PROLONGED CRISIS IN THE
OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY: RECENT
SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACTS

UNRWA issued on 24 November a report entitled “Prolonged crisis: recent socio-economic impacts”. The main findings of the report are reproduced below.

Main findings

1. Economic growth

The occupied Palestinian territory real gross domestic product (GDP), a measure of general output and productivity, declined by about 9 per cent in the first half of 2006 (implying a per capita GDP decline of more than 10 per cent). This six-monthly downturn is of the same order of magnitude as the decline in GDP between 2000 and 2005. This is especially worrisome as early third quarter indicators indicate that the downward trend is deepening.

The sharp decline was largely driven by the Government of Israel impounding Palestinian Authority value added tax and customs revenues. However, on the face of it, the data suggests that the pace of economic activity at the macroeconomic level had not appreciably changed by mid-2006, some three months after the imposition of the boycott of the Palestinian Authority. By discounting such revenues from the analysis, there was underlying cumulative GDP growth of 1.6 per cent in first half of the 2006, where the private sector’s share of GDP (about 75 per cent) declined by 0.16 per cent while that of the public sector (about 25 per cent of GDP) grew 4.4 per cent in real terms.

Thus, underlying growth in real economic activity in the first half of 2006 was mainly attributable to expansion in public sector hiring and the effects of the wage hikes for public sector workers instituted in the second half of 2005. In the national income accounts, public employee wages are calculated on an accrual basis, i.e. under the assumption that wages have been paid to employees and that public services of equivalent value have been produced. Thus, expanded public employment and higher wages translate into higher estimates of public sector GDP, even though some 165,000 public sector employees went unpaid for much of this period. As the bulk of Palestinian Authority employees remained on the job throughout the first half of 2006, despite the non-payment of wages, the GDP accounts largely capture the value of the services they provided.

But the national income accounts overestimate the public sector contribution to GDP growth because some on the Palestinian Authority payroll do not in fact produce services or produce services with a value below what they are paid. Thus the apparent growth in the public sector’s contribution to GDP in the first half of 2006 must be discounted. Moreover, public sector employment as a motor force for economic growth must be assessed in the light of the fiscally unsustainable nature of public sector expansion.

Of greater consequence is the underlying weakness of the private sector indicated by the most recent GDP data. This trend is particularly problematic as the private sector is the source for most sustainable job and income generation in the occupied Palestinian territory. Of critical concern is the steep drop in manufacturing GDP over the past year, a trend that bodes ill for future private sector employment creation and overall economic growth in a country with a young and rapidly growing labour force. The importance of strengthening the domestic private sector is underscored by declining job opportunities in Israel and the fiscally unsustainable character of public sector employment.

2. Labour market

Employment in the occupied Palestinian territory grew more rapidly than the labour force in the first half of 2006, there were 30,000 more people employed in the second quarter of 2006 relative to the fourth quarter of 2005, a growth rate of 4.8 per cent. This resulted in a slight decline in the broad unemployment rate, from 29.4 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2005 to about 28.6 per cent in the second quarter of 2006. Seasonal agriculture and the public sector accounted for the bulk of employment gains in the first half of 2006, while manufacturing and construction shed jobs. On an accrual basis, average monthly wages grew about 2 per cent in real terms for all workers in the first half of 2006, largely driven by employment growth in the relatively high-wage (but unpaid) public sector and the decline in employment in relatively low-wage manufacturing.

In real terms, the fiscal crisis of the Palestinian Authority resulted in severe income losses for about one fourth of the work force and their dependents, about 25 per cent of the occupied Palestinian territory population. The estimated shortfall in income to public employee households in the first half of 2006 is about $330 million. In addition, reduced Palestinian Authority expenditures on social welfare and purchases from private sector vendors resulted in a further $180 million decline in household incomes. Thus, excluding the knock-on or multiplier effects, the crisis has directly reduced the public sector’s contribution to household income and business sales by more than $500 million in the first half of 2006, equal to more than one tenth of GDP for the period. The loss of income has had a more severe impact on the Gaza Strip, where almost 41 per cent of employment was in the public sector, compared with 18.5 per cent in the West Bank, with measurable effects on the number of persons living in poverty.

3. Household living levels, poverty and humanitarian assistance

Estimates of poverty in the occupied Palestinian territory are based on levels of household and per capita consumption as ascertained by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics household surveys. Deep consumption poverty is defined as inability to meet basic human consumption needs. Since 2000, about two thirds of all poor persons in the occupied Palestinian territory had consumption levels below the deep consumption poverty line. In 2005, the last full year of the household surveys, there were an average of 820,000 deep poor Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory.

In that same year, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics estimated that average monthly consumption of deep poor individuals (including consumption supported by external assistance) was about $50, about $1.66 per day. The individual monthly deep poverty line, a level of consumption reflective of basic needs, was estimated for 2005 at $64, about $2.10 per day. Therefore, the monthly per capita deep poverty gap in 2005 was estimated at about $14, about $0.50 per person per day. With an average of 820,000 deep poor individuals, the estimated monthly total deep poverty gap is estimated at approximately $11.9 million - the monthly amount of additional resources that, if perfectly targeted, would have raised the consumption levels of deep poor Palestinians to basic needs sufficiency. On an annual basis, the required additional resources would have been $142.8 million.

The Palestinian Authority fiscal crisis resulted in an estimated decline of more than $500 million in occupied Palestinian territory household income in the first half of 2006. As a result, real per capita consumption levels (including external assistance) declined by about 12 per cent, with food consumption down by 8 per cent and non-food consumption down 13 per cent relative to the second half of 2005. This increased the number of deep poor from an average of 650,800 in the second half of 2005 to an average of 1,069,200 in the first half of 2006, a 64.3 per cent increase. The individual deep poverty rate climbed from 17.3 to 27.5 per cent between these two periods.

Disaggregated household consump-tion data by region is not yet available, but the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics has produced deep income poverty estimates for the first half of 2006 which indicate that an average of 40.2 per cent of occupied Palestinian territory households were under the deep income poverty line in 2005, rising to 55.6 per cent in the second quarter of 2006, a 38.3 per cent relative growth rate. At the same time, deep income poverty in Gaza increased from 51.6 per cent to 79.8 per cent, 54.6 per cent in relative terms. The disproportionate concentrations of refugees and Palestinian Authority employees in Gaza - two groups especially vulnerable to the Palestinian Authority fiscal crisis and donor boycott - explains the much more rapid rise in deep income poverty estimates there.

In a large Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics field survey in March/May 2006, 29.4 per cent of households - 181,450 in all - reported one or more members in receipt of humanitarian assistance with a far larger portion of Gaza households (56.9 per cent) and a far lower proportion (15.3 per cent) in the West Bank. Of recipient households, 45.6 per cent reported UNRWA as the main source of humanitarian assistance, far above all other sources. In Gaza, 61.7 per cent of recipient households cited UNRWA as the main source, compared with 17.1 per cent of West Bank recipient households (reflective of the proportional representation of refugees in the two territories and the disproportional representation of refugees among the poor). As sources of assistance, UNRWA was followed by the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Social Affairs, relatives and international organizations, in that order, but these sources were generally more important for West Bank households.
The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics has estimated the effects of humanitarian assistance in reducing consumption poverty in 2004 and 2005. In 2004, humanitarian assistance reduced the total deep consumption poor count by 13.5 per cent while in 2005 such assistance was responsible for reducing the number of deep poor by 20.6 per cent. Despite increased levels of assistance in 2005, the total number of deep consumption poor persons in the occupied Palestinian territory increased by an estimated 82,000.

4. Socio-economic impacts on refugees

The impact of the current phase of the economic crisis has hit refugees in the occupied Palestinian territory harder than the population at large with respect to employment and poverty. Refugees are less likely to find work than non-refugees, they are more dependent on public sector employment than non-refugees, they are more likely to be unemployed than non-refugees and they account for a higher ratio of those living in deep poverty.

a. Labour market

Refugees experienced job growth of 2.7 per cent in the first half of 2006, compared to non-refugee employment growth of 6.2 per cent. The broad refugee unemployment rate in the second quarter of 2006 stood at 32.7 per cent relative to 28.5 per cent for non-refugees. Of 265,000 unemployed persons in the second quarter of 2006, refugees accounted for 118,250 or 44.6 per cent.

In the past year, the public sector accounted for two thirds of net refugee employment growth and commerce accounted for the remainder. Non-refugee employment growth was also dominated by the public sector and commerce, and both groups experienced net losses in construction and manufacturing employment as these sectors shrank. In the first half of 2006, refugee job gains were mainly confined to seasonal agriculture, with modest growth in manufacturing and transport and losses in construction and private services. Non-refugee employment gains were more robust and more diffuse with growth in public and private sector services and construction. Different outcomes in the labour market for refugees are conditioned by the changes in the Gaza economy where refugees are concentrated and account for the vast bulk of the employed labour force.

In the first half of 2006, average monthly wages grew about 2 per cent in real terms for all workers while for refugees they grew by 2.7 per cent. For refugees and non-refugees alike the growth in real monthly wages was driven by growth in relatively high-wage public sector employment (on an accrual basis only) and reductions in relatively low-wage employment in manufacturing.

The shortfall in income to public employee households in the first half of 2006 caused by the Palestinian Authority fiscal crisis was felt disproportionately by refugees. While 20 per cent of employed non-refugees worked for the Palestinian Authority, 31.7 per cent of refugees were so employed. Thus, refugees were 50 per cent more vulnerable to the effects of the non-payment of Palestinian Authority salaries relative to non-refugees.

b. Household living levels, poverty and humanitarian assistance

When the larger size of refugee households are considered, per capita refugee consumption levels during the Intifada years were about 7.5 per cent below that of non-refugees, with even larger refugee consumption deficits in protein-rich foods and in health and education services.

This discrepancy resulted in disproportionately high consumption poverty among refugees. While refugees were about 42 per cent of the occupied Palestinian territory population during the Intifada years, they accounted for about 50 per cent of the deep poor. Humanitarian assistance and relative improvements in economic conditions were responsible for reducing the numbers of deep poor refugees from about 424,750 in 2001 to about 326,350 in 2004. However, in 2005, despite continued improvements in general economic conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory and sustained humanitarian assistance, the number of deep poor refugees rose to an estimated 406,000.

The post-assistance monthly deep consumption poverty gap for refugees in 2005 was estimated at $15 per person, about $1 more than for non-refugees. Thus the monthly additional resources required to eliminate deep poverty among refugees was estimated at $6.09 million, or about $73.1 million in perfectly targeted assistance on an annual basis.

While disaggregated household consumption data for refugees for the first half of 2006 is not yet available, indirect evidence suggests greater refugee hardship. Firstly, the disproportionately high number of refugees employed in the public sector suggests the Palestinian Authority fiscal crisis has had a greater negative impact on this population segment. Secondly, evidence from Gaza - where refugees are concentrated and where estimated deep income poverty increased by 54.6 per cent in relative terms - suggests disproportionate poverty impacts on refugees. Thirdly, the much higher ratio of households reporting receipt of humanitarian assistance in Gaza in the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics field survey of March-May 2006 (56.9 per cent versus 15.3 per cent in the West Bank) provides further indirect evidence of differential impacts on refugees. Finally, of Gaza households reporting receipt of humanitarian assistance in the first half of 2006, 61.7 per cent cited UNRWA as the source (compared to 17.1 per cent of recipient households in the West Bank).

This suggests disproportional representation of refugees among the poor. Humanitarian assistance was more effective in reducing deep consumption poverty among refugees in the occupied Palestinian territory, relative to non-refugees, in both 2004 and 2005. In 2004, humanitarian assistance reduced the total deep poor count of non-refugees by 10.6 per cent versus 16.8 per cent among refugees. In 2005, assistance reduced the number of deep poor non-refugees by 16.8 per cent versus 24.1 per cent for refugees. On the face of it, humanitarian assistance was 50 per cent more effective in alleviating deep consumption poverty among refugees as compared to non-refugees. However, despite increased levels of assistance in 2005, the total number of deep poor persons in the occupied Palestinian territory increased by an estimated 82,000 persons, nearly all of them refugees, suggesting worsened conditions in Gaza where refugees are concentrated.

Research suggests that assistance to refugees is better targeted and, therefore, less likely to “leak” to the non-poor. Such “leakage” was found to be the least among residents of refugee camps, the localities with the highest poverty rates in the occupied Palestinian territory. While less than half of the refugees in the occupied Palestinian territory reside in refugee camps, better poverty reduction results for refugees in general is directly attributable to the relatively well-developed physical and institutional capacity of UNRWA vis-à-vis its refugee constituency, as well as the resources provided to UNRWA by donors.
XVI. SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES GAZA CEASEFIRE

The following statement was issued on 27 November 2006 by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan (SG/SM/10758).

The Secretary-General welcomes the reported agreement between President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to establish a mutual ceasefire in Gaza. He is, however, deeply concerned that Palestinian militants continue to fire rockets against civilian targets inside Israel. Such attacks underscore the destructive power that militants have to derail the crucial efforts under way to de-escalate tensions. The Secretary-General calls upon both parties to adhere strictly to their commitment, and avoid hasty action which could jeopardize progress towards a sustained period of calm. He also encourages them to endeavour to extend the ceasefire to the West Bank.

XVII. HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS RESOLUTION ON ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS

At its second session, the Human Rights Council adopted resolution 2/4 of 27 November 2006, entitled “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan”. The text of the resolution and record of the vote are reproduced below.

The Human Rights Council,

Guided by the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and affirming the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force,

Reaffirming that all States have an obligation to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, as stated in the Charter of the United Nations and as elaborated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Human Rights and other applicable instruments,

Recalling relevant resolutions of the Commission on Human Rights, the Security Council and the General Assembly, most recently General Assembly resolution 60/106 of 18 January 2006 in which it reaffirmed, inter alia, the illegality of the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories,

Mindful that Israel is a party to the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, which is applicable de jure to Palestinian and all Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan, and recalling the declaration adopted by the Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, held in Geneva on 5 December 2001,

Considering that the transfer by the occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies constitutes a breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and relevant provisions of customary law, including those codified in Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949,

Recalling the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and its conclusion that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of international law,

Recalling also General Assembly resolution ES-10/15 of 20 July 2004,

Recalling further its attachment to the implementation by both parties of their obligations under the Quartet road map to a permanent two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (S/2003/529, annex), and noting specifically its call for a freeze on all settlement activity,

Expressing its grave concern about the continuation by Israel, the occupying Power, of settlement building and expansion in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant United Nations resolutions, including plans to expand and connect Israeli settlements around Occupied East Jerusalem, thus threatening the creation of a contiguous Palestinian State,

Expressing its concern that continuing Israeli settlement activity undermines the realization of a two-State solution,

Noting the dismantlement of settlements in the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank,

Expressing grave concern about the continuing construction, contrary to international law, by Israel of the wall inside the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, and expressing its concern in particular about the route of the wall in departure from the Armistice Line of 1949, which could prejudge future negotiations and make the two-State solution physically impossible to implement and which is causing the Palestinian people further humanitarian hardship,

Deeply concerned that the wall’s route has been traced in such a way as to include the great majority of the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,

Expressing its concern at the failure of the Government of Israel to cooperate fully with the relevant United Nations mechanisms, in particular the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967,

1. Welcomes the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 (E/CN.4/2006/29 and A/HRC/2/5) and calls upon the Government of Israel to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur to allow him fully to discharge his mandate;

2. Expresses its grave concern at:

(a) The continuing Israeli settlement and related activities, in violation of international law, including the expansion of settlements, the expropriation of land, the demolition of houses, the confiscation and destruction of property, the expulsion of Palestinians and the construction of bypass roads, which change the physical character and demographic composition of the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan, and constitute a violation of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, and in particular article 49 of that Convention; settlements are a major obstacle to the establishment of a just and comprehensive peace and to the creation of an independent, viable, sovereign and democratic Palestinian State;

(b) The Israeli so-called E1 plan aimed at expanding the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim and building the wall around it, thereby further disconnecting occupied East Jerusalem from the northern and southern parts of the West Bank and isolating its Palestinian population;

(c) The new Israeli plans to construct more than 900 additional housing units in different Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank;

(d) The implications on the final status negotiations of Israel’s recent announcement that it will retain the major settlement blocs in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including settlements located in the Jordan Valley;

(e) The expansion of Israeli settlements and the construction of new ones on the occupied Palestinian territory rendered inaccessible behind the wall, which create a fait accompli on the ground that could well be permanent, in which case, it would be tantamount to de facto annexation;1

(f) The Israeli decision to establish and operate a tramway between West Jerusalem and the Israeli settlement of Pisgat Zeev in violation of international law and relevant United Nations resolutions;

(g) The continued closures of and within the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the restriction of the freedom of movement of people and goods, including the repeated closure of the crossing points of the Gaza Strip, which have caused an extremely precarious humanitarian situation
for the civilian population as well as impaired the economic and social rights of the Palestinian people;

______________
1/ See International Court of Justice, Advisory Opinion in the case concerning the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, para. 121.


(h) The continued construction, contrary to international law, of the wall inside the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem;

3. Urges Israel, the occupying Power:

(a) To reverse the settlement policy in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan, and, as a first step towards their dismantlement, to stop immediately the expansion of the existing settlements, including “natural growth” and related activities;

(b) To prevent any new installation of settlers in the occupied territories;

4. Urges the full implementation of the Access and Movement Agreement of 15 November 2005, particularly the urgent reopening of Rafah and Karni crossings, which is crucial to ensuring the passage of foodstuffs and essential supplies, as well as the access of the United Nations agencies to and within the Occupied Palestinian Territory;

5. Demands that Israel implement the recommendations regarding the settlements made by the then United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in her report to the Commission on Human Rights at its fifty-seventh session on her visit to the occupied Palestinian territories, Israel, Egypt and Jordan (E/CN.4/2001/114);

6. Calls upon Israel to take and implement serious measures, including confiscation of arms and enforcement of criminal sanctions, with the aim of preventing acts of violence by Israeli settlers, and other measures to guarantee the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilians and Palestinian properties in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem;

7. Demands that Israel, the occupying Power, comply fully with its legal obligations, as mentioned in the Advisory Opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice;

8. Welcomes the Palestinian truce initiative and its acceptance by the Israeli side that came into effect on 26 November 2006 and urges all parties to maintain this truce, which could pave the way for genuine negotiations towards a just resolution to the conflict;

9. Urges the parties to give renewed impetus to the peace process and to implement fully the road map endorsed by the Security Council in resolution 1515 (2003) of 19 November 2003, with the aim of reaching a comprehensive political settlement in accordance with the resolutions of the Security Council, including resolutions 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967 and 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973, and other relevant United Nations resolutions, the principles of the Peace Conference on the Middle East, held in Madrid on 30 October 1991, the Oslo Accords and subsequent agreements, which will allow two States, Israel and Palestine, to live in peace and security;

10. Decides to continue the consideration of this question at its fourth session.
Adopted by a recorded vote of 45 to 1,
with 1 abstention.
XVIII. SECRETARY-GENERAL DELIVERS STATEMENT ON THE
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE
PALESTINIAN PEOPLE

The text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s statement on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on 29 November 2006 (SG/SM/10768-GA/PAL/1023), is reproduced below.

A peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains heart-rendingly elusive. Successive opportunities to move the peace process forward have not borne fruit.

In the past few days, with the announcement of a ceasefire in Gaza, we have had a glimmer of hope that the latest round of hostilities might give way to a period of calm. I call on both sides to adhere to this commitment, and to avoid any actions that could jeopardize further progress. I also encourage them to extend the ceasefire to the West Bank.

Indeed, an end to violence is absolutely essential. The most recent military operations in the Gaza Strip resulted in a dramatic rise in civilian casualties and in the destruction of property and infrastructure. It remains crucial for Israel to exercise maximum restraint, and to uphold its responsibility to protect Palestinian civilians under international law.

Israelis, too, live in insecurity. They have rightly demanded that the Palestinian Authority take credible action to prevent attacks against them and their territory. The constant rocket attacks by Palestinian militants against Israeli civilian targets are unacceptable and should be stopped at once.

The Palestinian Authority itself faces a debilitating political and financial crisis. Palestinian institutions, hospitals and schools are in an alarmingly precarious state, exacerbating the acute suffering already being endured by the Palestinian people. Indeed, the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the West Bank and Gaza demands immediate attention, and I hope the donor community will continue to be generous.

The bloodshed of the past several months has been all the more tragic because we know that clear majorities of both Palestinians and Israelis want a negotiated, two-State solution - one that would end the occupation that began in 1967, establish an independent State of Palestine and ensure security for Israel. I also believe that the leaders of each side - President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert - are genuinely committed to lifting their peoples out of decades of pain and uncertainty.

The parties themselves continue to bear the primary responsibility for finding their way out of their predicament, by engaging in a viable political process that can lead to the peace their peoples both yearn for. No one can make peace for them, impose peace on them, or want peace more than they do. At the same time, the international community has also played an important part in this conflict from its very beginnings, and cannot escape its own responsibility to contribute to a solution.

The United Nations has always been in the forefront of that international role, deeply engaged in seeking peace and in efforts to relieve the suffering. We should not forget that this Day commemorates the General Assembly’s first proposal for a two-State solution in 1947. Today, Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002) and 1515 (2003) remain the accepted guideposts for a just and lasting solution. Our peacekeeping operations have helped create space for diplomacy. The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process continues to work very closely with the parties and with representatives of the international community in the region. And our humanitarian and development agencies continue to provide a lifeline to millions of Palestinians in need. I commend the work being done by the men and women of those agencies, who are carrying out their mandates under increasingly dangerous conditions.

On this International Day, let us commit ourselves to breathing new life into the peace process so that the goals of statehood for Palestinians and security for the State of Israel, can be realized before this tragedy takes too many more lives.
XIX. GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONSIDERS THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE

The General Assembly considered item 14, entitled “Question of Palestine”, at its 60th and 61st plenary meetings, on 29 and 30 November 2006 (see A/61/PV.60 and 61). Submitted under the agenda item were the report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (A/61/35) and the report of the Secretary-General (A/61/355). The Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People introduced four draft resolutions A/61/L.31-L.34 at the 60th plenary meeting, on 29 November 2006. An excerpt from the Committee’s report containing its conclusions and recommendations is reproduced below.

Chapter VII

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee

78. The year was marked by a steady deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. The Committee expressed particular concern at the Israeli incursions into Gaza during the recent months and its destructive effects on the Palestinian people and on their hopes for peace. 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 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 the parties to protect civilians during hostilities. The Convention’s applicability to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, has been repeatedly confirmed by the General Assembly and the Security Council. Israel must end its incursions into Gaza, cease offensive military operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, withdraw its forces to their original positions outside Gaza, and 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 those activities by Palestinian armed groups. The Committee is strongly opposed to the expansion of settlements in the West Bank and efforts to complete the construction of the wall on Palestinian land. It is particularly alarmed by the intention of the Israeli Government to expand large settlement blocks in the West Bank, which would separate East Jerusalem from the West Bank and the southern West Bank from its northern part. The Committee reiterates its position of principle that the settlements and the wall constructed by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, 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. It reminds the Secretary-General of the urgency of establishing the register of damage caused by the construction of the wall.

79. The Committee welcomes the signing of the National Conciliation Document by the major Palestinian political organizations, the decision to form a national unity Government, and the designation of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as the person in charge of negotiations with Israel. These have been encouraging developments and should be supported by Israel and the international community. At the same time, the international community should focus on practical and meaningful benchmarks to engage all parties to achieve a mutual ceasefire and support major international peace efforts, including the Arab Peace Initiative and the road map. 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. The Committee hopes that the Security Council, the Quartet and the other actors of the international community will continue to work towards the achievement of this goal.

80. The Committee feels strongly 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, as well as international support for the rights of the Palestinian people and the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine. In that 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. In that regard, the Committee 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.

81. The Committee considers that its programme of international meetings and conferences contributes to focusing the attention of Governments, inter-governmental and civil society organizations and the general public on issues crucial for advancing a peaceful settlement of the conflict. The meetings highlight the most pressing concerns, such as the need to end violence, stop settlement activities and improve the living conditions of the Palestinian population. They contribute to raising international awareness of the root cause of the conflict, namely the occupation by Israel of the Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. They also mobilize international support for efforts to resolve the conflict, including through the convening of an international peace conference. It will continue the programme to foster support for the attainment by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights in accordance with international legitimacy. In its meetings programme for 2007, the Committee intends to address such issues as the detrimental effects of unilateral steps by the occupying Power; 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 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 the role of civil society.
82. 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 notes the support it receives from the Secretariat in strengthening its cooperation with civil society. The Committee encourages civil society organizations to broaden their base 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.

83. 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.

84. 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 programme’s continuation, with the necessary flexibility, as warranted by developments relevant to the question of Palestine.

85. 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 invites the General Assembly again to recognize the importance of its role and to reconfirm its mandate with overwhelming support.

XX. UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
BRIEFS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ON HER TRIP
TO THE MIDDLE EAST
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, delivered a statement on 29 November at the opening of the third session of the Human Rights Council. The statement included Ms. Arbour’s briefing on her trip to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory from 18 to 23 November 2006. Excerpts from the statement are reproduced below.

“I am very pleased to offer you today an overview of the missions that I have undertaken since the second session of the Human Rights Council, as well as updates and thoughts on countries and themes that continue to engage our attention and our work.

You are aware of my missions to Haiti and to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. In the past two months, I have also had the opportunity to go to Germany and to Canada where, despite the short time frame of my visits, I held very productive talks and raised issues of both local and multilateral concern, such as discrimination and the need to uphold human rights in the context of international migration and counter-terrorism.

During the period since you last met in regular session, I have also visited my field offices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. In conjunction with this, I was happy to accept the invitation of the Government of Israel to visit that country.

In a four-day mission, I traveled to Gaza, including to Beit Hanoun, and to Ramallah, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Sderot. I met with a wide range of Palestinian and Israeli officials, civil society actors and victims, as well as with the United Nations representatives operating in the region.

My visit occurred against a backdrop of increasing violence, tragically typified by the killing of at least 18 Palestinian civilians by Israeli artillery in Beit Hanoun earlier this month, as well as the regular firing of Qassam rockets into Israel, which, during my visit to Sderot, killed one civilian.

The human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory is grave and worsening, within a general climate of impunity. Throughout my visit, I promoted the need for accountability for violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

In my meeting with President Abbas I stressed the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority to employ every means of law enforcement - and to be seen to do so - to ensure that the firing of Qassam missiles, a breach of international humanitarian law, ceases and that those who launch them are held accountable. Every effort must be made to enable the Palestinian Authority to discharge that responsibility.

At the same time, I stressed that as long as the rockets continue to hit its territory, Israel has the right and indeed the duty to defend its population and to ensure the protection of its citizens and of all those who are within its jurisdiction, control or power. However, this must be done in accordance with international human rights and humanitarian law.

I urged the Israeli authorities to ensure transparent, credible and independent investigations to provide for accountability and effective redress in situations where lethal force has been employed, such as the Beit Hanoun killings. This would be central to breaking the culture of impunity and contribute to solidifying the rule of law.

Today, through the barrier and the system of checkpoints, roadblocks and earth mounds, Palestinians find their right to freedom of movement seriously curtailed -
within the West Bank in particular, but also between the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinian access to Jerusalem is also heavily restricted. Freedom of movement is not only a human right in its own terms, but obstructions to movement have had a severe impact on Palestinians’ enjoyment of a wide variety of other rights - such as the right to health, to education, to an adequate standard of living, to work and to family life.

Civilians are also gravely affected by the fiscal crisis caused by policies imposed by Israel and the international community on the Palestinian Authority. This has exacerbated the already pervasive conditions of deprivation that Palestinians endure, with virtually every right being affected, adding to the climate of fear and humiliation widely experienced by the Palestinian population.

Overall, I was struck throughout my visit by the sense of vulnerability and abandonment that was expressed to me by virtually all the civilians that I met, both in Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territory.

In my comments to the press at the conclusion of my mission, I noted that I had unfortunately not had the time to focus on the full range of rights at issue in the region. I highlighted, in this regard, the question of all those imprisoned, captured or otherwise detained as a result of the crisis and I called for their rights, including access to them, to be respected in full. I repeat that call here today.

The ceasefire agreed upon last week is a first, indispensable step towards reducing harm to civilians. But addressing and resolving the human rights crisis in the region cannot be held hostage to either stopgap measures that may be revoked, or to a resolution of the political crisis that may prove still some way off. The human rights of Israelis and Palestinians cannot be the subject of negotiation or compromise. Those in power must fulfil their obligations in accordance with international human rights and humanitarian law now so as to ensure that all throughout the region can enjoy their human rights. To do so is required by law and should be implemented by all those who profess to be sincerely committed to achieving a lasting peace.

XXI. WORLD BANK ISSUES REPORT ENTITLED “COPING WITH CRISIS:
PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY INSTITUTIONAL
PERFORMANCE”

On 30 November 2006, the World Bank published a report entitled “Coping with crisis: Palestinian Authority institutional performance”. The executive summary of the report is reproduced below.

Executive summary

Until recently, the Palestinian Authority has done an impressive job maintaining the basic institutions of government and coping with the bleak fiscal picture it has faced since March 2006. Palestinian Authority ministries and departments have largely been able to continue to operate (albeit at reduced levels) and core services were provided in areas such as education, health and social services. However, there are strong indications that the Palestinian Authority is currently experiencing severe difficulties in sustaining government operations in terms of both routine administrative tasks and service provision. As of the end of September, work has ground to a halt in many ministries and agencies. As the fiscal and administrative crisis has intensified, the risk has increased that significant long-term damage will be done to Palestinian Authority governing structures. Specifically:

• The Palestinian Authority is facing an unprecedented fiscal crisis, with a 61 per cent fall in gross revenues. Existing donor support through the Arab League and the emergency services support programme and temporary international mechanism are able to address only the most urgent needs.

• Financial transfers to cover the operating costs of line ministries and departments have dropped drastically and for most the last transfer they received was to cover their February expenses. Arrears have accumulated, and some service providers are responding by refusing to pay the valued added tax they owe to the Government.

• Public sector salaries have largely gone unpaid since March. Several partial salary payments were made by the Palestinian Authority and the Arab League through the Office of the President, amounting to about 28 per cent of total salaries owed since March 2006. Wage arrears owed to Palestinian Authority employees from March to October inclusive exceed $572 million.

• The vast majority of Palestinian Authority employees and their families are enduring considerable financial hardship that is impacting their ability to pay basic expenses, such as rent and electricity bills. The European Commission has been financing social allowances of health workers, pensioners, low-income public sector employees and social hardship cases in order alleviate the socio-economic crisis brought about by the current situation. These allowances are categorically not considered as salary payments by Palestinian Authority employees.

• In spite of the fiscal crisis and imprisonment of ministers and parliament members, the basic functions of cabinet and the Palestinian Legislative Council have continued. But much of this business has been routine and few significant policy decisions or reforms have been adopted during this time. Although there is variation between ministries, the transition between the incoming Hamas ministers and the largely Fatah dominated bureaucracy has in some cases been problematic.

• External finance is being directed through the Office of the President, and thereby carries a risk (recognized by most donors) of creating parallel structures and undermining existing government institutions. This is particularly true with regard to the single treasury account, which was the major achievement of earlier reform efforts to consolidate and manage financial inflows in a transparent manner but is now no longer functioning. There has been adequate coordination in managing financial inflows between the Office of the President and its technical counterparts within Government, although not without delays. Other financial procedures, such as auditing, have been maintained. Financial reporting continues, although with less regularity.

• Until August, ministries were operating with around 70 per cent of their staff in attendance, although absenteeism rates were higher in the West Bank than Gaza. On 2 September, a crippling public sector strike broke out across all sectors. No official data is available on the number of workers striking, but informal estimates place it higher than 75 per cent in the West Bank and much lower in Gaza. Ministries involved in front-line service delivery have, on average, higher levels of attendance. Although the roots of the strike appear to be widespread resentment at the non-payment of salaries, political rivalries are exacerbating current labour unrest and there are indications that coercion has been used in some cases to enforce the strike.

• Education, health and social services have been compromised significantly by the fiscal crisis and, more recently, by the strikes. A large majority of public schools in the West Bank remain closed. In Gaza, schools were closed for a few days initially but are since operating fully.

• In the West Bank, public health facilities no longer operate except for the provision of emergency treatment, chemotherapy and dialysis. Stocks of essential drugs and medical disposables have been depleted in public hospitals and primary health care centres. Health centres in Gaza have also been adversely affected by electricity shortages. As a result, some services are no longer provided.

• Social service payments to poor families have been adversely affected by the crisis. In the Social Hardship case programme, only two payments were made to the 47,000 families who fall within the programme up to September, at which point delays stood at over five months. A third payment, financed by the temporary international mechanism was made in September.

• While the primary goal of the exercise is to examine the effects of the ongoing fiscal crisis on Palestinian Authority institutions, one must bear in mind that not all of the trends observed can be attributed to the financial crisis alone. Some may be attributable to other factors, such as border closures and the fragmentation of the Palestinian economy, Israeli military measures, conflicts between Palestinian political factions, and the disruption caused by a change in Government.

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