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Bulletin mensuel de la DDP - Vol. XXIX, No.6 - Bulletin du Comité pour l’exercice des droits inaliénables du peuple palestinien/DDP (juin 2006) - Publié par la Division des droits palestiniens Français

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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP)
30 June 2006





June 2006

Volume XXIX, Bulletin No. 6



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



I. INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SEMINAR ON PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
HELD IN MOSCOW


The fourteenth International Media Seminar on Peace in the Middle East was held in Moscow on 8 and 9 June 2006. The Seminar, entitled “New Challenges in the Middle East Peace Process and Israeli-Palestinian Dialogue”, was organized by the Department of Public Information, in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. On the first day of the meeting, Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a message that was delivered to the Seminar by Shashi Tharoor, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information. The text of the message is reproduced below (SG/SM/10507-PAL/2046-PI/1720).

You gather at a time when potentially transformative decisions are being contemplated that could affect the lives of Palestinians and Israelis, and the prospects for peace, for many years to come. Thus I am pleased to have this opportunity to preface what will no doubt be your very detailed discussions with a few general comments.

First, I hope you are all aware that the United Nations has just issued a revised Consolidated Appeal to address the humanitarian plight of the Palestinian people. The Appeal represents an 80 per cent increase over what we had previously expected to require, and reflects our very real concern about the extent of the current difficulties. I have urged donors to fully fund the Appeal, and to support the work of UN agencies. With Palestinian suffering already acute, we must all do our part to avert a full-scale humanitarian crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. In addition, as you know, the United Nations is working very closely with the European Union and our other Quartet partners to create a temporary international mechanism to ensure assistance to the Palestinian people. It is my hope that this mechanism can be put in place as soon as possible.

Second, our over-arching goal remains lasting peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians. For this to be achieved, the parties must deal with each other, face to face. Any Israeli desire to withdraw from the West Bank is to be welcomed, but there is no substitute for a durable, negotiated solution, and no other way to resolve final status issues. I am pleased that Prime Minister Olmert has said he would exhaust every possibility to promote peace with the Palestinians.

On the Palestinian side, President Abbas is a partner whose commitment to a peacefully negotiated two-State solution is unquestioned. The Quartet, for its part, has made clear its position on what is expected of the Palestinian Authority Government. I hope that the well-known desire of the Palestinian people for a negotiated, two-State solution will emerge strengthened from the internal Palestinian discussion and debate now under way, and that their desire will be reflected in the positions taken by the government.

Your agenda for this seminar reflects the great breadth of issues facing the parties. The international community, for its part, has an interest and a duty to help them not only to return to negotiations, but also to see them through to a just, lasting and peaceful solution in accordance with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002) and 1515 (2003). I thank all the participants for contributing their experience and expertise to this seminar, and wish you all the best for a constructive encounter.

II. SECRETARY-GENERAL DEEPLY DISTURBED AT KILLING OF CIVILIANS
IN THE GAZA STRIP

The following statement was issued on 9 June 2006 by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan (SG/SM/10509-PAL/2050).

The Secretary-General is deeply disturbed at the killing of civilians, including women and children, on a beach in Gaza earlier today, reportedly by Israeli forces, and calls for a full investigation. He extends his condolences to the bereaved families of the victims.

The Secretary-General reminds all concerned of their obligations under international humanitarian law to avoid placing civilians in danger, while urging the utmost restraint to avoid further escalation and bloodshed.

III. QUARTET ENDORSES MECHANISM FOR CHANNELLING AID TO PALESTINIANS

The following statement was issued by the Quartet principals (Russian Federation Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov; US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana; Secretary-General Kofi Annan) on 17 June 2006 (SG/2114-PAL/2051).

Recalling its statements of 30 January and 9 May, and mindful of the needs of the Palestinian people, the Quartet endorsed a European Union proposal for a temporary international mechanism, limited in scope and duration, which operates with full transparency and accountability. The mechanism facilitates needs-based assistance directly to the Palestinian people, including essential equipment, supplies, and support for health services, support for the uninterrupted supply of fuel and utilities, and basic needs allowances to poor Palestinians.

The Quartet expressed its hope that other donors, international organizations, and the State of Israel would consider participation in this mechanism. The Quartet will review the continued need for such a mechanism after three months. Donors are also encouraged to respond to humanitarian and other assistance requests by international organizations, especially United Nations agencies, active in the West Bank and Gaza.

The Quartet reiterated its call for the Palestinian Authority Government to commit to the principles of non-violence, recognition of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Road Map. The Palestinian Authority Government must fulfil its responsibilities with respect to basic human needs, including health services, as well as for proper fiscal management and provision of services.


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

On 21 June 2006, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari briefed the Security Council on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”. The following are excerpts of the briefing (S/PV.5472).



On 10 June, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman and Palestinian Authority President Abbas called a referendum, to be held on 26 July, on the covenant for national reconciliation agreed upon by Palestinian prisoners. President Abbas has indicated that his decree does not preclude the possibility of consensus being reached at any time before the date of the referendum, in which case the referendum would not necessarily proceed.



In the past week or so, the security situation in the streets calmed somewhat following consultations between President Abbas and Prime Minister Haniyeh. Those consultations concluded with an announcement that the special force recently created by the Minister of the Interior should be absorbed into the payroll of the Palestinian Authority after its members have received proper police training. The force has not yet been fully withdrawn from the streets in Gaza, but it is less visible than before.



Prime Minister Olmert indicated his determination to proceed with the implementation of his “realignment” plan, details of which have not yet been made public. We look forward to Prime Minister Olmert’s meeting with President Abbas and consider it as an important step towards resuming negotiations, which remains, in our view, the best way to promote peace.

With regard to security and violence, I would like to say that, in the reporting period, at least 64 Palestinians have been killed, including at least 11 children, and at least 328 Palestinians have been injured, including, again, many children. Forty-nine of those killed and 259 of those injured were the victims of Israeli-Palestinian violence. The rest were casualties of intra-Palestinian violence. One Israeli was killed and 18 were injured in Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Israel stepped up its policy of targeted killings of militants and shelling of areas in Gaza, from which rockets continue to be fired at Israeli territory.



On 9 June, an explosion on a beach in Gaza, at the time of an Israeli operation involving the firing of sea- and land-based weapons in the immediate area, killed seven civilians, all members of the same family. The Palestinian Authority held Israel responsible for the killings. An Israel Defence Forces (IDF) investigation subsequently concluded that Israeli military fire was not responsible for the deaths. However, a prominent human rights organization, Human Rights Watch, has disputed this. The Israeli investigation is continuing, in order to ascertain the cause of the explosion.

During the reporting period, the United Nations recorded 176 rockets fired by Palestinian militants from Gaza towards Israeli territory. Some of these hit Israeli towns and cities, injuring five civilians and damaging private property and Government buildings, including a school. For the first time in well over a year, Hamas claimed responsibility for rockets launched at Israel.



Clashes between militants loyal to Hamas and to Fatah led to the killing of local leaders and claimed the lives of many bystanders, including women and children.



According to the International Monetary Fund, Palestinian Authority revenues in April amounted to a mere $35 million - one sixth of its monthly requirement. The continued non-transfer of Palestinian value added tax (VAT) and customs revenues collected by Israel remained the major impediment to fiscal stability. There have, however, been reports of large amounts of cash being brought into Gaza by Palestinian Authority officials and Hamas members.

In June, the Palestinian Authority made one salary payment to 10,000 of its lowest-paid workers through its treasury account. In addition, a further 90,000 employees each received on Monday, 19 June, about $300 in advances from the Palestinian Authority, using cash brought by officials and disbursed through local post offices. The remaining staff -approximately 40,000 people - have received no salary payments since February.

The delivery of some Palestinian Authority services has been interrupted.




The Secretary-General is pleased, however, that the Quartet endorsed, on 17 June, a temporary international mechanism developed by the European Union to facilitate needs-based assistance directly to the Palestinian people, including essential equipment, supplies and support for health services; support for the uninterrupted supply of fuel and utilities; and allowances to poor Palestinians.



The movement of humanitarian and commercial goods to the Gaza Strip has improved somewhat since the end of May, with export figures rising to 21 truckloads per day after 22 May.



Israeli settlement activities continue, despite the road map and recent Quartet expressions of concern. According to a report by the Israeli non-governmental organization Peace Now, approximately 3,000 units are currently under construction in the West Bank, while construction of a police station in the E1 area between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim is continuing.

Barrier construction is also continuing, despite the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice. On 23 May, the Israeli High Court of Justice approved the route of the section of the barrier in Jerusalem that passes between Ma’ale Adumim and the village of El-Azariyeh. On 15 June, the Israeli High Court ordered the dismantling of five kilometres of the barrier east of the settlement of Tzofin.



V. SECRETARY-GENERAL “DEEPLY DEPLORES” THE KILLING OF THREE CHILDREN IN GAZA STRIP

The following statement was issued on 21 June 2006 by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan (SG/SM/10526-PAL/2052).

The Secretary-General deeply deplores the killing of three children and the injury of other bystanders in an attempted Israeli targeted killing of alleged militants in Gaza on 20 June. The Secretary-General calls on Israel to respect international law and to ensure that its actions are proportionate and do not put civilians at grave risk. The Secretary-General sends his condolences to the families of the dead and injured.

The Secretary-General is fully cognizant of Israel’s legitimate security concerns in light of continuing rocket fire, which endangers Israeli civilians, and calls on the Palestinian Authority to do all in its power to halt such actions.

VI. SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR THE RELEASE OF CAPTURED ISRAELI SOLDIER

The following statement was issued on 26 June 2006 by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan (SG/SM/10539-PAL/2053).

The Secretary-General is alarmed about the recent events in Gaza and Israel, and is following developments closely. He is concerned about the attack that took place yesterday, when Palestinian militants tunnelled from Gaza into Israel, and killed two Israeli soldiers and took another hostage. He calls for the safe and immediate release of the captured soldier.

The Secretary-General urges all parties to exercise restraint at this grave moment, and to take all possible steps to avoid further escalation and bloodshed.

VII. UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL MEETING IN SUPPORT OF ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PEACE CONVENES IN VIENNA

On 27 and 28 June 2006, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People convened the United Nations International Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace at the United Nations Office at Vienna. Participants reviewed the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, discussed the peace process and challenges ahead, as well as international efforts in support of Israeli-Palestinian peace.

On 27 June, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message was delivered by Angela Kane, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs. The text of the message, as contained in Press Release SG/SM/10541-GA/PAL/1011, is reproduced below.

It gives me pleasure to send my greetings to the participants in this meeting organized under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

Your event is taking place at a time of continuing tension and uncertainty on the ground. Acts of violence, often taking the lives of innocent civilians, are an almost daily occurrence.

The current period is also one of considerable change and transition for Israelis and Palestinians alike.

The Palestinian people, through debate and a referendum planned for July, are trying to agree on a common platform to bolster national unity. It is hoped that, in this process, the Palestinian Government will move closer towards the principles outlined by the Quartet earlier this year.

Israel is considering a withdrawal from the West Bank. If the process is negotiated and coordinated with the Palestinian side, it may help achieve the objective of a two-State solution. If not, it may complicate efforts at achieving this goal and prejudice final status issues.

Parallel commitment by the parties to advancing key issues is essential. I welcome the determination of President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert to pursue peace. Let us remember that clear majorities of Israelis and Palestinians want a negotiated, two-State solution. It is the responsibility of all parties to respond to that urgent and deeply-felt need. Regional partners have an important facilitating role in this process. Indeed, a two-State solution is crucial not only for the security and prosperity of Israelis and Palestinians, but for the stability of the region as a whole.

Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory continues to be deeply troubling. The Quartet recently endorsed a proposal by the European Union for the establishment of a temporary international mechanism to deliver assistance to the Palestinian people. Work on the proposal has been completed, and assistance will soon begin reaching those in need. In the meantime, Israel should take steps to improve the humanitarian situation, in keeping with its responsibilities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and obligations arising from previous agreements. I also urge international donors to help avert a humanitarian crisis by responding without delay to the latest consolidated appeal.

The United Nations, for its part, will remain fully engaged in efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just, lasting solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002) and 1515 (2003). Please accept my best wishes for the success of your deliberations.

On 28 June 2006 the United Nations International Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace adopted a final document, the text of which is reproduced below:

1. The United Nations International Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace was held at the United Nations Office at Vienna, on 27 and 28 June 2006, under


the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian people. Participants in the Meeting included international experts, representatives of Governments, Palestine, intergovernmental organizations, United Nations entities, parliaments, civil society and the media.

2. The Meeting was convened by the Committee with a view to demonstrate the unswerving commitment of the world community to resolving this decades-old conflict, to help search for ways to stabilize the volatile situation in the area and resume political negotiations leading to a permanent two-State solution to the conflict, based on the 1967 borders, in accordance with the Road Map and Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002) and 1515 (2003). The participants reviewed the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, discussed the state of the political process and challenges ahead, as well as international efforts in support of Israeli-Palestinian peace. The Meeting was also held at a time of a major political transition for both Israelis and Palestinians and amidst a worsening political, economic and humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

3. The participants agreed that there was an urgent need to resume a meaningful political dialogue between the parties and expressed concern at the intentions, repeatedly expressed by Israeli officials, to pursue unilateral measures. The participants called on Israel to refrain from any unilateral steps that prejudiced final status issues and jeopardized a negotiated two-State solution. In this regard, the participants noted the recent meeting between the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert and urged the two parties to resume negotiations as soon as possible, thereby reactivating the long-stalemated political process. In discussing efforts at advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace, the participants also noted the important facilitating role played by the Quartet and key regional parties - Egypt and Jordan.

4. The participants expressed particular concern at the recent upsurge in violence and its destructive effect on the hopes for peace. They condemned the intensified military strikes, incursions and extrajudicial assassinations by Israel, the occupying Power. They called on Israel to halt its invasion of Gaza, withdraw from the Strip, and stop escalating the current crisis. Alarmed at the large number of Palestinian civilians, including children, killed in the last few weeks and being of opinion that this escalation warranted an impartial international investigation, the participants supported a request to the Secretary-General to facilitate such an investigation. They also called for the cessation of rocket attacks on Israel carried out by Palestinian groups from the Gaza Strip. These actions put civilians in serious danger and inflame and destabilize the already fragile situation. The participants warned that the cycle of violence and counter-violence was getting out of control and had to be broken. A comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire could be a first step in this direction.

5. The participants condemned the continuing construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, in defiance of the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice. They noted the delay in establishing the Register of Damages with the goal of compensating those who had suffered any material damage as a result of the wall’s construction, and urged the Secretary-General to intensify his efforts in this direction. The participants also denounced the continued expansion of illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, in violation of international law and Israel’s obligations under the Road Map. They expressed concern about the intensified settlement activities in and around East Jerusalem, including efforts to implement the so-called “E1 plan”, and the situation in the Jordan Valley where new settlements had recently been established. In addition to being illegal and causing daily hardship for the Palestinian population, these physical obstacles in the Occupied Palestinian Territory prejudice the outcome of the permanent status negotiations and complicate efforts at establishing a contiguous and independent State of Palestine.

6. The participants welcomed the agreement on the National Conciliation Document (“Prisoners Document”), reached between Palestinian political groups on 26 June. They strongly supported efforts by the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that led to this agreement. They urged him to continue his work aimed at bringing together all political trends of the Palestinian society and convincing them to speak with one voice and to comply with existing understandings and obligations undertaken by the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

7. The participants emphasized that the continuing occupation of the Palestinian territory, now in its fortieth year, remained the root cause of the conflict. They expressed the view that this long-standing conflict could have no final solution without the achievement of the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights defined by the General Assembly in 1974 as the right to self-determination without external interference, the right to national independence and sovereignty, and the right of Palestinians to return to their homes and property, from which they had been displaced and uprooted.

8. The participants stressed the critical importance of the international donor assistance. At the same time, they expressed apprehension over the recent decision by some donors to suspend direct aid to the Palestinian Authority. They noted efforts by the Quartet to resolve this situation, in particular its recent endorsement of an European Union’s proposal for the establishment of a temporary international mechanism to deliver assistance to the Palestinian people. The participants were hopeful that these efforts would help alleviate the rapidly deteriorating economic and humanitarian conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. They urged the Government of Israel to fulfil its obligations under international law towards the Palestinian civilian population and lift its restrictions on the freedom of movement and other measures stifling the economic and social life in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and to resume the transfer of collected Palestinian tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority in keeping with signed agreements.

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

VIII. SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR ACTION BY PALESTINIANS AND ISRAELIS TO DEFUSE CRISIS

The following statement was issued on 29 June 2006 by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan (SG/SM/10547-PAL/2054).

The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about developments in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the continued detention of an Israeli soldier by Palestinian militants; the killing by Palestinian militants of an Israeli civilian, whose body was found this morning; further rocket attacks against Israel; and Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip, which have resulted in a serious deterioration in humanitarian conditions there. He is also concerned that Israel has detained 64 Palestinian officials, cabinet ministers and members of the Legislative Council, who were elected in January.

The Secretary-General calls on the Palestinian Authority to do its utmost to secure the release of the Israeli soldier, and to end rocket attacks against Israel and other action by militants. The Secretary-General also calls on the Government of Israel to show restraint, to avoid actions that damages civilian infrastructure and that aggravates the hardship of the Palestinian population, and to abide by international humanitarian law. To prevent a further decline in the humanitarian situation, Israel should also act urgently to facilitate the import of essential medical supplies, food stuffs and, particularly, fuel into the Gaza Strip.

IX. ASSISTANT SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS BRIEFS THE SECURITY COUNCIL

On 30 June 2006, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Angela Kane briefed the Security Council on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”. The following are excerpts of the briefing (S/PV.5481).

At approximately 5 o’clock in the morning on Sunday 25 June, eight Palestinian militants left the southern Gaza Strip via a tunnel and infiltrated an Israel Defence Forces (IDF) base near the Kerem Shalom Kibbutz. The militants fired several anti-tank rockets into the IDF base and a gun battle took place. Corporal Gilad Shalit, an IDF soldier also holding French nationality, was taken hostage and is now being held by militants in Gaza. Two IDF soldiers were killed and a further three wounded. Two Palestinian militants were killed in the operation.

Three Palestinian militant groups - the Nasser Salah el-Din Troops of the Popular Resistance Committees; the Izz el-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas military wing; and the newly formed Islamic Army - issued a statement confirming that they had conducted the operation and were holding the soldier. They subsequently stated that he would not be released and that information on his state of health would not be provided before Israel releases all Palestinian female and under-age detainees.

The Palestinian Authority spokesman called upon those who abducted the Israeli soldier to guarantee his safety. President Abbas called for the release of the soldier. He met with Prime Minister Haniyeh and contacted international counterparts. Prime Minister Olmert ruled out negotiations over any exchange of prisoners. The Israeli cabinet agreed that the Palestinian Authority would bear full responsibility for any harm to Corporal Shalit and approved recommendations to prepare and deploy Israeli forces for urgent military action.

International efforts to secure the peaceful release of the soldier, especially by Egypt and reportedly by France and Jordan, have been continuous. The Secretary-General has been in frequent touch with parties in the region, including Prime Minister Olmert, President Abbas and President Al-Assad of Syria. He is also consulting individually with his Quartet partners.

The Israeli military operation to obtain the release of Corporal Shalit began just after midnight on 28 June. The operations began with the destruction by F-16 aircraft of two bridges in central Gaza. The IDF then struck Gaza’s only power station from the air and ground forces moved into the Gaza Strip. Israeli tanks and armoured personnel carriers moved into the airport, located at the south-eastern end of the Strip. Israeli military aircraft broke the sound barrier over Gaza, causing sonic booms. On the same day, four Israeli Air Force fighter jets overflew Syrian territory, breaking the sound barrier over a presidential villa in Lattakia.



Also on the night of 29 June, Israeli forces undertook a large-scale arrest raid in the West Bank and Jerusalem, detaining 64 Palestinian Authority officials, including eight ministers and 21 Palestinian Legislative Council members, and 23 suspected militants. The Israeli Attorney General has said that those arrested will be charged under anti-terrorism legislation.



Nothing justifies the holding of hostages. Corporal Gilad Shalit must be released. Nothing justifies indiscriminate rocket attacks. The Palestinian Authority must act to stop them. However, Palestinian civilians should not pay the price of those actions. Israel must cease the destruction of civilian infrastructure, ensure that civilians are protected and allow for humanitarian assistance to get where it needs to go. We are also extremely concerned at the arrest of a large section of the elected Palestinian Government.


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