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UNITED
NATIONS
TD

        United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
Distr.
GENERAL
TD/B/49/15 (Vol.I)
29 October 2002

Original: ENGLISH

UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT

Report of the Trade and Development Board

on its forty-ninth session

held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,

from 7 to 18 October 2002

Volume I

Report to the United Nations General Assembly




2. Consideration of other relevant reports: Report on UNCTAD’s assistance to the Palestinian people (agenda item 7(b))

2. At its 935th plenary meeting, on 17 October 2002, the Board took note of the secretariat’s report on UNCTAD’s assistance to the Palestinian people (TD/B/49/9) and of the statements made thereon and decided to submit the account of its discussion to the General Assembly in accordance with General Assembly decision 47/445. (For the account of the discussion, see part II below).

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II. SUMMARIES OF DISCUSSIONS ON SUBSTANTIVE ITEMS ON ITS AGENDA

D. Consideration of other relevant reports:

Report on UNCTAD’s assistance to the Palestinian people 4

(Agenda item 7(b))

25. The Coordinator of Assistance to the Palestinian people introduced the secretariat’s report (TD/B/49/9), which examined progress achieved in UNCTAD’s technical assistance for the Palestinian people in the context of an assessment of developments affecting the Palestinian economy and the implementation of UNCTAD’s operational activities. He highlighted the report’s synoptic review of major developments in the economy, which painted a sombre picture of economic performance. He stressed that this situation underlined the urgent need for renewed development efforts to moderate the impact of the economic effects of the conflict and to strengthen the economy’s resilience. This would require promoting dynamic synergies among rehabilitation, reconstruction and strategic development needs.

26. He emphasized the importance of rebuilding of the Palestinian Authority’s institutional capacity, especially in view of the Palestinian Authority’s renewed commitment to establishing a rule-based, market-driven economy, in harmony with national interests, global trends and strategic development potentials. To support the Palestinian Authority’s development efforts, the UNCTAD secretariat had stepped up its technical assistance activities, while modifying ongoing projects as appropriate to address acute economic needs. Despite increasing logistical difficulties affecting the delivery of technical assistance, full professional staff resource allocation for this work programme was now available to enable UNCTAD to sustain recent progress. In accordance with its mandate, UNCTAD’s assistance was helping to reinforce and build Palestinian economic managerial capacities along with the transparent institutions and modern, open policies required for the future Palestinian economy.

27. He updated the Board on technical assistance activities now underway, which attested to the determination of Palestinian government and civil society counterparts to build a new society and develop a viable economy, despite all odds. He thanked donors for their support of UNCTAD’s technical assistance activities to the Palestinian people and expressed appreciation for the support that all Members of the Board had continued to exhibit towards this work programme. In concluding, he appealed to existing donors and potential new ones to renew or initiate their contribution to UNCTAD technical assistance to the Palestinian people.

28. The representative of Palestine thanked the secretariat for the objective and comprehensive report about the economic aspects of the suffering of the Palestinian people as a result of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories and its deliberate destructive practices, which had led to a dangerous deterioration of all facets of Palestinian life. He praised UNCTAD for its efforts to provide technical assistance and studies aimed at linking relief to development and to help the Palestinian National Authority face the challenges to the Palestinian economy caused by the Israeli re-occupation of all of the Palestinian territories. He thanked donor countries for their continuous support to the Palestinian people and urged them to intensify this assistance, including offering the development aid necessary to save the Palestinian economy from complete collapse and lead it to the path of sustained development.

29. Despite his praise for the report and his appreciation of the UNCTAD secretariat’s efforts, the report used certain terms that should be reconsidered and corrected owing to their divergence from the realities of the situation. In particular, he cited the reference to a “crisis in Israeli-Palestinian relations”, whereas in fact a complete Israeli military occupation had been imposed on the Palestinian people and criminal practices were being perpetrated by the occupation forces in the context of an aggressive policy that had been condemned by the international community for many years. The reference to “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” obscured the Israeli military aggression against the Palestinian people in the Palestinian territories, while the Palestinian people were resisting foreign domination with all available means, as enshrined in the UN Charter and UN resolutions. While these mistakes in the report might seem cosmetic, they were in reality profound and critical in their political context. Inaccurate use of terms could reinforce incorrect concepts, which in this case served aggression at the expense of truth. While these inaccuracies were unintentional, they should be corrected and avoided in future reports.

30. The comprehensive picture provided by the report left little to be added regarding the deterioration of economic conditions in the occupied Palestinian territories. UNCTAD’s efforts to alleviate these tragic conditions by linking relief to development and through targeted technical assistance were well intentioned. However, these efforts could not prevail as long as the main cause of economic deterioration was not addressed, namely the Israeli occupation, which was a temporary phenomenon whose impact would recede once the occupation ended. In this context, he reviewed the range of Israeli measures which adversely affected the Palestinian economy.

31. Despite the full account of economic deterioration provided in the report, which fell within UNCTAD’s mandate and competences, there were many other factors that might not appear to be linked to the economy but that in fact had a great economic impact. In particular, Palestinian human resources were being destroyed by the Israeli occupation forces through their use of almost all types of weapons against Palestinians, thus depriving the Palestinian people and their economy of their main asset.

32. In concluding, he reiterated his deep appreciation to the UNCTAD secretariat for its programme of assistance to the Palestinian people, who needed all types of assistance. Pending the elimination of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the international community should continue to shoulder its responsibility to protect the Palestinian people. However, until that time, any vision of peace and security would be illusory and ill considered.

33. The representative of Egypt, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that the Palestinian economy continued to face dramatic challenges. Since October 2000, the economy had lost more than half of its annual gross domestic product, the unemployment rate had tripled to 29 per cent in March 2002, infrastructure losses had reached more than US$305 million, 17 per cent of cultivated land had been bulldozed and half a million olive and fruit trees had been uprooted, while the benefits of the preferential trade arrangements extended to Palestinian exporters had effectively been nullified by the difficult market access conditions. Also, close to half of the Palestinian population was now living below the poverty line. Moreover, social services including education, hospitalization and emergency medical services had deteriorated severely, adding more misery to the life of Palestinians. This situation was described by Security Council resolution 1405 as a dire humanitarian situation facing the Palestinian civilian population. The practices of the Israeli occupying forces, including the destruction of infrastructure, collective punishment, and closure and withholding of tax revenues, must end, and a peace based on Security Council resolutions 242, 338, 1397 and on the Madrid principles should prevail.

34. UNCTAD, development agencies and the donor community retained their role as a cornerstone to enable the Palestinian Authority to reinforce its capacity, which had been seriously constrained by the practices of the occupying forces. She commended the activities undertaken by the Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People despite the difficult field conditions. The various activities carried out in the four clusters of the Programme in the course of 2001/2002 were clear indicators of the clusters’ value to the Palestinian Authority. These activities also attested to the commitment of the Palestinian Authority, as reflected by the local funds provided to finance many elements of UNCTAD’s projects.

35. She expressed her appreciation for the extrabudgetary resources provided by the donor community and international organizations and urged them to extend the necessary resources to allow UNCTAD to continue implementing a number of activities that had been halted because of lack of funds. Specifically, she referred to phase 2 of ASYCUDA, advisory services related to transit trade and transport, and activities under UNCTAD’s response to the Palestinian economic crisis in the areas of food security and commodity trade, trade logistics and facilitation, trade promotion and trade promotion. Such assistance was essential to support the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to alleviate the suffering imposed by the current crisis, which was pushing the Palestinian economy further towards a status similar to that of the landlocked and least developed countries.

36. In the meantime, she urged the secretariat to make every effort possible to continue its programme in favour of the Palestinian people and to intensify its activities despite the limitations on available resources. In conclusion, she reiterated the support of the peoples of the Group of 77 and China for the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace through the full implementation of all relevant UN resolutions recognizing the rights of all peoples and States, including Palestine, to enjoy peace, security and development.

37. The representative of Denmark, speaking on behalf of the European Union and the countries seeking accession to the European Union (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, as well as Cyprus, Malta and Turkey), expressed his gratitude for UNCTAD’s contribution to economic development efforts in the areas under Palestinian authority. Regrettably, as the secretariat’s report showed, the current circumstances rendered the achievement of sustainable development extremely difficult. Nonetheless, he still believed that the Palestinian economy could improve and that trade with the subregion could be developed. In this context, UNCTAD’s assistance to build Palestinian capacity and institutions gained much importance.

38. Technical assistance could help little without peace and stability in the Middle East. The two sides must coexist and must engage in negotiations to achieve a durable peace where two states, Israel and an independent, viable and democratic Palestine, lived side by side within secure and recognized borders, on the basis of the principles established in Madrid and Oslo and in conformity with UN Security Council resolutions.

39. The representative of Indonesia, speaking on behalf of the Asian Group and China, expressed his appreciation for UNCTAD’s continuous support to the Palestinian people, especially in these difficult times, and for the comprehensive and excellent analysis provided in the report. He stressed that the escalation and intensification of the crisis in the West Bank and Gaza and the systematic closures of the occupied territories had destroyed the major part of essential private and public infrastructure, deprived the Palestinian people of more than half of their economy, tripled the number of jobless and, above all, increased the level of poverty and vulnerability to unprecedented and extremely dangerous levels. As the report stated, the situation in the Palestinian territories was a telling example of a complex humanitarian emergency. No doubt the continuous Israeli policy of closure, curfews, destruction of infrastructure and collective punishment would push the Palestinian economy further towards a path of de-development.

40. The international community should ensure the reversal and alleviation of these conditions, enable the Palestinian Authority to maintain its function and prepare for the inevitable establishment of the Palestinian state, and work relentlessly to find an equitable and peaceful solution to the crisis. Donor countries should increase their support to put a stop to the seemingly endless suffering of the Palestinian people. The international development agencies, including UNCTAD, should coordinate and step up their efforts to address the short-term emergency relief needs and the medium-term institutional capacity required for the future state of Palestine. In this context, he emphasized the importance of promoting dynamic synergies between emergency relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction and strategic development needs, as recommended by the report.

41. He commended the secretariat for achieving concrete progress in its various capacity-building technical assistance projects despite the extremely difficult field conditions, and urged their expansion to include all the areas of UNCTAD’s competences. He was pleased to note that UNCTAD was examining the possibility of initiating technical assistance in new areas that had become more relevant as a result of the two-year crisis. He concluded by urging the donor community to increase its financial support to enable UNCTAD to expand its technical assistance programmes for to the Palestinian people. He also commended the Palestinian people for their ability to survive such devastation and continue on despite all adversity, and urged the international community to increase its support to the Palestinian people and to work together to achieve a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region.

42. The representative of Morocco noted that economic and social conditions in the Palestinian areas had deteriorated considerably since the second Intifada, which had triggered a blind repression by the Israeli forces. The infrastructure, already handicapped by decades of Israeli occupation, had been subject to systemic destruction, while the permanent siege of the Palestinian areas had had a dramatic impact on poverty and unemployment.

43. This disastrous and inhuman situation begged the international community’s conscience to condemn this cycle of aggression that had paralysed the economy. The secretariat’s report showed that the current situation had negatively affected the Palestinian Authority’s institutional capacity and its ability to utilize development aid. The Palestinian Authority continued to experience irreversible damage to its human and administrative capacities, and the donor community’s attention had been diverted from development objectives to catering for emergency needs generated by the unprecedented humanitarian crisis.

44. He commended the secretariat’s technical assistance programme for the Palestinian people, which had gained greater importance in view of the current conditions. The Palestinian Authority was in dire need of UNCTAD’s assistance in designing a global policy for rebuilding the economy. In concluding, he called on the donor community to maintain its support of this programme and, henceforth, enable the Palestinian people to achieve sustainable development.

45. The representative of Israel regretted that the secretariat report avoided the key questions, namely why UNCTAD had to prepare a report about the deterioration of the Palestinian economy over the past two years. The positive economic trend that had been achieved before the current wave of violence could have been maintained had the Palestinian Authority continued the political process and not decided to resort to continuous violence against Israel with an obscure political goal. The Palestinian Authority could have focused on the structural problems of the economy in order to avoid deterioration in the standard of living. He stressed that this wave of violence had hurt not just the Palestinian economy but also other economies in the region, especially the Israeli economy.

46. Israel had repeatedly tried to put the economic system back on track over the past two years, though the response had consistently been violent attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers and terrorist atrocities. Israel had been trying to improve the economic situation of both Palestinians and Israelis in a context of violence and a persistent climate of fear, as recently described by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. The report placed responsibility at the doorstep of Israel and skirted round the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority for the economic mishaps and mismanagement affecting the Palestinian economy. Though the report did hint at some of these issues in certain paragraphs, it avoided issues such as monopolies, corruption, lack of transparency, channeling of donor funds to organizations whose focus was terrorism and the absence of an enabling environment to support economic activity.

47. Israel had been willing to act together with the Palestinians to improve the Palestinian economy, including measures to open the Israeli market to Palestinian day labourers. However, these efforts had only produced acts of terror by those allowed entry to Israel ostensibly for employment reasons, creating a loss of human resources and mutual trust. He appealed for a joint call for an end to the violence and to the waste of human resources on both sides. Once the violence was ended and a political process was resumed, it would be necessary to prepare for resumption of progress in the Palestinian, Israeli and Arab economies. If UNCTAD wished to play a positive and significant role in the region, objective professional analysis should be the focus of its work.

48. The international community needed to continue to focus on an end to terrorism and violence and major reforms in the Palestinian Authority in the areas of security and economic transparency. He referred in this connection to the joint statement issued recently by the United States and Israel regarding the gradual return and scheduled transfer of all Palestinian Authority tax funds collected by Israel on the unequivocal condition that there would be full United States monitoring to ensure their use only for economic and civil activities. Once these reforms took place, negotiations could restart and cooperation again be explored. It was impossible to sustain economic development in a situation of continuous violence, which had to end before the parties could return to the negotiating table and to the path of economic development.

49. The representative of the Islamic Republic ofIran stressed that the long-lasting Israeli occupation of Palestine and the escalating crisis caused by this occupation had drained the economy of its most vital resources, bringing it to the brink of collapse. The quick review of some key macro-economic indicators provided by the report highlighted the vulnerability of the Palestinian people and the challenges facing them.

50. He emphasized UNCTAD’s crucial role in responding to the Palestinian people’s needs and establishing an enabling environment for stimulating private-sector growth, especially through technical assistance. He expressed his country’s support of UNCTAD’s proposed framework and activities in the areas of food security and commodity trade, trade logistics and facilitation, trade promotion, trade policy, preferential market access and investment promotion. He concluded by urging the donor community to support UNCTAD’s programme of technical assistance to the Palestinian people, and to help it implement ongoing projects, particularly ASYCUDA, as well as follow-up and postponed activities.

51. The representative of the League of Arab States said that the data and information contained in UNCTAD’s report were very alarming as they reflected an unprecedented degree of economic deterioration. It was very difficult to imagine the living conditions of a people who had lost, in less than two years, 40 per cent of their national income, more than 50 per cent of their gross domestic product, and numerous jobs, to the extent that 50 per cent of the labour force was currently unemployed. This situation was not the result of a disaster that could be mitigated by short-term measures, but rather of the repeated and continuous Israeli military aggression and the destruction it had caused to the physical and institutional infrastructure. This had reached all aspects of life, from water and electricity utilities to roads, houses, factories and public buildings. The protracted Israeli policy of internal and external closure of the Palestinian territories had almost completely prevented the movement of goods, commodities and raw material required for the production process. These practices had resulted in an economic disaster and had pushed more than 60 per cent of Palestinian households below the poverty line.

52. Despite the $3 billion the Palestinian economy had received from the donor community in the past few years, it was now on the verge of bankruptcy and complete collapse and facing a vicious cycle of interrelated obstacles to development. Much of the donated funds had been directed to building the infrastructure, which Israeli forces had recently destroyed, laying waste to the resources and efforts that the donor community had extended to the Palestinian people in the past years. The Israeli occupation was the sole reason for the present economic deterioration and the reason for the redirection of external aid from long-term economic development objectives towards the urgent basic needs of the Palestinian people.

53. He expressed his appreciation for UNCTAD’s efforts to support the institutional capacity of the Palestinian Authority, especially in the areas of trade facilitation and promotion, trade in services, transport, investment, finance and competition. In concluding, he thanked the secretariat for the preparation of this report, whose findings were in line with those of other international agencies, such as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the International Committee of the Red Cross, UNRWA and others. He also thanked the donor community for its continuous support to the Palestinian people.

54. The representative of China pointed out that the secretariat’s programme of assistance to the Palestinian people was a major component of UNCTAD’s mandate. The programme had achieved great success in promoting Palestinian trade and economic development, and had evolved from research and analysis work to an integrated programme of technical assistance activities that had succeeded in promoting the integration of the Palestinian economy into regional and international markets.

55. She expressed concern regarding the humanitarian disaster facing the Palestinian people and appealed to the donor community to increase its financial assistance to alleviate the Palestinians’ suffering. She urged the international community to show concern for the Palestinians’ efforts to ensure their social and economic independent rights. More Governments and concerned parties should work with UNCTAD to achieve social and economic development in the Palestinian areas. China was committed to assisting the Palestinian economy and putting an end to social suffering.

56. The representative of Tunisia thanked the secretariat for its efforts in support of the Palestinian people under extremely difficult economic conditions, which were the result of the protracted and repeated closure policy of the Israeli occupying forces in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The secretariat report reflected the degree of suffering of the Palestinian people, whereby the economy had lost more than half of its gross domestic product, unemployment had more than tripled, poverty had reached more than 60 per cent of Palestinian households and the economy’s productive capacity had been depleted. These conditions had forced the Palestinian Authority to increase its dependence on donors’ support to meet the emergency and relief needs imposed by the situation.

57. He thanked the donor community and urged them to increase their support to the Palestinian people, not only to meet emergency relief needs but also to provide the institutional support required for the attainment of long-term development objectives. He expressed his appreciation for UNCTAD’s efforts in support of the Palestinian Authority and the progress achieved in a number of UNCTAD’s programmes despite the difficult field conditions. He urged the secretariat to step up its efforts to help the Palestinian people overcome the present crisis and achieve their long-term economic goals.

58. The representative of Jordan expressed his country’s deep concern over the worrisome situation that had befallen the Palestinian economy. The secretariat report was elaborate in explaining the reasons behind the widespread economic crisis and in warning against long-term consequences. As the report noted, the economy was trapped in a “cycle of de-development”, which would ultimately lead to loss of confidence in the economy and would aggravate the political crisis. Economic prosperity was a pre-condition for achieving peace and stability.

59. The erosion of the Palestinian economy’s productive capacity, the destruction of physical infrastructures, the difficulties involved in rebuilding the Palestinian Authority’s institutional capacity, and the impossibility of reaping the benefits of donor assistance and responding to the Palestinian people’s needs would all negatively affect the regional economy. The international community should therefore increase its support of the Palestinian people, who were living in a “complex humanitarian emergency”. He concluded by expressing Jordan’s gratitude to the secretariat and commended UNCTAD’s perseverance and rigorous efforts to provide technical assistance to the Palestinian people despite the deteriorating security conditions in the field.

60. The representative of Lebanon said that the occupied Palestinian territories had continued to experience a severe economic crisis since September 2000 as a result of the practices of the Israeli occupying forces. The repeated destruction of public utilities and infrastructure boded more economic deterioration and intensification of the suffering of the Palestinian people. The progressively deteriorating economic and living conditions required the multiplication of donors’ support to the Palestinian people, now more than ever, not only to meet emergency relief and basic daily needs, but also to build the capacities required for achieving long-term developmental goals. She thanked the secretariat and the donor countries for their contribution and urged them to accelerate efforts to help the Palestinian people achieve their legitimate aspirations.

61. The representative of Pakistan commended the secretariat for its report. The report clearly showed that the Israeli policies of systematic destruction of Palestinian infrastructure and private property had crippled the Palestinian economy. These policies had also had the effect of economic strangulation of the Palestinian people. It was noteworthy that UNCTAD had been extending technical assistance to the Palestinian people even under the very difficult prevailing conditions. UNCTAD deserved appreciation for the positive role it had been playing, and he encouraged it to continue its technical assistance to the Palestinian people, which was vital for strengthening Palestinian economic institutions and infrastructure. He concluded by reiterating his country’s support to the Palestinian people in their legitimate struggle. He also hoped that the international community would increase its financial support and find a peaceful and lasting solution to the Palestinian issue in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions.

62. The representative of the United States of America thanked the secretariat for its efforts on behalf of the Palestinian people. The United States supported measures to improve the lives of Palestinians and promote normal economic activity in the Palestinian areas. The United States was among the most significant sources of assistance to meet Palestinian humanitarian needs, including through UNRWA. In that light, he valued the technical assistance work of UNCTAD in favour of the Palestinians.

63. He had hoped that the discussion of the secretariat’s report would avoid one-sided accusations and inappropriate politicization of this matter, but regrettably that had not always been the case. He reiterated his country’s belief that peace and the absence of conflict were preconditions for development. The United States continued to be actively engaged in efforts to advance a comprehensive Palestinian reform programme, restore security cooperation, ease the Palestinian humanitarian situation and work toward the resumption of dialogue between the parties. He concluded by urging both sides to take immediate steps to ease the situation and to refrain from words and actions that inflamed tensions.

64. The representative of Algeria said that his delegation found it difficult to focus its intervention on the secretariat’s report in view of the daily destruction and collective killings by the Israeli war machine, which had not even spared nature. While olive trees were being uprooted simply because they belonged to the Palestinians or because they symbolized peace, Palestinian economic establishments and physical and institutional infrastructures were consistently being destroyed. The appalling massacres made it difficult to deal with this item in a normal fashion, and he requested the international community to end this unprecedented aggression against a people that simply wished to exercise its right to live in dignity on its land.

65. While his country appreciated UNCTAD’s efforts to support the Palestinians within the limits allowed by Israel, these were not enough and could not substitute for the role of the UN, which had been marginalized, especially with regard to the cause of the Palestinian people. Israeli tanks and bulldozers were consistently demolishing international development projects, turning them into mass graves for Palestinians. While he commended the donor community for its contribution to the establishment of the foundations of the Palestinian economy, he drew the attention of all concerned countries to the need to intervene to put an end to the agony of the Palestinian people. If the situation continued at this pace, it would result in a new holocaust. He referred to the heavy human price and the elimination of millions of people that the world and Europe in particular had suffered because of the disregard by some countries of the rise of Nazism and fascism in the 1930s.

66. He emphasized that providing millions of dollars in funds to meet the dire needs of the Palestinian people should not be an excuse for relieving the conscience of the international community from its duty to support the victims and to achieve the rights of a people that had resisted aggression and occupation. He concluded by recalling the option for a just and comprehensive peace proposed by the Arab countries at their most recent summit in Beirut, whereas Israel had chosen the option of war and elimination of the Palestinians and their National Authority.

67. The representative of Israel, in exercise of his right of reply, said that he would have preferred not to engage in further debate on the subject. However, he could not refrain when issues sensitive and dear to Israel and the Jewish people were trampled upon once again by a certain delegation. He wished to caution the concerned representative that whatever historical allusions he chose to make, he should stay away from comparing the tragic events of the holocaust, in which six million Jews had been slaughtered, with current political differences among Israelis, Arabs and Palestinians. He reiterated his demand for a certain respect for values and memories cherished by the Israeli and Jewish people. He reminded the concerned delegation that in certain other areas of the world, massacres and casualties in far greater numbers were occurring, but that the countries concerned chose to block the media from showing them.

68. Israel had suggested the most recent peace overture at Camp David in July 2000, and the Palestinian Authority had declined to take Israel’s outstretched hand, while the United States had later on made a bridging proposal that been accepted by Israel. If anyone had rejected recent overtures for peace, it was not Israel. Israel was willing to recommence negotiations once the violence ended, but he had yet to hear in the conference hall a clear and unequivocal call to end violence, which affected both sides.

69. The representative of Egypt, in exercise of his right of reply, stated that he too would have preferred not to intervene again in the debate, but that he was obliged to do so in light of the preceding statement. The presentation of a proposal for peace in any region by one party or two countries does not mean that such a proposal should be the only solution or the just solution for peace in said region. There are recognized international resolutions adopted on this issue, and it was these which should be the basis for a solution and which should be implemented. Since the discussion had moved to the realm of different proposals, he recalled that the representative of Algeria had referred to the peace proposal made by the League of Arab States, at their last Summit Meeting in Beirut, built on the UN relevant decisions.

70. The representative of Palestine , in exercise of his right of reply, stated that he had refrained from replying to the earlier statement by the representative of Israel, which contained many errors that deserved a response. However, after the representative of Israel had again taken the floor and had resorted to fallacies and attempts at confusing issues, it was necessary for Palestine to make some observations. He wondered why it was only Israel that asserted that yesterday’s victim had the right to become today’s torturer, the role that Israel acted out on a daily basis against the Palestinian people. As for the reference by the representative of Israel to the holocaust, he did not wish to engage in a debate about the truth or the number of victims of the holocaust. However, accepting that there had been a victim of the holocaust, by what right did Israel allow itself to become the torturer of the Palestinian people today? He believed that the international community had had enough of that nonsense.

71. The representative of Israel had today again talked about peace proposals. But what peace did Israel envisage while it occupied others’ land by force, something which international law rejected in principle? The representative of Israel could not talk about peace while his occupation forces every day killed Palestinian children, destroyed Palestinian houses and lands and committed massacres, as had happened recently in Gaza, Khan Yunis and Jenin, and before that at the hands of Sharon himself in Sabra and Chatila, Kfar Qassem and Qibya. These were all massacres, which the UN had affirmed were a form of genocide. He could not expect people to believe Israel’s words about peace when its occupation forces were committing massacres on a daily basis.

72. The representative of Israel, again in exercise of his right of reply, stated that, while he could have responded to the many falsehoods and accusations that had been leveled against Israel, there was one point on which he could not remain silent – namely, that in this hall, after five PrepComs for Durban held in the Palais des Nations, and after the infamous Durban meeting in which the language of hatred had been used, the Palestinian observer referred to whether the holocaust had occurred, or whether the number of victims was accurate. It was unacceptable that holocaust denial could take place in a UN forum, whatever the differences of opinion regarding current difficulties in the Middle East.


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4 Included in the Board’s report to the General Assembly in accordance with General Assembly decision 47/445.

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