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Bulletin mensuel de la DDP - Vol. XXIX, No.2 - Bulletin du Comité pour l’exercice des droits inaliénables du peuple palestinien/DDP (février 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)
28 February 2006


February 2006

Volume XXIX, Bulletin No. 2



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


Contents


Page
I.
    Security Council President issues statement on Palestinian Legislative elections
1
II.
    Secretary-General urges Middle East parties to avoid escalation of violence
    following targeted killings and rocket attacks
2
III.
    CEIRPP Bureau issues statement on Palestinian legislative elections
2
IV.
    Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People
    opens 2006 season
3
V.
    Twenty-sixth session of the Supreme Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council
    issues closing statement
5
VI.
    Secretary-General gravely concerned by escalation of Israeli military operatios,
    increase in Palestinian rocket attacks
6
VII.
    Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process briefs Security Council
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. SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT ISSUES STATEMENT ON PALESTINIAN LEGISLATIVE ELECTIONS

At the 5365th meeting of the Security Council, held on 3 February 2006, in connection with the Council’s consideration of the item entitled “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”, the President of the Security Council made the following statement on behalf of the Council (S/PRST/2006/6):

“The Security Council congratulates the Palestinian people on an electoral process that was free, fair and secure. It commends all the parties for the preparation and conduct of the elections, particularly the Central Elections Commission and the Palestinian Authority security forces, for their professionalism.

“The Security Council expresses its expectation that a new government remain committed to realizing the aspirations of the Palestinian people for peace and statehood. The Security Council welcomes President Abbas’ affirmation that the Palestinian Authority remains committed to the road map, previous agreements and obligations between the parties, and a negotiated two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Security Council expresses its view that all members of a future Palestinian government must be committed to the aforementioned instruments and principles.

“Cognizant of the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people, the Security Council reaffirms its continuing interest in the fiscal stability of the caretaker government, consistent with clear reform and austerity benchmarks. The Security Council notes that major donors have indicated they will review future assistance to a new Palestinian Authority government against that government’s commitment to the principles of non-violence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the road map.

“The Security Council reminds both parties of their obligation under the road map and on existing agreements, including on movement and access. It calls on both parties to avoid unilateral actions which prejudice final status issues. The Security Council underlines the need for the Palestinian Authority to prevent terrorist attacks and dismantle the infrastructure of terror. It reiterates its view that settlement expansion must stop and its concern regarding the route of the barrier.

“The Security Council reaffirms its profound attachment to the vision of two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. The Security Council reiterates the importance of, and the need to achieve, a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on all its relevant resolutions including its resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002) and 1515 (2003), the Madrid terms of reference and the principle of land for peace.”


II. SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES MIDDLE EAST PARTIES TO AVOID
ESCALATION OF VIOLENCE FOLLOWING TARGETED
KILLINGS AND ROCKET ATTACKS

The following statement was issued on 7 February 2006 by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan (SG/SM/10341):

The Secretary-General has noted with concern that in recent days Israel has conducted several targeted killings in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. While recognizing Israel’s right to defend its citizens, targeted killings place innocent bystanders at grave risk and amount to executions without trial.

The Secretary-General has also noted with concern the repeated rocket attacks against Israel emanating from the Gaza Strip. He underlines to all parties the need to respect international humanitarian law, and to refrain from actions that could lead to an escalation of violence.


III. CEIRPP BUREAU ISSUES STATEMENT ON PALESTINIAN
LEGISLATIVE ELECTIONS

The following statement was issued on 7 February 2006 by the Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) on the holding of the Palestinian Legislative Council elections (GA/PAL/1000):

“The Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People would like to send its congratulations to the Palestinian people and to the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, on the successful holding of the Palestinian Legislative Council elections on 25 January 2006. These democratic elections for the legislature, the first ones in 10 years and the second ever in Palestinian history, were conducted in a free, fair and peaceful manner, for which the Central Elections Commission and all of the Palestinian people deserve high praise.

“The Bureau of the Committee expresses its sincere hope that the mandate the newly elected Legislative Council has received from the Palestinian people will lead to positive developments in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and to new steps aimed at ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In this regard, it welcomes the statement by President Abbas given after the elections that the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority would honour and respect all obligations and commitments previously entered into, including the commitment to the road map.

“By the successful holding of the elections, the Palestinian side has taken another crucial step required by the road map aimed at the emergence of an independent, democratic, viable and contiguous Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours. The opportunity brought about by the democratic elections must be built on and seized by the parties to try to revitalize peace negotiations based on the principles of international law and the relevant United Nations resolutions.

“The Bureau of the Committee supports a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine through an end of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and the achievement by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights. For these objectives to be accomplished, the parties must show their commitment to the road map and their resolve to move along the path of peace. Israel should immediately stop all settlement activity and the illegal construction of the wall in the occupied West Bank and in and around East Jerusalem. Both parties must reinforce their commitment to cease all acts of violence.

“The international community should encourage and support these steps through assistance and cooperation with both sides. In this process, it is vital to engage all political forces willing to work for a peaceful resolution of the conflict based on international legitimacy. At this pivotal point, the Bureau of the Committee appeals to the international donor community to continue to provide assistance to the Palestinian people in order to alleviate their economic and social hardship.

“The Committee pledges to continue to implement its mandate given by the General Assembly until the Palestinian people realize their inalienable rights and a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the conflict is achieved on the basis of all relevant United Nations resolutions, including Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002) and 1515 (2003).”


IV. COMMITTEE ON THE EXERCISE OF THE INALIENABLE RIGHTS OF
THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE OPENS 2006 SESSION
On 10 February 2006, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People opened its 2006 session with statements by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the Chairman of the Committee and a representative of Palestine. The Committee elected Paul Badji (Senegal) as Chairman. Also elected were Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz (Cuba) and Ravan Farhâdi (Afghanistan) as Vice-Chairmen and Victor Camilleri (Malta) as Rapporteur.

The Chairman of the Committee introduced the draft programme of work of the Committee for 2006. The Committee approved the programme, as contained in document A/AC.183/2006/CRP.1. The Secretary-General’s statement, as contained in press release SG/SM/10344, GA/PAL/1002, is reproduced below:

Two weeks ago, the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, participated in free, fair and secure elections.

Palestinians voted in large numbers, underlining their commitment to build their democracy and achieve self-determination. The Palestinian Authority ensured security on Election Day, showing that the insecurity of the recent past can be overcome. And the Palestinian Central Elections Commission, with the support of the United Nations and the international community, did an excellent job in organizing the voting.

I congratulate President Abbas, the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people on this achievement. I thank the electoral observers from all over the world for their contributions. And I respect the decision of the Palestinian people.

The election outcome is a watershed in Palestinian political history. Discussions have begun on forming a Government. This is a sensitive moment indeed.

President Abbas, speaking after the election, underlined the obligations and responsibilities that will fall on any new Government, including, in his words, “Palestinian-Israeli agreements starting with the Oslo Accords and the Arab Summit resolutions, and ending with the resolutions that have been agreed upon by the international community, in particular the road map, as the sole framework that is being posed now for implementation”.

I believe that the clear majority of the Palestinian people do not want to pursue violence or terrorism against Israeli civilians. I believe they also understand and accept that Israel, which is a Member State of the United Nations, has a right to exist as a State, alongside the State of Palestine that Palestinians deserve and want to achieve. I also believe that they want the agreements and obligations that their elected representatives have already entered into, including the road map, to be carried forward and implemented, not abandoned.

As the Quartet and the Security Council have recently made clear, the international community will be watching very carefully to see how a new Government rises to these challenges.

The international community is fully aware of the plight of the Palestinian people. Their territory remains under occupation. Settlement activity continues in certain areas. Nearly 400 checkpoints restrict movement throughout the West Bank, despite a recent agreement to ease such restrictions. Fluid communications between Gaza and the West Bank have yet to be established. And a barrier continues to be built on occupied Palestinian territory, despite the ruling of the International Court of Justice. The Quartet is deeply concerned about these matters, and has reminded Israel that it must meet its obligations.

The Palestinian people also face serious humanitarian and development challenges. Their economy, security services and Government institutions all require continued support, as well as far-reaching reforms. The most urgent need is to stabilize the Palestinian Authority’s finances. I appeal to donors from the region and the wider international community to provide the support that is required at this critical time.

For my part, I would like to stress my personal commitment to help the Palestinian people achieve, by peaceful means, what is rightfully theirs: a viable, contiguous, independent State of Palestine living at peace with the State of Israel.

Let everyone commit unequivocally to this goal. And let us then work together to achieve it.


V. TWENTY-SIXTH SESSION OF THE SUPREME COUNCIL OF THE GULF
COOPERATION COUNCIL ISSUES CLOSING STATEMENT

On 15 February 2006, the Chargé d’affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations transmitted in a letter addressed to the Secretary-General the closing statement of the Supreme Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council at its twenty-sixth session, “The King Fahd Summit”, that took place in Abu Dhabi on 18 and 19 December 2005 (A/60/680-S/2006/108). Excerpts from the closing statement are reproduced below:

...

The Supreme Council reviewed developments on the Palestinian front and in the Middle East peace process and expressed the hope that the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and some settlements in the West Bank, while a step in the right direction, would be followed by steps towards a total withdrawal from all occupied Palestinian lands so as to enable the brotherly Palestinian people to build their independent State on their national soil with Jerusalem as its capital.

In this regard, the Supreme Council reaffirmed the commitment of Gulf Cooperation Council States to the Arab peace initiative declared by the 2002 Beirut Summit based on internationally recognized resolutions, and stressed the compatibility of that initiative with the road map.

The Council also reaffirmed that a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East would be achieved only through the establishment of an independent Palestinian State, supported by the necessary components, with Jerusalem as its capital. The Council also stressed the need for an Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Syrian Arab Golan to the line of 4 June 1967 and from the Shaba farmlands in southern Lebanon.

The Supreme Council demanded that Israel desist from its arbitrary practices against defenceless Palestinians, including ending targeted assassinations, stopping settlement activity and evacuating settlements, ceasing construction of the separation wall and removing the sections that have already been built, and preventing threats issued by extremist Jewish groups calling for the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Council stressed that such threats could only inflame Muslim sensibilities, as they related to violations of their holy places, which would destroy the peace process.




VI. SECRETARY-GENERAL GRAVELY CONCERNED BY ESCALATION
OF ISRAELI MILITARY OPERATIONS AND INCREASE IN
PALESTINIAN ROCKET ATTACKS

The following statement was issued on 24 February 2006 by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan (SG/SM/10358):

The Secretary-General is gravely concerned about the escalation of Israel Defence Forces military operations in the past days, especially in Nablus and Gaza, which have resulted in a number of Palestinian deaths. Civilians are reportedly among the casualties. He also expresses concern about a marked increase in rocket attacks by Palestinian militants against Israeli targets.

The Secretary-General renews his call to the parties to the conflict to abide by their obligations under international law, and in particular to ensure the protection of the civilian population, both Palestinian and Israeli.


VII. SPECIAL COORDINATOR FOR THE MIDDLE EAST PEACE
PROCESS BRIEFS THE SECURITY COUNCIL

The Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General, Alvaro de Soto, briefed the Security Council on 28 February 2006 on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question (S/PV.5381). Excerpts from the briefing are reproduced below:

In the Occupied Palestinian Territory, a democratically elected Government is in the process of being formed that will be led by the Hamas list of Change and Reform, an organization which is still formally committed to the destruction of Israel and which has a condemnable record of terrorism against Israel.



This is an unscripted moment, particularly in Israel-Palestine. It falls to the parties to make the choices that will largely determine their future. But the international community also has an important role to play in helping the parties to make wise choices and in ensuring that we keep sight of the overall goal of achieving a two-State solution by peaceful means.

In that respect, members of the Council will recall that, when the Secretariat last briefed them, the Quartet had met in London in the aftermath of the Palestinian legislative elections. On that occasion, the Quartet congratulated the Palestinian people on an electoral process that was free, fair and secure, and stressed its conviction that all members of a new Palestinian Government must be committed to non-violence, recognition of Israel’s right to exist and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the road map. The Security Council subsequently took the same position.

The Quartet, mindful of the needs of the Palestinian people, also called for immediate measures to stabilize the Government and reminded the members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and members of a future Government of the need to respect all signed agreements. It also appealed to the international community not to punish the Palestinian electorate for its democratic choice, as expressed at the ballot box.

On 21 February, President Abbas asked Mr. Ismail Haniya of Hamas to form a Government. Mr. Haniya has three weeks to complete the task, but that period can be extended by another two weeks. The leaders of the Hamas and Fatah blocs have begun consultations on the programme of a new Government, with a view to Fatah’s joining it. I should also add that Mr. Khaled Meshal, a Hamas leader based in Syria, has been visiting several countries in and outside the region.

On 19 February, a day after the inauguration of the Palestinian Legislative Council, the Israeli cabinet met to consider its response to the new situation created, in the view of the Government, by the swearing-in of the new Council. Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made clear the Government of Israel’s view that, in the face of Hamas’ majority in the Palestinian Parliament, the Palestinian Authority is turning effectively into a “terrorist Authority”. Israel, he added, would not hold contacts with an Authority led partly or completely by Hamas.

The Government of Israel decided that it would immediately withhold the payment of value added tax and customs revenue to the Palestinian Authority, which is due monthly pursuant to agreement in the framework of the Oslo Accords. The Government also put a stop to the transfer by the international community of equipment for the Palestinian security forces. Additional measures, as yet unspecified, will be taken.

Israel is entering the final month of a Knesset election campaign. Since taking over as leader upon the illness of Prime Minister Sharon, the Acting Prime Minister has spoken both of entering into final status negotiations with the Palestinians, should a Palestinian Government accept the principles laid down by the Quartet, and of the possibility, if that does not happen, of setting Israel’s permanent borders unilaterally, in ways that would keep all of Jerusalem and the large West Bank settlement blocs in Israel and the Jordan Valley under Israeli control.

In the reporting period, at least 32 Palestinians and one Israeli were killed by violence, while at least 130 Palestinians and 25 Israelis were wounded.

Violence instigated by Palestinians included almost daily rocket fire against Israeli targets in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip, an attack on an Israeli military post at Erez, stabbings of Israeli civilians, the kidnapping of foreigners - including an Egyptian diplomat, who was later released - and violent protests related to the publication in the West of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed. The Government of Israel has also reported having foiled several suicide bombings by Palestinians.

Israel has conducted a series of targeted killings of alleged militants and other security operations. The most extensive military operation was conducted in Nablus beginning 19 February and resulted in a number of Palestinian deaths. The Secretary-General made public statements concerning rocket attacks against Israel, targeted killings of Palestinians, and the escalation of Israeli military operations in Nablus and Gaza.

Israel has, since August, increased by about 25 per cent the number of physical obstacles to Palestinian movement within the West Bank, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. There are now 471 such obstacles. The Karni crossing, which was opened following the Agreement on Movement and Access in November, has been closed since 22 February and was also closed between 15 January and 5 February, with unavoidable consequences for the economy of Gaza.

During the reporting period, the chief Palestinian negotiator brought to our attention the details of a number of new Israeli measures in the Jordan Valley that prevent almost all Palestinian non-residents who do not work in the area from accessing that part of the West Bank.

This month, Israel carried out the evacuation of the Amona settlement outpost despite violent resistance by Israeli settlers. Israel announced further barrier construction in the Gush Etzion area, and also that it would construct a road protection fence in the southern West Bank near the original route of the barrier. On 30 January, the Quartet reiterated its concern regarding the route of the barrier - a route on which the International Court of Justice has issued a clear advisory opinion.



I wish to conclude with five brief observations. First, as President Abbas recalled in his speech to the Palestinian Legislative Council, the Palestinians made fundamental choices 13 years ago, to which they remain committed. Hamas has clearly undergone an evolution of sorts with respect to its earlier rejection of those commitments, including overall respect of a ceasefire and participation in elections which it had earlier rejected. But it is too early to say whether that evolution is irreversible and whether it will continue in the right direction. The choices Hamas makes are the single most important variable that will shape the future of the conflict; and, as the Secretary-General has noted, it may take time for clarity to emerge.

Secondly, I wish to remind Council members of the need - stressed by the Quartet - to stabilize the finances of the Palestinian Authority during the period remaining to the caretaker Government. The Quartet’s Special Envoy, James Wolfensohn, has recently stressed to Quartet members that the Palestinian Authority faces a budget deficit of at least $260 million over the expected lifespan of the caretaker Government, mainly because of Israel’s decision to withhold tax and customs revenue transfers of up to $130 million - money that belongs to Palestinians. I welcome the decision of the European Union, announced yesterday, to provide $143 million of emergency assistance. I recall in that regard the appeal by the Quartet to the international donor community to do its part to avert this short-term crisis.

Thirdly, the formation of a new Government and its programme are awaited in order to assess its commitment to the principles the Quartet has articulated and to make determinations regarding future assistance in that light. We should be alert to the danger that cutting off assistance prior to that date might be interpreted by Palestinians and the Arab world as a whole as punishment of the Palestinian people for the way they voted on 25 January.

Fourthly, in the Palestinian context it is very difficult to make a neat distinction between humanitarian and emergency aid and basic service provision. Also, we must keep in mind that the Palestinian Authority is not something that can be turned on and off like a light switch. It is through the Authority that basic social and economic services and salaries are provided. If those services are not provided and if those salaries are not paid, the humanitarian, economic, institutional, political and security consequences could be severe. And if the Authority - essentially a creature of the Oslo process - is allowed to collapse or is sacrificed, then with it may go hopes of achieving a Palestinian State in a reasonable time frame, for a functioning Authority is an essential building block of a Palestinian State. I need hardly elaborate on the consequences of that happening - for the parties, the region and international security.

Finally, today no less than yesterday, a credible political horizon for resolving the conflict is vital. Peace cannot be imposed unilaterally, and it cannot be achieved durably outside the regional framework of the Middle East peace process. In that respect, we have seen the engagement of certain regional countries in recent weeks, and their efforts to bring back onto the agenda the Arab peace initiative, which is a building block of the road map and a vital part of the agreements to which continued adherence by the Palestinians is expected.

Indeed, the Quartet has signalled its determination to consult closely with the key regional actors. And I stress the Quartet’s own continued commitment to the road map and to the principles that underlie it, which include non-violence, recognition of Israel’s right to exist and respect for previous agreements. I very much hope that a new Palestinian Government, fully cognizant of the responsibilities now thrust on its shoulders, will commit to those principles not because of the appearance of pressure from outside but because the Palestinian people have a right to expect that their new Government will address their aspirations for peace and statehood.


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