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Bulletin mensuel de la DDP - Vol.XXX, No.5 - bulletin du Comité pour l’exercice des droits inaliénables du peuple palestinien/DDP (mai 2007) - publication de la Division des droits palestiniens Français

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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP)
31 May 2007



May 2007

Volume XXX, Bulletin No. 5


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


Contents
Page
I.
ESCWA issues report on economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan

1
II.
Secretary-General issues statement on violence outside an UNRWA school in the Gaza Strip
1
III.
Secretary-General delivers message to the United Nations African Meeting on the Question of Palestine held in Pretoria
2
IV.
Secretary-General appoints Board members of United Nations Register of Damage caused by the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
3
V.
Statement by Bureau of Palestinian Rights Committee on appointment of experts to Board of United Nations Register of Damage
4
VI
Secretary-General appoints new United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority
4
VII.
Secretary-General delivers message to Organization of the Islamic Conference Ministerial Conference in Islamabad
5
VIII.
Secretary-General issues report on assistance to the Palestinian people
6
IX.
Secretary-General expresses concern over escalating violence in the Gaza Strip
7
X.
Director-General of UNESCO condemns murder of two Palestinian media workers in Gaza City
7
XI.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights condemns violence in Gaza and Sderot
8
XII.
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs briefs the Security Council
8
XIII.
Organization of the Islamic Conference Group at the United Nations issues communiqué
11
XIV.
Non-Aligned Movement Coordinating Bureau issues communiqué
12
XV.
International Labour Organization issues Director-General’s report on the situation of the workers in the occupied Arab territories
13
XVI.
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory issues statement
16
XVII.
Quartet Principals issue statement in Berlin
17
XVIII.
Security Council issues press statement on ceasefire breakdown in the Gaza Strip
19






The Bulletin can be found in the United Nations Information System
on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL) on the Internet at:
http://unispal.un.org.








I. ESCWA ISSUES REPORT ON ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL REPERCUSSIONS
OF THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION ON THE LIVING CONDITIONS OF THE
PALESTINIAN PEOPLE IN THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY,
INCLUDING JERUSALEM, AND OF THE ARAB POPULATION
IN THE OCCUPIED SYRIAN GOLAN

The Economic and Social Council published on 3 May 2007 a report prepared by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) entitled “Economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan” (A/62/75-E/2007/13. The report was submitted pursuant to Economic and Social Council resolution 2006/43 and General Assembly resolution 61/184. The following excerpt from the report contains its conclusions:



IV. Conclusions

74. A combination of intensified external and internal closures, the withholding of vital financial assistance from the Palestinian Authority and intensified conflict in 2006 have led to a measurable deepening of the socio-economic crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. All social and public health indicators reveal declining standards in living conditions, social and spatial dismemberment, growing despair and violence. This crisis on the ground was accompanied by a weakening capacity of Palestinian institutions to independently provide for the essential services and welfare of the Palestinian population.

75. The crisis has been partly offset by increased international investment through alternative funding channels. The situation prompted the United Nations country team to launch a common appeal in December 2006 which, at $453 million, was double the amount requested in 2005. Increasing proportions of international assistance were shifted from long-term development support to immediate emergency response. While these temporary measures served to stabilize the situation to a significant degree, they were not expected to contribute to the long-term improvement of socio-economic conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Nor were they expected to be a substitute for the direct responsibility of local parties, or for a rejuvenated political process that could address the underlying issues of the conflict.


II. SECRETARY-GENERAL ISSUES STATEMENT ON VIOLENCE
OUTSIDE AN UNRWA SCHOOL IN THE GAZA STRIP

The Spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued the following statement on 7 May 2007 (SG/SM/10979-PAL/2072):

The Secretary-General is deeply disturbed over yesterday’s violent incident outside a United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) school in the Gaza Strip, in which one person was killed and eight injured, including two UNRWA schoolchildren. This is the latest of a series of intra-Palestinian clashes that have claimed innocent and unarmed victims. He calls on the Palestinian National Unity Government to exercise its responsibility to ensure law and order, including the protection of humanitarian organizations such as UNRWA that deliver vital services to the people of Gaza.

The Secretary-General also calls on the Palestinian Authority to take all actions needed to halt immediately the firing of rockets against Israeli population centres, which by definition target civilians.


III. SECRETARY-GENERAL DELIVERS MESSAGE TO THE UNITED
NATIONS AFRICAN MEETING ON THE QUESTION OF
PALESTINE HELD IN PRETORIA
The United Nations African Meeting on the Question of Palestine was held in Pretoria on 9 and 10 May 2007. The Meeting was followed on 11 May by the United Nations Public Forum in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace, held at the University of Pretoria. The Secretary-General delivered a message to the Meeting that was read by Tuliameni Kalomoh, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs. The following is the text of the Secretary-General’s message to the Meeting (SG/SM/10987-GA/PAL/1049):

I thank the people and Government of South Africa for hosting this meeting organized under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. And I offer warm greetings to all the participants.

Israelis and Palestinians continue to search for a solution to end their conflict. There have been some important recent developments. The agreement reached in Mecca between Palestinian factions led to the formation of a Palestinian National Unity Government that will hopefully work to curb the intra-Palestinian violence that threatens to destabilize the Gaza Strip. I encourage this new Government to continue its efforts to overcome internal Palestinian discord and move towards acceptance of Quartet principles. I have urged the international community to nurture this process, and I hope this includes new thinking on ways to alleviate the Palestinian fiscal crisis.

I am encouraged by recent international and regional efforts to get Palestinians and Israelis back on the negotiating track. The Riyadh Summit of the League of Arab States endorsed its Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, and has established a Ministerial Committee to promote this process. United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is actively promoting dialogue between the parties. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Mahmoud Abbas have begun to meet regularly to discuss a range of issues, and I hope that the internal challenges each faces will not deter them from moving forward with discussions on the political horizon. The Quartet has a vital role to play in supporting these efforts and in ensuring that both parties are held to their commitments.

Yet many challenges remain. During my recent visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, I saw first-hand some of the obstacles that, over the years, have stalled progress in the peace process. I was deeply troubled by the network of checkpoints, by settlements and by the construction of the barrier on a route that deviates from the Green Line. In talking to ordinary Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, I was struck by their deep longing for their own State and the many frustrations they face in their daily lives. The humanitarian situation is woeful and deteriorating, and the economy needs to be urgently revitalized.

Through my visit I also came to better understand the security concerns facing Israelis. Rocket attacks and indiscriminate violence against civilians should be stopped completely and without conditions. Security is also an urgent need for the Palestinians, who face a rising death toll as a result of IDF [Israel Defense Forces] incursions, as well as internal violence in Gaza.

I encourage both parties to demonstrate a true commitment to peace through a negotiated two-State solution. Palestinians need to cease rocket attacks against Israel and other indiscriminate violence against civilians. They should also work towards the immediate and safe release of the abducted BBC journalist, Alan Johnston, and of the Israeli soldier being held captive. I encourage Israel, for its part, to cease settlement activity and the construction of the wall, to ease Palestinian movement and release Palestinian revenues, and to show progress on the release of Palestinian prisoners. Israel should also ensure that its military operations are in accordance with international humanitarian and human rights law, so as not to endanger civilians.

The United Nations will continue to support international efforts aimed at bringing an end to the occupation that began 40 years ago, and achieving a two-State solution. A viable and independent Palestine and a safe and secure Israel would not only be a blessing for the two peoples, but would also help promote peace and stability in the wider region.

I am fully committed to advancing a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement, based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002) and 1515 (2003) and the principle of land for peace. I urge the international community, including Governments, intergovernmental organizations, civil society and individuals to intensify their efforts to bring about a peaceful solution to this terrible conflict.


IV. SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS BOARD MEMBERS OF UNITED
NATIONS REGISTER OF DAMAGE CAUSED BY THE
CONSTRUCTION OF THE WALL IN THE OCCUPIED
PALESTINIAN TERRITORY

The following press release was issued on 10 May 2007 (SG/A/1064-PAL/2073):

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in compliance with the relevant General Assembly resolution of December 2006, has decided to appoint in their personal capacity three prominent international experts as members of the Board of the United Nations Register of Damage caused by the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. They are Harumi Hori from Japan, Matti Paavo Pellonpää from Finland and Michael F. Raboin from the United States of America. The Board is expected to commence its mandated work on 14 May in a meeting at the United Nations Office at Vienna.


V. STATEMENT BY BUREAU OF PALESTINIAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE
ON APPOINTMENTOF EXPERTS TO BOARD OF UNITED NATIONS
REGISTER OF DAMAGE

On 11 May 2007, the Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People issued the following statement (GA/PAL/1053):

The Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People notes the appointment by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of three prominent international experts as members of the Board of the United Nations Register of Damage caused by the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. The Bureau of the Committee appreciates the announcement that the Board is expected to commence its mandated work on 14 May 20007 in a meeting at the United Nations Office at Vienna.

This decision is an important step towards the implementation of General Assembly resolution ES-10/17 of 15 December 2006, which requested the setting up of an office of the Register of Damage by 15 June 2007. It is, at the same time, a concrete measure to implement one of the conclusions of the International Court of Justice expressed in its advisory opinion of 9 July 2004 on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem.

The Bureau of the Committee expresses the hope that the office of the Register of Damage will begin implementing resolution ES-10/17 without delay, thus fulfilling its important General Assembly mandate.


VI. SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS NEW UNITED NATIONS
SPECIAL COORDINATOR FOR THE MIDDLE EAST PEACE
PROCESS AND PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE TO THE
PALESTINE LIBERATION ORGANIZATION AND THE
PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY

The Secretary-General, on 15 May 2007, wrote to the President of the Security Council informing him of the appointment of Michael C. Williams as the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, succeeding Alvaro de Soto. The following is the text of the letter (S/2007/292):

I wish to inform the Security Council of my intention to appoint Michael C. Williams as the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and my Personal Representative to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, succeeding Alvaro de Soto. He will act as my Envoy to the Quartet, and do all possible to support the momentum towards peace. He will, therefore, divide his time between the region and Headquarters.

Mr. Williams served as a senior official in United Nations peacekeeping missions in Cambodia and the former Yugoslavia from 1992 to 1996. He was Special Adviser to two British Foreign Secretaries, Robin Cook and Jack Straw, from 1999 to 2005. He was appointed Special Adviser on the Middle East by Kofi Annan in August 2006.

It is my intention that the new Special Coordinator should be guided by the principles set out in relevant Security Council resolutions and the road map framework for peace put forward by the Quartet, as endorsed by the Security Council in its resolution 1515 (2003).

Mr. Williams’ functions and responsibilities will include coordination of all United Nations activities on the ground related to the Middle East peace process, with the aim of ensuring that the United Nations contribution is fully integrated and coordinated. As the Special Coordinator, Mr. Williams will represent me at all meetings and in all structures involving the parties and the international community and provide political guidance to the United Nations system.


VII. SECRETARY-GENERAL DELIVERS MESSAGE TO ORGANIZATION
OF THE ISLAMIC CONFERENCE MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE
IN ISLAMABAD

The following are excerpts from the Secretary-General’s message to the Ministerial Conference of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), as delivered on 15 May 2007 in Islamabad, Pakistan, by Ibrahim Gambari, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the International Compact with Iraq and Other Political Issues (SG/SM/10995):

I am pleased to send my greetings to the ministerial meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. This gathering comes at a crucial juncture for your member countries, as well as the international community at large. Instability in Islamic States - from Afghanistan and Iraq to the Sudan and Somalia - carries profound implications for international peace and security. Addressing this challenge requires our sustained and collective response.

My recent trips to the Middle East gave me the opportunity to experience first-hand the realities of the Arab-Israeli conflict. I came away deeply troubled by the network of checkpoints, by settlements and by the construction of the barrier on a route that deviates from the Green Line. Through my visit, I also came to better understand the security concerns facing Israelis.
I continue to urge both parties to demonstrate a true commitment to peace through a negotiated two-State solution. I believe Israel has to live up to its obligations, just as the Palestinians must make good on their responsibilities.

I was, however, encouraged by signs of greater Arab engagement in the peace process through the Arab Peace Initiative. I also view the Palestinian National Unity Government as a positive development, and encourage it to continue its efforts to overcome internal Palestinian discord and move towards acceptance of Quartet principles. I hope the international community, including the members of the OIC, will remain constructively engaged in this process.



The OIC, as a leading multilateral institution, is well placed to play a leading role in addressing all these challenges. I would especially like to commend the excellent cooperation between the United Nations and the OIC. Our engagement on matters of peace and security holds tremendous promise. At the same time, joint UN-OIC economic, cultural and social projects are already yielding significant dividends for OIC member States. I look forward to strengthening these ties even further in the months and years to come.


VIII. SECRETARY-GENERAL ISSUES REPORT ON ASSISTANCE
TO THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE

Pursuant to General Assembly resolution 61/135, the Secretary-General on 26 July 2007 submitted to the Economic and Social Council at its substantive session of 2007 a report entitled “Assistance to the Palestinian People” (A/62/82-E/2007/66). The summary of the report, which covers the period May 2006 to April 2007, is reproduced below:

During the period under review, the Palestinian economy suffered a significant decline and the socio-economic and humanitarian conditions of the population worsened. Many donors reviewed their assistance policy to the Palestinian Authority, in the context of the three principles spelled out by the Middle East Quartet in January 2006. At the same time, the Government of Israel continued to withhold the payment of the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, with the exception of one transfer early in 2007. As a result, and despite increased levels of aid, the Palestinian Authority has been facing a worsening fiscal crisis, which has exacerbated the already precarious situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

These developments occurred against the backdrop of continuing violence between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as among Palestinians, that claimed innocent lives on both sides. The reporting period was notably marked by the capture of an Israeli soldier by Palestinian militants, the continuation of Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians, in particular the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip, Israeli military reprisals conducted in Palestinian civilian areas, the continuation of a tight closure policy by the Israeli authorities, the partial implementation of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access, the resumption of direct contacts between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and the formation of the Palestinian Government of National Unity.


IX. SECRETARY-GENERAL EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER ESCALATING VIOLENCE IN THE GAZA STRIP

The following statement was issued on 16 May 2007 by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General (SG/SM/10997-PAL/2074):

The Secretary-General is profoundly concerned at the escalation of violence in Gaza and the growing number of casualties. The deadly factional fighting has included unacceptable attacks on Palestinian Authority installations, institutions and personnel, and endangers civilians throughout Gaza. Equally unacceptable is the firing by Palestinian militants of rockets into Israel, targeting and injuring civilians.

The Secretary-General calls on all Palestinian factions to cease immediately all acts of violence. He calls on President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and the Palestinian Authority Government to bring violence to an end and restore calm. He underlines the obligations on all parties involved to act in strict accordance with international human rights and humanitarian law, and to ensure that humanitarian operations can continue without impediment.


X. DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF UNESCO CONDEMNS MURDER OF TWO
PALESTINIAN MEDIA WORKERS IN GAZA CITY

The Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Koïchiro Matsuura, on 18 May 2007, condemned the murder of Suleiman Abdul-Rahim al-Ashi and Mohammad Matar Abdo of Palestine newspaper in Gaza City on 13 May and called for an investigation into the crime.

"I condemn the murder of Suleiman Abdul-Rahim al-Ashi and Mohammad Matar Abdo," the Director-General said. "Killing journalists and media workers is not just a crime against individual people but an attack on society's right to be informed – it is also an attack against the basic human right of freedom of expression. These rights are not a luxury to be enjoyed by rich countries alone, but a vital necessity for all, especially those experiencing conflict and hardship. I trust the Palestinian authorities will investigate these crimes and bring their perpetrators to justice. I also urge the Palestinian presidency and government to do their utmost to ensure respect for freedom of the press, an indispensable condition for the development of a democratic Palestinian society and for the improvement of the living conditions of the Palestinian people," Mr. Matsuura concluded.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, gunmen wearing presidential guard uniforms shot Abdul-Rahim al-Ashi, and Mohammad Matar Abdo who were in a taxi in a high security area southwest of Gaza City. Abdul-Rahim al-Ashi, was an economics editor for the Hamas-affiliated daily Palestine, and Mohammad Matar Abdo was responsible for the newly created paper’s distribution.


XI. UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
CONDEMNS VIOLENCE IN GAZA AND SDEROT

The Human Rights Council circulated on 23 May 2007 the following press release (HC/07/030):

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour expressed on alarm over the week-long upsurge of violence in the Gaza Strip and its devastating impact on an already vulnerable civilian population. The High Commissioner voiced hope that the ceasefire reached among Palestinian factions would last.

The High Commissioner also condemned the ongoing rocket attacks against Sderot and called for their immediate cessation: “Deliberate attacks against civilians, and the use of indiscriminate weapons, which I personally witnessed during my visit to Sderot a few months ago, are in flagrant violation of cardinal principles of international humanitarian law and must stop”.

The High Commissioner also called upon Israel to exercise restraint and precaution, recalling that any resort to force must distinguish between civilian and military objectives at all times. “Extrajudicial killings are in breach of both international human rights and humanitarian law, and cannot be justified under any circumstance”.


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

On 24 May 2007, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe briefed the Security Council on the item entitled “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”. The following are excerpts of the briefing (S/PV.5683):

Recent events starkly illustrate just how volatile the Middle East conflict remains and how sizeable the obstacles are to progress towards peace. One immediate concern must be ending the violence that has erupted in Gaza and has extended to southern Israel. The longer it continues, the greater the risk of escalation, and the greater the threat to both the survival of the National Unity Government and to the prospects for any fruitful Israeli-Palestinian dialogue. Leaders on all sides have a responsibility to do their utmost to rein in the violence.



The factional fighting in Gaza erupted soon after the resignation of Palestinian Interior Minister Hani Kawasmeh on 14 May.



The Secretary-General has repeatedly called for an end to the violence. Egypt is to be commended for its continuing efforts to mediate. In order to address the situation comprehensively, Palestinian leaders must live up to their responsibilities to bring law and order to areas under Palestinian control and to reform the security forces.

Rocket fire against Israel escalated significantly, with more than 270 rockets fired during the reporting period. … The Secretary-General has emphasized the need for the rocket fire to cease.

In response to the rocket fire, Israeli tanks entered the Gaza Strip for the first time since the ceasefire was agreed in November last year. The Israeli Air Force has conducted air strikes aimed at militants and facilities. However, there have been civilian casualties, including six family members of a Hamas Legislative Council member, who were killed in a single strike on their home. All told, in Israeli-Palestinian violence this month, militant rocket fire has killed 1 Israeli and injured at least 16, together with dozens treated for trauma, while Israel Defense Forces (IDF) air strikes and ground incursions have killed 57 Palestinians and injured at least 175 others, with children accounting for six of the dead.

While recognizing the right of Israel to defend itself, the Secretary-General has called on Israel to ensure that its actions do not target civilians or put them at undue risk. All parties must abide by the basic tenets of applicable international law.



United Nations operations and personnel face real dangers. On 7 May, an internal Palestinian clash outside a school in Rafah operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East left one person dead and eight injured, including two children. British journalist Alan Johnston, who was kidnapped on 12 March 2007, has not yet been released. There has been no further movement on the release of Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit, who was captured by Palestinian militants on 25 June 2006, or on Palestinian prisoners. Yesterday, Israel arrested some 30 Hamas officials, including elected mayors and legislators. The most prominent arrestee is Nasser Eddin Al-Sha’er, the Palestinian Minister of Education, who was active in the negotiations to form the National Unity Government.

There has been no action towards a freeze in settlement construction or in the dismantlement of settlement outposts. ... In early May, a plan for three further settlements in East Jerusalem, comprising another 20,000 housing units, received preliminary approval. The Secretary-General has expressed his concern about these plans and stated that a halt to settlement expansion is one of the basic obligations in phase one of the Quartet’s Road Map.



This month there was slight improvement in movement in the Jordan Valley. However, commitments to ease movement and access in the West Bank remain unmet. A total of 549 physical obstacles to movement were in place as of 15 May 2007, a slight increase from last month.



In the Gaza Strip, the number of trucks exporting in April was only 11 per cent of the targets decided on in the Agreement on Movement and Access. Due to the upsurge in violence, Karni was closed between 15 and 20 May and has reopened only sporadically since then. As of 21 May, the Rafah crossing was open for only five days of the month. It is good, however, that the European Union Border Assistance Mission at Rafah is being renewed.

United Nations staff members and other humanitarian workers crossing into Israel continue to face arbitrary and sometimes humiliating treatment by Israeli authorities. The United Nations continues to follow up access issues faced by our staff and other humanitarian workers with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The recent United States decision not to block bank transfers to Palestinian accounts, the re-establishment of the single treasury account and the ongoing efforts by Finance Minister Salaam Fayyad to re-start a transparent and accountable budget process should be welcomed and supported by all.



There have been no further bilateral meetings between Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas since 15 April. The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for 11 June. United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice postponed a planned trip to the region. However, the United States-proposed benchmarks on security and Agreement on Movement and Access implementation have been shared with the parties. These benchmarks reportedly provide for enhanced operations at the Karni and Rafah crossing points, as well as for easing the restrictions on movement in the West Bank and between the West Bank and Gaza.

Efforts to promote the Arab Peace Initiative, which was reaffirmed by Arab League members at their summit meeting in Riyadh in March, have continued. During the reporting period, dialogue took place between Israeli, Jordanian and Egyptian officials at the highest levels, including a meeting of Foreign Minister Livni with her Jordanian and Egyptian counterparts in Cairo on 10 May, and Prime Minister Olmert and King Abdullah of Jordan on 15 May. A ministerial-level follow-up meeting is anticipated in Israel in the coming weeks.

Quartet members held a positive informal exchange of views in Sharm el-Sheikh with members of the committee of the Arab League tasked with implementing the Arab Peace Initiative. The Secretary-General strongly encourages all concerned to continue to discuss the next steps required to benefit from this important initiative, which provides the framework for a comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict, consistent with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). He will continue to convey this in his discussions with the Quartet when he joins them next week in Berlin.

I shall turn now to Lebanon, where the security situation has deteriorated drastically over the reporting period. On 20 May, heavy fighting erupted between the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and Fatah al-Islam gunmen in Tripoli in northern Lebanon and around the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp. The fighting began following a police effort to arrest, in Tripoli, Fatah al-Islam militants suspected in a bank robbery which had taken place a day earlier. The militants resisted arrest, and a gun battle ensued which spread to the surrounding streets.



The situation faced by civilians in the camp is extremely difficult. According to Palestinian sources in the camp, thousands initially fled their homes on the edges of the camp, where fighting was most intense, to shelter deeper inside the camp. During a truce on Tuesday and Wednesday, at least 15,000 refugees fled the camp. Dozens of homes are reported to have been destroyed, and civilian casualties and public health issues are reported to be mounting. Much of the camp’s supply of medicine, water and electricity is reported to have been interrupted.

Because of the heavy fighting, UNRWA has been able to send only one convoy to the camp to provide humanitarian assistance.

...

Major Palestinian factions in Lebanon expressed concern over the incidents and dissociated themselves from Fatah al-Islam. Palestinian representatives in Lebanon, together with several Palestinian local leaders, continued their meetings with Lebanese officials to ensure the safety and protection of Palestinian civilians during the fighting.




XIII. ORGANIZATION OF THE ISLAMIC CONFERENCE GROUP AT THE
UNITED NATIONS ISSUES COMMUNIQUÉ

The Organization of the Islamic Conference Group at the United Nations issued on 24 May 2007 a communiqué that was transmitted in a letter to the Secretary-General from the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations (A/61/926-S/2007/309). The text of the communiqué is reproduced below:

Communiqué on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Group expresses its grave concern at the deterioration of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and condemns in specific the recent aggression by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian civilian population. Intense military attacks by the Israeli occupying forces, particularly against civilian areas throughout the Gaza Strip, have resulted in the killing and injuring of dozens of Palestinians, including children, and widespread destruction of property. This excessive and indiscriminate use of force by Israel, the occupying Power, against Palestinian civilians constitutes a grave breach of international humanitarian law and threatens to completely destabilize the already fragile and tense situation on the ground and worsen the dire humanitarian conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The OIC Group demands the immediate cessation of these military attacks by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people. Further, the OIC Group calls upon both sides to abide by the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and to immediately extend it to the West Bank in order to bring an end to the cycle of violence and promote calm.

The OIC Group calls upon the Security Council, which is the organ entrusted with the maintenance of the peace and security, to assume its responsibilities to help bring an immediate cessation of this latest Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people and to consider mechanisms for the maintenance of the ceasefire. In this regard, the OIC Group urges the Security Council to seriously consider the deployment of observers to monitor respect of the ceasefire.

The OIC Group urges all concerned parties to exert the necessary efforts to work together to stop the bloodletting and destruction and the continuing deterioration of this crisis. The cessation of this grave situation is imperative for preserving the hopes for peace that have recently arisen, in particular following the renewal of the important Arab Peace Initiative, and promoting the calm and stability needed for the pursuit of a peaceful, just and final settlement to this tragic conflict.


XIV. NON-ALIGNED MOVEMENT COORDINATING BUREAU
ISSUES COMMUNIQUÉ

The Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement issued on 24 May 2007 a communiqué on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory that was transmitted in a letter to the Secretary-General from the Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations (A/61/925-S/2007/310). The text of the communiqué is reproduced below:

Communiqué by the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement on the Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem

The Non-Aligned Movement expresses its grave concern at the deterioration of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and condemns in specific the recent aggression by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian civilian population. Intense military attacks by the Israeli occupying forces, particularly against civilian areas throughout the Gaza Strip, have resulted in the killing and injuring of dozens of Palestinians, including children, and widespread destruction of property. This excessive and indiscriminate use of force by the occupying Power against civilians constitutes a grave breach of international humanitarian law and threatens to completely destabilize the fragile and tense situation on the ground and worsen the already dire humanitarian conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The Non-Aligned Movement demands the immediate cessation of these military attacks by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people. Further, the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement calls upon both sides to abide by the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, and to immediately extend it to the West Bank, in order to bring an end to the cycle of violence and promote calm.

The Non-Aligned Movement calls upon the Security Council, which is the organ entrusted with the maintenance of international peace and security, to assume its responsibilities to help bring an immediate cessation of this latest Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people and to consider mechanisms for the maintenance of the ceasefire. In this regard, the Non-Aligned Movement urges the Security Council to seriously consider the deployment of observers to monitor respect of the ceasefire.

The Non-Aligned Movement urges all concerned parties to exert the necessary efforts to work together to stop the bloodletting and destruction and the continuing deterioration of this crisis. The cessation of this grave situation is imperative for preserving the hopes for peace that have recently arisen, in particular following the renewal of the important Arab Peace Initiative, and promoting the calm and stability needed for the pursuit of a peaceful, just and final settlement to this tragic conflict.


XV. INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANIZATION ISSUES DIRECTOR-
GENERAL’S REPORT ON THE SITUATION OF THE WORKERS
IN THE OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES

In accordance with the resolution concerning the implications of Israeli settlements in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories in connection with the situation of Arab workers, adopted by the International Labour Conference at its sixtieth session (1980), the ILO Director-General again in 2007 sent missions to Israel and the occupied Arab territories and to the Syrian Arab Republic in order to make an assessment of the situation of workers of the territories. The report of the mission was issued as the appendix to the Director-General’s report and was submitted on 28 May 2007 at the ninety-sixth session of the International Labour Conference (Report of the Director-General, appendix: The Situation of Workers in the Occupied Arab Territories, Geneva, International Labour Office, 2007). The conclusions of the report are reproduced below:

Conclusions

116. This report has documented the continuing deterioration of the situation of workers in the occupied Arab territories since May 2006. The number of households below the poverty line jumped by 26 per cent between March 2006 and March 2007. Seven out of ten households, comprising some 2.4 million persons, are in poverty today. Only one in three persons is in employment, each supporting some six dependants. Two persons in three are not employed, either because they are unemployed (some 206,000, or 24 per cent of the labour force in December 2006) or because they are outside the labour force. Per capita gross domestic product (GDP) was 40 per cent lower in 2006 than in 1999.

117. The report describes the deteriorating economic, institutional and social situation leading to more people living with lower incomes and in more precarious conditions.

118. There is territorial disintegration, with a tight network of closures, sophisticated controls and the expansion of illegal settlements. Multiple barriers to and controls on mobility of people and goods have intensified. The land, sea and air borders of the Gaza Strip are firmly controlled and often sealed by the occupying power, leading to virtually complete isolation. Movement within the West Bank and between it and East Jerusalem and Gaza is highly restricted and regulated by an intricate and constantly changing permit regime, ubiquitous checkpoints and barriers. Closures are the main cause of the worsening socio-economic situation of Palestinian women and men.

119. The economic crisis has accelerated as a result of a major contraction in average income. The immediate cause is the non-payment of full wages of public employees since April 2006, the decline in public and private investment, and the growing difficulties faced by enterprises in moving their products to domestic and international markets.

120. Institutions have been weakened, with a public sector crippled by the crisis and financial sanctions. Important public financial management reforms have been jeopardized by the suspension of direct payments to the Palestinian Government. Bypassing the Government has had the unintended effect of undermining the capacity of the national authorities to manage and deliver public services.

121. Humanitarian assistance, in kind and through cash-for-work programmes, increased in 2006 in response to the unfolding crisis. Such assistance raises a dilemma, as it tends to disorganize private sector activities and replace much-needed development assistance.

122. The social fabric of the occupied territories is bearing the strain of persistent high unemployment, especially among the young, and unprecedented levels of poverty and violence, including a deterioration in law and order. The Palestinian population continues to grow rapidly at 2.8 per cent per year. It is a very young population, with 46 per cent aged 14 years and below. Children, adolescents, wives and mothers, adults and elders suffer the daily effects of a disintegrating social fabric.

123. Multiple shortcomings in the application of labour law and workers. rights have been highlighted. Intimidation and harassment of Arab workers are well documented. Access to legal process is often delayed and costly for workers who can ill afford it. Arab entrepreneurs, workers and independent producers and farmers suffer multiple discrimination in access to employment and markets.

124. Reducing and removing barriers to the mobility of persons and goods within the territories, between Gaza and the West Bank and with the outside world, while ensuring security in Israel, is foremost among the measures that could avert the mounting economic and social crisis in the occupied territories.

125. The Palestinian economy must be revived, with an emphasis on private sector development and employment. This should be the main priority of international cooperation.

126. Generating productive and freely chosen work opportunities, through private sector development, will have the practical effect of lessening the tension surrounding everyday life in the occupied territories. Rebuilding a viable Palestinian economy is part of making peace possible.

127. Policies and measures to mitigate discrimination in the occupied Palestinian territories and in the occupied Syrian Golan can draw on the ILO standards on the elimination of discrimination in employment and occupation. Enabling workers to organize freely and to engage in collective bargaining is one dimension of the rule of law. Measures in this regard can be based on the ILO standards on freedom of association and collective bargaining.

128. The ILO stands ready to work with the Palestinian Ministry of Labour and social partners, with constituents in the Syrian Arab Republic, and with the donor community to develop programmes in the occupied Arab territories to promote employment opportunities, enterprise development and tripartite dialogue through strong employers and workers organizations.

129. The Palestinian Ministry and social partners have identified a number of areas in which the ILO can strengthen its ongoing technical cooperation. These include:

(a) Assistance to employers’ and workers’ organizations to function as independent, democratic and representative organizations and to engage in social dialogue;

(b) Assistance to the Ministry of Labour to strengthen the functions of labour administration, including labour law, tripartite dialogue, labour inspection and public employment services, and its policy-making functions in the areas of employment and vocational training;

(c) Enterprise development programmes to strengthen existing enterprises and foster new businesses; (d) Employment and vocational training programmes, principally for young women and men;

(e) Cooperative development; (f) Funding and managing viable social protection systems.

130. An ILO technical mission will be visiting the region as soon as possible in order to draw up detailed proposals in the above areas. It will pay particular attention to developing joint programmes and collaborative arrangements with United Nations programmes, development institutions and donor agencies active in the occupied Arab territories.

131. The ILO technical mission will also examine the Palestinian Fund for Employment and Social Protection in order to strengthen its capacity to provide technical advice, under tripartite guidance, on private sector enterprise development and on employment policies.

132. In response to requests from constituents of the Syrian Arab Republic, the ILO will develop proposals for a programme of technical assistance for Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan in the areas of cooperative and enterprise development and employment and vocational training.

133. In all these areas, the ILO will work closely with all the relevant international organizations.


XVI. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
IN THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY
ISSUES STATEMENT

The following statement was issued on 29 May 2007 by John Dugard, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 1967:

On Wednesday 30 May 2007 the Quartet, comprising the United Nations, the European Union, the United States of America and the Russian Federation, meets in Berlin to review the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and to advance the peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians. It meets at a crucial time in the history of the region as there are indications that the events of last summer are likely to be repeated. Already we have seen an intensification of Israeli air strikes into Gaza, killing over 50 people and injuring 180, many of whom are civilians, including women and children. This is in response to over 270 Qassam rockets fired by Palestinian militants into the Israeli town of Sderot and the surrounding areas. These rockets have killed two Israelis and injured 16.

The indiscriminate firing of rockets into Sderot violates international humanitarian law. So does Israel's response as it fails to distinguish between civilians and combatants and is a disproportionate use of force. Extrajudicial killings of the kind undertaken by Israel are illegal under international humanitarian law and seem to even fail to meet the minimum requirements for such action laid down by Israel's own Supreme Court in December 2006.

As last year, Israel has reacted to Palestinian action by arresting over 30 Palestinian members of Hamas, including two Palestinian Authority cabinet ministers, several legislators and the mayors of Nablus and Qalqiliya. Over 40 of those arrested last year still remain in Israeli custody with no prospect of release or being brought to trial. Arrests of this kind are clear acts of collective punishment, in violation of the Geneva Conventions, and undermine the peace process.

These acts must be seen in the context of ongoing violations of human rights by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Military incursions and arrests of Palestinians occur regularly in the West Bank. Settlements continue to be expanded in violation of the Quartet's own Road Map for peace. Israel continues to construct the wall in Palestinian territory in violation of the 2004 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice. Some 549 road blocks in the West Bank obstruct Palestinian freedom of movement. Israel continues to withhold taxes and thereby to promote a humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territory. In short Israel remains in serious violation of human rights law and international humanitarian law. Strangely, the Quartet largely ignores this and instead takes action against the Palestinian Authority, as a result of democratic elections in 2006 which brought Hamas to power.

Peace and respect for human rights cannot be brought to the region unless the international community intervenes to persuade, and if necessary, to compel both Israelis and Palestinians to seriously address the issues that stand in the way of an independent Palestinian State. The Quartet is the body chosen by the Security Council of the United Nations for this task. It cannot achieve anything unless it approaches both parties in a fair and even-handed manner. This requires it to treat both parties equally and to accord equal recognition and standing to both parties. The full recognition of the Palestinian Government of National Unity is therefore an indispensable requirement to further peace. This means the recognition of both Hamas and non-Hamas members of the Palestinian Government of National Unity. In order to prevent another season of violence and to protect human rights in the region, the Quartet must intervene immediately in a fair and even-handed manner.


XVII. QUARTET PRINCIPALS ISSUE STATEMENT IN BERLIN

Following is the text of the statement issued on 30 May 2007 in Berlin by the Quartet principals (SG/2128-PAL/2078):

The Quartet principals - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, High Representative for European Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner -- met today in Berlin to discuss the situation in the Middle East.

The Quartet expressed its deep concern over recent factional violence in Gaza. It called for all Palestinians to immediately renounce all acts of violence and respect the ceasefire. It called upon the Palestinian Authority Government, in cooperation with President [Mahmoud] Abbas and regional actors, to do everything necessary to restore law and order, including the release of kidnapped BBC journalist Alan Johnston.

The Quartet strongly condemned the continued firing of Qassam rockets into southern Israel, as well as the build-up of arms by Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza. It endorsed Palestinian Authority President Abbas’ call for an immediate end to such violence, and called upon all elements of the Palestinian Authority Government and all Palestinian groups to cooperate with President Abbas to that end. The Quartet called for the immediate and unconditional release of Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit. The Quartet urged Israel to exercise restraint to ensure that its security operations avoid civilian casualties or damage to civilian infrastructure. It noted that the detention of elected members of the Palestinian Government and legislature raises particular concerns and called for them to be released. The Quartet noted its support for the 30 May Security Council press statement on the breakdown of the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

The Quartet welcomed continued dialogue between Prime Minister [Ehud] Olmert and President Abbas, including bilateral summits, and expressed support for United States efforts to effect progress on security and movement and access issues. The Quartet agreed that movement and access are essential and, in this regard, called on both parties to implement fully the Movement and Access Agreement of 15 November 2005. The Quartet urged the parties to work positively and constructively in order to build confidence and to create an environment conducive to progress on the political horizon for Palestinian statehood, consistent with the Road Map and relevant Security Council resolutions, which should also be addressed in these bilateral discussions. Palestinians must know that their State will be viable, and Israelis must know a future State of Palestine will be a source of security, not a threat.

The Quartet commended the excellent work of the Temporary International Mechanism and endorsed its extension for three months from July until September 2007. It called on donors to follow through on past pledges of support. The Quartet noted that the resumption of transfers of tax and customs revenues collected by Israel on behalf of the Palestinian Authority would have a significant impact on the Palestinian economy. The Quartet encouraged Israel and the Palestinian Authority to consider resumption of such transfers via the Temporary International Mechanism to improve the economic and humanitarian conditions in the West Bank and Gaza. In light of increased regional support for the Palestinians, the Quartet agreed to review where additional donor assistance should be focused, with particular consideration for infrastructure and development programmes that can directly improve the daily lives of Palestinians. The Quartet invited concrete proposals from the parties on specific international support that could be useful at this stage.

The Quartet welcomed the extension of the European Union Border Assistance Mission at Rafah (EU-BAM). It reiterated the importance of resuming normal operations at the Rafah crossing. Taking note of the continuing threat to Israeli and Palestinian security posed by smuggling, the Quartet welcomed progress in the Quadrilateral Security Committee and called for greater efforts by all parties to improve security along the Egypt-Gaza border.

The Quartet welcomed the reaffirmation of the Arab Peace Initiative, noting that the initiative is recognized in the Road Map as a vital element of international efforts to advance regional peace. The Arab Peace Initiative provides a welcome regional political horizon for Israel, complementing the efforts of the Quartet and of the parties themselves to advance towards negotiated, comprehensive, just and lasting peace. The Quartet noted its positive meeting with members of the Arab League in Sharm el-Sheikh on 4 May, and looked forward to continued engagement with the Arab States. It welcomed the intention of the Arab League to engage Israel on the Initiative, and Israeli receptiveness to such engagement. Recalling elements of the 18 April decision by the Arab League Follow-Up Committee, the Quartet urged all involved to demonstrate their seriousness and commitment to making peace. In that context, the Quartet reiterated the need for a Palestinian Government committed to non-violence, recognition of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Road Map, and reaffirmed its willingness to support such a Government. The Quartet encouraged continued and expanded Arab contacts with Israel, and Israeli action to address concerns raised in the 18 April Arab League decision, including a cessation of settlement expansion and the removal of illegal outposts, as called for in the Road Map.

Looking ahead, the Quartet discussed a calendar for the coming months to support and encourage progress on the bilateral and regional tracks. The Quartet principals agreed to meet in the region in June with the Israelis and Palestinians to review progress and discuss the way forward. The Quartet also agreed to meet in the region with members of the Arab League to follow up on the Arab Peace Initiative and efforts to advance the regional track. Principals instructed the envoys to meet beforehand to follow up and explore options for the way forward.


XVIII. SECURITY COUNCIL ISSUES PRESS STATEMENT ON CEASEFIRE
BREAKDOWN IN THE GAZA STRIP

Security Council President Zalmay Khalilzad (United States) on 30 May 2007 delivered the following press statement on the breakdown of the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip (SC/9028-PAL/2077):

The members of the Security Council expressed their grave concern at the breakdown of the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and the resulting increase in violence. The members welcomed the efforts of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to establish a ceasefire, and expressed appreciation for the active support of the Government of Egypt in this regard. They urged all parties to join the members of the Council in supporting the call of President Abbas for an immediate end to the violence.

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