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Bulletin mensuel de la DDP - Vol. XXVIII, No.11 - (novembre 2005) - Publié par la Division des droits palestiniens Français

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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP)
30 November 2005


November 2005

Volume XXVIII, Bulletin No. 11



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



Contents
Page
I.
    Secretary-General issues report on the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine
1
II.
    Palestinian Rights Committee marks its thirtieth anniversary
5
III.
    Secretary-General welcomes the agreement on movement and access
7
IV.
    Venezuela joins Palestinian Rights Committee as observer
8
V.
    Secretary-General welcomes the reopening of the Rafah crossing
8
VI.
    Secretary-General's message on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
9
VII.
    General Assembly considers the question of Palestine
10
VIII.
    Security Council welcomes agreement on movement and access
12




The present 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, as well as at:
http://www.un.org/Depts/dpa/qpal/pub_bltn.htm.







I. SECRETARY-GENERAL ISSUES REPORT ON THE PEACEFUL
SETTLEMENT OF THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE

On 7 November 2005, the Secretary-General issued the report on the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine (A/60/539-S/2005/701). The observations of the Secretary-General are reproduced below:



5. I am glad to report that the “window of opportunity” to revitalize the Middle East peace process that emerged during the past year has, despite setbacks, remained open. We have witnessed the successful completion of the Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank. On 7 August 2005, the Israeli Cabinet approved the evacuation of the first settlements under this initiative. In the early hours of 12 September 2005, Israel withdrew the last of its military personnel and installations from the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, as of 20 September 2005, and following the completion of the evacuation of civilian army infrastructure from four settlements in the northern West Bank, Israeli forces put an end to their permanent presence in the area of the evacuated settlements. As Israel’s first withdrawal from occupied Palestinian territory since the occupation began in 1967, it was a landmark in Israeli-Palestinian relations, setting an important precedent for the eventual realization of the two-State solution.

6. I would like to commend Prime Minister Sharon’s political courage and steady commitment to disengagement. I would also like to commend the Palestinian Authority for its responsible behaviour during this period, in facilitating a smooth and peaceful operation. The increased coordination between the parties as a result of this is a positive step, which must be built upon in the future. Nevertheless, the events in the aftermath of disengagement illustrated the problems of unilateral actions. For example, the Israel Defense Forces withdrew from Gaza without demolishing places of worship. The buildings were thus passed unexpectedly to the Palestinian Authority, which was not in a position to protect them.

7. I also commend James D. Wolfensohn, the Quartet’s Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement, for his work since his appointment in April 2005. Mr. Wolfensohn helped to enhance crucial channels of coordination between the parties in the process of disengagement, the importance of which I emphasized during my own visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory in March 2005. In the aftermath of the Israeli withdrawal, he continues his efforts to follow up on a six-point agenda: border crossings and trade corridors; movement between the West Bank and Gaza; movement within the West Bank; the Gaza airport and seaport; the houses in the Israeli settlements; and their agricultural assets. As yet, many of these issues remain unresolved. Mr. Wolfensohn believes that the parties are close to an understanding on how the main border passages between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will operate. Rafah (on the Gaza-Egypt border) is likely to be operated by Palestinians and Egyptians, with a possible third-party presence. It is hoped that agreement on outstanding issues will be reached in the coming weeks.

8. Mr. Wolfensohn identified three key areas for the Palestinian Authority to address, with international support: the Palestinian Authority’s fiscal crisis and development of a fiscal stabilization plan to be included in the 2006 budget; the creation of a general development plan related to a fiscally sound financial plan for 2006-2008; and the design of quick-impact economic programmes that would respond to pressures for short-term employment generation. These issues are important elements of the foundations for economic recovery, good governance and, eventually, statehood.

9. I would like to congratulate the Palestinian people for demonstrating their commitment to democracy during the Palestinian presidential election in January 2005. Although the elections were complicated by the continuing Israeli occupation and restrictions on freedom of movement imposed in the occupied Palestinian territory, turnout was nonetheless high. I would also like to congratulate Mahmoud Abbas, who won in the seven-candidate field with 62.5 per cent of the votes cast. The elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council will follow the presidential ballot. These elections were delayed on 3 June 2005, when President Abbas issued a decree stating the need for a new electoral law ensuring at least 50 per cent proportional representation. They are now scheduled to be held in January 2006. The Palestinian Authority leadership has sought to encourage groups that have engaged in terrorism to abandon this course and engage in the democratic process. This objective deserves the full support of the international community.

10. At the Sharm el Sheikh summit in February 2005, the parties pledged to end all violence with a ceasefire that has broadly survived. Israel agreed to release a number of Palestinian prisoners and transfer control of five West Bank cities to the Palestinian Authority. The security situation improved noticeably in the aftermath of the summit, a trend that was reflected in a marked decrease in the number of deaths and injuries recorded during the reporting period. Israel released a number of prisoners but transferred control of only two of the five cities agreed upon. It also resumed its policy of extrajudicial killings. Nevertheless, Israel exercised restraint in its military activities in the period prior to disengagement, despite incidents of Palestinian violence. In a welcome step, the Israel Defense Forces decided to halt their policy of demolishing Palestinian houses either as punishment for acts of violence or as deterrence.

11. Of particular concern to me are the incidents in which United Nations staff members and other international aid workers have been held hostage by Palestinian armed elements. The most recent of these incidents to date occurred on 8 August 2005, when two hostages were released amidst shooting. There remains significant concern for the safety of United Nations staff members and other international aid workers in the Gaza Strip.

12. The Palestinian Authority must push ahead with efforts to reform the Palestinian security services. Decisive action in this regard should help to restore law and order. The fragmented Palestinian security services are being consolidated into three main branches - the national forces, the intelligence forces and the police - under the supervision of the Ministry of the Interior. New heads of the security services have been appointed and the security retirement law is being implemented. President Abbas has repeatedly emphasized his commitment to work towards the Palestinian Authority’s monopoly on the use of force.

13. A recent independent report by Strategic Assessments Initiative, written in close collaboration with United States Security Coordinator General William Ward and in consultation with senior Palestinian security officials, stated that the Palestinian security services remained divided, weak, overstaffed, badly motivated and under-armed. A number of unintegrated forces, Palestinian clans and individual force commanders continue to wield undue influence. Other potentially troubling issues within the security services include corruption, institutional hierarchies, cults of personality and lack of cohesive training. The problems within the security services were also illustrated in the post-disengagement period, when law and order seemed to crumble.

14. Israel, in turn, has also failed to make progress on the implementation of its core commitments under the road map. Settlement expansion and lack of action on removing illegal settlement outposts erected since 2001 severely undermined trust in Israel’s intentions. In the spring of 2005, Israel announced plans to construct 3,500 new housing units in Ma’aleh Adumim and two other settlement blocs in the West Bank, and in early June it publicized tenders for the construction of 22 housing units in Ma’aleh Adumim. Government-sponsored settlement activity may have a negative impact on the territorial contiguity of Palestinian territory and thus remains a source of serious concern. According to the road map, Israel has an obligation to freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth, and immediately dismantle outposts erected illegally since March 2001.

15. I also remain concerned about Israel’s continued construction of the barrier in the West Bank, which encroaches on Palestinian land. Pursuant to General Assembly resolution ES-10/15 of 20 July 2004, I am in the process of establishing a register of damages incurred by Palestinians due to the construction of the wall. The construction of the barrier is a unilateral act not in keeping with the road map. Along with continued Israeli settlement activity, it constitutes a key challenge to the fulfilment of the road map’s goal of a two-State solution. I urge the Government of Israel to address its security concerns in a manner that will not increase suffering among Palestinians, prejudge final status issues or threaten longer-term prospects for peace by making the creation of a viable and contiguous Palestinian State more difficult. I reiterate my call to Israel to abide by its legal obligations as set forth in the 9 July 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice and resolution ES-10/15.

16. The Secretariat continues to provide regular monthly briefings to the Security Council on the latest developments in the Middle East and efforts to achieve a full and comprehensive peace, security and stability for the entire region on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).

17. The Quartet (the United Nations, the European Union, the United States of America and the Russian Federation) intensified its work, meeting in September, March, May and June of the reporting period. On 20 September 2005, Quartet principals gathered at the margins of the High-level Plenary Meeting of the sixtieth session of the General Assembly in New York. They discussed three clusters of issues: improving the daily lives of Palestinians; Palestinian security sector reform; and the participation of armed groups in the political process. The Quartet concluded that, in principle, those who wish to be part of the political process should not engage in militia or armed group activities, as there is a fundamental contradiction between such activities and the building of a democratic State.

18. The wider international community also signalled a greater interest and engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, particularly as disengagement approached. On 25 May 2005, United States President George Bush and President Abbas met for the first time since Mr. Abbas’ election in January. United States Security Coordinator General William Ward was active in assisting Palestinian security sector reform and turned his attention to security coordination in preparation for the Israeli withdrawal. On 23 June 2005, the Group of Eight offered strong support at its annual Summit, at Gleneagles, pledging $3 billion in aid to the Palestinian Authority once disengagement was completed.

19. The humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people in 2004 remained grave. About half of the Palestinian population lived below the official poverty line of $2.10 per day, compared to just 22 per cent in 2000. Furthermore, 16 per cent of Palestinians (approximately 560,000 people) were in deep poverty. Unemployment increased more than threefold since 2000, reaching a figure of 238,000 unemployed in 2004, largely as a result of internal and external roadblocks in and to the occupied Palestinian territory. Palestinians continued to face problems reaching their places of work, schools and hospitals, and standards of health and education continued to deteriorate. In some parts of the territory, Palestinians’ needs for additional humanitarian assistance rose sharply as a consequence.

20. I call upon the international community to provide adequate funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) so that it can continue to deliver the necessary services to the Palestinian refugees. So far this year, UNRWA has received pledges covering 53 per cent of its financial requirements for its emergency appeal for refugees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Only $110 million of the $209.4 million needed has been pledged. With insufficient financial resources, the quality and level of the Agency’s emergency humanitarian assistance will suffer, making the already very difficult life of the Palestinian people even more miserable.

21. For its part, the United Nations will continue to work towards a renewal of the peace process and continue in its efforts to alleviate the severe social and economic hardships of the Palestinian people. To this end, I will continue to press for renewed action in parallel by both parties on their obligations under the road map, which provides both Israel and the Palestinians the best opportunity to move beyond the conflict and towards peace, security and prosperity. The international community must continue to assist the parties to address economic, humanitarian, security and political issues simultaneously. The United Nations reaffirms its commitment to an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian State living side by side with Israel, as well as its commitment to the broader achievement of peace, security and stability for the entire region on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002) and 1515 (2003), and in accordance with the road map and the Arab peace initiative, presented by Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, which culminated in the Beirut Arab summit declaration of 2002. The coordinated efforts of the international community are needed to support this process, and I will continue to maintain close and regular contact with members of the Quartet, the parties involved, regional leaders and the broader international community to capitalize on the progress made in the past year.

22. I would like to pay tribute to the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, who passed away on 11 November 2004. For nearly four decades, he represented the national aspirations of the Palestinian people. In 1988, he led the Palestinians to accept the principle of peaceful coexistence between Israel and a future Palestinian State.

23. Finally, I would like to pay special tribute to Alvaro de Soto, recently appointed United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and my Personal Representative to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, to the staff of the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator, to newly appointed Commissioner-General Karen Koning Abu Zayd of UNRWA, the staff of the Agency and all other United Nations agencies, who continue to provide excellent services while working under the most demanding and difficult circumstances.


II. PALESTINIAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE MARKS ITS THIRTIETH
ANNIVERSARY

The statement below was issued on 10 November 2005 by the Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in connection with the thirtieth anniversary of its establishment (GA/PAL/993). The Committee established by the General Assembly in 1975 has 22 members and 26 observers (see also GA/PAL/994):

Today - 10 November 2005 - marks the thirtieth anniversary of the establishment of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. Today is not a cause for celebration but rather an opportunity for all of us to reflect upon decades of failed efforts to resolve the question of Palestine. Today’s anniversary also reminds us that we have to redouble our efforts at bringing about a just solution of the question of Palestine.

It was on this very day in 1975 that the General Assembly adopted resolution 3376 (XXX) establishing our Committee and outlining its mandate. In that resolution, the General Assembly expressed its deep concern that no just solution to the problem of Palestine had yet been achieved, and recognized that the problem of Palestine continued to endanger international peace and security. It reaffirmed that the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people included the right to self-determination without external interference, the right to national independence and sovereignty; and the right of Palestinians to return to their homes and property, from which they had been displaced and uprooted. To this day, the Committee remains the only intergovernmental body in the entire United Nations family devoted exclusively to political aspects of the question of Palestine.

In a report submitted to the Security Council in June 1976, the Committee affirmed that the question of Palestine was at the heart of the Middle East problem and that no solution could be envisaged without fully taking into account the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people. The Committee urged the Council to promote action for a just solution, taking into account all the powers conferred on it by the Charter of the United Nations. The recommendations of the Committee included a two-phase plan for the return of Palestinians to their homes and property; a timetable for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the occupied territories by 1 June 1977, with the provision, if necessary, of temporary peacekeeping forces to facilitate the process; an end to the establishment of settlements; recognition by Israel of the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the occupied territories pending withdrawal; and endorsement of the inherent right of Palestinians to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty in Palestine.

The Committee also endorsed the view that the United Nations, which had a historical responsibility towards the Palestinian people, should render to the Palestinian authorities the necessary economic and technical assistance in order to contribute to the economic and social development of the new Palestinian State. The Committee’s original recommendations were not adopted by the Security Council and have not been implemented. They, however, were endorsed by an overwhelming majority in the General Assembly, to which the Committee reports annually.

In pursuance of this mandate, the Committee’s programme of work has been gradually expanded. With the support of the Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat, the programme came to include a variety of activities, such as the convening of international meetings and conferences in all regions of the world; a publications programme; the development of the United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine, containing thousands of United Nations documents related to the question of Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict; establishing cooperation with a wide network of civil society organizations active on the question of Palestine; and organizing an annual training programme for young staff of the Palestinian Authority.

Since its inception, the Committee has advocated a peaceful solution of the question of Palestine in accordance with principles of international law. It welcomed the Middle East peace process, initiated in 1991 at the Madrid Peace Conference, and later actively encouraged the implementation by the parties of the Oslo accords. It gave its full support to the Road Map introduced by the Quartet with a view to fulfilling the vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side within secure and recognized borders. At the same time and in keeping with its mandate, the Committee continues to promote the full realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and mobilize international assistance for and solidarity with the Palestinian people.

In September of this year, the Committee expressed the view that the removal of Israeli settlements from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip was a promising step that could revive negotiations within the framework of the Road Map, and move forward the stalled peace process. It expressed the hope that the resulting positive momentum would be followed by similar steps in the rest of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and breathe new life into the political process.

Yet, in response to events, the Committee continues to voice its concern about the creation by Israel, the occupying Power, of new facts on the ground that include settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and accelerated construction of the illegal wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The Committee reminds Israel that those activities contravene international law, as spelled out by the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice. It calls upon all Governments to fulfil their obligations under international law, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention, and take the necessary steps to ensure compliance by Israel with its international obligations.

Today, we are as committed and ready as ever to work hard to help the Palestinian people to fulfil their inalienable rights and realize their national aspirations in a State of their own. We shall carry on most vigorously the important mandate entrusted to the Committee by the General Assembly for the benefit of the Palestinian people. We shall continue our work at heightening international awareness of the question of Palestine. In this way, the Committee will contribute to maintaining the permanent responsibility of the United Nations with respect to the question of Palestine until the question has been resolved in all its aspects in a satisfactory manner and in accordance with international legitimacy.

On behalf of the Committee, the Bureau wishes to thank all those who have joined and supported the Committee in its quest for a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine, including members and observers, intergovernmental organizations, the United Nations family of organizations and civil society. Over the past 30 years, their commitment, political activism and initiatives have strengthened the efforts of the United Nations and of the Committee.


III. SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES THE AGREEMENT ON
MOVEMENT AND ACCESS

The following statement was issued on 15 November 2005 by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan (SG/SM/10211).

The Secretary-General welcomes today’s agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on the Gaza-Egypt border crossing. He sees this development as a positive step towards building confidence between the two parties.

The Secretary-General believes that the opening of the Rafah crossing will contribute to improving the Palestinians’ freedom of movement and economic activity.

The Secretary-General expresses his appreciation to the Quartet’s Middle East Envoy, James Wolfensohn, and to the United States Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, for their efforts in brokering the deal, and he thanks the European Union for its proposed technical assistance in its implementation.


IV. VENEZUELA JOINS PALESTINIAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE AS OBSERVER

On 21 November 2005 the Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People addressed a letter to the President of the General Assembly contained in document (A/60/567), excerpted below:

I have the honour to inform you that I received a letter, dated 5 August 2005, addressed to the Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People from the Permanent Representative of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the United Nations, Mr. Fermín Toro Jiménez, informing me of the wish of his country to take part, as an observer, in the work of the Committee (see annex).

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, at its 289th meeting, held on 10 November 2005, approved this request by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and welcomed that country to take part, as an observer, in the work of the Committee.




V. SECRETARY-GENERAL’S WELCOMES THE REOPENING
OF THE RAFAH CROSSING

The following statement was issued on 25 November 2005 by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan (SG/SM/10231 – PAL/2031).

The Secretary-General noted with satisfaction today's official opening of the Gaza-Egypt border crossing in Rafah. He extends his congratulations to the Palestinian people, and wishes the Palestinian Authority well on taking up this historic responsibility.

The Secretary-General appreciates the important decision made by the Government of Israel to open the crossing. He pays tribute to the tireless efforts exerted by the Quartet Special Envoy, James Wolfensohn, that have rendered the agreement possible. He also expresses his gratitude to United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and to the European Union for its third party role in the implementation of the agreement.

The Secretary-General hopes that the same spirit of cooperation will be brought to the implementation of the other access and movement issues agreed upon as part of the disengagement process.


VI. SECRETARY-GENERAL’S MESSAGE ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY
OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE

Following is the text of the message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan on occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, observed on 29 November 2005 (SG/SM/10237-GA/PAL/998).

I thank the Committee for the invitation to this year’s observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

For 30 years, the Committee has carried out its important work of promoting the Palestinian people’s inalienable rights and supporting the search for peace in the Middle East.

A solution to this decades-long conflict has proved elusive. Palestinians have yet to see the beginnings of the establishment of their own State. Israelis as well are yet to feel secure in their own State.

Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip and the Palestinians’ success in ensuring calm during that period had raised hopes for a renewal of the political process. However, the ensuing upsurge in violence seriously undermined the fledgling coordination between the parties, bringing back feelings of frustration and disappointment.

After the agreement two weeks ago to open the Rafah crossing, facilitate movement between Gaza and the West Bank, and reduce closures in the West Bank, a new opportunity has emerged to cooperate effectively and bring about tangible benefits in the lives of ordinary people - particularly among Palestinians, who have suffered a serious economic decline and severe humanitarian problems due to the events of recent years.

I strongly urge the Palestinian and Israeli leaderships to work with each other, with Quartet Special Envoy James Wolfensohn, and with the Quartet to ensure that the agreement is implemented in full and on time. Action by the parties will complement the continued assistance provided by international donors to alleviate humanitarian suffering and boost the Palestinian economy.

Both Palestinians and Israelis will soon go to the polls, in elections which will have an important bearing on the future of the peace process. The electoral season should not be allowed to prevent the parties from the essential work of building mutual trust and following through with the implementation of the Sharm el-Sheikh understandings. In addition, if disengagement is to be a springboard to progress on broader issues, it is vital that the parties give new impetus to meeting their obligations under the Road Map, which they have accepted and which has been endorsed by the Security Council. Palestinians need to be assured that the future viability of a Palestinian State will not be eroded by settlement expansion and barrier construction. Israelis need to be assured that their security will not be compromised by failure to act decisively against terror.

I therefore reiterate the recent call of the Quartet for renewed action in parallel by both parties to meet their obligations under the Road Map, which encompass clearly specified action on security, Palestinian institution-building, humanitarian response, civil society, and settlements. Performance of Road Map obligations is the way to move forward towards the shared goal of a sovereign, contiguous, and democratic Palestine, living side by side in peace and security with Israel.

For my part, I remain firmly committed to efforts aimed at achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine, based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003) and the principle of land for peace. Let us all work hard to help the Palestinian people exercise their inalienable rights and realize their aspiration to live in peace and prosperity in a sovereign and independent State of Palestine.


VII. GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONSIDERS THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE

The General Assembly considered item 15, entitled “Question of Palestine”, at its plenary meetings held on 29 November-1 December 2005. Submitted under the agenda item were the report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (A/60/35) and the report of the Secretary-General (see A/60/539-S/2005/701 above). The Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People introduced draft resolutions A/60/L.28-31 in the statement he made at the 57th plenary meeting, on 29 November. For the verbatim records of the plenary consideration of the item, see A/60.PV.57-60. An excerpt from the Committee’s report containing its conclusions and recommendations is reproduced below:



71. The year under review was marked by promise and hope, as well as by developments on the ground that complicated efforts to resume the peace process within the framework of the road map. The Committee is encouraged by the resumption of dialogue at the highest level between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. The Committee welcomes the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and four small settlements in the northern West Bank as a rare opportunity to revive negotiations within the framework of the road map and restart the stalled political process. It should be noted that Israel remains in control of the borders of the Gaza Strip, including its territorial sea and airspace and the movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza, thus hampering any meaningful economic development. The Committee is strongly opposed to the expansion of settlements in the West Bank and efforts to complete the construction of the wall on Palestinian land. It is particularly alarmed by the intention of the Israeli Government to expand large settlement blocks in the West Bank, which would separate East Jerusalem from the West Bank and the southern West Bank from its northern part. The Committee reiterates its position of principle that the settlements and the wall constructed by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, are contrary to international humanitarian law and numerous resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly, adopted since 1967, as well as the provisions of the road map.

72. The Committee has been encouraged by renewed efforts of the international community - in particular the Quartet, but also Egypt and Jordan - to revitalize the road map, facilitate the dialogue between the parties and implement their commitments under the road map. The Committee reiterates that the road map remains the best way to achieve the goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine through the establishment of two States, Israel and Palestine, based on the 1967 borders. A settlement should be based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002) and 1515 (2003) in particular, and other relevant resolutions. The Committee hopes that the Quartet and the international community will continue to work towards the achievement of this goal.

73. The Committee considers that its programme of international meetings and conferences contributes to focusing the attention of Governments, intergovernmental and civil society organizations and the general public on issues crucial for advancing a peaceful settlement of the conflict. The meetings highlight the most pressing concerns, such as the need to end violence, stop settlement activities and improve the living conditions of the Palestinian population. They contribute to raising international awareness of the root cause of the conflict, namely the occupation by Israel of the Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. They also mobilize international support for efforts to resolve the conflict and implement the road map. The Committee is deeply appreciative of the involvement in those meetings of Governments, intergovernmental organizations, United Nations entities and civil society. It expresses its satisfaction with the level of dialogue, engagement and support from the international community achieved at those meetings. It will continue the programme to foster support for the attainment by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights in accordance with international legitimacy. In its meetings programme for 2006, the Committee intends to address such issues as the need to end the occupation of all Palestinian land; support of the efforts by the Palestinian Authority to rehabilitate the economy, especially that of the Gaza Strip; the responsibility of all Governments to apply international law to all aspects of the question of Palestine, in accordance with the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice; the implementation of the road map; the adverse consequences of the settlement policy and the construction of the wall for the achievement of a two-State solution; the need to protect the Palestinian people; the humanitarian and socio-economic situation, including the plight of Palestinian women and children; and the role of civil society.

74. The Committee commends civil society organizations for their efforts to uphold international legitimacy with regard to the question of Palestine through advocacy and the mobilization of public opinion and for their initiatives aimed at alleviating the plight of the Palestinian people. It notes the support it receives from the Secretariat in strengthening its cooperation with civil society. The Committee encourages civil society organizations to focus and synchronize their advocacy efforts at the local, national, regional and international levels on the legal obligations of Governments, as emphasized in the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice. It welcomes recent civil society initiatives, in particular in developing countries, to establish umbrella mechanisms to better coordinate their work. It supports all humanitarian and assistance initiatives geared towards improving the daily lives of the Palestinians. The Committee will also strive to enhance the involvement of parliamentarians in its programme of meetings and conferences.

75. The Committee emphasizes the essential contribution of the Division for Palestinian Rights in support of its mandate and the implementation of its programme of work. The Committee, therefore, requests the Division to continue its mandated activities, including substantive and secretariat support; the programme of research, monitoring and publications and other informational activities, such as the further expansion and development of UNISPAL, including the graphic enhancement of the “Question of Palestine” website; the annual training programme for staff of the Palestinian Authority; and the annual observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The Committee expects the Division to continue to promote international awareness of the question of Palestine, as well as support for the rights of the Palestinian people and a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine. In this regard, the Committee notes with satisfaction (a) the level of dialogue, engagement and support of the international community for its programme objectives, for instance, in terms of both participation at the meetings convened and use of printed and electronic information materials provided by the Division; (b) the number of civil society organizations that have received accreditation to the Committee; and (c) the number of pages viewed on the United Nations website on the question of Palestine. The Committee also considers that the annual training programme for the staff of the Palestinian Authority has proved its usefulness and requests that it be continued.

76. The Committee is of the view that the special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information has made an important contribution to informing the media and public opinion of the relevant issues. The Committee requests the programme’s continuation, with the necessary flexibility, as warranted by developments relevant to the question of Palestine.

77. Wishing to make its contribution to the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine and in view of the many difficulties facing the Palestinian people and besetting the peace process, the Committee calls upon all States to join in this endeavour and invites the General Assembly again to recognize the importance of its role and to reconfirm its mandate with overwhelming support.


VIII. SECURITY COUNCIL WELCOMES AGREEMENT
ON MOVEMENT AND ACCESS

On 30 November 2005, the President of the Security Council made the following statement on behalf of the Council (S/PRST/2005/57):

The Security Council welcomes the agreement on movement and access and the Agreed Principles for the Rafah crossing reached between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority on 15 November 2005. The successful opening of the Rafah crossing on 25 November 2005 represents an important step forward.

The Security Council commends the efforts of the Quartet, its Special Envoy and his team, as well as the positive contributions of the Government of Egypt, and expresses its strong appreciation to the European Union for assuming the role of third party monitor.

The Security Council calls on the parties to take immediate action to implement the terms of both agreements according to the time lines established therein.

The Security Council calls for renewed action in parallel by the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority on their obligations in accordance with the road map, to ensure continued progress towards the creation of a viable, democratic, sovereign and contiguous Palestine living side-by-side with Israel in peace and security. The Security Council stresses 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.


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