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Bulletin mensuel de la DDP - Vol. XXIX, No.5 - Bulletin du Comité pour l’exercice des droits inaliénables du peuple palestinien/DDP (mai 2006) - Publié par la Division des droits palestiniens Français

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




May 2006

Volume XXIX, Bulletin No. 5


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



Contents
Page
I.
Secretary-General expresses appreciation for Quartet Special Envoy’s efforts
1
II.
ESCWA issues report on economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people
1
III.
World Bank issues report on the impending Palestinian fiscal crisis
2
IV.
Quartet principals issue statement
4
V.
High Commissioner for Human Rights expresses concern over deteriorating situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

6
VI.
Secretary-General appoints Kevin Kennedy as Deputy Special Coordinator for Middle East Peace Process

8
VII.
Secretary-General issues report on assistance to the Palestinian people
8
VIII.
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs briefs Security Council
9
IX.
International Labour Organization issues report on the situation of workers in the occupied Arab territories
11
X.
World Health Organization adopts resolution on health conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem
14
XI.
The United Nations and select non-governmental organizations launch the Revised Emergency Apeal for humanitarian assistance to Palestinians
16




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




I. SECRETARY-GENERAL EXPRESSES APPRECIATION FOR QUARTET
SPECIAL ENVOY’S EFFORTS

The following statement was issued on 2 May 2006 by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan (SG/SM/10439):

The Secretary-General expresses his deep appreciation for the efforts extended by Quartet Special Envoy James D. Wolfensohn, whose mandate finished at the end of April. Mr. Wolfensohn’s experience, wisdom and dedication were instrumental in helping to ensure a peaceful Gaza disengagement and establishing a framework for the future revival of the Palestinian economy. The Secretary-General has relied extensively on Mr. Wolfensohn’s expertise and advice, and his contribution to efforts to achieve a peaceful solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. He extends his warm gratitude to Mr. Wolfensohn and is confident that he and other members of the Quartet will continue to seek his advice and counsel.

II. ESCWA ISSUES REPORT ON ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL
REPERCUSSIONS OF THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION
ON THE LIVING CONDITIONS OF THE
PALESTINIAN PEOPLE

The Economic and Social Council published on 3 May 2006 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”. The report was produced pursuant to Economic and Social Council resolution 2005/51 of 27 July 2005 and General Assembly resolution 60/183 of 22 December 2005 (A/61/67-E/2006/13). The following is an excerpt from the report containing its conculsions:

IV. Conclusions

84. Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank raised the possibility of new movement towards social and economic recovery.

85. Disengagement occurred in a rapid and peaceful manner. The economy grew in 2005 by 6 per cent for the second year running. Unemployment fell by 3 per cent over the previous year. The parties signed the Access and Movement Agreement of November 2005, securing a passage regime from the Gaza Strip to Egypt and ensuring a minimum level of commodity exports from the Gaza Strip. Nonetheless, these gains were insufficient to arrest or reverse the decline in social and economic indicators which showed the ongoing, and in some cases deepening, distress among large numbers of Palestinians. During the first quarter of 2006, crossings for the transfer of goods between the Gaza Strip and Israel were closed over 50 per cent of the time. Poverty rates remained high as result of declining income levels, rising food and transport prices, high demographic growth and increasingly inequitable distribution of wealth.

86. While internal closures in the Gaza Strip were removed, West Bank closures, after several months of easing, were tightened again towards the end of the year. A severe fiscal crisis loomed at the end of 2005, raising serious doubts about the ability of the Palestinian Authority to meet public sector wage commitments for the first months of the new year.

87. Planned elections in both Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory meant that neither side was in a position to make meaningful policy commitments into 2006. For its part, the international community also signalled its intention to delay additional funding commitments to the occupied Palestinian territory until a new cabinet could be formed in the first half of 2006. A major pledging conference, aiming to raise up to $3 billion in international funds for Palestinian social economic recovery, was nonetheless tentatively scheduled for May 2006, testifying to the ongoing hope of donors that an enabling environment for accelerated social, economic and institutional recovery can be established over the next year.

III. WORLD BANK ISSUES REPORT ON THE IMPENDING PALESTINIAN FISCAL CRISIS

The World Bank issued on 7 May 2006 a report entitled “The Impending Palestinian Fiscal Crisis, Political Remedies”. The following are excerpts from the report:

The Current Fiscal Emergency and its Possible Impacts

7. The PA’s liquidity crisis is unprecedented. In 2005, the PA was able to access a total of US$2.15 billion for the Budget, or some US$180 million per month; in the first quarter of 2006, Budget resources declined to approximately US$130 million per month. For April, resources may not exceed US$50-55 million. This contraction has been caused by a combination of factors, the most important of which is Israel’s withholding of Palestinian revenues. The OECD donors’ suspension of budget-related disbursements, the failure of the Arab League States to come forward with promised levels of support and the reluctance of commercial banks to lend to/bank for the new government are also significant.

8. If today’s strictures remain or intensify, the PA may be looking at no more than US$25 million in domestic revenues per month, and no banking system with which to distribute them. Under such circumstances, with current monthly wage bills running at c. US$95 million, those Palestinians employed by the PA or dependent on PA salaries (estimated at 30 percent of the population) will suffer major income reductions - while the PA is unlikely to be able to provide basic services or maintain law and order.

9. As a result of such dramatic fiscal compression, one or more of the following may occur in the coming months.

A Humanitarian Crisis - As noted, Government of Israel (GOI) has expressed confidence that it can regulate humanitarian supply. Under the pressure of loss of income, demand factors are likely to manifest as well, and the need for humanitarian relief may rise steeply.



Rising Insecurity - Non-payment, part-payment or unequal payment of salaries could precipitate breakdowns in force discipline in the PA security services; in the past year there have been many instances of security personnel threatening or using force to pressure the PA on salary and benefits issues, including recently. A deteriorating security environment could make it difficult for government, commerce and relief efforts alike to operate properly. Destabilization of this kind, if protracted, could also lead to a deterioration in the bilateral security environment - with adverse implications for the security of Israelis.

Institutional Dissolution - If the PA remains unpaid/minimally paid for several months, it may cease to function: civil servants have already begun to withdraw their services in protest, and this can be expected to intensify as personnel down tools and look for other ways to subsist. International experience in ‘fragile states’ contexts shows that mainstream institutional breakdown is very hard to reverse: complex structures such as school systems are not machines to be switched on and off at will.
...

12. Countering the current fiscal crisis and its potentially dangerous consequences requires the restoration of an adequate flow of budget funds. This would permit regular public sector salary payments, thereby dampening the demand for additional humanitarian assistance, ensuring that public services were maintained and helping preserve the functionality of the security services.

13. Recent GOI and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) donor measures overlay a pre-existing fiscal emergency of the previous government’s making, and have acted to intensify it. The new government cannot escape the need to address these serious imbalances through a major retrenchment of public servants, a significant reduction in public sector salaries, or a combination of both. Unless the PA is in receipt of a meaningful flow of budget resources, though, orderly fiscal management will be impossible and any reform agenda will be overwhelmed by institutional disintegration.

14. If Israel and the donor community decide that the downside risks associated with fiscal chaos are excessive, and if they adjust their current policy stances accordingly, the fiscal situation can be retrieved - though not without difficulty, and probably not unless action is taken soon. Under the best of circumstances the PA is likely to face a very tight budget outlook. It cannot plan on the basis of budgetary flows equivalent to the 2005 monthly average of US$180 million: a significant proportion of those resources were non-sustainable, and are now unavailable - while PA revenues are also undergoing a considerable decline as economic activity winds down. A more realistic point of departure for budget formulation would be the PA’s ‘real income’ in 2005, i.e., what it received by way of monthly revenues (domestic and clearance revenues) and donor contributions. This averaged just over US$120 million per month.

15. Resource flows on this scale are a reasonable proposition for the remainder of this year - but only if Israel resumes revenue transfers and allows orderly import and export trade to take place through the West Bank and Gaza borders.

16. A solid basis for trade facilitation would be the implementation of the Agreement on Movement and Access (AMA) of November 15 2005. Thus far, the AMA has not been seriously implemented (including during the 10 weeks prior to the PLC election). The Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) has on several occasions supported the proposition that the twin goals of maintaining Israeli security and enhancing Palestinian movement and access are mutually compatible. Israel’s willingness to facilitate movement and trade would be essential to sustaining any new-found stability arising from an improvement in today’s fiscal position.

17. Given a resumption of Israeli revenue flows and adequate trade facilitation, PA tax revenues in the near term could reach perhaps US$75-85 million per month (US$25-30 million per month in domestic revenue, and revenue clearances of US$50-55 million). In addition, Arab League and OECD budget support might conceivably average another US$25 million per month. If the PA decides to sell or mortgage Palestine Investment Fund assets, it might also be possible to add a further US$15-25 million per month while revenues recover.

18. It goes without saying that an expenditure programme averaging around US$120-130 million per month will only restore economic and social stability if the PA acts decisively to reduce the inflated public payroll.



IV. QUARTET PRINCIPALS ISSUE STATEMENT

On 9 May 2006, the principals of the Quartet issued the following statement (SG/SM/10453):

Representatives of the Quartet - United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, High Representative for European Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, and European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner - met today in New York to discuss the situation in the Middle East. The Quartet also met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdelelah al-Khatib, and Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal to exchange views on regional issues.

The Quartet expressed its appreciation for the service of James Wolfensohn as Quartet Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement, and noted his central role in the conclusion of the Agreement on Movement and Access and the promulgation of an agenda for Palestinian economic recovery.

The Quartet underscored its continued commitment to the principles of partnership and negotiation leading to a two-State solution, as embodied in the Road Map. A lack of action by the parties in certain key areas has stalled progress on the Road Map. The Quartet underscored the need for both parties to avoid actions which could prejudge final status issues or undermine progress towards this goal.

The Quartet reiterated its grave concern that the Palestinian Authority Government has so far failed to commit itself to the principles of non-violence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Road Map. The Quartet noted the absence of a commitment to these principles has inevitably impacted direct assistance to that Government and expressed its deep concern about the consequences for the Palestinian people. The donor members noted their willingness to work towards the restoration of international assistance to the Palestinian Authority Government once it has committed to these principles.

The Quartet discussed the current situation in Israel and the West Bank, and Gaza. It condemned the Palestinian Authority Government's failure to take action against terrorism and the justification of the 17 April suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. The Quartet urged it to act decisively against terrorism and bring an end to violence. The Quartet noted that President Abbas condemned the 17 April attack as he has consistently condemned all acts of terrorism in the past.

The Quartet expressed its concern over Israeli military operations that result in the loss of innocent life. The Quartet calls for restraint and asks Israel to bear in mind the potential consequences of its actions for the population. The Quartet expressed its concern about settlement expansion. It continues to note with concern the route of the barrier, particularly as it results in the confiscation of Palestinian land and cuts off the movement of people and goods. The Quartet reiterated the importance of both parties avoiding unilateral measures, which prejudice final status issues.

The Quartet discussed the humanitarian situation in the West Bank and Gaza. It expressed serious concern about deteriorating conditions, particularly in Gaza. The Quartet expressed concern about delivery of humanitarian assistance, economic life, social cohesion, and Palestinian institutions. The Quartet reiterated its support for assistance directed to help meet the basic human needs of the Palestinian people and promotion of Palestinian democracy and civil society, and called upon the international community to respond urgently to assistance requests by international organizations, especially UN agencies, active in the West Bank and Gaza. The Quartet urged both parties to take concrete steps to implement their obligations under the Agreement on Movement and Access.

Recalling its commitment of 30 January that it is mindful of the needs of the Palestinian people, the Quartet expressed its willingness to endorse a temporary international mechanism that is limited in scope and duration, operates with full transparency and accountability, and ensures direct delivery of assistance to the Palestinian people. If these criteria can be met, the operation of the temporary international mechanism should begin as soon as possible and be reviewed after three months to determine whether it should continue. The Quartet welcomed the offer of the European Union to develop and propose such a mechanism. It invites other donors and international organizations to consider participation in such a mechanism. It urged Israel in parallel to take steps to improve the humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people. The Quartet reiterates that the Palestinian Authority Government must fulfil its responsibilities with respect to basic human needs, including health services, as well as for proper fiscal management and provision of services.

The Quartet welcomed Prime Minister Olmert’s call for negotiations with a Palestinian partner committed to the principles of the Road Map, as the most stable and desired basis for the political process. The Quartet welcomed President Abbas’ continued commitment to a platform of peace. The Quartet is encouraged by these statements of intent.

Finally, the Quartet reaffirmed its commitment to its previous statements and to a just, comprehensive, and lasting settlement to the conflict based upon UN Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002) and 1515 (2003). The Quartet will remain seized of the matter.


V. HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS EXPRESSES
CONCERN OVER DETERIORATING SITUATION IN THE
OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

The following press release was issued on 12 May 2006 by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights:

As the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour warned that the region was on the brink of a human rights and humanitarian crisis, she called on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to respect core international human rights standards, and recalled the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), endorsed by the General Assembly, that “both Israel and Palestine are under an obligation scrupulously to observe the rules of international humanitarian law, one of the paramount purposes of which is to protect civilian life.”

“The rising number of lives lost, whether as a result of targeted killings or suicide attacks, home-made missiles or artillery fire, is unacceptable”, the High Commissioner said. “Civilians, particularly the most vulnerable, such as children, women and the elderly, should not pay the price for the neglect of human rights and humanitarian obligations.”

The High Commissioner noted with concern reports of UN agencies drawing attention to the risks of a humanitarian crisis for the Palestinian population as a result of the cuts in international aid to the Palestinian Authority, consequent non-payment of salaries, and predicted steep rise in poverty levels, compounded by intensified restrictions on movement of people and goods in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), including humanitarian aid.

“As the Governments of Israel and the Palestinian Authority assume new responsibilities”, said the High Commissioner, “I urge both sides to reaffirm their commitment to international human rights and humanitarian law, and to prioritize human rights on their respective agendas. Respect for the rule of law and human rights safeguards must be guaranteed so that the Israeli and Palestinian peoples may live in an environment where their protection from attack and enjoyment of their fundamental civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights are assured.”

The High Commissioner added. “As the occupying Power, Israel bears responsibility under international humanitarian law, particularly under the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, for the welfare of the Palestinian population in the OPT. Israel should also abide by the Agreement on Movement and Access regarding the movement of goods, including humanitarian assistance, into and from the Gaza Strip. As a State party to all the major human rights treaties, Israel is required to ensure the enjoyment of human rights of all those within its jurisdiction, including the OPT, as reaffirmed by the ICJ Advisory Opinion of 2004, in light of which Israel is also required, inter alia, to dismantle and cease construction of the wall in the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority has the urgent duty to do everything in its power to maintain law and order, prevent attacks on Israeli civilians, investigate those attacks that have taken place, and bring to justice those responsible. The Palestinian Authority should also make every effort to facilitate implementation of the Agreement on Movement and Access.”

“I urge all High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Geneva Conventions to use their full moral authority with a view to making parties to the conflict stop this new cycle of violence and respect these Conventions, as well as to find ways to resume negotiations according to the Road Map” the High Commissioner said.

VI. SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS KEVIN KENNEDY AS DEPUTY
SPECIAL COORDINATOR FOR MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS

On 12 May 2006, Secretary–General Kofi Annan appointed Kevin M. Kennedy as Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. The following excerpt is from the press release (SG/A/1002):

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced today his decision to appoint Kevin M. Kennedy as Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, at the level of Assistant Secretary-General. In this capacity, Mr. Kennedy will also serve as United Nations coordinator for humanitarian and development activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.



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

Pursuant to General Assembly resolution 60/126 of 15 December 2005, the Secretary-General on 12 May 2006 submitted to the Assembly at its sixty-first session a report entitled “Assistance to the Palestinian People” (A/61/80-E/2006/72), the summary of which is reproduced below:

Summary

The year under review was marked by the implementation of Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank, the attainment of an Agreement on Movement and Access which was only partly implemented, ongoing violence claiming innocent lives on both sides, the continuation of a tight closure policy by the Israeli authorities, the incapacitation of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and legislative elections both in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The Israeli elections led to the formation of a coalition Government, under the leadership of Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of the Kadima party. The Palestinian elections were won by the Hamas “Change and Reform” list of candidates.

Following the Hamas victory, many donors undertook a review of their assistance policy to the Palestinian Authority, in the context of the principles spelled out by the Middle East Quartet in its statement of 30 January 2006. The Government of Israel also decided to withhold the payment of the taxes and duties collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. The latter is consequently facing an acute fiscal crisis, which risks further exacerbating an already precarious economic and social situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Setting aside their previous focus on a transition towards medium- and longer-term development planning, United Nations agencies and programmes emphasized emergency assistance as their main priority.

The present report contains a description of efforts made by United Nations agencies, in cooperation with Palestinian and donor counterparts, to support the Palestinian civilian population and institutions.


VIII. UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL

The Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari briefed the Security Council on 24 May 2006 on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question (S/PV.5443). Excerpts from the briefing are reproduced below:



I turn first to the fiscal and humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, where official salaries have not been paid to some 155,000 public-sector workers since the end of February. Those salaries account for 25 per cent of the Palestinian economy, supporting about one million people. Recipients provide the bulk of health, education and other services, including security, to the Palestinian people. Longer-term projections point to dramatic rises in poverty and unemployment rates if current trends continue.

On 9 May, the Quartet held discussions on those and other issues here at United Nations Headquarters, and benefited from the contributions of the Foreign Ministers of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia as regional partners. The meeting highlighted the regional impact of the current crisis and resulted in the Quartet’s expressing serious concern about the deteriorating conditions.

First, the Quartet stressed that international efforts to assist the Palestinian people do not relieve the Palestinian Authority Government of its responsibilities, outlined in signed agreements. The Palestinian Authority Government has received the important message from the donor members of the Quartet that its commitment to the principles outlined by the Quartet in its meeting in London on 30 January would pave the way for the restoration of direct assistance.

Secondly, the Quartet expressed its willingness to endorse a temporary international mechanism, to be developed by the European Union, that is limited in scope and duration, operates with full transparency and accountability, and ensures the direct delivery of assistance to the Palestinian people. If those criteria can be met, the temporary international mechanism will begin operating as soon as possible and will be reviewed after three months.



Thirdly, the Quartet urged Israel to take steps to improve the humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people. Israel has responsibilities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, as well as obligations outlined in previous agreements.



Fourthly, the Quartet called for urgent responses to assistance requests by international organizations, especially United Nations agencies. A revised consolidated appeal addressing additional humanitarian needs of Palestinians under the new circumstances will be issued later this month, and donors are also called upon to support the ongoing emergency activities of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

I now turn to the security situation. Five Israelis were injured by Palestinian violence this month. No Israelis have been killed, although one Israeli and one American teenager died of wounds sustained in last month’s suicide attack in Tel Aviv. A reported 45 Palestinians have been killed this month, including at least 2 children, and 180 Palestinians have been injured. Of the Palestinian casualties, 10 of the dead and at least 33 of the wounded were victims of intra-Palestinian fighting, as was one Jordanian Government employee who was killed in Gaza a few days ago. This internal strife, notably in Gaza, has now reached worrying proportions.



On closures, barrier and settlement activity, I would like to say that the Quartet has urged both parties to take concrete steps to implement their obligations under the Agreement on Movement and Access. The Karni crossing between Israel and Gaza has been closed for half of the scheduled days of operation in 2006. The United Nations and other actors face increasingly tight Israeli restrictions on staff movement to and from Gaza and on the supply of humanitarian goods through Karni, despite Israel’s stated desire to support expanded United Nations operations.



The Quartet also stated on 9 May that the parties should avoid unilateral measures which prejudice final-status issues and expressed concern about settlement expansion and the route of the barrier. However, on 26 April, Prime Minister Olmert announced his intention to increase the pace of construction and to complete the barrier around Jerusalem by the end of the year. The Israeli cabinet reiterated its commitment to the construction of the barrier and approved a series of changes in the northern West Bank and Jerusalem areas. Meanwhile, Israeli settlement construction continues. The Defence Ministry recently authorized the expansion of four West Bank settlements to the north and south of Jerusalem as well as in the Jordan Valley. Defence Minister Peretz also extended previously issued evacuation orders regarding 12 settlement outposts, while declaring the Government’s intention to take action on “the evacuation of illegal outposts”.



A Palestinian national dialogue will start tomorrow in Ramallah and Gaza City, linked by video. Around 500 representatives of all political parties, civil society, the private sector, the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) will participate. The agenda includes measures to reinforce national unity, ways to address the current critical situation, and the activation of the PLO. The Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process has encouraged the pursuit through dialogue of a positive consensus among Palestinian political actors regarding the road ahead.



The Quartet welcomed Prime Minister Olmert’s call for negotiations with a Palestinian partner committed to the principles of the Road Map. In this context, the meeting between President Abbas and Israeli Foreign Minister Livni at the World Economic Forum in Sharm el-Sheikh last weekend was a positive development, as was the agreement reached to prepare carefully for a meeting between the President and Prime Minister Olmert.



President Bush encouraged Prime Minister Olmert to reach out to President Abbas and stated that the best servant of peace was “a negotiated final-status agreement”. President Bush also indicated that any final-status agreement could be achieved only on the basis of “mutually agreed changes”. We support the need for a negotiated outcome and in that regard urge all parties to engage in substantive dialogue at the earliest opportunity.

IX. INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANIZATION ISSUES REPORT
ON THE SITUATION OF WORKERS IN THE OCCUPIED
ARAB TERRITORIES

On 26 May 2006, the Director-General of the International Labour Office, Juan Somavia, issued a report entitled “The Situation of Workers in the Occupied Arab Territories”, as an appendix to his Report to the International Labour Conference at its 95th Session. An excerpt from the report containing its conclusions is reproduced below:

5.2. Conclusions

111. The mission identified prominent issues which the parties in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the international community as a whole will have to address during the coming months. Again, the worsening situation since the end of 2005 urgently requires every effort of the Palestinian Authority, the Israeli Government and the international community to achieve decent work for women and men in the occupied Arab territories.

112. Certainly, the most pressing issue in the present context is to alleviate the humanitarian crisis. Again, international organizations, including non-governmental organizations, and local counterparts are doing admirable work to that effect. But sustainability can only be achieved by promoting growth, investment and decent work for Palestinians in the occupied territories. Foreign assistance to the Palestinians in the forms of budgetary support, emergency/humanitarian assistance and development aid cannot replace in a sustainable manner the efficiency losses caused by the conflict. The development of a viable Palestinian economy must be a priority.

113. The messages given in the Constitution of the International Labour Organization, “lasting peace can be established only if it is based upon social justice,” and in its annex, the Declaration of Philadelphia, “poverty anywhere constitutes a danger to prosperity everywhere”, hold true in the Palestinian/Israeli context. Unilateral measures will not make for lasting peace. There remains a shared responsibility of the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority for human, economic and social security if there is to be a positive outcome.

115. In thinking about solutions aimed at determining the future borders of Israel, particular attention needs to be paid to the nature of the Separation Barrier and the enclosed settlements and its implications for East Jerusalem. The Israeli Government had previously maintained that the trajectory of the barrier does not prejudice the future frontier between the two States. Again, there is a common responsibility “to work towards a negotiated solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on existing agreements, the relevant UNSC resolutions and the principles laid down in the Road Map” (Council of the European Union, 2006).

116. The commitment to keeping contracts is part of what is expected from both parties in the conflict. Important actors of the international community expect “the new Palestinian Government to commit to the principles of non-violence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Road Map” (United Nations, 2006b), while the Israeli Government is expected to resume the clearance revenue transfers it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority within the common customs union regime.

117. As a result of lack of agreement on these principles a reduction of aid flows has been considered. In the ongoing debate, while recalling that the Hamas movement is registered in the European Union’s list of terrorist organizations, President Chirac of France declared in relation to a possible halt to aid that it would be both unfair and politically clumsy to make the Palestinian people pay the price (Le Monde, 2006). This is the position frequently taken by many of the mission’s interlocutors.

118. The Council of the League of Arab States, meeting in Khartoum on 28-29 March 2006, just as the new Palestinian Government was assuming office, pledged “to continue with the provision of financial assistance to the national Palestinian Authority in accordance with the mechanism reached during the Beirut (2002) Arab summit and to continue [their] contributions in boosting the Al-Aqsa funds to back up the Palestinian economy and reinforce its capabilities and ending its dependency on the Israeli economy”.

120. Until it reaches a rate of growth that generates enough employment to absorb the increase in the labour force and also to achieve higher employment to working-age population ratios for women and men, employment of Palestinians in Israel remains essential to the Palestinian economy. At the same time, it benefits the Israeli economy. Representatives of the Manufacturers’ Association of Israel again this year explained to the mission their appreciation of Palestinian workers in several sectors of the economy, provided security requirements are met. The Israeli Government had earlier announced the termination of permits by the end of 2007. Experience in 2005, when a substantial number of work permits were issued, again demonstrated the viability of a regime which is benefiting both the Israeli and the Palestinian economies. With a view to a future two-State solution, the Israeli Government may wish to reconsider its former announcement.

121. As dialogue and negotiation must be a driving force in any viable strategy for lasting peace and social justice, strengthening the social partners’ capacities and the institutions for functioning social dialogue in a tripartite setting is a most promising strategy. Representatives of the Manufacturers’ Association of Israel, Histadrut and the Palestinian social partners have again expressed their interest in support for a social agenda conducive to the process of dialogue within and between both the Israeli and the Palestinian sides. In this context, the ILO’s rights-based approach relating to freedom of association and the right to organize, collective bargaining and tripartite consultation is of the utmost importance. Draft legislative reforms concerning workers’ and employers’ organizations, which had been submitted to the previous Palestinian Legislative Council and raised a number of issues related to freedom of association for the Palestinian social partners, should be reconsidered in the light of the relevant international principles and rights.

122. As in former years, the mission identified discrimination against Arab people and in favour of Israeli settlers in the occupied Syrian Golan as an ongoing fact of life. The 2005 Report had welcomed, as a first sign of hope, the arrangement with the Israeli authorities, brokered with the assistance of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), to allow Arab apple producers access to Syrian markets, and strongly encouraged the continuation of this process, as well as any other initiative to help the Syrian Arab people in the occupied Syrian Golan. In fact, this year saw a continuation of the arrangement, on a larger scale. Nevertheless, as other forms of discrimination remained and new ones emerged, the Syrian authorities wished to see the ILO undertake technical assistance to obtain more decent work for the Arab people in the occupied Syrian Golan.


X. WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION ADOPTS RESOLUTION ON
HEALTH CONDITIONS IN THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN
TERRITORY, INCLUDING EAST JERUSALEM

On 27 May 2006, at its fifty-ninth World Health Assembly, the World Health Organization adopted a resolution on the health conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and in the occupied Syrian Golan. The resolution, which was adopted under agenda item 13, is reproduced below (WHA59.3):

The Fifty-ninth World Health Assembly,

Mindful of the basic principle established in the Constitution of WHO, which affirms that the health of all peoples is fundamental to the attainment of peace and security;

Recalling all its previous resolutions on health conditions in the occupied Arab territories; Expressing appreciation for the report of the Director-General on the health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan;1

Expressing its concern at the deterioration of the economic and health conditions as well as the humanitarian crisis resulting from the continued occupation and the severe restrictions imposed by Israel, the occupying power;

Expressing its concern also at the health crisis and rising levels of food insecurity in the occupied Palestinian territory due to Israel's withholding of Palestinian customs revenues and the severance of external aid;

Affirming the need for guaranteeing universal coverage of health services and for preserving the functions of the public health services in the occupied Palestinian territory;

Recognizing that the acute shortage of financial and medical resources in the Palestinian Ministry of Health, which is responsible for running and financing public health services, jeopardizes the access of the Palestinian population to curative and preventive services;

Affirming the right of Palestinian patients and medical staff to the health facilities available at the Palestinian health institutions in occupied east Jerusalem;

Deploring the Israeli army’s continuous assault on Palestinian ambulances and medical personnel and the Israeli-imposed restriction on their movement, in violation of international humanitarian law,

1. Demands that Israel lift the closure in the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly the closure of the crossing points of the occupied Gaza Strip that are causing the serious shortage of drugs and medical supplies therein;

2. Demands that Israel dismantle and stop the construction of the wall and abide by its legal obligations mentioned in the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice;

3. Expresses deep concern at the grave implication of the wall on the accessibility and quality of medical services received by the Palestinian population in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem;

4. Expresses deep concern also at the serious implications on pregnant women and patients of Israeli restriction of movement imposed on Palestinian ambulances and medical personnel;

5. Urges Israel, the occupying power, to shoulder its responsibility towards the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people, in compliance with international humanitarian law;

6. Demands that Israel, the occupying power, pay the Palestinian Authority regularly and without delay its customs revenues in order to enable it to fulfil its responsibilities with respect to basic human needs, including health services;

7. Calls upon Israel, the occupying power, to halt immediately all its practices, policies and plans including its closure regime, which seriously affect the health conditions of civilians under occupation;

8. Urges Member States and intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations to help overcome the health crisis in the occupied Palestinian territory by providing assistance to the Palestinian people;

9. Calls upon Member States to provide financial support to public health and veterinary services in order to implement the Palestinian national plan for fighting the potential outspread of avian influenza in the occupied Palestinian territory;

10. Expresses its deep appreciation to the Director-General for his efforts to provide necessary assistance to the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and to the Syrian population in the occupied Syrian Golan;

11. Requests the Director-General:

(a) to organize a one-day emergency meeting addressing the health crisis in the occupied Palestinian territory;

(b) to provide support for Palestinian health and veterinary services in establishing a modern public health laboratory capable of diagnosing avian influenza in humans and animals;

(c) to submit a fact-finding report on the health and economic situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan;

(d) to provide health-related technical assistance to the Syrian population in the occupied Syrian Golan;

(e) to continue providing necessary technical assistance to meet the health needs of the Palestinian people, including the handicapped and injured;

(f) to support the development of the health system in Palestine, including development of human resources;

(g) to report on implementation of this resolution to the Sixtieth World Health Assembly.


XI. THE UNITED NATIONS AND SELECT NON-GOVERNMENTAL
ORGANIZATIONS LAUNCH THE REVISED EMERGENCY
APPEAL FOR HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE
TO PALESTINIANS

On 31 May 2006, the United Nations, under the Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP), published the Revised Emergency Appeal, a report indicating the revised financial requirements for humanitarian response in light of the bleak outlook in the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The following is the Executive Summary of this Appeal:

Executive Summary

The humanitarian outlook for the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) looks extremely bleak and is predicted to worsen dramatically in the coming months. Faced with this situation, the United Nations and select non-governmental organizations have taken the unprecedented step of revising their appeal for humanitarian assistance to Palestinians from $215 million to $385 million.

This revised emergency Appeal is aimed at helping the most needy - particularly children who make up half the Palestinian population. There is a need to extend basic health needs, depleted medical supplies, an increase food relief and create temporary jobs that are urgently needed.

It cannot - nor does it aim to - replace the comprehensive range of services provided by the Palestinian Authority (PA). Humanitarian assistance can plug some of the gaps as they emerge to help support a continuation of services. It can cushion and slow a deepening of the humanitarian crisis, but it cannot prevent it.

This emergency revision is in response to the impact of the fiscal crisis facing the PA and its negative effect on the population. Following the Hamas victory in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections in January, Israel halted the transfer of Palestinian Value Added Tax (VAT) and customs taxes it is obligated to pass over which comprise around half of the PA monthly budget.

Western donor funding was also suspended to the new PA pending its agreement to Quartet principles relating to non-violence, the recognition of Israel and an acceptance of previous agreements. In addition, the banking sector, fearful of litigation, has effectively frozen PA and some private sector accounts.

Palestinian Authority revenues have dropped by 75 per cent compared with 2005 and salaries to over 152,000 PA employees have not been paid since March. These civil service wages directly support another one million people, or more than 25 per cent of the Palestinian population. Survey data indicates that after only two months of going without salaries, Palestinian Authority employees have grown poorer more quickly than the general population.

GDP is estimated to fall by 27 per cent by the end of 2006 and poverty predicted to rise sharply. Around 70 per cent of Gaza’s potential workforce, for example, will either be out of work or go without pay - made up of the 40 per cent currently unemployed, the loss of PA salaries and further job cuts through the contraction of the economy and the loss of work in Israel.

The lack of salaries and essential supplies will undermine the delivery of key services that served the bulk of the Palestinian population. The PA operates 62 per cent of primary health clinics, all the major general hospitals, 75 per cent of primary and secondary schools and provides social and relief services to 45,000 families who are chronically unable to support themselves.

Israeli-Palestinian violence continues with a mounting death toll on both sides. A combination of power struggles within and between security services compounded by the non-payment of security sector salaries is leading to an increase in internal insecurity, civil disorder and factional violence. A rise in criminality and lawlessness will further undermine private investment and could jeopardize aid deliveries.

The fiscal crisis comes hard on the heels of tighter restrictions on Palestinian movement - that Israel notes are needed to protect its citizens against militant attacks - which have further fragmented the Occupied Palestinian Territory and hampered economic growth. UN attempts to deliver humanitarian assistance have also been interrupted.

Palestinians and their goods are no longer able to move freely within the West Bank and are banned from entering many areas such as the Jordan Valley. Imports into Gaza from Israel are functioning at minimal levels and exports in the past two months have dropped to just six trucks a day Between 1 April - 29 May 2006, according to PalTrade..

In late 2005 when the UN Appeal for 2006 was launched requesting $215 million, the outlook appeared more positive. To date, $71 million of that Appeal has been funded, or only about 36 per cent of the total requested. This revised Appeal, builds further on the original key elements. It is founded on a coordinated approach by participating organizations and Palestinian counterparts to ensure the successful targeting and reaching of Palestinian people most in need.

Although UN agencies are appealing for funds, it is recognized that under the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel as the occupying power, bears the legal responsibility for the welfare of the Palestinian population. The Quartet noted in May 2006 that the “PA must fulfill its responsibilities with respect to basic human needs … and provision of services”. Over the past decade, the PA has fulfilled this role with the assistance of the international community. However, should the PA be unable to provide basic services to the Palestinian population, it could result in a renewed emphasis on Israel’s legal responsibilities.

Most of the new funding being sought is in the sectors of temporary jobs and cash assistance to the most vulnerable, medical supplies to PA institutions and food to the growing “most at-risk” groups identified by UNRWA and WFP. It will alleviate some of the worst effects of the deepening humanitarian crisis, but a lasting solution lies in a fully functioning PA and the easing of movement restrictions on Palestinians.

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