The Committee was represented by a delegation comprising Ibra Deguène Ka (Senegal), Chairman; Ravan Farhâdi (Afghanistan), Vice-Chairman; Walter Balzan (Malta), Rapporteur; Ibrahim M’baba Kamara (Sierra Leone); Rafael Dausá Céspedes (Cuba); and Nasser M. Al-Kidwa (Palestine).
The Seminar was attended by representatives of 81 Governments, Palestine, 17 United Nations bodies and agencies, five intergovernmental organizations and 20 non-governmental organizations. Nineteen experts presented papers for discussion.
At the opening of the Seminar, a statement was made by Mustafa El Fiqi, Assistant Minister for Arab Affairs and Permanent Representative of Egypt to the League of Arab States. A statement on behalf of the Secretary-General of the United Nations was read out by his representative, Hazem Abdel Aziz El Beblawi, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). Statements were also made by Ibra Deguène Ka, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and Maher Al-Masri, Minister for Economy and Trade, Palestinian Authority, representing Palestine. Moreover, statements were made by representatives of the following Governments, intergovernmental organizations, United Nations bodies and agencies: Russian Federation, Brazil, League of Arab States, Organization of the Islamic Conference, Pakistan, Malaysia, Norway, Tunisia, South Africa, Japan, Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia and Universal Postal Union (UPU).
Four panel discussions were conducted with the participation of experts, as follows:
I. Palestinian institution-building and economic performance during the interim period: achievements, shortcomings and future tasks
Maher Al-Masri, Minister of Economy and Trade of the Palestinian Authority, as keynote speaker; Omar Daoudi, Senior Adviser to the Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in Jerusalem; and Salem Ajluni, Head of the Economic and Social Monitoring Unit at the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator (UNSCO).
II. Palestinian development objectives and strategies
Mohammad Shtayyeh, Director-General of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction of the Palestinian Authority; Saad Al-Khatib, Deputy Director-General for International Relations of the Ministry of Economy and Trade of the Palestinian Authority; and Raja Khalidi, Coordinator of the Assistance to the Palestinian People Unit, Globalization and Development Strategies Division, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The expert presentations were followed by a statement by the Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People regarding international assistance to the Bethlehem 2000 Project.
III. Israeli-Palestinian economic relations during the interim period and their future prospects
Samir Huleileh, Nassir Investments Co., Ltd., Bethlehem; Nadav Halevi, Professor, Department of Economics, Hebrew University, Jerusalem; Samir Abdullah, Head of Paltrade; Gil Feiler, Managing Director of Info-Prod Research (Middle East), Ltd., Ramat-Gan; Edward Haley, Professor of International Relations, Claremont McKenna College and Claremont Graduate University, California; and Saeb Bamya, Director-General for International Relations of the Ministry of Economy and Trade, Palestinian Authority, Ramallah.
IV. Impact of non-economic issues on sustained Palestinian economic and social development (Israeli settlements; Jerusalem; Palestine refugees; water and natural resources)
Shibley Telhami, Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland and Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.; Yossi Katz, member of the Israeli Parliament (Knesset); Sharif S. Elmusa, Associate Professor of Political Science at the American University in Cairo; Taher Shash, Legal Adviser to the Arab Organization for Human Rights; David Newman, Head of the Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University of the Negev; Emad Gad, Researcher on Palestinian Affairs at the Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo; and Akrum Tamimi, Vice-President for Planning and Development of Hebron University.
Closing statements were made by Soliman Awaad, Assistant Minister for Multilateral Affairs of Egypt; Nasser Al-Kidwa, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations; and Ibra Deguène Ka, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
In his concluding remarks, the Chairman said that the Committee had always attached great importance to social and economic development and the improvement of the living conditions of the Palestinian people. It was for that reason that the Committee had devoted a special place in its annual programme of work to social and economic issues of the transitional stage. In a continued effort to mobilize international assistance to the emerging Palestinian nation, the Committee had decided to convene the United Nations Seminar on Prospects for Palestinian Economic Development and the Middle East Peace Process. The participants reviewed the current status of Palestinian institution-building and economic performance during the interim period, and the steps taken towards establishing a better environment for sustainable economic development, in coordination with donors, intergovernmental organizations and other actors. The experience gained in the past several years had been thoroughly discussed and formed the basis for formulating objectives and strategies of Palestinian development. The participants were of the view that partnership between Israelis and Palestinians in the peace process had to be accompanied by partnership in economic development, and that sustained Palestinian economic and social development was in great measure influenced by non-economic issues. The outcome of the negotiations on interim and permanent status issues would most certainly affect current Palestinian economic activity as well as the future of the Palestinian economy in general.
Subsequently, the Chairman submitted the report of the Seminar to the United Nations Secretary-General, with the request that it be circulated as a document of the General Assembly and of the Economic and Social Council (see A/55/144 - E/2000/87). The report was also issued as a publication of the Division for Palestinian Rights.