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1. The CHAIRMAN briefly introduced the documents before the Committee for the consideration of agenda item 12.
46. Mr. SHREIM (Observer for Palestine), speaking on agenda item 12, "Economic and social repercussions of the Israeli settlements on the Palestinian people in the Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, occupied since 1967, and on the Arab population of the Syrian Golan", said that the international community had unanimously condemned the Israeli policy of establishing settlements, which was illegal and violated numerous Security Council resolutions. Despite that condemnation, Israel had pursued its policy and moved more than 125,000 settlers into the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, where they comprised around 13 per cent of the population. Further, Israel had moved more than 140,000 settlers into East Jerusalem. It was estimated that 50 per cent of the land of the West Bank and 30 per cent of the Gaza Strip had been confiscated by the Israeli authorities to establish settlements.
47. In spite of the positive developments in the peace process between Palestine and Israel, the Israeli Government was continuing to build dwellings, albeit at a slower pace, and it clearly intended to persist in its policy of establishing settlements. Its objective was to create a de facto situation designed to preempt future negotiations. The Israeli Government was thus violating the spirit and the letter of the Declaration of Principles which it had signed on 13 September 1993 with the Palestine Liberation Organization.
48. The situation was worsening because the Israeli settlers constituted an armed militia - a second army of occupation, as it were - which committed illegal acts of violence against unarmed civilian Palestinians. He recalled the massacre of Palestinians in the Hebron mosque and emphasized the importance of Security Council resolution 904 (1994), which called "upon Israel ... to take and implement measures, including ... confiscation of arms, with the aim of preventing illegal acts of violence by Israeli settlers" and which also called for a temporary international or foreign presence throughout the occupied territory. He thanked the three countries - Norway, Italy and Denmark - which had participated in the temporary presence and regretted the fact that it had been terminated since there was still a need for it.
49. In the Declaration of Principles, the parties had postponed the issue of settlements to a later stage of the negotiations. Palestine was committed to that decision but believed that it entailed the absolute cessation of any settlement activities by the Israeli authorities. Implementation of the next phase of the Declaration of Principles, including redeployment of the Israeli forces outside the populated areas, could not be carried out in reality without the removal of the Israeli settlers from centres such as Hebron.
50. The international community had a responsibility to guarantee full respect for international law in the question of illegal Israeli settlements. If there was a desire for the negotiations to culminate in a just and lasting peace, it was important for Security Council resolution 904 (1994) to be fully implemented.