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Répercussions économiques et sociales de l'occupation israélienne, assistance au peuple palestinien - débat de l'ECOSOC, introduction de rapports - Communiqué de presse (extraits) (22 juillet 2008) Français
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Source:
22 July 2008

Economic and Social Council
ECOSOC/6367

        Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Economic and Social Council
2008 Substantive Session
38th & 39th Meetings (AM & PM)

SPEAKERS URGE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL TO ENHANCE INTERACTION WITH POST-CONFLICT

COUNTRIES, EXPAND COOPERATION WITH PEACEBUILDING COMMISSION, IN PANEL DISCUSSION

Council Also Adopts Texts on Range of Issues, Including Consultative Status
Of Non-Governmental Organizations, Informatics, Genetic Privacy, Smoke-Free UN


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Background

The Economic and Social Council today continued its general segment with further consideration of its agenda item on “Non-governmental organizations”.  (For more information, see Press Release ECOSOC/6366.)

It also had before it several reports under several agenda items.  Under its item concerning “Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations”, the Council will consider the Secretary-General’s report concerning Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and international institutions associated with the United Nations (document A/63/61); the Secretary-General’s report on assistance to the Palestinian people (document A/63/75-E/2008/52); and the report of the President of the Council on consultations held with the Chairman of the Special Committee on the situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (document E/2008/47).

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Under its item on “Economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan”, the Council will consider the Secretary-General’s note transmitting the Report of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia on the 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 (document A/63/74-E/2008/13).

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Introduction of Reports

AMR NOUR, Officer-in-Charge of the Regional Commissions New York Office,...

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Mr. NOUR next introduced the note by the Secretary-General on the report of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia on the 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 (document A/63/74-E/2008/13), which covers developments through the end of February 2008.

As the report revealed, the occupation of the Palestinian territory by Israel continued to deepen the economic and social hardship for Palestinians, he said.  Israeli restrictions on mobility and its closure policies remained a primary cause of the poverty and humanitarian crisis in the territory and restricted Palestinian access to health and education services, employment, markets and social and religious networks.

Palestinians were also displaced as a result of the destruction of property, confiscation of land and the revocation of residency permits, he said.  In the last decade, more than 2,200 residences had been destroyed and 13,000 Palestinians left homeless.  The ongoing construction of the barrier wall had contributed to population displacement throughout the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem.  Due to closures, normal Palestinian economic activity was impeded, with export trade being particularly affected.

The near total isolation of Gaza since mid-June 2007 had resulted in shortages of food and medicine, spare parts for critical health and water sanitation installations, and raw materials for commerce and industry, he continued.  Overall daily water consumption per capita was nearly 100 litres less per day than the World Health Organization (WHO)-recommended basic minimum standard.

Social and economic indicators continued to show negative trends in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, he said, stressing that unemployment was estimated at 28.8 per cent in 2007 with poverty rates at 56.8 per cent at the end of 2006.  Due to strict closure and curfews, pregnant women were delayed in trying to access health services during pregnancy and childbirth.  As a result, 2,500 women per year gave birth while attempting to reach a delivery facility.

Israel also prevented the return of the Arab population of the occupied Syrian Golan expelled in 1967, he said.  The Arab population of the area had over time experienced increasing limitations on land and natural resources owing to Israeli measures.  Thus, a large portion of the population had lost significant acreage traditionally used for pasture, resulting in changing production, commercial and land-use patterns within a traditionally rural, pastoralist society.

Citing the report’s conclusion, which refers to a message from the Secretary-General to the United Nations Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People, he said that only a permanent political settlement ending the occupation and giving the Palestinians their independence could fundamentally alter the economic and humanitarian problems of the Palestinian people.  With the right mixture of wisdom, realism and political courage, historic progress towards the vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, could be made.

LYNN HASTINGS, Chief of Staff in the Office of the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on assistance to the Palestinian people, contained in document A/63/75-E/2008/52, saying first that between May 2007 and April 2008, the Palestinian economy continued to suffer decline.  There had been some progress.  The West Bank had seen modest economic recovery in the aftermath of the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip and formation of a new Palestinian Authority government.  Also, $7.7 billion had been pledged by donors over a three-year period to support the new Palestinian Reform and Development Plan.

While bilateral political negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority had resumed since the conference in Annapolis, Maryland, military incursions continued, she said.  The situation in and around Gaza was characterized by near-daily rocket fire against Israeli targets.  Militants in Gaza had launched some 1,900 rockets on Israel.  At least 56 per cent of the population continued to live below the poverty line during the reporting period, and unemployment had increased nearly 23 per cent.  The past year had seen a significant deterioration of students’ academic achievements, particularly in Gaza.  Since the Hamas takeover in June 2007, 80 per cent of Gaza’s population relied on United Nations food and other direct assistance, and the efficiency of water networks had decreased.  From January 2008 onwards, 40 million litres of raw and partially treated sewage had been dumped into the Mediterranean.

She said the number of obstacles to movement in the West Bank had grown.  Her Office continued its coordination of assistance to the Palestinian people throughout the reporting period, and emergency support formed a large part of the United Nations’ activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  Indeed, the need for food aid remained.  The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) delivered food assistance to about 60 per cent of the registered refugee population in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  Emergency employment programmes also sought sustainability, with UNRWA and the World Food Programme (WFP) employing almost 100,000 people.  At the same time, formation of the Government had permitted donors a return to providing direct support to the Palestinian Authority.  A draft Palestinian Reform and Development Plan had been prepared ahead of the December International Donors Conference in Paris, where $7.7 billion had been pledged.  The United Nations country team had agreed on strategic operational objectives.

Development programmes continued, she explained, with UNRWA providing education to over 250,000 pupils.  The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) had provided technical assistance to the Ministry of Education.  The World Health Organization had provided technical assistance to the Ministry of Health, while the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees continued its programme of mainstreaming human rights.  The country team continued to work in support of the Millennium Development Goals, and United Nations agencies were closely collaborating with the Palestinian Authority to develop joint proposals under various thematic windows of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)/Spain MDG Achievement Trust Fund.  As of April 2008, proposals under the Culture and Development and the Gender and Women’s Empowerment Windows had been accepted.

Nonetheless, conflict continued to pose challenges, she said.  The United Nations country team was working closely with donors and the Authority to ensure implementation of reform and development plans.  While the coming year would be no less challenging, new opportunities could emerge.  Negotiations could help meet the broader aims of the United Nations in bringing a just, lasting and comprehensive peace to the Middle East.

General Discussion

The Council then opened the floor to general discussion of the agenda items under consideration.

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BASHAR JA’AFARI ( Syria) said the report of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia on the economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation was considered annually in the hope that the situation of the Palestinian people would improve.  Yet, with each reading, it was clear that that was not the case.  Rather, the suffering of those people increased exponentially with each United Nations resolution, due to the continuing occupation of Israel of their lands.

The concept of occupation had, he said, become a totally rejected idea among the international community.  The ESCWA report revealed something of the suffering experienced by Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the Syrians in the occupied Syrian Golan.  The figures left no doubt in anyone’s mind, that the commanders in the Israeli Army committed crimes against humanity against the Palestinian in the Occupied Territory, crimes that should be addressed in the relevant courts.  Further, Israel’s “stifling” siege of the Occupied Palestinian Territory had obstructed the humanitarian assistance to that Territory.  The checkpoints and the seizure programmes of the occupying Power hampered economic and social development throughout the territories.

Yet, despite repeated appeals by the international community, Israel continued to construct settlements in the West Bank, he said.  Israel had swallowed a large portion of the total area of the West Bank.  The report also confirmed that Israel had been predetermined to establish settlements in East Jerusalem and continued to use and exploit natural resources.  Emphasizing that Syria was directly affected by the act of occupation, he said Israel continued to build villages on the ruins of Syrian villages in the Syrian Golan, kept organizations like the Red Cross from visiting the occupied people and prisoners there, and continued to dump nuclear waste in the Syrian Golan, a matter which Syria had raised in a number of forums.  Those actions severely affected Syrian farming.

He expressed hope that the current consideration of the situation of the Palestinian and Syrian people in the territories occupied by Israel should not be a mere rhetorical exercise.  While some countries might adopt a posture in support of human rights, that posture did not seem to extend to the Palestinian people.  It was as if there were two scales and two benchmarks for international law, one that was applied to certain countries in the whole world with unprecedented zeal, and the other that protected Israel no matter what it did.

NADYA RIFAAT RASHEED, of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine, said that for 41 years, Israel had enforced a policy of systematic destruction.  That dangerous policy had violated its obligation under international humanitarian law, and various General Assembly and Security Council resolutions.

The continued construction of the wall and settlements continued, despite the International Court of Justice calling for the wall’s dismantlement.  The occupying Power continued to construct the wall, which destroyed Palestinian land, resources and livelihoods.  The consequences had been catastrophic:  19 per cent of the West Bank population would be directly affected by that wall, while thousands of others suffered displacement, and more importantly, a loss of hope, as they witnessed the confiscation of their properties.  Moreover, the wall would annex 46 per cent of West Bank water resources.

Nonetheless, Israel continued with its colonial regime of walls and illegal settlements, she said.  That apartheid-like regime also had set up checkpoints, infringing on Palestinians’ right of movement and disrupting all aspects of daily social and economic life.  The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs had cited such movement restrictions as a primary cause of poverty in the West Bank.

The added burdens of being under occupation were as clear as ever, she said, citing the current situation of soaring food prices.  Some 46 per cent of Palestinians did not have enough food to meet their needs.  Some 88 per cent of Palestinians in Gaza were living in poverty and 50 per cent of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories relied on food aid.  The direct consequences of such occupation covered all aspects of economic and social life for Palestinians.  It was a sinister policy that aimed to drive Palestinians out of their homeland.  It was not a new policy, nor provoked by any development.  Palestinians would stay the course and insist on a living a life of dignity.  At the same time, they called on the international community to uphold the principles of humanity, as the occupation was an affront to those principles.  Anything short of ending the ruthless occupation would be unacceptable.

ABDALMAHMOOD ABDALHALEEM MOHAMAD ( Sudan) said he had taken note of the Secretary-General’s report on the conditions of the Palestinian people, and on the consultations on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples.  The Council met against the backdrop of a marked deterioration in the lives of the Palestinians.  Israel had continued to occupy territories for 41 years, and it was no secret that Israel had undertaken activities that ran counter to international law, including international humanitarian law.  Israel continued to inflict injury on Palestinians, notably by destroying property and revoking residency permits.

Further, there were restrictions on civilians from receiving humanitarian assistance, he said.  The construction of the wall continued, despite a General Assembly resolution which endorsed the International Court of Justice advisory opinion.  There were severe social and economic repercussions to such behaviour.  Landmines still threatened people in the Golan.  The world expected the Council to undertake urgent measures that would help to begin a just peace process and the withdrawal of Israel from the Occupied Territories.  His delegation believed that occupation was the reason for all the suffering.  He called on the Council to recognize the right of return of all Palestinian refugees.  That was the only way to end the negative repercussions of the Israeli practices.

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HAMIDON ALI (Malaysia), associating himself with the statement made on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said his delegation hoped that the significance of recent developments, including the Gaza truce and last week’s prisoner exchange, would contribute to the Middle East peace process.  Yet, there was still no progress on Israel’s part to dismantle its illegal settlements, the separation barrier and the internal and external closure regime, which was obligatory under international law.

The ongoing construction of the wall had had a negative effect on social and economic life for the vast proportion of Palestinian residents, he continued.  The growing population of Israeli settlers in the Occupied Territories, which was illegal and in contravention of Security Council resolutions, also posed an obstacle for economic and social development.  That pattern of human rights violations and illegal actions on the part of Israel was systemic and pervasive.  According to the report, there had been a welcome increase to the 2008 consolidated appeal for the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  Yet, that would not contribute to the long-term improvement of the socio-economic conditions there.  Thus, the Council should continue to reiterate its call for the importance of reviving the Middle East peace process.

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ARTAULI R.M.P. TOBING, Director-General and Head of Policy Analysis, Development Agency of the Department of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, on the living conditions of the Palestinian people, said the report painted a bleak picture, concluding that the occupation continued the hardship of Palestinian and Syrian peoples.  It was a concern that, despite international calls, Israel continued to impose restrictions on the movement of goods and people into the Gaza Strip.  Further, increased restrictions on humanitarian agencies had limited aid to the West Bank and Gaza.  Indeed, about 85 per cent of Gaza’s population relied on food aid, particularly from the United Nations.

The combination of intensified closures and sanctions was serious, she said, which had led to deepening economic and social crises within the last year.  Conditions there had not improved since the Annapolis Conference.  In that connection, she recalled the laudable attendance at the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership Ministerial Conference on Capacity Building for Palestine, reflecting the commitment towards the Palestinian cause.

On Israel’s illegal occupation of the Syrian Golan, she said while the number of Israeli settlements in the Golan had increased, employment conditions continued to deteriorate.  The Israeli decision to annex the Golan was null and void, according to resolutions of both the General Assembly and the Security Council.  The report only confirmed what was known -- the conditions of Palestinians in the Occupied Territory and Syrian Golan continued to deteriorate.  Israel must change its policies; only then could the Palestinians and the international community have confidence in Israel as a partner in the peace process.

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NOR-EDDINE BENFREHA ( Algeria) said the crises prevailing in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the occupied Syrian Golan were a direct result of the actions of the occupying Power, which contributed to the isolation of the people there.  The occupying Power had not fulfilled it commitments under the Geneva Conventions, which guaranteed aid to peoples in occupied territory.  The current confiscation and closing of areas hindered socio-economic activities.  The construction of the separation wall was a flagrant violation of the Geneva conventions and of international law, including especially the decision of the International Court of Justice.  The international community was, more than ever, bound by its commitment to ensure the rights of the Palestinian people.

ILAN FLUSS ( Israel) regretted some statements made today on agenda item 11.  Nonetheless, he affirmed Israel’s shared vision of a two-State solution, living side by side in peace and security.  That was the goal of both peoples.  Today, the Security Council was dealing with the political aspects of the situation in the Middle East.  He expressed disappointment with the consideration of the item, as it was partly politically motivated.  There were more specific situations that had not been specifically addressed by the Council.

The item was meant to improve living conditions of Palestinians, he said, but by assigning sole blame to Israel, with no mention of the situation on the ground, reality was not reflected.  Rocket attacks by Hamas and other terrorist organizations on border crossings that supplied aid to Palestinians, and the internal situation within Gaza and the Palestinian Territories, were also important causes of the situation.  Israeli citizens were being attacked from Gaza on a daily basis.  Just this morning, a Palestinian tried to attack an Israeli citizen with a bulldozer.  At the same time, Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Perez was meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen.  That happened five hours ago.  He hoped to see a thriving Palestinian economy and an improved humanitarian situation there.  Supplies were flowing into Gaza, and Israel was trying to work with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.  Strengthening “the moderates” would enable the two sides to solve the conflict, and thus, the humanitarian and social situations in the Palestinian Territories.


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For information media • not an official record

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