Question of Palestine home
28 February 1995
Report of the
Secretary-General on the work
of the Organization
Official Records · Forty-ninth Session
Supplement No.1 (A/49/1)
22. At its forty-eighth session, the General Assembly approved, for the first time in many years, the credentials of Israel without any challenge, reflecting the changing situation in the Middle East. The Assembly also adopted
of 14 December 1993 expressing full support for the continuation of the Middle East peace process.
III. The foundations of peace: development, humanitarian action and human rights
B. Operational activities for development
1. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
208. The UNDP Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People is set to become a major channel for external development assistance to the emerging Palestinian interim Government. The Programme has worked closely with Palestinian authorities to formulate 34 capacity-building projects in such sectors as governance, agriculture, industry, urban development, trade promotion, statistics, water sanitation and environment.
209. UNDP has been instrumental in the provision of both capital and technical assistance to the Palestinian people in the occupied territories, since 1980. With 70 staff members, a programme delivery of $12 million in 1993 and an estimated amount of twice that figure for 1994, UNDP has made special efforts to cope with the magnitude of the socio-economic challenges involved.
210. From 1993 onwards, the UNDP programme strategy has included a concerted effort to support the development of managerial and technical capabilities in the public sector, especially in the emerging institutions. UNDP is extending assistance to the newly established institutional structures such as the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction and the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. UNDP has also, through the completion of a citrus-processing plant in Gaza, sought to encourage development through employment generation.
211. Following the signature of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements (
) and subsequent agreements, UNDP has approved projects for environmental management in Gaza and the provision of housing for employees of the Palestinian administration. Close UNDP collaboration with the World Bank has proved to be an important factor in recent activities.
D. The humanitarian imperative
6. Relief operations in the Near East
361. The United Nations agencies, with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), headed by Mr. Ilter Türkmen, in the forefront, have intensified the execution of programmes that focus on meeting Palestinian needs under self-rule.
362. On 6 October 1993, UNRWA launched its Peace Implementation Programme (PIP), which it had developed in consultation with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Agency's major donors. In line with the recommendations of the Task Force on Social and Economic Development in the Gaza Strip and Jericho, the Programme's main objectives in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were to improve basic physical and social services infrastructure, particularly in those areas where UNRWA already played a significant role, such as education, health and environmental health, relief and social services, and income generation activities. A central feature of most PIP activities was that they would create new job opportunities for unemployed Palestinians. UNRWA prepared over $120 million in project proposals and by mid-1994 had raised about $85 million from 20 donors. This sum represented over 60 per cent of the target of $137 million established by the Task Force.
363. PIP initiatives in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip enhanced the Agency's programmes and projects that had been under way prior to the signing of the Declaration of Principles by Israel and the PLO. During 1994, UNRWA's ongoing regular and emergency budget in the West Bank reached $62 million and in the Gaza Strip, $73 million. The total value of pre-PIP special projects amounted to $75 million, including $25 million for the Gaza General Hospital. UNRWA was the largest single international institution working in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during the reporting period.
364. With international attention focused on developments in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, UNRWA stressed the necessity of ensuring that Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic were also included in regional developments. Overlooking the needs of these refugees at this juncture could have negative consequences for the peace process. This emphasis was subsequently adopted by the Multilateral Working Group on Refugees. For its part, UNRWA developed proposals under PIP amounting to about $65 million for refugees in these countries. By mid-1994, about $10 million had been received from donors.
365. Despite the positive response of donors to PIP projects, funding for the Agency's regular and emergency programmes again fell substantially short of the amounts approved in the General Assembly budget. The budget deficit for the biennium 1992-1993 was $17 million. In 1993, the financial shortfall forced UNRWA to impose austerity measures amounting to some $14 million. UNRWA urged donors to fund the Agency's General Assembly-approved budget of nearly $633 million for the biennium 1994-1995, for unless UNRWA receives additional contributions to its ongoing programmes, the quality of services will only decline.
366. Following attacks by Israeli Defence Forces in late July 1993 on towns and villages in South Lebanon and West Bekaa, I sent an inter-agency mission to Lebanon for the preparation of a consolidated appeal for the population in the conflict-affected areas. The appeal launched on 20 August 1993 amounted to a total of $28,745,200. With its main emphasis on housing needs, the appeal also covered the areas of emergency food aid, agriculture, health care, water supply/sanitation and education. The Department of Humanitarian Affairs has begun tracking contributions and will include in its periodic situation reports data on the response to this appeal.
367. I have approved the recommendation of the Department of Humanitarian Affairs to make available $5 million from the United Nations Central Emergency Revolving Fund to the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat), which is executing the reconstruction project in Lebanon. By the end of the first phase of the project on 15 June 1994, Habitat had completed 630 houses in 33 villages.
368. There is an urgent need for extension of reconstruction activities to villages not covered by the project. This second phase would be of approximately the same order of magnitude as the first. The Department of Humanitarian Affairs and Habitat have jointly reiterated the appeal to the international community to contribute further to this emergency humanitarian assistance project, which has already proven successful in numerous villages, to allow for the completion of all housing reconstruction in South Lebanon.
IV. Expanding preventive diplomacy
17. The Middle East
576. Despite the differences of positions, the parties to the Middle East peace negotiations have accomplished a great deal in the course of the 12 months since my last report. The bilateral negotiating process initiated at Madrid culminated in an exchange of letters of mutual recognition by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the signing by them on 13 September 1993 of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements (A/48/486-S/26560, annex). In my report of 19 November 1993 (
), I expressed the hope that the agreement would lead to a comprehensive peace in the region, acceptable to all the parties concerned. I stated that the United Nations stands ready to lend its full support to the peace process.
577. This important development was followed by the signing of the Common Agenda and the Washington Declaration (
) by Israel and Jordan in September 1993 and July 1994, respectively. I also welcomed the signing by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization of the Agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area in May 1994 (see
578. In the course of the year, a measure of progress has also been achieved in the multilateral negotiations on Middle East regional issues, which have entered a new phase. In their meetings at Tunis, Beijing, Moscow, Copenhagen, Cairo, The Hague, Muscat, Doha and Rabat, the five working groups in the negotiations began to focus on a number of specific projects dealing with arms control and regional security, water resources, environment, economic development and refugees. The United Nations has continued to play an active role as a full extraregional participant in the deliberations of the multilateral working groups.
579. In February 1994, the peace process suffered a set-back caused by a particularly serious act of violence perpetrated by an armed Israeli settler against Palestinian worshippers in the al-Ibrahimi Mosque in the West Bank town of Hebron. Dozens of Palestinians were killed and scores wounded. I condemned this act of violence in the strongest terms. The Security Council considered the situation and, with its adoption of
resolution 904 (1994)
, called for the implementation of measures to guarantee the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilians throughout the occupied territory, including the establishment of a temporary international or foreign presence. The Security Council also reaffirmed its support for the peace process and called for the immediate implementation of the Declaration of Principles.
580. In early April 1994, the peace talks were frustrated once again when Palestinian attacks were launched against passenger buses in the Israeli towns of Afula and Hadera, resulting in casualties among Israeli civilians. I condemned these violent incidents and urged the parties to continue their negotiations towards the implementation of the Declaration of Principles. In accordance with the provisions of Security Council resolution 904 (1994), a contingent of observers, known as the Temporary International Presence in Hebron, was deployed in Hebron from May to August 1994.
581. In order to sustain support for the Declaration of Principles and the Cairo implementation agreement, it will be essential to promote economic and social development in the occupied territories and to bring about, as quickly as possible, tangible improvements in Palestinian living conditions, particularly in the Gaza Strip, where needs are greatest. In September 1993, I established a high-level task force to identify new projects and activities that could be rapidly implemented by UNRWA, UNDP and UNICEF, the three United Nations agencies with long-established operations in the occupied territories. The report of the task force, which identified immediate additional needs of the Palestinian people assessed at $138 million, was conveyed on my behalf by the Administrator of UNDP to the Conference to Support Middle East Peace, convened in Washington, D.C., on 1 October 1993. The Conference pledged some $2.4 billion in economic assistance to the occupied territories for the five-year transition period. Conference participants acknowledged that, in view of its massive presence on the ground, the United Nations would be an effective channel for such assistance, especially in the short term. (For more detailed information on UNRWA operations, see paragraphs 361-368 above.)
582. On 14 September 1993, the day after the signing of the Declaration of Principles, the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Mr. Yasser Arafat, in a meeting with me in New York, requested United Nations technical assistance in a variety of sectors, in particular for building the Palestinian administration to be entrusted with the tasks of self-government. In response to his request, I dispatched, in October 1993, a technical mission to Tunis and the occupied territories, for consultations with the PLO leadership. The mission also met with senior officials in Egypt, Israel and Jordan. The parties welcomed my intention to ensure a unified and coherent approach in the provision of economic, social and other assistance in the occupied territories.
583. Following the mission and pursuant to
General Assembly resolution 48/213
of 21 December 1993, I decided to appoint Mr. Terje Roed Larsen of Norway as the Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories. Mr. Larsen will provide overall guidance to and facilitate coordination among the programmes and agencies of the United Nations system so as to assist in the implementation of the Declaration of Principles. Mr. Larsen is also responsible for activities that fall outside the traditional sectoral responsibilities of the agencies, such as coordination of the training of the Palestinian police force, which was requested by Mr. Arafat in a letter to me dated 10 December 1993.
584. In southern Lebanon, hostilities have continued between Israeli forces and armed elements that have proclaimed their resistance to the Israeli occupation. Until the end of January 1994, hostilities in the area were essentially limited to the combatants themselves. After January 1994, civilian targets on both sides came under attack on several occasions.
585. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has done its best to limit the conflict and to protect inhabitants from its effects. In its
resolution 938 (1994)
of 28 July 1994, the Security Council reaffirmed the mandate of UNIFIL, as contained in its
resolution 425 (1978)
of 19 March 1978 and subsequent resolutions, to confirm the withdrawal of Israeli forces, restore international peace and security and assist the Government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of its effective authority in the area. Although UNIFIL has not been able to make visible progress towards these objectives, the mission has contributed to stability in the area and afforded a measure of protection to the population of southern Lebanon.
586. The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) continued to supervise the separation between the Israeli and Syrian forces and the limitation of armaments and forces provided for in the disengagement agreement of 1974. With the cooperation of both sides, UNDOF has discharged its tasks effectively and its area of operation has been quiet.
587. The United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), which is the oldest existing peace-keeping operation, has continued to assist UNDOF and UNIFIL in carrying out their tasks and has maintained its presence in Egypt.