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In the absence of Mr. Osorio (Colombia), Mr. Sajdik (Austria), Vice-President, took the Chair.
The meeting was called to order at 10.05 a.m.
Economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan (E/2013/13-A/68/77 and E/2013/L.16)
Mr. Alami (Director of the Emerging and Conflict-Related Issues Division of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia), accompanying his statement with a digital slide presentation, said that he wished to introduce the note by the Secretary-General on the economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan (E/2013/13-A/68/77). He said that the discriminatory policies of Israel against Palestinians amounted to de facto segregation. Palestinians were deprived of equal access to roads, infrastructure, basic services and water and were subject to myriad military orders that applied only to them.
The Israeli zoning regime effectively restricted Palestinian construction to 1 per cent of Area C in the West Bank and 13 per cent of East Jerusalem. Palestinians were thus forced to build without permits and risked subsequent demolition. In 2012, 3,000 Palestinians had been displaced in the Gaza Strip after their homes had been destroyed or damaged during the Israeli November offensive. Another 815 had been displaced in the West Bank as a result of home demolitions. Israel had seized more than 40 per cent of the West Bank in order to build settlements. All 150 Israeli settlements and approximately 100 outposts on Palestinian territory were illegal and settlers residing in them represented 19 per cent of the overall population of the West Bank. The aim of the construction of the 708-km wall along the West Bank was to open the way for annexation of additional Palestinian land. In all, 68 per cent of land in the West Bank had become inaccessible to Palestinians.
Israel continued to pursue a policy of disproportionate and excessive use of force and arbitrary detentions against Palestinians. Between 30 March 2012 and 29 March 2013, 268 Palestinians had been killed and 4,483 others had been injured by Israeli security forces and settlers. Israeli security forces used practices on Palestinian detainees that amounted to torture. Such practices included the systematic and institutionalized ill-treatment of Palestinian child prisoners. Settler violence against Palestinians was increasing and generally went unpunished. Israel had blockaded the Gaza Strip since 2007.
Israel exploited 89 per cent of the available water in Palestinian territory but prevented Palestinians from using or boring wells. Palestinians in the West Bank each received 70 litres of water per day, compared to 450 litres for Israeli settlers. In Gaza, up to 95 per cent of water had become unfit for human consumption. Sanitation infrastructure had also deteriorated.
In 2011, 25.8 per cent of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza had been living in poverty and 12.9 per cent in deep poverty. In East Jerusalem, 78 per cent of Palestinians lived below the poverty line. More than 40 per cent of Palestinian households were classified as food insecure or vulnerable to food insecurity. High rates of anaemia among children and pregnant women had been recorded, and half of children under 2 suffered from iron deficiency anaemia. Almost 290 educational facilities had been damaged during the November 2012 offensive in Gaza and 38 schools in the West Bank were under threat of demolition. In the occupied Syrian Golan, Syrian Arab citizens were subject to discrimination.
Ms. Chan (Observer for Fiji), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China and recalling that, under Article 62 of the Charter of the United Nations, the Economic and Social Council could make recommendations for the purpose of promoting respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, said that the international community should support all efforts to end the suffering of the Palestinian people and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan.
Mr. Zuhairi (Observer for the State of Palestine) welcomed the note of the Secretary-General and said that Israel was continuing to violate international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The actions of Israel represented an attempt to destroy the economic and social life of the Palestinian community and had caused losses estimated at billions of United States dollars. Industry, agriculture and trade were all severely affected by Israeli policy. Palestinians were losing their homes and unemployment was rising. People were unable to move freely in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The occupation was tantamount to a crime against humanity.
The Government of Palestine pursued a two-State policy under which a Palestinian State would be created within the 1967 borders. An independent State of Palestine would be in a position to embark on its own path to sustainable development and would not need foreign assistance. The Council should adopt the resolution tabled by Fiji, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and Turkey (E/2013/L.16).
Mr. Altinors (Turkey), turning to the subject of the Israeli occupation and its repercussions, said that Israeli practices in Gaza were not only illegal and unsustainable, but they severely hindered economic activity in the occupied territories. Israeli settlement policy constituted a major obstacle to the resumption of peace talks. Stability and security could only be achieved through a just and comprehensive peace, economic growth and human development. The contribution of Turkey to the regular budget of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) had risen by more than 100 per cent in the previous four years. The Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency, which had been operating in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 2005, was investing US$ 32.5 million in 36 projects there.
Ms. Khries (Observer for Jordan) said that a two-State peace process whereby East Jerusalem would become the capital of a Palestinian State must be pursued. As more Israeli settlements were built, Palestinians were losing their homes and seeing their farmland destroyed. The international community must oblige Israel to face up to its responsibilities and comply with all the relevant United Nations resolutions.
The meeting rose at 1 p.m.