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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York


GA/EF/2892
9 November 1999


ISRAELI OCCUPATION PRACTICES MAKE PALESTINIAN LIVES ‘A DAILY TORMENT’,

COMMITTEE HEARS IN CONCLUDING NATURAL-RESOURCES DEBATE

Speakers Also Give Views on Report of Economic and Social Council

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Also this afternoon, the Committee concluded its consideration of the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources. Egypt’s representative said that the practices of Israeli occupation authorities reflected a plan to swallow those territories and present the world with a fait accompli. The economic stranglehold stifled economic development of the Palestinian and Arab people in the occupied territories and ran counter to the most basic rules of respect for human rights. In addition, Israel had made environmental pollution a weapon of racism.

Israel’s security measures made the lives of the Palestinians a daily torment, Lebanon’s representative said. As a country which had suffered from the injustice of Israeli occupation for more than 21 years, it could appreciate the toll of that torment. While Lebanon hoped for the achievement of peace, Israel’s continued occupation and policy of expansion and settlement threatened to strip the peace process of all content, and placed Israel on a collision course with international legality.

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Committee Work Programme

The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this afternoon to conclude its discussion of the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources. For background information, see Press Release GA/EF/2891, issued this morning.

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Statements

ABDULLA AHMED SALMAN AL-KHALIFA (Bahrain) said that the report emphasized Israeli efforts to expand existing settlements and destroy Palestinian homes. Among Israeli practices in the occupied territories was the expropriation and sale of Palestinian property and the withholding of water from Palestinian lands, without considering the impact of those actions. Israel was pursuing those practices in violation of relevant Security Council resolutions which stipulated the illegitimacy of the Israeli occupation, an obstacle to lasting peace. Israeli practices in the occupied territories did not further the peace process in the Middle East, which could only be achieved when Arabs were empowered to exercise their fundamental rights. The Palestinians’ right to have their own state, with Jerusalem as their capital, must be respected. Also, Israel must withdraw to the 4 June 1967 borders. Israel’s practices were not in keeping with developments in the peace process. He concluded by stressing the right of the Palestinian people and the people in the occupied Syrian Golan to sovereignty over their natural resources.

FADHEL AYARI (Tunisia) said the report confirmed that Israeli authorities were pursuing their illegal practices against the people in the occupied territories. Their actions flew in the face of the spirit of the agreements reached and international law. The report reflected Israel’s continued policy of expansion and occupation. Its practices had kept Palestinians from working on lands which were rightly theirs. Instead they had subjected the Palestinians to the yoke of exploitation and expropriation. The Palestinians were suffering from a frightful lack of drinking water, restrictions on the transport of their foodstuffs, and foreign exploitation of their own natural resources. The people in the occupied Syrian Golan were suffering from similar policies and practices. All the commitments agreed to under the peace process must be respected. He hoped Israeli restrictions would be lifted and respect shown for all commitments made.

AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said that his country continued to be a pioneer in the call for action towards peace in the region. That policy was based on respect for the right of people in occupied territories to have a say over their natural resources. Israel’s policies in the field of settlements and unjust exploitation of natural resources constituted a flagrant violation of the basic rights of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories, including Jerusalem, and the Arab inhabitants of the occupied Syrian Golan. They deprived the rightful owners of their legitimate aspirations towards development.

The practices of the Israeli occupation authorities reflected a plan to swallow those territories and present the world with a fait accompli, he said. The economic stranglehold stifled economic development of the Palestinian and Arab people in the occupied territories. They ran counter to the most basic rules of respect for human rights. The practices of the Israeli occupation authorities and Israeli settlers had made environmental pollution a weapon of racism. The offer of tax breaks attracted polluting industries to the territories. Israel’s restriction of the right to education of the Arab population in occupied Syrian Golan constituted a violation of their natural right to work for a better standard of living. He expressed the hope that the Israeli Government would put an end to those policies, so that those agonizing aspects to the daily life of the population in the occupied territories would come to an end.

MUBARAK HUSSEIN RAHMTALLA (Sudan) said that Israel had established numerous settlements in its various occupied territories, creating serious problems for the development of peace in the region. The occupation brought serious consequences to the Palestinian people of the occupied territories, including Al Quds -- such as deficient health services, or the restrictions imposed by Israel on students, including mandatory inspections, which prevented them from pursuing their studies. The establishment of Israeli settlements had harmful consequences for the quantity and quality of the water supply. There were many sources in the region: they supplied Israel with a lot of water, but very little was provided to the Palestinian inhabitants.

He asked Israel to withdraw from all occupied territories, including Al-Quds and the Syrian Golan, and to stop all restrictions on the movement of its inhabitants. He also asked Israel to put an end to all of its other practices in the occupied territories, which destroyed the houses and the lives of the inhabitants, deprived them of control over their own natural resources, and were an obstacle to their economic development.

HUSSEIN MOUSSAWI (Lebanon) said that his country, which had suffered from the injustice of occupation for more than 21 years, could not but share the views of the international community concerning the suffering of the Palestinian people under occupation. Among the continued Israeli practices were the expropriation of Palestinian lands, the demolition of Palestinian homes, the construction of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, the persistent desire to annex East Jerusalem, the shooting by settlers and soldiers of Palestinian civilians, as well as the grave consequences of the occupation on medical care, education and the environment in the territories. Israel’s security measures made the lives of the Palestinians a daily torment. Only those who had experienced occupation could appreciate that torment.

Israel’s practices also included the diversion of water resources as well as the harassment of the people in the occupied Syrian Golan, he continued. While Lebanon hoped for the achievement of peace, Israel’s continued occupation and policy of expansion and settlement threatened to strip the peace process of all content. That placed Israel on a collision course with international legality. Israel must respect the relevant United Nations resolutions and agreements entered into. Lebanon called on the Assembly to adopt a new recommendation reiterating the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories, including Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan, over their natural resources.

JAMAL NASSIR SULTAN AL-BADER (Qatar) said the report had revealed just how far Israel had gone in its confiscation of the natural resources of areas it illegally occupied. The peace process had been underway for years. Israel was supposed to have ended its policy of confiscation of Arab lands. United Nations resolutions repeatedly called on Israel to stop the plundering of Arab lands. Security Council Resolution 465 had stipulated that Israel’s occupation was illegal, and resolution 497 had condemned Israel for colonizing the Syrian Golan. He recalled that resolution 53/196, adopted last year by the General Assembly, had recognized the inalienable rights of the Palestinians and Arabs in the Syrian Golan, as well as their sovereignty over their natural resources. He called on Israel to end the confiscation of Arab lands and the exploitation of their natural resources. The peace process should continue with Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied territories.

NAVID HANIF (Pakistan) said that Israel’s relentless occupation of the Palestinian territory had led to serious economic, social and environmental repercussions for the people of Palestine, who were being denied their legitimate rights in their homeland. Most Israeli activities ranging from cutting of trees to generating harmful industrial wastes and running stone quarries, posed serious health risks to the Palestinian people. Those problems were further compounded by the burden of financing health care services and rising unemployment. Frequent border closures had negatively affected trade, particularly exports from the territory. The situation in the occupied Syrian Golan was no different.

He stressed that all provision of the Oslo Agreement and the Wye River Memorandum should be implemented without further delay. The new wave of expansion of settlements should be stopped immediately. Occupied land should be returned to the Palestinians, and the international community should ensure that the Palestinian people could live in their homeland with honour and dignity. History was a witness that the struggle of people against foreign occupation and for the realization of their right to self-determination could not be suppressed for long. In this era of freedom and empowerment, no country should be allowed to occupy and exploit the resources of any territory against the wishes of its people.

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