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Bulletin mensuel de la DDP - Vol.XXX, No.3 - bulletin du Comité pour l’exercice des droits inaliénables du peuple palestinien/DDP (mars 2007) - publication de la Division des droits palestiniens Français

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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP)
31 March 2007

March 2007

Volume XXX, Bulletin No. 3


Bulletin
on action by the United Nations system and
intergovernmental organizations
relevant to the question of Palestine

Contents
Page
I.
Commission on the Status of Women recommends resolution on Palestinian women
1
II.
UNESCO Technical Mission assesses work on the access to Al-Haram Al-Sharif
4
III.
Non-Aligned Movement calls for Security Council field mission to visit Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory
6
IV.
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs briefs the Security Council
8
V.
Quartet issues statement on the Palestinian National Unity Government
10
VI.
United Nations International Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace held at FAO Headquarters, Rome
11
VII.
Human Rights Council calls for fact-finding missions to the Occupied Palestinian Territory
13
VIII.
Secretary-General addresses Arab Summit
14
IX.
Arab Summit adopts Riyadh Declaration
15

The Bulletin can be found in the United Nations Information System
on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL) on the Internet at:
http://unispal.un.org.

I. COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN RECOMMENDS RESOLUTION
ON PALESTINIAN WOMEN

At its fifty-first session, held from 26 February to 9 March 2007, the Commission on the Status of Women considered the report of the Secretary-General on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women, submitted pursuant to Economic and Social Council resolution 2006/8 of 25 July 2006 (see E/CN.6/2007/4 of 9 January 2007). On 9 March 2007, the Commission on the Status of Women considered the draft resolution on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women, sponsored by Pakistan on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, as contained in document E/CN.6/2007/L.2. The orally revised text of the draft resolution was adopted, by a recorded vote of 40 in favour to 2 against (Canada, United States), and was recommended to the Economic and Social Council for adoption. The amended text of the draft resolution, as contained in E/2007/27-E/CN.6/2007/9, is reproduced below.

Situation of and assistance to Palestinian women The Economic and Social Council,

Having considered with appreciation the report of the Secretary-General on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women,1

Recalling the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women,2 in particular paragraph 260 concerning Palestinian women and children, the Beijing Platform for Action3 adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women, and the outcomes of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”,4

Recalling also its resolution 2006/8 of 25 July 2006 and other relevant United Nations resolutions,

Recalling further the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women5 as it concerns the protection of civilian populations,

Recalling the importance of the implementation of General Assembly resolution 57/337 of 3 July 2003, on the prevention of armed conflict, and Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) of 31 October 2000, on women and peace and security,

Expressing the urgent need for the full resumption of negotiations within the Middle East peace process on its agreed basis and towards the speedy achievement of a final settlement between the Palestinian and Israeli sides,

Concerned about the grave situation of Palestinian women in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, resulting from the severe impact of ongoing illegal Israeli settlement activities and the unlawful construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, as well as the severe consequences arising from Israeli military operations in and sieges of civilian areas, which have impacted detrimentally their social and economic conditions and deepened the humanitarian crisis faced by them and their families,

Expressing the importance of providing assistance, especially emergency assistance, to alleviate the harmful impact of the financial crisis which has exacerbated the already dire socio-economic and humanitarian situation being faced by Palestinian women and their families,

Welcoming the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,6 issued on 31 August 2005, on the issue of Palestinian women giving birth at Israeli checkpoints owing to denial of access by Israel to hospitals, with a view to ending this practice,

Recalling the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory7 and recalling also General Assembly resolution ES-10/15 of 20 July 2004,

Recalling also the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,8 the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights8 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child,9 and affirming that these human rights instruments must be respected in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,

Expressing its condemnation of all acts of violence, including all acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction, especially the excessive use of force against Palestinian civilians, many of them women and children, resulting in injury and loss of human life,

Emphasizing the importance of increasing the role of women in decision-making with regard to conflict prevention and resolution as part of efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of all women in the region,

1. Calls upon the concerned parties, as well as the international community, to exert all the necessary efforts to ensure the full resumption of the peace process on its agreed basis, taking into account the common ground already gained, and calls for intensified measures to be taken for tangible improvement of the difficult situation on the ground and the living conditions faced by Palestinian women and their families;

2. Reaffirms that the Israeli occupation remains a major obstacle for Palestinian with regard to their advancement, self-reliance and integration in the development planning of their society, and encourages all women in the region to take an active role in supporting the peace process;

3. Demands that Israel, the occupying Power, comply fully with the provisions and principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,10 the Regulations annexed to The Hague Convention IV of 18 October 190711 and the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949,12 in order to protect the rights of Palestinian women and their families;

4. Calls upon Israel to facilitate the return of all refugees and displaced Palestinian women and children to their homes and properties, in compliance with the relevant United Nations resolutions;

5. Calls upon the international community to continue to provide urgently needed assistance and services in an effort to alleviate the dire humanitarian crisis being faced by Palestinian women and their families and to help in the reconstruction of relevant Palestinian institutions;

6. Requests the Commission on the Status of Women to continue to monitor and take action with regard to the implementation of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women,2 in particular paragraph 260 concerning Palestinian women and children, the Beijing Platform for Action3 and the outcomes of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”;4

7. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to review the situation, to assist Palestinian women by all available means, including those laid out in the report of the Secretary-General on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women,1 and to submit to the Commission on the Status of Women at its fifty-second session a report, including information provided by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, on the progress made in the implementation of the present resolution.


_____________
1E/CN.6/2007/4.
2Report of the World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace, Nairobi, 15-26 July 1985 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.85.IV.10), chap. I, sect. A.
3Report of the Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing, 4-15 September 1995 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.96.IV.13), chap. I, resolution 1, annex II.
4General Assembly resolution S-23/2, annex, and resolution S-23/3, annex.
5See General Assembly resolution 48/104.
6A/60/324.
7See A/ES-10/273 and Corr.1.
8General Assembly resolution 2200 A (XXI), annex.
9United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 1577, No. 27531.
10General Assembly resolution 217 A (III).
11See Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, The Hague Conventions and Declarations of 1899 and 1907 (New York, Oxford University Press, 1915).
12United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 75, No. 973.

II. UNESCO TECHNICAL MISSION ASSESSES WORK ON ACCESS
TO AL-HARAM AL-SHARIF

On 27 February 2007, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Koïchiro Matsuura, decided to send a technical mission to the Old City of Jerusalem, inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List and on the List of World Heritage in Danger, to carry out a technical assessment of the works on the access to Al-Haram Al-Sharif. On 12 March 2007, the UNESCO team submitted a report on its mission, which had taken place from 27 February to 2 March 2007. Excerpts from the report are reproduced below.



17. The works observed concern areas external to the Western Wall and are limited to the surface of the pathway and its northern side, where the retaining wall of the access collapsed in 2004. The mission noted that no work is being conducted inside the Haram es-Sharif, nor may the nature of the works underway be reported, at this stage, as constituting a threat to the stability of the Western Wall and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.



40. While recognizing that the archaeological works underway are being carried out according to professional standards, the mission expressed its concern regarding the lack of a clear work plan setting the limits of the activity, thereby opening the possibility of extensive and unnecessary excavations.

41. The mission’s assessment is that all the works should aim at conserving the existing structure, consolidating and repairing it. A clear statement should be issued by the Israeli authorities in this respect. The archaeological excavations should be strictly limited to obtaining information on the stability of the structure needed for the consolidation work. It appears that such information is now available and that, consequently, these excavations should be stopped.

42. Two preliminary sketches of the future layout of the access were presented to the mission by the [Israeli Antiquities Authority], but the mission was not presented with any final architectural design.

43. The mission also considers that discussions and consultations should take place among all concerned parties before any decision is taken on this subject.

IV.2. Cooperation between the stakeholders

44. The mission clearly indicated to all the concerned parties that the heritage value of the Mughrabi pathway, an integral part of the site inscribed on the World Heritage List, cannot be limited to the archaeological structures, but has to include its important cultural, religious and symbolic aspects, and that these should be duly taken into account in any phase of the consolidation and restoration process.

45. As the project concerns different religious and cultural communities, it is of the utmost importance that dialogue and communication be established in order to include the views of all concerned parties.

46. The mission is aware that in the present situation no dialogue exists between the Israeli authorities and the Islamic Waqf. As this situation is at the origin of the present crisis, all parties should be invited to contribute in addressing and solving this issue in a cooperative way.

47. The involvement of the Jordanian Government, which has a supervisory role on the Haram es-Sharif recognized by Israel, would be most appropriate. The cooperation with the Jordanian Government was effective in solving the problem on the restoration of the Southern Wall of the Haram es-Sharif in 2004, and a similar framework could be envisaged. UNESCO could offer technical assistance and act as a facilitator in this process.

48. The Government of Israel should be asked to comply with its obligations regarding archaeological excavations and heritage conservation in World Heritage sites such as the Old City of Jerusalem and, in particular, with Decision 30 COM.34 adopted by the World Heritage Committee in Vilnius in July 2006 on this matter.

49. The Government of Israel should be asked to stop immediately the archaeological excavations, given that the excavations that had been undertaken were deemed to be sufficient for the purpose of assessing the structural conditions of the pathway.

50. The Government of Israel should then clearly define the final design of the access structure, whose principal aim should be to restore the Mughrabi pathway without any major change to its structure and shape, in order to maintain the values of authenticity and integrity of the site. A clear work plan thereon should be communicated to the World Heritage Committee in the shortest possible time.

51. The Government of Israel should be asked to engage immediately a consultation process with all concerned parties, in particular the authorities of the Waqf and of Jordan, the latter having signed a peace agreement on 26 October 1994, and agree upon a plan of action before taking any further action and decision thereon.

52. This process should be supervised by an international team of experts coordinated by UNESCO and involving in particular structural engineers, specialized in archaeological consolidation works, in order to ensure the most appropriate solution for the restoration of the Mughrabi pathway.

III. NON-ALIGNED MOVEMENT CALLS FOR SECURITY COUNCIL
FIELD MISSION TO VISIT ISRAEL AND THE OCCUPIED
PALESTINIAN TERRITORY

The following letter dated 13 March 2007 from the Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations was addressed to the President of the Security Council (S/2007/146).

I have the honour to write to you in my capacity as Chairman of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement.

It has been a practice of the Security Council, in particular with regard to various recent crises, to dispatch field missions to observe first-hand the situation on the ground in order to enhance knowledge about prevailing situations and issues and to display the concern of the Council in the matter and the priority is ascribes to addressing and appropriately resolving the matter. Such field missions are in line with the Council’s main responsibility under the Charter of the United Nations, namely the maintenance of international peace and security, for they are a means for the Council to be proactive in this regard and they should be promoted.

We believe that one such situation calling for a Security Council mission is the situation in the Middle East, in particular the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. A field mission by Security Council members to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, in particular at this critical time, would help to improve the Council’s image as well as its credibility at a time when a common perception in the region is that the Council has repeatedly failed to shoulder its responsibilities with regard to the maintenance of peace and security in the Middle East region and in particular with regard to the question of Palestine and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In this connection, such a visit by the Council would also be in line with the permanent responsibility of the United Nations towards the question of Palestine until it is satisfactorily resolved in all its aspects in accordance with international law and relevant United Nations resolutions.

We believe that such a Security Council mission would not overlap with the efforts of the Quartet regarding the Middle East, but on the contrary, would supplement those efforts and constructively and positively contribute to Middle East peace, to finding a sustainable solution to the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, and to the implementation of the resolutions of the Security Council in this regard.

The Non-Aligned Movement considers that a Security Council mission to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory would be particularly valuable at present, when the Palestinians have just averted internal turmoil as a result of the Mecca Agreement, which can help create a proper climate for the resumption of the peace process.

The Security Council has adopted numerous resolutions on the question of Palestine and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is logical that the Council be proactive in pursuit of the implementation of its own resolutions, including by conducting field missions to the region in follow-up of its resolutions and for the purpose of gaining further knowledge about the core issues involved, which could enable the Council members to better address the matter.

The Council currently receives a monthly briefing from the Secretariat on the Palestinian situation, which is often given by the Secretary-General himself or his Special Representative, attesting to the priority given to the matter within the Council. In this connection, we refer particularly to Security Council resolution 1322 (2000) of 7 October 2000, which was adopted by the Council after the provocation that was carried out at Al-Haram Al-Sharif in Occupied East Jerusalem on 28 September 2000. Paragraph 7 of this resolution invites the Secretary-General to continue to follow the situation and to keep the Council informed. A visit to the region by members of the Council themselves is long overdue. Such a visit would allow the Council members to see first-hand the situation they are briefed about monthly and would help to enhance understanding of the realities of the facts and the situation on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

Clearly, the Council members conducting the field mission should strive to meet with both the Palestinian and Israeli sides during the mission. Such meetings with the parties in the region should be viewed as constructive initiatives, which could produce positive results and enhance the current dialogue on the question.

With regard to the recurrent issue of and calls for the need for the provision of protection for the Palestinian civilian population and the possible role of the Security Council in this matter, it is important to recall Council resolution 904 (1994) of 18 March 1994, which was adopted following the massacre committed against Palestinian worshippers in Al-Haram Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in Al-Khalil (Hebron) on 25 February 1994 and by which the Council established the Temporary International Presence in Hebron to provide protection for the Palestinian civilian population in the city, which has been besieged and terrorized by the illegal Israeli settlers in the area.

The Non-Aligned Movement suggests that the appropriate timing for sending a field mission to the Middle East would be next June, that is, the end of the first semester of 2007.

The Non-Aligned Movement sincerely hopes that the Security Council will consider this proposal in a positive way.

The Movement reaffirms its commitment to a peaceful solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to the right of the Palestinian people to exercise self-determination and sovereignty in their independent State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

I should be grateful if you could have the present letter circulated as a document of the Security Council.

(Signed) Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz
Ambassador
Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations
Chair of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement



IV. UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS BRIEFS
THE SECURITY COUNCIL

On 14 March 2007, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe briefed the Security Council on the item entitled “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”. The following are excerpts of the briefing (S/PV.5638).



Concerning Palestinian political developments, thankfully, the ceasefire agreed in Mecca has already calmed the internal Palestinian front, although isolated clashes underscore the fragility of the situation. After being commissioned to form the new Government by President Abbas, Prime Minister-designate Haniyeh has consulted with all factions and remained in close and frequent contact with the President himself to finalize the new Government and prepare its programme for presentation to the Palestinian Legislative Council. Under the Basic Law, the new Government must be finalized by 21 March, and there are signs that it may be presented imminently.

We must hope that the new Government will take positions and actions that demonstrate, as was agreed in Mecca, respect for the signed agreements of the Palestine Liberation Organization that renounce terrorism, recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace and security, and impose crucial obligations on the Palestinian Authority. The United Nations Special Coordinator, Alvaro de Soto, has been actively pressing those issues during the crucial period of Government formation.

As it affirmed when it met in Berlin on 21 February, the Quartet is taking a “wait-and-see” approach. It reaffirmed its readiness to support a Government committed to Quartet principles and encouraged progress in that direction. As events unfold, the United Nations will continue its consultations with Quartet and regional partners.

In the meantime, as called for by the Quartet, preliminary discussions are under way on new ideas proposed by the European Commission for facilitating aid financing and coordination to support Palestinian social and economic development and to strengthen public institutions and governance. That initiative will benefit from consultation with all stakeholders, bearing in mind the results of national unity discussions and existing aid coordination arrangements.

As to efforts to advance political dialogue, since the last briefing, President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert met on two occasions - once with United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on 19 February, and again last Sunday in a bilateral meeting. Those meetings have provided a vital channel of dialogue at a sensitive time. We call on the two leaders to continue their dialogue and to focus on the substantive final status issues that must be addressed in order to provide a political horizon and to advance the road map. We welcome Secretary Rice’s plans to return to the region later this month.

We continue to see welcome signs of increased engagement by Arab countries. Preparatory meetings held in advance of the summit of the League of Arab States on 28 March in Riyadh have centred around efforts to breathe new life into the Arab peace initiative. That important initiative is a building block of the road map and represents a strategic choice by Arab countries for peace and coexistence with Israel, based on a comprehensive regional approach. Prime Minister Olmert has recently spoken of the positive elements that Israel sees in the initiative.



One source of deep concern is continued tension and violence, which took the lives this past month of 23 Palestinians - eight at the hands of the Israel Defence Forces and 15 from internal fighting - and one Israeli. Over the same period, Palestinian militants in Gaza fired at least 55 rockets into Israel. We commend Israel’s continued restraint in the face of those provocations, which are both unjustified and in breach of the agreed ceasefire. Israeli security forces in Tel Aviv, meanwhile, arrested a man from the northern West Bank who, allegedly, had been preparing to perpetrate a suicide bombing.



In late February, the IDF launched a large military operation - code-named “Hot Winter” - in Nablus. The IDF uncovered a number of sites used for preparing explosives and arrested a number of suspects. However, the operation placed tens of thousands of Palestinians in the old city of Nablus under curfew for several days, causing major disruption to civilian life and humanitarian operations. IDF operations also took place during the reporting period in Jenin, Ramallah and Bethlehem. There have also been incidents of IDF firing that have injured fishermen in the coastal waters off the Gaza Strip.

We also continue to follow closely the situation in the Old City of Jerusalem following reports of Israeli excavation and construction activity on a ramp leading to the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount, bearing in mind that real or perceived threats to change the status quo at sensitive holy sites in Jerusalem have been a trigger of conflict many times in the city’s history.



With regard to settlements and the barrier, we are also concerned at the continued creation of facts on the ground. Israeli construction of the barrier - parts of which extend deep into the West Bank - is now complete along more than half of its route and is continuing, contrary to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice. Settlement activity also continues. The Israeli Government has yet to freeze that activity or to begin to dismantle the more than 100 settlement outposts in the West Bank, despite its clear obligations to do so under the Road Map.

The Agreement on Movement and Access is still not being implemented in full. There has been progress at Karni, where truck crossings increased by 15 per cent during the past month and have more than doubled since November. However, further efforts are needed to meet the Agreement’s targets, and progress remains slow or non-existent on other fronts. Rafah was open for only 16 per cent of scheduled hours during the reporting period, and the crossing has become increasingly volatile and insecure.



Despite commitments made at the December 2006 meeting between Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas, there has been no meaningful reduction in the number of obstacles to movement in the West Bank, which currently stands at 529. The lack of action to improve movement and access in accordance with existing commitments undermines efforts to revive the Palestinian economy. United Nations workers are also facing increasing restrictions on their movement, which are jeopardizing humanitarian operations in Gaza even as needs on the ground continue to grow.


For his part, the Secretary-General has made it abundantly clear that he will be deeply and personally engaged in the continuing search for effective implementation of the resolutions of the Security Council and for a just, lasting and comprehensive solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. He has already shown that commitment through his efforts to re-energize the role of the Quartet, and he will soon be making his first trip to the region as Secretary-General. As members know, he will attending the Arab League summit in Riyadh on 28 March, and he also expects to make visits to other countries, which will be announced in the very near future.




V. QUARTET ISSUES STATEMENT ON THE PALESTINIAN NATIONAL
UNITY GOVERNMENT

The following statement was issued by the Quartet principals on 21 March 2007 (UN press release SG/2125-PAL/2071).

The Quartet Principals - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, High Representative for European Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner -- discussed by telephone today the situation in the Middle East and, in particular, the establishment of a Palestinian national unity government.

The Quartet reiterated its respect for Palestinian democracy and the agreement reached in Mecca on 8 February 2007, which laid the foundation for Palestinian reconciliation. The Quartet expressed hope that the establishment of a new Government on 17 March 2007 would help end intra-Palestinian violence and ensure calm. The Quartet reaffirmed its previous statements with regard to the need for a Palestinian Government committed to non-violence, recognition of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Road Map, and encouraged progress in this direction. The Quartet agreed that the commitment of the new Government in this regard will be measured not only on the basis of its composition and platform, but also its actions. The Quartet expressed its expectation that the unity Government will act responsibly, demonstrate clear and credible commitment to the Quartet principles, and support the efforts of President [Mahmoud] Abbas to pursue a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, thereby achieving the peace, security and freedom the Israeli and Palestinian people desire and deserve.

The Quartet reiterated the continuing need to coordinate and mobilize international assistance in support of the Palestinian people and endorsed the continuation of the Temporary International Mechanism for a three-month period, while it evaluates the situation and the international community works to develop a more sustainable international mechanism for support to the Palestinians.

The Quartet expressed its strong support for Secretary Rice’s efforts to further facilitate discussions with President Abbas and Prime Minister [Ehud] Olmert with the aim of defining more clearly the political horizon for the establishment of a Palestinian State and an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Quartet agreed to meet in the region soon to review developments and discuss the way ahead.


VI. UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL MEETING IN SUPPORT OF
ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PEACE HELD AT
FAO HEADQUARTERS, ROME

The United Nations International Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace was held at FAO Headquarters, Rome, on 22-23 March 2007, under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and in accordance with the provisions of General Assembly resolutions 61/22 and 61/23 of 1 December 2006. The Meeting adopted a Final Document (reproduced below).

1. The United Nations International Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace was held at the Headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, on 22 and 23 March 2007, under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian people. Participants in the Meeting included international experts, representatives of Governments, Palestine, intergovernmental organizations, United Nations system entities, parliaments, civil society and the media.

2. The Meeting was convened by the Committee with a view to supporting and promoting international efforts aimed at achieving peace between Israelis and Palestinians, focus the world community's attention on the question of Palestine, and emphasize the importance and urgency of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through ending the occupation, and the establishment of an independent State of Palestine based on the pre-1967 borders, living side-by-side with Israel in peace and security. In three plenary sessions, the participants discussed the significance of peace in the Middle East for the advancement of the dialogue between cultures and civilizations; the role of parliaments in promoting dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians; and the urgency of restoring momentum to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and forging a vision of a final settlement.

3. The Meeting was held at a time when the Mecca agreement and the resulting national unity government, having succeeded in moderating the internal Palestinian situation, raised hopes that the long-stalled peace process would soon resume. The participants welcomed the formation of a Palestinian government of national unity, and expressed the hope that this development would allow the international community to restore the much-needed economic and humanitarian assistance and help move the political process forward. Participants also expressed a view that the international community had an obligation to support the new Government without preconditions and lift the aid restrictions imposed on it. They called on the parties, regional actors and the Quartet to intensify efforts that would result in an appreciable progress in the Middle East peace process. In that regard, the participants noted the emerging international consensus in favour of the political process addressing, without further delay, the permanent status issues, rather than provisional or interim arrangements.

4. The participants emphasized that the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict was a threat to international peace and security and was increasingly becoming a key symbol of a perceived rift between the Western and the Islamic societies. The participants further stressed that the lack of progress in Middle East peacemaking and, most notably, in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had exacerbated feelings of frustration and mutual mistrust that was fuelling extremism on a local, regional and world scale. They also felt that it was often based on distorted interpretations of religious motives, aimed at transforming a political problem into a cultural and religious divide, and at disrupting the dialogue and interchange across cultures and civilizations. On a broader level, the participants emphasized that the voice and influence of religious leaders in efforts aimed at overcoming differences, misconceptions and misunderstandings between Western and Islamic societies was key to promoting the dialogue between cultures and civilizations. The participants were convinced that a solution to this conflict would greatly contribute to fostering such a dialogue.

5. The participants discussed in detail the important role played by national parliaments and inter-parliamentary organizations in promoting a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine. They viewed the experience and political influence of lawmakers and their organizations as instrumental in informing public opinion and setting policy guidelines, as well as in strengthening international law, democratic process and institution-building. They also encouraged new initiatives to bring together Israeli and Palestinian parliamentarians. Participants called for the immediate and unconditional release of all Palestinian parliamentarians currently in Israeli prison. As the participants saw the need for formulating a regional approach to resolving the question of Palestine, the role of regional organizations took a particular prominence. They supported the Euro-Mediterranean partnership and the Barcelona process as important initiatives aimed at strengthening dialogue for peace and stability in the wider region.

6. The participants expressed the hope that the parties would overcome the remaining differences in their quest for a final settlement, and noted the firm basis for such a settlement provided by the relevant resolutions of the United Nations bodies, the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference of 1991 and its principles, the 2002 Peace Initiative of the Arab League and the Road Map. The growing prominence of diverse international and regional actors and initiatives was discussed at length, with a particular attention accorded to the role of Europe. The participants also supported calls for convening an international peace conference on the Middle East.

7. The participants reaffirmed the permanent responsibility of the United Nations with regard to the question of Palestine until it was resolved in all aspects in a satisfactory manner in accordance with international law and legitimacy.


VII. HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL CALLS FOR FACT-FINDING MISSIONS
TO THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY

On 23 March 2007 the Human Rights Council met to consider the report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 on the urgent fact-finding mission established pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution S-1/1, and a letter dated 11 December 2006 from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Head of Delegation of the High-Level Fact-Finding Mission established under Human Rights Council resolution S-3/1, addressed to the President of the Council (A/HRC/4/113). On 27 March 2007, the Council adopted, without a vote, resolution 4/2, the text of which is reproduced below.

Human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: follow-up to Human Rights Council resolutions S-1/1 and S-3/1

The Human Rights Council,

Recalling its resolutions S-1/1 of 6 July 2006 and S-3/1 of 15 November 2006,

Noting with regret that Israel, the occupying Power, has not implemented to date these two resolutions and hindered the dispatching of the urgent fact-finding missions specified therein,

1. Calls for the implementation of its resolutions S-1/1 and S-3/1, including the dispatching of the urgent fact-finding missions;

2. Requests the President of the Human Rights Council and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to report to the Council at its fifth session on their efforts for the implementation of Council resolutions S-1/1 and S-3/1 and on the compliance of Israel, the occupying Power, with these two resolutions.
26th meeting
27 March 2007


VIII. SECRETARY-GENERAL ADDRESSES ARAB SUMMIT

Following are excerpts from the address of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the League of Arab States in Riyadh on 28 March 2007 (UN Press Release SG/SM/10926).



Instability in the Arab League States is of profound significance for international peace and security. I am here with you today, in the early days of my tenure, to pledge my support, and that of the United Nations, for peace, justice and the well-being of your peoples.

There are a number of growing causes of instability and uncertainty in this region. But for most in the Arab world, the wound that is still fresh, even after 40 years, is the continued occupation of Arab territory and the denial of legitimate Palestinian claims to statehood.

The basis for a solution is clear: an end to the occupation that began in 1967, the creation of an independent and viable Palestinian State, alongside a secure and fully recognized State of Israel, and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the region, as called for in the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council.

I commend President Abbas for his leadership. His commitment to peace with Israel is unambiguous, as is his determination to forge Palestinian unity in support of that cause.

During my visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territory just a few days ago, I reiterated my view that the formation of a National Unity Government is an important step forward. I congratulate King Abdullah and the other Arab leaders who helped make this agreement possible. I encourage the new Palestinian Unity Government to take actions which demonstrate a true commitment to peace through a negotiated two-State solution. And I encourage Israel to do the same by ceasing settlement activity and barrier construction in the West Bank, and engaging in serious dialogue with President Abbas on a political horizon for a final settlement.

The broader Arab world continues to have a decisive role to play. The Arab Peace Initiative is one of the pillars of the peace process. Endorsed in the Road Map, the Initiative sends a clear signal that the Arab world, too, craves peace. When I was in Israel, I urged my Israeli friends to take a fresh look at the Arab Peace Initiative. Here in Riyadh, I urge you, my Arab friends, to use this Summit to reaffirm your commitment to the Initiative.

We must build on these new stirrings of potential. The status quo is dangerous. But there are positive signs. The formation of a National Unity Government in Palestine and the prospect of an Israeli-Palestinian dialogue offers the prospect of hope. At the same time, the Quartet has been re-energized and the Arab Peace Initiative suggests a new way forward for the region. Peace between Israelis and Palestinians will not be a regional panacea. The region’s conflicts and fault lines have their own complex dynamics. But it would go a long way towards promoting political moderation and pluralism. Solving this conflict is a moral and strategic necessity.



IX. ARAB SUMMIT ADOPTS RIYADH DECLARATION

Following are excerpts from the letter from the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States to the President of the Security Council regarding the outcome of the Arab Summit held in Riyadh on 28 and 29 March 2007 (S/2007/232).



The Palestinian question and the Arab-Israeli conflict

1. The Riyadh summit reaffirmed the need to adhere to the Arab peace initiative as adopted by the Beirut summit in 2002. It called on the Government of Israel and all Israelis to accept the initiative and seize the opportunity to resume the process of direct, earnest negotiations on all tracks. The summit charged the Arab Ministerial Committee created to deal with that initiative with continuing its efforts and establishing task forces to make the necessary contacts with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, States members of the Security Council, the Quartet and other parties concerned with the peace process, with a view to the resumption of the peace process, the garnering of support for the initiative and the start of earnest negotiations on the basis of the agreed terms of reference;

2. The summit also reaffirmed its full support for the Palestinian national unity Government and the refusal to cooperate with any aspect whatsoever of the embargo measures imposed on the Palestinian people; called on the international community to lift the embargo immediately, recognize that Government, cooperate with it without discrimination and resume the offering of assistance and financial and economic grants to it; and decided to continue to offer Arab financial support for the budget of the Palestinian National Authority in the amount of 55 million dollars monthly for a period of a year, starting 1 April 2007;

3. The summit denounced the Israeli excavation work beneath and in the area of Al-Aqsa Mosque and called on the international organizations and agencies concerned, in particular the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to shoulder their responsibility for preserving Islamic and Christian holy places in Al-Quds al-Sharif; reaffirmed its rejection of all Israeli measures aimed at the judaization and annexation of the city of Al-Quds; affirmed the illegality of the separation wall and the Israeli settlements within occupied Palestinian territory; called upon the Security Council to shoulder its responsibility towards the Palestinian people and send international observers to protect them against the persistent Israeli violations of their legitimate national rights; and demanded the speedy release of Palestinian prisoners, especially Palestinian women prisoners and children in Israeli prisons in accordance with Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) and other relevant United Nations resolutions;

4. The summit also reaffirmed the well-established Arab positions concerning support for Syria’s right to regain possession of the occupied Syrian Golan, rejected all measures taken by the Israeli occupation authorities for the purpose of altering the legal, natural and demographic status of the Syrian Golan and deemed the continuation of that occupation an ongoing threat to peace and security in the region.

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