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Source: Department of Public Information
31 December 1999
YEARBOOK OF THE UNITED NATIONS
1999
VOLUME 53
Department of Public Information
United Nations, New York

...

Chapter VI

Middle East

In 1999, United Nations involvement in the Middle East Peace process continued through its peacekeeping operations, the good offices of the Secretary-General and programmes of economic, social and other forms of assistance, as well as active participation in multilateral negotiations. During the first six months of the year, the peace process, which began in Madrid, Spain, in 1991, stagnated, due among other things to the accelerated establishment of new and the expansion of existing Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory. Following the election of a new Israeli Government in May, the peace process regained momentum in early September with the signing of the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum between Israel and the Palatine Liberation Organization (PLO). The Memorandum set out to resolve outstanding issues, such as those pertaining to the permanent status negotiations, and set a timetable for implementing previous commitments.

In February, the General Assembly resumed its tenth emergency special session, which first convened in 1997, to discuss the item "Illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory." It demanded, among other things, that Israel comply with the provisions of the resolutions adopted by the emergency session in 1997 and 1998 and the full cessation of all settlement activities, and recommended that the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Geneva convention relative to the Protection of civilian Persons in Time of War (Fourth Geneva convention) hold a conference on measures to enforce the Convention in the occupied Palestinian territory. The conference took place in Geneva on 15 July.

The Secretary-General appointed Terje Roed-Larsen as the new United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and as his Personal Representative to the PLO and the Palestinian Authority. In that position, the Special coordinator would also serve as the focal point for overall UN assistance to the Middle East. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in theNear East (UNRWA) celebrated that fiftieth anniversary of its establishment and continued to provide a wide-ranging programme of education, health, relief and social services to over 3.6 million Palestinian refugees living both in and outside camps in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as well as in Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic. Despite pledges of voluntary contributions, UNRWA continued to experience sever financial difficulties.

During the year, the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories reported to the Assembly on the situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. The situation in southern Lebanon remained tense and volatile in 1999. Nevertheless, a significant development occurred in May and June with the withdrawal of Israeli forces from jezzin and the return of that town to Lebanese jurisdication, thereby reducing the area under Israeli control for the first time since 1985 The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) pursued efforts to limit the conflict and protect inhabitants form its consequences. The mandates of UNIFIL and of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force in the Golan Heights were extended twice during the year, and the United Nations Truce Supervision Organizations continued to assist both peacekeeping operations in their task. Some headway was made in Israel-Syrian Arab Republic relations with the resumption of negotiations in December 1999, under the auspices of the United States.

By decision 54/425 of 9 December, the General Assembly deferred consideration of the agenda item "Armed Israeli aggression against the Iraqi nuclear installations and its grave consequences for the established international system concerning the peaceful use of nuclear energy, the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons and international peace and security" and included it in the provisional agenda of its fifty-fifth (2000) session. The item had been inscribe yearly on the assembly's agenda since 1981, following the bombing by Israel of a nuclear research centre near Baghdad (YUN 19981, p. 275].

Peace process

Overall situation

The stalemate in the peace negotiations continued during the first six months of 1999. The escalation of Israeli settlement activities since the signing of the Wye River Memorandum [YUN 1998, p. 424], Israel's unilateral decision to halt its implementation of the Memorandum during the first six months of the year, the adoption in January 1999 by the Knesset of a new law that impeded the return of the occupied Syrian Arab Golan and Jerusalem to the Palestinian people, and the failure to hold a conference of the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (Fourth Geneva Convention), as recommended by the General Assembly at its tenth emergency special session in 1998, led to the reconvening of the emergency session in February 1999. The Assembly called once again for the convening of a conference by the High Contracting Parties on measures to enforce the Convention in the occupied Palestinian territory. A UN meeting on the convening of the conference was held in June. On 15 July, the High Contracting Parties met in Geneva.

A few months after the election in May 1999 of a new Israeli Government, led by Ehud Barak, peace negotiations resumed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). On 4 September, Prime Minister Barak and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat signed the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum on Implementation Time-line of Outstanding Commitments of Agreements Signed and the Resumption of Permanent Status Negotiations. The agreement was a timetable for implementing the Wye River Memorandum. By the end of the five-month process laid down under the new agreement, Palestinians would control 41 per cent of the West Bank, some 350 Palestinian security prisoners would be released and negotiation teams would be established to begin intensive talks on a final peace accord. The target date for reaching the final-status deal was set for 13 September 2000. In addition, the southern safe passage route was to be opened and construction of the Gaza seaport was to commence on 1 October.

In an October report [A/54/457-S/1999/1050] on the question of Palestine (see p. 419) and the situation in the Middle East, the Secretary-General noted with cautious optimism that the signing of the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum had brought the peace process back on track. The new agreement contained a time line for implementation of all the commitments the two sides had made since the signing in 1993 of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements [YUN 1993, p. 521]. It also stated that the two sides had reaffirmed their understanding that the negotiations on permanent status would lead to the implementation of Security Council resolutions 242(1967) [YUN 1967, p. 257] and 338(1973) [YUN 1973, p. 213], and that they had agreed to conclude a comprehensive agreement on all permanent status issues within one year from the resumption of those negotiations, i.e., September 2000.

In resolution 54/42 of 1 December (see p. 420), the General Assembly, noting with satisfaction the signing of the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum, expressed its full support for the ongoing peace process, which began in Madrid in 1991 [YUN 1991, p. 221], and the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, as well as the subsequent agreements, including the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip |YUN 1995, p. 626]. It also expressed the hope that the process would lead to the establishment of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

Committee on Palestinian Rights. In its annual report [A/54/35], the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (Committee on Palestinian Rights) welcomed the resumption in August 1999 of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations followed by the signing of the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum. The Committee noted with satisfaction the beginning of the Memorandum's implementation and hoped that it would be completed in good faith and in strict compliance with the agreed timetable.

Communications (February). On 1 February [S/1999/105], Israel informed the Secretary-General that it had implemented its end of the Wye River Memorandum by fulfilling its responsibilities according to the first two stages of the time line, as well as its other undertakings set forth in the agreement. Specifically, Israel stated that it had implemented the first stage of redeployment, transferring a total of 491.4 square kilometres; completed protocols on the Gaza Airport, which was opened in November 1998, and opened an industrial park in Gaza, planned to provide 20,000 jobs; and was ready to complete the opening of the southern route of safe passage. According to Israel, with the exception of the modification of the PLO Charter and the enactment of a partial anti-incitement law, the PLO had not fulfilled any of its obligations under the Memorandum. Those failures seriously elevated the security threat to Israel. Israel insisted on peace with reciprocity and would go forward if the Palestinians implemented their obligations as well.
Responding on 9 February [A/53/823-S/1999/136], the Permanent Observer of Palestine said that the content of Israel's letter was regrettable at a time when the international community was well aware of the reality of the state of the peace process and the responsibility the Israeli Government bore in that regard, especially the freezing of the Wye River Memorandum.

Emergency special session

In accordance with General Assembly resolution ES-l0/5 [YUN 1998, p. 425] and at the request of Jordan [A/ES-10/311, on behalf of the Group of Arab States at the United Nations, supported by the Coordinating Bureau of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries [A/ES-10/32], the tenth emergency special session of the Assembly resumed on 5 February 1999 to discuss "Illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory". The session was first convened in April 1997 [YUN 1997, p. 394] and resumed in July and November of that year, as well as in March 1998 [YUN 1998, p. 425].

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 9 February [meeting 12], the General Assembly adopted resolution ES-10/6 by recorded vote (115-2-5) [draft: A/ES-10/L.5/Rev.l] [agenda item 5].

Illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and
the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Reaffirming the resolutions of its tenth emergency special session, namely, ES-10/2 of 25 April 1997, ES-10/3 of 15 July 1997, ES-10/4 of 13 November 1997 and ES-10/5 of 17 March 1998,

Determined to uphold the purposes and principles embodied in the Charter of the United Nations, international humanitarian law and all other instruments of international law, as well as relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions,

Reiterating the permanent responsibility of the United Nations towards the question of Palestine until it is solved in all its aspects,

Aware that Israel, the occupying Power, has not heeded the demands made in the resolutions of the tenth emergency special session and that it continues to carry out illegal actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in particular settlement activity, including the construction of the new Israeli settlement at Jebel Abu Ghneim. the building of other new settlements and the expansion of existing settlements, the construction of bypass roads and the confiscation of lands,

Reaffirming that all illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, especially settlement activities and the practical results thereof, remain contrary to international law and cannot be recognized, irrespective of the passage of time,

Expressing its appreciation to the Government of Switzerland, in its capacity as depository of the four Geneva Conventions, and to the International Committee of the Red Cross for their efforts to uphold the integrity of the Conventions,

Increasingly concerned about the persistent violations by Israel, the occupying Power, of the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949,

Conscious of the serious dangers arising from persistent violations and grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the responsibilities arising therefrom,

Aware of the upcoming fiftieth anniversary of the four Geneva Conventions, which is an occasion for renewed determination to promote international humanitarian law further and to reaffirm the undertaking by the High Contracting Parties to respect and to ensure respect for the Conventions in all circumstances in accordance with common article 1,

Taking note of the measure taken by the Government of Switzerland to organize a meeting between the Palestinian and Israeli sides, in the presence of the International Committee of the Red Cross, which was held at Geneva from 9 to 11 June 1998 and was aimed at examining ways to contribute to the effective application of the Fourth Geneva Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and expressing disappointment that Israeli violations of the Convention continued unabated in spite of such a measure,

Taking note also of the meeting of experts of the High Contracting Parties, convened from 27 to 29 October 1998 at the invitation of the Government of Switzerland, in its capacity as the depository of the Convention, on general problems concerning the Convention, in particular in occupied territories, as well as of the Chairman's report of the proceedings of that meeting,

Gravely concerned at the suspension, on 20 December 1998, by the Government of Israel of the implementation of the Wye River Memorandum, signed at the White House in Washington, D.C., on 23 October 1998, including the negotiations on the final settlement, which should be concluded by 4 May 1999,

Determined to persist in its work to bring about compliance by Israel, the occupying Power, with the terms of resolutions adopted by the tenth emergency special session,

Aware that, under the circumstances, it should continue to consider the situation with a view to making appropriate recommendations to the States Members of the United Nations in accordance with General Assembly resolution 377 A (V) of 3 November 1950,

1. Reiterates its condemnation of the failure of the Government of Israel to comply with the provisions of resolutions ES-10/2, ES-10/3, ES-10/4 and ES-10/5;

2. Expresses its grave concern at the adoption by the Knesset of the law of 26 January 1999 and the legislation of 27 January 1999, and reaffirms that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which have altered or purport to alter the character, legal status and demographic composition of Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, are all null and void and have no validity whatsoever;

3. Reiterates in the strongest terms all the demands made of Israel, the occupying Power, in the above-mentioned resolutions of the tenth emergency special session, including the immediate and full cessation of the construction at Jebel Abu Ghneim and of all other Israeli settlement activities, as well as of all illegal measures and actions in Occupied East Jerusalem, the acceptance of the de jure applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention and compliance with relevant Security Council resolutions, the cessation and reversal of all actions taken illegally against Palestinian Jerusalemites and the provision of information about goods produced or manufactured in the settlements;

4. Reiterates also its previous recommendations to Member States for the cessation of all forms of assistance and support for illegal Israeli activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, in particular settlement activities and actively to discourage activities that directly contribute to any construction or development of those settlements;

5. Affirms that, in spite of the actual deterioration of the Middle East peace process as a result of the lack of compliance by the Government of Israel with the existing agreements, increased efforts must be exerted to bring the peace process back on track and to continue tin process towards the achievement of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242(1967) and 338(1973) and the principle of land for peace, as well as Security Council resolution 425(1978);

6 Reiterates its recommendation that the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention convene a conference on measures to enforce the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and to ensure respect thereof in accordance with common article 1, and further recommends that the High Contracting Parties convene the said conference on 15 July 1999 at the United Nations Office at Geneva;

7. Invites the Government of Switzerland, in its capacity as the depository of the Geneva Convention, to undertake whatever preparations are necessary prior to the conference;

8. Request the Secretary-General to make the necessary facilities available to enable the High Contracting Parties to convene the conference;

9. Expresses its confidence that Palestine, as a party directly concerned, will participate in the above mentioned conference;

Decides to adjourn the tenth emergency special session temporarily and to authorize the President of the most recent General Assembly to resume its meeting upon request from Member States.

recorded vote on resolution ES-10/6:

In favour: Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Egypt, Eritrea, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.
Speaking before the vote [A/ES-l0/PV.10], the Permanent Observer of Palestine said that Israel continued to construct settlements in Jerusalem and in the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory, to confiscate land and to build so-called by-pass roads, separating the West Bank from the Gaza Strip. In addition, Israel had suspended implementation of the Wye River Memorandum on 20 December 1998 and froze the final status negotiations, which were scheduled to be completed by 4 May 1999, when the five-year transition period agreed upon by the two sides would come to an end. The Permanent Observer re-called that the Assembly; since 1997 in resolution ES-10/3 |YUN 1997, p. 402], had been recommending the convening of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention and, in resolution ES-10/5 [YUN 1998, p. 425], had requested Switzerland, in its capacity as the depositary of the Convention, to prepare for a conference 011 measures to enforce the Convention in the occupied territories. The Permanent Observer stressed that the time had come for the convening of the conference and hoped that the meeting would take place no later than 8 April.

Israel said that the High Contracting Parties had not met since 1949 to discuss the Fourth Geneva Convention or its application, even after wars of aggression against UN Member States. The calling for a conference of those Parties was an anti-Israel initiative that would be a precedent, for selectively politicizing the application of the Geneva Conventions to any conflict and would compromise international humanitarian institutions that had remained neutral since 1949. Moreover, the Fourth Geneva Convention had been and continued to be applied in the West: Bank and Gaza Strip and, in fact, Israel was the only country in the world to apply it at all.

The Chairman of the Committee on Palestinian Rights said that, after its suspension of the Wye River Memorandum, Israel imposed additional conditions on the Palestinian side, which could only result in delays and bring disillusion mem to the Palestinian people. That decision reattested to Israeli lack of good faith, since it always reneged on agreements it had entered into. In addition, on 26 January 1999, the Knesset adopted a law whose basic objective was to block future negotiations by tightening the conditions for the restoration of land to the Palestinians of East Jerusalem and to Syria in the occupied Syrian Golan. The Committee considered the convening of a conference of the High Contracting Parties at a specific date of crucial importance.

Egypt [A/ES-10/PV.I2] said that, since the emergency special session adopted its first resolution in 1997 [YUN 1997, p. 395), Israel had continued to implement and intensify its settlement plans in the occupied Palestinian territory, including in particular East Jerusalem, and had confiscated more territory after signing of the Wye River Memorandum. By doing so, Israel was ignoring not only the requests embodied in the Assembly's resolutions on the matter, but also the consensus opinion expressed by the international community for 30 years regarding the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to all the Arab and Palestinian territories occupied by Israel in June 1967. The continuing settlement activities, the confiscation of Palestinian and Arab land, the construction of bypass roads and the implementation of policies of closure of the areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority constituted serious violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention and justified the Assembly's recommendation to specify a date for convening the conference.

The United States said that the draft resolution's call for a meeting of all the High Contracting Parties would serve only to damage the climate necessary for productive and ultimately successful direct negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel. The draft's language and its proposed steps prejudged negotiations on permanent status issues and hampered the chances for eventually achieving peace. The United States remained concerned that the draft resolution, like similar ones in the past, constituted an unacceptable assault on the basic uses and meaning of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The United States wanted to see the Wye River Memorandum implemented in its entirety by both sides as soon as possible and progress in the permanent status negotiations.

The Observer of Switzerland, who participated in the debate at the Assembly's invitation, said his Government believed that the Convention was fully applicable to the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem. Major violations of the Convention had been noted that affected the development and rights of the civilian population. Switzerland, as the Convention's depositary, convened two meetings, one for the Palestinians and the Israelis with the participation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in June 1998 [YUN 1998. p. 427], and the other for experts of the High Contracting Parties in October 1998 [ibid.|. Convening such a conference, however, raised many questions that the Geneva Conventions and their additional protocols did not resolve, and which only the States parties could address. Since the October 1998 meeting, Switzerland had undertaken a new round of consultations with the States parties to the Conventions, ICRC and the organizations more directly concerned on the possible convening of conferences devoted to specific situations. Switzerland said that it could consider taking an active role in the convening and holding of a conference only if States parties first defined a solid basis for the implementation of such a measure.

Israel replied that the attempt to convene a conference of the signatories to the Fourth Geneva Convention with respect to the West Bank and Gaza was a distortion of international humanitarian law for political interests. Moreover, no conference intended to address the status of civilians in time of war could have any relevance whatsoever to the Israeli situation, since 97 per cent of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza were under Palestinian rule.

Speaking after the vote, the Observer of Palestine said that the resolution constituted a step forward because it called for the High Contracting Parties to meet on 15 July 1999 in Geneva to consider measures to enforce the Convention in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem.

Communications (March-November). By a 22 March letter [A/53/869-S/1999/308] to the Secretary-General, the United Arab Emirates transmitted a press release issued by the Ministerial Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council at its seventieth session (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 14-15 March) condemning Israel's policy of establishing settlements on occupied Arab land, its decision to extend its geographical borders to include "Al-Quds Al-Sharif" (Jerusalem), and its modification of the city's demographic structure. In that regard, the Council condemned the Israeli Parliament's 26 January decision on a new law impeding the return of the occupied Syrian Arab Golan to Syria and of Jerusalem to the Palestinian people, as well as the Israeli Government's decision to include the Lebanese village of Arnoun in the occupied border strip in southern Lebanon (see p. 442). The Council reaffirmed its belief that peace could not be achieved unless legitimate Arab rights were restored and a commitment made to relevant UN resolutions, the terms of reference of the Madrid conference and the principle of land for peace.

On 25 March [A/53/879-S/1999/334], the Permanent Observer of Palestine, responding to comments in the media and to the Israeli Foreign Minister's statement that General Assembly resolution 181(11) [YUN 1947-48, p.247] was "null and void", said that the resolution, among other things, provided the legal basis for the existence of both the Jewish and the Arab States in Mandated Palestine. The Israeli claim was therefore illegal and inadmissible.

Israel responded on 30 March [A/54/77-S/1999/365] that resolution 181(11) was made null and void by the Arab States and the Palestinian leadership in the aftermath of its adoption in November 1947. In addition, it had never been part of the agreed foundation for the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. The letters of invitation to the 1991 Madrid peace conference [YUN 1991, p. 221] and the Oslo Agreements, which comprised the 1993 Declaration of Principles [YUN 1993, p. 521) and the 1995 Interim Agreement [YUN 1995, p. 626], signed between Israel and the PLO provided that permanent status negotiations were to be based only on Security Council resolutions 242(1967) [YUN 1967, p. 257] and 338(1973) [YUN 1973, p. 213].

The European Union (EU), on 25 March [A/54/76-S/1999/348], welcomed the decision by the Palestinian National Union and associated bodies to reaffirm the nullification of the provisions in the Palestinian National Charter which had called for the destruction of Israel and to reaffirm their commitment to recognize and live in peace with Israel. However, the EU remained concerned at the deadlock in the peace process and called on the parties to implement fully the Wye River Memorandum. The EU was convinced that the creation of a democratic, viable and peaceful sovereign Palestinian State on the basis of existing agreements and through negotiations would be the best guarantee of Israel's security and of Israel's acceptance as an equal partner in the region.

In a 19 April letter [A/54/83-S/1999/464] to the Secretary-General, Israel said that as 4 May 1999 approached, it was necessary to clarify the precise legal obligations of Israel and the PLO in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with respect to the interim arrangements created by the Oslo Agreements, since repeated Palestinian arguments claimed that the transitional period would end on 4 May and the ensuing legal and political vacuum should be filled by a unilateral declaration of Palestinian State. Israel noted that the original hope of the parties was indeed to reach on permanent status arrangements by 4 May, while transitional interim agreements were being implemented. That, though, was only a suggested target date. The interim agreements were to continue until the permanent status negotiations had been concluded and the status of the disputed territories was not to be altered until those negotiations were completed. It was for that reason that the Interim Agreement contained a date for its entry into force but no date for its conclusion. Israel stressed that the Palestinians had refused to negotiate a permanent status agreement; therefore, they could not be permitted to rely on the absence of such an agreement to justify a unilateral declaration of statehood.

By a 23 April letter [A/53/923-S/1999/474], the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine informed the Secretary-General that Israel, on 22 April, had decided to issue closure orders against PA offices at the Orient House in East Jerusalem in violation of international law and UN resolutions, as well as agreements reached between the two parties.

Israel contended on 3 May [A/54/92-S/1999/507] that PA governmental activity at the Orient House, or at any other location outside the areas under Palestinian territorial jurisdiction, constituted a clear violation of Israel-PLO agreements. Such activity was politically motivated and designed to change the legal status and character of the city with no legal validity whatsoever.

In identical letters of 11 May to the Secretary-General and the Security Council President [A/53/972-S/1999/597], the Permanent Observer of Palestine said that implementation of further closure orders issued on 10 May was delayed only as a result of a petition by an Israeli group to the Israeli High Court.

On 3 May [A/53/935-S/1999/505], the Permanent Observer of Palestine transmitted a 29 April letter by Yasser Arafat, PLO Chairman and PA President, and a copy of the final communique adopted by the Palestinian Central Council at its extraordinary session (Gaza, 27-29 April). Mr. Arafat said that the Council addressed all aspects of the political situation, the peace process, the options open to the Palestinian leadership with respect to the end of the interim period on 4 May, and the establishment of an independent State of Palestine with "Al-Quds Al-Sharif" as its capital. The Council also decided to form a number of working committees, including a special committee on the draft State constitution, and called on Israel to halt its policy of settlement and the expropriation of Palestinian land.

On 4 May [A/53/938-S/1999/512], the Chairman of the Committee on Palestinian Rights expressed the Committee's full support for the decisions taken by the extraordinary session of the Palestinian Central Council. The Committee was hopeful that the Council's statement would lead to the revitalization of the peace process and called on Israel to return to the negotiating table, without preconditions and in good faith, so as to allow the permanent status negotiations to proceed towards a comprehensive and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine.

In identical letters of 7 May to the Secretary-General and the Security Council President [A/53/946-S/1999/525], Algeria, on behalf of the members of the League of Arab States, referred to the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption by the General Assembly of resolution 273(111) [YUN 1948-49, p. 405], admitting Israel to UN to membership. The Arab States stressed that it was incumbent on Israel to discharge the obligations and fulfil the undertakings that it had assumed upon UN membership. They called on Israel to withdraw, without qualifications or conditions, from all the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem, from the occupied Syrian Golan back to the lines of 4 June 1967, and from the occupied zone in southern Lebanon. Israel also had to desist from its policy of settler colonialism and respect the national rights of the Palestinian people and principally its right to exercise self-determination and establish an independent Palestinian State.

On 11 May [A/53/972-S/1999/597], the Permanent Observer of Palestine said that Israel had funnelled in additional financial resources for settlement activity in Jerusalem. According to him, the Israeli Government had pledged to provide each settler who moved into a new neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem with $5,000. Settlement activities also continued in several locations throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, with the expansion of already existing settlements and the creation of new ones. On 20 May [A/53/968-S/1999/587], the Permanent Observer further informed the Secretary-General of resumed Israeli settlement activities in and around East Jerusalem, specifically at Jebel Abu-Ghneim and at Ras al-Amud. On 3 June [A/53/995-S/1999/640], the Permanent Observer informed the Secretary-General of the Israeli Government's decision the previous week to enlarge the Ma'ale Adumim settlement by approximately 12,000 dunums (3,250 acres). The settlement was located approximately 6 kilometres east of Jerusalem and, if implemented, the plan would link the settlement with the enlarged municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, thereby separating the northern half of the West Bank from its southern half, making it all the more difficult to apply international law and legitimacy with respect to Jerusalem.

On 5 August [A/53/1032-S/1999/854, A/ES-1O/35], the Permanent Observer said that the Israeli army had announced its intention to allow 27 of the 31 settler encampments that were set near ex existing settlements since the signing of the Wye River Memorandum to remain intact. The Permanent Observer noted that that decision was the first Israeli reaction to the conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention (see p. 415). For the occupying Power, itself a High Contracting Party, to continue such serious violations of the Convention was a matter of grave concern; the recent Israeli actions, if not reversed, required serious consideration and follow-up by the High Contracting Parties.

On 21 October [A/54/485-S/1999/1081], the Permanent Observer informed the Secretary-General that the previous week the Israeli Government had taken a decision related to the so-called hilltop settlements, established by Jewish settlers after the signing of the Wye River Memorandum. That decision, while removing some of those settlements, effectively meant that Israel was proceeding with the establishment of 32 new settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory. Furthermore, the Israeli Government continued to issue tenders for the construction of additional housing units in existing settlements, including at Jebel Abu-Ghneim and in the Gaza Strip. Thousands of acres of land had also been confiscated by the Israeli army in the southern West Bank. The Permanent Observer noted that it was very unfortunate that all of the above was happening at a time when some hope had been emerging with regard to the implementation of the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum.
In related matters, on 20 July [A/54/173-S/1999/808], Israel's Foreign Minister said that the new Israeli Government was determined to advance the Middle East peace process on all fronts. On a practical level, the Government would accelerate diplomatic activities by focusing on the Wye River agreement, the renewal of the final status negotiations with the Palestinians and the advancement of negotiations between Israel, Syria and Lebanon. It would also restart the multilateral process, focusing on regional issues, such as the economy, water, environment, refugees and security. The Foreign Minister stressed that there could be no progress in the peace process against a background of terrorism and hostile political activity. He hoped that a solution would be found for the normalization of Israel's involvement in the UN system, since Israel's exclusion from any regional group had deprived it of its right to be an equal participant in the United Nations.

By an 8 November letter [A/54/538-S/1999/1150] to the Secretary-General, Israel said that on 6 November three pipe bombs exploded near the main shopping centre of Netanya, a coastal town in Israel. At least 14 people were wounded in the blast. The attack took place a day before the start of the permanent status negotiations between Israel and the PA. Israel affirmed that it would not allow acts of terror to weaken its resolve to advance the peace process.

Special Committee on Israeli Practices. In its thirty-first report [A/54/325], the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories (Special Committee on Israeli Practices) stated that settlement activity had accelerated markedly after the signature of the Wye River Memorandum in 1998 and in particular subsequent to the unilateral suspension by Israel for six months of its implementation of the Memorandum. There were reportedly 194 Jewish settlements, although some Palestinian estimates placed that number at some 220. New settlements were established in 1999 in all parts of the West Bank, especially around Bethlehem, as well as in the occupied Syrian Golan. In the West Bank and Gaza, aside from East Jerusalem, the settler population had increased from 116,400 in 1993 to 175,000 in 1998. The Israeli Knesset had approved new funding for settlement expansion throughout the occupied territories. The Israeli army had assisted in the expropriation of land and, on occasion, had imposed curfews on the localities from which the land was to be confiscated. In general, Palestinians did not accept compensation for confiscated lands because they believed that the expropriations were political in nature and not due to any natural expansion. In addition, there were no legal procedures for confiscating land.

Report of Secretary-General. On 28 July [A/54/183], the Secretary-General informed the Assembly that Israel had not replied to his June request for information on steps taken or envisaged to implement the relevant provisions of resolution 53/55 [YUN 1998, p. 433], demanding that Israel, among other things, cease all construction of new settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 6 December (meeting 71], the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Fourth Special Political and Decolonization) Committee [A/54/576], adopted resolution 54/78 by recorded vote (149-3-3) [agenda item 89].

Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,
including Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan

The General Assembly,

Guided by the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and affirming the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force,

Recalling its relevant resolutions, including those adopted at its tenth emergency special session, as well as relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 242(1967) of 22 November 1967, 446(1979) of 22 March 1979, 465(1980) of 1 March 1980 and 497(1981) of 17 December 1981,

Reaffirming the applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and to the occupied Syrian Golan,

Aware of the Middle East peace process started at Madrid and the agreements reached between the parties, in particular the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements of 13 September 1993 and the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip of 28 September 1995,

Expressing grave concern about the continuation by Israel of settlement activities, including the ongoing construction of the new settlement at Jebel Abu-Ghneim, in violation of international humanitarian law, relevant United Nations resolutions and the agreements reached between the parties,

Taking into consideration the detrimental impact of Israeli settlement policies, decisions and activities on the Middle East peace process,

Gravely concerned in particular about the dangerous situation resulting from actions taken by the illegal armed Israeli settlers in the occupied territory, as illustrated by the massacre of Palestinian worshippers by an illegal Israeli settler at Al-Khalil on 25 February 1994,

Taking note of the report of the Secretary-General,

1. Reaffirms that Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan are illegal and an obstacle to peace and economic and social development;

2. Calls upon Israel to accept the de jure applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and to the occupied Syrian Golan and to abide scrupulously by the provisions of the Convention, in particular article 49;

3. Demands complete cessation of the construction of the new settlement at Jebel Abu-Ghneim and of all Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan;

4. Stresses the need for full implementation of Security Council resolution 904(1994) of 18 March 1994, in which, among other things, the Council called upon Israel, the occupying Power, to continue to take and implement measures, including confiscation of arms, with the aim of preventing illegal acts of violence by Israeli settlers, and called for measures to be taken to guarantee the safety and protection of the Palestinian i civilians in the occupied territory;

5. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-fifth session on the implementation of the present resolution.


RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 54/78:

In favour: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbados, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Canada, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Cote d'lvoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papau New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, Micronesia, United States.

Abstaining: Marshall Islands, Swaziland, Uruguay.

Jerusalem


East Jerusalem, where most of the city's Arab inhabitants lived, remained one of the most sensitive issues in the Middle East peace process. The construction and expansion of the Jebel Abu-Ghneim settlement to the south of East Jerusalem increased the level of hostilities and distrust in Israeli-Palestinian relations. The General Assembly's tenth emergency special session called once again for an end to Israel's settlement activities in and around East Jerusalem (see p. 402).

Special Committee on Israeli Practices. In its annual report [A/54/325], the Special Committee on Israeli Practices described restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities on Jerusalem's Palestinian population and Israeli violations of their human rights.

The situation of Palestinians living in East Jerusalem had become more precarious since the Committee's last report [YUN 1998, p. 434]. Palestinian inhabitants continued to lose their residency rights when their identity cards were revoked and confiscated by Israeli authorities. More than 2,000 family identity cards were confiscated between 1996 and 1998 (700 in 1998), which affected some 8,000 persons. Palestinians who lost their identity cards since their "centre of life" was found not to be in Jerusalem were usually given 15 days to leave Israel. The Special Committee was informed that Palestinian identity cards were revoked in order to change the demographic composition of East Jerusalem with a view to reducing the Palestinian component. Additional difficulties for the Palestinian population were brought about by the alteration of the boundaries or city limits of East Jerusalem.

At the same time, the Israeli population in East Jerusalem had increased by tens of thousands in recent years, mainly as a consequence of the construction of new settlements around the city. The Committee was informed that 15 Israeli settlements with 45,000 housing units had been established in East Jerusalem since 1967, on 24 square kilometres of land confiscated for public use. The Israeli population in East Jerusalem stood at 170,000. Building in neighbourhoods such as Ras al-Amud and Silwan in East Jerusalem was exacerbating the trend. The Israeli policy concerning Jerusalem was to create and maintain that majority and remove any distinction between the eastern and western parts of the city.

Since the Israeli authorities considered Jerusalem a part of Israel, Palestinians from other parts of the occupied territories faced considerable difficulties in obtaining permits to enter the city. The lack of access to East Jerusalem had repercussions for the inhabitants of the West Bank as the principal Palestinian health, education, religious and cultural facilities were located there. Access of Palestinian health workers and patients to East Jerusalem had been restricted further during the period under review.

The Special Committee believed that the circumstances of East Jerusalem, because of their particular complexity, required special attention and emphasis in view of what seemed to be a very confusing environment in terms of residency rights, travel limitations, isolation from relatives and friends in other parts of the territories, disruption of family life and other aspects to which its attention was drawn.

Transfer of diplomatic missions

Report of Secretary-General. On 25 October [A/54/495], the Secretary-General reported that six Member States had replied to his request for information on steps taken or envisaged to implement General Assembly resolution 53/37 [YUN 1998, p. 436], which addressed the transfer by some States of their diplomatic missions to Jerusalem in violation of Security Council resolution 478(1980) [YUN 1980, p. 426] and called on them to abide by the relevant UN resolutions.

Committee on Palestinian Rights. In its annual report [A/54/35], the Committee on Palestinian Rights said that Israel continued to challenge and violate the internationally recognized status of Jerusalem. In a communique issued on 14 March 1999, the Israeli Cabinet challenged the legal status of the city by stating that Jerusalem's position as a corpus separatum was legally incorrect and unacceptable to Israel. It declared further that Israel would never accept the "division or internationalization" of the city. The Committee was particularly alarmed by the beginning of the actual Israeli construction work in May 1999 at Jebel Abu-Ghneim, south of East Jerusalem, and at the Ras al-Amud neighbourhood. The Committee stressed the illegality of the continued Israeli policy of "silent transfer" of Palestinians from East Jerusalem.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 1 December [meeting 68], the General Assembly adopted resolution 54/37 [draft: A/54/L.40 & Add.l ] by recorded vote (139-1-3) [agenda item 43].

Jerusalem

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolutions 36/120 E of 10 December 1981,37/123 C of 16 December 1982, 38/180 C of 19 December 1983, 39/146 C of 14 December 1984, 40/168 C of 16 December 1985, 41/162 C of 4 December 1986, 42/209 D of 11 December 1987,43/54 C of 6 December 1988, 44/40 C of 4 December 1989, 45/83 C of 13 December 1990,46/82 B of 16 December 1991,47/63 B of 11 December 1992, 48/59 A of 14 December 1993, 49/87 A of 16 December 1994, 50/22 A of 4 December 1995, 51/27 of 4 December 1996, 52/53 of 9 December 1997 and 53/37 of 2 December 1998, in which it, inter alia, determined that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which have altered or purported to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, in particular the so-called "Basic Law" on Jerusalem and the proclamation of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, were null and void and must be rescinded forthwith.

Recalling also Security Council resolution 478(1980) of 20 August 1980, in which the Council, inter alia, decided nut to recognize the "Basic Law" and called upon those States which had established diplomatic missions at Jerusalem to withdraw such missions from the Holy City.

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General,

1. Determines that the decision of Israel to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem is illegal and therefore null and void and has no validity whatsoever;

2. Deplore the transfer by some States of their diplomatic missions to Jerusalem in violation of Security Council resolution 478(1980) and their refusal to comply with the provisions of that resolution;

3. Calls once more upon those States to abide by the provisions of the relevant United Nations resolutions, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations;

4. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-fifth session on the implementation of the present resolution.


RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 54/37:


In favour: Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia. Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic. Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel.

Abstaining: Swaziland, United States, Uzbekistan.

Economic and social situation

A report on the economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of Palestinians in the occupied territory, including Jerusalem, and of the Arab population of the occupied Syrian Golan [A/54/152-E/1999/92] was prepared by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), in accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 1998/32 [YUN 1998, p. 436] and General Assembly resolution 53/196 [Ibid., p. 437]; it covered the period since its previous report [Ibid., p. 436].

The repercussions of Israeli occupation on Palestinian health care had been severe. In education, movement restrictions continued to affect school attendance for those students who had to cross Israeli-controlled checkpoints. Economic development in Israeli settlements also had deleterious effects on the Palestinian community, and the numerous restrictions imposed by Israel for security reasons negatively affected Palestinians. The confiscation of lands declared by Israel as "State land" as a prelude to their transfer to Israeli control had a critical impact on the Palestinian community. Israeli occupation was also affecting and undermining the Palestinians' supply of drinking water as well as its quality, resulting in an increase of infectious diseases.

The unemployment situation among Palestinians in the occupied territories remained critical, owing in particular to closures and Israel's increased reliance on expatriate workers from outside the region. The number of Palestinian workers in Israel dropped from an average of 120,000 on a monthly basis in 1992 to 45,800 during the first half of 1998. Closures had an adverse effect on the continuity and regularity of production, marketing, income generation and employment of Palestinian workers. The macroeconomic impact of Israeli occupation on the occupied Palestinian territory inhibited investment and growth h as a result of the continued ambiguity of the legal and political situation.

In the Syrian Golan, while incentives and investment continued to promote the Israeli presence, the Arab population faced further deterioration in living conditions due to Israel's restrictions on employment and education, as well as prohibitive levels of taxation. The employment available to the Syrian population in the Golan was limited to unskilled and semiskilled daily wage labour, and, in most cases, those workers had no access to social benefits or health insurance.


ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL ACTION


On 29 July [meeting 45], the Economic and Social Council adopted resolution 1999/53 [draft: E/1999/L.32] by roll-call vote (44-1-3) [agenda item 11].


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 Economic and Social Council,

Recalling General Assembly resolution 53/196 of 15 December 1998,

Recalling also its resolution 1998/32 of 29 July 1998,

Guided by the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, affirming the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, and recalling relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 242(1967) of 22 November 1967, 465(1980) of 1 March 1980 and 497(1981) of 17 December 1981,

Reaffirming the applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Tune of War, of 12 August 1949, to the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967,

Stressing the importance of the revival of the Middle East peace process on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242(1967), 338(1973) of 22 October 1973 and 425(1978) of 19 March 1978, and the principle of land for peace as well as the full and timely implementation of the agreements reached between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people,

Reaffirming the principle of the permanent sovereignty of peoples under foreign occupation over their natural resources,

Convinced that the Israeli occupation impedes efforts to achieve sustainable development and a sound economic environment in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan,

Gravely concerned about the deterioration of economic and living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and of the Arab population of the occupied Syrian Golan, and the exploitation by Israel, the occupying Power, of their natural resources,

Aware of the important work being done by the United Nations and the specialized agencies in support of the economic and social development of the Palestinian people,

Conscious of the urgent need for the development of the economic and social infrastructure of the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and for the improvement of the living conditions of the Palestinian people as a key element of a lasting peace and stability.

1. Presses the need to preserve the territorial integrity of all of the occupied Palestinian territory and to guarantee the freedom of movement of persons and goods in the territory, including the removal of restrictions on going into and from East Jerusalem, and the freedom of movement to and from the outside world;

2. Also stresses the vital importance of the construction and operation of the seaport in Gaza and safe passage to the economic and social development of the Palestinian people;

3. Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to cease its measures against the Palestinian people, in particular the closure of the occupied Palestinian territory, the enforced isolation of Palestinian towns, the destruction of homes and the isolation of Jerusalem;

4. Reaffirms the inalienable right of the Palestinian people and the Arab population of the occupied Syrian Golan to all their natural and economic resources, and calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, not to exploit, endanger or cause loss or depletion of these resources;

5. Also reaffirms that Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan, are illegal and an obstacle to economic and social development;

6. Stresses the importance of the work of the organizations and agencies of the United Nations, and of the United Nations Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories under the auspices of the Secretary-General;

7 Urges Member States to encourage private foreign investment in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, in infrastructure, job-creation projects and social development, in order to alleviate the hardship of the Palestinian people and improve living conditions;

8. Requests the Secretary-General to submit to the General Assembly at its fifty-fifth session, through the Economic and Social Council, a report on the implementation of the present resolution and to continue to include, in the report of the Special Coordinator, an update on the living conditions of the Palestinian people, in collaboration with relevant United Nations agencies;

9. Decides to include the item entitled "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" in the agenda of its substantive session of 2000.

ROLL-CALL VOTE IN COUNCIL AS FOLLOWS:

In favour: Algeria, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lesotho, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, United Kingdom, Venezuela, Viet Mam.

Against: United States.

Abstaining: El Salvador, Honduras, Zambia.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 22 December [meeting 87], the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Second (Economic and Financial) Committee [A/54/5911, adopted resolution 54/230 by recorded vote (145-3-6) [agenda item 103].


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


The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolution 53/196 of 15 December 1998 and taking note of Economic and Social Council resolution 1999/53 of 29 July 1999,

Reaffirming the principle of the permanent sovereignty of peoples under foreign occupation over their natural resources,

Guided by the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, affirming the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, and recalling the relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 242(1967) of 22 November 1967, 465(1980) of 1 March 1980 and 497(1981) of 17 December 1981,

Reaffirming the applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967,

Expressing its concern at the exploitation by Israel, the occupying Power, of the natural resources of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967,

Aware of the additional, detrimental economic and social impact of the Israeli settlements on Palestinian arid other Arab natural resources, especially the confiscation of land and the forced diversion of water resources.

Expressing the hope that the Middle East peace process which started at Madrid on 30 October 1991, on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242(1967) of 22 November 1967, 338(1973) of 22 October 1973 and 425(1978) of 19 March 1978 and the principle of land for peace, will reach a final settlement within the agreed time-frame, and that final settlement will be reached on all tracks,

1. Takes note of the report transmitted by the Secretary-General;

2. Reaffirms the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the population of the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources, including land and water;

3. Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, not to exploit, to cause loss or depletion of or to endanger the natural resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan;

4. Recognizes the right of the Palestinian people to claim restitution as a result of any exploitation, loss or depletion of, or danger to, their natural resources, and expresses the hope that this issue will be dealt with in the framework of the final status negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides;

5. Requests the Secretary-General to report to it at its fifty-fifth session on the implementation of the present resolution, and decides to include in the agenda of its fifty-fifth session the item entitled "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".


RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 54/230:


In favour: Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Canada, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, The f ormer Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, Marshall Islands, United States.

Abstaining: Australia, Cameroon, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Zambia.


Other aspects


Special Committee on Israeli Practices. On 8 September, the Special Committee on Israeli Practices, established in 1968 [YUN 1968, p. 556], reported for the thirty-first time to the General Assembly on events in the territories it considered to be occupied the Golan Heights, the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip [A/54/325].

In addition to that annual report, the Special Committee, at the Assembly's request, submitted two periodic reports in 1999, one covering the period from 6 November 1998 to 31 January 1999 [A/54/73], and the other covering the period from 1 February to 31 August 1999 [A/54/73/Add.l]. The three reports contained information obtained from the Arab and Israeli press; testimony from persons from the occupied territories; and communications and reports from Governments, organizations and individuals. The Committee benefited from the cooperation of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Palestinian representatives and the UN resident coordinator/United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative in Syria. As in the past, the Committee received no response from Israel to its requests for cooperation and was unable to obtain access to the occupied territories, which had been the case since 1968.

The Special Committee was informed that restrictions in the occupied territories of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, with respect to land, housing and water severely affected the Palestinians, and the confiscation of Palestinian-owned land continued, as well as the establishment of new and expansion of existing settlements.

In view of its natural scarcity and the manner of its utilization by the settlements, water was one of the most serious problems for the Palestinians. Israel controlled most of the West Bank aquifer, as well as the digging of artesian wells, and it had free use of some 80 per cent of water resources in the area, while the remaining 20 per cent was distributed by an Israeli State company. Some Palestinian villages had no water at all, while in others water shortages and cuts affected the cultivation of crops.

The general situation with respect to housing remained virtually unchanged. Severe housing shortages were reported in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, due, among other things, to the fact that the master plans for Palestinian towns and villages had not been modified since 1948, despite the increase in population; and to Israel's policy of not allowing the Palestinian population in Jerusalem to increase beyond 28 per cent. House demolitions continued throughout the period under review, and had been stepped up in East Jerusalem. It was estimated that some 30,000 persons had been left homeless since 1967 and 1,300 structures demolished since 1990. Palestinian families whose homes had been demolished had been living in abandoned buildings, buses and tents. Some Israeli human rights activist groups who cooperated with their Palestinian counterparts resisted demolitions of Palestinian houses and rebuilt structures that had been demolished, an illegal act in Israel since it was considered an act of resistance against the occupation.

Restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities on the movement of Palestinians within and between parts of the occupied territories and departure for and return from travel abroad continued. In the West Bank, in particular, there were additional complications for travel between areas A, B and C established subsequent to the Oslo Accords. Requirements concerning identity cards and travel permits were complicated and there was a system of controls of movement through checkpoints and closures. The freedom of movement of Palestinians between the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the West Bank and Gaza remained severely restricted. The average number of work permits issued to Palestinians to work in Israel was about 55,000 in 1998. Restrictions were particularly visible at border crossings and checkpoints. Violence against Palestinian men at military checkpoints had resulted in killings on a number of occasions. According to representatives of Israeli organizations, reports of violence at checkpoints by the army or police were often not taken seriously by the Israeli judicial authorities.

The average number of Palestinian prisoners had been quite stable over the past years, averaging around 3,000. At the end of 1998, some 2,253 Palestinian political prisoners were in Israeli prisons. The conditions of detention of Palestinian prisoners had been described as very bad. Among the principal complaints were inadequate medical care and neglect, overcrowding, lack of hygiene, bad ventilation and bad and insufficient food. Allegations of psychological and physical torture by the Israeli General Security Service (GSS) against Palestinian prisoners were brought to the attention of the Special Committee. In May 1998, the Committee against Torture (the monitoring body of the 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, adopted by the General Assembly in resolution 39/46 [YUN 1984, p. 813]) concluded that some of the methods used by GSS constituted torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Some members of the Knesset, civil rights activists, including doctors and lawyers, and human rights organizations had raised the issue of torture of Palestinian prisoners and had called for the establishment of ethics committees while trying to raise awareness of such issues among the Israeli public.

The prolonged Israeli occupation had affected the lives of all Palestinians in the occupied territories with respect to health, including access to medical care, psychological well-being, education and the economy. Numerous Palestinians had been killed, injured or permanently incapacitated as a result of violent incidents involving the Israeli army and security forces, as well as settlers. Many inhabitants, in particular former detainees and prisoners, had sustained permanent bodily and psychological disabilities. The integration of disabled persons into Palestinian society remained difficult, due to the general economic situation and to a lack of adequate rehabilitation centres. The Israeli Government had decided not to compensate those persons injured by the Israeli army during the intifada (the Palestinian uprising which started in 1987). The occupation had also engendered depression and pessimism not only among young people but also in Palestinian society as a whole.

The average unemployment rate in the occupied territories dropped to 14.5 percent in 1998, owing to the creation of 25,000 additional jobs and to a reduction in the number of days workers were prevented from going to jobs in Israel. Nevertheless, the average in Gaza remained high, at around 20 per cent. It was estimated that the Palestinian labour force surpassed 600,000 in 1998, of whom some 400,000 were employed in the occupied territories. It was also estimated that more than 100,000 Palestinians made a living by working in Israel.

The Special Committee visited the Syrian Arab Republic and reported on the Israeli occupied Syrian Golan Heights (for details, see p. 450).

The Special Committee observed that the Israeli authorities had put in place a comprehensive and elaborate system of laws and regulations and administrative measures that affected all aspects of the lives of the Palestinian and Syrian peoples in the occupied territories. They were designed to meet the policy objectives of the Israeli Government and to enhance its control over the territories and their population. Though the Committee welcomed the resumption of dialogue in the peace process, it stressed that the sense of alienation, exclusion and separation from their homeland experienced by the Palestinians remained a matter of concern. The Committee called on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in consultation with the Secretary-General, to establish a system of continuous communication with the Israeli authorities with a view to improving the difficult circumstances under which the Palestinian and Syrian peoples of the occupied territories lived. In a later report I A/55/373], the Committee presented updated information on the human rights situation in the occupied territories during the last four months of 1999, providing details on restrictions relating to land, housing and water, as well as those affecting movement of Palestinians within and between the occupied territories, and the manner of implementation of restrictions and their economic, social and cultural effects on the Palestinian population. Also included was information on the occupied Syrian Arab Golan.

The report also provided information on the implementation of the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum (see p. 401). In accordance with the agreement, on 10 September 1999, the first stage of Israeli redeployment in the West Bank was completed. Seven per cent of Area C (Israeli control) was converted into the status of Area B (Palestinian civilian control), where Israel controlled security and the Palestinians exercised civilian control. That brought the total area under Palestinian civilian or civilian-security control to 36 per cent of the West Bank. The second redeployment, scheduled to take place on 15 November, was postponed due to disagreement between the two sides on the location of the withdrawal. On 25 October, the first passage for Palestinians between Gaza and West Bank was opened, a month after the target date outlined in the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum. On 9 September, Israel released 199 Palestinian security prisoners and, on 15 October, it fulfilled its commitment to the Memorandum by releasing another 151 Palestinian political prisoners. On 29 December, it was reported that Israel had released, as a goodwill gesture, 26 security prisoners, which represented the third group of prisoners Israel had agreed to free in accordance with the Memorandum.

Also, on 4 November, the Palestinian Civil Aviation and Airport Director-General announced that Gaza International Airport was to start operating 24 hours a day later in November.

Report of Secretary-General. On 28 July [A/54/185], the Secretary-General informed the Assembly that Israel had not replied to his June request for information on steps taken or envisaged to implement Assembly resolution 53/56 [YUN 1998, p. 440] demanding that Israel, among other things, cease all practices and actions which violated the human rights of the Palestinian people and accelerate the release of all remaining Palestinians arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION


On 6 December [meeting 71], following consideration of the Special Committee's annual and periodic reports and five reports of the Secretary-General on specific aspects of the situation in the occupied territories [A/54/181-185], the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Fourth Committee [A/54/575], adopted resolution 54/79 by recorded vote (150-2-3) [agenda item 89].

Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian
people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem


The General Assembly,

Recalling its relevant resolutions, including those adopted at its tenth emergency special session, and the resolutions of the Commission on Human Rights,

Bearing in mind the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, the most recent of which are resolutions 904(1994) of 18 March 1994 and 1073(1996) of 28 September 1996,

Having considered the reports of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories and the reports of the Secretary-General,

Aware of the responsibility of the international community to promote human rights and ensure respect for international law,

Reaffirming the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force,

Reaffirming also the applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian n Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967,

Recalling the signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements by the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington, D.C., on 13 September 1993, as well as the subsequent implementation agreements, including the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip signed in Washington, D.C., on 28 September 1995, and the signing of the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum on 4 September 1999,

Noting the withdrawal of the Israeli army, which took place in the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area, and the subsequent Israeli redeployments in accordance with the agreements reached between the parties,

Concerned about the continuing violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people by Israel, the occupying Power, including the use of collective punishment, closure of areas, annexation and establishment of settlements and the continuing actions by it designed to change the legal status, geographical nature and demographic composition of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem,

Convinced of the positive impact of a temporary international or foreign presence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory for the safety and protection of the Palestinian people,

Expressing its appreciation to the countries that participated in the Temporary International Presence in Hebron for their positive contribution,

Convinced of the need for the full implementation of Security Council resolutions 904( 1994) and 1073( 1996),

1. Determines that all measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, in violation of the relevant provisions of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, and contrary to the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, are illegal and have no validity and that such measures should cease immediately;

2. Demands that Israel, the occupying Power, cease all practices and actions which violate the human rights of the Palestinian people;

3. Stresses the need to preserve the territorial integrity of all the Occupied Palestinian Territory and to guarantee the freedom of movement of persons and goods within the Palestinian territory, including the removal of restrictions on movement into and from East Jerusalem, and the freedom of movement to and from the outside world;

4. Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to accelerate the release of all remaining Palestinians arbitrarily detained or imprisoned, in line with agreements reached;

5. Calls for complete respect by Israel, the occupying Power, of all fundamental freedoms of the Palestinian people;

6. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-fifth session on the implementation of the present resolution.


RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 54/79:


In favour: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Canada, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica. Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia. Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay. Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstaining: Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Swaziland.

By resolution 54/152, the Assembly reaffirmed the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including the option of a State, and urged all States, as well as UN specialized agencies and organizations, to continue to support the Palestinian people in their quest for self-determination (see p. 622).

Work of Special Committee

In a July report [A/54/181], the Secretary-General stated that all necessary facilities were provided to the Special Committee on Israeli Practices, as requested in General Assembly resolution 53/53 [YUN 1998, p. 441]. Arrangements were made for it to meet in March, May and August, and a field mission was carried out to Egypt, Jordan and the Syrian Arab Republic in May. Two periodic reports [A/54/73 & Add.l ] and the thirty-first annual report of the Special Committee [A/54/325) were circulated to Member States. The UN Department of Public Information continued to provide press coverage of Special Committee meetings and to disseminate information materials on its activities (see p. 426).


GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION


On 6 December [meeting 71], the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Fourth Committee [A/54/576], adopted resolution 54/76 by recorded vote (84-2-67) [agenda item 89].

Work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories

The General Assembly,

Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

Guided also by the principles of international humanitarian law, in particular the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, as well as international standards of human rights, in particular the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenants on Human Rights,

Recalling its relevant resolutions, including resolution 2443(XXIII) of 19 December 1968, and relevant resolutions of the Commission on Human Rights,

Recalling also relevant resolutions of the Security Council,

Aware of the lasting impact of the uprising (intifada) of the Palestinian people,

Convinced that occupation itself represents a gross violation of human rights,

Having considered the reports of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories and the relevant reports of the Secretary-General,

Recalling the signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements by the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington, D.C., on 13 September 1993, as well as the subsequent implementation agreements, including the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip signed in Washington, D.C., on 28 September 1995, and the recent signing of the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum on 4 September 1999,

Expressing the hope that, with the progress of the peace process, the Israeli occupation will be brought to an end and therefore violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people will cease,

1. Commends the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories for its efforts in performing the tasks assigned to it by the General Assembly and for its impartiality;

2. Demands that Israel cooperate with the Special Committee in implementing its mandate;

3. Deplores those policies and practices of Israel which violate the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories, as reflected in the reports of the Special Committee covering the reporting period;

4. Expresses concern about the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, as a result of Israeli practices and measures;

5. Requests the Special Committee, pending complete termination of the Israeli occupation, to continue to investigate Israeli policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967. especially Israeli lack of compliance with the provisions of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to consult, as appropriate, with the International Committee of the Red Cross according to its regulations in order to ensure that the welfare and human rights of the peoples of the occupied territories are safeguarded, and to report to the Secretary-General as soon as possible and whenever the need arises thereafter;

6. Also request the Special Committee to submit regularly to the Secretary-General periodic reports on the current situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem;

7 Further requests the Special Committee to continue to investigate the treatment of prisoner in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967;

8. Requests the Secretary-General:

(a) To provide the Special Committee with all necessary facilities, including those required for its visits to the occupied territories, so that it may investigate the Israeli policies and practices referred to in the present resolution;

(b) To continue to make available such additional staff as may be necessary to assist the Special Committee in the performance of its tasks;

(c) To circulate regularly to Member States the periodic reports mentioned in paragraph 6 above;

(d) To ensure the widest circulation of the reports of the Special Committee and of information regarding its activities and findings, by all means available, through the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat and, where necessary, to reprint those reports of the Special Committee that are no longer available;

(e) To report to the General Assembly at its fifty-fifth session on the tasks entrusted to him in the present resolution;

9. Decides to include in the provisional agenda of its fifty-fifth session the item entitled "Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories".

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 54/76:

In favour Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominica, Ecuadoi, Egypt, Eritrea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Qatar, Saint Lucia. Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstaining: Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica. Japan. Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Monaco, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine, United Kingdom.

Fourth Geneva Convention

Conference of High Contracting Parties

The Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention on Measures to Enforce the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, was held on 15 July in Geneva, pursuant to General Assembly resolution ES-10/6 (see p. 402). It was the first time in the history of the Geneva Conventions that a conference was convened to consider u specific case of violations of the 1949 Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.

The Conference was attended by the majority of States High Contracting Parties, a delegation from Palestine, ICRC, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Australia, Canada, Israel and the United States announced that they would not participate.

The Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations presented a paper entitled "Israel's belligerent occupation of the Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and international humanitarian law".

In a statement adopted at the conclusion of the Conference, the participating High Contracting Parties reaffirmed the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and reiterated the neeci for full respect for the Convention's provisions. The Conference adjourned on the understanding that it would convene again in the light of consultations on the development of the humanitarian situation in the field.

UN International Meeting

Prior to the Conference, the United Nations International Meeting on the Convening of the Conference on Measures to Enforce the Fourth Geneva Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, (Cairo, Egypt, 14-15 June), organized under the auspices of the Committee on Palestinian Rights, was attended by international legal experts and representatives of the Secretary-General, inter-governmental organizations, the PA, Governments, UN system organizations and agencies, ICRC, NGOs and the media. The participants discussed Israeli violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention, enforcement of the Convention, and the conference of the High Contracting Parties and its possible outcomes. In its final document [A/ES-10/34, A/53/977], the participants expressed concern with regard to breaches and violations by Israel of the Convention, especially the continuing settlement activities, which included land confiscation and the transfer of Israeli civilians to the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem. The participants supported the convening by the High Contracting Parties of the conference on measures to enforce the Convention, on 15 July in Geneva. The participants called on the High Contracting Parties to strive for concrete results by the conference to be incorporated in a declaration or resolution or both. The conference should emphasize the responsibility of the High Contracting Parties to ensure respect for the Convention and live up to their obligations under it, affirm its de jure applicability in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and establish a follow-up mechanism, in the form of a committee under the leadership of the depositary (Switzerland).

Report of Secretary-General. In July [A/54/182], the Secretary-General informed the General Assembly that Israel had not replied to his June request for information on steps taken or envisaged to implement Assembly resolution 53/54 [YUN 1998, p. 442] demanding that Israel accept the de jure applicability of the Convention in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and that it comply scrupulously with its provisions. Also in June, the Secretary-General noted, he had drawn the attention of all States parties to paragraph 3 of resolution 53/54 calling on them to exert all efforts to ensure respect by Israel for the Convention's provisions.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 6 December [meeting 71], the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Fourth Committee [A/54/576], adopted resolution 54/77 by recorded vote (154-2-1) [agenda item 89].

Applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and the other occupied Arab territories

The General Assembly,

Recalling its, relevant resolutions,

Bearing in mind the relevant resolutions of the Security Council,

Having considered the reports of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories and the relevant reports of the Secretary-General,

Considering that the promotion of respect for the obligations arising from the Charter of the United Nations and other instruments and rules of international law is among the basic purposes and principles of the United Nations,

Noting the convening of the meeting of experts of the high contracting parties to the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, in Geneva from 27 to 29 October 1998, at the initiative of the Government of Switzerland in its capacity as the depositary of the Convention, concerning general problems of application of the Convention in general and, in particular, in occupied territories,

Noting also the convening on 15 July 1999 for the first time of a Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, as recommended by the General Assembly in its resolution ES-10/6 of 9 February 1999, on measures to enforce the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and to ensure respect thereof in accordance with article 1 common to the four Geneva Conventions, and aware of the statement adopted by the Conference,

Stressing that Israel, the occupying Power, should comply strictly with its obligations under international law,

1. Reaffirms that the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, is applicable to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967;

2. Demands that Israel accept the dejure applicability of the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, and that it comply scrupulously with the provisions of the Convention;

3. Calls upon all States parties to the Convention, in accordance with article 1 common to the four Geneva Conventions, to exert all efforts in order to ensure respect for its provisions by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967;

4. Reiterates the need for speedy implementation of the recommendations contained in its resolutions ES-10/3 of 15 July 1997, ES-10/4 of 13 November 1997, ES-10/5 of 17 March 1998 and ES-10/6 of 9 February 1999 with regard to ensuring respect by Israel, the occupying Power, for the provisions of the Convention;

5. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-fifth session on the implementation of the present resolution.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 54/77:


In favour: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan. Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameioon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana. Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam. Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstaining: Micronesia


Palestinian women


The Secretary-General, in a December report [E/CN.6/1999/2] to the Commission on the Status of Women on follow-up and progress in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action [YUN 1995,p. 1170], reviewed, in response to Economic and Social Council resolution 1998/10 [YUN 1998, p. 444], the situation of Palestinian women and described assistance provided by UN organizations during the period September 1997 to September 1998. He stated that the daily of women in the occupied territories continued to be adversely affected by the Israeli occupation, particularly the imposition of closures and other security-related measures, which had a detrimental impact on their socio-economic condition. As in the past, Palestinian women were experiencing the gender-specific impact of those measures, which was reinforced by existing inequalities in society between women and men. Women's average labour force participation rate declined from 13 per cent in 1996 to 12.3 per cent in 1997, a relative decline of 5.8 per cent for women compared with 1.5 per cent for men. Further, women's full employment rates and the total number of fully employed women also fell in 1997, while those for men rose considerably. Their average unemployment rate increased from 20.6 to 21-4 per cent. According to the 1997 Palestinian Population, Housing and Establishment Census, women represented 49.2 per cent of the total Palestinian population. The census also showed that 20.1 per cent of women were illiterate, compared with 7.7 per cent of men, and that the fertility rate was 6.1 per cent.

The UN system continued to support Palestinian women and sought to mainstream a gender perspective in its programmes and funds. The four-year, $7.2 million programme of assistance to the Palestinian people of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) focused on reproductive health including family planning, population and development strategies, and advocacy. The World Health Organization (WHO) assisted in the consolidation of the Women's Health Development Department at the PA's Ministry of Health, as well as with the implementation of two reproductive health projects in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) provided assistance to Palestinian women through its programmes in advocacy and capacity-building, health and nutrition, and basic education. The United Nations Volunteers were implementing the Community-based Youth Participation and Development Project, aimed at promoting the development of youth, in particular young women, to be participants in and contributors to the development of Palestinian society. The International Labour Organization (ILO), as part of its International Programme for More and Better Jobs for Women, formulated a draft Action Plan for the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which included the development of a gender-sensitive labour market information system to improve data collection, analysis and dissemination. Other ILO activities included the promotion and development of Palestinian women's entrepreneurship part its programme of assistance to the Palestinian people, UNDP supported the establishment of a Gender Statistics Unit within the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. In conjunction with the PA's Inter-Ministerial Committee, UNDP created a Rural Girls Development Centre, which provided general education and comprehensive training in health and agriculture. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights supported the establishment of a Women and Group Rights Unit within the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza to work with the local community for the development of a favourable women's rights policy environment.

The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFFM) implemented its empowerment agenda for women through three programme areas: strengthening women's economic capacity, engendering governance and leadership, and promoting women's human rights. UNIFEM's Global Campaign for the Eradication of Violence against Women was planning to raise public awareness among Palestinians on that particular issue. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) integrated Palestinian women's concerns in its assistance work, which included granting scholarships through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). ESCWA supported the economic and social situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and provided advisory services and technical assistance.

Palestinian women refugees were direct or indirect beneficiaries of UNRWA's programmes. For example, in the education programme, women accounted for 62 per cent of all trainees enrolled in technical/semi-professional courses in 1997/98. Of the 1,055 scholarships granted during 1997/98 by UNRWA to refugee students, 46 per cent went to Palestinian women. As part of its income-generation programme, UNRWA granted loans valued at $2.7 million to 3,296 women who supported some 16,310 dependants.

The Secretary-General observed that the PA and civil society, with the assistance of the international community, had taken considerable steps to advance the situation of Palestinian women. However, further efforts and assistance were needed, particularly within the context of main-streaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes. A sound information basis was essential for gender main-streaming; therefore the efforts of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics to acquire and disseminate gender-disaggregated statistics had to be augmented by UN bodies in order to keep gender disaggregated data on their operations. That would aid the reporting process and enhance the effectiveness of support programmes.


ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL ACTION


On 28 July [meeting 43], the Economic and Social Council, on the recommendation of the Commission on the Status of Women [E/1999/27], adopted resolution 1999/15 by roll-call vote (34-1-4) I agenda item 14 (a)}.

Palestinian women


The Economic and Social Council,

Having considered with appreciation the section concerning the situation of Palestinian women and assistance provided by organizations of the United Nations system of the report of the Secretary-General on follow-up to and implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women,

Recalling the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women, in particular paragraph 260 concerning Palestinian women and children, and the Beijing Platform for Action,

Recalling also its resolution 1998/10 of 28 July 1998 and other relevant United Nations resolutions,

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

Gravely concerned at the suspension, on 20 December 1998, by the Government of Israel of the implementation of the Wye River Memorandum, signed in Washington, D.C., on 23 October 1998, including the negotiations on the final settlement which were to have been concluded by May 1999,

Concerned about the continuing difficult situation of Palestinian women in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and about the severe consequences of continuous illegal Israeli settlement activities, as well as the harsh economic conditions and other consequences for the situation of Palestinian women and their families resulting from the frequent closures and isolation of the occupied territory,

1. Stresses its support for the Middle East peace process and the need for speedy and full implementation of the agreements already reached between the parties;

2. Affirms that in spite of the actual deterioration of the Middle East peace process as a result of the lack of compliance by the Government of Israel with the existing agreements, increased efforts must be exerted to bring the peace process back on track towards the achievement of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region and the achievement of tangible results towards the improvement of the situation of Palestinian women and their families;

3. Reaffirms that the Israeli occupation remains a major obstacle for Palestinian women with regard to their advancement, self-reliance and integration into the development planning of their society;

4. Demands that Israel, the occupying Power, comply fully with the provisions and principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Regulations annexed to The Hague Convention IV, of 18 October 1907, and the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, in order to protect the rights of Palestinian women and their families;

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

6. Urges Member States, financial organizations of the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations and other relevant institutions to intensify their efforts to provide financial and technical assistance to Palestinian women for the creation of projects responding to their needs, especially during the transitional period;

7. 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, in particular paragraph 260 concerning Palestinian women and children, and the Beijing Platform for Action;

8. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to review the situation and to assist Palestinian women by all available means and to submit to the Commission on the Status of Women at its forty-fourth session a report on the progress made in the implementation of the present resolution.

ROLL-CALL VOTE IN COUNCIL AS FOLLOWS:

In favour: Algeria, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, France, Germany, Honduras, Indonesia, Italy, Latvia, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Pakistan, Poland, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Spain, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, United Kingdom, Venezuela, Viet Nam.

Against: United States.

Abstaining: Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Norway.

Issues related to Palestine

General aspects

The General Assembly continued to consider the question of Palestine in 1999. Having discussed the annual report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (Committee on Palestinian Rights) [A/54/35], the Assembly adopted four resolutions, reaffirming, among other things, the necessity of achieving a peaceful settlement of the Palestine question—the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict—and stressing the need for the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinians, primarily the right to self-determination, for Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 and for resolving the problem of the Palestine refugees.

In commemoration of the International Day Solidarity with the Palestinian People, celebrated annually on 29 November, in accordance with Assembly resolution 32/40 B [YUN 1077, p. 304] the Committee held a solemn meeting and other activities. Under the Committee's auspices, exhibit entitled "Follow the Star: Images from the Palestinian City of Bethlehem at the New Millennium" was presented by the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine.

Report of Secretary-General. In an October report on the question of Palestine [A/54/457-S/1999/1050], the Secretary-General made observations on the Middle East peace process (see p. 401).

By a 28 July note verbale, the Secretary-General sought the positions of the Governments of Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic, as well as the PLO, regarding steps taken by them to implement the relevant provisions of resolution 53/42 [YUN 1998, p. 445). As at 6 October, only Jordan and the PLO had responded.

Jordan stated that it was pursuing implementation of the provisions of the 1994 Jordanian-Israeli Treaty of Peace [YUN 1994, p. 614] and the agreements to which it gave rise. Jordan had also made use of its relations and contacts with all the parties to advance the negotiation process on the Palestinian-Israeli track. It was of the view that the outcome of the May 1999 Israeli elections and the assumption of office by the new Government constituted a plebiscite in which Israeli society voted in favour of peace. The new Government was urged to take decisive steps to honour the agreements and commitments that had been entered into and, in particular, to implement the 1998 Wye River Memorandum [YUN 1998, p. 424) and to resume negotiations on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks from the point at which they were suspended.

The PLO said that since the adoption of resolution 53/42, little progress was made in the implementation of the agreements reached; the situation on the ground, including the economic and living conditions of the Palestinian people, continued to deteriorate; and tension had increased in the region as a whole. However, with the new Israeli Government, the two parties, in September 1999, succeeded in reaching the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum. Initial steps in the implementation of the Memorandum had already begun. Moreover, the parties had agreed to reach the final settlement within a year from the signing of the Memorandum. The Palestinian side believed that the international community, represented by the General Assembly, had to uphold its positions related to the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and should maintain its positions related to the elements of the final settlement (permanent status issues), including Jerusalem, settlements and refugees.

The PLO welcomed the work done by UNRWA and hoped that the United Nations would contribute to the efforts being undertaken to push the peace process forward. For a peaceful settlement of the Palestine question to be achieved within the framework of the current peace process, it was necessary to respect the principle of the return of land for peace and the implementation of Council resolutions 242( 1967) [YUN 1967, p. 257) and 338(1973) [YUN 1973, p. 213].

The Secretary-General observed that the signing of the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum brought with it cautious optimism that the Middle East peace process had been brought back on track. While the issues that remained to be resolved were difficult, five decades of conflict and unease should at least be brought to an end. It was hoped that progress on the Israeli-Palestinian track would soon lead to movement in the Syrian and Lebanese tracks so that peace, security and stability might be achieved for all peoples in the region Strengthening UN presence in the Middle East.

On 10 September (S/1999/983), the Secretary-General informed the Security Council President of his intention to appoint Terje Roed-Larsen (Norway) as the new United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and his Personal Representative to the PLO and the Palestinian Authority (PA) as at 1 October 1999, replacing Chinmaya R. Gharekhan (India). The functions assigned to the new UN Special Coordinator took into account the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and the prospect for renewed talks in other bilateral tracks. The Special Coordinator would act as a UN focal point on the ground, enabling the United Nations to respond in an integrated and coordinated manner to requests for assistance. On 16 September [S/1999/984], the Council took note of the Secretary-General's intention.

By a 9 November letter to the Council President [S/1999/1226), the Secretary-General said that the Prime Minister of Israel and the PLO Chairman, meeting in Oslo, Norway, on 1 and 2 November, had agreed that Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams would start final status talks in Ramallah on 9 November, and that a deadline for a framework agreement would be set for 15 February 2000, prior to a final agreement to be reached by September 2000. With the Middle East peace process entering a new phase, the United Nations had to ensure that it was in a position to respond quickly and effectively to any requests from the parties as they made progress in their bilateral and multilateral negotiations. The Secretary-General had therefore decided that the United Nations should establish a unified structure in the region, with a clearly recognized focal point for the Organization's contributions to fin implementation of the peace agreements and with overall responsibility for enhancing UN assistance. In that connection, the Secretary-General had asked the Special Coordinator to reconfigure the existing office based in Gaza, bearing in mind that he would likely require additional resources. On 8 December [S/1999/1227] the Council took note of the request to the Special Coordinator.

In a December report to the Fifth (Administrative and Budgetary) Committee [A/C.5/54/40), the Secretary-General stated that those additional requirements were estimated at $3,755,800, which would be charged against the $86.2 million proposed for special political missions under section 3, Political affairs, of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2000-2001, as approved by Assembly resolution 53/206 [YUN 1998, p. 1284|. As the activities fell under the programme of political affairs, it was also proposed that the existing resources in the proposed 2000-2001 programme budget related to the activities of the Office of the Special Coordinator should be transferred from section 5, Peacekeeping operations, to section 3.

The Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), in a December report [A/54/7/Add.ll], stated that it had no objection to the Secretary-General's proposal.

On 23 December, by resolution 54/251, section VII, the Assembly approved the charge of total requirements of $3,755,800 against the provisions proposed for special political missions under section 3 of the proposed 2000-2001 programme budget, and concurred that the related provisions for the Office of the Special Coordinator should be transferred from section 5 to section 3.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 1 December [meeting 68), the General Assembly adopted resolution 54/42 [draft: A/54/L.45 & Add.l ] by recorded vote (149-3-2) [agenda item 44).


Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine
Recalling its relevant resolutions, including resolutions adopted at the tenth emergency special session,

Recalling also the relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 242(1967) of 22 November 1967 and 338(1973) of 22 October 1973,

Aware that it has been more than fifty years since the adoption of resolution 181(11) of 29 November 1947 and thirty-two years since the occupation of Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, in 1967,

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General submitted pursuant to the request made in its resolution 53/42 of 2 December 1998,

Reaffirming the permanent responsibility of the United Nations with regard to the question of Palestine until the question is resolved in all its aspects,

Convinced that achieving a final and peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, is imperative for the attainment of a comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East,

Aware that the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples is among the purposes and principles embodied in the Charter of the United Nations,

Affirming the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war,

Affirming also the illegality of the Israeli settlements in the territory occupied since 1967 and of Israeli actions aimed at changing the status of Jerusalem,

Affirming once again the right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders,

Recalling the mutual recognition between the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people, and the signing by the two parties of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements in Washington, D.C., on 13 September 1993, as well as the subsequent implementation agreements, including the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, signed in Washington, D.C., on 28 September 1995,

Recalling also the withdrawal of the Israeli army, which took place in the Gaza Strip and the Jericho area in 1995 in accordance with the agreements reached by the parties, and the initiation of the Palestinian Authority in those areas, as well as the subsequent deployments of the Israeli army in the rest of the West Bank,

Noting with satisfaction the successful holding of the first Palestinian general elections,

Noting with satisfaction also the signing of the Memorandum at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on 4 September 1999.

Noting the appointment by the Secretary-General of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, and its positive contribution,

Welcoming the convening of the Conference to Support Middle East Peace in Washington, D.C., on 1 October 1993, as well as all follow-up meetings and the international mechanisms established to provide assistance to the Palestinian people, including the donor meeting held at Tokyo on 14 October 1999,

Expressing the hope that the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum will be full) implemented towards full compliance with the existing agreements and the conclusion of the final settlement by the agreed time of September 2000,

1 Reaffirms the necessity of achieving a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, in all its aspects;

2. Expresses its full support for the ongoing peace process which began in Madrid and the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements of 1993, as well as the subsequent implementation agreements, including the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip of 1995 and the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum of 1999, and expresses the hope that the process will lead to the establishment of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East;

3. Stresses the necessity for commitment to the principle of land for peace and the implementation of Security Council resolutions 242(1967) and 338(1973), which form the basis of the Middle East peace process, and the need for the immediate and scrupulous implementation of the agreements reached between the parties, including the redeployment of the Israeli forces from the West Bank, and takes note with satisfaction of the commencement of the negotiations on the final settlement;

4. Calls upon the concerned parties, the cosponsors of the peace process and other interested parties, as well as the entire international community to exert all the necessary efforts and initiatives to ensure the continuity and success of the peace process and its conclusion by the time agreed upon;

5. Stresses the need for:

(a) The realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, primarily the right to self-determination;

(b) The withdrawal of Israel from the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967;

6. Also stresses the need for resolving the problem of the Palestine refugees in conformity with its resolution 194(III) of 11 December 1948;

7. Urges Member States to expedite the provision of economic and technical assistance to the Palestinian people during this critical period;

8. Emphasizes the importance for the United Nations to play a more active and expanded role in the current peace process and in the implementation of the Declaration of Principles;

9. Requests the Secretary-General to continue his efforts with the parties concerned, and in consultation with the Security Council, for the promotion of peace in the region and to submit progress reports on developments in this matter.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 54/42:

In favour: Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Pansma, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, Marshall Islands, United States.

Abstaining: Micronesia, Uzbekistan.

Speaking before the vote, the United States said that the text laid out the position of one party to the negotiations and, by adopting it, the Assembly would seek inappropriately to interject its views into those negotiations. The draft complicated United States efforts and those of the parties themselves to achieve a settlement.

Israel stated that all diplomatic breakthroughs in the Middle East were arrived at exclusively through direct negotiations between the parties. The draft resolution sought to predetermine the issues to be resolved by those negotiations, and it both violated existing agreements and undermined the integrity and the foundations of the peace process.

Speaking after the vote, the Observer of Palestine expressed the hope that Israel would abandon its current policy and positions and start complying with requirements of international legitimacy.

By decision 54/465 of 23 December, the Assembly decided that the agenda items entitled "Question of Palestine" and "The situation in the Middle East" remained for consideration during its resumed fifty-fourth (2000) session.


Committee on Palestinian Rights

As mandated by General Assembly resolution 53/39 [YUN 1998, p. 450), the Committee on Palestinian Rights, established in 1975 by Assembly resolution 3376(XXX) [YUN 1975, p. 248], continued to review the situation relating to the Palestine question, reported on it and made suggestions to the Assembly or the Security Council.

The Committee, having restructured its NGO programme, including its programme of meetings, held consultations with NGO representatives during the Bethlehem 2000 International Conference (Rome, Italy, 18-19 February 1999). A second consultation meeting was held in New York on 26 November.

In response to Assembly resolution 53/27 [YUN 1998, p. 451], the Committee organized, in cooperation with Italy and the Holy See, the Bethlehem 2000 International Conference, which was attended by many high-level participants, including representatives of different religious denominations and the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs. At the conclusion of the Conference, the participants adopted the Rome Declaration, in which they promoted the Bethlehem 2000 Project launched by the PA and highlighted the urgency of bringing economic recovery and prosperity to the Palestinian people. The participants also expressed the view that freedom of movement and unhindered access to Holy Places in Bethlehem by all religions and nationalities were essential to the city's revival. The Committee Chairman submitted a report [A/54/416] to the Secretary-General on the Conference in which he noted that the UN system had taken an early lead in offering support to the Bethlehem 2000 Project. Since 1997, UNDP had initiated a wide range of infrastructure improvements and the development of the tourist sector in close coordination with the Municipality of Bethlehem. The World Bank and UNESCO had, through their active involvement in specific projects on the ground, strengthened the viability of the initiative.

The Committee continued to follow the Palestine-related activities of inter-governmental bodies, such as the Organization of African Unity, and participated in a meeting celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine (New York, 25 October). Through its Bureau, the Committee continued its cooperation on the question of Palestine with the EU. The Committee took part in the United Nations African Meeting in Support of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (Windhoek, Namibia, 20-22 April). The Windhoek Declaration, the meeting's final document, focused on the role of African States in supporting the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, as well as the international community's action in promoting the Bethlehem 2000 Project. The Committee supported the United Nations International Meeting on the Convening of the Conference on Measures to Enforce the Fourth Geneva Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem (see p. 416). Following that meeting, a Committee delegation visited Gaza from 16 to 18 June. During the visit, the first for the Committee, the delegation met with the Chairman of the PLO Executive Committee and PA President, Mr. Arafat, as well as with other high-ranking Palestinian officials and UN agencies' representatives, and visited, among other places, a number of UNDP projects in Gaza City.

In its annual report to the Assembly [A/54/35], covering the period from 4 November 1998 to 12 November 1999, the Committee expressed its regret that, for the greater part of 1999, the peace process remained stalled. At the same time, the Committee was encouraged by a series of important developments that had a positive effect on the peace process, including the decisions of the Palestinian Central Council at its extraordinary session from 27 to 29 April. It was also hopeful that the new Israeli Government would honour its obligations vis-a-vis the Palestinian side under the Wye River Memorandum, restore the spirit of confidence between the two parties, re-engage in the peace negotiations without preconditions and move forward towards the stage of permanent status negotiations. In that connection, the Committee noted the beginning of the implementation of the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum in September and hoped that it would be completed in strict compliance with the agreed timetable.

The Committee supported the convening of the Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention on Measures to Enforce the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem (see p. 415). In the year under review, the Committee continued to follow closely the situation on the ground, including the illegal Israeli settlement activities. In May, the Knesset Finance Committee allocated $3 million for infrastructure work in 32 settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, beyond the borders of existing settlements. According to Israeli press reports, more than 20 per cent of all land slated by Israel's Ministry of Construction and Housing for marketing in 1999 was located in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. In February, the Israeli Government had approved its 1999 budget, adding $38 million for settlement construction. In spite of the stated position of the new Israeli Government not to build new settlements, the Ministry of Construction and Housing had since July reportedly issued tenders for the construction of over 2,500 new residential units slated for settlements around Jerusalem.

Another feature of the settlement drive had been the "grab and settle" policy targeting hilltops in the various parts of the West Bank, as well as the construction of bypass roads to service those settlements. Some 42 new hilltop settlements had been established since the signing of the Wye River Memorandum. The Committee also reported that, in the course of the year, groups of extremist settlers continued in their attempts to occupy Palestinian land and property, harassed Palestinian civilians and often engaged in violent confrontations with them. For the first time since 1967, a civilian guard was established in June 1999 in the West Bank settlements, intended to operate independently from the Israel Defence Forces.

The Committee expressed concern at Israel's detention of some 2,000 Palestinians, 350 of whom were released in September and October, in accordance with the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum. However, having noted the delay in the implementation of the second stage of the prisoner release, the Committee hoped that the release would be implemented on time and in compliance with the Memorandum. The Committee also noted the decision of Israel's High Court of Justice in September, stipulating that Israel's General Security Service was not authorized to employ certain investigation and interrogation methods involving the use of physical pressure against detainees.

Although the Palestinian economy showed signs of a slight growth in real terms during the year under review, it continued to suffer from structural imbalance due to the occupation and over-reliance on the Israeli economy. Israeli restrictions on the movement of goods and labour between the West Bank and East Jerusalem and between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and the protracted lack of agreement on the safe passage routes had a negative impact on the Palestinian economy. The economic situation in the Gaza Strip, in particular, remained of great concern.

The Committee viewed continued UN system assistance to the Palestinian people as an important support for the peace process, as well as a crucial contribution to the development of a sustainable Palestinian economy and to Palestinian institution and nation-building. It called on the international donor community to step up its assistance to the Palestinian people and hoped that contributions pledged towards the development of the Palestinian economy would be disbursed in full and as a matter of highest priority. In that regard, the Committee noted the signing at an Ad Hoc Liaison Committee meeting (Tokyo, 15 October) of a tripartite action plan aimed at assisting the peace process and accelerating the disbursement of commitments, to expedite implementation of essential development projects. The Committee stressed the crucial role played by UNRWA in assisting Palestine refugees through the provision of relief and social services, in spite of the worsening financial constraints faced by the Agency.

In making its recommendations, the Committee emphasized that after more than five decades of suffering and dispossession, the Palestinian people had yet to see its aspirations for self-determination and statehood realized. Despite breakthroughs in the peace process, millions of Palestinians were still forced to live in refugee camps, while the territory under the PA's jurisdiction represented a disjointed multitude of enclaves surrounded by a dense net of settlements, which restricted the Palestinians' freedom of movement and severely affected their livelihood. The Committee was of the view that the adjustments made to its programme of meetings had made the programme more effective and focused and had played a useful role in heightening international awareness of the question of Palestine and in achieving wider recognition for the exercise by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights. The Committee would continue to review and assess that programme to make it more effective and responsive to the evolving situation on the ground and in the peace process, in its programme for the next year, the Committee intended to focus on the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, Palestinian nation and institution-building, socio-economic development and permanent status issues.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 1 December [meeting 68], the General Assembly adopted resolution 54/39 [draft: A/54/L.42 & Add.l ] by recorded vote (105-3-48) [agenda i item 44].

Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable
Rights of the Palestinian People

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolutions 181 (II) of 29 November 1947, 194(111) of 11 December 1948, 3236(XXIX) of 22 November 1974, 3375 (XXX) and 3376(XXX) of 10 November 1975, 31/20 of 24 November 1976, 32/40 A of 2 December 1977, 33/28 A and B of 7 December 1978, 34/65 A of 29 November 1979 and 34/65 C of 12 December 1979, ES-7/2 of 29 July 1980, 35/169 A and C of 15 December 1980, 36/120 A and C of 10 December 1981. ES-7/4 of 28 April 1982, 37/86 A of 10 December 1982. 38/58 A of 13 December 1983, 39/49 A of 11 December 1984, 40/96 A of 12 December 1985,41/43 A of 2 December 1986, 42/66 A of 2 December 1987, 43/175 A of 15 December 1988,44/41 A of 6 December 1989, 45/67 A of 6 December 1990, 46/74 A of 11 December 1991, 47/64 A of 11 December 1992, 48/158 A of 20 December 1993, 49/62 A of 14 December 1994, 50/84 A of 15 December 1995, 51/23 of 4 December 1996, 52/49 of 9 December 1997 and 53/39 of 2 December 1998,

Having considered the report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People,

Recalling the signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, including its Annexes and Agreed Minutes, by the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people, in Washington, D.C., on 13 September 1993, as well as the subsequent implementation agreements, in particular the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, signed in Washington, D.C., on 28 September 1995, and the Memorandum signed at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on 4 September 1999,

Reaffirming that the United Nations has a permanent responsibility with respect to the question of Palestine until the question is resolved in all its aspects in a satisfactory manner in accordance with international legitimacy,

1. Expresses its appreciation to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for its efforts in performing the tasks assigned to it by the General Assembly;

2. Considers that the Committee can continue to make a valuable and positive contribution to international efforts to promote the Middle East peace process and the full implementation of the agreements reached and to mobilize international support for and assistance to the Palestinian people during the transitional period;

3. Endorses the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee contained in chapter VII of its report;

4. Requests the Committee to continue to keep under review the situation relating to the question of Palestine and to report and make suggestions to the General Assembly or the Security Council, as appropriate;

5. Authorizes the Committee to continue to exert all efforts to promote the exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, to make such adjustments in its approved programme of work as it may consider appropriate and necessary in the light of developments, to give special emphasis to the need to mobilize support and assistance for the Palestinian people and to report thereon to the General Assembly at its fifty-fifth session and thereafter;

6. Requests the Committee to continue to extend its cooperation and support to Palestinian and other non-governmental organizations in order to mobilize international solidarity and support for the achievement by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights and for a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine, and to involve additional non-governmental organizations in its work;

7. Requests the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, established under General Assembly resolution 194(111), and other United Nations bodies associated with the question of Palestine to continue to cooperate fully with the Committee and to make available to it, at its request, the relevant information and documentation which they have at their disposal;

8. Requests the Secretary-General to circulate the report of the Committee to all the competent bodies of the United Nations, and urges them to take the necessary action, as appropriate;

9. Also requests the Secretary-General to continue to provide the Committee with all the necessary facilities for the performance of its tasks.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 54/39:


In favour: Afghanistan. Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saint Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, Marshall Islands, United States.

Abstaining: Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy. Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Micronesia, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand. Norway, Poland, Portugal. Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan.
The United States said that the draft resolution did not take into consideration achievements that had occurred in the Middle East peace process: the safe passage route between Gaza and the West Bank was operating, the Gaza seaport had been approved, further redeployments had been made, additional prisoners had been released and the parties had begun talks on a framework agreement for permanent status. It added that the Assembly should be in the business of supporting that process of negotiation and should not be issuing one-sided criticism or authorizing wasteful expenditure for anachronistic committees and reports.
Israel stated that the Committee on Palestinian Rights, as well as the UN Secretariat Division for Palestinian Rights, since their inception, had obstructed dialogue and understanding through a preset, one-sided portrayal of the Arab-Israeli conflict. They had been engaged in activities which hindered progress towards achieving a peaceful, negotiated and mutually acceptable solution.

Finland, on behalf of the EU, said that important progress had been made in the Middle East peace process over the years and welcomed the signing of the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum and the resumption of permanent status negotiations. It regretted that the mandate of the two UN entities in charge of the agenda item "Question of Palestine", the Committee on Palestinian Rights and the Division for Palestinian Rights, did not take into account the spirit of the peace process. The EU, nevertheless, welcomed the on-going dialogue with the Committee on Palestinian Rights and stated that it would continue that exchange of views with the particular aim of adapting the Committee's mandate to the spirit of the Madrid and Oslo accords.

Division for Palestinian Rights


Under the guidance of the Committee on Palestinian Rights, the Division for Palestinian Rights of the UN Secretariat continued to function as a centre of research, monitoring, preparation of studies, and collection and dissemination of information on all issues related to the Palestine question. The Division continued to respond to requests for information and to prepare and disseminate the following publications: a monthly bulletin covering action by the Committee, UN bodies and agencies, and inter-governmental organizations concerned with Palestine; a periodic bulletin entitled "Developments related to the Middle East peace process"; a monthly chronology of events relating to the question of Palestine, based on media reports and other sources; reports of meeting organized under the auspices of the Committee; a special bulletin on the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (29 November); and an annual compilation of relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, decisions and statements.

The Committee, in its annual report [A/54/35], noted that the Division had prepared publications for a number of related meetings and activities and, in cooperation with relevant technical services of the UN Secretariat, had continued to develop the electronic United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL), as mandated by Assembly resolution 46/74 B [YUN 1991, p. 228]. The Division also coordinated and supervised the electronic conversion of the records of the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, in accordance with Assembly resolution 51/129 [YUN 1996, p. 423].

The Committee requested the Division to continue its publications programme and other activities, including the completion of its work on the UNISPAL collection and on the project for the modernization of the records of the Conciliation Commission. It also requested that the annual training programme for staff members of the PA be continued.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 1 December [meeting 68), the General Assembly adopted resolution 54/40 [draft: A/54/L.43&Add.l] by recorded vote (107-3-47) [agenda item 44].

Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat

The General Assembly,

Having considered the report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People,

Taking note in particular of the relevant information contained in chapter V.B of that report,

Recalling its resolutions 32/40 B of 2 December 1977, 33/28 C of 7 December 1978, 34/65 D of 12 December 1979, 35/169 D of 15 December 1980, 36/120 B of 10 December 1981. 37/86 B of 10 December 1982, 38/58 B of 13 December 1983, 39/49 B of 11 December 1984, 40/96 B of 12 December 1985, 41/43 B of 2 December 1986, 42/66 B of 2 December 1987, 43/175 B of 15 December 1988, 44/41 B of 6 December 1989. 45/67 B of 6 December 1990, 46/74 B of 11 December 1991, 47/64 B of 11 December 1992, 48/158 B of 20 December 1993, 49/62 B of 14 December 1994, 50/84 B of 15 December 1995, 51/24 of 4 December 1996, 52/50 of 9 December 1997 and 53/40 of 2 December 1998,

1. Notes with appreciation the action taken by the Secretary-General in compliance with its resolution 53/40;

2. Considers that the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat continues to make a useful and constructive contribution;

3. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to provide the Division with the necessary resources and to ensure that it continues to carry out its programme of work as detailed in the relevant earlier resolutions, in consultation with the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and under its guidance, including, in particular, the organization of meetings in various regions with the participation of all sectors of the international community, the further development and expansion of the documents collection of the United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine, the preparation and widest possible dissemination of publications and information materials on various aspects of the question of Palestine, the provision of assistance in completing the project on the modernization of the records of the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine and the provision of the annual training programme for staff of the Palestinian Authority;

4. Also requests the Secretary-General to ensure the continued cooperation of the Department of Public Information and other units of the Secretariat in enabling the Division to perform its tasks and in covering adequately the various aspects of the question of Palestine;

5. Invites all Governments and organizations to extend their cooperation to the Committee and the Division in the performance of their tasks;

6. Notes with appreciation the action taken by Member States to observe annually on 29 November the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, requests them to continue to give the widest possible publicity to the observance, and requests the Committee and the Division to continue to organize, as part of the observance of the Day of Solidarity, an annual exhibit on Palestinian rights in cooperation with the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 54/40:

In favour: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saint Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, Marshall Islands, United States.

Abstaining: Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Micronesia, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan.

Special information programme

As requested in General Assembly resolution 53/41 [YUN 1998, p. 453], the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) in 1999 continued its special information programme on the question of Palestine, which included the convening of an international encounter on the theme "Prospects for Peace" (Madrid, Spain, 23-24 March) and the organization of a training programme for Palestinian broadcasters and journalists at UN Headquarters.

The DPI Public Inquiries Unit responded to 33 queries from the public on the question of Palestine, while the Dissemination and Communications Unit distributed material in hard copy and by electronic mail. DPI also provided press coverage of all meetings held at UN Headquarters, including those of the Committee on Palestinian Rights, as well as coverage of conferences and meetings held under the auspices of the Committee in Rome, Windhoek and Cairo. The quarterly publication UN Chronicle continued its coverage of the Palestine question, including articles on the establishment, 50 years earlier, of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization and on the Bethlehem 2000 Project. The Radio and Central News Service covered all aspects of the Palestine question in daily news bulletins and current affairs radio programmes in various languages for regional and worldwide dissemination.

As in previous years, DPI cooperated in the media promotion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People through extensive print and electronic media coverage. UN information centres (UNICs) organized briefings, media campaigns, press conferences, interviews, lectures, seminars and television programmes on the International Day. Also, throughout the year, many UNICs dealt with the Palestine question and organized special outreach activities related to the issue.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION


On 1 December [meeting 68], the General Assembly adopted resolution 54/41 [draft: A/54/L.44 & Add.I] by recorded vote (151-3-2) [agenda item 44].

Special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat


The General Assembly,

Having considered the report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People,

Taking note in particular of the information contained in chapter VI of that report,

Recalling its resolution 53/41 of 2 December 1998,

Convinced that the worldwide dissemination of accurate and comprehensive information and the role of non-governmental organizations and institutions remain of vital importance in heightening awareness of and support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people,

Aware of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements signed by the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington, D.C., on 13 September 1993, and of the subsequent implementation agreements, in particular the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip signed in Washington, D.C., on 28 September 1995, and the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum of 4 September 1999, and their positive implications,

1. Notes with appreciation the action taken by the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat in compliance with resolution 53/41;

2. Considers that the special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department is very useful in raising the awareness of the international community concerning the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East in general, including the achievements of the peace process, and that the programme is contributing effectively to an atmosphere conducive to dialogue and supportive of the peace process;

3. Requests the Department, in full cooperation and coordination with the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, to continue, with the necessary flexibility as may be required by developments affecting the question of Palestine, its special information programme for the biennium 2000-2001, in particular:

(a) To disseminate information on all the activities of the United Nations system relating to the question of Palestine, including reports on the work carried out by the relevant United Nations organizations;

(b) To continue to issue and update publications on the various aspects of the question of Palestine in all fields, including materials concerning the recent developments in that regard, in particular the prospects for peace;

(c) To expand its collection of audiovisual material on the question of Palestine and to continue the production of such material, including the updating of the exhibit in the Secretariat;

(d) To organize and promote fact-finding news missions for journalists to the area, including the territories under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority and the occupied territories;

(e) To organize international, regional and national seminars or encounters for journalists, aiming in particular at sensitizing public opinion to the question of Palestine;

(f) To continue to provide assistance to the Palestinian people in the field of media development, in particular to strengthen the training programme for Palestinian broadcasters and journalists initiated in 1995;

4. Requests the Department of Public Information to promote the Bethlehem 2000 Project, within existing resources and until the Bethlehem 2000 commemoration comes to a close, including the preparation and dissemination of publications, audiovisual material and the establishment of a "Bethlehem 2000" site on the United Nations Internet home page.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 54/41:

In favour: Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Croatia Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba. Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France. Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, Marshall Islands, United States.

Abstaining: Micronesia, Uzbekistan.


Assistance to Palestinians

UN activities

Report of Secretary-General. In a July report [A/54/134-E/1999/851], the Secretary-General described UN assistance to the Palestinian people between June 1998 and May 1999, assessed ongoing programmes and needs still unmet and presented proposals for additional assistance.

Throughout the reporting period, the UN Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories focused on ensuring better coordination between the relevant PA institutions and UN agencies, as well as the donor community; strengthening the rule of law and other institution-building programmes through better-targeted technical assistance; monitoring and documenting economic and social conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory and providing periodic analyses on those aspects and on specific issues relevant to the development effort; providing logistic and other assistance to the PA in the preparation of the Palestinian Development Plan, 1999-2003; and encouraging expeditious donor disbursements to facilitate its implementation. The Plan, which represented the PA's commitment to developing national capacity in medium term development planning and in the implementation of development projects, was presented to the donor community at the sixth meeting of the Consultative Group for the West Bank and Gaza, convened by the World Bank (Paris, 4-5 February 1999). The Plan included over 170 projects with which the United Nations was associated that had a total value of about $286 million. Both in numerical and value terms, that amount represented an increase over the previous Plan (YUN 1998, p. 454], underscoring the deepening commitment of the UN system to the socio-economic development of the occupied Palestinian Territory.

As part of his efforts to improve UN coordination, the Special Coordinator convened the fifth UN inter-agency meeting (Gaza, 7-8 October 1998), which assessed the role and contribution of UN agencies to Palestinian development. As in previous years, the meeting provided a forum for finalizing the document entitled "The United Nations and the Palestinian Development Plan", which surveyed some salient features of that relationship. The UN presence in the occupied Palestinian territory had increased from three organizations in 1993 to 13 in 1999, and an additional 16 UN organizations were providing the PA with technical assistance and expertise.

The Conference to Support Middle East Peace and Development (Washington, D.C., 30 November 1998) reaffirmed the international community's political commitment to the Middle East peace process and to continue the economic assistance required to give it momentum. Conference participants announced pledges totalling $3.36 billion to be disbursed over a two to five year period.

The Special Coordinator also gave an update on assistance provided to the Palestinian people in the occupied territories during the reporting period by UN departments, agencies and programmes. The update included information from the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, ESCWA, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), ILO, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Trade Centre, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations International Drug Control Programme, UNDP, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), UNRWA, the Office of the Special Coordinator, the World Food Programme (WFP) and WHO.

Living conditions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip

The Palestinian Ministry of Finance and the International Monetary Fund estimated real gross domestic product and gross national product growth rates of 3.0 and 5.5 per cent, respectively for 1998, as well as a marginal rise in annual per capita income levels in the occupied Palestinian territory for the first time since the beginning of the interim period in 1994. Such growth was mainly due to fewer comprehensive closures imposed by the Israeli authorities on the occupied territory. In fact closures affected 5.2 per cent of working days in 1998. Compared with 20.5 per cent of such days in 1997. That resulted in a 16.9 per cent increase in the number of Palestinian workers employed in Israel in 1998 and generally improved trade flows, as the nominal value of registered trade between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory rose by 9.3 percent.

Moderate growth was reported in the private investment sector. Construction licensing activity-grew by 4.6 per cent in 1998, compared to over 13 per cent the previous year. Overall, new company registrations climbed by 12.6 per cent. While donor disbursements declined by 27.4 per cent in 1998 to a reported level of $399.8 million, total public investment spending rose by an estimated 11 per cent to $215 million. Public investment absorbed a higher share of total disbursement in 1998, in part because the PA achieved a balanced recurrent budget for the first time.

The labour force increased by an estimated 5.9 per cent to about 585,000 persons in 1998, and the number of fully employed persons increased by 18.9 per cent to 456,240. The standard unemployment rate fell from 20.9 per cent in 1997 to 15.6 per cent in 1998, the lowest rate recorded since 1995. An estimated 58,450 new jobs for Palestinian workers were created in 1998, a 13.4 per cent increase over the preceding year, with employment growth in every economic branch. However, women's labour force participation fell to 11.7 per cent of working-age women, as compared with 12.3 per cent in 1997. Under the impact of the sharp depreciation of the new shekel/United States dollar exchange rate in late 1998, the rate of inflation in the consumer price index rose 9.7 per cent, compared with 6.1 per cent in 1997. Food prices increased faster than the general price level, placing an additional burden on household budgets.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 15 December [meeting 80], the General Assembly adopted resolution 54/116 [draft: A/54/L.52 & Add.l] without vote [agenda item 20(e)].

Assistance to the Palestinian people

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolution 53/89 of 7 December 1998,

Recalling also previous resolutions on the question,

Welcoming the signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements of 1993 between the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people, as well as the signing of the subsequent implementation agreements, including the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip of 1995, and the recent signing of the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum on 4 September 1999,

Gravely concerned about the difficult economic and employment conditions facing the Palestinian people throughout the occupied territory,

Conscious of the urgent need for improvement in the economic and social infrastructure of the occupied territory and the living conditions of the Palestinian people,

Aware that development is difficult under occupation and best promoted in circumstances of peace and stability,

Noting the great economic and social challenges facing the Palestinian people and their leadership,

Conscious of the urgent necessity for international assistance to the Palestinian people, taking into account the Palestinian priorities,

Noting the convening of the United Nations Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People, entitled "Facing the challenges of the year 2000: promoting Palestinian national development", held at Cairo on 27 and 28 April 1998,

Stressing the need for the full engagement of the United Nations in the process of building Palestinian institutions and in providing broad assistance to the Palestinian people, including assistance in the fields of elections, police training and public administration,

Noting the appointment by the Secretary-General of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority,

Welcoming the results of the Conference to Support Middle East Peace, convened in Washington, D.C., on 1 October 1993, and the establishment of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee and the work being done by the World Bank as its secretariat, as well as the establishment of the Consultative Group,

Welcoming also the work of the Joint Liaison Committee, which provides a forum in which economic policy and practical matters related to donor assistance are discussed with the Palestinian Authority,

Welcoming further the results of the Conference to Support Middle East Peace and Development, held in Washington, D.C., on 30 November 1998, and expressing appreciation for the pledges of the international donor community,

Welcoming the meeting of the Consultative Group at Frankfurt, Germany, on 4 and 5 February 1999, in particular the pledges of the international donor community and the presentation of the Palestinian Development Plan for the years 1999-2003,

Welcoming also the meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee held at Tokyo on 14 and 15 October 1999, the signing of the updated Tripartite Action Plan, and the proposal to hold the next meeting at Lisbon,

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General,

1. Takes notes of the report of the Secretary-General;

2. Expresses its appreciation to the Secretary-General for his rapid response and efforts regarding assistance to the Palestinian people;

3. Expresses its appreciation to the Member States, United Nations bodies and inter-governmental, regional and non-governmental organizations that have provider! and continue to provide assistance to the Palestinian people:

4. Stresses the importance of the work of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority and of the steps taken under the auspices of the Secretary-General to ensure the achievement of a coordinated mechanism for United Nations activities throughout the occupied territories;

5. Urges Member States, international financial institutions of the United Nations system, inter-governmental and nongovernmental organizations and regional and inter-regional organizations to extend, as rapidly and as generously as possible, economic and social assistance to the Palestinian people in close co-operation with the Palestine Liberation Organization and through official Palestinian institutions;

6. Calls upon relevant organizations and agencies of the United Nations system to intensify their assistance in response to the urgent needs of the Palestinian people in accordance with Palestinian priorities set forth by the Palestinian Authority, with emphasis on national execution and capacity-building;

7. Urges Member States to open their markets to exports of Palestinian products on the most favourable terms, consistent with appropriate trading rules, and to implement fully existing trade and cooperation agreements;

8. Calls upon the international donor community to expedite the delivery of pledged assistance to the Palestinian people to meet their urgent needs;

9. Suggests the convening in 2000 of a United Nations-sponsored seminar on the Palestinian economy:

10. Requests the Secretary-General to submit a report to the General Assembly at its fifty-fifth session, through the Economic and Social Council, on the implementation of the present resolution, containing:

(a) An assessment of the assistance actually received by the Palestinian people;

(b) An assessment of the needs still unmet and specific proposals for responding effectively to them;

11. Decides to include in the provisional agenda of its fifty-fifth session, under the item entitled "Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance", the sub-item entitled "Assistance to the Palestinian people".


UNRWA

In 1999, the revival of Middle East peace negotiations, amidst indications of a more vigorous pursuit of "final status" issues, which included the future of Palestinian refugees, affected the working environment of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Fifty years after its establishment by General Assembly resolution 302(IV) [YUN 1948-49, p. 21l], the Agency was still providing vital education, health and relief and social services to a growing refugee population, but was facing increasing difficulty in mobilizing the financial resources to keep services at adequate levels.

By mid-1999, 3.62 million refugees were registered with UNRWA, an increase of 2.9 per cent over the 1998 figure of 3.52 million. The largest refugee population was registered in Jordan (1.5 million, or 41.4 per cent of the Agency-wide total), followed by the Gaza Strip (798,000, or 21.8 per cent), the West Bank (569,000, or 15.7 per cent), Lebanon (370,000, or 10 per cent) and the Syrian Arab Republic (374,000, or 10 per cent).

In his annual report on the work of the Agency (1 July 1998-30 June 1999) [A/54/13], the UNRWA Commissioner-General said that the reporting period was a time of challenges and some setbacks, but also of many achievements for the Agency. As it prepared to mark 50 years of operations, UNRWA could reflect on its significant contribution to educating new generations, maintaining the health of the Palestine refugee community and providing badly needed basic relief and social services to some of the poorest people in the region. The delivery of effective and efficient services remained UNRWA's top priority; by that measure, the Agency was successful during the reporting period, even though its financial difficulties seemed to overshadow its achievements.

The Palestine refugee community and host authorities in all fields of operation continued to express concern about the perceived reduction in UNRWA services. The Agency's financial difficulties were seen by many as politically motivated, signalling a weakening in the international community's commitment to the refugee issue, and a dereliction by UNRWA of its humanitarian duties. Austerity and other cost-reduction measures were rigorously maintained. Even with such measures in place and additional ad hoc contributions from donors, the Agency ended 1998 with a deficit and depleted cash and working capital reserves.

Advisory Commission. By a letter of 30 September to the Commissioner-General, included in his report [A/54/13], the Advisory Commission of UNRWA viewed the Agency's continuing difficult financial situation as extremely grave, for although some donors' annual contributions increased in absolute terms, UNRWA's resources were still constrained. The Commission noted with approval the Agency's decision to adjust and clarify its 2000-2001 budget format, which would hopefully increase transparency and improve programme management, and commended its continued commitment to internal restructuring. It also welcomed the findings contained in the report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services [A/54/367] on allegations of corruption at UNRWA's field office in Lebanon, which found no evidence of endemic corruption.

Peace Implementation Programme

In its sixth year of operation, UNRWA's Peace Implementation Programme (PIP) remained the main channel for project funding of activities associated with the Agency's education, health and relief and social services programmes, as well as income-generation. Since its inception in October 1993 [YUN 1993, p. 569], PIP had demonstrated the tangible benefits of the peace process by improving Palestine refugees' living conditions, creating employment opportunities and developing infrastructure. The latter focused on the construction and expansion of UNRWA facilities to meet the increasing demand for its services (especially in education), maintaining or upgrading existing facilities to adequate standards, and improving housing and environmental health conditions in camps. Against a background of insufficient funding for the Agency's regular programmes, PIP funds enabled UNRWA to meet some of the most pressing needs and helped to prevent a qualitative deterioration in programmes.

During the period under review, UNRWA received $7.8 million in pledges and contributions for PIP projects, a decline of $2.1 million or some 21 per cent in comparison to the $9.9 million received in its previous period. As at 30 June 1999, total pledges and contributions received over the life of the programme totalled $221.3 million. The number of projects funded under PIP as at that date was 347.

Between mid-1998 and mid-1999, with PIP funding, UNRWA completed construction of 10 schools, 39 additional classrooms, four specialized rooms (e.g., laboratories, libraries), two health centres, one health laboratory, one mother and child centre, two women's programme centres and three libraries at those centres, and two community rehabilitation centres. PlP funds also enabled the Agency to rehabilitate 334 shelters of special hardship families. Completed projects to improve camp infrastructure and services included a sewerage and drainage system for a refugee camp in Gaza; rehabilitation of a water supply system in Lebanon; construction of a central pharmacy, 11 water reservoirs and five latrines in refugee camps in Jordan; and upgrading a camp sewerage system and a mobile dental unit in Syria. Ongoing projects, as at mid-1999, included a feasibility study for sewerage and drainage in five refugee camps; reinstatement of storm-water drainage, roads and pathways; construction of a public health laboratory in the West Bank; several components of the sewerage and drainage scheme for the middle area camps in Gaza; a major sewerage and drainage project for eight refugee camps in Lebanon; and the construction of a polyclinic in Beirut. Other PIP-funded activities included a slow learners' programme in Jordan and Lebanon; integration of visually impaired children into the regular school system; care for the destitute aged; provision of prosthetic devices; and nurse training in Lebanon. PlP also helped to sustain regular Agency programmes by funding the routine maintenance of a number of schools in Gaza and the West Bank, the running costs of two health centres in Gaza and the cost of university scholarships for refugee students. Cash expenditure under PIP was $32 million between mid-1998 and mid-1999, excluding expenditures on the European Gaza Hospital project.

Lebanon appeal

Of the $ 11 million sought in additional contributions under the special emergency appeal, launched in July 1997 to support essential health, education, relief and social services activities for Palestine refugees in Lebanon, the Agency received $8.8 million and had expended $6.3 million by mid-1999. Ongoing projects included the construction of shelters and a secondary school; reconstruction of a health centre and an elementary/preparatory school; and the construction and operation of computer laboratories.


Major service areas

Education

During the 1998/99 school year, the 650 UNRWA schools across the region accommodated 458,716 pupils, mostly in the elementary and preparatory cycles, but also included 1,367 students at the three Agency secondary schools in Lebanon. Total enrolment increased by 2.6 per cent, or 11,448 pupils, over the 1997/98 school year. However, growth in enrolment was unevenly distributed, with rapid growth in the Gaza Strip (6 per cent), moderate growth in the West Bank and Lebanon (3.9 and 4.3 per cent, respectively), low growth in the Syrian Arab Republic (1.3 per cent) and negative growth in Jordan (1.4 per cent). UNRWA's school system continued to maintain full gender balance, with 49.9 per cent of pupils being female. The education programme, which was run in cooperation with UNESCO, remained UNRWA's largest single area of activity, with the 13,915 education personnel representing more than two thirds of all Agency staff.

Financial constraints and steadily rising enrolment at UNRWA schools had obliged the Agency to continue hiring teachers on a contract basis at rates of pay lower than those of equivalent Agency posts, as well as on a daily-paid or temporary assistance basis in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The policy of operating schools on a double-shift basis (housing two schools in a single building) also continued.

The Agency's education infrastructure remained in need of major improvements. UNRWA sought to obtain funding for the improvement and expansion of its educational facilities and, between mid-1998 and mid-1999, it completed construction of four school buildings and 12 additional classrooms, upgraded five schools, and built seven toilet blocks, 12 water reservoirs and two canteens.

The eight UNRWA vocational and technical training centres had a total enrolment of 4,655 in the 1998/99 school year, an increase of 95 over the previous year. At the post-preparatory level, 22 two-year vocational training courses were offered to male trainees, and at the post-secondary level, 28 two-year technical/semi-professional courses were offered to male and female trainees in a variety of technical, paramedical and commercial skills. Women accounted for 30.5 per cent of all trainees and for 62.2 per cent of trainees in technical/semi-professional courses. In addition, at training centres in Jordan, Lebanon and the West Bank, 346 trainees were enrolled in 14 short-term courses, which included training in auto electrics, executive secretarial skills, building techniques, aluminium fabrication, numerical control systems in metal lathing, first aid, Hebrew and English language, computer software and technical drawing. The Agency also sponsored 25 Palestine refugee students in vocational training courses at private institutions in the West Bank, mainly with project funding.

The three branches of the Educational Sciences Faculty in Jordan and the West Bank continued to provide pre-service and in-service teacher training leading to a first university degree, as part of the process of upgrading the qualification of UNRWA teaching staff to meet revised standards set by the Government of Jordan and the PA. The Agency also provided in-service training to promote and improve the professional competence of its teachers, head-teachers and school supervisors, through the UNRWA/UNESCO Institute of Education. In 1998/99, the total number enrolled in such training was 1,119.

During the 1998/99 school year, UNRWA continued to contribute to a university scholarship programme through project funding. A total of 167 scholars graduated during the year, while the number of continuing scholars was 866, including 398 women.

Overall, the austerity measures in place since 1993 had restricted the education programme's ability to expand at a rate commensurate with growth in the beneficiary population. Financial constraints also curbed the Agency s efforts to keep up with education reforms introduced by the various host Governments, thereby widening the gap between their education systems and UNRWA's.

Health

UNRWA's health programme remained focused on comprehensive primary health care, including a full range of maternal and child health MCH) and family planning services, school health services, health education and promotion activities, outpatient medical services, prevention and control of communicable diseases and non-communicable diseases, and specialist care, with emphasis on gynaecology and obstetrics, paediatrics and cardiology. Those services were provided through a network of 122 primary health-care facilities, including 89 health centres, 23 health points offering a wide range of health-care services on a part-time basis, and 10 MCH centres offering comprehensive family health services, backed up by basic services such as X-ray and laboratory facilities. During the reporting period, Agency outpatient facilities handled 5.4 million medical and 500,000 dental visits, as well as 1.1 million visits for nursing services.

The proposed health programme budget for the 1998-1999 biennium was $126 million. Owing to funding constraints, allocations had to be reduced below the 1996-1997 budget level, making average health expenditure per refugee a little more than $13.50 per year, a fraction of what other health-care providers in the area spent. Approximately 63 per cent of cash allocations to the health programme were devoted to the costs of 3,500 locally recruited health staff, who implemented all core programme activities. Workloads in UNRWA primary health-care facilities remained high, with an average of 100 patients seen by each doctor per day. WHO provided UNRWA with the services of the Agency's Director of Health and covered the cost of the four local posts of headquarters division chiefs.

Family health continued to be emphasized as an integral part of the Agency's regular health programme. Progress towards the development of a comprehensive maternal health and family planning strategy was reinforced through additional contributions under a three-year convention between UNRWA and the EU, which helped to meet staff costs, upgrade medical equipment in MCH clinics and procure contraceptive supplies.

UNRWA's health programme also sought to prevent and control communicable diseases. Special efforts were made to control vaccine-preventable diseases; prevent vectorborne diseases and newly emerging diseases, such as HIV/AIDS; control re-emerging infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis; and prevent and control other diseases, such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, heart disease and cancer. As part of a WHO regional strategy, implemented in coordination with local health authorities and using poliomyelitis vaccines donated by UNICEF, the Agency immunized 214,115 refugee children under the age of five during two rounds of national immunization. UNRWA also joined with other health-care providers in the West Bank and Gaza in implementing the public health component of a brucellosis surveillance and control programme developed in 1997 by the PA, in cooperation with WHO and UNDP.

During the reporting period, UNRWA redefined its strategic approach to health education, integrating programmes within its health centres and within school educational activities. The youth-centred educational programme on the prevention of tobacco use resumed in 1998/99 and was expanded to include children in the sixth grade and above. With support from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, the multi-sectoral school health education programme on the prevention of HIV/AIDS was maintained for schoolchildren in grades 9 and 10, and its scope was broadened to include UNRWA vocational and technical training centres, educational sciences faculties and women's programme centres.

The Agency provided assistance towards secondary care for Palestine refugees by partially reimbursing costs incurred for treatment at governmental or non-governmental hospitals or through contractual agreements with non-governmental or private hospitals. Secondary care was also provided directly at the Agency-run hospital in the West Bank. With project funding received mainly under PIP, UNRWA continued to rehabilitate or replace health facilities, which helped to improve service standards and patient flow.

More than 1.1 million Palestine refugees in 59 camps benefited from environmental health services provided by UNRWA, in cooperation with local municipalities, including sewage disposal, management of storm water run-off, provision of safe drinking water, collection and disposal of refuse, and control of insect and rodent infestation. The Agency continued to play an active role, particularly in the Gaza Strip, in planning and implementing large-scale projects to install sewerage, drainage and water networks in refugee camps.

UNRWA cooperated with the PA in the health sector and provided assistance to enhance the health infrastructure, including the implementation of a three-year maternal health and family planning project in Gaza. A close dialogue was maintained among UNRWA, the PA and the European Community to reach a common understanding on the commissioning and future operation of the European Gaza Hospital. The Agency cooperated with the PA and donors on the construction of a public health laboratory in the West Bank; the upgrading of UNRWA's Qalqilia Hospital in the West Bank; and improvements to environmental health infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. It also maintained close cooperation with health ministries in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, including through the exchange of information, coordination of disease-control measures, and participation in national conferences and immunization campaigns.

Relief and social services

UNRWA assisted refugee families unable to meet basic needs for food, shelter and other essentials through food support, shelter rehabilitation, poverty alleviation initiatives (such as small loans for personal or business needs), higher hospitalization subsidies and preferential access to UNRWA training centres. The number of refugees in households meeting the stringent eligibility criteria—no male adult medically fit to earn an income and no other identifiable means of financial support above a defined threshold increased by 2.3 per cent, from 195,616 in June 1998 to 200,078 a year later. The proportion of special hardship cases within the total registered refugee population decreased slightly, from 5.6 per cent to 5.5 per cent. The percentage of refugees enrolled in the programme continued to be highest in Lebanon (10.6 per cent) and the Gaza Strip (8.4 percent) and lowest in Jordan (2.6 per cent). UNRWA's food support to 51,525 special hardship case families was a crucial safety net in areas subject to unexpected border closures or fluctuations in the price of commodities in local markets. However, the regular budget allocation for selective cash assistance, given to families who experienced distress as a result of emergency situations, remained frozen due to the Agency's continuing financial difficulties.

With extra-budgetary project funding, UNRWA rehabilitated 1,305 shelters of special hardship case families in 1998/99, compared with 505 in 1997/98. Shelter rehabilitation was carried out either on a self-help basis, with the Agency providing financial and technical assistance and beneficiary families arranging volunteer labour, or by small camp-based contractors, with the aim of creating employment within the local refugee community. Available resources for the pro gramme continued to fall short of identified needs, especially in Lebanon, where a large number of special hardship case families lived in sub-standard shelters, and many families lived outside camps in terrible conditions.

Under its poverty alleviation programme, UNRWA assisted disadvantaged refugees, including women, youth and the physically and mentally disabled, to improve their socio-economic status. Soft loans and fully repayable loans for the establishment of micro-enterprises continued, and the number of grants increased from 58 in 1997/98 to 87 in 1998/99. The Agency increased cooperation with third-party partners in providing training in basic business skills to several centres and to families and social workers. A total of 1,526 participants benefited from the poverty alleviation programme, which was separate from the self-sustaining income-generating activities undertaken by the Agency in recent years (see next page).

Participation in UNRWA's community-based social development programmes for women, youth and persons with disabilities increased by 14.3 per cent, from 38,417 at mid-1998 to 43,918 at mid-1999. The focal point for the programmes was the network of 131 Agency-supported community centres, comprising 70 women's programmes centres, 27 youth activities centres and 34 community rehabilitation centres. Activities at women's centres included projects and training to establish income-generating micro-enterprises; lectures and workshops on issues of concern to women and the community, such as family health; training courses to enhance women's social development; and provision of support services for women, such as kindergartens and legal advice bureaux. Youth activities centres continued to offer sports and recreational and cultural activities to young men and women, while community rehabilitation centres focused on the rehabilitation and integration into schools and society of refugees with disabilities, as well as increasing public awareness of disability issues.

UNRWA's strategy for community-based organizations (CBOs) was to shift assistance away from direct financial and staff support towards skills training with a view to facilitating institution-building and self-sustainability in accordance with the five-year plan (1995-1999). The plan aimed to enhance and eventually achieve full administrative and financial sustainability for CBOs. The Agency provided technical assistance to develop the administrative structures of the centres, and continued to provide partial subsidies towards running costs until financial independence could be achieved.

Income generation

UNRWA's income-generation programme supported small and micro-enterprises within the refugee community by providing technical assistance, as well as capital investment and working capital through field-based revolving loan funds. The programme's objective was to create employment, generate income, reduce poverty and empower refugees, in particular women, through socio-economic growth.

The Agency's income-generation activities were concentrated in the Gaza Strip. During the reporting period, the programme achieved operational self-sufficiency. With 42 per cent of refugee camp dwellers and 51 per cent of the population of southern Gaza living below the poverty line, the programme continued to target formal business enterprises that had the capacity to provide jobs, as well as informal enterprises that could generate income for poor families. Credit to those target groups was provided through flexible collateral and guarantee mechanisms, including business planed-based lending and individual, group and cheque-guarantee methods. Although no additional donor funds were received, the number of loans disbursed increased from 6,193, valued at $7.3 million, in 1997/98, to 7,014 loans, valued at $8.3 million, in 1998/99. The income-generation programme in Gaza was composed of four sub-programmes: small-scale enterprise, which provided working capital and capital investment loans to new and established businesses in the industry and service sectors to promote job creation, exports and import substitution; solidarity group lending, which provided working capital loans solely to women micro-enterprise owners; micro-enterprise credit (MEC), which targeted the 20,432 micro-enterprises in Gaza; and small and micro-enterprise training, which contributed to employment generation and socio-economic development.

In the West Bank, small-scale enterprise lending methodology was restructured and the management information and loan-tracking system was improved and integrated with that in Gaza. By the end of June 1999, the programme had provided 197 loans valued at $2.5 million. The MEC subprogramme in the West Bank expanded rapidly through its Nablus branch office by concentrating on developing its credit delivery capacity. The programme was in the initial phase of opening two credit outreach units in the northern West Bank, where up to 28 per cent of the population lived below the poverty line. As at June 1999, MEC had provided 1,410 loans valued at $1.4 million and maintained an annual repayment rate of 96 per cent.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 6 December [meeting 71). the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Fourth Committee [A/54/57.3], adopted resolution 54/69 by recorded vote (155-1-2) [agenda item 88].

Assistance to Palestine refugees

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolution 53/46 of 3 December 1998 and all its previous resolutions on the question, including resolution 194(111) of 11 December 1948,

Taking note of the report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East covering the period from 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999,

Welcoming the signature in Washington, D.C., on 13 September 1993 by the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the people of Palestine, of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements and the subsequent implementation agreements, and also the signature of the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in Washington, D.C., on 28 September 1995,

Welcoming also the signing of the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum on 4 September 1999,

Encouraging the Multilateral Working Group on Refugees of the Middle East peace process to continue its important work,

1. Notes with regret that repatriation or compensation of the refugees, as provided for in paragraph 11 of its resolution 194(111), has not yet been effected and that, therefore, the situation of the refugees continues to be a matter of concern;

2. Also notes with regret that the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine has been unable to find a means of achieving progress in the implementation of paragraph 11 of General Assembly resolution 194(111), and requests the Commission to exert continued efforts towards the implementation of that paragraph and to report to the Assembly as appropriate, but no later than 1 September 2000;

3. Expresses its thanks to the Commissioner-General and to all the staff of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, recognizing that the Agency is doing all it can within the limits of available resources, and also expresses its thanks to the specialized agencies and to private organizations for their valuable work in assisting refugees;

4. Notes the significant success of the Peace Implementation Programme of the Agency since the signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, and stresses the importance that contributions to this Programme not be at the expense of the General Fund;

5. Welcomes the increased cooperation between the Agency and international and regional organizations, States and relevant agencies and non-governmental organizations, which is essential to enhancing the contributions of the Agency towards improved conditions for the refugees and thereby the social stability of the occupied territory;

6. Urges all Member States to extend and expedite aid and assistance with a view to the economic and social development of the Palestinian people and the occupied territory;

7. Reiterates its deep concern regarding the persisting critical financial situation of the Agency, as outlined in the report of the Commissioner-General;

8. Commends the efforts of the Commissioner-General to move towards budgetary transparency and internal efficiency, and welcomes in this respect the new, unified budget structure for the biennium 2000-2001, which can contribute significantly to improved budgetary transparency of the Agency;

9. Welcomes the consultative process between the Agency, host Governments, the Palestinian Authority and donors on management reforms;

10. Notes with profound concern that the continuing shortfall in the finances of the Agency has a significant negative influence on the living conditions of the Palestine refugees most in need and that it therefore has possible consequences for the peace process;

11. Calls upon all donors, as a matter of urgency, to make the most generous efforts possible to meet the anticipated needs of the Agency, including the remaining costs of moving the headquarters to Gaza, encourages contributing Governments to contribute regularly and to consider increasing their contributions, and urges non-contributing Governments to contribute.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 54/69:

In favour: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore. Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland. Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel.

Abstaining: Micronesia, United States.

The Assembly, on the same date [meeting 71 ] and also on the Fourth Committee's recommendation I A/54/575], adopted resolution 54/73 by recorded vote (154-2-1) [agenda item 88].

Operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
Recalling its resolutions 194(111) of 11 December 1948, 212(111) of 19 November 1948, 302(1 V) of 8 December 1949 and all subsequent related resolutions,

Recalling also the relevant Security Council resolutions,

Having considered the report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East covering the period from 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999,

Taking note of the letter dated 30 September 1999 from the Chairperson of the Advisory Commission of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East addressed to the Commissioner-General, contained in the report of the Commissioner-General,

Having considered the reports of the Secretary-General submitted in pursuance of its resolutions 48/40 E, 48/40 H and 48/40 J of 10 December 1993 and 49/35 C of 9 December 1994,

Recalling Articles 100, 104 and 105 of the Charter of the United Nations and the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations,

Affirming the applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem,

Aware of the fact that Palestine refugees have, for over five decades, lost their homes, lands and means of livelihood,

Also aware of the continuing needs of Palestine refugees throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory and in the other fields of operation, namely, in Lebanon, Jordan and the Syrian Arab Republic,

Further aware of the valuable work done by the refugee affairs officers of the Agency in providing protection to the Palestinian people, in particular Palestine refugees,

Deeply concerned about the continuing critical financial situation of the Agency and its effect on the continuity of provision of necessary Agency services to the Palestine refugees, including the emergency-related programmes,

Aware of the work of the new Peace Implementation Programme of the Agency,

Recalling the signing in Washington, B.C., on 13 September 1993 of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements by the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the subsequent implementation agreements, including the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip signed in Washington, D.C., on 28 September 1995, as well as the signing of the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum on 4 September 1999,

Taking note of the agreement reached on 24 June 1994, embodied in an exchange of letters between the Agency and the Palestine Liberation Organization,

Aware of the establishment of a working relationship between the Advisory Commission of the Agency and the Palestine Liberation Organization in accordance with General Assembly decision 48/417 of 10 December 1993,

1. Expresses its appreciation to the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, as well as to all the staff of the Agency, for their tireless efforts and valuable work;

2. Also expresses its appreciation to the Advisory Commission of the Agency, and requests it to continue its efforts and to keep the General Assembly informed of its ariivines, in eluding the full implementation of decision 48/417;

3. Welcomes the completion of the transfer of the headquarters of the Agency to Gaza and the signing of the Headquarters Agreement between the Agency and the Palestinian Authority;

4. Acknowledges the support of the host Governments and the Palestine Liberation Organization for the Agency in the discharge of its duties:

5. Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to accept the de jure applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, and to abide scrupulously by its provisions;

6. Also calls upon Israel to abide by Articles 100, 104 and 105 of the Charter of the United Nations and the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations with regard to the safety of the personnel of the Agency, the protection of its institutions and the safeguarding of the security of the facilities of the Agency in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem;

7. Calls once again upon the Government of Israel to compensate the Agency for damages to its property and facilities resulting from actions by the Israeli side;

8. Requests the Commissioner-General to proceed with the issuance of identification cards for Palestine refugees and their descendants in the Occupied Palestinian Territory;

9. Notes that the new context created by the signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements by the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization and subsequent implementation agreements has had major consequences for the activities of the Agency, which is henceforth called upon, in close cooperation with the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, the specialized agencies and the World Bank, to continue to contribute towards the development of economic and social stability in the occupied territory;

10. Notes also that the functioning of the Agency remains essential in all fields of operation;

11. Notes further the significant success of the Peace Implementation Programme of the Agency;

12. Expresses concern about the remaining austerity measures due to the financial crisis, which have affected the quality and level of some of the services of the Agency;

13. Reiterates its request to the Commissioner-General to consider the possibility of modernizing the archives of the Agency;

14. Urges all States, specialized agencies and non-governmental organizations to continue and to increase their contributions to the Agency so as to ease current financial constraints and to support the Agency in maintaining the provision of the most basic and effective assistance to the Palestine refugees.


RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 54/73:


In favour: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium. Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde. Chad, Chile, China. Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, jabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar. Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama. Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles. Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstaining: Micronesia.

UNRWA financing

In 1999, UNRWA continued to face a critical financial situation characterized by large funding shortfalls in the regular budget, depleted working capital and cash reserves, and cumulative deficits in certain project accounts. The structural deficit—representing the inability of income to keep pace with needs arising from natural growth in the refugee population and inflation, which increased the cost of maintaining a constant level of services—remained a problem. However, through a combination of ad hoc additional donor contributions and prudent financial management, including the retention of austerity and cost-reduction measures, UNRWA, by mid-1999, was making some progress in reducing the deficit.

UNRWA began 1999 with depleted working capital, low cash reserves and no expectation of a significant increase in overall income. Since expected cash income for 1999 fell far short of the $322.1 million regular budget for the year, the Agency was obliged to carry forward austerity measures previously implemented, including those announced in 1997 [YUN 1997, p. 453]. Expected cash expenditure was also reduced slightly by other factors, such as managed higher vacancy rates and delayed recruitment of all posts in the context of the general recruitment freeze; realization of benefits from previous and ongoing restructuring measures; and non-utilization of certain budget lines as a result of stricter financial controls. At mid-1999, those measures reduced expected 1999 cash expenditure below the $322.1 million level of the budget, which was then estimated at $251.5 million as compared to expected income of $251.8 million. However, the Agency's cash position remained weak and additional contributions were sought to overcome the difficult cash situation.

In an addendum to his report [A/54/13/Add.I], the Commissioner-General said that even if the core deficit were covered, the Agency would record an overall budget deficit of $67.1 million for 1999. The weak cash position underlined the need to restore the Agency's depleted working capital, eliminate cumulative deficits in certain extra-budgetary accounts ($11.6 million in the European Gaza Hospital account and $5.2 million in the headquarters relocation account) and secure payment of some $20 million owed by the PA. The addendum also contained the 2000-2001 budget estimates totalling $735.7 million, an increase of 6 per cent over the 1998-1999 budget of $695.7 million.

Working Group. The Working Group on the Financing of UNRWA held two meetings in 1999, on 10 September and 13 October. In its report to the General Assembly [A/54/477], the Working Group noted that UNRWA had ended the 1998 financial year with a core deficit of $1.9 million in its regular budget, representing the difference between actual expenditure of $254 million and the income of $252.1 million. However, the difference between cash income and the cash budget of $314 million for the year meant that the Agency had recorded a budget deficit of $61.9 million. The deficit in the cash budget was covered out of working capital, reducing it to a level of negative $4.8 million by the end of 1998.

The Agency's major donors had responded repeatedly and generously in recent years to special appeals from the Secretary-General and the Commissioner-General for special funding of UNRWA's General Fund budget, as well as of project funds. After consultations with donors in September 1998, April 1999 and September 1999, additional contributions were pledged to help the Agency with its cash-flow problem.

The Working Group noted that in 1999 UNRWA had adopted a more transparent budgeting methodology for the 2000-2001 biennium. By adopting a programme-based approach, UNRWA hoped to achieve full funding of its 2000-2001 budget and to move beyond the budget crisis of recent years. New policies were also adopted in 1999 for the engagement of area staff, beginning with teachers recruited for the 1999/2000 school year. Under those new policies, staff previously working on temporary contracts were being offered fixed-term contracts with an improved package of entitlements.

The Working Group expressed deep concern about UNRWA's financial prospects and emphasized that it was the responsibility of the international community to ensure the maintenance of UNRWA services at acceptable quantity and quality levels, as defined by the needs of the refugee community, and to ensure that service levels kept pace with the natural growth of the refugee population It also expressed alarm at the continuing negative effect of seven years of austerity measures on the Agency's humanitarian operations, especially in the education and health-care sectors.

The Working Group appreciated that UNRWA had made significant progress towards eliminating the structural deficit problem through the use of contract teachers, reductions in international staffing and other reforms. It called for the early and complete fulfilment of pledges and other commitments to the Agency, in particular reimbursement of value-added tax and other charges paid to the PA, and of funds advanced by the Agency from its regular budget for the completion of the European Gaza Hospital and its headquarters relocation.

The Working Group noted the introduction of regularized conditions of employment for staff working on temporary contracts and the adoption of new staff policies that would facilitate the employment of fixed-term staff. Over the long run, that would make a significant contribution to reducing costs, particularly in its education programme. However, the Working Group appreciated that that action was not a long-term solution to securing funding of the Agency's regular activities on a sustainable basis. It was concerned that freezes on regular budget allocations for university scholarships, rehabilitation of shelters and selective cash assistance had not only reduced the Agency's activities in those areas, but made them dependent on extra-budgetary contributions. The Group feared that additional austerity cuts could cause severe social and economic hardships to an already suffering refugee population and put an increased burden on the authorities hosting the refugees.

The Working Group urged Governments, among other things, to consider making special contributions to cover the deficit and build up the working capital, so that UNRWA services could continue uninterrupted and the Agency could restore services cut as a result of the austerity measures, and to ensure that donor support of emergency-related and special programmes or capital projects did not in any way decrease or divert contributions to the Agency's regular programmes.

Pledging Conference. At a 1999 meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly for the Announcement of Voluntary Contributions to UNRWA (New York, 8 December), 20 countries pledged $172 million for the Agency's 2000 programmes, about 61 per cent of what UNRWA needed to maintain its regular services. The largest pledges were made by the United States ($80 million), the European Community ($40 million), Sweden ($18.8 million), Norway ($12.5 million), the Netherlands ($5 million), Switzerland ($4 million) and Germany ($4.5 million).

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 6 December [meeting 71], the General Assembly, on the Fourth Committee's recommendation [A/54/575], adopted resolution 54/70 without vote [agenda item 88].

Working Group on the Financing of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolutions 2656(XXV) of 7 December 1970, 2728(XXV) of 15 December 1970, 2791 (XXVI) of 6 December 1971, 53/47 of 3 December 1998 and the previous resolutions on this question,

Recalling also its decision 36/462 of 16 March 1982, by which it took note of the special report of the Working Group on the Financing of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East,

Having considered the report of the Working Group,

Taking into account the report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East covering the period from 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999,

Deeply concerned about the continuing critical financial situation of the Agency, which has affected and affects the continuation of the provision of necessary Agency services to Palestine refugees, including the emergency-related programmes,

Emphasizing the continuing need for extraordinary efforts in order to maintain, at least at the current minimum level, the activities of the Agency, as well as to enable the Agency to carry out essential construction,

1. Commends the Working Group on the Financing of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East for its efforts to assist in ensuring the financial security of the Agency;

2. Takes note with approval of the report of the Working Group;

3. Requests the Working Group to continue its efforts, in cooperation with the Secretary-General and the Commissioner-General, to find a solution to the financial situation of the Agency;

4. Welcomes the new, unified budget structure for the biennium 2000-2001, which can contribute significantly to improved budgetary transparency of the Agency;

5. Requests the Secretary-General to provide the necessary services and assistance to the Working Group for the conduct of its work.

Displaced persons

In a September report [A/54/377] on compliance with General Assembly resolution 53/48 [YUN 1998, p. 468], which called for the accelerated return of all persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities to their homes or former places of residence in the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, the Secretary-General said that since UNRWA was not involved in arrangements for the return of either refugees or displace persons not registered with it, the Agency's information was based on requests by returning registered refugees for the transfer of their entitlements to their areas of return. Displaced refugees known by UNRWA to have returned to the West Bank and Gaza Strip since June 1967 numbered 18,380. Records indicated that, between 1 July 1998 and 30 June 1999, 1,022 refugees had returned to the West Bank and 257 to Gaza. Some of the refugees might not have been displaced in 1967, but might be family members of a displaced registered refugee whom they either had accompanied on return or had joined later.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 6 December [meeting 71], the General Assembly, on the Fourth Committee's recommendation [A/54/575], adopted resolution 54/71 by recorded vote (154-2-2) [agenda item 88].

Persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolutions 2252(ES-V) of 4 July 1967 and 2341 B (XXII) of 19 December 1967 and all subsequent related resolutions,

Recalling also Security Council resolutions 237(1967) of 14 June 1967 and 259(1968) of 27 September 1968,

Taking note of the report of the Secretary-General submitted in pursuance of its resolution 53/48 of 3 December 1998,

Taking note also of the report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East covering the period from 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999,

Concerned about the continuing human suffering resulting-from the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities,

Taking note of the relevant provisions of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, signed in Washington, D.C., on 13 September 1993 by the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, with regard to the modalities for the admission of persons displaced in 1967, and concerned that the process agreed upon has not yet been effected,

1. Reaffirms the right of all persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities to return to their homes or former places of residence in the territories occupied by Israel since 1967;

2. Expresses the hope for an accelerated return of displaced persons through the mechanism agreed upon by the parties in article XII of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements;

3. Endorses, in the meanwhile, the efforts of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East to continue to provide humanitarian assistance, as far as practicable, on an emergency basis, and as a temporary measure, to persons in the area who are currently displaced and in serious need of continued assistance as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities;

4. Strongly appeals to all Governments and to organizations and individuals to contribute generously to the Agency and to the other inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations concerned for the above-mentioned purposes;

5. Requests the Secretary-General, after consulting with the Commissioner-General, to report to the General Assembly before its fifty-fifth session on the progress made with regard to the implementation of the present resolution.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 54/71:

In favour: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia. Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden. Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstaining: Marshall Islands, Micronesia.

Education, training and scholarships

In a September report [A/54/376], the Secretary-General transmitted responses received to the General Assembly's 1998 appeal in resolution 53/49 [YUN 1998, p. 469] for States, specialized agencies and NGOs to augment special allocations for scholarships and grants to Palestine refugees, for which UNRWA acted as recipient and trustee.

In the 1999 fiscal year, Japan awarded nine fellowships to Palestine refugees, of which five were for vocational training for staff employed by UNRWA, one was in vocational training administration and three were in community health. All the fellowships were for training in Japan. Under Japanese grants of $400,000 made annually between 1992 and 1994, $500,000 in 1995 and $600,000 in both 1996 and 1997, 437 students were participating in the UNRWA university scholarship programme during 1998/99. Contributions from Switzerland in 1997 totalling $338,000 enabled 19 scholars to continue pursuing then-university studies in the 1998/99 academic year. Out of the 315 students who benefited from par! of the 1997 Swiss contribution for one year only, 1 '7 scholars graduated in 1998, seven failed and 87 were granted scholarships in 1998/99 from savings of previous Swiss contributions. UNESCO granted 13 scholarships to Palestinian students in 1998/99, while WHO provided 62 fellowships or study tours for candidates nominated by the PA.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 6 December (meeting 71], the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Fourth Committee [A/54/575], adopted resolution 54/72 by recorded vote (158-0-1) [agenda item 88].

Offers by Member States of grants and scholarships for higher education, including vocational training, for Palestine refugees

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolution 212(111) of 19 November 1948 on assistance to Palestine refugees,

Recalling also its resolutions 35/13 B of 3 November 1980, 36/146 H of 16 December 1981, 37/120 D of 16 December 1982, 38/83 D of 15 December 1983, 39/99 D of 14 December 1984, 40/165 D of 16 December 1985, 41/69 D of 3 December 1986, 42/69 D of 2 December 1987, 43/57 D of 6 December 1988, 44/47 D of 8 December 1989, 45/73 D of 11 December 1990, 46/46 D of 9 December 1991, 47/69 D of 14 December 1992,48/40 D of 10 December 1993,49/35 D of 9 December 1994, 50/28 D of 6 December 1995, 51 /127 of 13 December 1996, 52/60 of 10 December 1997 and 53/49 of 3 December 1998,

Cognizant of the fact that the Palestine refugees have, for the last five decades, lost their homes, lands and means of livelihood,

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General,

Having also considered the report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East covering the period from 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999,

1. Urges all States to respond to the appeal in its resolution 32/90 F of 13 December 1977 and reiterated in subsequent relevant resolutions in a manner commensurate with the needs of Palestine refugees for higher education, including vocational training;

2. Strongly appeals to all States, specialized agencies and non-governmental organizations to augment the special allocations for grants and scholarships to Palestine refugees, in addition to their contributions to the regular budget of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East;

3. Expresses its appreciation to all Governments, specialized agencies and non-governmental organizations that responded favourably to its resolutions on this question;

4. Invites the relevant specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system to continue, within their respective spheres of competence, to extend assistance for higher education to Palestine refugee students;

5. Appeals to all States, specialized agencies and the United Nations University to contribute generously to the Palestinian universities in the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967, including, in due course, the proposed University of Jerusalem "Al-Quds" for Palestine refugees;

6. Appeals to all States, specialized agencies and other international bodies to contribute towards the establishment of vocational training centres for Palestine refugees;

7. Requests the Agency to act as the recipient and trustee for the special allocations for grants and scholarships and to award them to qualified Palestine refugee candidates;

8. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-fifth session on the implementation of the present resolution.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 54/72:


In favour: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia. Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia. Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: None.

Abstaining: Israel.

Proposed University of Jerusalem "AI-Quds"

In response to General Assembly resolution 53/52 [YUN 1998, p. 470], the Secretary-General submitted a September report on the proposal to establish a university for Palestine refugees in Jerusalem [A/54/385]. First mentioned by the Assembly in resolution 35/13 B [YUN 1980, p. 443], the issue had been the subject of annual reports by the Secretary-General.

To assist in the preparation of a feasibility study and at the Secretary-General's request, the Rector of the United Nations University again asked expert Mihaly Simai to visit the area and meet with Israeli officials. In response to the Secretary-General's note verbale of 28 July, requesting Israel to facilitate the visit, Israel, in a 26 August reply, stated that it had consistently voted against the resolution on the proposed university and that its position remained unchanged. It charged that the resolution's sponsors sought to exploit higher education for political purposes extraneous to genuine academic pursuits. Accordingly, Israel was of the opinion that the proposed visit would serve no useful purpose. The Secretary-Genera! reported that it had not been possible to complete the study as plan tied.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 6 December [meeting 71], the General Assembly, acting on the Fourth Committee's recommendation [A/54/575], adopted resolution 54/75 by recorded vote (155-2-1) [agenda item 88].

University of Jerusalem "Al-Quds" for Palestine refugees

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolutions 36/146 G of 16 December 1981, 37/120 C of 16 December 1982,38/83 K of 15 December 1983, 39/99 K of 14 December 1984,40/165 D and K of 16 December 1985, 41/69 K of 3 December 1986,42/69 K of 2 December 1987,43/57 J of 6 December 1988,44/47 J of 8 December 1989,45/73 J of 11 December 1990, 46/46 J of 9 December 1991, 47/69 J of 14 December 1992, 48/40 I of 10 December 1993, 49/35 G of 9 December 1994, 50/28 G of 6 December 1995, 51/130 of 13 December 1996, 52/63 of 10 December 1997 and 53/52 of 3 December 1998,

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General,

Having also considered the report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East covering the period from 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999,

1. Emphasizes the need for strengthening the educational system in the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 5 June 1967, including Jerusalem, and specifically the need for the establishment of the proposed university;

2. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to take all necessary measures for establishing the University of Jerusalem "Al-Quds", in accordance with General Assembly resolution 35/13 B of 3 November 1980, giving due consideration to the recommendations consistent with the provisions of that resolution;

3. Calls once more upon Israel, the occupying Power, to cooperate in the implementation of the present resolution and to remove the hindrances that it has put in the way of establishing the University of Jerusalem "Al-Quds";

4. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-fifth session on the progress made in the implementation of the present resolution.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 54/75:

In favour:. Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica. Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India. Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstaining: Micronesia.

Property rights

In response to General Assembly resolution 53/51 [YUN 1998, p. 471], the Secretary-General submitted a September report [A/54/345] on steps taken to protect and administer Arab property, assets and property rights in Israel and to establish a fund for income derived therefrom, on behalf of the rightful owners. He indicated that he had transmitted the resolution to Israel and all other Member States, requesting information on any steps taken or envisaged with regard to its implementation.

In a 23 August reply, reproduced in the report, Israel stated that its position on the resolutions on Palestine refugees had been set forth in successive annual replies, the latest of which had been included in the Secretary-General's 1998 report on the subject [YUN 1998, p. 471]. Israel regretted that the resolutions regarding UNRWA remained rife with political issues irrelevant to the Agency's work and detached from the reality in the area. While Israel believed that UNRWA could play an important role in promoting the social and economic advancement foreseen in agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, it called on the Assembly to consolidate the resolutions on UNRWA into one directly related to the Agency's humanitarian tasks.

Report of Conciliation Commission. The United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, in its fifty-third report covering the period from 1 September 1998 to 31 August 1999 [A/54/338], noted that, pursuant to Assembly resolution 51/129 [YUN 1996, p. 423], the project to preserve and modernize its records was nearing completion.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 6 December [meeting 71), the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Fourth Committee [A/54/575], adopted resolution 54/74 by recorded vote (154-2-2) [agenda item 88].

Palestine refugees' properties and their revenues

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolutions 194(111) of 11 December 1948, 36/146 C of 16 December 1981 and all its subsequent resolutions on the question,

Taking note of the report of the Secretary-General in pursuance of resolution 53/51 of 3 December 1998,

Taking note also of the report of the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine for the period from 1 September 1998 to 31 August 1999,

Recalling that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the principles of international law uphold the principle that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or her property,

Recalling in particular its resolution 394(V) of 14 December 1950, in which it directed the Conciliation Commission, in consultation with the parties concerned, to prescribe measures for the protection of the rights, property and interests of the Palestine Arab refugees,

Taking note of the completion of the programme of identification and evaluation of Arab property, as announced by the Conciliation Commission in its twenty-second progress report, and of the fact that the Land Office had a schedule of Arab owners and file of documents defining the location, area and other particulars of Arab property,

Recalling that, in the framework of the Middle East peace process, the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Government of Israel agreed, in the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Covernment Arrangements of 13 September 1993, to commence negotiations on permanent status issues, including the important issue of the refugees,

1. Reaffirms that the Palestine Arab refugees are entitled to their property and to the income derived therefrom, in conformity with the principles of justice and equity;

2. Requests the Secretary-General to take all appropriate steps, in consultation with the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, for the protection of Arab property, assets and property rights in Israel, expresses its appreciation for the work done to preserve and modernize the existing records of the Commission, and requests the Secretary-General to complete this task;

3. Calls once more upon Israel to render all facilities and assistance to the Secretary-General in the implementation of the present resolution;

4. Calls upon all the parties concerned to provide the Secretary-General with any pertinent information in their possession concerning Arab property, assets and property rights in Israel that would assist him in the implementation of the present resolution;

5. Urges the Palestinian and Israeli sides, as agreed between them, to deal with the important issue of Palestine refugees' properties and their revenues in the framework of the final status negotiations of the Middle East peace process;

6. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-fifth session on the implementation of the present resolution.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 54/74:

In favour: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahinya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanrnar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway,Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia. Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstaining: Marshall Islands, Micronesia.

Peacekeeping operations

Lebanon

Though the situation in southern Lebanon remained volatile and dangerous in 1999, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Jezzin and the return of that town to the jurisdiction of the Lebanese Government was a positive development that could lead to the complete withdrawal of Israel from the occupied Lebanese zone, and thus remove a major obstacle to regional peace.

On 4 January [A/53/777-S/1999/6], Lebanon informed the Secretary-General that on 3 January Israeli military aircraft carried out an attack near the village of Nahle, wounding seven civilians. Lebanon condemned that open assault on its sovereignty and urged the international community to take the necessary steps to halt Israeli military attacks and end the intimidation of its inhabitants. On 8 January [A/53/785-S/1999/23], Lebanon also reported that, the previous day, Israeli forces destroyed at least 14 homes in the township of Arnun and carried out a large-scale raid on the village of Shab'a, expelling 25 residents.

Responding on 26 January [A/53/809-S/1999/69], Israel said that Lebanon continued to be directly responsible for the volatile security situation along the Israeli-Lebanese border through its support for Hezbollah, an international terrorist organization, and its use of Lebanese territory for an elaborate military infrastructure. Lebanon had let itself become a launching pad for acts of aggression and terrorism against Israel and, in addition to Hezbollah, a number of Lebanese and Palestinian terrorist organizations had been given free rein to attack Israel from Lebanon. Israel reiterated its willingness to implement Security Council resolution 425(1978) [YUN 1978, p. 312] and called on the Lebanese Government to cooperate with Israel to restore peace along their common border.

On 11 February [A/53/825-S/1999/146], Lebanon transmitted to the Secretary-General a letter from the Follow-up Committee for the support of Lebanese detainees in Israeli prisons addressed to the Lebanese Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs. The letter recalled the decision of the Israeli Supreme Court granting the Israeli authorities permission to hold Lebanese detainees in Israeli prisons and detention camps without trial and to keep them as hostages.

Rejecting those statements, Israel, on 12 February [A/828-S/1999/150], reaffirmed that Lebanon had a clear duty under international law and the UN Charter not to allow its territory to be a base for attacks on Israel, to disarm all terrorist groups and to cease all aid and encouragement to them. As a result of Lebanon's failure to do so, Israel was compelled to take defensive measures against those terrorist activities, which were not only supported by Lebanon but directly aided, financially and otherwise, by the Syrian Arab Republic and Iran.

Responding on 24 March [A/53/876-S/1999/326] to the Israeli accusation, the Syrian Arab Republic said that it condemned terrorism as criminal and called for genuine cooperation among all States to prevent, combat and eliminate its causes. It had also called for the preparation of internationally agreed standards that clearly distinguished between terrorism, which had to be condemned and countered, and legitimate national struggles against foreign occupation, which had to be supported. Syria stated that the UN Charter enshrined the right of peoples to self-determination, freedom and independence and to liberate their territory from foreign occupation. On the other hand, Israeli State terrorism, as practiced against the Lebanese people, the people of Palestine and Syrian citizens of the occupied Syrian Golan, had to be condemned. According to Syria, Israel had never ceased to carry out acts of terrorism in order to achieve its goal of extending its hegemony and intimidating the Arab people.

On 18 February [A/53/834-S/1999/172 & Corr 1], Lebanon said that Israel had expanded the area it occupied in southern Lebanon by incorporating the village of Arnun into its security zone. On 22 February [A/53/840-S/1999/185], Israel said Lebanon had deliberately misrepresented the facts on the ground, since Arnun had long been part of the security zone, which Israel had been compelled to maintain in response to the terrorist attacks emanating from Lebanese territory. Since the village was being exploited by Hezbollah as a forward staging area for terrorist attacks, Israeli forces had placed barbed wire on the out-skirts of Arnun as an additional measure of self-defence. On 8 April [A/53/904-S/1999/399], Lebanon informed the Secretary-General that, on 6 April, Israeli occupation forces ejected 18 residents of Shab'a from the occupied zone, bringing the number of residents expelled from Shab'a since the beginning of the year to 70. On 15 April [A/53/909-S/1999/430], Lebanon said that Israeli armed forces, in a new attempt to include Arnun in the occupied southern zone, had entered and separated the village from the liberated area, arrested some residents and prevented inhabitants from entering it.

On 24 March [A/53/878-S/1999/333], Lebanon said that Israel's letters ignored the prime fact in southern Lebanon that had been the cause of the violence and abuse directed against Lebanese residents, namely the 21 years of Israeli occupation in violation of the UN Charter. Israel's leaders had repeatedly issued statements linking acceptance of resolution 425(1978) with measures and conditions that were alien to its letter and spirit and that, once admitted, would alter its legal and political character. The Lebanese resistance targeted only the Israeli occupation inside Lebanese territory and responded to Israel's targeting of Lebanese civilians in its assaults.

By a 19 April letter [A/54/82-S/1999/463], Israel said that Syria and Lebanon were engaging in an insidious form of complicity to terrorism in their letters and in their policies on the ground by trying to disguise terrorism as national resistance. In particular, the Lebanese claim that Hezbollah targeted only the Israeli forces that operated in Lebanon was false. The declared willingness of the Syrian and Lebanese Governments to host an elaborate terrorist infrastructure, permit its regular reinforcement and endorse its operations directed against a neighbouring country was incompatible with the provisions of resolution 425(1978). Israel added that the possibility of peace and security along its border with Lebanon was being sabotaged by Syria, which in effect was holding the implementation of that resolution hostage to its own bid for territorial gains with Israel.

On 24 June [A/53/1010-S/1999/714], Lebanon informed the Secretary-General that Israeli aircraft had launched that clay a series of attacks against the area of Al-Joumhour on the Beirut heights and had bombed the local power station. At the same time, Israeli aircraft had launched a number of bombing attacks against an area south of Beirut and one in the northern Bekaa. Those attacks were part of a new series of Israeli incursions, which had left five people dead and 13 wounded and had caused destruction of civilian property. The next day [A/53/1011-S/1999/717], Lebanon said that Israeli aircraft had bombed an electric power station at Arb Salim, as well as several bridges connecting the southern region to Beirut and certain bridges linking the southern areas. Reports indicated that 13 people had been killed and about 84 civilians had been injured.

On 26 June IS/1999/734], the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States condemned those repeated Israeli assaults on Lebanon. He said that the League regarded Israel's practices as an escalation of tension and an indication that reflected negatively on efforts being made to revive the peace process. It requested that all necessary measures be taken to halt Israel's acts of aggression.

Explaining its version of the incidents, Israel, on 30 June [s/1999/740], said that Lebanon had presented only a selective and one-sided account of events, which disregarded the acts of terror that had precipitated Israel's response. Such acts were conducted by the Hezbollah group from within Lebanese territory against Israeli civilians and territory, with the support and active encouragement of the Lebanese Government. In an attempt to exercise maximum restraint, Israel had appealed to the monitoring group established by the 26 April 1996 understanding [YUN 1996, p. 428], with the hope that Lebanon and Hezbollah would honour commitments established by the understanding and refrain from further attacks. It was only after a 24 May Hezbollah attack on civilian areas in northern Israel, which caused the death of two civilians and injured several others, that Israel opted to respond.

On 9 July [A/53/1016-S/1999/771], Lebanon transmitted to the Secretary-General a letter by the Follow-up Committee for the support of Lebanese detainees in Israeli prisons on the occasion of Lebanese Detainee Day, commemorated on 14 July. The Committee called on the international community to intensify its efforts for the release of those Lebanese held in Khiam and other Israeli prisons. By a 15 July letter [A/53/1021] to the Secretary-General. Lebanon said that on the eve of Lebanese Detainee Day, Lebanese prisoners held at the Khiam prison declared a hunger strike to protest against their continued detention. According to the Committee for the Defence of Lebanese Detainees in Israeli Prisons, 130 Lebanese were being detained in Khiam, which was administered by the South Lebanon Army in collaboration with Israeli authorities, while 21 Lebanese were held in prisons inside Israel. Later, on 2 August [A/53/1031-S/1999/839], Lebanon informed the Secretary-general that Israeli military forces had been holding the people and village of Ayta under siege since 15 July. A number of villagers had been detained and taken to the Khiam detention centre. Lebanon called for an end to the siege there and other besieged villages and for the release of all those Lebanese citizens who were being held hostage.

On 9 August 1 A/53/1034-S/1999/861], Saudi Arabia affirmed that Israel was holding 170 Lebanese detainees in its prisons, 128 of them in the Khiam prison centre and 42 in prisons inside Israel, as well as 10 Palestinian residents of Lebanon. Saudi Arabia called on the international community to send an international commission of inquiry to the Khiam prison centre and to secure the immediate release of the sick, the young and the elderly. Responding on 22 August [A/53/1041-S/1999/906], Israel said that the detainees referred to by Lebanon and Saudi Arabia were all active members of terrorist organizations, such as Hezbollah. The detainees in Israel were not being held arbitrarily, but pursuant to Israeli law applicable to all detainees. With regard to the Khiam detention facility, it was common knowledge that the South Lebanon Army exercised independent authority and responsibility over the functioning of that centre and Israeli personnel were neither stationed there nor involved in its maintenance. Nonetheless, Israel had encouraged the establishment and enhancement of adequate conditions and improved standards for the detainees therein. An October 1998 ICRC report confirmed that the South Lebanon Army had taken steps towards improving the conditions at Khiam. Furthermore, that particular detention centre, according to Israel, was the only one of its kind in Lebanon, regularly visited and supervised by ICRC.

In a 28 October note verbale to the Secretary-General [A/54/516-S/1999/1105], the Syrian Arab Republic transmitted a statement issued by its Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the occasion of the International Day to Close the Khiam Detention Camp. Syria said that Khiam had become the symbol of the flagrant violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [YUN 1948-49, p. 535] and all related international instruments, and that Israel had not allowed an international mission of inquiry or a human rights organization to enter the camp from the outset.

On 12 August [A/53/1035-S/1999/878], Israel said that an increasing number of roadside bombs had been placed along the main axes of movement in the central sectors of the security zone in southern Lebanon. On 22 July, Israel Defence Forces (IDF) units discovered a large store of weaponry, including roadside bombs for use by Hezbollah. Israel noted that the use by Hezbollah of Lebanese villages and population centres as launching points and staging areas for terror operations was yet a further violation of the April 1996 understanding. In that context, the allegations made by Lebanon on 2 August that Israel had been holding the people of Ayta under siege was baseless. Movement by residents of the village was unrestricted both within the security zone and outside.

On 6 December [A/54/656-S/1999/1224], Lebanon reported that Israeli military forces were maintaining their siege of Ayta and continued to harass and arrest its inhabitants. The town was completely cut off from the outside world owing to its continued encirclement by Israeli forces.

In a series of monthly communications [A/53/792-S/1999/33, A/53/831-S/1999/158, A/53/859-S/1999/257, A/53/918-S/1999/459, A/537967-S/1999/586, A/53/999-S/1999/687, A/53/1024-S/1999/811, A/53/1050- S/1999/971, A/54/435-S/1999/1023, A/54/524-S/1999/1122, A/54/655-S/1999/1220, A/54/689-S/1999/12721, Lebanon detailed Israeli attacks on southern Lebanon and the Western Bekaa and its practices against the civilian inhabitants of those areas. Israel, on four occasions [A/54/74-S/1999/300, A/54/ 138-S/1999/704, A/54/351-S/1999/979. A/54/620-S/1999/11781, replied that Lebanon's monthly letters merely obscured the fact that the Lebanese Government was directly responsible for the volatile situation along its southern border, since it continued to encourage H Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations to use Lebanese territory for their declared war against Israel.

UNIFIL

The Security Council twice extended the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in 1999, in January and July, each time for a six-month period.

UNIFIL, which was established by Council resolution 425(1978) following Israel's invasion of Lebanon [YUN 1978, p. 296], was originally entrusted with confirming the withdrawal of Israeli forces, restoring international peace and security, and assisting the Lebanese Government in ensuring the return of its effective authority in southern Lebanon. Following a second Israeli invasion in 1982 [YUN 1982, p. 428], the Council, in resolution 511(1982) [ibid., p. 450], authorized the Force to carry out, in addition to its original mandate, the interim task of providing protection and humanitarian assistance to the local population, while maintaining its positions in the area of deployment.

The Force headquarters, based predominantly in Naqoura, provided command and control, as well as liaison with Lebanon and Israel, the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) and a number of NGOs.

Composition and deployment

As at 31 December 1999, UNIFIL comprised 4,504 troops from: Fiji (600), Finland (494), France (245), Ghana (653), India (619), Ireland (612), Italy (46), Nepal (604) and Poland (631). The Force was assisted in its tasks by 51 military observers of UNTSO. In addition, UNIFIL employed 460 civilian staff, of whom 116 were recruited internationally and 344 locally. On 15 November [S/1999/1168], the Security Council took note of the Secretary-General's intention [s/1999/1167] to appoint Major-General Seth Kofi Obeng (Ghana) as Force Commander on 1 December, to replace Major-General Jioji Konousi Konrote (Fiji), who completed his tour of duty on 30 September.

Since the establishment of UNIFIL, 229 members of the Force had lost their lives: 77 as a result of firings or bomb explosions, 94 in accidents and 58 from other causes. A total of 341 were wounded by shooting or by mine or bomb explosions.

Activities

Report of Secretary-General (January). In a report on developments from 16 July 1998 to 15 January 1999 in the UNIFIL area of operation [S/1999/61], the Secretary-General said that hostilities continued between IDF and its local Lebanese auxiliary, the de facto forces (DFF), on the one hand, and armed elements who had proclaimed their resistance against the Israeli occupation, on the other.

During the reporting period, UNIFIL recorded 386 operations by armed elements against IDF/DFF, the highest number in a long time. Some 280 operations north of the Litani River were also reported, the vast majority of which were carried out by the Islamic Resistance, the military wing of the Shiite Muslim Hezbollah organization. The Shiite movement Amal took responsibility for some 30 operations; a few were attributed to other Lebanese groups. The armed elements employed small arms, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, anti-tank missiles, recoilless rifles, rockets and explosive devices. IDF/DFF, in response to attacks or in operations they initiated, employed artillery, mortars, tanks, helicopter gunships, fixed-wing aircraft and explosive devices. IDF continued its practice of conducting preemptive artillery bombardments but reduced long-range patrols forward of its positions. UNIFIL recorded close to 18,000 rounds of artillery, mortar, tanks and missiles fired by IDF/DFF, an increase of 70 per cent over the last reporting period [YUN 1998, p. 476]. IDF conducted seven air raids in UNIFIL's area of operation and another 58 air raids were carried out against targets north of the Litani River. The Israeli navy patrolled the Lebanese territorial waters in the south and imposed restrictions on local fishermen.

UNIFIL continued its efforts to limit the conflict and to protect the inhabitants from the fighting through its network of checkpoints and observation posts and an active programme of patrolling, as well as continuous contacts with the parties. Nevertheless, civilians were again killed or injured in UNIFIL's area of operation. Serious incidents were also reported outside that area. Incidents of armed elements operating close to UN positions became more frequent and firings at or close to UN personnel increased to 98, compared to 72 during the last reporting period. The monitoring group set up in accordance with the 26 April 1996 understanding held 16 meetings at UNIFIL headquarters to consider complaints by Israel and Lebanon.

Within the Israeli-controlled area (ICA), Israel continued to maintain a civil administration and security service. The infrastructure in ICA continued to be improved with funds provided by the Lebanese Government. However, ICA remained economically dependent on Israel, where more than 2,500 of the inhabitants worked. IDF/DFF conducted search operations in some villages in ICA and made several arrests, while its security apparatus restricted the movement of the inhabitants on a number of occasions.

UNIFIL extended assistance to the civilian population in its area of operation and ICA in the form of medical care, harvest patrols and the distribution of educational material and equipment to poorer schools and orphanages. The Force also assisted the Government of Lebanon in transporting and distributing supplies to villages in ICA when they faced shortages owing to restrictions imposed by IDF/DFF. Throughout the period, UNIFIL cooperated on humanitarian matters with the Lebanese authorities. UN agencies, ICRC and other organizations and agencies operating in Lebanon. In addition, the Force carried out 41 controlled explosions of unexploded ordnance in its area of operation.

The Secretary-General observed that fighting in south Lebanon continued at an increased pace and the situation in the area remained volatile and dangerous, with a heightened risk of escalation. Although UNIFIL had been prevented from implementing the mandate contained in Security Council resolution 425(1978), its contribution to stability and the protection it was able to afford the population of the area remained important. Therefore, he recommended that the Council accede to Lebanon's request (see next page) and extend UNIFIL's mandate for another six months, until 31 July 1999.

Communication (January). By an 8 January letter to the Secretary-General [s/1999/221, Lebanon requested the Security Council to extend UNIFIL's mandate for a further interim period of six months. Lebanon called for the full implementation of resolution 425(1978) which called on Israel to cease its military action against Lebanese territorial integrity and to withdraw forth-with its forces from all Lebanese territory.

SECURITY COUNCIL ACTION (January)

On 28 January (meeting 3970], the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1223(1999). The draft [S/1999/75] was prepared in consultations among Council members.

The Security Council,

Recalling its resolutions 425(1978) and 426(1978) of 19 March 1978, 501(1982) of 25 February 1982, 508(1982) of 5 June 1982, 509(1982) of 6 June 1982 and 520(1982) of 17 September 1982, as well as all its resolutions on the situation in Lebanon,

Having studied the report of the Secretary-General of 19 January 1999 on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, and taking note of the observations expressed and the commitments mentioned therein,

Taking note, of the letter dated 8 January 1999 from the Permanent Representative of Lebanon to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General,

Responding to the request of the Government of Lebanon,

1. Decides to extend the present mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon for a further period of six months, that is, until 31 July 1999;

2. Reiterates its strong support for the terri torial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized boundaries;

3. Re-emphasizes the terms of reference and general guidelines of the Force as stated in the report of the Secretary-General of 19 March 1978, approved by resolution 426(1978), and calls upon all parties concerned to cooperate fully with the Force for the full implementation of its mandate;

4. Condemns all acts of violence committed in particular against the Force, and urges the parties to put an end to them;

5. Reiterates that the Force should fully implement its mandate as defined in resolutions 425(1978), 426(1978) and all other relevant resolutions;

6. Encourages further efficiency and savings provided they do not affect the operational capacity of the Force;

7. Requests the Secretary-General to continue consultations with the Government of Lebanon and other parties directly concerned with the implementation of the present resolution and to report to the Security Council thereon.

At the same meeting, the President made statement S/PRST/1999/4 on behalf of the Council:

The Security Council has noted with appreciation the report of the Secretary-General of 19 January 1999 on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, submitted in conformity with resolution 1188(1998) of 30 July 1998.

The Council reaffirms its commitment to the full sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Lebanon within its internationally recognized boundaries. In this context, the Council asserts that all States shall refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.

As the Council extends the mandate of the Force for a further interim period on the basis of resolution 425(1978), it again stresses the urgent need for the implementation of that resolution in all its aspects. It reiterates its full support for the Taif Agreement of 22 October 1989 and for the continued efforts of the Lebanese Government to consolidate peace, national unity and security in the country, while successfully carrying out the reconstruction process. The Council commends the Lebanese Government for its successful effort to extend its authority in the south of the country in full coordination with the Force.

The Council expresses its concern over the continuing violence in southern Lebanon, regrets the loss of civilian life and urges all parties to exercise restraint.

The Council takes this opportunity to express its appreciation for the continuing efforts of the Secretary-General and his staff in this regard. The Council notes with deep concern the high level of casualties the Force has suffered and pays a special tribute to all those who gave their lives while serving in the Force. It commends the troops of the Force and troop-contributing countries for their sacrifices and commitment to the cause of international peace and security under difficult circumstances.

Report of Secretary-General (July). In a report on developments from 16 January to 15 July [S/1999/807], the Secretary-General noted that there had been an increase in fighting between IDF/DFF and anti-Israeli armed elements. UNIFIL recorded 359 operations conducted by armed elements against IDF/DFF. There were also reports of some 200 operations north of the Litani River by the Islamic Resistance, 20 by Amal and a few by other Lebanese groups. The hostilities reached their peak on 24 June, when Israel carried out air raids against civilian targets in Lebanon and armed elements fired rockets into northern Israel.

A significant development was DFF's withdrawal from the town of Jezzin at the end of May and in the first days of June and its return under the full control of the Lebanese authorities, thereby reducing the area under Israeli control for the first time since 1985. The withdrawal complied with the April 1998 [YUN 1998, p. 472] decision by the Israeli Ministerial Committee for National Security to accept Security Council resolution 425(1978). Inside UNIFIL's area of operation, however, the situation was more volatile. Armed elements displayed an increasing tendency to operate in the vicinity of villages and UNIFIL positions. DFF showed signs of loosened control and, in some cases, vented their apparent frustration by firing into villages and targeting UNIFIL positions.

UNIFIL troops were deployed to provide a measure of protection to villages and farmers working in the fields, as part of its continued efforts to limit the conflict and protect the inhabitants from the fighting. Nevertheless, civilians were again killed or injured. In carrying out its functions, the Force encountered hostile reactions by both armed elements and IDF/DFF. On 31 May, a UNIFIL soldier was killed and two were wounded by a mortar round fired by IDF/DFF at a UN position. The number of firings at or close to UN positions and personnel was almost double that of the last reporting period, totalling 180-1ll by IDF/DFF, 56 by armed elements and 13 unattributable.

The Secretary-General reported the death of five members of the Force during the period under review. In addition to the soldier killed by IDF/DFF fire, one member of the Force died due to the accidental discharge of a service rifle, while three others died of natural causes.

UNIFIL continued to assist in the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the civilian population and to cooperate on humanitarian matters with the Lebanese authorities, UN agencies, ICRC and other organizations. The disposal of unexploded ordnance also continued, with 117 explosions being carried out in UNIFIL's area of operation. The monitoring group set up in accordance with the April 1996 understanding held 15 meetings at UNIFIL headquarters to consider complaints by Israel and Lebanon.

The Secretary-General observed that, notwithstanding the escalation of hostilities, the return of Jezzin under the jurisdiction of the Lebanese Government had been a positive sign and it was hoped that the same would become possible for the part of Lebanon that was still under Israeli control. He reaffirmed his belief that UNIFIL's contribution to the stability and the protection it provided to the population of the area remained important. Therefore, he recommended that the Force's mandate be extended for another six months, until 31 January 2000, as requested by Lebanon on 25 June [S/1999/720].

On 2 June, the Security Council President issued a press statement in which the Council members noted the information provided by the Secretary-General on 1 June concerning a 31 May mortar attack on UN positions located in and around the edge of Brashit and the resulting casualties, including the death of an Irish soldier. Members of the Council expressed their deep sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims and condemned any action that violated UNIFIL's noncombatant status.

SECURITY COUNCIL ACTION (July)

On 30 July [meeting 4028], the Security Council adopted resolution 1254(1999) unanimously. The draft text [S/1999/826] had been prepared in consultations among Council members.

The Security Council,

Recalling its resolutions 425(1978) and 426(1978) of 19 March 1978, 501(1982) of 25 February 1982, 508(1982) of 5 June 1982, 509(1982) of 6 June 1982 and 520(1982) of 17 September 1982, as well as all its resolutions on the situation in Lebanon,

Having studied the report of the Secretary-General of 21 July 1999 on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, and taking note of the observations expressed and the commitments mentioned therein,

Taking note of the letter dated 25 June 1999 from the Permanent Representative of Lebanon to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General,

Responding to the request of the Government of Lebanon,

1. Decides to extend the present mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon for a further period of six months, that is, until 31 January 2000;

2. Reiterates its strong support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized boundaries;

3. Re-emphasizes the terms of reference and general guidelines of the Force as stated in the report of the Secretary-General of 19 March 1978, approved by resolution 426(1978), and calls upon all parties concerned to cooperate fully with the Force for the full implementation of its mandate;

4. Condemns all acts of violence committed in particular against the Force, and urges the parties to put an end to them;

5. Reiterates that the Force should fully implement its mandate as defined in resolutions 425(1978), 426(1978) and all other relevant resolutions;

6. Encourages further efficiency and savings provided they do not affect the operational capacity of the Force;

7. Requests the Secretary-General to continue consultations with the Government of Lebanon and other parties directly concerned with the implementation of the present resolution and to report to the Security Council thereon.

After the adoption of the resolution, the President made statement S/PRST/1999/24, which was identical to statement S/PRST/1999/4 (see p. 446), except for the first paragraph:

The Security Council has noted with appreciation the report of the Secretary-General of 21 July 1999 on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, submitted in conformity with resolution 1223(1999) of 28 January 1999.

Further developments

In a report on developments during the second half of 1999 [S/2000/28], the Secretary-General noted that a significant political development for the region was the resumption, in December, of negotiations between Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic, under the auspices of the United States. Hostilities continued at a somewhat reduced level between IDF/DFF, on the one hand, and anti-Israeli armed elements, on the other. Nevertheless, the Secretary-General observed that the situation in the area remained volatile.

UNIFIL recorded 340 operations by armed elements against IDF/DFF from 16 July to 31 December. The Islamic Resistance continued to carry out operations north of the Litani River, while the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad, which had not been active in the area for two years, took responsibility for two operations. IDF/DFF, in response to attacks or in operations they initiated, relied more heavily on air raids as a retaliatory measure, though they continued their practice of conducting preemptive artillery bombardments. Incidents of armed elements operating from close to UN positions increased, reaching a high of 21 in December. Roughly half of those incidents were attributable to the Islamic Resistance and the other half to the Shiite movement Amal.

In the area where it was deployed, UNIFIL continued its efforts to limit the conflict, to protect the inhabitants from the fighting through its network of checkpoints and observations posts, and to assist the civilian population in the form of medical care, harvest patrols, water projects, services for schools and supplies to social services.

Financing

Reports of Secretary-General and ACABQ. In a January report [A/53/797], the Secretary-General submitted the financial performance report of UNIFIL for the period 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998. Expenditures for the period totalled $125,027,300 gross ($121,704,700 net), resulting in additional requirements of $57,600 ($844,000 net), compared to the amount appropriated for the maintenance of UNIFIL by the General Assembly in its resolution 51/233 [YUN 1997, p. 463]. The report also provided updated information on expenditure in connection with the incident at Qana on 18 April 1996 [YUN 1996, p. 429], totalling $1,284,633 against the commitment authorization of $1,773,618 granted by the Assembly in resolution 51/233.

In February [A/53/819], the Secretary-General presented the proposed budget for UNIFIL for the period 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2000, in the amount of $140,044,200 gross ($136,014,800 net), inclusive of a $135,000 budgeted voluntary contribution.

The comments and recommendations of ACABQ were contained in an April report [A/53/895/Add.1].

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 8 June [meeting 101], the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Fifth Committee [A/53/982], adopted resolution 53/227 by recorded vote (119-2-1) [agenda item 122(b)].

Financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon
The General Assembly,

Reaffirming its resolutions 51/233 of 13 June 1997 and 52/237 of 26 June 1998,

Having considered the reports of the Secretary-General on the financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon and the related reports of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions,

Bearing in mind Security Council resolution 425 (1978) of 19 March 1978, by which the Council established the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, and the subsequent resolutions by which the Council extended the mandate of the Force, the latest of which was resolution 1223(1999) of 28 January 1999,

Recalling its resolution S-8/2 of 21 April 1978 on the financing of the Force and its subsequent resolutions thereon, the latest of which was resolution 52/237,

Reaffirming that the costs of the Force are expenses of the Organization to be borne by Member States in accordance with Article 17, paragraph 2, of the Charter of the United Nations,

Recalling its previous decisions regarding the fact that, in order to meet the expenditures caused by the Force, a different procedure is required from that applied to meet expenditures of the regular budget of the United Nations,

Taking into account the fact that the economically more developed countries are in a position to make relatively larger contributions and that the economically less developed countries have a relatively limited capacity to contribute towards such an operation,

Bearing in mind the special responsibilities of the States permanent members of the Security Council, as indicated in General Assembly resolution 1874(S-IV) of 27 June 1963, in the financing of such operations,

Noting with appreciation that voluntary contributions have been made to the Force,

Mindful of the fact that it is essential to provide the Force with the necessary financial resources to enable it to fulfil its responsibilities under the relevant resolutions of the Security Council,

Concerned that the Secretary-General continues to face difficulties in meeting the obligations of the Force on a current basis, including reimbursement to current and former troop-contributing States,

Concerned also that the surplus balances in the Special Account for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon have been used to meet expenses of the Force in order to compensate for the lack of income resulting from nonpayment and late payment by Member States of their contributions,

1. Takes note of the status of contributions to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon as at 30 April 1999, including the contributions outstanding in the amount of 119,646,994 United States dollars, representing 4 per cent of the total assessed contributions from the inception of the Force to theperiod ending 30 June 1999, notes that some 12 per cent of the Member States have paid their assessed contributions in full, and urges all other Member States concerned, particularly those in arrears, to ensure payment of their outstanding assessed contributions;

2. Expresses its deep concern that Israel did not comply with General Assembly resolutions 51/233 and 52/237;

3. Stresses once again that Israel should strictly abide by General Assembly resolutions 51/233 and 52/237;

4. Expresses concern about the financial situation with regard to peacekeeping activities, in particular as regards the reimbursement of troop contributors, which bear additional burdens owing to overdue payments by Member States of their assessments;

5. Expresses its appreciation to those Member States which have paid their assessed contributions in full;

6. Urges all other Member States to make every possible effort to ensure payment of their assessed contributions to the Force in full and on time;

7. Takes note of the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions;

8. Requests the Secretary-General to take all necessary action to ensure that the Force is administered with a maximum of efficiency and economy;

9. Also requests the Secretary-General, in order to reduce the cost of employing General Service staff, to continue his efforts to recruit local staff for the Force against General Service posts, commensurate with the requirements of the Force;

10. Decides to revise the amount of the commitment authority granted in paragraph 7 of General Assembly resolution 51/233 in connection with the costs resulting from the incident at Qana on 18 April 1996 and, correspondingly, the amount to be borne by Israel as decided in paragraph 8 of the same resolution, from 1,773,618 dollars to 1,284,633 dollars;

11. Reiterates its request to the Secretary-General to lake the necessary measures to ensure the full implementation of paragraph 8 of General Assembly resolution 51/233 and paragraph 5 of resolution 52/237, stresses once again that Israel shall pay the amount of 1,284,633 dollars resulting from the incident at Qana on 18 April 1996, and requests the Secretary-General to report on this matter to the Assembly at its fifty-fourth session;

12. Takes note of the additional requirements of 57,600 dollars gross (844,000 dollars net) for the period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998, which will be covered by the liquidation of obligations no longer required for that period;
13. Decides to appropriate to the Special Account for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon the amount of 148,904,683 dollars gross (144,875,283 dollars net) for the maintenance of the Force for the period from 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2000, inclusive of the amount of 7,407,886 dollars for the support account for peacekeeping operations and the amount of 1,452,597 dollars for the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, Italy;

14. Decides also, as an ad hoc arrangement, to apportion among Member States the amount of 12,397,474 dollars gross (12,061,690 dollars net) for the period from 1 to 31 July 1999, in accordance with the composition of groups set out in paragraphs 3 and 4 of General Assembly resolution 43/232 of 1 March 1989, as adjusted by the Assembly in its resolutions 44/192 B of 21December 1989, 45/269 of 27 August 1991, 46/198 A of 20 December 1991, 47/218 A of 23 December 1992, 49/249 A of 20 July 1995, 49/249 B of 14 September 1995, 50/224 of 11 April 1996, 51/218 A to C of 18 December 1996 and 52/230 of 31 March 1998 and its decisions 48/472 A of 23 December 1993 and 50/451 B of 23 December 1995, and taking into account the scale of assessments for the years 1999 and 2000, as set out in its resolution 52/215 A of 22 December 1997;

15. Decides further that, in accordance with the provisions of its resolution 973(X) of 15 December 1955, there shall be set off against the apportionment among Member States, as provided for in paragraph 14 above, their respective share in the Tax Equalization Fund of the estimated staff assessment income of 335,784 dollars approved for the period from 1 to 31 July 1999;

16. Decides, as an ad hoc arrangement, to apportion among Member States the amount of 136,372,209 dollars gross (132,678,593 dollars net) for the period from 1 August 1999 to 30 June 2000, at a monthly rate of 12,397,474 dollars gross (12,061,690 dollars net) in accordance with the scheme set out in the present resolution and taking into account the scale of assessments for the years 1999 and 2000 as set out in its resolution 52/215 A, subject to the decision of the Security Council to extend the mandate of the Force beyond 31 July 1999;

17. Decides also that, in accordance with the provisions of its resolution 973(X), there shall be set off against the apportionment among Member States, as provided for in paragraph 16 above, their respective share in the Tax Equalization Fund of the estimated staff assessment income of 3,693,616 dollars approved for the period from 1 August 1999 10 30 June 2000;

18. Invites voluntary contributions to the Force in cash and in the form of services and supplies acceptable to the Secretary-General, to be administered, as appropriate, in accordance with the procedure and practices established by the General Assembly;

19. Decides to include in the provisional agenda of its fifty-fourth session, under the item entitled "Financing of the United Nations peacekeeping forces in the Middle East", the sub-item entitled "United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon".

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 53/227:

In favour Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso. Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia. Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstaining: Iran.

The Assembly and the Committee adopted the first pre-ambular paragraph and operative paragraphs 2, 3,10 and 11 by a recorded vote of 74 to 2, with 42 abstentions, and 84 to 2, with 46 abstentions, respectively.

Speaking before the vote, Israel said that it bore no responsibility or blame for taking necessary measures in the legitimate exercise of self-defense, as it did in the case of the Qana incident. Israel could, however, negotiate a resolution to the conflict that would restore peace and security to the Israeli-Lebanese border and ultimately prevent those incidents.

Lebanon said that resistance against the Israeli forces in southern Lebanon would continue, along with political endeavours, until the implementation of Security Council resolution 425(1978), which called for the unconditional and immediate withdrawal of Israel from the Lebanese territories to internationally recognized boundaries.

By decision 54/462 A of 23 December, the Assembly decided that the Fifth Committee should continue consideration of UNIFIL's financing at the resumed fifty-fourth (2000) session.

Syrian Arab Republic

In 1999, the General Assembly again called for Israel's withdrawal from the Golan Heights in the Syrian Arab Republic, which it had occupied since 1967. The area was effectively annexed by Israel when it extended its laws, jurisdiction and administration to the territory towards the end of 1981 [YUN 1981, p. 309].

Israeli policies and measures affecting the human rights of the population in the Golan Heights and other occupied territories were monitored by the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories (Committee on Israeli Practices) and were the subject of resolutions adopted by the Commission on Human Rights (see p. 736 to 738) and the Assembly.

Special Committee on Israeli Practices. In its annual report [A/54/3251, the Committee on Israeli Practices stated that it had visited Damascus as well as Quneitra province, which bordered the occupied area, where it received information from witnesses on the current situation in the Syrian Arab Golan. The Committee was informed that there had been no change in Israeli policy regarding the occupied Golan, that the number of settlers had increased and existing settlements had expanded during the period under review, though no new ones were established.

The Committee was informed that the Golan was inhabited by some 23,000 Syrians who lived in five villages under Israeli occupation. The approximately 40 Israeli settlements in the Golan, the largest of which was Katzrin, were inhabited by 15,000 settlers. The Israeli authorities had set a target figure for 36,000 settlers and, accordingly, 2,500 new housing units were to be added to the settlements. The settlements competed with Syrians in economic terms regarding agriculture, and competition was rendered more uneven by the restricted access of the Syrian inhabitants to water resources. The Committee was informed that the main purpose of the Golan's occupation was control over those resources.

The Committee's attention was drawn in particular to three serious problems: the use of the educational curriculum by Israel to incite sectarian differences among the Arab population and the marginalization of the Arabic language; the separation of families living on either side of the valley constituting the demarcation line; and the danger posed by land-mines, especially those laid close to villages and houses. The Committee called on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in consultation with the Secretary-General, to establish a system of continuous communication with the Israeli authorities with a view to improving the living conditions of the Palestinian and Syrian peoples in the occupied territories.

Reports of Secretary-General. On 28 July [A/54/184], the Secretary-General reported that no reply had been received from Israel to his June request for information on steps taken to implement General Assembly resolution 53/57 [YUN 1998, p. 481], which called on Israel to desist from changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the Golan, and from its repressive measures against the population.

By a 25 October report [A/54/495], the Secretary-General transmitted replies received from six Member States in response to his request for information on steps taken or envisaged to implement Assembly resolutions 53/38 [YUN 1998, p. 480], which dealt with Israeli policies in the Syrian territory occupied since 1967, and 53/37 [ibid., p. 436] on the transfer by some States of their diplomatic missions to Jerusalem (see p. 408).

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 1 December [meeting 68], the General Assembly adopted resolution 54/38 [draft: A/54/L.41 & Add.I] by recorded vote (92-2-53) [agenda item 43].

The Syrian Golan

The General Assembly,

Having considered the item entitled "The situation in the Middle East",

Taking note of the report of the Secretary-General,

Recalling Security Council resolution 497(1981) of 17 December 1981,

Reaffirming the fundamental principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations,

Reaffirming once more the applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the occupied Syrian Golan,

Deeply concerned that Israel has not withdrawn from the Syrian Golan, which has been under occupation since 1967, contrary to the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions,

Stressing the illegality of the Israeli settlement construction and activities in the occupied Syrian Golan since 1967,

Noting with satisfaction the convening at Madrid on 30 October 1991 of the Peace Conference on the Middle East, on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242(1967) of 22 November 1967, 338(1973) of 22 October 1973 and 425(1978) of 19 March 1978 and the formula of land for peace,

Expressing grave concern over the halt in the peace process on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks, and expressing the hope that peace talks will soon resume from the point they had reached,

1. Declares that Israel has failed so far to comply with Security Council resolution 497(1981);

2. Declares also that the Israeli decision of 14 December 1981 to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan is null and void and has no validity whatsoever, as confirmed by the Security Council in its resolution 497(1981), and calls upon Israel to rescind it;

3. Reaffirms its determination that all relevant provisions of the Regulations annexed to the Hague Convention of 1907, and the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, continue to apply to the Syrian territory occupied by Israel since 1967, and calls upon the parties thereto to respect and ensure respect for their obligations under those instruments in all circumstances;

4. Determines once more that the continued occupation of the Syrian Golan and its de facto annexation constitute a stumbling block in the way to achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region;

5. Calls upon Israel to resume the talks on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks and to respect the commitments and undertakings reached during the previous talks;

6. Demands once more that Israel withdraw from all the occupied Syrian Golan to the line of 4 June 1967 in implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions;

7. Calls upon all the parties concerned, the cosponsors of the peace process and the entire international community to e^xert all the necessary efforts to ensure the resumption of the peace process and its success;

8. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-fifth session on the implementation of the present resolution.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 54/38:

In favour: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt,

El Salvador, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Jordan, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Viet Nam. Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Against: Israel, United States.

Abstaining: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Samoa, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Uzbekistan.

On 6 December [meeting 71], the Assembly, under the agenda item on the report of the Committee on Israeli Practices and on the Fourth Committee's recommendation [A/54/576], adopted resolution 54/80 by recorded vote (150-1-5) [agenda item 89].

The occupied Syrian Golan

The General Assembly,

Having considered the reports of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories,

Deeply concerned that the Syrian Golan occupied since 1967 has been under continued Israeli military occupation,

Recalling Security Council resolution 497(1981) of 17 December 1981,

Recalling also its previous relevant resolutions, the last of which was resolution 53/57 of 3 December 1998,

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General submitted in pursuance of resolution 53/57,

Recalling its previous relevant resolutions in which, inter alia, it called upon Israel to put an end to its occupation of the Arab territories,

Reaffirming once more the illegality of the decision of 14 December 1981 taken by Israel to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan, which has resulted in the effective annexation of that territory,

Reaffirming that the acquisition of territory by force is inadmissible under international law, including the Charter of the United Nations,

Reaffirming also the applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the occupied Syrian Golan,

Bearing in mind Security Council resolution 237(1967) of 14 June 1967,

Welcoming the convening at Madrid of the Peace Conference on the Middle East on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242(1967) of 22 November 1967 and 338(1973) of 22 October 1973 aimed at the realization of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace, and expressing grave concern about the stalling of the peace process on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks,

1. Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to comply with the relevant resolutions on the occupied Syrian Golan, in particular Security Council resolution 497(1981), in which the Council, inter alia, decided that the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan was null and void and without t international legal effect, and demanded that Israel, the occupying Power, rescind forthwith its decision;

2. Also calls upon Israel to desist from changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan and in particular to desist from the establishment of settlements;

3. Determines that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken or to be taken by Israel, the occupying Power, that purport to alter the character and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan are null and void, constitute a flagrant violation of international law and of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, and have no legal effect;

4. Calls upon Israel to desist from imposing Israeli citizenship and Israeli identity cards on the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan, and to desist from its repressive measures against the population of the occupied Syrian Golan;

5 Deplores the violations by Israel of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949;

6. Calls mice again upon Member States not to recognize any of the legislative or administrative measures and actions referred to above;

7. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-fifth session on the implementation of the present resolution.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 54/80:

In favour Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgana, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan. Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel.

Abstaining: Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Swaziland, United States, Uruguay.

UNDOF

The mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), established by Security Council resolution 350(1974) [YUN 1974, p. 205], to supervise the observance of the cease-fire between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights area and ensuring the separation of their forces, was renewed twice in 1999, in May and November, each time for a six-month period.

UNDOF maintained an area of separation, which was some 80 kilometres long and varied in width between approximately 10 kilometres in the centre to less than 1 kilometre in the extreme south. The area of separation was inhabited and policed by the Syrian authorities and no military forces other than UNDOF were permitted within it.

Composition and deployment

As at November 1999, UNDOF comprised 1,053 troops from Austria (368), Canada (139), Japan (45), Poland (358) and Slovakia (93). It was assisted by 78 UNTSO military observers. Major-General Cameron Ross (Canada) continued as Force Commander. The Force was entirely deployed within and close to the area of separation, with two base camps, 44 permanently manned positions and 11 observation posts. UNDOF's headquarters was located at Camp Faouar and an office was maintained in Damascus.

The Austrian battalion deployed in the northern part of the area of separation and the Polish battalion in the south conducted mine-clearing operations. The Canadian and Japanese logistic units, based in Camp Ziouani, with a detachment in Camp Faouar, performed second-line general transport tasks, rotation transport, control and management of goods received by the Force and maintenance of heavy equipment.

Activities

UNDOF continued in 1999 to supervise the area of separation between Israeli and Syrian troops in the Golan Heights, to ensure that no military forces of either party were deployed there, by means of fixed positions and patrols. The Force, accompanied by liaison officers from the party concerned, carried out fortnightly inspections of armament and force levels in the areas of limitation. As in the past, both sides denied inspection teams access to some of their positions and imposed some restrictions on the Force's freedom of movement.

UNDOF assisted ICRC with facilities for mail and the passage of persons through the area of separation. Within the means available, medical treatment was provided to the local population upon request.

Reports of Secretary-General. The Secretary-General reported to the Security Council on UNDOF activities between 15 November 1998 and 15 May 1999 [S/1999/575] and between 16 May and 15 November 1999 [S/1999/1175]. Both reports noted that UNDOF continued to perform its functions effectively, with the cooperation of the parties. In general, the cease-fire in the Israel-Syria sector was maintained without serious incident, and the UNDOF area of operation remained calm. On 1 April, two Austrian soldiers travelling in a UN vehicle were shot at near Damascus; Syrian authorities were investigating the incident. Mine-fields, especially in the area of separation, continued to be a concern.

The Secretary-General observed that, despite the quiet in the Israel-Syria sector, the situation in the Middle East continued to be potentially dangerous and was likely to remain so, unless and until a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem could be reached. He hoped for determined efforts by all concerned to tackle the problem in all its aspects, with a view to arriving at a just and durable peace settlement, as called for by Council resolution 338(1973) [YUN 1973, p. 213]. Stating that he considered the Force's continued presence in the area to be essential, the Secretary-General, with the agreement of both Syria and Israel, recommended that UNDOF's mandate be extended for a further six months, until 30 November 1999 in the first instance and 31 May 2000 in the second.

SECURITY COUNCIL ACTION

On 27 May [meeting 4009], the Security Council adopted resolution 1243(1999) unanimously. The draft [S/1999/609] was prepared during consultations among Council members.

The Security Council,

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force of 18 May 1999,

Decides:

(a) To call upon the parties concerned to implement immediately Security Council resolution 338(1973) of 22 October 1973;

(b) To renew the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force for another period of six months, that is, until 30 November 1999;

(c) To request the Secretary-General to submit, at the end of this period, a report on the development in the situation and the measures taken to implement resolution 338(1973).

On 24 November [meeting 40711, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1276(1999).

The draft [S/1999/1189] was prepared during consultations.

The Security Council,

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 15 November 1999 on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force,

Decides:

(a) To call upon the parties concerned to implement immediately Security Council resolution 338(1973) of 22 October 1973;

(b) To renew the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force for another period of six months, until 31 May 2000;

(c) To request the Secretary-General to submit, at the end of this period, a report on the development in the situation and the measures taken to implement resolution 338(1973).

After the adoption of each resolution, the President made statements S/PRST/1999/15 [meeting 4009] and S/PRST/1999/33 [meeting 4071 ] on behalf of the Council:

As is known, the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force states, in paragraph 11 [ 10 in the November report]: "Despite the present quiet in the Israeli-Syrian sector, the situation in the Middle East continues to be potentially dangerous and is likely to remain so, unless and until a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem can be reached." That statement of the Secretary-General reflects the view of the Security Council.

Financing

Reports of Secretary-General and ACABQ. On 5 January, the Secretary-General presented a report [A/53/779 & Corr.l] on UNDOF's financial performance for the period 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998. On 29 January, he also presented UNDOF's proposed budget for the period 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2000 [A/53/779/Add.l], totalling $33,247,500 gross ($32,514,600 net), which reflected a 1.2 per cent decrease in gross terms compared with the resources approved for the preceding 12 months.

ACABQ's comments and recommendations on the two reports were contained in an April report to the Assembly |A/53/895/Add.1].

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 8 June [meeting 101], the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Fifth Committee [A/53/979], adopted resolution 53/226 without Vote [agenda item 122(a)].


Financing of the United Nations
Disengagement Observer Force

The General Assembly,

Having considered the reports of the Secretary-General on the financing of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force and the related reports of the Advisor) Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions,

Recalling Security Council resolution 350(1974) of 31 May 1974, by which the Council established the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, and the subsequent resolutions by which the Council extended the mandate of the Force, the latest of which was Security Council resolution 1211(1996) of 25 November 1998

Recalling also its resolution 3211 B (XXIX) of 29 November 1974 on the financing of the United Nations Emergency Force and of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force and its subsequent resolutions thereon, the latest of which was resolution 52/236 of 26 June 1998,

Reaffirming that the costs of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force are expenses of the Organization to be borne by Member States in accordance with Article 17, paragraph 2, of the Charter of the United Nations,

Recalling its previous decisions regarding the fact that, in order to meet the expenditures caused by the Force, a different procedure is required from that applied to meet expenditures of the regular budget of the United Nations,

Taking into account the fact that the economically more developed countries are in a position to make relatively larger contributions and that the economically less developed countries have a relatively limited capacity to contribute towards such an operation,

Bearing in mind the special responsibilities of the States permanent members of the Security Council, as indicated in General Assembly resolution 1874(S-IV) of 27 June 1963, in the financing of such operations,

Noting with appreciation that voluntary contributions have been made to the Force,

Mindful of the fact that it is essential to provide the Force with the necessary financial resources to enable it to fulfil its responsibilities under the relevant resolutions of the Security Council,

Concerned that the surplus balances in the Special Account for the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force have been used to meet expenses of the Force in order to compensate for the lack of income resulting from non-payment and late payment by Member States of their contributions,

1. Takes note of the status of contributions to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force as at 30 April 1999, including the contributions outstanding in the amount of 17.6 million United States dollars, representing 1.4 per cent of the total assessed contributions from the inception of the Force to the period ending 31 May 1999, notes that some 15 per cent of the Member States have paid their assessed contributions in full, and urges all other Member States concerned, particularly those in arrears, to ensure payment of their outstanding assessed contributions;

2. Expresses concern about the financial situation with regard to peacekeeping activities, in particular as regards the reimbursement of troop contributors, which bear additional burdens owing to overdue payments by Member States of their assessments;

3. Expresses its appreciation to those Member States which have paid their assessed contributions in full;

4. Urges all Member States to make every possible effort to ensure payment of their assessed contributions to the Force in full and on time;

5. Endorses the observations and recommendations contained in the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions;

6. Requests the Secretary-General to take all necessary action to ensure that the Force is administered with a maximum of efficiency and economy;

7. Also requests the Secretary-General to expedite the process of improving the working conditions of the local staff in the Force, taking into account the difficulties arising from the relocation of Force headquarters from Damascus to Camp Faouar, and requests the Secretary -General to report thereon to the General Assembly at its fifty-fourth session;

8. Further requests the Secretary-General, in order to reduce the cost of employing General Service staff, to continue efforts to employ local staff for the Force against General Service posts, commensurate with the requirements of the Force;

9. Decides, as an ad hoc arrangement, to appropriate to the Special Account for the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force the amount of 35,351,308 dollars gross (34,618,408 dollars net) for the maintenance of the Force for the period from 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2000, inclusive of the amount of 1,758,908 dollars for the support account for peacekeeping operations and the amount of 344,900 dollars for the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, Italy, to be apportioned among Member States at the monthly rate of 2,945,942 dollars gross (2,884,867 dollars net), in accordance with the composition of groups set out in paragraphs 3 and 4 of General Assembly resolution 43/232 of 1 March 1989, as adjusted by the Assembly in its resolutions 44/192 B of 21 December 1989, 45/269 of 27 August 1991, 46/198 A of 20 December 1991, 47/218 A of 23 December 1992, 49/249 A of 20 July 1995, 49/249 B of 14 September 1995, 50/224 of 11 April 1996, 51/218 A to C of 18 December 1996 and 52/230 of 31 March 1998 and its decisions 48/472 A of 23 December 1993 and 50/451 B of 23 December 1995, and taking into account the scale of assessments for the years 1999 and 2000, as set out in its resolution 52/215 A of 22 December 1997, subject to the decision of the Security Council to extend the mandate of the Force beyond 30 June 1999;

10. Decides also that, in accordance with the provisions of its resolution 973(X) of 15 December 1955, there shall be set off against the apportionment among Member States, as provided for in paragraph 9 above, their respective share in the Tax Equalization Fund of the estimated staff assessment income of 732,900 dollars approved for the period from 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2000;

11. Decides further that, for Member States that have fulfilled their financial obligations to the Force, there shall be set off against the apportionment, as provided for in paragraph 9 above, their respective share in the unencumbered balance of 1,085,300 dollars gross (887,600 dollars net) in respect of the period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998;

12. Decides that, for Member States that have not fulfilled their financial obligations to the Force, their share of the unencumbered balance of 1,085,300 dollars gross (887,600 dollars net) in respect of the period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998 shall be set off against their outstanding obligations;

13. Requests the Secretary-General to credit back to Member States in a phased manner not to exceed three years, beginning with 5.6 million dollars during the current session of the General Assembly, according to the procedures contained in paragraphs 9 to 12 above, the net surplus balance of 13,622,162 dollars held in the suspense account for the Force;

14. Invites voluntary contributions to the Force in cash and in the form of services and supplies acceptable to the Secretary-General, to be administered, as appropriate, in accordance with the procedure and practices established by the General Assembly;

15. Decides to include in the provisional agenda of its fifty-fourth session, under the item entitled "Financing of the United Nations peacekeeping forces in the Middle East", the sub-item entitled "United Nations Disengagement Observer Force".

On 23 December, the Assembly decided that the Fifth Committee would continue consideration of the item on the financing of UNDOF at the resumed fifty-fourth (2000) session (decision 54/462 A).

By decision 54/465 of 23 December, the Assembly decided that agenda item "Financing of the United Nations peacekeeping forces in the Middle East" remained for consideration during its fifty-fourth session.


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