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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
General Assembly
30 October 2013

General Assembly

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-sixth General Assembly
Second Committee
26th Meeting (AM & PM)



Members Briefed on Objectives of Biodiversity Convention in Earlier Meeting



The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met today to take up the “Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources”. The Committee had before it a report titled “Economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan” (document A/68/77-E/2013/113).

Introduction of Report
RIMA KHALAF, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, introduced the report “Economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan” (document A/68/77-E/2013/13), saying Palestinians suffered from unequal use of roads and infrastructure, unequal access to basic services and water resources, as well as a matrix of military orders applied only to Palestinians. Israel pursued a policy of disproportionate use of force, she said, noting that from 30 March 2001 to 29 March 2012, 268 Palestinians including 42 children were killed. Furthermore, 4,762 Palestinians — including 180 children — were in Israeli prisons, 87 per cent were denied bail, and 12 per cent were kept in solitary confinement.

The policy of home demolitions was ongoing, she said, noting that during a November 2012 offensive, 3,000 Palestinians were displaced because their homes were destroyed. Since 1967, Israel had seized more than 40 per cent of West Bank land, prohibiting Palestinian access. Israeli settlers now represented approximately 19 per cent of that area’s population, while racist violence and acts of vandalism were on the increase. In 2012, she said that 355 incidents of settler violence were recorded. Palestinians faced daily mobility restrictions, including the continuing Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip, while 68 per cent of the West Bank was off-limits to Palestinians. Unemployment in the West Bank and Gaza Strip stood at 22.9 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2012. Currently, 25.8 per cent of people lived below the poverty line and 12.9 per cent lived in deep poverty.

If Israeli restrictions on movement, access and economic activity in the West Bank were lifted today, there would be a 35 per cent increase in gross domestic product (GDP) and a 35 per cent increase in employment. The November 2012 offensive in Gaza left 20,000 to 50,000 people in need of some form of psychological intervention, while 286 schools were destroyed. The international community needed to exert all efforts to ensure the implementation of international law and relevant United Nations resolutions and to support initiatives that sought to end the Israeli violations of international law in the occupied territories, especially Israeli settlement activities, she concluded.


RABII ALHANTOULI, observer of the State of Palestine, said that 46 years of oppression and violations of all human rights mastered by Israel, the occupying Power, in plundering and exploiting its national resources had deprived an entire people. The occupying Power, which considered itself above the law, continued to target Palestinian civilians through killings, arbitrary detention, confiscation of land, destruction of property, and demolition of homes. Those policies and practices were not random but systematic. They were in line with a deliberate policy to ensure control over the land and natural resources after the forced displacement of the Palestinian population from their towns and villages.

“We are witnessing an intensification of these policies,” he stressed. Land was confiscated to build illegal settlements and the apartheid annexation wall, particularly in the occupied city of Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, which constituted the largest agricultural area in Palestine. Agriculture was the most important pillar of Palestine’s economy and it was currently the season for olive harvest and olive oil extraction. However, he said that barbaric and brutal Israeli attacks by occupying forces and gangs of extremist settlers against Palestinian farmers had uprooted trees, stolen crops and dumped waste water in the agricultural lands. The Palestinian economy was deprived of access to 40 per cent of the West Bank and of 82 per cent of its groundwater. Israel exploited more than 90 per cent of Palestinian water resources for exclusive Israeli use, including for use in Israeli settlements, and less than 10 per cent was allocated for Palestinian use.

Moreover, Israel’s illegal and inhumane blockade of the Gaza Strip, he said, obstructed imports and exports and prevented the free movement of persons. Israel also continued to deny Palestinian farmers access to more than 35 per cent of the area of the Gaza Strip and Palestinian fishermen could not access more than 85 per cent of Palestinian fishing waters. Such policy caused more than 44 per cent of the people in the Gaza Strip to suffer from food insecurity. Israel continued to build its settlements and the apartheid annexation wall, with a length of 732 kilometres, of which 87 per cent was located in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Such settlement activities were neither accidental nor random. They ensured Israel’s control over vast natural resources and resulted in the fragmentation of the Palestinian State, he said.

Such policies constituted a flagrant violation of international law and relevant United Nations resolutions, he said, emphasizing that the continuing violations served as obstacles to reaching a comprehensive peace based on a two-State solution. He welcomed the decisions taken by some countries to convey serious messages to the occupying Power, for example by imposing distinct labels on the import of products manufactured in illegal Israeli settlements. Freedom and sovereignty could only be achieved by ending the Israeli occupation, with practical decisions and measures “from all of you” to prove to Israel, the occupying Power, that the continuation of its aggression and violations would not go without a price, he concluded.

Mohamed Elkaraksy (Egypt) said the report underscored the worsening catastrophe facing the Palestinian people and focused on their suffering, as Israel violated international law and customs, while flouting the resolutions of the United Nations. Israel had adopted a policy of segregation in the Occupied Territory allowing for illegal Jewish settlements while Palestinians lived under the yoke of occupation. Palestinians suffered from lack of resources while Israel enjoyed the full benefit of those resources. The blockade in Gaza was a sanction against all Palestinians and damaged the viability of growth. Israel had flouted international agreements, including those related to the allocation of water, while it continued to build a wall of separation. Development in Palestine was human-based and hinged on the ability to protect the durability of resources for future generations.

HUSSEIN HANIFF (Malaysia) said that despite 220 United Nations resolutions on the question of Palestine and widespread international condemnation of its brutality, Israel continued to act with absolute impunity and in complete contempt of international law. The reclaiming of the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinians over the natural resources was key to reversing the poverty and unemployment crisis Israel had inflicted upon it in the occupied territories. However, the issue must be approached in a holistic, just and final resolution to the conflict, which was a two-State solution of Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace within the recognized pre-1967 borders. Reaffirming Malaysia’s support for the State of Palestine’s bid to become a full Member of the United Nations, he urged the development system to strengthen its programmes of assistance to mitigate the hardship of the Palestinians and the population of the occupied Syrian Golan. Despite the challenges in the long road ahead, Malaysia hoped the ongoing peace talks would finally pave the way for a process of reconciliation, reconstruction and the flourishing of the Palestinian State and people.

Amira DALI(Tunisia) said that global imbalances caused by conflict were of profound concern. Powerful transformations had occurred regarding the right to self-determination at a time when the international community was aspiring towards a brighter future. All people wanted to live in security and peace in their lands in free and independent States. Tunisia called for the restitution of the rights of the Palestinian people and for support to be given for an independent Palestinian State with full sovereignty over its historic lands. Tunisia thanked the agencies that contributed toward the drafting of reports that revealed the violations of United Nations resolutions and international law by the occupying Israeli power, including settlement building. There needed to be international solidarity in order to help the Palestinian people retain their rights under international law.

Rashid AL ZEED (Saudi Arabia) noted the economic losses for the Palestinian economy caused by the occupation, saying that Israel was only increasing its restrictions on the Palestinian people. That resulted in higher poverty rates and poorer living conditions. Saudi Arabia stressed the need to provide support that would enable Palestinians to expand their control over their natural resources. Israel’s occupation hindered development prospects. Palestinians had an inalienable right to their natural resources including land and water. They also had a right to reparations and compensations for Israel’s illegal use and waste of natural resources. He stressed the importance for Israel to adhere to international law and for the international community to adopt measures that pressured Israel to adhere to international resolutions. Israel must stop the destruction and obstruction of development policies in the State of Palestine, he stressed.

AMER HIAL Al-Hajri (Oman) said there was no doubt that the efforts made by the United Nations had made a considerable effect regarding the establishment of peace and security in the Middle East. It was a requirement of human rights to provide proper living standards for all people according to the United Nations Charter. It must be possible for the Palestinian people to act on their inalienable rights. The Palestinian people must have a right to access their own resources. Israel, the administering Power, must bring to an end its occupation and control of those resources. The international community must shoulder its moral obligation to stop the occupation which prevented farmers from working their land. “We cannot remain silent,” he stressed, calling for a just solution within stabilized borders and to putting to an end the fuelling of hatred.

Ahmed Kamil RAHEET (Iraq) affirmed the right of the Palestinian people to be integrated into the world economy and have full control over their natural resources so they could have sustainable, foreseeable income and see their general economic situation improve. Israeli occupation had a negative impact on production costs and the global economy at large. Iraq condemned the illegal confiscation of Palestinian lands. The control over natural resources and inalienable right to independence were issues that needed to be considered. International humanitarian law and human rights laws had been violated. Israeli policies that allowed the construction of settlements on Arab lands and the exploitation of natural resources made it impossible for the Palestinian people to pursue efforts for sustainable development. Iraq expressed solidarity with its brothers in Palestine and the Syrian Golan and urged parties to speed up their work to eliminate obstacles that stood in the way of the establishment of a two-State solution.

KARIA BAJANA (Nicaragua) said that the Palestinians were unable to provide for their basic needs due to an economy of occupation, particularly in the Gaza Strip, through the illegal occupation of their lands, confinement of their citizens and destruction of their infrastructure. The Israeli wall, which was aimed at stifling the Palestinians, was a crime against innocent persons. It made no sense to talk about sustainable growth with people who were under military occupation and had no control over their own natural resources. The Nicaraguan people had also suffered from foreign occupation and aggression in the past and reaffirmed the legitimacy of the struggle of the Palestinian people until they achieved an independent State, with East Jerusalem as their capital. There needed to be compliance with United Nations resolutions as an important first step.

DIANA ALI NAHAR AL-HADID (Jordan) said that sovereignty over natural resources was a prerequisite for development. An environment conducive to development must include legal and institutional structures so that policies ensuring access to the means of subsistence could be implemented. The Palestinian economy faced serious challenges, including a multilayered system of physical, institutional and administrative restrictions imposed by Israel. The World Bank estimated that those in the West Bank cost Palestinians $3.4 billion annually. Institution-building was central to Palestine’s development. She urged the Palestinian Authority and donors to develop a coordination framework to enhance aid predictability and manage financing shortfalls.

Turki M AL-MUTRI(Kuwait) said that Palestinian citizens did not benefit in an equal footing from roads, infrastructure or water resources as Israel controlled most of them. Israel had exploited 89 per cent of water resources, and the water resources and springs available to Palestinians were deteriorating. Israel continued to violate international humanitarian law through its home demolition and expanding of its illegal activities. Home demolition had increased in the West Bank and East Jerusalem where Israel had destroyed homes, schools, and mosques. Over the last three years, the occupying Power built more settlements, displacing thousands of people. The Israeli occupation continued its environmental assault by using Palestinian territory to bury its industrial waste and dirty water. The seven-year blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip was a form of collective punishment and a violation of article 43 of the Geneva Convention. The Palestinian people must be able to decide their own destiny, he stressed.

Rina SOEMARNO (Indonesia) said the right to development was the most important right for countries who wished to pursue social equality. Every State had permanent sovereignty over its natural resources, as they were a critical factor to achieving the Development Goals. The unreasonable suffering of Palestinian civilians was caused by the occupation, which promoted socioeconomic hardships. Palestinians had limited access to their natural resources, restricting their development track. Today’s deliberation would be meaningless if Member States failed to tackle some of the problems, she said, highlighting her country’s Palestinian capacity-building programme. Over the past five years, Indonesia had trained more than 1,200 Palestinians in the areas of education, agriculture and women’s empowerment. She stressed that the establishment of a Palestinian State within the pre-1967 borders would contribute to lasting peace.

Jassim Abdulrahman AL-THANI (Qatar) said it was clear how much the Palestinians were suffering because of the unjust practices of Israel that harmed the economic and social well-being of the people. The continued settlement policy of Israel further worsened the crisis since their Palestinian brothers were deprived of resources. Israeli practices resulted in the denial of the rights of the Palestinians people — to their property and their land. There was an unprecedented decline in the living conditions of the Palestinian people and an increase in unemployment. This undermined the basis of sustainable development for the Palestinian people. These were flagrant violations of the resolutions of the United Nations and ran counter to international law. Aid must be allowed to reach the populations, as demanded by the Economic and Social Council. Israel must cease its illegal measures and inhumane conditions in the Gaza Strip as its policies were a threat to international peace and security.

AHMED SAREER (Maldives) said the Middle East conflict, mired in political rhetoric and injustice, had a human face. Discriminatory practices and policies had adversely affected the living conditions of the Palestinian population with significant and dire impact on social and economic sectors, as well as natural resources and the environment. The continued lack of access to basic needs and infrastructure for those suffering from occupation was indicative of malice rather than neglect, he added. In the occupied Syrian Golan, unequal access to basic resources, such as water, disadvantaged farmers and residents, while the exploitation of natural resources and the lack of access to land, housing and discriminatory laws continued to impede the economy. Efforts to resolve the humanitarian crisis were coupled closely with efforts to solve the political crisis. It was only through the firm recognition of the State of Palestine, with territorial integrity and sovereignty over its land and national resources, that social harmony, legal equality, economic opportunity and sustainable development could be realized. Security for Israel could be achieved only through respect for human rights and rule of law, he said, adding that the United Nations must take effective action by promoting peace based on a fair partnership and equality between peoples.

Khaula ALSHAMSI (United Arab Emirates) said it was a year since the State of Palestine was recognized by the international community, however, the occupying Power, Israel, had retained tax revenues and increased the construction of settlements in violation of international rules. The dire economic conditions were attributed to the expansion of Israeli occupation policies that deprived the Palestinian people of their basic rights despite repetitive international calls. Those measures were in breach of international law and resolutions and an obstacle to peace negotiations. Israel deprived the Palestinian people of the use of natural resources, including the use of roads, infrastructure and basic services. Israel continued to build the separation wall, damage arable land, segregate the Palestinian people and isolate them from their work locations, leading to an increase in unemployment.

Bertha Angélica Rocha Ponce (Bolivia) appealed to Israel to respect the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. The occupying Power could not continue to exploit and harm Palestine’s natural resources. Israel had virtually exclusive access to water infrastructure. Approximately, 1 million Palestinians consumed only 60 litres of water per day, significantly lower than international standards. The harm caused by the Israeli settlements and denial of access to the River Jordan had excessively negative socioeconomic impact on the Palestinian people. In 2012, more than 800 olive trees were uprooted and destroyed, she continued. Moreover, the building of the wall altered and destroyed the natural habitat of certain species and negatively affected biodiversity.

Rabee JAWHARA (Syria) said that the occupying Power continued to violate international law and United Nations resolutions with its illegal and immoral acts. Settlers were systematically exhausting natural resources in the occupied lands and had benefitted from exploiting those resources. Israel was deliberately wasting those resources by restricting and denying Palestinian access to them. The occupying authority was cutting down fruit trees in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights for monetary purposes. It had also deprived citizens to farm their land, which was often their only means of subsistence. Israel was also putting pressure on Syrians to give up their land. Israel continued to remove nuclear waste and burn down trees causing damage to the ecosystem. Those immoral acts undermined development and caused suffering. Israel believed it was above the law, he said, stressing the need to put an end to its barbaric occupation.

Gholamhossein DEHGHANI (Iran) said that the “feeling of security” was the basic enabler and indicator for development. His country condemned the illegal Israeli practices aimed at the displacement or transfer of the Palestinian civilian population from strategic areas in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The blockade of Gaza continued to have a devastating impact on the people of the Gaza Strip, preventing its population from fulfilling their basic needs. Iran also considered the Golan an integral part of the Syrian Arab Republic’s territory and condemned all measures taken by the illegitimate occupying Power to undermine the territorial integrity of Syria. The issue of occupation lay at the heart of the protracted crisis situation in the Middle East and to solve it, the occupation should be terminated and the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination should be restored.

Julio Rafael Escalona Ojeda (Venezuela) said the report left no doubt that there was a long list of violations that were so grave that they constituted crimes against mankind. The list included the indiscriminate and excessive use of force that had taken lives and caused injuries; violent practices tantamount to torture; home demolitions; settler violence; denial of access to water; the dumping of toxic waste; attacks on religious sites; high rates of poverty and food insecurity; and harassment of students and teachers. Such activities were daily practices and it was not enough to denounce the practices as concrete actions needed to be taken. The only possible solution was the establishment of two States that coexisted peacefully. Nonetheless, Israel had been working to sabotage that solution and continued to expand settlements and damage Palestinian lands. The time had come to take a different path to seriously study which other feasible measures existed.

Khalil MOHAMAD (Lebanon) said there was an occupying Power that was depriving an entire population of its basic rights, including access to their lands and water. Violating such rights, which dated back to pre-history, was unacceptable in current times. The occupying Power continued to defy international laws and resolutions. Lebanon reaffirmed its attachment to the relevant United Nations resolutions and said that when the Israeli delegation spoke later in the meeting we were bound to hear that Israel was not at all concerned about the resolutions adopted by the Committee.

XOLANI MALAWANA (South Africa) said that his delegation was deeply concerned at the impact the prolonged Israeli occupation was having in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Restrictive and discriminatory practices over the Palestinian people and their natural resources had resulted in the loss of land and resources, weak economic performance, declining GDP and rising levels of unemployment. South Africa was part of international efforts to assist the Palestinian people, contributing financially to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and providing diplomatic training to Palestinian officials. However, those efforts were not enough and as the World Bank’s Economic Monitoring Report of March 2013 pointed out, while the donor community’s efforts had been directed towards short-term relief, it was important to recognize that the prolonged system of closures and restrictions was causing lasting damage to the competitiveness of the Palestinian economy.

MUNEERA ALDOSERI (Bahrain) said that economic growth in the occupied Palestinian territories was damaged by the Israeli occupation, which destroyed land and water resources, exacerbating the socioeconomic conditions. The construction of the wall had a negative impact on the living conditions and challenged international laws. Most of the separation wall was inside the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which was the most fertile land. The Israeli authorities controlled and exploited most of the water resources, leaving only 11 per cent available for Palestinian use. In addition, those measures damaged arable land and coerced farmers to leave their lands. Similar suffering was seen in the Syrian Golan and felt in all walks of life. The international community was called upon to take measures to allow the Palestinian people to take control of their resources without conditions.

GIORA BECHER (Israel) said the Second Committee was being exploited by certain Member States and their political agendas. The anti-Israeli platform was being masqueraded and it undermined the Committee’s platform as a fair and impartial body. The account heard today was unilateral and unhelpful and transformed the Palestinian cause into a deliberate attempt to delegitimize the State of Israel and presented it as a distorted version of the reality on the ground. The foundations of the accusations were outrageously biased and the delegate stated he would not reply to each claim but rather give an example of Israeli-Palestinian cooperation. In one of the only oil poor regions of the Middle East, Israel backed a project to develop a natural gas field on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. The oil field had the potential to change the fate of the Palestinian people in a major way. Israel supported projects that would help the Palestinian economy grow, although that fact was lost during the debate. Israel believed the core issues must be solved through direct, bilateral negotiations. The road to peace was through Ramallah and Jerusalem; not through the United Nations in New York.

He said that there was no blockade in Gaza and such accusations had less to do with humanitarian needs and more to do with demonizing Israel. It was outrageous that the Syrian delegate had the audacity to attack Israel. Syria was in the middle of its murderous rampage but still managed to send a mortar shell into the Golan and attack Palestinians in refugee camps within its own border. Israel’s hands remained outstretched. Israel was wiling to share its knowledge with its neighbours and work with the international community on the issues before the Committee.

Right of Reply

The representative of Syria, speaking in his right of reply, said the Israeli delegate had forgotten that he represented the worst occupation ever in the history of humanity. In Syria, Israel continued to provide weapons to armed groups and facilitate their crossings into Syria. He recalled the Security Council resolution which stipulated that whoever provided assistance to terrorists was a terrorist. Israel would continue its defiance of the international community and all relevant United Nations resolutions, which called for an end to the occupation.

The observer of the State of Palestine said that what he heard from the Israeli delegate was a typical reaction, denying all the facts coming from the United Nations, other Member States and even the people on the ground. Israel does not want to accept the reality, and they added insult to injury by lying. Israel’s delegate talked about cooperation, but cooperation for Israel was “what is mine is mine and what is yours is mine and if you don’t accept that we cannot do anything”. Today, the Israeli Government announced building 1,500 new units in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. For Israel it was easy to negotiate at the table, but on the ground they were killing people, detaining people and preventing Palestinians from exercising their basic rights. It was time for the international community to treat Israel as it treated in the past all racist regimes. It was time to act, otherwise Israel would have no motivation or interest to move towards peace and to stop causing suffering to the Palestinian people.

The representative of Israel said his country was in no way involved in the Syrian crisis and it seemed that Syria did not need any help from Israel. As far as he knew, Israel and Palestine were in the middle of negotiations for peace with both sides trying to reach an agreement by tackling the core issues of the conflict. If the two sides waited for the United Nations to act, there would be no peace and the future would be very tragic for all sides concerned.

The observer of the State of Palestine said the United Nations had a historic role in what was happening in Palestine now, as the conflict’s certificate of birth came from the United Nations.

The representative from Syria said we all bore witness to the way in which the representative of Israel had attacked even the United Nations. In addition to flouting United Nations resolutions, the Israeli entity of occupation was in fact involved in the events taking place in Syria.

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For information media • not an official record

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