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Bulletin mensuel de la DDP - Vol. XXVIII, No.5 - Bulletin du Comité pour l’exercice des droits inaliénables du peuple palestinien/DDP (mai 2005) - Publié par la Division des droits palestiniens Français

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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP)
31 May 2005

May 2005

Volume XXVIII Bulletin No. 5

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

    Secretary-General saddened by killing of Palestinian teenagers
    Secretary-General appoints Alvaro de Soto Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace process
    Middle East Quartet issues statement
    Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs briefs Security Council
    World Health Organization adopts resolution on health conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
    Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia issues report on the economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation
    International Labour Organization issues report on the situation of workers in the occupied Arab territories

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The following statement was issued on 5 May 2005 by the spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan (SG/SM/9857):

The Secretary-General was saddened to learn of the killing of two teenage boys in the West Bank village of Beit Lakiya yesterday. He took note of the suspension of the senior Israeli Defence Forces officer involved, and welcomes the Government of Israel’s announcement of a full investigation of the incident. The Secretary-General sends his condolences to the families of the victims.

The Secretary-General is concerned about the increase in violence witnessed in recent days. He hopes such incidents will not be allowed to undermine the positive developments of the past months. The Secretary-General emphasizes again that violence cannot provide a solution to the conflict, and that only through negotiations can peace be achieved.


Following is the text of the letter dated 6 May 2005 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council on the appointment of Mr. Alvaro de Soto as the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority (S/2005/306). Terje Roed-Larsen’s term had expired in December of 2004. .

I wish to inform the Security Council of my intention to appoint Mr. Alvaro de Soto as the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and my Personal Representative to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority. He would succeed Mr. Terje Roed-Larsen, who served in the position from 1 October 1999 until 31 December 2004.

Mr. de Soto is well known to the Security Council. He has served as a staff member of the United Nations for 23 years, most recently as my Special Representative for Western Sahara.

I would intend that the new Special Coordinator be guided by the principles set out in relevant Security Council resolutions and the road map framework for peace put forward by the Quartet, as endorsed by the Security Council in its resolution 1515 (2003). He would act as my Envoy to the Quartet, and do all possible to support the momentum towards peace.

Mr. de Soto’s functions and responsibilities would include coordination of all United Nations activities on the ground related to the Middle East peace process, with the aim of ensuring that the United Nations contribution is fully integrated and coordinated. As the Special Coordinator, Mr. de Soto would represent me in all meetings and structures involving the parties and the international community and provide political guidance to the United Nations family.


The Middle East Quartet issued the following final statement after its ministerial meeting held in Moscow on 9 May 2005 (A/59/803-S/2005/314).

The Quartet met today in Moscow. The Quartet emphasizes that this is a hopeful and promising moment for both Palestinians and Israelis, and that they deserve the full support of the international community in helping them with the hard work and difficult decisions required in order to make positive use of this opportunity. The Quartet welcomed the commitments of the parties at the Sharm el-Sheikh summit of 8 February 2005 and urged them to renew their efforts to fulfil the commitments they agreed to at that time, in order to maintain momentum at this fragile moment of opportunity. The Quartet, underscoring the urgency of the matter, affirms its commitment to fully support the efforts of both parties to ensure successful Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank.

The Quartet strongly reiterated its commitment to the two-state solution, and to Israeli withdrawal as a way to re-energize the Road Map. The Quartet stresses the importance of full and complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in a manner consistent with the Road Map as an important step paving the way towards realizing the vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. The Quartet affirms that a new Palestinian state must be truly viable, with contiguity in the West Bank; reminds all concerned that a state of scattered territories will not work; and emphasizes that no party should take unilateral actions that prejudge final status issues. The Quartet also affirms that the two-state vision and the Road Map are the best means of achieving a settlement negotiated between the two parties, leading to a permanent peace and an end to the occupation that began in 1967. With respect to this, the Quartet observes that the Roadmap has been endorsed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority and remains the objective of the international community, and urges both parties to take steps to fulfil all their obligations under the Road Map.

The Quartet expresses its full support for James Wolfensohn, its Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement. His mandate is to focus on the non-security aspects of withdrawal, particularly disposition of assets; passages, access and trade; and revival of the Palestinian economy during and after Israeli withdrawal. This will require close coordination with both Israel and the Palestinians to identify and implement those actions and policies that will ensure a smooth and successful implementation of the Israeli initiative. On the Palestinian side, this includes above all a strong commitment to security reform and performance, and the building of transparent, accountable government institutions and an investor-friendly climate, with a view to restoring growth. On the Israeli side, this involves relieving the economic hardships faced by the Palestinian people and facilitating rehabilitation and reconstruction by easing the system of restrictions on the movement of Palestinian people and goods and taking further steps to respect the dignity of the Palestinian people and improve their quality of life - without endangering Israeli security - and taking into consideration the World Bank report of December 2004. At the London meeting on 1 March 2005 the international community underscored its readiness to play a vital role by providing financial support to the Palestinians at this critical moment. Creating the environment conducive to a long-term, sustainable and viable economic development of all the Palestinian territories would constitute a suitable basis for additional assistance efforts by the international community.

The Quartet emphasizes Mr. Wolfensohn’s mandate to promote direct dialogue and cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis on these economic issues, to ensure a smooth transition in Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank. In this context, the Quartet stresses the urgent need for Israelis and Palestinians to coordinate directly and fully on withdrawal preparations.

The Quartet recognizes that economic development and progress on security go hand in hand as security reforms and the re-establishment of the rule of law are necessary to create an enabling environment for economic growth and political progress. The Quartet also recognizes the need for continued efforts by the international community to assist the Palestinian Authority in accomplishing these tasks, including rebuilding the capabilities of the Palestinian security services. Ongoing assistance by the international community, in particular members of the Quartet and countries of the region, constitutes a significant contribution to these efforts. The Quartet calls upon Israel and the Palestinian Authority to facilitate these efforts.

In that regard, the Quartet expresses its full support for General William Ward, United States Security Coordinator, to assist the Palestinians in reforming and restructuring their security forces, and to coordinate international assistance towards those efforts. The Quartet welcomes the recent concrete steps that President M. Abbas has taken towards reform of the Palestinian security services, and stresses the need to continue implementation of these reforms in order to permanently reinstate law and order in Gaza and the West Bank.

The Quartet commends the Palestinian people’s and leadership’s commitment to democracy and attaches great importance to a successful continuation of the democratic process. The latest round of municipal elections has just been conducted. The Quartet commends the Government of Israel for facilitating the operations. The holding of free, fair and transparent multi-party legislative elections in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, under the scrutiny of international observers, will be another vital step forward on the path towards building a reformed and accountable Palestinian Authority. As additional voter registration for these elections has just begun, the Quartet calls on both the Palestinian Authority and Israel to urgently take all necessary steps, including freedom of movement for candidates and voters, to achieve this goal and renews its offers of technical support and providing election observation services.

The Quartet deems it necessary to ensure continued efforts aimed at full implementation of the Road Map following Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank.

The Quartet reiterates its commitment to the principles outlined in its previous statements, including those of 1 March 2005 and 4 May 2004, reaffirms its commitment to a just, comprehensive, and lasting settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict based upon United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), and will remain engaged with all parties to help ensure that progress towards this goal is achieved.


On 19 May 2005, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast briefed the Security Council on the situation in Middle East, including the Palestinian question. Excerpts from the briefing are reproduced below (S/PV.5181).

I would like to start, if I may, with the Quartet meeting held in Moscow on 9 May. The aim of the meeting was to review the current situation in the Middle East, with a particular focus on Gaza disengagement. The Secretary-General, Secretary of State Rice, European Union High Representative Solana and their host, the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, Sergey Lavrov, took the opportunity to reiterate the Quartet’s commitment to the two-State solution and their support for Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank as a way of re-energizing the road map. The principals reminded both parties of the need to avoid unilateral actions that might pre-judge final status issues, and they urged the parties to implement their obligations under the road map.

The Quartet’s substantive discussion focused on how best to help the parties maintain the momentum at this fragile moment of opportunity. The Quartet expressed its full support for the important tasks of its Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement, Mr. James Wolfensohn, and for Lieutenant-General William Ward, United States Security Coordinator, both of whom were present at the meeting in Moscow.

Fortunately, the stated readiness of Israelis and Palestinians to coordinate the Israeli disengagement has begun to be reflected in practice. On 21 April, direct talks were renewed between the parties after a gap of more than a month. The various players included the Israeli Vice Prime Minister and Defence Minister as well as Prime Minister Sharon’s senior adviser and, on the Palestinian side, the Prime Minister, the Minister for Civil Affairs and the Palestinian Chief Negotiator. We hope that in the near future, Prime Minister Sharon and President Abbas will continue the dialogue that they began at Sharm el-Sheikh in February.

In recent weeks and months, the Palestinian Authority continued to take specific steps towards reforming the structure of the security services. As confirmed by Lieutenant-General Ward, there was ongoing work to consolidate the fragmented Palestinian security services into three agencies under the authority of the Ministry of Interior. New heads of the security services have been appointed and the security retirement law is being implemented. Furthermore, both President Abbas and Interior Minister Yousef issued strong statements concerning the illegal possession of arms.

Events on the ground can be an accurate indicator of the underlying dynamic of a situation. The current level of violence between Palestinians and Israelis still remains far below that which prevailed before the Sharm el-Sheikh summit. However, as I pointed out in last month’s briefing, we are concerned by reports of a slow but steady increase in violent incidents, compounding a corresponding deterioration in trust and confidence between the two sides. The violence included attacks by Palestinian militants against Israelis, clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protestors and Israeli arrest operations against wanted militants. Eight Palestinians and one Israeli were killed, and some 133 Palestinians and 25 Israelis were injured. Among the fatalities were two Palestinian teenagers who were shot when a group of youths threw stones at Israeli bulldozers working on the construction of the barrier near Beit Lakia in the West Bank. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) are reportedly investigating that tragic and most unfortunate incident.

It is also cause for grave concern that the Israeli security forces reported intercepting a number of would-be suicide bombers in the West Bank. On 4 May, the IDF discovered and detonated a 40-kilogram bomb north of the Sufa crossing between Gaza and Israel. In Gaza, Palestinian militants resumed firing mortar shells and Qassam rockets, fortunately causing no casualties, but damaging properties in Israeli settlements and in Israeli villages and towns outside the Gaza Strip.

There is no doubt as to the legitimacy of Israel’s security concerns. The Palestinian Authority must strengthen its efforts to end all violent activity and must produce tangible results on the ground. Meanwhile, Israel can and should do more to support the Palestinian leadership in its difficult task. The doubts and the suspicions on both sides may be understandable, but they need to be addressed through constructive engagement and sustained bilateral contacts.

Specifically, we urge Israel to work directly with the Palestinians to find a way to implement the commitments made at Sharm el-Sheikh. Further delays in handing over the remaining three Palestinian cities and in releasing prisoners threaten seriously to undermine President Abbas. It would be difficult for the Palestinian Authority to undertake sustained and sustainable action on security unless it is aided and supported in its efforts to rein in the militants. A significant and positive step forward in that context is Israel’s reported approval of the deployment of hundreds of armed Palestinian police in all West Bank cities in order to strengthen the Palestinian Authority ahead of a transfer of further areas to Palestinian security control.

On 5 May, Palestinians held a second round of local elections in 84 municipalities in Gaza and the West Bank. Hamas won a substantial share of the vote and of the municipal councils. That is an indication of the support the militants enjoy among the Palestinian population, partly as a result of their engagement in social welfare activities. But it also reflects popular frustration with the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinians continued with their preparations for the legislative elections still scheduled for 17 July. On 20 April, the Palestinian Legislative Council gave preliminary approval to a revised electoral law for the legislative vote, which envisages a two-to-one mix of constituency-based and national representation. A date for the third and final reading of the law has not yet been set.

Additional voter registration in preparation for the elections began on 7 May and will last until 21 May. Regrettably, on 10 May the Israeli authorities closed two voter registration centres and briefly detained two members of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission staff in East Jerusalem. We reiterate the Quartet’s call on both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to undertake the steps necessary to ensure free, credible and transparent multi-party legislative elections in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, including through the facilitation and conduct of the voter registration.

We remain extremely concerned about the continued construction of Israel’s barrier in the West Bank. On Monday, 16 May, the Israeli High Court of Justice rescinded the temporary injunctions it had previously imposed on the construction of the barrier around the West Bank settlement of Ariel. The route of the barrier in this area cuts deeply into occupied Palestinian territory. That is worrying not only because of the effects of the barrier on the daily lives of Palestinians, but also because it threatens unilaterally to prejudge the outcome of eventual bilateral negotiations between the parties.


On 23 May 2005, the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted the following resolution (WHA 58.6)

Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory including East Jerusalem and in the occupied Syrian Golan

The Fifty-eighth World Health Assembly,

Mindful of the basic principle established in the Constitution of WHO, which affirms that the health of all peoples is fundamental to the attainment of peace and security;

Recalling all its previous resolutions on health conditions in the occupied Arab territories;

Expressing appreciation for the report of the Director-General on the health conditions of, and assistance to, the Arab population in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine;

Expressing its concern at the deterioration of the economic and health conditions as well as the humanitarian crises
resulting from the continued occupation and the severe restrictions imposed by Israel, the occupying power;

Affirming the right of Palestinian patients and medical staff to the health facilities available at the Palestinian health institutions in occupied East Jerusalem;

Deploring the impact on the Palestinian environment and in particular on Palestinian water resources of the disposal of Israeli waste in the West Bank;

Concerned about the possible health effects on the Palestinian people of the “enhanced X-ray machine” used by Israel at Palestinian border-crossing points,

1. CALLS UPON Israel, the occupying power, to halt immediately all its practices, policies and plans which seriously affect the health conditions of civilians under occupation;

2. DEMANDS that Israel reverse its practice of dumping waste in the occupied Palestinian territory;

3. EXTENDS its gratitude to Member States, and to intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations for their continued support in meeting the health needs of the Palestinian people;

4. EXPRESSES its deep appreciation to the Director-General for his efforts to provide necessary assistance to the Palestinian people, the rest of the Arab population in the occupied Arab territories, and other peoples of the region;

5. REQUESTS the Director-General:

(1) to submit a fact-finding report on the health and economic situation in the occupied Palestinian territory; (2) to undertake without delay an independent health-impact assessment of the “enhanced X-ray machine” used by Israel at Palestinian border-crossing points; (3) to take urgent steps, in cooperation with Member States, to support the Palestinian Ministry of Health in its efforts to overcome the current difficulties and to help it during and after the announced Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank, in particular so as to guarantee the free movement of all health personnel and patients within and out of the occupied Palestinian territory including East Jerusalem, and the normal provision of medical supplies to the Palestinian medical premises; (4) to provide health-related technical assistance to the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan; (5) to continue providing necessary technical assistance to meet the health needs of the Palestinian people, including the handicapped and injured; (6) to support the development of the health system in Palestine including development of human resources; (7) to report on implementation of this resolution to the Fifty-ninth World Health Assembly.

Eighth plenary meeting,
23 May 2005


On 24 May 2005, the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia issued a report on the economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan, the summary of which is excerpted below (A/60/65-E/2005/13).

The occupation of Palestinian territory by Israel continues to deepen the economic and social hardship for Palestinians. In response to real or perceived attacks by Palestinian armed elements, the Israeli army continues to resort to arbitrary detention, home demolition, severe mobility restrictions and closure policies.

Economic indicators continue to show negative trends: high unemployment; greater dependency on food aid; and untold losses from physical destruction of Palestinian homes, public buildings, agricultural assets, infrastructure and private property. That state of affairs has exacerbated poverty, rendering more than 2.2 million Palestinians poor.

Israel’s confiscation of Palestinian land and water resources for settlements and the erection of the West Bank barrier accelerated during 2004. Refugees, women and children bear a significant brunt of those measures. Malnutrition and other health problems afflict a growing number of Palestinians at a time of curtailed access to needed services. Over 60 per cent of children below 2 years of age, 36 per cent of pregnant women, and over 43 per cent of nursing mothers in the Gaza Strip are anemic. An estimated 38 per cent of the Palestinian population is food insecure. Israeli restrictions regularly impede humanitarian services to the occupied Palestinian territory.

Israeli settlements, land confiscation and the construction of a barrier in the occupied Palestinian territory, contrary to the Geneva Convention and other norms of international law, isolate occupied East Jerusalem, bisect the West Bank, curtail normal economic and social life, and continue to fuel the conflict. In 2004, the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip grew to 250,179, which is a 6 per cent increase from 2003.


On 27 May 2005, the Director-General of the International Labour Office Juan Somavia, issued a report entitled “The Situation of Workers in the Occupied Arab Territories”, which is excerpted below.

The mission this year has witnessed a new climate of confidence and dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, nurtured by the consolidation and democratization of Palestinian institutions, a new political base of the Israeli Government, a lower degree of violence and renewed dialogue between the two sides at the political and operational levels. There has been a moderate decrease in the intensity of closures and a major decision by Israel to withdraw settlements and military forces from inside the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank. This willingness to engage in dialogue was also apparent among the social partners on both sides during the mission. One recent example is the meeting organized by the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions in Brussels on 14 April 2005, which brought together Israeli and Palestinian trade unions. The organizations agreed to move forward quickly on finalizing a joint cooperation agreement, which would address some key issues such as access for Palestinian workers to employment in Israel, relief funds for Palestinian workers and their families, action to prevent and resolve cases of exploitation of Palestinian workers, implementation of a March 1995 Cooperation Framework, and prospects for future cooperation between the two organizations. This is indeed a welcome development.

Business associations are in the process of holding elections, which they have not done for 14 years, pending the adoption of the chamber of commerce law in the Palestinian Legislative Council. Local trade union elections have started taking place for the first time in nearly ten years and they are heading for a national congress and national elections by the end of 2006. I wish that these congresses could take place in the Palestinian territories, bringing members from the West Bank and Gaza together with full freedom of movement. A further positive step is the recent appointment by the Quartet (the European Union, the Russian Federation, the United Nations and the United States of America) of James D. Wolfensohn as Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement. The Quartet mandated the Special Envoy to “work with the Palestinians on specific reforms and steps to promote economic recovery and growth, democracy, good governance and transparency, job creation and improved living standards”. I welcome Mr. Wolfensohn's appointment and his mandate, and pledge the support of the International Labour Organization for his work. The new configuration of the Israeli Government with supporting representation in the Knesset may also enhance the possibilities of wider backing for complex decisions that need to be taken.

While welcoming the atmosphere of cautious optimism, I have to draw attention to a number of worrying developments. Since last year's report, the construction of the Separation Barrier has proceeded rapidly and settlement construction in the West Bank has continued, along with closures, checkpoints, roadblocks, permits and other aspects of occupation, restricting movement of persons and goods in and around the territories and aggravating a situation of pervasive unemployment and poverty of workers and their families. While the Israeli authorities insist that the Separation Barrier is to stop possible attacks by Palestinians entering Israel from the West Bank, much of construction is taking place inside the West Bank – encircling cities and villages and curtailing movement of Palestinians, separating them from their places of work and from basic services (including education and health). The mission members often heard the word “prison” used to refer to the encircled West Bank cities and portions of territories.

Last year (2004), Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were among the recipients of the largest amount of donor aid per capita in the world. While the Palestinian economy continues to need this support, it is the opinion of the mission that unless Israel takes concrete steps to lift the closures that block the flow of Palestinian people and goods, this massive assistance will not contribute to a sustainable economy and society. Without free movement of people within the territories, normal trade relations with the outside and reasonable access to employment in Israel, it is difficult to expect that investments will materialize in the Gaza Strip even after the disengagement.

The reality is stark: despite positive growth in domestic output in 2004 following four years of negative growth in the Palestinian economy, the unemployment rate increased to close to 26 per cent, representing a record 224,000 unemployed. Unemployment is not the only concern, however. The very low rates of labour force participation and employment have become an inherent characteristic of the labour markets in the occupied territories. Fewer than half of men of working age and 10 per cent of women of working age are in employment. Every employed person in the region supports six persons in the total population and the majority of them are working poor, struggling for survival. Of particular concern is the situation of young people. The unemployment rate of the 15-24-year-old age group is 40 per cent – one and a half times the aggregate rate. More disconcerting is the number of young people who are neither in employment nor studying. One in three young persons aged 15-24 years and over half of those aged 25-29 years are in forced idleness, attesting to the exceptional circumstances prevailing in the occupied territories. Idleness among young people faced with military occupation makes a fertile breeding ground for extremism and violence. This situation requires urgent attention in the form of significant assistance in vocational training, business development and employment orientation specifically directed at young women and men. Against this background, and not surprisingly, poverty remains widespread in the occupied territories. Approximately half of the population, 1.8 million persons, live below the national poverty threshold. Moreover, poverty is prevalent not only among the unemployed but also among the employed. Last year, an average of 57 per cent of all wage workers in the occupied territories received monthly wages that failed to lift a standard family of two adults and four children above the official poverty line. Moreover, labour productivity has been on a declining trend in recent years.

The outlook remains extremely fragile. The disengagement plan announced by Israel aiming to reduce the number of Palestinian workers in Israel to zero by 2008 could severely restrict income opportunities and the prospects for poverty alleviation. Even with strong economic growth and employment creation in the coming years, the full absorption of 39,000 new yearly entrants into the labour market, plus a considerable reduction of existing unemployment, are a daunting task. Employment in Israel is essential until the Palestinian economy reaches a sustainable rate of growth that will generate domestic employment in proportion to the increase in the labour force. Furthermore, the mission heard from Israeli employers that Palestinian workers are needed and welcome, provided that security requirements are met. The time may be right for the negotiation of a new agreement between the two sides detailing the framework of employment opportunities for Palestinians in Israel, which, I believe, is essential for future stability. Decent and productive work for all emerges once again as the best route out of poverty and, in the present context, out of conflict, and dialogue at all levels is the way forward. The mission observed a prevailing feeling that the economic situation of Palestinians must rapidly improve in order for them to continue to support the policy of dialogue and negotiation with Israel. This calls for a rapid lifting of closures, better access to the Israeli labour market and improved trade facilities, as well as putting an end to discrimination against Arab people in the occupied Syrian Golan.


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