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Souveraineté sur les ressources naturelles dans le territoires arabes occupés - débat de la 2ème Commission de l'AG - Communiqué de presse (extraits) Français
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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
General Assembly
20 October 2006



General Assembly
GA/EF/3157

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

Sixty-first General Assembly
Second Committee
17th Meeting (AM)

SPEAKERS BLAME ISRAEL FOR DETERIORATING SITUATION IN OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

AS SECOND COMMITTEE TAKES UP ARAB SOVEREIGNTY OVER NATURAL RESOURCES

Delegates Also Continue General Discussion on Globalization, Interdependence


The deteriorating economic, social and humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the Syrian Golan was a result of Israel’s policies, which continued to damage the environment and destroy or contaminate Arab homes, lands, crops, trees, water and other natural resources, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) heard today.

As the Committee considered the issue of permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people and of the Arab population, in the occupied Syrian Golan, over their natural resources, Malaysia’s representative expressed concern about the long-term economic and social situation, noting that, while the Palestinian economy had grown by 6 per cent in 2005, it had done so from a very low base.  In addition, the population had outpaced gross domestic product (GDP) growth, while the number of unemployed had swelled.

He pointed out that the report, under consideration by the Committee, failed to capture the latest developments, most notably, the victory of Hamas in the July Legislative Council elections, which had resulted in the halting of international aid and assistance, further exacerbating the already critical situation in Palestine.  A summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, hosted by Malaysia, in August, had called for the release of all Palestinian detainees in Israel; Israel’s unconditional withdrawal from the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem; for the Security Council to assume its responsibility to compel Israel to respect international law; and for the international community to respect the outcome of the Palestinian elections.

The Observer for Palestine urged the international community to consider the long-term effect on future Palestinian generations, of helplessly watching the theft of their land, water and other resources.  Decades of Israeli occupation had created a devastating effect in the West Bank, for example, where residents of illegal Israeli settlements dumped hazardous, untreated chemical wastes onto Palestinian lands.  Meanwhile, the settlements and the illegal wall blocked Palestinians from reaching educational, health and other vital facilities, while hindering their economic prospects.

Syria’s representative noted that the Syrian Golan was in no better position than the Palestinian Territories, as Israel continued to build settlements, confiscate lands and plant mines in its fields.  The occupation deprived Syrians, in that area, of a large portion of their agricultural lands and put some of it to military uses, all in violation of international law.  The Israelis also placed high taxes on Syrian agricultural products and dumped nuclear waste on Syrian lands.

Israel’s delegate, stressing his country’s vested interest in improving the state of the Palestinian economy, for the benefit of both sides, said, progress to that end depended on a stable security situation.  There could be no economic cooperation, as long as the Hamas Government continued to pursue a policy of terror against Israeli citizens and to ignore the three benchmarks put to the Palestinian Authority by the international community.  Since Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip, in September, there had been a dramatic increase in attempts to perpetrate terrorist attacks in Israel and Hamas had been intensively involved in those actions and in helping other terrorist groups to carry out similar actions.  The security fence was a defensive measure against terrorists.

Regarding the fence and water issues, he emphasized that 96 per cent of water wells, in the West Bank, were on the eastern side of the fence and were not affected by it in any way.  Twenty-two wells, or 4 per cent, were located west of the fence and were continuously in operation.  Concerning restrictions on the movement of goods and persons, those actions were necessitated by Israel’s need to provide its citizens with security, in the face of the Palestinian Government’s fostering of a culture of ongoing armed confrontation and disregard for the economic welfare of its own population, which had created the setting for the continued escalation of terrorism and violence.

The representative of the United Arab Emirates said Israel had seized water sources in the occupied Territories or contaminated them with refuse and waste.  It had also confiscated Palestinian land and levelled agricultural areas, as it damaged crops and irrigation networks.  Recent international reports affirmed that, as a result of the Israeli occupation, more than two thirds of Palestinians lived below the poverty line, over 40 per cent were unemployed and more than half of the children suffered from malnutrition and had great difficulty getting a basic education.

Other speakers on that topic included the representatives of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Indonesia, Kuwait, Jordan and Algeria.

The representative of Syria made statements in exercise of the right of reply, as did the observer for Palestine.

Mervat Tallawy, Executive Secretary to the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), introduced that body’s report for the Committee’s consideration.

Earlier in today’s meeting, the Committee continued its general debate on the question of globalization and interdependence, during which delegates voiced hopes that the recent High-level Dialogue on Migration and Development would lead to a Global Forum that could maintain momentum on that important issue.  Among the topics discussed were global anti-corruption efforts and the role of innovation, science and technology, in pursuing development.

Speakers in that discussion included the representatives of Romania, Guinea, Albania, Mexico and Kazakhstan.

The Second Committee will meet again on Monday, 23 October, when it is expected to conclude its debate on globalization and interdependence.

Background

The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met, this morning, to discuss 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.  It was also expected to continue its debate on globalization and interdependence.

Before the Committee was a note, by the Secretary-General, transmitting a report of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia 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 (document A/61/67-E/2006/13).

The report states that, in its resolution 2005/51, the Economic and Social Council stressed the importance of reviving the Middle East peace process, on the basis of various Security Council resolutions.  Israel’s occupation of Palestinian Territory continues to deepen the economic and social hardships faced by the Palestinians and its confiscation of Palestinian land and water resources for settlements and the construction of the West Bank barrier, accelerated during 2005.

According to the report, Israeli settlements, land confiscation and barrier construction, contrary to the Geneva Convention and other norms of international law, isolate occupied East Jerusalem, bisect the West Bank and curtail normal economic and social life.  Refugees, women and children bear the brunt of these measures, while malnutrition and other health problems afflict a growing number of Palestinians, due to the curtailment of access to needed services.

Introduction of Reports

MERVAT TALLAWY, Executive Secretary to the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), introduced the Secretary-General’s note, transmitting the report of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia 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 (document A/61/67-E/2006/13).

She said the numbers of Palestinian deaths and injuries, resulting from Israel’s disproportionate use of force and extrajudicial killings, were increasing.  Arbitrary arrests and detentions continued, while more than 9,000 Palestinian political prisoners remained in Israeli prisons.  Property destruction and confiscation also continued.

During the course of last year, she said, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) had recorded a total of 224 Palestinian structures (residential houses, agricultural houses, tents) demolished by the Israeli army in the West Bank.  Israel’s mobility restrictions and closure policies, a primary cause of the poverty and humanitarian crisis, had severed Palestinian access to health and education services, employment, markets and social and religious networks.  Unemployment stood at 23 per cent and poverty rates at 62 per cent.

Questions and Answers

The observer for Palestine, praising the report for leaving no shadow of doubt about the consequences of Israel’s illegal actions against the people of Palestine and the region’s natural resources, requested that future reports include figures reflecting the total losses from 39 years of occupation.

The representative of Sudan asked why the report did not contain proposals for ending the suffering of people, in the occupied Syrian Golan and the Palestinians, since the inhuman practices of the Israeli occupying Power made it impossible for them to achieve their development goals.  By allowing the Israeli occupation to continue for nearly 40 years, the international community had shown that it could not deal with the region’s humanitarian crises, and indicated that it did not seem to have the power to prevent others from engaging in occupation either.

In response, Ms. TALLAWY said that a paragraph on the total losses over 39 years could easily be incorporated in next year’s report, accompanied by analysis.  On the report’s failure to propose solutions to the suffering of the Palestinian people, that would require no less than a comprehensive peace settlement.

The representatives of Kuwait and Egypt asked about environmental degradation as a consequence of occupation, in particular, why the report did not address the issue of pollution from Israel’s nuclear reactors.

Ms. TALLAWY responded by saying that, while those were indeed issues of concern to the entire region, they were not covered by ESCWA’s mandate.  If delegates wished ESCWA to write about that issue in future reports, they were invited to pass a resolution, mandating it to do so.  The Commission’s reports must reflect documented events, and unless they were documented, they could not be mentioned in the report.  ESCWA had approached the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to that end, but had not received any response.

Statements

AMMAR HIJAZI, Observer for Palestine, said that Israel’s 39 years of occupation had had a devastating effect on the natural resources of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan.  The international community must think about the longer-term effect on future Palestinian generations, of watching, helplessly, as their land, water, and other natural resources were stolen.  Israel continued to construct the illegal wall and expand illegal settlements in the West Bank, in open defiance of the relevant Security Council resolutions.  Its outright theft of Palestinian water resources was an example of the situation.

The illegal wall and settlements impeded Palestinians from reaching education, health and other vital facilities, he said.  The environment was another victim of Israel’s abuses.  In the West Bank, for example, the illegal Israeli settlements drained and dumped liquid and hazardous untreated chemical wastes onto Palestinian lands.  Member States must assume their responsibilities according to international law, until the question of Palestine was resolved, in all its aspects and in a satisfactory manner, on the basis of international legality.

JAMAL HUSEIN ALZAABI ( United Arab Emirates) said the Palestinian people continued to live in a humanitarian crisis, which could only be described as a human tragedy.  The continued occupation of Palestinian land, as well as the hostile policies and war crimes, committed by the Israeli occupying Power, including military incursion into Palestinian cities, had resulted in civilian deaths, the demolition of houses and infrastructure, and the destruction of farm lands that were the main source of livelihood for many people.  Israel continued to restrict the movement of people and goods, through its control of the borders and trade passages in those areas.  It divided Palestinian lands and blockaded cities in flagrant defiance of internationally legitimate resolutions and in blatant violation of international humanitarian law, including its building of the separation wall.

He said Israel had also seized water sources, or contaminated them with refuse and waste from Israeli settlements, in the Occupied Territories.  They had confiscated Palestinian land, levelled agricultural land and damaged crops and irrigation networks.  Recent international reports affirmed that, as a result of the Israeli occupation, more than two thirds of Palestinians lived below the poverty line.  More than 40 per cent were unemployed and more than half of the children suffered from malnutrition and had great difficulty getting a basic education.

As for the Syrian Golan, he said, confiscations had reduced the percentage of Arab-held lands there to a mere 6 per cent of the original total.  Severe restrictions on movement between the Golan and Syria disconnected families and denied individuals work and education opportunities.  The United Arab Emirates reaffirmed their solidarity with the Palestinian people and supported the establishment of an independent Palestinian State, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.  The international community should take the necessary measures, to compel Israel to implement all international resolutions concerning the Palestinian question, while affirming the inalienable rights of the Palestinians to exercise sovereignty over their land and water, and urge it to heed the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice of July 2004, that the separation wall was unlawful.

ABDUL RAHIM BAKRI ( Malaysia) said the information contained in the report could very well be outdated, since it was dated 3 May 2006.  It failed to capture the latest developments, most notably Hamas’ victory in the July Legislative Council elections.  That development had resulted in the cessation of aid and assistance from the developed world, which had exacerbated the already critical situation in Palestine.  The report also did not reflect the suffering experienced by the Palestinian people since the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip, which had begun on 25 June and continued to the present day.

He said his country was concerned about the long-term economic and social situation in the area.  The illegal construction of the barrier had made life untenable, as had the confiscation of Palestinian land and incremental eviction orders, for which no compensation had been paid.  The barrier had severely restricted people’s movements, affecting employment and job creation.  At the same time, the illegally expanding Israeli settlements consumed a disproportionately large amount of resources, amounting to 83 per cent of the West Bank’s aquifers, as well as draining liquid waste into Palestinian lands.

While the Palestinian economy had grown by 6 per cent in 2005, it had done so from a very low base, he noted.  Per capita gross domestic product (GDP) had fallen, however, because population growth had been higher than GDP growth, and the number of unemployed had swelled.  Malaysia had helped to supplement the budget of the 16 Palestinian governorates with $16 million in financial contributions.  A Declaration on the Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, decided by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Summit, held in Malaysia in August, had called for the release of all Palestinian detainees in Israel; the unconditional withdrawal of Israel from the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem; for the Security Council to assume its responsibility to compel Israel to respect international law; and for the international community to respect the outcome of the Palestinian elections.

BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria), noting that 2006 marked 40 years of occupation, said the Palestinian lands and the occupied Syrian Golan had been subjected to well-documented violations of human rights.  The report showed important aspects of suffering and complemented many other reports made, over the years, by various United Nations agencies.  Israel’s occupation had led to economic and social oppression.

Israel was still damaging the natural resources of the region, by uprooting and destroying trees, contaminating the water and the overall environment, he said.  It continued to build the racist barrier, contrary to United Nations resolutions, and to confiscate large amounts of Palestinian Territory.  The occupied Syrian Golan was in no better position than the Palestinian Territories, as Israel continued to build settlements and confiscate lands and plant mines in the fields.  It deprived Syrians of the use of a large portion of their agricultural lands and put some of it to military uses, all in violation of international law.  The Israelis placed high taxes on Syrian agricultural products and dumped nuclear waste on Syrian lands.

AHMED AL-MUHARRAQI ( Bahrain) said the report before the Committee showed that natural resources were being drained, from the Occupied Territories, for Israeli use, contrary to several United Nations resolutions that reaffirmed the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and those of the Syrian Golan to exercise sovereignty over their natural resources.  The international community should compel Israel not to go on exploiting those natural resources, since it would lead to their deterioration.  Their rightful owners were not being compensated, as per international agreements, which, regrettably, Israel had not respected.  It had also failed to respect the international legal opinion on the racist separation wall, which had cut off the Palestinians from their lands.

He said Israel used a large proportion of Palestinian water, in the West Bank, which was needed for agricultural use.  Its dumping of liquid waste from Israeli colonies and settlements, in addition to pollution by Israeli forces, was insupportable.  Closure policies, in some areas, had also led to waste being dumped in the Gaza Strip.

According to the World Bank, GDP growth had dropped in recent years, he said, adding that the rate was much lower than that of 1999.  As for the occupied Syrian Golan, restrictions on the use of that land was also detrimental to economic growth.  The Syrian Arabs had lost land traditionally used for pasture, leading them to depend on Israel’s agricultural industry, mainly in cheese production, for their survival.  Bahrain stressed the need for a comprehensive, fair and just peace in the region, as reflected in Arab initiatives, and urged the international community to request Israel to restore the pre-1967 borders, as per United Nations resolutions.

MOSSAD ALSULEEM ( Saudi Arabia) said there was no doubt that Israeli practices violated human rights treaties and international law, leading to the exodus, destruction, killing and imprisonment of Palestinians, without justification.  Those actions had brought about a vicious cycle of terrorism and extremism.  To help alleviate the situation, Saudi Arabia had submitted a proposal on a peace initiative, adopted at the Arab summit in Beirut, in addition to providing financial assistance to the Palestinian people.  Saudi Arabia also called on the international community to compel Israel to release Palestinian revenues.  Indeed, such problems could not be resolved by sending soldiers and rockets to the area; what was needed were resolutions based on the principles of fairness and justice, and an end to the victimization of the Palestinians.

MOHAMED EDREES ( Egypt) said the facts and numbers in the report showed the situation of the Palestinian people was deteriorating and they were struggling to survive, while lacking the minimum standards for survival.  The number of prisoners had reached 9,000 and the Israelis had continued to confiscate Palestinian land.  They continued to build the barrier, as well as the practice of destroying land and crops.  Closures were halting the progress of the Palestinian people, 62 per cent of whom lived below the poverty line, and 23 per cent of whom were unemployed.

The Israelis were destroying wells and using more water than the Palestinians, he said, noting that they were taking other negative measures on the environment, including the dumping of dangerous nuclear waste, all of which hurt Palestinian economic prospects.  Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip should have led to improved economic conditions for the Palestinian people, but they could not improve those conditions owing to closures and restrictions.  A comprehensive and just peace must be achieved.

PRAYONO ATIYANTO ( Indonesia) said that, while the world was preoccupied with development, the Palestinians had to struggle merely to survive.  Indeed, no group of people could realize the Millennium Development Goals, when their attention was devoted to escaping violence, and when access to health and education services, employment, markets and assistance were severely restricted.  Under such conditions, it was also not likely that their deep sense of anger over the situation would ever subside.

The only solution to the problem was to stop denying the economic, social and political rights of the Palestinian people, he said.  Indonesia called for a restoration of the national unity and territorial integrity of Palestine, for the removal of restrictions going in and out of East Jerusalem, and for guaranteed freedom of movement to and from the outside world.  The right of the people to their natural resources must also be respected.  Meanwhile, the world should rededicate itself to peace in the Middle East and the creation of a viable Palestinian State, on the basis of United Nations resolutions, the Quartet’s Road Map and the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002.

NASSER AL GHANIM ( Kuwait) said the report had shown that Israel was the main cause of the suffering and worsening health in the Occupied Territories.  That country’s extreme use of military force, on a broad scale, had not only led to death, but also to the destruction of public infrastructure, homes and agricultural lands, contrary to internationally agreed principles to protect civilians, in a time of war.  Hardships brought about by Israel’s actions were made worse by its exploitation of resources.  Restricting the movement of people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the Syrian Golan, as well as the building of settlements on those occupied lands, were unlawful.

He said employment opportunities in the occupied areas were non-existent and unemployment was extremely high.  Restrictive measures prevented approximately 10,000 people from going to work, a situation exacerbated by the fact that 25 per cent of the population already lived in poverty.  The Israeli army had, also, destroyed orchards and other agricultural lands, water canals used for irrigation, and 200 wells in the Gaza Strip, further worsening the people’s plight.  Those actions had happened at the same time as the halting of foreign assistance and salaries for State employees.

In the Syrian Golan, he said, the report gave an account of land seizures of up to 1,150 square kilometres, as well as Israel’s seizure of water networks.  The international community should unite to bring about peace in the region, which was not possible without Israeli withdrawal from all occupied areas.

BASHEER F. ZOUBI ( Jordan) said the scope of repercussions, by the Israeli occupation, went beyond economic and social dimensions, which were, in themselves, quite extensive.  Illegal Israeli settlements and the separation wall had a direct negative effect on the economic and social lives of the people under occupation, as the report had shown.  It was ironic that while the rest of the world was working towards the Millennium Development Goals, Israel was systematically and deliberately working to undermine the development of the people under its occupation.

Noting that the systematic Israeli practices hindered peace, with serious negative effects on the road map, he called upon Israel to cease all settlement activities in the Occupied Territories, to stop the construction of the separation wall, to return the properties it had seized, and pay compensation for the damage inflicted.

BENFREHA NOREDAWE ( Algeria) said it was clear, from the report, that the deliberate Israeli policy to impoverish the population of the Occupied Territories had brought about a humanitarian crisis.  Armed conflict tended to lower living standards, especially when States engaged in collective punishment of peoples, as had happened in both the Occupied Palestinian Territories and in Lebanon.  It was up to the international community to stop that from happening.

He said Israel continued to detain people arbitrarily and had imposed draconian restrictive measures that prevented Palestinian access to health services, work and school.  It had also continued to confiscate water and land, for the benefit of Israeli settlers.  Meanwhile, the unlawful building of a separation barrier not only impeded national unity and territorial integrity, but was also an obstacle to normal economic and social life.  Now more than ever, the international community must respect its commitment to the Palestinians and the people of the Syrian Golan.  Conditions must be set to bring about lasting peace in the region.

UZI MANOR ( Israel) said his country had a vested interest in improving the state of the Palestinian economy, for the benefit of both sides.  Progress depended, first and foremost, on a stable security situation and cooperation by the Palestinians and the international community.  There could be no economic cooperation, as long as the Hamas government continued to pursue a policy of terror, against Israeli citizens, and to ignore the three benchmarks put to the Palestinian Authority, by the international community.

He said Israel had completed its disengagement, from the Gaza Strip, in September and since then, there had been a dramatic increase in attempts to perpetrate terrorist attacks, in Israel.  Hamas had been intensively involved in terrorist actions and in helping other terrorist groups to carry out attacks against Israel, which had faced numerous attempted kidnapping and rocket attacks.  Those facts were totally ignored by the one-sided report submitted to the Committee.

The security fence was a defensive measure, to prevent terrorists from carrying out attacks in Israel, he said.  As for the water issue, 96 per cent of the wells, in the West Bank, were on the eastern side of the fence and not affected by it in any way.  Twenty-two wells, or 4 per cent, were located west of the fence and were continuously in operation.  Concerning restrictions, on the movement of goods and people, the Palestinian Government’s fostering of a culture of ongoing armed confrontation and disregard for the economic welfare, of its own population, had created the setting for the continued escalation of terrorism and violence.  Israel had to take appropriate and necessary steps to provide its citizens with security.

Finally, Israel would like to see the Palestinians, its neighbours, achieve the Millennium Development Goals and had collaborated, with other countries and international organizations, to help them in that regard, by sharing its experience and providing financial support.  But, no positive development could be achieved, in the Palestinian Territories or elsewhere, without the existence of the basic condition of peace and goodwill, by all concerned.  Terrorism was not consistent with that condition.  Palestinian terrorism was the greatest obstacle to peace, economic development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

Rights of Reply

The observer for Palestine, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said the Israeli delegate had chosen to run away from relevant topics because, unable to defend his country’s actions, he was left with no resort but to talk about issues of no relevance or consequence to the debate.  There was no balance between an occupying army and the razing of family.

Pointing out that the Palestinian people continued to suffer, he said, those in the Gaza Strip had been terrified by sonic booms and were the victims of relentless bombing.  Although Israel said the wall was for security reasons, the international community had found it to be illegal.  The Israeli claim of security was, therefore, irrelevant.  How could they achieve peace and security by demolishing structures and confiscating land?

The representative of Syria said the Golan was still occupied, contrary to several United Nations resolutions that criticized the occupation and deplored the tragic situation, in the area, as well as the violation of human rights.  When would the Israelis understand that the era of advocating occupation and the building of walls ran against history and human values?  The international community must fight the Israeli occupation and rights violations, in accordance with United Nations resolutions.

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