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Source:
31 December 1997
YEARBOOK OF THE UNITED NATIONS
1997

VOLUME 51

United Nations Publication
Sales No. E.00.I.1
Contents

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VI. MIDDLE EAST

Peace Process, 384: Overall situation, 384; Occupied territories, 384. ISSUES RELATED TO PALESTINE, 427: General aspects, 427; Assistance to Palestinians, 437; The UN and Palestinian refugees, 440. PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS, 456: Lebanon, 456; Syrian Arab Republic, 465.

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VI. Middle East

The Middle East peace process, which began in Madrid, Spain, in 1991, stagnated in 1997, despite efforts to get it back on track. The Protocol concerning the redeployment of the Israeli Defence Forces in Hebron, concluded in January, and other Israeli measures, including the release of all female Palestinian prisoners, inspired hope for a revival of the peace talks. However, Israel's decision to start construction of a new settlement in Jebel Abu Ghneim south of East Jerusalem in March—the first since Israel had announced in August 1996 that it would cancel the restrictions on the building of settlements imposed in 1992 by the previous Government—thwarted that positive trend and led to a dangerous and lengthy stalemate. Terrorist bombings in Israel, which took the lives of innocent people, further shook the confidence between Israelis and Palestinians and deepened the crisis. The Israel-Syrian Arab Republic and Israel-Lebanon tracks of negotiations were also stalled.

In view of Israel's renewed settlement activities, the Security Council met twice in March, but failed to adopt the two draft resolutions before it, which would have requested Israel to stop construction of the Jebel Abu Ghneim settlement, as well as other similar activities. In the absence of action by the Council, the General Assembly, pursuant to its resolution 377 A (V) of 3 November 1950 entitled "Uniting for Peace" [YUN 1950, p. 193], convened in April for its tenth emergency special session, which was resumed in July and again in November. The Assembly demanded, among other things, immediate cessation of all settlement activities and other illegal Israeli measures in Jerusalem, and recommended that the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilians in Time of War (Fourth Geneva Convention) hold a conference on measures to enforce the Convention in the occupied Palestinian territory. A number of the 188 States parties to the Convention voiced support for the recommendation.

The UN system's economic and social assistance to the Palestinians, coordinated by the UN Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories, was geared towards improving living conditions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip-which had deteriorated due to frequent closures of the occupied territories, in order to help create a favourable atmosphere for the peace process on the ground. Chinmaya R. Gharekhan—serving also as the Secretary-General's Representative to the multilateral peace talks—succeeded Terje Rodlarsen as Special Coordinator in February.

In 1997, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People continued to mobilize international support for the Palestinians. The Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and other Arabs of the Occupied Territories reported to the General Assembly on the situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights.

Despite ongoing serious financial problems, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) maintained a wide-ranging programme of education, health, relief and social services to more than 3.4 million Palestinian refugees living both in and outside camps in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as in Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic. The Agency's financial crisis forced the UNRWA Commissioner-General to announce further austerity measures in August, including, for the first time, the introduction of school fees and a freeze on reimbursement of hospitalization costs, which provoked protests by the refugee community. Donor pledges of additional allocations enabled the Commissioner-General to revoke those measures for the time being. In view of the dire financial circumstances—which were likely to continue—donors were urged to increase their contributions to the Agency so that it could maintain the most basic and effective assistance to the refugees.

The situation in southern Lebanon remained tense and volatile during 1997, with a rising level of hostilities and an increase in the number of civilian casualties, especially during the second half of the year. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) pursued its efforts to limit the conflict and protect inhabitants from its consequences. The mandates of UNIFIL and of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights were extended, and the United Nations. Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), headquartered in Jerusalem, continued to assist both peace-keeping operations in their tasks.

By decision 52/431 of 18 December, the General Assembly deferred consideration of the agenda item entitled "Armed Israeli aggression against the Iraqi nuclear installations and its grave consequences for the established international system concerning the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons and international peace and security" and included it in the provisional agenda of its fifty-third (1998) session. The item had been inscribed yearly on the Assembly's agenda since 1981, following the bombing by Israel of a nuclear research centre near Baghdad [YUN 1981, p. 275].

Peace process

Overall situation

In a November report [A/52/581-S/1997/866] on the question of Palestine (see below) and the situation in the Middle East, the Secretary-General observed that the stagnation of the Middle East peace process during the preceding year was disappointing. After prolonged and difficult talks, the signing by Israel and the Palestinian Authority (pa) on 17 January 1997 of a Protocol concerning the redeployment of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in Hebron, had inspired the hope that confidence and mutual trust between Palestinians and Israelis would increase and create a positive environment for subsequent successful negotiations. In addition to providing for the redeployment of IDF in Hebron, the Protocol created timetables for further redeployment of IDF in the West Bank and for the resumption of the permanent status negotiations. In March, Israel approved a plan for the first redeployment in the West Bank.

Regrettably, the Secretary-General stated, the start by Israel of construction of a settlement in Jebel (Jabal) Abu Ghneim/Har Homa to the south of East Jerusalem in March had thwarted that positive trend and led to a dangerous and lengthy stalemate. Terrorist bombings in Israel, which took the lives of innocent people, further shook the confidence between Israelis and Palestinians and deepened the crisis in the peace talks. The Secretary-General unreservedly condemned those acts of terror, calling them despicable and an enemy of the peace negotiations, and underlined that the parties to the peace process bore responsibility for settling the Arab-Israeli conflict in a just and comprehensive manner, in accordance with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) [YUN 1967, p. 257] and 338 (1973) [YUN 1973, p. 213]. The people of the Middle East had a right to live in peace, security, mutual respect and dignity, he stressed, and attempts to avoid implementing in full and on time the agreements signed since 1993 or to undermine them could only postpone the fulfilment of their aspirations and weaken the peace process.

It was the Secretary-General's earnest belief, that both sides should do everything possible so that trust was restored, peace negotiations were revitalized and steady progress was ensured through the transition period, leading to a permanent settlement as envisaged by the 1993 Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements [YUN 1993, p. 521]. Israel should refrain from unilateral actions that had the effect of preempting the outcome of the peace talks, while the PA should spare no effort in fighting terrorism effectively. He hoped that the resumption of high-level meetings in the autumn and the committee talks on outstanding issues would create momentum to get the talks back on track; progress on the Israel-Syrian Arab Republic and Israel-Lebanon tracks of negotiations was also essential for achieving a comprehensive and durable peace in the region.

The United Nations would continue to support the peace process, the Secretary-General concluded, politically as well as through the provision of economic and social assistance to the Palestinians facilitated by the UN Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories. Improving the living conditions in the West Bank and Gaza was imperative for creating a favourable atmosphere for the peace process on the ground; in that connection, it was important that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) be put on a sound financial footing so that the downgrading of services to the Palestinian refugees could be avoided.

Occupied territories Communications (19 January-3 March).

On 21 January [A/51/782-S/1997/61], Israel transmitted to the Secretary-General the text of a letter sent by the Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs to his counterparts on 19 January following the signing and implementation of the Hebron Protocol. He stated that the agreements reached were testament to the commitment of both sides to continuing the peace process through direct negotiations, cooperation, avoidance of violence and the building of mutual trust. Israel was committed to implementing existing agreements on the basis of reciprocity and to advancing peace while ensuring security, as the terrorist outrages over the previous year served as clear reminder that progress towards peace could not be achieved without safeguards. The Hebron agreements referred not only to the redeployment of Israeli military forces in the city, but also to security arrangements, joint security measures, the deployment of the Palestinian police and various civilian matters relating to the effective functioning of the city and its Israeli and Palestinian populations; both sides had to work closely together and build confidence in each other if they were to implement the agreements effectively and proceed together on the path of peace.

Israel hoped that the Hebron agreements— brokered by the United States, with the assistance of Egypt and Jordan, and supported by the Russian Federation, the European Union (EU) and other members of the international community-dispelled the many doubts raised as to its commitment to the peace process, and it believed that the foundations had been established for continuing negotiations. The Deputy Prime Minister said it was now vital to push forward on all fronts of the peace process—the permanent status negotiations with the Palestinians, the negotiations with Syria and Lebanon, and the multilateral working groups to which Israel attached special significance. Israel would also continue to pursue normal relations with its neighbours, to ensure that the peace to be negotiated would be lasting; it was imperative that its relations with the countries of the Arab world and the growing regional cooperation not be used as pawns in the negotiating process; efforts to do so would not only damage mutual interests but also undermine the peoples' fundamental belief in peace, the Deputy Prime Minister stressed.

By a communique issued on 31 January [A/51/792-S/1997/100], the Palestinian leadership expressed concern over recent decisions taken by the Israeli Government and military leaders which, they warned, threatened to bring about the failure of all efforts to get the peace process back on track. They reported that on 19 January-two days after the signing of the Hebron Protocol—a decree was issued forbidding the inhabitants of the old city of Hebron from making repairs to their houses and Israeli forces began arresting all those doing so. On 27 January, they noted, the occupation forces expelled the Arab al-Jahalin tribe from their dwellings in the Abu Dis area of Jerusalem in order to make room for the expansion of the Maaleh Adumim settlement, and prohibited the use of the Bilal Mosque, locking the building.

In recent weeks, the Palestinian leaders charged, Israel had taken a number of decisions approving the expansion of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, including the Holy City of Jerusalem. The identity cards of Palestinian residents of the city had been withdrawn, the appropriation of land and the continuing construction of bypass roads authorized, houses demolished and their inhabitants expelled. Israel's policy of closure, blockade and suppression continued to be implemented against the Palestinians, with shipments of food and medical supplies being held up for lengthy periods at international crossing points and in the ports.

Furthermore, the Palestinian leaders said, Israel had announced on 25 January that 70 million new shekels, due to the PA in respect of taxes and customs for the previous month, would not be transferred as part of the blockade against the Authority; the outstanding accounts and monies owed to the Authority amounted to some hundreds of millions of dollars. In an effort to tighten its blockade and prevent the export of Palestinian goods, Israel had also prohibited the operation of Gaza's international airport for more than six months, which resulted in daily losses of over $7 million. European companies were prevented from starting work on the construction of the Gaza seaport, to be financed mainly by France and the Netherlands. Israel was also creating obstacles to safe passage between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and, so far, the Joint Commission on the release of women prisoners and other detainees had not met.

The pursuit of such practices, said the Palestinian leadership, threatened to cause the failure of all the efforts to get the peace process back on track and to ensure the faithful application of the agreements signed, as well as the efforts towards the resumption of the final status negotiations on the basis of the agreed agenda, which included the issues of Jerusalem, borders, settlements and refugees. They called on all countries, particularly the sponsors of the peace process and the Arab and Islamic States, to take immediate action to stop those practices and save the peace process. They renewed their call on Israel to desist from those measures, to annul the military decrees, to proceed with the balanced implementation of all the provisions of the 1995 Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) [YUN 1995, p.626] and the settlement of outstanding issues, and to resume the final status negotiations.

On 21 February, the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, on behalf of the Group of Arab States members of the League of Arab States (LAS), addressed identical letters [A/51/805-S/1997/149] to the Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council, expressing great concern at Israel's policy of taking illegal measures against the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem, as well as the occupied Syrian Arab Golan, which included continuing with the construction of settlements. Those actions, he said, violated the 1949 Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (Fourth Geneva Convention) and the 1907 Hague Convention, as well as the many resolutions adopted by the Security Council and the General Assembly, and seriously endangered the Middle East peace process and the integrity of the accords concluded between the parties.

The Arab Group drew particular attention to Israel's policies and illegal measures in occupied East Jerusalem, aimed at "Judaizing" the city—which was of vital importance to the Arab and Islamic world, as well as to the international community and the three major religions—and changing its legal status and demographic composition. Israel had confirmed its decision to build a new settlement to the south of East Jerusalem, specifically in the Jebel Abu Ghneim area, as a sequel to a series of other such decisions, including the building of a settlement in the Ras al-Amud area, within the original frontiers of the municipality of East Jerusalem. In addition, Israeli authorities had kept open the tunnel located within the Haram al-Sharif (which connected sacred and archaeologically significant sites under the western wall of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem), Security Council resolution 1073 (1996) [YUN 1996, p. 384] on the subject not-withstanding. It was recalled that Israel had destroyed the building belonging to the Burj al-Laqlaq association, located within the Old City, where it would appear that a new settlement was to be constructed. Israel was continuing to deprive the Palestinians of Jerusalem—who were its original inhabitants—of their "right of residence", in the context of what appeared to be a campaign to drive them out. It also further isolated East Jerusalem from the other areas of Transjordan (the West Bank), denying the Palestinians access.

The Group of Arab States members of LAS therefore requested the Security Council to take steps to induce Israel, the occupying Power, to put an end to its policies and actions and, in particular, to renounce any settlement activity, especially in the areas of Jebel Abu Ghneim and Ras al-Amud. Any failure in that regard risked having serious consequences and disastrous sequels, they warned.

On 25 February, the Permanent Observer as Chairman of the Group of Arab States, transmitted a 23 February communique [A/51/808-S/1997/157] by the General Secretariat of LAS, in which it noted with grave anxiety Israel's decision to establish in the Jebel Abu Ghneim area a new settlement, with the alleged aim of tightening the stranglehold on AI-Quds (Jerusalem). Moreover, Israel continued to isolate East Jerusalem from the West Bank, declaring it off-limits to Palestinians and withdrawing residence permits for the city's original Arab inhabitants, which, LAS charged, constituted a deliberate "transfer" operation designed to encourage Jewish settlement in the city and to impose a fait accompli prior to the opening of the final status negotiations in March.

The actions to increase the flow of settlers into Jerusalem and the occupied Syrian Arab Golan constituted a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the 1907 Hague Convention, as well as a serious infringement of UN resolutions; Israel's persistence in establishing settlements in the occupied Arab territories would have awkward consequences for the Middle East peace process. Accordingly, the Security Council and the co-sponsors of the peace process, the United States in particular, were urged to take prompt action to compel Israel to desist from those settlement activities, especially in Jerusalem.

On 27 February [S/1997/165], the Permanent Observer, on behalf of the Arab Group, requested that an immediate Security Council meeting be held in order to consider Israel's illegal settlement activity, above all in Jerusalem. That request was supported by the Acting Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (Committee on Palestinian Rights) in identical letters of 28 February [A/51/812-S/1997/172] to the Secretary-General and the Council President.

Responding to the Palestinian leadership's 31 January communique, Israel, by a 3 March letter [A/51/814-S/1997/177], pointed out that a number of matters referred to in the communique were currently receiving the joint attention of both Palestinians and Israel, and many of the issues raised had already been resolved or were in the process of being resolved. Israel felt that the outstanding issues should be settled directly between the two sides through the agreed channels; attempts to politicize them and invite international pressure could only damage the trust between the parties and be counterproductive. Israel therefore called on the international community to encourage the Palestinians to resolve those matters face to face with Israel, which, for its part, proposed to raise its own concerns regarding compliance by the Palestinians with their obligations directly and in the appropriate forums. Israel expressed particular concern at the threat that, if Palestinian demands were not met, the peoples of the region would return to their former positions of confrontation and struggle; veiled threats of violence undermined the foundations of dialogue and damaged the prospects of progress in negotiations, Israel believed.

SECURITY COUNCIL CONSIDERATION (5-7 March)

At the request of the Permanent Observer of Palestine [S/1997/165], the Security Council, on 5 and 6 March, discussed the situation in the occupied Arab territories [meeting 3745]. With the Council's consent, the Council President invited Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Malta, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Sudan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen, at their request, to participate in the discussion without the right to vote. The President also invited the representative of Palestine to participate, at his own request [S/1997/194] and in accordance with the Council's provisional rules of procedure and previous practice. Invitations were also extended to the Permanent Observer of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), at the request of Indonesia [S/1997/196], and to the Chairman of the Committee on Palestinian Rights, at his own request.

The first speaker, the representative of Palestine, reported that Israel had decided on 26 February to build a new settlement for approximately 25,000 Israeli settlers in the area of Jebel Abu Ghneim, on land confiscated in 1991 and 1992. That construction would isolate areas of Arab Jerusalem from the southern part of the West Bank, in pursuit of a long-standing Israeli plan to build settlements around Arab neighbourhoods in order to isolate them completely from the rest of the West Bank. The measure followed a series of others that constituted a clear policy aimed at the "Judaization" of Jerusalem and at changing its legal status and demographic composition, including the intended building of a settlement of more than 132 housing units in the heart of East Jerusalem in the populated Arab quarter of Ras al-Amud, which would also overlook Al-Haram Al-Sharif and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The representative charged that Israel had long enforced the isolation of East Jerusalem and kept the Palestinians out of the city, in another attempt to impose a de facto situation and despite the affirmation by the international community that East Jerusalem was part of the occupied territories.

The historical shift following the signing of the 1993 Declaration of Principles [YUN 1993, p. 521 ] and of the 1995 Interim Agreement [YUN 1995, p. 6261 (the so-called Oslo agreements) had resulted in positive changes in the Middle East, as the benefits of peace began to appear on the horizon for the peoples of the region and for the whole world in general. Unfortunately, Israel had begun to pursue policies that ran counter to the spirit and logic of the peace process and to take decisions and actions that were in gross violation of the agreements reached and that aimed at altering the situation and the status of the city of Jerusalem and creating new facts on the ground that would preempt negotiations and render them useless. If the peace process was to succeed, those measures could not continue. There would be no peace in the region without the attainment of Palestinian and Arab rights in the Holy City. Israel had to cease construction of the colonial settlement in Jebel Abu Ghneim and promptly cease all settlement activities and confiscation of land, especially in occupied East Jerusalem. The Council should adopt a clear resolution in order to guarantee respect for its relevant resolutions and for international law and to save the peace process; such goals fell within its responsibility to preserve international peace and security.

Israel pointed out that Jerusalem had been the capital of the State of Israel since its rebirth in 1948 and the seat of Jewish Government since its establishment by King David some 3,000 years earlier. Since that time, the thoughts, hopes and prayers of the entire Jewish people had been focused on Jerusalem, whose centrality to Judaism transcended geographical boundaries. Currently, it was Israel's largest city, home to 578,000 residents, of whom 71.2 per cent were Jewish. The Israeli Government had unanimously approved construction in Har Homa/Jebel Abu Ghneim and in 10 predominantly Arab neighbourhoods throughout Jerusalem. The new neighbourhood of Har Homa, to be located in an unpopulated area in southern Jerusalem, within the city's municipal boundaries, would eventually consist of 6,500 housing units; 75 percent of the land for the project was owned by individual Jews.

Jerusalem was in the midst of an unprecedented surge of planning and development. The Har Homa project was an essential part of a comprehensive municipal plan to construct 20,000 new housing units for Jerusalem's Jewish residents and 8,500 for its Arab residents—a ratio comparable to that of both its populations. Concurrently with the construction of Har Homa, infrastructure work for the construction of 3,000 housing units in 10 of the city's predominantly Arab neighbourhoods was to begin, with the purpose of alleviating the shortage of housing for both populations.

The coming years would be crucial for the Arab-Israeli peace process, Israel stated; during that time, the international community would have to exhibit restraint, understanding and trust in the determination of Israel and its neighbours to advance the peace process. Israel regretted that the Council once again saw fit to discuss issues of contention between Israel and the Palestinians; the PLO's very appeal to the Council was inconsistent with its explicit agreement to settle all issues under dispute through negotiations. The two parties were currently making progress in negotiations and reconciliation, and the peace process had thus far succeeded in establishing a new modus vivendi between them. Most recently, that was expressed in the Hebron Protocol and through the establishment of timetables for resuming the negotiation of the permanent status and further redeployment of IDF in the West Bank.

Regrettably, Israel continued, some speakers in the Council failed to differentiate between the issue of Jerusalem and its neighbourhoods and the issue of settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which were to be negotiated separately within the context of permanent status negotiations. In agreeing that the issue of Jerusalem was to be part of permanent status negotiations, the parties recognized Jerusalem as a separate issue, with the city's status remaining unchanged so long as no decision to the contrary was taken in those negotiations. Therefore, Israel stressed, the approval of building plans within the city or the implementation of any construction work did not constitute a change in Jerusalem's status; neither did it create a situation that could adversely affect the permanent status negotiations. In any event, since the existing agreements did not accord the Palestinian authorities any powers or responsibilities in Jerusalem, Israel was under no obligation to coordinate its actions with them or to consult with them.

After hearing 49 speakers, the Council, on 7 March [meeting 3747), voted on a draft resolution [S/1997/199] submitted by France, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom, by which the Council would have called on Israel to refrain from all actions or measures, including settlement activities, which altered the facts on the ground, preempting the final status negotiations, and had negative implications for the peace process. It would have further called on Israel to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention, and called on all parties to continue their negotiations within the peace process.

The draft resolution received 14 votes in favour to 1 against (United States), and was not adopted owing to the negative vote of a permanent Council member.

Speaking before the vote, Costa Rica stated that it had supported the draft text originally presented by the EU countries on the understanding that its content would accurately reflect what was expressed in the debate. An important point, Costa Rica said, would have been to preserve the unity of that message; unfortunately, however, the negotiation process took a different path and consensus was not reached. The Middle East peace process needed unity of purpose and that should be the Council's message to the parties. Although unity in the Council had not been maintained, Costa Rica would vote for the draft text because the spirit of Oslo had to be upheld at all costs as the only way towards a stable and lasting peace.

Egypt believed that the draft resolution was balanced and avoided confrontation and represented a Council reaction that was commensurate with the gravity of Israel's decision on Jebel Abu Ghneim. The text expressed in form and content the commitment to the Charter of the United Nations and the norms of international law; it also reflected the EU support for the peace process, as well as the sentiments of grave concern expressed by many delegations over the expansion of Israeli settlement activity, which was in contravention of the legal commitments Israel had entered into with the PA.

Explaining its negative vote, the United States said it shared the concern expressed by many Council members about Israel's decision to commence construction in Har Homa/Jcbel Abu Ghneim, which ran counter to the progress and achievements of the parties to date and was not helpful to the peace process. Building the trust and confidence needed to create the environment for successful negotiations, especially on the difficult issues involved in the permanent status talks, required the parties to take special care to avoid preemptive actions that prejudged outcomes. However, the Member States of the United Nations had to take great care to respond in a way that would bolster, not batter, the negotiating process and encourage the partners in peace. Despite its useful role in working for Middle East peace, the Council was not an appropriate forum for debating issues under negotiation between the parties. Unfortunately, the draft resolution would not have helped; it made sweeping statements on the legal status of Israeli settlements, which the parties themselves had agreed to treat as a permanent status issue in the talks that were about to resume. The Council should reiterate support for the achievements of the partners to date and respect their commitment to working together towards their common goal—a peaceful and prosperous Middle East—without the interference of outside parties.

In the view of the representative of Palestine, the central importance of Jerusalem and the grave danger posed by Israel's decision required the Palestinians and Arabs to insist that the Council adopt a clear draft resolution on the question. Despite the moderation and flexible timing of the text and accommodation of certain requirements, the Council had been unable to assume its responsibilities because one permanent member exercised its right of veto. The Council's inaction stood in stark contrast to the collective position of the international community, the great potential damage of Israel's decision, its impact on the peace process and the harm wrought by the Council's failure to adopt the submitted text. The Council remained responsible for international peace and security, including in the Middle East, the representative stressed; the peace process and the Palestinian-Israeli agreements had not ended the responsibilities of the United Nations or provided a reason for the Council not to intervene—especially when those agreements had been violated.

Some States seemed to suggest that Israel had the right to take unilateral steps and impose new realities on the ground, the representative continued, while the Palestinian side should commit itself to resolving through negotiations the problems resulting from those steps. The Palestinians would not change their position on Jerusalem and their historical rights in the city, which was a central issue to them; in view of the Council's failure to fulfil its obligations, they would request the UN Members to agree to an emergency meeting of the General Assembly.

Since the Council had decided not to take any action regarding the decision to begin construction in Har Homa and in 10 predominantly Arab neighbourhoods throughout Jerusalem, Israel stated, it hoped that the sponsors of the proposed resolution would recognize that the Council was not the appropriate forum for discussing outstanding issues between Israel and the Palestinians. The peace process was founded on direct, open and substantial dialogue between the two sides, which had brought about historic progress; the adoption of unbalanced positions by outside parties could only damage that process. The permanent status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians would be resumed later in the month, and issues such as Jerusalem would be discussed.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

In accordance with requests by Qatar, as Chairman of the Group of Arab States [A/51/822], and Colombia, as Chairman of the Coordinating Bureau of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries [A/51/823], the General Assembly convened on 12 March [meetings 91 & 92 to consider the situation in the Middle East, together with the question of Palestine.

The Observer of Palestine stated that Palestine had come before the Assembly following the Council's failure to carry out its duties under the Charter due to the use of the veto power by the United States. The international community should reiterate its firm position with regard to the consequences of Israel's illegal policies, and reaffirm that all its measures aimed at changing the legal status and demographic composition of Jerusalem were null and void; that Israeli settlements were illegal and a great obstacle on the road to peace; that the plight of the Palestinian refugees had to be resolved through their right to return or through compensation; and that the acquisition of territory by acts of war was inadmissible. The Assembly's action should focus on Israel's behaviour, which seemingly aimed at retaining a large portion of the occupied territory, including East Jerusalem, and at preventing the Palestinians from enjoying their inalienable rights; such designs totally contradicted the mutual recognition of Israel and the PLO and the text and spirit of the agreements reached, which specified the goal of the process—implementation of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) [YUN 1967; p.257] and 338 (1973) [YUN 1973, p. 213]. The solution was to guarantee Israel's actual compliance with the agreements reached and their complete implementation in accordance with the agreed timetables.

In Israel's view, there was no substitute for direct negotiations, through which the 1993 Declaration of Principles and all subsequent agreements had been reached. Israel's sincere hope was that the Hebron Protocol, which created timetables for further redeployment of Israeli forces in the West Bank and for the imminent resumption of the permanent status negotiations, as well as other measures taken by Israel—the release of all female Palestinian prisoners; the formation of nine committees to discuss all outstanding issues, such as the construction of a Gaza airport and seaport and safe passage; and steps to address the economic situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including raising to 70,000 the number of Palestinians allowed to work in Israel—would increase mutual trust and create an atmosphere conducive to the peace process. However, despite the progress achieved, the Palestinians, whenever contentious issues arose, instead of seeking redress through direct negotiation, ran to third parties and bodies not involved in the peace process, with the hope of imposing their positions on Israel. The United Nations was not the appropriate forum for discussing such issues, Israel stated, and the multitude of UN resolutions relating to the Arab-Israeli conflict had failed to advance the peace process even one inch; direct negotiations, beginning in Madrid and continuing for the better part of the decade, had proved the only way to advance the cause of peace.

It was important to distinguish, Israel stressed, between the issue of Jerusalem and that of the settlements, which were separate and would be discussed in the context of the permanent status negotiations scheduled to resume later in the month. Israel concluded that its message to the international community was to support the peace process, but not to adopt one-sided positions aimed at prejudging and predetermining the outcome of the negotiations.

During the debate, which featured 30 speakers, widespread concern was expressed at the planned construction of the settlement at Har Homa/Jebel Abu Ghneim, as well as at the recent acts of terrorism, both seen as obstacles to the peace process.

On 13 March [meeting 93], the Assembly adopted resolution 51/223 [draft: A/51/L.68 & Add.l] by recorded vote (130-2-2) [agenda items 33 & 35].

Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, in particular in occupied East Jerusalem

The General Assembly,

Having considered the letters dated 21, 25 and 27 February 1997 from the Permanent Observer of Palestine on behalf of the States members of the League of Arab States,

Expressing deep concern at the decision of the Government of Israel to initiate new settlement activities in the Jebel Abu Ghneim area in East Jerusalem,

Expressing concern about other recent measures that encourage or facilitate new settlement activities,

Stressing that such settlements are illegal and a major obstacle to peace,

Recalling its resolutions on Jerusalem and other relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions,

Confirming that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel which purport to alter the status, of Jerusalem, including expropriation of land and properties thereon, are invalid and cannot change that status,

Reaffirming its support for the Middle East peace process and all its achievements, including the recent agreement on Hebron,

Concerned about the difficulties facing the Middle East peace process, including the impact these have on the living conditions of the Palestinian people, and urging the parties to fulfil their obligations, including under the agreements already reached,

Having discussed the situation at its 91st, 92nd and 93rd plenary meetings on 12 and 13 March 1997,

1. Calls upon the Israeli authorities to refrain from all actions or measures, including settlement activities, which alter the facts on the ground, preempting the final status negotiations, and have negative implications for the Middle East peace process;

2. Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and responsibilities under the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949, which is applicable to all the territories occupied by Israel since 1967;

3. Calls upon all parties to continue, in the interests of peace and security, their negotiations within the Middle East peace process on its agreed basis and the timely implementation of the agreements reached;

4. Requests the Secretary-General to bring to the attention of the Government of Israel the provisions of the present resolution.

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 51/223:

In favour Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium. Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan. Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom. United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstain: Marshall Islands, Micronesia.

Introducing the draft resolution on behalf of its 57 sponsors, Indonesia said that they regarded the text as a reasonable, balanced and appropriate response to Israel's ill-conceived action; its adoption would be invaluable in ensuring that the peace process remained on track. The resolution as a whole reaffirmed UN permanent responsibility on the question of Palestine.

Speaking before the vote, Israel said it was difficult to comprehend that countries wishing to play a more active role in the peace process were rushing to support and even sponsor such a blatantly one-sided and biased text, which singled out Israel and was detrimental to that process. The murder of six Israeli schoolgirls and their teacher the same morning in the Jordan Valley reinforced Israel's belief that the only way to promote peace, support the political process and fight terrorism was through direct talks. It welcomed the positive UN support for the peace process, as expressed by Assembly resolution 51/29 [YUN 1996, p. 381], which could be useful but only when in concert with the efforts of all the parties involved, with a view towards building consensus.

While sharing the widely expressed concern over the construction at Har Homa/Jebel Abu Ghneim and believing that such action ran counter to the achievements of the parties to date, the United States felt that the Assembly should not inject itself into the negotiation process; doing so could only build mistrust and harden both sides' positions, while interfering with the progress the parties were making on their own. Instead, the United States felt that the international community should reiterate its support for the achievements of the partners and respect their commitment to work together towards their common goal—a peaceful and prosperous Middle East-without outside interference.

Expressing deep appreciation to those who had voted in favour, the Observer of Palestine said that their action reflected the almost unanimous support of the international community. That clear position, which included many friends of Israel, sent an unmistakable message to all parties. The first element of that message was that Israel should stop its plans to construct the Jebel Abu Ghneim settlement and refrain from further settlement activities; the second element was that the United Nations had a central role to play, in keeping with its responsibilities under the Charter, especially when Israel, a Member State, violated international humanitarian law, relevant UN resolutions and the bilateral agreements reached within the framework of the peace process.

Communications (17-21 March). On 17 March, the Permanent Observer of Palestine, in identical letters to the Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council [A/51/834-S/1997/228], reported that less than 24 hours after the overwhelming adoption of resolution 51/223, Israel had reaffirmed its decision to proceed with the construction of a new settlement in Jebel Abu Ghneim, to begin that week. That was further proof, he said, of Israel's contempt for the will of the international community and its persistence in violating international law, UN resolutions and the agreements reached between the parties. Some Israeli officials had made the situation even worse by making dangerous statements, threatening the foundations of the peace process and even the mutual recognition of both sides. Israel's attitude was reinforced by the recurring impediment to the exercise of the mechanisms provided for in the UN Charter.

The current serious situation necessitated Security Council action, the Observer said. The Palestinians hoped that this time the Council would be enabled to exercise its responsibilities under the Charter. They called on it to do so and to demand immediate and full cessation of all Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem, especially the settlement in Jebel Abu Ghneim.

On 18 March [A/51/837-S/1997/233], the Observer of Palestine informed the Secretary-General that Israel had begun work for the construction of the new settlement on that date, closing off the area, declaring it a military zone and sending in bulldozers. He called on the Security Council to convene an immediate, official meeting to consider the serious situation and adopt a resolution clearly demanding the immediate and full cessation of all settlement activities in Jebel Abu Ghneim, East Jerusalem and throughout the occupied territories.

By a letter of 21 March [A/51/839-S/1997/243], Israel drew the Secretary-General's attention to a terrorist act committed that day in a cafe in Tel Aviv, as a result of which three women were killed and over 40 others, children among them, wounded. The organization Hamas had claimed responsibility. Israel noted that a few days earlier, Israeli security services had warned of imminent terrorist attacks, as the release by the PA of several Hamas terrorists, together with incendiary statements made by Palestinian exponents, were being interpreted as a "green light" for attacks on Israel—an interpretation not countered by Palestinian officials; therefore, the Palestinian leadership bore overriding responsibility for the attack. In addition, Israel stated, the convening of the Security Council, the General Assembly and other international forums in which Israel had been lambasted time and again contributed to an atmosphere conducive to anti-Israeli operations. Israel remained firmly convinced that Chairman Yasser Arafat had full control of the situation in the Palestinian self-rule areas in which Hamas and other like-minded organizations were based; however, the Palestinian leadership had failed to make adequate efforts to prevent terrorist activities. Israel called on the international community to condemn unequivocally the recent terrorist act and to dedicate all its efforts to eradicating the plague of terrorism.

SECURITY COUNCIL CONSIDERATION (21 March)

In response to a request by Qatar, on behalf of LAS, for an immediate Security Council meeting [S/1997/235], the Council convened on 21 March [meeting 3736]. The President, with the consent of the Council, invited Israel and Qatar, at their request, to participate in the discussion without the right to vote. An invitation to participate was also extended to the representative of Palestine, at his own request [S/1997/242].

The President drew attention to a draft resolution [S/1997/241] presented by Egypt and Qatar, demanding that Israel immediately cease construction of the Jebel Abu Ghneim settlement and other settlement activities in the territories, and requesting the Secretary-General to submit a report on developments in that regard. The draft received 13 votes in favour to 1 against (United States), with 1 abstention (Costa Rica), and was not adopted owing to the negative vote of a permanent Council member.

Before the vote, statements were made by China, Costa Rica, Egypt, Japan and the United States. Egypt said that the Arab Group hoped the Council would take measures as soon as possible, as Israel's provocative policies had a grave effect on the situation in the region, having raised violence and tension. While condemning terrorism in all its forms, including the attack in Tel Aviv that day, Egypt pointed out that Israel had to realize that its settlements policies, which stirred up international and Arab feelings, would always lead to destructive results for all the peoples of the Middle East. The Arab Group wished to give all Council members the opportunity to reach a formula that would enable the Council to send a unanimous message; Egypt was prepared to continue consultations towards that end. The Council's silence and its failure to take up its duties under the UN Charter would send an erroneous and dangerous message, likely to encourage Israel in continuing to violate international law, thus aborting the peace process which was at a very sensitive juncture.

Stressing that its opposition to the text should not be interpreted as an expression of support for the construction at Har Homa/Jebel Abu Ghneim, the United States said that the controversy over the settlement would not be resolved by interference from the Council, the General Assembly or any other outsider, but only by the parties themselves, who had demonstrated time and again in the nearly six years since the Madrid Conference that they could overcome the problems and differences that divided them and move forward with the active support of the international community. The Council's action, however, lacked that spirit of encouragement. Rather than addressing the issue in a forum that was inappropriate for the real work at hand, the international community should concentrate on finding a way to support Israelis and Palestinians as they tried to cope with a difficult situation and to restore the confidence, trust, hope and dialogue that was essential to forging a just and lasting peace.

In Costa Rica's view, Israel's decision seriously jeopardized the peace process and threatened the spirit of Oslo, as did the reprehensible terrorist acts that had taken place in recent hours, responsibility for which had been claimed by the Hamas group. The radical positions of either side should never override the explicit will expressed by President Yasser Arafat and the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, when they signed the Oslo peace accords, which was the only route both sides should continue to follow.

China felt it necessary for the Council to send Israel a clear message, calling on it to cease immediately its settlement activities. China also condemned all forms of terrorist activities and expressed deep regret at the bombing incident that had taken place in Tel Aviv.

It was a cause for great sadness that the Council had not succeeded in its effort to arrive at a unanimous message to Israel and it was regrettable that Israel was proceeding with the construction at Har Homa, Japan said; such action could undermine the peace process which had been so arduously constructed over the years. Japan voiced deep indignation over the terrorist bombing in Tel Aviv.

Speaking after the vote, France regretted that it had not been possible to achieve consensus; the Council ought to be able to carry out its responsibilities with regard to actions that endangered the peace process and that had aroused the disapproval of the entire international community. In France's opinion, the settlements ran counter to international law and were at variance with the spirit of the peace process. At the same time, France expressed concern at the resumption of deadly violence in Tel Aviv and, during the previous week, in the Jordan Valley.

In the Russian Federation's view, the situation continued to deteriorate and was becoming increasingly confrontational because of Israel's acts of provocation, which in connection with the recent outbreak of violence complicated the negotiation process. Russia urged Israel to rescind its decision to build a new settlement in East Jerusalem and stressed the importance for both parties to avoid further instances of confrontation and to break the deadlock in the peace process. Russia strongly condemned the terrorist act in Tel Aviv as criminal and unwarranted.

Portugal had hoped that the Council could have agreed on a formula whereby it would have assumed its responsibilities and expressed firmly its support for the peace process, which, through terrorist violence, was being used by those who wanted to jeopardize the achievements reached. Both parties had to realize that there was no alternative to that process. Israel should reconsider and stop all actions that created mistrust among the Palestinian and Arab peoples, while the Palestinians and their leaders should continue to show restraint and not resort to violence.

Sweden fully supported the draft text's content. It urged restraint in order to prevent an escalation of violence and stressed that the only way forward was to return to the peace process.

Due to the United States veto, the Council had failed, for the second time, to carry out its duties for the maintenance of international peace and security, the Observer of Palestine remarked; it was regrettable that the veto had been cast in the aftermath of Israel's commencement on 18 March of the building of the Jebel Abu Ghneim settlement, in the wake of Assembly resolution 51/223, which had reflected a near-unanimous position of the international community, and against the background of escalating tension in the region and the increasing outrage among Palestinians and Arabs resulting from Israeli policies and statements.

It was difficult to accept that the veto had been cast to protect the peace process, as it was difficult to accept that bilateral negotiations were the only solution at a time when one of the two parties was imposing new facts on the ground; the reality was, Palestine stated, that the veto had been cast to shield Israel from the will of the international community and exempt it from international law and the Charter. The existence of bilateral agreements should not, said the Observer, negate the provisions of international law or those of Council resolutions; it was the duty of the international community to reject any attempt to exploit the peace process to neutralize the law and leave the Palestinian side subject to the occupier and the imbalance of power on the ground. The Palestinians would return to the Council whenever the situation so required; at the same time, they would also resort to other UN bodies, particularly the General Assembly, as that body had partitioned Palestine and bore special responsibility for it.

Although still committed to the peace process, the agreements reached and the need to work for their implementation, the Observer continued, the Palestinians were determined to protect their historical and legal rights, particularly in Jerusalem and on every inch of their land. While condemning the terrorist bombing that had taken place in Tel Aviv, the Observer emphasized that such acts could not be isolated from the situation created by Israeli policies and actions.

Israel noted that on the same day when three Israeli women were murdered by Palestinian terrorists and more than 40 others, including children, were wounded, 13 Council members supported a one-sided draft resolution singling out Israel. The Council debate and those preceding it harked back to the dark days before the Madrid Peace Conference when Arab countries were engaged in anti-Israeli warfare and attempted to misuse the Council. The convening of the Council, the Assembly and other international forums that lambasted Israel unfortunately contributed to an atmosphere that was further interpreted by terrorist organizations as conducive to operations against Israel.

In recent weeks, Israel charged, the Palestinians had been engaged in a concerted effort to bring international pressure on it and to avoid addressing the outstanding issues through a mechanism established as part of the peace process. Those actions could only damage the trust between the parties, be counter-productive and raise doubts over the Palestinians' readiness to negotiate in good faith.

In compliance with its commitments, Israel had undertaken to implement the first phase of redeployment of its forces, to release all female Palestinian prisoners and to reopen negotiations on a range of issues, including safe passage, the airport and the Gaza port. The Palestinians had undertaken to complete revising the Palestinian charter, to fight terrorism, prevent violence and conduct Palestinian Council activities in the area of its jurisdiction—and not in Jerusalem. How-ever, they had failed to demonstrate their intention or will to comply with all their commitments, but chose to generate political pressure and avoid the direct bilateral talks that were the basis of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The Interim Agreement obliged the Palestinians to act against all expressions of violence and terror, an obligation restated and strengthened in the Note for the Record attached to the Hebron Protocol; not-withstanding that obligation, recent months had seen a marked decline in Palestinian activity against terrorists. Not only had the Palestinian Council ceased to arrest individuals suspected of terrorism and ceased to take measures against the terrorist infrastructure, but it continued to release members of terrorist groups, many of whom had been actively involved in organizing and perpetrating acts of terror.

Communications (24 March-4 April). By a letter of 24 March [S/1997/249], Israel stated that the requests for Security Council meetings made by the Permanent Observer of Palestine on 27 February and 18 March (see above) were not valid, having been made by a representative of an organization and not a State, as required under the UN Charter and the Council's provisional rules of procedure. Responding to Israel's communication on 4 April [S/1997/2751, the Observer of Palestine emphasized that Israel had no authority with regard to issues relating to the Council's work, which were decided by its members. Also, there was a clearly established practice with regard to his requests for Council meetings. Israel responded to the Observer on 5 May (see below).

Commission on Human Rights.

At its fifty-third session (10 March-18 April) [E/1997/23], the Commission on Human Rights considered a report by the Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 [E/CN.4/1997/16]. It adopted one resolution on Israeli settlements in the occupied Arab territories [res. 1997/3], another on the situation in occupied Palestine [res. 1997/4] and a third on the Middle East peace process [res. 1997/6]. It also adopted resolutions dealing with human rights violation in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine [res. 1997/1], and human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan [res. 1997/2] (see PART TWO, Chapter III).

Emergency special session

On 31 March, Qatar, as Chairman of the Group of Arab States at the United Nations, requested an emergency special session of the General Assembly to discuss the item "Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory". The Secretary-General transmitted that text to Member States on 1 April, asking them whether they concurred in that request. As the majority did concur, the Secretary-General, by a 22 April note [A/ES-10/1], informed Members that the tenth emergency special session would convene at UN Headquarters on 24 April. Qatar's letter was annexed to the note. The need for the speedy convening of an emergency special session was also stressed by the Permanent Observer of Palestine on 8 April in identical letters to the Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council [A/51/866-S/1997/289].

On 24 April, the Credentials Committee accepted the credentials of 183 Member States. The Assembly, by resolution ES-10/1 of 25 April, approved the Committee's report [A/ES-10/5] without vote.

Malaysia, the Assembly President, said the emergency special session reflected the Members' conviction that an increasingly grave situation involving peace and security existed. In the past two months, the Security Council twice and the Assembly once had held extensive discussions on Israel's actions in East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied territories. The emergency special session underlined the Member States' resolve to deal with the issue by peaceful means, in an effort to eliminate tension and save the peace process.

In the words of the Observer of Palestine, the Middle East peace process had heralded an end to a long era of conflict and had become the harbinger of a promising future for the region and its peoples. According to the 1993 Declaration of Principles [YUN 1993, p. 521], peace was pursued on the basis of mutual recognition of the legitimate rights of both peoples and their desire to live in peaceful coexistence and mutual dignity and security. A just, lasting and comprehensive settlement—based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) [YUN 1967, p. 257] and 338 (1973) [YUN 1973, p. 213]—and a historic reconciliation were to be achieved through the agreed political process. Within that context, the two sides agreed on a five-year transitional period of interim self-government arrangements and also agreed to postpone negotiations on a number of important issues, including the future of Jerusalem and Israeli settlements, until a time not later than the beginning of the third year of the negotiation process. Three years after the peace process began, however, the very bases of the peace process were being eroded. The Declaration of Principles had led to significant changes; Israel gained great benefits as a result and the Palestinian side began to accomplish some goals, most important of which was the holding of democratic general elections for the Palestinian National Authority and its President. The process continued, enduring numerous difficulties and problems, some of which were expected but were overcome through the general commitment of both parties to fulfil their contractual obligations. However, the cur-rent Israeli Government had adopted basic political guidelines that contradicted the agreements signed, and a regression to the mentality of the occupier overwhelmed the dealings between both parties. It had fervently pursued settlement activities and the "Judaization" of East Jerusalem, which led to a dramatically deteriorating situation. The only exception to that trend of reversal of the peace process was the Hebron Protocol, which was, however, followed by a series of Israeli actions that threatened the peace process and its actual continuation. The most dangerous of those actions was the construction of a new settlement in Jebel Abu Ghneim. Palestinians saw their living conditions decline as a result of Israeli policies preventing any viable development of the Palestinian economy, while the most important commitments agreed on—including safe passage between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, operation of the airport and building of the port, and return of hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians—remained unfulfilled. Land confiscations continued, as did the exploitation of natural resources and the transfer of settlers to the occupied territory.

The bombings and acts of terror, from what-ever source, were a different issue, the Palestinian representative stated; there was an established policy in that regard, confirmed by the strategic decision to accept the peace, process. The Palestinian side condemned those acts and would continue to resist them; nevertheless, their complete elimination required real progress on both the political and economic, not only on the security, levels.

As the situation deteriorated as a result of Israeli policies and actions, new ideas were being proposed that called for setting aside existing agreements, moving to the final settlement negotiations and completing them in a specified time-frame, as though existing agreements did not cover the final settlement negotiations. That was unacceptable. The right path was implementation of the existing agreements and acceleration of the negotiations for the final settlement. The Palestinians were still ready to implement their obligations under the peace process and the agreements reached between the parties within its framework. However, they were fully aware of the real threats facing the process from the Israeli side, and thwarting those threats required extraordinary efforts by the sponsors of the peace process and the international community as a whole. To stop the illegal construction at Jebel Abu Ghneim and all other settlement activities would be a success for justice and peace and an impetus to work for a better future in the Middle East.

In Israel's view, the building of a new neighbourhood in Jerusalem and any other dispute that might arise between the two sides could not be considered as a "threat to international peace and security". No determination had been made, during two Security Council meetings, that the dispute constituted such a threat, nor had the Council called for the convening of an emergency special session of the Assembly. Such a session, not activated for the past 15 years, was a relic of the cold-war era, particularly unsuited and discordant in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and would not only fail to advance mutual understanding, but could become a source of further polarization. The housing construction in the Har Homa neighbourhood had already been dealt with at five meetings in the past month, two in the Council and three in the Assembly. The emergency special session was being convened as a cloud of insecurity hung over the peace process and recommendations by Arab Foreign Ministers to freeze normalization with Israel could be heard. Although that threatened a return to the era before the peace process, Israel was committed to achieving a permanent and comprehensive peace. Its sincere hope was that the Hebron Protocol and subsequent steps would increase mutual trust and create an atmosphere conducive to advancing the peace process. The decision to build in Har Homa did not violate any agreements with the Palestinians, under which, pending the conclusion of the permanent status negotiations, the PA did not have any standing in the city of Jerusalem.

Unfortunately, Israel continued, instead of continuing the peace process, the Palestinians had embarked on a regional and international campaign to exert pressure on and isolate Israel if it did not accept all Palestinian positions. Israel's commitment to peace was irreversible and it would spare no effort to reach true peace for itself and its neighbours. However, there could be no meaningful peace while terrorism reigned; the Palestinians' fight against terrorism should be uncompromising and comprehensive, which was an obligation they undertook when they embarked on the path of negotiation and peace. Unfortunately, the Palestinians were not keeping their commitment to refrain from inciting violence, but Israel was hopeful that the PA would take the necessary measures in its fight against terrorism and return to the permanent status negotiations. The issue of Jerusalem would be discussed within the context of those negotiations.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

Following a two-day debate, the General Assembly, on 25 April [meeting 3], adopted resolution ES-10/2 [draft: A/ES-10/L.1 & Add.l] by recorded vote (134-3-11) [agenda item 5].

Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory

The General Assembly,

Aware of the commencement, after the adoption of General Assembly resolution 51/223 of 13 March 1997, of construction by Israel, the occupying Power, of a new settlement in Jebel Abu Ghneim to the south of East Jerusalem on 18 March 1997, and of other illegal Israeli actions in Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory,

Noting with regret that the Security Council, at its 3747th meeting, on 7 March 1997, and at its 3756th meeting, on 21 March 1997, twice failed to adopt a resolution on the actions referred to above, as a result of the negative vote of a permanent member of the Council,

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

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

Having considered the serious deterioration of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and in the Middle East in general, including the serious difficulties facing the Middle East peace process, as a result of recent Israeli actions and measures,

Affirming its support for the Middle East peace process, started at Madrid in 1991, on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242(1967) of 22 November 1967, 338(1973) of 22 October 1973 and 425(1978) of 19 March 1978, for the principle of land for peace and for the full and timely implementation of the agreements reached between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people, and of all commitments reached between the parties,

Recalling its relevant resolutions, including resolutions 181(11) of 29 November 1947 and 51/223, and the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, in particular those on Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, including resolutions 252(1968) of 21 May 1968, 446(1979) of 22 March 1979,452(1979) of 20 July 1979, 465(1980) of 1 March 1980, 476(1980) of 30 June 1980, 478(1980) of 20 August 1980, 672(1990) of 12 October 1990 and 1073(1996) of 28 September 1996,

Reaffirming that the international community, through the United Nations, has a legitimate interest in the question of the City of Jerusalem and the protection of the unique spiritual and religious dimension of the City, as foreseen in relevant United Nations resolutions on this matter,

Reaffirming also the applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, and the Regulations annexed to the Hague Convention IV of 1907 to the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and all other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967,

Recalling the obligation of the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War to respect and ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances, in accordance with article 1 of the Convention,

Conscious of the serious dangers arising from persistent violation and grave breaches of the Convention and the responsibilities arising therefrom,

Convinced that ensuring respect for treaties and other sources of international law is essential for the maintenance of international peace and security, and determined, in accordance with the preamble to the Charter of the United Nations, to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained,

Also convinced, in this context, that the repeated violation by Israel, the occupying Power, of international law and its failure to comply with relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions and the agreements reached between the parties undermine the Middle East peace process and constitute a threat to international peace and security,

Increasingly concerned about the actions of armed Israeli settlers in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem,

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

1. Condemns the construction by Israel, the occupying Power, of a new settlement in Jebel Abu Ghneim to the south of occupied East Jerusalem and all other illegal Israeli actions in all the occupied territories;

2. Reaffirms that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, that have altered or purported to alter the character, legal status and demographic composition of Jerusalem are null and void and have no validity whatsoever;

3. Reaffirms also that Israeli settlements in all the territories occupied by Israel since 1967 are illegal and an obstacle to peace;

4. Demands immediate and full cessation of the construction in Jebel Abu Ghneim and of all other Israeli settlement activities, as well as of all illegal measures and actions in Jerusalem;

5. Demands also that Israel accept the dejure applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to all the territories occupied since 1967, and that it comply with relevant Security Council resolutions, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations;

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

7. Calls for the cessation of all forms of assistance and support for illegal Israeli activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, in particular settlement activities;

8. Recommends to the States that are High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War to take measures, on a national or regional level, in fulfilment of their obligations under article 1 of the Convention, to ensure respect by Israel, the occupying Power, of the Convention;

9. Requests the Secretary-General to monitor the situation and to submit a report on the implementation of the present resolution, within two months of its adoption, in particular on the cessation of the construction of the new settlement in Jebel Abu Ghneim and of all other illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory;

10. Expresses the need for scrupulous implementation of the agreements reached between the parties, and urges the sponsors of the peace process, the interested parties and the entire international community to exert all the necessary efforts to revive the peace process and to ensure its success;

11. Recommends that a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the question of the City of Jerusalem, which should be reached in permanent status negotiations between the parties, should include internationally guaranteed provisions to ensure the freedom of religion and of conscience of its inhabitants, as well as permanent, free and unhindered access to the Holy Places by the faithful of all religions and nationalities;

12. Rejects terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, in accordance with all relevant United Nations resolutions and declarations;

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

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION ES-10/2:

In favour Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea. Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan. Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya. Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco. Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis. Saint Lucia, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Against. Israel, Micronesia, United States.

Abstain: Australia, Canada, Germany, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Marshall Islands, Norway, Romania, Rwanda, Uruguay.

Speaking before the vote, Israel said the Middle East peace process had no need for another forum to hurl rhetoric or for another resolution, which contained many contentious elements and was detached from reality and devoid of even-handedness. Direct negotiations would continue to be the only viable effective solution. Over the past 24 hours, while the Council was debating, a number of violent incidents occurred in the Jerusalem area. The resolution did not send the right message to the peoples of the region, in particular to the Palestinians; the message rather had to be that the peace process would go forward and that violence and terror were illegitimate and unacceptable.

Although sharing the concerns expressed about Israel's decision to begin construction at Har Homa/Jebel Abu Ghneim, the United States believed that the resolution would make harder the task of rebuilding confidence and reactivating productive negotiations. The Security Council and the Assembly should not insert themselves into issues that the negotiating partners had decided would be addressed in permanent status talks. Beyond the threat the text posed to the peace process, it also posed a threat to the orderly conduct of business at the United Nations, clearly infringing on the Security Council's authority and setting a dangerous precedent by moving in the direction of the Assembly endorsing collective action against one of its Members.

Explaining its abstention, Norway said it remained convinced that the current crisis in the peace process could be solved only by the parties themselves, through direct negotiations; adoption of the resolution at the current time would not be conducive to the goal of an early resumption of those negotiations. Germany felt the text was unbalanced, and Canada considered it not helpful, the Middle East peace process being at a critical juncture. Australia was concerned that the resolution would do nothing to advance the re-establishment of trust and confidence between the parties. Uruguay abstained on the understanding that the matter of Israeli settlements should be left to negotiations between the parties.

Although voting in favour, the Russian Federation felt that the reference in paragraph 11 to internationally guaranteed provisions regarding the status of the Holy Places in Jerusalem, a subject for Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, had no direct relation to the resolution's topic. Russia emphasized the need for liaison between the two parties in the area of security and for implementation by the parties of all their commitments under relevant agreements, as stressed in paragraph 10.

Reaffirming the ongoing relevance of the peace process agreed to in Madrid, based on resolutions 242 (1967) [YUN 1967. p. 257], 338 (1973) [YUN 1973, p. 213] and 425 (1978) [YUN 1978, p. 312], Lebanon stated it would have preferred inclusion in the text of an explicit reference to the Declaration adopted by the Assembly as resolution 50/6 [YUN 1995, p. 289] during the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations, which, among other things, reaffirmed the right of peoples to resist foreign occupation. Lebanon also reiterated its condemnation of what it called Israeli terrorism, manifest in the ongoing acts of violence committed by Israeli settlers and the Israeli Army throughout occupied Arab territory; any such illegal activity as the establishment of settlements, including in Jerusalem, should be condemned.

The Syrian Arab Republic had voted in favour because it believed that the construction and expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories undermined the peace process and jeopardized the peace and security of the region as well as of the entire world. With reference to paragraph 7, Syria reaffirmed that all Israeli settlement activities in the territories occupied since 1967 were illegitimate and were to be considered null and void and in violation of international law.

Eritrea felt that the resolution fell short of expressing in clear language that a just, stable and lasting Middle East peace could not prevail without the realization of the Palestinians' fundamental right to self-determination through the establishment of an independent homeland. Mexico would have preferred a more rigorous wording of the principle of "land for peace".

Speaking before the session was temporarily adjourned, the Observer of Palestine expressed the hope that the new, clear message addressed to Israel would help achieve the cessation of the illegal Israeli actions and a return of the peace process to its appropriate track.

On 6 May [S/1997/360], the President of the General Assembly informed the President of the Security Council that 59 Member States and two observers had participated in the Assembly's debate during the emergency special session. The Assembly President drew the Council President's attention in particular to paragraphs 9 and 13 of resolution ES-10/2.

Communications (May/June). Referring to the 4 April letter from the Permanent Observer of Palestine (see above), Israel, on 5 May [S/1997/355], said that the proposition that a UN Member State had no authority with regard to issues relating to the work of the Security Council, as stated by the Observer in his communication, was unacceptable. Concerning the authority to request Council meetings, Israel was of the view that the established practice by which only States were entitled to make such requests reflected the provisions of the Charter and the Council's provisional rules of procedure and should continue to be followed.

By a letter of 5 June [A/52/173], Israel called the Secretary-General's attention to what it called a series of ominous and disturbing events during the last month, in which three Palestinians—involved in bona fide commercial real estate transactions with Israelis—were brutally murdered in the Jerusalem and Ramallah areas. Another abduction and potential murder was foiled by the Israeli police. Those acts, Israel stated, were preceded, and given justification, by a wave of public incitement by high-ranking Palestinian officials who had advocated punishment of persons selling real estate to Israelis, even declaring such transactions treason and punishable by death. Such incitement and the subsequent abductions and murders, which clearly represented a flagrant abuse of all civilized norms, as well as of human rights principles and the rule of law, were an assault on the fundamental tenets of the peace process, namely, to foster mutual trust and cooperation and create a basis for friendly relations between Palestinians and Israel. Israel urged the international community to condemn them unequivocally, and called on the Palestinian leader-ship to take steps to end such action.

By identical letters dated 12 June [A/51/923-S/1997/453], the Permanent Observer reported to the Secretary-General and the Security Council President that the Israeli Prime Minister had revealed ideas about a final settlement with the Palestinians, which included the establishment of a virtual "Greater Jerusalem" under Israeli sovereignty, continuous control over the Jordan Valley, a buffer zone along the borders and annexation of settlement blocs. That would leave less than half of the occupied territory for the Palestinians and without geographical contiguity, thus ensuring prevention of the realization of Palestinian national rights, including the establishment of a Palestinian State. The Prime Minister's plan, the Observer alleged, was solid evidence, along with Government guidelines, of Israel's intention to destroy the peace process and the agreements reached, while trying to impose unilaterally a new framework; the plan also made a mockery of resolution 242 (1967), which was the basis of the peace process and implementation of which was the goal of the agreements reached between both sides, and of the principles embodied in the mutual recognition of Israel and the Palestinians. The plan, as well as the continuation of illegal Israeli actions in the occupied territory, including Jerusalem, represented another direct challenge to the international community and a gross violation of resolution ES-10/2.

The Observer stated that the issue of land could not be considered in isolation from that of Israeli settler colonialism, a major dimension of which was the illegal acquisition of Palestinian land, as Israel used any non-Palestinian ownership of land as a tool to challenge Palestinian sovereignty; since its establishment, Israel had instituted all types of practical and legal arrangements to prevent land ownership by non-Jews. The PA would permit only the application of existing laws in the occupied territory to prevent illegal land sales and transfers and, at the same time, would continue to take measures to inhibit any attempt by persons to take the law into their own hands.

Report of Secretary-General (June/July). The Secretary-General, on 26 June, presented a report [A/ES-10/6-S/1997/494 & Corr.l and Add.1] on implementation of resolution ES-10/2, in particular on the cessation of the construction of the new settlement in Jebel Abu Ghneim and of all other illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory, as well as on his efforts to monitor the situation.

The Secretary-General, by a 14 May note verbale addressed to all Member States and to the Permanent Observer of Palestine, requested any information relevant to the implementation of the resolution. In order to comply with the Assembly's request, he had intended to dispatch a Special Envoy to the area and had instructed the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs to contact Israel to discuss the scope of such a mission. He gave details of consultations and of an exchange of letters between Israel and the UN Secretariat, in which Israel expressed concerns over the sending of a UN representative to the region and other matters connected with implementation of the resolution. During discussions between Israel and the Under-Secretary-General on the terms of reference of the proposed mission, Israel placed a number of restrictions on the visit, including limiting the representative's interlocutors to Israel and the PA and not allowing settlements other than Har Homa (Jebel Abu Ghneim) to be inspected or issues other than the construction of housing in Har Homa to be reflected in the representative's report.

On 5 June, the Secretary-General informed Israel that he proposed to dispatch the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Kieran Prendergast, as his Special Envoy. His terms of reference would be to discuss with Israel any matter it chose to raise with him and, based on those discussions and on consultations with the PA, to provide the Secretary-General with information for the requested report. Although the primary focus of the mission would be the construction of housing in Har Homa, the Special Envoy would also discuss other topics should Israel or his other interlocutors choose to raise them. The Special Envoy would also be ready to meet with parties other than the Government of Israel and the PA should they so request.

In response, Israel reiterated its restrictions on the terms of reference of the Secretary-General's representative; the Secretary-General noted that those restrictions would prevent the Special Envoy from carrying out his task adequately. He hoped that the visit could take place on the basis set out the by him on 5 June and noted that, in order for the report to be completed by 25 June, as the Assembly had requested, the Special Envoy would need to leave New York no later than 14 June.

In further correspondence, Israel objected to the holding of the emergency special session, saying that there was no procedural or substantive justification, and it categorically rejected the one-sided resolution adopted.

Owing to Israel's restrictions, which, the Secretary-General said, were not acceptable to the United Nations, it had not been possible to dispatch the Special Envoy in conditions under which he could discharge in a satisfactory manner the mandate entrusted to the Secretary-General by the Assembly. Therefore, he based the substantive portion of his report on reliable sources available to the United Nations at Head-quarters and in the field.

Although settlement activity continued unabated throughout the occupied territories (see below), Abu Ghneim was viewed as particularly serious for a number of reasons, (a) Politically, the construction there was the first move to establish an entirely new settlement on occupied Palestinian lands since a freeze was imposed by the previous Israeli Government. Palestinians pointed out that such a move prejudiced final status negotiations, during which the issue of Jerusalem and borders was to be determined; the settlement was seen as closing the door on what Palestinians expected to be the future capital of a Palestinian State-East Jerusalem. (b) Geographically, the settlement represented the final link in a chain of Israeli settlements around occupied East Jerusalem, which was seen as a final step towards isolating Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank and as part of Israel's stated policy to incorporate fully occupied East Jerusalem as part of the "unified eternal capital of the State of Israel". (c) Demographically, the settlement would further advance the forced alteration of occupied East Jerusalem's religious and ethnic composition; according to projections, 50,000 Jewish settlers from Israel would settle in a predominantly Arab area. (d) Economically, the settlement was expected to damage an already devastated Palestinian economy, due to the resulting separation of the economic hub of East Jerusalem from the towns and agricultural areas of the rest of the West Bank. (e) As to the peace process, Israel's refusal to abandon construction represented, in the view of the Palestinians, the largest single negative factor in the breakdown of that process and the fomenting of unrest in the occupied territories. Through both public statements and the continuing construction, the Israeli Prime Minister and other government representatives continued to reject the terms of the Assembly resolution requiring cessation of those activities. Palestinian communities in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, included Jerusalem, had responded with two months of public demonstrations, during which hundreds of Palestinians were wounded in clashes with the Israeli military and a number of Palestinian deaths were reported, while tensions continued to mount.

According to the report, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had promised to build 3,500 housing units for Palestinians in 10 as yet unidentified neighbourhoods in Arab East Jerusalem, at the same time as construction at Jebel Abu Ghneim proceeded. Is was not clear whether the units would be government funded, or if only building permits would be issued. Since 1967, reportedly, only 600 housing units for Palestinians had been built by the-Government.

Israeli settlement activities continued during the period under review in numerous locations throughout the West Bank and Gaza, the Secretary-General stated; expansion was recorded in over 30 settlements and settlement road construction was under way at more than 10 sites. It had been reported that 30,000 dunums of Palestinian land in the West Bank were expropriated in 1997 for the expansion of settlements. Significant portions of land had been seized for those purposes near Hebron, around Jerusalem and in the Jordan Valley. In the Gaza Strip, attempts by settlers to seize additional land adjacent to existing settlements at Gush Katif led to violent clashes among Palestinians, Israeli settlers and the military, resulting in a number of Palestinians injured and at least one dead. Demolitions of Palestinian homes, some of them punitive and unlicensed, in Jerusalem and other parts of the occupied territories continued.

The Secretary-General noted that Israel had implemented other measures that altered or purported to alter the character, legal status and demographic composition of Jerusalem, and adopted a number of administrative, legal and other measures affecting the rights and status of Palestinians living there. External support for settlements and their economic infrastructure continued, including private support from foreign companies and individuals.

Israel had not, as of 20 June, accepted de jure applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to all occupied territories, the Secretary-General said, and the realization of the principle of territorial integrity, as enunciated in the Oslo accords, had been frustrated by Israeli restrictions on the movement of persons and goods. Israel's policy of general closure of the occupied territories, in effect since March 1993, was aggravated by periodic comprehensive closures entailing complete denial of movements during a full 353 calendar days until mid-June 1997. Since 21 March, when a bomb attack in Tel Aviv, apparently carried out by Hamas, killed three Israeli women, such comprehensive closures had been imposed for a total of 24 days. Internal closures, during which movement was not allowed even inside the West Bank, took place on 27 days in 1996. Restrictions on movement were also imposed on UN officials and project materials, resulting in delays and added costs for development projects in the occupied territories and in serious disruption of the work of humanitarian agencies.

A number of other activities deemed to be in violation of international law continued to raise tensions and jeopardize both the peace process and the rights of the Palestinians, the Secretary-General stated, including the imprisonment of over 3,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails, almost 300 of them held in administrative detention without charge or trial. Palestinian detainees continued to be subjected to torture and other mistreatment under security regulations officially endorsed by the Israeli High Court and the Government.

Israel's 6 March decision to limit the long-delayed second troop redeployment to only 9 per cent of the West Bank further aggravated the situation. Within the overall deteriorating security situation, Palestinian violence against Israeli civilians, settlers and military personnel increased, as did military operations against Palestinians. The majority of violent incidents involving settlers, who attacked Palestinians in response to stone-throwing, took place in the Hebron area, but sporadic incidents of settler violence were also reported in the Gaza Strip.

The Secretary-General's report contained responses from 11 Member States to his request for information relevant to the implementation of resolution ES-10/2, received as of 23 June, and a reply from the Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations. Replies from three additional States were reproduced in an 11 July addendum [A/ES-10/6/Add.l-S/1997/494/Add.1].

The Permanent Observer of Palestine underlined the importance of the emergency special session and of the implementation by Member States of the resolution adopted, in particular of paragraphs 7 and 8. With regard to paragraph 7, he stated that while no known Member was providing assistance to illegal Israeli activities in the occupied territories, the activities of private groups in some countries and the issue of the fundibility of money raised concerns that should be addressed. Paragraph 8 stressed the obligation of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to ensure respect by Israel, the occupying Power, for the Convention; it was accordingly expected, the Observer said, that specific national as well as regional actions would be taken by the Parties in that regard. He noted that Israel had not heeded the demand in the resolution to cease the construction of Jebel Abu Ghneim and all other settlement activities, but continued with such illegal measures, as it continued to violate the integrity of Palestinian territory, imposing all kinds of restrictions on the freedom of movement of persons and goods. Efforts by UN Members during the emergency special session and those of the Secretary-General were indeed valuable, the Observer emphasized, in the attempt to salvage the peace process, which was being very seriously threatened by Israel's failure to comply with the will of the international community, international law and resolution ES-10/2, in addition to its serious violations of the agreements reached with the PLO in the framework of the peace process. In case of Israel's non-compliance, the emergency special session could be resumed and could consider making further recommendations under Chapters VI and VII of the UN Charter, the Observer concluded.

Communications (3-11 July). By a 3 July letter [A/ES-10/7-S/1997/515], the Syrian Arab Republic, referring to Israel's position as expressed in the Secretary-General's report, charged that Israel was seeking to evade all responsibility with respect to the serious deterioration in the occupied territories, including Jerusalem, attributable to its settlement policy, particularly the construction at Jebel Abu Ghneim. Distinguishing between terrorism, to be condemned, and struggles against occupation, to be supported, Syria said the only form of terrorism to be condemned was State terrorism, which Israel practised under the guise of self-defence.

On 7 July [A/52/225-S/1997/530], Israel expressed serious reservations with regard to the content and tone of the Secretary-General's report. which, it felt, could only further encourage those on the Palestinian side who believed that there was no need to sit at the negotiating table when international forums were prepared to abet its attempts to bypass the peace process; UN Members should not delude themselves that a document of that nature could play any constructive role in bringing the parties to resolve the differences between them. The report bore little or no relation to the task assigned by resolution ES-10/2, made no effort to understand or convey the complexities of the issues it raised and presented uncoroborated reports as fact and parroted partisan political views. It focused on Israel's security measures in response to terrorist attacks, without considering the terrorism and incitement that created the need for such measures, and blamed Israel for "fomenting unrest" in the territories, thus absolving the Palestinian side from any responsibility for escalating the violence. The report took judgmental positions on issues to be negotiated in the final status negotiations and, far from contributing to resumption of peaceful negotiations, it conveyed a clear message to the Palestinians that the United Nations was a convenient and willing forum for bypassing the peace process.

Resumed session (July). Following a 7 July request [A/ES-10/8] from Egypt, as Chairman of the Arab Group and on behalf of the States members of LAS, the Assembly on 15 July resumed its tenth emergency special session. Support for the request to resume the session was voiced by the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries [A/ES-10/9], the Committee on Palestinian Rights [A/ES-10/10] and OIC [A/ES-10/11-S/1997/532].

Expressing appreciation for the Secretary-General's report, the Observer of Palestine, the first of the 38 speakers during the debate, said it set out the real picture, in particular with regard to the Jebel Abu Ghneim settlement and all illegal Israeli actions in East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory; the report should serve as a shock for the international community concerning the reality of Israel's actions, the attempted destruction of the basis of the historical reconciliation and mutual recognition of the existence and rights of Israelis and Palestinians, and serve as an additional reason for taking decisive measures. The building of the settlement and the attempts to "Judaize" and seize Jerusalem had to be stopped to salvage the peace process. The Palestinians had made many concessions concerning their historic rights to their homeland in order to achieve peace; they had recently accepted a solution based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) [YUN 1967, p. 237] and 338 (1973) (YUN 1973, p. 213] and on the principle of returning the territories occupied since 1967 in their entirety for peace. The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip constituted only about 22 per cent of the area of mandated Palestine. In spite of that, the Observer said, some on the Israeli side attempted to deny responsibility for Israel's official acceptance of that solution, which enjoyed international consensus, rejecting the principle of land for peace or proposing a compromise; that position insulted the Palestinians' national feelings and the will of the whole world. The world unanimously rejected Israel's practices and insisted on the need to implement the agreements reached, and only Israel rejected those factors.

The Palestinians and their leadership were still committed to engaging in the peace process and upholding the agreements reached; they hoped that the sponsors of the peace process, other influential parties and the entire international community would exert additional efforts to bring about a change in Israel's position, which was necessary to salvage the peace process. In order to regain their inalienable rights and establish their independent State, with Jerusalem as its capital, the Palestinians would continue to work within the United Nations, and to return to the emergency special session and to the Security Council.

The real issue threatening the peace process was not an urban housing project, said Israel, but the unravelling of the very basis of the Israel-PLO agreements: the principle that violence would not be used as an instrument to achieve political ends. Since the signing of the Declaration of Principles in 1993 [YUN 1993. p. 521], Israel had witnessed an unprecedented upsurge in terrorism, much of it emanating from areas under the control of its negotiating partner. But despite repeated suicide bombings that struck the heart of its cities, Israel was determined to make the peace process work. Rather than stop that process, Israel moved forward with the Hebron Protocol and the "Note for the Record", in which both sides undertook to implement their mutual commitments and which made the principle of reciprocity an integral part of the Oslo process. Since January 1997, Israel had taken difficult and tangible steps for peace, completing the redeployment in Hebron, releasing convicted terrorists from prison, transferring large funds to the PA and offering a further redeployment that would have more than tripled the area under full Palestinian control in the West Bank, had it been implemented by the Palestinian side. Israel was ready and willing to resume negotiations on all outstanding interim issues and to restart the final status negotiations.

While it had met all of its commitments, Israel stated, the PLO had met none of its post-Hebron obligations: the process of revising the Palestinian National Council Covenant, which called for Israel's destruction, had not been completed; cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian security services had not been strengthened, but repeatedly cut off; there had been no systematic and effective combating of terrorist organizations, as Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists had been released from prison over recent months; not a single terrorist suspect had been transferred by the Palestinian side; no illegal arms had been confiscated in the area under Palestinian jurisdiction; the size of the Palestinian police had not been reduced to the level agreed on under the Interim Agreement; and Palestinian governmental activity in Jerusalem had not been halted.

In Israel's view, the emergency special session threatened to turn the clock back decades, undermining the international community's pains-taking efforts in three areas: the work of the United Nations itself, the work of humanitarian organizations and the work of those involved in the peace process. Any delusions one might have had about the role the United Nations might play in the Middle East were dispelled by the Secretary-General's report, the content and tone of which, and the interpretation of its task, were hostile and one-sided, entirely ignoring paragraph 12 of resolution ES-10/2 and the issue of terrorism. It legitimized the incitement and use of violence as a response to political differences. Despite Israel's offer to place all relevant information before those preparing the report, none of the serious and controversial allegations contained in the report were submitted to Israel for verification or comment. The report was damaging not only to the reputation of the United Nations, but also to the valuable work of its agencies operating in the region, which served for the report as sources "in the field"; it threatened to harm the cooperation between host States and UN agencies which was essential for their functioning.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

Following the debate, the Assembly, on 15 July [meeting 5], adopted resolution ES-10/3 [draft: A/ES-10/L.2/Rev.l, orally revised] by recorded vote (131-3-14) [agenda item 5].

Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory

The General Assembly,

Having received with appreciation the report of the Secretary-General,

Recalling relevant United Nations resolutions,

Reaffirming us resolution ES-10/2 of 25 April 1997, Having been informed in the report of the Secretary-General that, inter alia, the Government of Israel, as of 20 June 1997, has not abandoned its construction of the new Israeli settlement at Jebel Abu Ghneim and that settlement activity, including the expansion of existing settlements, the construction of bypass roads, the confiscation of lands adjacent to settlements and related activities, in violation of Security Council resolutions on the matter, continues unabated throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, and also that the Israeli Prime Minister and other representatives of the Government continue to reject the terms of resolution ES-10/2 requiring the cessation of those activities,

Aware that, in the light of the position of the Government of Israel, as indicated in the report of the Secretary-General, the General Assembly should once more consider the situation with a view to making additional appropriate recommendations to States Members of the United Nations, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 377 A (V) of 3 November 1950,

1. Condemns the failure of the Government of Israel to comply with the demands made by the General Assembly at its tenth emergency special session in resolution ES-10/2;

2. Strongly deplores the lack of cooperation of the Government of Israel and its attempts to impose restrictions upon the intended mission of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem;

3. Reaffirms that all illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory, especially settlement activity, and the practical results thereof cannot be recognized, irrespective of the passage of time;

4. Reiterates the demands made in resolution ES-10/2, in particular for the immediate and full cessation of the construction of a new settlement at Jebel Abu Ghneim, to the south of occupied East Jerusalem, and of all other Israeli settlement activities, as well as of all illegal measures and actions in Jerusalem;

5. Demands that Israel, the occupying Power, immediately cease and reverse all actions taken illegally, in contravention of international law, against Palestinian Jerusalemites;

6. Recommends to Member States that they actively discourage activities which directly contribute to any construction or development of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, as these activities contravene international law;

7. Demands that Israel, the occupying Power, make available to Member States the necessary information about goods produced or manufactured in the illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem;

8. Stresses that all Member States, in order to ensure their rights and benefits resulting from membership, should fulfil in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations;

9. Emphasizes the responsibilities, including persona] ones, arising from persistent violations ana grave breaches of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949;

10. Recommends that the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War convene a conference on measures to enforce the Convention in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and to ensure its respect, in accordance with common article 1, and requests the Secretary-General to present a report on the matter within three months;

11. Calls for the reinjection of momentum into the stalled Middle East peace process and for the implementation of the agreements reached between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, as well as for the upholding of the principles of the process, including the exchange of land for peace, and calls upon the two sides to refrain from actions that impede the peace process by preempting permanent status negotiations;

12. Stresses the need for actions in accordance with the Charter, to continue to ensure respect for international law and relevant United Nations resolutions;

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

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION ES-10/3:
In favour: Albania, Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Cote d'Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti. Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon. Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe

Against: Israel, Micronesia, United States.

Abstain: Andorra, Australia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Germany. Latvia, Lithuania, Marshall Islands, Nicaragua, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Slovakia, Uzbekistan.

Introducing the draft on behalf of the 23 sponsors, Indonesia said it was balanced and reasonable and the product of extensive consultations with Member States; its adoption would go a long way towards mitigating the current volatile situation and would be fully consistent with the aim of reviving the stalled peace process.

In Israel's opinion, supporting the resolution was inconsistent with support for the only process that brought any real benefit to the region, namely, negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The approach to resolving the toughest issues Jerusalem, settlements, borders and other permanent status issues—would not be calls for economic measures that undermined the principle of building economic ties as a key element in advancing the peace process, nor would it be the politicization of instruments of humanitarian law and the organizations which implemented them, and certainly it would not be the endless ritual of reports presenting a one-sided picture and providing a platform for any conceivable allegation against Israel. Israel's request for peace was strong enough to keep it at the negotiating table, waiting for its counterparts to return to complete arrangements for safe passage, a port and an airport and to begin to tackle permanent status issues.

In the United States view, the text was partisan, aimed not at building confidence or dialogue but confrontation. Its specifics would not serve the cause of peace and detracted from the peace process to the extent that they were designed to inject the United Nations and other bodies into deliberations between the parties. The United States strongly objected to several of the resolution's elements: the economic measures envisioned amounted to a demand for a partial economic boycott of Israel; there should be no language threatening the participation of any Member in the Assembly; and a conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention was not the proper forum to address the situation. The United States was also troubled by the ostensible goal of that conference, i.e., "to enforce the Convention", with the Secretary-General to report on the matter, which seemed merely a device to perpetuate the counter-productive cycle of special Assembly sessions. In sum, the resolution would further aggravate prospects for renewed progress in the peace process, which was a goal shared by most Assembly Members, and certainly by the Palestinians and Israelis themselves.

The Russian Federation felt that, although amendments to the text made it a bit more balanced, it could benefit from further work to make it more realistic. No measures, including sanctions, were excluded and further refinement was required with regard to paragraph 10—concerning the convening of a conference for the Fourth Geneva Convention—which lacked clarity. Russia had been prepared for further constructive cooperation with the sponsors; there was a haste to vote, however, and Russia, as a sponsor of the peace process, had no choice but to abstain.

Norway deeply regretted that Israel had still not heeded the calls from the partners in peace and from the international community to halt its settlement activities. It would vote for the resolution despite reservations on a number of elements and reservations regarding the holding of the emergency special session, which it did not consider to be conducive to progress in the peace process. Canada explained that it would vote in favour because the text reflected in broad measure its concerns about the serious situation of the peace process and the particular importance of the construction of a new settlement in Jebel Abu Ghneim/Har Homa. It regretted that some paragraphs of the resolution contained elements that were imprecise or impractical or had unclear implications for the United Nations and for Member States. With regard to paragraphs 9 and 10, Canada's policy was that the Fourth Geneva Convention applied to the Israeli-occupied territories, including East Jerusalem. As a High Contracting Party to the Convention, its decision about the merits of convening the conference called for in paragraph 10 would be made after full examination of the utility and consequences of doing so, as well as of the cost implications and consultations with the other High Contracting Parties. Though supporting the main thrust of the resolution, Turkey felt that certain paragraphs were impractical and could have been formulated in a more constructive manner. Liberia expressed reservations on paragraphs that seemed to suggest interference with Israel's membership in the United Nations. Uruguay explained that it would vote in favour as the building of the new settlements continued, despite the international community's opinion as expressed in UN resolutions.

Rwanda, in the absence of a resolution conducive to inspiring both parties to resume direct talks leading to a final settlement of the plight of the Palestinians, had no choice but to abstain. Although casting a positive vote, Japan placed on record its view that the statement contained in the oral revision made by Indonesia—adding "as these activities contravene international law" at the end of paragraph 6—might contain some imprecision and lead to some ambiguities strictly from the juridical point of view.

The Syrian Arab Republic noted that paragraph 11 did not refer to the principles and terms of reference of the Middle East peace process, which enjoyed the entire international community's full support and which was founded on the principles of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) [YUN 1967, p. 2571, 338 (1973) [YUN 1973. p. 213] and 425 (1978) [YUN 1978, p. 312] and on the principle of land for peace. Nor did it demand that Israel fulfil agreed obligations and commitments, which was essential for injecting momentum in the stalled peace process, an impasse for which Israel was responsible.

Communications (18 July-26 September). The Permanent Observer of Palestine, by identical letters [A/52/258-S/1997/560, A/ES-10/13] of 18 July to the Secretary-General and the Security Council President, expressed increased concern in the face of Israel's reaction to resolution ES-10/3, as it reflected intransigence, arrogance and even contempt for the will of the international community. Israel's outrageous response to the Secretary-General's report, submitted pursuant to resolution ES-10/2, made unacceptable challenges to the integrity of UN work and ignored the facts on the ground, as well as the established positions of the international community and the provisions of international law. Such response, in addition to the continued illegal settlement activities at Jebel Abu Ghneim, clearly indicated that Israel did not understand the messages sent by the international community, which increased the need for serious follow-up to the two resolutions and probably for further actions by the international community to ensure Israel's compliance.

By a letter of 31 July, transmitted to the Secretary-General on 1 August [A/52/265-S/1997/604], Israel reported that in two terrorist attacks on 30 July in West Jerusalem, 13 Israelis had been killed and more than 150 injured, more than 10 of them being in critical condition. Those attacks came, Israel said, as it was continuing to implement measures to ease the economic conditions of the Palestinians and had reconvened the bilateral committees charged with addressing the most pressing issues on the Palestinian agenda in a genuine effort to restore trust and confidence between the two sides. The PA, on the other hand, had consistently failed to fulfil its obligations to combat violence and terror, refrain from incitement to hatred, and cooperate with Israel in the security sphere; instead, known terrorists were released early from detention, the official Palestinian media continued to disseminate hateful slogans and call for continued armed struggle against Israel, and senior officials of the PA participated in anti Israeli demonstrations and Israeli flag burning ceremonies, actions which were clearly perceived by the population as official approval of continued violence and terror. If the peace process was to be salvaged, Israel stated, the PA had to take immediate, effective steps to address the security issue. The international community could play a more effective role in that regard by sending an unequivocal message to the PA and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat that the terrorist infrastructure had to be uprooted, the security coordination with Israel unconditionally renewed and the terrorist scourge effectively removed.

On 4 August [S/1997/609], the Permanent Observer of Palestine brought to the Security Council President's attention that Israel had imposed a land and sea blockade on Palestinian territory, blocking its borders with Israel, Egypt and Jordan and preventing the use of the sea of Gaza by Palestinian boats; further, it had imposed a siege on Palestinian cities and villages in the West Bank, isolating them from each other, confining the movement of persons and preventing the transport of goods. Israel had also blocked the transfer of important amounts of funds belonging to the PA and even issued an arrest warrant against the head of the Palestinian police force. Those actions, supposedly taken in response to the bombings of 30 July in West Jerusalem, had caused food and medical supply shortages and total economic destruction, the Observer charged. In addition to Israel's continued illegal settler colonialism, its recent action represented unprecedented collective punishment and did not serve the purpose of fighting violence and extremism, but was politically motivated, as the Israeli Government was trying to preempt any possible progress in the peace process and perhaps destroy that process altogether. Israel's measures required action by the international community, specifically the Security Council, with the aim of bringing them to an immediate end and reversing their destructive and dangerous impact, the Observer concluded.

On 20 August [A/ES-10/14], the Observer Mission of Palestine brought to the Secretary-General's attention that the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, continued to deteriorate seriously as a result of Israel's collective punitive measures and actions against the Palestinians and the Palestinian National Authority, which included the closure of the occupied territory and the continued siege of Bethlehem and Jerusalem for the past three weeks. Further, Israel continued to build the new settlement at Jebel Abu Ghneim, confiscate land, expand existing settlements and demolish Palestinian homes, as well as to impose additional measures aimed at changing the character, demographic composition and legal status of Jerusalem, in flagrant violation of the resolutions adopted by the Assembly at its emergency special session and other relevant UN resolutions. Private contributions continued to support illegal settlement activities, the representative of Palestine charged. In accordance with the resolutions of the emergency special session and with international law, Member States had a responsibility to prevent any such support, including from the private sector.

Informing the Secretary-General of a triple bombing in Jerusalem, Israel, by a 4 September letter [A/52/321-S/1997/689], alleged that the latest attack was supported by a broad infrastructure of terrorism in the territories under the pa's control. The Authority had to be held accountable as it had consistently failed to fulfil its security obligations, Israel charged; instead, the infrastructure of the Hamas organization, which had taken credit for the 4 September attack, and of the Islamic Jihad had grown, as the Authority had released hundreds of terrorists from prison and was holding back security cooperation with Israel as a political card in the negotiations. Finally, the public embrace of Hamas leaders by PLO Chairman Arafat sent a message to the Palestinian public legitimizing Hamas actions. Israel reserved the right to do what was necessary to defend its people and expected the international community to send a clear message to the PA to live up to its commitments to fight terrorism; there could be no progress in the peace process without eradication of the terrorist infrastructure and close cooperation between the PA and Israel in security matters.

The Permanent Observer of Palestine responded on 12 September [A/52/346-S/1997/710] that the PA had unequivocally condemned the 4 September bombing and other similar acts; there were, however, increasing indications that Israel was using those acts as an excuse to bury both the 1993 Declaration of Principles [YUN 1993, p. 521] and the 1995 Interim Agreement [YUN 1995, p. 626]. Since its first day in office, the Government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had shown clear hostility towards those agreements and had adopted official guidelines contradicting their letter and spirit. The real underlying causes for Palestinian extremism and violence were Israel's severe measures, such as the simultaneous closure of Palestinian territory and siege over Palestinian cities, in spite of which the Palestinian side would continue to take its responsibilities seriously, including taking action against anyone who might be involved in illegal activities. The road to establishing a comprehensive peace was clear, the Observer concluded: the parties had to reaffirm their commitment to the basis of the Middle East peace process, including the principle of land for peace and their commitment to the implementation of the agreements and to mutual recognition and respect.

By identical letters to the Secretary-General and the Security Council President [A/52/371-S/1997/727, A/ES-10/15] dated 19 September, the Permanent Observer reported that Israel was continuing with its drive to colonize occupied Arab East Jerusalem, having allowed illegal settlers to occupy a house in Ras al-Amud, a crowded Arab neighbourhood. According to Israeli media, several government ministers had known in advance of the settlers' intention, as had the Prime Minister himself, who had asked for postponement of the action until after the departure of the United States Secretary of State from the region. The Observer stressed that it was the duty of the international community, especially the Security Council, to take immediate action to bring an end to the repeated violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention by Israel.

On 26 September [A/52/396-S/1997/749], the Permanent Observer informed the Secretary-General that the Israeli Prime Minister had declared on 24 September that his Government would build 300 new housing units in a settlement called "Efrat" in the occupied territory; that decision, in addition to being illegal, came at a time when the peace process was facing an increasingly endangered future, with many parties, including the United States, trying to revive the process, and it was hard to believe that it had not been made in order to preempt those efforts. Further to that decision, the Observer said, the use by the Prime Minister of outrageous and dangerous expressions—such as "The land of Israel is constantly being built up before my eyes, and also before your eyes and you can see it" and "We are building in Judea and Samaria and we are building in Efrat"—was tantamount to negating any commitment to the peace process as well as the mutual recognition of the parties. Phrases like "land of Israel" and "Judea and Samaria" were irreconcilable with that process, the agreements reached between the parties and the agreed aim of the peace process, namely, implementation of Security Council resolutions 242(1967) and 338(1973).

Report of Secretary-General (October/November). The Secretary-General presented an October report [A/ES-10/16-S/1997/798] concerning the recommendation contained in resolution ES-10/3 that a conference be convened by the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention on measures to enforce the Convention in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and to ensure respect for the Convention. In a 31 July note verbale, the Secretary-General had requested Switzerland, in its capacity as depositary of the Convention, to provide him with the necessary information. On 7 October, Switzerland replied that it had sought the views of the 188 States parties to the Convention; of those, 53 had responded and 29 of them were in favour of convening a conference, while one was against, saying that "such a conference would have seriously harmful effects on humanitarian protection and on the peace process". Among the other States that responded, some had no objection or no objection with reservations, while others felt that more careful study was required. Various other views were put forward, as were alternative suggestions for dealing with the issue.

Support for the convening of a conference was expressed by the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries and LAS. The EU suggested that a meeting of experts examine the political and legal context before a conference was convened.

In a 10 November addendum [A/ES-10/16/Add.1-S/1997/798/Add.1], the Secretary-General reported that on 5 November Switzerland had informed him that it had received 20 additional replies, five of them declaring their support for the convening of the conference and a sixth saying it would participate in the conference. Other States indicated no major objection or approved of holding a conference, but with reservations or indications that further preparations were required.

One State did not believe that a conference would be useful or necessary at the current time or that it would foster the atmosphere of confidence required for progress in the negotiations between the parties to the peace process. Another State saw no urgent need to convene a conference, saying that it would be better to follow closely the progress of the negotiations.

In addition, the depositary received a spontaneous communication from the general delegation of Palestine in Switzerland, in which the PLO and the Palestinian National Authority affirmed the need to convene a conference of the High Contracting Parties as soon as possible, so as to take measures to ensure respect for the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention in the occupied territory, including East Jerusalem, and to confirm the necessity of respecting them in accordance with common article 1 of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949.

Resumed session (November). In accordance with a 24 October request by Yemen on behalf of the LAS [A/ES-10/17], which was supported by Indonesia, as Chairman of the Islamic Group of OIC in New York [A/ES-10/18], and Colombia, in its capacity as Chairman of the Coordinating Bureau of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries [A/ES-10/19], the tenth emergency special session was resumed on 13 November. At the start of the debate, Palestine said that collective measures should be escalated until Israel complied with the Assembly's clear demands contained in the two substantive resolutions adopted at the emergency special session by an overwhelming majority. Israel's only reaction to those resolutions had been to scorn the will of the international community and to continue to carry out its illegal measures. The responses as summarized in the Secretary-General's report indicated that the overwhelming majority agreed on the need to convene a conference in one form or another. Palestine hoped that the Assembly would adopt a provision to that effect and that Switzerland, as the Fourth Geneva Convention's depositary, would begin the preparatory measures. In that regard, Palestine welcomed any meetings to prepare for the conference, including a meeting of experts, to be held no later than within three months. Palestine's participation in the conference and in any preparatory meeting was necessary. There was international consensus on the Convention's applicability to the occupied territories, including Jerusalem, as affirmed by the Security Council in 25 resolutions, and Israel alone rejected its applicability, having continuously violated the Convention for 30 years.

The United States did not believe that the resolution would serve the cause of Middle East peace; neither the United Nations nor any other body should interfere in discussions of issues that Palestinians and Israelis had decided to address bilaterally. To the extent that the resolution relied on condemnatory formulations, it only poisoned the atmosphere for further talks and would not accomplish the goal it ostensibly sought to achieve.

Explaining its abstention, Australia stated that it continued to support the principles underlying the text, but did not consider it to be helpful in the process of frank, direct and wide-ranging talks between the parties themselves. Swaziland called on the two parties to continue convening conferences at agreed venues, in conformity with Article 33 of the Charter.

Canada said that, with regard to paragraphs 3 to 5 of the resolution, the Fourth Geneva Convention did apply to the occupied territories; as a High Contracting Party, Canada's decision about the merits of convening a conference would be made after full examination of the necessity, possible outcome and impact on the peace process, as well as of the cost implications. Japan was concerned that such a conference would have a negative impact on the peace process. Although it had reservations on a number of the resolution's elements, Norway remained deeply concerned about Israel's continued settlement activities which were clearly not in the spirit of the agreements reached.

The Syrian Arab Republic had hoped that the resolution's sponsors would include in the ninth pre-ambular paragraph an expression of great concern about the continued deterioration of the peace process and that the paragraph would be in line with the prevailing situation, indicating that the peace process was stalled because Israel was abandoning both it and the land-for-peace formula. The text should also have expressed the international community's deep concern about Israel's reneging on its obligations and commitments on all tracks and should have included reference to all the Arab territories occupied since 1967. Syria considered that the eleventh pre-ambular paragraph was not in line with the resolution's content and purpose.

The Republic of Korea believed that the resolution contained a clear message that momentum for the peace process would be irrevocably lost if appropriate steps were not taken soon.

Special Committee on Israeli Practices. In its twenty-ninth annual report [A/52/131/Add.2], the Special Committee on Israeli Practices stated that Israel's settlement policy constituted the principal reason for the current deadlock in the peace process and had given rise to extensive human rights violations in the occupied territories during the period under review (21 September 1996-29 August 1997). In August 1996, Israel had cancelled the previous Government's restrictions on the construction of settlements and, in October, the new Israeli Prime Minister had pledged to push the development of settlements forward. More than $300 million was allocated for settlement development in 1997, and in December 1996 subsidies were given to existing settlements and incentives were offered to settlers. An unprecedented 84 settlements were added to the existing 39 classified as "national priority areas A and B". The estimated 194 settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were inhabited by over 150,000 settlers, in addition to an estimated 36 to 40 Israeli settlements in the occupied Syrian Arab Golan.

What halted the peace process, said the Committee, was Israel's decision to build the Har Homa/Jebel Abu Ghneim settlement, the first completely new settlement to be built since the lifting of the construction freeze; if completed, it would constitute the final link of a chain of settlements encircling Arab-populated East Jerusalem, which would be cut off from the rest of the West Bank, damaging an already devastated Palestinian economy and significantly advancing the forced alteration of the religious and ethnic composition of East Jerusalem. The building of a number of other settlements was reportedly foreseen between Jerusalem and nearby Ramallah, and Israel had accelerated the building of an extensive network of bypass roads and tunnels, including the construction of highways around Jerusalem, which Palestinians were not allowed to use.

A number of new quarries were also being built, the Committee reported, many of which were located in parts of the occupied territories near the border with Israel in order to serve its construction needs and avoid environmental degradation on its soil. All those activities required the confiscation of Arab land on a massive scale, most of it prime agricultural land; approximately 74 per cent of the West Bank and 40 per cent of the Gaza Strip had been confiscated since 1967. Israel's customary scenario for land expropriation, alleged the Committee, was that the area was first declared a closed military zone, thus rendering it inaccessible to its Palestinian owners; allocation for settlements, quarries or bypass roads followed. Alternatively, a "green area" might be proclaimed, as was often the case in East Jerusalem. It was reported that by May 1997 30,000 dunums had been expropriated in the West Bank for settlement expansion.

The number of clashes and violent incidents between Palestinians and Israeli settlers had increased during the reporting period, the Committee stated, the most frequent and most violent ones being in Hebron.

Reiterating its condemnation of terrorism in all its forms, the Committee considered that the resort to extreme measures, especially in the wake of the Israeli decision to build the Har Homa settlement, was indicative of the degree of desperation of the Palestinian population of the occupied territories.

The Special Committee appealed to Israel to act in conformity with the spirit animating the peace process by recognizing that its current settlement policy represented the most formidable obstacle to peace and security in the region. Accordingly, Israel should halt the establishment of new settlements and the expansion of existing ones; end the policy of land confiscation and the building of bypass roads; and stop exerting pressure on Arabs in East Jerusalem to sell their houses to members of the Jewish community. The Committee further appealed to Israel to refrain from destroying property, demolishing houses and uprooting trees, as well as from discriminatory measures concerning the use of water resources. It recommended that Israel immediately eliminate the practice of forced evictions, adopt protection measures against such practice, and provide restitution or compensation, as stipulated by the Commission on Human Rights in a 1993 resolution [YUN 1993, p. 895].

In a later report [A/53/136], the Special Committee provided updated information on the situation in the occupied territories for the period from 30 August to 31 December 1997. On 1 September, it was reported, the Director-General of the Israeli Prime Minister's Office accused Arabs of robbing 2.8 million dunums of "State-owned land" in the Negev, the Galilee, along the "Green Line"—the border between predominantly Arab East and Jewish West Jerusalem—and in area C; according to a government plan, legal steps would be taken against individuals charged with "illegal" construction, and the possibility of declaring some land "fire practice areas" in order to bar access to them would be examined. The Ministerial Committee on Settlement Affairs would be reinstated and settlement agencies would help Jews to set up large agricultural farms on "State-owned land". On 2 September, the Ministerial Committee for Economic Affairs approved a new map of national priority areas, which classified almost all settlements, including those in the Golan Heights, areas of top national priority. On 5 September, the Security Cabinet, meeting after a suicide bombing attack in Jerusalem on the previous day, announced that no more territory would be handed over to the PA unless it eradicated the "terror" infrastructure in the areas under its control. The Prime Minister also disclosed that IDF and the security forces had been given instructions to minimize their dependence on cooperation with the PA.

Following the 4 September triple suicide bombing, 35 members of the Islamic Resistance Movement all said to be members of the military wing of Hamas—were arrested by the PA in the cities of Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Tulkarm and Kalkiliya, and an estimated 400 Palestinians were arrested by Israel in zones B and C. On 16 September, it was reported that 250 Palestinians had been arrested on charges of belonging to "terrorist" organizations.

On 9 September, the Israeli Government published a list of Palestinian security commitments that were to be given to the United States Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, during her visit to Israel the following day, including: agreement by the Palestinians to full and unconditional security cooperation; detention, arrest and imprisonment of all "terrorists" previously released by the PA, according to lists submitted by Israel; dismissal of PA personnel involved in terrorism or violent acts against Israel; PA implementation of the security commitments specified in the Hebron Protocol; collection and confiscation of illegal arms; no further incitement against Israel by PA officials; PA compliance with the 33 extradition requests submitted to it; reduction of the Palestinian Police Force from 35,500 to the agreed 24,000; and submission for approval of a complete list of PA recruits.

In response, the Palestinians, on 10 September, presented their own demands: immediate transfer by Israel to the PA of the $ 100 million in Palestinian tax payments withheld; lifting of the internal closure of the West Bank; permission for the import of raw materials into the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and the export of agricultural products; permission for a fixed number of labourers with permits to work in Israel, even during periods of hermetic closures; and resumption of the work of the eight committees aimed at implementing important articles of the 1995 Interim Agreement, including the release of Palestinian prisoners, the opening of an airport, the construction of a sea port and safe passage between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. In addition, the Palestinians demanded that the following practices be stopped: settlement construction and expansion; the invalidation of identity cards of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem; the demolition of homes in the West Bank built without permit; and the evacuation of Bedouins through-out the West Bank and their transfer to areas B and A.

On 14 September, senior United States officials revealed that Secretary Albright had been disappointed by Prime Minister Netanyahu's refusal to commit himself to limiting settlement construction, even if the PA were to win the battle against terrorism. Military sources revealed on 15 September, that IDF was preparing for possible skirmishes with PA fighters in case of further deterioration of the situation. On 26 September, the Prime Minister rejected a renewed United States call for imposing a freeze on settlement expansion in the West Bank. According to reports of 28 September, IDF troops had mounted a series of military exercises near Jenin aimed at reconquering Palestinian-controlled areas and battling PLO fighters attacking Jewish settlements. On 7 October, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the founder of Hamas, who had just returned to Gaza after some nine years in an Israeli prison, told reporters that Hamas would stop targeting Israeli civilians if Israel stopped killing Palestinians, confiscating land, demolishing houses and building settlements. On 10 October, it was reported that the Israeli Government would allow the construction of 300 new housing units in the Efrat settlement south of Bethlehem and near the Arroub refugee camp. On 12 October, the Council of Jewish Settlers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, alleging that Arab housing construction was on the rise in a dozen of villages surrounding Jerusalem, warned that the trend could threaten the city's status and establish facts on the ground in advance of final status negotiations. On 31 October, it was reported that the Israeli Military Commission for Complaints had postponed hearings on land confiscation in the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem, which were to have provided Palestinian landowners with the opportunity to submit proof of their title deeds to land Israel planned to confiscate in order to expand the Maaleh Adumim settlement.

On 13 November, PA President Arafat announced that the Authority would declare state-hood in 1999, at the end of the five-year interim autonomy period, if need be unilaterally, Mr. Arafat accused Prime Minister Netanyahu of dragging his feet in negotiations, warning that his policies would bring disaster not just for Israelis and Palestinians but also for the people of the entire region. Commenting on Mr. Arafat's declaration about a Palestinian State, the Prime Minister's communications advisor stated that a unilateral declaration would violate earlier agreements because it would prejudice negotiations on a final status settlement. The Prime Minister, on 1 December, warned that if the PA President were to declare a Palestinian State unilaterally, he would announce the annexation of the Jordan Valley and "other territories", in response to which Mr. Arafat stated that a Palestinian State already existed.

On 19 November, Israel presented the United States with maps outlining its security and settlement concerns in a final status agreement with the Palestinians; Israel stressed that it had to retain several security zones in the territories in any final status settlement, among them the Jordan River Valley and east-west roads cutting through the territories, as well as water sources. On 22 November, the Prime Minister's spokesman stated that the Prime Minister had not promised anyone a settlement freeze, denying a report that a pledge to that effect had been made to the United States President. Following a visit to the Old City of Jerusalem, the Prime Minister on 23 November declared that his Government was committed to increasing the presence of settlers in Arab Jerusalem and Hebron. He ordered a fourth Israeli police station to be set up inside the Old City, following the killing of a settler two days earlier in the Muslim Quarter. On 24 November, he vowed that Israel would never abandon the Gush Etzion settlement, but pledged to continue developing and fortifying it.

On 25 November, it was reported that the new Government proposed transferring an additional 6 to 8 per cent of area C of the West Bank to the PA; under the plan, IDF troop redeployment would take place within five months and be contingent on the Authority's agreeing to suspend a third redeployment until the conclusion of the final status talks. Upon completion of the redeployment, the PA would control 35 to 37 per cent of the West Bank, its jurisdiction covering all of areas A and B and 6 to 8 per cent of area C. Israel's proposal for limited redeployment in area C was immediately rejected by Palestinian officials.

On 27 November, Prime Minister Netanyahu drew a new map of Israel and the adjacent Palestinian "entity", which kept the Jordan Valley, Gush Etzion and other "security zones" under Israeli sovereignty. Under the plan, Israel would also control the coastline of the Gaza Strip to maintain a line of defence along its western flank. In addition to retaining Jerusalem within its enlarged municipal boundaries and the Etzion bloc of settlements, the Prime Minister also advocated a narrow "security zone" east of the Green Line, pointing out that most of the so-called security zones contained few Arab inhabitants. He again expressed opposition to the creation of a Palestinian State, warning that Israel would take swift countermeasures should the PA declare an independent and fully sovereign State.

On 28 November, it was reported that the PA had demanded from Israel the return of 9 dunums of land seized a week earlier in the Mawasi area by settlers from Neve Dekalim, the largest settlement in the Gaza Strip; according to the Palestinians, Israel had committed 320 violations of the Oslo accords in the Mawasi area since their signing. On the same date, it was reported that Israel had built a wall around Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem, which took up half of the Jerusalem-Bethlehem highway. The measure was said to be aimed at redrawing Jerusalem's municipal boundaries. On 30 November, Israel announced its willingness to order an IDF troop withdrawal from unspecified areas of the West Bank until a permanent arrangement with the Palestinians went into effect; a special team headed by the Prime Minister was authorized to draw up the requisite maps and timetables. That decision also contained an unequivocal expression of support for West Bank settlements, including a pledge to take all necessary measures to ensure their existence and strengthening. The Cabinet Secretary stressed that the troop redeployment was conditional on the PA fulfilling the commitments contained in the Hebron Protocol, including disarming Hamas, extraditing "murderers" to Israel and concluding the revision of the Palestinian National Charter.

Details of Israel's annexation and settlements policy were provided in the report, as was an over-view of the administration of justice and the treatment of civilians and detainees, and information on the occupied Syrian Arab Golan (see below). The report also listed Palestinians killed by troops or Israeli civilians and those killed as a result of the occupation. It also detailed other incidents that had occurred during the latter part of the year, such as protests and demonstrations, clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces, and arrests.

On 8 December, the human rights organization B'tselem released a report on Israeli human rights violations against the Palestinians since the beginning of the intifadah. The report claimed that 1,346 Palestinians, 276 of them children under 17 and 70 under 13, had been killed by IDF or security forces since the beginning of the uprising on 9 December 1987 up to 30 November 1997. Another 133 Palestinians had been killed by settlers during the same period, while 256 Israeli citizens, 18 of them children, and 127 IDF and security forces had been killed by Palestinians. The report claimed that in most fatal shooting incidents the security forces had not faced life-threatening situations. However, those responsible had stood trial in only 55 cases. The report noted that the number of Palestinians killed by IDF gunfire had dramatically declined following IDF troop withdrawal from most of the Gaza Strip and towns in the West Bank as part of the implementation of the Oslo accords. No such decrease had occurred with regard to children, however, who represented 27 per cent of those killed in 1997. The report accused the security forces of making few attempts to prevent settler violence or to arrest the offenders and charged that numerous violent acts had not been investigated at all. In most of the trials that had been held, lenient punishments had been meted out, in marked contrast to the law enforcement and punishment policy in cases of Palestinian attacks on Israelis. According to the report, 447 Palestinian houses had been demolished and 294 sealed off as punishment for violent offences committed by a suspected or convicted family member. Some 106 houses had been demolished by artillery fire because fugitives were suspected of hiding inside, and another 1,800 had been demolished on the grounds that they were built without a permit.

Committee on Palestinian Rights. In its annual report [A/52/35], the Committee on Palestinian Rights expressed great concern and anguish that the peace process appeared to be increasingly in jeopardy, leading to an alarming exacerbation of tension and violence, which resulted in loss of life on both sides. The Committee called for reinjection of momentum into the stalled peace process and for implementation of the agreements reached. Noting with appreciation the increased efforts to bring about a resumption of bilateral negotiations by the cosponsors of the process, as well as the EU and a number of world leaders, the Committee reiterated that UN involvement in the peace process was essential for its successful outcome.

Deploring Israel's decision to approve the construction of a new Jewish settlement at Jebel Abu Ghneim and to proceed with its construction in spite of the unanimous expression of opposition by the international community, the Committee fully supported the General Assembly's recommendations contained in resolutions ES-10/2 and ES-10/3, in particular for the convening of a conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION (10 December)

On 10 December [meeting 69], the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Fourth (Special Political and Decolonization) Committee [A/52/617], adopted resolution 52/66 by recorded vote (149-2-7) [agenda item 87].

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

The General Assembly,

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

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

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

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

Expressing grave concern about the decision of the Government of Israel to resume settlement activities, including the construction of the new settlement in Jebel Abu Ghneim, in violation of international humanitarian law, relevant United Nations resolutions and the agreements reached between the parties,

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

Taking note of the report of the Secretary-General,

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

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

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

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

A/51/517. RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 52/66:

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

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstain: Bulgaria, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nicaragua, Swaziland, Uruguay.

Earlier, on 9 December, in resolution 52/52 on the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine (see below), the Assembly expressed full support for the ongoing peace process and voiced the hope that the process would lead to the establishment of a comprehensive, just and lasting Middle East peace.

Introducing the Special Committee's report in the Assembly's Fourth Committee, the Special Committee Chairman said the biggest threat to the peace process was the continued confiscation of Palestinian-owned land and the building and expansion of Israeli settlements. If the peace process was to continue, Palestinians and Israelis had to extricate themselves from a situation that had been described as "zero-trust level". The single act that might be described as having brought the peace process to a halt was the beginning of the Har Homa settlement. Plans were also being made to expand the largest settlement in the occupied territories, Maaleh Adumim, which would cover more land than Tel Aviv; in addition, there had been a number of demolitions of Palestinian-owned houses. The situation of the Palestinian Jerusalemites, who were threatened by discriminatory measures, gave rise to particular concern. If it degenerated further, the Chairman warned, it would lead to more violence and despair as the hopes that the Oslo accords would lead to harmony, dignity and mutual respect among the peoples of the region had all but vanished. Both sides should respect and comply with the principle of land for peace, which was the underlying premise for peace, and refrain from actions that would undermine the permanent status negotiations. The international community had to assume an even more active and positive role in safeguarding and giving further impetus to the peace process.

Speaking after the vote on resolution 52/66, Australia said it fully supported the principles set forth therein, but had reservations about the reference in the second preambular paragraph to the resolutions of the emergency special session, on which it had abstained. Speaking on behalf of the EU, Luxembourg said the Union reaffirmed that it was still deeply committed to the peace process, which was the only means of establishing lasting peace and security in the region. Swaziland had abstained as it felt that the time for adopting resolutions condemning the actions of the parties had passed.

Communication (24 December). In a 24 December letter [A/52/754-S/1997/1011] to the Secretary-General, the Permanent Observer of Palestine reported that the Israeli Prime Minister had made an extremely dangerous and illegal claim that destroyed the peace process and mutual recognition, by stating on 19 December that the occupied West Bank was "part of Israel proper"; further statements made by aides to the Prime Minister in an attempt to back-pedal from that position did not succeed in quelling the impact of his original statement. On 23 December, the Prime Minister, while on tour in the occupied territories, declared that Israel would "never return to the former situation", which, according to the Observer, referred to a return to the armistice lines that marked the territories occupied by Israel since 1967 and was another gross violation of the terms of the peace process, the aim of which was implementation of Security Council resolution 242(1967) [YUN 1967, p. 257]. Such statements, the Observer said, required the most serious and concerted response by the international community in order to save the peace process. For the UN family, such declarations provided additional justification for the serious concerns expressed by the Arab Group during the 1997 General Assembly session with regard to Israel's credentials and made it more imperative to take action to ensure that Israel's participation in the Assembly's work was consistent with international law, provisions of the UN Charter and relevant UN resolutions.

Jerusalem

The issue of Jerusalem, to be resolved in final status negotiations within the framework of the Middle East peace process, continued to be a focal point of UN concern in 1997, particularly in the context of the construction of the Jebel Abu Ghneim/Har Homa settlement to the south of East Jerusalem (see above).

Special Committee on Israeli Practices. East Jerusalem, where most of the city's Arab inhabitants lived, constituted one of the most sensitive issues in the permanent status negotiations and was pivotal to the peace process, the Special Committee on Israeli Practices said in its annual report [A/52/131/Add.2]. The city and its Palestinian population had been subjected to human rights violations resulting from concerted and accelerated Israeli efforts to create facts on the ground, affecting the demographic and geographic balance. Since Jerusalem's occupation in 1967, the city's Arab population was never allowed to amount to more than 28 per cent and the number of Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem already outnumbered the Palestinian inhabitants (an estimated 180,000 Arabs and 200,000 Jews). Over one third of East Jerusalem's territory had been confiscated since 1967 and more than 40,000 housing units had been built there exclusively for Jews, while an estimated 21,000 Palestinian families were in urgent need of adequate housing. Only 2 per cent of the Jerusalem municipality's budget was spent on areas inhabited by Palestinians, for whom the housing density was double that of the Jewish population. On 26 January, an additional 130 million new Israeli shekels were reportedly earmarked for the municipal budget as part of a plan to strengthen Israel's sovereignty in East Jerusalem.

A number of discriminatory measures were applied to the city's Arab inhabitants, and it was reported that no construction permits had been issued to Palestinians in the West Bank since the current Government took office. Requests for family reunification in Jerusalem had been refused more frequently since 1993 and even persons granted the right to reunification in 1996 were not issued identity cards. The most disquieting measure to reduce further the number of Palestinians in Jerusalem was, according to the Committee, the stepping up since 1994 of the application of the 1952 Law of Entry into Israel, amended in 1974, under which the city's Arab residents were considered resident aliens or foreign immigrants. Palestinian inhabitants risked losing their identity cards if they lived outside Jerusalem for seven consecutive years, said to have been reduced even further to three years, and as of November 1995 they had to document to Israeli authorities, through among other things tax receipts, school enrolment certificates, etc., that the city was their "centre of life". By March 1997, the Ministry of the Interior was allegedly confiscating two or three identity cards of Palestinians per day. The endemic housing shortage, declining standard of living and lack of sufficient Palestinian educational institutions within city limits forced numerous parents to send their children to schools outside Jerusalem. The lack of permits also forced Palestinians to build houses outside official city boundaries. An estimated 60,000 to 80,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites, including those living and studying abroad, risked withdrawal of their identity cards, although the criteria applied were said not even to be known to lawyers, the Committee noted. In May, it was reported that the Israeli Ministry of the Interior recognized officially for the first time that 385 identity cards had been withdrawn from Palestinians in 1996, while 689 had been withdrawn and the persons forced to leave the city by mid-1997; the real figure was believed to be much higher. The identity card policy, endorsed by the Israeli High Court of Justice, was compounded further by regulations governing child registration, which affected some 10,000 children. The combined effects of land confiscation, housing shortages, lack of building permits, house demolitions, lack of job opportunities and other effects of the closure of the occupied territories, cutting off the city, when coupled with the threat of the withdrawal of identity cards and encouragement to adopt Israeli citizenship, were described as having led the Palestinian inhabitants to live in a pervasive state of fear as to whether they would be allowed to remain in the city. Witnesses who had testified before the Special Committee described those policies as amounting to slow deportation and ethnic cleansing.

Committee on Palestinian Rights. In its annual report [A/52/35], the Committee on Palestinian Rights considered especially worrisome Israel's actions to strengthen its control over East Jerusalem, such as the opening of a new entrance to the tunnel near Al Aqsa Mosque, the withdrawal of Jerusalem identity cards, the destruction of buildings and the intensified efforts to establish Jewish settlements in the Old City.

Transfer of diplomatic missions

Report of Secretary-General. On 15 October, the Secretary-General reported [A/52/467] that six Member States had replied to his request for information on steps taken or envisaged to implement General Assembly resolution 51/27 [YUN 1996, p. 385], which addressed the transfer by some States of their diplomatic missions to Jerusalem in violation of Security Council resolution 478 (1980) [YUN 1980, p. 426] and called on them to abide by the relevant UN resolutions.

Special Committee on Israeli Practices. In its annual report [A/52/131/Add.2], the Special Committee on Israeli Practices noted that violent clashes had taken place in the occupied territories during several days in June, following the decision of the United States Congress to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and to allocate $100 million for the transfer of the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 9 December [meeting 68], the General Assembly adopted resolution 52/53 [draft: A/52/L.54 & Add.l ] by recorded vote (148-1-9) [agenda item 37].

Jerusalem

The General Assembly,

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

Recalling also Security Council resolution 478(1980) of 20 August 1980, in which the Council, inter alia, decided not to recognize the "Basic Law" and called upon those States which had established diplomatic missions at Jerusalem to withdraw such missions from the Holy City,

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General,

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

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

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

4. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-third session on the implementation of the present resolution. RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 52/53:

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

Abstain: Costa Rica, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Micronesia. Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Swaziland, United States, Zambia.

Explaining its abstention, the United States stressed that Jerusalem's future should be decided through permanent status negotiations and the Assembly should not interject itself into that most complex and emotional issue. Iran expressed reservations on any part of the text that might imply recognition of Israel.

Economic and social situation

ESCWA report. The Secretary-General transmitted on 22 July a report [A/52/172-E/1997/71 & Corr.1] on the economic and social repercussions of the Israeli settlements on the Palestinians in the occupied territory, including Jerusalem, and on the Arab population of the Syrian Golan. The report, prepared by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) in accordance with a request in Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/40 [YUN 1996, p. 397], reiterated by the General Assembly in resolution 51/190 [Ibid.], covered the period from March 1996 to May 1997. It reviewed Israel's settlements policy and noted that a number of settlements had been established and existing ones expanded. Settlement activities had intensified in the Golan Heights.

Among Palestinians in the occupied territories, there had been an increase in unemployment and a significant decrease in real wages. It was reported that unemployment in Gaza was estimated at 50 to 60 per cent, with the highest unemployment rate in the refugee camps. In the West Bank, the rate was 24 per cent and a further 10 to 12 per cent were severely underemployed. Palestinian incomes had dropped sharply since the 1993 Oslo Agreement, from $1,800 to $950 a year in the West Bank, and from $1,200 to $600 a year in the Gaza Strip. An increasing number of Palestinians were being forced to live in slums, where miserable social, living and health conditions prevailed.

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL ACTION

On 25 July [meeting 42], the Economic and Social Council, by decision 1997/309, took note of the ESCWA report. On the same date, the Council adopted resolution 1997/67 [draft: E/1997/L.52, orally revised] by roll-call vote (43-1-2) [agenda item 111.

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 Economic and Social Council,

Recalling General Assembly resolution 51/190 of 16 December 1996,

Recalling also its resolution 1996/40 of 26 July 1996,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. Decides to include the item henceforth to be entitled "Economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan" in the agenda of its substantive session of 1998.

ROLL-CALL VOTE ON RESOLUTION 1997/67:

In favour Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Cuba, Czech Republic, Djibouti. El Salvador. Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Latvia, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Mozambique, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom.

Against: United States.

Abstain: Australia, Romania.

The United States, speaking before the vote, which it had requested, said it would continue to oppose all resolutions that stated or implied Arab or Palestinian sovereignty over Jerusalem and territories that were the subject of direct negotiations. The Observer of Israel stated that the draft made countless demands of Israel but none of the Palestinians. The text, from which it would appear that the whole of Jerusalem was occupied Palestinian territory, was a regrettable sign of the Council's increasing politicization and another element in the recently stepped up political war-fare against Israel.

The Russian Federation, although voting in favour, also felt that the matter was clearly outside the purview of the Council and would only serve to politicize its deliberations; the issues raised by the resolution clearly had to be resolved in the context of the peace process.

Canada said that its positive vote reflected the importance it attached to the Palestinians' social and economic development needs; it was pleased to note that the resolution had been firmly placed in the context of the peace process.

The Observer of Palestine stated that the respect due to international law and Security Council resolutions was in no way incompatible with an inquiry into the lot of the occupied Palestinian territories and a concern for ensuring better life conditions for their people. Whenever Israel tried to alter the territories' status, its efforts had to be considered a violation of international law;

that should also be the attitude towards its latest decision authorizing the construction of new homes for Israelis in the heart of Jerusalem's Arab quarter.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 18 December [meeting 77], the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Second (Economic and Financial) Committee [A/52/632], adopted resolution 52/207 by recorded vote (137-2-14) [agenda item 101].

Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolution 51/190 of 16 December 1996 and Economic and Social Council resolution 1997/67 of 25 July 1997,

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

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

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

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

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

Expressing its concern at the difficulties facing the Middle East peace process which started at Madrid on 30 October 1991 and which is based on Security Council resolutions 242(1967), 338(1973) of 22 October 1973 and 425(1978) of 19 March 1978 and the principle of land for peace, as well as concern over the lack of implementation of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, signed in Washington, D.C., on 13 September 1993, and the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, of 28 September 1995,

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

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

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

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

5. Requests the Secretary-General to report to it at its fifty-third session on the implementation of the present resolution, and decides to include in the agenda of its fifty-third session the item entitled "Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources".

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 52/207:

In favour Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Cote d'Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo,* Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras. Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran. Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldavia, Romania, Russian Federation. Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstain: Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Grenada, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Swaziland, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Later advised the Secretariat it had intended to abstain.

Speaking before the vote, Israel said that the current situation of Palestinian resources resulted from the lack of Palestinian and Arab investment in the territories, the never-ending cycle of Palestinian terror and extremism, and the lack of political will on the part of the PA to impose its control over the extremist elements within its jurisdiction. The subject should have no place in the Second Committee as the text was political, designed to serve the interests of an observer delegation and to prejudge the outcome of negotiations to the detriment of Israel.

The United States expressed firm opposition to the text which, it felt, brought the Assembly into the direct negotiations between the parties and prejudged their outcome. It also rejected the resolution's one-sided language, in particular the term "sovereignty", and it would continue to oppose the use of the phrase "the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem".

Japan endorsed the idea expressed in paragraph 4 that the issue of sovereignty had to be dealt with in the framework of the final status negotiations; its positive vote, it added, in no way altered its position as to the outcome of those negotiations. Japan also felt that the Second Committee was not the appropriate forum for discussing issues that were purely political in nature. The Russian Federation explained that it had voted for the text although it felt that the reference made to resolution 425 (1978) [YUN 1978, p. 312] was inappropriate; that did not mean, how-ever, that its position on that resolution had changed.

Luxembourg, on behalf of the EU, said its members believed that the natural resources of a territory seized by force of arms should not be used improperly or illegally by the occupying Power; the Fourth Geneva Convention was applicable, de facto and dejure, to the occupied territories and any infringement of the rights of the Palestinians recognized by the Convention was illegal. However, the resolution should not prejudge the outcome of the final status negotiations.

Iran and the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya stressed that their vote for the resolution did not imply recognition of Israel. The Syrian Arab Republic would have liked the resolution to make it clear that Israel was responsible for the difficulties facing the peace process, as it had gone back on a number of commitments made earlier.

The Observer of Palestine said that Israel's statement distorted the facts, articulated an absurd logic and defied the international community by falsifying the history of Jerusalem and claiming that its annexation had been an act of self-defence and that Israel would withdraw from the territory once it was no longer under threat, while Israel in fact was stepping up its settlement activity and the Prime Minister had recently threatened to annex the West Bank.

Other aspects

Special Committee on Israeli Practices.

The three-member Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices effecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, established in 1968 [YUN 1968, p. 556], reported for the twenty-ninth time to the General Assembly on events in the territories it considered to be occupied the Golan Heights, the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

In addition to the annual report [A/52/131/Add.2], the Special Committee submitted two periodic reports in 1997, at the request of the Assembly, one in May [A/52/131] and the other in July [A/52/131/Add.1], The three reports, which covered developments between 21 September 1996 and 29 August 1997, contained information obtained from the Arab and Israeli press; testimony given at hearings held in Amman, Jordan, Cairo, Egypt, Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic, and Geneva between 28 May and 8 June; Israeli Government policy statements; and other communications and reports from Governments, organizations and individuals. The Committee had benefited from the cooperation of Egypt, Jordan and Syria, Palestinian representatives and numerous human rights organizations. As in the past, Israel had not responded to the Committee's requests for cooperation.

The Special Committee's report, its Chairman stated, attempted to present a composite picture of the realities in the territories as they affected the human rights of the civilian population. The signing of the 1995 Interim Agreement [YUN 1995. p. 626] and, more recently, of the Hebron Protocol in January 1997 (see above) had generated great expectations and hope among both the population of the territories and the international community that a lasting peace would be established in the region. That was the spirit in which the Special Committee approached its mandate.

The information contained in the Committee's twenty-ninth report, however, showed that the human rights situation in the territories had deteriorated further during the period under review, the Chairman said. The most disturbing aspect of that situation was Israel's settlement policy, the most serious development in that connection being the beginning of construction of the so-called Har Homa settlement on the hill called Jebel Abu Ghneim, which brought the peace process to a standstill. The gravity of the situation in East Jerusalem was compounded further by the recent withdrawal on a massive scale of identity cards of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and other discriminatory measures (see above).

The situation in the territories continued to be characterized by closures, including internal closures of Palestinian towns and their agglomerations. An unprecedented internal and total closure, which extended to the border crossings between the occupied territories and Egypt and Jordan, was implemented following two suicide bombings in an open market in Jerusalem on 30 July. The closures prevented the majority of Palestinians who held jobs in Israel from reaching their places of work and practically strangled Palestinian agriculture and industry, with devastating economic and social effects on the inhabitants of the occupied territories, whose standard of living was estimated to have declined by 30 per cent since the signing of the peace agreements. The Gaza Strip inhabitants were the most seriously affected.

The closures continued to seriously affect the health of the population, with more persons dying, as patients suffering from life-threatening diseases and in serious condition were denied access to medical institutions in Israel or in other parts of the territories for lack of permit. The restrictions on movement also had repercussions for freedom to worship of the Muslim and Christian population. A first time restriction affected numerous Palestinians living abroad who were not given entry permits to visit their families in the territories on the pretext of security; the lack of funds they brought back each year dealt an additional blow to the Palestinian economy.

The closures had a particularly devastating effect on the 1 million Palestinian children—over 50 per cent of the population—who were growing up in an environment of conflict, the Special Committee stated. An increasing number of families had to borrow money to buy food for their children, and numerous children between the age of 10 and 16 were taken out of school in order to work and supplement their families' income. The lack of freedom of movement had a negative effect on children's immunization, and access to schools was reduced for both students and teachers. Given the poor quality of sanitation in Gaza, up to 80 or 90 per cent of children there were thought to suffer from waterborne diseases. Palestinian children had been killed by settlers and were often injured in clashes with the Israeli army.

Housing demolitions continued in Jerusalem and other parts of the territories, with Israel mostly invoking the lack of building permits. It was reported in May that 860 Palestinian homes in the territories were slated for demolition and some 2,600 buildings in East Jerusalem were vulnerable. That was in sharp contrast to the 5,000 housing units under construction in the territories for Israeli settlers, who made up 6 per cent of the population there. Homes of Palestinians suspected of perpetrating or having a connection to security offences continued to be demolished. Such collective punishment was intensified after the 30 July suicide bombings in Jerusalem, with some four to six houses being demolished daily, leaving 125 persons homeless. The massive demolition in August was particularly intensive in Jerusalem, Hebron and Bethlehem, which was subjected to an internal closure for 28 days. In addition, the number of trees uprooted by Israeli authorities as a retaliatory measure increased, especially in the West Bank and particularly around Hebron, where numerous vineyards were also destroyed.

The Special Committee continued to monitor closely the situation of Palestinian prisoners held in detention facilities inside Israel, in contravention of international humanitarian law. Some 2,750 Palestinians were imprisoned in Israel at the time of the Committee's visit to the area, in addition to 261 administrative detainees, 63 per cent of whom had allegedly had their detention renewed. Following the suicide bombings in Jerusalem on 30 July, the number of administrative detainees, including children, had reportedly risen to 500. Conditions of detention were said to have deteriorated further and protests by prisoners were violently repressed by the prison authorities. Owing to the closure of the territories, few prisoners had been able to receive family visits or consult with their lawyers. The Special Committee's attention was drawn to the situation of child prisoners and children in administrative detention, in contravention of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child contained in Assembly resolution 44/25 [YUN 1989, p. 560], ratified by Israel in 1991; and children placed on trial before Israeli military courts, who were said to be subjected to psychological pressure and intimidation during interrogation, were denied adequate medical care and even placed in solitary confinement.

Palestinian detainees were reported to have continued to be subjected to measures amounting to torture or ill-treatment, especially during interrogation. The Special Committee was concerned by Israeli High Court decisions of January and November 1996 to lift interim injunctions prohibiting the members of the General Security Service from using violent interrogation methods against detainees. The Special Committee noted the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture in pursuance of the special report submitted to it by Israel before its April/May 1997 session (see PART TWO, Chapter I), indicating that the use of "moderate physical pressure" during interrogation of persons suspected to be in possession of information of imminent attacks against Israel constituted breaches of the 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment adopted by the Assembly in resolution 39/46 [YUN 1984, p. 8l3], which entered into force in 1987 [YUN 1987, p. 755].

The Special Committee also visited Syria, and reported on the Israeli occupied Syrian Golan Heights (for details see below, under "Peace-keeping operations"). Syria's report to the Special Committee during its visit to the country was transmitted to the Secretary-General on 20 June [A/52/202]. Aware of the lasting impact of the uprising (intifada) of the Palestinian people,

Convinced the occupation itself represents a primary violation of human rights,

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Expresses concern about the recent deterioration of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, as a result of Israeli practices and measures and the impasse facing the Middle East peace process;

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

6. Also requests the Special Committee to submit regularly to the Secretary-General periodic reports on the current situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem;

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

8. Requests the Secretary-General:

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

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

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

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

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

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

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 52/64:

In favour: Afghanistan, Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Colombia, Cote d'Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta. Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea,-Philippines, Qatar, Saint Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstain: Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Croatia. Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Monaco, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Samoa, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Zambia.

Speaking on behalf of the ELJ, Luxembourg said its members abstained on the text, while supporting the other resolutions on the agenda i tern; they believed that the problems dealt with by the Special Committee would be better considered in other forums more in keeping with the spirit of compromise and understanding, without which genuine peace could not be achieved.

In the view of the Observer of Palestine, the further deterioration of the situation clearly testified to the need for the Special Committee's continued existence; its work would continue to be' of great importance until Israeli occupation came to an end.

Fourth Geneva Convention

At its tenth emergency special session (see above), the General Assembly, in resolutions ES-10/3 and ES-10/4, recommended that a conference be convened by the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention on measures to enforce the Convention in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and to ensure respect for the Convention.

On 30 October [A/52/551], the Secretary-General informed the Assembly that Israel had not replied to his June request for information on steps taken or envisaged to implement Assembly resolution 51/132 [YUN 1996, p. 391] demanding that Israel accept the de jure applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and comply scrupulously with its provisions. Also in June, the Secretary-General noted, he had drawn the attention of all States parties to paragraph 3 of resolution 51/132 calling on them to exert all efforts to ensure respect by Israel for the Convention provisions.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 10 December [meeting 69], the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Fourth Committee [A/52/617], adopted resolution 52/65 by recorded vote (156-2-3) [agenda item 87].

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

The General Assembly,

Recalling its relevant resolutions,

Bearing in mind the relevant resolutions of the Security Council,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 52/65:

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

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstain: Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Swaziland.

Palestinian women

Report of Secretary-General. In a February report (E/CN.6/1997/2) to the Commission on the Status of Women, the Secretary-General, in response to Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/5 [YUN 1996, p. 393], reviewed the situation of Palestinian women and described assistance provided by UN organizations in 1996. He stated that the conditions of Palestinian women living in the Palestinian self-rule areas and in the occupied territories remained of particular concern as the deteriorating economic situation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip exacerbated the hardship of many families, in particular households with low incomes or those headed by females. Women were affected more severely than men due to their economic and legal status. An estimated 40 to 42 per cent of the Arab residents of Jerusalem, for example, lived below the poverty line, and women and children were particularly exposed to poverty. High unemployment rates among men caused women and children to start looking for work in order to maintain family living levels; in 1996, the number of women in the paid labour force increased by 8.5 per cent, whereas the male labour force grew by only 5.1 per cent. The highest concentration of female labour (35 per cent) was in agriculture, where women worked for low wages and under unfavourable conditions. However, there was also a high concentration of female workers (32.5 per cent) in relatively well-paid professional, technical and clerical positions. It was possible, the report said, that women's increased participation in the formal labour market would become a new trend in Palestinian economic and social development that needed to be taken into account.

Measures linked to occupation-the imposition of curfews, collective punishment, the closing or sealing off of certain areas and other restrictions—affected all population groups, but some targeted women in particular, the report noted. The many Palestinian women working in the agricultural sector were especially affected by land seizures, loss of water utilization and other economic and social repercussions of Israeli settlement policy.

The loss of identity cards of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem who lived abroad for more than seven consecutive years also affected their wives. Palestinian women had reportedly been humiliated and harassed during raids on their homes and, contrary to Israeli-Palestinian agreements, not all women detainees in Israeli prisons had been released.

Female illiteracy stood at 24 per cent, compared to 16 per cent for all residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip over 15 years of age, according to a February 1996 survey. Women and girls also were particularly affected by other measures impairing education, such as the frequent closures of the self-rule areas, aggravated by over-crowding of schools and lack of teaching materials. Inadequate health conditions and health services also had an impact on the overall and reproductive health of Palestinian women. As fertility rates remained high, low age at marriage, short birth intervals and lack of education were factors responsible for women's poor health, especially refugee women, many of whom were anaemic.

The report noted that Palestinian women maintained a high level of participation in nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and women's committees. Progress was reported on the establishment of national machinery for the advancement of women in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where the PA had set up an inter-governmental committee under the Gender Development and Planning Directorate of the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation and an NGO committee had been formed under the General Union of Palestinian Women.

Assistance to Palestinian women was provided by the UN system in close cooperation with the PA and NGOs. With the help of bilateral donors, a number of projects for Palestinian women were initiated and carried out during 1995-1996. Activities focused mainly on health and family planning, relief and social services, education and training, collection of statistics disaggregated by sex, and support for the national machinery for the advancement for women, including training in legal literacy and the enhancement of women's role in public life. UNRWA placed special emphasis on maternal and child-health care as an integral part of its regular programme (see below). It offered family planning services in 120 health care centres in the Gaza Strip in 1996, up from 49 in 1992.

Some 49.5 per cent of the total school population and half of the 12,000 teaching staff were female, making UNRWA schools among the first in the Middle East to achieve gender equality. Of a total of 4,624 training places in UNRWA's eight vocational and technical training centres, 1,273 were held by women. Vocational training for women was provided in clothing production, hairdressing and beauty care; UNRWA was also seeking to raise the proportion of women trainees in nursing, computer science, business and office practice. Of 943 scholarships granted to refugee pupils, 437 were awarded to women.

The UNRWA programme for women in development sought to involve Palestinian refugee women in remunerative economic activity. Some 11,000 women received training in the production of goods or management of services, together with basic business skills. A solidarity group lending programme provided credit ranging from $330 to $8,000 to 1,089 refugee women in micro-enterprises or working as street vendors. Under UNRWA's small-scale enterprise programme, which offered loans ranging from $1,000 to $75,000 for capital investment to new and expanding enterprises and working capital to established ones, 10 per cent of the credits were given to women. Through its special hard-ship programme, UNRWA provided material and financial aid to refugee families without a male adult medically able to earn an income and without other financial support sufficient to cover basic needs.

Other organizations within the UN system that provided assistance to Palestinian women included the Food Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Labour Organization, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children's Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, through its Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People, the United Nations Development Fund for Women, the World Food Programme, the United Nations Population Fund, the World Bank and ESCWA.

The report recommended that UN organizations and bodies continue to incorporate a gender perspective in their assistance activities and to integrate such a perspective into monitoring possible violations of women's rights, notably that carried out by the Special Committee on Israeli Practices and the Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian Territories occupied since 1967 of the Commission on Human Rights (see PART TWO, Chapter III). The report considered it desirable that the Special Committee achieve a better perspective on the violations of women's human rights and their needs and concerns by inviting more women to give oral testimony. While the international community had made a commitment to empower Palestinian women and enhance their role in society, including in public life, in leadership positions and through income-generating projects and vocational training, their needs were not fully addressed in programmes for macroeconomic development and market economy, the report stated. Women's increasing role in the labour market had to be taken into account on a more consistent basis.

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL ACTION

On 21 July [meeting 36], the Economic and Social Council, on the recommendation of the Commission on the Status of Women [E/1997/27], adopted resolution 1997/16 by roll call vote (44-1) [agenda item 7 (c)].

Palestinian women

The Economic and Social Council,

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

Recalling the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women, in particular paragraph 260 concerning Palestinian women and children, and the Platform for Action adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women,

Recalling also its resolution 1996/5 of 22 July 1996 and other relevant United Nations resolutions,

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

Aware of the signing by the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Government of Israel, in Washington, D.C., of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements on 13 September 1993 and of the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on 28 September 1995, within the framework of the Middle East peace process,

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Requests the Commission on the Status of Women to continue to monitor and take action with regard to the implementation of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women, in particular paragraph 260 concerning Palestinian women and children, and the Platform for Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women;

7. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to review the situation and to assist Palestinian women by all available means, and to submit to the Commission on the Status of Women at its forty-second session a report on the progress made in the implementation of the present resolution. ROLL-CALL VOTE ON RESOLUTION 1997/16:

In favour: Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Chili, China, Colombia, Cote d'Ivoire, Cuba, Czech Republic, Djibouti, El Salvador, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Iceland, India, Japan, Jordan, Latvia, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Mozambique, Netherlands, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom.

Against: United States.

Issues related to Palestine

General aspects

During 1997, the General Assembly continued to grapple with the question of Palestine. Following consideration of the report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (Committee on Palestinian Rights) [A/52/35], the Assembly in December adopted four resolutions, reaffirming, among other things, the necessity of achieving a peaceful settlement of the question—the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict—in all its aspects, and stressing the need for immediate and scrupulous implementation of the agreements reached between the parties, as well as for the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinians, primarily the right to self-determination, for Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 and for resolving the problem of the Palestine refugees. Under the same agenda item, the Assembly also considered a draft resolution on the participation of Palestine in the work of the United Nations, which was not put to a vote (see below).

In commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, celebrated annually on 29 November in accordance with Assembly resolution 32/40 B [YUN 1977, p. 304], the Committee, on 1 December, held a solemn meeting and other activities. Under the Committee's auspices, an exhibit entitled "At home in Palestine" was presented by the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations.

On 9 June, the Committee convened a special meeting to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the occupation by Israel of the Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories. The Secretary-General, the Security Council President and a Vice-President of the General Assembly took part in the special meeting and made statements. Statements by the President of the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Chairmen of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States (LAS) and the North American Coordinating Committee of Non-Governmental Organizations on the Question of Palestine were also read out.

The Committee adopted a statement on the occasion, expressing its belief that the current situation in the occupied territory called for reaffirmation of the international community's commitments to the objective of achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement to the Palestine question, in accordance with international legitimacy and UN resolutions.

Report of Secretary-General. In a November report on the question of Palestine [A/52/581-S/1997/866], the Secretary-General made observations on the Middle East peace process (see under "Peace process" above).

By a 9 September note verbale, the Secretary-General had sought the positions of the Governments of Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic, as well as the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), regarding steps taken by them to implement the relevant provisions of resolution 51/26 [YUN 1996, p. 399]. As at 23 October, only the PLO and Egypt had responded. The PLO stated that since the adoption of the resolution the peace process had deteriorated critically, owing to Israel's policies and actions; the transitional agreement had not been implemented, with the exception of the part relating to Al-Khalil (Hebron); the negotiations on the final settlement had not started; and the economic and living conditions of the Palestinians had dramatically deteriorated. Several bombing attacks in West Jerusalem had contributed to the exacerbation of the situation.

The Palestinian side welcomed the progress made concerning the United Nations playing an expanded role in the peace process and in implementing the 1993 Declaration of Principles [YUN 1993, p. 521], especially in providing economic, social and other assistance to the Palestinians. It hoped that the Organization would be involved in bringing the peace process back on track, keeping it alive and achieving progress. Security Council involvement would be a very important factor, and the Council had indeed contributed to salvaging the peace process; in 1997, it had unfortunately been prevented twice from playing the same positive role due to United States vetoes on 7 and 21 March, which had led to the convening of the Assembly's tenth emergency special session, an indication of the UN Members' determination to remain engaged in and protect the Middle East peace process.

For a peaceful settlement of the Palestine question to be achieved within the framework of the current peace process, it was necessary, the Palestinians believed, to respect the basis on which that process was initiated—the principle of the return of land for peace and implementation of Security Council resolutions 242(1967) [YUN 1967, p. 257] and 338(1973) [YUN 1973, p. 213]. They considered it equally important for the parties to comply with the agreements reached and implement them in good faith without delay. All actions violating those agreements, international law and relevant Council resolutions had to cease immediately; the internationally community, especially the cosponsors of the peace process, had great responsibility in that regard, the PLO stressed. Egypt made similar points in its reply.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 9 December [meeting 68], the General Assembly adopted resolution 52/52 [draft: A/52/L.52 & Corr.l & Add.1] by recorded vote (155-2-3) [agenda item 36].

Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine

The General Assembly,

Recalling its relevant resolutions, including resolutions adopted at the tenth emergency special session,

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

Aware that 1997 marks fifty years since the adoption of resolution 181(11) of 29 November 1947 and thirty years since the occupation of Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem,

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General submitted pursuant to the request made in its resolution 51/26 of 4 December 1996,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recalling also the withdrawal of the Israeli army, which took place in the Gaza Strip and the Jericho area in 1995 in accordance with the agreements reached by the parties, and the initiation of the Palestinian Authority in those areas, as well as the beginning of the redeployment of the Israeli army in the rest of the West Bank in 1996,

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

Noting with appreciation the work of the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories and its positive contribution,

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

Concerned about the serious difficulties facing the Middle East peace process, including the lack of implementation of the agreements reached and the deterioration of the socio-economic conditions of the Palestinian people as a result of the Israeli positions and measures,

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

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

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

4. Calls upon the concerned parties, the cosponsors of the peace process and other interested parties, as well as the entire international community to exert all the necessary efforts and initiatives to bring the peace process back on track and to ensure its continuity and success;

5. Stresses the need for:

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

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

6. Also stresses the need for resolving the problem of the Palestine refugees in conformity with its resolution 194(111) of 11 December 1948;

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

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

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

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 52/52:

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

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstain: Bulgaria, Marshall Islands, Micronesia.

Speaking before the vote, the United States said the text injected the Assembly into questions hat were the subject of direct negotiation. The united States wanted to support that process rather than focus on issues that divided or polarized.

Although in favour of the text, Turkey felt that it did not reflect all the obstacles on the road to lasting Middle East peace and stability. It believed that terrorism was a fundamental threat to the peace process and emphasized the urgent need for countries that lent support to terrorism to desist from such illegal and destructive practice and refrain from using terrorism as foreign-policy leverage.

The Syrian Arab Republic explained that its vote in favour did not mean that it either supported or opposed the 1993 Declaration of Principles referred to in the text. Syria stressed that complete Israeli withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories and the establishment of a just and comprehensive peace, in accordance with the principles and mandate of the Madrid Conference and the principle of land for peace, was the only way to enable the people of the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized boundaries.

Indonesia, introducing the draft resolution on behalf of the sponsors, noted that 1997 marked 50 years since the adoption of resolution 181(II) [YUN 1947-48, p. 247] on the future Government of Palestine and 30 years since the occupation of Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem.

Participation of Palestine in UN work

On 9 December [meeting 68], under the agenda item on the "Question of Palestine", Indonesia introduced before the General Assembly plenary a draft resolution entitled "Full participation of Palestine in the work of the United Nations" [A/52/L.53/Rev.1] on behalf of 22 sponsors. The preambular part of the text recalled, among others, resolution 43/177 [YUN 1988, p. 208], by which the Assembly acknowledged the proclamation of the State of Palestine by the Palestine National Council and decided that the designation "Palestine" should be used in place of "Palestine Liberation Organization" in the UN system. The preamble also recalled that the Security Council in 1977 had decided that the PLO should be invited to participate in the debate on the situation in the Middle East and that that invitation would confer on it the same rights of participation as those conferred on a Member State under rule 37 of the Council's provisional rules of procedure. Since February 1994, Palestine had been invited to participate in the discussion without the right to vote, in accordance with the provisional rules of procedure and established practice. In the text's operative part, the Assembly would decide to confer on Palestine, in its capacity as observer, similar rights and privileges of participation as those conferred on Member States, with the exception of voting and candidature, in the sessions and work of the Assembly and international conferences convened under the auspices of the Assembly or other UN organs as well as in UN conferences. The UN Secretariat would be authorized to implement the resolution and the Secretary-General would be requested to proceed expeditiously in that regard.

The United States expressed strong opposition to the text on the ground that it would grant the Palestinians more rights than Observer States; if adopted, it would set a provocative precedent that would not be easy to walk away from and would affect the conduct of UN business for years to come. The Palestinians were not a State, the United States stressed, and should not have rights nearly equal to those of States; that was especially true since the ultimate disposition of the West Bank and Gaza was a permanent status issue that the Palestinians themselves had agreed to resolve in direct negotiations in the 1993 Declaration of Principles [YUN 1993, p. 521]. The United States was also concerned that the proposal could have negative consequences for diplomatic efforts to inject new momentum into the peace process, which were extremely sensitive. If successful, the United States warned, the move would likely encourage other groups involved in regional disputes to attempt similar status upgrades, with chaotic political consequences.

Introducing the draft resolution, Indonesia stressed that the text did not seek full UN membership or balloting, but additional rights and privileges of participation for Palestine as an observer. The sponsors hoped that adoption of the draft would contribute to achieving the inalienable rights of the Palestinians, thus bringing about a just and comprehensive Middle East peace.

On behalf of the European Union (ED), Luxembourg introduced an amendment [A/52/L.59] replacing the operative paragraphs with a text by which the Assembly would reaffirm the right of Palestine to participate as an observer in the Assembly's session and work and in international conferences convened under the auspices of the Assembly or other UN organs. The Assembly would also decide to review whether the rights currently enjoyed by Palestine were adequate to ensure its proper participation in its work and that of its Main Committees and international conferences; and would request the Secretary-General to report on the issue as soon as possible, before the end of the Assembly's fifty-second session.

In presenting the amendment, Luxembourg stated that the draft resolution went well beyond a practical improvement in the participation of the Observer of Palestine in the work of the Assembly and other UN organs and had implications not only for the precise status of Palestine in the United Nations, but also for the relationship between States Members and Observers. The EU was prepared to participate in such a discussion which, however, had to be properly prepared so that a well-considered decision could be taken in full awareness of all the facts and after an in depth exchange of views.

Yemen, on behalf of the sponsors of the original text, moved that the EU amendment be considered a new proposal, rather than an amendment, as it sought to delete the important body of the draft and insert paragraphs with a completely different meaning. Yemen's motion was rejected by a recorded vote of 65 against to 57 in favour, with 32 abstentions.

After consultations among the original draft's sponsors, it was decided to request that the text not be put to the vote and that further consultations would take place.

Committee on Palestinian Rights

As mandated by General Assembly resolution 51/23 [YUN 1996, p. 402], the Committee on Palestinian Rights, established in 1975 by Assembly resolution 3376 (XXX) [YUN 1975, p. 248], kept under review the situation relating to the Palestine question, reported on it and made suggestions to the Assembly or the Security Council. The Committee continued to promote a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement to the question in accordance with international legitimacy, and participated actively in meetings of the Council, the Assembly and other international forums convened for that purpose. The Committee also . monitored the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and developments in the peace process, through the media and UN reports, as well as information provided by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), individual experts and participants in meetings held under Committee auspices.

In accordance with decisions taken in 1996 to streamline its programme, the Committee held the following meetings in 1997: the annual meeting of consultations with representatives of coordinating committees of NGOs (New York, 3-4 February); a seminar on assistance to the Palestinians (Amman, Jordan, 20-22 May) (see below); the annual North American Symposium of NGOs (New York, 9-11 June); and the annual International Meeting of NGOs, combined with the European Symposium of NGOs (Geneva, 25-28 August). An Asian seminar and NGO symposium on the question of Palestine was held in Jakarta, Indonesia (4-7 May). The Committee decided not to convene the remaining meetings programmed for the 1996-1997 biennium, and requested the Secretariat to ensure that the resulting savings be used to finance new activities and the further development of the computer-based UN Information System on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL).

The Committee continued to follow the activities relating to the Palestine question of inter-governmental bodies, such as OAU and the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, and through its Chairman, participated in relevant meetings. Through its Bureau, the Committee made efforts to involve additional Member States in its work, in particular the members of the EU, and held consultations with LAS and OIC with a view to organizing a joint event in early 1998.

In its annual report to the Assembly [A/52/35], covering the period from 15 November 1996 to 5 November 1997, the Committee welcomed the signing by the parties in January 1997 of the Protocol concerning the Redeployment in Hebron and the Note for the Record (see above, under "Peace Process"). Following that agreement, over 80 per cent of the city was successfully transferred to the PA. On 20 January, the Bureau of the Committee had expressed the hope that the Protocol would lead to full implementation of the agreements reached, in particular the commencement of substantive negotiations on matters pertaining to a permanent settlement.

The Committee welcomed the establishment, at the beginning of February, of eight bilateral Israeli-Palestinian subcommittees to tackle the outstanding issues during the transitional period, including operation of the Gaza seaport and airport, safe passage corridors from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and the release of Palestinian prisoners. It further welcomed the contribution to the peace process by the various international parties and noted the increased-involvement of the cosponsors of the peace process, as well as the EU, in efforts to bring about a resumption of the bilateral negotiations.

The Committee noted with extreme concern, however, that the negotiations faced serious setbacks during the year as a direct result of Israel's position on various elements of the peace process; it noted that in the course of the year numerous Israeli statements and actions had a negative effect with regard to sensitive issues to be discussed during permanent status negotiations and had created a situation in which the peace process could not successfully move forward. Especially worrisome were continued Israeli statements of intent regarding the expansion of Israeli settlements and the construction of new ones, as well as the building of roads to connect those settlements.

In the year under review, the issue of Jewish settlements remained at the forefront of the Committee's attention. The Committee deplored Israel's decisions to start constructing a new Jewish settlement at Jebel Abu Ghneim and to continue with construction in spite of the international community's overwhelming expression of opposition. On the day of the start of construction, the Bureau of the Committee voiced concern at its negative implications for the future of the peace process. It also called for an end to military occupation, land confiscation and settlement policies, and for the resumption of bilateral negotiations. In September, the Committee expressed grave concern at efforts by militant settlers to establish a permanent presence in the Ras al-Amud district in occupied East Jerusalem.

Especially worrisome in the Committee's opinion were actions taken by Israel to strengthen its control over East Jerusalem, such as the opening of a new entrance to the tunnel near Al Aqsa Mosque, the withdrawal of Jerusalem identity cards, the destruction of buildings and intensified efforts to establish Jewish settlements in the Old City. The Committee was of the view that Israel's policy on Palestinian residency rights in Jerusalem and the confiscation of identity documents of the city's Palestinian residents was aimed at creating a demographic reality that would preempt any just solution to the question of Jerusalem and produce an eventual imbalance in favour of Israel in the permanent status negotiations.

The Committee affirmed its strong opposition to the repeated closures and blockade of the occupied territories, which, it said, suffocated the fledgling Palestinian economy, interfered with the implementation of assistance projects and the disbursement of international aid, brought hardship and suffering to Palestinians and exacerbated tension. It reiterated its position that the practice of closures was in direct contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The Committee expressed great appreciation for the international community's continued efforts to provide assistance to the Palestinians through the PA, despite growing difficulties on the ground. The Committee was of the view that such assistance remained vital to the successful transition to national sovereignty and statehood. It welcomed the appointment in February of Chinmaya R. Gharekhan as the Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories, to serve as a focal point for the UN family of organizations and to maintain ongoing contact with the donor community, NGOs and others.

Noting the dedicated efforts of the United Nations relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which continued to provide its much-needed services to refugees and their families despite its difficult financial situation (see below), the Committee called for intensified international support for UNRWA's activities.

In making its recommendations, the Committee noted that 1997 marked the fiftieth anniversary of General Assembly resolution 181(11) [YUN 1947-48, p. 247], by which the Assembly decided on the partitioning of Palestine and called for the establishment of independent Jewish and Arab States and a special international regime for Jerusalem; the thirtieth anniversary of the occupation of Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories by Israel; and the tenth anniversary of the beginning of the intifadah, the Palestinian uprising which, according to the Committee, helped create the conditions for the peace process.

The signing of the Declaration of Principles in September 1993 [YUN 1993, p. 521] was a dramatic turning point in the search for peace, the Committee said, leading to the emergence of a new reality on the ground, enabling the Palestinians to take their first steps towards independence and opening new possibilities for cooperation among the peoples of the region. The Committee considered it essential that the international community intensify its efforts in support of the historic process of reconciliation between the two sides, the effective implementation of the agreements reached and the resumption of all aspects of the negotiations on the agreed basis.

The Committee expressed greatest concern and anguish that the hopes ushered in by initial positive developments were not carried through in the year under review and that the peace process appeared increasingly in jeopardy, leading to an alarming exacerbation of tension and violence, which resulted in loss of life on both sides. The Committee believed that the harsh economic measures against the occupied territory, including the prolonged blockade, were a form of collective punishment in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the agreements reached, and called for their end in the interests of restoring mutual confidence and promoting peace.

The Committee, noting that 30 Palestinian women prisoners had been released by the Israeli authorities in February, emphasized that the release of prisoners should have become an important confidence-building step, but that Israel was still holding more than 3,600 Palestinian prisoners. Instances of excessive force were recorded by the PA and various human rights organizations. The Committee reaffirmed that the holding of prisoners in the territory of the occupying Power violated the Fourth Geneva Convention and called on Israel to respect its obligations under that Convention and to release the prisoners pursuant to the bilateral agreements.

The Committee fully supported the General Assembly's recommendations in resolutions ES-10/2 and ES-10/3, in particular for the convening of a conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention (see above). The Committee would remain engaged in the follow-up to those recommendations and continue to promote the necessary action.

The Committee reiterated that the involvement of the United Nations in the peace process, both as the guardian of international legitimacy and in mobilizing and providing international assistance, was essential for the successful outcome of that process. As the organ of the General Assembly established to deal with the question, the Committee believed that its role continued to be useful and necessary during the transitional period and until a satisfactory final settlement was achieved.

The Committee reaffirmed that such a settlement had to be based on Security Council resolutions 242(1967) [YUN 1967, p. 257] and 338(1973) [YUN 1973, p. 213]; Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied since 1967; the principle of exchange of land for peace; and the exercise by the Palestinians of their inalienable rights, in particular the right to self-determination. The Committee also insisted that, during the interim period, Israel had to recognize and respect its obligations as the occupying Power under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

While remaining firm on those positions of principle, the Committee continued to make adjustments in its approach and programme of work in order to make a concrete contribution to promoting implementation of the agreements reached and to mobilize international assistance to the Palestinians.

The Committee expressed great appreciation to those States that had supported its work and facilitated the organization of events held under its auspices. It considered that a broadening of its membership to include countries that supported its objectives but had not hitherto participated in its work would greatly enhance the Assembly's contribution to promoting peace at the current, important stage.

The Committee considered that its programme of seminars in the various regions played a useful role in informing and mobilizing public opinion, promoting the exchange of experience and expertise among participants from the various regions and Palestinians and Israelis, and promoting increased involvement by Governments in the search for a just and comprehensive solution. The annual convening of a seminar devoted to the economic and social challenges facing the Palestinians during the transitional period had proved very useful in the Committee's opinion and it intended to continue the practice in order to give the international donor community, including UN bodies and agencies, the opportunity to exchange views with representatives of the PA and internationally renowned experts.

In view of the current situation in the occupied territories, including Jerusalem, the Committee intended to encourage intensified efforts by NGOs to organize sustained campaigns to inform public opinion and promote national and international action in support of UN resolutions and the Committee's objectives. It also planned to continue its meetings of NGOs in the various regions, for a periodic analysis of political developments and as a forum for an exchange of views and experience, as well as for coordinating specific activities.

The Committee concluded that it would continue to strive for maximum effectiveness in implementing its mandate and to adjust its work programme in the light of developments in order to contribute further to the realization of the common UN objective of achieving a just and lasting solution to the Palestine question. 7. Requests the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, established under General Assembly resolution 194(lll), and other United Nations bodies associated with the question of Palestine to continue to cooperate fully with the Committee and to make available to it, at its request, the relevant information and documentation which they have at their disposal;

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

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

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 52/49:

In favour Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay. Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela. Viet Nam. Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel. United States.

Abstain: Andorra. Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland. Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland. Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom.

The United States said the draft resolution, and those on the Division for Palestinian Rights and the special information programme on the Palestine question (see below), promoted institutions whose activities and approaches to Middle East peace were unbalanced and outdated and did nothing to support the process of negotiations under way, scarcely taking note of the considerable achievements of the negotiating partners to date. Instead, they drained away millions of dollars each year that could better serve economic development in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Speaking on behalf of the EU, Luxembourg expressed regret that the Committee's mandate did not take better account of the spirit of the peace process; however, the EU welcomed the dialogue established in recent months with the Bureau of the Committee and intended to continue that exchange, particularly with a view to adapting the Committee's activities and mandate to the new situation in the Middle East so that it could make a constructive contribution to UN action in support of the peace efforts.

Division for Palestinian Rights

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

The Committee, in its annual report [A/52/35], noted with appreciation that the Division had completed a study on the status of Jerusalem, to be published in the near future, and was working on a draft study on Israeli settlements. It also noted that the Division, in cooperation with relevant technical services of the Secretariat, had made substantial progress in developing UNISPAL, as mandated by Assembly resolution 46/74 B [YUN 1991, p. 228]; that a public replica of the system had been established and made available to external users for the second year; and that the Division was making progress in placing some of its documentation on the Internet. While pleased by those developments, particularly the conversion of some 5,000 pages into electronic format through an outside vendor, the Committee expressed the wish that the database be made more comprehensive and useful.

The Committee requested the Division to continue its publications programme, in consultation with the Committee, to pay particular attention to finalizing the proposed study on settlements during the coming year, and to continue its successful project for the training of staff of the PA in the workings of the UN system.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 9 December [meeting 68], the General Assembly adopted resolution 52/50 [draft: A/52/L.50 &Add.l] by recorded vote (113-2-47) [agenda hem 36].

Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat

The General Assembly,

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

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

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

1. Notes with appreciation the action taken by the Secretary-General in compliance with its resolution 51/24;

2. Considers that the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat continues to make a useful Land constructive contribution through the organization of seminars and meetings of non-governmental organizations, as well as through its research and monitoring activities, the preparation of studies and publications and the collection and dissemination of information in printed and electronic form on all issues pertaining to the question of Palestine;

3. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to provide the Division with the necessary resources, including for the further development of the United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine, and to ensure that it continues to discharge the tasks detailed in paragraph 1 of resolution 32/40 B, paragraph 2 (b) of resolution 34/65 D, paragraph 3 of resolution 36/120 B, paragraph 3 of resolution 38/58 B, paragraph 3 of resolution 40/96 B, paragraph 2 of resolution 42/66 B, paragraph 2 of resolution 44/41 B, paragraph 2 of resolution 46/74 B, paragraph 2 of resolution 48/158 B, paragraph 3 of resolution 49/62 B, paragraph 3 of resolution 50/84 B and paragraph 3 of resolution 51/24, in consultation with the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and under its guidance;

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

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

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

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 52/50:

In /avow: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan. Panama, Papua New Guinea. Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal. Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstain: Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Samoa, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom.

Special information programme

As requested by General Assembly resolution 51/25 [YUN 1996, p. 405], the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) continued in 1997, in full cooperation and coordination with the Committee on Palestinian Rights, its special information programme on the Palestine question.

The Department's Public Inquiries Unit responded to requests for information on Middle East issues, and the Group Programme Unit organized briefings on the Palestine question and the Middle East for students and other groups. The subject was included in the presentation to visitors taking guided tours. The Dissemination Unit responded to information requests and disseminated material by electronic mail. Information material and video programmes were distributed to the NGO community in New York, Geneva and Vienna. The UN Dag Hammarskjold Library and the depository libraries disseminated material, documents and press releases on the Committee's activities.

The quarterly UN Chronicle continued its comprehensive coverage of the Palestine question, including General Assembly and Security Council action, special meetings, symposia and seminars. The publications The United Nations and the Question of Palestine and For the Rights of the Palestinians:

The Work of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People continued to be comprehensive sources of historical information; those publications and the poster entitled "Self-determination: an inalienable right of the Palestinian people" were made available in all UN languages.

The Radio and Central News Service covered extensively all aspects of the Palestine question and related issues in daily news bulletins, weekly current affairs magazines and feature programmes in official and non-official languages for dissemination throughout the world.

Following a video-taping mission to the Palestinian territories, the Media Division completed a programme on: Palestinian television, with special emphasis on broadcasters trained by DPI; a rehabilitation project of youth centres in Gaza sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme and training and income-generating programmes for women, sponsored by UNRWA. Videos were being produced for "UN in Action", "CNN World Report" and "1997 Year in Review". As requested by the Committee, video footage on the Palestine question since 1945 had been researched and compiled and a small section in the video library devoted to the question was being established.

DPI, in cooperation with Greece, organized an international seminar with the theme "The peace process: the challenges ahead" (Athens, 26-27 May), which discussed the status of the peace process, implementation of the peace agreements, final status negotiations and the region's economic situation. The seminar brought together Palestinian and Israeli media representatives, as well as academics and political and economic development experts, officials of the PA, and senior journalists representing prominent media organizations from the United States, Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. After the seminar, a fact-finding news mission of eight international journalists visited Cairo, Egypt and Amman, Jordan, where they met with high-ranking government officials and the local press corps.

DPI, in cooperation with the Division for Palestinian Rights, promoted the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (29 November), providing assistance in organizing a special exhibit on that occasion, entitled "At home in Palestine". Print and electronic media coverage of the event in many countries was extensive, and panel discussions and forums, with the participation of UN and government officials, delegations of Palestine and NGOs, were among several activities organized by UN information centres. Also, throughout the year, many centres dealt with the Palestine question in their periodic newsletters and bulletins, organized media activities and special events, issued information materials in local languages and disseminated documents.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 9 December [meeting 68], the General Assembly adopted resolution 52/51 [draft: A/52/L.51 & Add.l ] by recorded vote (158-2-4) [agenda item 36].

Special information programme on the question of Palestine

The General Assembly,

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

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

Recalling its resolution 51/25 of 4 December 1996,

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

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

1. Notes with appreciation the action taken by the Office of Communications and Public Information of the Secretariat in compliance with resolution 51/25;

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

3. Requests the Office, in full cooperation and coordination with the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, to continue, with the necessary flexibility as may be required by developments affecting the question of Palestine, its special information programme for the biennium 1998-1999, with particular emphasis on public opinion in Europe and North America and, in particular:

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

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

(c) To expand its collection of audiovisual material on the question of Palestine and to continue the production of such material;

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

(e) To organize international, regional and national seminars or encounters for journalists;

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

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 52/51:

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

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstain: Bulgaria, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Rwanda.

Assistance to Palestinians

UN involvement

Report of Secretary-General. In a July report A/52/159-E/1997/69], the Secretary-General described UN assistance to the Palestinian people between June 1996 and May 1997. He also provided an assessment of assistance actually received and of needs still unmet and specific proposals for responding effectively to them.

Chinmaya R. Gharekhan succeeded Terje Rod-Larsen as Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories in February 1997. Concurrently, Mr. Gharekhan continued to serve as the Secretary-General's Representative to the multilateral peace talks on the Middle East, a position he had held since January 1993.

Throughout the reporting period, the Special Coordinator focused his efforts on coordinating and targeting donor funded projects to alleviate unemployment and related socio-economic hardship and to encourage employment generation; working with partners in the development effort to provide budgetary support to the PA and to address the budget deficit; strengthening institution-building and targeted technical assistance, so that greater progress could be made towards sustainable socio-economic development; encouraging greater private-sector involvement to stimulate growth, economic development and employment generation; and expediting donor disbursements so that the pa's Public Investment Programme, supported by the international community, could be implemented.

Since its inception in 1994, the report stated, the Office of the Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories had been instrumental in establishing donor coordination mechanisms that brought together the PA, donors, the World Bank and the United Nations. The UN presence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip increased from three organizations in 1993 to 15 in 1997. Combined UN funds dispersed through regular budgets and funds for specific projects totalled approximately $254 million in 1996. With the exception of UNRWA, UN organizations worked for the most part through the PA or local executing agencies.

UN organizations developed their 1997 programmes in response to the needs identified by the PA in the areas of education, health, employment generation, infrastructure and housing, institution-building and the private sector. The Special Coordinator presented the proposed programme of UN assistance for 1997 to the donor community at the Consultative Group meeting in November 1996, which was preceded by an intense round of consultations involving the PA, donors, the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund; the process resulted in a comprehensive public investment programme for 1997 of $865 million, which included 48 UN projects totalling $113 million. At the November meeting, attended by representatives of 35 donor countries and 14 development agencies, $888 million was pledged.

Preparation of the Palestinian Development Plan for 1998-2000 commenced in early 1997. The aim of the improved preparatory process, which drew upon the expertise of PA ministries and agencies and the sector working groups of the Local Aid Coordination Committee, was to better target donor funding to Palestinian development needs. To increase the efficiency and usefulness of the sector working groups, set up in 1995 to facilitate communication and coordination between donors and the PA, a series of evaluative workshops was held in early 1997, leading in some cases to the creation of more focused subgroups. Under the guidance of a steering committee, chaired by the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, the working groups would also assist the PA in formulating the Palestinian Public Investment Programme.

By decision 1997/294 of 23 July, the Economic and Social Council took note of the Secretary-General's report on assistance to the Palestinians.

Education

Education, the largest public-service sector within the pa's area of responsibility, employed almost 22,000 people and catered to the needs of approximately 1.2 million children. Immediate priorities for the PA upon assuming responsibility were upgrading inadequate physical infrastructure and revitalizing human resources. Efforts to relieve overcrowding, the insufficient number of schools and deteriorating premises remained a high priority owing to the demands of a rapidly growing population. An estimated 40 new schools per year were required simply to keep up with the natural increase; in addition, there was a need for textbooks and equipment in the almost 1,500 existing schools.

Capacity development at the classroom level was urgently needed to revitalize the educational process, which had suffered from low teacher morale and lack of institutional support. The framework for such efforts had to be, said the report, a comprehensive institutional development process targeting the education system overall, its policy-making and implementation procedures at every level. The sectoral priority was to support the pa's implementation of its National Plan of Action for Children, in which formal, non-formal and early childhood education were targeted for improvement in quality, access and management.

Employment

The average number of Palestinians working legally inside Israel had fallen to 22,000 in 1996 from 116,000 in 1992. With an estimated 16,000 joining the labour force each year, it seemed unlikely, the report said, that the Palestinian economy would be able to absorb many of the currently unemployed or to accommodate the anticipated increases of roughly 4 per cent annually. A two-track approach was required to address the immediate needs through the provision of short-term job opportunities, while at the same time formulating long-term strategies. In order to address long-term employment needs, changes in the preparation of the labour force were required; university graduates experienced high unemployment due to the concentration on humanities and social science rather than science and technology-related fields. Private enterprise and investment had to be encouraged in such important sectors as agriculture, and there was a need to develop a transparent, streamlined legal and regulatory framework.

Health

The PA had identified the fragmentation of health services between different providers, the lack of standardization in skills and services and the neglected state of physical infrastructure and equipment as the health sector's priority needs. As was also the case with other sectors, the health sector in general had suffered from the lack of Palestinian participation in planning and decision-making during the occupation years. In addition, the human and technical resources for gathering comprehensive data for the whole of the West Bank and Gaza Strip were unavailable, and health providers were consequently unable to ascertain fully the scale and priority of health problems. There was no comprehensive health safety net, the report noted, and many families could not afford insurance coverage; that created particular problems in specialist health care, which was currently unavailable in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, necessitating patient referrals to Israeli hospitals. In addition, curative rather than preventive and primary health care was overemphasized, which greatly increased costs both system-wide and at the household level. Currently, almost one quarter of all patients' first contacts with health-care services were initiated as emergencies, which placed higher financial and manpower costs on the system. The 1996 health budget was $96 million, up from $76 million the previous year.

Overall health indicators for the West Bank and Gaza Strip were comparable with those of other Arab countries of the region and of countries with similar socio-economic characteristics. Major causes of child mortality were acute respiratory infections and diarrheal diseases. Child and maternal nutrition deficiencies were evident in the high rates of anaemia, diarrheal disease and related problems. There was a need for widespread health education—aimed at both the public and health professionals in order to lessen the severity of those and other pressing health problems. On the whole, however, the West Bank and Gaza were characterized by pockets of need rather than the urgent health sector demands evident in some developing countries. Sectoral priorities remained centred around the strengthening of institutional and human capacity in the context of developing a locally relevant, locally managed comprehensive health-care system.

Infrastructure

Neglected infrastructure remained one of the most pressing challenges facing the PA, the report stated, as consistent under funding had resulted in decaying and inadequate systems that were overwhelmed by demand. Priority areas were modern roads planned with the need of local communities in mind, adequate and environmentally sound water and sanitation systems, and efficient electricity and telecommunications capable of facilitating development and commercial expansion. Housing was characterized by a large gap between supply and demand and a lack of government investment and remained subject to zoning restrictions, planning and building permits.

As the population grew and residential and industrial use expanded, demand for electricity continued to rise; however, over 130 villages in the West Bank either had no electricity at all or were supplied for only a few hours a day. Only 29 per cent of the West Bank and Gaza Strip population was connected to a public sewage system, and raw sewage, which continued to be diverted into cesspits, posed an environmental hazard to the underground aquifers that were the main water resource. Insufficient facilities for solid waste disposal or irregular collection in many areas compounded the problem. In 1995, the Palestinian Water Authority had assumed responsibility for coordinating activities related to water and waste water management; long-term planning had begun and sewage treatment plants were being overhauled, but rehabilitating the entire system was a lengthy process and, owing to the absence of any previous substantive development in the sector, much remained to be done.

According to the report, over 40 per cent of the existing road network required urgent repairs, and the entire road system needed to be reworked to facilitate development. Fully functioning airports and seaports were necessary if trade, commerce and tourism were to grow to their full potential. Telecommunications were improving, although the number of telephones per person stood at 1:46—compared with 1:15 in Jordan-presenting a constraint on commercial enterprises. The PA had plans to expand to 250,000 telephone lines by the year 2000, compared with the current figure of 90,000.

Institution building

Three years after the PA assumed responsibility, major progress had been made in institution building in the area of public administration at both central and local levels, the report noted. Much of the donor initiative had focused on support for the start up phase, capital expenditures and recurrent costs, and on technical assistance for the development process to ministries and other institutions responsible for the delivery of public and social services. The challenge continued to be to assist the PA in the assumption of its central responsibilities. Ensuring financial accountability and operational transparency of ministries, councils and organizations was key to continued international participation in the process.

Increasing attention was being devoted to strengthening the legal system, developing institutional capacity for the administration of justice and protection of human rights, and establishing a regulatory framework in both the public and private sectors. Other priorities included encouraging private investment and fostering donor confidence by enhancing the legal environment surrounding private sector investment, specifically land registration, building and property ownership, and planning and zoning regulations. The public-sector regulatory framework also needed to be developed, the report stated, with respect to taxation and banking laws, labour laws and workers' rights, and environmental protection.

Private-sector development

The report considered the expansion and encouragement of the private sector to be central to the achievement of long-term structural employment, but stated that investment was currently inhibited by fears of potential economic losses owing to closures of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the resultant lack of access to markets and materials. In addition, there was an ongoing need to develop a comprehensive legal and regulatory framework conducive to private-sector investment. Also required was continued support to the banking sector, to ensure the availability of dependable financial services needed for business investment and expansion.

Housing construction accounted for some 85 per cent of private-sector investment. Agriculture—largely centred around small, family-based farms was another important economic activity, generating roughly one third of gross domestic product and one quarter of exports. Owing to the effects of border closures, lack of access to markets, the threat of ever decreasing access to water resources and dependance on, as well as inappropriate use of, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, the sector had been unable to develop its full economic potential. There was a need for further development of rain ed crops and multi-cropping, and institutional support in the form of credit facilities, uniform legislation, research and testing stations for crop testing and trying out new methodologies.

The PA had also highlighted the tourism sector for development, as the approaching turn of the millennium was expected to attract a huge influx of visitors to the region. While major efforts were under way, particularly in Bethlehem, the sector required additional physical infrastructure and improved services.

Seminar on assistance to Palestinian people. By a 9 June letter [A/52/179-E/1997/76], the Chairman of the Committee on Palestinian Rights transmitted to the Secretary-General the report of the 1997 Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People (Amman, Jordan, 20-22 May), which had as its theme "Palestinian Human Development Needs". The Seminar's round able meetings discussed sustainable human development as the basis for nation-building; promoting poverty eradication and sustainable development; and promoting gender equality and the full participation of women in society. Representatives of 32 Governments, 3 inter-governmental organizations, 11 UN bodies and agencies and 17 NGOs participated in the seminar, at which 16 experts from various regions, including Palestinians and one Israeli, presented papers.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 16 December [meeting 73], the General Assembly adopted resolution 52/170 [draft: A/52/L.57/ Rev.l & Add.l] without vote [agenda item 20 (d)].

Assistance to the Palestinian people

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolution 51/150 of 13 December 1996,

Recalling also previous resolutions on the question,

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

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

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

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

Noting, in the light of recent developments in the peace process, the great economic and social challenges facing the Palestinian people and their leadership,

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

Noting the convening of the United Nations Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People, "Palestinian Human Development Needs", held at Amman from 20 to 22 May 1997,

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

Noting the appointment by the Secretary-General in June 1994 of the United Nations Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories,

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

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

Welcoming further the meeting of the consultative group in Paris on 19 and 20 November 1996, at which the proposed programme of United Nations assistance for 1997 was presented to the donor community,

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General,

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

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

3. Also expresses its appreciation to the Member States, United Nations bodies and inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations that have provided and continue to provide assistance to the Palestinian people;

4. Stresses the importance of the work done by the United Nations Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories and of the steps taken under the auspices of the Secretary-General to ensure the achievement of a coordinated mechanism for United Nations activities throughout the occupied territories;

5. Urges Member States, international financial institutions of the United Nations system, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations and regional and inter-regional organizations to extend, as rapidly and as generously as possible, economic and social assistance to the Palestinian people in order to assist in the development of the West Bank and Gaza, and to do so in close cooperation with the Palestine Liberation Organization and through official Palestinian institutions;

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

7. Urges Member States to open their markets to exports from the West Bank and Gaza and on the most favourable terms, consistent with appropriate trading rules;

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

9. Suggests the convening in 1998 of a United Nations-sponsored seminar on the Palestinian economy;

10. Requests the Secretary-General to submit a report to the General Assembly at its fifty-third session, through the Economic and Social Council, on the implementation of the present resolution, containing:
(a) An assessment of the assistance actually received by the Palestinian people;
(b) An assessment of the needs still unmet and specific proposals for responding effectively to them;
11. Decides to include in the provisional agenda of its fifty-third session, under the item entitled "Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance", the sub-item entitled "Assistance to the Palestinian people".

The UN and Palestine refugees

The year 1997 was one of uncertainty for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and for the refugee community with whom the Agency had been working since 1950. The virtual suspension of ongoing negotiations within the frame-work of the Middle East peace process, and the closures on security grounds affecting the West Bank and Gaza Strip, led to a deterioration in the political, social and economic environment in which the refugees lived and the Agency operated. At the same time, UNRWA faced a financial crisis that threatened to undermine the level and standard of the humanitarian services it was mandated by the international community to provide until the Palestine refugee problem was resolved. During the year, finding a solution to the financial crisis became a major preoccupation of the UNRWA Commissioner-General and his staff, who intensified efforts to work with the Agency's major donors, the host authorities and the international community at large to secure the Agency's financial footing.

By mid-1997, 3.42 million Palestine refugees were registered with UNRWA, an increase of 3.6 per cent over the 1996 figure of 3.31 million. The largest refugee population was registered in Jordan (1.3 million, or 41.4 per cent, of the Agency-wide total), followed by the Gaza Strip (717,000, or 21.8 per cent), the West Bank (532,000, 15.9 per cent), Lebanon (352,000, 10.5 per cent) and the Syrian Arab Republic (347,000, 10.4 per cent).

Work of UNRWA

In his annual report [A/52/13] on the work of the Agency (1 July 1996-30 June 1997), the UNRWA Commissioner-General said that the Agency's humanitarian work was being over-shadowed by concern about its financial situation. The steady increase in the refugee population due to natural growth, combined with inflation and the fact that UNRWA's public-sector-like services were made available to all those eligible for them, meant that the cost of providing services at a given level over time rose inexorably. Also, in view of the worsening economic conditions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the Agency was facing mounting demands from the refugees to do more to improve the quality of services and living conditions inside and outside the camps. The perpetual financial crisis was pushing the Agency towards a situation in which cost implications would become the exclusive concern in; decisions on humanitarian assistance, the Commissioner-General warned. Such a situation not at all conducive to the effective functioning of an agency chiefly responsible for providing basic public sector services to a vulnerable, marginalized and impoverished population of over 3 million particularly given the sensitive and contentious political issues surrounding the refugee issue and UNRWA's own work. Under its regular programmes of assistance, UNRWA provided essential education, health and relief and social services through a network of 643 schools, eight training centres and 121 outpatient health facilities. Environmental health services included sewage and refuse disposal, waste-water management and provision of clean drinking water to more than 1.1 million refugees living in 59 camps. A special hardship programme served 185,000 of the neediest refugees with food rations, medical subsidies, shelter rehabilitation and other benefits. A range of social services was provided to over 32,000 refugees through 126 Agency-sponsored women's programme, community rehabilitation and youth activity centres. By the end of 1997, an income-generation programme had provided loans valued at more than $22 million to 10,538 refugee-owned business enterprises, achieving repayment rates of more than 95 per cent.

Peace Implementation Programme

In its fourth year of operation, UNRWA's Peace Implementation Programme (PIP) remained the main channel for extrabudgetary project funding of Agency education, health and relief and social service programmes and income-generation activities. Launched in October 1993 [YUN 1993, p. 569] after the signing of the Declaration of Principles between the PLO and Israel, PIP aimed to demonstrate the tangible benefits of the peace process through a comprehensive initiative to develop infrastructure, improve living conditions and create employment opportunities in refugee communities.

From mid-1996 to mid-1997, PIP funding enabled UNRWA to complete construction of 13 schools,- 6 additional classrooms, 11 specialized rooms, 4 health centres or health points, 3 community rehabilitation centres, and a vocational training centre workshop, a distribution centre, a women's programme centre, a kindergarten/ nursery and a secondary school built for the PA. The Agency rehabilitated 567 shelters for special hardship families and performed comprehensive maintenance on 20 schools. Facilities of three vocational and technical training centres, two health centres and three women's programme centres were upgraded, and a youth activities centre was renovated. Completed projects that improved camp infrastructure and services included an internal sewerage project in one camp in the West Bank, the paving of pathways and drains in three camps in Jordan, improvements to water supply systems in three camps in Syria and one in Lebanon, construction of a pumping station in one camp in Gaza, installation of a new electricity network in another in the West Bank, and upgrading of solid waste disposal facilities in a number of camps in Syria and Gaza. Other environmental health projects, including a major project for eight Lebanon camps and construction of new premises for the Gaza Rehabilitation Centre for the Visually Impaired, were ongoing.

Other PIP funded activities included after-school recreation and emergency job-creation programmes in the Gaza Strip; repatriation to Gaza of residents of a camp in the Sinai peninsula; a slow learners' programme and provision of computers for the tenth grade in Jordan; a poverty alleviation programme in the West Bank; and a vocational training course, a slow-learners' programme, preschool classes, special care for destitute persons, provision of prosthetic devices and nursing training in Lebanon. pip also helped to sustain regular Agency programmes by providing additional hospitalization assistance and medical supplies in Lebanon, additional teacher posts in the West Bank, funding university scholarships for refugee students, and support for the income-generation programme. pip cash expenditures totalled $74 million in the 1996-1997 biennium—not including expenditures for the European Gaza Hospital project, contributions for which were recorded as PIP income. Pledges and contributions for PIP during the period totalled $69.5 million, raising the aggregate received over the life of the programme to $219.5 million by the end of 1997. All in all, 310 projects had been funded since pip's inception.

In view of the marked decrease in pledges and contributions compared to previous reporting periods, as well as financial constraints experienced by major donors and the establishment of new channels of implementation, UNRWA assumed that funding for PIP had peaked. Consequently the focus of the programme would shift towards completion of funded projects and development of a more targeted fund-raising approach reflecting Agency-wide priorities and continuity in service provision.

Major service areas

Education

During the 1996/97 school year, the 643 UNRWA schools accommodated 436,169 pupils, mainly in the elementary and preparatory cycles but also including 333 students at the single Agency secondary school in Lebanon. Total enrolment increased by 3.4 per cent, or 14,315 pupils, over the 1995/96 school year. However, growth in enrolment was unevenly distributed, with an increase of 8.6 per cent in the Gaza Strip (11,179 new pupils) and a decrease of 1.6 per cent in Jordan (2,371 fewer pupils), with the other three fields (Lebanon, Syria, West Bank) maintaining growth rates between 3.1 and 4.6 per cent. While natural growth in the refugee population was the principal cause of the overall increase, other sometimes countervailing tendencies were also at work, including movement of Palestinian families within the area of operations (particularly from Jordan and to the Gaza Strip and West Bank); movement into the area of operations (Gaza Strip); the transfer of refugee pupils from Agency to government schools (Jordan) and vice versa (Syria); and the transfer of refugee pupils from tuition-based private schools to Agency schools (Lebanon). Female pupils represented 49.8 per cent of total enrolment.

The education programme, which was run in cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), remained UNRWA's single largest area of activity. The 13,766 education staff represented two thirds of all Agency personnel, while the education budget of $167.1 million for 1997 accounted for half of the total UNRWA budget.

The Agency's basic education programme consisted of an elementary cycle of six years and a preparatory cycle of three or four years, depending on local norms; a three year secondary cycle was also offered at the UNRWA secondary school in Lebanon. The programme adhered to the curricula, study plans, textbooks and education structures of the host authorities; thus changes in host authority education programmes had implications for the Agency. The most significant issue in that regard was the extension of the basic education cycle by the PA from 9 years to 10. The Authority, which had previously requested UNRWA to introduce the tenth grade in its West Bank schools, broadened that request to include the Gaza Strip. However, a lack of funds prevented the Agency from introducing the new grade in either field—for a fourth consecutive year in the case of the West Bank. The Agency was seeking special funding of $7.8 million for the West Bank and $17.7 million for the Gaza Strip to cover the hiring and training of staff, construction of new facilities, purchase of required textbooks and other expenditures to implement the measure in phases over a four-year period.

In the 1996/97 school year, UNRWA elementary and preparatory schools in the West Bank and Gaza Strip used study plans and textbooks prescribed by the PA, with textbooks procured for the first time in Gaza. The Agency coordinated with the Authority on issues such as school calendars and infrastructure mapping, and on accommodating in UNRWA schools children of refugee families newly arrived in the self-rule areas. Agency staff continued to participate in designing and developing a unified Palestinian curriculum through the pa's curriculum development centre. UNRWA cooperated with the Authority in offering vocational training courses for released prisoners in the West Bank, and constructed a secondary school building for it in Gaza using project funds received for that purpose. The university-level degrees awarded by the Educational Sciences Faculty (ESF) in the West Bank received recognition by the Authority.

The shortcomings of UNRWA's education infrastructure continued to hamper the basic education programme. Lacking sufficient school buildings, the Agency was in most cases obliged to house two separate schools in one building, working in morning and afternoon shifts, a practice that shortened the school day, led to overuse of facilities and deprived pupils of extra-curricular activities. Many Agency schools were accommodated in dilapidated structures built in the 1950s or 1960s, some of which were becoming unsafe or were beyond repair. Where no UNRWA-built school was available, the Agency was obliged to accommodate pupils in rented buildings not originally designed as schools. Overcrowding within the UNRWA education system continued, due to a lack of funds to hire more teachers or construct schools and class-rooms. Occupancy rates in the elementary and preparatory cycles averaged 43.2 pupils per classroom in the 1996/97 school year Agency-wide, up from 42.7 in the 1995/96 year.

The eight UNRWA vocational and technical training centres in the five fields offered 4,666 training places in the 1996/97 academic year, 42 more than in 1995/96. However, actual enrolment remained below capacity, at 4,444 trainees, largely owing to the inability of trainees from Gaza enrolled at Agency training centres in the West Bank to obtain travel permits from the Israeli authorities. At the post preparatory level, 22 two-year vocational courses were offered to male trainees in the building, electrical, electronic, mechanical and metalworking trades, in addition to special courses for women. At the post secondary level, 26 two-year technical/ semiprofessional courses were offered to male and female trainees in a variety of technical, paramedical and commercial skills. Agency training centres also offered short-term courses of 12 to 40 weeks' duration in Jordan, Lebanon and the West Bank, in which 133 trainees were enrolled. The placement and career guidance office at the Agency's Amman headquarters assisted in finding employment for more than 300 graduates of Agency training centres, with nearly 73 per cent of 1995 graduates reportedly employed.

The three branches of ESF in Jordan and the West Bank continued to provide pre-service and in-service teacher training leading to a first-level university degree. esf was established in 1993 in response to education reforms introduced by Jordan, later adopted by the PA in the West Bank, requiring teachers in the basic education cycle to possess four-year diplomas. The four-year pre-service programme, which granted degrees in classroom teaching or in the specialized topics of Arabic, mathematics, science and vocational education, was offered to 737 secondary school graduates, including 509 women, at three centres. The three-year in service programme was offered at the Amman ESF to 619 teachers holding two year teacher training diplomas, including 164 women, to upgrade their qualifications to the first university degree level. During the reporting period, 227 pre-service trainees and 169 in-service trainees graduated from ESF programmes, becoming the first group of students ever awarded a university-level degree by UNRWA. The ESF in-service programme in Jordan would henceforth produce about 200 graduates a year, enabling the Agency to upgrade all under qualified teachers in the field within 10 years. The preservice programme in Jordan and the West Bank was also expected to produce about 200 graduates a year, from whom the Agency could recruit. During the 1996/97 school year, UNRWA awarded university scholarships to 1,088 Palestine refugee students, including 507 women, for study at 45 universities in 10 countries of the region. The increase of 145 scholarships over the 1995/96 year resulted from additional contributions to fund the programme.

Health

UNRWA's health-care programme remained focused on comprehensive primary health care, including a full range of maternal and child health care (MCH) and family planning services, school health services, health education and promotion, out-patient medical care, prevention and control of communicable diseases and of non-communicable ones such as diabetes mellitus and hypertension, and specialist care with an emphasis on gynecology and obstetrics, pediatrics and cardiology. Those services were provided through a network of 121 primary health-care facilities—including 88 health centres, 23 health points offering a wide range of health-care services on a part-time basis, and 10 mother-and-child health centres offering comprehensive family health services—backed up by basic support services such as X-ray and laboratory facilities.

Between 1 July 1996 and 30 June 1997, Agency out-patient facilities handled 5.3 million medical and 500,000 dental visits, as well as 1.4 million visits for nursing services such as dressings and injections. The health programme had an operating budget of $61.3 million for 1997. Owing to funding shortfalls, allocations had to be reduced through a series of austerity measures, leaving average budgeted expenditure per refugee on health services at little more than $18 a year. Approximately 62 per cent of cash allocations to the health programme were devoted to the costs of 3,412 locally recruited health staff, who implemented all core programme activities. Even with such a large share of expenditure on staff costs, available human resources fell short of ever-increasing demands. The sanitation labour force in camps remained 26 per cent below UNRWA standard norms owing to a recruitment freeze, while the ratio of Agency health staff per 10,000 population was 0.87 for doctors and 2.5 for nurses, as against comparable national figures of 5.5 doctors and 50 nurses in Jordan, and 10.8 doctors and 28.3 nurses in Syria. As a result, workloads in UNRWA health facilities remained high, with each doctor handling an average of 100 patient visits a day Agency-wide, reaching as high as 118 in the Gaza Strip. The World Health Organization (WHO) provided UNRWA with two senior health staff on a non-reimbursable loan basis, including the Director of Health, and covered the cost of the five division chief posts.

Family health continued to be emphasized as an integral part of the Agency's regular health programme. The progress attained in recent years towards developing a comprehensive maternal health and family planning programme was reinforced through additional contributions from the EU, as well as by a special contribution from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) towards the cost of contraceptive supplies for Agency clinics. Those additional allocations enabled UNRWA to recruit more gynecologists/obstetricians, medical officers and trained midwives and ensure the full integration of family planning services within the Agency's MCH programme. During the reporting period, UNRWA MCH clinics and centres cared for some 205,000 children below the age of three, representing approximately 6 per cent of the registered refugee population, and some 70,000 pregnant women, who accounted for approximately two thirds of expected pregnancies. Nearly 23,000 family planning acceptors were registered during the reporting period, bringing the total number of women using the Agency's family planning services to 51,000.

UNRWA's health programme also addressed the prevention and control of communicable diseases through immunization, such as poliomyelitis and tetanus; vectorborne diseases transmitted through environmental channels, such as brucellosis and intestinal parasites; newly emerging infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS; reemerging infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis; and non-communicable diseases associated with life-styles, such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, heart diseases and cancer.The Agency maintained optimal immunization coverage against the major childhood diseases. In early 1997 it took part in national immunization days for eradication of poliomyelitis. A total of 205,000 refugee children under the age of five were immunized, using vaccines donated by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). Special care comprising close monitoring and management of diabetes mellitus and hypertension was provided through all Agency health centres, benefiting 63,000 patients during the reporting period. Cancer prevention programmes included the introduction of a simple technique for self-examination and early detection of breast cancer, and a youth-centred programme for the prevention of tobacco use among schoolchildren. Special attention continued to be paid to early detection and management of micronutrient disorders, especially iron-deficiency anaemia, which was still highly prevalent among pre-schoolchildren and women of reproductive age.

Palestine refugees received secondary care assistance through partial reimbursement of costs incurred for treatment at governmental or non-governmental hospitals, or through contractual agreements with non-governmental or private hospitals, depending on the field of operation. Hospitalization accounted for 18 per cent of cash allocations under UNRWA's health programme in 1996, the second-largest component of the health budget after staff costs. While the Agency managed to maintain its primary health-care services within the limited financial and human resources available, it could not continue to meet the continuous increase in the cost of hospital services. In Lebanon, hospital services were maintained at current levels only by securing extrabudgetary resources.

More than 1.1 million Palestine refugees in 59 camps benefited from environmental health services provided by UNRWA in cooperation with local municipalities, including sewage disposal, management of storm water run-off, provision of safe drinking water, collection and disposal of refuse, and control of insect and rodent infestation. The Agency continued to play an active role, particularly in the Gaza Strip, in planning and implementing large-scale projects to install sewerage, drainage and water networks in camps and expand solid-waste collection and disposal capacity. UNRWA completed or continued to implement sewerage and drainage projects in four camps in the West Bank and two camps in the Gaza Strip; completed detailed technical designs for such projects in eight camps in Lebanon and one in Syria; and provided technical assistance to two of those projects in the Gaza Strip. Under the self-help programme for environmental health, the Agency contributed building materials for projects such as paving of pathways and construction of surface drains, with labour being provided on a volunteer basis by camp committees.

UNRWA placed high priority on coordinating and streamlining health policies and service standards with the PA. Cooperation included implementation of a three-year maternal health and family planning project; participation in a newly established committee for the control of iodine deficiency disorders; procurement of emergency medical supplies for the PA; maintenance of the arrangement for the treatment of members of the Palestinian Police Force and their families at Agency clinics in Jericho; and harmonization of UNRWA's immunization schedule with that of the Authority, which provided the Agency's vaccine requirements. A close dialogue was also maintained on the commissioning and future operation of the European Gaza Hospital, which was built by UNRWA with EU and bilateral funding. Other cooperative projects included the construction of a central health laboratory in Ramallah; upgrading of the UNRWA hospital at Qalqilia; and improving the environmental health infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. However, the stalled peace process and limited international assistance presented major obstacles to completing institutional capacity-building, up-grading health infrastructure and developing new health policies and plans of action in the self-rule areas.

Relief and social services

Of the 3.42 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA as at 30 June 1997, 37.5 per cent were age 15 or under, 53.5 per cent were between 16 and 59 years of age, and 9 per cent were age 60 or older. Fewer than one third were registered in the 59 refugee camps in UNRWA's area of operations, most being intermingled with the local population in towns and villages. The rate of increase of the refugee population was significantly lower than in previous reporting periods and closer to the rate of natural population growth, suggesting that families had largely updated records to include previously unregistered persons. That could be attributed to two causes: the perception that there might be a link between Agency records and a future negotiated settlement of the Palestine refugee question, and the relocation of many refugee families from outside the area of operations in the early 1990s, both particularly relevant in Jordan.

UNRWA continued work on developing a unified registration system (urs) to integrate three sets of records: a basic refugee registration database, an archive of refugee family files and a database of socio-economic data on special hardship families. While seeking funding, the Agency conducted a pilot project in early 1997 to identify appropriate technology and establish standards for the electronic scanning of the estimated 700,000 hard-copy family files, the major task of the URS project. With the electronic storage of the family files and linkage of the three sets of records, URS would improve programme planning and management, ensure the security of vital data and preserve an important historical resource. Meanwhile, improvements to existing Agency records continued.

UNRWA continued to assist refugee families unable to meet basic needs for food, shelter and other life essentials through its special hardship programme. The number of refugees in house-holds meeting the stringent eligibility criteria-no male adult medically fit to earn an income, and no other identifiable means of financial support above a defined threshold—increased by 3.4 per cent, from 179,178 in June 1996 to 185,259 a year later. The close correlation between growth in special hardship enrolment and in the registered population suggested that demand had stabilized. The percentage of refugees enrolled in the programme continued to be highest in Lebanon (10.2 per cent) and the Gaza Strip (8.4 per cent) and lowest in Jordan (2.5 per cent).

Assistance to special hardship families included food support, hospitalization subsidies, emergency cash grants, shelter rehabilitation and poverty alleviation initiatives and preferential access to UNRWA training centres. It was decided to modify the form of food support starting in January 1997: while the basic commodities most valued by refugees (flour, rice, sugar, cooking oil and milk powder) were retained, a cash subsidy, equivalent to $40 per person a year, was substituted for other items in order to give refugees flexibility in the choice and timing of food purchases.

Some 11,880 special hardship families, representing 25 per cent of the total and comprising 46,315 persons, still lived in housing that did not meet minimum standards. Progress in meeting the urgent housing needs of those families slowed by 1997 owing to a decrease in special funding for that purpose. In contrast to the 4,559 shelters rehabilitated in 1994/95 and 2,556 in 1995/96, UNRWA rehabilitated only 600 shelters in 1996/97, representing just 5 per cent of total estimated need. Pockets of dire need also remained, particularly in Lebanon, where displaced refugee families were squatting in miserable conditions. Shelter rehabilitation was carried out either on a self-help basis, with the Agency providing financial and technical assistance and beneficiary families arranging volunteer labour, or by small campbased contractors, helping create jobs within the refugee community.

Under its poverty alleviation programme, UNRWA assisted disadvantaged refugees, especially women, to raise their economic status through skills training, participation in production units, group savings and loan schemes, and credit provision. During the reporting period, 55 grants and 88 loans were awarded to special hardship and other impoverished families to help them establish small enterprises. The programme's emphasis shifted towards loans repayable either to the Agency or to a community group, allowing capital to be recovered and reinvested. UNRWA staff provided training in credit provision and served as trainers in courses organized by other UN organizations. Group savings and loan schemes benefited 666 people; women participants were especially interested in using the schemes for home improvements and for purchasing equipment to enable them to earn an income. Participation in the poverty alleviation programme increased slightly, from 1,803 participants at mid-1996 to 1,848 at mid-1997.

Community-based programmes

Participation in UNRWAs community-based social development programmes for women, youth and persons with disabilities increased by 22 per cent, from 26,458 at mid-1996 to 32,407 at mid-1997. The focal point for the programmes was the network of 126 Agency-sponsored community centres, comprising 71 women's programme centres, 30 community rehabilitation centres and, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, 25 youth activities centres. Activities at the women's programme centres emphasized projects and training to help participants earn an income; lectures and work-shops on issues of concern to women and the community; courses to enhance the social development of women; and support services for women, such as kindergartens and legal advice bureaux. The community rehabilitation centres worked to raise community awareness of the needs and rights of the disabled; integrate persons with disabilities into mainstream activities, such as schools; help disabled persons and their families cope with disability; assist disabled adults to obtain training and employment; and provide referrals to specialist services and equipment, such as hearing aids and prosthetic devices. The youth activities centres offered sports and recreational and cultural activities, which were increasingly open to young women; organized community service activities such as clean-up campaigns; and held lectures and public meetings on issues of community concern. By 30 June 1997, 52 of the 71 women's programme centres were managed by local committees, up from 42 the previous year, as were all community rehabilitation centres and youth activities centres.

Income generation

UNRWA's income-generation programme continued to provide working capital loans at commercial interest rates to small-scale businesses and micro-enterprises through field-based revolving loan funds, with the aim of creating employment, generating income and supporting sustainable business enterprises within the refugee community. In the Gaza Strip, where income-generation efforts were concentrated, the Agency targeted small businesses and micro-enterprises in the formal and informal sectors of the economy whose lack of collateral prevented them from obtaining credit through the formal banking system. Despite reduced donor contributions to the programme's capital base during the reporting period, the Gaza income-generation programme tripled the number of loans over the previous period. A total of 4,452 loans valued at $5.4 million were awarded, 66 per cent of them to women borrowers. Despite increasing growth in operating expenses over the preceding three years, the programme was able to continue to increase sustainability at an annual rate of 10 per cent, achieving 89 per cent coverage of operating costs by the end of 1996.

The income-generation programme in the West Bank resumed operations at full capacity after undergoing substantial restructuring in the previous reporting period. It issued $1.3 million in loans to 106 small-scale enterprises, including a construction firm, medical clinic, handicraft workshop, bakery, furniture manufacturer and children's nursery. Additional project funding in the amount of $400,000 was received, increasing the programme's capital base to $2.4 million. The West Bank programme was preparing to launch a microenterprise credit programme similar to that in Gaza later in 1997, initially focusing on the Nablus area but subsequently extending to other areas of the West Bank.

UNRWA also operated revolving loan funds for small-scale enterprises in Jordan and Lebanon, though on a smaller scale than in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Agency awarded 26 loans valued at $181,000 in Jordan, and 36 loans valued at $196,000 in Lebanon, achieving overall repayment rates of 96 per cent and 97 per cent, respectively. No new contributions were received to expand the capital base of those programmes, which at mid-1997 stood at $494,000 in Jordan and $325,000 in Lebanon.

Refugees in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya

In coordination with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and an international NGO, UNRWA had been monitoring the situation of a group of as many as 250 Palestinians required to leave the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya who had been encamped at the Salloum crossing point on the Libyan-Egyptian border. The Libyan authorities relocated the group into the country and dismantled the camp in April 1997.

General Assembly resolutions related to Palestine refugees On 10 December, the General Assembly adopted seven resolutions relating to Palestine refugees: assistance to Palestine refugees (52/57); financing of UNRWA (52/58); displaced persons (52/59); scholarships for higher education and vocational training (52/60); operations of UNRWA (52/61); Palestine refugees' properties and their revenues (52/62); and the proposed University of Jerusalem "Al-Quds" for Palestine refugees (52/63).

In the Fourth (Special Political and Decolonization) Committee debate on the UNRWA item, speakers concentrated on the Agency's financial crisis. Virtually all of them noted the negative impact on the lives of the refugees of reductions in UNRWA services, particularly in the context of the stalled peace process.

Introducing his report in the Fourth Committee, the UNWRA Commissioner-General said the Agency was responsible for 3.4 million refugees—75 per cent of the Gaza Strip population, 34 per cent of the population of the West Bank and 31 per cent of the population of Jordan; any factor affecting the Agency, such as its continuing financial crisis, had a negative impact on them.

According to the Observer of Palestine, UNRWA had since its establishment played a crucial role in preventing the worsening of the Palestine refugees' human catastrophe; its work had to continue in all fields of operation until a definitive solution was found to the refugee problem.

The grave deterioration of the peace process had resulted in a worsening of the refugees' daily life, and there was no doubt that the reduction in services due to UNRWA's serious financial crisis had had a negative impact.

Israel stated that Arab leaders had blocked attempts to improve the living conditions of the Palestine refugees and had used them as a political asset and weapon in their warfare and diplomatic campaign against Israel. In the West Bank and Gaza, Israel stated, UNRWA did not operate "disconnected and isolated" from the reality of terrorist attacks against innocent Israeli citizens. Requesting a vote on the draft resolutions in the Fourth Committee, Israel stressed that the Committee was dealing with a humanitarian problem which at the same time was a political issue. Its objections to the resolutions arose from the reference in them to the right of Palestine refugees to return to Israel, a matter to be considered in negotiations on a final settlement; also, the influx of Arab refugees into Israel would be a demographic time bomb.

General Aspects

On 10 December [meeting 69], the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Fourth Committee [A/52/616], adopted resolution 52/57 by recorded vote (159-1-2) [agenda item 86].

Assistance to Palestine refugees

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolution 51/124 of 13 December 1996 and all its previous resolutions on the question, including resolution 194(111) of 11 December 1948,

Taking note of the report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for.Palestine Refugees in the Near East covering the period from 1 July 1996 to 30 June 1997,

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

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

Welcoming the completion of the transfer of the head-quarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East to Gaza, to its area of operations,

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

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

3. Notes with regret that the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine has been unable to find a means of achieving progress in the implementation of paragraph 11 of resolution 194(III) and requests the Commission to exert continued efforts towards the implementation of that paragraph and to report to the Assembly as appropriate, but t no later than 1 September 1998;

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

5. Welcomes strengthened cooperation between the Agency and the World Bank and other specialized agencies, and calls upon the Agency to make a decisive contribution towards giving a fresh impetus to the economic and social stability of the occupied territories;

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

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

8. Commends the efforts of the Commissioner-General to move towards budgetary transparency and internal efficiency, and hopes that such moves will continue;

9. Notes with profound concern that the structural deficit problem confronting the Agency portends an almost certain decline in the living conditions of the Palestine refugees and that it, therefore, has possible consequences for the peace process;

10. Calls upon all Governments, as a matter of urgency, to make the most generous efforts possible to meet the anticipated needs of the Agency, urges non-contributing Governments to contribute regularly and encourages contributing Governments to consider increasing their regular contributions. RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 52/57:

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

Against: Israel.

Abstain: Micronesia, United States.

The Assembly, on the same date [meeting 69] and also on the Fourth Committee's recommendation (A/52/616] adopted resolution 52/61 by recorded vote (158-2-3) [agenda item 86].

Operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolutions 194(111) of 11 December 1948, 212(111) of 19 November 1948, 302(IV) of 8 December 1949 and all subsequent related resolutions,

Recalling also the relevant Security Council resolutions,

Having considered the report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East for the period from 1 July 1996 to 30 June 1997,

Taking note of the letter dated 14 October 1997 from the Chairman of the Advisory Commission of the Agency addressed to the Commissioner-General, contained in the report of the Commissioner-General,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13. Requests the Commissioner-General to consider the possibility of modernizing the archives of the Agency;

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

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 52/61:

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

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstain: Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Zambia.

Displaced persons

In an October report [A/52/423] on compliance with General Assembly resolution 51/126 [YUN 1996, p. 421], which called for the accelerated return of all persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities to their homes or former places of residence in the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, the Secretary-General said that since UNRWA was not involved in arrangements for either refugees or displaced persons not registered as refugees, Agency information was based on requests by returning registered refugees for the transfer of their service entitlements to their areas of return. Displaced refugees known by the Agency to have returned to the West Bank and Gaza Strip since June 1967 numbered about 16,400. Its records indicated that, between 1 July 1996 and 30 June 1997, 841 refugees had returned to the West Bank and 352 to the Gaza Strip. Some of the refugees might not have been displaced in 1967, but might be family members of a displaced registered refugee whom they either had accompanied on return or joined later.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 10 December [meeting 69], the General Assembly, on the Fourth Committee's recommendation [A/52/616], adopted resolution 52/59 by recorded vote (159-2-1) [agenda item 86].

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

The General Assembly,

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

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

Taking note of the report of the Secretary-General submitted in pursuance of its resolution 51/126 of 13 December 1996,

Taking note also of the report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East for the period from 1 July 1996 to 30 June 1997,

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Requests the Secretary-General, after consulting with the Commissioner-General, to report to the General Assembly before its fifty-third session on the progress made with regard to the implementation of the present resolution. RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 52/59:

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

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstain: Micronesia.

Education, training and scholarships

In an October report [A/52/415], the Secretary-General transmitted responses received to the General Assembly's 1996 appeal contained in resolution 51/127 [YUN 1996, p. 422] for States, specialized agencies and other organizations to augment special allocations for scholarships and grants to Palestine refugees, for which UNRWA acted as recipient and trustee.

In the 1996/97 academic year, Japan awarded 10 vocational fellowships, of which 3 were to Palestine refugees in UNRWA's employ, 1 in vocational training administration and 6 in community health. Under Japanese grants of $400,000 made annually between 1992 and 1994, $500,000 in 1995 and $600,000 in 1996, 423 Palestinian students were participating in the UNRWA university scholarship programme in 1996/97, while 19 scholars graduated in 1995 and 1996. Contributions from Switzerland totalling some $240,000 in 1996 and $338,000 in 1997 allowed some 300 Palestinians to pursue university studies. UNESCO granted 71 scholarships to Palestinian students during the 1996-1997 biennium. In addition, Japan offered three fellowships and Saudi Arabia five, while the inter-university Palestinian European Academic Cooperation in Education programme renewed six ongoing scholarships and added seven new ones. In 1996/97, WHO provided 32 fellowships/study tours for Palestinian candidates.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 10 December [meeting 69], the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Fourth Committee [A/52/616], adopted resolution 52/60 by recorded vote (163-0-1) [agenda item 86].

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

The General Assembly,

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

Recalling also its resolutions 35/13 B of 3 November 1980, 36/146 H of 16 December 1981, 37/120 D of 16 December 1982, 38/83 D of 15 December 1983, 59/99 D of 14 December 1984. 40/165 D of 16 December 1985, 41/69 D of 3 December 1986, 42/69 D of December 1987,43/57 D of 6 December 1988, 44/47 D of 8 December 1989, 45/73 D of 11 December 1990, 46/46 D of 9 December 1991,47/69 D of 14 December 1992, 48/40 D of 10 December 1993, 49/35 D of 9 December 1994, 50/28 D of 6 December 1995 and 51/127 of 13 December 1996,

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

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General,

Having also considered the report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East for the period from 1 July 1996 to 30 June 1997,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 52/60:

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

Against: None.

Abstain: Israel.

Proposed University of Jerusalem "AI-Ouds"

In response to General Assembly resolution 51/130 [YUN 1996, p. 423], the Secretary-General submitted an October report [A/52/503] on the proposal to establish a university for Palestine refugees in Jerusalem. First considered by the Assembly in 1980 [YUN 1980, p. 444, GA res. 35/13 B], the issue had been the subject of annual reports by the Secretary-General.

To assist in the preparation of the study and at the Secretary-General's request, the Rector of the United Nations University asked expert Mihaly Simai to visit the area and meet with competent Israeli officials. In response to the Secretary-General's note verbale of 5 September, requesting Israel to facilitate the expert's visit, Israel in a 10 October reply stated that it had consistently voted against the resolution on the proposed university and that its position remained unchanged. It charged that the resolution's sponsors sought to exploit higher education for political purposes extraneous to genuine academic pursuits. Accordingly, it felt that the proposed visit would serve no useful purpose. The Secretary-General reported that it had not been possible to complete the feasibility study as planned.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 10 December [meeting 69], the General Assembly, acting on the Fourth Committee's recommendation [A/52/616], adopted resolution 52/63 by recorded vote (158-2-3) [agenda item 86].

University of Jerusalem "AI.Quds" for Palestine refugees

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolutions 36/146 G of 16 December 1981, 37/120 C of 16 December 1982, 38/83 K of 15 December 1983, 39/99 K of 14 December 1984,40/165 D and K of 16 December 1985, 41/69 K of 3 December 1986,42/69 K of 2 December 1987,43/57 J of 6 December 1988,44/47 J of 8 December 1989,45/73 J of 11 December 1990,46/46 J of 9 December 1991,47/69 J of 14 December 1992,48/401 of 10 December 1993,49/35 G of 9 December 1994, 50/28 G of 6 December 1995 and 51/130 of 13 December 1996,

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General,

Having also considered the report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East for the period from 1 July 1996 to 30 June 1997,

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

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

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

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

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 52/63:

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

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstain: Liberia, Micronesia, Zambia.

Property rights

In response to General Assembly resolution 51/129 [YUN 1996. p. 423], the Secretary-General submitted a September 1997 report [A/52/372] on steps taken to protect and administer Arab property, assets and property rights in Israel and to establish a fund for income derived therefrom, on behalf of the rightful owners. He indicated that he had transmitted the resolution to Israel and to all other Member States, requesting information on action taken or envisaged with regard to its implementation.

In a 28 July reply, reproduced in the report, Israel stated that its position on the resolutions on Palestine refugees had been set forth in successive annual replies, the latest of which had been included in the Secretary-General's 1996 report on the subject [YUN 1996, p. 423] Israel regretted that the resolutions regarding UNRWA remained rife with political issues irrelevant to the Agency's work and detached from the new reality in the area. While Israel believed that UNRWA could play an important role in promoting the social and economic advancement foreseen in agreements between Israel and the PLO, and accordingly looked forward to continuing cooperation. with UNRWA, Israel considered it essential that the Assembly consolidate the UNRWA resolutions into one directly related to the Agency's humanitarian tasks.

The Secretary-General also referred to a 30 June letter to him from the Chairman of the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine relaying a 13 June Commission decision relating to paragraph 2 of resolution 51/129 by which the Assembly had requested the Secretary-General to take steps to preserve and modernize the existing records on Arab property, assets and property rights in Israel. The Commission noted that the UN Division for Palestinian Rights would be prepared to store such records electronically and suggested that the proposed operation be carried out within the Archives and Records Management Section of the UN Office of Conference and Support Services. The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs subsequently wrote to the Chairman of the Conciliation Commission requesting that the Division for Palestinian Rights be given access to the records in order to undertake a preliminary assessment of resources required for the project. In his 10 September reply, the Chairman authorized access to the land records kept at the UN Archives for a cost-estimate to be made of a project to modernize the records.

Report of Conciliation Commission. The United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, in its fifty-first report covering the period from 1 September 1996 to 31 August 1997 (A/52/311] stated that it had nothing new to report since its 1996 report [YUN 1996, p. 423].

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 10 December meeting 69, the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Fourth Committee [A/52/616], adopted resolution 52/62 by recorded vote (158-2-3) [agenda item 86].

Palestine refugees' properties and their revenues

The General Assembly,

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

Taking note of the report of the Secretary-General submitted in pursuance of its resolution 51/129 of 13 December 1996,

Taking note also of the report of the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine for the period from 1 September 1996 to 31 August 1997,

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

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

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

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

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

2. Requests the Secretary-General to take all appropriate steps, in consultation with the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, for the protection of Arab property, assets and property rights in Israel and to preserve and modernize the existing records;

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

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

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

6. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-third session on the implementation of the present resolution. RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 52/62:

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

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstain: Liberia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia.

UNRWA financing UNRWA's financial situation remained critical in 1997, characterized by large funding shortfalls for the regular budget and project accounts, continued enforcement of austerity measures, and depleted working capital and cash reserves, said the Commissioner-General in his report to the General Assembly covering 1 July 1996 to 30 June 1997 (A/52/13). The structural deficit—a consequence of stagnant or declining contributions combined with natural growth in the refugee population and inflation, which increased the cost of maintaining a constant level of services—showed no sign of easing.

The Agency had ended 1996 with a fourth consecutive annual deficit in the regular budget, and in 1997 the impact of two earlier rounds of austerity measures introduced in response to anticipated deficits—in February 1993 and June 1996—continued to be felt. After an extraordinary meeting of major donors and host Governments in September 1996 produced donor pledges of $15 million, UNRWA was able to cover the core deficit and avoid insolvency.

UNRWA began 1997 with no indication of an increase in income, cumulative deficits in several extrabudgetary activities, depleted working capital and cash reserves, and a projected year-end deficit in the order of $40 million. In response, the Commissioner-General introduced a new round of austerity measures in February, in the amount of $18.7 million for the year. Those measures included eliminating a provision for salary increases; eliminating a contingency reserve for the cost of moving UNRWA headquarters from Vienna to Gaza and Amman; freezing certain vacancies; and significantly reducing allocations for temporary labour, vehicles, equipment, medical and other supplies, training, maintenance, hospitalization and travel. The Agency also embarked on new initiatives, with the assistance of donor countries, to broaden its resource base and ensure that the entire international community was involved in supporting UNRWA programmes. In February and March, the Commissioner-General visited Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates; several opportunities for strengthening cooperation were identified, and assurances were received that countries in the region would continue and in some cases seek to increase their support. The Commissioner-General also visited Brunei and Malaysia in May in an effort to engage South-East Asian countries which had not historically had a relationship with the Agency.

unwra also worked to develop a corporate outreach programme with a view to obtaining additional in-kind donations and established high-level contacts with an international NGO devoted to supporting sustainable development activities in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, which subsequently formed a committee to support UNRWA. A special emergency appeal for assistance to Palestine refugees in Lebanon was also launched.

Despite those efforts, the Agency's financial situation remained bleak as at 30 June, with a projected deficit in the order of $20 million for 1997 and an acute liquidity crisis forecast for November. The sustained imposition of austerity measures and repeated funding shortfalls since 1993 continued to exert an erosive effect on the quality of Agency services and UNWRA was again unable to expand services at a rate commensurate with natural growth in the refugee population, leading to higher workloads for staff and overuse of facilities.

At an informal meeting of major donor and host Governments in Amman in June, delegates reaffirmed that there could be no question of a premature phasing out of UNRWA's mandated responsibilities. It was agreed to combine additional revenue-raising with internal savings on current operations and better methods of service provision. To that end, regular consultations would be held among UNRWA, host authorities and donors. In the absence of major contributions in the short term that would substantially decrease the Agency's structural deficit, the donor community was urged to reexamine contribution levels, with a view to ensuring the continued provision of essential services to refugees at existing levels.
Working Group. The Working Group on the Financing of UNRWA held two meetings in 1997 (12 September and 14 October). In its report to the General Assembly [A/52/578]. the Working Group noted that UNRWA ended the 1996 financial year with a shortfall of $26.7 million. Since that estimate did not take into account the cumulative effects of two rounds of austerity measures .($23.2 million) or the $12.7 million provision for termination indemnities built into the Agency's 1995 budget, the total shortfall for 1996 was therefore projected at $45.2 million.

Measures taken by UNRWA to get through 1996 meant that some activities provided for in the 1996-1997 budget would not be fully implemented. Moreover, the Agency's "working capital" reserves had been driven to a dangerously low level. UNRWA thus began 1997 with a shortfall projected to be roughly $40 million in the regular budget by year's end, without firm prospects of any increase in income. That there remained outstanding at the end of 1996 some $93.5 million in cash pledges to all UNRWA accounts, of which $35.3 million was earmarked for the regular budget and $58.2 million for projects, was also of concern. That, combined with outstanding payments of some $13 million due as reimbursement for value-added tax and port and transit charges, had served to put the Agency's cash balances under severe strain.

The Working Group noted that the Commissioner-General had, in February, introduced another round of austerity measures amounting to some $18.7 million annually (see above) and UNRWA had embarked on new initiatives to broaden its resource base. Although some opportunities for strengthened cooperation had been identified, more concrete results from those initiatives remained to be realized. In July, the Agency had launched a special appeal for Lebanon, for $11 million, against which confirmed pledges of $9 million had been made to assist Palestine refugees there. For 1997, the cash portion of UNRWA's General Fund budget as approved by the General Assembly was $312 million, the Working Group reported. By June, the Agency was forecasting cash income in 1997 of some $235 million; UNRWA therefore faced a cash shortfall for the year of some $77 million. To confront that situation, the Commissioner-General had ordered the continuation of the austerity measures previously introduced and the continued freeze on the provision for termination indemnities. He also carried out a number of additional administrative cost-cutting measures. In August, with no solution to the crisis in sight, the Commissioner-General reluctantly announced a series of measures, including an immediate freeze on the recruitment of 250 new teachers needed to cope with rising school enrolments; a 15 per cent reduction in international staff posts; the cancellation for the last two months of the year of reimbursements for non-emergency hospitalization; and the discontinuation of Agency funding for university scholarships, shelter rehabilitation and emergency cash assistance. In addition, UNRWA began reviewing charges levied by host authorities for basic education services with a view to adopting similar ones, which elicited a decidedly negative reaction, including protests and urgent pleas to the international community to resolve UNRWA's financial difficulties. Major donors met again in Amman in September and pledged more than $20 million in additional funding for the Agency's regular programmes in 1997, enabling the Commissioner-General to defer some of the proposed measures, including the cancellation of hospitalization payments and the imposition of school fees.

Briefing the Working Group in September the Commissioner-General emphasized: (a) while the measures taken had enabled the Agency to scrape through the past two years, it could face the same situation again in 1998, by which time the cumulative effects of austerity measures would have taken an even greater toll; (b) the biennial budgets agreed to by the Assembly represented a commitment on the part of the international community to assist Palestine refugees at a certain level, and in order for that commitment to be met funds had to be provided at commensurate levels; (c) although UNRWA's budgets and the amount of contributions went up annually in absolute terms, those increases took no account of inflation or exchange rate fluctuations or, above all, of the steady growth of the refugee population, felt principally in the rising number of children enrolling in Agency schools; (d) the amounts spent by UNRWA per refugee—for education services, health care, and relief and social programmes—had been declining annually for the past five years and, while the results of those programmes in terms of the well-being of the refugees was something that the Agency could be proud of, UNRWA was spending considerably less per capita on the beneficiaries of its services than was the case for the host country populations served by their own Governments.

The Working Group, deeply concerned at that assessment, expressed the hope that joint efforts would be undertaken, including the provision of necessary resources by the international community at large, to ensure that UNRWA would be able to maintain acceptable levels of services.

The Group urged Governments to continue contributing generously and to consider additional contributions to finance deficit amounts so that UNRWA services could continue uninterrupted and, if possible, so that services cut for austerity reasons could be restored, and to ensure support of emergency-related and special programmes or capital projects without diverting contributions to the Agency's regular programmes.

Pledging Conference. At a meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly for the Announcement of Voluntary Contributions to UNRWA, 23 countries pledged $126 million for UNRWA's 1998 programmes, 40 per cent less than the Agency needed to maintain its regular services. The largest pledges were made by the United States ($70 million), Sweden ($19 million), Norway ($14.2 million) and the Netherlands and Switzerland ($5.5 million). The Commissioner said that for decades the international community had financed services to refugees at a certain level; it was important to maintain that level, so that the Palestine refugees, who had maintained their identity and educated their children and instilled in them a sense of survival and enterprise, would be able to continue to do so until the problem was resolved.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 10 December [meeting 69], the General Assembly, on the Fourth Committee's recommendation [A/52/6161, adopted resolution 52/58 without vote [agenda item 86].

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

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolutions 2656(xxv) of 7 December 1970, 2728(xxv) of'15 December 1970, 2791 (xxvi) of 6 December 1971, 51/125 of 13 December 1996 and the previous resolutions on this question,

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

Having considered the report of the Working Group,

Taking into account the report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East for the period from 1 July 1996 to 30 June 1997,

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

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

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

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


3. Requests the Working Group to continue its efforts, in cooperation with the Secretary-General and the Commissioner-General, for the financing of the Agency for a further period of one year;

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

Peace-keeping operations

The first and oldest UN peace-keeping operation—the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), established in 1948 to monitor the cease-fire called for by the Security Council in newly partitioned Palestine—continued its work in 1997. UNTSO's unarmed military observers fulfilled changing mandates—from supervising the original four armistice agreements between Israel and its Arab neighbours (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic) to observing and monitoring other cease-fires, as well as performing a number of additional tasks.

During the year, UNTSO personnel worked with the two remaining UN peace-keeping forces in the Middle East—the Observer Group Golan with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights, and the Observer Group Lebanon with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). In January, Estonia was added to the list of Member States providing military observers to UNTSO.

Lebanon

The tense and volatile situation in southern Lebanon gave cause for serious concern in 1997, which witnessed a rising level of hostilities and an increase in the number of civilian casualties, especially in the second half of the year. In letters of 17 January [S/1997/41 ] and 10 July [S/1997/534] to the Secretary-General, requesting further extensions of UNIFIL, Lebanon reported that the monitoring group that had emanated from the April 1996 understanding between Israel and Lebanon [YUN 1996, p. 428] reached in the wake of intensified Israeli bombardment of many Lebanese towns and villages had helped to reduce the intensity of the shelling. However, Lebanon stressed, the group's objective was of a temporary nature and in no way an alternative to full implementation of Security Council resolution 425(1978) [YUN 1978, p. 3l2], which called on Israel to cease military action against Lebanon and withdraw its forces from all Lebanese territory. In view of Israel's continued aggression, said Lebanon, implementation of that resolution remained the only way to stop the violence and enable the Lebanese Government to extend its sovereign authority throughout the area under occupation and to reestablish law and order. Its comprehensive national recovery remained hampered by Israel's continued occupation of southern Lebanon and Israeli aggression against its territory and citizens, Lebanon charged. Particularly, Israel refused to release hundreds of innocent Lebanese detainees held for years in Israeli jails and the notorious detention camps in Al-Khiam and Marjayoun in southern Lebanon, manned by the Israeli-controlled militia, in violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilians in Time of War (Fourth Geneva Convention). Many of the detainees were suffering from serious diseases, according to Lebanon, as a result of harsh living conditions, ill-treatment, torture and denial of medical care; others had died in the camps or shortly after their release.

Nevertheless, Lebanon reported that national reconstruction and rehabilitation was moving ahead, including rebuilding the commercial centre in downtown Beirut and modernizing the national infrastructure; priority was given to basic services such as electricity, telecommunications, transportation, water works, schools and hospitals.

Israel, on its side, alleged, as in a 2 January letter [A/51/769-S/1997/6], that it was Lebanon's inability or lack of will to prevent terrorists attacks that allowed armed elements of Hezbollah (Hizbollah) and other terrorist organizations to roam southern Lebanon freely, equipped with a variety of weapons and missiles, the majority of which came from Iran. According to Israel, those organizations were permitted to operate with impunity from Lebanese soil and carry out attacks against Israel with the tacit acquiescence of the Lebanese Government, as well as with the support of other countries known to practise terrorism.

Refuting Israel's allegations on 23 January [A/52/63-S/1997/70], Lebanon said the actions Israel referred to as terrorism were in fact acts of resistance to occupation, directed against military elements of the occupying forces; they were a legitimate expression of the right to self-defence enshrined in the UN Charter and aimed to liberate national territory from foreign occupation. Lebanon had repeatedly voiced its readiness to ensure security and the rule of law in southern Lebanon immediately upon Israeli withdrawal in accordance with resolution 425(1978). Israel's occupation was the basic reason for the existing tension, Lebanon insisted; Israel's security policy had demonstrably failed to achieve stability in the area and on both sides of the border.

Israel, on 3 February [A/52/70-S/1997/108], stressed that its responses to acts by terrorist organizations operating in Lebanon had been taken solely in self-defence. Israel would welcome a change, but Lebanon could not export terrorism and expect peace in return. Lebanon's claim of a so-called "right of resistance" was completely spurious and without basis in international law, Israel added, and any attempt to use General Assembly resolutions as a source of such claim was a deliberate misinterpretation. Assembly resolution 51/210 [YUN 1996, p. 1208] on measures to eliminate international terrorism clearly established that there was no justification for acts of terror. Lebanon's position and policies were the primary obstacle in the way of fulfilment of the role of UNIFIL, as they allowed the infiltration of armed terrorists throughout its area of operations, thereby placing on the Force the impossible task of dealing with a situation for which it was not created and for which it had no mandate. Lebanon's refusal to return to the conference table to discuss a peace treaty was at odds with its claim to be committed to the Middle East peace process, said Israel; if Lebanon truly wished to achieve a peaceful settlement, it had to control its heavily armed, semi-independent militias and resume direct negotiations with Israel in accordance with the agreed terms of reference of the peace process. Israel's position was reiterated in a 30 July letter to the Secretary-General [S/1997/603].

In a 3 March letter [A/52/87-S/1997/187], Lebanon responded that it had time and again expressed readiness to ensure security and the rule of law in southern Lebanon immediately on the withdrawal of the Israeli occupying forces, in implementation of resolution 425(1978). It had always cooperated with the United Nations and UNIFIL, having been commended on the constancy of such cooperation in reports of the Secretary-General and in Security Council resolutions and statements, the most recent of them made on 28 January 1997 [S/PRST/1997/1] (see below, under "UNIFIL"). Israel, on the other hand, had not hesitated to proclaim its lack of trust in the Organization and to confront UNIFIL, frequently shelling the latter's positions and inflicting casualties on it. Lebanon had-affirmed its commitment to the goals of the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference [YUN 1991, p. 221 land the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the region, and considered that the implementation of resolution 425(1978) remained the basic condition for peace.

On 7 July [A/51/940-S/1997/527], Lebanon transmitted a letter from its Minister for Foreign Affairs containing lists of Lebanese detainees held in Israeli prisons and detention camps without legal charges and under inhuman conditions, and calling on the Secretary-General to exert his utmost efforts to bring their ordeal to an end.

By a letter of 11 August [A/52/276-S/1997/630], Lebanon again stated that the situation in the southern part of the country resulted from Israeli occupation. Lebanon had repeatedly called for implementation of resolution 425(1978) and had expressed support for the resumption of negotiations in accordance with the principle of land for peace as part of a comprehensive and just solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and with the participation of all parties. However, the harsh policy pursued by the current Israeli Prime Minister had led to a freeze in the negotiations and impeded further advancement of the peace process.

In a series of monthly communications [A/51/800-S/1997/142, A/51/821-S/1997/203, A/51/868-S/1997/295, A/51/898-S/1997/368, A/51/919-S/1997/447, A/51/941-S/1997/528, A/51/960-S/1997/615, A/51/974-S/1997/702, A/52/442-S/1997/780, A/52/668-S/1997/876, A/52/738-S/1997/988 & Corr.l, A/52/763-S/1998/20], Lebanon detailed Israeli attacks on southern Lebanon and the Western Bekaa and its practices against the civilian inhabitants of those areas during the year.

According to the Secretary-General's report on developments in the UNIFIL area of operation from 17 July 1997 to 15 January 1998 [S/1998/53], the level of hostilities rose during the second half of the year and there was a significant increase in civilian casualties. A number of serious incidents involving civilians also took place outside the area, and armed elements carried out several hostile acts against UN personnel.

UMFIL

The Security Council twice extended the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon in 1997, in January and June, each time for a six-month period.

Established by Council resolution 425(1978) [YUN 1978, p. 312] following Israel's invasion of Lebanon [Ibid., p. 296], UNIFIL was originally entrusted with confirming the withdrawal of Israeli forces, restoring international peace and security, and assisting the Lebanese Government in ensuring the return of its effective authority in southern Lebanon. After a second Israeli invasion in 1982 [YUN 1982, p. 428], the Council, in resolution 511 (1982) [Ibid., p. 450], authorized the Force to carry out, in addition to its original mandate, the interim tasks of providing protection and humanitarian assistance to the local population, while maintaining its positions in its area of deployment.

The Force headquarters, based predominantly in Naquora, provided command and control, as well as liaison with Lebanon and Israel, UNDOF, UNTSO and a number of non-governmental organizations.


Composition and deployment

As at 31 December, UNIFIL troops totalled 4,468 from nine countries—Fiji, Finland, France, Ghana, Ireland, Italy, Nepal, Norway and Poland. They were assisted by 55 UNTSO observers. In addition, the Force employed 455—122 internationally and 333 locally recruited—civilian staff. Major-General Jioje Konouse Konrote of Fiji took over the UNIFIL command from Major-General Stanislaw F. Wozniak on 1 October. The Secretary-General, on 19 August [S/1997/660], had informed the Security Council President of his intention to appoint Major-General Konrote. The President conveyed the Council's agreement with that proposal on 25 August [S/1997/661].

UNIFIL's military component comprised a force headquarters, six infantry battalions and a mobile reserve company, together with supporting logistic and administrative units. The battalions were deployed throughout the south of Lebanon in a network of 140 positions, staffed 24 hours a day and consisting of: checkpoints, for the control of movement on the principal roads in UNIFIL's area of operations; observations posts, for observing movement on and off the roads in the area; and checkpoints/observations posts that combined the functions of control and observation. The battalions were supported in their task by a Force Mobile Reserve used to reinforce positions during rotation and deployed during serious incidents. UNTSO observers assisting UNIFIL manned a number of observation posts along the Israel-Lebanon armistice demarcation line, operating mobile patrols in the area of operations controlled by Israel. A helicopter wing was maintained with the primary function of patrol and reconnaissance flights over the mission area; it also undertook coastal patrols, medical evacuation and search and rescue operations.

Activities Report of Secretary-General (January). In a report [S/1997/42] on developments from 21 July 1996 to 17 January 1997 in the UNIFIL area of operation, the Secretary-General stated that hostilities continued between the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and its local Lebanese auxiliary, the de facto forces (DFF), on the one hand, and armed elements who had proclaimed their resistance to Israeli occupation on the other. Following the Lebanese parliamentary elections in September, armed activity increased and in recent weeks the level of hostilities rose further, especially north of the Litani River, causing a number of casualties.

During the reporting period, UNIFIL observed 92 operations by armed elements against IDF/ DFF and reported more than 160 clashes between the two sides north of the Litani River. The vast majority of the attacks were carried out by the Islamic Resistance, the military wing of the Shiite Muslim Hizbullah organization; the Shiite movement Amal was responsible for a few and one was believed to have been carried out by a Palestinian group. The armed elements fired more than 900 mortar rounds, rockets and antitank missiles and also used small arms, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and roadside bombs. idf/dff, in response to attacks or in operations they initiated, employed artillery, mortars, tanks, helicopter gunships and fixed wing aircraft. On numerous occasions, they conducted preemptive artillery bombardments, usually to cover troop movements or rotation convoys. UNIFIL recorded over 9,000 artillery, mortar and tank rounds fired by IDF/DFF, significantly fewer than during the previous reporting period. In recent weeks, however, IDF air raids mostly north of the Litani River, except one in the Nepalese battalion sector on 5 January—had increased markedly, the Secretary-General noted, as Israel began using combat aircraft to respond to attacks on its forces. As before, the Israeli navy patrolled Lebanese territorial waters in the south, but restrictions imposed by it on local fishermen appeared less severe than in the past.

Firing into populated areas also decreased markedly. At least one rocket was fired into northern Israel on 7 January but no casualties were reported and no organization claimed responsibility, although the Lebanese authorities arrested two persons suspected of having been involved in the incident.

UNIFIL continued its efforts to limit the conflict and protect the inhabitants from the fighting and did its best to prevent its area of deployment from being used for hostile activities and to defuse situations that could lead to escalation. It also provided a measure of protection to villages and to farmers working in the fields.

In July 1996 [YUN 1996, p. 434], UNIFIL had obtained a commitment from IDF that it would respect a safety zone around UNIFIL positions and received assurances from the Islamic Resistance that no operations would be conducted in their vicinity; although both sides showed more restraint during the reporting period, 78 firings— 76 by IDF/DFF and 2 by armed elements—at or close to UNIFIL positions and personnel were recorded, which were promptly protested to the authorities concerned. The monitoring group set up in accordance with the understanding of 26 April 1996 held 11 meetings at UNIFIL headquarters to consider complaints by Israel and Lebanon.


Israel continued, within the Israeli-controlled area (ICA), to maintain a civil administration and security service. The infrastructure in ICA—road system, electricity, water supply, public buildings—was improved significantly, primarily owing to aid from the Lebanese Government. However, ICA remained economically dependent on Israel, where more than 2,000 of its inhabitants worked. idf/dff carried out sporadic search operations throughout ICA and made several arrests. UNIFIL recorded four cases of the families of detectors from DFF being expelled from ICA and forced to vacate their homes at short notice. Reports of forced recruitment to DFF increased. All movement between ICA and other parts of Lebanon remained under IDF/DFF control. A night curfew was still being imposed on the village of Rshaf, despite UNIFIL efforts to have it lifted.

The Force continued to extend assistance to the civilian population in the form of medical care, harvest patrols, clothes, blankets, food, engineering work and the distribution of educational material and equipment to poorer schools. In addition, resources made available by troop-contributing countries allowed UNIFIL to carry out water projects and provide equipment and services to schools, orphanages and the needy. UNIFIL medical centres and mobile teams cared for an average of 3,000 civilian patients per month, and a field dental programme treated approximately 100 cases per month. The Force cooperated closely on humanitarian matters with the Lebanese authorities, UN agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other organizations operating in Lebanon. UNIFIL also continued to dispose of unexploded ordnance in its area of operation, carrying out 116 controlled explosions during the reporting period.

The Secretary-General observed that while the level of hostilities was somewhat lower than in the past, the situation in southern Lebanon continued to be tense and volatile, as Israel maintained its occupation of parts of the area and Lebanese groups continued their attacks against the occupying forces. The UNIFIL mandate, defined in resolution 425(1978) [YUN 1978, p. 312] and reaffirmed subsequently, thus remained unfulfilled. In accordance with the April 1996 understanding, the parties exercised certain restraint with regard to firing into populated areas; that positive development, however, should not obscure the fact, the Secretary-General emphasized, that the inherent instability of the situation and the ever-present possibility of renewed deterioration remained a cause for serious concern.

Althugh UNIFIL continued to be prevented from implementing its mandate, its contribution to stability and the protection it afforded the area's population remained important, the Secretary-General said; he therefore recommended that the Security Council accede to Lebanon's request of 17 January [s/1997/41] to extend the Force's mandate for another six months, until 31 July.

In making that recommendation, the Secretary-General drew attention to the serious shortfall in UNIFIL funding, with unpaid assessments amounting to some $177 million (for details, see below). He appealed to all Member States to pay their assessments promptly and in full and to clear all arrears.

SECURITY COUNCIL ACTION (January)

Following consideration of the Secretary-General's report, the Security Council, on 28 January [meeting 3733], unanimously adopted resolution 1095(1997). The draft text [S/1997/79] had been prepared in consultations among Council members.

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

Having studied the report of the Secretary-General of 20 January 1997 on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, and taking note of the observations expressed and the commitments mentioned therein,

Taking note of the letter dated 17 January 1997 from the Permanent Representative of Lebanon to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General,

Responding to the request of the Government of Lebanon,

1. Decides to extend the present mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon for a further period of. six months, that is, until 31 July 1997;

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

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

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

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

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

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

After the adoption of the resolution, the President made a statement on behalf of the Council [S/PRST/1997/1]:

The Security Council has noted with appreciation the report of the Secretary-General of 20 January 1997 on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, submitted in conformity with resolution 1068(1996) of 30 July 1996.

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

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

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

The Council takes this opportunity to express its appreciation for the continuing efforts of the Secretary-General and his staff in this regard and commends troops of the Force and troop-contributing countries for their sacrifices and commitment to the cause of international peace and security under difficult circumstances.

Report of Secretary-General (July). In a report [S/1997/550 & Corr.l] on developments during the period from 18 January to 16 July 1997, the Secretary-General noted that hostilities continued between 1DF/DFF and armed elements at a higher level than during the previous reporting period. UNIFIL recorded 154 operations by the latter against the former, the vast majority carried out by the Islamic Resistance, a few by Amal and three were attributed to Palestinian groups. There were also reports of more than 210 operations north of the Litani River. Armed elements more frequently employed long-range mortar fire in their attacks, firing over 1,400 mortar rounds, rockets and antitank missiles. idf/dff in turn conducted more frequent preemptive artillery bombardments and increased long-range patrols beyond its forward positions. In a new development, IDF/DFF also used roadside bombs outside ICA. More than 12,000 artillery, mortar and tank rounds fired by IDF/DFF were recorded by UNIFIL; except for an attack in the Nepalese battalion sector on 9 February and one in the Ghanaian battalion sector on 1 June, all air raids were carried out north of the Litani River. Firing into populated areas was maintained at a relatively low level, although there were a number of serious incidents; in the UNIFIL area of operation, the most serious one occurred on 12 July when a civilian at Adshit Al Qusayr was killed by an antipersonnel flechette tank round fired by IDF/DFF. Other serious incidents were reported from north of the Litani River: IDF/DFF shelling killed one civilian and injured two others on 18 February and killed two civilians and wounded another on 14 July; on 6 July, three civilians were injured by artillery rounds fired by IDF/DFF; and on 15 July, a civilian was wounded by shrapnel from rockets fired by armed elements. On 25 April and 3, 6 and 15 July, mortar rounds and rockets fired by armed elements at IDF/DFF positions along Lebanon's border with Israel landed inside Israeli territory. The Israeli navy continued to patrol Lebanese territorial waters in the south and to impose restrictions on local fishermen.

Civilian casualties from roadside bombs increased. In the UNIFIL area, a civilian was killed by a bomb with Hebrew markings on 20 February. On 5 May, four civilians were injured by a bomb detonated by armed elements near El Qlaiaa. Other casualties were reported from north of the Litani, notably on 6 May, when two civilians were killed and two others wounded by IDF/DFF bombs near Nabatiyeh. There were also reports of two civilians having been killed by bomb explosions on 4 June in the southern Bekaa Valley and on 18 June near Jezzine.

UNIFIL continued its efforts to limit the conflict and protect the inhabitants from the fighting. Although both sides showed restraint in a safety zone around UNIFIL positions, 68 firings-40 by IDF/DFF, 15 by armed elements and 13 by unidentified elements—at or close to Force positions and personnel were recorded.

In accordance with an understanding reached several years earlier, IDF observed certain limitations on its activities in the Norwegian battalion sector. During the reporting period, there was some friction between IDF and UNIFIL over the former's access to the sector. On 27 April, IDF placed restrictions on UN traffic entering the sector, after the battalion had prevented IDF from conducting meetings with local villagers. Although UNIFIL protested the incident, IDF, on 24 and 25 May, again reacting to the battalion's denial of a request for meetings owing to inadequate notice time, closed the border crossings in Metullah and Rosh Haniqra, as well as an IDF/DFF checkpoint on the coastal road near Naqoura. UNIFIL strongly protested the restriction of its freedom of movement and the matter was resolved after negotiations.

Reacting to reports that IDF had acquired UN vehicles, elements of the Islamic Resistance, on three occasions on 28 and 29 May, stopped UNIFIL traffic and harassed Force personnel. UNIFIL vigorously protested the harassment and obtained an assurance that it would end. On investigation, it was found that a number of old vehicles had been sold to an Israeli buyer by UNDOF and transported to ICA with their UN markings still intact. After the incident, procedures for disposing of old vehicles were tightened.

The monitoring group set up in accordance with the April 1996 understanding held II meetings at UNIFIL headquarters to consider complaints by Israel and Lebanon.

Within ICA, Israel maintained a civil administration and security service. IDF/DFF carried out sporadic search operations throughout ICA and made several arrests. All movement between ICA and other parts of Lebanon remained under IDF/DFF control. Reports of forced recruitment to DFF decreased, however UNIFIL continued to assist the civilian population through its medical centres, mobile teams and field dental programme. It also assisted the Lebanese Government to transport and distribute supplies to villages in ICA when they faced economic difficulties owing to IDF/DFF imposed restrictions. Cooperation with the Lebanese authorities, UN agencies, ICRC and other organizations on humanitarian matters also continued, as did the disposal of unexploded ordnance, with 147 explosions being carried out in UNIFIL's area of operation.

On 6 March, a Palestinian who had been accommodated at UNIFIL headquarters since April 1995, after being deported to Lebanon by the Israeli authorities, was allowed to leave for Jordan via Israel, as a result of continuous contacts between the Force and IDF.

The Secretary-General observed that the level of hostilities in southern Lebanon had risen somewhat during the previous six months and civilians were again targeted or put at risk. The situation remained volatile and continued to give cause for serious concern, he said. Although still prevented from implementing its mandate, UNIFIL's contribution to stability and the protection it was able to afford the population of the area remained important; therefore, the Secretary-General recommended that the Force's mandate be extended for another six months, until 31 January 1998, as requested by Lebanon in a 10 July letter [S/1997/534]. Noting that there was a serious shortfall in UNIFIL funding, with unpaid assessments amounting to some $176 million, the Secretary-General appealed to Member States to pay their assessments promptly and in full and to clear all arrears.

SECURITY COUNCIL ACTION (July)

On 29 July [meeting 3804], the Security Council adopted resolution 1122(1997) unanimously. The draft text [S/1997/575] had been prepared in consultations among Council members.

The Security Council,

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

Having studied the report of the Secretary-General of 16 July 1997 on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, and taking note of the observations expressed and the commitments mentioned therein,

Taking note of the letter dated 10 July 1997 from the Charge d'affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of Lebanon to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General,

Responding to the request of the Government of Lebanon,

1. Decides to extend the present mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon for a further period of six months, that is, until 31 January 1998;

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

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

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

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

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

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

At the same meeting, the President made the following statement on behalf of the Council [S/PRST/1997/40]:

The Security Council has noted with appreciation the report of the Secretary-General of 16 July 1997 on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, submitted in conformity with resolution 1095(1997) of 28 January 1997.

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

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

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

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

Financing

Reports of Secretary-General and ACABQ (February and April). In a 3 February report [A/51/535/Add )], the Secretary-General submitted the financial performance report of UNIFIL for the period from 1 February to 30 June 1996, for which resources of $53,874,000 gross ($52,448,000 net) were provided. Corresponding expenditures amounted to $51,010,500 gross ($49,768,300 net), resulting in an unencumbered balance of $2,863,500 gross ($2,679,700 net), which was primarily due to lower than estimated rotation costs of military personnel, a high vacancy rate for civilian staff and the transfer of vehicles, equipment and generators from other peace-keeping missions.

As requested in General Assembly resolution 50/89 B [YUN ]996, p. 437], the report presented a full evaluation of damages resulting from the 18 April 1996 incident at the headquarters of the Fiji battalion at Qana and surrounding positions Ibid., p. 429]. That incident, which occurred during Israeli retaliatory operations against the Islamic fundamentalist organization Hezbollah, resulted in the deaths of over 100 Lebanese who had sought refuge in the area. Another 100 people were wounded, including several UN personnel.

UNIFIL identified the total costs attributable to the incident at $893,319, comprising $552,474 in damages to the Fiji battalion headquarters and $340,845 in damages sustained in surrounding positions, but not including costs associated with the relocation of the battalion headquarters. From the resources provided to UNIFIL for the period under review, $131,750 was used for immediate repairs to premises.

Subsequent to the Qana incident, it was determined, according to the Secretary-General, that it would no longer be operationally acceptable for a battalion headquarters to be located within a town that had since grown in population to encompass a headquarters position originally sited on the town's outskirts. It was therefore decided to relocate the Fijian battalion; the costs associated with such relocation were estimated at $880,300.

In a 21 February report [A/51/535/Add.2], the Secretary-General presented the proposed budget for UNIFIL for the period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998, in the amount of $122,166,000 gross ($118,031,000 net), reflecting a 0.5 percent decrease in gross terms compared with the previous 12-month period. The decrease was mainly due, he said, to the lower cost of rotation of military contingents and the fact that there was no requirement for refurbishing armoured personnel carriers. The budget provided for maintaining the Force at a level of 4,513—3,518 infantry and 995 logistics—troops, supported by 487—143 international and 344 local level—civilians.

As to the status of contributions, the Secretary-General stated that $2,645.2 million had been assessed on Member States for the period from the Force's inception to 31 January 1997. Contributions received as at 31 January for that time amounted to $2,471 million. Outstanding assessments were reduced by $9.9 million pursuant to General Assembly resolution 50/83 [YUN 1995, p. 406], to partially offset the waiver of South Africa's unpaid contributions to peace-keeping operations. The outstanding balance of $174.2 million included an amount of $19.6 million transferred to a special account in accordance with Assembly resolution 36/116 A [YUN 1981, p. 1299].

The Secretary-General projected an operating deficit of $234.7 million for UNIFIL, mainly attributable to outstanding contributions. Until that high level was reduced, he recommended that the surplus balance of $10,657,000, that otherwise would have to be surrendered as credits to Member States, be entered into the account established pursuant to Assembly resolution 34/9 E [YUN 1979. p. 353] and held in suspense pending a further decision by the Assembly. As a result of the withholding of contributions or delays in payment by certain Member States, the Secretary-General said, the Force had been unable to meet its obligations on a current basis or in full, particularly those due to the troop-contributing countries. Full reimbursement in accordance with standard rates established by the Assembly for troop costs had been made to them through 31 March 1996. An estimated $52 million was due for troop costs for the period ending on 31 January 1997.

The Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), in an April report [A/51/684/Add.l], recommended acceptance of the Secretary-General's proposal that the Assembly decide to credit Member States their respective share in the unencumbered balance of $2,863,500 gross ($2,679,700 net) for the period from 1 February to 30 June 1996. With regard to the proposed budget for the period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998, ACABQ recommended a lower appropriation totalling $122,035,000 gross ($117,926,000 net). It also recommended acceptance of the Secretary-General's request regarding the surplus balance of $10,657,000.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 13 June [meeting 101 ], the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Fifth (Administrative and Budgetary) Committee [A/51/725/ Add.l], adopted resolution 51/233 by recorded vote (127-2-1) [agenda item 123 (b)}.

Financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon

The General Assembly,

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

Bearing in mind Security Council resolution 425(1978) of 19 March 1978, by which the Council established the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, and the subsequent resolutions by which the Council extended the mandate of the Force, the latest of which was resolution 1095(1997) of 28 January 1997,

Recalling its resolution S-8/2 of 21 April 1978 on the financing of the Force and its subsequent resolutions thereon, the latest of which was resolution 50/89 B of 7 June 1996,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recalling its resolution 50/89 B, in which it requested the Secretary-General to include in his next report on the financing of the Force a full evaluation of damages resulting from the incident that occurred at the headquarters of the Force at Qana on 18 April 1996 and the costs thereof,

1. Takes note of the status of contributions to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon as at 30 April 1997, including the contributions outstanding in the amount of 176.8 million United States dollars, representing 6.6 per cent of the total assessed contributions from the inception of the Force to the period ending on 30 June 1997, notes that some 16 per cent of the Member States have paid their assessed contributions in full, and urges all other Member States concerned, in particular those in arrears, to ensure the payment of their outstanding assessed contributions;

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

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

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

5. Endorses the observations and recommendations contained in the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, subject to the provisions of the present resolution;

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

7. Authorizes the Secretary-General to enter into commitments for the Force in the amount of 1,773,618 dollars to cover the costs resulting from the incident at the headquarters of the Force at Qana on 18 April 1996;

8. Decides that the total amount mentioned in paragraph 7 above, namely 1,773,618 dollars, shall be borne by Israel;

9. Decides also to appropriate to the Special Account for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon the amount of 124,969,700 dollars gross (120,860,700 dollars net) for the maintenance of the Force for the period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998, inclusive of the amount of 4,708,300 dollars for the support account for peace-keeping operations, to be assessed on Member States at the monthly rate of 10,414,142 dollars gross (10,071,725 dollars net) in accordance with the composition of groups set out in paragraphs 3 and 4 of General Assembly resolution 43/232 of 1 March 1989, as adjusted by the Assembly in its resolutions 44/192 B of 21 December 1989,45/269 of 27 August 1991,46/198 A of 20 December 1991, 47/218 A of 23 December 1992, 49/249 A of 20 July 1995, 49/249 B of 14 September 1995,50/224 of 11 April 1996 and 51/218 A and B of 18 December 1996 and its decisions 48/472 A of 23 December 1993 and 50/451 B of 23 December 1995, and taking into account the scale of assessments for the year 1997, as set out in its resolution 49/19 B of 23 December 1994 and its decision 50/471 A of 23 December 1995, and for the year 1998, subject to the decision of the Security Council to extend the mandate of the Force beyond 31 July 1997;

10. Decides further that, in accordance with the provisions of its resolution 973(X) of 15 December 1955, there shall be set off against the apportionment among Member States, as provided for in paragraph 9 above, their respective share in the Tax Equalization Fund of the estimated staff assessment income of 4,089,000 dollars approved for the period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998;

11. Decides that there shall be set off against the apportionment among Member States, as provided for in paragraph 9 above, their respective share in the estimated other income of 20,000 dollars for the period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998;

12. Decides also that, for Member States that have fulfilled their financial obligations to the Force, there shall be set off against their apportionment, as provided for in paragraph 9 above, their respective share in the unencumbered balance of 2,863,500 dollars gross (2,679,700 dollars net) in respect of the period ending on 30 June 1996;

13. Decides further that, for Member States that have not fulfilled their financial obligations to the Force, their share of the unencumbered balance of 2,863,500 dollars gross (2,679,700 dollars net) for the period ending on 30 June 1996 shall be set off against their outstanding obligations;

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

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

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 51/233:

In favour Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas. Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bhutan, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya. Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria. Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia. Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey. Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel. United States.

Abstain: Russian Federation.

The Assembly and the Committee adopted paragraph 8 separately, by recorded votes of 66 to 2, with 59 abstentions, and 58 to 2, with 52 abstentions, respectively.

Introducing the draft in the Committee on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, the United Republic of Tanzania said that the sponsors had subtracted $49,000 from the costs to cover the damages resulting from the Qana incident in the light of Israel's contribution of that amount.

Israel stated that its action in providing medical assistance to injured UNIFIL members in the wake of the Qana incident had been a purely humanitarian gesture and should under no circumstances be interpreted as an admission of any responsibility. Speaking before the Assembly vote, Israel stated that singling out one country to bear the costs of damages to a UN peace-keeping force attributable to a military incident was utterly unprecedented and contrary to the practice of reimbursing expenditures related to peace-keeping operations. Moreover, as clearly indicated in the Secretary-General's report, the sum of $880,300 represented the estimated costs of relocating a battalion headquarters.

The tragic events that Cook place at Qana on 16 April 1996 were brought on by a series of violent Hezbollah attacks against northern Israel; in the absence of any Lebanese effort or action to prevent them, Israel was left with no option but a military one. Both UN and Israeli investigations confirmed separately the activity of terrorist elements close to the UNIFIL battalion headquarters at the time; it was that activity which elicited the artillery response that was blamed for the damage. The terrorists should be held accountable and Israel was bound by no legal or moral obligation to assume responsibility for reimbursing the amount stated in the resolution.

The United States believed that the paragraph, which apportioned a particular expense to one continue. The Committee called on the international community to address urgently the current situation and take an active and positive role in safeguarding the peace process, giving it new impetus and ensuring its success.

Report of Secretary-General. By a 15 October report [A/52/467], the Secretary-General transmitted replies from six Member States received in response to his request for information on steps taken or envisaged with regard to implementation of General Assembly resolutions 51/28 [YUN 1996, p. 440], which dealt with Israeli policies in the Syrian territory occupied since 1967, and 51/27 (Ibid., p. 385] on the transfer by some States of their diplomatic missions to Jerusalem (see above, under "Occupied territories").

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 9 December [meeting 68], the General Assembly adopted resolution 52/54 [draft: A/52/L.55/ & Add.l ] by recorded vote (92-2-65) [agenda item 37].

The situation in the Middle East: the Syrian Golan

The General Assembly,

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

Taking note of the report of the Secretary-General,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 52/54:

In favour. Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Cote d'Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan. Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Niger. Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda. United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstain: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France. Georgia, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Micronesia, Monaco, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand. Nicaragua, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Rwanda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Samoa, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia.

Speaking before the vote, the United States said that Syria and Israel had committed themselves to a negotiating process to resolve their differences and achieve a lasting peace agreement; the Assembly could only make that goal more elusive by injecting itself into issues that the parties had agreed would be decided in face-to-face negotiations.

Turkey stated that there were several reasons for the current impasse in the peace process and it was not fair to assign all responsibility to one of the elements or one of the countries involved. Turkey emphasized that terrorism was one of the most important obstacles to peace, calling on those countries that supported and encouraged Member State, had serious ramifications that would affect UN operations; the resolution politicized the funding of UNIFIL and so would weaken support for it in Israel, the United States and other countries.

The Russian Federation abstained because it was firmly committed to the consensus adoption of decisions on financial matters; departure from that principle would create problems for UN peace-keeping operations. Japan, which abstained in the Committee, stressed that the financing of peace-keeping operations was a matter of collective responsibility. Speaking for the European Union (EU), the Netherlands expressed a similar opinion. The EU had abstained on paragraph 8 as it considered the text to be inappropriate.

In Fiji's view, the issue was a sensitive one; since 1978 it had lost 30 of its nationals serving with UNIFIL. The UNIFIL budget should be appropriated in its entirety, as small troop-contributing countries could not rely on voluntary contributions and without collective responsibility, peace-keeping would be severely affected. Fiji requested full compensation for the soldiers injured at Qana.

By decision 52/456 of 22 December, the Assembly decided that the Fifth Committee should continue consideration of UNIFIL's financing at the resumed fifty-second session in 1998.

Syrian Arab Republic

In 1997, the General Assembly again called for Israel's withdrawal from the Golan Heights, an area in the southern part of the Syrian Arab Republic near its borders with both Israel and Lebanon. Israel occupied the Golan Heights following the 1967 war, effectively annexing that area when it extended its laws, jurisdiction and administration to the territory towards the end of 1981 [YUN 1981, p. 309]. The annexation was confirmed by the Israeli Knesset on 11 November 1991.

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

Committee on Israeli Practices. In its annual report [A/52/131/Add.2], the Committee on Israeli Practices, having visited the Syrian Arab Republic, observed that one of the most striking features of the Israeli occupation of the Syrian Arab Golan was the severance of family ties, owing to restrictions on visits to and from Syria. The Committee was informed that measures taken against citizens who expressed nationalistic sentiments towards Syria were repressed more harshly than before and that land in the occupied Golan continued to be confiscated for the expansion of Israeli settlements and the construction of bypass roads. Agricultural produce and cattle were also subjected to confiscation and the Israeli authorities continued to exercise tight control over the water resources available to the Golan inhabitants, including rainwater. Complaints were voiced about Israeli measures in the educational field, such as the dismissal of qualified teachers and attempts to alter curricula with regard to the area's political geography and the historical identities of the Golan's ethnic communities. Hebrew biblical names were imposed on Arab localities. Syrian diplomas were reportedly not recognized and unemployment was widespread. Witnesses also complained about difficulties faced by Golan inhabitants in obtaining proper medical care.

In January 1997, Israel announced the construction of an additional 200 housing units in Katzrin, the largest Israeli settlement in the occupied Golan. In May, it was reported that a study prepared in the United States showed that 28 per cent of the housing units in the Golan were uninhabited, while the Israeli Minister of Housing suggested that only 6 per cent were unoccupied.

According to The Jerusalem Post of 18 January, the Israeli Prime Minister had stated that the Golan's future was not negotiable and that the Golan Heights had to remain under Israeli control because of their strategic, historical and economic importance. On 23 July, the Knesset adopted a bill requiring any move by Israel to withdraw from the Golan to be approved by a two-thirds majority, i.e., 80 out of the 120 Knesset members;' in addition, it would have to be approved by the Israeli population through a referendum.

The Special Committee recalled the position taken by the General Assembly and the Security Council that the annexation by Israel of the occupied Syrian Arab Golan was illegal and therefore null and void; it hoped that negotiations between Syria and Israel concerning the Golan would resume. It noted that the occupation in itself a human rights violation—continued in spite of the signing of the peace agreements; consequently, Israel should abide by its obligations under the 1949 Geneva Conventions and comply fully with all universally accepted human rights standards.

Noting that the peace talks between Syria and Israel had halted, the Committee considered it vital that a constructive dialogue between the parties be maintained and that the peace process terrorism to cease using such inhuman and destructive policy as leverage to advance their foreign-policy interests.

On 10 December [meeting 69], the Assembly, under the agenda item on the report of the Committee on Israeli Practices and on the Fourth (Special Political and Decolonization) Committee's recommendation [A/52/617], adopted resolution 52/68 by recorded vote (152-1-7) [agenda item 87].

The occupied Syrian Golan

The General Assembly,

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

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

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

Recalling also its previous relevant resolutions, the last of which was resolution 51/135 of 13 December 1996,

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General submitted in pursuance of resolution 51/135,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RECORDED VOTE ON RESOLUTION 52/68:

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

Against: Israel.

Abstain: Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nicaragua. Swaziland, United States, Uruguay, Zambia.

Speaking after the Committee vote, Syria remarked that the result reflected support for the principles of legality, the UN Charter and relevant UN resolutions, and testified to the deep concern over the deadlock in the peace process. Following the Assembly vote, Syria stated that the overwhelming majority support of the resolution constituted a clear message to Israel and demonstrated support of human rights, the struggle for which was also a struggle against oppression and injustice.

In Israel's view, the adoption of extremist and one-sided resolutions—which did not help create the peaceful and constructive climate necessary for the conduct of negotiations—had no influence on the real state of affairs.

Pakistan, one of the text's sponsors, said it shared the concern about the suspension of the peace process, especially in relation to the Syrian Golan and Lebanon. It found it regrettable that Security Council resolution 497(1981) [YUN 1981, p. 312], stating that Israel's decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Golan was null and void and demanding that Israel rescind its decision, had not been implemented and that Israel was persisting unimpeded in its efforts to change the area's physical nature, demographic composition, organizational structure and legal status, and in building settlements.

UNDOF

The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, established by Security Council resolution 350(1974) [YUN 1974, p. 205], was charged with supervising the observance of the cease-fire between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights area and ensuring the separation of their forces. Assisting UNDOF, as required, were observers from UNTSO.

UNDOF maintained an area of separation, which was some 80 kilometres long and varied in width between approximately 10 kilometres in the centre to less than 1 kilometre in the extreme south. The area of separation was inhabited and was policed by the Syrian authorities. No military forces other than UNDOF were permitted within it. The Force supervised the area of separation and intervened whenever any military personnel entered or tried to operate therein. Both the Austrian battalion deployed in the northern part of the area of separation and the Polish battalion in the south conducted mine-clearing operations.

The Force's mandate was renewed twice in 1997, in May and November, each time for a six-month period.

Composition and deployment

As at November 1997, UNDOF comprised 1,053 troops from Austria, Canada, Japan and Poland. It was assisted by 78 UNTSO military observers. Major-General David Stapleton (Ireland) was appointed Force Commander, taking over from Major-General Johannes C. Rosters (Netherlands), who completed his tour of duty on 31 May. The Secretary-General informed the Security Council on 9 May [S/1997/388] of his intention to appoint Major-General Stapleton; the Council's agreement was conveyed to him in a letter of 22 May [S/1997/389].

UNDOF was entirely deployed within, and close to, the area of separation with two base camps, 44 permanently manned positions and 11 observation posts. Its headquarters was located at Camp Faouar and an office maintained in Damascus, Syria. Damascus international airport served as UNDOF's air head, along with Tel Aviv international airport. The ports of Latakia and Haifa were used for sea shipments.

The Canadian and Japanese logistics units, based in Camp Ziouani, with a detachment at Camp Faouar, performed second line general transportation tasks, rotation transport, control and management of goods and maintenance of heavy equipment.

Activities

UNDOF continued in 1997 to supervise the area of separation between Israeli and Syrian troops in the Golan Heights, to ensure that no military forces of either party were deployed there, by means of fixed positions and patrols. The Force, accompanied by liaison officers from the party concerned, also carried out fortnightly inspections of armament and force levels in the areas of limitation. As in the past, both sides denied inspection teams access to some of their positions and imposed some restrictions on UNDOF's freedom of movement.

The Force Commander and his staff maintained close contact with the military liaison staff of Israel and Syria. Both sides cooperated with UNDOF in the execution of its tasks.

The Force also assisted ICRC with facilities for mail and the passage of persons through the area of separation and provided, within the means available and upon request, medical treatment to the local population,

Reports of Secretary-General (May and November). Before the expiration of the UNDOF mandate on 31 May, and again on 30 November, the Secretary-General reported to the Security Council on UNDOF activities that took place between 19 November 1996 and 16 May 1997 [S/1997/372] and between 17 May and 14 November 1997 [S/1997/884]. Both reports noted that UNDOF continued to perform its functions effectively, with the cooperation of the parties. In general, the cease-fire in the Israel-Syria sector was maintained without serious incident, and the UNDOF area of operation remained calm. On 30 May, two Austrian soldiers were shot and killed during a routine foot patrol east of position 14 near Hadar. Regrettably, the Secretary-General stated, the investigations carried out by the Syrian authorities and UNDOF, in cooperation with the Government of Austria and with technical assistance from Canada, had so far not shed any light on the perpetrators of the attack and its motives. The Syrian authorities had informed UNDOF that they were continuing their investigation.

The Secretary-General observed that, despite the quiet in the Israel-Syria sector, the situation in the Middle East continued to be potentially dangerous and was likely to remain so, unless and until a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem could be reached. He hoped for determined efforts by all concerned to tackle the problem in all its aspects, with a view to arriving at a just and durable peace settlement, as called for by Security Council resolution 338(1973) [YUN 1973, p. 2]3]. Stating that he considered the Force's continued presence in the area to be essential, the Secretary-General, with the agreement of both Syria and Israel, each time recommended that the UNDOF mandate be extended for a further six months, until 30 November 1997 in the first instance and 31 May 1998 in the second.

In making his recommendation, the Secretary-General drew attention to the serious shortfall in the funding of the Force, with unpaid assessments totalling $48.2 million in May and $50.9 million in November; those amounts, representing money owed to the troop-contributing countries, were far larger than the Force's current annual budget, he noted. He therefore appealed to all Member States to pay their assessments promptly and in full and to clear all remaining arrears.

SECURITY COUNCIL ACTION

On 28 May [meeting 3782], the Security Council adopted resolution 1109(1997) unanimously. The draft [s/1997/396] was prepared during consultations among Council members.

The Security Council,

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 16 May 1997 on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force,

Decides:

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

(b) To renew the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force for another period of six months, that is, until 30 November 1997;

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

On 21 November [meeting 3835], the Council, without debate, unanimously adopted resolution 1139(1997). The draft [S/1997/904] had been prepared during consultations.

The Security Council,

Having considered^ report of the Secretary-General of 14 November 1997 on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force,

Decides:

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

(b) To renew the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force for another period of six months, that is, until 31 May 1998;

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

After the adoption of each resolution, the President made the following statement [S/PRST/1997/30, S/PRST/1997/53] on behalf of the Council:

As is known, the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force states, in paragraph 13 [9 in the November report]: "Despite the present quiet in the Israeli-Syrian sector, the situation in the Middle East continues to be potentially dangerous and is likely to remain so, unless and until a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem can be reached." That statement of the Secretary-General reflects the view of the Security Council.

Financing

Reports of Secretary-General and ACABQ, (January/February and April). On 31 January, the Secretary-General presented a report [A/51/405/Add.l] on the financial performance of UNDOF, covering the period from 1 December 1995 to 30 June 1996, for which resources of $18,753,000 gross ($18,221,000 net) were provided. Expenditures amounted to $17,623,700 gross ($17,154,300 net), resulting in an unencumbered balance of $1,129,300 gross ($1,066,700 met), which was primarily due to more favourable rates for the hire of aircraft used for rotation of military personnel, filling of vacant posts with staff at lower levels, cancellation and deferment of construction projects, and reduced procurement of major equipment due to availability of some items at the UN Logistics Base in Brindisi, Italy.

The action required from the General Assembly was a decision to credit Member States their respective shares in the unencumbered balance.

On 21 February, the Secretary-General presented the proposed budget of UNDOF [A/51/405/ Add.2] for the 12-month period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998, totalling $32,368,000 gross ($31,466,000 net), which reflected a 2.8 per cent increase in gross terms compared with the resources for the preceding 12 months, which amounted to $31,494,000 gross. The increased requirements related to reimbursement for contingent-owned equipment, replacement of vehicles, communications and data processing equipment, and vehicle third-party liability insurance. The budget provided for maintaining the Force at a level of 1,036 troops (821 infantry and 215 logistics personnel), supported by 120 civilians (36 international and 84 local). The required Assembly action was approval of an appropriation of $32,368,000 gross ($31,466,000 net) and a decision to credit Member States with the surplus balance of $2,358,000 for the period from 1 December 1993 to 30 November 1994.

The Secretary-General noted that assessments on Member States in respect of UNDOF and the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) for the period from inception to 31 May 1997 totalled $1,126.5 million, while contributions received as at 31 January 1997 for the same period amounted to $1,066.6 million. Outstanding assessments were reduced by $4.2 million pursuant to Assembly resolution 50/83 [YUN 1995, p. 406]. The outstanding balance of $59.9 million as at 31 January 1997 included an amount of $36 million transferred to a special account in accordance with Assembly resolution 36/116 A [YUN 1981, p. 1299].

In an April report [A/51/684/Add.l], ACABQ recommended acceptance of the Secretary-General's proposal to credit Member States their respective shares in the unencumbered balance of $1,129,300 gross ($1,066,700 net) for the period from 1 December 1995 to 30 June 1996. As to the proposed programme budget for the period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998, it recommended approval of the Secretary-General's proposal that the Assembly appropriate $32,368,000 gross ($31,466,000 net), subject to the extension of the Force's mandate by the Security Council. It further recommended that Member States be credited their respective shares in the surplus balance of $2,358,000 for the period from 1 December 1993 to 30 November 1994.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ACTION

On 13 June [meeting 101 ], the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Fifth Committee [A/51/724/Add.l], adopted resolution 51/232 without vote [agenda item 123 (a)].

Financing of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force

The General Assembly,

Having considered the reports of the Secretary-General on the financing of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, and the related report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, and taking note of the report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services,

Bearing in mind Security Council resolution 350(1974) of 31 May 1974, by which the Council established the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, and the subsequent resolutions by which the Council extended the mandate of the Force, the latest of which was resolution 1081(1996) of 27 November 1996,

Recalling its resolution 3211 B (XXIX) of 29 November 1974 on the financing of the United Nations Emergency Force and the United Nations Disengagement

Observer Force and its subsequent resolutions thereon, the latest of which was resolution 50/20 B of 7 June 1996,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Takes note of the status of contributions to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force as at 15 May 1997, including the contributions outstanding in the amount of 47.9 million United States dollars, representing 4.2 per cent of the total assessed contributions from the inception of the Force to the period ending 31 May 1997, notes that some 24 per cent of the Member States have paid their assessed contributions in full, and urges all other Member States concerned, in particular those in arrears, to ensure the payment of their outstanding assessed contributions;

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

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

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

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

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

7. Decides to appropriate to the Special Account for the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force the amount of 33,616,400 dollars gross (32,714,400 dollars net) for the maintenance of the Force for the period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998, inclusive of the amount of 1,248,400 dollars for the support account for peace-keeping operations, to be assessed on Member States at the monthly rate of 2,801,366 dollars gross (2,726,200 dollars net), in accordance with the composition of groups set out in paragraphs 3 and 4 of General Assembly resolution 43/232 of 1 March 1989, as adjusted by the Assembly in its resolutions 44/192 B of 21 December 1989,45/269 of 27 August 1991,46/198 A of 20 December 1991, 47/218 A of 23 December 1992, 49/249 A of 20 July 1995, 49/249 B of 14 September 1995,50/224 of 11 April 1996 and 51/218 A and B of 18 December 1996 and its decisions 48/472 A of 23 December 1993 and 50/451 B of 23 December 1995, and taking into account the scale of assessments for the year 1997, as set out in its resolution 49/19 B of 23 December 1994 and its decision 50/471 A of 23 December 1995, and for the year 1998, subject to the decision of the Security Council to extend the mandate of the Force beyond 31 May 1997;

8. Decides also that, in accordance with the provisions of its resolution 973(X) of 15 December 1955, there shall be set off against the apportionment among Member States, as provided for in paragraph 7 above, their respective share in the Tax Equalization Fund of the estimated staff assessment income of 888,000 dollars approved for the period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998;

9. Decides further that there shall be set off against the apportionment among Member States, as provided for in paragraph 7 above, their respective share in the estimated other income of 14,000 dollars for the period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998;

10. Decides that, for Member States that have fulfilled their financial obligations to the Force, there shall be set off against the assessment, as provided for in paragraph 7 above, their respective share in the unencumbered balance of 1,129,300 dollars gross (1,066,700 dollars net) for the period ending 30 June 1996;

11. Decides also that, for Member States that have not fulfilled their financial obligations to the Force, their share of the unencumbered balance of 1,129,300 dollars gross (1,066,700 dollars net) for the period ending 30 June 1996 shall be set off against their outstanding obligations;

12. Decides that, for Member States that have fulfilled their financial obligations to the Force, there shall be set off against the assessment, as provided for in paragraph 7 above, their respective share in the surplus balance of 2,358,000 dollars for the period from 1 December 1993 to 30 November 1994;

13. Decides also that, for Member States that have not fulfilled their financial obligations to the Force, their share of the surplus balance of 2,358,000 dollars for the period from 1 December 1993 to 30 November 1994 shall be set off against their outstanding obligations;

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

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

By decision 52/456 of 22 December, the Assembly decided that the Fifth Committee would continue consideration of the item on the financing of UNDOF at the resumed fifty-second session in 1998.




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