“General Assembly resolution 56/36, which is the main political resolution regarding the question of Palestine, was adopted by the General Assembly at its fifty-sixth session by an overwhelming majority (131-6-20), reflecting long-established convictions and positions of the international community on this important issue. In resolution 56/36, the Assembly recalls several principles of international law and the Charter of the United Nations, including, inter alia, the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples and the principle of inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force. In the resolution, the Assembly also expresses its full support for the peace process and sets forth the basis for a just settlement of the question of Palestine. Further, the Assembly emphasizes the permanent responsibility of the United Nations with regard to the question of Palestine until it is resolved in all its aspects and emphasizes the importance of a more active and expanded role for the Organization in the peace process.
“In addition to the reaffirmation of principles, the General Assembly addresses in resolution 56/36 the serious deterioration of the situation on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and the difficulties facing the Middle East peace process. In this regard, the Assembly expresses its deep concern over the tragic events that have taken place in Occupied East Jerusalem and the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 28 September 2000, resulting in a high number of deaths and injuries, mostly among Palestinian civilians. Deep concern is also expressed over the continued imposition of closures and restrictions by Israel on the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the Israeli incursions into Palestinian-controlled areas and actions against Palestinian institutions.
“Furthermore, in resolution 56/36, the General Assembly, inter alia, calls upon the concerned parties, the co-sponsors of the peace process and other interested parties, as well as the entire international community, to exert all efforts and initiatives necessary to immediately reverse all measures taken on the ground since 28 September 2000 and to ensure a speedy resumption of the peace process. Regrettably, the peace process has not resumed as the Israeli side has continued to refuse to adhere to understandings and agreements reached between the two sides and to implement overdue provisions. Moreover, during this time, the Israeli occupying forces have only continued to carry out daily military actions against the Palestinian people and the Palestinian leadership, including against the President of the Palestinian Authority. This Israeli military campaign intensified in particular in March 2002, leading to the reoccupation of Palestinian cities, the destruction of most of the institutions of the Palestinian Authority, and almost a return to the situation before the peace process. Overwhelmingly, the actions taken by the occupying forces in the course of this bloody military campaign have constituted grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949. Indeed, the Israeli occupying forces have committed countless war crimes, State terrorism and systematic human rights violations against the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem. As a result, the situation on the ground has continued to gravely deteriorate.
“The dramatic and tragic decline of the situation since last year has been characterized by an escalation of the excessive and indiscriminate use of force by the Israeli occupying forces against the Palestinian people, including children, women and men. Throughout this time, the Israeli occupying forces continued to launch attacks in Palestinian cities, towns and refugee camps, using all forms of heavy weaponry, including tanks, helicopter gunships and warplanes. Since 28 September 2000, and as of the date of this note, the Israeli occupying forces have killed more than 1,830 Palestinians. Many of the killings committed in the past year by the occupying forces have been wilful killings and targeted extrajudiciary executions. In addition, more than 35,000 Palestinians have been injured, many critically and many suffering permanent disabilities. The occupying forces have also abducted and detained thousands of Palestinians, particularly males, throughout this period.
“At the same time, the Israeli occupying forces have caused vast destruction to Palestinian homes, land and vital infrastructure. Thousands of homes have been damaged or completely demolished, leaving thousands of Palestinians homeless. Countless agricultural fields have been laid to ruin by the occupying forces and hundreds of thousands of productive trees have been uprooted. Public buildings, facilities and institutions have been destroyed, water and electricity networks have been damaged and disrupted, and hundreds of roads have been bulldozed or razed. In addition, the occupying forces have even inflicted damage on United Nations property, particularly facilities and buildings of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in the area. Moreover, Israel, the occupying Power, has continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of persons and goods, including humanitarian and medical aid and personnel, into and out of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. This military siege being imposed and the constant, and frequently round-the-clock, curfews have further devastated the difficult socio-economic conditions of the Palestinian people. Indeed, they have caused the total disruption and virtual collapse of the economic, social, health, educational and cultural life of the Palestinian people, who for many months now have been facing a dire humanitarian crisis.
“The actions and measures taken by Israel, the occupying Power, have, as noted, violated international humanitarian law and they have also violated relevant resolutions of the United Nations, including those of the Security Council. Since the adoption of General Assembly resolution 56/36, the Security Council has adopted five resolutions on the matter, namely resolution 1397 (2002) of 12 March 2002, resolution 1402 (2002) of 30 March 2002, resolution 1403 (2002) of 4 April 2002, resolution 1405 (2002) of 19 April 2002, and resolution 1435 (2002) of 24 September 2002. In addition, the General Assembly resumed its tenth emergency special session, on illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in December 2001 and in May 2002, adopting three resolutions in total, namely resolutions ES-10/8 and ES-10/9 of 20 December 2001 and ES-10/10 of 7 May 2002. Israel, the occupying Power, has not fully complied with any of those resolutions, further exacerbating the already grave situation.
“The provisions of the above-mentioned resolutions of the Security Council and of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly, if complied with and implemented, would, both then and now, have certainly contributed to a calming of the situation on the ground, with many lives saved, as well as to a resumption of peace negotiations between the two sides. In this regard, the Palestinian side has repeatedly expressed its support for those resolutions and expressed readiness to adhere to the provisions of the resolutions. A review of the provisions of the above-mentioned Security Council resolutions is pertinent to illustrate how it is Israeli non-compliance that has prevented the full implementation of those resolutions and has perpetuated the cycle of tragic violence on the ground.
“In resolution 1397 (2002), the Security Council affirmed, for the first time, the Council’s vision of a region in which two States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side within secure and recognized borders. It is important here to note that this resolution, along with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and the Arab Peace Initiative initiated by Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah and adopted by the Council of the League of Arab States at its summit held in Beirut in March 2002, have become widely accepted as the basis for a just, lasting and comprehensive solution for the Arab-Israeli conflict, the core of which is the question of Palestine.
“As the violence continued to escalate in late March 2002 and thereafter, the Security Council adopted the other four resolutions mentioned above in addition to issuing two presidential statements in April (S/PRST/2002/9) and July 2002 (S/PRST/2002/20). In resolution 1402 (2002), adopted in response to the reoccupation of Palestinian cities, the Council called for an immediate ceasefire; the withdrawal of Israeli occupying forces from Palestinian cities, including Ramallah; a cessation of all acts of violence; and cooperation with efforts to implement the Tenet security work plan and the Mitchell Committee recommendations. As indicated in our note last year, Israel resisted all efforts to implement those recommendations and even took positions undermining them. In the process, Israel managed to bury the Mitchell recommendations, thus destroying yet another international attempt to end the cycle of violence and to extricate the parties from the current situation. Security Council resolution 1403 (2002) followed, with the Council demanding the implementation without delay of resolution 1402 (2002), which is still without results on the ground. Actually, Israel, the occupying Power, has publicly rejected both resolutions and continues to this date with its reoccupation of Palestinian cities.
“With the continued deterioration of the situation on the ground, and the intensification of attacks by the occupying forces, especially in the Jenin refugee camp in April 2002, the Security Council convened once again and adopted resolution 1405 (2002), expressing its concern at the dire humanitarian situation of the Palestinian population, in particular reports from the Jenin refugee camp of an unknown number of deaths and destruction. The Council also welcomed the initiative of the Secretary-General to develop accurate information regarding the events in the Jenin refugee camp through a fact-finding team. However, the Secretary-General, had to disband the team in the face of Israeli refusal to cooperate with him in the implementation of resolution 1405 (2002). Pursuant to the request made by the General Assembly in its resolution ES-10/10 of 7 May 2002, the Secretary-General presented a report (A/ES-10/186), drawing upon the available resources and information, on the events that had taken place in Jenin and in other Palestinian cities.
“The Palestinian side took the necessary steps in response to the Secretary-General’s request to provide information relevant to the implementation of resolution ES-10/10. A detailed Palestinian report was submitted to the Secretary-General to assist in the development of an accurate assessment of the atrocities and serious violations of international law committed by the Israeli occupying forces against the Palestinian people. The Israeli side, however, refused to cooperate with the Secretary-General and submitted no response or information in that regard. Although the Secretary-General did present a report on the matter, the issue has not been closed, as a full investigation was not possible owing to Israel’s intransigence. The international community should continue to condemn the atrocities and war crimes committed in the Jenin refugee camp as well as the Israeli prevention of a full investigation, in addition to condemning other Israeli atrocities committed in other Palestinian cities.
“Most recently, in resolution 1435 (2002), the Security Council expressed its grave concern at the reoccupation of the headquarters of the President of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah that took place in September 2002, demanding its immediate end. It also demanded that Israel immediately cease measures in and around Ramallah, including the destruction of Palestinian civilian and security infrastructure, and demanded as well the expeditious withdrawal of the Israeli occupying forces from Palestinian cities. Furthermore, the Council condemned all terrorist attacks against any civilians and reiterated the need to respect international humanitarian law in all circumstances. It also reiterated its demand for the complete cessation of all acts of violence. Finally, in resolution 1435 (2002), the Council expressed its full support for the efforts of the Quartet and called upon the Government of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and all States in the region to cooperate with those efforts. Israel, the occupying Power, as a result of international pressure, has indeed ended its siege of the headquarters of the President of the Palestinian Authority. While that was a step in the right direction, all provisions of the resolution must be implemented.
“The Palestinian side has repeatedly expressed its readiness to cooperate with the efforts of the Quartet and other concerned parties and continues to do so, especially with regard to efforts for the full implementation of resolution 1435 (2002). In general, the efforts of the Quartet must be renewed and intensified in the face of the ongoing decline of the situation on the ground, with the consequent negative impact on the stability and security of the region, and the grave humanitarian crisis being faced by the Palestinian people. Simultaneously, serious efforts must be undertaken, as stressed in resolution 56/36, towards the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, primarily the right to self-determination and the right to establish an independent State. This can only be fully achieved with the withdrawal of Israel from the Palestinian territory it has illegally occupied since 1967.
“Palestine expresses its appreciation for the role being played by the United Nations in this regard, including the efforts and important role of the Secretary-General. In particular, Palestine expresses its support for the Secretary-General’s calls for the political, security and economic issues to be dealt with in tandem. Palestine stresses the necessity for a comprehensive approach, which would also mean spelling out the form of the final settlement in advance while reaching agreement on specific steps leading to it. In addition, Palestine expresses its strong support for the proposal made by the Secretary-General before the Security Council, on 18 April 2002, for the deployment of a robust and credible multinational force to help end the cycle of violence and establish a secure environment in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, conducive to the resumption of normal economic activity by the Palestinian people, the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian and development assistance and the implementation of prior commitments and agreements between the two sides, thereby creating favourable conditions for the resumption of political negotiations towards a final settlement.”