Press Release
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York

27 July 2000

Economic and Social Council
2000 Substantive Session
42nd Meeting (AM)



Population, gender and development were three closely linked factors, the representative of France said this morning as the Economic and Social Council adopted a decision taking note of the report by the Commission on Population and Development during its thirty-third session (27-30 March). That decision was one of three adopted by the Council as it continued the general segment of its 2000 substantive session, concluding consideration of economic and environmental questions before taking up the Declaration on decolonization and the repercussions of Israeli occupation.


Two drafts were introduced this morning, one on the implementation of the Declaration on colonial countries and peoples, the other on the economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation in the Palestinian territory.

Statements this morning were made by the representatives of Bulgaria, Ukraine, Morocco, Honduras, Japan, Nigeria, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, Sudan, Egypt, Israel, Nigeria and Indonesia. The observer of Palestine also addressed the Council.


Council Work Programme


-- letter dated 3 July 2000 from the Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, addressed to the Secretary-General and containing the Report of the United Nations Seminar on Prospects for Palestinian Economic Development and the Middle East Peace Process, held at Cairo on 20 and 21 June 2000 (document A/55/144-E/2000/87);


-- a note by the Secretary-General conveying a report prepared by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) on economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan (document A/55/84-E/2000/16).


Before the Council was a draft resolution, submitted by Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cuba, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates and the Observer Mission of Palestine, concerning economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Observer Mission of Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan (document E/2000/L.16).

By the terms of the draft, the Council would call 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.

The Council would urge 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 living conditions.

According to the draft, the Council would request the Secretary-General to submit to the General Assembly at its fifty-sixth 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 United Nations Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories, an update on the living conditions of the Palestinian people, in collaboration with relevant United Nations agencies.

By the same terms, the Council would decide to include the item 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 2001.

Action on Drafts


IBRAHIM AWAD, Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), introducing document A/55/84-E/2000/16 containing the report on economic and social repercussion 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, said the delays in the implementation of the agreements reached between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) continued to aggravate the living conditions of the Palestinian people. He said it was important in considering the issue to bear in mind all relevant resolutions, including Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978) and the principle of land for peace, as well as the implementation of agreements reached between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. The report was based on different sources, primarily from the Israeli and Palestinian press. The continued situation threatened not only the Palestinian people, but peace and security of the whole world at large. The only solution was to have lasting peace.

JOHN RENNINGER, Director, Asia and Pacific Division, Department of Political Affairs, submitting the report contained in document A/55/137-E/2000/95 on assistance to the Palestinian people, said he hoped that the report would assist the international community in providing an effective response to the real needs of the Palestinian people. Donor assistance and unmet needs of the Palestinian people had been put in a broader framework. The report provided updated information on basic public needs in infrastructure and natural resources management, institutional capacity-building, human resources and social development, and in productive sectors.

He said considerable assistance had been provided by the international community. There was however a declining trend of both new commitments and disbursements for development cooperation. The Secretary-General called upon the international community to provide the necessary resources, and to demonstrate flexibility in their support for the development programmes of the Palestinian people.

The United Nations Special Coordinator and his office in Gaza maintained their efforts to ensure better coordination between the relevant institutions of the Palestinian Authority and United Nations agencies, as well as the donor community, he said. In order to continue to increase the impact and effectiveness of the substantial aid to address the unmet needs of the Palestinian people, the Secretary-General encouraged relevant partners to continue to utilize those coordination mechanisms.

FAWZI BIN ABDUL MAJEED SHOBOKSHI (Saudi Arabia), introducing draft resolution E/2000/L.16 on the economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan, announced that Indonesia, Libya and Qatar had joined the sponsors of the resolution, and urged Council Members to adopt the resolution by consensus.

HUSSAM-EDIN A’ALA (Syria) said he would have preferred the report to deal in more detail with the suffering of the people in the Golan Heights. Many issues had not been dealt with. The occupation was one of the serious phenomena carried over to the new century. There was only one conclusion to be derived from the report: the Israeli occupation had continued to take more land and water and to deprive the people of the Syrian Golan and the Palestinian people in the Occupied Territories of their basic rights.

Israel had followed a policy of isolating the Syrian Golan from Syria in order to annex it. Ninety-six per cent of the Syrian Golan was occupied; land and houses were destroyed in order to establish settlements. By expanding the number of settlements, Israel was continuing its colonial policies despite the beginning of the peace process, he said.

It was clear that the colonialist and imperialist occupation was a trend not in accordance with the hope of maintaining peace. Israel's illegal policy was a hindrance to maintaining peace in the region. A comprehensive and just peace was the option Syria adhered to, he said.

ZAID AL-HADIDI (Jordan) said the Israeli Government’s aim was to expand its settlements. It therefore violated United Nations resolutions. Israel should be called upon to cease its expansion of settlements. They were a hindrance to peace. Further, Israel’s policies had negatively impacted on others in the region, particularly the Palestinian people. Israel usurped water from the Palestinian people and impeded employment of others in the region. All people should have equality of economic opportunity so as to foster regional stability.

MOHAMMED SALEH MOHAMMED SALEH (Bahrain) summarized the effects of Israel’s occupation on the region, and said that country’s policies were a violation of human rights and an assault on the environment. There were enormous problems in the Palestinian territories. The United Nations should call on Israel to stop its practices. Also, an end must be put to Israel’s occupation of Arab lands. The right of return should be guaranteed to all Palestinian people.

MUBARAK HUSSEIN RAHMTALLA (Sudan) said he would become a cosponsor of the draft on implementing the Declaration on granting independence to colonial countries and peoples. Israel’s occupation of Arab lands was as frustrating for him as for his neighbours. Israel allowed work only for unskilled people, with resultant disparities in wages.

IHAB GAMALELDIN (Egypt) said peace was the strategic objective for all people of his region. That peace must be based on respect, the principle of land for peace, and equality in an environment of peaceful coexistence.

MARWAN JILANI, Observer for Palestine, said the peace summit at Camp David in the United States had ended two days ago in failure because of Israel’s intransigence. The issues at the heart of the negotiations had been simple. People had been illegally displaced and others were forced to live as refugees. Those issues affected every aspect of the Palestinian people’s rights, including their right to existence. The right of the Palestinian people to determine their own fate was a fundamental principle. For decades, Israel had defied all laws. It had attempted to alter the city of Jerusalem, including by changing its demographic makeup. The Palestinian people would pursue a peaceful settlement of their status toward the agreed target of 13 September. Lasting peace should be based on international law and relevant United Nations resolutions. The United States President deserved thanks for his tireless efforts.

RON ADAM, Observer of Israel, noted the forward strides the Council had taken during its current substantive session. Discussions had echoed with a promise of a new direction, aimed at addressing problems in a professional, global and action-oriented manner.

Today, however, that movement had been derailed. He regretted that members were being dragged into the trenches of a partisan political attack against a particular Member State. It was the only time this year that a political issue had been allowed to dominate the discussion. The draft resolution did not belong in the Council’s forum. The framework for resolving the very specific issues between Israel and the Palestinians had always been direct negotiations. As the two sides embarked on the critical stage of reaching a final agreement, it was more essential than ever to preserve the integrity of that framework.

The economic situation among the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza had been misrepresented, he said. Statistics from the Report on the Palestinian Economy, April 2000, by the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator, and from a book published by the Palestinian Authority, entitled "Palestine in Figures", offered a more positive and accurate portrayal. Progress included a
9 per cent increase in the value of registered Israeli-Palestinian trade, and a
12 per cent increase in donor assistance. The unexpected surge in the Palestinian economy had created a better way of life for the Palestinians.

He hoped that the improved economic conditions of the Palestinian people -- rising employment, the growing corporate sector, the enhanced opportunities, the increasing salaries -- would lead to a new spirit of goodwill and cooperation between the parties of the peace process.

MICHAEL GALLAGHER (United States) said until peace was realized, the issues under consideration would continue to be troubling. The parties themselves were in negotiations, and the discussion in the Council could have an adverse effect on those negotiations. He therefore urged that action on the item be deferred.

LILIAN ONOH (Nigeria) expressed her regret that in the new millennium the issue of granting independence to colonial Countries and Peoples still demanded attention. All people should be granted their right to self-determination. Nigeria had therefore joined the list of sponsors of the resolution introduced by Cuba.

BALI MONIAGA (Indonesia) said the Palestinian people continued to suffer from high levels of unemployment and poverty, and the settlements issue continued to disrupt progress. Despite difficult conditions, however, he was optimistic that peace could be achieved. He emphasized the importance of construction of the seaport of Gaza. The return of the parties to Camp David had brought the region closer to lasting peace, and had brought the parties closer together in a number of areas. He hoped that the breakdown of those negotiations would not lead to a new cycle of violence and that a peace agreement could be reached shortly.

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