Secrétaire exécutive de l’ESCWA : la seule solution reste la fin des violations des lois internationalement sur la situation du peuple palestinien - Communiqué de presse
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PALESTINIAN HARDSHIP, REGIONAL COMMISSION CHIEF TELLS SECOND COMMITTEE
Arbitrary detention and disproportionate use of military force, the expansion of settlements and the blockade of the Gaza Strip continued to constrain the functioning of the Palestinian Authority while contributing to the growing economic and social hardship faced by its citizens, Rima Khalaf, Executive Secretary for Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today.
Israel’s excessive use of force had resulted in 98 Palestinian deaths between 1 February 2010 and 29 March 2011, with a further 142 killed between March and October, including 18 children, she said, as she presented the Commission’s report, “Economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem and of the Arab Population in the occupied Syrian Golan”. The Committee was considering permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian and other Arab peoples in occupied lands over their natural resources.
Describing cases of torture and ill-treatment of detained people, particularly children, as alarming, she said no one had been brought to justice, a particular concern given that Israeli laws allowed indefinite detention without charge or trial. Some 700 people were detained and prosecuted each year, she added. The Israeli occupation remained, despite the General Assembly’s calls for its end, she continued.
Emphasizing that Israeli settlements were illegal under international law, she said there were now more than 500,000 of them, with a population growth rate double that of Israel. Segregated roads were inaccessible to Palestinians and settlers operated a “price tag” policy, which entailed responding to Israeli Government policies with attacks on Palestinians. The separation wall had been built in defiance of the advisory opinion issued by the International Court of Justice, she said, adding that 85 per cent of the wall ran through the West Bank. It had isolated 855,000 Palestinians and severed Jerusalem completely, leaving its residents in need of visitor permits to visit their own land. There were further restrictions on mobility within the West Bank, extending to buffer areas intended for settlements, military areas and nature reserves, she said.
Further restrictions imposed on Palestinians included the systematic demolition of homes as part of a “facts on the ground” strategy, she continued, noting that the number of demolitions had grown by 59 per cent in 2010, with 23 million square metres of land confiscated in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Palestinians faced building restrictions, she said, adding that many built homes without permits, which left them vulnerable to displacement. Palestinians also needed residency permits, more than 13,000 of which had been revoked between 1967 and the present.
She went on to describe the Gaza blockade as collective punishment imposed on an entire people, saying it imposed severe restrictions on people living in one of the world’s most densely populated areas. Despite announcements that it had been lifted, the blockade remained fundamentally in place, restricting movement, as well as imports of construction materials, banning most exports, preventing Palestinians from accessing land within 1 to 1.5 kilometres from the Green Line, and blocking their access to water more than three nautical miles from the seashore.
Expressing similar concerns, the observer for Palestine agreed that Israel’s illegal and inhumane blockade on Gaza prevented the movement of imports and exports to and from the enclave, in addition to restricting the free movement of people. Israel continued to prevent Palestinian farmers from accessing their lands and fishermen from reaching 80 per cent of the available fishing waters, he said. That had exacerbated living conditions in Gaza, where more than 38 per cent of the population lived under the poverty line.
He went on to cite a report issued by the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which stated that the pace of Israeli settlements construction had doubled from the previous year. Attacks by settlers against the Palestinian people and their property, including farmlands and water resources, had also doubled, he said. Since the beginning of 2011, the settlers had uprooted, burned and destroyed more than 8,000 olive trees, on which most Palestinian farmers depended for income.
Israel’s representative expressed disappointment that the Committee had again “wasted its time on an issue with no relevance to its mandate”, adding that that many of those paying lip-service to Palestinians did nothing to actually help them. Israel, meanwhile, had committed to helping Palestinian progress with concrete actions on the ground to develop the Palestinian economy and infrastructure, he said, adding that his country shared the interests of its neighbours. He said close cooperation was required to help the environment, and efforts to do so would be greatly enhanced if the Palestinian Authority proceeded with numerous projects already approved.
He went on to say that Israel and the Palestinian Authority had coordinated the establishment of energy infrastructure and joint agricultural projects. The wide scope of their cooperation directly contradicted the impressions conveyed by the debate, which conveniently ignored the agreements that had already conferred jurisdiction over those matters to the Palestinian Authority, he said.
Qatar’s representative, however, speaking for the Arab Group, said the systematic destruction of development in occupied Arab territories had led to a very serious socio-economic situation. Families had been dislocated, unemployment was rampant, and Palestinians had been deprived of their right to life, he said. Their land was being seized and destroyed as they were deprived of their right to food. In addition, Israel’s exploitation of the land had polluted the environment through its dumping of sewage and wastewater in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Syria’s representative said the report shed light on some but not all the economic and social sufferings shared by the Palestinian and Syrian peoples. The figures reflected Israel’s barbarism and its violations of international law, he said, recalling that the occupying Power had imposed its rules and laws on the Golan Heights since the beginning of its occupation in 1967. The Israeli annexation of the Golan had led to the exploitation and wastage of natural resources, he said, adding that Israel continued its confiscation of land, imposition of high taxes, uprooting of trees and destruction of the natural environment by dumping nuclear waste.
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning to take up the question of permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian and other Arab peoples in occupied lands over their natural resources.
Before the Committee was a note by the Secretary-General titled “Economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem and of the Arab Population in the occupied Syrian Golan” (document A/66/78-E/2011/13). Dated 9 May 2011, it was prepared by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) in response to Economic and Social Council resolution 2010/31 and General Assembly resolution 65/179 (2010).
According to the report, Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, continues to contribute to the economic and social hardship of Palestinians. The Israeli army continued to resort to arbitrary detention, disproportionate use of force, settlement expansion, destruction of property, home demolitions, restrictions on mobility and building permits, and closure policies.
The report says Palestinian access to water remains inadequate, the environment is increasingly degraded, poverty levels remain high, unemployment is still endemic, despite some growth in gross domestic product (GDP), and health indicators continue to deteriorate. More demolitions were recorded in 2010 than in any other year since 2005, it notes. At least 432 Palestinian structures were demolished in occupied East Jerusalem and Area C in the West Bank, including 137 residential structures, displacing 594 people and affecting 14,136 others.
On the occupied Syrian Golan, meanwhile, the report says that occupation and the tightly closed crossing into Syria constitute the most important barriers to economic development and normalization of the region’s social fabric, the report says. Syrian citizens wishing to maintain their Syrian Arab identity face hardship and severely restricted prospects with regard to income generation.
Introduction of Report
RIMA KHALAF, Executive Secretary, Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, introduced that body’s report, saying that it aimed to help ease the plight of the Palestinian and Syrian peoples until the end of occupation, which was the main reason of their suffering.
She said Israel had continued to use excessive force against Palestinians, resulting in 98 deaths during the reporting period. Between March and October, 142 Palestinians had died, including 18 children. Cases of torture and ill-treatment of detained people, particularly children, were alarming, and none had been brought to justice. That was of particularly concern, given that Israeli laws allowed indefinite detention without charge or trial, and that 700 people were detained and prosecuted each year, she said.
The occupation remained despite the General Assembly’s calls for its end, she continued, adding the systematic demolition of homes had been part of a “facts on the ground” strategy since inception. Demolitions had increased 59 per cent in 2010, she said, adding that 23 million square metres of land had also been confiscated in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Palestinians faced building restrictions, including the need for permits, and many built homes without them, which left them vulnerable to displacement. Palestinians also needed residency permits, more than 13,000 of which had been revoked between 1967 and the present.
Emphasizing that Israeli settlements were illegal under international law, she said there were now more than 500,000 of them, with a population growth double that of Israel. Segregated roads were inaccessible to Palestinians and attacks against Palestinians had doubled in 2010 compared to 2009. Despite 97 investigations, there had been no indictments, she said, adding that settlers operated a “price tag” policy, which entailed responding to Israeli Government policies with attacks on Palestinians. The separation wall had been built in defiance of the advisory opinion issued by the International Court of Justice, she said, adding that 85 per cent of the wall ran through the West Bank. It had isolated 855,000 Palestinians and severed Jerusalem completely, leaving its residents in need of visitor permits to visit their own land. There were further restrictions on mobility within the West Bank, extending to buffer areas intended for settlements, military areas and nature reserves, she said.
She went on to describe the Gaza blockade as collective punishment imposed on an entire people. It imposed severe restrictions on people living in one of the world’s most densely populated areas. Despite announcements that it had been lifted, the blockade remained fundamentally in place, restricting movement, as well as imports of construction materials, banning most exports, preventing Palestinians from accessing land within one to one and a half kilometres from the Green Line, and blocking their access to water more than three nautical miles from shore.
The occupation had severely impacted Palestine’s natural resources, she said, pointing out that each Palestinian had access to 73 litres of domestic freshwater per day in the West Bank and 52 litres per day in Gaza, well below the daily 100 litres recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Settlers received seven times those amounts while Palestinians paid five times the price, she said, adding that the settlements dumped waste water, as well as solid waste in the West Bank. In Gaza, 60 million litres of partially treated or untreated sewage reached sea and land, affecting public health.
Palestine continued to suffer economically, with limited sources of growth and welfare, she continued. Gross national product (GNP) had shrunk 30 per cent since 2000 and more than half of cash expenditures went on food. Palestine had become one of the world’s most aid-dependent economies and its social sectors were bound to deteriorate, she warned, noting that 1.43 million Palestinians were suffering food insecurity, while two out of three children were traumatized. Drugs and medical equipment was in short supply, she added.
As for the occupied Syrian Golan, she recalled that the Security Council had declared its annexation null and void, yet 19,000 Israeli settlers continued to live there, denying Syrians jobs due to their lack of service with the Israel Defence Forces.
Recalling that delegates had queried the absence of specific recommendations in the previous report, she said the present one made only one — an end to the occupation and the restoration of the Palestinian people’s inalienable rights.
The representatives of Kuwait, Egypt and Syria, as well as the observer for Palestine asked what specifically could be done to ensure that the international community followed-through to ensure that Palestinians achieved statehood. Syria’s representative also sought to know why ESCWA reports were not used in the monthly Security Council briefing on the Middle East.
Ms. KHALAF replied that, although the United Nations and its development entities had been working to alleviate suffering, their efforts had become ineffective, and the only solution was to end the occupation, which ran counter to the idea of a post-colonial world and also contravened international law.
RABII ALHANTOULI, observer for Palestine, said the international community had stood powerless for more than 44 years as Israel continued its violations of international law and all relevant United Nations resolutions. Those violations by the “occupying Power” included the killing of Palestinian civilians, arbitrary arrests, the confiscation of land and destruction of property, including agricultural land and water wells, the demolition of homes, and the imposition of strict restrictions on the movement of people and goods. All those actions hindered the growth potential of the Palestinian economy and people.
Israeli military operations were severely restricting the ability of the Palestinian people to access their natural resources, including water, land, and energy, she continued. Describing the ongoing construction of illegal settlements as a violation of international humanitarian law, he said the occupation had a negative impact on the environment through the depletion of water resources, land degradation and air pollution. For generations, it would have long-term ecological and health effects for the entire Palestinian people, he said, noting that the building of the “apartheid wall” had compounded the scarcity of water through the confiscation of wells and water springs.
He cited a report issued by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which stated that the pace of settlement construction had doubled from the previous year. Also, the number of attacks by settlers against Palestinians and their property, including farmlands and water resources, had also doubled. According to the report, the settlers had uprooted, burned and destroyed more than 8,000 olive trees since the beginning of 2011, he said, pointing out that most Palestinian farmers derived their income from them.
In addition, Israel’s illegal and inhumane blockade on the Gaza Strip prevented the movement of imports and exports to and from the enclave, and restricted the free movement of people, he continued. Israel continued to deny Palestinian farmers access to their lands and to prevent fishermen from reaching 80 per cent of the available fishing waters, which had led to the worsening of living conditions in Gaza, where more than 38 per cent of residents lived under the poverty line.
Calling on all Member States and the international community to compel Israel to abide by international law, international treaties and the relevant United Nations resolutions, he reiterated that the Palestinian people would never accept the occupation which tried to control their fate and destiny, plundered their natural resources, undermined their economic and social development, and sought to destroy their hopes and aspirations to live in dignity. He concluded with a call for an independent State of Palestinian with East Jerusalem as its capital.
ABDULRAHMAN AL-HAMADI (Qatar), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said the Palestinian and Syrian peoples faced serious hardships due to Israel’s flagrant violations of international law and United Nations resolutions. Illegal settlements had closed off entire areas and caused an increase in poverty and humanitarian disasters. The Palestinian people had no rights to their own lands, water, jobs or markets, he said. Through illegal blockades, Israel continued to impose harsh restrictions on the movement of people and goods, while exploiting the land had polluted the environment. It dumped sewage and waste water in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and sought to dump nuclear waste under the Golan Heights.
Israel continued to demolish buildings in the West Bank in order to build settlements, he said. In Jerusalem, expropriations continued amid efforts to change the city’s demographics. Israel continued to build cities over the ruins of Syrian villages, while the construction of the separation wall in the West Bank continued in defiance of the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, which stated that the wall was illegal, he said, pointing out that the structure deprived Palestinian farmers of access to arable land, denying them the exercise of their right over their natural resources. Palestinians could not use their own water resources, 80 per cent of which was being used by Israel, he said, adding that the latter was also selling water at a much higher price to Palestinian than to settlers.
The systematic destruction of development in the Occupied Palestine Territory had led to a very serious socio-economic situation there, he said in conclusion. Families had been dislocated, unemployment was rampant, and people had been denied their right to life. Their land was being seized and destroyed as the Palestinian people were deprived of their right to food, he added, emphasizing that the international community must take steps quickly to ensure that Israel complied with international law and United Nations resolutions so that the suffering of the Palestinian and Syrian peoples could be brought to an end.
AMAR DAOUD (Sudan), associating himself with the Arab Group, said Israel’s continued oppression of the Palestinian and Syrian peoples was causing increased suffering, with its restrictions on the movement of people and goods hindering the provision of assistance to the West Bank and Gaza. That had helped to increase poverty and the suffering of the people. Noting that the occupation had not spared Palestinian resources, he said the occupying Power took 97 per cent of their water, with most going to settlements, in flagrant violation of the 1948 Geneva Convention. Recalling that the General Assembly had concluded that Israel’s occupation of the Syrian Golan was illegal, it was still building settlements and detaining Syrians there. Israel’s policies violated international law and human rights, he said, pointing out that the economic and social situation of the Palestinians had worsened, with institutions failing to operate properly, which led to even more suffering for the occupied people.
ZALWANI ZALKAPLY (Malaysia) said it was a shame that the world’s people were unable to ensure the economic rights of the Palestinian people. Israeli actions continued to constrain the existence and successful functioning of the Palestinian Authority, while contributing to the economic and social hardship of Palestinians. Citing the ESCWA report, he said it presented data that reflected the low value placed on Palestinian lives by the leadership in Tel Aviv, she said, adding that Israeli actions had also jeopardized the economic and social development of the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan.
Calling for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be resolved through mediation, she warned, however, that patience and prudence must not result in paralysis. Although the General Assembly and the Security Council had adopted 80 resolutions on Palestine, at the last count, there had been no tangible outcome on bringing the illegal occupation to an end, she pointed out, reiterating her country’s support for full Palestinian membership of the United Nations as part of a two-State solution that took the security concerns of both parties into consideration.
MUNA ALMEAINI ( United Arab Emirates) said Israeli policies and military actions had destroyed Palestine’s infrastructure, drainage and environment, while the Palestinian people were suffering psychological damage. They were unable to go to their places of work, and unemployment had grown. The humanitarian, economic, and social situation had worsened, with people deprived of their right to food. Although the General Assembly and Security Council had called for a halt to illegal settlement building, Israel continued that activity in spite of condemnation. The Israelis continued to seize water resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and East Jerusalem, where they sought to alter the demographic composition and status to their advantage.
The international community had also deemed the annexation of the Golan Heights illegal, yet settlement building continued there, she noted, expressing support for Syria’s claims to the occupied region and solidarity with the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to achieve independence. Expressing support for the Arab Peace Initiative, she said it was essential that Israel end its settlement building and withdraw from all Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese territory, in accordance with United Nations resolutions. In the meantime, people living in those territories should receive the assistance allocated to them and international organizations must be allowed to work, she emphasized.
RABEE JAWHARA (Syria), associating himself with the Arab Group, noted that the ESCWA report shed light on some but not all the economic and social suffering shared by Palestinians and Syrians. The figures reflected Israel’s barbarism and violations of international law, he said, pointing out that its wastage of natural resources deprived Palestinians and Syrians of the minimum means needed to live in dignity. In addition, the economic blockade against 1.5 million people in Gaza had led to the deprivation of food and electricity. The blockade prevented the reconstruction of the United Nations school that Israel had destroyed, demonstrating that it did not care about international opinion of its collective punishment policy, which was illegal under Article 33 of the Geneva Convention.
Israel had imposed its own rules and laws on the Golan Heights since the beginning of its occupation in 1967, he continued. The annexation had led to the exploitation and wastage of natural resources in the Golan, where Israel continued its confiscation of land, imposition of high taxes, uprooting of trees, and destruction of the natural environment through the dumping of nuclear waste, he said, adding that Israel’s control of water resources was also a violation of the Geneva Conventions. Expressing astonishment that some countries could describe themselves as defenders of human rights, while ignoring the suffering of people under Israeli occupations, he emphasized that the General Assembly’s inability to implement its resolutions due to an imbalance of power did not mean those resolutions were not important. Syria called for compensation for the Palestinian and Syrian peoples, he said.
THILMEEZA HUSSEIN (Maldives) said formal recognition of Palestinian statehood was the only avenue available for any substantial, sustainable economic and social development. Welcoming the slight easing of the Gaza blockade, she said, nevertheless, that Gaza remained in a state of occupation, with heavy controls over its air, sea and land borders. There were also greater controls in the West Bank, where more than 500 obstacles hindered movement and travel. She also expressed concern over the expansion of settlements, which had cost Palestinians access to water, land and energy.
Noting that the illegal separation wall in the West Bank isolated $38 million worth of fertile land, while $50 million worth of similar land in Gaza was in restricted areas, she said the fishing industry, too, had lost $26 million over the last five years. Resources were being corrupted and degraded, undermining future sustainable development, she said, pointing out that settlements alone dumped 40 million cubic metres of raw sewage on occupied lands, while Gaza’s only water source was a polluted aquifer. It was time for the debate and the story of Palestine to move forward, with the State of Palestine bearing primary responsibility for building infrastructure in its own territory.
ABDULAZIZ ALOUMI (Kuwait) said the continuing Israeli violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the oppressive treatment of Palestinians were a clear message that Israel was above the law. It had continuously ignored calls from the international community to halt such practices, and the last few months had witnessed a sharp increase in home demolitions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where 446 buildings had been destroyed. That was part of a systematic Israeli policy to “judaize” those areas and evacuate Palestinians from them, he said.
The occupation continued to deprive Palestinians of their right to natural resources, specifically water, he said, adding that the water provided in the Occupied Palestinian Territory was insufficient in both quality and quantity. Israel used Palestinian land as a dumping ground for the sewage and garbage produced by more than 500,000 settlers, causing the degradation of the environment and living conditions of Palestinians. Kuwait called for an end to collective punishment against the unarmed civilian population in the Gaza Strip, urging the international community to continue exerting pressures on Israel.
FAISAL HASHIM (Saudi Arabia) said there was a continuing lack of good intentions on the part of Israel, which was claiming more land for settlements while trying to force an exodus of Palestinians and seizing their goods, property and lands. The Arab Peace Initiative showed a commitment to a just and lasting peace, but that could not occur without Israel’s withdrawal from all occupied territory. The Israeli Government persisted in its refusal to allow the Palestinians their rights and remained in contravention of various United Nations resolutions, he said, noting that the blockade of Gaza and the continuing “immoral” settlement-building was opposed by Security Council’s permanent members, who had condemned its actions.
Calling for a collective position on sanctions against Israel, he described the separation wall as racist, saying it was in violation of international law. It sought to change the terrain with the aim of making the Palestinians leave their land, and to ensure Israeli authority over East Jerusalem. The wall existed only for the settlers, he said, emphasizing, however, that change could only come about with respect for law and rights. The situation of Palestinians was worsening, he said, adding that it was unjust and prevented them from exercising their natural rights. He called on Member States to live up to their responsibilities, stressing that the historically defined borders must be respected and a Palestinian State founded officially.
AWADH BIN SAID AL-SHANJARI (Oman) urged Member States and the United Nations to strengthen their concept of peace and security under the framework of international law, stressing that there must be no discrimination in implementing the rule of law. The international community must shoulder the responsibility by encouraging talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, he added. Stressing that the Israeli occupation was making the Palestinian population suffer, he said it was unfair to force a people into exodus, isolate them from their agricultural territories, and impose an economic blockade on them. The Palestinian people must be protected and assured of the sovereignty to be able to harvest the fruits of their land, he said, emphasizing that Israel’s expropriations were a blatant violation of international law and calling on the United Nations to encourage the formation of an independent Palestinian State, based on the 1967 borders, for the sake of lasting peace in the region.
RAZZAQ ALSEEDI (Iraq) said the occupation had increased the economic and social difficulties suffered by the Palestinian people, and Israel’s policy in the Golan Heights clearly aimed to make life difficult for the Syrians living there. There was no peace due to the Israeli stubbornness that had turned the lives of unarmed Palestinians into an open battlefield through the continued use of excessive military force, the continuing illegal blockade and the holding of Palestinians as hostages in their own land. Israeli forces were especially cruel, “working relentlessly to exterminate the defenceless Palestinian people”, he said, expressing hope for an imminent and just end to the Arab-Israeli conflict, based on international legitimacy, and calling for the creation of a Palestinian State, based on the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital.
DIANA AL-HADID (Jordan), emphasizing that the right to development was based on self-determination and sovereignty over natural resources, said the development situation in Palestine was of great concern. Palestinians had no control over their own natural resources, which meant that they relied on assistance to a great degree, putting their development at risk. Israeli practices contravened international law, she said, pointing out that collective punishment was applied throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory and inviting the international community to live up to its responsibility to deliver sovereignty to the Palestinian people.
ALI KRER (Libya), associating himself with the Arab Group, said the report demonstrated that there was no change in the Israeli attitude towards the Palestinian and Syrian peoples. It was unfortunate that the United Nations was unable to ensure implementation of its many resolutions. The Palestinian people were, in a way, being forced to starve, he said, adding that the population was experiencing the consequent serious psychological effects.
That it was happening in plain sight of the international community was deplorable, he stressed. To make matters worse, thousands of olive trees had been destroyed by Israeli settlers and olive production had dropped, causing increased unemployment and poverty. The construction of the illegal “apartheid” wall would completely isolate Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, preventing them from practising their religion, he said.
TUTI IRMAN (Indonesia), describing the occupation as the biggest impediment to Palestinian development, said it continued to cause economic hardship and to limit access to resources, as well as economic prospects. Israel’s failure to maintain a moratorium on settlement construction further worsened the situation. Deliberations in the Second Committee would be meaningless unless they helped tackle the problems, he cautioned. Indonesia was providing training opportunities for Palestinians, and its capacity-building efforts were aimed at helping in development. The country’s humanitarian assistance continued, including the building of a cardiac facility in Gaza, he said. Expressing unequivocal support for the sovereign statehood of Palestine and firm belief in a two-State solution, he said the success of such a solution would be strategically significant as it would provide the basis for peace in the Middle East.
AMOS RADIAN (Israel) said he was disappointed that the Committee had again wasted its time on an issue with no relevance to its mandate. It had capitulated to the demands of hostile Member States with the sole mission of disparaging Israel. That was as predictable as it was biased and irreparably flawed, he said, noting that, without fail, the Committee had endorsed an inflammatory draft resolution against Israel every year.
Many of those paying lip-service to Palestinians did nothing actually to help them, he said, adding that it was no surprised that the report was tainted with the same inherent failings. Israel had committed to helping Palestinian progress with concrete actions on the ground to develop the Palestinian economy and infrastructure, he said. Although it would be impossible to refute every false claim made, no responsible or professional discourse would advance in the Committee.
Addressing issues of development and progress, he said every member that had used the Committee to bash Israel had benefited from its work to advance sustainable development. Israel’s innovations and technical know-how had been put to use in dealing with matters at the heart of the Committee’s work throughout the developed and developing world, he said, adding that his country was relentlessly committed to fulfilling the Committee’s goals. Israel’s natural shortage of resources had led to the development of sophisticated agricultural techniques, which, in turn, had led to revolutions in agricultural technique. Advanced techniques that had “made the desert bloom” had been exported around the world, he said, pointing out that his country led the world in innovative techniques for reducing stress on water resources. Israel was also a model in forestry and land reclamation, he added.
It was those issues that should be the focus, and the fact that Israel shared the interests of its neighbours, he emphasized. Close cooperation was required to help the environment, and such efforts would be greatly enhanced if the Palestinian Authority proceeded with numerous projects already approved. Israel and Palestine had coordinated their efforts in establishing energy infrastructure and joint agricultural projects, he said, stressing that the wide range of cooperation on natural resources-related matters directly contradicted the impressions conveyed by the debate, which conveniently ignored the agreements that had already conferred jurisdiction on those issues to the Palestinian Authority. The draft resolution before the Committee ignored the real issues to advance a narrow agenda, he said, adding that such an exercise in politicization did nothing to improve the lives of Palestinians.
Rights of Reply
The observer for Palestine, speaking in exercise of the right to reply, said the Israeli representative had clearly missed the report’s clear-cut message and was not interested in hearing about the facts on the ground. The Israelis continued to attack the Committee’s work programme by claiming that they were singled out for attack. That was not true, he stressed, adding that nobody had attacked Israel.
Israel’s development of technology in different fields had been accomplished at the expense of the Palestinians, he said. Its “blooming desert” had happened at the expense of the Bedouin population, and it had solved its lack of water resources by stealing from the Palestinians, he said, adding that Israel’s expertise was in stealing. Palestine had opted for peace and negotiations, but dealing with the Israelis did not mean they accepted the current status.
Cooperation had been undertaken only for the benefit of Palestinians and should not be exploited to entrench the occupation, he emphasized. The draft resolution before the Committee demonstrated that the international community cared to safeguard Palestinian natural resources, and sent a message from the international community to the occupying Power, he said. It was unfortunate that the message had not been absorbed or understood by the Israeli delegation.
The representative of Syria, also speaking in exercise of his right to reply, said that Israel’s delegate sought to “disfigure” the work of the Second Committee and ESCWA, which revealed the actions perpetrated against occupied peoples. He claimed to be extending an olive branch but the reality was to the contrary, given that Israel constituted the most abominable occupying Power. It attempted to counteract rules against occupying Powers and its list of international law violations was not getting any shorter. It continued to believe that it was above international law, he said. It was ironic that Israel’s advanced technology was being applied in stealing water from the Palestinians. He called on Member States to recognize that Israel was trying to cover up its violations of international law and custom, while starving the Arab peoples in the occupied territories and depriving them of the simple right to sustainable development.