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Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP)
31 March 1998
Volume XXI, Bulletin No. 2
Tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly resumed; resolution adopted
Comprehensive report released on United Nations assistance to the occupied Palestinian territories
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination issues conclusions on report of Israel
Commission on the Status of Women reviews report; adopts resolution on Palestinian women
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development releases study on Palestinian trade
This bulletin, and back issues,
can be found in the United Nations Information System
on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL):
I. TENTH EMERGENCY SPECIAL SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESUMED;
At the request of the Group of Arab States (see A/ES-10/21),as well as the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries (see A/ES-10/22), the General Assembly, on 17 March 1998, for the third time resumed its tenth emergency special session. The Assembly considered agenda item 5, entitled “Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory”. The Acting Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People made a statement (see A/ES-10/PV.8), the text of which is reproduced below:
Mr. Rodríguez Parrilla
(Cuba), Acting Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (
interpretation from Spanish
): I am speaking today in my capacity as Acting Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
It was not long ago that this Assembly, both at its fifty-second session and at its tenth emergency special session, considered at some length the deplorable situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, brought about by the actions of the Israeli Government. Today we are back in this Hall discussing an item that, in essence, has been before us and our predecessors in the General Assembly for decades: illegal Israeli actions in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Moreover, some three months have passed since the General Assembly overwhelmingly concluded that the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations would lead to serious consequences.
So where do we stand now? The situation remains extremely fragile and volatile. It is common knowledge that, in terms of the peace negotiations, 1997 was largely wasted, owing to the measures taken by the Israeli authorities. The promising start of the year was quickly followed by Israeli actions that eliminated any possibility of continuing the process. A year later, we see no sign of tangible progress in the Israel-Palestinian negotiations. Although attempts at restarting the negotiations on certain issues have been made in Washington, D.C., the overall frustration has taken its toll and has allowed the level of mistrust and suspicion between the two sides to grow over the months.
As regards the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, the picture continues to be bleak and disturbing. The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People has on a number of occasions drawn the attention of the international community to the alarming deterioration of the situation on the ground, particularly as regards Israeli settlements, notably those in Jebel Abu Ghneim, the prolonged blockades with their damaging economic effects upon the Palestinians, and the great exacerbation of violence and tension. As members know, settlement activities continue until this day with reports coming in on the expansion of and additions to existing settlements, the construction of bypass roads linking the settlements, the setting up by settlers of mobile homes on Palestinian land and the denial of residency rights to Palestinian Jerusalemites. Perhaps the most worrying were statements by Israeli government officials regarding plans for the construction of new settlements.
Over the past year, the General Assembly at its fifty-second session and its tenth emergency special session has discussed the issue of settlements and the rights of the Palestinian people in that regard. The Assembly has indicated yet again the level of international concern at the current state of affairs in the occupied Palestinian territory in general, and in Jerusalem in particular, resulting from the Israeli Government’s settlement policies. The Assembly has also stressed that such Israeli actions are in clear violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949. Last July and November respectively, in its resolutions ES-10/3 and ES-10/4, the General Assembly recommended that the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention should convene a conference on measures to enforce the Convention in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem. The Assembly also recommended that the Government of Switzerland, as the depositary of the Convention, should take the steps necessary to convene a meeting of experts to follow up on that recommendation, with a target date of not later than the end of February 1998.
The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People regrets that the steps necessary to hold a meeting of experts have yet to be taken. In that regard, the Committee believes that Israel’s continued lack of compliance with the provisions of the Convention and with those of resolutions ES-10/2, ES-10/3 and ES-10/4 necessitates the convening of both the meeting of experts and the conference, in close cooperation among all concerned.
Last week, we all learned with great concern and dismay of the most recent increase in tension in the West Bank, this time in the vicinity of Hebron. Early last week, Israeli border troops killed three Palestinian workers, which exacerbated the situation and provoked several days of violent confrontations in the city and in other parts of the West Bank. To date, dozens of Palestinians have been injured, including children. And, as has happened many times before, armed settlers were again involved in the shootings.
The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People has in the past reminded the international community that the continuing difficulties facing the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations and the lack of implementation of the agreements reached to date were fraught with considerable danger and could negatively affect the sustainability of the peace process. The Committee also noted in its report to the General Assembly at its fifty-second session that the setbacks experienced by the peace process were a direct result of the policies and practices of the Israeli Government and of its position on the various elements of the peace process. About a month ago, the Committee, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the League of Arab States the organizers of the Conference in Support of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, held at Brussels on 24 and 25 February, noted with concern in their concluding remarks at that conference, among other things, non-compliance by the Israeli Government with international law, with United Nations resolutions, with agreements signed with the Palestine Liberation Organization, and with the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
This latest flare-up of violence in the West Bank is another signal of the illegal nature of Israeli actions in the occupied Palestinian territory and of the pressing need to ensure Israel’s acceptance of the
applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to all the territories occupied since 1967.
As the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, remains tense and bears the potential for renewed violence, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People reaffirms how urgent it is to impress upon the Government of Israel the need to abide by the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the principles of international humanitarian law. As a Member of this Organization, Israel must also respect and uphold the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, as well as those contained in the relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions.
I wish to conclude by saying that the Committee calls upon the Government of Israel to comply with the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the recommendations of the General Assembly, and to cooperate fully in the preparatory work for the meeting of experts and the conference proposed by the General Assembly.
On the same day, by a vote of 120 to 3, with 5 abstentions, the General Assembly adopted a resolution, the text of which is reproduced below.
Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory
The General Assembly
its resolutions ES-10/2 of 25 April 1997, ES-10/3 of 15 July 1997 and ES-10/4 of 13 November 1997,
to uphold the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, international humanitarian law and all other instruments of international law, as well as relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions,
about the persistent violations by Israel, the occupying Power, of the provisions of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949,
/ including its settlement construction at Jebel Abu Ghneim to the south of Occupied East Jerusalem, and its failure to accept the
applicability of the Convention to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and the rest of the Arab territories occupied since 1967,
that the necessary steps recommended in paragraph 5 of resolution ES-10/4, including the convening of a meeting of experts with a target date not later than the end of February 1998 in order to follow up on the recommendations mentioned in paragraph 10 of resolution ES-10/3 and paragraph 4 of resolution ES-10/4, remain to be fulfilled,
Reiterates its condemnation
of the failure of the Government of Israel to comply with the provisions of resolutions ES-10/2, ES-10/3 and ES-10/4;
all the demands made in resolutions ES-10/2, ES-10/3 and ES-10/4, and stresses the necessity of the full and immediate implementation by Israel, the occupying Power, of those demands;
Reiterates once again its recommendation
that the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949,
/ 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;
Reiterates its recommendation
to the Government of Switzerland, in its capacity as the depositary of the Geneva Convention, to undertake the necessary preparatory steps, including the convening of a meeting of experts in order to follow up on the above-mentioned recommendation;
the target date for the convening of the meeting of experts of the High Contracting Parties until the end of April 1998;
the request made in paragraph 6 of resolution ES-10/4 to the Government of Switzerland to invite the Palestine Liberation Organization to participate in the above-mentioned conference and in any preparatory steps for that conference;
Reiterates its decision
that, in case of continued lack of compliance by Israel, the occupying Power, with the provisions of resolutions ES-10/2, ES-10/3 and ES-10/4, it shall reconsider the situation with a view to making further appropriate recommendations to the States Members of the United Nations in accordance with its resolution 377 A (V) of 3 November 1950;
to adjourn the tenth emergency special session temporarily and to authorize the President of the most recent General Assembly to resume its meeting upon request from Member States.
/ United Nations,
, vol. 75, No. 973.
II. COMPREHENSIVE REPORT RELEASED ON UNITED NATIONS ASSISTANCE
TO THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES
The United Nations Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories issued a comprehensive document entitled “Programme of cooperation for the West Bank and Gaza Strip 1998-1999” on 3 March 1998, which summarizes the involvement of United Nations agencies, programmes and funds in the West Bank and Gaza. The texts of the executive summary and introduction of the document are reproduced below.
This document is a comprehensive presentation for the United Nations programme of cooperation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for 1998-1999. It is addressed primarily to donors and to other partners in the development initiative and is intended to put forward programme plans for the coming biennium, and to clarify the working context within which the United Nations programme of cooperation has been formulated.
Rather than adopting a purely sectoral approach, this programme of cooperation document sets out the wider United Nations framework and reiterates the United Nations support for the Palestinian Authority's development priorities. As well as addressing the local situation, the document is intended to reflect the wider context within which United Nations programme planning takes place.
An assessment of the overall situation and brief sectoral profiles are offered as a lead-in to the presentation of programme plans, and are based on Palestinian Authority data where available. There are two main challenges common to all sectors: addressing the continuing impact of decades of infrastructural neglect; and supporting the ongoing development of locally relevant, locally managed institutions and systems.
The document presents the programme plans of 26 United Nations agencies, programmes and funds currently involved in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, summarizing their involvement over the 1996-1997 period and providing more detailed information on plans for 1998-1999. The extent of United Nations involvement in the area is significant: in 1996, United Nations project expenditures totalled approximately US$254 million, and this figure is expected to be even higher in 1997.
Programme plans are presented by agency and are based on the inputs and documentation provided by each United Nations institution. Counterpart organizations for programme plans are inclusive: Palestinian Authority ministries and institutions; other United Nations organizations; civil society and local government structures; and non-governmental organizations.
Programme plans complement the Palestinian development agenda, which, in 1997, highlighted as primary areas of concern (a) investment in physical infrastructure; (b) support for private-sector-led development; (c) capacity development, particularly in the public sector; and (d) support to the social welfare sector.
In sum, this document is intended to place the working plans of the United Nations within the operational context in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; to emphasize the United Nations comparative advantage; to identify each individual agency's area of expertise and experience in social and capacity development; to ensure inter-agency complementarity; and to avoid duplication of effort and resources by all the partners in the development effort.
Since 1994, the Palestinian Authority, the United Nations, the World Bank and other partners in the donor community have been cooperating in a development initiative aimed at translating the Middle East peace process into visible achievements on the ground. Coordinated aid distribution and programme implementation mechanisms have been established in order to maximize the efficiency of funding and its benefits.
The United Nations priorities and strategies for attracting funding were previously articulated in distinct sectoral terms, as reflected by the publication of six sectoral papers, “Putting Peace to Work” in September 1995 and “Putting Peace to Work: The Human Face of Development” in October 1996. Given the improved planning capacity of the Palestinian Authority, United Nations programme formulation is being more closely integrated into the Palestinian Development Programme , which sets out the goals and priorities of the Palestinian Authority for 1998-2000. In addition, it was felt that the programme of cooperation document should articulate the two overriding themes - capacity development and sustainable human development - which characterize the primary objectives and activities of the United Nations contribution to the development effort in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The result is this year's one-volume comprehensive, theme-based programme of cooperation document outlining United Nations strategies and activities for the next two years. The two themes emphasized in this document reflect the way in which the United Nations system is prioritizing its core human and financial resources, and identify the comparative advantage of the United Nations as a principal development partner. United Nations organizations, by adopting the common vision of development expressed in the major United Nations conferences of this decade, are strengthening the complementarity of their programmes, with each agency drawing upon its specific mandate and area of expertise to further the development process.
The current programme of cooperation is part of the expanded development effort initiated after the September 1993 signing of the Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, the Oslo Accord. A high-level task force subsequently appointed by the Secretary-General to assess needs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip highlighted the need to implement projects which would produce rapid and visible benefits in the daily lives of Palestinians, and stressed the importance of continuing support to ongoing programmes which contribute to Palestinian socio-economic well-being. At the time, United Nations activities, particularly through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, accounted for approximately one half of public sector spending in the Gaza Strip and one third in the West Bank.
In October 1993, the first donor conference in support of the Middle East peace process resulted in pledges of US$2.4 billion towards socio-economic development in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In 1994, the United Nations Secretary-General appointed a Special Coordinator to serve as the focal point for all United Nations economic, social and other assistance in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Special Coordinator works closely with the Palestinian Authority and the World Bank, and represents the United Nations on the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee and related bodies, which were established to follow up on the Middle East donor conferences. While it is recognized that donors make their own decisions about funding in respect to United Nations projects and activities, the Special Coordinator serves as the focal point for dealing with the donor community, and also maintains relations with relevant regional organizations, financial institutions, and non-governmental organizations.
Since its inception, the Office of the Special Coordinator has been instrumental in the establishment and effective functioning of donor coordination mechanisms with the aim of channelling the aid pledged at the 1993 Washington conference. These mechanisms, bringing together the Palestinian Authority, donors, the World Bank and the United Nations are:
(a) The Local Aid Coordination Committee which provides a forum on the ground for discussing the main priorities and challenges to the development effort, and includes representatives from the Palestinian Authority and all locally represented donors, including Israel;
(b) The Joint Liaison Committee, a forum in which economic policy matters related to donor assistance are discussed;
Sector Working Groups, 11 sector-specific committees, which facilitate communication and coordination between donors to particular sectors, specialized United Nations agencies and the relevant Palestinian Authority agency.
The United Nations role within these coordination mechanisms has enabled the organization to influence policy and present projects for donor consideration. The United Nations presence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has increased from three organizations in 1993 to more than 25 in 1997, 15 of whom currently have offices in the field. Funds disbursed through United Nations regular budgets and funds for specific projects totalled approximately US$254 million in 1996.
III. COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
ISSUES CONCLUSIONS ON REPORT OF ISRAEL
During its 52nd session, held from 2 to 20 March 1998, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination considered Israel’s report contained in document CERD/C/294/Add.1. At the closing session, on 20 March, the Committee issued its conclusions on Israel’s compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Excerpts from a Department of Public Information press release, dated 20 March 1998, on the Committee’s conclusions are reproduced below.
The Committee concluded that the Convention was far from fully implemented in Israel and the occupied territories, and that this shortfall contributed very significantly to the dangerous escalation of tension in the region.
Israel was accountable for implementation of the Convention in all areas over which it exercised effective control, the expert panel noted. It further reiterated its view that the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories were not only illegal under international law but an obstacle to peace and the enjoyment of human rights by the whole population in the region. Moreover, attempts to change the demographic composition of the occupied territories raised concern as to violations of international humanitarian law.
The Committee noted that the right of many Palestinians to return and possess their homes in Israel was currently denied. Israel should give high priority to remedying this situation and afford compensation to those who could not repossess their homes. Among other recommendations, the Committee called on that State party to reinforce its efforts to reduce the persisting gap between the living standards and the involvement in national affairs of the Jewish majority and the Arab minority.
The expert panel expressed its profound concern that persons in detention, disproportionately of Arab ethnic origin, were subject to the inhumane and degrading interrogation under the Landau Commission Rules and that the Supreme Court had failed to declare this illegal.
IV. COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN REVIEWS REPORT;
ADOPTS RESOLUTION ON PALESTINIAN WOMEN
At its forty-second session, held in New York from 2 to 13 March 1998, the Commission on the Status of Women considered the report of the Secretary-General on the situation and assistance to Palestinian women submitted pursuant to Economic and Social Council resolution 1997/16 (E/CN.6/1998/2/Add.2)
On 13 March, the Commission on the Status of Women adopted, by 34 votes to 1, with 5 abstentions, a draft resolution entitled “Palestinian women”, which it recommended to the Economic and Social Council for adoption, and which read:
The Economic and Social Council
Having considered with appreciation
the report of the Secretary-General concerning the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women,
the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women,
/ in particular paragraph 260, concerning Palestinian women and children, and the Beijing Platform for Action
/ adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women,
its resolution 1997/16 of 21 July 1997 and other relevant United Nations resolutions,
the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women
/ as it concerns the protection of civilian populations,
about the stalemate facing the Middle East peace process, including the lack of implementation of the agreements reached in Washington, D.C., between the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Government of Israel and the deterioration of the socio-economic conditions of the Palestinian people as a result of the Israeli positions and measures,
about the continuing difficult situation of Palestinian women in the Occupied Palestine Territory, including Jerusalem, and about the severe consequences of continuous illegal Israeli 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 closures and isolation of the Occupied Territory,
its support for the Middle East peace process and the need for speedy and full implementation of the agreements already reached between the parties;
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;
that Israel, the occupying Power, comply fully with the provisions and principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
/ the Regulations annexed to The Hague Convention of 1907
/ and the Fourth 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;
Israel to facilitate the return of all refugees and displaced Palestinian women and children to their homes and properties in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in compliance with relevant United Nations resolutions;
Member States, financial organizations of the United Nations system, non-governmental 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;
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 Beijing Platform for Action;
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-third session a report on the progress made in the implementation of the present resolution.
Report of the World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace, Nairobi, 15-26 July 1995
(United Nations publication, Sales No. E.85.IV.10), chap. I, sect. A.
Report of the Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing, 4-15 September 1995
(United Nations publication, Sales No. 96.IV.13), chap. I, resolution 1, annex II.
/ General Assembly resolution 48/104.
/ General Assembly resolution 217 A (III).
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907
(New York, Oxford University Press, 1915).
/ United Nations,
, vol. 75, No. 973.
V. UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT
RELEASES STUDY ON PALESTINIAN TRADE
The following is text of a press release issued on 12 March 1998 (see DH/2594):
Palestinian trade is still heavily dependent on the promises and pitfalls of the peace process, according to a new study by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released on Thursday.
The study, "Palestinian merchandise trade in the 1990s: opportunities and challenges", finds that the Palestinian economy has enjoyed growing investor confidence and entrepreneurial activity in times of progress, as was the case in 1994 and 1995. But during periods of political stalemate or disruptions in the peace process, such as in 1996 and 1997, business activity shrinks, income falls and investment declines.
Merchandise exports, which 15 years ago generated $400 million for the Palestinian economy, had fallen to an estimated $265 million by 1996. This figure includes exports to Israel. According to UNCTAD, the interplay between restrictions on production and barriers to trade has constrained the trade sector in terms of what is produced and traded, and in which markets trade can be conducted. And, while Palestinian exporters earned over $110 million in Arab regional markets in the early 1980s, this figure fell to around $30 million by 1996.
The study will serve as the basis for a major technical assistance project, to be launched in May by UNCTAD and the United Nations Development Programme, to promote trade cooperation between the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and Jordan. Among its goals, the project will aim to improve trade efficiency.