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Bulletin mensuel de la DDP - Vol.XXX, No.4 - Bulletin DDP/Comité pour l’exercice des droits inaliénables du peuple palestinien (avril 2007) - publication de la Division des droits palestiniens Français

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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP)
30 April 2007


April 2007

Volume XXX, Bulletin No. 4



Bulletin
on action by the United Nations system and
intergovernmental organizations
relevant to the question of Palestine


Contents
Page
I.
Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict visits region
1
II.
Secretary-General welcomes Arab League’s increased engagement in peace process
2
III.
UNESCO Executive Board adopts decision on Mughrabi ascent in Jerusalem’s Old City
2
IV.
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs briefs Security Council
3


The Bulletin can be found in the United Nations Information System
on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL) on the Internet at:
http://unispal.un.org.




I. Special Representative for Children and Armed
Conflict visits region

The United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, visited Lebanon, the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel from 10 to 19 April 2007 to assess the effects of the region’s ongoing conflict on its children. Following are excerpts from a press release concerning her press conference on the visit held at United Nations Headquarters in New York on 23 April 2007:



During that visit, Ms. Coomaraswamy said she was struck by the show of anger and a desire for vengeance among Palestinian youth, who, at 12 years old, could be sent to prison for stone-throwing in Israel. She was equally concerned that nearly one-third of children living in northern Israel had been shown to suffer from post-traumatic stress, even as young as 2 years old. In discussions with leading officials, including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Israeli Supreme Court President Dorit Baynish, she had focused on ways that communities could preserve the psychological well-being of children, as the region struggled to manage the ongoing violence.

While in Israel, for example, she had pushed for the use of restorative justice when treating young offenders guilty of minor offences such as stone-throwing, rather than imprisoning them with would-be suicide bombers, such as at Hashrom prison in Israel, which she visited. Among Palestinians, many young people had spent time in jail or knew of someone that did.

“It is our belief that this system of punitive approach is not succeeding, and is actually making them very hard and bitter,” she said, comparing the personalities of two children she had met. One boy was just under the age of 12, the age at which children are old enough to be detained in Israel, while the other had been just above that age and had spent some time in prison. The difference in their attitude was “remarkable”, Ms. Coomaraswamy said, with the younger child being more trusting, though she hastened to add it was her own observation and not that of a behavioural expert.



She had put forward a suggestion for a comprehensive review of the pass and permit system created because of the barrier, a system which required one Palestinian she met to have as many as six permits to reach the hospital, Ms. Coomaraswamy said. She acknowledged that the Israeli Supreme Court had been active in reviewing complaints on a case-by-case basis, but suggested that much more could be done to improve the freedom of movement of Palestinians overall. Even if no comprehensive review of the pass and permit system took place, she had urged that the route of the wall be re-examined. “This barrier, we found, has enormous humanitarian and psycho-social consequences for Palestinian children.”

One correspondent noted that some Israeli children might have felt that they owed their lives to the barrier, and asked if the Special Representative had spoken to any. Ms. Coomaraswamy replied that many members of the international community had not warmed to the idea of the barrier, and that a comprehensive review by a civilian panel might be an opportunity for Israel to take stock of its benefits and to communicate those benefits clearly to the world.

In addition, she also re-visited a plan to create a tripartite commission to review school books in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories that might have a hand in inciting hatred and violence. The United States, which introduced the idea, might be a possible third party in that review. Other issues raised by the Special Representative included that of settler violence against Palestinians and more accountability on the part of the Israeli Defence Force in cases where children had been killed in battles.



II. Secretary-General welcomes Arab League’s
increased engagement in peace process

The following statement was issued by the Spokesperson for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 19 April 2007 (SG/SM/10954):

The Secretary-General welcomes the statement yesterday by the Arab Ministerial Committee for the Arab Peace Initiative, which indicates increased engagement of the League of Arab States to reinvigorate the peace process.

The Secretary-General looks forward to meeting with the Ministerial Committee that has been formed to promote this process.



III. UNESCO Executive Board adopts decision on Mughrabi
ascent in Jerusalem’s Old City

The Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted a decision reaffirming the outstanding universal value of the Old City of Jerusalem and the need to protect and safeguard the World Heritage site. A press release on the decision issued on 22 April 2007 is reproduced below (UNESCO Press Release No. 2007-42):

Adopted by consensus, the decision also recommends that the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee hold an urgent, informal meeting, in early May, to ensure a substantive discussion on the follow-up to the report of the Technical Mission sent to Jerusalem from 27 February to 2 March by the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura. It also “requests the Director-General […] to propose to the World Heritage Committee at its upcoming meeting a mechanism to ensure the proper implementation of World Heritage Committee decisions.”

Commenting on the outcome of this “landmark decision,” the Chairman of UNESCO’s Executive Board, Zhang Xinsheng (China), noted that this was the “first time that Israelis and the Palestinians had worked together to ensure the protection of Jerusalem, an endangered World Heritage site common to all of humanity; and to work together constructively towards achieving consensus on this important and highly complex matter.” The decision, he said was “the fruit of an open, generous and constructive dialogue, the results of which will help to ensure that consultations amongst all parties become the usual practice.”

“The ability of the parties involved,” he continued, “to achieve what, at the outset seemed unachievable, demonstrates UNESCO’s unique ability - as a specialised agency within a reforming United Nations - to build bridges, generate solidarity, and, most especially, to help in our own way towards building a harmonized world, thus creating greater peace and relieving tensions in the Middle East.” In concluding the Chairman noted that “the resolution of this highly complex issue was possible thanks to the active contribution of Members of the Board, of the President of UNESCO’s General Conference and of the Organization’s Director-General.”

The Director-General of UNESCO also welcomed this new opportunity to reaffirm that “our determination to safeguard all cultural heritage properties - especially those in danger, wherever they may be, and in whatever circumstances - is an integral part of our mandate. The 1972 World Heritage Convention,” Mr Matsuura added, “is one of our institution’s most powerful symbols, a striking success of standard-setting at the service of shared universality. We have, once again, been able to show that UNESCO is a propitious forum of dialogue and peace, away from all controversy.”



IV. UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL

On 25 April 2007, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe briefed the Security Council on the item entitled “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.” The following are excerpts from the briefing (S/PV.5667):

Since I last briefed the Council, political and diplomatic initiatives aimed at rejuvenating peacemaking in the Middle East have continued to evolve in a mostly positive fashion. The Secretary-General, who returns today from his second trip to the region, is actively encouraging those local, regional and international initiatives. However, the forward momentum we are witnessing on the political-diplomatic level is threatened by the deteriorating security situation on the ground, especially the continuing violence experienced by Israelis and Palestinians alike. Leaders on all sides must do their utmost to prevent this latest upsurge of violence from escalating further.

Let me first turn to the major political developments for the period, beginning with the formation of the National Unity Government. After being approved by an 83-to-3 vote in the Legislative Council, the Palestinian National Unity Government was sworn in on 17 March, in accordance with the programme agreed at Mecca. The Quartet, reiterating respect for the agreement and Palestinian democracy, has encouraged progress in the direction of its three principles, while indicating its intention to assess the Government’s commitment not only by its platform and composition, but also by its actions.

President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert met in Jerusalem on 15 April. They discussed immediate humanitarian and security issues, including efforts to build confidence through action on security reform and implementation of the Agreement on Movement and Access. They reportedly also exchanged views on aspects of a future Palestinian State and a time frame for achieving it, and agreed to meet again soon. We encourage them to build on those discussions, which were agreed to during Secretary Rice’s March visit to the region, and the Secretary-General has urged continued efforts in that regard.

Following the reaffirmation of the Arab peace initiative at the Arab League Summit, a follow-up Ministerial Committee meeting in Cairo on 18 April established working groups to engage international partners and Israel and created greater public awareness of the potential of the Arab peace initiative. The Secretary-General welcomed the engagement of the League of Arab States and stated that he looked forward to meeting with the Ministerial Committee that has been formed to promote that process. Prime Minister Olmert has welcomed the initiative as a “positive approach.”



It is clear that the situation in the region is fragile. There are a number of elements in play that, taken together, could generate progress within the occupied Palestinian territory, between the PLO and Israel and between Israel and the Arab world. The Secretary-General is committed to nurturing these elements in close collaboration with his Quartet partners. At the same time, we are increasingly concerned that actions and inaction on the ground remain real obstacles to progress and have the potential to lead to paralysis or even a rapid deterioration. The renewed violence of the past few days shows how precarious the situation is. It is incumbent on the parties and all regional and international players to show restraint and to intensify their efforts to bring about immediate progress on the ground and to promote, as a minimum, the political will for the parties to discuss their future together. We need to move forward towards our shared goal of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace, based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002) and 1515 (2003).

As the Council knows, in the last month, the Secretary-General has visited the Middle East twice, including Iraq, Egypt, Israel, the occupied Palestinian territory, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and, most recently, Qatar and Syria. He has reported to the Council on his priorities and observations, and will continue to do so.


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