Question of Palestine home || Permalink || About UNISPAL || Search

Renforcement de la coordination de l’aide humanitaire fournie par les organismes des Nations Unies, en cas de catastrophes naturelles ou de conflits - débat de l'AG - Communiqué de presse (extraits) (20 novembre 2007) Français
Follow UNISPAL RSS Twitter

Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
20 November 2007

General Assembly

          Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-second General Assembly
53rd & 54th Meetings (AM & PM)


Also before the General Assembly was the report of the Secretary-General on strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations (document A/62/87-E/2007/70).

The report highlighted positive developments in several long-standing emergencies, such as in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, and Nepal, which offered significant opportunities for the United Nations and its partners to strengthen humanitarian assistance and allow peaceful solutions to take hold. It also noted the continuation and, at times, the further aggravation of existing emergencies in places like Darfur, Iraq, and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, as well as an overall increase in the incidence and severity of natural disasters.


Among the other reports before the Assembly was the Secretary-General’s annual survey on assistance to the Palestinian people (document A/62/82-E/2007/66), which noted that, during the period under review, the Palestinian economy suffered a significant decline and the socio-economic and humanitarian conditions of the population worsened. Many donors reviewed their assistance policies to the Palestinian Authority, in the context of the three principles spelled out by the Middle East Quartet in January 2006. At the same time, the Government of Israel continued to withhold the payment of the tax revenues it collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, with the exception of one transfer early in 2007.

As a result, and despite increased levels of aid, the Palestinian Authority had been facing a worsening fiscal crisis, which had exacerbated the already precarious situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Those developments occurred against the backdrop of continuing violence between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as among Palestinians, that claimed innocent lives on both sides.

The reporting period was notably marked by the capture of an Israeli soldier by Palestinian militants; the continuation of Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians, in particular the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip; Israeli military reprisals conducted in Palestinian civilian areas; the continuation of a tight closure policy by the Israeli authorities; the partial implementation of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access; the resumption of direct contacts between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas; and the formation of the Palestinian Government of National Unity. The report contained a description of efforts made by United Nations agencies, in cooperation with Palestinian and donor counterparts, to support the Palestinian civilian population and institutions.



Kuwait continued to extend assistance to the Palestinian people through the Palestinian Authority and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), he said. As long as Israel continued its inhumane practices, which undermined the Palestinian people, while refusing to transfer levies of Palestinian taxation, such efforts would be hampered.


RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for Palestine, said that, for decades, international aid had helped ease the hardships endured by Palestinians. While they were grateful for that invaluable assistance, it was imperative to ask: to what extent had the global community helped to ensure that such assistance reached its full potential? The latest figures on the humanitarian and economic situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, were tragic. All infrastructure and employment-generation projects had come “to a grinding halt”, due to the unlawful measures imposed by the occupying Power. Palestinians were sinking into abject poverty.

Recalling the bleak situation described in the latest Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia report, he said movement restrictions and the wall had battered the Palestinian economy, and the trade deficit had reached an unprecedented 73 per cent of gross domestic product -- 30 per cent higher than the 30-year average. The picture was bleakest in the Gaza Strip, where Israel’s crippling siege had brought the territory to the verge of collapse. Israel had not heeded international expressions of concern, and had instead continued to “tighten the noose”, denying the prospects of a dignified future for that part of the Palestinian Territory. The occupying Power was violating the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, among other instruments.

Describing the situation in Gaza, he noted that for months, Israel had closed all six of its crossings, which had been devastating. Some 90 per cent of the territory’s industries had shut down operations, adding “tens of thousands” of Palestinians to the ranks of the unemployed. According to the reports of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Secretary-General, socio-economic indicators had declined significantly despite increased aid levels. Indeed, UNCTAD had concluded that the Palestinian economy had lost $8.4 billion in potential income, or twice the size of today’s economy. Israel continued illegally to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in Palestinian tax revenues, and the global community’s “punishing” sanctions imposed on the Palestinian Authority had made a bad situation almost catastrophic. The suspension of direct international aid in 2006, which had curtailed humanitarian assistance, had had lasting negative consequences.

As a result, increased aid through the temporary financing mechanism could not alleviate the long-term consequences, he said. Despite the disbursement of $800 million in emergency assistance, highlighted in the Secretary-General’s report, reports by UNRWA and WFP noted that incomes had dropped, while extreme poverty had increased substantially. The challenges ahead were almost overwhelming. At the 2005 Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) meeting, donors had established new aid coordination bodies, which must be revitalized, especially given the presence of the new Quartet representative.

He welcomed the September meeting that had confirmed the global community’s commitment to helping the Palestinian Authority build strong, viable institutions and noted that the Authority attached high expectations to the December donor conference in Paris. The Palestinian Authority looked forward to confirmation by the AHLC of the Authority’s 2008-2010 reform and development plan, which must be seen as a key test of international support for Palestinian-driven growth. The global community must ensure that the occupying Power did not continue its aggression against internationally-funded projects, while exercising its moral and legal authority to compel Israel to cease such violations.


AHMED AL-JARMAN ( United Arab Emirates)

The Government attached great importance to supporting the Palestinian people during their humanitarian crisis, he said, expressing deep concern at the aggravation of their humanitarian conditions, as a result of continued attacks by Israel and its policies of closure. Israel must be compelled to end its aggression immediately, lift its blockade, comply with international resolutions and humanitarian law, and resume peace negotiations on the basis of relevant resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative.



As delivering humanitarian assistance should acknowledge the principles of good governance and ethical behaviour, he called on all “role-players” to address gender-based violence and ensure that adequate measures were put in place to prevent gender-based violence. He also called on the international donor community to continue its support to the Palestinian people.


PIRAGIBE TARRAGÔ ( Brazil) said his country had increased its efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to those affected by natural disasters. Indeed, Brazil’s assistance to victims of the 2005 Indian Ocean tsunami, and repatriation of Brazilian nationals from Lebanon as a result of the 2006 conflict, were recent examples of “a new phase” of its involvement in international humanitarian assistance. In the past two years, Brazil had transferred resources to several Latin American and Caribbean countries, and, in 2007, had resettled more than 100 Palestinian refugees. In March, Brazil hosted a seminar on humanitarian assistance, with the presence of the Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and the Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, among others.


DANIEL CARMON ( Israel) said coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance was a matter of grave importance to the United Nations. Over time, Israel had developed well-known and specific expertise in rapid response assistance and disaster management, and considered it a responsibility to share these practices with the international community. Thus, Israel had in the past deployed rapid response, emergency search and rescue, and medical teams to natural disasters in its region and around the world.

Saying it was regrettable that the statement of the Palestinian representative earlier in the day had, once again, focused on rhetoric and politics, rather than reality and meaningful solutions, in connection to the Secretary-General’s report on “Assistance to the Palestinian People”, he stressed that there were numerous complexities involved in considering the situation in the Middle East. They included, among others, Israeli security and Palestinian stability; internal violence among the Palestinians, which had squandered too many opportunities for progress; and the continuation of daily Palestinian terrorism. Due to important choices made by Palestinian leadership, there was a Palestinian Government today that met the standards of the international community. Consideration of the reality on the ground showed there were a number of initiatives and projects aimed specifically at providing assistance to the Palestinian people. Yet, the Palestinian representative’s statement had seemed to ignore those important developments.

The “astronomical difference” between the Palestinian representative’s politicized narrative and the reality on the ground should be considered, he said. First, a sewage project under the World Bank’s direction was underway in Beit Lahia in the Gaza Strip, and Israel was working to expedite the plant’s construction by tracking down non-metal pipes for the facility. Second, more than 230 Palestinian trainees in fields like public health, small business, agriculture, educational planning, and empowerment of women and youth were enrolled in projects and seminars sponsored by Israel through its Centre for International Cooperation. Third, Israeli and Palestinian business leaders held meetings like the high-level forum between the Israeli Manufacturers Association and their Palestinian counterparts. Finally, Israel had released approximately $250 million in tax and customs revenues, with the remaining sum to be transferred by the end of the year.

Those were only a few examples of the practical steps being taken by his country to assist the Palestinian Government, he said. Because Israel believed that the current Palestinian Government provided a new opportunity to move forward in the peace process and realize the two-state vision, it had eased movements and removed checkpoints in the West Bank, allowed for Palestinian security forces to be deployed, and consented to the transfer of supplies and equipment to those forces. Yet, no assistance would ever come at the expense of Israeli security. While Israel had considered the release of 441 Palestinian prisoners as a gesture of goodwill yesterday, a barrage of more than 20 mortars had been fired into Israel from Gaza. The Palestinians should realize that Israeli security was in their own national interest, and terrorism was to blame for the restrictions on the crossing and the lack of access, he said.


* *** *

For information media • not an official record

Follow UNISPAL RSS Twitter