Bulletin mensuel de la DDP - Vol.XXXVII, No. 5 - Bulletin Comité pour l’exercice des droits inaliénables du peuple palestinien, DDP (mai 2014) - publication de la DDP Français
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I. SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES PARTIES TO EXERCISE PRUDENCE
The Secretary-General has kept abreast of ongoing developments in the Middle East peace process. He notes that, as reflected in the Security Council debate on 29 April, now is the time for the international community and the parties alike to reflect on how to preserve the prospects for a two-State solution.
The Secretary-General urges both Israelis and Palestinians to exercise prudence and avoid unilateral steps that would diminish the prospects for a resumption of negotiations and reach an agreement. It is incumbent upon the parties to convince each other anew that they are partners for peace. The international community too must uphold its long stated commitment to realizing a comprehensive peace settlement.
The Secretary-General appeals to all concerned to use this time constructively to find a meaningful path forward.
In its resolution 2013/8, the Economic and Social Council requested the Secretary-General to submit to the General Assembly at its sixty-seventh session, through the Council, a report on the implementation of the resolution. The Assembly, in its resolution 68/235, also requested the Secretary-General to submit a report to it at its sixty-eighth session. The present report, which has been prepared by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, is submitted in response to the resolutions of the Assembly and the Council.
At its eightieth session, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination censured Israel in connection with its general recommendation 19 (1995) concerning segregation and apartheid, as prohibited by article 3 of the International Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Continued disproportionate use of force by Israeli security forces amounts to unlawful killings, and may amount to wilful killings in some cases. During the reporting period, 40 Palestinians were killed (including 5 children), and 3,654 injured (including 1,001 children).
A total of 4,881 Palestinians (including 183 minors) had been detained or imprisoned by Israeli security forces by January 2014, with reported torture, ill-treatment and denial of rights.
In 2013, 663 Palestinian structures, including homes, were demolished, displacing 1,103 people. Over 1 billion square metres of Palestinian land has been seized by Israel since the onset of the occupation.
Government-supported illegal settlement expansion and the construction of the wall, which have led to “a creeping annexation”, continue in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, with 40 per cent of the West Bank land transferred to the jurisdiction of settlement-related councils. In 2013 there was a 123.7 per cent increase in the construction of settlement housing units.
Violence and attacks by settlers continued, with impunity. In 2013, 93 attacks were recorded against Palestinians (including children), their property and holy places.
Israeli mobility restrictions, which constitute illegal collective punishment, also persist, affecting almost all aspects of Palestinian life. These restrictions amount to a blockade in the Gaza Strip, with severe consequences on the social, economic and humanitarian conditions of its population.
Israeli measures continue to have a detrimental impact on the environment and natural resources and curtail Palestinian development and livelihood through discriminatory policies, including in access to land and water allocation; Israeli settlers consume six times more water than Palestinians in the West Bank. Ninety per cent of the water from the Gaza aquifer is not safe for drinking without prior treatment, further exacerbating the living conditions of the Palestinians living there.
The economy of the Occupied Palestinian Territory continued its negative trend during 2013. Unemployment was recorded at 38.5 per cent in Gaza, compared to 18.2 per cent in the West Bank.
The level of food insecurity rose dramatically, affecting over 1.5 million Palestinians (34 per cent of the population), with a rate of 57 per cent in the Gaza Strip.
Almost 15,000 patients had to leave Gaza in 2013 in order to access life-saving medical care owing to the serious shortage of drugs and medical supplies. In the West Bank, Palestinian patients and their companions need special Israeli-issued permits to access hospitals in East Jerusalem.
The educational system in the Occupied Palestinian Territory requires additional facilities. The expansion of the system is restricted in Gaza because of the blockade, and in the West Bank owing to Israeli permit requirements. Palestinian students and their schools are often exposed to settler violence.
Israel continues to occupy the Syrian Golan, and is illegally expanding its settlement activities and exploiting natural resources there. Syrian residents of the occupied Syrian Golan continue to suffer from discrimination in terms of access to land, housing and basic services and water allocation.
The Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia would like to acknowledge its appreciation for the substantive contributions of the Department of Political Affairs, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, the United Nations Development Programme, the International Labour Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme, the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and the League of Arab States.
The United Nations continues to follow with concern the many issues related to the question of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and detention centres. The Special Coordinator is deeply troubled in particular, by reports about the critical condition of at least two Palestinian prisoners being held in administrative detention by the Israeli Authorities, who have been on hunger strike for more than two months. Above all, he urges all sides to find a solution before it is too late, and calls on Israel to abide by its legal obligations under international law and do everything in its power to preserve the health of the prisoners.
“Both Israelis and Palestinians deserve a just resolution to this conflict with human rights at its core, but the latest round of talks has again created false hopes and fuelled feelings of frustration,” the expert said.
“The best prospect for realizing Palestinian self-determination now is by way of pressures exerted through grassroots mobilization,” stressed Mr. Falk.
“We must strengthen the global solidarity movement, which includes the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) initiative in relation to businesses that profit from the settlements, as well as other forms of non-violent resistance,” he said.
“Third party Member States of the United Nations also have an important responsibility to ensure they are not complicit in human rights violations in Occupied Palestine,” he underscored.
“Regretfully, over the past nine months, Israel accelerated settlement construction, demolished Palestinian homes in the West Bank and broke its agreement to release the final batch of 30 pre-Oslo Palestinian prisoners detained by Israel for over 20 years,” said the United Nations expert.
“The facts on the ground speak for themselves,” he said.
According to figures released by the NGO Peace Now, Israel promoted plans and tenders of no less than 13,851 new housing units during the nine months set aside for reaching an agreement - an average of 50 housing units per day.
Among the latest developments has been the establishment of a new settlement – the first since the 1980s – at al-Rajabi House in the heart of the old city of Hebron and the appropriation by Israel of 243 acres of Palestinian land in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc just south of Jerusalem as ‘state land’.
On the recent intra-Palestinian agreement on unity, Falk said: “Palestinian unity that brings together the people of the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip under one Government should be welcomed by the international community as a step in the direction of meaningful right to self-determination.”
He noted that President Abbas had given the United Nations assurances that the unity pact would include recognition of Israel, non-violence, and adherence to previous agreements.
On 2 April, Palestine announced it will adopt a number of key international treaties, including seven of the nine core human rights treaties, and one of the protocols without any reservations.
“Israel claims that Palestinian moves on the UN track derailed the peace talks, but the State of Palestine’s intention to be formally bound by these treaties under international law is commendable,” said Mr. Falk.
The Special Rapporteur also reiterated his calls for the United Nations General Assembly to seek an Advisory Opinion from the International Court of Justice regarding the prolonged occupation of Palestine.
155. It is imperative to maintain and intensify the peace process in order to ensure that a two-state solution can be achieved, with a Palestinian state that has a buoyant economy and a strong rights-based social dimension. At the time of writing, a breakthrough in the negotiations remained, to say the least, elusive, with all signs pointing towards a breakdown. If such a breakdown occurs, it is likely to perpetuate a misleading status quo. For the Palestinian workers and their families, a continuation of the present situation on the ground means a steady deterioration of their position and rights.
156. The latitude for the further building of Palestinian state institutions and processes remains heavily constrained. Even well-functioning institutions, such as the PCBS, are under threat, given their high dependence on donor funding. Nonetheless, tripartite cooperation and labour law reform are proceeding and they need continued ILO support. The application of the recently adopted minimum wage needs further strengthening.
157. The labour force participation rates of women remain exceptionally low, and their representation in decision-making bodies has declined. This is a trend that should be reversed. There is also an urgent need for the Palestinian Authority to guarantee that the new social security system will be in line with international standards and practice.
158. If the occupation not only continues but actually expands through the settlements and increases their dominance in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the prospects for a sovereign Palestinian state with full control over economic activity, employment and social policy and the most fundamental rights of its citizens will be seriously jeopardized. This aim must not become lost in a geography of occupation controlled by Israeli political, military and economic priorities, including those of a growing number of settlers.
159. In the West Bank, this daily reality has led to increased confrontation and violence. This trend has intensified at a time when all parties were supposedly to focus on peace talks. The international political process is undermined by the changing situation on the ground, and this slide towards further conflict has to be reversed.
160. These circumstances have also cast a long shadow over the aspirations to growth, for which the Palestinian private sector could be a significant engine. Such growth cannot take place in a labyrinth of restrictions, none of which has really been lifted. Without political will for a breakthrough and the repeal of the heavy limitations resulting from the occupation, the potential for sustainable economic activity cannot be realized. Decisive steps must be taken to unchain Palestinian economic activity in the West Bank — in particular in Area C and East Jerusalem. Otherwise not only Palestinian expectations but also those of international partners will continue to be frustrated.
161. After nearly seven years of blockade, soaring unemployment, aid dependency, social tensions and the paralysis of all economic activity have brought Gaza to an ominous standstill. This time-bomb, which is ticking ever more loudly, must be defused. The pledge of the ceasefire understanding of November 2012 to open the crossings for the transit of people and goods is all the more urgent as the tunnel trade has virtually ended. Palestinian reconciliation is also critical for improving the plight of Gaza.
162. The provisions of the Oslo Accords on labour movements were based on the assumption that a transitory phase would be replaced by a system governed by two sovereign states. Instead the situation remains unbalanced, without appropriate regulation and support for the workers involved. While there is clearly much scope to promote the employment of Palestinians in Israel, this needs to be done in an orderly and transparent way. Urgent measures must be taken to tackle the problem of abuse by brokers involved in securing work in Israel and the settlements. There is a need for a thorough investigation into the effects of the activities of these brokers, in order to prevent and eliminate abuses and to put in place grievance mechanisms which are actually accessible to Palestinian workers and which they can successfully use.
163. As in earlier years, the mission considers that promoting decent opportunities for Palestinian workers in Israel is an area of mutual interest and cooperation. Such measures as improving job-matching mechanisms; reviewing eligibility criteria, including further lowering the applicable age limit; improving the conditions at border crossings; and allowing more Palestinian workers to stay overnight in Israel should be further considered. Cooperation between the Palestinian and Israeli trade unions, through the PGFTU and Histadrut, offers a valuable tool for improving the situation in a mutually beneficial way.
164. There is a continuous need for solutions to the hardship and discrimination faced by the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan.
Message of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
I am pleased to send greetings to all participants in the International Meeting on the Question of Jerusalem. I thank the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, as well as the Government of Turkey and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, for organizing this event.
The Meeting takes place two weeks after the target date for United States-brokered talks between Israel and Palestine to reach a comprehensive peace agreement. The current political stalemate poses great risks to the prospects of a two-State solution, and continued inaction could result in further instability.
The parties should realize that not making a choice in favour of peace and co-existence within the two-State framework is the most detrimental choice of all. Failing to continue meaningful negotiations towards the two-State solution will lead further down the path of a one-State reality on the ground. I have, thus, called on the parties to refrain from unilateral steps that aggravate the situation and diminish the prospects for a resumption of negotiations.
Settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are illegal under international law and constitute a significant obstacle to achieving peace. Demolitions of Palestinian households and other property are in contradiction to Israel’s obligation to protect the civilian population under its occupation.
At the same time, continued violence and attacks against civilians, including rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, are unacceptable.
The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is of profound concern. We appreciate the recent pledge made by the Government of Turkey to provide the World Health Organization with $1.5 million to address shortages in key medicines. I also urge steps to help improve conditions and ensure a complete opening of crossings into Gaza, including Rafah, to allow legitimate trade and movements of people.
Today’s event examines the Question of Jerusalem, which is perhaps the most divisive of the core issues. I am particularly troubled by recent mounting tensions around the sensitive issue of Jerusalem and access to the holy sites in the Old City. Jerusalem inspires faith and longing for Muslims, Jews and Christians. It must be open and accessible to all. Only through a negotiated solution can Jerusalem emerge as a capital of two States, with arrangements for the holy sites acceptable to all. Meanwhile, all parties should refrain from attempts to establish facts on the ground that alter the character of the Old City, or allow provocations that could trigger further unrest and deepen mistrust.
Now is the time for the parties, supported by the international community, to take action to realize their commitment to the vision of two States for two peoples, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition of each other’s legitimate rights and those of their respective citizens, with the status of Jerusalem settled as part of that solution. The United Nations remains committed to helping the parties bring the occupation and this conflict and related claims to an end, in pursuit of lasting peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians.
In this spirit, please accept my best wishes for a successful event.
1. The International Meeting on the Question of Jerusalem was held on 12 and 13 May 2014 in Ankara, Turkey. The Meeting was jointly organized by the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the Government of the Republic of Turkey and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The objective of the Meeting was to raise awareness of the Question of Jerusalem and discuss strengthened international support for a just and lasting solution. The Meeting was attended by 72 Member States, two Observer States, four intergovernmental organizations, three UN system entities, and 23 local and international civil society organizations. Thirteen expert speakers addressed the Meeting.
2. All speakers in the opening session affirmed Jerusalem’s unique, sacred role for three religions, and rejected the ‘Judaization’ of the Holy City. The Foreign Minister of Turkey censured those who would negate the City’s inheritance. He recalled that Jerusalem under the dominance of Muslims had been open to all faiths and religions. He stressed that Jerusalem was not just a political issue but represented an important cultural inheritance that could not be minimized to a single religion or ethnicity. He rejected Israel’s unilateral decisions concerning Jerusalem. In accordance to international law, the City was a territory under occupation. The Minister said that the United Nations should play a more active role, suggesting that the UN Conciliation Commission for Palestine, established in 1948 with three members, France, Turkey and the United States of America, should be reconvened, and that other fora should also take up the issue of Jerusalem, as the status quo represented a serious threat to international peace and security. He called for an annual international meeting on Jerusalem and offered Turkey’s support. The Secretary-General of the OIC emphasized that the Holy City of Al-Quds formed an integral part of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967. He expressed deep concern about Israeli policies in occupied Jerusalem, the expanding settlements, judaization, confiscation of land. Israel’s immense violations of international law represented a blatant defiance of the international community and commanded a different brand of international intervention. All States and institutions had a responsibility to confront these violations as a threat to international peace and security. International efforts should lead to an end of the Israeli occupation and ensure the City’s return to Palestinian sovereignty. The Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People recalled that the General Assembly had mandated 2014 as the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People to raise awareness of the main issues and obstacles to the peace process. The Committee was wedded to a two-State solution, and parties had been called upon to act responsibly and create an appropriate climate for negotiations, to resolve all final status issues. He criticized Israel’s settlement policies, including in East Jerusalem, accompanied by the demolition of homes and expropriation of Palestinian land. He recalled the collective responsibility of Member States of the UN, given successive General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on Jerusalem. The Minister of Waqf and Religious Affairs and Representative of the State of Palestine stressed that Jerusalem was an integral part of the Palestinian religious heritage. Since its occupation in 1967, Palestinians in Jerusalem and surrounding areas suffered daily repression and aggression. There would be no peace as long as the State of Palestine was not established under international law with Jerusalem as its capital. The real problem was not one of religion, but one of occupation of territory. The international community had to provide practical support to the Arab Peace Initiative, which was based on a two-State solution, or it may become impossible or impractical in the future. The Minister of Jerusalem Affairs of the State of Palestine pointed in his keynote address to the continuing daily destruction of Jerusalem as a Palestinian city with the intention of changing the city’s nature. Since 1993, negotiations did not result in anything, to the contrary, Israeli expansion had doubled, settlers threatened Palestinian inhabitants, and the Israeli authorities had expelled thousands of families. The international community had to intervene and apply pressure on Israel to find a binding solution.
3. In his message, the United Nations Secretary-General warned that the current political stalemate in the talks between Israelis and Palestinians posed great risks to the prospects of a two-State solution. Continued inaction could result in further instability. Failing to resume negotiations would lead further down the path of a one-state reality. Emphasizing that settlements and house demolitions were illegal under international law, the Secretary-General was particularly troubled by mounting tensions around Jerusalem and access to its holy sites, stating that Jerusalem must be open and accessible to all. Through negotiations Jerusalem should emerge as capital of two States with arrangements for the holy sites acceptable to all. In his message, the Head of the Hashemite Foundation for the Restoration of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock said that the inalienable rights of the Palestinians were being marginalized and violated by the Israeli occupation. It was important to realize that Israel’s aggression was part of a greater move to prevent the Palestinians from realizing their self-determination and their rights. Since 1967, the imposition of a new status quo on the territory was being witnessed, changing the situation and eroding the life of Palestinians in Jerusalem.
4. The Meeting then explored the status of Jerusalem under international law. It was emphasized that Jerusalem as the holy city of the three monotheistic religions was a treasure for all humanity. At the same time, it was an occupied city. Despite many adopted resolutions, the occupation continued. Israel was trying to judaize the city, marginalizing Palestinian inhabitants and stamping out their identity. In the last five months, 234 Palestinian houses had been demolished. Presentations highlighted specific Israeli practices that could be considered ethnic cleansing. Jerusalem was completely cut off from the West Bank, it could not be reached without Israeli permission. Presenters spoke of the attempts to disrespect Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is under the custodianship of Jordan, the present Trustee for the Holy Sites. The Al-Aqsa Mosque became an object of military activities, soldiers restricted access, making the Mosque the most targeted place in Jerusalem. Twenty tunnels had been dug around the Mosque, Israelis had expanded the Western Wall and extremists were being urged to break in to pray, changing the status of the Holy Sites. Another serious problem was that Israel had sought to develop false narratives, such as the ‘Holy Basin,’ to justify land appropriation. A presence of Muslim and Arab organizations in the city was lacking as was a continuous and legitimate presence of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
5. The Meeting then reviewed the current situation in Jerusalem, including measures taken by Israel and the socio-economic situation of Palestinian residents. It was stated that after nearly 50 years of occupation and conflict, Jerusalem was a badly damaged city. Various Israeli authorities were involved in municipal decisions, including the settler organizations, military and private enterprises creating a strategic confusion that masked a very effective policy. There was an intention to restrict Palestinian growth and development. Presentations clearly showed the patchwork of settlements placed very close to Palestinian towns, inhibiting growth. The Wall was the most visible aspect of the Israeli policies accompanied by a very complex and harsh system of closures resulting in ethnic displacement. A wall of settlements was built parallel to it like fortresses. National parks were part of the Israeli settlement policy, used very effectively as part of the land expropriation program. Archaeology was another tool, for example the claim made that the remains of King David’s city was underneath al-Aqsa, even though most archaeologists disagreed. Access of Muslims to the Al-Aqsa Mosque was restricted to men having reached a certain age. At the same time, the most extremist of the settlers were allowed to live in East Jerusalem, terrorizing Palestinian neighbours and being responsible for recent assaults at Muslim and Christian holy places. The Knesset played its part by having ratified a law which stipulated that the Government was obliged to put to a vote any decision concerning East Jerusalem, a hurdle impossible to overcome in the Israeli legislature.
6. The Israeli policies also affected the socio-economic situation of the Palestinian population. The poverty rate in East Jerusalem was estimated at 77 per cent for non-Jewish households. Health and education sectors in East Jerusalem were in a disastrous state, which was leading to an obliteration of the Palestinian identity. Since 1967, about 50,000 Palestinians have lost their residency status. Based on the restricted movement, the economy of East Jerusalem had lost many consumers, and since there were no Palestinian banks in East Jerusalem, financial transactions there were extremely difficult. It was pointed out that Israel had adopted a strategy of “de-Palestinization” of the City, including separating it from the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, freezing land registration, constructing settlements and building roads to serve exclusively settlers. One speaker urged to find ways to support Palestinian entrepreneurship in Jerusalem, focus on the creation of good jobs and private sector-based economic activity given the endemic poverty and deteriorating way of life. Constraints existed but mitigating measures had to be found. Risk-sharing mechanisms with investors that would take hard business decisions, for example a Jerusalem Venture Capital Fund could be one such measure. Better coordination among donors and international agencies was essential, particularly on data collection and analysis for meaningful socio-economic studies. Planning for the city as the capital of Palestine, including financing options, needed to be pursued seriously.
7. Meeting participants also discussed the role of the international community in promoting a just solution and international approaches to resolving the question of Jerusalem. It was highlighted that Jerusalem’s unique position in Christianity, Islam and Judaism could catalyze the promotion of peace in the Middle East, but that Israeli intransigence was preventing it. Participants agreed that Jerusalem was a global issue and the international community, including the United Nations should resume its responsibilities as laid out in respective Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. To date, however, Israel was able to defy UN resolutions without repercussions. Speakers all agreed that Israel, as the occupying Power, had to act in accordance with international law, protecting civilians and not changing the status of Jerusalem. The United Nations’ Charter principle of self-determination was important with respect to Palestine. One speaker proposed “an International Convention on the protection of the Holy Sites” as a common body was needed with a mandate to look at how existing resolutions could be more effective. The question of Jerusalem could not be separated from the peace process, and a lasting solution to that question would be part and parcel of a comprehensive settlement of the Palestinian question. There was a need to increase efforts in multi-track diplomacy. The issue was not one exclusively for governments, but for all actors of the international community, including civil society organizations. Intergovernmental organizations, such as the UN and the OIC should synergize their initiatives and strengthen alliances with non-State actors, parliamentarians, women and youth in every country. It was also important to establish a permanent presence of the international community, including the UN, the OIC and other organizations in Jerusalem.
8. Participants called for the protection of Jerusalem’s identity. They also called on academic and media institutions, schools and universities to maintain the internationally accepted narrative of Jerusalem and not to give in efforts to Judaize its history. There was a need for international commitment to protect Jerusalem’s unique character, such as a special statute, internationally guaranteed, that could ensure the historical, material and religious character of the Holy Sites, as well as free access to them for residents and pilgrims alike. Participants suggested that the international guarantor of this mandate could be the United Nations. Presenters called on the UN to abide by international law and not submit to Israeli policies. It should uphold the civil rights of all Jerusalemites, such as the rights to citizenship, housing, education and freedom to worship. The presentation of the various reports by the United Nations and other international organizations should be strengthened by inviting eyewitnesses. Many speakers also emphasized the importance for Muslims and Christians of visiting Jerusalem to express their right to freedom of worship, to preserve their sacred sites and support the people of Jerusalem helping them to develop their community. Participants pointed to the new status of Palestine as UN Observer State which provided a huge opportunity to advance Palestine’s case through international legal instruments.
9. Palestinian participants emphasized that there would be no State of Palestine without Jerusalem as its capital. Palestinians were not in a position to sacrifice their sovereignty over the City. They demanded to break the status quo in the City. That could be done through reconciliation, by internationalizing the question of Palestine, or by making the occupation too costly. The main obstacle was Israel’s continued settlement policies, creating facts on the ground and complicating the issues. When peace talks started in 1991, the number of Jewish settlers was 190,000. Today, it was 631,000, including 268,000 in Jerusalem. In the current round of talks, the American mediators stressed that the aim was a Palestinian State with its capital in Jerusalem. However, that formulation failed to specify which part of present-day Jerusalem. This was important given that the boundaries after 1967 included parts that were not considered part of Jerusalem by the Palestinians. In a spirit of compromise the Palestinian delegation to the current round of talks proposed an open city, with West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, and free access for all. This was rejected. Israelis were moving to a religious framework to justify their policies, and sought to postpone the talks on Jerusalem as it opposed any division and benefitted from the delay. Jerusalem needed a serious intervention, and progress would depend on making Israel’s occupation more costly to Israel. The current format of negotiations had to be reviewed and re-formatted. A clear and balanced position was needed from the United States, as unswerving support for Israel emboldened it to continue its illegal policies.
10. Speakers in the closing session expressed their appreciation to the Government of Turkey, the OIC and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for their support in organizing an important Meeting on Jerusalem. The Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey said that his Government would continue to make every effort to guarantee a fair and just resolution of the question of Palestine. Turkey would continue to make every effort to guarantee the just position of the State of Palestine as a member of the international community. He hoped that Jerusalem would become a centre and a symbol of peace, and international understanding, as the City did not belong to one people or one religion. He reiterated Turkish support for any initiative by the UN and the OIC in this regard. The Assistant Secretary-General of the OIC said that the Meeting bore witness to joint work in solidarity and support of Jerusalem. The OIC recognized that the question of Palestine would remain a priority in its work as the key to peace and security in the region. The Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine said that the growing international recognition of the State of Palestine had enlarged the base of partners for ending the Israeli occupation. Palestine was now better equipped to continue its resistance. The international community had encouraged the Palestinians to negotiate an end of the occupation, but the good faith of the Palestinian leadership was not reciprocated. Israel even accelerated its settlement expansion, showing its real intentions. He called upon the international community to establish accountability for Israel, to make it pay a price for the continued occupation. Governments, parliaments, corporations, academics should divest from projects benefitting the occupation. Settlers should be declared criminals and prosecuted under national legislation. If the occupation was made costly for Israel, its leaders may return in good faith to future negotiations. The Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People lauded the dignity of the Palestinians from Jerusalem, in the face of their daily challenges. He welcomed the fact that constructive ideas had been presented. The Chairman concluded by saying that the situation in Jerusalem was grave and the international community was “exasperated” by the provocations of Israel, and such provocations had to stop. He hoped that with the help of the international community, peace would prevail in Palestine.
The present report, submitted in compliance with General Assembly resolution 68/100, contains an assessment of the assistance received by the Palestinian people, needs still unmet and proposals for responding to them. It describes efforts made by the United Nations, in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, donors and civil society, to support the Palestinian population and institutions.
The reporting period is from May 2013 to April 2014. During this period, the Palestinian Authority continued to implement the Palestinian National Development Plan 2011-2013 and developed the Palestinian National Development Plan 2014-2016. In support of these efforts, the United Nations developed the United Nations Development Assistance Framework for the State of Palestine 2014-2016, which focuses on six priority areas: (a) economic empowerment, livelihoods, decent work and food security; (b) governance, rule of law, justice and human rights; (c) education; (d) health care; (e) social protection; and (f) urban development, natural resource management and infrastructure. The financial resources required for the assistance provided through the Framework amount to approximately $1.2 billion. This complements the humanitarian programming outlined in the 2014 Strategic Response Plan for the occupied Palestinian territory, which has a total budget of $390 million.
In July 2013, Israelis and Palestinians returned to direct final status negotiations, supported by extensive facilitation efforts led by the United States of America and assisted by the Quartet. The parties agreed on an agenda encompassing all core final status issues and on the goal of reaching a comprehensive agreement within nine months. However, despite the resumption of negotiations, the situation on the ground continued to deteriorate with increased settlement activity and violence in the West Bank and a deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza.
During the reporting period, the United Nations continued its efforts to respond to development and humanitarian challenges in the context of occupation, focusing particularly on areas where the Palestinian Authority was least able to extend its services, namely, Gaza, and Area C and East Jerusalem of the West Bank.
4. Through the support of UNRWA, governmental and other health-care providers, the health profile of Palestine refugee mothers and children has continued to improve since the Agency’s establishment. Progress in achieving Millennium Development Goals 4 (Reduce child mortality) and 5 (Improve maternal health), for example, has been on track. The infant mortality rate among Palestine refugees across all the five fields of operations, including the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, remains at levels comparable to overall rates in other host countries3 and in 2013, the proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel remained at 100% in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip.
5. Despite these health gains and successes, continuing insecurity, political instability, increasing poverty (particularly in the Gaza Strip), and patchy access to potable water, are having a negative impact on the health status of Palestine refugees. Severe restrictions on the movement of people and goods within the West Bank and between the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and areas abroad remain a major obstacle to socioeconomic development and health-care provision.
6. A main health concern, however, continues to stem from the increasing burden of chronic behavioural and lifestyle-related illnesses and, non-communicable diseases. As in neighbouring countries in the Middle East, the epidemiological and health transitions from communicable to non-communicable diseases have also been experienced in the occupied Palestinian territory. Consequently, the number of people under care in UNRWA’s health services with life-long illnesses requiring costly and intensive treatment (such as diabetes and hypertension) has risen steadily in recent years. What is fuelling this rise is the alarmingly high prevalence of sedentary lifestyle-related risk factors and behaviours. A recently concluded clinical audit of diabetes care among Palestine refugees in a selected sample of diabetes patients in UNRWA care showed that more than 90% were overweight or obese, and just under 1 in 5 were smokers. The growing disease burden from non-communicable diseases and related risk factors and the resulting increase in associated health care costs underscore the need for an even stronger focus on a well-tested and cost-effective spectrum of primary to tertiary prevention services, health education and promotion outreach, increased screening for early diagnosis, and good-quality treatment and management of diseases and their complications.
7. Furthermore, exposure to violence and uncertainties associated with the occupation, including settler-related violence in the West Bank and with the blockade in the Gaza Strip, are having a significant impact on the mental health of the refugee population, as are economic hardship and high unemployment. Stress-related disorders and mental health problems are reportedly on the rise in women, children and adolescents. Similarly, there has been a reported increase in incidents of domestic violence; however, this may also be attributable to increased reporting stemming from increased awareness, growing recognition of cases and access to support services. Addressing these concerns has therefore emerged as a health priority for UNRWA in the occupied Palestinian territory.
8. In addition, increasing food insecurity is also adversely affecting health status. After years of political instability and impoverishment, the level of food insecurity among Palestine households has grown. According to a study published by the FAO, UNRWA and WFP in 2013,4 71% of households in the Gaza Strip remain food insecure or vulnerable to food insecurity even after having received food assistance from UNRWA and other agencies. Approximately 46% of the population has “poor or borderline” diets, involving, for example, a reduced consumption of fruits and dairy products. A large proportion of the population in the Gaza Strip reported relying on adverse coping strategies in times of economic hardship: 54% had reduced food quality and 31% had reduced the number of daily meals.
24. The continuing conflict, occupation and the lack of a just and durable solution and their consequences continue to affect the physical, social and mental health of Palestine refugees. They remain severely affected by inequalities in health access and coverage, which are compounded by economic hardship, conflict and the consequences of conflict, which now touch all five fields of UNRWA’s operations, and which adversely affect Palestine refugees’ right to achieve the highest attainable standards of health on a non-discriminatory and equal basis. The ongoing Syrian crisis has directly affected over 500 000 Palestine refugees inside the Syrian Arab Republic, with over 250 000 in need of urgent relief while over 150 000 have fled to neighbouring countries adding to the burden on UNRWA’s health service infrastructure and spreading already scarce resources even more thinly However, UNRWA aims to mitigate the effects of conflict and socioeconomic disparities on health through the provision of the best possible comprehensive primary health care services.
25. As mentioned above, the reform of UNRWA’s health service delivery, with the electronic records initiative deployed in support of an approach that is holistic, family- and patient-centred, is already producing gains in efficiency of service delivery, patient and provider satisfaction, and care quality.
26. However these reforms alone will not be sufficient. It is vital for the international community to renew and increase its support to UNRWA so that the Agency, in collaboration with hosts and international stakeholders, can sustain and strengthen necessary health reforms, and continue to provide good-quality health care and improve the health status and quality of life of Palestine refugees, despite the many challenges faced.
Since the open debate on 29 April on the situation in the Middle East (see S/PV.7164), political efforts towards a negotiated two-State solution have reached an impasse. It is important that international efforts continue to create the conditions for the resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Council members will recall that following the last meeting of the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, the Secretary-General appealed to all concerned parties and the international community alike to use time constructively to find a meaningful path forward, lest continued inaction furthered instability or jeopardized the viability of the two-State solution. He also urged both the Israelis and the Palestinians to exercise prudence and avoid unilateral steps, in an effort to convince each other anew that they are partners for peace. This was also reflected in the recent European Union (EU) Council conclusions of 12 May, which highlighted the EU special privileged partnership on offer and called for both sides to find the political strength to identify common ground for the process to resume.
Meanwhile, discussions continued on the implementation of the intra-Palestinian unity agreement of 23 April between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Hamas. On 5 May, President Abbas and Hamas political leader Meshaal met in Doha to discuss the detailed aspects of that agreement. PLO officials traveled to Gaza on 14 May for the same. The formation of a Palestinian national consensus Government consisting of technocrats remains one of the top priorities of the agreement.
The United Nations continues to support intra-Palestinian reconciliation but notes that it is paramount to reiterate to all factions that the future Government abide by the PLO commitments to recognition of Israel, non-violence and adherence to previous agreements. The EU also reaffirmed its support for the potential national consensus Government in its Council’s conclusion so long as it adheres to the principles set out in President Abbas’ Cairo speech of 4 May 2011. If these conditions are met, we hope that the international community will assist the Government in developing a positive agenda to tackle difficult political, security, economic and humanitarian challenges, in particular in Gaza.
Following the deposit with the Secretary-General in April of the instruments of accession to a number of international treaties, on 2 and 7 May five of the nine core human rights treaties plus one of the substantive protocols entered into force. The International Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Civil and Political Rights will enter into force on 2 July. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights commends the commitment of the State of Palestine to being bound by the international human rights standards contained in these treaties and to engage with the associated human rights treaty bodies that monitor their implementation.
While worrying trends on the ground continued, we take note that the parties avoided a further escalation during this delicate period, in spite of unhelpful rhetoric from various quarters. Israel transferred 463 million shekels in value-added tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority after deducting 120 million shekels for water and electricity payments.
In the West Bank, Israeli security forces carried out a total of 219 search-and-arrest operations. A total of 331 Palestinians were arrested, with two Palestinians killed and 146 injured, including in clashes during demonstrations against the barrier. Eight Israeli security personnel were also injured. Of these, the most significant took place on 15 May, during demonstrations by Palestinians to commemorate the sixty-sixth anniversary of what they call “Al-Nakba Day”, which led to clashes with Israeli security forces in the West Bank. Two Palestinian stone throwers, both teenagers, were shot dead, with 23 more injured, including some by live fire. It is of serious concern that initial information appears to indicate that the two Palestinians killed were both unarmed and appeared to pose no direct threat. The United Nations calls for an independent and transparent investigation by the Israeli authorities into the two deaths, and urges Israel to ensure that its security forces strictly adhere to the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.
Settler attacks resulted in four Palestinians injured, including a child and in damage to Palestinian property, including 283 trees. On two separate incidents on 5 and 9 May, respectively, anti-Arab and anti-Christian graffiti were sprayed on the property of Notre Dame Church and the walls of St. George’s Church in Jerusalem. Palestinian attacks, mostly consisting of stone and Molotov cocktail throwing, resulted in injuries to two settlers, including a child, and material damage to six vehicles.
Demolitions continued during the reporting period, with 26 structures demolished, including 10 residences, displacing 48 Palestinians, including 30 children. In a separate, worrisome development, on 28 April Israeli authorities issued eviction orders to at least five out of 12 families of Palestinian Bedouins and herder communities living in Sateh Al-Bahr, near Jericho. The Israeli State has yet to respond to the temporary injunction issued by the Israeli court on 4 May. We are also concerned by demolitions in and near the E-1/Maale Adumim area, including on 19 May. Since the beginning of this year, 13 demolition incidents have been reported in that sensitive area, which is higher than the combined total of 11 demolition incidents recorded in the same area over the preceding four years, between 2010 and 2013.
Continued settlement activity, including in occupied East Jerusalem, is illegal under international law and erodes hope for the two-State solution. On 14 May, Israeli authorities began demolishing structures in the illegal settler outpost of Maale Rehavam, near Bethlehem, after failed attempts at a voluntary evacuation.
We remain concerned about the conditions of some 125 Palestinian prisoners, including some 90 administrative detainees, including several members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, in Israeli prisons on continued hunger strike since 24 April to protest the Israeli policy of administrative detention. On 8 May, approximately 5,100 other Palestinian prisoners observed a one-day hunger strike in solidarity with those administrative detainees. It remains the Secretary-General’s position that administrative detainees should be tried or released without delay.
In Gaza, the situation was relatively calm compared to recent reporting periods. Nevertheless, Palestinians fired three rockets that landed in Israel. On 2 May, Palestinian militants reportedly shot at an Israeli military patrol near the border fence, which returned fire. None of these incidents resulted in injuries or damage. In separate incidents, Israeli forces reportedly shot and injured six Palestinians near the border fence, including five civilians and one militant, causing injury to four Palestinian fishermen.
At the same time, the persisting dire economic and humanitarian situation resulting from a tightened access regime and violence remains of serious concern. Unemployment rates reached 41 per cent in the first quarter of 2014, 10 percentage points higher than the first quarter of 2013. An alarming 66 per cent of economically active 20-to-24-year-old Gazans were jobless at the beginning of 2014. Gaza remains in urgent need of materials to maintain essential services and to upgrade critical infrastructure, such as water networks and sanitation. We repeat our calls for immediate steps to help improve conditions and ensure a full opening of crossings into Gaza, including Rafah, in order to allow legitimate trade and movements of people.
The current situation further highlights the need to advance a sustainable structural solution to Gaza’s energy problems. Gaza’s only power plant, facing near shutdowns every couple of months, continues to operate as a result of a second Qatari contribution of another $32 million to procure industrial fuel for the plant. The Qatari contribution is expected to enable the Gaza power plant to continue generating until mid-June. Meanwhile, the emergency stop-gap donation by the Turkish Government to replenish on-site reserves for critical health and water facilities has been implemented. Another such donation by the Islamic Development Bank is scheduled to expire in June. We appeal to donors to step in and sustain this interim safety net to redress Gaza’s electricity needs, which are bound to increase with the summer months approaching.
In the meantime, we welcome the resumption of some 10 United Nations construction projects, worth around $14 million, as well as the approval of an housing project of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East in Rafah, valued at around $17 million. A remaining six pre-approved projects worth $12 million remain stalled. In addition, an estimated $105 million-worth of construction works have yet to be approved by the Government of Israel. In short, much more is required to address Gaza’s humanitarian and development needs and alleviate the deteriorating conditions of the civilian population, including a more predictable Israeli Government approval process.
In a separate development, on 7 May two Palestinians, one of them a civilian, were executed in Gaza. Both were reportedly convicted based on the claim that they were collaborating with Israel. The executions were carried out without the approval of President Abbas, as required by Palestinian law. We have serious concerns with regard to the lack of due process, the use of military courts to try civilians, the lack of compliance with rigorous fair trial standards in Gaza and allegations of ill-treatment and torture during interrogations of persons later sentenced to death. The United Nations urges the de facto authorities in Gaza to impose an immediate moratorium on executions.
In conclusion, last month, Mr. Serry reminded the Security Council that, without a credible political horizon, we risk putting the Oslo paradigm in real jeopardy (see S/PV.7164). Yet we cannot rush the parties back to the table without the proper parameters in place. The current pause in the talks allows for both parties to consider their next steps, building on the intensive engagement by the United States over the past nine months. The Secretary-General remains committed to working with the parties and international partners for an end of the occupation that began in 1967 and the establishment of a Palestinian State, living side by side in peace with Israel within secure and recognized borders, and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions, the road map and the Arab Peace Initiative. It is the responsibility of the two sides not to take unilateral steps, which will further complicate efforts to return to negotiations.
3 UNRWA, unpublished data, 2008. In the five fields of operations, cumulative Agency-wide mortality rates per 1000 live births for Palestine refugees were as follows: Jordan, 19; Lebanon, 28.2; Syrian Arab Republic, 20.2; Gaza Strip, 19.5, and West Bank, 22).
4 Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, FAO, UNRWA and WFP. Socio-economic & food security survey: West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestine 2012.