The texts cited in this Monthly Bulletin have been reproduced in their original form. The Division for Palestinian Rights is consequently not responsible for the views, positions or discrepancies contained in these texts.
The UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities, Robert Piper, today condemned the Israeli authorities’ continued obstruction of humanitarian assistance to Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank.
On 7 November, the Israeli Civil Administration and the Israeli army seized nine donor-funded tents (two of which were not yet erected) in the Palestinian Bedouin community of Khirbet Tell al Himma in the northern Jordan Valley. The structures were all provided as humanitarian aid, following earlier demolitions in the same community on 27 September 2016, which left the affected families without shelter or kitchens.
Nearby, Israeli settlers have recently established a new settlement outpost (next to Giv’at Sal’it settlement) and have been impeding access of Khirbet Tell al Himma herders to some of their traditional grazing areas.
“Targeting the most vulnerable of the vulnerable and preventing them from receiving relief — especially as winter sets in — is unacceptable and runs counter to Israel’s obligations as an occupying power,” said Mr. Piper. “Sadly, we are seeing more and more of this.”
In 2016, there has been a dramatic rise in demolitions by Israel of donor-funded humanitarian assistance, with 286 such structures demolished or seized so far this year — a 165 per cent increase from the total in 2015. About one quarter of the structures targeted this year were in Palestinian Bedouin communities located within or near the area allocated to the El settlement expansion project. These come in the context of a dramatic rise in the overall demolition rate for 2016, which exceeds any year since the UN began systematic monitoring in 2009.
“Through a combination of law, policy and practice, Israel is building an increasingly coercive environment in Area C of the West Bank. This is both illegal and creating an entirely new reality on the ground,” added Mr. Piper.
As a community under UN protection, Palestine refugees continue to face enormous hardship and challenges. In the Occupied Palestinian Territory, they are subjected to the indignities of an occupation that has entered its fiftieth year. In Gaza, they have lived under an illegal blockade for nearly a decade. In Syria, they are caught up in a merciless and seemingly endless war. And in Lebanon, they face economic and social exclusion.
Palestine refugees deserve dignity and they deserve our full support. UNRWA is a life-line to millions of Palestine refugees. I urge you to find effective, innovative and workable solutions to the recurring cash shortfall faced by the Agency. The dire lack of resources is our collective failure. This must end.
UNRWA’s finances must be sufficient to carry out its work. They must be predictable and sustainable. UNRWA is essential in providing education, health, social services, protection, dignity and a chance in life. The Agency does so with remarkable efficiency and effectiveness.
As Advisory Commission members, you are mandated by the General Assembly to serve as guardians for UNRWA. Let us continue to work to fully support UNRWA until we are able to find a just and lasting solution; until Palestine refugees can truly enjoy peace, dignity, justice and freedom to which all people rightly aspire.
The Secretary-General welcomes the announcement today by the Government of Canada that it was resuming support to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) by donating Can$25 million for the essential health, education, relief and social services and humanitarian programmes that the Agency undertakes for the benefit of 5.3 million Palestine refugees.
The Secretary-General stated that, at a time of great instability in the Middle East, Canada’s generous donation will assist UNRWA in its efforts to ensure that vital human development and humanitarian services continue to be delivered to vulnerable Palestine refugees.
The Secretary-General takes this occasion to underline once again that UNRWA should receive sufficient funding from the international community to carry out its activities effectively and in a predictable manner until a just and lasting solution is found to the underlying conflict.
A proposed Israeli law enabling the confiscation of privately owned Palestinian land would deal another severe blow to hopes of a lasting peace, a United Nations human rights expert has warned.
Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk said he was deeply concerned at the proposal to legalize more than 100 illegal outposts in the occupied West Bank, which passed its first reading in the Knesset on 16 November.
“Unauthorized outposts, most of which have been established on private Palestinian land and are located deep within the occupied West Bank are considered illegal under Israeli domestic law. Their retroactive ‘legalization’ will be another nail in the coffin for the two-state solution,” said Mr. Lynk.
“These outposts undermine the Palestinian right to self-determination, violate their rights to property, freedom of movement and development, and continue to confine the Palestinians into smaller and smaller cantons of non-contiguous lands within their own territory.”
The Special Rapporteur noted that the draft legislation, if adopted, allows the Israeli state to appropriate private Palestinian lands on which the outposts have been built, thereby regularising them for use by Israeli settlers. Lynk emphasized that international law prohibits the occupying power from confiscating private property. Even the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled on a number of occasions that the confiscation of private Palestinian lands for settlement purposes was illegal under Israeli law.
“The Knesset should not be giving the green light to theft by changing the law,” he said.
Mr. Lynk also noted that the violation of international law was not lessened or mitigated by the bill’s proposed measures to compensate Palestinians whose land had been unlawfully taken.
The tabling of the draft law follows a recent Israeli Supreme Court ruling that the Amona outpost must be evacuated by 25 December, rejecting a request by the Israeli Government for it to be delayed. “Among the purposes of this legislation is to regularize the legal status of Amona,” said the Special Rapporteur.
Mr. Lynk noted with alarm that some senior Israeli cabinet ministers had not only supported the bill, but were openly calling for the annexation of large parts of the West Bank.
“The international community must be very clear with the Government of Israel,” he said. “The annexation of occupied territory likewise would be a profound breach of international law. If Israel proceeds with either step, the international community must be prepared not only to condemn the action, but also to adopt appropriate measures to reverse these violations.”
Mr. Lynk, whose mandate as a Special Rapporteur covers the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, stressed that all Israeli settlements and outposts in occupied land were illegal under international law.
“An occupying power is expressly prohibited from transferring its civilian population into an occupied territory. This violates the 4th Geneva Convention of 1949, and is contrary to numerous United Nations Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, as well as a major advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice in 2004,” he said.
Mr. Mladenov: As we sit here today, the continuing status quo in the occupied Palestinian territory reduces the prospect for sustainable and just peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Rarely have the risks to the two-State solution been greater than today. How many times have we said in this Chamber that we must move past the blatant obstructionism, the false starts and the perpetual claims that the time is simply not right for action? Inaction has a cost, one measured in human lives and suffering. The situation on the ground is changing steadily — dangerously — as proponents of Israeli settlement expansion feel emboldened, internal divisions among Palestinians flare up and the prospect of a future Palestinian State comes under threats like never before.
The proponents of the status quo, the critics of the two-State solution, offer no viable alternative that meets the legitimate national and historic aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians. The alternative is an open-ended occupation, a perpetual conflict that breeds anger among the people of Palestine and Israel and fuels radicals across a Middle East already torn by ethnic and religious strife.
Socioeconomic despair, underpinned by the persistent hardships of the occupation and fragile democratic institutions, is affecting stability in the West Bank and threatening to erode the achievements of the Palestinian State-building agenda. The stark reality is most visible in the Palestine refugee camps, which remain a symbol of the failure to produce a sustainable political solution to end the conflict and Palestinian suffering.
I visited the West Bank city of Nablus twice this month to meet with the Governor, as well as with residents and representatives of the Balata refugee camp. Established in 1950 to serve approximately 5,000 refugees, Balata today is the home of almost 30,000 people, living on just 0.25 square kilometres of land. Some 50 per cent of its residents are reportedly unemployed, the majority of them youths. Poverty and food insecurity rates are the highest in the West Bank. The harsh conditions, combined with regular Israeli incursions and the lack of a permanent home, create the potential for violence.
With growing political tension in the West Bank over the past months, we have witnessed a series of clashes between Palestinian security forces and residents of the camp and the nearby old city. Regrettably, during recent operations, one woman caught in the crossfire was killed and 15 people were injured, including four security personnel.
The Palestinian Authority has an obligation to maintain law and order, including in the refugee camps, which they continue to do effectively and professionally under very challenging circumstances. It is critical that, should force be used, it be used judiciously. Those charged or arrested must be afforded due judicial process and treated equally under Palestinian law.
The problems in the camps are a reflection of the deep social economic and political challenges, the resolution of which is not in the hands of the vulnerable Palestine refugees; rather, it is foremost in the hands of Palestinian and Israeli political leaders. Left without hope and mired in poverty, Palestine’s most traumatized — its refugees — have seen their needs outpace the resources available to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
Generations of residents have been educated by UNRWA and thousands have gained employment and a sense of security through its various activities. The most destitute have benefitted from its relief programme. I appeal to the international community to support UNRWA so that it can carry out its activities effectively and predictably. I welcome the generous commitments made by the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, in addition to Canada’s resumption of support for UNRWA. That support is indispensable to maintaining the lives of Palestine refugees and to the stability of the region.
The situation in the camps, however, is only part of the story. If current socioeconomic trends continue, the potential for serious deterioration of the situation in the West Bank will grow. The Palestinian Authority faces fiscal difficulties, as international assistance this year is down by some 30 per cent. The Palestinian Authority is dependent upon Israel for clearance revenues, and on the international community for financial support. Economic development in the West Bank remains constrained by Israeli restrictions on access to the most fertile lands, water and mineral resources in Area C, which constitutes approximately 60 per cent of the West Bank.
While Israel has made important positive gestures, including retroactively legalizing two Palestinian schools and advancing a community outline plan for a Palestinian village in Area C near Jenin, such steps are only the beginning. They need to be expanded and encouraged. I welcome the important discussions being held between the parties on critical issues, such as water and electricity, that build on agreements from the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee meeting in September here in New York.
While progress is being made, it remains slow. It is critical that these discussions become operational realities in order to meet the dire needs of the West Bank and Gaza. It is in no one’s interest to allow the Palestinian economy and stability to crumble. Only significant policy shifts by Israel and actions by the Palestinians to strengthen their institutions and the rule of law can sustainably reverse this cause.
In its July report (see S/2016/595), the Middle East Quartet underscored the need for Palestinian unity: a single, democratic and legitimate Government that unites Gaza and the West Bank. That remains critical for the fulfilment of Palestinian national aspirations. Sadly, that unity continues to remain an elusive goal.
On 29 November, Fatah is scheduled to hold its seventh party conference. That should be used as an opportunity for promoting unity, for strengthening the mainstream centre of Palestinian politics and paving the way for elections. I urge all to conduct the proceedings in a fully transparent and representational manner that encourages moderate voices and respects opposing views.
Recent developments in Israel are increasingly worrying. Last week, despite strong opposition, the so-called legalization bill passed a preliminary vote in the Knesset. If adopted, the bill would enable the expansion of illegal settlements and outposts on private Palestinian land. If ratified, it would constitute a breach of international law and, according to Israel’s own Attorney General, would also be unconstitutional.
Today, the local planning committee in Jerusalem decided to advance plans for 500 new housing units in the existing settlement of Ramat Shlomo, further encroaching into the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Beit Hanina. I once again urge Israel to adhere to the repeated calls to cease illegal settlement construction in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
In recent weeks, Israel has also conducted over 80 demolitions of Palestinian structures in Area C and East Jerusalem, for a lack of building permits that are next to impossible to obtain. In this latest round 122 people have been displaced. This year to date, over 1,020 structures have been demolished, which is nearly twice last year’s total.
Let me now turn to Gaza, where I continue to be deeply concerned by the continuing militant buildup, smuggling and increased restrictions on the movement of people and goods in and out of the Strip. As I briefed the Security Council last month (see S/PV.7792), the amount of construction materials entering Gaza is woefully inadequate to meet the vast reconstruction needs.
Due to limitations by Israel on imports of materials and approvals of construction projects, the volume of such building materials — primarily cement — has now fallen well behind demand. This creates tensions among approved beneficiaries over the limited availability in the market. At today’s import rates, it would take at least seven months to clear the current backlog of 33,000 households in Gaza that have been approved to purchase cement to repair or reconstruct their housees. Thousands of households have been waiting for months to access the material they need, and economic activity in the Gaza strip is slowing ominously.
In October, at least 50 per cent of permit applications to exit Gaza were denied for national staff of international aid agencies alone, in sharp contrast to the average of less than 5 per cent of denials in 2015. That has significant impacts on the ability of the United Nations and the humanitarian community to deliver and monitor ongoing programmes. While acknowledging Israel’s security concerns, I urge it to address this pressing issue without delay.
I also welcome recent Egyptian efforts to relieve the suffering of the people in Gaza. The opening of the Rafah Border Crossing for 10cdays this month enabled thousands of people, including students and those seeking urgent medical attention, to cross into Egypt, and over 2,000 Palestinians to return back home to the Gaza strip.…
As the situation in the West Bank continues to deteriorate, as Gaza’s chronic challenges show little sustainable progress, and as the voices of extremism on all sides intensify their efforts to destroy any remaining hope for the two-State solution, I would like to conclude with a call to both parties and all stakeholders to stand up to those promoting a hate-driven agenda that threatens to prolong this conflict. A carefully worded statement or a well-crafted speech will not reverse the current trajectory. What people long for is concrete action. They need to see a plan to rebuild trust and create the conditions for a return to meaningful negotiations by focusing on positive changes on the ground and an engagement with the region. They need the international community to restate its consensus that the two-State solution is the only outcome that legitimately meets the national aspirations of both peoples, and to speak clearly against the obstacles to peace: settlements, the taking of land, violence and incitement. They need to hear from us that development cannot be a substitute for statehood and that democracy, human rights and the rule of law must be respected. They need courageous Israeli and Palestinian leaders who together can chart a clear strategy to peace and security.
I urge all those who are committed to ending the conflict, including the Council, to consider carefully what it will take to advance the prospects for peace, and to begin, in consultation with the parties, to develop an agreed path forward. Time is running out. Palestinians and Israelis deserve to live in peace; we must spare no effort in helping them reach that goal. As ever, the United Nations remains committed to advancing that objective.
Mr. O’Brien: I thank my colleague Mr. Nickolay Mladenov for his authoritative and comprehensive briefing, and I shall complement his remarks on the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory. Last month, I also provided an overview of the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (see S/PV.7792). Today, I will focus my remarks on the increasing challenges humanitarian actors are facing in responding to the needs of those vulnerable Palestinians, and for which we need greater support from the Council.
In the occupied Gaza Strip, 70 per cent of the population currently receives some form of international assistance, mostly food aid. Yet our ability to deliver that assistance has become increasingly restricted. Israel bans or restricts the import of certain goods into Gaza, on the grounds that they have a dual military and civilian purpose. Affected items range from communications equipment to cement, wood and even water pumps, fire trucks and medical X-ray machines. Mr. Mladenov has already spoken about the growing and dramatic gap between how much material Israel is permitting to be imported to Gaza through the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism, and the growing waiting lists of beneficiaries. That translates very directly into the humanitarian realm, with 60,000 highly vulnerable, displaced persons in Gaza still waiting for their home sto be rebuilt, who need rental assistance and much more in the interim.
It is not just about concrete. Urgent projects, which aim to reduce the risk of flooding that threatens nearly 500,000 people as winter approaches, have been on hold for 10 months as they await clearance of equipment. Projects to rehabilitate water wells and the construction of a neonatal intensive care unit are other examples of urgent needs suffering unnecessary long delays.
Aid workers have also been caught up in the increased restrictions. United Nations staff in Gaza require a permit to leave Gaza in order to meet with their managers in Jerusalem or Ramallah, or to attend training programmes elsewhere. While those permits were relatively easy to receive in previous years, when never more than 10 per cent were typically rejected, last month more than half of our United Nations applicants were turned away, with some advised not to apply again for 12 months. No explanation other than “security” is cited, leaving us at a loss as to how to respond and with a growing morale problem. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), embassies and others are experiencing similar trends.
Those new access restrictions are hitting other Gaza residents hard as well, of course; over half of the 2,000 permit applications by patients seeking urgent medical treatment outside Gaza in October, most typically for cancer treatment, were not approved by Israel. Inside Gaza, the operating space for NGOs is also difficult. The de facto authorities, Hamas, regularly seek to do audits, review staff or beneficiary lists or introduce new permit requirements and restrictions on work in certain areas of the Strip. NGOs need to resist those pressures and navigate anti-terrorist legislation set up by many Member States, which generate their own restrictions on the type of programming that is allowed and with whom one can and cannot engage.
The ongoing internal divisions between the Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and those in Gaza also inevitably transfer an increasing burden onto humanitarian actors and humanitarian budgets, as unstaffed operating theatres, dilapidated equipment and breaks in fuel supplies take their toll on people and services.
Ultimately, real progress in Gaza requires a full lifting of the blockade by Israel, in line with the resolutions of the Council and the General Assembly. Until that happens, Israel must ensure that items needed for reconstruction, relief and emergency preparedness are allowed entry, and that aid workers are able to move about to do their vital work.
While it is not a substitute for the opening of access to Israel, we also look to Egypt, in line with its own security considerations, to maintain the welcome increase in openings at the Rafah Border Crossing, which remains, literally, a life line for some. We must also see greater action from Palestinian leaders in Ramallah and Gaza; internal differences must be resolved for the sake of Palestine’s most vulnerable constituents.
In the occupied West Bank, as the pressures increase on communities in Area C, so too do the obstacles to our operations there as well. As I have reported to the Council before, the pace of demolitions and confiscations of Palestinian property by the Israeli authorities has far exceeded any previous years on record — more than double this year as compared to 2015. Those have occurred mainly within herding communities in Area C, which count among Palestine’s most vulnerable households. Obstruction to our operations in those areas is occurring in the most egregious way, with our relief items themselves frequently demolished or confiscated by Israeli forces. The rate of demolition or seizure of such donor-funded relief is on a trajectory to potentially triple as compared to 2015. Affected relief items include shelters and tents, water cisterns, animal pens and other basic structures for survival and livelihoods.
More fundamentally, Palestinians in Area C are living in an increasingly coercive environment that is created by discriminatory planning policies, demolitions, the active promotion of plans to relocate Bedouin to new townships and other practices that generate miserable living conditions and create pressure on people to move elsewhere. Much of that occurs in the line of sight of new or expanding Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law, as reiterated by successive resolutions by the Council. About a quarter of the structures targeted this year were in Palestinian Bedouin communities located within or near the area allocated to the E-1 settlement expansion project on the outskirts of occupied East Jerusalem.
It is critical that the interests of those vulnerable Bedouin communities be placed first. They need and deserve our unequivocal support to resist those coercive pressures by the occupying Power, and must not be burdened by still more pressures from Palestinian leaders, some of whom appear to view those communities as a key battleground in Palestine’s long struggle. Those vulnerable civilians have no place as instruments in a political strategy.
I reiterate the Secretary-General’s call to Israel to end the policies and practices that place those Palestinians at risk of forcible transfer. I also remind the Palestinian authorities of the need to respect the principles of independence, impartiality, neutrality and humanity, which are the bedrock of the humanitarian imperative.
The continued lack of a resolution to the core drivers of the ongoing humanitarian crisis has left Palestinians stuck in a perpetual cycle of humanitarian relief, increasingly dependent on assistance and facing an ongoing lack of respect for their rights and heightened instability. We need a coherent international response that will enhance the protection of civilians and deliver accountability for violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. That is especially important in the absence of an active political process between Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
Israel, the main duty-bearer, is a signatory to the Fourth Geneva Convention and has clear obligations as an occupying Power, and both Israel and Palestine have ratified the major human rights treaties. They are bound by customary international law as well, as are all countries. The members of the Security Council have a vital role to play in motivating the parties to respect their obligations. Similarly, all parties to the Geneva Conventions have an obligation not only to respect them but also to ensure that others respect them.
The challenges facing Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory, and the challenges that humanitarian personnel face in trying to assist them, require action not only by the Israeli and Palestinian authorities but by every member of the Council. If we want to prevent further deterioration in a region already overwhelmed with humanitarian emergencies, the Council’s decisive collective action is vital. If it would help the members of the Council to have a specific list of humanitarian relief actions that should be taken or avoided, I and my colleagues will be pleased to provide it.
However, those actions notwithstanding, the principles of international humanitarian law do and must must apply. That includes all members of the Council, all those in the occupied Palestinian territory, both Israelis and Palestinians, and all who have signed international legal obligations to which they are, and must be held, accountable. We look to the Council to ensure greater respect for obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law and to enhance the protection of civilians. We look to the Council to safeguard the operational space that aid workers require to provide assistance to those most in need. And we look to the Council to address the underlying driver of Palestine’s protection crisis through a political resolve to end the occupation, which is now approaching its fiftieth anniversary.
This United Nations (UN) Common Country Analysis (CCA) examines the state of development in Palestine* as the Israeli occupation of its territory enters its 50th year. The report focuses on the most vulnerable groups in Palestine and seeks to identify the key drivers of their vulnerability and the challenges they face under Palestine's current development course. In the context of the 2030 Agenda, the report analyses why some groups in society are systematically more disadvantaged than others in accessing Palestine's development gains.
This report will serve as the analytical basis of the UN's development strategy for Palestine for the next five years, to be elaborated in the next United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UN DAF) for the period 2018-2022. Its findings also bolster Palestine's historic accession to seven of the nine core human rights treaties during 2014, and respond to the Government's new National Policy Agenda, which seeks a more 'citizen-centric' development path.
The deliberate focus on systematic disadvantage and vulnerability in this analysis derives from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)and the 2030 Agenda imperative to leave no one behind on the path of progress.
Development under Occupation: The Inherent Vulnerability of All Palestinians
Any discussion of development in Palestine must start with the fact that the largest and most visible constraint on Palestinian development is the occupation. After nearly 50 years of occupation every Palestinian living in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) is vulnerable to some degree. Though the occupation affects different groups of Palestinians in unique ways, for most Palestinians there is scarcely any sphere of life that the occupation does not touch.
Lifting the occupation is the single most important priority to enable Palestinians to chart a successful course to the SDGs. Development actors need to be conscious about the limits on both Palestine's development prospects and the impact of donors' development investments in a country under occupation, where the government has highly restricted control over the levers of development. As long as it remains the occupying power, the ultimate accountability for Palestine's ability or failure to reach the global goals articulated in the 2030 Agenda remains largely with the Government of Israel.
The occupation impacts the movement of people and goods, fragments the territory geographically and socio-politically, stunts economic growth, and restricts Palestinian use of critical resources such as land, water and minerals. With the very same instruments, it hinders policymaking, governance and service delivery by the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Restrictions on Movement: Israeli restrictions on the movement of people, both Palestinian and international, have far-reaching consequences for both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Restrictions are implemented through a complex system of checkpoints, permits, military roadblocks, settlements, a bypass road system, parallel legal regimes and the Barrier.1
Such restrictions have fragmented the Palestinian landscape. They have created isolated communities, undermined social cohesion, ruptured a common identity and reduced economic activity within and among the fractured Palestinian populations of the territory. The Barrier not only separates West Bank Palestinians from Israelis but also Palestinians from each other.
"As long as it remains the occupying power, the ultimate accountability for Palestine's ability or failure to reach the global goals articulated in the 2030 Agenda remains with the Government of Israel."
Stunted Economy: Restrictions on economic and productive activities, including restrictions on movement of goods, severely impair the Palestinian economy and its potential for growth. The ability of the private sector to function, let alone thrive and generate employment, is limited.2 Frequent military assaults on Gaza have crippled its economy, while the closure has prevented reconstruction and magnified the effect of shocks. As a result, the Palestinian economy remains highly dependent on its public sector, which in turn is highly dependent on external budgetary support.
Trade barriers have been in place since Israel imposed its external trade and fiscal regime on the oPt in 1967. The flow of Palestinian labour and goods to Israel was allowed under non-reciprocal restrictions and imports to the oPt were subjected to Israeli tariff structures and quotas. Palestinian producers became increasingly cut off from their traditional trading partners and had to reorient trade towards the Israeli economy. Over time, Palestinian exporters lost much of their competitive edge while Israeli products enjoyed unhindered access to Palestinian markets.3
From 2000-2015, gross domestic product (G DP) g rowth has been volatile and structurally unbalanced in favour of sectors not exposed to foreign competition. Total GDP grew on average by over 3°/o, but agriculture —the main sector exposed to foreign competition and a key driver of inclusive growth — contracted.4
Inequitable Access to Resources: Both horizontal (land area) and vertical Qntensification) expansion of the agriculture sector have been restricted for decades.5 Horizontal expansion is limited by restrictions on essential land and water resources. Vertical expansion of agriculture is limited by lack of access to markets, high costs of production and lack of access to pesticides and equipment, and in Gaza, restrictions associated with the closure. Constraints on trade have deprived the agriculture sector of low-cost inputs and markets for its products. Bans by Israel on the import of items deemed 'dual use', such as fertilizers, reduce productivity and profitability of Palestinian farming.
The industrial sector is also profoundly affected by limits on land availability and by limited opportunities for quarrying and mining of minerals. Israeli settlements, military zones, nature reserves, and the Barrier make up 70% of Area C (or about 44% of the overall West Bank). The remaining 30% is heavily restricted for construction; Palestinians can build on less than 1% of the land.6 Some 40% of area C is private Palestinian land on which settlements are built.7 The construction industry in the West Bank is constrained by so-called 'zoning rules' imposed by the Israeli authorities.
Palestinians face major water shortages in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israel controls all shared surface and ground water resources and utilizes 85%, leaving only 15% for Palestinian use.8 Restrictions related to water affect the livelihoods of communities, deepening poverty levels and further increasing vulnerability.
Policy-making constraints: Palestinian attempts to overcome these numerous hurdles to development are likewise circumscribed by the occupation. In 2011, the World Bank stated that "the PA has continued to strengthen its institutions, delivering public services and promoting reforms that many existing states struggle with. Significant reforms still lie ahead for the PA — but no more than those facing other middle income countries".9 Nevertheless, the PA to this day has limited space for policy development and implementation, restricting its ability to deliver on its obligations as a duty bearer to its people. In the process, the most vulnerable and structurally disadvantaged groups—the ones that most need government support — are those that suffer the most.
The Palestinian government has no control over its borders — land, air or sea - or of its customs revenues. It does not have its own currency or authority to print money. It lacks access and policy prerogative over Area C. It lacks influence over Gaza, due to territorial fragmentation and internal Palestinian division that prevents the operationalization of a government of national consensus in all of oPt. The PA's fiscal space is restricted. A major part of the PA's revenue (60%-70%)comes from the clearance revenues system, in which all taxes and revenues due at borders, seaports and by air on Palestinian goods and services are collected by the Israeli fiscal authorities on behalf of the PA in return for a 3% administrative charge to Israel.10
The PA also has limited space for the development of effective local government and local development policies. Israel's planning regime in Area C and East Jerusalem is discriminatory and restrictive. It is not designed for the benefit of the protected population. Palestinian local governance and service delivery is limited by increasing territorial fragmentation. Freedom of movement and lack of jurisdiction in large parts of the oPt for example hamper rule of law, maintenance of security, and the delivery of justice services by the Palestinian state.
Palestine's control over its development prospects remains highly circumscribed. A government that does not control its borders, its revenue, and its monetary policy and cannot access much of its natural resources is embarking on the 2030 Agenda with an overwhelming handicap.
Who is Left Behind? Vulnerability and Disadvantage in Palestine
While all Palestinians are vulnerable on account of the occupation, some appear to be perpetually more vulnerable, and systematically at a greater disadvantage, than others. A set of 20 disadvantaged or vulnerable groups was identified to inform an analysis of what are the key drivers of vulnerability in the country.
These groups are: adolescent girls; women exposed to gender-based violence (G BV); food-insecure households headed by women; children facing obstacles in accessing schools; children in the labour force; children subject to violence; out-of-school children; youth; the elderly; communities in Area C; Bedouins and herder communities living in Area C; Gaza residents without access to clean water or sanitation; Hebron H2 residents; persons living in the Seam Zone11; persons with disabilities; individuals in need of urgent medical referrals; refugees living in abject poverty; refugees residing in camps; small-scale farmers, non-Bedouin herders, fisher folk; and the working poor.
These marginalized groups were found to be most impacted by one or more of the following five structural drivers of disadvantage and vulnerability in the Palestinian context: location (or place of residence), exposure to violence, economic factors, institutional and political factors, and socio-cultural norms. This report calls for concerted efforts by policy makers and development partners around these five structural challenges.
Locational Drivers of Vulnerability
Where people live within the oPt is central to understanding their vulnerability and disadvantage. Location determines who has jurisdiction over delivery of basic services, who the duty bearers are, and the quality of service delivery.
Area C12 covers approximately 60% of the West Bank, and is the site of Israeli settlements and other land set aside solely for Israeli use. Bedouin and herder populations living in Area C13 are often at risk of forced displacement by the Israeli authorities and face persistent restrictions on their movement and access to resources and services. Bedouin, small-scale farmers and livestock herders living in Area C have limited access to markets and inputs, including land, and water for animal husbandry and irrigation.14 Planning and zoning restrictions in Area C make it difficult for Palestinians to build homes, businesses or other critical infrastructure such as water, sewage or power networks. If they build without a permit, residents risk the structure's demolition.
In Hebron H2, over 120 physical obstacles, including 18 permanently-staffed checkpoints established by the Israeli military segregate the restricted areas from the rest of the city. 15 Palestinians living in the restricted areas of Hebron H2 face serious challenges in accessing water and sanitation facilities and services. Children and teachers' ability to reach schools in the Old City is hampered by checkpoints and settler harassment. Businesses are often shuttered, lacking clientele.
In East Jerusalem, Palestinian residents are deemed 'permanent residents' of Israel. Since 1967, on average six Palestinians per week have had their residency rights revoked, meaning they can no longer live or work in the city, or access public services.16 Poverty rates are high in East Jerusalem with 83.9% of Palestinian children living below the Israeli-defined poverty line.17 Most Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem suffer from high density, poor living standards, deteriorating housing, and inadequate public facilities and services. There is a chronic shortage of classrooms. School dropout rates are much higher here than in the rest of the oPt.18
The Seam Zone refers to the area between the Barrier and the 1949 Armistice (Green Line), excluding East Jerusalem, which has been declared a 'closed military area' by the Israeli army and is cut off from the rest of the West Bank. Most Seam Zone communities lack basic health, education and other services, with residents having to pass through a checkpoint to reach agricultural land, workplaces and essential services, and to maintain social relations with family and friends on the `Palestinian side' of the Barrier. Residents with Jerusalem IDs have to pay municipal taxes but do not get services of the municipality.
Finally, Gaza, home to 1.9 million people, has witnessed a dramatic process of de-development, due to recurring cycles of violence, demographic pressures, and the closure imposed by Israel. Physical destruction during successive rounds of hostilities has impacted all aspects of personal, public and economic life. Over 60%of the housing stock incurred significant damage as did service infrastructure (including water, energy, health, and education facilities and governments buildings) and private sector facilities and assets during the 2014 hostilities. The effects of this most recent escalation were estimated at $1.4 billion in damages and $1.7 billion in economic losses.19 The land, sea and air closure imposed by Israel since 2007 severely restricts the movement of people and goods into and out of the Strip, with all of the resulting effects of isolation on employment, education, healthcare, commerce and social ties. The on-going division between Fatah and Hamas also compounds the impact of the closure on Gaza's population.
Violence as a Driver of Vulnerability
Pervasive violence, which causes physical harm and limits daily options in the oPt, is a key driver of vulnerability. For 18 of the 20 disadvantaged groups analysed for this report, both political violence and social violence constrain possibilities and potential. The average Palestinian may experience, witness, and engage in violence in the public sphere, at home, at the workplace or school, and within the community. The counterparties are agents of the Israeli and Palestinian states, as well as other individuals. As noted below, violence is layered with location and other drivers of vulnerability, compounding the crisis for those most in need.
Both Israeli and Palestinian security forces engage in violence against Palestinians. Violence at checkpoints, clashes, search and arrest operations, detentions, demolitions, evictions, and forced displacement are among the chronic forms of violence experienced primarily in Area C, East Jerusalem, and Hebron H2.
In addition, there have been three escalations of hostilities, regular ground incursions and airstrikes in Gaza since 2007, resulting in widespread death, trauma, disability and destruction. Accountability for violations of international law by both Israeli and Palestinian actors during these escalations remains elusive.
Palestinian refugees who reside in the West Bank refugee camps are particularly vulnerable to Israeli armed forces violence during clashes and search operations. Male youth are more likely to be targets of search and arrest operations and harassment at checkpoints, as well as participants in clashes. In 2015, over 1,000 Palestinian children were arrested by Israeli forces and prosecuted before military courts on security-related charges. Children detained by the Israeli military are often denied their rights.
Palestinian security forces and authorities are also generally not held to account for violations of international law,20 despite concerns over the detention and torture of political prisoners in Palestinian jails and the use of force and violence by Palestinian security forces.21 The spread of incitement to violence on social media has gained momentum since October 2015, and is particularly affecting youth.
Attacks by Palestinian civilians against Israeli security forces and civilians have negatively impacted the security atmosphere in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, particularly since the last quarter of 2015. The attacks were not coordinated and were carried out by individuals, presenting a disturbing trend where young men and women, in some cases boys and girls, many without prior history of politicization, engaged in attacks knowing that death was almost inevitable.
Settler violence has a direct impact on nine out of the 20 vulnerable groups reviewed for this report.22 These are individuals who live or work in Area C, especially Bedouin and herder communities and small-scale farmers and non-Bedouin herders, people living in the Seam Zone, Hebron's H2 area and Old City of Jerusalem, children facing obstacles in accessing schools or exposed to violence, adolescent girls and youth.
GBV is a key protection concern in the oPt, with women being particularly vulnerable. Limited support services are available and these existing services are highly inaccessible to women due to long distances, mobility restrictions, and fragmentation of areas and services. Six of the 20 analysed vulnerable groups, specifically women exposed to GBV, children, adolescent girls, youth, persons with disabilities, and the elderly, are highly vulnerable to domestic violence.23 They are also vulnerable to other types of social violence.
Economic Drivers of Vulnerability
Poverty, inequality of economic opportunity and high dependency rates, exacerbated by limited employment opportunities as well as increasing environmental constraints on livelihoods, are some of the key economic drivers of vulnerability in Palestine. Economic factors appear to contribute to disadvantage and vulnerability among at least 17 of the 20 groups analysed.
Some 25.8% of Palestinians are poor.24,25 some 12.9% of Palestinians (7.8% of those in the West Bank and 21.1%of those in Gaza) are living in "deep poverty" .26 Poverty also increases risk of human rights violations. For instance, the poor with disabilities and the elderly poor are less likely to be able to afford care and support than their more affluent counterparts. Poverty and inequity of income distribution is associated with inequities in reproductive choices as well. The total fertility rate for the poorest quintile of Palestinians is five, while it is 3.3 for the richest quintile.27 Lack of sufficient income and assets also reduces an individual's ability to cope with shocks.
Inequality of opportunity manifests in unequal access to productive resources and assets, unequal access to decent employment, and an unequal burden of unpaid work. Women are among those most affected by the unequal burden of unpaid work, even without including care work undertaken at home — usually by women and girls. Additionally, women are the dominant unpaid agricultural labour force. Still, women and female-headed households are often deprived of assets due to discriminatory inheritance laws. And lack of access to productive assets like livestock and agricultural land impacts women's economic self-sufficiency and food security. Less access to assets, and hence collateral, also translates into fewer formal sources of credit.
Unemployment is a major driver of vulnerability for youth. Unequal access to decent work is often associated with unequal access to the right networks and/or affiliation with political parties. Young women are more affected by this than young men.
A high dependency ratio in Palestine28 together with very high unemployment creates vulnerability. The dependency ratio in Palestine (74.8%) has been declining over time,29 but is still high compared to other Arab countries.
Environmental threats are also undermining Palestine's economic potential and affecting different parts of the population to varying degrees. Those who engage in climate-dependent livelihoods (agriculture, fishing, herding)and manual labour, for example, are being undermined by environmental threats, including global warning.
Institutional and Political Drivers of Vulnerability
Poverty is layered with geographical and political marginalization to compound these groups' vulnerability. In turn, patterns of vulnerability and disadvantage in Palestine appear to reflect the precedence of some groups over others when creating policy and law.
It is important to view the institutional and political drivers of vulnerability of affected groups in the context of the limits that the occupation places on the Palestinian government's policy space.
The PA does not have effective access to East Jerusalem and the Seam Zone. It has very little operating space to provide basic services in Area C and Hebron H2 or to impose law and order in Area B where Israel is still responsible for security and order. The government is highly dependent on direct budgetary support from international donors which declined by a third between 2014 and 201530. Constrained fiscal space including Israel's control of clearance revenues also restricts the Palestinian government's ability to deliver as a duty-bearer. However, these factors do not fully explain how and why some groups appear to receive less policy support than others. Many of the 20 vulnerable groups, for instance, have less access to basic public services than do others.
Two sets of gaps in service provision in the oPt stand out. First, some groups have inadequate access to quality education and healthcare. Further, groups like the elderly and persons with disabilities have additional special needs that are inadequately met. When their needs are not met, they are at an additional disadvantage vis-a-vis the rest of the population. Second, there is a lack of services that enable and empower groups such as youth or small-scale farmers to seize economic opportunities and thereby become drivers of change for themselves and for the rest of society.
The Palestinian Basic Law recognizes that "Palestinians are equal before the law and that there should be no discrimination because of ethnicity, sex, colour, religion, political opinion or disability".31 However, some groups—especially women — feel the negative effects of discriminatory laws that prevent them from exercising their human rights and fulfilling their potential.
Institutional and policy-making gaps tend to reflect lack of influence within the existing socio-political system. Two elements of that lack of influence are lack of voice and participation, and the limits to free media, freedom of speech and access to information in the oPt.32 National-level elections have not taken place in Palestine in a decade. With the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) suspended, laws are passed by presidential decree or by limited members of the Hamas PLC Bloc in Gaza. The narrowing of parties involved in policymaking likely increases exclusion of those on the margins.
Another manifestation of institutional vulnerability is the absence of adequate data on specific groups. Up-to-date and periodic disaggregated data are lacking on out-of-school children, children in labour, persons living in the Seam Zone and Area C, and persons with disabilities, in particular.
Civil society provides external oversight to monitor government institutions. It also plays a key role in amplifying the voices of the voiceless. However, attempts by both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to impose greater control on civil society activities and funding streams affect their independence and their ability to advocate for human rig hts.33
Sociocultural Drivers of Vulnerability
As in all societies, economic, institutional and political determinants of development in Palestine are also heavily influenced by sociocultural norms.34 Some social norms and traditional values can have a positive impact on development and human rights. Others have been used to justify gender-based inequalities, discrimination and violence.35
Palestinian society is predominantly patriarchal.36 Patriarchal norms lead to asymmetrical gender roles. While women are more directly affected than men, the culture of dominance favours the able over the disabled, the physically strong over the weak, and the mainstream over the marginal. This engenders models of masculinity that contribute to male-on-male violence and discrimination against persons with disabilities.
Adolescent girls and women of reproductive age are among the first victims of gender discrimination rooted in patriarchal norms. These norms are among the key drivers of Palestine's high fertility rates, of women being the primary caregivers in families, of the vast majority of unpaid work devolving upon women by default. Traditional attitudes and behaviours that focus on the reproductive role of women also contribute to early marriage, and often early childbearing. Persons with disabilities, especially those with mental disabilities are more vulnerable than other groups to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, on account of discrimination, isolation, and exclusion from mainstream processes.
The Palestinian Labour Law does not prohibit discrimination in pay or promotion. It makes no reference to harassment in the workplace. It also prevents women from working in a number of occupations defined as hazardous or hard work, where exceptions can be made if the employer provides safety guarantees. The delay in amending such laws impacts women's private lives as well as their freedom to participate in public spaces.
Patriarchal attitudes and practices that condone unequal power relations between men and women often enable and condone acts of violence.37 Such norms contribute to the notion of domestic issues being a private family matter, resulting in a widespread acceptance of intimate partner violence. The same mindset is among the main drivers of the blame, stigmatization, social exclusion and reprisals towards women subjected to GBV. This is not unique to Palestine but is observed in patterns of femicide and GBV worldwide.
Leaving No One Behind —What Will it Take?
Seven key imperatives have been identified to translate these findings into action, a process that will intensify with the elaboration of the forthcoming UN DAF.
Closing data gaps: Almost all groups that are falling behind are less visible in the statistics, thus difficult to track, rendered less visible to policymakers, and often assigned lower priority than others when resources are limited. Upgrading the current data sets to catch and track these trailing groups will require considerable investment and coordination.
Opening up to new voices and new partners: How do these vulnerable or disadvantaged groups participate in our development processes? For the UN DAF, the aid community and government will need to 'walk the talk' and open itself up to a greater cross-section of voices from Palestinian society.
Investing in integrated cross-sectoral planning processes: The analysis clearly shows that multiple drivers of vulnerability often affect the same vulnerable group. The drivers themselves are inter-linked. For instance, several economic drivers of vulnerability derive directly from locational and institutional factors. Hence, the strategies to address the needs of the most vulnerable will require a much greater integration of efforts cutting across traditional sectors to address the multiple dimensions of disadvantage.
Factoring political realities into development interventions: While the State of Palestine has committed itself to Agenda 2030 and the SDGs, the accountability to reach these goals is a shared one as long as Israel remains an occupying power. Israel's progress towards the SDGs will necessarily be measured by the progress of Palestinians as well. The SDGs' emphasis on equity, access, and justice will increase the scrutiny on Israeli policies in the oPt.
Countering fragmentation through development interventions: A geographically and politically fragmented Palestine requires a response from development partners calibrated to that reality. Policies around the closure (Gaza) or annexation (East Jerusalem) or security (central Hebron) have created a patchwork of 'development micro-climates'. In the spirit of 'do no harm', development interventions must avoid creating or further entrenching fragmentation of the policy and development landscape of Palestine. The Government of Palestine needs to keep making policy for all Palestinians. Where donors or their implementing partners are delivering programmes to communities that the government has limited or no access to, there is an obligation to ensure that these efforts are aligned with government policies and coordinated with government programmes.
Bridging the development-humanitarian divide: The chronic and political nature of the protection crisis that drives Palestine's humanitarian need challenges any notion of the short-term nature of emergency response. A much closer collaboration between humanitarian actors and the government is necessary in such an environment. Humanitarian action in Palestine also extends to less traditional areas of intervention. A number of the vulnerable groups mentioned here are subjects of both humanitarian and development interventions. Both interventions run in parallel in Area C, the Seam Zone, and Gaza.
Towards a new UNDAF: The UN DG in Palestine will work to support the Government of Palestine in implementing the 2030 agenda with the SDGs at its core. It will also continue to advocate strongly for Israel to fulfill its obligations as the occupying power to ensure that all Palestinians can exercise their basic human rights, and partake in progress.
The UN DAF for 2018-2022 will align with the Palestinian government's development priorities for the next six years as outlined in its N PA, and will seek to complement its key sectoral strategies. The content of the UN programming under the UN DAF will be driven directly by the imperative to address the five drivers of vulnerability identified in this report. By placing its most vulnerable groups and the key drivers of their vulnerability at the core of its development planning, the UN DG in Palestine will seek to ensure that no one is indeed left behind.
*On the use of the terms "Palestine","State of Palestine" and "occupied Palestinian territory, please refer to the Definition section.
1 UNFPA. (2016). Adolescent and Youth Demographics: A Brief Overview.
2 UNFPA. (2016). Population Situation Analysis (draft).
3 PCBS. (2011). Main Findings of Violence survey in the Palestinian Society, page 40.
4 PCBS. (2016). Accessed on 17 August 2016: http://www.pcbs.gov.ps/Portals/_Rainbow/Documents/Education2014-07E.htm
5 PCBS. (2014). Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2014: Key Findings.
6 UNRWA. (2015). Needs of Women and Girls in Humanitarian Action in Gaza: Gender Alert for the 2016 Response Plan, page 3.
7 UNRWA. (2015). Needs of Women and Girls in Humanitarian Action in Gaza: Gender Alert for the 2016 Response Plan, page 3.
8 PCBS. (2014). Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2014: Key Findings, page 16.
9 PCBS. (2014). Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2014: Key Findings, page 16.
10 OCHA. (2014). Area C Vulnerability Profile, page 3.
11 UNDP. (2013). IN FOCUS: Bedouins in the occupied Palestinian territory, page 3.
12 UNDP. (2013). IN FOCUS: Bedouins in the occupied Palestinian territory, page 3.
13 OCHA. (2014). Bedouin Communities At Risk Of Forcible Transfer, page 1.
14 OCHA. (2014). Bedouin Communities At Risk Of Forcible Transfer, page 1.
15 UNDP. (2013). IN FOCUS: Bedouins in the occupied Palestinian territory, page 16.
16 UNDP. (2013). IN FOCUS: Bedouins in the occupied Palestinian territory, page 16.
17 UNDP. (2013). IN FOCUS: Bedouins in the occupied Palestinian territory, page 6.
18 UNDP. (2013). IN FOCUS: Bedouins in the occupied Palestinian territory, page 10.
19 UNRWA. (2010). Food Security and Nutrition Survey of Herding Communities In Area C, page 6.
20 PCBS and Food Security Sector. (2015). Summary of Preliminary results of Socio-Economic and Food Security survey 2013-2014.
21 UN DP. (2013). IN FOCUS: Bedouins in the occupied Palestinian territory, page 9.
22 OCHA. (2014). Bedouin Communities At Risk Of Forcible Transfer, page 1.
23 Protection Cluster and Education Cluster. (2012). Protection issues affecting access to education in the West Bank, page 9.
24 UNICEF. (2015). Children Affected by Armed Conflict: CAAC Bulletin - First quarter of 2015.
25 UNICEF. (2015). Children Affected by Armed Conflict: CAAC Bulletin - Second quarter of 2015.
26 UNICEF. (2015). Children Affected by Armed Conflict: CAAC Bulletin -Third quarter of 2015.
27 UNICEF. (2015). Children Affected by Armed Conflict: CAAC Bulletin - Fourth quarter of 2015.
28 This includes losing school time as a result of the Israeli Security Forces closing areas near schools for military exercises or military operations, causing delays at checkpoints, or because of Israeli military escorts not accompanying children to protect them from settlers.
29 Protection Cluster and Education Cluster. (2012). Protection issues affecting access to education in the West Bank, page 9.
30 Commission of the Churches on International Affairs. (2013). Education under Occupation: Access to Education in the occupied Palestinian territory, page 6.
31 Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. (2011). Education Denied: Israel's Systematic Violation of Palestinian Children's Rights to Education, page 18.
32 Protection Cluster and Education Cluster. (2012). Protection issues affecting access to education in the West Bank, page 10.
33 Protection Cluster and Education Cluster. (2012). Protection issues affecting access to education in the West Bank, page 2.
34 Protection Cluster and Education Cluster. (2012). Protection issues affecting access to education in the West Bank, page 2.
35 PCBS. (2016). The Palestinian Child Day, page 1.
36 PCBS. (2016). Press Report on the Labour Force Survey Results, Q2 2016, page 6.
37 PCBS. (2016). Press Report on the Labour Force Survey Results, Q4 2015, page 6.
Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson’s remarks to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, in New York today:
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not just one of many conflicts in the region and the world. It is in many ways a long-standing, gaping wound that has fed tension and conflict throughout the Middle East and beyond. For nearly a century, division, strains on trust and violence have arisen from conflicting goals, from conflicting identities and from conflicting aspirations.
As the Secretary-General , Ban Ki-moon, and I now near the end of our tenure at the end of next month, it is worth openly and honestly reflecting on achievements, but also on missed opportunities over the last decade. The institution-and capacity-building programme of the State of Palestine, supported by the international community, not least by this key Committee, has been a notable advance, no doubt. We must protect what has been accomplished and continue to support efforts to meet the needs of all Palestinians in a future State.
The admission of Palestine to the United Nations as a non-member Observer State in 2012 was a historic milestone. Today, 137 States recognize the State of Palestine. Its flag flies at the United Nations Headquarters here in New York and in regional offices across the globe.
These are important symbols, no doubt. But they will only have true significance, I am sure you agree, if we see progress in ending the Israeli occupation and resulting in two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. Sadly, in many ways the last 10 years can be described as a lost decade for Israeli-Palestinian peace-making. If the stalemate continues or deepens, the two-state solution may well slip out of reach.
A decade after Gaza was taken over by Hamas – whose violent actions against Israel we condemn – its people remain separated from the West Bank. Despite numerous initiatives and the formation of a Palestinian Government of National Consensus, the divide undoubtedly continues to run deep. After three violent conflicts and crippling restrictions imposed by Israel, 2 million Palestinians in Gaza are struggling with a crumbling infrastructure and a paralyzed economy.
Tens of thousands of people are still displaced, awaiting reconstruction of homes destroyed. Gaza remains a humanitarian catastrophe. The economic and environmental toll continues to ravage lives and to undermine peace and stability.
In 2012, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) warned that Gaza could become an unliveable place by 2020. Its unemployment rate is one of the highest in the world, and is particularly severe among young people. Reconstruction has been dangerously slow, and donor pledges have not fully materialized. I already mentioned the crippled infrastructure. Even water is not available to all.
Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, has become more entrenched. The continuing policy of settlement construction, as well as the designation of land for exclusive Israeli use, seriously erodes the viability of the two-state solution. To this should be added that this year, the number of demolitions of Palestinian houses and other structures by Israeli forces has doubled, compared to 2015.
Israeli and Palestinian leaders still voice their support for the two-state solution. However, without urgent steps to revive a political perspective, they risk entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and perpetual conflict. This is clearly incompatible with the national aspirations of both peoples.
The last 10 years have witnessed two unsuccessful attempts at negotiating a peaceful settlement, three armed conflicts, thousands of dead — the vast majority of them Palestinian civilians — rampant incitement, terror attacks, thousands of rockets fired at Israel from Gaza, and expanding Israeli settlements.
All this has led to growing anger and frustration among Palestinians and profound disillusionment among Israelis. It has strengthened radicals and weakened moderates on both sides. The calls for non-violence and peace risk being overwhelmed by growingly extremist messages.
At the same time, let us also admit that there is a dangerous vacuum within the international community. So many other crises on the doorsteps and desks of world leaders cry out for attention and action in today’s world.
Yet, we cannot afford to shy away from the Israeli-Palestinian arena. Gaza remains a time-bomb. Jerusalem can turn into a powder keg. The internal divisions in the West Bank add a new dimension to the paralyzing lack of Palestinian unity, which ultimately can undermine democracy and the rule of law.
World leaders have stated time and again that this situation is unsustainable. With the Israeli occupation approaching its fiftieth year, the international community must make it clear that it remains committed to achieving dignity and self-determination for millions of Palestinians.
To Israeli friends, I say: we recognize your legitimate security concerns. But holding another people occupied for half a century undermines the values and the strength of your democratic society, of which you are proud and are right to be proud.
To Palestinian friends, I say: we recognize your legitimate grievances and the grave injustices you have faced. But nothing justifies terror, violence and incitement. And unity among Palestinians must be restored.
To both, I say that your historic and religious bonds with this common land are undeniable and must be the basis of any future agreement. The outlines of a peace agreement are well known. The steps required to end the stalemate and get the political process back on track are not new, they are not revolutionary. These steps have also been spelled out in the recent report of the Middle East Quartet.
The United Nations, as well as our partners in the Quartet, remains committed to working together with key stakeholders, including countries in the region, to implement the report’s recommendations, to rebuild trust between the parties and to create conditions for meaningful negotiations. We also welcome initiatives by the French and Russian Governments. We invite Israel and Palestine to work together with us in reviving the stalled peace process.
It is with a sense of profound sadness that the Secretary-General will leave office without seeing an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Secretary-General has visited the region 11 times, including during times of war, to see the situation first hand, help negotiate ceasefires and push the peace process forward. He will cover this issue and his persistent efforts at peacemaking in a special report to the Security Council later this month.
We are certain that the Secretary-General -designate, António Guterres, will build on these efforts. We wish him success in helping achieve a lasting solution to this tragic conflict.
On this International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, let us all reaffirm our commitment to upholding the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, to a just peace and to two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in security, mutual recognition and mutual respect.
71/20. Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People
The General Assembly,
Recalling its resolutions 181 (II) of 29 November 1947, 194 (III) of 11 December 1948, 3236 (XXIX) of 22 November 1974, 3375 (XXX) and 3376 (XXX) of 10 November 1975, 31/20 of 24 November 1976 and all its subsequent relevant resolutions, including those adopted at its emergency special sessions and its resolution 70/12 of 24 November 2015,
Recalling also its resolution 58/292 of 6 May 2004,
Having considered the report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People,1
Recalling the mutual recognition between the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people, as well as the existing agreements between the two sides and the need for full compliance with those agreements,
Affirming its support for a comprehensive, just, lasting and peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions, the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative adopted by the Council of the League of Arab States at its fourteenth session2 and the Quartet road map to a permanent two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, endorsed by the Security Council in resolution 1515 (2003) of 19 November 2003,3
Recalling the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,4 and recalling also its resolutions ES-10/15 of 20 July 2004 and ES-10/17 of 15 December 2006,
Taking note of the application of Palestine for admission to membership in the United Nations, submitted on 23 September 2011,5
Recalling its resolution 67/19 of 29 November 2012, by which, inter alia, Palestine was accorded non-member observer State status in the United Nations, and taking note of the follow-up report of the Secretary-General,6
Taking note of the accession by Palestine to several human rights treaties and the core humanitarian law conventions, as well as other international treaties,
Noting with deep regret the onset of the fiftieth year of the Israeli occupation, and stressing the urgent need for efforts to reverse the negative trends on the ground and to restore a political horizon for advancing and accelerating meaningful negotiations aimed at the achievement of a peace agreement that will bring a complete end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and the resolution of all core final status issues, without exception, leading to a peaceful, just, lasting and comprehensive solution of the question of Palestine,
Reaffirming that the United Nations has a permanent responsibility towards the question of Palestine until the question is resolved in all its aspects in a satisfactory manner in accordance with international legitimacy,
1. Expresses its appreciation to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for its efforts in performing the tasks assigned to it by the General Assembly, and takes note of its annual report,1 including the conclusions and valuable recommendations contained in chapter VII thereof;
2. Requests the Committee to continue to exert all efforts to promote the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to self-determination, to support the achievement without delay of an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and of the two-State solution on the basis of the pre-1967 borders and the just resolution of all final status issues and to mobilize international support for and assistance to the Palestinian people, and in this regard authorizes the Committee to make such adjustments in its approved programme of work as it may consider appropriate and necessary in the light of developments and to report thereon to the General Assembly at its seventy-second session and thereafter;
3. Also requests the Committee to continue to keep under review the situation relating to the question of Palestine and to report and make suggestions to the General Assembly, the Security Council or the Secretary-General, as appropriate;
4. Further requests the Committee to continue to extend its cooperation and support to Palestinian and other civil society organizations and to continue to involve additional civil society organizations and parliamentarians in its work in order to mobilize international solidarity and support for the Palestinian people, particularly during this critical period of political instability, humanitarian hardship and financial crisis, with the overall aim of promoting the achievement by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights and a just, lasting and peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions, the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative2 and the Quartet road map;3
5. Commends the efforts and activities of the Committee in upholding its mandate, including through cooperative initiatives with Governments, relevant organizations of the United Nations system, intergovernmental organizations and civil society organizations;
6. Also commends the efforts of the Working Group of the Committee in coordinating the efforts of international and regional civil society organizations regarding the question of Palestine;
7. Requests the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, established under General Assembly resolution 194 (III), and other United Nations bodies associated with the question of Palestine to continue to cooperate fully with the Committee and to make available to it, at its request, the relevant information and documentation that they have at their disposal;
8. Invites all Governments and organizations to extend their cooperation and support to the Committee in the performance of its tasks, recalling its repeated call for all States and the specialized agencies and organizations of the United Nations system to continue to support and assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self-determination, including the right to their independent State of Palestine;
9. Notes with appreciation the efforts of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development to compile a report to the General Assembly, pursuant to resolution 69/20 of 25 November 2014, on the economic costs of the Israeli occupation for the Palestinian people, and, while drawing attention to the alarming findings, as reflected in the recent report on United Nations Conference on Trade and Development assistance to the Palestinian people: developments in the economy of the Occupied Palestinian Territory,7 calls for the exertion of all efforts for the provision of necessary resources to expedite completion of the report, including the facilitation and coordination of pertinent inputs from the relevant organs, bodies and agencies of the United Nations system;
10. Requests the Secretary-General to circulate the report of the Committee to all the competent bodies of the United Nations, and urges them to take the necessary action, as appropriate;
11. Requests the Committee, in the light of the onset of the fiftieth year of the Israeli occupation, to focus its activities throughout 2017 on efforts and initiatives to end the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and to organize activities in this regard, within existing resources and in cooperation with Governments, relevant organizations of the United Nations system, intergovernmental organizations and civil society organizations, aimed at raising international awareness and mobilizing efforts as a contribution towards the achievement of a just, lasting, comprehensive and peaceful solution to the question of Palestine in all its aspects;
12. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to provide the Committee with all the facilities necessary for the performance of its tasks.
71/21. Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat
Having considered the report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People,1
Taking note, in particular, of the action taken by the Committee and the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat in accordance with their mandates,
Recalling its resolution 32/40 B of 2 December 1977 and all its subsequent relevant resolutions, including its resolution 70/13 of 24 November 2015,
1. Notes with appreciation the action taken by the Secretary-General in compliance with its resolution 70/13;
2. Considers that, by providing substantive support to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in the implementation of its mandate, the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat continues to make a most useful and constructive contribution to raising international awareness of the question of Palestine and of the urgency of a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine in all its aspects on the basis of international law and United Nations resolutions and the efforts being exerted in this regard and to generating international support for the rights of the Palestinian people;
3. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to provide the Division with the necessary resources and to ensure that it continues to effectively carry out its programme of work as detailed in relevant earlier resolutions, in consultation with the Committee and under its guidance;
4. Requests the Division, in particular, to continue to monitor developments relevant to the question of Palestine, to organize international meetings and activities in support of the Committee’s mandate with the participation of all sectors of the international community and to ensure, within existing resources, the continued participation of eminent persons and international renowned experts in these meetings and activities, to be invited on a par with the members of the Committee, to liaise and cooperate with civil society and parliamentarians, including through the Working Group of the Committee and its associated “UN Platform for Palestine”, to develop and expand the “Question of Palestine” website and the documents collection of the United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine, to prepare and widely disseminate the publications listed in paragraph 79 of the report of the Committee,1 in the relevant official languages of the United Nations, and information materials on various aspects of the question of Palestine and to develop and enhance the annual training programme for staff of the Palestinian Government in contribution to Palestinian capacity-building efforts;
5. Also requests the Division, as part of the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on 29 November, to continue to organize, under the guidance of the Committee, an annual exhibit on Palestinian rights or a cultural event in cooperation with the Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, and encourages Member States to continue to give the widest support and publicity to the observance of the Day of Solidarity;
6. Requests the Secretary-General to ensure the continued cooperation with the Division of the United Nations system entities with programme components addressing various aspects of the question of Palestine and the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem;
7. Invites all Governments and organizations to extend their cooperation to the Division in the performance of its tasks.
71/22. Special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat
The General Assembly,
Taking note, in particular, of the information contained in chapter VI of that report,
Recalling its resolution 70/14 of 24 November 2015,
Convinced that the worldwide dissemination of accurate and comprehensive information and the role of civil society organizations and institutions remain of vital importance in heightening awareness of and support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination and independence, and for the efforts to achieve a just, lasting and peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine,
Recalling the mutual recognition between the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people, as well as the existing agreements between the two sides,
Affirming its support for a comprehensive, just, lasting and peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions, the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative adopted by the Council of the League of Arab States at its fourteenth session,2 and the Quartet road map to a permanent two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, endorsed by the Security Council in resolution 1515 (2003) of 19 November 2003,3
Recalling the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,4
Taking note of its resolution 67/19 of 29 November 2012,
1. Notes with appreciation the action taken by the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat in compliance with resolution 70/14;
2. Considers that the special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department is very useful in raising the awareness of the international community concerning the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East and that the programme is contributing effectively to an atmosphere conducive to dialogue and supportive of peace efforts and should receive the necessary support for the fulfilment of its tasks;
3. Requests the Department, in full cooperation and coordination with the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, to continue, with the necessary flexibility as may be required by developments affecting the question of Palestine, its special information programme for 2017–2018, in particular:
(a) To disseminate information on all the activities of the United Nations system relating to the question of Palestine and peace efforts, including reports on the work carried out by the relevant United Nations organizations, as well as on the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy vis-à-vis the objective of peace;
(b) To continue to issue, update and modernize publications and audiovisual and online materials on the various aspects of the question of Palestine in all fields, including materials concerning relevant recent developments, in particular the efforts to achieve a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine;
(c) To expand its collection of audiovisual material on the question of Palestine, to continue the production and preservation of such material and to update, on a periodic basis, the public exhibit on the question of Palestine displayed in the General Assembly Building as well as at United Nations headquarters in Geneva and Vienna;
(d) To organize and promote fact-finding news missions for journalists to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel;
(e) To organize international, regional and national seminars or encounters for journalists aimed in particular at sensitizing public opinion to the question of Palestine and peace efforts and at enhancing dialogue and understanding between Palestinians and Israelis for the promotion of a peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including by fostering and encouraging the contribution of the media in support of peace between the two sides;
(f) To continue to provide assistance to the Palestinian people in the field of media development, in particular through its annual training programme for Palestinian broadcasters and journalists;
4. Encourages the Department to formulate ways for the media and representatives of civil society to engage in open and positive discussions to explore means for encouraging people-to-people dialogue and promoting peace and mutual understanding in the region.
1 Official Records of the General Assembly, Seventy-first Session, Supplement No. 35 (A/71/35).
2 A/56/1026-S/2002/932, annex II, resolution 14/221.
3 S/2003/529, annex.
4 See A/ES-10/273 and Corr.1.
71/23. Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine
Recalling its relevant resolutions, including those adopted at its tenth emergency special session,
Recalling also its resolution 58/292 of 6 May 2004,
Recalling further relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967, 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973, 1397 (2002) of 12 March 2002, 1515 (2003) of 19 November 2003, 1544 (2004) of 19 May 2004 and 1850 (2008) of 16 December 2008,
Recalling the affirmation by the Security Council of the vision of a region where two States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side within secure and recognized borders,
Noting with concern that it has been 69 years since the adoption of its resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947 and 49 years since the occupation of Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, in 1967,
Having considered the report of the Secretary-General submitted pursuant to the request made in its resolution 70/15 of 24 November 2015,1
Reaffirming the permanent responsibility of the United Nations with regard to the question of Palestine until the question is resolved in all its aspects in accordance with international law and relevant resolutions,
Recalling the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,2 and recalling also its resolutions ES-10/15 of 20 July 2004 and ES-10/17 of 15 December 2006,
Convinced that achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement of the question of Palestine, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, is imperative for the attainment of comprehensive and lasting peace and stability in the Middle East,
Stressing that the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples is among the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations,
Reaffirming the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war,
Reaffirming also the applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949,3 to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,
Recalling its resolution 2625 (XXV) of 24 October 1970, and reiterating the importance of maintaining and strengthening international peace founded upon freedom, equality, justice and respect for fundamental human rights and of developing friendly relations among nations irrespective of their political, economic and social systems or the level of their development,
Noting with deep regret the onset of the fiftieth year of the Israeli occupation, and stressing the urgent need for efforts to reverse the negative trends on the ground and to restore a political horizon for advancing and accelerating meaningful negotiations aimed at the achievement of a peace agreement that will bring a complete end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and the resolution of all core final status issues, without exception, leading to a peaceful, just, lasting and comprehensive solution of the question of Palestine,
Reaffirming the illegality of the Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem,
Expressing grave concern about the extremely detrimental impact of Israeli settlement policies, decisions and activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, including on the contiguity, integrity and viability of the Territory, the viability of the two-State solution based on the pre-1967 borders and the efforts to advance a peaceful settlement in the Middle East,
Expressing grave concern also about all acts of violence, intimidation and provocation by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians, including children, and properties, including homes, mosques, churches and agricultural lands, condemning acts of terror by several extremist Israeli settlers, and calling for accountability for the illegal actions perpetrated in this regard,
Reaffirming the illegality of Israeli actions aimed at changing the status of Jerusalem, including settlement construction and expansion, home demolitions, evictions of Palestinian residents, excavations in and around religious and historic sites, and all other unilateral measures aimed at altering the character, status and demographic composition of the city and of the Territory as a whole, and demanding their immediate cessation,
Expressing its grave concern about tensions, provocations and incitement regarding the holy places of Jerusalem, including the Haram al-Sharif, and urging restraint and respect for the sanctity of the holy sites by all sides,
Reaffirming that the construction by Israel, the occupying Power, of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, and its associated regime are contrary to international law,
Encouraging all States and international organizations to continue to actively pursue policies to ensure respect for their obligations under international law with regard to all illegal Israeli practices and measures in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly Israeli settlements,
Expressing deep concern about the continuing Israeli policies of closures and severe restrictions on the movement of persons and goods, including medical and humanitarian and economic, via the imposition of prolonged closures and severe economic and movement restrictions that in effect amount to a blockade, as well as of checkpoints and a permit regime throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,
Expressing deep concern also about the consequent negative impact of such policies on the contiguity of the Territory and the critical socioeconomic and humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people, which remains a disastrous humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, as well as on the efforts aimed at rehabilitating and developing the damaged Palestinian economy, including reviving the agricultural and productive sectors, while taking note of developments regarding the situation of access there based on the trilateral agreement facilitated by the United Nations in this regard and on the resumption of some trade from Gaza to the West Bank for the first time since 2007, and, while recalling Security Council resolution 1860 (2009) of 8 January 2009, calling for the full lifting of restrictions on the movement and access of persons and goods, taking into account the Agreement on Movement and Access of November 2005, including exports, which are crucial for social and economic recovery,
Recalling the mutual recognition 23 years ago between the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people,4 and stressing the urgent need for efforts to ensure full compliance with the agreements concluded between the two sides,
Recalling also the endorsement by the Security Council, in its resolution 1515 (2003), of the Quartet road map to a permanent two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict5 and the call in Council resolution 1850 (2008) for the parties to fulfil their obligations under the road map and to refrain from any steps that could undermine confidence or prejudice the outcome of negotiations on a final peace settlement,
Stressing the road map obligation upon Israel to freeze settlement activity, including so-called “natural growth”, and to dismantle all settlement outposts erected since March 2001,
Recalling the Arab Peace Initiative, adopted by the Council of the League of Arab States at its fourteenth session, held in Beirut on 27 and 28 March 2002, and stressing its importance in the efforts to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace,6
Urging renewed and coordinated efforts by the international community aimed at restoring a political horizon and advancing and accelerating the conclusion of a peace treaty to attain without delay an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 by resolving all outstanding issues, including all core issues, without exception, for a just, lasting and peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in accordance with the internationally recognized basis of the two-State solution, and ultimately of the Arab-Israeli conflict as a whole for the realization of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East,
Welcoming, in this regard, the initiative launched by France aimed at mobilizing international support for Palestinian-Israeli peace and convening an international peace conference, the ongoing efforts of the Quartet in the recent period to address the unsustainable situation on the ground and to promote meaningful negotiations and the ongoing regional efforts to advance the Arab Peace Initiative, as well as the respective efforts by Egypt and the Russian Federation,
Taking note of the joint communiqué, issued on 3 June 2016 at the Paris ministerial meeting, reaffirming the commitment to the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and calling, inter alia, for efforts to support the efforts of the parties to advance the prospects for peace,
Taking note also of the report of the Quartet of 1 July 2016,7 and stressing its recommendations as well as its recent statements, including those of 30 September 2015, 23 October 2015, 12 February 2016 and 23 September 2016, in which, inter alia, grave concerns were expressed that current trends on the ground are steadily eroding the two-State solution and entrenching a one-State reality and in which recommendations were made to reverse those trends in order to advance the two-State solution on the ground and create the conditions for successful final status negotiations,
Reiterating support for the convening of an international conference in Moscow, as envisioned by the Security Council in its resolution 1850 (2008) and the Quartet statement of 23 September 2011, for the advancement and acceleration of the peace efforts towards the fulfilment of its stated objectives,
Noting the important contribution to peace efforts of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, including within the framework of the activities of the Quartet and with regard to the recent trilateral agreement regarding the Gaza Strip,
Welcoming the ongoing efforts of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for the Coordination of the International Assistance to Palestinians, under the chairmanship of Norway, and noting its recent meeting at United Nations Headquarters, on 19 September 2016, and the ongoing efforts to generate sufficient donor support in this critical period for urgently addressing the immense humanitarian, reconstruction and recovery needs in the Gaza Strip, bearing in mind the detailed needs assessment and recovery framework for Gaza developed with the support of the United Nations, the World Bank and the European Union, and furthering Palestinian economic recovery and development,
Recognizing the efforts being undertaken by the Palestinian Government, with international support, to reform, develop and strengthen its institutions and infrastructure, emphasizing the need to preserve and further develop Palestinian institutions and infrastructure, despite the obstacles presented by the ongoing Israeli occupation, and commending in this regard the ongoing efforts to develop the institutions of an independent Palestinian State, including through the implementation of the Palestinian National Policy Agenda: National Priorities, Policies and Policy Interventions (2017–2022),
Expressing concern about the risks posed to the significant achievements made, as confirmed by the positive assessments made by international institutions regarding readiness for statehood, including by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations and the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, owing to the negative impact of the current instability and financial crisis being faced by the Palestinian Government and the continued absence of a credible political horizon,
Recognizing the positive contribution of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, which is aimed, inter alia, at enhancing development support and assistance to the Palestinian people and strengthening institutional capacity in line with Palestinian national priorities,
Urging the full disbursement of pledges made at the Cairo International Conference on Palestine: Reconstructing Gaza, on 12 October 2014, for expediting the provision of humanitarian assistance and the reconstruction process,
Welcoming the ministerial meetings of the Conference on Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development convened in Tokyo in February 2013 and Jakarta in March 2014 as a forum for the mobilization of political and economic assistance, including via exchanges of expertise and lessons learned, in support of Palestinian development, and encouraging the expansion of such efforts and support in the light of worsening socioeconomic indicators,
Recognizing the continued efforts and tangible progress made in the Palestinian security sector, noting the continued cooperation that benefits both Palestinians and Israelis, in particular by promoting security and building confidence, and expressing the hope that such progress will be extended to all major population centres,
Recognizing also that security measures alone cannot remedy the tensions, instability and violence, and calling for full respect for international law, including for the protection of civilian life, as well as the promotion of human security, the de-escalation of the situation, the exercise of restraint, including from provocative actions and rhetoric, and the establishment of a stable environment conducive to the pursuit of peace,
Gravely concerned over the negative developments that have continued to occur in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, including the escalation of violence and any excessive use of force, resulting in a large number of deaths and injuries, mostly among Palestinian civilians, including children and women, as well as the continued construction and expansion of settlements and the wall, the arbitrary arrest and detention of more Palestinian civilians, the acts of violence, vandalism and brutality committed against Palestinian civilians by Israeli settlers in the West Bank, the widespread destruction of public and private Palestinian property, including religious sites, and infrastructure and the demolition of homes, including if carried out as a means of collective punishment, the internal forced displacement of civilians, especially among the Bedouin community, and the consequent deterioration of the socioeconomic and humanitarian conditions of the Palestinian people,
Deploring the conflict in and around the Gaza Strip in July and August 2014 and the civilian casualties caused, including the killing and injury of thousands of Palestinian civilians, including children, women and the elderly, and the widespread destruction of thousands of homes and civilian infrastructure, including schools, hospitals, water, sanitation and electricity networks, economic, industrial and agricultural properties, public institutions, religious sites and United Nations schools and facilities, as well as the internal displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians and any violations of international law, including humanitarian and human rights law, in this regard,
Taking note of the report and findings of the independent commission of inquiry established pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution S-21/1,8 and stressing the need to ensure accountability for all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in order to end impunity, ensure justice, deter further violations, protect civilians and promote peace,
Expressing grave concern over the persisting disastrous humanitarian situation and socioeconomic conditions in the Gaza Strip as a result of the prolonged Israeli closures and severe economic and movement restrictions that in effect amount to a blockade and the continuing negative repercussions of the military operations in the Gaza Strip in July and August 2014, in November 2012 and between December 2008 and January 2009, particularly as a result of the widespread destruction and trauma inflicted and delays in reconstruction and recovery,
Expressing grave concern also about the lasting consequences of such conflicts on the civilian population and the living conditions in the Gaza Strip, as reflected in numerous reports, including the report of 26 August 2016 of the United Nations country team, entitled, “Gaza: two years after”, and stressing that the situation is unsustainable and that urgent efforts are required to reverse the de-development trajectory in Gaza and respond adequately and immediately to the humanitarian needs of the civilian population,
Recalling the statement of the President of the Security Council of 28 July 2014,9
Stressing the need for calm and restraint by the parties, including by consolidating the ceasefire agreement of 26 August 2014, achieved under the auspices of Egypt, to avert the deterioration of the situation,
Reiterating the need for the full implementation by all parties of Security Council resolution 1860 (2009) and General Assembly resolution ES-10/18 of 16 January 2009,
Stressing that a durable ceasefire agreement must lead to a fundamental improvement in the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, including through the sustained and regular opening of crossing points, and ensure the safety and well-being of civilians on both sides,
Expressing concern over the continued imposition of hundreds of checkpoints and obstacles to movement in and around Palestinian population centres by the Israeli occupying forces, and emphasizing in this regard the need for the implementation by both sides of the Sharm el-Sheikh understandings,
Expressing grave concern about the imprisonment and detention by Israel of thousands of Palestinians, including children, under harsh conditions, and all violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law which have occurred in this regard,
Emphasizing the importance of the safety, protection and well-being of all civilians in the whole Middle East region, and condemning all acts of violence and terror against civilians on both sides, including the firing of rockets,
Stressing the need for measures to be taken to guarantee the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilian population throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, consistent with the provisions and obligations of international humanitarian law,
Stressing also the need to respect the right of peaceful assembly,
Welcoming the formation of the Palestinian Government of national consensus under the leadership of the President, Mahmoud Abbas, consistent with Palestine Liberation Organization commitments and the Quartet principles, and emphasizing the need for respect for and the preservation of the territorial integrity and unity of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,
Affirming the need to support the Palestinian Government of national consensus in its assumption of full government responsibilities in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in all fields, as well as through its presence at Gaza’s crossing points,
Stressing the urgent need for sustained and active international involvement and for concerted initiatives to support the parties in building a climate for peace, to assist the parties in advancing and accelerating direct peace process negotiations for the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement that ends the occupation which began in 1967 and results in the independence of a democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours, on the basis of relevant United Nations resolutions, the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference, the Quartet road map and the Arab Peace Initiative,
Taking note of the application of Palestine for admission to membership in the United Nations, submitted on 23 September 2011,10
Taking note also of its resolution 67/19 of 29 November 2012, by which, inter alia, Palestine was accorded non-member observer State status in the United Nations, and taking note of the follow-up report of the Secretary-General,11
Noting the accession by Palestine, on 1 April 2014, to several human rights treaties and the core humanitarian law conventions,
Acknowledging the efforts being undertaken by civil society to promote a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine,
Recalling the findings by the International Court of Justice, in its advisory opinion, including on the urgent necessity for the United Nations as a whole to redouble its efforts to bring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which continues to pose a threat to international peace and security, to a speedy conclusion, thereby establishing a just and lasting peace in the region,12
Stressing the urgency of achieving without delay an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967,
Affirming once again the right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders,
1. Reaffirms the necessity of achieving a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, in all its aspects, and of intensifying all efforts towards that end, and stresses in this regard the urgency of salvaging the prospects for realizing the two-State solution of Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security within recognized borders, based on the pre-1967 borders, and making tangible progress towards implementing that solution and justly resolving all final status issues;
2. Calls for the intensification of efforts by the parties, including through negotiations, with the support of the international community, towards the conclusion of a final peace settlement;
3. Urges the undertaking of renewed international efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace, based on the relevant United Nations resolutions, the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative adopted by the Council of the League of Arab States at its fourteenth session,6 the Quartet road map to a permanent two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,5 and the existing agreements between the Israeli and Palestinian sides;
4. Stresses the need for a resumption of negotiations based on the long-standing terms of reference and clear parameters and within a defined time frame aimed at expediting the realization of a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement, and in this regard encourages serious efforts by all concerned international and regional partners, including by the United States of America, the European Union, the Russian Federation and the United Nations, as members of the Quartet, and by the League of Arab States;
5. Commends and encourages continued serious regional and international efforts to follow up and promote the Arab Peace Initiative, including by the Ministerial Committee formed at the Riyadh summit in March 2007;
6. Welcomes the initiative launched by France aimed at mobilizing international support for Palestinian-Israeli peace and convening an international peace conference, the ongoing efforts of the Quartet to address the unsustainable situation on the ground and to promote meaningful negotiations, while stressing its recommendations, and the respective efforts by Egypt and the Russian Federation to promote dialogue and negotiations between the two parties;
7. Calls for the timely convening of an international conference in Moscow, as envisioned by the Security Council in its resolution 1850 (2008), for the advancement and acceleration of the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement;
8. Calls upon both parties to act responsibly on the basis of international law and their previous agreements and obligations, in both their policies and actions, in order to urgently reverse negative trends on the ground and create the conditions necessary for the launching of a credible political horizon and the advancement of peace efforts;
9. Calls upon the parties themselves, with the support of the Quartet and other interested parties, to exert all efforts necessary to halt the deterioration of the situation, to reverse all unilateral and unlawful measures taken on the ground since 28 September 2000, to take every possible step to promote conditions conducive to the success of peace negotiations and to refrain from actions that undermine trust or prejudge final status issues;
10. Calls upon the parties to observe calm and restraint and to refrain from provocative actions, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric, especially in areas of religious and cultural sensitivity, including in East Jerusalem, and calls for respect for the historic status quo at the holy places of Jerusalem, including the Haram al-Sharif, in word and in practice, and for immediate and serious efforts to defuse tensions;
11. Underscores the need for the parties to take confidence-building measures aimed at improving the situation on the ground, promoting stability, building trust and fostering the peace process, and stresses the need, in particular, for an immediate halt to all settlement activities and home demolitions, ending violence and incitement and undertaking measures to address settler violence and ensure accountability, and for the further release of prisoners and an end to arbitrary arrests and detentions;
12. Stresses the need for the removal of checkpoints and other obstructions to the movement of persons and goods throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the need for respect and preservation of the territorial unity, contiguity and integrity of all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem;
13. Also stresses the need for an immediate and complete cessation of all acts of violence, including military attacks, destruction and acts of terror;
14. Reiterates its demand for the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1860 (2009);
15. Reiterates the need for the full implementation by both parties of the Agreement on Movement and Access and of the Agreed Principles for the Rafah Crossing, of 15 November 2005, and the need, specifically, to allow for the sustained opening of all crossings into and out of the Gaza Strip for humanitarian supplies, movement and access of persons and goods, as well as for commercial flows, including exports, and all necessary construction materials, and stresses the urgent need to promote accelerated and comprehensive reconstruction and to address the alarming unemployment rate, including among youth, including through the implementation of United Nations-led projects, civilian reconstruction activities and job-creation programmes, all of which are essential for alleviating the disastrous humanitarian situation, including the impact of the large-scale displacement of civilians in July and August 2014, improving the living conditions of the Palestinian people and promoting the recovery of the Palestinian economy;
16. Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to comply strictly with its obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, and to cease all of its measures that are contrary to international law and all unilateral actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, that are aimed at altering the character, status and demographic composition of the Territory, including the confiscation and de facto annexation of land, and thus at prejudging the final outcome of peace negotiations, with a view to achieving without delay an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967;
17. Reiterates its demand for the complete cessation of all Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, and calls for the full implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions and for the consideration of measures of accountability, in accordance with international law, in the case of continued non-compliance, stressing that compliance with and respect for international humanitarian law and international human rights law is a cornerstone for peace and security in the region;
18. Reiterates, in this regard, the need for Israel forthwith to abide by its road map obligation to freeze all settlement activity, including so-called “natural growth”, and to dismantle settlement outposts erected since March 2001;
19. Calls for the cessation of all provocations, including by Israeli settlers, in East Jerusalem, including in and around religious sites;
20. Demands that Israel, the occupying Power, comply with its legal obligations under international law, as mentioned in the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice2 and as demanded in General Assembly resolutions ES-10/13 of 21 October 2003 and ES-10/15, and, inter alia, that it immediately cease its construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and calls upon all States Members of the United Nations to comply with their legal obligations, as mentioned in the advisory opinion;
21. Reaffirms its commitment, in accordance with international law, to the two-State solution of Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security within recognized borders, based on the pre-1967 borders;
22. Calls for:
(a) The withdrawal of Israel from the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem;
(b) The realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, primarily the right to self-determination and the right to their independent State;
23. Stresses the need for a just resolution of the problem of Palestine refugees in conformity with its resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948;
24. Urges Member States to expedite the provision of economic, humanitarian and technical assistance to the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Government during this critical period in order to help to alleviate the serious humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which is dire in the Gaza Strip, to rehabilitate the Palestinian economy and infrastructure and to support the development and strengthening of Palestinian institutions and Palestinian State-building efforts in preparation for independence;
25. Requests the Secretary-General to continue his efforts with the parties concerned, and in consultation with the Security Council, towards the attainment of a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine and the promotion of peace in the region and to submit to the General Assembly at its seventy-second session a report on these efforts and on developments on this matter.
The General Assembly,
Recalling its resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947, in particular its provisions regarding the City of Jerusalem,
Recalling also its resolution 36/120 E of 10 December 1981 and all its subsequent relevant resolutions, including resolution 56/31 of 3 December 2001, in which it, inter alia, determined that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which have altered or purported to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, in particular the so-called “Basic Law” on Jerusalem and the proclamation of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, were null and void and must be rescinded forthwith,
Recalling further the Security Council resolutions relevant to Jerusalem, including resolution 478 (1980) of 20 August 1980, in which the Council, inter alia, decided not to recognize the “Basic Law” on Jerusalem,
Recalling the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,1 and recalling its resolution ES-10/15 of 20 July 2004,
Expressing its grave concern about any action taken by any body, governmental or non-governmental, in violation of the above-mentioned resolutions,
Expressing its grave concern also, in particular, about the continuation by Israel, the occupying Power, of illegal settlement activities, including measures regarding the so-called E-1 plan, its construction of the wall in and around East Jerusalem, its restrictions on Palestinian access to and residence in East Jerusalem and the further isolation of the city from the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which are having a detrimental effect on the lives of Palestinians and could prejudge a final status agreement on Jerusalem,
Expressing its grave concern further about the continuing Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes and other civilian infrastructure in and around East Jerusalem, the revocation of residency rights, and the eviction and displacement of numerous Palestinian families from East Jerusalem neighbourhoods, including Bedouin families, as well as other acts of provocation and incitement, including by Israeli settlers, in the city, including desecration of mosques and churches,
Expressing its concern about the Israeli excavations undertaken in the Old City of Jerusalem, including in and around religious sites,
Expressing its grave concern, in particular, about tensions, provocations and incitement regarding the holy places of Jerusalem, including the Haram al-Sharif, and urging restraint and respect for the sanctity of the holy sites by all sides,
Reaffirming that the international community, through the United Nations, has a legitimate interest in the question of the City of Jerusalem and in the protection of the unique spiritual, religious and cultural dimensions of the city, as foreseen in relevant United Nations resolutions on this matter,
Having considered the report of the Secretary-General on the situation in the Middle East,2
1. Reiterates its determination that any actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever, and calls upon Israel to immediately cease all such illegal and unilateral measures;
2. Stresses that a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the question of the City of Jerusalem should take into account the legitimate concerns of both the Palestinian and Israeli sides and should include internationally guaranteed provisions to ensure the freedom of religion and of conscience of its inhabitants, as well as permanent, free and unhindered access to the holy places by people of all religions and nationalities;
3. Also stresses the need for the parties to observe calm and restraint and to refrain from provocative actions, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric, especially in areas of religious and cultural sensitivity, and expresses its grave concern in particular about the recent series of negative incidents in East Jerusalem;
4. Calls for respect for the historic status quo at the holy places of Jerusalem, including the Haram al-Sharif, in word and practice, and urges all sides to work immediately and cooperatively to defuse tensions and halt all provocations, incitement and violence at the holy sites in the City;
5. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its seventy-second session on the implementation of the present resolution.