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35th plenary meeting
Thursday, 25 October 2007, 10 a.m.
The meeting was called to order at 10.05 a.m.
Agenda item 53 (continued)
Follow-up to and implementation of the outcome of the International Conference on Financing for Development
(b) High-level dialogue for the implementation of the outcome of the International Conference on Financing for Development
Reports of the Secretary-General (A/62/190 and A/62/217)
Note by the Secretary-General (A/62/271)
The President : I now give the floor to His Excellency, Mr. Riyad Mansour, chairman of the observer delegation of Palestine.
Mr. Mansour (Palestine): During the debate at the beginning of the sixty-second session of the General Assembly, Sir, President Abbas conveyed to you the congratulations of Palestine on your assumption of the high post of President of the General Assembly (see A/62/PV.10). Since this is the first time I speak before you, I too would like to convey my personal congratulations to you and to say how delighted I am to see you in the presidency.
(spoke in Arabic )
It gives me pleasure to address the General Assembly on a question that is extremely important for all of us. We support the statement made by the representative of Pakistan on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
The region of the Middle East, together with the other countries of the world, particularly the developing countries, is confronting problems and challenges relating to development. The countries of our region know that the Millennium Development Goals adopted in 2000 are closely linked to the Monterrey Consensus process: financing for development is crucial in freeing countries from abject poverty. Despite its geopolitical and economic importance, the region of the Middle East continues to confront additional challenges, such as the occupation, that has gone on for more than 40 years and that has contributed immensely to the instability of the region and undermined development there. Observers and experts agree that instability is the main cause of the region’s weak economic performance and for its lack of integration into the international economy.
Palestine has an important place in that region. Over the years, it has been among the principal recipients of international aid. Thanks to the international community, we have over the years carried out numerous achievements and reforms in the economic area because of the self-motivation of the Palestinian people. We have made major strides towards economic and political reform, with the goal of establishing a solid, transparent and open financial system. The overall aim is to give our people a system of governance consonant with international systems, which is, an absolute right it shares with all other peoples of the world.
But despite many achievements made thanks to aid and support from donors, the humanitarian and economic situation of the Palestinian people continues to be grim. Development efforts in the occupied Palestinian territories are still thwarted by Israel, the occupying Power, through arbitrary measures which in recent years have made it practically impossible to make any economic progress, or achieve any financial stability. Through these illegal practices, which violate international law and international humanitarian law, Israel has, over the past seven years, destroyed most of the infrastructure, institutions and facilities which, thanks to the generosity of donor countries, were built in occupied Palestine following the signing of the Declaration of Principle in 1993. The current situation is a humanitarian disaster. Instead of channelling the energies of our people towards development and building a bright future, our people are obliged, due to continuous Israeli military aggression and economic embargo, to depend totally on humanitarian aid.
It was reaffirmed at the Monterrey Conference, that development is a shared responsibility of the international community. The world leaders agreed to take specific steps in a number of fields to support international partnerships for development. The Palestinian people, who live under the yoke of occupation, attach great importance to this issue because it is their lifeline.
However, the economic and financial situations have deteriorated rapidly. Since the January 2006 legislative elections, we have been subjugated to the most terrible forms of punishment. As Ms. Karen Koning AbuZayd, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, has stated, the irony is that there is a contradiction between the international commitment to eliminate poverty and the imposition of one of the most atrocious regimes to punish the Palestinian people. Mr. John Dugard, the Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian territories, has said that this is the first time that an occupied people has been so treated. The punishment includes Israel’s keeping the duty and tax revenue it collects on behalf of the Palestinians, monies that form about half the Palestinian budget. The economic and trade embargo against our people is being stepped up through the imposition of banking restrictions for transfers of funds, including those that come to us in the form of assistance provided by donor countries. Those measures have deepened the economic and humanitarian crisis in Palestine.
In 2006, third-quarter gross national product (GNP) fell about 8 per cent compared to the same period in 2005. Poverty and unemployment rates continue to rise and now stand at about 64 and 30 per cent respectively. Although donor countries have promised that they will resume aid and Israel has said that it will transfer part of the tax revenue it is illegally withholding, the humanitarian situation has not seen any tangible improvement because of the continued occupation and violations and because of Israel’s refusal to transfer to the Palestinian Authority the taxes that it is holding illegally.
The Monterrey Consensus indicated that trade is an engine for development, and in many instances the most important foreign resource for financing development. But that engine for development continues to be stalled because of the stifling economic embargo imposed by Israel and the blocking of our access to markets for extended periods of time, making it impossible for trade to exist. A United Nations Conference on Trade and Development report states that there is little opportunity to engage in trade in the Palestinian territories, because of external and internal restrictions imposed by Israel. All of the economic indicators in Palestine are falling. Over the past five years, our economy has lost $8.4 billion in income, which is equivalent to more than double the volume of today’s economy. Palestinians are increasingly dependent on imports from Israel. Current production levels are only two thirds of local production levels of 1998. The trade deficit thus reached some $2 billion in 2006. That does not involve only figures: it is the reality that we live each day, and it has a direct impact on hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. This reality is a threat to our livelihood and to our lives, as well as a threat to our future and the future of our children.
Israel’s occupation and illegal practices in Palestine have halted all activity on the six areas of attention of the Monterrey Consensus, thus thwarting any possibility that we might achieve tangible economic development. The challenge of development, as was discussed in Monterrey, is a global challenge. It includes the achievement of the MDGs for all peoples of the world without any exception. The Palestinian people, who have been suffering under occupation for more than 40 years, are thus entitled to enjoy development like all the world’s other peoples, and to play our rightful role, which has long been absent from the world scene.
The meeting rose at 11.45 a.m.
This record contains the text of speeches delivered in English and of the interpretation of speeches delivered in the other languages. Corrections should be submitted to the original languages only. They should be incorporated in a copy of the record and sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned to the Chief of the Verbatim Reporting Service, room C-154A. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.