“Actions that undermine the ability of health workers to provide care to those in need are violations of international law. The conduct by the Israeli Security Forces during several entries into Makassed hospital this past week is unacceptable and must not be repeated” Mr. Piper said.
On 27 and 28 October armed police forcibly entered the hospital to reportedly obtain the medical files and security camera footage relating to a child who had been treated in the hospital before, and who is currently in Israeli custody. On 29 October, Israeli security forces fired tear gas canisters and other projectiles inside the hospital premises when medical staff were holding a peaceful protest against the recent events. The search operations disrupted health services and caused panic among patients and medical staff.
In addition, medical services are being impeded by checkpoints recently established near Augusta Victoria Hospital, following the escalation in violence in East Jerusalem. These obstacles have delayed access of patients and staff, as well as medical referrals between Augusta Victoria and Makassed hospitals.
“The right to health is a fundamental human right which Israel must respect and protect at all times” Mr. Piper concluded.
The human rights experts’ call for an end to the violence by all and strict compliance with international law comes following allegations of the killing of a Palestinian shot dead by Israeli forces during an undercover arrest operation in a Hebron hospital on Thursday last week. Further fatalities, Israeli and Palestinian, were reported last Friday and over the weekend.
“Cases of excessive use of force by Israeli forces against Palestinians, including some which appear to amount to summary executions, continue to be reported and some have been captured on video,” said the UN Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in the OPT, Makarim Wibisono, and on summary executions, Christof Heyns.
“The current escalation of violence with individual attacks by Palestinians against Israelis, excessive use of force by Israeli forces when apprehending Palestinian suspects of alleged attacks and in the context of clashes, as well as violent attacks by settlers against Palestinians, is occurring within the existing context of policies and practices under the longstanding Israeli occupation which entail violations of Palestinian human rights and raise tensions,” the experts noted. “In such a climate one would expect the leaders to make public calls to stop the carnage.”
Mr. Wibisono expressed particular concern over the high level of incidents and clashes in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, where Palestinians live in close proximity to a large settler population: “It is sadly a predictable flashpoint, but I strongly reiterate that Israeli security forces must abide by international standards on use of force,” he stressed. “In addition, there must not be impunity for settler violence”.
The experts welcomed the reported clarification by Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to the effect that Israeli security forces are prohibited from firing at a suspected assailant unless an immediate danger to human life cannot otherwise be prevented and that the use of fire must be proportional to the threat.
“This is an important statement as the rhetoric used by certain Israeli politicians and senior members of the police seems to suggest otherwise,” Mr. Heyns said. “International law allows the use of lethal force only where it is absolutely necessary - a last measure - to protect life. All uses of firearms should be considered potentially lethal.”
“We urge the authorities to carry out independent, thorough, prompt and impartial investigations into all suspected cases of extra-judicial, arbitrary and summary executions, and to provide compensation to the victims or their families,” the experts stated.
In operations to “deter others”, the family homes of five alleged perpetrators of attacks against Israelis in 2015 have been demolished by Israeli security forces since 14 November. At least nine additional adjacent apartments have been damaged and rendered unsafe. During the most recent operation this morning in Qalandiya refugee camp, initial information indicates that two Palestinians were killed, and nine others were injured, in clashes to protest against the demolition. Punitive demolitions are a form of collective penalty as they effectively punish not only the alleged perpetrators but also people (relatives, neighbours) for acts they have not individually committed. Collective penalties are prohibited under international law. Initial assessments indicate 20 people, including eight children, were rendered homeless by the demolition of the five homes.
The policy of such punitive demolitions was suspended by the Government of Israel in 2005 after an Israeli military committee deemed it ineffective as a deterrent. Such actions have restarted since mid-2014, with the exception of one case in 2009.
“I am distressed by reports of punitive demolitions carried out by Israeli security forces of five homes in the Jerusalem, Nablus, and Ramallah governorates in the last few days,” said Robert Piper, the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities in the occupied Palestinian territory.
“We recognize Israel’s serious security challenges today, but any law enforcement response must be consistent with international law. Punitive demolitions are inherently unjust, punishing innocent people for the acts of others.”
On 19 November 2015, the following statement was issued by the Spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (SG/SM/17339):
The Secretary-General condemns today’s terror attacks in Israel and the occupied West Bank. He expresses his condolences to the families of the five people killed today — three Israelis, a Palestinian and an American — and hopes for a full and speedy recovery for those injured. It is imperative now to restore calm.
The Secretary-General calls upon all political, religious and community leaders to speak out against such brutal acts and refrain from incendiary language. He reiterates that only a negotiated solution to the conflict can bring peace and security to the peoples of this troubled land.
At the outset, on behalf of the United Nations family in Jerusalem, I would like to extend my deepest condolences and sympathies to the families of the victims of the abhorrent terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut and the Sinai. These tragic events serve to reinforce the reality that the extremism and terrorism that have infected many parts of the Middle East are no longer constrained by barriers. They can strike anywhere, anytime, and pose a grave threat to international peace and security. Against that backdrop, we cannot separate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from this global threat. Establishing a Palestinian State, while addressing Israel’s substantial security concerns, would yield major dividends not only for Israelis and Palestinians alike, but for the entire region.
Over the past month, there were 36 reported attacks, including stabbings or attempted stabbings, shootings or car-rammings, by Palestinians against Israelis in Israel and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. They left at least 7 Israelis dead and 37 injured, including today’s attack in Tel Aviv and just now in the settlement of Gush Etzion. The two apparent sniper attacks in Hebron on 7 November, which would be the first of their kind since the current escalation began, and the brutal drive-by shooting south of Hebron on 13 November, which killed a father and his son, are worrying signs of escalation from the use of knives to the use of firearms. Of the suspected Palestinian assailants, 24 have been killed.
According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, during the reporting period, in clashes across the West Bank and Gaza, 11 Palestinians were killed and over 3,500 injured, with 7 others injured in settler-related violence. I must once again reiterate the resolute condemnation of the United Nation of all terrorist attacks, and I call on political, community and religious leaders on all sides to speak out against terror and all forms of violence.
Since our last briefing (see S/PV.7521), the epicentre of violence has moved to Hebron, which, like Jerusalem, has holy sites revered by both Muslims and Jews and has been a cause of friction for decades. Hebron is the heart of the Palestinian economy. Its vitality is unmistakable and its vast potential for growth is broadly recognized. It is the West Bank’s largest city with a population of some 170,000 people. It is also an industrial and commercial engine. Annual exports to Israel amount to over $240 million. The city’s continued development is thus integral to the economic viability of a future Palestinian state.
I recently visited Hebron, and a walk through the old city evokes a starkly different image — streets barricaded and unnaturally cut off, houses emptied of life and activity, lives caged in by metal grids and turnstiles. Over the past 20 years, the city’s Palestinian and Jewish populations have been physically separated. The economic impact of the violence raging in and around Hebron has been severe for the entire district. Once thriving markets are now eerily abandoned. Over the past decade, hundreds of shops located in the Israeli-controlled H2 area have been shut down either by military order or due to lack of business. I plan to return soon to Hebron with the United Nations country team to discuss with the Governor and the Mayor what programmes we can initiate to support the recovery of the area and promote community dialogue.
Ending the violence and de-escalating the overall situation in Jerusalem, Hebron and other areas must remain our immediate priority. But as the Secretary-General has consistently stated, this cannot be achieved through security measures alone. All parties must play a part in implementing measures that could have a positive impact. These include immediate efforts by all political, religious and community leaders to stop the hate-fuelled incitement that glorifies the murder of Jews or that brands all Palestinians as terrorists. Recent understandings on upholding the status quo at Haram-Al Sharif/Temple Mount must also be implemented. It is necessary to address the apparent impunity for settler violence against Palestinians. The sanctity of burial rituals must be recognized, and Palestinians should be allowed to bury their deceased without unnecessary delay. In Hebron, restrictions should be eased and the main commercial artery should be reopened, in accordance with the 1994 protocols. Steps to bolster security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority must be strengthened in order to prevent any further deterioration of the situation. Finally, the use of firearms by Israeli security forces should be employed only when less extreme means are insufficient to address an imminent threat of death or serious injury.
It is critical to also deal with the threats that kill the prospect of a two-State solution. The reality in which a settler State is emerging in the occupied West Bank must be reversed if hope is to be reignited. I am concerned by the decision announced on 18 November to issue tenders for 436 housing units in the East Jerusalem settlement of Ramat Shlomo — the first such tender announcement in over a year. Equally worrisome are the five punitive demolitions of the family houses of alleged perpetrators of terrorist acts, carried out by Israel over the past week. I reiterate that settlement activity and punitive demolitions are illegal under international law. They also deepen mistrust between the parties and further aggravate an already highly tense environment.
In a troubling development, Israeli forces have carried out several raids on hospitals, including at Al-Makassed hospital in East Jerusalem and at Al-Ahli hospital in Hebron. My Deputy and United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory has called on the authorities to respect healthcare facilities and the right of all individuals to receive health care.
During the reporting period, the security situation in Gaza was relatively calm compared to the West Bank, despite three fatalities as a result of clashes near the border fence. That having been said, however, seven rockets were fired toward Israel, three of which impacted Israeli territory, without causing fatalities. Palestinian militants also test fired 14 rockets at the sea. The Israel Defense Forces responded with six air strikes and three limited incursions into the Gaza Strip. On at least four occasions, Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinians at sea, resulting in injuries to at least two persons. In a worrying development, Israel intercepted the attempted illegal transfer of 450 litres of toluene diisocyanate, a hazardous substance that can be used for the production of a large quantity of rockets.
I call on all factions on the ground in Gaza not to engage in activities that risk destabilizing the situation and undermining the reconstruction process, particularly as the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism continues to function effectively. In October, a new stream was introduced to simplify access to construction materials to finish housing units that had been started but not completed prior to last year’s conflict. Under this stream, over 6,000 applicants have so far been introduced into the system. In a welcome development, in mid-October Israel removed aggregate from the list of dual-use materials. The good news, however, has been tempered by the addition of other items, including timber, to the list this year. These additions hinder Gaza’s reconstruction, and I call on the Israeli authorities to reconsider their decisions.
Based on developments on the ground, the current conditions make a return to negotiations a challenging prospect. Trust must be rebuilt and, to that end, bold and significant steps on the ground must be taken in order to tangibly improve lives and irreversibly move towards the end of the occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian State. In the period before an eventual return to negotiations, the parties and their international partners must pursue measures that strengthen their institutions, economic prospects and security. This will require substantial policy changes on the ground by Israel.
The Middle East Quartet remains the principal international entity to support and encourage negotiations towards a comprehensive and just resolution of the conflict. The Quartet envoys plan to travel to the region in the coming period to engage directly with the parties. Meanwhile, we continue to look to the Security Council for any additional guidance on developing a new peace architecture for resolving the conflict.
In closing, let me say that I refuse to be convinced that Israelis and Palestinians want to live by the sword and in a state of perpetual violence. We owe it to the people of that troubled land who, despite endless setbacks and disappointments, have continued to maintain hope that negotiated peace can be realized. I can assure members of the Council that the Secretary-General remains steadfast in his support of any effort to restore the hope that a two-State solution can be achieved through negotiations. But the long road ahead will require leadership — leadership that has been glaringly absent to date.
I present this statement on behalf of the Secretary-General, who today is travelling. One year ago, the General Assembly commemorated the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The Assembly focused on the question of Palestine and on growing hopes at the time that the international community would engage in finally bringing to an end this long-standing conflict of such consequences to so many areas of the world.
Yet, one year later, and more than one year since the last ruinous conflict in Gaza, security and hope in Gaza and in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, remain at a very low point.
We continue to witness illegal settlement activities and settler-related violence. Demolitions of Palestinian-owned structures have continued, including punitive demolitions. Such policies and actions are directly contrary to the Government of Israel’s stated intention to pursue a two-State solution.
In recent weeks, tensions and violence related to the Holy Sites in the Old City of Jerusalem have introduced a troubling and dangerous religious dimension to the conflict. During my visit to the region last month, I stressed the need to preserve the status quo at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount, in accordance with the agreements between Israel and Jordan and with the special role of the King of Jordan, as Custodian.
I welcome Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s repeated assurances that Israel has no intention of changing the status quo. This commitment needs to be accompanied by actions to defuse the situation and to restore confidence. During the current wave of violence we have witnessed heinous attacks, stabbings, shootings and attacks causing immense suffering among Israelis and Palestinians alike. I condemn such attacks and all acts of violence.
It is crucial that leaders on both sides in this sensitive moment play a constructive role towards solving the conflict. Both sides must reject inflammatory public statements, which only escalate the already tense and volatile situation.
Recognizing the security problems which Israel faces, I nonetheless remind Israeli authorities that the use of excessive force feeds anger and frustration. I urge Israeli security services to exercise maximum restraint. This goes in particular for the use of lethal force.
It is abundantly clear that Palestinians feel deep frustration over an occupation that has lasted nearly 50 years. Similarly, Israelis strongly fear for their security. The lack of a political horizon to achieve the two-State solution seriously increases the risk of the situation spiralling out of control.
The international community can and must play a greater role to break the impasse. The Middle East Quartet must continue its efforts to preserve the viability of a Palestinian State and establish conditions for a return to meaningful negotiations.
On 29 November 2012, the State of Palestine joined the United Nations as a non-member observer State. Today, 136 countries recognize the State of Palestine and its flag flies at the United Nations next to those of Member States.
However, these diplomatic advances are not felt by children in Gaza, or by the Palestinians of Nablus and Hebron. What they feel is a glaring lack of hope that their lives will change for the better and that they will be citizens of a State which will ensure their freedom and well-being.
On this International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, let us reaffirm our commitment to bring about the just peace that the peoples of both Israel and Palestine so desperately need and deserve. This would also be a major much needed contribution to international peace and security.
70/12. 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 69/20 of 25 November 2014,
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,
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-first 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 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, 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;
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. Also requests the Secretary-General to continue to provide the Committee with all the facilities necessary for the performance of its tasks.
70/13. Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat
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 69/21 of 25 November 2014,
1. Notes with appreciation the action taken by the Secretary-General in compliance with its resolution 69/21;
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 conferences in various regions 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 conferences, 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 72 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.
70/14. Special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat
Taking note, in particular, of the infoRrmation contained in chapter VI of that report,
Recalling its resolution 69/22 of 25 November 2014,
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 69/22;
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 2016-2017, in particular:
(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;
70/15. Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine
Recalling its relevant resolutions, including those adopted at its tenth emergency special session,
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 68 years since the adoption of its resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947 and 48 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 69/23 of 25 November 2014, 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,
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, 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 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, 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 serious socioeconomic and humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people, which is a disastrous humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, and on the efforts aimed at rehabilitating and developing the damaged Palestinian economy, 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 calling for the full lifting of restrictions,
Recalling the mutual recognition 22 years ago between the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people, 4 and the need for full compliance with the agreements concluded between the two sides,
Recalling also the endorsement by the Security Council, in resolution 1515 (2003), of the Quartet road map to a permanent two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict 5 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 2002,6
Urging renewed efforts by the international community aimed at 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,
Reiterating support for the convening of an international conference in Moscow, as envisioned by the Security Council in 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 30 September 2015, at which donor countries reaffirmed the necessity of continued and increased donor support in this critical period for urgently addressing the immense humanitarian, reconstruction and recovery needs in the Gaza Strip 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 Development Plan on governance, economy, social development and infrastructure (2014–2016), including the National Strategic Framework for Development Policies and Interventions in Area C, and 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, while also expressing concern about the negative impact of the current instability and financial crisis being faced by the Palestinian Government,
Recognizing also 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,
Welcoming the convening of the Cairo International Conference on Palestine: Reconstructing Gaza, on 12 October 2014, and urging the timely and full disbursement of pledges for expediting the provision of humanitarian assistance and the reconstruction process,
Welcoming also 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,
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, the 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 including 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, 7 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,
Recalling the statement of the President of the Security Council of 28 July 2014, 8
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) of 8 January 2009 and General Assembly resolution ES-10/18 of 16 January 2009,
Stressing that the situation in the Gaza Strip is unsustainable and 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, including by the Quartet, and welcoming in this regard its statement of 30 September 2015, and for concerted initiatives to support the parties in building a climate for peace, to assist the parties in advancing and accelerating the 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 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, 9
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, 10
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, 11
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;
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 clear parameters and with a defined time frame aimed at expediting the realization of a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement, and in this regard encourages serious efforts 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 and all other concerned States;
5. 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. Calls for, in this regard, the timely convening of an international conference in Moscow, as envisioned by the Security Council in resolution 1850 (2008), for the advancement and acceleration of the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement;
7. Calls upon both parties to act responsibly on the basis of international law and their previous agreements and obligations, in particular adherence to the road map, irrespective of reciprocity, in order to create the conditions necessary for the advancement of peace efforts;
8. 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;
9. 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;
10. 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, including an immediate halt to all settlement activities and home demolitions, the undertaking of measures to address settler violence and ensure accountability, the further release of prisoners and an end to arbitrary arrests and detentions;
11. 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;
12. Also stresses the need for an immediate and complete cessation of all acts of violence, including military attacks, destruction and acts of terror;
13. Reiterates its demand for the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1860 (2009);
14. 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, as well as for commercial flows and all necessary construction materials, and stresses the urgent need to promote reconstruction and address the alarming unemployment rate, including among youth, including through the implementation of United Nations-led projects and civilian reconstruction activities, 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;
15. 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;
16. 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;
17. Stresses, 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;
18. Calls for the cessation of all provocations, including by Israeli settlers, in East Jerusalem, including in and around religious sites;
19. 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;
20. 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;
21. 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;
22. Stresses the need for a just resolution of the problem of Palestine refugees in conformity with its resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948;
23. 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 disastrous 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;
24. 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-first session a report on these efforts and on developments on this matter.
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, 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,
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-first session on the implementation of the present resolution.
The present study analyses the problems and prospects of the Palestinian agricultural sector. The study highlights the sector’s role, importance and contribution to the overall economy, and its strengths and weaknesses, as well as opportunities in the sector and constraints on the sector. The study underscores the distortions imposed by occupation and their impact on the state and prospects of the Palestinian agricultural sector.
Over and above its traditional economic role, agriculture remains of great significance to the Palestinian people and their identity. Land and agriculture symbolize Palestinian resilience and perseverance in the face of ongoing land loss due to prolonged occupation and the expansion of Israeli settlements. The practical and symbolic importance of the agricultural sector is heightened even further by the fact that the key factors of agricultural production, land and water, are relatively scarce in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the occupation has made the situation worse.
Agriculture contributes significantly to Palestinian income, exports, food security and job creation. However, the sector has been operating well below potential. Its relative contribution to the gross domestic product and exports has been declining, while the absolute size of agricultural output has been fluctuating, with a discernible downward trend.
Despite sharing a similar soil and climate, Palestinian agricultural output and productivity have lagged behind that of Israel and comparable countries in the region. For example, on average, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory the yield per dunum1 is half that in Jordan and only 43 per cent of the yield in Israel, despite nearly identical natural environments. Much of the difference in productivity observed between the three economies sharing the same agroecological zones is due to the impact of occupation on Palestinian agriculture. In this regard, Israel’s restrictions on the importation of fertilizers has had a detrimental impact on Palestinian agriculture, creating problems ranging from low productivity and soil degradation to high costs as a result of using inferior alternatives, which are often diluted, adulterated, smuggled or otherwise inappropriate. It is estimated that agricultural productivity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory has declined by between 20 and 33 per cent since enforcement of the restrictions on the importation of fertilizers.
In addition, Israel’s restrictions on the movement of farmers, services and agricultural trade entail additional financial and time-related costs. It is estimated that the costs of exporting and importing borne by Palestinian producers are twice as much as those borne by their Israeli counterparts, while procedures for importation require four times the amount of time Israeli importers spend on similar activities.
The ongoing occupation of Area C deprives the Palestinian economy of 63 per cent of the agricultural resources of the West Bank, including the most fertile and best grazing land, while the construction of the separation barrier and the expansion of Israeli settlements have diminished the area available for agricultural activities.
The Government of Israel controls water allocation and exercises veto power over Palestinian drilling, rehabilitation and investment in water infrastructure. Both the Palestinian National Authority and Palestinian farmers are denied the right to construct wells to meet the growing demand for water, even when that water originates almost entirely in the West Bank.
The resilient agricultural sector remains a strategic pillar of the Palestinian economy, however, with unparalleled potential for sustainable and quicker recovery. Much may be done, even under current conditions, to reverse or at least arrest the decline of the sector. However, for sustained recovery, it is imperative that the Palestinian National Authority and donors increase investment to rebuild agricultural infrastructure, establish and strengthen farmers’ cooperatives and normalize production and transportation costs. In addition, special targeted efforts are needed to support smallholder farmers in such areas as veterinary services, packaging, cold storage, transportation and marketing. Ideally, such interventions should be part of a comprehensive overhaul of policies and legislation governing and influencing agricultural production, processing and trading. There is also an urgent need to establish a well-funded not-for-profit public agricultural development bank to share the risks inherent in the sector, provide credit and insurance to farmers, support marketing and post-harvest services and fund and guarantee investment in agricultural and water-related infrastructure.
Given its critical importance, efforts should be exerted by the Palestinian National Authority and the international community to ensure that Palestinians have unhampered access to the land currently designated as Area C. Without access to Area C, sustainable recovery in the Palestinian agricultural sector is not conceivable, nor is it possible to build a robust economy capable of underpinning a viable Palestinian State.
1 One dunum equals 1,000 square metres.