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33. Although the situation on the ground during the reporting period had remained critical for the majority of Palestinians, the United Nations response had sought to intensify its medium-term development approach while continuing to meet emergency needs. United Nations agencies had assisted the Palestinian Authority in its efforts to refocus on longer-term planning and improved governance, investing some $10 million in technical assistance and capacity-building activities which were of direct benefit to it. The period under review had been marked by the announcement of Israel’s disengagement plan from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank, successful Palestinian presidential elections and confidence-building efforts by both Israelis and Palestinians, and internal and external closures imposed by Israel had continued to obstruct economic recovery for Palestinians and complicate humanitarian access. Noting that an estimated 48 per cent of Palestinians were living under the poverty line at the end of 2004 and food consumption per capita had fallen by an estimated 25 to 30 per cent since 2000, she said that United Nations agencies, donors and humanitarian organizations would need to meet a wide variety of programming needs, while balancing short-term emergency requirements with a coherent development focus on the medium and long term. It was therefore vital that the international community continued to provide the necessary resources for assistance programmes for the Palestinian people.
34. Both parties had reaffirmed their commitment to the road map. While steps had been taken to implement the confidence-building measures agreed in Sharm el-Sheikh in February 2005, the recent upsurge in violence threatened to undermine that process. Noting that effective coordination by the parties remained vital to ensuring a successful implementation of the disengagement process, she said that the international community was continuing its efforts to facilitate ongoing dialogue between the parties and secure financial support for the revival of the Palestinian economy following disengagement. A successful disengagement should pave the way for full implementation of the road map which was aimed at achieving a two-State solution.
35. Ms. Al-Bassam (Chief, Regional Commissions New York Office) introduced the note by the Secretary-General on the economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan (A/60/65-E/2005/13).
42. Mr. Mekdad (Syrian Arab Republic) said that, as indicated in the report contained in document A/60/65-E/2005/13, Israel continued, with utter disregard for international law and General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, to subject the Palestinian population to barbaric and inhumane treatment. Unarmed civilians and children were routinely murdered, houses were demolished while centuries-old olive groves were destroyed. It was impossible to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in the Israeli-occupied territories where economic indicators remained negative. The report showed that the health of the population was deteriorating steadily due in part to the fact that Israel had buried radioactive waste in the occupied Syrian Golan and was using X-rays at checkpoints. The frequent closures or curfews coupled with the mowing down of children by Israeli snipers had effectively curtailed access to education.
43. The occupation authorities had also used a variety of impediments, including closures, to prevent the delivery of humanitarian assistance. The facilities of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), including schools and clinics, had suffered damages. Settlement activities were expanding with the establishment of nine new illegal settlements in the Syrian Golan and work on the expansionist wall continued, a year after the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice declared it illegal. Israel still did not respect international law. The Rapporteur of the Human Rights Commission had noted that one of the basic objectives of the wall was to drive the Palestinians from their land by making their lives impossible. He wondered how long the international community was going to stand by silently as millions of oppressed Palestinians chafed under the yoke of oppression.
44. Mr. Sermoneta (Israel) expressed disappointment that the Council was being misused to discuss a political issue that detracted from its important work. It was even more disappointing that once the Council had decided to debate that inappropriate issue, it was doing so in a way that did not give a credible or accurate depiction of the situation.
45. The report set the parameters for the statistics it used to suit its convenience and changed them just as conveniently when the same parameters would discredit its own arguments. The scope of the report had been narrowly set with the clear intention of discrediting Israel. It took the Palestinian economic situation out of context, ignoring the campaign of terror and violence perpetrated against Israelis over the past four years. It also failed to reflect the significant impact on the health of the Palestinian economy of persistent corruption within the Palestinian Authority. A report of such limited scope could not deliver any constructive message; such blatant propaganda did not belong in the Council.
46. The Council should desist from considering reports framed in language that was biased in favour of one side of the conflict. Reports such as the current one, that respected the rights of only one side and patched together snippets of information without regard to context, exacerbated problems by allowing fabrications and distortions to persist far longer than they deserved. The current movement towards reforming the United Nations was intended to prevent politically motivated reports such as the current one. Neither the debate nor the report would do anything to improve the situation of the Palestinians.
48. Mr. Atiyanto (Indonesia), referring to the report contained in document A/60/65-E/2005/13, said that it presented factual evidence of the ongoing plight of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan. It was evident that the Israeli occupation had deepened the economic and social hardship of the Palestinian people, confirming the need for greater attention from the international community. He expressed deep concern at, inter alia, the destruction of agricultural land for illegal settlements and the resource problems, including lack of water distribution and water pollution. He was particularly disturbed by the arbitrary detention of children in Israeli prisons without adequate medical care or access to legal counsel.
49. It was particularly alarming that Israel had completely ignored the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice concerning the separation wall, construction of which clearly violated the economic and social rights of the Palestinian people. It would therefore be extremely difficult for the Palestinian people to attain the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 unless the international community intervened. Violence was never a solution; the only sustainable option was for Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan.
50. Indonesia remained fully committed to the struggle of the Palestinian people to achieve their inalienable rights and their aspirations to live in a secure and independent prosperous homeland. That could be achieved through concerted international action based on the road map. The United Nations and its agencies should continue to play a significant role in alleviating the suffering of the Palestinian people. In that regard, the Council should continue its endeavours to assist the Palestinian people to live in dignity, free from want and fear.
51. Mr. Al-Rasheed (Saudi Arabia) said that the occupation was the problem. If the occupation were to cease, the situation of the Palestinian people would improve. That issue should remain on the Council’s agenda as long as the occupation continued.
52. Mr. Hijazi (Observer for Palestine) said that Palestinian civilians, children in particular, continued to bear the brunt of the military assaults the occupying Power launched against cities, villages and refugee camps. The result was the catastrophic socio-economic situation of the Palestinian people, 38 per cent of whom were now completely dependent on food rations. Those figures were the fruit of Israel’s brutal military occupation and systematic human rights violations against the Palestinian people.
53. Perhaps no policy was as far-reaching in its detrimental effects on Palestinians as the illegal policy of settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. That policy was in flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. Despite countless United Nations resolutions calling on Israel to end its policy, Israeli settlement construction had increased throughout the past year. Equally dangerous was the construction of the “expansionist” wall in the occupied territory. Not only was Israel’s unlawful construction of its wall resulting in de facto annexation of Palestinian land, but it would render a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict physically impossible. It was important to highlight that, in its Advisory Opinion, the International Court of Justice had concluded that Israel was under an obligation to cease construction of the wall and to dismantle the sections constructed to date. Once again, Israel had turned a deaf ear to the international community’s wishes and had continued building the wall deep into the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem and planned to complete construction of the wall around occupied East Jerusalem by September.
54. Over the past year, Israeli occupying forces had killed more than 869 Palestinians, bringing the total number of Palestinian civilians killed since September 2000 to more than 3,670. It was appalling to note that 41 of those wilfully killed were schoolchildren, some of whom had been killed while sitting at their desks. During the same period, the occupying Power had imprisoned nearly 8,000 Palestinians, including at least 259 Palestinian children, in the harshest conditions. In the past year alone, Israeli occupation forces had demolished at least 2,188 homes, rendering tens of thousands of Palestinians homeless.
55. If Israel continued its illegal practices, the Palestinian people would be prevented from meeting the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. The international community must take steps to halt the destruction by Israel of the natural resources of the Palestinian people and of those in the occupied Syrian Golan. The occupying Power must choose between walls and settlements or peace and prosperity.
56. Mr. Ramadan (Lebanon) said that it was regrettable that the Council was vowing to debate the issue yet again. Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory was aimed at changing the demographic make-up of the Territory. He wished to make three points.
57. Firstly, since the Council sought to promote sustainable development, poverty elimination and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, it must monitor all activities that could impede The attainment of the Goals. Foremost among such activities was the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory. By adopting a resolution the Council would demonstrate the importance it attached to development.
58. Secondly, regarding settlements, the Council had stressed that Israeli settlements on Palestinian land were illegal and that the Israeli settlement policy was expansionist. Forty-one per cent of the West Bank and 45 per cent of Gaza were under settlements. In the occupied Syrian Golan, most land there had been set aside for settlements or military activities; Syrians controlled only six per cent of the land.
59. His third point concerned the wall that Israel was building inside Palestinian territories. It was some three times higher than the Berlin Wall, and approximately five times longer. When it was completed, Israel would have taken over 51 per cent of all water resources in the West Bank. Activities related to the wall’s construction were leading to the erosion of Palestinian soil and making it very difficult for Palestinian farmers to reach their farms in the first place.
60. Mr. Al-Hebsi (United Arab Emirates) endorsed the views expressed by previous speakers, adding that the item must remain on the Council’s agenda for as long as the Israeli occupation continued.
The meeting rose at 5.43 p.m.
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