|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Committee on the Inalienable Rights
of the Palestinian People
346th Meeting (AM)
Palestinian Rights Committee Approves Four Draft Resolutions
as It Considers Latest Hostilities in Gaza Strip
Chair Reports on Casualties as Permanent Observer
Of Palestine Urges Security Council Pressure on Israel to End ‘Aggression’
The Palestinian Rights Committee today approved by consensus four draft resolutions relating to the question of Palestine, as it considered the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly with regard to the current hostilities in the Gaza Strip.
Approved for submission to the General Assembly, were texts titled “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine”, “Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat”, “Special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat” and “Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People”.
By the terms of the first text, the Assembly would stress the need for the removal of checkpoints and other obstructions to the movement of persons and goods through the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, as well as the need to respect and preserve its territorial unity, contiguity and integrity. It would also stress the urgent necessity to advance reconstruction in the Gaza Strip, including through the completion of numerous suspended projects managed by the United Nations. The Assembly would demand that Israel comply with its legal obligations under international law, as mentioned in the 9 July 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice to cease immediately its construction of the separation wall.
Also by that draft, the Assembly would stress the need for Israel’s withdrawal from Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, and for the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, primarily their right to self-determination and to an independent State. It would further urge the parties to undertake, with the support of the Quartet and the international community, immediate and concrete steps in follow-up to the 2007 Israeli-Palestinian Joint Understanding reached at the international conference held in Annapolis, Maryland, United States. The Assembly would stress the need for an immediate and complete cessation of all violence, and reiterate its demand for the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1860 (2009).
By the draft on the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat, the Assembly would consider that the Division made useful and constructive contributions to raising international awareness of the question of Palestine, and of the urgency of a peaceful settlement. It would request the Secretary-General to continue providing the necessary resources to enable it to continue carrying out its programme of work.
According to the draft resolution on the special information programme, the Assembly would have the Department of Public Information disseminate information on all United Nations activities relating to the question of Palestine and the peace process, through various media, and continue to assist the Palestinian people with media development, particularly through strengthening the annual training programme for Palestinian journalists.
By the text on the Palestinian Rights Committee — formally known as the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People — the Assembly would express grave concern over the impasse in the peace process and the serious deterioration of the situation on the ground. It would request the Committee to continue promoting those inalienable rights and to extend its cooperation to civil society organizations in order to mobilize international solidarity and support.
Committee Chair Abdou Salam Diallo ( Senegal), referring to Israel’s launch of a “large-scale military operation” in the Gaza Strip last week, cited media reports stating that 94 Palestinians had been killed, including 50 civilians and many children. Additionally, three Israeli civilians had been killed as a result of rocket fire from Gaza, which had intensified following Israel’s assassination of the senior Hamas military commander on 14 November. He recalled that the Committee had issued a statement on Friday condemning the deadly attacks perpetrated by the Israeli military, as well as the killing of Israeli civilians by Palestinian rocket fire. It had demanded that Israel immediately and unconditionally end its military campaign in the Gaza Strip, because “nothing can justify this deadly military operation that Israel is carrying out, gravely endangering the Palestinian civilian population and spreading fear and trauma”.
Riyad H. Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine, said the Security Council must shoulder its responsibility for maintaining international peace and security by calling for an immediate end to the aggression. The Council was failing in that regard because it had not taken any action since having adopted the resolution aimed at halting Israel’s December 2008 assault on Gaza. The Council’s inaction was due simply to the position of one major Power, he said, emphasizing that the Palestinian delegation could not accept that the Security Council was unable to do anything to end the tragedy.
The Israeli Government had decided to escalate matters further by mobilizing troops for a ground onslaught, he said, urging the Security Council President to maximize pressure on Israel to stop the aggression without delay. The current aggression was directed in part against efforts to have the General Assembly bestow enhanced observer status on his delegation, which Israel hoped to sabotage, he said. However, nothing would prevent such a draft resolution from coming before the Assembly to legislate recognition of the State of Palestine, and hopefully even more delegations would come forward to co-sponsor the text, which would be presented on 29 November.
Richard Wright, Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Representative Office in New York, briefed the Committee on the challenges confronting that entity, focusing on critical short-term needs. Recalling that there were 1.2 million Palestinian refugees in Gaza, he said UNRWA had responsibility for eight refugee camps and 12,000 staff members, in addition to schools and health centres. The Agency had lost one staff member, an Arabic teacher, during the current aggression, and all UNWRA schools had been closed until further notice. The infrastructure of schools and distribution centres had been damaged, he said, adding that their fuel was in short supply and shops were closed as waste accumulated in the streets. He estimated that UNRWA needed around $12.7 million, including $6 million for food aid and $4.8 million for the next round of food distribution to address Gaza’s immediate needs.
Turning to territories under the Agency’s purview, he said that while Syria had been a generous host to UNRWA for decades, and now hosted more than 500,000 refugees, the current conflict in that country was having detrimental consequences. Five UNRWA staff members had been killed, in addition to an increasing number of refugees. Many others were displaced, and the Agency now hosted more than 2,000 internally displaced Syrians. A growing number of refugees in the West Bank needed humanitarian assistance, but only 41 per cent of the Agency’s appeal had been met in 2011, he said, adding that a similar outcome was foreseen for 2012. In Jordan, the Nahr el-Bared camp needed to be rebuilt, but only half of the necessary funding had been received. UNRWA, with a deficit of $21.3 million for 2012, faced multiple challenges, “if not crises”, in all its fields of operation, and was in critical need of support during, not only in the form of funding, but also through advocacy for the Agency itself and the 1.5 million refugees it supported.
PEDRO NÚÑEZ MOSQUERA ( Cuba) suggested that the Committee Chair meet with the Security Council President to encourage action, stressing that the threat of a veto could not prevent the Committee from expressing its opinion.
MILAD RAAD ( Lebanon) said the victims of the Israeli aggression were not mere numbers, but each had a face and a family. Four-year-old Mahmoud had been playing in front of his house in Gaza when his childhood had been ended by an Israeli bomb. Israeli Government officials had said that they would continue their offensive until Palestine was back in the Middle Ages so that their reign could continue for another 40 years. The international community must not forget the undeniable reality that the main concern was Israel’s occupation and the displacement of Palestinians. That was the root of the problem, he emphasized. Israeli settlers were carrying out provocations against Palestinians and violations of their places of worship, as Israel deprived many Palestinians of their rights in East Jerusalem. Israel continued to carry out administrative arrests without proof, and to put Palestinian refugees on trial.
YAŞAR HALIT ÇEVIK ( Turkey), calling for an immediate, simultaneous cessation of hostilities, said the Security Council must protect civilian lives. Turkey would continue to show solidarity with its Palestinian brothers and sisters, and its Minister for Foreign Affairs would join the Arab League in its visit to Gaza. Turkey had supported the application for full-fledged United Nations membership for Palestine, and would also support efforts to elevate Palestine to non-Member State observer status, he said.
In other business, the Committee recommended the accreditation of four non-governmental organizations to the Committee: the Environmental Media Centre and the Save Youth Future Society, both in Gaza, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolition, in Israel and the MILLA Project in the United States.
The Committee Chair reminded delegations of the special meeting to observe the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People to be held at 10 a.m. on 29 November.
* *** *For information media • not an official record