State of Palestine

at the
World Summit on Sustainable Development 

Johannesburg, South Africa
04 September 2002

Mr. President
Distinguished delegates

Mr. President, I avail myself on behalf of his Excellency Mr. Yasser Arafat, President of Palestine whose office in Rammalh is subjected to Israeli occupation and siege. Allow me first to convey his sincere regards and admiration for your respectable summit, wishing you every success towards achieving sustainable development for all the free nations of the world.

I would like to thank the Preparatory Committee for the excellent handling and management of the sessions of this summit. I also would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the State of South Africa: president, government and people for hosting this important global gathering and for the continuous political, spiritual and financial assistance to the Palestinian people who are suffering under occupation.

Mr. President,
Ladies and gentlemen

Since its establishment in 1994, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) has worked hard to meet the Palestinian people's social and economic demands, taking into consideration protecting the environment and achieving sustainable development.

The PNA established an institutional framework based upon democracy, equality and social justice. It separated between legislative authority, executive authority and judicial authority; this was insured through PNA's constitution of the transitional period or what is known as the basic law.

The PNA has worked very hard in building the ministries, authorities and various agencies along with building the capacity of human resources in order to deal with the challenges of building the new Palestinian state and to rehabilitate what has been destroyed by the Israeli occupation.

Laws and legislations were developed to organize and manage the different sectors such as water, environment, education, health, industry, trade, tourism and others.

The PNA has set up strategic development plans based on landuse frameworks in both Gaza strip and West Bank. It has started implementing strategic plans in various fields like environment, health, agriculture, tourism and water with the assistance of international donors.
In health, 6 new governmental hospitals and 140 new primary health care centers were built, existing hospitals were extended, school health programs were developed and women and children programs were improved.

In education, 145 new schools were built, classrooms were added, existing schools were maintained and scientific institutions were rehabilitated.

The higher education institutions have wittiness a unique development presented in opening new scientific faculties, adding new buildings in most of Palestinian universities, focusing on vocational training and encouraging scientific research towards the development process.

In the social welfare sector, in order to combat unemployment and to alleviate poverty, PNA has created jobs for thousands of Palestinians. Several special programs were established to rehabilitate more than 6,000 prisoners in the Israeli jails, more than 50,000 injured in the current uprising and to help needy families.

Achievements have been realized in the industrial sector. The first industrial estate has been constructed in the Gaza strip and another one is under construction in the West Bank to attract local and foreign investment. Furthermore, the PNA has encouraged the local industries to transfer and use new technologies, adopting clean production methods and developing environmental management systems.

In order to develop and increase public awareness among the Palestinians, PNA has encouraged local institutions and non-governmental organizations to take its responsibilities in the developmental process.

PNA has implemented several large scale infrastructure projects in different sectors including water, sewage system, road networks, energy, communication, housing, environment, airport and seaport.

The PNA has stressed in its environmental law that environment is a higher national value and a basic human right. In addition, it is stated in the basic law that every Palestinian has the right to live in a clean and safe environment.

An environmental model based on strategic vision: to think globally, cooperate regionally, plan nationally and act locally was set. In addition, the environmental strategy for the coming 10 years and the environmental action plan were set in 2000 focusing on priorities in the coming three years.

Great efforts have been exerted by PNA in combating desertification, protecting wetlands, biodiversity, coastal management and preserving the Mediterranean from land-based pollution sources.

The PNA also has set up programs to monitor the quality of air and groundwater and to minimize pollution. It also participates in several international and regional forums especially those related to environmental agreements and conventions that will be ratified when the Palestinian State is declared.
Mr. President,
Ladies and gentlemen
Respected delegates

Due to Israeli violations of all international environmental humanitarian conventions, negating the fact that environment has no borders; all our efforts, unfortunately, have been wasted and thus paralyzing every aspect of the Palestinian life.

In spite of the fourth Geneva Convention which calls on protecting civilians and their property in time of war, Israeli forces killed more than 1,700 Palestinians including 500 children and 100 women, injured more than 30,000 others, destroyed 10,000 homes and damaged several hospitals, clinics and ambulances. Thousands of civilians were illegally arrested without trials in inhumane conditions.

Israeli forces have committed massacres against civilians in Jenin, Nablus and recently in Gaza City. Israeli forces have launched an unjustified war of assassination full of hatred and racial discrimination and killed more than 200 Palestinians. Moreover, it imposed a policy of exile on Palestinians neglecting all international conventions.

Whilst serious international efforts are exerted to combat desertification, improve green cover, reduce climate change, combat global warming, achieve food security, decrease poverty rate in rural areas, reduce migration of rural population to urban areas, Israel have demolished and destroyed more than 10,000 hectares of agricultural land and greenhouses and uprooted more than a million tree. Theses devastating practices have endangered the life of thousands of Palestinian families and caused a severe food shortages.

Consequently, and despite the International consensus on global poverty alleviation, 64% of the Palestinian population is living under poverty line compared to 22% in 1998. In addition, unemployment rates have exceeded 60% of total working force.

Despite the strong global concern on biodiversity for its social, economic and environmental values, Israeli military forces have brutally killed and buried alive more than 1 S 0,000 birds, sheep, cattle and thousands of beehives. In addition, the occupation has destroyed almost all of the natural conservation areas in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

While it is an International important concern to enhance woman and child role in the developmental process, the Palestinian woman is subjected to the most severe, inhumane conditions of humiliation, killing and persecution by the Israeli forces. The occupation forces took the life of more than 100 women. Several women were forced to give birth at Israeli military roadblocks and others died because they were not allowed to reach the hospitals.

Around 361,600 women in the fertile age are suffering from anemia. Israeli forces have killed 500 children and arrested thousands who are subjected to the utmost conditions of mistreatment and torture. Poverty rates have reached a dangerous level where about 274,600 children (age 6-96 months) are suffering from malnutrition and anemia.
Within the context of Barcelona convention on protecting the Mediterranean Sea from pollution including dumping of solid and liquid waste, PNA has increased its efforts to prevent polluting the Mediterranean with solid wastes. Israeli forces closed access to the sanitary landfills; hence, we were obliged to dump the wastes at emergency dumpsites in or very close to the cities.

Consequently, serious environmental and heath negative impacts which endanger the Palestinian life and well-beings. In addition, they have destroyed sewage networks and sewage treatment plants, prevented maintenance of the plants, which have resulted in the discharge of sewage into the Mediterranean without proper treatment. In addition, in 26/03/2001 Israel has intentionally discharged five million cubic meter of polluted sewage water into the Gaza Strip by breaking a reservoir which was built uphill very close to the borders between Gaza Strip and Israel in order to store the sewage water of Tel Aviv area.

While PNA is developing the industrial sector by implementing clean production technologies, Israeli forces have destroyed more than 3,000 industrial workshops and factories.

After PNA has implemented several infrastructure projects in water, swage system, roads, communications, energy, seaport and the airport towards achieving sustainable development with donors' help, Israeli occupation has destroyed these projects in order to devastate the Palestinian economy and to prevent the Palestinians from achieving sustainable development, where the Palestinian economic losses have reached more than $ 8 billion.

The Israeli hostile aggression has damaged, endangered and destroyed the Palestinian most historic, cultural and religious places with no respect to the most sacred value of our mosques and churches especially the Church of Nativity.

Although Israel is one of the countries, which signed Basel convention on control and transport of toxic and hazardous wastes and materials across borders, Israel does not abide by the provision of the convention and smuggles these hazardous materials into the occupied Palestinian territories, for example:

  • In April 2001, a consignment of 80 barrel of dangerous materials was discovered in Hebron
  • In May 2001, another consignment of 120 barrel of the capacity of 200 L was also discovered in Al Ezariah in Jerusalem
  • In 1999, a consignment of 28 barrel of 200 L was discovered in Khan Younis In 1999, a consignment of 250 barrel was also discovered in Jenin
  • Dumping around 50,000 tones of hazardous chemical and industrial material in the Gaza Strip
  • Many cases were reported in different places in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank where settlers were responsible for smuggling toxic and hazardous materials from settlements in to the Palestinian territories
For many years, Israeli occupation authorities have confiscated wide areas of the Palestinian agricultural lands to construct their colonies and bypass roads. Their mismanagement of solid wastes had caused grave damages to the Palestinian environment. Israel also steal the Palestinian water and give them only 18% of their rights compared to Israeli water consumption. In addition, the Israeli occupation is continuously placing Palestinian cities and villages under siege and behind barricades and large concrete blocks. In this inhumane aggression, the occupation has been using American F16 fighter jets and Apache helicopters, tanks and heavy artillery. With no regard to any of the international human rights conventions, Israel has used internationally forbidden weapons including toxic gases, tear gases, depleted uranium in its war against the Palestinian civilians population.

Mr. President, 
Respected delegates,

Despite all the obstacles that are facing the PNA and the continuos Israeli aggression using its military supremacy in order to eliminate the basis of development in Palestine and the disruption of peace and security in the region, the PNA is committed to achieve sustainable development.
The PNA calls upon the international community to help it in the following aspects:

On the social level:

  • Supporting the national plans and programs for poverty alleviation, increase per capita income and strengthening the role of women in the development process.

  • Supporting health, educational and social welfare institutions with financial and technical assistance.

  • Supporting efforts towards developing public health through providing clean water, safe food, and sanitary sewage systems and controlling pollution including chemical contamination.
On the economic level:
  • Creating appropriate investment environment to encourage regional and international institutions to invest in Palestine.

  • Enhancing the competitive capacity of the Palestinian products by facilitating the export procedures to international markets.

  • Supporting production sectors like agriculture, industry and tourism through providing additional financial and technical assistance.
On the environmental level:
  • Encouraging integrated management of water resources including development of the necessary legislation for optimal utilization and protecting it from pollution, and supporting the efforts to develop alternative water resources, develop new technologies for desalination of seawater, harvest of stormwater and reuse of treated wastewater.
  • Transferring environmental sound technologies in the fields of agriculture and industry, and encouraging clean and safe production industries.

  • Supporting plans and programs of reducing air, water and soil pollution through setting up basis for urban planning, identifying the areas of land use and formulating an adequate management of solid and liquid wastes.

  • Building the Palestinian capacity to implement the multi-lateral environmental conventions and mechanisms through extending the international financial and technical assistance.

  • Enhancing the Palestinian capacity to manage emergencies especially in hazardous chemicals field.
On the political level:
  • Ending the occupation of the Palestinian territories which was occupied on 1967 war and stop continuous Israeli aggression on Palestinian people and the confiscation of its property. Supporting the establishment of the Palestinian state on the basis of complete and permanent sovereignty of the Palestinians over their natural resources including land, water, borders, airspace in West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. This must be based on international community resolutions including the right of return according to UN resolution No. 194 which guarantees the right of return for all refugees to their homes and resettle and compensate them.

  • Confirming the Palestinian right of self-determination according to UN resolution number 39.

  • Forcing Israel to take its responsibilities and to pay the required financial compensations in order to rehabilitate and rebuild what have been destroyed by its military forces during occupation.

  • Concentrating the international efforts towards increasing the financial and technical assistance to enhance the Palestinian institution capacity in achieving sustainable development including development and implementation of necessary policies and legislations.

  • Restore the rights of more than five millions of Palestinians who were expelled from their homeland and living now in the Diaspora.
Finally, I would like to call upon your summit to adopt a resolution stating that occupation and absence of peace, security and stability are of the main obstacles and challenges towards achieving sustainable development, as stated in the Arab declaration, Arab African joint declaration, Islamic declaration and the Athens declaration.

I thank you for listening and for your kind attention