|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-seventh General Assembly
22nd Meeting (AM & PM)
Israeli Attacks Timed to Coincide with Olive Harvests, Second Committee Told
during Discussion on Arab Sovereignty over Resources in Occupied Lands
Delegations also Hold Interactive Dialogue with Regional Commission Heads
There had been deliberate increases in Israeli attacks on Palestinian farmers during the olive-harvesting season, with some 8,000 trees uprooted, burned or destroyed this year alone, the Observer for Palestine told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today as it took up the question of permanent sovereignty of Arab peoples under occupation over their natural resources.
Pointing out that olive cultivation and the associated olive oil industry accounted for 14 per cent of the Occupied Palestinian Territory’s gross domestic product, he said they supported nearly 100,000 families. Furthermore, agriculture, the cornerstone of Palestine’s economic sustainability, was deprived of its capacity to play a central role due to expropriation, the prevention of access to agricultural land and water resources, and the denial of access to local and foreign markets in which Palestinians could sell their produce could purchase necessary inputs. Additionally, Israel exploited more than 90 per cent of Palestinian water resources for its exclusive use, including in settlements, while allocating less than 10 per cent for use by Palestinians.
Describing the consequences of the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip, he said it prevented the movement of imports, exports as well as persons. Palestinian farmers still lacked access to more than 35 per cent of the enclave and fishermen were unable to reach areas more than three miles from its shore, which prevented them from exploiting more than 85 per cent of Palestinian fishing waters, and further exacerbated living conditions in Gaza, where 44 per cent of the population lacked food security. The blockade also impeded implementation of necessary water projects, leading to a “catastrophic aqueous reality and worsening humanitarian crisis”, he said.
Echoing that sentiment, Syria’s representative said Israel continued to dump industrial and chemical waste in the occupied Syrian Golan and to burn Syrian villages, adding that their inhabitants could not benefit from their main sources of income. Yet multiple resolutions and other international provisions, including the Rio+20 outcome document, affirmed clearly the right of the occupied Syrian Golan’s citizens to development, while calling for an end to the “barbaric” Israeli occupation, he noted, calling on Member States who regularly expressed support for human rights to stop ignoring Israel’s actions. By doing nothing, they supported the practices of Israeli terrorism, he said, emphasizing that the continuing occupation was the main obstacle to achieving any sort of development for the people of occupied Palestinian and Syrian lands.
The Deputy Executive Director of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) presented a report which stated that Palestinians continued to suffer death, injury and incarceration under Israeli occupation. Among the Palestinians killed during the reporting period alone, 12 had been children. In 2011 alone, 620 Palestinian structures had been demolished, a 42 per cent increase compared to 2010, and 1,100 Palestinians had been displaced. That policy was ongoing in East Jerusalem, as part of clear strategy to change facts on the ground, in violation of international resolutions, including Security Council resolution 478 (1980), he said.
He went on to say that a total of around 40 per cent of the West Bank had been seized by the Israeli authorities for settlement use. There had also been a disturbing 30 per cent increase in attacks against Palestinians by Israeli settlers who had vandalized and set fire to seven mosques and one church, and had harassed Palestinian children on their way to school. The occupation had negative socioeconomic effects as well, he said, noting that unemployment remained high at 21 per cent in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and staggering in Gaza, where it stood at 30.3 per cent. Israel continued its de facto annexation policies in the occupied Syrian Golan, as well as discrimination against Syrian Arab citizens living under occupation in favour of the 19,000 illegal Israeli settlers. This included denial of jobs, restrictions on building permits, discrimination in urban planning, essential services and water allocation, especially for irrigation.
Israel’s representative described the Committee’s consideration of the issue as an “unfortunate and destructive detour” from its “very important work”. Year after year, the Committee’s credibility was undermined as matters of global importance took a “back seat to the whims of certain Member States” whose sole mission was to disparage Israel. Accounts of the Palestinian situation were one-sided, distorted and inaccurate, she said, adding that the report omitted reference to the “repressive terrorist regime” in Gaza and made no mention of rocket attacks on southern Israel.
She went on to say that despite the attacks, Israel continued to ensure that humanitarian aid, medicine and goods reached Gaza’s inhabitants, and to support relief organizations, including the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which, she noted, had implemented only 10 per cent of projects approved by her country since the beginning of 2011. Hamas bore responsibility for the subjugation of Palestinians, she emphasizing, saying the group attacked any dissenters from its extremist agenda, including political opponents, human rights activists and unaccompanied women out in public. Turning to the occupied Golan, she said the Syrian delegation was poorly placed to attack others considering the crimes perpetrated by its own murderous regime.
South Africa’s representative said the report’s analysis was “deeply disturbing” as the occupation continued to have adverse social and economic ramifications on the Palestinian people. Describing support for Palestine as a major part of his country’s international policy, he said South Africa wished to see expanded mandates for the agencies supporting the Palestinians, commensurate to the people’s needs. Its policy position was informed by South Africa’s history of apartheid and human rights suppression.
Expressing opposition to any effort to prevent Palestinian self-determination, he said his country continued to support Palestinian representation in the United Nations, as had been achieved in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Among the South African government’s proactive policies was one requiring traders were to refrain from incorrectly labelling products as emanating from Israel when they came from illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. That enabled South African consumers to decide for themselves whether or not they wished to purchase a given product, he said, calling on other States to implement similar measures in support of the Palestinian cause.
Many delegations also urged Israel stop building its “separation wall”, pointing out that its construction would give it control over most of the fertile lands in the West Bank, and directly affecting hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. They also called upon Israel to lift its checkpoints and the Gaza blockade.
Earlier today, the Committee held an interactive dialogue with the heads of United Nations regional commissions on a wide range of development issues.
Also speaking today were representatives of Sudan (for the Arab group), Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan, Tunisia, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Iraq, Qatar and Morocco.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Syria, Israel, Iran and the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine.
Delegations participating in this morning’s interactive dialogue were those of Iran, Suriname, Mali, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Belize, Lebanon, France and Nigeria.
The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. tomorrow, 7 November, to begin its consideration of sustainable development.
Dialogue with United Nations Regional Commissions
This morning, the Committee held its annual dialogue with United Nations regional commissions.
ABDALLA HAMDOK, Deputy Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) said that African States had approached the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development with a sense of “great optimism” and were ready to embark on the follow-up process. The region had come a long way since 2000, when the Economist had labelled it the hopeless continent”, he recalled, noting that by 2011 the same magazine had been talking of “ Africa’s moment”. ECA had spearheaded Africa’s regional preparations for Rio+20 and worked to ensure the ability of African States to articulate their priorities, which were reflected in the Conference outcome document. They had been successful, and Africa was the only region to which the document referred specifically, he pointed out.
He said the Africa Regional Implementation Meeting would discuss the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and emphasized the need to build on consultations on the post-2015 development agenda. It was also necessary to address inequality, domestic resource mobilization and other matters, he said, calling for a greater focus on establishing the necessary enabling environment, which had been missing in respect of the Millennium Development Goals. The Meeting would also tackle the issue of the green economy and call for an inclusive approach to green growth that would be neither conditional nor impose trade barriers. Also up for discussion was implementation of the Rio+20 outcome he said, adding that ECA favoured a three-pronged approach, concentrating on financing, technology transfer mechanisms and capacity development.
SVEN ALKALAJ, Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), said that while Europe’s development agenda was advanced, it remained unfinished, he noted. He said ECE promoted increased regional integration and cooperation through normative work including the development of legal instruments, norms and standards for transport, trade, economic cooperation and integration, and sustainable energy.
The Commission also promoted technical cooperation to assist help countries with economies in transition, operational work that supplemented normative efforts, he continued, he continued. Its legal instruments, norms and standards directly benefited people by improving access to food, water and sanitation, energy and housing, as well as technology and innovation, he said. They also promoted safe, healthy and environmentally sound lifestyles, which in turn increased people’s voice and participation in decision-making and improved their quality of life, he added, stressing the key importance of synergy between analytical, normative and operational efforts.
NOELEEN HEYZER, Executive Secretary, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and Moderator of the Dialogue, said Asia was home to 3.9 billion people, about 56 per cent of the global population, and responsible for 40 per cent of global energy demand as well as about 80 per cent of global disaster losses in 2011. Persistent threats to the region’s development included poverty, hunger and growing inequality. Transboundary issues such as financial crises, commodity-price volatility, national hazards and climate change were emerging and turbulence, uncertainty and volatility were the “new normal” in the region.
Despite economic growth, many people lived in underdeveloped rural areas where employment remained deeply vulnerable, he said. Furthermore, most Asia-Pacific countries had only limited social protection systems. Underscoring the importance of regional development solutions, she also stressed the need to rebalance and integrate the three pillars of sustainable development, adding that the process had already begun. ESCAP was involved in South-South cooperation and in strengthening regional United Nations coordination. She said sustainable development offered a generational opportunity for change at a time when the ability to shape and contribute to that change had never been greater. In that regard, Rio+20 was a key milestone in the journey towards a more inclusive, sustainable and resilient future, she stressed.
ALICIA BÁRCENA IBARRA, Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) described the different realities existing in South America, Central America and the Caribbean, pointing out that each subregion had responded to the global financial crisis in different ways while demonstrating their significant assets. However, they also had many weaknesses, with the Caribbean being the most vulnerable. A decade of macroeconomic stability had seen many of the subregion’s States become middle-income countries, but huge gaps had widened due to a slowdown in official development assistance flows following graduation to that status. Significant boosts to economic growth, cuts in poverty and declining unemployment had been offset by limited progress in addressing inequality and falling productivity, she noted.
Going forward, there was a need for policies to ensure that cities would grow sustainably, and to protect the vacated rural areas where the poorest people and indigenous groups had been left behind, she said. Ageing populations also meant a need for social protection, which 35 per cent of the ESCAP population currently lacked. Working out how to pay for that was a major issue. Following Rio+20, a major question for all regions was how to move towards the Sustainable Development Goals in a coherent and consistent way, and with a universality of purpose, she said. It was important to focus on five to 10 of the biggest hindrances to sustainable development, and to pursue them with bottom-up policies from the national to the global levels, while engaging a broad range of actors. It was also important to establish measures of sustainability beyond gross domestic product and new ideas on financing development beyond official development assistance to ensure the Goals were met.
NADIM KHOURI, Deputy Executive Secretary, ESCWA, said that in preparing for Rio+20, the Commission had held meetings with Arab Ministers to seek agreement on a regional approach to sustainable development. The fact that the priorities of regional integration, equitable growth and sustainability, as well as good governance and resilience were similar to those of many other regions provided an opportunity for sharing knowledge and experiences, he said, underscoring the importance of moving forward with implementation of international and regional programmes.
More must be done, despite renewed confidence following Rio+20, he cautioned. A top priority was to work on integration and to implement programmes that would increase knowledge on how to move the region further forward. ESCWA was organizing a meeting on sustainable development with its development partners in the region, as well as a regional training and implementation session. It was also exploring possible involvement in a food security project, because food insecurity was a bigger concern for the Arab region than for others, especially given its nexus with water scarcity.
In the ensuing interactive dialogue followed, the representative of Iran asked about links between poverty and the green economy
Mr. HAMDOK replied that the Rio+20 outcome document clearly stressed the importance of common but differentiated responsibilities, particularly on the green economy. Despite being on the receiving end of the negative environmental effects of climate change to which they had made minimal contributions, it was important that developing countries move forward and address the associated problems.
The representative of Suriname asked about inequality and strengthening social policies.
Ms. BARCENA responded that social challenges were intertwined with economic and environmental problems and were best addressed through the integration of the three pillars of sustainable development.
Ms HEYZER agreed with the representative of Mali that inter-commission consultation was as important as intraregional cooperation, and the interface so far had been exciting.
GEORGE TALBOT (Guyana), Chair of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial), pointed out that the Rio+20 outcome document strongly acknowledged the role of regional commissions in a broad range of areas, emphasizing their role in promoting the balanced integration of the three pillars of sustainable development. He also underscored the need to ensure that sustainable development proceeded as planned.
Also taking part in the interactive dialogue were representatives of Mexico, Sri Lanka, Belize, Lebanon, France and Nigeria.
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this afternoon to take up the permanent sovereignty of peoples in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources.
Before it was a note of the Secretary-General transmitting the report of ESCWA on Economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan (document A/67/91-E/2012/13). Dated 17 May 2012, it covers the period between 30 March 2011 and 29 March 2012.
According to the report, 122 Palestinians were killed and 2,077 injured during the reporting period. Thousands of Palestinians remain in Israeli prisons, amid reports of human rights violations, while 1,100 Palestinians were displaced as a result of home demolitions. In addition, Israel continues the construction of a wall which isolates communities and natural resources while severing East Jerusalem from the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It also persists in exploiting and endangering natural resources in the occupied territories. Palestinians and Syrians under occupation continue to suffer discrimination with respect to water allotment. Economic growth in the Occupied Palestinian Territory remains unsustainable, reflecting an economy recovering from a low base, and driven mainly by the non-tradable sector.
The report says that unemployment remains high amid alarming poverty and food insecurity, especially in the Gaza Strip. Additionally, dozens of Syrians are reportedly detained without any formal charges being brought against them. Despite some welcome measures aimed at supporting the economy in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the occupation continues to have grave socioeconomic consequences for the Palestinians. The grave social and economic consequences of Israeli violations — including violence, settlement-construction, restrictions and discrimination towards Palestinians and Syrians under occupation — do not inspire confidence. The report concludes that the occupation is politically, economically and morally unsustainable and must end, as part of a negotiated solution that ends the conflict and addresses all final status issues, the report says, urging the international community to persist in it efforts to achieve that goal.
Also before the Committee were identical letters (document A/67/358-S/2012/690) from the Permanent Representative of Syria, addressed to the Secretary-General and the Presidents of the Security Council. It draws attention to information that the Israeli occupation authorities intend to go ahead with a project to build wind turbines in the occupied Syrian Golan, taking advantage of the location and elevation of occupied Syrian villages as well as the current situation in the region. The information has been confirmed in various Israeli media reports and by independent sources, it notes, urging the Secretary-General and the Council President to take appropriate action to avert the threat that the project poses to security, stability and the prospects for peace in the region. It also urges them to stop Israel from exploiting the situation in Syria in order to continue with its projects aimed at altering the natural and geographical features of the occupied Golan and plundering its resources.
Introduction of Report
NADIM KHOURI, Deputy Executive Director, ESCWA, presented the Secretary-General’s note transmitting that body’s report. He said that among the Palestinians killed during the period under review alone, 12 had been children. A recent report commissioned by the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office concluded that some Israeli practices against Palestinian children in detention could amount to torture, and stemmed from the belief that every Palestinian child was a “potential terrorist”, in the words of an Israeli military prosecutor.
In 2011 alone, 620 Palestinian structures had been demolished, marking a 42 per cent increase over 2010 and displacing 1,100 Palestinians. That policy was continuing in East Jerusalem as part of a clear strategy to change facts on the ground in violation of international resolutions including Security Council resolution 478 (1980). In total, around 40 per cent of the West Bank had been seized by the Israeli authorities for settlement use, he said, adding that the reporting period had also witnessed a disturbing 30 per cent increase in attacks by settlers against Palestinians. They had also uprooted or damaged around 10,000 Palestinian-owned trees, vandalized and set fire to seven mosques and one church, and harassed Palestinian children on their way to school.
Israel also continued its de facto annexation policies in the occupied Syrian Golan, as well as its discrimination against Syrian Arab citizens living under occupation in favour of 19,000 illegal Israeli settlers, he said, citing the denial of employment, restrictions on building permits as well as discrimination in urban planning, essential services and allocation of water, especially for irrigation. He called upon the international community to persist in its efforts to uphold international law by ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and Syrian lands and restoring the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.
The representative of Tunisia asked how the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people could be affirmed in negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda, emphasizing that there could be neither change nor development without it.
Mr. KHOURI responded by saying that resource management was important to development and that, within the framework of relevant agreements, there was a need to promote the use of those resources for the benefit of the Palestinian people.
RABII ALHANTOULI, observer for Palestine, said the current olive harvest season always resulted in a marked, deliberate increase in Israeli attacks on Palestinian farmers. Some 8,000 olive trees had been uprooted, burned or destroyed this year, he said, pointing out that olive cultivation and the olive oil industry accounted for 14 per cent of the Occupied Palestinian Territory’s gross domestic product and supported nearly 100,000 families. Agriculture, the cornerstone of Palestine’s economic sustainability, was deprived of its capacity to play a central role due to expropriation, the prevention of access to agricultural land and water resources, and the denial of access to local and foreign markets in which Palestinian produce could be sold or the inputs of production bought. He pointed out that the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) had indicated that the Palestinian economy was deprived of access to 40 per cent of the West Bank and 82 per cent of groundwater resources.
He went on to note that Israel was exploiting more than 90 per cent of Palestinian water resources for its exclusive use, including in settlements, while allocating less than 10 per cent for Palestinian use. Average water consumption in the Occupied Palestinian Territory was far below the minimum level recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), he pointed out, adding that it was also less than a quarter of the average level of water consumption in Israel. Describing the consequences of the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip, he said it prevented the movement of imports, exports as well as persons. Palestinian farmers still lacked access to more than 35 per cent of the enclave and fishermen were unable to reach areas more than three miles from the shore, preventing them from exploiting more than 85 per cent of Palestinian fishing waters, and further exacerbating living conditions in Gaza, where 44 per cent of the population lacked food security. The blockade also impeded implementation of necessary water projects, leading to a “catastrophic aqueous reality and worsening humanitarian crisis”.
Emphasizing that deeds rather than words were required in response, he called upon the international community to bind Israel to implement international law and conventions as well as relevant resolutions, while ensuring the rights of the Palestinian people and those of the Arab people in the occupied Syrian Golan to sovereignty over their natural resources. Israel must stop depleting and exploiting them, he stressed, adding that if it was allowed to continue its illegal policies and practices without accountability, the international system as a whole would lose credibility. Commending South Africa for having imposed a measure to indicate products imported after manufacture in illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, he described that as an important step in allowing consumers a chance to avoid supporting “Israeli violations of international law, including the exploitation of Palestinian land and natural resources”.
Mr. HASSAN (Sudan), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, pointed to arbitrary and inhumane Israeli policies that were in flagrant violation of human rights and United Nations resolutions. Noting that the reports contained a great deal of data supporting the various claims, he said the violations exacerbated the ongoing humanitarian crisis and poverty, adding that Palestinian living conditions were worsening, with Israel continuing to exploit resources and pollute the environment.
Citing land seizures and the destruction and expropriation of houses, he recalled that the 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the separation wall had concluded that it was illegal because it prevented access and denied sovereignty to Palestinians over their own resources. The occupation was destroying economic and social life in the occupied territories, in violation of international law, he said, adding that the Palestinian people were deprived of their fundamental rights as provided for by several legal instruments. He demanded that Israel be made to uphold its obligations with a view to ending the suffering of the Palestinian and Syrian peoples and to strengthening their sovereignty over their land and natural resources.
HUSSEIN HANIFF (Malaysia) said the Israeli occupation continued to violate the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the population of the Syrian Golan over their natural resources, adding that he had seen for himself on a trip to Gaza how badly the livelihoods of fishermen and farmers were affected. Demanding that Israel cease exploiting, damaging, depleting and endangering natural resources in the occupied lands, he also urged the international community to mitigate the impact of the resulting hardships suffered by Palestinians by strengthening assistance programmes for them. He emphasized, however, that the permanent sovereignty of Palestinians and Arab residents of the Golan could not be achieved without a just and lasting resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, an end to the occupation and the realization of a two-State solution. Malaysia reaffirmed its support for full Palestinian membership in the United Nations, he added.
HIND ABDULAZIZ ALOWAIS (United Arab Emirates), associating herself with the Arab Group, said Israel’s policies had led to the deterioration of the Palestinian people as a whole and caused many deaths of women and children. Those policies deprived the Palestinian people of their right to life, as unemployment rose with an alarming effect on mostly young people. Israel’s continuing settlement and war policies negatively affected agriculture and access to water in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, she said, adding that its practices had weakened the Palestinian Authority and peace negotiations. It was also attempting to confiscate land in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights and to build further settlements in further pursuit of its “policies of control”, she said.
Reaffirming her country’s solidarity with the Palestinian people and their right to permanent sovereignty over their resources, she said they also had a right to their own State within the pre-1967 borders, with its capital in East Jerusalem. The United Arab Emirates emphasized the need for continued negotiations, as well as its support for Syria’s right to recover the Golan Heights, she said, calling upon the international community to demand that Israel end its illegal occupation. It must also stop building the wall and demolish the part now in existence. In conclusion, she appealed to the international community to put pressure on Israel to stop its illegal actions, and expressed hope that the discussion would continue until a global solution was found to that serious problem.
MS. AL BSAIDI (Oman), associating herself with the Arab Group, said that Security Council and General Assembly international resolutions aimed to ensure that the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people were upheld, but unfortunately they had been unsuccessful. The United Nations and the wider international community must honour their commitments to provide aid to the Palestinians and recognize enhanced non-State United Nations membership for Palestine. To establish the foundation of international peace and security, it was important to ensure a resolution of the Arab–Israeli conflict as the occupation was highly instrumental in destabilizing the international situation due to the anger to which it had given rise in the region. The occupying Power continued to “do what it will” in preventing the Palestinian people from achieving food security and alleviating poverty, she said, noting that the latter deserved the right to life and to sovereignty over their resources. “We’ve seen silence from the international community,” she said, calling upon the international community to shoulder its responsibility to find a lasting solution to the conflict.
AHMED SAREER ( Maldives) said the only viable solution was to end the occupation, emphasizing that one country could not be exempt from international law. The Israeli occupying authorities must be held accountable for the violence, agony and discrimination in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the Syrian Golan Heights, and the international community must compel it to abide by international law, international treaties and relevant United Nations resolutions. Formal global recognition of the State of Palestine was the only way to achieve substantial, sustainable socioeconomic development, social harmony and legal equality in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, he said, reaffirming his country’ solidarity with the Palestinian Authority and its support for the inalienable sovereignty of the Palestinian people over their natural resources. Maldives was greatly concerned with the socioeconomic situation in the Territory, he said. “The fact that basic infrastructure is unavailable and basic needs are denied is of utmost distress to my delegation and is indicative of malice rather than neglect.” Israel’s security was dependent on its respect for human rights and the rule of law, he said, stressing that the United Nations must promote a permanent peace based on a fair partnership and equality between the two peoples.
Mr. JAWHARA ( Syria) said that despite the tens of United Nations resolution condemning Israel’s actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Occupied Syrian Golan, the occupying Power continued to violate those resolutions, deplete their resources and deprive their peoples of their benefits. Israel had deliberately confiscated Arab lands for its own benefit. The occupying authorities and Western companies planned to exploit those resources, he said, adding that Israel continued to dump industrial and chemical waste in the Golan and to set fire to Syrian villages.
Syrian inhabitants of the Golan could not benefit from their main sources of income, he continued. Multiple resolutions and documents, including the Rio+20 outcome document, affirmed clearly the right of citizens in the Golan and the Occupied Palestinian Territory to ensure their own development, which required an end to Israel’s barbaric occupation, he said, calling upon Member States who regularly supported human rights to stop ignoring its actions because, by doing nothing, they supported the practices of “Israeli terrorism”. The continuation of the occupation was the main obstacle to any sort of development of the Palestinian and Syrian peoples, he emphasized.
FARIS AL OTAIBI ( Saudi Arabia), associating himself with the Arab Group, said that achieving the Palestinian people’s sovereignty over their resources would be impossible while they remained physically occupied. This year’s report reaffirmed the conclusions of previous ones about their suffering under Israeli occupation. Many economic losses were linked directly to occupation, he said, adding that arbitrary policies like the separation wall had led to high unemployment, low salaries, low productivity and widespread poverty and food insecurity. The problems had persisted despite reforms by the Palestinian Authority. A resolution of the conflict was a top priority for Saudi Arabia, he said, pointing out that his country had contributed to and participated in several phases of the peace process. Calling on the international community to remain engaged, he reaffirmed the Palestinian people’s right to their own natural resources and to compensation for their exploitation and depletion by the occupation.
Mr. KHALIL (Egypt), associating himself with the Arab Group, said the Gaza blockade was a form of collective punishment that had led to reduced foreign direct investment and tax duties collected. That harmed business confidence and pushed up the unemployment rate, while increasing poverty and food insecurity. Israeli practices regarding natural resources violated The Hague and Geneva Conventions on the responsibility of occupying Powers to preserve the resources of occupied territories, he noted. Noting that sustainable development was based on improving conditions for humans and preserving natural resources, he said attacks on Palestinians and Syrians in the occupied Syrian Golan were undermining any possibility of sustainable development for those peoples. As such, it was impossible to remain indifferent, and the least that the Second Committee could do was to draw increased attention to the issue by approving its draft resolution on the violations of their rights, and reaffirming their right to sustainable development, he stressed.
ABDULAZIZ ALOUMI ( Kuwait) said that in the past few months, Israel had stepped up the pace of demolishing Palestinian homes as part of its goal to “judaize” the area, in blatant violation of international humanitarian law. It had destroyed 620 buildings, among them homes, mosques and schools, adversely impacting 4,200 people. Israel continued to deprive the Palestinian people of their right to water in the West Bank by limiting their access and impeding their ability to drill water wells. Meanwhile, its settlers continued to dump waste water as well as industrial waste onto Palestinian land, he said, adding that, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Israel also continued illegally to transfer dangerous poisonous waste to the West Bank, in violation of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal. Meanwhile, its continuing blockade of Gaza prevented economic revitalization and reinforced poor living conditions. The international community must continue to pressure Israel to withdraw from all Arab territories and allow the Palestinian people to exercise their right to self-determination and an independent State, he said, pointing out that Security Council resolution 497 (1981) considered Israeli laws, jurisdictions and management of the occupied Syrian Golan to be null and void.
DIANA AL-HADID (Jordan), associating herself with the Arab Group, said that disruptions caused by Israel had lowered Palestinian standards of living, increased fragility and the lack of certainty, and caused a rise in unemployment and inflation. The Palestinian economy suffered from a deficit that would soon rise to $4 billion, she said, describing that as an “alarming” figure. There was a real need for economic growth as the Palestinian people continued to face increasing hardships. There was a need for a special development strategy based on developing the economy in all fields, as well as the delivery of basic needs and services. Emphasizing the need for the Palestinian people to move towards self-dependency, she called upon the international community to continue to provide aid to the Palestinian people at the present time so they would be able to deal with poverty and mitigate their suffering.
Mr. LAKHAL (Tunisia), associating himself with the Arab Group, said the Rio+20 outcome document promised sustainable development around the world without discrimination, which included Palestine and the occupied Syrian Golan. In that context, Tunisia supported the report’s emphasis on the need to end the occupation and the building of settlements. United Nations reports repeatedly noted the persistent social and economic repercussions on the Palestinian people’s living conditions as well as the negative impacts of the settlement expansion on economic activity. Given the attendant economic and social difficulties, it was the Committee’s duty to consider the lack of Palestinian sovereignty over their natural resources, he stressed. The fact that the international community was “closing its eyes” to Israel’s violations meant that the occupying Power could persist in its immoral and inhuman actions that led to grave losses for the Palestinian people. Programmes were needed to compensate Syrian and Palestinian farmers for their uprooted trees and the damage done to their exports, he said, adding that such programmes must be updated to raise awareness that products manufactured in illegal Israeli settlements should not be bought, he said, emphasizing that the international community and the Second Committee should provide full support on that front.
YUSRA KHAN ( Indonesia) pointed out that a number of countries around the world had not yet been able to exercise their right to development due to direct foreign occupation. It was the most direct challenge and obstacle to occupied populations’ exercise of their right to development. The Palestinian people continued to suffer under foreign occupation and their inalienable right of sovereignty over their own natural resources, including land, water and energy, had been neglected for many years, he said, adding that the Committee’s deliberations would prove meaningless unless efforts were made to tackle the problem “first hand”. International contributions were needed to support Palestinian development, and Indonesia was committed to providing concrete support through capacity-building projects, such as an ongoing project to train 1,000 Palestinians in a variety of fields.
Mr. JIMÉNEZ ( Nicaragua) noted that the Palestinian people had been suffering for more than 62 years with the current blockade of Gaza strangling them and causing economic conditions that denied them basic economic needs. The economy was “based on occupation”, according to the report, and occupation infiltrated all levels of Palestinian lives, especially in the Gaza Strip, he said. There were not enough resources for people to devote even to their own survival, and there was no sense in talking about economic growth and sustainable development under military occupation. The people had no control over their land, water or other natural resources, he said, adding that the invading State had made even the most basic rights unattainable. There was complete economic stagnation and thousands of victims, and Nicaragua supported the right of Palestinians to resist until their sovereignty was restored and there was an independent Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital. Condemning Israel’s violations of international law and United Nations resolutions, he said “State terrorism” had been the daily lot of people in the occupied lands, and Israel should be denounced ceaselessly until the Palestinian aspirations to sustainable development was met and Israel recognized their sovereignty.
Mr. AL SEEDI ( Iraq), associating himself with the Arab Group, said Palestine’s long-run economic prospects had improved, but restrictions on movement were still exacerbating poverty. Listing several Israeli policies that restricted Palestinian development, he said the current multiple global crises were aggravating the situation because aid was declining. Production capacities and exports remained low, largely due to the Gaza blockade, which prevented exports and was particularly harmful to agriculture. Recalling that UNCTAD XIII had emphasized the importance of impediments to economic endeavour in the Palestinian territories, he said the situation would be alleviated by increased international efforts to create an independent Palestinian State. The occupation was responsible for declining productivity and reduced access to natural resources that could be the basis for production, he continued. The economy was dependent on the agricultural sector, the development of which was essential to a viable two-State solution, he emphasized, pointing out that with 94 per cent of agricultural workers unemployed, the situation was particularly grave. Describing hostility as the main characteristic of Israel’s policies, he said they undermined efforts for peace in the region, adding that Israeli intransigence continued to constrain development and prevent peace, which was a tragedy for the Palestinian people.
HIND ALI AL KHATER ( Qatar), associating herself with the Arab Group, said Israel’s policies, violations and aggression left no chance for peace. With 40 per cent of Palestinian land in the West Bank having been confiscated in violation of international law and United Nations resolutions, Israel’s intransigence and continuing settlement-construction policy was exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. Its policies had led to an unprecedented decline in the standard of living of the Palestinian people, especially in the Gaza Strip, which had been exacerbated by the blockade and destruction of houses. The same unjust practices extended into the occupied Syrian Golan, where citizens were deprived of natural resources and subjected to discriminatory policies. It was important to implement Security Council resolutions because failure to do so would lead to a deterioration of trust in the United Nations, she warned. If Israel would agree to abide by the resolutions, it would show its willingness to find a real solution to the conflict, she said.
The representative of South Africa said the report’s analysis was “deeply disturbing”, with the occupation continuing to have adverse social and economic ramifications on the Palestinian people. The report demonstrated why the Palestinian economy continued to operate so much below its potential, with prospects having become even bleaker in 2011 than previously. Problems included reduced real wages, a paralysed private sector, devastated infrastructure and a chronic fiscal crisis. Persistent widespread high unemployment exacerbated poverty, he said, emphasizing the importance of providing the Palestinian Authority with greater financing to establish a viable State. Describing support for Palestine as a major part of his country’s international policy, he said South Africa wished to see expanded mandates for the agencies supporting the Palestinians, commensurate to the people’s needs.
He went on to say that the policy position was informed by South Africa’s history of apartheid and human rights suppression. Expressing opposition to any effort to prevent Palestinian self-determination, he said his country continued to support Palestinian representation in the United Nations, as had been achieved in UNESCO. Among the proactive policies followed by the South African Government, traders were required to refrain from incorrectly labelling products as emanating from Israel when they came from illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. That enabled South African consumers to decide for themselves whether or not they wished to purchase a given product, he said, calling on other States to implement similar measures in support of the Palestinian cause.
Mr. SOUISSI ( Morocco), associating himself with the Arab Group, reaffirmed his country’s position on the Palestinian cause, saying it supported fully the Palestinian people’s sovereignty over their natural resources. The issue must be integrated fully into the work of the Second Committee as a permanent agenda item, he said.
RONIT BEN-DOR ( Israel) said the Committee’s consideration of the issue was an “unfortunate and destructive detour” from its “very important work”. Year after year the Committee’s credibility was undermined as matters of global importance took a “back seat to the whims of certain Member States” whose sole mission was to disparage Israel, she said, describing accounts of the Palestinian situation as one-sided, distorted and inaccurate.
Direct negotiations were needed to resolve outstanding issues between Israel and Palestine and there were no shortcuts, she emphasized, adding that the report omitted reference to the “repressive terrorist regime” in Gaza, and made no mention of rocket attacks on Southern Israel. Despite those attacks, however, Israel continued to ensure that humanitarian aid, medicine and goods reached Gaza’s inhabitants and continued to support relief organisations, including UNRWA, which, she noted, had implemented only 10 per cent of projects approved by Israel since the beginning of 2011.
Placing responsibility for the subjugation of the Palestinians at the feet of Hamas, she said the group attacked any dissenters from its extremist agenda, including political opponents, human rights activists and women going out in public unaccompanied by a man. She pointed out that a recent Human Rights Watch report had counted 147 complaints of torture by Hamas police agencies in 2011, and also made reference to Syria, stating that the country’s delegation was poorly placed to attack others considering the crimes it perpetrated by its own murderous regime.
Right of Reply
The representative of Syria, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said the remarks by Israel’s delegate were insolent. Accusing the Committee of bias, he said Israel continued to commit crimes while preventing the population of the occupied Syrian Golan from accessing their natural resources. Citing the population’s great suffering, he added that the Israeli representative had no right to talk about human rights or freedom because while her country continued to deny the human rights of peoples under its occupation.
The representative of Israel reiterated that the “annual ritual” of discussing Palestine pushed the Committee beyond its mandate and amounted to a waste of time, adding that she was surprised that Syria’s delegate could complain about human rights while his country’s regime was killing its own people, including children.
The representative of Syria, describing that response as “sad and laughable”, said Israel’s view of reality was distorted. Delegations could negotiate, but only once Israel ended its settlement programme and occupation, he emphasized.
The observer for Palestine expressed regret over a lack of understanding by Israel of the issues under discussion in the Committee. The occupation had already lasted 45 years while Israel continued its violations of international law and United Nations resolutions, he said, pointing out that it not only occupied Arab territories, but exploited their natural resources. Despite continuing Palestinian willingness to negotiate, the only result was continuing Israeli occupation, he added.
The representative of Iran called for the return to Palestine of all Palestinian refugees, saying he looked forward to their enjoying the right to vote in the United Nations soon.
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