10 November 2015
373rd Meeting (AM)

Permanent Observer Credits Youth Uprising with Bringing Palestinian Plight to Forefront of International Agenda

Palestinian Rights Committee Also Submits Four Texts to General Assembly

The “historic” and popular uprising led by Palestinian youth now into its second month had brought the Middle East question back to the forefront of the international conversation, the Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine told the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People today as it approved four draft texts to be considered by the General Assembly.

Riyad Mansour said that in the most recent uprising, which began in October, the Palestinian people had lost 80 “martyrs”, all civilians and a large number of them women and children.  Some 3,000 Palestinians had been injured by live and rubber-coated bullets, 6,000 had suffered injuries mainly from inhalation of tear gas, and thousands more had been detained without reason or charge.  Those held faced “savage” interrogation by Israeli security forces.

The Palestinian uprising which began at the Al-Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem had engulfed all parts of occupying territories and included Arabs and Palestinians who were citizens of Israel, he said, calling Israel’s claim that its capital of Jerusalem was united a “façade and illegal lie”.  The city was not united but divided.

If the occupying authority did not have peace and tranquillity in a place that they fully controlled “they need to wake up and realize that it is time to pack up its equipment and leave the occupied land, including East Jerusalem”, he said, urging Israel to remove all its militaristic formations.

Israeli forces would be harvesting nothing but failure, he said, condemning the “savage” way Israel dealt with protestors and demonstrators.  If the individual was a Jew, Israel would not unload 16 bullets rather they would injure a leg.  When it came to Palestinians, Israeli forces shoot to kill.

On the political situation, he said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could not guarantee the maintenance of the status quo at Al-Aqsa mosque and Haram al-Sharif.  Mr. Netanyahu had created an extremist situation where settlers got away with murder.  Mr. Mansour said:  “You cannot deescalate the conflict by breaking the will of the Palestinian people,” and urged the Security Council to “side with the weak, the vulnerable, those living under occupation” by adopting a resolution that would end the occupation.

Also taking to the floor today, the representative of Namibia said it was unfortunate that there remained divisions in the international community on the Palestinian question.  Leaders continued to ignore the plight of Palestinian people, and it was time to engage academics and activists on the ground to put the current issues on the map again.

The Committee also heard a joint briefing by Mahmoud Elkhafif, Coordinator of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Assistance to the Palestinian People Unit and Atif Kubursi, Emeritus Professor of Economics, McMaster University in Canada, on the economic and social costs of the Israeli occupation for the Palestinian People.  Noting that what was once considered a lower-middle-income economy had become a land on the verge of economic and humanitarian collapse, they said that the unemployment rate in Gaza stood at 45 per cent with 40 per cent of Palestinians living below the poverty line.

Citing the results of various studies UNCTAD had conducted since the mid-2000s, they said that from 2000-2005, cumulative gross domestic product (GDP) loss was estimated at $8.4 billion and at least one-third of the pre-2000 physical capital stock of the Occupied Palestinian Territory had been lost and not replaced.  Clean water was a rarity, electricity was sporadic and the GDP growth rate in 2014 had turned negative.  More than 2.5 million productive trees, including 800,000 olive trees had been uprooted since 1967, and only 35 per cent of irrigable land in the Occupied Palestinian Territory was actually irrigated.

The pattern that evolved between the Israeli and Palestinian economies after the occupation was at the heart of the Palestinian development malaise, they noted.  While Israel possessed the majority of the modern sectors, the influx of Palestinian labour at a fraction of the Israeli labour cost had made those sectors more profitable.  UNCTAD was the only entity with a mandate and proven expertise on the Palestinian economy, making it well-positioned to evaluate the economic cost of the occupation.  However, the Conference needed more resources to institutionalize the stocktaking function and the gathering of documentary evidence.  To facilitate future negotiations for a sustainable, just and peaceful settlement, UNCTAD had to be mandated to estimate the historical and recurrent economic costs of occupation in a systematic, evidence-based way.

Also this morning, the Committee approved four draft resolutions for submission to the General Assembly on the “Question of Palestine”.  The first three draft resolutions dealt with the work of the Committee, the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat and Special Information Programme of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat.  The fourth draft resolution dealt with the “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine”.

By the terms of the draft resolution on the “Division of Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat”, the General Assembly would request the Secretary-General to continue to provide the Division with the necessary resources and ensure that it continued to effectively carry out its programme of work as detailed in relevant resolutions.

The Committee then adopted a resolution on the “Special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat”, by the terms of which the Committee would request the Department, in full cooperation and coordination with the Committee, to continue its special information programme for 2016-2017, and disseminate information on all the activities of the United Nations system relating to the question of Palestine and peace efforts.

The next text was on the “Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable rights of the Palestinian People”, by which terms, the Assembly would request the Committee to continue to exert all efforts to promote the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

By the terms of the final draft resolution on the “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine”, the Assembly would stress the road map obligation upon Israel to freeze settlement activity, including so-called “natural growth”, and to dismantle all settlements outposts erected since March 2001.  It would also stress the situation in the Gaza Strip was unsustainable and that a durable ceasefire agreement must lead to a fundamental improvement in the living conditions of the Palestinians people, concluding through the sustained and regular opening of crossing points.

The Committee, chaired by Senegal’s representative, Fodé Seck, also approved the provisional programme of the International Conference on the Question of Jerusalem from 14 to 15 December, and the United Nations Civil Society Forum on the Question of Palestine, to be held on 16 December, both taking place in Jakarta, Indonesia.

For information media. Not an official record.