Briefing Members, Special Rapporteur Covering Human Rights in Occupied Palestinian Territory Calls Gaza ‘Crisis on Top of a Catastrophe’
The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People recommended four draft resolutions for action by General Assembly today, with its Vice-Chair saying they will be presented on 29 November, during its general debate on the question of Palestine, and on 30 November, when voting is expected.
Vice-Chair Neville Melvin Gertze (Namibia) said the first three draft resolutions deal with the work of that Committee, the Secretariat’s Division for Palestinian Rights and the Department of Public Information’s Special Information Programme. The fourth draft deals with peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine, he added.
Presenting the drafts, Riyad H. Mansour, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, noted that the first three are very similar to the 2017 texts, with some technical updates. The fourth is also essentially the same, with an addition to operative paragraph 25 calling upon all States to honour their obligations under the Charter of the United Nations and relevant Security Council resolutions.
The Committee also heard a briefing by Michael Lynk, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, who described the situation in the Gaza Strip as one of the most burning issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The humanitarian crisis is particularly troubling since it is a product of human decisions and actions, he said, noting that the latest World Bank report on the Occupied Palestinian Territory states that the Gaza Strip’s economy is in free fall, with youth unemployment at 70 per cent. The water supply is contaminated and basic health services are collapsing, he added quoting the words of a senior United Nations official who called Gaza “a crisis on top of a catastrophe”.
He went on to emphasize that Israel’s 11-year-long blockade of Gaza must end soon, as the enclave is crumbling under its effects, which amount to collective punishment in clear violation of Israeli responsibilities under international humanitarian law. He recalled that the United Nations issued a 2012 report warning that Gaza will be unliveable by 2020, noting that a 2017 report concludes that the Strip is enduring a downward spiral of de-development.
Meanwhile, Israel is entrenching its sovereignty claim through annexation, having already integrated West Bank infrastructure into its domestic network, he continued. Not one of the six parties in the coalition governing Israel genuinely supports a two-State solution, he said, stressing that Israel’s settlement and annexation activities are prohibited under international law. The Security Council has stated that such activities are in grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and that annexation is in violation of the United Nations Charter, he noted, emphasizing that Israel has rarely paid a meaningful price for its defiance. In the past 50 years, “the international community has been playing checkers while Israel plays chess”, he added.
Mr. Mansour said that Israel’s recent escalation of aggression was sparked by a botched operation conducted by that country’s armed forces and led to “a very bloody aggression against the Gaza Strip”. While acknowledging efforts by the Government of Egypt to mitigate the situation, he noted that despite his request that the Security Council condemn the aggression, “it did not rise to its responsibilities and did not act in an effective way”. However, the League of Arab States convened an emergency meeting to condemn the aggression, he said, adding that it approved a draft resolution stating that no Arab country will normalize relations with Israel until it leaves the occupied territories. Citing Israel’s violations of international law, he said that his delegation is digging into legal options to hold the occupying authority responsible through the International Criminal Court or the International Court of Justice. He noted that today marks the thirtieth anniversary of the declaration of Palestinian independence in 1988.
Delegates then took the floor to discuss the worsening situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, especially the Gaza Strip, due to Israel’s recent aggression.
Shaher Awawdeh, Chair of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), announced that several events will be held in observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on 29 November in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and in Ramallah, West Bank.
Ina Hagniningtyas Krisnamurthi (Indonesia) recalled that her country’s Government organized “Solidarity Week for Palestine”, which began on 13 October and was attended by several Palestinian representatives.
Mr. Gertze (Namibia), Committee Vice-Chair, then announced that the Special Meeting in observance of Solidarity Day will be held on Wednesday, 28 November, and called upon Member States to offer their messages of solidarity by Friday, 23 November.