Volume XXXVII, Bulletin No. 10
on action by the United Nations system and
relevant to the question of Palestine
CEIRPP submits its annual report to the General Assembly
UNSCO issues a fact sheet on the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism
WHO leads a joint assessment of health needs in Gaza
Secretary-General addresses the Cairo Conference on Gaza Reconstruction
CEIRPP organizes a lecture by Noam Chomsky
Secretary-General briefs the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
Security Council holds an emergency meeting on the situation in Jerusalem
Special Rapporteur addresses the GA Third Committee
The Bulletin can be found in the United Nations Information System
on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL) on the Internet at:
I. CEIRPP SUBMITS ITS ANNUAL REPORT TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
On 7 October 2014, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People submitted its annual report to the General Assembly. The following are the conclusions and recommendations contained in the report (A/69/35):
72. During the reporting period, the Committee intensified its work, in implementation of its mandate contained in General Assembly resolution 68/12, to organize activities in 2014 for the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Operating within existing regular budget resources and with support from its partners, including the Arab League and OIC, the Committee was able to convene additional events throughout the year, in addition to its regular meetings and conferences. The Committee wishes to express its deep appreciation to its partners who contributed extrabudgetary resources, logistical and substantive support, and its gratitude for their active participation in these events, which made them a success. The Committee wishes to thank its members and observers who organized solidarity events during the International Year at the national level and encourages them to continue such activities. To sustain the momentum generated by the International Year, the Committee recommends that the General Assembly make provisions for follow-up activities by the Committee in 2015 and thereafter, in order to review key challenges and the progress being made by the Palestinian people towards the realization of their inalienable rights and long-denied freedom, justice and peace.
73. The Committee is convinced that a negotiated peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in all its aspects, in accordance with United Nations resolutions, and an urgent end to the Israeli occupation remain central to peace and stability throughout the volatile Middle East region and should be a top priority of the international community. The recent tragic events in Gaza, which has undergone three devastating Israeli military assaults in six years, reinforce this view. The ceasefire should be solidified and the root causes of the crisis fully addressed, including a lifting of the illegal blockade on Gaza.
74. The Committee notes with appreciation the emergence of an international consensus that there should not be a return to the status quo ante in Gaza. The cycle of war and rebuilding should end. The establishment of the national consensus Government, which the Committee strongly supported, provides a window of opportunity to stabilize Gaza. All States Members of the United Nations should support the administration of Gaza by the Palestinian national consensus Government under the leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas, which should in turn consolidate and unify the administrative and security apparatuses under its command. National elections should be held according to schedule. Gaza crossings should be open to the legitimate and sustained flow of persons and goods, including construction materials, humanitarian aid and commercial flows, with support from the European Union border assistance mission and in accordance with Security Council resolution 1860 (2009) and the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access. Exports from Gaza to the West Bank, Israel and the outside world should be allowed to resume, enabling the legitimate economy to rebuild. Long-dormant projects such as the Gaza airport and seaport, a safe passage route to the West Bank and offshore gas fields should be revitalized. The normalization in Gaza would significantly reduce tensions and facilitate the resumption of the political process.
75. The tragic events in Gaza underscore the urgency of reaching a peaceful settlement to the question of Palestine as a whole. The Committee supported the efforts spearheaded by the United States to reach a final status agreement between the parties by April of 2014. The Committee sought to contribute to peace efforts as it urged the international community to step up its support of negotiations, while promoting international action against obstacles in their path, such as the illegal Israeli settlements and the wall; drew international attention to key permanent status issues; examined legal options available to the State of Palestine; urged solidarity with the Palestinian people and their State; and engaged with diverse constituencies in support of peace. It continued to mobilize international support for the Palestinian National Development Plan, while highlighting the massive economic costs of the Israeli occupation. It urged increased donor support for the Government of the State of Palestine and United Nations agencies providing vital humanitarian support on the ground, as well as for the effective use of international assistance for sustainable growth.
76. The latest round of negotiations regrettably failed, as did previous such efforts in 2000-2001 and 2007-2008, in large part owing to the acceleration of Israel’s illegal settlement campaign in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and its failure to honour the agreement to release Palestinian prisoners. The Committee observes that, in each case, the failure of negotiations was followed by an outbreak of violence. The repeated failure to reach agreement, despite the stepped-up engagement by the international community, also reflects the limitations of the traditional format of bilateral Israeli-Palestinian final status talks facilitated by a single Member State. In that regard, the Committee would welcome proposals for innovative approaches and formats that could help to break the deadlock and accelerate the end of the 47-year Israeli military occupation and the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, in particular their right to an independent and sovereign Palestinian State based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, and their right to return. The Committee recalls in that regard that the Quartet road map endorsed by the Security Council in its resolution 1515 (2003) envisages the creation of a Palestinian State prior to the conclusion of negotiations on permanent status issues. The Committee urges the Security Council and the General Assembly to give positive consideration to all such proposals and intends to contribute to a healthy and necessary discussion of the issues through its programme of conferences and international meetings.
77. The Committee considers that the United Nations has a permanent responsibility in respect of the question of Palestine, as well as a responsibility to protect the Palestinian civilian population in accordance with international humanitarian law. However, large protection gaps have been exposed, both in Gaza and in the West Bank. The Committee welcomes the fact-finding mission established by the Human Rights Council as an important step towards accountability for violations of humanitarian and human rights law. There is no justification for the targeting of innocent civilians and there should be no impunity for its perpetrators. The Committee welcomes the request by the Palestinian leadership addressed to the Secretary-General that the territory of the occupied State of Palestine be placed under an international protection system by the United Nations. The Committee calls upon the Secretary-General to expedite the review of that request and to submit his recommendations to the Security Council and the General Assembly as appropriate. The Committee expresses its readiness to contribute to the consideration of proposals in the relevant forums. The Committee calls upon the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly to also take practical steps to follow up on the findings of previous fact-finding missions.
78. The Committee welcomes the accession by the State of Palestine to a number of international conventions and treaties and encourages its Government to take all steps towards full compliance with those instruments, subject to the constraints imposed by the Israeli occupation. The Committee encourages the signature by the State of Palestine of additional international instruments, which would allow it to pursue justice and accountability for Palestinian victims through the available international legal mechanisms. The Committee stands ready to contribute to Palestinian capacity-building in that area through its training programme for staff of the Government of the State of Palestine. The Committee is ready to organize further round tables to raise awareness among Palestinian policymakers regarding the legal options available under the status of non-Member observer State.
79. The Committee underscores the responsibility of States and private entities not to contribute to grave Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights, in particular in respect of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. It welcomes in that regard the entry into force of European Union guidelines that prohibit funding by European Union institutions for Israeli entities connected with settlements and the importation of settlement agricultural produce. It welcomes further steps taken by Governments and private businesses to dissociate themselves from settlements.
80. The scale of the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Gaza is unprecedented. Clean water, sanitation and electricity remain scarce, with vast networks having been destroyed by the Israeli aggression, while hundreds of thousands of Palestinians remain homeless and destitute, since their houses were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable by the Israeli bombardments. The Committee calls upon the United Nations members and observers to provide generous support to UNRWA, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UNICEF, the World Food Programme (WFP), UNDP and other organizations working on the ground to alleviate the catastrophic conditions in Gaza and to expedite the massive rebuilding effort that is vital.
81. The year 2014 marks the tenth anniversary of the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, which determined that the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory built by Israel, the occupying Power, is contrary to international law. The Court called upon the United Nations, and especially the General Assembly and the Security Council, to consider further action to bring an end to that illegal situation. As the work of the Register of Damage caused by the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, established by the General Assembly, nears completion, the Committee invites the Assembly to consider further steps to redress the illegal situation.
82. The Committee has consistently supported the Palestinian State-building and reform agenda. It is concerned that the accomplishments are now endangered owing to the chronic political, security and financial crises and calls upon donors to meet their prior commitments and to provide additional aid to avert further deterioration. The Committee remains convinced, however, that sustainable economic development cannot take root under the existing regime of Israeli occupation, which exacts annual costs of an estimated $7 billion, borne by the Palestinian economy, in particular in Gaza and in Area C of the West Bank. In that regard, the Committee calls upon the General Assembly to establish provisions for a mechanism that would allow the United Nations to document those costs. Moreover, unequal economic arrangements resulting from the Oslo Accords need to be revisited by the parties to allow the Palestinian economy to develop.
83. The Committee and the Division for Palestinian Rights will continue through their mandated activities to generate heightened international awareness of the question of Palestine, as well as international support for the rights of the Palestinian people and the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine. In that connection, the Committee emphasizes the useful and constructive contribution of the Division in support of its mandate. It notes with satisfaction: (a) the sustained level of dialogue, engagement and support on the part of the international community for the programme’s objectives, as evidenced by the number of international meetings and conferences and commemorations of the International Day and Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People; (b) the continued involvement of civil society organizations in support of the efforts of the Committee and the United Nations towards a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine; and (c) an increase in international awareness of the United Nations policies and activities on the question of Palestine, as evidenced by the increased number of followers of social media sites maintained by the Division. The Committee also considers that the annual training programme for staff of the Government of the State of Palestine, carried out annually by the Division, has proved its usefulness, as it directly contributes to Palestinian capacity-building efforts. The Committee strongly recommends that this important mandated activity be continued and, where possible, further enhanced.
84. The Committee will focus its programme of international meetings and conferences in 2015, to be implemented by the Division, on widening international support for the achievement of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. The Committee intends to mobilize increased international scrutiny of the developments on the ground, in particular settlement activities, and will emphasize responsibility and promote action by the international community to put an end to all illegal Israeli policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the meantime, to promote accountability for Israeli violations and the needed protection for the Palestinian people. The Committee will also continue to examine the legal ramifications of the new international status of the State of Palestine and will continue to call attention to the plight of the Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails and urge a resolution of their plight. The Committee will strive to involve prominent international personalities and experts and the representatives of vulnerable populations, such as women and refugees, in its events, while giving due regard to gender balance.
85. The Committee will continue to invite internationally renowned personalities to brief the Committee and the wider United Nations membership. The Committee also considers that round-table meetings have proved particularly useful in generating practical proposals for action in the United Nations and beyond and will continue to utilize that format.
86. The Committee will continue to mobilize support for Palestinian institution-building and all other efforts to support and enhance the viability of the State of Palestine. It will reach out to and engage Governments, parliamentarians and civil society to mobilize support for a just solution to all permanent status issues, including the question of refugees, based on principles of international law and relevant United Nations resolutions, including resolution 194 (III). It will pay particular attention to the inclusion and empowerment of women and youth and their organizations.
87. The Committee highly values civil society initiatives in support of the Palestinian people. A comprehensive peace will take root only if the relevant civil societies strongly demand it of their political leaderships. Special efforts are needed to revitalize the peace camp in Israel. The Committee lauds the courageous advocacy actions of countless activists, including eminent personalities and parliamentarians, who participate in demonstrations against the occupation and keep their home constituencies informed about the harsh realities of life under occupation. The Committee encourages civil society partners to work with their national Governments, parliamentarians and other institutions with a view to gaining their full support for the work of the United Nations, including that of the Committee, on the question of Palestine. The Committee encourages its members and observers to mobilize their respective civil societies at the national level, in particular young people, and to establish solidarity committees with the State of Palestine.
88. The Committee looks forward to further developing its cooperation with parliamentarians and their umbrella organizations. Parliamentarians have a special responsibility to ensure that their Governments actively promote and support the realization of a peaceful and just solution to the question of Palestine and uphold their obligations under international law, including humanitarian and human rights law. The Committee will reach out to new audiences such as local Governments, which have an important role to play in promoting local economic development and other initiatives at the decentralized level.
89. The Committee will reach out to all regional groups at the United Nations, with a view to expanding its membership. It will actively work to organize more thematic debates on the question of Palestine in various United Nations forums. Recognizing the growing importance of developing countries and regional and subregional organizations, it will make a special effort to step up engagement with those countries and organizations in its work.
90. The Committee requests the Division to continue its substantive and secretariat support, the programme of research, monitoring and publications and other informational activities, in support of the Committee’s communication strategy. The Division should pay special attention to continued development of the “Question of Palestine” portal, including the addition of a mobile-device-friendly version, and the use of web-based social information networks, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It should also continue to develop the United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine document collection by reflecting current issues and events, as well as by continuing to digitize and upload historical documents and to add user-friendly search features. The Division should continue to collaborate with the United Nations libraries at Headquarters and at Geneva in the search for historic documents. It should further enhance the annual training programme for staff of the Government of the State of Palestine, paying special attention to the programme’s gender balance, and optimize the use of resources to allow the maximum number of participants possible. Voluntary contributions from members and observers in line with their capacity are to be encouraged to put the programme on a solid financial footing.
91. The Division should continue to organize the annual observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
92. The Committee is of the view that the special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information has made an important contribution to informing the media and the public of the relevant issues. It requests the continuation of the programme, with the necessary flexibility warranted by developments relevant to the question of Palestine.
93. Wishing to make its contribution to the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine, and in view of the many difficulties facing the Palestinian people and their leadership and besetting the peace process, the Committee calls upon all States to join it in this endeavour and to extend their cooperation and support to the Committee, and invites the General Assembly again to recognize the importance of its role and to reconfirm its mandate.
II. UNSCO ISSUES A FACT SHEET ON THE GAZA RECONSTRUCTION MECHANISM
On 9 October 2014, the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, issued the following fact sheet on the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism:
1.The Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM) is a temporary agreement between the Government of Palestine (GoP) and the Government of Israel (Gol) brokered by the United Nations in September 2014. If implemented in good faith this mechanism represents an important step towards the objective of lifting all remaining closures, and a signal of hope to the people of Gaza. Its overall objective is to enable construction and reconstruction work at the large scale now required in the Gaza Strip, in keeping with the requirement to:
2. The GRM foresees two main streams of work: GoP and UN led. Both rely on the establishment of a central database within the GoP’s Ministry of Civil Affairs (MoCA) to track the material required and delivered to the Gaza Strip.
3. A High Level Steering Team, consisting of representatives of the GoP (Ministry of Civil Affairs), Gol (CoGAT) and the UN (UNSCO) has been established and is actively engaging to ensure all processes move forward smoothly. UNOPS has been commissioned to establish a unit to ensure and coordinate end use monitoring.
4. Progress to date:
III. WHO LEADS A JOINT ASSESSMENT OF HEALTH NEEDS IN GAZA
On 12 October 2014, the Global Health Cluster, made up of international humanitarian health organizations and led by the World Health Organization, issued the “Joint Health Sector Assessment Report” on the Gaza Strip. The following is an excerpt from the executive summary of the report:
This joint health cluster assessment aims at understanding the impact of the conflict in July and August 2014 on the health sector in Gaza. This report is based on a quantitative and qualitative data collection, conducted at the beginning of September 2014, at a time when health service providers were beginning to re-establish their routine services which had been severely disrupted during the conflict. In order to understand the impact of the conflict on the health system in Gaza this report examines the situation prior to the crisis as well as its functionality during the 51 days of the conflict. Priority health issues have been selected and reviewed and findings presented with recommendations.
The recent conflict in Gaza severely impacted on the health and well-being of the entire population. Large-scale population displacement, shortages of water and electricity, environmental health hazards, loss of income and many more factors increased drastically the vulnerability of the majority of the population at a time when the siege on Gaza and the financial crisis of the government had already left the system on the brink of collapse. The chronic situation of the health sector therefore is a major underlying cause for the impact of the conflict on the health system in Gaza today and unless addressed systematically a recovery of the health sector to a stronger and more resilient health system is highly unlikely.
The direct impact of the conflict led to the loss of life, disabilities, decompensation of chronic illnesses and severe negative effect on the mental wellbeing of the population. Security issues and the destruction of vital health infrastructure were and are large contributors to the reduced availability of health services during and after the conflict. Although the hostilities have halted, much of its impact will continue for some time. Shortages of drugs and medical supplies, limitations in tertiary care capacity, extreme fuel shortage and complicated referral mechanisms for the referral of severe cases abroad exacerbated the situation. The Ministry of Health and health facilities staff had to apply numerous coping mechanisms to ensure that service provision continued to meet the most pressing needs. External support from donors, the UN and NGOs supported the MoH in the response to the crisis and helped to alleviate the situation during the emergency and in the short term aftermath. The monitoring of partner activities through the 4W indicates however that the majority of response projects only cover the first 1-3 months, with some extending as far as 6- 12 months: there is a high likelihood that if funding is not secured beyond this initial period the recovery of the health sector will falter in the medium term.
The conflict provides an opportunity to identify lessons that urgently need to be incorporated into future preparedness and response planning.
IV. SECRETARY-GENERAL ADDRESSES THE CAIRO CONFERENCE ON GAZA RECONSTRUCTION
On 12 October 2014, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed the Cairo International Conference on Palestine: Reconstructing Gaza by delivering the following remarks (SG/SM/16250-PAL/2178):
I want to thank President [Abdel Fattah] Al Sisi for his initiative. This important event has helped lay the foundation for what we hope to be a durable ceasefire that must be further consolidated. I also want to thank Foreign Minister [Sameh Hassan] Shokry [Selim] for his continuing leadership. Foreign Minister [Børge] Brende, thank you for your country’s leadership and commitment to lasting peace in the Middle East.
We are here to show our solidarity. We are here to stand with the people of Gaza who have endured a terrible summer of suffering. I want to convey my profound condolences to all those who tragically lost loved ones during the 51 days of conflict. My thoughts are also with the many who were injured or made homeless. It is in all their names that we must act.
In 2009, the international community gathered in Sharm el-Sheikh in the wake of another devastating war in Gaza. We pledged our support. We expressed our commitment. We resolved to rebuild. And yet here we are again. The cycle of building and destroying has continued, only worse.
More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed in the most recent war, along with more than 70 Israelis. Almost one third of Gaza’s population was uprooted from their homes, with many no longer having homes to return to. Entire neighbourhoods were flattened. Public infrastructure was demolished. Blackouts continue up to 18 hours a day. More than 450,000 people cannot access the municipal water supply network. Dozens of schools, hospitals and clinics were destroyed or damaged. United Nations facilities sheltering women and children were hit, resulting in many casualties. Eleven staff members of the United Nations were killed in the course of the conflict.
Meanwhile rockets fired by Hamas and other armed groups from Gaza continued to be fired indiscriminately causing fear, panic and suffering. And, of course, the war exacted a toll that may be harder to measure, but that is equally devastating. Families on both sides, especially children, have suffered deep psychological trauma. The children of Gaza who have not yet reached grade three have already lived through three wars.
The United Nations and international partners have worked hand-in-hand with the Palestinian Authority to address Gaza’s urgent priorities. But the needs are massive and time is short. To effectively respond, the humanitarian community in Palestine has worked with the Palestinian Government to develop the “Gaza Crisis Appeal”. Our “United Nations Support Plan for the Transformation of the Gaza Strip” amounts to about $2.1 billion for early recovery, reconstruction, and other efforts. These initiatives deserve the most generous support.
Ultimately, the successful reconstruction of Gaza requires a strong political foundation. I am encouraged by the comprehensive reconciliation agreement reached in Cairo on 25 September. I urge all concerned to ensure that this time, deeds follow words.
The United Nations will continue to support the Government of National Consensus as it extends its functions and manages Gaza’s significant and urgent reconstruction needs. It is essential that our support benefit both refugee and non-refugee populations.
I welcome the temporary tripartite agreement brokered by the United Nations to secure entry of reconstruction materials into Gaza. I am encouraged by the recent historic Palestinian unity Government meeting in Gaza led by Prime Minister [Rami] Hamdallah.
My message to all sides is clear. First, promote an environment conducive for peace, mutual understanding and respect for human rights. This must include an investigation into potential violations of international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict. Second, make the most of the vital opportunity presented by the upcoming Cairo talks. Third, strengthen the ceasefire which is crucial for the resumption of broader peace talks. Fourth, refrain from unilateral actions which only exacerbate tensions and resentment.
Gaza remains a tinderbox. The people desperately need to see results in their daily lives. Today. Now. Leaders on both sides need to overcome their differences and demonstrate the courage and vision to end the conflict once and for all.
I welcome the inflow of funds, resources and staff into the beleaguered Gaza Strip to aid in its reconstruction. Yet we must not lose sight of the root causes of the recent hostilities: a restrictive occupation that has lasted almost half a century, the continued denial of Palestinian rights and the lack of tangible progress in peace negotiations.
I call on all parties to come together to chart a clear course towards a just and final peace, including achieving a full lifting of the blockade, ensuring Israel’s legitimate security concerns; and establishing two States living side by side in peace and security. Going back to the status quo is not an option; this is the moment for transformational change. I urge you to give generously to allow this important work to go forward.
I do not want my successors or yours to make conferences such as this a ritual: building and destroying, and then expecting the international community to foot the bill. The parties to the conflict must finally make the tough but necessary decisions to enable a brighter future. Let us each do our part. Let us commit to make this the most successful conference to rebuild Gaza. And let it be the last.
V. CEIRPP ORGANIZES A LECTURE BY NOAM CHOMSKY
On 14 October 2014, at United Nations Headquarters in New York, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People organized a lecture by Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, on prospects for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The following is the press release on the event (GA/PAL/1314):
The youth of the United States were driving a change across the country that could, in the long term, alter its foreign policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said Noam Chomsky, international public intellectual and Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, today during a lecture to the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
He recalled that 45 years ago Israeli diplomat Abba Eban had suggested that Jews who criticized Israel should be treated for psychiatric disorders. Today, criticizing Israel was not a form of anti-Semitism, said Mr. Chomsky, but rather being “critical of a country engaged in a criminal act”.
He said that while many of the world’s problems were intractable, the Israeli and Palestinian issue was not. The general outlines of a diplomatic solution had been presented clearly in a January 1976 Security Council resolution calling for a two-State settlement along internationally recognized borders. The United States had vetoed that text, setting the pattern that had continued ever since, with the most recent United States veto in February 2011.
Hamas had won free and fair elections, he said, and in response, the United States had decided to punish Palestinians for voting the wrong way. Turning to the situation in Gaza, he noted that in August 2013 a ceasefire was reached between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. There was a pattern of ceasefires reached which Israel had disregarded while continuing its assault on Gaza and building more settlements in the West Bank. Hamas would observe the ceasefire until an Israeli escalation elicited a Hamas response, which led to another exercise in “mowing the lawn” in Israeli parlance.
The removal of Israeli settlers from Gaza was depicted as a noble effort, but reality was different, he said. He quoted an Israeli official who had told the Israeli press that the goal of disengagement was freezing of the peace process to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian State and ensure that diplomacy was removed from the agenda. The reality on the ground, however, was that the “ruined territory” was not released for a single day from Israel’s military grip. While the Oslo accords reached 20 years ago had established that Gaza and the West Bank were indivisible territory whose unity and integrity could not be broken up, the United States and Israel were dedicated to separating them.
Unity between Gaza and the West Bank threatened the policy of separating the two, and also undermined the pretext for Israel to refuse to negotiate, he said. Israel had launched assaults on Palestinians in the West Bank, targeting Hamas, with the pretext that three Israeli teenagers had been brutally murdered. Going over details of who was actually responsible for the deed, he noted that the pattern was very clear: the latest ceasefire had been reached on 26 August and had been followed by Israel’s land grab.
Little had changed in the last 47 years, he said, apart from the scale of crimes, which continued without a break with constant United States support. There was a conventional picture repeated on all sides, which was that there were two alternatives, either a two-State settlement which represented international consensus, or a one-State solution, with Israel taking over the West Bank and the Palestinians “handing over keys”.
His own opinion was that those were not the two alternatives. The real alternatives were either an international consensus on a January 1976 agreement, and the other more realistic option was Israel continuing exactly what it was doing, with United States support. What was happening was not a secret: Israel was taking over what it called Jerusalem, which was actually five times greater than historic Jerusalem and included many Arab villages. Looking at the map, those corridors broke up the West Bank into cantons. What was left was uninhabitable desert.
Analogies were often made to the situation in apartheid-era South Africa, but that was misleading, as South Africa had relied on its black workforce, he said. Israel had no such attitude towards the Palestinians. “If they leave, or die, that’s fine,” he said. That was the realistic alternative to a two-State settlement, and it would continue as long as the United States supported it.
Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, said that he agreed with Mr. Chomsky’s thoughts on United States policy, but noted that it was not just the Israelis and Americans dictating policy. The Palestinian people were determined to continue the struggle. “Our people are dead determined that we do not want to stay in Bantustans in apartheid-style,” he said. The Palestinians were key players despite the odds being against them.
Putting Palestine on the geopolitical map was an accomplishment, he said. In 1988, the struggle of the Palestinian people had succeeded in unifying different parts of their homeland. The tragic split between Gaza and the West Bank was “a huge setback”. The April 2014 agreement that put an end to the split and established a national consensus Government was a historic step. Giving further details on the issue of unity between Gaza and the West Bank, he noted that there were “no boy scouts in this business in this chamber”. Gaza had to be rebuilt, and freedom and dignity had to be attained. Addressing Mr. Chomsky, he called him a “superstar”, and termed today’s meeting “the pulse of justice”.
Fode Seck, (Senegal) Chair of the Committee for the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, opened today’s special meeting held as part of the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.  He encouraged the audience to visit the International Year of Solidarity Twitter page, to tweet during the talk with #2014forPalestine, and to visit the Committee’s Facebook page.
Amy Goodman, Host and Executive Producer of Democracy Now, moderated the ensuing question-and-answer period with representatives of Member States, non-governmental organizations and media outlets. She started out by asking Mr. Chomsky what he thought was the single most important action the United Nations could take to solve the crisis. He answered that the United Nations would act insofar as the great Powers permitted it to act, primarily the United States, the United Kingdom and France.
But there were things the Organization could do, such as recognizing the State of Palestine, he said, noting that 138 members took that step in the General Assembly in November 2012 and parties of the Swedish and British parliaments had recently voted in favour of doing the same. The Swedish vote had “broken the logjam for the West”. While the British vote had not been a Government decision, it reflected a shift in understanding and attitudes and could lead to a viable two-State settlement.
Moreover, the European Union had produced a directive forbidding its members from funding or participating in any projects located within illegal Israeli settlements, he said. Major church groups in the United States had taken similar positions against multinational companies in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and there were efforts against securities firms operating there.
Regarding the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, he said that although the Movement had been a positive impetus, it had been unwilling to face crucial questions, such as what would help the victims and what would harm them. The Movement’s actions directed against the Israeli occupation had been largely successful, but its insistence that they be continued until Israel had allowed Palestinian refugees to return had only led to a backlash.
On what the United States should do, he said that country should have been called upon by its own citizens to conform to its own laws, such as the Leahy Law, which barred sending weapons to any military units involved in consistent rights violations. There wasn’t any doubt that the Israeli army was involved in such violations. He also criticized the United States Government for allowing tax-exempt United States organizations to carry out activities on the West Bank.
Asked what he would do to solve the conflict if he were President of the Palestinian Authority, Mr. Chomsky cited the need to overcome the split between Gaza and the West Bank and to maintain the Unity Government amid the attacks from many sides. It was a theme familiar to many of the countries at the United Nations who had undergone national struggles. Palestine had been one of the remaining two colonies, along with Western Sahara, that had not been decolonized. Also there was a need to reach out to international opinion.
Asked about the prospect of a peaceful two-State solution occurring in the coming decades and what progressive forces should do, Mr. Chomsky said the effort to achieve the two-State solution was by no means finished and the United States could settle it. But the solution would not necessarily be a good settlement. Natural cultural and commercial connections should develop across the artificial boundary, leading to the kind of integration that would come from both sides.
Asked why the United States had always unconditionally supported Israel, Mr. Chomsky said that long ago when the United States, Australia and Canada, all settler-colonial societies, were the greatest supporters of Israel, they were driven by religious principles. Significant geostrategic factors also figured into the mix. In the latest escalation, Israel began to run out of munitions, and the United States provided munitions that had been pre-positioned in Israel for United States use.
VI. SECRETARY-GENERAL BRIEFS THE SECURITY COUNCIL ON THE SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST,
INCLUDING THE PALESTINIAN QUESTION
On 21 October 2014, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefed the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. The following are excerpts from the briefing (S/PV.7281):
I thank Argentina for organizing this important meeting. As members know, I returned last week from Egypt, Israel and Palestine, which included my first visit to Gaza since this summer’s conflict. In Egypt, I attended the International Conference on Palestine, which focused on Gaza’s reconstruction. I would like to thank the co-chairs, Egypt and Norway, for their leadership. The event surpassed expectations, with pledges from some 50 countries amounting to $5.4 billion. It is important that those promises quickly materialize into concrete assistance on the ground.
The clock is ticking. Some $414 million are immediately needed for humanitarian relief, $1.2 billion for early recovery needs and $2.4 billion for reconstruction efforts. More than 100,000 residents of Gaza remain homeless, with over 50,000 still sheltering in school buildings belonging to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. Many still lack access to the municipal water network. Blackouts of up to 18 hours per day are common. Meanwhile, winter is approaching. I urge the international community to move quickly to deliver much-needed assistance.
Nothing could have prepared me for what I witnessed in Gaza. I saw mile after mile of wholesale destruction. I visited a United Nations school in the Jabaliya refugee camp, which was shelled during the hostilities. Civilians had sought protection under the United Nations flag. Parents and children shared heart-wrenching accounts of suffering and pain. I met a young man whose brothers and sisters perished in the blasts. He is now confined to a wheelchair, having lost his legs.
I look forward to a thorough investigation by the Israel Defense Forces of this and other incidents in which United Nations facilities sustained hits and many innocent people were killed. I am planning to move forward with an independent board of inquiry to look into the most serious of those cases, as well as instances in which weaponry was found on United Nations premises.
Israelis also suffered during the conflict. I travelled to a kibbutz where I met the grieving family of a four-year-old child named Daniel who was killed by a Hamas rocket — another innocent victim of this mindless conflict. As I said in Gaza, firing rockets is unacceptable, and the rockets have brought nothing but suffering. I also visited a tunnel built by militants to launch attacks. I fully understand the security threat to Israel from rockets above and tunnels below. At thesame time, the scale of the destruction in Gaza has left deep questions about proportionality and the need for accountability.
Despite the harsh reality on the ground, I left Gaza with a measure of hope. During my visit to Gaza, the first supplies of urgently needed construction materials entered Gaza under the temporary mechanism brokered by my Special Coordinator. If implemented in good faith, that mechanism can help bring stability to Gaza. I also welcome Turkey’s offer of a ship to serve as a temporary power plant, and Israel’s positive consideration of that arrangement. That is the kind of action and cooperation needed now to alleviate the situation in Gaza.
Palestinians are taking critical steps to forge a united path to the future. That includes an intra-Palestinian reconciliation agreement, followed by a historic meeting in Gaza of the Cabinet of the Government of national consensus. A united Palestinian Government is beginning to take shape. During my visit, I met with Prime Minister Hamdallah and his Cabinet in Ramallah, and Deputy Prime Minister Abu-Amr and several Ministers in Gaza to further underscore United Nations support for a unified Palestinian leadership.
The national consensus Government must be consolidated so it can assume its rightful responsibilities in Gaza, including deployment to the border crossings. That is crucial, as effective management of Gaza’s borders will facilitate the flow of construction materials into Gaza and allow the restoration of trade between Gaza and the West Bank. Civil and administrative reform and other related issues must also become a priority to help unify the two separate strands of administration for the Gaza Strip. I welcome the generous contribution of the Government of Qatar and the Emir, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, towards a one-time humanitarian payment by the end of this month in Gaza for a number of civil service employees.
Notwithstanding the immediate needs in Gaza, the situation in the West Bank demands renewed attention. In my meetings in Jerusalem, I reiterated my deep concerns about plans to construct residential housing units in occupied East Jerusalem. International law is clear — settlement activity is illegal. It runs totally counter to the pursuit of a two-State solution. I urge the Israeli Government to reverse these activities.
I also remain deeply concerned by unilateral actions, restrictions and provocations at the holy sites in Jerusalem. I take note of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s personal assurance to me in Jerusalem of his Government’s commitment to refraining from altering policies with respect to the holy sites that have been in place over many decades.
I am also concerned about mounting numbers of attacks by settlers and others, as well as Israeli plans to relocate some 7,000 Palestinian Bedouins, the majority of whom are refugees, from their current locations in the central West Bank, including in the strategic El area. Such an action, if implemented in a forcible manner, would be contrary to international human rights and humanitarian law.
The cycle of build-and-destroy must end. The international community cannot be expected to continually pick up the pieces of another war and then pick up the bill. As I said in Cairo, let this be the last Gaza reconstruction conference. I welcome the planned resumption of indirect ceasefire talks between Israel and the Palestinians, under Egyptian auspices in Cairo. I also recognize the positive steps taken by Israel to ease restrictions on movement and trade in the West Bank and Gaza. These must be further expanded.
But, as I repeated throughout my visit to the region, there is no hope for long-term stability in Gaza without addressing the underlying causes of the conflict: an end to the occupation that has grinded on for nearly half a century, a full lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip, and effectively addressing Israel’s legitimate security concerns. Ultimately, long-term stability will require a comprehensive peace agreement leading to a viable and independent Palestinian State. Leaders on both sides must overcome their differences and dispense with unilateral initiatives that serve only to fuel mistrust and polarization. The two-State solution is the only viable option for a durable peace. It is time for courage and vision to make the tough compromises that are needed now. I challenge both sides to rise to the occasion.
VII. SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS AN EMERGENCY MEETING ON THE SITUATION IN JERUSALEM
On 29 October 2014, the Security Council held an emergency meeting on the situation in Jerusalem. The following is the transcript of a briefing by United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman (S/PV.7291):
We meet today in light of worrisome developments in Jerusalem, including growing violence and renewed settlement activities. On 27 October, the Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations submitted two identical letters to the Secretary-General and to the Security Council “to demand that Israel rescind its plans and cease forthwith all of its illegal settlement activities and all other provocations and incitement throughout the Palestinian land, including in occupied East Jerusalem”.
Most recently, in his 21 October briefing to the Council (see S/PV.7281), the Secretary-General stressed his deep concerns about continued Israeli settlement activity, particularly plans to construct residential housing in occupied East Jerusalem. He also urged the Israeli Government to reverse these activities. Regrettably, since then there have been troubling new reports of settlement activity taking place in East Jerusalem.
The Secretary-General is alarmed by new reports about the advancement of planning for some 1,000 Israeli settlements units in occupied East Jerusalem. These include approximately 400 units in Har Homa and 600 in Ramat Shlomo. This latest development follows on the heels of Israel’s decision at the end of September to accelerate the process of constructing some 2,600 residential units in Givat Hamatos, also in East Jerusalem. If pursued, these plans would once again raise grave doubts about Israel’s commitment to achieving durable peace with the Palestinians, as the new settlements threaten the very viability of the future State of Palestine.
As affirmed by the Council and determined by the International Court of Justice, Israel’s policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in the occupied Palestinian territory, including occupied East Jerusalem, are in violation of international law. As the Secretary-General has consistently reiterated, it also runs contrary to the two-State solution. Once again, the Secretary-General calls on Israel to reverse these activities, heed the calls of the international community to freeze settlement activity and abide by its commitments under international law and the Quartet Road Map.
Heightened tensions over unilateral actions, provocations and access restrictions at the holy sites in Jerusalem are continuing and the situation remains volatile. In the past week, some 13 Palestinians have reportedly been arrested at the Haram Al-Sharif/ Temple Mount compound, including one Palestinian on 22 October for allegedly throwing stones at Jewish visitors. Israeli police officers have also been injured as a result of clashes. We note that, in the aftermath of these clashes, Prime Minister Hamdallah visited Haram Al-Sharif/Temple Mount on 27 October.
The Secretary-General has reiterated the importance of respect for the religious freedom of all, and for worshippers of all faiths to have access to their holy sites, while noting that religious and other leaders should also refrain from making inflammatory statements. In this regard, the Government of Israel’s reassurances to the Secretary-General, and reportedly to Jordan, that it has no plans to change long-standing policies governing the holy sites are noted. We also note that Israel, as per its agreement with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, has committed to working to ensure the protection of the Muslim and Christian holy sites in the Old City and the safety of worshippers. Incitement to violence from any quarter must cease and the sanctity of the holy sites of all faiths must be respected. The Secretary-General will be closely following developments at these sacred places that have such significance to millions around the world.
The situation in the rest of East Jerusalem has grown more tense since 21 October. On 22 October, a Palestinian man drove his car into a light rail train station near Ammunition Hill and ran over passengers disembarking from the train, killing a three-month-old baby and injuring six other people, one of whom succumbed to her injuries later. The driver was shot dead by Israeli police as he tried to flee the scene. It is our understanding that Israeli authorities are investigating this incident as what they describe as a potential terrorist attack. Regrettably, some on the Palestinian side have praised this attack.
Clashes took place during the burial of the Palestinian man on 26 October. On the same day, Prime Minister Netanyahu stated at a cabinet meeting that Israel would not allow the stone- and firebomb-throwing to continue and that an additional 1,000 security forces would be deployed in East Jerusalem. The Prime Minister also reportedly requested legislation to raise the terms of punishment for stone-throwing, including criteria for the possible imposition of economic sanctions on the parents of minors who throw stones.
Tensions have also escalated in the rest of the West Bank, where Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian-American teenager on 24 October in Silwad village near Ramallah, reportedly following stone- and Molotov cocktail-throwing during a demonstration. On 27 October, Israeli forces detained 14 Palestinians for alleged stone-throwing. On 28 October, four Palestinians were reportedly shot and injured by Israeli security forces in Jenin, including one who is in critical condition.
Tensions also rose from the reported demolition in the past week of five Palestinian homes in the East Jerusalem neighbourhoods of Al-Tur and Silwan, as well as in Salah Eddine Street, and following news that a Palestinian held under administrative detention in Israel and on hunger strike for 37 days was moved to hospital on 27 October after his health had deteriorated.
I would like to underscore the criticality of immediately diffusing the escalating tensions in East Jerusalem without delay. The wounds from the devastating conflict in Gaza are only just beginning to heal, with the tripartite temporary mechanism for the delivery of reconstruction materials into Gaza brokered by the United Nations only starting to take effect. The parties can ill afford to once more take unilateral actions that serve only to inflame tensions and further entrench the suspicion and hostility that have been the tragic narrative of this conflict for decades. The reality is that continued settlement activity in occupied Palestinian territory is doing significant damage to any possibility of a lasting peace between the two sides and is moving the situation ever closer to a one-State reality.
Ongoing tensions in East Jerusalem and the West Bank cannot be separated from the larger reality that remains unresolved. As the Secretary-General has frequently conveyed, any enduring peace will require starting dialogue to address the root causes of the conflict, including an end to the occupation that has lasted close to 50 years and effectively addressing Israel’s legitimate security concerns.
I wish to recall that on 26 September 2008, during the high-level meeting of the Security Council on settlements, the then Secretary-General of League of Arab States, Mr. Amre Moussa, recalled that two years earlier the Security Council had
“recorded a clear consensus on the necessity of reviving the peace process with the express goal of establishing a viable Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza, with, of course, East Jerusalem as its capital” (S/PV.5983, p. 3).
Such consensus was echoed in the Arab Peace initiative and the understanding that there would be an immediate and complete halt to settlement activities, as per the Road Map. Eight years later, we must ask ourselves why there has been little progress and how to move the peace process forward.
We have heard that some members of the Council have again started discussing the possibility of adopting a new draft resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For our part, we wonder if the current paradigm, almost 50 years into the conflict, does not require revisiting our engagement thus far, consistent with the decisions of the Security Council and the relentless efforts of the international community. Palestinian and Israeli leaders and people should make no mistake — there will never be a substitute to their own responsibility in bringing the change necessary to achieving peace. The United Nations stands ready to lend its full support to such collective efforts.
In conclusion, the status quo is not a viable option. Further delay in the pursuit of peace will only exacerbate the conflict further and deepen divisions. Now is the time for bold leadership and for both sides to fully commit to meaningful negotiations that will allow the establishment of two States, living side by side in peace and security. Ignoring the calls of the international community for such negotiations, for whatever reason, will only breed more violence in the region that has already seen too much of it.
VIII. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ADDRESSES THE GA THIRD COMMITTEE
On 29 October 2014, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) of the General Assembly held an interactive dialogue with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Makarim Wibisono. The following are excerpts from the press release (GA/SHC/4113):
MAKARIM WIBISONO, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, said he approached his mandate with independence, integrity and impartiality, and noted that all Member States should cooperate with human rights mechanisms. Engagement was a manifestation of the responsibility of Member States to respect and protect human rights. While he was aware of Israel’s concerns relating to the one-sided wording and open-ended nature of the mandate, he said it was in Israel’s own interest to grant his mandate full and unhindered access to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. However, he was denied access to that Territory during his first official mission to the region last month.
The current report had been drafted prior to that mission, he said, before he had been able to directly question Palestinian victims and various witnesses. He would present his first substantive report to the Human Rights Council in March 2015. Sharing some key preliminary impressions from his first mission, he said he was shocked by the devastating impact of the 50-day war in Gaza on Palestinian civilians, but particularly on children, who continued to live with injuries and the trauma of witnessing the deaths of family, friends and neighbours. During that war, more than 500 Palestinian children were killed. He had been informed that over 200 schools were damaged and thousands of unexploded ordnances continued to litter neighbourhoods in Gaza.
He stressed the importance of accelerating humanitarian relief and reconstruction efforts in Gaza with the imminent approach of winter and urged Israel to implement in good faith the Gaza reconstruction mechanism brokered by the United Nations. In the West Bank and Jerusalem, there were areas of serious concern, including the excessive use of force by Israeli security forces against Palestinians, including during demonstrations and search operations within refugee camps, the detention and ill-treatment of children, the thousands of Bedouin and herder communities at risk of forcible transfer, continuing settlement construction and expansion and repeated provocations at holy sites in Jerusalem. “Voices from across the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territory] were loud and clear on three demands: the need for accountability, an end to the blockade and an end to the occupation,” he said.
Following the presentation, delegates took the floor to make comments and ask questions. Some delegates said the international community had witnessed Israeli bombardments in Gaza during the summer, urging Israel to respect human rights law. The recognition of the rights of the Palestinian people was necessary to begin peace talks, a number of delegates said, calling for an immediate end to the occupation and a resumption of peace talks based on a two-State solution.
Some delegates applauded Israel’s resumption of talks with the Special Rapporteur and condemned the bombardment done by Hamas and their use of civilians as human shields. Acknowledging Israel’s right to defend itself, some speakers urged Israel to allow the Special Rapporteur’s country visits.
The Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine called on the Special Rapporteur not to use flexibility while dealing with the occupying Power, especially in light of its aggression against the people of Gaza during the summer. He then called on the Special Rapporteur to be vigilant and strong in dealing with Israel and its aggressive and illegal behaviour. He also asked the international community to address Israel’s violation of related laws.
A representative of Israel noted that the same delegates that were against the use of country-specific mandates had supported that measure when it related to his country. He then underlined his country’s efforts to end the fighting, as well as to minimize casualties, underscoring that the Israeli Defense Forces had done their “utmost”, unlike other military forces, to prevent civil casualties. The reason why the fighting did not end and casualties persisted was that rocket launchers were placed in schools and hospitals were used as headquarters by Hamas. He regretted every loss of life, both Palestinian and Israeli.
Questions posed to the Special Rapporteur related to his future plans on country visits, his vision for the implementation of the mandate, his plan of action to deal with obstacles to visiting Israel and his contact with the Commission of Inquiry and their division of labour. Other questions related to the treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli prisons and the use of force by the Israeli Defense Forces in the West Bank.
Responding to a range of questions, Mr. WIBISONO said he would like to visit the region before he completed his report, which would be submitted during the first week of January 2015. Human beings were born equally without any distinction. Accordingly, all United Nations Member States should cooperate with human rights mechanisms, whether with the Human Rights Committee, Commissions of Inquiry or independent mandate holders of the Human Rights Council. For his part, he was responsible for giving a voice to the victims of human rights violations, offering an objective assessment and making recommendations that might improve the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. With regard to the situation in the region, he noted that combatants and civilians needed to be separated. Concluding, he was worried that Palestinian civilians, and particularly women, elderly people and children, were living with injuries and the trauma of witnessing the deaths of their families.
Document Type: Bulletin, Monthly Bulletin, Publication
Document Sources: Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR), Secretary-General, Security Council, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the OPT, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO), World Health Organization (WHO)
Subject: Access and movement, Armed conflict, Assistance, Casualties, Ceasefire, Children, Closure of institutions, Closures/Curfews/Blockades, Economic issues, Fence, Food, Fourth Geneva Convention, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, Health, House demolitions, Human rights and international humanitarian law, Humanitarian relief, Inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, Incidents, Incursions, Internally displaced persons, Jerusalem, Land, Legal issues, NGOs/Civil Society, Negotiations and agreements, Occupation, Palestine question, Peace process, Population, Protection, Security issues, Separation barrier, Situation in the OPT including Jerusalem, Social issues, Statehood-related, Terrorism, Wall, Women
Publication Date: 31/10/2014