June 1992

Volume XV, Bulletin No. 6


I. ACTION TAKEN BY THE COMMITTEE ON THE EXERCISE OF THE

INALIENABLE RIGHTS OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE

On 5 June 1992, in a letter addressed to the Secretary-General (A/46/933-S/24045), the Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People stated the following:

“On behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, I have the honour to draw your attention to the fact that 5 June 1992 marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.  That occupation, maintained by increasingly repressive policies and practices, continues to this day in violation of international law and Security Council resolutions and in total disregard of international efforts to achieve a just and peaceful settlement of the conflict.  Israel’s intransigence and its obstinate refusal to recognize Palestinian national rights, in particular the right to self-determination, have so far presented an insurmountable obstacle to such efforts.

“The Palestinian people have paid dearly for the occupation with loss of life, loss of land and natural resources, and severe restrictions on their political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights.  The Israeli military operations of 1967 were accompanied by systematic and deliberate destruction of Palestinian villages and homes and the renewed dispersal of Palestinians.  Almost half a million Palestinians were displaced and one third of them became refugees for the second time since 1948.  The Israeli authorities have continued to deny Palestinians their fundamental right to return and to refuse to allow the reunification of families, and have rounded up and deported women and children considered to be living “illegally” with their immediate families in the occupied territory.

“Shortly after the war, Israel annexed Jerusalem over the unanimous opposition of the international community, and began the confiscation of Palestinian land and the building of settlements in a process of gradual de facto annexation which continues at an ever accelerating pace.  Over 60 per cent of the West Bank and Gaza has already been confiscated under various pretexts sanctioned by military orders.  Some 230,000 Israeli citizens have been moved permanently to about 212 settlements throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem and an increase of 25 per cent has taken place in the past year alone.  Israeli government leaders have repeatedly voiced their intention to remain in perpetual control of the occupied territory, which they have declared to be a part of “Greater Israel”.  Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir stated recently that in a few years, “hundreds of thousands of Jews will be living [in the occupied territory] … and the notion of territorial compromise will fade away like a bad dream.” (quoted in The Jerusalem Post, 4 May 1992).  This policy of Israel is in clear violation of article 49 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, which the Security Council has declared to be applicable de jure to all the territories occupied by Israel since 1967.

“Through this illegal process of colonization, Palestinian towns, villages and agricultural areas are being increasingly encircled, their development restricted, and the unity of the Palestinian homeland is being shattered.  Regional land-use and road plans have been devised and implemented to serve the Israeli settlements and to tie them more closely to Israel, bypassing Palestinian towns and villages.

“Israel has also appropriated and controls Palestinian water resources and drastically restricts Palestinian use of water for farming and other needs.  Discriminatory taxation and other administrative measures stifle the economic development of the occupied territory and make it more dependent on the economy of the occupying Power, Israel.

“Moreover, a dual legal system has been established which extends the protection of Israeli civilian law to the Jewish settlers while imposing a separate harsh and discriminatory military law on the Palestinians.  Every aspect of Palestinian life is controlled by the military authorities through some 2,000 military orders enacted during the 25 years of occupation.  The Israeli authorities have also invoked emergency powers to restrict and deny civil and political liberties.  Elected municipal councils were dissolved and mayors were expelled or detained and replaced by military governors; organizations have been banned and their officials arrested; trade unions harassed; the Arabic press censored.  The Palestinian educational system has been subjected to systematic controls and direct interference in its contents and operation.  Through the political screening and dismissal of teachers, censorship of textbooks, expulsion of students and other severe measures, the occupation authorities have sought to suppress any teaching of Palestinian history, culture and politics, and any expression of Palestinian nationalism.  Moreover, Palestinian education has suffered due to consistent underfunding and lack of proper facilities.

“Since the beginning of the intifadah in December 1987, the repression and oppression of the Palestinian civilian population has increased and continues.  Human rights organizations have reported that from December 1987 through March 1992, at least 1,032 Palestinians were killed, most of them by shooting, and over 121,000 were injured by Israeli forces.  They have also reported that open-fire regulations for Israeli soldiers have been increasingly relaxed and that undercover units of the army have engaged in killings of Palestinian activists.  Studies of conditions in the prisons have documented ill-treatment and torture in Israeli prisons, and the death of at least 10 Palestinians during interrogations since 1987.  During the same period, over 15,000 Palestinians were placed under administrative detention for periods of up to six months without charges or trial.  Moreover, 66 Palestinians were expelled for “security reasons” (more than 1,300 since June 1967).  Towns and villages in the occupied Palestinian territory experienced a combined total of over 11,000 days of curfew, the demolition or sealing of over 2,100 homes, and the uprooting of over 130,000 trees.

“The additional damage to the fabric and well-being of Palestinian society resulting from arbitrary mass arrests, prolonged school closings, disruption of the health care system, raids by troops and attacks by armed settlers, denial of freedom of movement, loss of employment opportunities in Israel and the like, are too great to assess in this brief communication.  The plight of the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation has been further compounded by the repeated actions which the occupying forces have taken against the personnel of UNRWA engaged in the discharge of the mandate to provide humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people under occupation.

“Israel’s determination to maintain the occupation has resulted in a consistent pattern of gross violations of the human rights of Palestinians in contravention of Israel’s international obligations under the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, all of which Israel ratified in 1991.  The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People calls once again on all concerned, and in particular the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention and the supervisory bodies of the human rights treaties, to take all measures in their power to ensure that Israel abide by its obligations as stipulated in those instruments.

“It is evident, however, that measures to provide protection to the Palestinians and to restore respect for human rights in and by themselves will not lead to a just and universally accepted solution of the question of Palestine unless they are accompanied by effective action by the international community as a whole, and the Security Council in particular, to ensure that Israel withdraws from the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied during the 1967 war, in conformity with Security Council resolution 242 (1967) and the fundamental principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force.

“In its first report, submitted to the Security Council and the General Assembly in 1976, the Committee recommended inter alia that the Security Council should establish a timetable for the complete withdrawal by Israeli occupation forces from those territories.  The General Assembly has endorsed the Committee’s recommendations every year since then and has repeatedly called on Israel to withdraw completely and unconditionally.  The Assembly has also requested the Security Council, in the event of non-compliance by Israel, to consider the situation and adopt effective measures taking into account all the powers conferred upon it by the United Nations Charter.

“On this twenty-fifth anniversary of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People wishes to draw once again the attention of the Security Council and the General Assembly to the fact that their decisions remain unimplemented and to express its extreme concern at the ongoing efforts by Israel to turn the occupation into a permanent fact.  Such a development would not only be a grave injustice to the Palestinian people and a denial of its fundamental rights, it would also continue to cause persistent tension and conflict in the region, and threaten the credibility of the United Nations at a time of historic importance for its efforts to create a better and more just and peaceful world for all.  The international community has a duty and a responsibility to ensure that this unacceptable situation is brought to an end.”

II.  COMMITTEE ISSUES STATEMENT ON TWENTY-FIFTH ANNIVERSARY

    OF ISRAELI OCCUPATION OF PALESTINIAN TERRITORY, INCLUDING

   JERUSALEM, AND OTHER ARAB TERRITORIES

At its 188th meeting on 17 June 1992, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People unanimously approved the following statement:

“On the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People wishes to draw the most urgent attention of the international community to the fact that the occupation still continues, in defiance of the United Nations Charter, its resolutions and international efforts to bring about a just and peaceful settlement of the Palestine question, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the latest of which is the Peace Conference on the Middle East, convened in Madrid in October 1991.

“The Palestinian people has consistently manifested its determination to resist the occupation and to regain and exercise its inalienable rights, in particular its right to self-determination.  It has also expressed its readiness to live in peace in a State of its own, alongside Israel, and has presented peace proposals to this effect.  However, Israel has increasingly resorted to armed repression and violations of fundamental human rights in order to maintain the occupation.  Through confiscation of land, establishment of settlements, appropriation of natural resources, and efforts to integrate the Palestinian economy into its own, Israel has pursued a policy of de facto annexation of the occupied Palestinian territory.  Its illegal annexation of Jerusalem since 1980 and its persistence in changing the physical character and demographic composition of the Holy City remain matters of the greatest concern.  These policies and practices of Israel, the occupying Power, which are in violation of its obligations under the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, have been universally condemned.

“The continued suffering of the Palestinian people after 25 years of occupation poses an urgent imperative to the international community to take all necessary measures to ensure the protection of the Palestinian people and the attainment of a just and lasting settlement based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), and the fundamental principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war.

“On this anniversary of the occupation by Israel of the Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and other Arab territories, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People wishes to draw once again the attention of the Security Council and the General Assembly to the fact that their resolutions on the question of Palestine remain unimplemented.  The perpetuation of the occupation causes persistent tension and conflict in the region, and threatens the credibility of the United Nations at a time of historic importance for its efforts to create a better and more just and peaceful world for all.  The international community has a duty and a responsibility to ensure that this unacceptable situation is brought to an end.”

III.  SECRETARY-GENERAL DEPLORES RECENT VIOLENT INCIDENTS IN GAZA

The following statement, attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General, was issued on 3 June 1992: (see SG/SM/4763)

“Secretary-General Boutrós Boutrós-Ghali has been following with concern recent developments in the Gaza Strip, where tension remains high following several violent incidents, which he deplores.  He is especially concerned about the safety and protection of Palestinian civilians residing there, with respect both to their physical and economic well-being.  Recalling the Security Council’s Presidential Statement of 4 April, the Secretary-General yesterday urged Israel to abide scrupulously by its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

IV.  ORGANIZATION OF AFRICAN UNITY ADOPTS RESOLUTIONS ON

   THE SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND ON THE

QUESTION OF PALESTINE

At its fifty-sixth ordinary session, held in Dakar, Senegal, from 22 to 28 June 1992, the Council of Ministers of the Organization of African Unity adopted the following resolutions [see CM/Res.  1393 and 1394 (LVI)]:

Resolution on the situation in the Middle East

“The Council of Ministers of the Organization of African Unity, meeting at its fifty-sixth ordinary session in Dakar, Senegal, from 22 to 28 June 1992,

Having considered the report of the OAU Secretary-General on the situation in the Middle East as contained in document CM/17l5 (LVI),

Guided by the principles and objectives of the OAU and United Nations Charters and the common determination of the African and Arab peoples to pool their resources in defence of their freedom and restoration of their basic legitimate rights,

Recalling that the Palestinian question is at the centre of the conflict in the Middle East:

“1. Reaffirms all the previous resolutions of the OAU Assembly of Heads of State and Government and Council of Ministers and expresses its total support for the Palestinian people and the Arab countries which are victims of Israeli aggression;

“2. Expresses its satisfaction with the efforts deployed by the United States of America, the Russian Federation and the rest of the international community for the establishment of a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East through the convening of the Peace Conference and negotiations between the parties concerned on the basis of international legitimacy, particularly United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) as well as the principle of exchanging land for peace, whose implementation presupposes Israeli withdrawal from all the Palestinian and Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and southern Lebanon;

“3. Also endorses the proposal made by President Hosni Mubarak, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt that the Middle East should be free of all weapons of mass destruction and condemns Israel’s refusal to refrain from the production and acquisition of nuclear weapons and requests the United Nations Security Council to take all necessary measures to destroy these weapons;

“4. Requests the organizers of the Peace Conference to invite the OAU Secretary-General to the Conference alongside other organizations, taking into account the OAU’s interests in the establishment of peace in the Middle East and in the search for a just solution to the Palestinian problem;

“5. Calls upon all States, international organizations and investment institutions to refrain from lending any kind of support to Israel in its practices in the occupied territories and from having any kind of cooperation with that country which may enable it to exploit the resources of occupied Arab territories and demands that Israel put a stop to those practices;

“6. Requests the Secretary-General of the OAU to follow the development of the situation in the Middle East and submit a report in this regard at the next ordinary session of the OAU Council of Ministers.”

Resolution on the question of Palestine

“The Council of Ministers of the Organization of African Unity, meeting at its fifty-sixth ordinary session, in Dakar, Senegal from 22 to 28 June 1992,

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity on the question of Palestine as contained in document CM/1716 (LVI),

Recalling the relevant resolutions adopted at the previous sessions of the Council of Ministers and the Assembly of Heads of States and Government on the question of Palestine,

Reaffirming the legitimacy of the struggle of the Palestinian people under the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization in order to recover their territories and exercise their inalienable national rights:

“1. Confirms all previous resolutions and recommendations adopted by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government and the Council of Ministers on the question of Palestine;

“2. Reaffirms that the question of Palestine is the main cause of conflict in the Middle East and that a just and lasting peace in the region requires the withdrawal of Israel from all Palestinian and Arab territories and the establishment of a Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital;

“3. Expresses its satisfaction for the efforts exerted by the United States of America to establish a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East and welcomes the decision of the Russian Federation to continue to sponsor the Peace Conference;

“4. Further welcomes the resumption of negotiations among the parties concerned based on respect for international law, especially Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and the principle of land for peace which, when implemented, will lead to the withdrawal of Israel from all Palestinian and Arab territories occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem, thus allowing the Palestinian people to recover their inalienable rights, including their right to return to their homeland, self- determination and the establishment of independent and sovereign State of Palestine;

“5. Further reaffirms its full solidarity and support for the just and legitimate struggle being waged by the Palestinian people under the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization, their sole legitimate representative;

“6. Expresses its support for the popular uprising, intifadah, in the occupied territories;

“7. Strongly condemns the continued inhuman acts perpetrated by Israel against the citizens of the occupied Palestinian and Arab territories and all acts of desecration of holy places;

“8. Condemns the expansionist settlement policies pursued by Israel and the violation of human rights and international agreements and treaties, which constitute the main obstacle to achieving a just and comprehensive peace in the region;

“9. Urgently requests the international community to guarantee all necessary protection for the Palestinian people living under the Israeli occupation and urges Israel to comply with all the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 concerning protection of civilians during war;

“10. Strongly condemns the settlement policies manifested in the settlement of Jews and immigrant Jews in the occupied Palestinian territories including Jerusalem and requests the United States, in accordance with their declared position, to take the necessary actions to stop the settlement of Jews and immigrants in the Palestinian and Arab territories;

“11. Calls on the Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity to follow the development of the Palestinian question and submit a report thereon at the next ordinary session of the OAU Council of Ministers.”

V.  UNRWA EXPRESSES GRAVE CONCERN OVER SITUATION IN GAZA AND

   PROTESTS ATTACK ON STAFF BY ISRAELI SECURITY FORCES.

EUROPEAN COMMUNITY PROVIDES $16.7 MILLION TO PAY

CONSTRUCTION COSTS OF HOSPITAL FOR PALESTINIAN

POPULATION IN GAZA STRIP.

UNRWA DONOR MEETING HIGHLIGHTS SOCIO-ECONOMIC

CONDITIONS IN OCCUPIED TERRITORY

The following press release was issued by UNRWA on 3 June 1992:

“Tension remains high in the Gaza Strip, and grave concern over the critical situation has been expressed by officials of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

“Since the incident of 27 May in Deir el-Balah, UNRWA has been closely involved in efforts to alleviate hardships faced by the people of the Gaza Strip, the majority of whom are refugees.

“The UNRWA premises have suffered from incursions and damage.  On 27 May, the UNRWA school in Deir el-Balah was entered and damaged.  on 30 May, there was a break-in in the UNRWA distribution centre in Deir el-Balah, where the warehouse was ransacked and food commodities damaged.

“As a result of the curfews and closed military areas and zones, the closing off of the main road and the sealing of the Gaza Strip, approximately 20,000 to 25,000 workers from the Gaza Strip are unable to work in Israel.  The production and movement of goods, especially fruits and vegetables, between Gaza and the West Bank and between the north and south of the Strip, are severely restricted, creating a serious financial loss for the already ailing agricultural, industrial and commercial enterprises.  Individuals have also been hard-hit, particularly those who depend on daily wages for sustenance.

“The movement of people between the north and south of Gaza has come virtually to a standstill.  Patients who have to report to hospital face serious problems.

“Though severely handicapped by measures taken by Israeli authorities, UNRWA services have been, and continue to be, maintained with great difficulty and special logistical efforts.  All clinics, except those in the Middle Camps, are fully staffed.  In the Middle Camps, skeleton emergency medical teams are working in Agency clinics.  All schools, except those in the Middle Camps, are open.  Teachers have been reassigned to complete the end-of-school year examinations.  Food will be issued to refugees and non-refugees of the four Middle Camps and the affected localities in the area.

“The UNRWA has protested a number of times to the Israeli authorities and has urged them to allow immediate food distribution and to open the closed main road.

“Meanwhile, UNRWA Commissioner-General Ilter Turkmen is keeping Secretary-General Boutrós Boutrós-Ghali informed.  The Commissioner-General and the Office of the Field Director in Gaza are in contact with the Israeli authorities in Vienna, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem regarding the measures taken by the Israeli authorities.  The Commissioner-General is discussing, with the Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, who is now in Vienna, about further steps to be taken to alleviate the plight of the refugees and residents in the Gaza Strip.”
On 18 June 1992, UNRWA issued the following press release:

“The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has protested to the Israeli authorities over the physical assault of three UNRWA staff members on duty yesterday in Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.  Commissioner-General Ilter Turkmen has reported the incident to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

“An international staff member and two assistants on duty in the old quarter of Nablus heard gunshots on the evening of 17 June.  They went to investigate and saw a four-member Israeli patrol with a frightened, weeping boy, about 10 years old.  The UNRWA later learned that the boy was being arrested on suspicion of throwing stones, although there was no report then or later of a stone-throwing incident in the area.  The UNRWA staff members approached the foot patrol and inquired about the boy’s welfare.

“Without replying, the patrol leader kicked the female international staff member to the ground, and the Palestinian assistants were attacked with rifle butts.  All three were subsequently kicked and shoved and were verbally abused, threatened and insulted.  Together with the foot patrol, the UNRWA staff members arrived at the Nablus police station, where their request to speak to a senior officer was ignored.  The three UNRWA staff members were taken to al-Ittehad Hospital in Nablus and treated for injuries.

“The UNRWA has made repeated protests to the Israeli authorities over harassment of Agency staff.”
(see PAL/1780)
Also on 18 June 1992, the following UNRWA press release appeared:

“The Commission of the European Communities today signed an ECU 13 million contract (about $16.7 million) with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to pay for construction costs of the first major hospital to be built in the Gaza Strip since 1967.

“For the Community, the agreement was signed by Abel Matutes, Commissioner for North-South relations, and for UNRWA by Ilter Turkmen, UNRWA’s Commissioner-General.

“The new 232-bed general hospital will serve a rapidly increasing Palestinian population, now totalling over 780,000, of whom 550,000 are Palestine refugees.  The hospital will be located near Khan Younis in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.  The final design will be completed by the end of this year and construction will start early in 1993.  The hospital, scheduled to open in 1995, is designed to keep maintenance costs to a minimum.

“In the past, UNRWA has provided out-patient facilities for Palestine refugees.  Construction of the hospital will give Gaza residents easier access to medical care by increasing out-patient facilities, reducing overcrowding in wards and upgrading health care standards.  It will provide essential hospital care at a cost much lower than the rates charged by government hospitals for the majority of Palestinians who have no medical insurance.
Health conditions in Gaza

“Health conditions in the Gaza Strip have deteriorated in recent years and the demand for medical care has increased dramatically.  In the last four years the intifadah (the Palestinian uprising against the occupation) and the response to it by the occupation authorities has resulted in a sharp increase in the number of patients brought to hospital.  The ratio of beds per capita in Gaza is some 50 per cent less than the World Health Organization (WHO) minimum.
“Moreover, the present health care delivery system is based on insurance, and very few residents of Gaza can afford the insurance premium or the cost of hospitals run by the Israeli authorities.  Hospital services have now reached a state of acute inadequacy and there is immediate need for additional hospital beds and related medical services.  The UNRWA project will increase the number of hospital beds available to Gaza residents by around 25 per cent.

“The European Community’s contribution of about $16.7 million is expected to cover construction costs.  Equipment and related expenses prior to the opening will be about $6 million.  An additional $15 million is needed to staff and operate the hospital for the first three years.

“The combined contributions of the European Community and its member States make the Community the largest single donor of UNRWA’s regular budget.  In 1991, these contributions amounted to more than $100 million.  The Community also responded to UNRWA’s appeal for emergency funds in the aftermath of the Gulf war.” (see PAL/l778)
A further press release was issued by UNRWA on 24 June 1992.

“An income-generation programme to encourage self-reliance and small-scale socio-economic development among Palestine refugees is a key priority for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in the coming year.  This was one of the recommendations of the Agency’s informal meeting with Governments, held in Amman, Jordan, on 23 and 24 June.  Representatives of 24 Governments and the European Community attended the meeting.

“‘UNRWA has a two-pronged approach to the alleviation of poverty: immediate direct relief and longer-term development projects, with women targeted for inclusion,’ UNRWA’s Commissioner-General, Ilter Turkmen, said.

“The Agency has 65 women’s programme centres in UNRWA’s five fields of operation — Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank and Gaza Strip.  In addition, UNRWA’s 12 community rehabilitation centres for disabled people are largely run and financed by the Palestine refugee community.  The Agency has also launched its income-generation programme with over $1 million in low-interest loans disbursed in Gaza, the West Bank and Jordan.

“If, as we all hope, the peace process leads to a transitional period, UNRWA’s role would be to cooperate with Palestinian groups in the planning of programmes and to begin to hand over to the emerging Palestinian institutions the programmes and facilities through which UNRWA has delivered services for 42 years,’ Mr. Turkmen said.

“The meeting concentrated on the deteriorating socioeconomic situation facing the Palestinian population of over 1.7 million in the Israeli-occupied territory of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as on UNRWA finances.  In his report to the meeting, UNRWA’s Gaza Field Director, Klaus Worm, said there was no doubt that social and economic problems would worsen in Gaza before they got better.  He said UNRWA was operating against a backdrop of economic instability, joblessness and Palestinian clashes with security forces.  The Agency has responded with new initiatives in medical care, education, housing, local assistance and job creation.

“The working group which examined socio-economic issues during the meeting pointed out that the nature of UNRWA assistance was gradually changing from an emphasis on relief to a more works-oriented approach.  Another working group, on UNRWA finances, reported that the Agency would need to receive an annual increase in contributions of approximately 7 per cent in order to keep up with demographic growth and inflation.

“The UNRWA has had annual informal meetings with Governments each year since 1986.  This was the first such meeting in the Middle East.  Government representatives commented that the Agency was delivering its services in a cost-effective manner.  Many of them visited UNRWA installations in Baqa’a and Jerash refugee camps, which they said gave them an “on-the-spot” view of the situation of thousands of refugees and of the Agency’s work in education, health and relief and social services.  Delegates will also visit UNRWA installations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.” (see PAL/1781)

VI.  THIRTIETH UNITED NATIONS SEMINAR ON THE

QUESTION OF PALESTINE, HELD AT

UNITED NATIONS HEADQUARTERS,

NEW YORK, FROM 22 TO 23 JUNE 1992

The Thirtieth United Nations Seminar on the Question of Palestine (Eighth North American Regional Seminar) entitled, “Enforcing the Fourth Geneva Convention for ensuring the protection of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem”, which preceded the Ninth United Nations North American Regional Symposium on the Question of Palestine, was held at United Nations Headquarters, New York on 22 and 23 June 1992, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 46/74 B of 11 December 1991.  H.E. Mr. Victor Camilleri, Rapporteur of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, acted as Chairman of the Seminar.

A total of four meetings were held and seven eminent experts from North America, as well as Palestinians and Israelis, presented papers on the issue.  Representatives of 51 Governments, 9 United Nations specialized agencies and bodies, 3 inter-governmental organizations, as well as 14 non-governmental organizations attended the meeting.

The formal opening session was addressed by His Excellency Mr. Samir S. Shihabi, President of the General Assembly, Mr. Joseph Verner Reed, Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative for Public Affairs on behalf of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E. Dr. Stanley Kalpage, Chairman of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories also addressed the Meeting as did Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, and Mr. Camilleri, on behalf of the Committee.  The opening session was also addressed by the Representative of Bahrain on behalf of the Arab Group, the Representative of Egypt and the Representatives of the League of Arab States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

The invited experts were: Mr. Haider Abdel Shafi (Palestinian), Ms. Jeanne A. Butterfield (United States), Mr. Tom Farer (United States), Mrs. Felicia Langer (Israel), Mr. John Quigley (United States), Mr. Charles Shammas (Palestinian), Mr. Raji Sourani (Palestinian).

Concluding statements were made by the Permanent Observer of Palestine and by the Chairman.

The experts and other participants agreed on the conclusions and recommendations of the Seminar which are cited below.

The full text of the proceedings will be published in due course as a publication of the United Nations Division for Palestinian Rights.

Conclusions and recommendations

1. Participants took note with serious concern of numerous and persistent violations of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949 which the Security Council has declared to be applicable de jure to all the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem.  Such violations include the unlawful use of deadly force including selective summary executions, punitive beatings, torture, deportation, unlawful destruction of property, collective punishments, including the demolition of houses, curfews and the closing of educational institutions and other measures prescribed under international humanitarian law.

2. Participants expressed their utmost concern at the continuing and intensified illegal settlement activity and land confiscation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, which posed a threat to the very existence of the Palestinian community.  This policy is in clear violation of article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and threatens the peace process.  They stressed the imperative need for the immediate halt of such activities.  Participants also expressed grave concern at the failure of the Israeli authorities to protect the Palestinian population against the unlawful violent actions of Israeli nationals in the occupied Palestinian territories.

3. Participants expressed the view that the Government of Israel by rejecting its international accountability over its practices in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, had unilaterally and illegally denied the Palestinian people living under military occupation for over 25 years the status of protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention and had denied them the protection of customary and conventional international law.

4. Participants declared that it was the duty of the international community, in particular, the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, to ensure respect by Israel, the occupying power, for its obligations under the Convention.  They stressed that the Convention’s provisions were minimum standards, and that falling below them was a breach of international law.

5. Participants appealed to all High Contracting Parties to the Convention to fulfil their own responsibilities under the Convention.  They emphasized the importance of article 1 of the Convention, which requires the High Contracting Parties to respect and to ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances.  They drew particular attention to article 146 of the Convention, which says that High Contracting Parties undertake to seek out and prosecute persons accused of being involved in the perpetration of grave breaches.

6. Participants noted that Security Council resolution 681 (1990) had requested the Secretary-General in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross to develop further the idea of convening a meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention and had also requested the Secretary-General to monitor and observe the situation regarding Palestinian civilians under Israeli occupation, and to report periodically.  They urged further action pursuant to the provisions of that resolution.  They also welcomed the suggestions by the United Nations Secretary-General expressed in his report in accordance with Security Council resolution 672 (1990) to convene a special meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention.  Such a meeting would facilitate an exchange of views with the focus on measures outlined in the Convention, such as the appointment of a protecting Power (art. 9), nomination of an international organization as a substitute for a protecting Power (art. 11), conciliation (art. 12) and the enquiry procedure (art. 149).  They expressed the hope that such a meeting will take place at an early date.

7. Participants drew attention to the fact that the mechanisms of the Convention itself, which was designed to be enforced by a system of Protecting Powers and formally appointed substitutes, had never been implemented.  However, in accordance with the Convention, the High Contracting Parties could nominate either an intergovernmental or a non-governmental organization, to monitor the situation in the territory under occupation.  They suggested that High Contracting Parties to the Convention should utilize their consular presence more fully and effectively for monitoring purposes.  A United Nations monitoring organization should be established through which High Contracting Panes would carry out their responsibilities under article 1 of the Convention.  They expressed their deep appreciation for the efforts of the International Committee of the Red Cross to implement the Convention and called upon Israel to cooperate with it.

8. The plight of the Palestinian people under occupation has been compounded by the repeated action which the Israeli occupying forces have taken against the personnel of UNRWA engaged in the discharge of the mandate to provide humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people under occupation. Participants expressed their appreciation to UNRWA for its invaluable work being carried out under difficult circumstances for the benefit of the Palestine refugees and Palestinians under Israeli occupation and called for the expansion of the scope and mandate of the UNRWA Refugees’ Affairs Officer Programme.

9. Participants recommended that in the light of previous experience, the General Assembly or the Security Council should seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice with regard to the policies and practices of Israel, the occupying power, in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem.  On this matter a suggestion was made to convene a seminar for the further development of this idea.

10. Participants considered that it was imperative for all concerned to take necessary measures to ensure the physical protection and the safety and security of the Palestinian people in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem.  They appealed in particular to the Security Council to help achieve this objective by, inter alia, strengthening the United Nations presence in the occupied Palestinian territory.  The Security Council should take all action necessary to ensure respect by Israel, the occupying power, for its relevant resolutions.

11. Participants further recommended that the international NGO community support activities to ensure protection by increasing and expanding its efforts at public education, advocacy and direct involvement to provide protection.  Such efforts could include NGO actions to promote concrete international measures aimed at ending unlawful policies and practices and to provide civilian volunteer observers and monitors who can, by their very presence, provide a certain measure of protection.

12. Participants expressed appreciation for the opportunity to have a full and candid discussion of the aspects of the application of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem, during the Seminar under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.  They hoped that the Seminar would result in effective action by the United Nations and the international community to ensure the protection of the Palestinian people under occupation and that it would pave the way for the achievement of a just, comprehensive and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine.

VII.  NINTH UNITED NATIONS NORTH AMERICAN REGIONAL NGO SYMPOSIUM

   ON THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE IS HELD IN NEW YORK

  FROM 24 TO 26 JUNE 1992

The Ninth United Nations North American Regional NGO Symposium on the Question of Palestine on the theme “Peace is the fruit of justice, twenty-five years of occupation: overcoming the obstacles, preparing the way for Palestine” was held at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 24 to 26 June 1992, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 46/74 B of 11 December 1991.  The Symposium followed the Thirtieth United Nations Seminar, which took place from 22 to 23 June 1992.

The symposium was attended by representatives of 87 NGOs from the United States and Canada, 21 as observers.  Also present, were a number of governmental and intergovernmental observers, as well as representatives of five United Nations specialized agencies.

H.E. Mr. Victor Camilleri (Malta) opened the meeting as Acting Chairman on behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.  The opening session was addressed by the Permanent Observer for Palestine, Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, who read out a message from Mr. Yasser Arafat, the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization.  A further statement was made by Ms. Jeanne Butterfield, Chairman of the North American Coordinating Committee for Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs).

Two panels were established.  The first considered the topic “Twenty-five Years of Occupation: Overcoming the Obstacles”.  Papers were presented by: Dr. Haidar Abdel Shafi, head of the Palestinian negotiating delegation to the peace talks and Chairman of the Palestine Red Crescent in Gaza; Mr. Raji Sourani, Director of the Gaza Center for Rights and Law; Ms. Michal Schwartz, writer and editor for Challenge Magazine; and, Mr. Richard Curtiss, editor of the Washington Report on the Middle East.

The second panel was entitled “Preparing the Way for Palestine”.  Papers on this subject were presented by Dr. Elia Zureik, professor of sociology, Queen’s College, Kingston, Ontario; and, Dr. Ruchama Marton, founder and chairman of the Association of Israeli Palestinian Physicians for Human Rights.

Twelve workshops were organized under two general sub-themes.  Under that entitled “Overcoming Obstacles and Providing Protection” the following four topics were considered: defending human rights – children, prisoners and expellees; ending United States aid for occupation; land, water and settlements; and, misinformation and disinformation.

Under the theme “Preparing the Way for Palestine”, four topics were considered: supporting Palestinian institution-building; supporting Israeli peace projects; the Gulf war aftermath, the needs of Palestinians in hardship areas; and, implementing United Nations resolutions.

In addition, four skills-training workshops took up the subjects of lobbying and letter writing, the media, fund raising and educating the public.

At the concluding meeting, the NGOs elected a new 12-member Coordinating Committee for 1992-1993.  Statements were made by Ms. Jeanne Butterfield, the outgoing Chairman of the Coordinating Committee, by the Acting Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and by the Reverend Ibrahim Ayad, Chairman of the Palestine Committee for NGOs.

The Coordinating Committee was mandated to issue a statement on behalf of the Symposium which is reproduced below.  The full text of the report of the Symposium, together with action-oriented proposals of the 12 workshops, will be issued in due course as a special bulletin of the United Nations Division for Palestinian Rights.

Statement issued by the North American Coordinating Committee

on the question of Palestine

The North American Coordinating Committee (NACC) was mandated to issue a statement of principle and purpose on behalf of the 1992 Ninth Regional North American Symposium on the Question of Palestine.  The following is the NACC’s statement:

While welcoming any serious international efforts towards a just and comprehensive settlement of the Israeli-Arab, Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, the NACC reaffirms as essential to such a process, the guiding substantive and procedural principles endorsed by the General Assembly in its calls for the United Nations-sponsored international peace conference on the Middle East expressed in General Assembly Resolutions 38/58 C, 43/176 and 46/75.  Those principles include (1) the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people, (2) the consequent right of the Palestinian people to be represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization, which they have determined to be their sole legitimate representative, (3) the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, (4) the consequent illegality of the annexations of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, and (5) the consequent illegality of Israeli settlements and expropriations of land in territories occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, (6) the right of Palestinian refugees to return, (7) the right to equal status o the various parties to a negotiating process, including the PLO, Israel and the concerned Arab states, and (8) the special obligations of the United Nations in promoting peace negotiations in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, other instruments of international law and international covenants on human rights.

In view of Israel’s continuing systematic and massive violations of the most fundamental rights of Palestinians guaranteed by the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we call upon the Security Council to implement its resolution 681 (1990) of December 1990, to insure a speedy withdrawal of Israeli administrative and security forces from the occupied Palestinian territories and to establish there an interim international presence pending a successful outcome of a meaningful peace process, in order to guarantee to Palestinians in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, protection under the terms of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  We urge the Security Council to fulfil the special obligations of the United Nations to the Palestinian people by insuring a significant role for the United Nations and its relevant agencies in the present bilateral and multilateral peace talks.  We urge that those sponsoring, hosting and/or participating in those talks insist upon adhering to the substantive and procedural principles enunciated above and previously endorsed by the General Assembly and by signatories to the relevant covenants of international law, including covenants on human rights.

The NACC remains convinced of the important role NGOs have in mobilizing public support for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, in promoting the national and individual rights of Palestinians in the region, and in contributing to a process of democratization, demilitarization and of economic and social development envisioned for all peoples in the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in subsequent international covenants on human rights.  The NACC reiterates its conviction that a just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the key to achieving these goals in the Middle East.  The mandate of the NACC is to help to promote that peace, the rights and humane values necessary to and inherent within its achievement, by raising public awareness, mobilizing public opinion for it, strengthening and expanding the networks of NGOs committed to it in North America and overseas, and helping to coordinate efforts of North American NGOs to make that peace a reality.

VIII.  NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS: ACTIVITIES AND INFORMATION

During the course of June, the following information was received by the Division for Palestinian Rights:

1. ICCP Newsletter No. 42, available from: the International Coordinating Committee for NGOs on the Question of Palestine, 150, route de Ferney, Case postale 2100, CH-1211 Geneva, 2, Switzerland.

2. News from Within, independent newsletter, available from: Alternative Information Centre, P.O. Box 24278, Jerusalem.

3. AJME News, journal of Americans for Justice in the Middle East, available from: P.O. Box 113-5581, Beirut, Lebanon.

4. The Other Front, available from: the Alternative Information Centre, P.O. Box 24278, Jerusalem.

5. Targeting to Kill: Israeli Undercover Units, publication of Palestine Human Rights Information Center. Available from: PHRIC International, 4753 N. Broadway, Suite 930, Chicago, IL 60640, United States of America.

6. Middle East Labor Bulletin, official publication of the Labor Committee on the Middle East, available from: P.O. Box 421546, San Francisco, CA 94142-1546, United States of America.

7. Israel and Palestine Political Report, available from: Magelan, Boite Postale 130, 75463 Paris CEDEX 10, France.

8. Middle East International, bi-weekly publication, available from: P.O. Box 5336, Temple Heights Station, Washington, D.C. 20009, United States of America.

9. NECEF Report, publication of the Near East Cultural and Educational Foundation of Canada. Available from: 106 Duplex Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5P 2A7.

10. Palestine Solidarité, bi-monthly bulletin of 1’Association Medicale Franco-Palestinienne. Available from: 14, rue de Nanteuil, 75015 Paris, France.

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