D i v i s i o n   f o r   P a l e s t i n i a n   R i g h t s

DEVELOPMENTS RELATED TO THE MIDDLE EAST

PEACE PROCESS

Issue 6  ×   January 1996

Text of a declaration by the Presidency of the European Union

on the situation in the Palestinian territories,

5 January 1996 (p. 1)

Remarks by the United States Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Policy

at the Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine,

Washington, D.C., 5 January 1996 (p. 1)

Text of the final communiqué of the Ministerial Conference on Economic Assistance

to the Palestinian People,

Paris, 9 January 1996 (p. 5)

Remarks by Pope John Paul II on the issue of Jerusalem,

The Vatican, 13 January 1996 (p. 7)

Remarks by Chairman Yasser Arafat and the United States Secretary of State

Warren Christopher at a news conference in Gaza,

Erez, Gaza Strip, 13 January 1996 (p. 7)

Text of a press release by the European Commission

on the issue of the Palestinian elections,

19 January 1996 (p. 9)

Text of a statement by the Presidency of the European Union

on the Palestinian elections,

22 January 1996 (p. 13)

Notes (p. 15)

UNITED NATIONS

New York, February 1996


NOTE

Since April 1991, at the request of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat has prepared a compilation of statements, declarations, documents and other material pertaining to the various aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the question of Palestine and the Middle East peace process entitled "Approaches towards the settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the question of Palestine".

In January 1994, the bulletin was renamed "Developments related to the Middle East peace process".  It includes information material related to the bilateral Arab-Israeli peace negotiations, the multilateral negotiations on Middle East regional issues, and other aspects of the Middle East peace process.

This issue covers the month of January 1996.

Back issues of this publication can be obtained from:

United Nations Secretariat

Division for Palestinian Rights

Room S-3362

New York, NY 10017

Tel:  (212) 963 5159


Text of a declaration by the Presidency of the European Union

on the situation in the Palestinian territories,

5 January 1996

On 5 January 1996, the following declaration was made by the Presidency of the European Union on the situation in the Palestinian territories:

“Recalling the undertaking by the Palestinians and the Israelis to abide by the Declaration of Principles and to continue the negotiations, the European Union reaffirms the need to continue the peace process in the Middle East.

“The Union wishes to express its concern at the difficulties in implementing the Declaration of Principles which have arisen in the last few days, both in Gaza and in the West Bank.  It particularly deplores the acts of violence which have occurred and reaffirms in this connection its condemnation of all violence, whatever its origin.

“The European Union is also concerned at the incidents connected with continued Israeli settlement in the occupied territories.  While welcoming the decision to stop work on disputed land in Efrat, further to the meeting of the Israeli Cabinet on 1 January, it would point out that the total cessation of the work on settlements is vital to the smooth operation of the peace process.

“The European Union welcomes the fact that, in spite of these difficulties, the Israeli-Palestinian talks on the process of autonomy started again in Cairo on 3 January.  It hopes that these talks will open the way to progress on the principal questions outstanding.”1

Remarks by the United States Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Policy

at the Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine,

Washington, D.C., 5 January 1996

Speaking on 5 January 1996, at Washington, D.C., at the Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine, the United States Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Policy Robert H. Pelletreau discussed issues related to the progress of the Arab-Israeli peace process.  The following are his remarks:

“Thank you for your invitation to speak with you today about the Middle East peace process.  The peace process has gathered steam in recent months; hardly a month passes without some sort of historically unprecedented event.  I welcome the opportunity to get together with such a knowledgeable group at this important moment to review where we stand and consider how to advance regional peace and prosperity.

“In the past few months alone, there have been several developments which have profound meaning for peace in the region:

“- In September at the White House with their Egyptian and Jordanian peace partners, Israel and the Palestinians signed the Interim Agreement to expand Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank, translating the Declaration of Principles into a concrete reality.

“- In October, Arab, Israeli, and key international business leaders gathered at the Amman Summit to forge new economic links that span the entire Middle East.

“- In November, the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin sent shock waves through Israel and the world but failed to sidetrack the peace process.

“- And last month, Secretary Christopher came back from the Middle East with a commitment from Israel and Syria to accelerate their bilateral negotiations, which resumed December 27 and are continuing this week.

“This administration is committed to building on these achievements to secure a just, lasting, secure and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.  US administrations have long pledged themselves to achieving such a peace.  But the words have a practical quality today.  Today this goal is within reach.

“But the US cannot play its central role in consolidating gains in the peace process and supporting new steps without adequate resources.  Today, the State Department lives in a precarious world of furloughed employees and no funding.  About half the staff in my bureau are at home this week, while those in the office are scrambling to take care of the essential tasks of America's foreign relations.  We are fighting a losing bottle.  Our embassies are pleading for emergency advances of funds to remain open and secure.  Here in Washington, we cannot get funds to take a taxi up to Capitol Hill.

“Israel-Palestinian Interim Agreement

“The diplomatic breakthrough which unlocked the possibility of a broad and equitable peace in the Middle East was the Declaration of Principles, signed by Israel and the PLO in Washington 27 months ago.  There were earlier breakthroughs – such as the Madrid Conference, which launched the current peace process – but the signing of the DOP marked an important practical and psychological turning point in the Arab-Israeli conflict.  It was the first agreement negotiated by Palestinians and Israelis addressing the future and the potential of the Palestinian people.  By exchanging mutual recognition and setting a notional timetable for disengagement, it put to rest the concept of a Greater Israel while giving the Palestinians an opportunity for greater control over their daily lives.  Each implementing agreement under the DOP moves Palestinians and Israelis closer to the day they can live side-by-side secure and in peace.

“Within the last few days, Israel completed redeployment of its military forces from six major West Bank cities and more than 450 West Bank villages.  The Israeli pull out has proceeded on or ahead of schedule and in an orderly fashion.  Concurrently, there have been no significant terrorist incidents since August.  The Palestinian Authority appears to be taking its security responsibilities seriously, and working to prevent terrorist attacks.  These developments clearly show that Israel and the Palestinians are committed to successful implementation of the Interim Agreement signed in Washington on September 28.  They also confirm that the peace process remains intact, even without the formidable presence of Yitzhak Rabin.

“The United States views with satisfaction the efforts which both sides are making to implement a very detailed agreement.  We were deeply engaged during the long, hard months Palestinians and Israelis spent negotiating this 400-page accord – offering ideas and encouragement to both as they grappled with complex issues.  In the end, they emerged with an agreement that will give the Palestinians control over their daily lives and enhance Israeli security.  No longer will Israeli soldiers have to police the streets and alleys of Nablus, Tulkarm and Ramallah.  No longer will Palestinians feel compelled to resist the indignities of a military occupation.  There are new, more urgent tasks which demand their attention.

“Palestinians now have the opportunity – and the challenge – to build democracy and prosperity for themselves.  The Palestinian Authority will police the streets, create courts and enforce judgments, prepare radio and television broadcasts, issue passports, regulate commerce and collect taxes.  All fold, more than 40 spheres of authority are being transferred to the Palestinians, involving virtually all aspects of life.

“Another major challenge before the Palestinians is to maintain security and thereby increase the confidence and trust of their Israeli partners.  In recent months, the Palestinian Authority has done a better job of preventing terrorist incidents and of investigating, arresting, and trying those who engage in terrorist acts.  But maintaining security and establishing the rule of law is not a task that is ever completed.  It is a process that must be improved over time.  With additional territory coming under its control, the Palestinian Authority will need to work even harder to fulfill its commitment to maintain security and establish a framework of laws, courts, and honest impartial justice within the areas under its jurisdiction.

“Palestinian Elections

“Palestinians will pass another milestone on January 20th when they go to the polls to elect a Palestinian Council.  They have responded to this election campaign with great enthusiasm.  More than three out of four eligible voters have registered, and more than 700 candidates are running for the Council.

“Palestinian thinking has come a long way since I first raised the subject of elections during the early days of our dialogue with the PLO in Tunis in the late eighties.  In those days, the PLO adamantly opposed any sort of election as a dark scheme to create an alternate leadership.  The enthusiasm surrounding the upcoming elections shows that a sea change has taken place and that today elections are widely seen as part of the process to validate agreements and confer legitimacy on leaders.

“Experience has shown that democracies are the best partners for making peace, building prosperity and protecting human rights.  That is one of the major reasons why the United States strongly supports these elections.  We have worked along with other donors in the run up to elections to provide assistance for civic education and electoral procedures.  Given the popular support and historic importance of these elections, it's important that the results be credible.  We have urged all concerned to work hard for a successful election.  A large private US delegation led by former President Carter will monitor the elections to help ensure that they are free and fair.  Much of the world's political and economic support will depend upon the quality of these elections.  It is important that friends of the Gazan and West Bank Palestinians work hard to ensure that these elections live up to their great potential.

“The Economic Challenge

“US economic assistance to the West Bank and Gaza Strip is another important anchor for the peace process.  We have disbursed $160 million in US aid resources during 1994 and 1995.  US assistance is making a visible and significant difference in the lives of tens of thousands of Palestinians by supporting rehabilitation of infrastructure, creating jobs and expanding available water resources.  With our support, a working set of institutions for Palestinian self-governance has taken shape.  And in Gaza, a construction boom is beginning to transform the landscape.

“We stand ready to help further in the year ahead.  Last week the Congress extended for ninety days the Middle East Peace Facilitation Act, which permits our programmes to go forward in the West Bank and Gaza as soon as funds are appropriated.  Obtaining legislative approval to meet our pledge of $500 million for assistance to Palestinian economic development over five years is an important Administration priority.

“The US is doing more than providing its own aid.  We are also providing leadership for the international effort to assist the Palestinians and bring the fruits of peace to the average person.  This is a serious and long-term commitment.  Next week, Secretary Christopher will lead our US delegation to a ministerial-level conference in Paris to solidify the assistance programme for the Palestinians.  We seek to ensure that economic engagement in the region remains high on the ministerial agendas of all nations who have a stake in Middle East peace as it evolves in the years to come.

“International assistance is important, but over the longer term the success of Palestinian development efforts rests on Palestinians themselves.  We are doing what we can to help the Palestinians create an economic environment that encourages sustainable, private sector-led development.  At the Amman Economic Summit in October, the United States and other participants launched a range of new institutions, such as the Middle East Development Bank, which will facilitate commerce and economic ties among the region's fragmented economies.  I can report to you that US businesses are watching with great interest the changing political and economic landscape in the region.  We look for the economic summit process, which began in Casablanca in 1994 and will continue in Cairo next fall, to serve as a major vehicle for the new commercial opportunities opened up by the peace process.

“Developing fruitful economic links with neighbours and the global economy must be an important part of the Palestinian development process.  In Amman, the Commerce Ministers of Jordan, Israel, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, and the United States agreed to work on harmonizing trade and customs procedures as well as regulatory standards.  The US also supports plans by Israel and the Palestinian Authority to create industrial zones to attract private investment and generate jobs.  As part of this effort to encourage export-led development, the US has agreed to grant reciprocal duty-free status for products manufactured in the West Bank and Gaza, subject to US legislative requirements.

“A Look to the Future

“All of the agreements and initiatives I have described reflect a Middle East that is profoundly changed.  Decades-old antagonisms between Israelis and Palestinians will not easily be overcome.  Years of conflict cannot easily be erased.  On both sides, the wounds of the past are deep and suspicions are sharp.  The angry and violent demonstrations against Israeli forces pulling out of Nablus last month were testimony to the backlog of hatred, suspicion, and bloodshed.

“But I am convinced that the peace process responds to the deepest aspirations of the people of the Middle East.  You have no doubt seen the public opinion polls of both the Israelis and Palestinians, which bear this out.

“There is of course nothing automatic or inevitable about the pace and direction of change in the Middle East.  Many of the most complex and difficult issues in the Arab-Israeli conflict remain to be resolved.  Moving forward on the Permanent Status talks under the DOP beginning in May and the ongoing Israeli-Syrian negotiations will require bold and imaginative leadership and sustained commitment of all parties.

“The United States stands ready to do its part – facilitating meetings, supporting the implementation of agreements, and acting as an honest broker when called upon.  Today, the United States is the only country with the strategic vision and global capabilities to help the parties make peace.  We do not underestimate the task, nor do we shrink from it.  We are ready to stand beside the peacemakers to forge a future of increasing cooperation and economic development throughout the region – a future where Arabs and Israelis can live and work together in dignity as part of a comprehensive peace.  But we can only help.  The choice of progress or stagnation rests primarily as it always has with the people of the region.”2

Text of the final communiqué of the Ministerial Conference

on Economic Assistance to the Palestinian People,

Paris, 9 January 1996

The following is the text of the final communiqué, adopted on 9 January 1996, at the Ministerial Conference on Economic Assistance to the Palestinian People, held in Paris:

"Following the signing of the Interim Agreement on September 28, 1995, representatives of the donor community, Israel and the Palestinian Authority gathered in Paris on January 9, 1996 at the ministerial level.  Together they endeavoured to re-energize the assistance effort for the Palestinian people and to provide additional support to the process of peace and reconciliation now underway in the region.  The Ministerial Conference on Economic Assistance to the Palestinian People was hosted and chaired by the Government of France.  Substantial preparation was undertaken by the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee under the chairmanship of Norway, including the European Union, the United States, the Russian Federation, Japan, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, the World Bank and the United Nations Special Coordinator in the Occupied territories.  Representatives of regional and extra-regional parties as well as international organizations attended.

"The participants expressed their strong desire to contribute to the success of the peace process.  They resolved to send an unequivocal signal to the Palestinian people, all Middle Eastern nations and the international community that we stand with the Palestinian people as it takes risks for peace and begins to play a larger role in shaping its destiny.  Donors underlined the importance they attach to the elections due to take place in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on January 20, 1996.

"The participants reaffirmed their support for Palestinian self-government authority pursuant to the Interim Agreement within the context of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

"1. Conference participants emphasized the importance of improving the economic and social conditions of the Palestinian people through a comprehensive effort to create jobs, improve physical and social infrastructure, and establish the basis for sustainable economic development.

"2. In April 1995 the Palestinian Authority, the Government of Israel, and the international community adopted a Tripartite Action Plan aimed at reducing the Palestinian budget deficit and at stimulating economic development.  The participants praised the signature of a revised version of this accord which takes into account the most recent economic and political developments.  The Government of Israel will assist and facilitate Palestinian economic development.  The international community is committed to support and contribute to the economic development in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

"3. The Palestinian Authority also underscored the importance of the Core Investment Programme, which was unanimously adopted by the Palestinian Cabinet and presented by the Palestinian Authority during the meeting of the Consultative Group of the World Bank in October 18-19, 1995.  This Programme, with its focus on economic development and employment creation, contains investments totalling US$ 550 million.  The investment projects include, inter alia, roads, wells, schools and hospitals as well as water and other infrastructure projects.

"4. Donors demonstrated their support for the US$550 Core Investment Programme and other priority projects presented by the PA, including the establishment of industrial zones, the ongoing assistance programmes as well as financing the recurrent cost deficit of US$75 million, by mobilizing the following resources:

"a) Undisbursed commitments amounting to US$500 million;

"b) Commitments in 1996 to the Core Investment Programme, other priority projects recurrent cost deficit and other forms of assistance, amounting to US$865 million.

"This amounts to more than US$ 1.3 billion.  This will be mobilized by the donor community in 1996.  In addition, a number of donor countries would continue to provide substantial levels of in-kind assistance.

"5. The Conference requested that the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee follow-up on all issues raised during this Conference, and additional project proposals put forward by the Palestinian Authority.  The AHLC would undertake to hold an informal meeting in April.

"6. The Palestinian Authority committed itself to a medium-term economic strategy focused on private investment as the engine of growth.  The plan aims to help the Palestinian economy to take its place in a regional and global environment of trade and investment.

"7. The United States and the European Union announced their intention to improve ways of promoting Palestinian exports through the granting of duty-free status and other trade privileges."3


Remarks by Pope John Paul II on the issue of Jerusalem,

The Vatican, 13 January 1996

On 13 January 1996, at the Vatican, on the occasion of the exchange of greetings with the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, Pope John Paul II made an address, in which he referred, among other things, to the issue of Jerusalem.  The Pope said inter alia:

"…

"2. Today we cannot but rejoice to see here, for the first time, the Representative of the Palestinian people.  For more than a year, as you know, the Holy See has enjoyed diplomatic relations with the State of Israel.  We had been looking forward to this happy state of affairs, because it is the eloquent sign that the Middle East has resolutely taken the path of peace proclaimed to mankind by the Child born in Bethlehem.  May God assist the Israelis and Palestinians to live from now on side by side, with one another, in peace, mutual esteem and sincere cooperation!  Future generations demand this and the whole region will benefit from it.

"But allow me to confide that this hope could prove ephemeral if a just and adequate solution is not also found to the particular problem of Jerusalem.  The religious and universal dimension of the Holy City demands a commitment on the part of the whole international community, in order to ensure that the City preserves its uniqueness and retains its living character.  The Holy Places, dear to the three monotheistic religions, are of course important for believers, but they would lose much of their significance if they were not permanently surrounded by active communities of Jews, Christians and Muslims, enjoying true freedom of conscience and religion, and developing their own religious, educational and social activities.  The year 1996 should see the beginning of negotiations on the definitive status of the territories under the administration of the National Palestinian Authority, and also on the sensitive issue of the City of Jerusalem.  It is my hope that the international community will offer the political partners most directly involved the juridical and diplomatic instruments capable of ensuring that Jerusalem, one and holy, may truly be a `crossroads of peace'.

"This serene and resolute quest for peace and brotherhood will contribute without any doubt to providing other still existing regional problems with solutions which will respond to the aspirations of peoples still worried about their fate and their future."4

Remarks by Chairman Yasser Arafat and the United States Secretary of State

Warren Christopher at a news conference in Gaza,

Erez, Gaza Strip, 13 January 1996

After their meeting in Erez, Gaza Strip, on 13 January 1996, the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority Yasser Arafat and the United States Secretary of State Warren Christopher made the following opening remarks at a joint news conference:

Chairman Arafat

"We have to thank His Excellency for this visit, especially in these very important circumstances which we are passing one week before our elections.  We have to thank His Excellency for his efforts, including also the participation of a high delegation from America to supervise and to arrange the elections of the Palestinian Council.  At the same time, we had an opportunity to discuss in detail these elections and some of the problems which we are facing and asking His Excellency to facilitate for us these problems with the Israelis concerning Hebron and other places.  At the same time, I have the opportunity to thank His Excellency for what he is doing to push the Peace Process, not only with the Palestinians, not only with the Jordanians, not only with the Egyptians, but also with the Syrians and the Lebanese, so that we can have a comprehensive, lasting, peaceful solution in the whole area.  At the same time, I have to thank President Carter who will come to participate with us, heading the American team for the elections.

"Please convey to His Excellency President Clinton, [thanks] for his permanent support, which we have found especially from your side during the economic conference which took place in Paris recently.  At the same time, I had explained to His Excellency all the situation here in these Palestinian territories, and the difficulties which we are facing from the economical point of view, and also he promised that he will continue supporting us according to what His Excellency, President Clinton had started from the beginning, to push the donors by all means, to continue implementing their promises."5

Secretary Christopher

"Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  The Chairman and I had planned to get together last Tuesday in Paris at the Donors' Conference.  Unfortunately, the weather in Washington made that impossible.  So, I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for rearranging your schedule so we could meet here this morning.

"As you know, the Donors' Conference in Paris was very successful.  The Conference core list of projects of 550 million dollars was oversubscribed by about 240 million dollars, and I think that's a reflection of the international community's desire to support this effort in Gaza and the West Bank.  For its part, the United States is well on its way to meeting its pledge of 500 million dollars over a five-year period.  We have disbursed already over half of our pledge, in addition to humanitarian assistance and motor vehicles that we have made available.  In Paris we allocated another 71 million dollars for particular projects, water projects, educational projects, and other projects to meet the needs of the Palestinians.

"The Conference marked a new phase in the development of the Palestinian economy, one that coincides with the new phase in the implementation of the interim agreement.  The Palestinian Authority has done a good job in taking over responsibility for the major population centers in the West Bank.  I think we recognize the importance of continuing combatting violence and terrorism, and I was very pleased this morning to have the Chairman once again emphasize his complete commitment to combatting terrorism in all of the territories of the West Bank and Gaza.

"As we all know, as the Chairman just said, just one week from now there will be a major milestone when the Palestinians go to the polls to elect their governing council and their leader.  We spent a good deal of time this morning discussing the elections, certainly a historic opportunity for the Palestinians to take the major step in building a democratic society.  I want to congratulate the Chairman and the people of the area for their efforts in this regard.  Of course, it is important that the elections be free and fair and as the Chairman has mentioned, there will be a number of groups observing the elections here.  A United States group headed by former President Carter and of course, our Consulate in Jerusalem will be observing the elections as well.  Elections will give an opportunity to lead to the establishment of institutions of law, institutions carrying out democratic principles including freedom of expression and the rule of law, respect for human rights and free market economy.

"Mr. Chairman, I assure you that President Clinton and the United States want to continue to work with you to achieve these important goals."5

Text of a press release by the European Commission

on the issue of the Palestinian elections,

19 January 1996

The following press release in connection with the upcoming Palestinian elections was issued on 19 January 1996, by the European Commission:

"Palestinian elections:  visit of Vice-President Marin

"Commission Vice-President Manuel Marin will visit the West Bank and Gaza Strip from the 20th to 22nd of January 1996 at the occasion of the elections of the Palestinian Council and the President of the Palestinian National Authority.

"On the 20th, the election day, M. Marin will meet international observers, members of the Electoral Unit and will visit several polling stations.  On the 21st M. Marin will join the Troika Ministerial visit conducted by Italian Foreign Minister Mrs. Susanna Agnelli.  The Troika composed of the Foreign Affairs Ministers of Spain, Italy and Ireland, as well as M. Marin, will participate in the provisional announcement of the elections' results.

"The Israeli-PLO Interim Agreement, signed in Washington on September 28, 1995, invited the EU not only to supply observers to, but also to coordinate the whole of the international observation of Palestinian elections.

"EU Electoral Unit

"On 20 January 1996 elections will be held in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Council and the President of the Palestinian National Authority.

"In response to the invitation contained in the Israel/PLO Agreement, and in line with its strong commitment in the Middle East Peace Process, the EU established a 35-strong Electoral Unit (EUEU), headed by former Swedish Minister of Justice, Mr. Carl Lidbom.  The Unit was deployed in the field by mid-November and has opened five operational offices.  The Electoral Unit is responsible for the management and monitoring of some 300 EU observers (including some 75 Members from the European and national parliaments) as well as of coordinating the activities of other international observer delegations (600 in total).

"The Electoral Unit has established permanent working contacts with Palestinian and Israeli authorities, the Palestinian election administration and representatives of Canada, Egypt, Japan, Norway, South Africa, Switzerland and US.  The Electoral Unit also chairs the Trilateral Forum, which deals with issues regarding the logistics and security of international observers.

"Framework of the Palestinian Electoral System

"The Palestinian electoral system is ruled on by the Law for the election of the President and the Palestinian Council (electoral law), approved by the Palestinian National Authority on 7 December 1995.

"The Electoral Law provides for the election of the Palestinian Council and the President of the National Authority, for the interim period of self-government established in the Declaration of Principles, signed in Washington on September 13, and in the Interim Agreement, signed in Washington on September 28, 1995.

"The aim of the Electoral Law is the direct election by the Palestinian people of both the President of the National Authority and the 88 members of the Palestinian Council.

"Character of the Electoral System

"The rules contained in the Electoral Law establish a truly democratic, free and fair electoral system which is based on the principles of universal, free, equal, direct and secret suffrage.

"Every Palestinian aged 18 or older the day of the poll, who meets the requirements established in the Electoral Law, has the right to vote, regardless of sex, race, religion, opinion, social origin, education or property status.

"In accordance with the principles of plural democracy and recognizing the existence within Palestinian society of a large Christian community and the need for ensuring it a proper representation within the Palestinian Council, the Electoral Law provides for the allocation to the Christian Palestinians of a minimum of seats in some of the electoral constituencies.  In addition, one seat has been reserved for the Samaritans in the constituency of Nablus.

"The Electoral Formula

"The electoral system uses the simple majority open list formula, both for the election of the President of the National Authority and the Palestinian Council.  That is to say, the candidates who obtained most votes are elected.  This is the electoral formula better and widely known by Palestinian people (students unions, chambers of conference, professional bodies) and thus the formula established by the Electoral Law.  This system is fully acceptable by European standards in the view of all the legal experts involved.

"Electoral Constituencies and Presentations

"For the purpose of the election of the 88 members of the Palestinian Council, the whole of the territories of both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank have been subdivided into sixteen constituencies which are adapted both to the traditional territorial boundaries and to the needs of the present distribution of the Palestinian population.  These constituencies are Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin, Jericho, East Jerusalem, Nablus, Qalqilya, Ramallah, Salfit, Tubas and Tulkarm in the West Bank and Gaza North (Jabaliah), Gaza City, Gaza Central (Deir El Balah), Khan Younis and Rafah in the Gaza Strip.

"Each constituency will elect a number of representatives in accordance with the number of electors registered in it.  In this way, both the representation of the Palestinian people at large, and the representation of the different parts of the Palestinian territories, are ensured.

"For the purpose of the election of the President of the National Authority, the whole of the Palestinian territories of the Gaza Strip and of the West Bank will serve as just one sole constituency and the candidates nominated will be elected by the electors registered in all of the above-mentioned constituencies.

"Who may be a candidate?

"To be a candidate to the membership of the Palestinian Council it is required to be a Palestinian, aged 30 years or older on the polling day, registered as an elector, and not to be subjected to any of the disqualifications established by the Electoral Law.

"Candidates to the membership of the Palestinian Council may be nominated by registered political parties, coalitions of parties, and grouping of electors.  Independent candidates must group and gather the support of at least 500 registered electors.

"To be a candidate to the Presidency of the Executive Authority it is required to be a Palestinian, aged 35 years or older on the polling day, registered as an elector, and not to be subjected to any of the disqualifications established by the Electoral Law.

"Political parties and coalitions of parties must register as such before the Ministry of Interior.  To be registered as such, political parties and coalitions of parties must not commit or advocate racism, or pursue the implementation of their aims by unlawful or non-democratic means.

"Electoral Administration

"The electoral administration consists of the Palestinian Central Election Commission, the District Election Commission, and the Polling Station Commissions which will be in charge notably of the operations of registering electors, registering parties and coalitions, receiving nominations, conducting the poll, counting votes.

"The Palestinian Central Election Commission is composed of nine members appointed by the President of the Palestinian Authority following the procedure established by the Electoral Law.  The members of the Central Election Commission must be members of the Palestinian Judiciary, outstanding academics, or lawyer with reputable professional career and experience.

"The Palestinian Central Election Commission is the supreme organ of the whole electoral administration.  It is responsible for the preparation, efficient organization, and conduction of the election, and for cleanness, fairness and legality of the whole electoral process.

"There is one District Commission for each one of the Electoral constituencies, composed of five members chosen from among university professors and lecturers, lawyers, political scientists, sociologists, economists, public or private administrators, and teachers of reputable professional career and experience.

"Each polling district shall have one Polling Station Commission, responsible for electoral registration in its pooling district, for the conduct of the poll and the count of votes.  Polling station officials have been recruited mainly amid Palestinian teachers.

"Guaranteeing bodies and mechanisms

"The cleanness and fairness of the whole electoral process is ensured by the Electoral Law through a full set of guaranteeing bodies and mechanisms of claim and appeal, both administrative and judicial.

"On the other hand, the entire electoral administration – as described above – is constituted in a way that ensures the neutrality of the whole electoral process; and, on the other hand, the decisions taken by the electoral administration are open to review through claims and appeals, both at higher level within the electoral administration itself, and before the Election Appeals Court.

"The Election Appeals Court is the supreme body and last instance of appeals relating to the electoral process.  It is formed by five judges appointed by the President of the Palestinian Authority in the decree calling the elections.  The members of the Election Appeals Court shall be independent judges of reputable career and experience, with at least ten years of practice in the exercise of their judicial occupation.

"In addition, the system of guarantees enforced by the electoral bodies established by the Electoral Law is complemented and strengthened by the role given to representatives and agents of the candidatures, and by the activity of the domestic and international observers and members of the press and media invited to oversee the whole electoral process.

"Background

"1. European Union financial support for the Palestinian elections

"The Commission started providing financial support to the Palestinian Authority (PA) for the preparation of the elections as early as April 1994.  This assistance amounts to a total of 7.5 MECU (some 9 million USD), which have been used for preparing the electoral law, drawing the electoral districts' boundaries, setting up the election administrative machinery, training election officers, conducting a public civic education campaign, providing technical equipment, etc.

"Furthermore, the EU has committed 10 MECU (some 12 million USD) out of the Community budget to cover the cost of the observation operation.

"2. European Union assistance to the West Bank and Gaza Strip

"In 1993 the European Union pledged 500 MECU over the years 94-98.  250 MECU were to be provided in grants at a pace of 50 MECU per year; the European Investment Bank would make available the other 250 MECU in long-term loans over the same period, which it has recently started to commit.

"Out of the EU budget, the following sums have already been disbursed:

"In 1993: 45.5 MECU

"In 1994: 75.4 MECU

"In 1995: 80.1 MECU

"Total 201 MECU

"For 1996, the European Commission announced at the Paris Conference held on 9th January 1996 a contribution of at least 90 MECU ($ 120m), that is, a more than 75 per cent increase in the pledge it originally made in 1993.

"Out of the Community budget alone, therefore, and without courting the bilateral pledges of the individual EU Member States, the EU remains by far the biggest donor.  The next largest donors in 1996 are Saudi Arabia ($100m), the World Bank ($90m), the US ($71m) and Japan ($43m)."6

Text of a statement by the Presidency of the European Union

on the Palestinian elections,

22 January 1996

On 22 January 1996, the following declaration on the Palestinian elections was made by the Presidency of the European Union:

"The European Union expresses its deep satisfaction at the successful conclusion of the first ever Palestinian general election.

"It conveys its congratulations to all those candidates elected to the Palestinian Council and to Mr. Arafat on his election as President of the Council and sends its sincerest good wishes to these duly elected representatives of the Palestinian people as they assume the responsibilities of their office.

"The European Union also congratulates the Palestinian people for the political maturity they have shown in their approach to democracy and the elections for the Palestinian Council and its President.  It applauds the way in which the vast majority of candidates and election officials alike have fulfilled their obligations during the election process.  It welcomes the fact that the electoral process itself was conducted in a generally peaceful atmosphere in which potentially disruptive and divisive incidents did not cast a shadow over proceedings or give rise to tension or violence which might have undermined the democratic process.

"The European Union underlines the importance of the successful conclusion of the Palestinian elections for the Middle East Peace Process as a whole.  Not only have they conferred democratic legitimacy on the Palestinian Authority.  They have confirmed the commitment of the Palestinian people and their democratically elected leaders to the Palestinian track of the Peace Process and the peaceful resolution of the Middle East conflict.  They have confounded opponents of the Middle East Peace Process who seek to undermine it through violence and terror.

"The European Union is proud to have had a leading role in the international observation of the Palestinian elections.  It thanks the Palestinian Authority and the Government of Israel for the trust and confidence they put in the European Union for the observation of the elections and the coordination of the international observation operation.  The EU pays tribute to all those who have participated in the observation operation for their dedication and professionalism, without which the Union would have been unable to fulfil its responsibilities as coordinator.

"The European Union now urges the Palestinian people to build on these elections to establish their democratic institutions and strengthen the rule of law and the respect for human rights.  They can be sure of the Union's full support in this endeavour.  For its part, the European Union re-affirms its unreserved political and economic commitment to the Middle East Peace Process, the establishment of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the region and the well-being of the Palestinian people.  It stands ready to assist further in whatever capacity the parties to the Process consider appropriate."7

*     *     *


Notes

1. As per the text (Ref: PESC/95/1) received on 5 January 1996 from the Delegation of the European Commission to the United Nations.

2. United States Information Agency, 6 January 1996 (via Internet).

3. Ibid., 12 January 1996.

4. As per the text received on 16 January 1996 from the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations.

5. United States Department of State, Release of the Office of the Spokesman, 13 January 1996 (via Internet).

6. As per the text of the press release (Ref: IP/96/59) received on 19 January 1996 from the Delegation of the European Commission to the United Nations.

7. As per the text (Ref: PESC/96/5) received on 24 January 1996 from the Delegation of the European Commission to the United Nations.


Document symbol: Dev06
Document Type: Bulletin, Peace process review, Publication
Document Sources: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
Subject: Electoral issues, Jerusalem, Palestine question
Publication Date: 31/01/1996