Volume XXXVII, Bulletin No. 11
on action by the United Nations system and
relevant to the question of Palestine
UNRWA Commissioner-General addresses GA Fourth Committee
Office of the Quartet Representative presents economic initiative for Gaza
Bureau of Palestinian Rights Committee expresses alarm at increased tensions in East Jerusalem
Secretary-General establishes UN Board of Inquiry into Gaza incidents
Secretary-General concerned by increased violence in Israel and the West Bank
Organization of Islamic Cooperation addresses Secretary-General regarding Israel’s acts of aggression against Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem.
ASG for Political Affairs briefs Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
Secretary-General condemns deadly attack on West Jerusalem synagogue
Security Council condemns attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem
Secretary-General addresses UN International Meeting of Parliamentarians in Support of Israeli-Palestinian peace
Secretary-General addresses meeting in observance of the International day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
General Assembly adopts four resolutions on the Question of Palestine
General Assembly adopts two resolutions on the situation in the Middle East
The Bulletin can be found in the United Nations Information System
on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL) on the Internet at:
I. UNRWA COMMISSIONER-GENERAL ADDRESSES GA FOURTH COMMITTEE
On 6 November 2014, Mr. Pierre Krähenbühl presented his first annual report as the UNRWA Commissioner-General to the Fourth Committee of the General Assembly. The following is the text of his statement introducing the report:
In one month’s time (9 December 2014) it will be no less than 65 years since the adoption of General Assembly Resolution 302, which created UNRWA, to provide Relief and Works for the benefit of Palestine Refugees in the Near East.
The Palestine refugee community today amounts to 5.1 million, just under a third of the world’s total refugee population and some 40% of long term refugees globally (that is, those who have been refugees for more than five years). By way of comparison, the number of Palestine refugees is equivalent to the population of Norway or Singapore.
Historically, UN resolutions on Palestine have never been short of language suggesting the temporary nature of the situation of Palestine refugees.
For example, Paragraph 5 of Resolution 302 states that the General Assembly recognises that “…without prejudice to the provisions of paragraph 11 of General Assembly Resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948(…)”, “continued assistance for the relief of Palestine refugees is necessary to prevent conditions of starvation and distress among them and to further conditions of peace and stability, and that constructive measures should be undertaken at an early date with a view to the termination of international assistance for relief”.
We are still waiting, 65 years later, for these “constructive measures” to come to fruition.
We are also still waiting for a “just” settlement of the refugee problem to be found in accordance with relevant resolutions of the General Assembly, including Resolution 242 of 22 November 1967.
And we are still waiting for negotiations foreseen in Resolution 338 of 22 October 1973 to establish a “just and durable peace in the Middle East” to be realised.
It is against this backdrop that I wish to look in more detail at the exceptionally charged and difficult circumstances affecting the Palestine refugee population today. As I do so, it will become apparent that today, more than ever and despite all the pessimism and skepticism that surrounds us, hope is needed and political action is urgently required to tackle fundamental issues that determine the fate and plight of Palestine refugees.
It has been a torrid year for the Agency.
Twelve months ago, my predecessor, Filippo Grandi, in his final address to this committee, expressed his profound concern about the situation in Gaza. He pointed to the moribund economy, the drastic level of unemployment particularly of the young, the lack of exports, the rise in food insecurity and dependence on food aid – which UNRWA is now supplying to over 860,000 people. He underlined the untenable situation of Gaza with its infrastructure, energy water inadequate to sustain society. He said “(…) the combination of deteriorating material conditions and growing political and security tensions – Israeli military incursions, rockets launched towards Southern Israel – is the recipe for yet another crisis”. Tragically, he proved to be right.
In Gaza today, Palestine refugees and non-refugees alike, are just emerging from the unprecedented violence and destruction experienced during the 50-day conflict in July and August. We have all been shocked by the killing of over 1,500 civilians in Gaza, including 538 children, 306 women and 11 UNRWA colleagues. Some 1,500 children have been orphaned, 11,000 people were injured including 1,000 children who will live the rest of their lives with permanent disabilities. Five civilians in Israel have also been killed.
We have witnessed the widespread traumatisation of civilians and children, the obliteration of homes – leaving 110,000 people homeless – the loss of livelihoods, the destruction of more than 500 businesses, the crippling of the Gaza power plant, the killing of 40% of Gaza’s livestock as well as the wrecking of prime agricultural land.
At the peak of the crisis almost a third of the population of Gaza fled their homes; UNRWA alone sheltered and assisted almost 300,000 displaced persons in 90 of our schools.
Shockingly, UNRWA was affected by seven incidents of munitions fired at its schools, three of them with deadly consequences resulting in over 42 deaths and an estimated 200 persons with multiple injuries. We unreservedly condemned those attacks on UN premises which constituted violations of international law by Israel and we have called for investigations and accountability, a call I repeat here today. We also discovered weapons components hidden by Palestinian groups in three of our schools: we were proactive and transparent in informing all key parties about these discoveries and we publicly condemned these violations of international law. The independent Board of Inquiry to be established by the Secretary-General will look at all major incidents that affected UN operations, notably those of UNRWA, during the crisis.
The accent now is on rebuilding Gaza. The Cairo donors’ conference of 12 October, ably co-chaired by Egypt and Norway, brought forward significant pledges to rebuild Gaza. It is urgent to concretely activate these pledges. For its part, UNRWA is seeking $1.68 billion to enable it to rebuild 14,000 destroyed refugee homes, repair over 70,000 refugee dwellings and 118 UNRWA buildings, rehabilitate camp infrastructure and provide essential relief, food, and temporary shelter to those in need. Rebuilding refugee homes alone is expected to cost around $700 million. Other UN Agencies also require financial assistance to support non-refugees.
It is now essential that the international community supports the Palestinian Government of National Consensus to lead the way forward in reconstructing Gaza. Much needs to be done. I was particularly pleased by the outstanding coordination between the Government of National Consensus and the UN family in preparing the joint assessment document ahead of the Cairo conference.
For major rebuilding to take place, the commercial traffic through the crossing points into Gaza – Kerem Shalom, and also Erez – needs to be massively and sustainably expanded. This, in turn, requires the swift and full implementation of the UN-brokered temporary reconstruction mechanism between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Government of National Consensus setting out the arrangements for bringing increased supplies of building and other material into Gaza. In addition, exports of goods and produce from Gaza, reduced to virtually zero in recent years under the blockade, need to be resumed. Without rapid progress on these two tracks, Gaza will continue its precipitous slide, with growing unemployment and a total lack of prospects, especially among young men and women, increased aid dependency and increased poverty.
In these desperate times, with winter approaching, I cannot emphasise enough the imperative need for the beleaguered people of Gaza to see progress on the ground now. To allow this to happen, building sites and rubble also need to be cleared. An urgent task is to secure and destroy a minimum of 7,000 explosive items including unexploded aircraft bombs and ammunition left in the rubble of buildings. UNMAS, which has been immensely important in helping to secure UNRWA premises and clear over 200 sites, needs a further $2.5 million for the period 2014-15 to continue and complete its work in Gaza.
Meeting these challenges will require all stakeholders to uphold their responsibilities and be held to account if the movement of supplies into Gaza is impeded or not facilitated in good faith. For its part, UNRWA will continue to assist the just over 30,000 displaced persons remaining in 18 schools, as well as provide rental subsidies and support to others pending the rebuilding of their homes. We are immensely grateful to donors who have funded 75% of our $300 million emergency appeal and to those who will help us rebuild refugee homes in the future. I wish in this context to thank the many new donors who have come forward in recent months to support UNRWA – Mexico, Colombia, Namibia, Azerbaijan, and Thailand to mention just a few, as well as the remarkable generosity from our traditional donors and the private sector. We were also greatly touched last week by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousufzai’s announcement in Stockholm, that she was donating $50,000, the entire proceeds of the World’s Children Prize she was awarded, to rebuild an UNRWA school damaged during the recent fighting in Gaza.
Yet, nowhere in the world does the provision of humanitarian assistance alone make up for the denial of dignity and human rights, the opportunity of a job to provide for family members and to live in freedom and self-sufficiency. To illustrate this point let me quote some disturbing examples illustrating the highly fragile psychological – as well as physical – state of the people of Gaza and which, alarmingly, suggest that the latest conflict has pushed many people over the edge into isolation and despair.
From a recent letter to the UN by a Palestine refugee living in an UNRWA refugee camp in Gaza desperately seeking work, I read “(…) Poverty kills me and my family every day, I swear we cannot live more in this situation, and I do not have the means to live. (…) my brother tried to kill himself because of poverty….no work, no money, food decreased, family problems…”Another manifestation of this despair is the readiness of a growing number of people to put their lives at risk in the hands of ruthless human traffickers in the search for a new beginning in Europe. Many Palestinians from Gaza have failed in this attempt and have tragically lost their lives. Why do they do it? In the words of one who survived, quoted in the New York Times, “Life in Gaza is like having no life … everything is destroyed”. A mother of five recently said to me in Gaza: “For the first time I have to seek an alternative for my children outside of Gaza. I was always determined to stay but now things are different now”.
The only way this sense of despair can be overcome is to make Gaza a liveable place again. This means, as the Secretary-General has recently emphasised, once and for all addressing the underlying causes of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict: an end to the occupation that has ground on for nearly half a century and a full lifting of the illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip. Indeed there is no doubt in my mind that, after years of collective punishment of the population in Gaza and after the recent devastating conflict, it is simply inconceivable to return to the pre-exiting conditions under the blockade. A change of paradigm is required and only dedicated and determined political action by the international community can bring it about.
Turning to the West Bank, the situation of the 750,000 Palestine refugees there has also deteriorated since last year. In 2013, at a time of intense efforts to achieve a negotiated breakthrough in the Middle East Peace Process, one would have expected a calmer environment to have prevailed. The reality was different: UNRWA observed a significant upsurge in violence towards Palestinians and Palestine refugees, a trend which was has worsened further in 2014. Of the 27 Palestinians killed in the West Bank in 2013, 17 were Palestine refugees including one UNRWA staff member in Qalandya refugee camp in August 2013. The year 2013 also witnessed a 12-fold increase in the number of Palestine refugees injured with 51 refugees injured by live ammunition compared to no-one in 2012. In 2014, to date, 46 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank of which 18 were Palestine Refugees. Of the 458 Palestinian owned structures demolished by the Israeli authorities since the beginning of 2014, the majority in Area C, at least 100 belonged to Palestine refugees.
An important element of UNRWA’s protection work in the West Bank relates to our concerns about the threatened forcible displacement of approximately 7,000 people in around 45 residential areas including in the sensitive E1 area. Forcible displacement of persons from land under occupation is a breach of international humanitarian law. Many of these Bedouin are registered with UNRWA as refugees. Actions to force Bedouin families to forego their traditional pastoralist lifestyle for one of imposed urban living will result in a severance from their ancient traditions and a destruction of their way of life. UNRWA has documented in detail the destructive cultural, social and economic impact that earlier forced displacements had on Bedouin communities in the West Bank.
Overall, socio-economic conditions in the West Bank including East Jerusalem continue to deteriorate for Palestine refugees, with systematic Israeli restrictions on the movement of Palestinians and their conduct of trade causing widespread poverty and unemployment including in the 19 refugee camps. This is compounded by the pressures resulting from further illegal settlement construction and recent events in Jerusalem itself have raised the very serious spectre of widening insecurity and violence.
Adding to the challenges facing UNRWA are the high level of conflict and instability in other countries hosting the Palestine refugees, which contribute to a regional dynamic of insecurity that the refugees have not experienced in decades.
In Syria, the catastrophic conflict is now into its fourth year. The situation of Palestine refugees, whose plight is too often forgotten, is highly precarious. Prior to the armed conflict, Palestine refugees in Syria had enjoyed safe refuge, and a range of rights and freedoms. Now almost all of the 540,000 refugees registered with UNRWA, wherever they now live, are in need of assistance. UNRWA has lost 14 staff in Syria and has 24 staff missing or presumed detained.
Despite extremely harsh and often dangerous conditions, UNRWA has continued to provide vital assistance and services to refugees in need, including food, temporary accommodation in shelters, cash assistance, psychosocial support, primary education and health care. Over half of the Palestine refugees in Syria are internally displaced. During my first visit to Damascus as Commissioner-General, I was deeply marked by the fact that we are dealing here with yet another generation of Palestinians faced with the trauma of dispossession and loss. All refugees grapple continually with the perils and suffering inflicted as a result of an armed conflict in which all sides frequently disregard international law, notably the obligation to protect civilians and their property.
Yarmouk, a neighbourhood of Damascus once home to the largest Palestine refugee community in Syria, is an extreme representation of the plight of Palestine refugees in Syria. Since mid-January this year, UNRWA’s periodic distribution of food and hygiene kits has slightly eased the previous conditions of widespread hunger. However, access remains irregular and refugees are trapped in grave humanitarian conditions. UNRWA continues to press the parties to cease hostilities, and provide for full humanitarian access and a restoration of UNRWA services. Similar situations to Yarmouk can be found in Khan Eshieh, Muzerib and in Jilin near Dera’a. But also in areas less dramatically affected by the conflict, services and therefore the refugees suffer. As example, of our 68 school buildings, only a third are accessible, the majority being closed due to damage or insecurity, or are operating as emergency shelters.
Regardless, UNRWA has largely maintained core health and education services, for instance by moving with refugees to areas of relative safety and opening temporary health-points or schools. Our 4,000 local staff often show incredible courage keeping services running, also in areas unreachable from our main offices.
In light of the precarious situation of Palestine refugees in Syria and in neighbouring countries, it is incumbent on me to mention that only 47% of UNRWA’s regional crisis response needs of $ 417 million have been met this year, an amount which is not sufficient to enable us to provide enough regular basic support to the Palestine refugee community in Lebanon, Jordan and in Syria. If this funding trend continues, it will effectively mean UNRWA is forced to give up its focus on human development and give priority to life-saving activities only.
In Lebanon, with its history of complex relationships between ethnic and religious communities, the approximately 400,000 registered Palestine refugees live in often very difficult economic and social circumstances, many in cramped dwellings in overcrowded refugee camps. Among the five fields of UNRWA operations, Lebanon has the highest percentage of Palestine refugees living in abject poverty. In addition, approximately 44,000 Palestine refugees from Syria have fled to Lebanon, almost all of whom UNRWA is assisting with health, food and educational services. While UNRWA fully recognises the enormous burden placed on Lebanon by the massive influx of refugees from Syria, amounting to 25% of the entire Lebanese population, and the need to strengthen the resilience of local communities hosting these displaced people, UNRWA believes nonetheless that Palestine refugees from Syria should be admitted to Lebanon, notably those in need of special medical treatment and those seeking to reunite families. UNRWA also considers that efforts to provide greater work opportunities for Palestine refugees should be pursued so that the refugees can take care of their families and contribute productively to Lebanese society.
I also want to emphasise the importance of providing support to UNRWA so that it can complete the reconstruction of the Nahr el Barad camp which was destroyed in 2007. After a recently announced and most welcome contribution by Saudi Arabia, $142 million is still needed to complete the work so that all 27,000 displaced residents can be rehoused. In addition, $6 million is needed to support those still waiting for new homes. Not completing the reconstruction of the camp could lead to further unrest in an already fragile area.
Jordan, which has been stable by comparison to its neighbours, hosts the largest number of registered Palestine refugees in any single country, amounting to some two million amongst its total population of 6.5 million. Many in this refugee community have been able to secure a living; others face economic and social hardship. UNRWA’s role remains important to the human development of the refugees in general, and to the most vulnerable refugees in particular. Jordan is also hosting over 14,000 Palestine refugees from Syria who are being assisted by UNRWA; they should be allowed to remain until the conflict subsides and conditions for their return to Syria improve.
Once again, from these descriptions, one cannot but be struck by the extreme circumstances now facing Palestine refugee communities in the region. It is a major pressure for UNRWA to address both long-term developmental aspects of our work and respond to the growing needs generated by so many emergency situations brought about by conflict and occupation.
Despite these considerable challenges, UNRWA has not held back from undertaking complex internal reforms designed to make the Agency more effective and innovative in implementing its work, resulting in the improved provision of services. My predecessor launched these changes known as “Organizational Development”, and the related programme reforms which followed.
Today, UNRWA is a more efficient and effective Agency than it was ten years ago. It has improved its dialogue with partners and stakeholders in a transparent manner, notably through intensified engagement with its expanding Advisory Commission, through which hosts as well as traditional and major donors assist and advise the Commissioner-General. The Agency has also built stronger external relations with partners using a resource mobilization strategy designed to sustain and strengthen ties with traditional donors and broaden the range of donors and has also enhanced public advocacy outreach.
I am also pleased to report progress in reforming our education and health programmes. In our primary health care clinics, we have introduced a patient-centric, family health team approach which has reduced waiting times improved the quality and effectiveness of medical consultations. We are pursuing as also a holistic approach to non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, which are increasingly affecting refugees. Improvements in education are also beginning to be felt by the students. After positive initial tests, education reform components will be deployed across the Agency’s education system in 2015. Human rights education has become a staple of the curriculum of UNRWA schools and we are continually seeking ways to improve and develop this teaching.
Reforms under UNRWA’s relief and social programmes include an increased focus on development, economic empowerment and sustainable livelihood activities. UNRWA is moving gradually in fields, where local markets exist, to the ‘best practice’ of providing assistance to food-insecure households and to people unable to work through cash transfers, while expanding, wherever possible, job opportunities for those able to work. To really mitigate poverty and reduce vulnerability, UNRWA must also improve internal synergies, partnerships with other organizations and concentrate on children and youth, in an attempt to break the transmission of poverty across generations.
Before turning to the financial challenges confronting the Agency allow me to take this opportunity to convey my sincere thanks once again to your governments for their continuous support to UNRWA. UNRWA relies for 97% of its funding from voluntary contributions from Member States and the EU. Today, the US, the EU, UK, Sweden and Norway, UNRWA’s top five donors, still contribute some 50% of the total core budget. Other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE have become more engaged in UNRWA’s funding, contributing in particular to emergencies and projects. In this context, I welcome the growing support of Arab countries, and encourage them to strive to reach their engagement to provide 7.8% of UNRWA’s core funding as reiterated in last year’s Special Meeting of a Group of Supporters of UNRWA in the margins of UNGA week. Let me also add here that we look forward to welcoming Brazil and the UAE as future members of the UNRWA Advisory Commission.
In discussing these funding trends, I wish to be clear about the deeper significance of your support to UNRWA, which has been crucial in helping the Palestine refugees build their human capital with exceptional results. Over the decades, the refugees have formed a reservoir of skilled men and women, to be found in the leading professions in the occupied territory, the broader Middle East, and beyond including South and North America – engineering, medicine, business, education, the non-profit sector, and the like. This outcome, and by that I mean the inordinate contribution that Palestine refugees have made to social and economic development in diverse settings around the globe, would not have been possible without the support of stakeholder Governments represented here today. If I may say so: UNRWA is responsible – with your support – of probably one of the most successful development processes ever. We believe that donors – and hosts – should recognize this and sometimes take more credit for it.
Sustaining this outcome requires the continued support of our stakeholders, if we are to ensure that all we have helped the Palestine refugees achieve is not undermined, whether by the corrosive forces of military occupation, conflict, or neglect. In this context financial support remains essential, and the continuing engagement of the international community is vital.
Allow me here to address our current financial concerns. As in previous years, UNRWA, which has no financial reserves, is facing a shortfall in its General Fund, which is used to finance the Agency’s core activities of education, health, protection, relief and social services. The funding gap presently stands at $56 million, equivalent to one month’s operating costs. We took a series of internal measures first to reduce our initially higher deficit but with only two months to go before the end of the year, and noting the dire consequences that would result from a failure to meet this shortfall, I urge all Member States to find ways to fund UNRWA’s core work before year end.
While UNRWA has made stringent efforts to continue controlling its expenditure, something I am determined to take further, the fact is that the refugee population is growing. Needs are not static. We would like therefore to encourage new partners to come forward and play a role in investing in the human capital and the human security of the refugees. Your help and support are needed. The upcoming UNRWA Pledging Conference on 3 December will provide an opportunity to commit financial support to UNRWA.
Before concluding, I want to acknowledge and pay tribute to the work of UNRWA’s 30,000 staff spread across its five fields – doctors, nurses, teachers and social workers who are, for the most part, themselves refugees – who give us an unparalleled connection to the communities we serve. UNRWA’s many achievements would not be possible without the dedication, bravery and expertise of its staff. From Jabalia in Gaza to Yarmouk in Syria, UNRWA colleagues have worked tirelessly, often risking their lives, to bring desperately needed assistance – and services of high quality – to Palestine refugees. I pay tribute to them, and we mourn all those who have lost their lives in these conflicts: 11 in Gaza and 14 in Syria. I must tell you that I know of no international agency that would have continued operating under these circumstances and after losing so many staff members. I humbly ask that this not be taken for granted.
We also need to constantly bear in mind that, for all Palestine refugees, UNRWA is not a mere purveyor of services typically provided by any local authority. For Palestine refugees, UNRWA represents the institutional pillar which, to a significant extent and with all our strengths and shortcomings, encapsulates and embodies them as a collective, while remaining their source of support and sustenance until a just and lasting solution is found to their plight.
Yet, a powerful sense has emerged of the sheer unsustainability of the situation of Palestine refugees. Some 65 years after UNRWA was created, Palestine refugees themselves are increasingly speaking about facing an existential threat. That threat expresses itself in all too many ways; some may well be outside the immediate and direct influence of the Member States represented here today, but other threats – including the continuing occupation of the Palestinian territory – should obligate us to take concrete and remedial action in keeping with responsibilities and obligations under international law.
To neglect the plight of Palestine refugees is a risk that the world cannot take, the more so because, notwithstanding the importance of UNRWA to the refugees themselves, the Agency’s programmes bring a much needed measure of stability to a profoundly insecure region.
It follows that until political progress towards a final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is achieved, sustaining UNRWA, preventing extreme forms of suffering and providing human development and protection to Palestine refugees must continue until permanent solutions are found to the underlying intractable political issues.
This is all the more important because, as the UN moves towards the adoption of ambitious post-2015 sustainable development goals with an accent on eliminating poverty, and reducing inequality, for the international community, it is essential that there are no pockets of humanity excluded from implementation of these important goals. UNRWA’s new Medium Term Strategy from 2016-21, which will be presented in final form to UNRWA’s Advisory Commission this month, will focus on these themes.
However, reaching these goals will require sustained cooperation and engagement of all actors – host countries, donors, other UN Agencies and NGOs – with UNRWA. It will also require, in the occupied Palestinian territory, Israel’s cooperation with UNRWA. I do welcome the fact that, despite our at times significant differences on many fundamental points, a critical but more transparent dialogue between UNRWA and Israel is beginning to emerge, aimed at seeking practical solutions to the many problems which exist on the ground. For its part, UNRWA has underlined its expectation that efforts to undermine the Agency and its General Assembly mandate – from whatever quarter they emanate – will be decisively rejected, by all UN Members States.
My message to you, therefore, is straightforward.
International solidarity in support of Palestine Refugees and our Agency is essential. By supporting and sustaining UNRWA in its mission to provide health, education, social services, protection and emergency assistance to refugees, and by providing the diplomatic and financial support necessary for UNRWA to discharge its tasks in a landscape which is complex, challenging and, in places, highly dangerous, the international community can ensure that the vulnerability of the Palestine refugee community is addressed and that refugees’ rights are protected.
I am confident that, with your help, during my time as Commissioner-General, we can deepen this solidarity and that our Agency will fulfil its role to carry out its essential work to support Palestine refugees, until a final – and very long overdue – settlement to the Palestinian issue is at last found.
II. OFFICE OF THE QUARTET REPRESENTATIVE PRESENTS ECONOMIC INITIATIVE FOR GAZA
On 6 November 2014, the Office of the Quartet Representative issued the following statement regarding their two-day presentation of the Initiative for the Palestinian Economy (IPE) to business leaders of the Gaza Strip:
A team from the Office of the Quartet Representative were in Gaza this week for a two-day visit to present the Initiative for the Palestinian Economy (IPE) to representatives from the private and public sectors.
The team, led by acting Head of Mission Dr. Tim Williams and Deputy Head of Mission Sandra Wijnberg, met with dozens of Gaza businesspeople as well as members of the public sector and international community to discuss the potential opportunities for reconstruction and redevelopment in Gaza.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Williams said that even before the summer’s conflict “the people in Gaza were already facing considerable humanitarian and development challenges. They live in one of the most highly-populated areas of the world, amid high rates of unemployment, a shortage of potable water, electricity and economic restrictions.” He explained that the IPE had the support of and was in full coordination with the continuing efforts by the PA, the UN and all those involved in reconstruction efforts for Gaza. He added that the initiative also seeks to go beyond reconstruction, and will support redevelopment of Gaza in order to support a sustainable Palestinian economy and the long term needs of Gaza. The efforts around the reconstruction of Gaza must also be part of a wider strategy to finally relink Gaza and the West Bank.
Representatives from the private sector said that the most urgent issues facing residents were shortages in electricity, fuel, water, cement and construction materials. They highlighted the need for the opening of all the crossings, the operation of the Gaza power plant, and to accelerate the increase of construction materials coming into Gaza, stressing that thousands of homes needed to be rebuilt as fast as possible before the winter.
OQR Advisor for Gaza, Abdelhadi Abu Shahla said in his opening remarks that under the IPE, creating the right atmosphere and conditions to attract new investments is a top priority, which will lead to tangible economic growth. He added that the visit was the latest in a series by the QOR team into Gaza, as Gaza has always been and will remain a top priority for OQR.
The delegation also met with ministers of the Government of National Consensus in Gaza. They heard from Labour Minister Mamoun Abushahla, Women’s Affairs Minister Haifa Al-Agha and Justice Minister Salim Al-Saqqa about the efforts on reconciliation and implementation of effective governance by the government.
The team also visited the Gaza Power Plant to see the repairs to the plant, which is now ready to be operational again as soon as fuel is delivered. In Rafah, they saw an extensive housing project overseen by UNRWA, which is now entering its third and final phase. The team also visited the Karni Industrial Estate and met with the heads of a number of manufacturing businesses that have begun to relocate there since their plants were destroyed or damaged during the summer conflict.
III. BUREAU OF PALESTINIAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE EXPRESSES ALARM AT INCREASED TENSIONS IN EAST JERUSALEM
The Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People issued on 10 November 2014 the following statement (GA/PAL/1315):
The Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People is alarmed by recent developments and increased tensions in occupied East Jerusalem. The Bureau is particularly concerned by the increasing incursions by Israeli extremists and political leaders under the protection of Israeli occupation forces on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. It is especially worrisome that Government officials are part of these provocations and incitement, in spite of Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu’s stated commitment to respect and not to change the status quo with regard to this sacred site.
These incidents provoke Palestinian and other Muslim worshippers and have repeatedly lead to demonstrations and confrontations, as well as revenge attacks in which Palestinian and Israeli civilians are injured or even killed. The Bureau observes that violence is unacceptable by both parties to the conflict and appeals to all sides to exercise the utmost restraint. Again Palestinian civilians bear the brunt of Israeli military and police action in occupied East Jerusalem, being deprived of their religious right to worship at that foremost holy site, getting instead violently dispersed and tear-gassed. Many have also been detained.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque is a principal holy site for 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. Such aggressive and violent incursions by extremist Israeli settlers and religious zealots are considered a desecration of this site, perceived as serious acts of incitement and provoke anger throughout the Islamic Ummah. Such irresponsible actions threaten to spark a religious conflict and plunge the wider region into further instability and violence.
At the same time, Israel, the occupying Power, continues to expand settlements in East Jerusalem in violation of international law and in defiance of the international community’s repeated demands for ending all such illegal acts. This includes the confiscation and destruction of Palestinian lands and properties, as well as the forced displacement of Palestinian families. The most recent announcement by the Israeli Government approving more illegal settlement construction in occupied East Jerusalem dates back only to 3 November 2014.
The Bureau wishes to reaffirm that East Jerusalem, including al-Haram al-Sharif, remains an integral part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and is subject to the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, as affirmed by numerous Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention clearly states, “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” Moreover, Israeli actions at al-Haram al-Sharif are in clear violation of its obligations as the occupying Power, under the said Convention, to protect the civilian population under its occupation.
The question of Jerusalem is a crucial final status issue. A sovereign, contiguous and viable State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital and with arrangements for the holy sites acceptable to all is a core requirement for the achievement of a just and lasting peace.
The Bureau calls on the Security Council to act without delay to address these alarming developments, which are in defiance of the Council’s resolutions, including 252 (1968), 267 (1969), 271 (1969), 298 (1971), 476 (1980), 478 (1980), 672 (1990) and 1073 (1996). The Bureau also calls on the Security Council to continue monitoring violations of the aforementioned resolutions and to act accordingly for their implementation.
The Bureau recalls that 40 years ago, on 13 November 1974, the late Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Yasser Arafat, gave his historic “olive branch and gun” speech to the twenty-ninth session of the General Assembly, in which he first suggested that Israel and Palestine “might live together in a framework of just peace”. This offer to end the conflict peacefully requires a negotiated and just political solution, based on the relevant United Nations resolutions. Four decades later, this offer for a viable, two-State solution, reinforced by the Madrid and Oslo agreements and the Arab Peace Initiative, remains the only feasible way to put an end to this decades-long conflict. The Bureau stresses the urgency of salvaging the prospects for peace and calls on the parties and the international community as a whole to exert all efforts at this critical juncture towards realizing this long overdue, just solution and achieving peace.
IV. SECRETARY-GENERAL ESTABLISHES UN BOARD OF INQUIRY INTO GAZA INCIDENTS
The following statement was issued on 10 November 2014 by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (SG/SM/16324):
The Secretary-General has established an internal and independent United Nations Headquarters Board of Inquiry into certain incidents that occurred in the Gaza Strip between 8 July and 26 August 2014.
The Board will be led by Patrick Cammaert (The Netherlands) and includes as its other members Maria Vicien-Milburn (Argentina), Lee O’Brien (United States), Pierre Lemelin (Canada) and K.C. Reddy (India). It will review and investigate a number of specific incidents in which death or injuries occurred at, and/or damage done to, United Nations premises. The Board will also review and investigate incidents in which weapons were found to be present on United Nations premises. The Secretary-General expects that the Board will enjoy the full cooperation of all parties concerned.
V. SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCERNED BY INCREASED VIOLENCE IN ISRAEL AND THE WEST BANK
The following statement was issued on 11 November 2014 by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (SG/SM/16330):
The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the upsurge in violence and killings over the past few days in Israel and the West Bank. Violence only deepens distrust, while making more distant the prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
The Secretary-General calls on all sides to do everything they possibly can to avoid further exacerbating an already tense environment. His thoughts are with the families of the victims.
VI. ORGANIZATION OF ISLAMIC COOPERATION ADDRESSES SECRETARY-GENERAL
ON ACTS OF AGGRESSION AGAINST ISLAMIC HOLY SITES IN JERUSALEM
The following letter was addressed to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 14 November 2014 by the Chargé d’affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of Saudi Arabia on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (A/69/584, S/2014/814):
I am writing to you on behalf of the Ambassadorial Group of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to express the serious concerns of OIC about the grave breaches of international law that are being perpetrated by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in particular in Occupied East Jerusalem.
We are alarmed by acts of aggression at Al-Haram Al-Sharif, including the repeated storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque by Israeli officials, settlers and extremist groups, which harm the sanctity of this Holy Site and have led to heightening tensions in the city. Such provocations have become more frequent and more aggressive in recent months and have been carried out with the surveillance and protection of Israeli occupying forces. Moreover, these provocations are happening simultaneously with dangerous incitement by Israeli government officials regarding the status of Al-Haram Al-Sharif. All of these actions are exacerbating the already fragile situation in Occupied East Jerusalem in a way that threatens to ignite a full-scale conflagration in the region. The complacency of the Israeli Government vis-a-vis such acts is a clear indication that it condones the attempts aimed at altering the Islamic character and identity of Al-Haram Al-Sharif, a matter that merely serves to incite more extremism and regional tension.
In this regard, we wish to express our absolute rejection of the provocative action undertaken on 5 November by Israel, the occupying Power, when it sealed Al-Haram Al-Sharif and prevented Muslim worshippers from accessing Al-Aqsa Mosque. This led to clashes between the Palestinian worshippers and the intruding Israeli religious fanatics, who were permitted by the Israeli authorities to enter. In a repugnant and provocative act, a group of Israeli extremist settlers, protected by hundreds of Israeli occupying forces, stormed the Mosque with their shoes in a shameful manner and threw Holy Quran books on the floor of the Mosque, desecrating the sanctity of one of the most holy sites for the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims. Israeli occupying forces also attacked Palestinian worshippers with rubber-coated bullets and fired stun grenades, seriously injuring dozens of Palestinians.
Likewise, Israel, the occupying Power, continues to suppress the religious rights and freedoms of the Palestinian people by restricting the number and age of worshippers accessing Al-Aqsa Mosque. Furthermore, harsh restrictions continue to be imposed by Israel, obstructing the access of Palestinians, Muslims and Christians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the Holy City and its Holy Sites for two decades.
Several Israeli officials have declared, on numerous occasions, the Government’s intention to extend Israel’s control over Al-Haram Al-Sharif. Alongside these announcements, Israeli lawmakers and government officials continue to express rhetoric about the so-called plans for spatial and temporal division of Al-Aqsa Mosque. OIC condemns and firmly rejects all such illegal and provocative attempts by Israel, the occupying Power, to alter the decades-long status quo at Al-Haram Al-Sharif, and demands respect for the historic arrangements in this regard that have preserved the sanctity and security of this Holy Site over the years.
OIC condemns such ongoing assaults on or tampering with the Muslim Holy Sites in Occupied East Jerusalem. We deplore Israel’s support of extremist groups, including encouragement and protection for groups that have repeatedly carried out incursions at Al-Haram Al-Sharif and have repeatedly issued threats against it. We also recall the obligation of all States under international human rights law to prohibit any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.
OIC calls urgently on the Security Council to act immediately to uphold its resolutions, with a view to ensuring Israel’s respect of the relevant resolutions as well as compliance with its obligations under international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention. We urge the Security Council to act forthwith to compel Israel, the occupying Power, to immediately halt all aggressions against Islamic holy sites in Occupied East Jerusalem, and halt all illegal practices, provocative actions and incitement. In this regard, OIC calls upon the Council to immediately demand that Israel respect the longstanding status quo and arrangements at Al-Haram Al-Sharif and that it cease any attempts to alter it.
I should be grateful if you would circulate the present letter as a document of the General Assembly, under agenda items 35, 36 and 52, and of the Security Council.
VII. ASG FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL ON THE SITUATION
IN THE MIDDLE EAST, INCLUDING THE PALESTINIAN QUESTION
On 17 November 2014, Assistant Secretary-General a.i. for Political Affairs Jens Toyberg-Frandzen briefed the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question (S/PV.7312). Excerpts of the briefing are reproduced below:
The Secretary-General is alarmed by the escalation of tension in Jerusalem that has continued since the Security Council emergency meeting of 29 October (see S/PV.7291). Clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli security forces in many parts of East Jerusalem and the West Bank have been taking place on an almost daily basis. Of particular concern are attacks against religious sites, including given how such violence can resonate regionally and beyond.
Escalating tensions surrounding access to the holy sites have contributed significantly to the spike in violence. The shooting of a prominent campaigner for Jewish prayer rights on Al-Haram Al-Sharif/Temple Mount on 29 October was followed by the brutal attack on 5 November at a light rail station in East Jerusalem, in which two Israelis were killed and another 12 Israelis were injured when a Palestinian man rammed his car into passengers dismounting the train. Both Palestinian perpetrators of the two attacks were shot and killed by the Israeli security forces. On the Palestinian side, clashes at Al-Haram Al-Sharif/Temple Mount between Palestinian youth and Israeli security forces resulted in multiple injuries, a number of them serious.
We are also deeply concerned that violence has spread elsewhere in Israel and the West Bank. Serious incidents include Israeli police shooting and killing an Israeli Arab man in the village of Kafr Kanna, in northern Israel, on 8 November, who alleged that he had threatened them with a knife. On the same day, thousands of people reportedly protested the killing, leading to clashes with the police in the village. On 10 November, an Israeli soldier in Tel Aviv and an Israeli woman in the West Bank were stabbed to death. On 11 November, a Palestinian man was reportedly shot to death by Israeli security forces during clashes at a refugee camp near Hebron. On 12 November, suspected Jewish settlers allegedly torched a mosque near Ramallah in the West Bank. On the same day, a Molotov cocktail was reportedly thrown at the ancient synagogue of Shfaram. Over the weekend, a Jewish man was stabbed in Jerusalem — which serves as another indication that the violence continues unabated — and the circumstances of that incident are still under investigation. During the reporting period, a total of 494 Palestinians, including 60 children and 8 women, were injured by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in the West Bank. Eight IDF soldiers were also injured.
The Secretary-General has expressed his deep concern about the upsurge in violence, and calls on all sides to do everything possible to avoid further exacerbating an already tense environment. Preventing a further escalation of tension makes it essential that all sides demonstrate responsible leadership, avoid taking provocative unilateral actions and refrain from inciting their supporters through inflammatory rhetoric.
The Secretary-General welcomes the renewed assurances by Prime Minister Netanyahu that there will be no changes made to the status quo regarding the holy sites. He expects Israel to continue to ensure the protection of the holy sites and the safety of all worshippers, as per its agreement with Jordan.
We note the recent separate meetings that President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu had with King Abdullah of Jordan and United States Secretary of State Kerry in Amman on 13 November. We hope that the announced confidence-building measures and firm commitments to maintain the status quo regarding the holy sites will translate immediately into a de-escalation of tension. In that regard, we are encouraged by the lifting, on 14 November, of age restrictions for access to the Al-Haram Al-Sharif/Temple Mount, where Friday prayers reportedly went without incident.
Another worrying development is the increase in demolitions of Palestinian buildings, which is also contributing to rising animosity in Jerusalem. Since 21 October, a total of 82 structures, of which 47 were residential, were demolished in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The demolitions displaced 169 Palestinians, including 80 children.
We are also concerned about the risk of the forcible transfer of the Um Al-Khayr be douin refugee community after the recent demolition of five dwellings next to an Israeli settlement near Hebron. Demolitions and forcible transfer contravene international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
Meanwhile, Israel’s ongoing settlement activity continues to undermine efforts to calm the tensions in Jerusalem. In defiance of the unanimous opposition to increased settlement activity expressed in the recent Security Council meeting on Jerusalem (see S/PV.7291), plans have since been advanced to build some 500 residential units in the settlement of Ramat Shlomo. In addition, 28 new building permits and 200 new residential units were approved in the settlement of Ramot, in East Jerusalem.
Settlement activity constitutes a violation of international law, fuels further polarization and heightens the levels of mistrust between both sides. As the Secretary-General has consistently repeated, such unilateral actions will only further impede the chances for long-term stability and a durable peace, and should therefore be reversed.
Returning to negotiations has never been more important. The absence of a credible political framework is further hardening positions on both sides and is providing greater political space to those seeking to exploit the lack of trust between the two parties for personal or political gain.
The Secretary-General urges the parties to return to peace talks. He notes the recent meeting on the peace process held in Washington, D.C., and the call for the resumption of peace talks by the European Union’s High Representative during her important visit to the region this month. Without a genuine commitment from the parties and an overall improvement in the lives of Palestinians, we should anticipate further deterioration of the security situation and an expansion of the current violence.
Two months ago, Special Coordinator Serry warned in this Chamber that averting a possible implosion of Gaza or another tragic conflict with Israel required urgent changes to the fundamental dynamics in Gaza. While some signs of progress have gradually started to emerge, the overall state of affairs in Gaza remains volatile and fraught with potential pitfalls.
On the positive side, the temporary Gaza reconstruction mechanism began its operations earlier this month. Led by the Palestinian Government of national consensus and working through the private sector, the mechanism’s priority is the provision of reconstruction material for urgent shelter repairs. By 13 November, 1,086 Gazans had been able to purchase much-needed construction materials, including some 10,146 bags of cement — approximately 558 of the 1,298 metric tons of cement imported through the mechanism for shelter repair — to start the rehabilitation of their homes. A list of 1,926 Gazans cleared for import has been published by the Ministry of Public Works and Housing to date. Nine vendors have been cleared to import to date, of which four are actively importing and selling materials. A further 115 interested vendors are being processed to enable their imports as well. That is relative to the approximately 60,000 shelters in need of repair as soon as possible that the mechanism aims to reach. To date, an estimated 80,000 people remain without shelter, including about 30,000 in facilities of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. Meeting those pressing needs is a monumental challenge. There are currently $62 million worth of United Nations construction projects awaiting approval by the Israeli authorities for an average of 24 months. The timely approval of those projects would be an important step towards accelerating the much-needed recovery and reconstruction efforts in the Gaza Strip.
The United Nations is actively assisting in facilitating the implementation of the mechanism. But, in order for it to be successful, we need a conducive environment and the cooperation of all the parties concerned. Homes continue to be surveyed and resources are being raised to provide assistance to those in need. Special Coordinator Serry has been leading efforts to accelerate that work. Now that the mechanism has become operational, it is critically important that donors honour their pledges made at the Cairo conference on 12 October. Urgent funding is particularly required to support critical infrastructure projects and to address Gaza’s acute electricity and water needs.
It is encouraging that Israel reportedly plans to increase the number of truckloads of construction materials entering the Gaza Strip — up to 800 trucks daily instead of the current 350 trucks. The United Nations also views the temporary reconstruction mechanism not only as an important confidence-building step but also as a means to lift all closures on Gaza. We call on the Palestinian factions to uphold their responsibilities to ensure that the reconstruction material is not diverted to support illegal activities. We also encourage both Israel and Egypt to accelerate efforts to devise sustainable solutions that will address their legitimate security concerns while progressively easing border restrictions.
Those efforts notwithstanding, the reconstruction of Gaza is doomed to fail without a long-term ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians. In that regard, after their postponement last month, we note Egypt’s intention to host vital talks during the second half of November. The importance of urgently continuing the negotiations cannot be overstated. We strongly encourage the parties to use the opportunity of the talks to reach agreement on concrete arrangements that will sustain the ceasefire and reinforce reconstruction efforts. That should involve serious discussion of tangible steps leading to the lifting of the closures that continue to perpetuate Gaza’s socioeconomic despair and to embolden the proponents of extremism and violence.
In that regard, we are troubled by reports that a number of rockets have been tested within Gaza. An additional rocket reportedly landed in southern Israel on 31 October, prompting the Israeli authorities to close the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings for the the three days that followed. Hamas reportedly arrested the group suspected of launching the rocket. We are also concerned that six Palestinians were reportedly shot and injured by the IDF in Gaza, three near the border fence, including a Palestinian boy on 16 November, and three fishermen at sea.
We strongly condemn the use of rockets by militants in Gaza. If continued, those actions would have seriously damaging consequences. Every rocket launched from Gaza cripples reconstruction efforts and risks renewing conflict with Israel.
There has been little or no progress on implementing the agreement that established the Palestinian Government of national consensus. The bombings that recently targeted Gaza-based members and facilities of Fatah underline the fragility of the reconciliation agreement. We strongly encourage the Palestinian factions to urgently undertake the necessary work to implement the agreement and refrain from any action that could undermine such efforts.
In particular, the Government of national consensus must be empowered to assume its rightful security and governance responsibilities in Gaza. That is also necessary for reconstruction to be implemented at the required pace. The Secretary-General has underscored the support of the United Nations in that regard. All the parties concerned need to cooperate and urgently address important issues, such as the transfer of full control over the crossings to the Government and conducting urgent civil service reform, including, importantly, in the security sector. The recent humanitarian payment to some 24,000 civil servants hired under the former de-facto authorities, facilitated by the United Nations, must now be used as a stepping stone towards civil service integration.
In conclusion, we would like to stress that Gaza’s reconstruction will not be possible without efforts to build trust between Israelis and Palestinians. That requires a strengthening of the ceasefire, including a lifting of the closures, in the framework of resolution 1860 (2009), and the full and swift implementation of the temporary reconstruction mechanism in good faith. At the same time, the success of Gaza’s reconstruction also depends on Palestinian willingness to truly unite and do what is necessary to facilitate the entry into Gaza of the Government of national consensus. Addressing those challenges will not be easy, but there is no alternative.
Elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel, the upsurge in violence may have been triggered by the culmination of several recent developments. However, the continued reality of the close to 50-year-long occupation and the lack of progress towards the two-State solution ensure that the next round of violence is never too far below the surface. The time has come for leaders on both sides to make the difficult compromises that will promote stability and ensure long-term security for both Israelis and Palestinians.
VIII. SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS DEADLY ATTACK ON WEST JERUSALEM SYNAGOGUE
The following statement was issued on 18 November 2014 by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Ban Ki moon (SG/SM/16346):
The Secretary-General strongly condemns today’s attack on a synagogue in West Jerusalem, which claimed four lives and injured several persons. He extends his condolences to the families of the victims and wishes the injured a speedy recovery.
Beyond today’s reprehensible incident, clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli security forces continue on a near daily basis in many parts of East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The Secretary-General condemns all acts of violence against civilians. Attacks against religious sites in Jerusalem and the West Bank point to an additional dangerous dimension to the conflict, which reverberates far beyond the region.
The Secretary-General calls for political leadership and courage on both sides to take actions to address the very tense situation in Jerusalem. All sides must avoid using provocative rhetoric which only encourages extremist elements. In this regard, the Secretary-General welcomes President [Mahmoud] Abbas’ condemnation of today’s attack.
The steadily worsening situation on the ground only reinforces the imperative for leaders on both sides to make the difficult decisions that will promote stability and ensure long-term security for both Israelis and Palestinians.
IX. SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS ATTACK ON A SYNAGOGUE IN JERUSALEM
The following Security Council press statement was issued on 19 November 2014 by the Council’s President, Gary Quinlan of Australia (SC/11660):
The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the despicable terrorist attack in a synagogue in Jerusalem on 18 November, resulting in the murder of four innocent civilians worshipping at the synagogue and a police officer, as well as the injury of many more. The members of the Security Council expressed their condolences to the families of all those who have died and sympathy to those injured and to the Israeli people.
The members of the Security Council strongly condemned all such acts of violence, expressed concern about increased tensions, which have affected both the Israeli and Palestinian people, and urged all sides to take immediate steps to restore calm. The members of the Security Council emphasized the importance of all statements condemning this attack and condemning all acts of violence, and encouraged Israeli and Palestinian leaders and citizens to work together to lower tension, reject violence, avoid all provocations and seek a path toward peace.
The members of the Security Council reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations is criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of its motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed, and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group. The members of the Security Council reminded States that they must ensure that measures taken to combat terrorism comply with all their obligations under international law.
X. SECRETARY-GENERAL ADDRESSES UN INTERNATIONAL MEETING
OF PARLIAMENTARIANS IN SUPPORT OF ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PEACE
The following is Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message to the UN International Meeting of Parliamentarians in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace that was held at UN Headquarters in New York on 21 November 2014 under the auspices on the Committee of the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. The message was delivered by Assistant Secretary-General a.i. for Political Affairs, Jens Toyberg-Frandzen:
It is my pleasure to offer greetings to all those taking part in the United Nations International Meeting of Parliamentarians in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace. I thank the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for organizing this event.
The relationship between the United Nations and parliamentarians is crucial. Earlier this year, the General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for even closer work together in a number of fields, including peace and security.
On the Question of Palestine, parliamentarians have a special responsibility to ensure that their Governments actively promote and support the realization of a peaceful and just solution of this conflict and uphold obligations under international law, including humanitarian and human rights law.
The Government of Israel’s statements of intent as well as activities on settlement expansion run contrary to our efforts to bring about the two-State solution. Through persistent interaction with your respective governments, you can help ensure that international obligations are upheld.
I have also repeatedly voiced my serious concern about rising tensions in East Jerusalem. Incitement from both sides continues to fuel tensions and violence. De-escalation is urgently needed. I welcome the repeated assurances from the Government of Israel to the international community that there is no intention to change the status quo regarding the holy sites.
Meanwhile, the suffering of the people in Gaza persists in the aftermath of this summer’s brutal conflict. I commend the international community for its generous pledges of support for reconstruction in Gaza. These funds need to be disbursed without further delay.
Palestinians and Israelis will continue to need your support. The two-State solution is long overdue. A just and lasting peace in the Middle East based on the relevant Security Council resolutions, previous agreements, the Madrid principles, the Quartet Road Map and the Arab Peace Initiative can still be achieved if the parties, supported by the international community, demonstrate the collective political will to implement these constructive proposals. Thank you for your commitment to the cause of peace.
XI. SECRETARY-GENERAL ADDRESSES MEETING IN OBSERVANCE
OF THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
The following are Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks made on 24 November 2014 in New York on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, (SG/SM/16367-OBV/1406, PAL/1321):
One year ago, the General Assembly declared 2014 the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. At the time, United States-facilitated negotiations on final status issues between Israelis and Palestinians had resumed. The international community had re-engaged to support these efforts. Hope was visible.
Yet, here we are — having passed through a sombre, sad and sorry year for Palestinians, Israelis and all who seek peace.
Over the course of 50 brutal days this summer, the world witnessed another ruthless war in Gaza. It was the third such conflict in six years.
What came of it? Nearly 2,200 Palestinians and 70 Israelis dead; the homes of over 100,000 Palestinians in Gaza destroyed or made unliveable; Gaza’s critical infrastructure lies in ruins; tens of thousands of Palestinians remain displaced; and the people on both sides are nowhere nearer to lasting security.
I travelled to the region twice in recent months. First, to help end the fighting, and second to see the aftermath and support the massive reconstruction efforts.
I repeat here what I said in Gaza: I condemn the Hamas rocket attacks that indiscriminately targeted Israeli civilians. They have brought nothing but suffering to all sides.
I repeat here what I said in Israel: The scale of the destruction by the Israeli military has left deep questions about respect for the principles of distinction and proportionality, and generated wide calls for accountability.
More — much more — must be done to protect civilians. More — much more — must be done to abide by international human rights and humanitarian law.
Long-term stability depends on addressing the underlying causes of the conflict. That means lifting the closure on Gaza, ending the half-century occupation of Palestinian land and addressing Israel’s legitimate security concerns.
On this day of solidarity, our hearts turn to the many Palestine refugees who were disproportionately affected by the war in Gaza. The ongoing conflict in Syria also affects Palestine refugees, who have been in the country for decades.
UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East] is a lifeline for millions of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, as well as in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. I urge all donors to continue their strong support to UNRWA and for the reconstruction of Gaza.
I am pleased that the temporary Gaza reconstruction mechanism has begun its operations. Material for urgent home repairs is the immediate priority. The United Nations is facilitating the mechanism’s implementation. Success depends on a conducive environment and the cooperation of all parties.
It is also critical that donors immediately honour and disburse pledges made at the 12 October Cairo Conference on Palestine. Funding is desperately needed for vital infrastructure and addressing Gaza’s acute electricity and water needs.
I am deeply troubled by the situation in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Incitement and provocative acts related to the holy sites are fanning the flames of conflict far beyond the holy city. I once again strongly condemn the reprehensible attacks we have seen against worshippers and other innocent civilians. Extremists on both sides are dictating the agenda.
I call on all parties to stand up to those forces, exercise restraint and respect the status quo governing these holy sites. I welcome the repeated assurances given by the Government of Israel to the international community.
I also have repeatedly denounced Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. International law is clear: settlement activity is illegal. It runs counter to the pursuit of the two-State solution. I urge the Israeli Government to reverse these activities.
An end of the conflict will not be achieved through confrontation and violence. It will only come through a negotiated and just political solution, based on the relevant United Nations resolutions.
We, as the international community, must assume responsibility for what is a collective failure to advance a political solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Indeed, as we see around the world, Governments and parliaments are taking action. That momentum will grow.
We cannot paper over the differences and the difficulties that we face today. The Israeli and Palestinian people face a shared fate on shared land. There is no erasing the other. Yet, I fear deeply that with each passing day the people of the region are losing any sense of connection — any sense of empathy — any sense of mutual understanding of our common humanity and common future.
When that goes, it is not far over the precipice. The mindless cycle of destruction must end. The virtuous circle of peace must begin. On this International Day of Solidarity, I call on the parties to step back from the brink and find the path of peace before hope and time run out.
XII. GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS FOUR RESOLUTIONS ON THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE
On 25 November 2014, the General Assembly adopted four resolutions under agenda item 36 entitled “the Question of Palestine”. The resolutions were: 69/20, on the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People; 69/21, on the Division for Palestinian Rights; 69/22, on the Special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information; and 69/23, on Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine. The texts of the four resolutions are reproduced below (A/RES/69/20 – 23):
69/20. Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People
The General Assembly,
Recalling its resolutions 181 (II) of 29 November 1947, 194 (III) of 11 December 1948, 3236 (XXIX) of 22 November 1974, 3375 (XXX) and 3376 (XXX) of 10 November 1975, 31/20 of 24 November 1976 and all its subsequent relevant resolutions, including those adopted at its emergency special sessions and its resolution 68/12 of 26 November 2013,
Recalling also its resolution 58/292 of 6 May 2004,
Having considered the report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People,1
Recalling the mutual recognition between the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people, as well as the existing agreements between the two sides and the need for full compliance with those agreements,
Affirming its support for a comprehensive, just, lasting and peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions, the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative adopted by the Council of the League of Arab States at its fourteenth session2 and the Quartet road map to a permanent two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, endorsed by the Security Council in resolution 1515 (2003) of 19 November 2003,3
Recalling the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,4 and recalling also its resolutions ES-10/15 of 20 July 2004 and ES-10/17 of 15 December 2006,
Taking note of the application of Palestine for admission to membership in the United Nations, submitted on 23 September 2011,5
Recalling its resolution 67/19 of 29 November 2012, by which, inter alia, Palestine was accorded non-member observer State status in the United Nations, and taking note of the follow-up report of the Secretary-General,6
Taking note of the accession by Palestine, on 1 April 2014, to several human rights treaties and the core humanitarian law conventions,
Reaffirming that the United Nations has a permanent responsibility towards the question of Palestine until the question is resolved in all its aspects in a satisfactory manner in accordance with international legitimacy,
1. Expresses its appreciation to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for its efforts in performing the tasks assigned to it by the General Assembly, and takes note of its annual report,1 including the conclusions and valuable recommendations contained in chapter VII thereof;
2. Requests the Committee to continue to exert all efforts to promote the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to self-determination, to support the achievement without delay of an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and of the two-State solution on the basis of the pre-1967 borders and the just resolution of all final status issues and to mobilize international support for and assistance to the Palestinian people, and in this regard authorizes the Committee to make such adjustments in its approved programme of work as it may consider appropriate and necessary in the light of developments and to report thereon to the General Assembly at its seventieth session and thereafter;
3. Also requests the Committee to continue to keep under review the situation relating to the question of Palestine and to report and make suggestions to the General Assembly, the Security Council or the Secretary-General, as appropriate;
4. Further requests the Committee to continue to extend its cooperation and support to Palestinian and other civil society organizations and to continue to involve additional civil society organizations and parliamentarians in its work in order to mobilize international solidarity and support for the Palestinian people, particularly during this critical period of political instability, humanitarian hardship and financial crisis, with the overall aim of promoting the achievement by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights and a just, lasting and peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions, the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative2 and the Quartet road map;3
5. Commends the efforts and activities of the Committee in commemoration of the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People in 2014, in cooperation with Governments, relevant organizations of the United Nations system, intergovernmental organizations and civil society organizations;
6. Also commends the efforts of the Working Group of the Committee in coordinating the efforts of international and regional civil society organizations regarding the question of Palestine;
7. Requests the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, established under General Assembly resolution 194 (III), and other United Nations bodies associated with the question of Palestine to continue to cooperate fully with the Committee and to make available to it, at its request, the relevant information and documentation that they have at their disposal;
8. Invites all Governments and organizations to extend their cooperation to the Committee in the performance of its tasks, recalling its repeated call for all States and the specialized agencies and organizations of the United Nations system to continue to support and assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self-determination, including the right to their independent State of Palestine;
9. Requests, as called for by the Committee, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development to report to the General Assembly on the economic costs of the Israeli occupation for the Palestinian people;
10. Requests the Secretary-General to circulate the report of the Committee to all the competent bodies of the United Nations, and urges them to take the necessary action, as appropriate;
11. Also requests the Secretary-General to continue to provide the Committee with all the facilities necessary for the performance of its tasks.
61st plenary meeting
25 November 2014
69/21. Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat
The General Assembly,
Having considered the report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People,1
Taking note, in particular, of the action taken by the Committee and the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat in accordance with their mandates,
1. Notes with appreciation the action taken by the Secretary-General in compliance with its resolution 68/13;
2. Considers that, by providing substantive support to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in the implementation of its mandate, the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat continues to make a most useful and constructive contribution to raising international awareness of the question of Palestine and of the urgency of a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine in all its aspects on the basis of international law and United Nations resolutions and the efforts being exerted in this regard and to generating international support for the rights of the Palestinian people;
3. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to provide the Division with the necessary resources and to ensure that it continues to carry out its programme of work as detailed in relevant earlier resolutions, in consultation with the Committee and under its guidance;
4. Requests the Division, in particular, to continue to monitor developments relevant to the question of Palestine, to organize international meetings and conferences in various regions with the participation of all sectors of the international community and to ensure, within existing resources, the continued participation of eminent persons and international renowned experts in these meetings and conferences, to be invited on a par with the members of the Committee, to liaise and cooperate with civil society and parliamentarians, including through the Working Group of the Committee and its associated “UN Platform for Palestine”, to develop and expand the “Question of Palestine” website and the documents collection of the United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine, to prepare and widely disseminate publications and information materials on various aspects of the question of Palestine and to develop and enhance the annual training programme for staff of the Palestinian Government in contribution to Palestinian capacity-building efforts;
5. Also requests the Division, as part of the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on 29 November, to continue to organize, under the guidance of the Committee, an annual exhibit on Palestinian rights or a cultural event in cooperation with the Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, and encourages Member States to continue to give the widest support and publicity to the observance of the Day of Solidarity; 6. Requests the Secretary-General to ensure the continued cooperation with the Division of the United Nations system entities with programme components addressing various aspects of the question of Palestine and the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem;
7. Invites all Governments and organizations to extend their cooperation to the Division in the performance of its tasks.
61st plenary meeting
25 November 2014
69/22. Special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat
The General Assembly,
Having considered the report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People,1
Taking note, in particular, of the information contained in chapter VI of that report,
Recalling its resolution 68/14 of 26 November 2013,
Convinced that the worldwide dissemination of accurate and comprehensive information and the role of civil society organizations and institutions remain of vital importance in heightening awareness of and support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination and independence, and for the efforts to achieve a just, lasting and peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine,
Recalling the mutual recognition between the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people, as well as the existing agreements between the two sides,
Affirming its support for a comprehensive, just, lasting and peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions, the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative adopted by the Council of the League of Arab States at its fourteenth session,2 and the Quartet road map to a permanent two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, endorsed by the Security Council in resolution 1515 (2003) of 19 November 2003,3
Recalling the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,4
Taking note of its resolution 67/19 of 29 November 2012,
Reaffirming that the United Nations has a permanent responsibility towards the question of Palestine until the question is resolved in all its aspects in a satisfactory manner in accordance with international legitimacy,
1. Notes with appreciation the action taken by the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat in compliance with resolution 68/14;
2. Considers that the special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department is very useful in raising the awareness of the international community concerning the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East and that the programme is contributing effectively to an atmosphere conducive to dialogue and supportive of peace efforts and should receive the necessary support for the fulfilment of its tasks;
3. Requests the Department, in full cooperation and coordination with the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, to continue, with the necessary flexibility as may be required by developments affecting the question of Palestine, its special information programme for 20152016, in particular:
4. Encourages the Department to formulate ways for the media and representatives of civil society to engage in open and positive discussions to explore means for encouraging people-to-people dialogue and promoting peace and mutual understanding in the region.
61st plenary meeting
25 November 2014
69/23. Peaceful settlement of the question of PalestineThe General Assembly,
Recalling its relevant resolutions, including those adopted at its tenth emergency special session,
Recalling also its resolution 58/292 of 6 May 2004,
Recalling further relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967, 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973, 1397 (2002) of 12 March 2002, 1515 (2003) of 19 November 2003, 1544 (2004) of 19 May 2004 and 1850 (2008) of 16 December 2008,
Recalling the affirmation by the Security Council of the vision of a region where two States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side within secure and recognized borders,
Noting with concern that it has been 67 years since the adoption of its resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947 and 47 years since the occupation of Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, in 1967,
Having considered the report of the Secretary-General submitted pursuant to the request made in its resolution 68/15 of 26 November 2013,1
Reaffirming the permanent responsibility of the United Nations with regard to the question of Palestine until the question is resolved in all its aspects in accordance with international law and relevant resolutions,
Recalling the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,2 and recalling also its resolutions ES-10/15 of 20 July 2004 and ES-10/17 of 15 December 2006,
Convinced that achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement of the question of Palestine, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, is imperative for the attainment of comprehensive and lasting peace and stability in the Middle East,
Stressing that the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples is among the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations,
Reaffirming the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war,
Reaffirming also the applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949,3 to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,
Recalling its resolution 2625 (XXV) of 24 October 1970, and reiterating the importance of maintaining and strengthening international peace founded upon freedom, equality, justice and respect for fundamental human rights and of developing friendly relations among nations irrespective of their political, economic and social systems or the level of their development,
Reaffirming the illegality of the Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem,
Expressing grave concern about the extremely detrimental impact of Israeli settlement policies, decisions and activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, including on the contiguity, integrity and viability of the Territory and the efforts to advance a peaceful settlement in the Middle East,
Expressing grave concern also about all acts of violence, intimidation and provocation by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians and properties, including homes, mosques, churches and agricultural lands, and calling for accountability for the illegal actions perpetrated in this regard,
Reaffirming the illegality of Israeli actions aimed at changing the status of Jerusalem, including settlement construction and expansion, home demolitions, evictions of Palestinian residents, excavations in and around religious and historic sites, and all other unilateral measures aimed at altering the character, status and demographic composition of the city and of the Territory as a whole,
Reaffirming also that the construction by Israel, the occupying Power, of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, and its associated regime are contrary to international law,
Encouraging all States and international organizations to continue to actively pursue policies to ensure respect for their obligations under international law with regard to all illegal Israeli practices and measures in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly Israeli settlements,
Expressing deep concern about the continuing Israeli policies of closures and severe restrictions on the movement of persons and goods, including medical and humanitarian, via the imposition of prolonged closures and severe economic and movement restrictions that in effect amount to a blockade, as well as of checkpoints and a permit regime throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,
Expressing deep concern also about the consequent negative impact of such policies on the contiguity of the Territory and the serious socioeconomic and humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people, which is a disastrous humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, and on the efforts aimed at rehabilitating and developing the damaged Palestinian economy, while taking note of developments regarding the situation of access there, particularly the recent trilateral agreement facilitated by the United Nations in this regard,
Recalling the mutual recognition 21 years ago between the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people,4 and the need for full compliance with the agreements concluded between the two sides,
Recalling also the endorsement by the Security Council, in resolution 1515 (2003), of the Quartet road map to a permanent two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict5 and the call in Council resolution 1850 (2008) for the parties to fulfil their obligations under the road map and to refrain from any steps that could undermine confidence or prejudice the outcome of negotiations on a final peace settlement,
Stressing the road map obligation upon Israel to freeze settlement activity, including so-called “natural growth”, and to dismantle all settlement outposts erected since March 2001,
Recalling the Arab Peace Initiative adopted by the Council of the League of Arab States at its fourteenth session, held in Beirut on 27 and 28 March 2002,6
Urging renewed efforts by the international community aimed at advancing and accelerating the conclusion of a peace treaty to attain without delay an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 by resolving all outstanding issues, including all core issues, without exception, for a just, lasting and peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in accordance with the internationally recognized basis of the two-State solution, and ultimately of the Arab-Israeli conflict as a whole for the realization of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East,
Reiterating support for the convening of an international conference in Moscow, as envisioned by the Security Council in resolution 1850 (2008) and the Quartet statement of 23 September 2011, for the advancement and acceleration of the peace efforts towards the fulfilment of its stated objectives,
Noting the important contribution to peace efforts of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, including within the framework of the activities of the Quartet and with regard to the recent trilateral agreement regarding the Gaza Strip,
Noting also the continuing efforts of the Quartet’s Special Representative, in particular the efforts to strengthen Palestinian institutions, promote Palestinian economic development and mobilize donor support,
Welcoming the ongoing efforts of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for the Coordination of the International Assistance to Palestinians, under the chairmanship of Norway, and noting its recent meeting at United Nations Headquarters on 22 September 2014, at which donor countries reaffirmed the necessity of continued and increased donor support in this critical period, in particular for urgently addressing the disastrous humanitarian situation and immense reconstruction and recovery needs in the Gaza Strip,
Recognizing the efforts being undertaken by the Palestinian Government, with international support, to reform, develop and strengthen its institutions, emphasizing the need to preserve and further develop Palestinian institutions and infrastructure, and commending in this regard the ongoing efforts to develop the institutions of an independent Palestinian State, including through the implementation of the Palestinian National Development Plan on governance, economy, social development and infrastructure (2014-2016), including the National Strategic Framework for Development Policies and Interventions in Area C, and the significant achievements made, as confirmed by the positive assessments made by international institutions regarding readiness for statehood, including by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations and the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, while also expressing concern about the negative impact of the current financial crisis being faced by the Palestinian Government,
Recognizing also the positive contribution of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, which is aimed, inter alia, at enhancing development support and assistance to the Palestinian people and strengthening institutional capacity in line with Palestinian national priorities,
Welcoming the convening of the Cairo International Conference on Palestine: Reconstructing Gaza, on 12 October 2014, and urging the timely and full disbursement of pledges for expediting the provision of humanitarian assistance and the reconstruction process,
Welcoming also the ministerial meetings of the Conference on Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development convened in Tokyo in February 2013 and Jakarta in March 2014 as a forum for the mobilization of political and economic assistance, including via exchanges of expertise and lessons learned, in support of Palestinian development,
Recognizing the continued efforts and tangible progress made in the Palestinian security sector, noting the continued cooperation that benefits both Palestinians and Israelis, in particular by promoting security and building confidence, and expressing the hope that such progress will be extended to all major population centres,
Gravely concerned over the negative developments that have continued to occur in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, including the escalation of violence and any excessive use of force, resulting in a large number of deaths and injuries, mostly among Palestinian civilians, including children and women, the construction and expansion of settlements and the wall, the arbitrary arrest and detention of more Palestinian civilians, the acts of violence, vandalism and brutality committed against Palestinian civilians by Israeli settlers in the West Bank, the widespread destruction of public and private Palestinian property, including religious sites, and infrastructure, the internal forced displacement of civilians, especially among the Bedouin community, and the consequent deterioration of the socioeconomic and humanitarian conditions of the Palestinian people,
Deploring the conflict in and around the Gaza Strip in July and August 2014 and the civilian causalities caused, including the killing and injury of thousands of Palestinian civilians, including children, women and the elderly, and the widespread destruction of thousands of homes and civilian infrastructure, including schools, hospitals, water, sanitation and electricity networks, economic, industrial and agricultural properties, public institutions, religious sites and United Nations schools and facilities, as well as the internal displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians and any violations of international law, including humanitarian and human rights law, in this regard,
Expressing grave concern over the disastrous humanitarian situation and socioeconomic conditions in the Gaza Strip as a result of the prolonged Israeli closures and severe economic and movement restrictions that in effect amount to a blockade and the continuing negative repercussions of the military operations in the Gaza Strip in July and August 2014, in November 2012 and between December 2008 and January 2009, particularly as a result of the widespread destruction and trauma inflicted,
Recalling the statement of the President of the Security Council of 28 July 2014,7
Stressing the need for calm and restraint by the parties, including by consolidating the ceasefire agreement of 26 August 2014, achieved under the auspices of Egypt, to halt the deterioration of the situation,
Stressing that the situation in the Gaza Strip is unsustainable and that a durable ceasefire agreement must lead to a fundamental improvement in the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, including through the sustained and regular opening of crossing points, and ensure the safety and wellbeing of civilians on both sides,
Affirming the need to support the Palestinian Government of national consensus in its assumption of full government responsibilities in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in all fields, as well as through its presence at Gaza’s crossing points,
Expressing concern over the continued imposition of hundreds of checkpoints and obstacles to movement in and around Palestinian population centres by the Israeli occupying forces, and emphasizing in this regard the need for the implementation by both sides of the Sharm el-Sheikh understandings,
Expressing grave concern about the imprisonment and detention by Israel of thousands of Palestinians, including children, under harsh conditions,
Emphasizing the importance of the safety, protection and well-being of all civilians in the whole Middle East region, and condemning all acts of violence and terror against civilians on both sides, including the firing of rockets,
Stressing the need for measures to be taken to guarantee the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilian population throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory,
Welcoming the formation of the Palestinian Government of national consensus under the leadership of the President, Mahmoud Abbas, consistent with Palestine Liberation Organization commitments and the Quartet principles, and emphasizing the need for respect for and the preservation of the territorial integrity and unity of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,
Stressing the urgent need for sustained and active international involvement, including by the Quartet, and initiatives to support the parties in building a climate for peace, to assist the parties in advancing and accelerating the peace process negotiations for the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement that ends the occupation which began in 1967 and results in the independence of a democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours, on the basis of relevant United Nations resolutions, the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference, the road map and the Arab Peace Initiative,
Taking note of the application of Palestine for admission to membership in the United Nations, submitted on 23 September 2011,8
Taking note also of its resolution 67/19 of 29 November 2012, by which, inter alia, Palestine was accorded non-member observer State status in the United Nations, and taking note of the follow-up report of the Secretary-General,9
Noting the accession by Palestine, on 1 April 2014, to several human rights treaties and the core humanitarian law conventions,
Acknowledging the efforts being undertaken by civil society to promote a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine,
Recalling the findings by the International Court of Justice, in its advisory opinion, including on the urgent necessity for the United Nations as a whole to redouble its efforts to bring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which continues to pose a threat to international peace and security, to a speedy conclusion, thereby establishing a just and lasting peace in the region,10
Stressing the urgency of achieving without delay an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967,
Affirming once again the right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders,
1. Reaffirms the necessity of achieving a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, in all its aspects, and of intensifying all efforts towards that end, and stresses in this regard the urgency of salvaging the prospects for realizing the two-State solution of Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security within recognized borders, based on the pre-1967 borders;
2. Calls for the intensification of efforts by the parties, including through negotiations, with the support of the international community, towards the conclusion of a final peace settlement;
3. Stresses the need for increased and renewed international efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace, based on the relevant United Nations resolutions, the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative adopted by the Council of the League of Arab States at its fourteenth session,6 the Quartet road map to a permanent two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,5 and the existing agreements between the Israeli and Palestinian sides;
4. Also stresses the need for a resumption of negotiations based on clear parameters and with a defined time frame aimed at expediting the realization of a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement, and in this regard encourages serious efforts by the United States of America, the European Union, the Russian Federation and the United Nations, as members of the Quartet, and by the League of Arab States and all other concerned States;
5. Encourages continued serious regional and international efforts to follow up and promote the Arab Peace Initiative, including by the Ministerial Committee formed at the Riyadh summit in March 2007;
6. Calls for, in this regard, the timely convening of an international conference in Moscow, as envisioned by the Security Council in resolution 1850 (2008), for the advancement and acceleration of the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement;
7. Calls upon both parties to act responsibly on the basis of international law and their previous agreements and obligations, in particular adherence to the road map, irrespective of reciprocity, in order to create the conditions necessary for the advancement of peace efforts;
8. Calls upon the parties themselves, with the support of the Quartet and other interested parties, to exert all efforts necessary to halt the deterioration of the situation, to reverse all unilateral and unlawful measures taken on the ground since 28 September 2000, to take every possible step to promote conditions conducive to the success of peace negotiations and to refrain from actions that undermine trust or prejudge final status issues;
9. Calls upon the parties to observe calm and restraint and to refrain from provocative actions, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric, especially in areas of religious and cultural sensitivity, including in East Jerusalem;
10. Underscores the need for the parties to take confidence-building measures aimed at improving the situation on the ground, promoting stability, building trust and fostering the peace process, including the need for the further release of prisoners and an end to arbitrary arrests and detentions, and notes in this regard the recent release of prisoners;
11. Stresses the need for the removal of checkpoints and other obstructions to the movement of persons and goods throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the need for respect and preservation of the territorial unity, contiguity and integrity of all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem;
12. Also stresses the need for an immediate and complete cessation of all acts of violence, including military attacks, destruction and acts of terror;
13. Reiterates its demand for the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1860 (2009);
14. Reiterates the need for the full implementation by both parties of the Agreement on Movement and Access and of the Agreed Principles for the Rafah Crossing, of 15 November 2005, and the need, specifically, to allow for the sustained opening of all crossings into and out of the Gaza Strip for humanitarian supplies, movement and access, as well as for commercial flows and all necessary construction materials, and stresses the urgent need to promote reconstruction, including through the implementation of United Nations-led projects and civilian reconstruction activities, all of which are essential for alleviating the disastrous humanitarian situation, including the impact of the large-scale displacement of civilians in July and August 2014, improving the living conditions of the Palestinian people and promoting the recovery of the Palestinian economy;
15. Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to comply strictly with its obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, and to cease all of its measures that are contrary to international law and all unilateral actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, that are aimed at altering the character, status and demographic composition of the Territory, including via the confiscation and de facto annexation of land, and thus at prejudging the final outcome of peace negotiations, with a view to achieving without delay an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967;
16. Reiterates its demand for the complete cessation of all Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, and calls for the full implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions;
17. Stresses, in this regard, the need for Israel forthwith to abide by its road map obligation to freeze all settlement activity, including so-called “natural growth”, and to dismantle settlement outposts erected since March 2001;
18. Calls for the cessation of all provocations, including by Israeli settlers, in East Jerusalem, including in and around religious sites;
19. Demands, accordingly, that Israel, the occupying Power, comply with its legal obligations under international law, as mentioned in the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice2 and as demanded in General Assembly resolutions ES-10/13 of 21 October 2003 and ES-10/15, and, inter alia, that it immediately cease its construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and calls upon all States Members of the United Nations to comply with their legal obligations, as mentioned in the advisory opinion;
20. Reaffirms its commitment, in accordance with international law, to the two-State solution of Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security within recognized borders, based on the pre-1967 borders;
21. Stresses the need for:
22. Also stresses the need for a just resolution of the problem of Palestine refugees in conformity with its resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948;
23. Urges Member States to expedite the provision of economic, humanitarian and technical assistance to the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Government during this critical period in order to help to alleviate the serious humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which is disastrous in the Gaza Strip, to rehabilitate the Palestinian economy and infrastructure and to support the development and strengthening of Palestinian institutions and Palestinian State-building efforts in preparation for independence;
24. Requests the Secretary-General to continue his efforts with the parties concerned, and in consultation with the Security Council, towards the attainment of a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine and the promotion of peace in the region and to submit to the General Assembly at its seventieth session a report on these efforts and on developments on this matter.
61st plenary meeting
25 November 2014
XIII. GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS TWO RESOLUTIONS
ON THE SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST
On 25 November 2014, the General Assembly adopted two resolutions under agenda item 35 on the situation in the Middle East, 69/24 on Jerusalem and 67/25 on the Syrian Golan. The text of the resolution on Jerusalem is reproduced below (A/RES/69/24).
The General Assembly,
Recalling its resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947, in particular its provisions regarding the City of Jerusalem,
Recalling also its resolution 36/120 E of 10 December 1981 and all its subsequent relevant resolutions, including resolution 56/31 of 3 December 2001, in which it, inter alia, determined that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which have altered or purported to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, in particular the so-called “Basic Law” on Jerusalem and the proclamation of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, were null and void and must be rescinded forthwith,
Recalling further the Security Council resolutions relevant to Jerusalem, including resolution 478 (1980) of 20 August 1980, in which the Council, inter alia, decided not to recognize the “Basic Law” on Jerusalem,
Recalling the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,See A/ES-10/273 and Corr.1 and recalling its resolution ES-10/15 of 20 July 2004,
Expressing its grave concern about any action taken by any body, governmental or non-governmental, in violation of the above-mentioned resolutions,
Expressing its grave concern also, in particular, about the continuation by Israel, the occupying Power, of illegal settlement activities, including provocations regarding the so-called E-1 plan, its construction of the wall in and around East Jerusalem, its restrictions on Palestinian access to and residence in East Jerusalem and the further isolation of the city from the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which are having a detrimental effect on the lives of Palestinians and could prejudge a final status agreement on Jerusalem,
Expressing its grave concern further about the continuing Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes, the revocation of residency rights and the eviction and displacement of numerous Palestinian families from East Jerusalem neighbourhoods, including Bedouin families, as well as other acts of provocation and incitement, including by Israeli settlers, in the city, including desecration of mosques and churches,
Expressing its concern about the Israeli excavations undertaken in the Old City of Jerusalem, including in and around religious sites,
Reaffirming that the international community, through the United Nations, has a legitimate interest in the question of the City of Jerusalem and in the protection of the unique spiritual, religious and cultural dimensions of the city, as foreseen in relevant United Nations resolutions on this matter,
Having considered the report of the Secretary-General on the situation in the Middle East,A/69/341.
1. Reiterates its determination that any actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever, and calls upon Israel to immediately cease all such illegal and unilateral measures;
2. Stresses that a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the question of the City of Jerusalem should take into account the legitimate concerns of both the Palestinian and Israeli sides and should include internationally guaranteed provisions to ensure the freedom of religion and of conscience of its inhabitants, as well as permanent, free and unhindered access to the holy places by people of all religions and nationalities;
3. Also stresses the need for the parties to observe calm and restraint and to refrain from provocative actions, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric, especially in areas of religious and cultural sensitivity, and expresses its grave concern in particular about the recent series of negative incidents in East Jerusalem;
4. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its seventieth session on the implementation of the present resolution.
61st plenary meeting
25 November 2014
2 A/56/1026-5/2002/932, annex II, resolution 14/221.
3 S/2003/529, annex.
2 A/56/1026-5/2002/932, annex II, resolution 14/221.
3 United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 75, No. 973.
4 See A/48/486-5/26560, annex.
6 A/56/1026-5/2002/932, annex II, resolution 14/221.
8 A/66/371-5/2011/592, annex I.
Document Type: Bulletin, Monthly Bulletin, Publication
Document Sources: Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), Department of Political Affairs (DPA), Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR), General Assembly, Office of the Quartet Representative (OQR), Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Quartet, Secretary-General, Security Council, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
Subject: Access and movement, Armed conflict, Assistance, Casualties, Ceasefire, Children, Closure of institutions, Closures/Curfews/Blockades, Economic issues, Fence, Food, Fourth Geneva Convention, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, Health, House demolitions, Human rights and international humanitarian law, Humanitarian relief, Inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, Incidents, Incursions, Internally displaced persons, Jerusalem, Land, Legal issues, NGOs/Civil Society, Negotiations and agreements, Occupation, Palestine question, Peace process, Population, Protection, Security issues, Separation barrier, Situation in the OPT including Jerusalem, Social issues, Solidarity day, Statehood-related, Terrorism, Wall, Women
Publication Date: 30/11/2014