Volume XXIII, Bulletin No. 6
Secretary-General welcomes appointment by United States President of fact-finding
committee established in accordance with Sharm el-Sheikh Summit
General Assembly considers “Bethlehem 2000”; Palestinian Rights Committee Chairman
addresses General Assembly; Assembly adopts resolution 55/18
Secretary-General addresses the OIC Summit in Doha, Qatar
Secretary-General condemns Gaza Strip violence
Conclusions and recommendations of the report of the Committee on the Exercise of the
Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People
Economic and Social Council endorses the Commission on Human Rights decisions in
reaction to the grave and massive violation of human rights of the Palestinian people by Israel
Report of the Secretary-General on the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine
Security Council holds emergency meting on the Middle East
ILO urges support for workers in Palestinian territories
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights expresses deep concern over
deteriorating situation in the occupied Palestinian territories
Secretary-General’s message on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
Secretary-General reiterates full commitment of United Nations to supporting parties through
Middle East peace process
Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and follow-up to the
World Conference on Human Rights
UNSCO report on the impact of confrontations, mobility restrictions and border closures
on the Palestinian economy during the period 28 September to 26 November 2000
The Bulletin can be found in the United Nations Information System
on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL) on the Internet at:
http://domino.un.org/UNISPAL.nsf, as well as at:
I. SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES APPOINTMENT BY UNITED STATES
PRESIDENT OF FACT-FINDING COMMITTEE ESTABLISHED
IN ACCORDANCE WITH SHARM EL-SHEIKH SUMMIT
The following statement welcoming the establishment of the United States Fact-finding Committee to Israel and the occupied territory was issued on 7 November 2000 by the Office of the Spokesman for Secretary-General (SG/SM/7616):
The Secretary-General warmly welcomes the appointment by United States President William Clinton of a fact-finding committee established in accordance with the understandings reached at the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit. As agreed at Sharm el-Sheikh, the Secretary-General was closely involved in the consultations on the composition of the committee.
The Secretary-General has full confidence in the members of the committee, who are individuals of the highest integrity. He is convinced that the committee will carry out its duties with impartiality and thoroughness, and that it will thereby make an important contribution towards the search for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.
The Secretary-General hopes that the committee will begin its work in the very near future, and that it will pursue its efforts in a sustained manner. Meanwhile, he reiterates his call to the parties to implement in good faith all the understandings reached at Sharm el-Sheikh, with the aim of bringing violence to an end and restoring an atmosphere of calm in which the search for a peace settlement can be resumed.
On 7 November 2000, the General Assembly considered at its 54th plenary session agenda item 44 entitled “Bethlehem 2000”. At the session, the Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Mr. Ibra Deguène Ka, introduced draft resolution (A/55/L.3) in the following statement:
I am confident that I express the opinion of all members when I say that the discussion on this agenda item should have taken place in a more relaxed atmosphere. Nevertheless, we are all aware that since Christmas 1999, right up to the recent regrettable events, thousands of people have flocked from all over the world to the Palestinian city of Bethlehem to celebrate in joy and in peace the two-thousandth anniversary of the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and thus to welcome the dawn of the third millennium. Attracted by the city’s sacred and historic character, the visitors were also particularly aware of its eternal message – a message of tolerance, harmony, reconciliation and peace. In 1997 the Palestinian Authority launched the Bethlehem 2000 Project, providing for the restoration of many religious and historic buildings in the city and for reconstruction of the city’s infrastructure in order to host the millennium celebrations. Due to the preceding years of conflict in the region, the renovation of the city was very difficult. From the start it was clear that for the Project to be implemented well, and in time, considerable help from the international community would be needed – help that was both diverse and well coordinated. To help the Palestinian people to complete this enterprise successfully, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People took on the job of promoting the Project and raising the awareness of international public opinion regarding its goals.
At the request of our Committee, and given the universal importance of the Project, the General Assembly decided to include in its agenda, at both the fifty-third and fifty-fourth sessions, an item entitled “Bethlehem 2000”, and adopted without a vote resolutions 53/27 and 54/22, in which it expressed its support for the Bethlehem 2000 Project and appealed to the international community as a whole to strengthen its support and its commitment in order to ensure the success of the Project.
In response to these appeals by the General Assembly, the Committee has systematically given a special place to the Bethlehem 2000 Project in its various activities and in its programme of work. The most recent such event was the United Nations Seminar on Prospects for Palestinian Economic Development and the Middle East Peace Process, which took place in Cairo on 20 and 21 June 2000 under the auspices of the Committee. That Seminar stressed the need to continue the drive to raise public awareness of this project and to obtain still more partners in its support. The Bureau of the Committee has also had regular meetings on this important issue with representatives of intergovernmental organizations such as the European Union, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the League of Arab States, as well as meetings with non-governmental organizations.
When this question was dealt with during intergovernmental meetings, in which I was a participant during the course of the year as Chairman of our Committee, particularly meetings that took place within the framework of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Organization of African Unity or the Non-Aligned Movement, at such meetings I diligently and systematically promoted the goals of the Bethlehem 2000 Project and gave an account of the kind of activities undertaken by our Committee.
The Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat continues to post information on the Project on the Internet in the context of the United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL). Moreover, consistent with resolution 54/41, the Department of Public Information opened a special web site entitled “Bethlehem 2000”.
I am particularly happy to recall here one event of considerable importance that took place last March. I refer to the historic voyage by His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, to the Holy Land. When he went to the holy cities of Bethlehem and others in Israel he preached a message of peace. In Bethlehem it took place in Nativity Square itself, which was a source of inspiration and spiritual uplift for all. It is particularly encouraging to note that the sovereign Pontiff, in his message, welcomed the fact that resolutions on Bethlehem 2000 had been adopted unanimously by the international community.
The initiative to raise the profile of the project and its goals throughout the world has succeeded in bringing in substantial contributions from Member States. Contributions have also been received from intergovernmental organizations and representatives of civil society. I should like to stress here that the Committee is particularly grateful to all Member States which have supported in the past, and which continue to support, our initiatives in this important field.
However, there is still much that remains to be done over the next few years, not only in the city of Bethlehem itself, but in other West Bank Palestinian towns, as well as in the Gaza Strip. We consider Bethlehem 2000 to be a kind of pilot project that could help launch similar development projects in many other places in Palestine. For this, much international support and aid will be necessary. We need to help the Palestinian people if they are to be able to conclude successfully the enormous tasks of reconstruction and development, and support from donors remains indispensable if we are to improve the economic and social position of the Palestinian people and, in this way, establish a viable Palestinian economy.
Bearing in mind the importance of coordinated international action needed in order to conclude this project successfully, the Committee would like to repeat its appeal to the international community to continue its support and assistance to the Bethlehem 2000 Project and support to other Palestinian towns and villages as well.
The Committee remains confident that once the situation is back to normal, pilgrims and tourists will continue to flock to Bethlehem from all over the world. They will go back to Bethlehem again, because it is the place where Jesus Christ was born, and also to pay homage to the rich, historic, religious and cultural traditions of the Palestinian people, and they will do it in a climate of peace and reconciliation, reconciliation for all peoples of all beliefs and all religions.
On behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, I now have the honour of presenting draft resolution A/55/L.3 entitled “Bethlehem 2000”.
But may I begin by listing the countries who have also joined in sponsoring the draft resolution: Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Chile, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Panama, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Venezuela, Ukraine.
The General Assembly adopted draft resolution A/55/L.3 as resolution 55/18 without a vote.
54th plenary meeting
7 November 2000
Following is the text of United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s address to the Summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, held in Doha, Qatar. The statement was made on
12 November 2000 (SG/SM/7621 of 13 November 2000):
IV. SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS GAZA STRIP VIOLENCE
The following is a statement, issued on 21 November 2000, by the Spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan (SG/SM/7636):
The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest possible terms the violence that took place in the Gaza strip yesterday. He appeals to the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to cease all escalatory actions and to do their utmost to stop the violence, which has cost so many lives and caused so much tragedy. Yesterday's attacks can only further complicate the prospects for dialogue, which is the only way forward to a just and peaceful solution.
V. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE REPORT OF THE
COMMITTEE ON THE EXERCISE OF THE INALLIENABLE RIGHTS
OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
The following are the conclusions and recommendations of the report of the Committee to the fifty-fifth session of the General Assembly, adopted at the Committee’s meeting on 10 October 2000 (see A/55/35 of 21 November 2000):
Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee
84. As humankind is preparing to enter the new millennium, the future of peace in the region stands at a critical crossroads. In the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the two sides have travelled a long way. The negotiating process, which began at Madrid in 1991, has been difficult and challenging. Today, the parties are facing issues of paramount importance not only for the Israelis and the Palestinians, but also for peace and security in the entire region of the Middle East. The outcome of this process will shape the future of their relations for years to come. The Committee will continue to support the peacemaking efforts by the parties, assisted by the co-sponsors, until peace prevails and the question of Palestine is solved on the basis of justice and international legitimacy.
85. The Committee noted with much regret that, following the signing in 1999 of the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum, a considerable amount of time has been lost. In the period under review, the situation in the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations remained a cause for serious concern, marked by frequent breakdowns and only a few breakthroughs. For most of the year, progress in the interim and permanent status talks has been slow. The Committee, however, welcomed a number of steps made in implementation of the agreements, including the partial release of Palestinian prisoners, the opening of a safe passage between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the further redeployment of Israeli troops from areas of the West Bank, and the signing of the Israeli-Palestinian agreements on economic issues and on the Gaza seaport. In September 2000, the important meetings held on the sidelines of the Millennium Summit created expectations that a breakthrough was at hand.
86. The Committee wishes to emphasize once again that more than 50 years after the adoption by the General Assembly of resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947, the Palestinian people is yet to see the establishment of its own independent and sovereign State. In this context, the Committee reiterates its full support for the exercise by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights, including the right to self-determination and the establishment of an independent State, and recalls the broad international support for Palestinian statehood.
87. At a time when both sides are dealing with the critical permanent status negotiations, the situation on the ground remains untenable. Illegal “facts on the ground” continue to be created in gross violation of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. This also jeopardizes the possibility of making tangible progress in the peace negotiations. The Committee considers it unacceptable that, on the threshold of the third millennium, the Palestinian people, in their daily lives, are still carrying the heavy weight of occupation. One of the core issues in the permanent status negotiations is the question of Jerusalem. The Committee believes that the issue should be resolved based on Security Council resolution 242 (1967), other relevant United Nations resolutions, the exercise by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights, and with due regard to the universal spiritual meaning of the Holy City of Jerusalem for all humankind. Among other permanent status issues, the question of Palestine refugees is a most difficult and painful one. Generations of Palestinians have grown up as refugees, living in dismal conditions of refugee camps or under occupation, many away from their homeland, denied their natural right to self-determination, with bleak economic prospects, their freedom of movement restricted, families torn apart, their hopes for the future dependent on the outside world. If this problem is not resolved with due care, patience and in accordance with norms of international law, more Palestinian lives will be ruined, frustration and mistrust will set in again and the potential for peace and stability in the region will be seriously jeopardized. The Committee reiterates its view that the solution to the problem should be based on General Assembly resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948 and other relevant resolutions. Nothing has altered the situation on the ground since 1967 more than the illegal settlements spread around the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. They have not only changed the geography of the area, but also had the most devastating immediate and long-term effect on the livelihood of individual Palestinian households and the Palestinian economy in general. The Committee was appalled that the settlement activity continued alongside the peace negotiations – a policy which stands in marked contrast to the mutually agreed ground rules of the peace process.
88. The Committee strongly believes that the United Nations should continue to exercise its permanent responsibility towards all the aspects of the question of Palestine until it is resolved in a satisfactory manner, in conformity with relevant United Nations resolutions and in accordance with international legitimacy, and until the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people are fully realized. Today, the supporting role of the United Nations in the peace process is even more crucial and needed than ever. The United Nations should remain the guardian of international legitimacy and play a key role in mobilizing international assistance for development, as an important underpinning of the peace process. The Committee believes that the United Nations should continue to maintain its responsibility towards the question of Palestine and the Palestinian people until the end of the implementation period, so that a final agreement could be legitimized and complemented, as necessary. In this regard, the Committee shares the view that the important work carried out by UNRWA should be continued. The Committee also supports the view that the reactivation of the work of the UNCCP, established by the General Assembly in its resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948, and the use of the records of the Commission related to land ownership in Palestine should be considered. For its part, as the organ of the General Assembly established to deal with the question of Palestine, the Committee pledges to continue its work aimed at mobilizing the international community as a whole, at the governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental levels, in support of a comprehensive, just and lasting solution of the question of Palestine, in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions.
89. In the course of the past year, the Committee has worked towards heightening international awareness of the question of Palestine and the urgency of making it possible for the Palestinian people to exercise its inalienable rights. It has also continued its programme of meetings in the various regions and cooperated with the NGO community in order to make the programme more effective and useful. The Committee intends to continue to review and assess its programme of activities with a view to making it more focused and responsive to the developments in the peace process and on the ground. In its programme of work for the next year, the Committee will continue to focus on the question of the exercise by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights, permanent status issues, as well as Palestinian nation- and institution-building and social and economic development.
90. The Committee, in its future activities, intends to continue to promote the Bethlehem 2000 Project of the Palestinian Authority. It is of the view that this important undertaking will require sustained international support not only for the period of the millennial celebrations in Bethlehem, but also long after the celebrations come to a close. Moreover, the Committee wishes to draw the attention of the international community to the urgency of providing varied assistance to many other Palestinian municipalities throughout the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
91. The Committee recognizes the essential contribution of the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat in support of the Committee’s objectives and requests it to continue its programme of publications and other informational activities. This would include the updating of UNISPAL on a day-to-day basis with relevant documents available in electronic form and the completion of work on UNISPAL’s collection of documents hitherto unavailable in machine-readable form.
92. The Committee is of the view that the special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information has remained an important and useful tool in informing the media and public opinion on issues relating to the question of Palestine. The Committee considers that the programme should be continued with the necessary flexibility, as required by developments affecting the question of Palestine.
93. In an effort to make its contribution to the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine, the Committee calls upon all States to join in this endeavour and invites the General Assembly once again to recognize the importance of its role and to reconfirm its mandate with overwhelming support.
VI. ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL ENDORSES THE COMMISSION
ON HUMAN RIGHTS DECISIONS IN REACTION TO THE GRAVE
AND MASSIVE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE BY ISRAEL
The following is the text of the decisions endorsed by the Economic and Social Council on
22 November 2000 (Decision 2000/311):
VII. REPORT OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ON THE
PEACEFUL SETTLEMENT OF THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE
1. The present report is submitted in pursuance of General Assembly resolution 54/42 of 1 December 1999 on the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine.
2. On 7 August 2000, the Secretary-General, pursuant to the request contained in paragraph 9 of the above-mentioned resolution, addressed the following letter to the President of the Security Council:
3. On 29 September 2000 the following reply was received from the Security Council:
4. In a note verbale dated 9 August 2000 to the parties concerned, the Secretary-General sought the positions of the Governments of Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic, as well as the Palestine Liberation Organization, regarding any steps taken by them to implement the relevant provisions of the resolution. As at 16 November 2000, the following replies had been received:
Note verbale dated 11 September 2000 from the Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General
“As the Secretary-General is aware, Israel voted against this resolution, as well as against similar resolutions adopted by the General Assembly in previous sessions. At this particularly sensitive time in the Middle East peace process, Israel wishes to put on record, once again, its position on this matter. This response should not be construed in any way as an acceptance of the legitimacy of these resolutions.
“Israel views the aforementioned General Assembly resolution not only as being unbalanced, but also as an undue interference in matters which lie at the very core of the bilateral negotiations currently under way between Israel and the Palestinians. As stated in the letter of invitation to the Madrid Peace Conference of October 1991 and reaffirmed in repeated legal undertakings, most recently in the Trilateral Statement (25 July 2000) issued at the conclusion of the Camp David Peace Summit, the Middle East peace process is predicated upon direct bilateral negotiations between the parties concerned. Both Israeli and Palestinian leaders have agreed that ‘their differences will be resolved only by good-faith negotiations’.
“The one-sided approach reflected in the resolution threatens to prejudge the outcome of this process, impede the progress of Israeli and Palestinian negotiators and undermine the prospects of achieving a just and lasting peace settlement. A comprehensive solution to the conflicts in the Middle East can only be based upon directly negotiated and mutually agreed solutions.
“Israel expresses its hope that the General Assembly will, in respect of the negotiations currently under way, offer its unwavering and impartial support for the peace process. This is especially important now, when the parties have made significant advances towards, and appear to be on the cusp of reaching, a final settlement.”
Note verbale dated 7 November 2000 from the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General
“General Assembly resolution 54/42 is the main political resolution on the Palestinian issue, and it was adopted by an overwhelming majority (149-3-2), a reflection of the strong convictions of the international community with regard to the content of the resolution. In addition, a similar text has been adopted by the Assembly over the past few years by overwhelming majorities, reflecting an established position of the international community. As stated in the Palestinian note of the fifty-fourth session, the resolution recalls several principles of international law and the Charter of the United Nations, provides support for the peace process and implementation of the agreements reached and also provides the basis for the just settlement of the question of Palestine, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The resolution emphasizes as well the importance of a more active and expanded role for the United Nations in this process. As such, the resolution should serve as an acceptable basis for all parties to work on these important issues.
“Despite the agreement on the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum of 4 September 1999, which included an agreement on the implementation of a number of overdue prior commitments and an extension for the achievement of the final settlement between the two sides until 13 September 2000, Israel failed once again to implement most of the overdue provisions and commitments agreed upon in Sharm el-Sheikh, including the third redeployment of its occupying forces, the release of Palestinian prisoners and the return of Palestinian displaced persons, and failed also to adhere to the agreed timetable.
“The optimistic expectations for a positive change in the status of the peace process in the Middle East and the conclusion of a final settlement between the Palestinian and Israeli sides have not been fulfilled. Unfortunately, we have witnessed a dramatic deterioration of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, to an unprecedented level of aggression against the Palestinian people, including the use by the Israeli occupying forces of rockets fired from helicopter gunships, tanks, anti-tank missiles and the enforcement of a total military blockade around Palestinian towns and cities. The continued Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people has resulted in the killing of more than 160 Palestinians, as of 7 November 2000, and the injury of more than 3,000 people. One third of the Palestinians killed and injured have been children under the age of 18 years. In addition, there has been extensive destruction to the property and livelihood of the Palestinian people.
“The recent tragic events, which began on 28 September 2000, started with the mal-intentioned visit of the infamous Ariel Sharon to Al-Haram Al-Sharif, the first qiblah and the third of the holy sites of Islam, in Occupied East Jerusalem and then what followed the next day when the Israeli occupying forces stormed Al-Haram Al-Sharif and attacked the innocent worshippers. The Palestinian people saw all of this as a flagrant aggression against their holy places and as a prelude to other steps aimed at undermining their rights and possibly establishing other illegal realities by the occupying Power in Occupied East Jerusalem. In confronting this, the Palestinian people have expressed their rejection of these acts and their rejection of the occupation and their determination to defend their Islamic and Christian holy places and the Arab nature of East Jerusalem as well as their determination to achieve their natural rights, including the establishment of their independent State with Jerusalem as its capital.
“In response to the Palestinian protests, Israel, the occupying Power, has used its huge war machine to launch a bloody campaign of repression against our people, including a number of wilful killings and wilfully causing numerous serious injuries and great pain for Palestinian civilians. These Israeli actions and measures constitute grave and serious breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 1949, and some of these acts even constitute war crimes according to the Convention.
“The Security Council has dealt with the bloody events in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, with great seriousness. A large number of Member States, through their participation in the debate of the Council, added more importance and seriousness to the work of the Council. Following the debate of the Security Council, resolution 1322 (2000) of 7 October 2000 was adopted despite the numerous difficulties it faced. Resolution 1322 (2000) deplored the provocation carried out at Al-Haram Al-Sharif in Jerusalem on 28 September 2000 and the subsequent violence throughout the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, which have resulted in many Palestinian deaths and injuries. It also condemned acts of violence, especially the excessive use of force against Palestinians, and called for the immediate cessation of violence and for the establishment of a mechanism for a speedy and objective inquiry into the tragic events with the aim of preventing their repetition. The resolution also invited the Secretary-General to continue to follow the situation and to keep the Council informed.
“Despite the adoption of the resolution, however, the situation on the ground did not change and Israel, the occupying Power, did not comply with any of the provisions of the resolution. Instead, what followed was the dangerous Israeli escalation of its military campaign, including the shelling of some Palestinian locations in Ramallah and Gaza, which took place on 12 October and which were tantamount to a declaration of war against the Palestinian people.
“The Security Council was once again called upon to adopt an immediate resolution to end the escalation and prevent the region as a whole from plunging into a widespread confrontation. Unfortunately, a permanent member of the Security Council declared inside the Council and outside the United Nations that it would use its right to veto any resolution regardless of its content. This clearly prevented the Security Council from exercising its responsibility and from taking any action. At that point, the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly resumed in accordance with the ‘uniting for peace’ formula to consider this dangerous situation and the ‘illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory’. Resolution ES-10/7 was adopted by the tenth emergency special session on 20 October 2000. The resolution, inter alia, stresses the urgent need for providing protection for the Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, condemns acts of violence, especially the excessive use of force by the Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians, calls for the reversal of all measures taken since 28 September 2000, and calls for the prevention of illegal acts of violence by Israeli settlers. The resolution supports also the establishment of a mechanism of inquiry into the tragic events as well as the efforts of the Secretary-General, including his efforts for the establishment of the committee of inquiry.
“In this context, we welcome the participation of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan, representing this international Organization in the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit, as well as all his efforts exerted during his visit to the region. We hope that this will lead to the effective participation of the United Nations in the mechanism of inquiry into what has happened, which was called for by Security Council resolution 1322 (2000) and agreed upon by the parties in Sharm el-Sheikh. We believe that the speedy establishment of this committee and its immediate work will have an effective impact on bringing an end to the situation created during the latest tragic events.
“It also remains indispensable for Israel, the occupying Power, to abide by and implement United Nations resolutions and agreements reached between the two sides, including the Sharm el-Sheikh understandings, in order for the situation to calm down and for negotiations to be resumed on the final status issues.
“In conclusion, the many principles and components of the important resolution entitled ‘Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine’, including principles of international law and the Charter of the United Nations, remain valid and essential in the search for a just and lasting solution to the decades-long question of Palestine. Respect for and adherence to such principles will surely assist the parties in arriving at a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine.”
5. At the Camp David Summit hosted by President Clinton last July, the quest for a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians reached a crucial stage. Though an overall agreement was not reached, for the first time the most difficult issues were seriously addressed. In a trilateral statement at the conclusion of the Summit the parties pledged to continue their efforts to conclude an agreement on all permanent status issues as soon as possible, to avoid violence and not to take unilateral actions.
6. However, subsequently, as is well known, the situation in the Middle East has become critical. Following a visit of the Leader of the Opposition in Israel, Ariel Sharon, to the Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif in Jerusalem on 28 September, a new wave of protests and violence erupted in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in which so far more than 230 people, the vast majority of them Palestinians, have been killed and many others suffered injuries. Confrontations continue to mount and mutual mistrust is growing. This tragic situation has made abundantly clear to all sides that the cause of peace can only be damaged by excessive use of force, indiscriminate violence or terror.
7. The present crisis holds the potential for further escalation, with dangerous consequences for the entire region. It is therefore imperative that all efforts be made to curtail the current wave of violence and resume the peace process. The Israelis and the Palestinians know well that they have to live side by side with each other and must reconcile their differences through dialogue and cooperation. The question is how to respond to the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to personal dignity and national independence and to the legitimate security concerns of the Government of Israel.
8. This grave new situation in the Middle East has recently been the subject of extensive debates at the United Nations, and resulted in the adoption of resolution 1322 (2000) by the Security Council on 7 October 2000, and of resolution ES-10/7 by the General Assembly at its resumed tenth emergency special session on 20 October 2000. Also, on 19 October 2000, the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, meeting at a special session, adopted a resolution on the current human rights situation of the Palestinian people.
9. In view of the escalation of tensions in the Middle East, I visited the region in October to explore urgent means to end the current cycle of violence and to revive the peace process. Over a period of 10 days, I had a series of meetings with Prime Minister Barak and President Arafat as well as with many other regional and international leaders.
10. On 16 and 17 October 2000, Presidents Mubarak and Clinton jointly chaired a Summit meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, which was attended also by King Abdullah II of Jordan, Prime Minister Barak, President Arafat, Javier Solana of the European Union, and myself. The Summit produced understandings in three vital areas: on security cooperation and other measures to end the current confrontation, on a committee of fact-finding to inquire into the recent tragic events and how to prevent their recurrence, and on renewing the peace process. I briefed the Security Council and the General Assembly on 20 October on the outcome of the Summit and of my visit to the region.
11. On 7 November, as a follow-up to the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit, President Clinton announced the membership of the Fact-Finding Committee which was developed with the parties and in consultation with me. The committee is expected to provide an independent and objective review of the current crisis with the goal of preventing its recurrence. On 9 November, I met with the chairman of the committee, former United States Senator George Mitchell, and urged him to begin the committee’s work as soon as possible.
12. I am concerned that the other understandings of the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit, set out in paragraph 10 above, remain unimplemented. I continue to follow developments closely and remain in touch with the parties and other international leaders. I believe that full and good-faith implementation by both sides of the understandings reached at Sharm el-Sheikh is vital to restore calm and to create the right atmosphere for the resumption of the peace talks. In my view there is no alternative to a return to the negotiating table. The two sides will in the end have to negotiate a peaceful settlement. The international community should continue its efforts to help them resolve the present crisis and to put the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations back on track.
13. On 12 and 13 November, I participated in the Summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Doha, Qatar. The current crisis in the Middle East, in particular the ongoing violence, was a major topic of my discussions with Heads of State and Foreign Ministers. All of them expressed grave concern at the situation and many deplored the excessive use of force by Israel.
14. The present crisis has led to a serious deterioration of the humanitarian and economic situation in the occupied Palestinian territory. In order to improve the coordination of the United Nations humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians, a task force has been established chaired by the United Nations Special Coordinator in Gaza. Also, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which has continued to deliver a wide range of basic services to the Palestine refugees despite severe financial constraints, has recently launched an urgent appeal for $39 million to fund a three-month contingency plan to buy food and medical supplies.
15. As the General Assembly has underscored on many occasions, achieving a final and peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, is imperative for the attainment of a comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East. It is to be hoped that there will also be movement soon on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks so that peace, security and stability may be achieved for all peoples in the region on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).
16. For its part, the United Nations will continue to support the resumption of the peace process and to respond in an integrated way to the economic, social, humanitarian and other needs of the population in the West Bank and Gaza. I call upon the international community to provide the necessary resources in support of the United Nations programmes to address the deteriorating economic and humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people.
17. I should like to pay special tribute to Terje Roed-Larsen, United Nations Special Coordinator. Mr. Roed-Larsen gave me invaluable assistance during my recent peacemaking efforts in the region and will continue his important mission in the region.
VIII. SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS EMERGENCY MEETING ON THE MIDDLE EAST
The following press release (SC/6958) was issued on 22 November 2000 upon the convening of the emergency meeting of the Security Council on the Middle East:
As the Security Council held an emergency meeting on the Middle East this afternoon, the Observer for Palestine called for specific measures to end Israeli violations against the Palestinian people, while Israel's representative said that Palestinian leaders continued to call for an escalation of the current conflict.
The Observer for Palestine said the Council must ensure the protection of Palestinians under Israeli occupation. Approval by Israel, as an occupying Power, could not be a condition for a Council decision. Israel was the only United Nations Member State that was recognized as an occupying Power, and it had been so designated in 25 relevant Security Council resolutions.
He said the consequences of today's attack by Israel was a vast number of martyrs, considerable harm to the peace process, the creation of great tension in the Middle East and the threat of further clashes and confrontation in the entire region. Israel's obstructionism had prevented any forward movement by the fact-finding commission announced by United States President Bill Clinton following the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit, while all the Israeli actions had been accompanied by attempts to reproach the Palestinian people.
Israel's representative said there had been no international outcry against, and no call for an investigation of, Palestinian violations. Neither had the Palestinians been asked to relinquish the path of violence and return to the negotiating table. Instead, the international community had unfairly directed all its condemnation at Israel. It must call on the Palestinian leadership to stop the bloodshed and the use of terror against civilians.
Terrorists had targeted Israeli children on their way to school and, just a few hours ago, a bomb had killed two people and wounded more than 40 others in an Israeli city, he said. It was not the first time the Palestinian leadership had given freedom of movement to terrorists, then claimed not to be involved. Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat was unwilling to embrace the reality of peace and to recognize that the conflict was over. Knowing full well that an honourable and just peace had been within reach at Camp David, he had turned his back and returned to violence.
The representative of South Africa, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, called on the Council to seriously consider the immediate deployment of a protection force in the region. Peaceful negotiation, bringing about self-determination for the Palestinian people, was the only means of ensuring lasting peace. In equally strong terms, he condemned the recent attack on an Israeli school bus and the excessive retaliatory attacks by Israeli security forces, which had moved the crisis to a precarious new level. He asked how long such collective punishment by a powerful occupying force could continue, in violation of international humanitarian law. The crisis had exacted too much suffering and claimed too many innocent lives, he said.
The representative of the United States said the meeting was not a response to the Security Council's mandate for conflict resolution but rather an opportunity to exchange verbal barbs. Rhetoric and unbalanced criticism diminished the role of the United Nations and its ability to play an effective role in conflict resolution, he stressed. Any proposal to introduce outside observers required the agreement of the parties to the conflict. The parties should work it out, and the Council should help them, rather than impose something opposed by one side or the other. Both Israelis and Palestinians must accept that there was no room for violence. The only place for a solution was around a negotiating table, and now was not the time to trade accusations.
Also speaking this afternoon were the representatives of the Russian Federation, France (on behalf of the European Union), Mali, Bangladesh, China, the United Kingdom, Jamaica, Tunisia, Namibia, Argentina, Ukraine, Malaysia (also on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Canada, the Netherlands, Libya, Egypt, Jordan and Cuba.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representative of Israel and the Observer for Palestine.
The meeting began at 4:05 p.m. and adjourned at 7:12 p.m.
Council Work Programme
The Security Council met this afternoon to consider the situation in the Middle East. It had before it a letter dated 21 November from the Permanent Representative of Libya in his capacity as Chairman of the Arab Group (document S/2000/1109). He requested the urgent convening of the Council to consider the serious developments in Palestine involving the “escalation by the occupation forces in Palestine of their aggression against the Gaza Strip by means of air attacks”. He said that about 50 rockets were fired, which not only injured more than 50 Palestinians and completely destroyed the government installations of the Palestinian Authority, but also severed the electricity supply in many parts of the Gaza Strip.
He said the new acts of aggression reflect the continued determination of the occupation forces to use military force in an unacceptable manner. The deteriorating situation is a threat to the stability of the whole region, especially in view of the collective punishment being applied against the Palestinian people in violation of all international instruments.
NASSER AL-KIDWA, Permanent Observer for Palestine, expressed thanks to the Council members for responding so rapidly to the request of the Arab Group. He said that at 1800 Palestinian time, Israeli military helicopters, with the assistance of Israeli warships, undertook intensive attacks on numerous targets in the Gaza Strip and other locations throughout Palestine. They launched over 50 rockets on buildings of the Palestinian Authority and other sites, and there was considerable damage. In the wake of those attacks and raids, at least one Palestinian was killed and over 70 were injured. Of paramount importance was the state of panic that swept over the inhabitants in Gaza following the attacks – a state that threatened to spread to the entire Middle East region.
On 29 September, the day after the visit of Ariel Sharon to Haram Al-Sharif, he said his Government had addressed official correspondence to the United Nations transmitting the names of Palestinian martyrs, who today exceeded 225. It had also transmitted descriptions of Israeli conduct that included the indiscriminate use of force and instances of deliberate murder either by sniper or the use of heavy weapons. Over 10,000 Palestinians had been injured with over 2,000 of those injuries being caused by munitions. Many victims, one third of whom were children, would be handicapped for life. Houses and plants had been destroyed and there was an intent to make the land arid and non-arable. Movement of persons and goods was prohibited, seriously affecting an already weak Palestinian economy. All of those actions violated the Fourth Geneva Convention. Numerous of those acts were war crimes according to that Convention. Moreover, they violated United Nations resolutions, including Security Council resolutions.
The Israelis had proudly called a “time out” of the peace process as though it was a basketball game, he said. All their actions had been accompanied by attempts to reproach the Palestinian people. That demonstrated a clear and lucid racist position. How could one accuse Palestinians of putting their children before mortar fire? That charge demonstrated a racist point of view. The obstructionism of Israel had prevented any movement forward of the commission that was announced by President Clinton after Sharm el-Sheikh.
He asked what the consequence of the attack unleashed by Israel was. It was a vast number of martyrs, considerable harm to the peace process, creation of great tension in the region and the threat of further clashes and confrontation in the entire region.
The question was, how could an end be put to the situation, he continued. The responsibility of the Council was clear. Specific measures must be taken to put an end to the violations against the Palestinian people. The Council must ensure the protection of Palestinians under Israeli occupation. The parties, after all that had happened, could not themselves put an end to the situation. They needed the assistance of a third party. He could not understand what the objections to that could be. He asked if the objection emanated from the members of the Council or was it from outside the Council. President Arafat had personally participated in a Council meeting, explaining all the ins and outs of the Palestinian way of thinking. He had requested 2,000 observers with light weapons. That observer force would have to act under the United Nations emblem, auspices and supervision, without being deployed to fixed positions, so that its absolute responsibility was the protection of the Palestinian people.
He underscored that approval by Israel as an occupying Power could not be a condition for the Council to take a decision. It was the only State in the United Nations that was recognized as an occupying Power and had been so designated in the 25 Council resolutions. Cooperation at a practical level with Israel was a must if the resolution adopted last week was to be implemented. All were duty bound to ensure practical and pragmatic cooperation.
He said that recently the Council had agreed to have the Secretary-General conduct consultations. While he commended that act, he stressed that time was running out and things were becoming more complicated. All of which would emphasize the need to act urgently. He urged the Council to enact the necessary resolution next week.
Concluding, he said, it needed no genius to find the remedy. The end of the occupation would lead to the end of all the problems.
YEHUDA LANCRY (Israel) said that since the last meeting of the Council on the issue, the situation in the Middle East had, to the great consternation of both parties, continued to deteriorate. The points of conflict, which had been localized, were spreading and now engulfed Israeli towns and cities. Terrorists had targeted Israeli children, whose only crime was to be on their way to school. Just a few hours ago a bomb had exploded in an Israeli city, killing two people and wounding over 40 others. Terrorism was not something that was foreign to Israel and there had been several reminders – with their dire consequences – over the last two days. Also, it was not the first time the Palestinian leadership had given freedom of movement to terrorists, then claimed that it was not involved.
He said no United Nations body had spoken one word of condemnation to the Palestinians. But perhaps now the international community would take note of the fact that Israeli lives were being imperiled. Israelis were targeted simply because they were Israelis. Palestinians were sustaining injuries as result of their own violent provocations. They were sustaining injuries because, at the behest of their leaders, they were launching brutal attacks on innocent Israelis who had not sought involvement in the conflict.
He said while Israel had expressed deep sorrow over the loss of life on both sides, Palestinian leaders continued to call for an escalation of the conflict. Yet there was no international outcry and no call for an investigation of Palestinian wrongdoings and violations. Neither had the Palestinians been asked to relinquish the path of violence and return to the negotiating table. Instead, all condemnation was directed by the international community at Israel. The Secretary-General had cautioned that community to weigh its words carefully. But, to date, the official United Nations language had not heeded that warning. He hoped the same would not hold true today.
He said Chairman Yasser Arafat was unwilling to embrace the reality of peace and recognize that the conflict was over. The Chairman knew full well that an honourable and just peace was within grasp at Camp David, yet he turned his back and returned to violence. In fact, Chairman Arafat had first and foremost to protect himself from his own destructive instincts and the independent intifada. The international community must call on the Palestinian leadership to stop the bloodshed and the use of terror against civilians.
He said Israel’s objective was to reach a long and comprehensive peace with Palestine and all its neighbours. The Security Council was duty bound to encourage the Palestinians to return to the path of bilateral negotiations and compromise.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE (United States) said he did not view the current meeting as responsive to the mandate of the Security Council for conflict resolution but rather as an opportunity to exchange verbal barbs that were best left to other forums. The parties must continue to act to maintain calm. That was the only viable action that would lead to peace. He had disagreed with the one-sided nature of resolution 1322 (2000), but had concurred with the portions that called for an end to violence. World leaders at Sharm el-Sheikh had worked hard to bring an end to the violence and the Council had called on the parties to implement the commitments reached there. There had been some progress and that progress must continue. He noted with approval that the Secretary-General had already met with Senator Mitchell and would meet with the entire commission after its meeting this weekend in New York. He urged the Council and all United Nations Members to cooperate.
He said the Economic and Social Council had undermined the peace process when it narrowly passed a resolution that was not necessary and was supported by less than half the members of that Council this morning. Rhetoric and unbalanced criticism diminished the role of the United Nations and its ability to be effective in conflict resolution. The United States position was that any proposal to introduce outside observers required the agreement of the parties to the conflict. Let the parties work it out and let the Council help them, rather than impose something that was objected to by one side or another. By comparison, he said, a solution was not imposed on East Timor but was negotiated and accepted by Indonesia. The international community must stand ready to help the parties in the Middle East to maintain calm and engage in negotiations.
He said that both Israelis and Palestinians needed to accept that there was no room for violence. The only place for a solution was around a negotiating table. Both felt they were the aggrieved party but now was not the time to trade accusations. Fulfilling commitments was essential.
SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said his delegation was deeply concerned at the escalation of tensions and violence in the Middle East. Both parties must not allow the situation to get out of control. It was also necessary to adopt strict measures that did not allow criminal acts by extremists that brought death to Israeli citizens, particularly children. In light of the continued deterioration of the situation, it was necessary to step up international assistance to break the violent chain reactions.
He said the Council and the Secretary-General must continue to keep the situations in the West Bank and Gaza in sharp focus. The architecture of the peace process must be made more stable and irreversible. Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), and the Madrid principles, were the cornerstones for peace in the region.
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Council was meeting to express the international community’s concern about the increasing violence that was leading the Palestinian and Israeli peoples into an unending spiral of hatred and death, with more and more victims, basically on the Palestinian side. He expressed condolences to the families of all the victims. There was, however, nothing inevitable about the tragedy and it must end.
The European Union called for responsibility on all sides, he said. The lack of progress was at the heart of the frustration of the Palestinian people. The Union urged the Israelis and Palestinians to fulfil the commitments made at Sharm el-Sheikh and at Gaza on 2 November. Israel should withdraw its armed forces; end the restriction of movement of people and goods; lift financial sanctions against the Palestinian Authority; and, in cases where the intervention of security forces was employed, use non-deadly means. The Union asked the Palestinian Authority to use all its power to end violence; to end shooting against Israeli forces with an announcement by President Arafat; and requested that the fact-finding commission begin its work in the field without delay. The Union supported the examination of the proposal for deployment of an observer force
The objective remained the resumption of dialogue – the only way out of the crisis – he said. The European Union was prepared to contribute to that effort. He emphasized that there was no alternative to the quest for peace. The Council could play a useful role, with the consent of the parties, in the search for peace. He hoped an agreement could rapidly be reached.
MOCTAR OUANE (Mali) said his country wished to reaffirm its constant position of the urgency of the need to find a just and lasting peace to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He deplored the escalation of violence and the growing socio-economic repercussions. Mali fully supported the efforts of the Secretary-General and urged both parties to implement the Sharm el-Sheikh accords. Dispatching observers to the field was a positive suggestion and would contribute to ending the violence. The Council should act upon that recommendation.
ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said violence, violence and more violence was the only news that was coming out of the Middle East. Today’s meeting could not have been timelier. He offered condolences to all families of all victims.
He reiterated his Government’s support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people based on Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978). He expressed concern over the continued violence and Israel’s continued use of force against the Palestinian people. The latest Israeli action was not justified, he said. At the same time, he condemned the violence against the Israeli bus as an act of terrorism.
He said it was sad that the peace process had deteriorated so fast, particularly when it had seemed as though there was about to be a breakthrough. He expressed appreciation for the continued efforts of the Secretary-General to find a solution. Bangladesh had not lost trust in the ultimate success of the peace process. He urged both parties to make their best effort to end the violence. Once the violence had ended, the peace process would be revived.
WANG YINGFAN (China) said there were casualties on both sides but the Palestinian numbers were greater. Palestine had also suffered major economic setbacks. He called on both sides to prevent the situation from deteriorating further. He also called on Israel to exercise restraint. The excessive use of force must stop, he stressed.
The Middle East peace process had now entered a very dangerous phase. China supported the Secretary-General’s efforts in the Middle East and called on all parties, especially Israel, to actively cooperate with him. The Council also needed to give serious consideration to the proposal to deploy international observers to the conflict area.
Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said his Government fully associated itself with the position expressed by the European Union. He urged both parties to take immediate steps to end the violence. It was a cowardly action to bomb the Israeli bus. The retaliation, however, was not justified. There must be an early return to diplomacy. He welcomed the first meeting of the fact-finding commission this weekend, and the efforts of the Secretary-General regarding exploring prospects for an observer force. There was nothing in the statements of Israel or Palestine to indicate that they would be able to bring the violence to an end by themselves.
PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said Security Council resolution 1322 (2000) had called for, among other things, the immediate cessation of violence and a return to normality in order to promote the resumption of the Middle East peace process. Today’s meeting was therefore a signal of the concern at the deterioration of the situation in the Middle East.
She said the resulting loss of life, mainly Palestinian, was due to the excessive use of force – nearly 300 people had died while almost 6,000 had been injured. The people’s suffering was further aggravated by the serious humanitarian situation in the vulnerable areas. She urged the parties to adhere to the ceasefire reached at Sharm el-Sheikh and to refrain from retaliatory actions. The establishment of a fact-finding commission was a good proposal and should be implemented. The proposed observer force was just as important and should also be put in place.
SAID BEN MUSTAPHA (Tunisia) said this was the third time in a brief period the Council had met to examine the situation in the occupied territories. That showed the gravity of the situation. To confront that explosive situation, the Council had adopted resolution 1322 (2000) appealing to the occupying Power to avoid further escalation. Unfortunately, Israel had continued to resort to excessive force. The intensive use of force in Gaza, using all forms of weaponry – both air and maritime – was an example. He profoundly regretted the grave and sad evolution of the situation. He condemned Israel’s act of aggression and appealed to the two parties and the international community to assume their responsibilities in this dangerous situation and to act rapidly. The Council must ask Israel to comply with international law.
He asked where was the Palestinian State that the United Nations had created. Discussion must be based on reality, not on deceit. The representative of Israel had talked about Israeli forces that had been attacked. Where were those forces? Were they in Israel? Many countries knew about occupation and what the consequences were. He called on Israel to create conditions for a gradual establishment of confidence. It was time for the Council to act on this critical situation and create a protection force for Palestinian civilians.
The situation in Palestine must not be accepted as a fait acompli, he said. The rights of the Palestinian people must be safeguarded. It was up to the Council and all concerned to act rapidly so that the fact-finding commission could do its work. Israel’s responsibility was clear. It started with facilitating the work of the fact-finding commission.
SELMA NDEYAPO ASHIPALA-MUSAVYI (Namibia) expressed support for the recent request for the United Nations to deploy an observer force to the occupied Palestinian territories. That request was in line with Council resolution 904 (1997) which called for the protection of Palestinians. The Council therefore had a duty to follow through with the implementation of that text.
She said the deployment of observers would also save lives, help calm emotions and pave the way for the restoration of the peace process. The fundamental problem, however, had to be dealt with – the occupation of the Palestinian territories by Israel. The time had come for the United Nations to become fully engaged. A comprehensive settlement could only be achieved by the granting of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination.
ARNOLDO M. LISTRE (Argentina) said there had been a clear deterioration in the situation in the Middle East. His concern was increased by the acts of terrorism that had occurred yesterday and today. He condemned such acts and asked the parties to also condemn those acts. The delicate situation required that all the parties act with the utmost conviction and control. The international community must do all in its power to help the parties end the violence. He expressed support for the efforts of the Secretary-General. The ultimate objective was peace negotiations.
VALERI P. KUCHYNSKI (Ukraine) said he was appalled by the daily news of new casualties among civilian populations in the Middle East. He condemned the use of excessive and indiscriminate force. He urged Israel to stop such practices immediately and to respect the Fourth Geneva Convention. He called on Palestine as well to refrain from violent acts and condemned all acts of terrorism.
The solution to the crisis lay with Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), the Madrid Formula and the Oslo Accords, he said. He encouraged the Secretary-General to continue efforts to find ways to halt the violence and bring the parties back to the negotiating table. Due to the further worsening of the situation, the presence of a third party representing the international community was critical to preventing a large-scale war in the whole region. The proposal to deploy an observer mission thus became increasingly topical.
MISRAN KARMAIN (Malaysia) said the spiralling violence must be stopped. The unleashing of force by Israel signalled its intent to wage war against the Palestinians. He called for the immediate establishment of an observer force to protect the lives of Palestinians. The present efforts to stop the violence had not produced effective results so far.
He said that while the Council had mandated the Secretary-General to explore the proposal to deploy a United Nations observer force, it must consult with, and convince, the parties to accept such a force. He agreed with the representative of the United States that there needed to be consent from the host countries. However, the difference between East Timor and Palestine was that Israel was the occupying Power. For practical reasons, however, Israel’s cooperation was needed and he called on that country to give its full cooperation. This was also for the good of the people of Israel. A just and lasting peace would only be achieved with the withdrawal of Israeli forces and settlers.
PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) said the cycle of action and reaction, so appallingly demonstrated today and in the last few days in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and which had exposed civilians and especially children to such terrible risk and harm, must be stopped. Each side had an obligation to protect civilians. They must not be made targets, nor engage in hostilities, nor provoke or expose themselves to a forceful response.
He condemned all the ongoing violence, saying his country held both sides responsible for it. And both were responsible for ending it. The Palestinian Authority must do everything in its power to prevent terrorist attacks from occurring. Canada condemned all such attacks and invited all parties wanting peace to also condemn them. For its part, Israel must do everything in its power to restrain its forces and must refrain from escalating the situation.
The best chance for a de-escalation of the situation lay in the implementation of the Sharm el-Sheikh understandings, he said. Canada expected that the fact-finding commission as agreed to by Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Chairman Yasser Arafat at Sharm el-Sheikh would carry out its activities in a timely fashion. Canada also supported the Security Council mandate given to the Secretary-General to explore options with the parties, including an observer presence possibly building on the work of the fact-finding commission. The Secretary-General should be given the opportunity to explore those options.
Council President PETER VAN WALSUM, speaking as the representative of the Netherlands, said there could be no more palpable evidence of the crisis in Palestine than the attack on the Israeli school bus and the retaliatory attack visited on the Palestinians. He called for courage, demonstrated not by fighting, but by trying to break the cycle. He also called for a just solution that would bring peace to both parties. His delegation felt, however, that the activities of the Council must not be allowed to interfere with the work of Sharm el-Sheikh.
ABUZED OMAR DORDA (Libya), on behalf of the Arab Group, said the Question of Palestine was a question of occupation and must be addressed as such. There was a process going on, but it was not a peace process. Negotiations which began in Madrid, and continued in Oslo, Washington, Wye River, Sharm el-Sheikh, Camp David and other places, remained dead letters as there had been no implementation of anything. The Palestinian Authority had no true authority over its land, as entry into Gaza had been blocked by the occupying Power.
He asked what peace could be concluded without restitution and the return of Palestinians to Palestine? What was being witnessed was the imposition of conditions dictated by an occupier. Certain parties were given technology, expertise and financing, while others were prevented and even prohibited from manufacturing even the smallest light weapon. He asked what could happen, given such an equation?
What was taking place in the region was an attempt to impose capitulation, not peace, he said. If there was peace, it could not last, because it would not be based on justice, law and equality. The death of three people in East Timor had resulted in the convening of a Security Council meeting and a minute of silence. Why had no one lifted a little finger after the murder of Palestinians? Was there one peace for some and another for others?
Palestinians had accepted their historic rights, he said, yet not even 20 per cent of those rights had been given to them. So what peace was being discussed and what peace was intended? The Security Council should express the will of the international community, be just and assume its responsibilities in accordance with the Charter. He was not asking for the impossible, but for justice and rights. That included sending an observer force to protect the Palestinian people, a fact-finding commission to establish facts leading up to the current events, and the implementation of relevant Council resolutions.
PIETER VERMEULEN (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, repeated the call for Israel to stop subjecting Palestinian civilians to collective punishment, to act with restraint, and to meticulously abide by its legal obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention. In addition, full and expeditious implementation of Security Council resolution 1322 (2000) would show necessary decisiveness on the part of the Council; it was time to seriously consider protecting the Palestinian people.
The Secretary-General's continuing involvement in Middle East peace negotiations served, he said, to reaffirm the primacy of the United Nations in global peace and security. He appealed to both parties to respond constructively. At the same time, he called on the Council to seriously consider the immediate deployment of a protection force to the region. The Movement believed that peaceful negotiation, bringing about the self-determination of the Palestinian people, was the only means of ensuring lasting peace in the region. He urged the parties to restore calm and re-establish mutual trust so that an atmosphere conducive to the resumption of negotiations could be created. The Non-Aligned Movement reaffirmed its determination to strive towards peace based on Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).
South Africa, he said, strongly condemned the recent attack on an Israeli bus. In the same strong terms, it also condemned the excessive retaliatory attacks by Israeli security forces, which moved the crisis to a precarious new level. He asked how long such collective punishment by a powerful occupying force could continue, in violation of international humanitarian law. Restrictions had suffocated the Palestinian people. The crisis had exacted too much suffering and claimed too many innocent lives. Negotiations towards final status issues needed to be held in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions, the principle of land for peace, and international legitimacy.
AHMED ABOULGHEIT (Egypt) said his Government had recalled its Ambassador from Israel in the hope of sending a message that Egypt could not remain silent and passive in the face of the excessive and intensive use of military force against Arab people and their property. A few weeks ago he had warned the Council that the deterioration of the situation and the inexcusable use of deadly military force by Israel could only lead to more violence. The Palestinian people, who had been under occupation for so long, felt complete frustration. Egypt had asked Israel to relocate its heavy weapons as a fundamental act to bring peace to the area.
He condemned all violence against civilians, he said. One of the important factors that made the situation more intense was the presence of armed Israeli settlers on Palestinian land. The Palestinians in Gaza, about 1 million people, lived on 60 per cent of the territory of the Gaza Strip. The other 40 per cent of the land was occupied by approximately 5,000 Israeli settlers. Israel hampered the movement of goods and trade, and cut off power to the entire Strip, with grave consequences for Palestinians. All of those acts must come to an end immediately. He hoped the work of the fact-finding commission would soon begin, so that it could meet the objective for which it was created.
The consultations that were taking place were aimed at agreement on the establishment of a United Nations observer force, which would aim to protect the Palestinian people, he said. That had been recommended by the Arab Summit this past September. He hoped the Council would pass the resolution that would be introduced by the non-aligned caucus. He was concerned by the Israeli representative’s statement that he was not convinced of the usefulness of such a force.
Prince ZEID RA'AD ZEID AL-HUSSEIN (Jordan) said that the holding of this meeting to take up the question of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories was a testimony to the seriousness with which the Council viewed events that threatened the whole region. Peace must be re-established in the Middle East and the Palestinian people must be liberated. Jordan regretted the situation of the Palestinians, who had been the victims of aggressive acts by Israeli authorities. It also regretted, he said, the actions committed against a Jordanian diplomat in Gaza.
The Jordanian Government demanded that Israel cease all violence, lift the siege, and respect the signed agreements, as well as the Geneva Convention of 1949. It also demanded that the fact-finding commission begin its work as soon as possible and that a protection force for the Palestinian population be sent. Finally, he expressed his condolences to the Palestinian families.
BRUNO RODRIGUEZ PARRILLA (Cuba), speaking in his capacity as Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that despite recent actions of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council to resolve the situation in the occupied territories, the violence had grown. Since the horrible death of Mohammad al Doura, many Palestinians had died. At the recent private meeting of the Security Council, Chairman Arafat had described the situation in the field and why there must be an immediate observer force. A just and lasting peace could not be achieved until the Palestinian people could establish an independent State, Israel had withdrawn from the West Bank and to the lines established before 1967, and the settlements were eliminated.
Speaking as the representative of Cuba, he said Member States that were vocal champions of human rights seemed to have lost their enthusiasm when it came to the rights of the Palestinians. They were manoeuvring to have the Council lose its power. He asked whose interests were being served. It was a typical case in which the United States used its powers and prerogatives, protected by the out-of-date veto power. He supported those who were making sincere efforts to ensure that the Council worked to fulfil its responsibilities. He also supported the proposal to send an observer force to Palestine. He called on Israel to cease its aggression and to comply with the many relevant United Nations resolutions.
Right of Reply
Mr. LANCRY (Israel) said that once the strategic choice of violent confrontation was what Chairman Arafat had called the Intifada of Independence. Mr. Arafat had made the devastating choice of achieving his political ends through fire and blood. Today, he had returned to those same practices. Now he was asking for international protection forces on the one hand, while on the other releasing terrorists on Israelis. The international community should not be misled by his nebulous shadowy misdeeds.
He said very suspicious acts had been carried out by Palestinians over the last few days. There was a need for a just approach to the two sides. Before the helicopters and tanks came into play, Mr. Barak had tried to make a reality of what had hitherto been intangible. Mr. Arafat had been the one who chose to return to terrorism.
Mr. AL-KIDWA, Permanent Observer for Palestine, regretted that the Israeli representative had resorted to using names in his statement. The Palestinian delegation had always tried to refrain from specifically mentioning persons. The Israeli party, however, was still wont to attack the Palestinian leader, who was the elected president of the Palestinian people. What objective was to be achieved by that except to launch mortal bullets at the peace process? What was wrong with calling for independence or with the concept of the intifada? The intifada was a communal expression of the Palestinian people who were insisting on their right to an independent State. Palestinians had paid a high price, and they were proud people whose principled position was correct.
If names were to be used, perhaps it should be recalled that Ehud Barak had allowed Ariel Sharon, the general who had promoted the use of the pinpoint strikes against the Palestinian people so he could practice his military theories, to visit Haram Al-Sharif, although he knew what the implications were. Mr. Barak had not observed one promise. He had not withdrawn one centimetre from Palestinian territory except from areas where Benjamin Netanyahu had already agreed to withdraw. He was the man who had led the region to the brink of catastrophe.
He said he condemned all acts of terrorism but he reminded Member States that the Israelis had killed more than 80 Palestinian children. An Israeli child was not more precious. He refused to absolve the Israeli Government of its direct responsibility for that act because they continued to bring settlers into the area. Five thousand Israeli settlers resided illegally on 40 per cent of the Gaza Strip.
He had not intended to indulge in such charges in a Security Council meeting, but the Israeli delegate had insisted on dragging the conversation that way. He resented the imperious tone of the Israelis. The leader of the Palestinians must be treated with dignity. He accepted the content of the statement of the European Union, and was ready to work with them and all others who were willing to work to bring peace to the region.
IX. ILO URGES SUPPORT FOR WORKERS IN PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES
The following statement of the ILO Director-General was issued on 24 November 2000 by ILO News in Geneva (ILO/00/46):
GENEVA (ILO News) – The ILO Director-General, Mr. Juan Somavia, warned today of an "evolving humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territories resulting from the closure of frontiers, the explosive growth of unemployment and the inability of many workers to meet their families' basic needs".
He said that "beyond the obvious need for Palestinians and Israelis to stop the violence and to restart the peace process, international organizations had to address urgently, in their spheres of technical competence, the rapidly deteriorating living conditions". He called on them to work together with the ILO to mobilize their resources and expertise behind an emergency employment programme.
His remarks followed a meeting, held at the ILO's invitation, with a delegation which included the Minister of Labour of the Palestinian Authority, Mr. Rafiq Al Natsche, and Mr. Hashem Al-Sughayer, President of the Palestinian Federation of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture. The Secretary General of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, Mr. Shaher Saed, was unable to leave the territories to attend the meeting.
The Palestinian delegation warned in particular of the increasingly serious employment situation created by the violence in the West Bank and Gaza where normal economic activity was grinding to a halt.
The Minister of Labour, Mr. Al Natsche, said that "unemployment was affecting more than 360,000 workers and that the situation could lead to starvation and famine. The Minister called for the support of the International Labour Office on behalf of the increasingly large number of workers prevented by the current troubles from earning a living wage.
It was agreed that, on an emergency basis, the ILO would implement projects on micro-finance for self-employment, with the support of the Government of France, and on rehabilitation for disabled people, for which backing from the Government of the United Arab Emirates was under consideration.
At today's meeting, the Ambassador of Italy to the UN in Geneva, His Excellency Mr. Negrotto Cambiaso, signed an agreement with the ILO to provide US$ 500,000 in support of an ongoing technical cooperation project for the development of vocational training in the Palestinian territories.
The Ambassador said that in light of the circumstances, today's signing was “a symbolic contribution but also a sign that we are not giving up hope for peace and development in the region”.
Prior to the current situation, the ILO had drawn up a programme composed of 18 projects addressing various social and labour issues in the territories. Although some projects have received support from donors, the progressive unravelling of the peace process throughout the year has prevented their effective implementation, the ILO said.
The meeting was followed by a visit from H.E. Mrs. Fayza Aboulnaga, Ambassador of Egypt, H.E. Abdulwahab Attar, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia and Mr. Majid Abugrara, representative of the Arab Labour Organisation, who expressed support for Palestinian workers and urged the ILO to take steps to continue implementing technical cooperation activities.
X. UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
EXPRESSES DEEP CONCERN OVER DETERIORATING
SITUATION IN THE OCCUPIED PALESTINAIN TERRITORIES
The following is the text of the comments made by of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on 27 November 2000, upon the presentation of the report on her trip to the Middle East:
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson said today every effort should be made to explore the feasibility of establishing an international monitoring presence in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Speaking in Geneva following the presentation of a report on her recent visit to the region, Mrs. Robinson said she was deeply concerned about the serious deterioration of the situation in the occupied territories and Israel and at the terrible cost it has taken in terms of human lives.
"It is vital that both parties renew efforts to halt the current dangerous escalation", said the High Commissioner. "The only path to lasting peace and stability is through peaceful negotiation, which calls for courage and responsibility on the part of the leadership of both sides.”
Mrs. Robinson, who visited the occupied territories, Israel, Egypt and Jordan between 8 and 16 November, said she had heard urgent pleas for international protection at each of her meetings in the occupied territories. She pointed out that the most persistent allegation brought to her attention was that Israeli security forces have engaged in excessive force, disproportionate to the threat faced by their soldiers. In her report, submitted today to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and the General Assembly, Mrs. Robinson recommends that the security forces of both sides should act in full conformity with the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials. "Whenever force is used, the principle of proportionality has to be applied, and all necessary measures have to be taken to avoid loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian property", she writes.
Among the other recommendations in the report, the High Commissioner urges that:
In her conclusions, the High Commissioner also recalled that the General Assembly and the Commission on Human Rights had repeatedly reaffirmed the de jure applicability to the occupied Palestinian territories of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilians in Time of War. She said it would be appropriate for the High Contracting Parties to assume their responsibility under the Convention.
As for the future of the region, Mrs. Robinson said that peaceful and stable coexistence could only be achieved on the basis of a framework conforming to the requirements of international human rights and humanitarian law. However, she added, "perhaps the strongest and most troubling impression I took away from the visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories was that of two peoples, linked by history and geography but currently separated by a wide and growing gap in their perception of each other. The recent violence has resulted in a hardening of positions, with little willingness on either side to understand or accept the narrative of the other. I stand ready to facilitate dialogue between the human rights bodies of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian and Israeli non-governmental organizations, and other civil society representatives in order to enhance mutual understanding.”
XI. SECRETARY-GENERAL’S MESSAGE ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY
OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
The following is the text of the Secretary-General’s message issued on 27 November 2000 on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, commemorated on 29 November 2000 (SG/SM/7641, OBV/180, PAL/1883):
On this important day, I am pleased to convey my greetings to the Palestinian people and to all who strive for a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine. I wish to also express my deepest sympathies to the bereaved families of those killed and wounded in the violence of the past two months. I pledge to seek an end to the violence and a restoration of trust between the parties with all the means and resources at my command.
This year’s day of solidarity with the Palestinian people falls at a very sensitive and difficult time. During the past year, the parties have continued to make a determined effort to overcome decades of suspicion and animosity in order to build bridges of reconciliation and partnership. Regrettably, following the September events in East Jerusalem, the situation on the ground began to escalate, rapidly reaching crisis proportions and putting on hold the prospects of further negotiations.
As the situation deteriorated, I appealed to the leadership of the two sides to refrain from making emotional public statements, and to weigh their words with great care. The same should apply to the wider international community. We all should do our best to assist the Palestinians and the Israelis in their truly historic quest for peace. I would like to seize this opportunity to call upon the parties once again to preserve the achievements of the past nine years and to move steadily ahead along the path of peace and reconciliation.
The worsening of the situation on the ground in the past few weeks has had an extremely damaging effect on the Palestinian economy. As a result of the conflict, the unemployment and poverty rates have risen considerably after several years of improvement. There is a growing sense of despair, frustration and anger among Palestinians. This is why it is essential to restore calm as soon as possible, and to revive the peace negotiations in order also to restart the economy.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate the full commitment of the United Nations to supporting the parties through the peace process. I can also assure you that the United Nations will continue to provide the assistance to the Palestinian people until a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine is achieved, and peace and prosperity at last prevail in the Middle East.
XII. SECRETARY-GENERAL REITERATES FULL COMMITMENT OF
UNITED NATIONS TO SUPPORTING PARTIES THROUGH
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s statement made on 29 November 2000 at Headquarters at a meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People held to commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (SG/SM/7646, OBV/182, GA/PAL/850):
Allow me first to thank the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for once again inviting me to participate in this annual observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
This solemn occasion allows us to renew our commitment to the goal of achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine – the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict – and express our solidarity with and support for the Palestinian people. Since November 1947, all my predecessors have been engaged in efforts aimed at finding a fair, equitable and peaceful solution to this complex issue. I pledge to continue to pursue this objective with all the means and resources at my disposal.
We are meeting today at a very sensitive and difficult period in the peace process. In the course of the past year, the parties have continued to make a determined effort to overcome decades of suspicion and animosity in order to build bridges of reconciliation and partnership. They have succeeded in narrowing gaps on some points and have reached agreements on a number of specific issues. And, in spite of the difficulties in reaching an agreement at Camp David last July, both sides had demonstrated determination to move forward. We were reassured by their resolve and hoped the negotiating momentum would not be lost.
Regrettably, following the September events in East Jerusalem, the situation on the ground began to escalate, rapidly reaching crisis proportions and putting on hold again the prospects for further negotiations. You may recall that, in the past two months, various parties, including myself, have been working to persuade the two sides to end violence and breathe life into the negotiating process. Throughout my visit to the region, the situation on the ground in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip remained extremely tense and volatile.
The understandings reached at Sharm el-Sheikh were viewed as a critical first step towards restoring the status quo ante, resuming the peace process and setting up a mechanism to inquire into the causes of violence. To achieve this, it was absolutely essential for the parties to implement these understandings in full and in good faith. Earlier this month, I welcomed the appointment by President Clinton of a committee of fact-finding, established in accordance with the understandings reached at Sharm el-Sheikh. I was also hopeful that the committee would carry out its duties with impartiality and thoroughness, and that it would thereby make an important contribution towards the search for a just and lasting peace.
As the situation deteriorated, I appealed to the leadership of the two sides to refrain from making emotional public statements and weigh their words with great care. The same should apply to the wider international community. We all should do our best to assist the Palestinians and the Israelis in their historic quest for peace. I would like to seize this opportunity to call upon the parties once again to preserve the achievements of the past nine years of the peace process and steadily move ahead along the path of peace and reconciliation.
Let me also add that there is one issue that is viewed by Palestinians and many others as a principal cause of the present crisis. I am referring to the continued confiscation and destruction of Palestinian property and the construction and expansion of settlements and roads in the occupied territories. These actions seriously complicate the discussions of the permanent status issues by the parties.
The worsening of the situation on the ground in the past several weeks has had an extremely damaging effect on the Palestinian economy. Repeated border and internal closures have led to a dramatic deterioration in the living conditions of the Palestinians, whose economy is largely dependent on that of Israel. As a result of the conflict, the unemployment and poverty rates have risen considerably after several years of improvement. There is a growing sense of despair, frustration and anger among Palestinians. This is why it is absolutely essential to restore calm as soon as possible, and to revive the peace negotiations, in order also to restart the economy.
United Nations agencies, such as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and many others, continue to support the peace process by helping to lay the economic and social foundations for a sustainable peace. These efforts have focused on developing Palestinian infrastructure, strengthening institutional capacity and improving the quality of daily life for millions of Palestinians.
For more than half a century, UNRWA has been providing varied humanitarian assistance and essential basic services to some 3.7 million Palestinians registered with the Agency. I would like to use this occasion to call once again on donors to provide UNRWA with the resources it requires to keep up with the rising needs of the refugee community. Donor assistance is especially vital now, at a time of crisis and economic hardship.
The United Nations development system has brought extensive multilateral and bilateral assistance to the Palestinian people. The UNDP, often in cooperation with other United Nations agencies and individual donor governments, has been involved in a wide range of development and rehabilitation projects and programmes.
This work includes, among other things, poverty alleviation, capacity-building, institutional development, healthcare, agriculture and environment, as well as activities in other areas.
The United Nations is also supporting the peace process through the efforts of Mr. Terje Roed-Larsen – my Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and my Representative to the Palestine Liberation Organization and Palestinian Authority. During the past year, Mr. Larsen has worked closely with the various parties in the region in order to provide them with political support, and to coordinate United Nations assistance in the areas of development and peace. I would also like to mention here the important work carried out by the Humanitarian Task Force for Emergency Needs, headed by the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories (UNSCO), in coordinating international assistance for urgent humanitarian needs. To date, the Task Force has coordinated over $9 million in such assistance.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate the full commitment of the United Nations to supporting the parties through the peace process.
I can also assure you that the United Nations will continue to provide the various forms of assistance to the Palestinian people until a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine is achieved and peace and prosperity prevail in the region of the Middle East.
Allow me to commend the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for 25 years of untiring and dedicated work. I extend my heartfelt thanks to the Committee and to you, Mr. Chairman, for organizing this annual observance. I wish you every success in this important mission.
XIII. REPORT OF THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER
FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND FOLLOW-UP TO THE
WORLD CONFERENCE ON HUMAN RIGHTS
The following are the conclusions and recommendations of the report submitted on 29 November 2000 by the High Commissioner for Human Rights on her visit to the occupied Palestinian territories, Israel, Egypt and Jordan during the period 8-16 November 2000 (E/CN.4/2000/114):
Question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine
Report of the High Commissioner on her visit to the occupied Palestinian territories, Israel, Egypt and Jordan (8-16 November 2000)
VIII. Conclusions and Recommendations
90. The High Commissioner came away from her visit deeply concerned about the serious deterioration of the human rights situation in the occupied territories and Israel and at the terrible cost in terms of human lives. It is vital that both parties renew efforts to halt the current dangerous escalation.
91. Mindful of the urgent and widespread calls for international protection made to her during her visit to the occupied territories, the High Commissioner believes that every effort should be made to explore the feasibility of establishing an international monitoring presence.
92. The only path to lasting peace and stability is through peaceful negotiation, which calls for courage and responsibility on the part of the leadership of both sides. When she met with Chairman Arafat in Gaza on 15 November, the High Commissioner asked him if he would publicly call for an end to the shooting by Palestinians. Later the same day he called on Palestinians to stop firing on Israeli targets from zone “A” of the occupied territories. In discussions with senior IDF officers, the High Commissioner also urged a withdrawal of Israeli military forces from some of their forward positions and a lowering of the military profile in the occupied territories. She continues to believe that some specific steps in that direction by the IDF could help to break the present cycle of violence.
93. The High Commissioner believes that a peaceful and stable future in the region can only be achieved on the basis of a framework conforming to the requirements of international human rights and humanitarian law. Full application of the international human rights standards set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the two Human Rights Covenants is essential.
94. The High Commissioner recalls that the General Assembly and the Commission on Human Rights have repeatedly reaffirmed the de jure applicability of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilians in Time of War to the occupied Palestinian territories. Article 1 of the Convention places a duty on all the High Contracting Parties “to respect and to ensure respect” of the provisions of the Convention “in all circumstances”. It would be appropriate for the High Contracting Parties to assume their responsibility under the Convention.
95. Another way in which the international community can assist is through the work of the task force established under the terms of the Sharm el-Sheikh Agreement.
96. The High Commissioner would urge that the following specific steps be taken in order to stop the escalation of violence:
The security forces of both sides should act in full conformity with the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials. Whenever force is used the principle of proportionality has to be applied and all necessary measures have to be taken to avoid loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian property.
The construction of new settlements should cease and those located in heavily populated Palestinian areas should be removed. As well as protecting settlers, the Israeli security forces should also protect Palestinians from violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers.
All cases of the use of lethal force on both sides should be investigated and subjected to the processes of justice in order to avoid impunity.
Compensation should be provided to the victims of unlawful use of force, including for the loss of property.
Curfews should be imposed only in extreme circumstances and as a last resort. In no case should curfews be used as a punitive measure. In cases where a curfew is imposed, it should be done in consultation with the local communities with a view to limiting the adverse impact on the human rights of those affected.
The enjoyment of economic rights within the occupied Palestinian territories, including the right to development, should be protected.
All holy sites and access to them by all faiths should be respected.
The Israeli authorities should ensure freedom of movement of international and national staff of United Nations agencies and facilitate access by them to those in need of assistance.
Cooperation with the United Nations agencies is vital to ensure effective humanitarian assistance in the occupied Palestinian territories.
97. The High Commissioner will:
Continue, through her office in the occupied Palestinian territories, to assist the Palestinian Authority in building up its institutional capacity in the area of the rule of law;
Offer the services of her Special Adviser on National Human Rights Institutions to assist the Government of Israel in its efforts towards the establishment of a national human rights commission;
Provide the necessary secretariat support for actions undertaken by the Commission on Human Rights, and its mechanisms, in the implementation of the resolution adopted at its fifth special session;
Stand ready to facilitate dialogue between the human rights bodies of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian and Israeli NGOs, and other representatives of civil society in order to enhance mutual understanding;
Urge the international community to support the work of United Nations agencies in the occupied Palestinian territories and, in this context, contribute generously to the different resource mobilization initiatives currently under way, including those of the World Food Programme, UNICEF, the World Health Organization and UNRWA.
XIV. UNSCO REPORT ON THE IMPACT OF CONFRONTATIONS,
MOBILITY RESTRICTIONS AND BORDER CLOSURES
ON THE PALESTINIAN ECONOMY DURING THE
PERIOD 28 SEPTEMBER-26 NOVEMBER 2000
The office of the United Nations Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories (UNSCO) published the following report on 30 November 2000, entitled “The Impact on the Palestinian Economy of Confrontations, Mobility Restrictions and Border Closures, 28 September-26 November 2000”. The following are excerpts from the report:
The months of October and November have witnessed the most severe crisis in Israeli-Palestinian relations since the signing of the Declaration of Principles in September 1993. Confrontations have resulted in the death or injury of thousands of Palestinians – and numerous Israelis – as well as damage to Palestinian infrastructure, buildings, agricultural property and vehicles. There have also been serious disruptions in normal economic activities caused by the political strife and the imposition of movement restrictions around and within the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
For most of this period personal mobility between the West Bank and Gaza, and between the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the rest of the world, has been severely impeded. Travel for Palestinians between the West Bank and Gaza via the “safe passage” route has been blocked by the Israeli authorities since 6 October while the Gaza International Airport and the border crossings at Rafah and the Allenby/Karameh Bridge have been closed for extended periods. Palestinian foreign trade has also been affected. Imports and exports transshipped through Israeli ports have been delayed or blocked completely for most of this period while the commercial crossings at Rafah and the Allenby/Karameh Bridge have been closed for about 70 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively, of the days during the reporting period.
Furthermore, there have been varying levels of restrictions on mobility between cities, towns and villages in both the West Bank and Gaza due to reduced levels of security on roads and the imposition of internal closures by the Israeli authorities. Such measures have routinely included the placement of physical barriers between Palestinian villages and cities and the deployment of military checkpoints on main roads. In addition, the Israeli authorities have imposed curfews on several areas in the West Bank, most notably in the city of Hebron and on numerous villages in the Nablus area.
Private economic losses during the first three weeks of the crisis were estimated at approximately US$ 186.2 million. Lost income-earning opportunities were estimated at about half of the value of domestic production and nearly all of the income earned by Palestinians working in Israel. Since then the economic losses have been compounded, while the loss of life, injuries and the physical destruction of private and public property have become more widespread. This is an updated and expanded report on the economic and social impact of the crisis covering the two-month period 28 September-26 November 2000.
II. Internal Impact
The main impact of mobility restrictions and border closures has been the disruption of productive activities and the circulation of goods. The short-term economic losses include reduced income to farmers, workers, merchants and business people who cannot reach their places of employment in the Palestinian Territory (PT) or who are unable to obtain inputs and/or sell their goods and services. This has been the case for a broad spectrum of economic activities including agriculture, manufacturing, construction, commerce (both internal and external), transportation and services (including those related to tourism).
III. External Impact
A. Labour Flows and Wage Income
In addition to the internal production of goods and services, the PT derives income through the export of labour. In 1999, it is estimated that Palestinian workers earned about $750 million from jobs in Israel and Israeli settlements and industrial zones. In the first half of 2000, there was an average of about 125,000 Palestinians employed in Israeli-controlled areas on a daily basis. The average worker was earning a daily wage of about NIS 110 or about $27.50. As a group, these workers were earning approximately $3.4 million for each normal working day prior to the crisis. On an annualized basis, assuming no border closures and no change in the average number of workers or the average wage, Palestinian workers in Israel could have earned an estimated $822 million in the year 2000. Internal movement restrictions and border closures have substantially reduced such income-generating opportunities for the last quarter of the year.
B. Commodity Flows and External Trade Income
Exports from Gaza were effectively blocked from 30 September until agricultural exports resumed during the week of 22 October. Exports from the West Bank have also been severely constrained during the reporting period. Total registered Palestinian non-agricultural exports to Israel (the main market for Palestinian exporters) averaged about $45.1 million per month during the first half of 2000. Assuming that these sales are distributed evenly throughout the working year, this implies a daily loss of about $1.9 million in exports, although some portion of these losses can be retrieved once mobility restrictions are reduced or removed.
Palestinian imports from Israel have also been negatively affected by the border closures
and mobility restrictions. The Karni/Muntar crossing, the only commercial crossing in Gaza functioning during the reporting period, was closed entirely or partially on 43 per cent of the days since 28 September, resulting in a significant reduction in goods imports. Trade between Israel and the West Bank has also been reduced due to the internal and border restrictions. Registered non-agricultural imports from Israel averaged $135.9 million per month in the first half of 2000 or about $5.9 million each working day. Furthermore, direct Palestinian imports from abroad averaged about $3.1 million per day in the first half of the year.
IV. Aggregate Income Losses
The estimated economic impact of the crisis is summarized in Table 1. In the aggregate, and excluding material damage to property and other losses, Palestinians are estimated to have lost $505.0 million during the 60-day period 28 September-26 November. The estimated losses are more than 2.5 times the value of donor disbursements to the Palestinian Authority (PA) during the first half of the year, which were $183 million. If these losses are distributed over normal working days in the PT – of which there were 51 during this period – the average daily loss is estimated at about $10 million.
The economic impact – i.e. the lost income-earning opportunities – amount to approximately 10 per cent of the estimated value of the GDP for the year 2000. It is important to note that these losses are calculated in relation to the level of economic activity prevailing prior to the crisis, rather than in comparison to the maximum income-generating potential of the Palestinian economy. While lost labour income is irretrievable, some portion of the domestic output/income losses may be recuperated once mobility restrictions are reduced.
V. Social Impact
A. Unemployment and Poverty
An immediate effect of the present crisis was the “disemployment” of some 110,000 workers formerly employed in Israel. Within days of the onset of the crisis, the core unemployment rate rose from less than 11 per cent to nearly 30 per cent of the labour force. To this must be added the disemployment effect of the disruption in normal internal economic activity due to mobility restrictions and border closures. The combined effects have raised unemployment in the PT to at least 40 per cent of the labour force.
The inevitable outcome of higher unemployment is an increase in poverty rates after several years of improvement. In a recent report, the World Bank has estimated the poverty line in the PT at approximately $2.1 in consumption per person per day. The poverty rate – i.e. the portion of the population falling below this level of daily consumption – was estimated at 21.1 per cent in September 2000 (having declined from about 25 per cent in 1997). Under present conditions of movement restrictions and border closures, the report estimates that by end-December the poverty rate will rise to 31.8 per cent. This constitutes a 50 per cent relative increase in poverty rates within a three-month period. Moreover, even with a partial relaxation in restrictions on mobility, the report estimates that the poverty rate will rise to about 43.8 per cent by end-2001.
B. Caring for the Injured
As of 27 November, the Palestinian Ministry of Health reported 240 deaths and more than 9,100 injuries resulting from confrontations in the PT since 28 September caused mainly from live and rubber-coated metal bullets. Of all casualties, 40 per cent have been below the age
of 18. About 58 per cent of injuries were to the head and neck, chest and torso. Some 10 per cent of casualties – about 900 persons – have involved serious physical or neurological injuries. Some 441 of these cases have been transferred to medical facilities in 10 Arab countries, Turkey, Iran and Germany for more intensive care. In addition to the specialized medical care provided in Arab and other countries, the international community’s response, up to now, has been emergency assistance to the Ministry of Health, to hospitals in Jerusalem, to NGOs involved in medical relief and to UNRWA. The long-term costs of caring for the thousands of wounded, and especially those with debilitating injuries, are difficult to quantify but are certainly in the millions of dollars.
C. Destruction of Property
There has also been significant physical destruction of private and public assets – buildings, infrastructure and vehicles – due mainly to the Israeli army’s use of heavy weapons, including rockets, tank shells and high-calibre automatic weapons. In addition, the Israeli authorities have bulldozed hundreds of dunums of Palestinian fruit orchards and agricultural land and infrastructure near Israeli settlements and bypass roads. Israeli settlers have also engaged in the destruction of Palestinian private property. Such destruction has been particularly pronounced in Rafah, Khan Yunis, Beit Jala, Beit Sahur, Hebron, Tulkarem and Qalqilia.
One report, covering the period 28 September-9 November, documents partial or total destruction by Israeli heavy weaponry of 431 private homes, 13 public buildings, 10 factories, 14 religious buildings and 67 incidents of firing on ambulances and/or medical personnel. In addition the report documents 69 cases of bulldozed orchards and agricultural structures. While the value of such damage is difficult to calculate, it is at least in the tens of millions of dollars.
D. Public Sector: Revenue losses and increased social spending
There have also been significant losses to the public sector in the form of lost revenue. Domestic income and VAT revenues have been reduced due to the lower levels of domestic income caused by disruptions in production and reduced labour flows to Israel. External revenue, mainly customs and VAT revenue associated with imports from Israel and abroad, has been reduced by lower commodity flows caused by movement restrictions and by reduced consumer demand. In 1999, 63 per cent of all PA revenues were in the form of transfers of receipts collected by Israeli authorities under the terms of the Paris Protocol of 1994. Since early October – a seven-week period – the clearance revenues transferred by Israel to the PA have been well below the anticipated amount owed, seriously straining the liquidity position of the PA.
On the expenditure side, the PA Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social Affairs has had to increase the level of spending to cope with the large number of killed and wounded Palestinians, the destruction of homes, and the rising needs generated by rising unemployment and hardship. The PA Ministry of Finance warns that the combined effect of reduced revenues and increased expenditures may raise the fiscal deficit to $100 million in the year 2000 – about four times its anticipated level before the onset of the crisis. In 1999, some 55 per cent of PA expenditures were for public employee salaries. Reduced revenue transfers would make it more difficult for the PA to provide timely salary payments for upwards of 115,000 public sector employees in November.
Document Type: Bulletin, Monthly Bulletin, Publication, Spanish text
Document Sources: Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR), Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), General Assembly, International Labour Office (ILO), Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Secretary-General, Security Council, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO)
Subject: Armed conflict, Bethlehem 2000, Human rights and international humanitarian law, Incidents, Jerusalem, Palestine question, Peace proposals and efforts, Refugees and displaced persons
Publication Date: 30/11/2000