Volume XXXVII, Bulletin No. 6
on action by the United Nations system and
relevant to the question of Palestine
Secretary-General welcomes formation of Palestinian national consensus government
Palestinian Rights Committee welcomes Palestinian national consensus government
Secretary-General concerned about Israel’s issuance of settlement tenders
Secretary-General concerned about deteriorating health of Palestinian hunger strikers
UN Media Seminar on Peace in Middle East convenes in Tokyo
ECOSOC adopts resolution on assistance to Palestinian women
Secretary-General condemns abduction of three Israeli students
UN Special Coordinator concerned by Israeli operations in West Bank
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs briefs Security Council on situation in Middle East, including Palestinian question
Special Rapporteurs urge Israeli Parliament not to authorize force-feeding of Palestinian hunger strikers
Palestinian Rights Committee condemns Israeli military raids in West Bank
Secretary-General condemns murder of three Israeli teenagers
The Bulletin can be found in the United Nations Information System
on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL) on the Internet at:
I. SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES FORMATION OF PALESTINIAN NATIONAL CONSENSUS GOVERNMENT
On 3 June 2014, the Spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued the following statement on the formation of a Palestinian Government of national consensus (SG/SM/15900-PAL/2172):The Secretary-General welcomes, on the basis of assurances provided both publicly and to the United Nations, the announcement on 2 June by President Mahmoud Abbas of the formation of a Government of national consensus headed by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.
The United Nations has long underscored the need for progress towards Palestinian unity in line with existing resolutions, within the framework of the Palestinian Authority and the commitments of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The Secretary-General takes note of the renewed assurances yesterday by President Abbas that the Government will continue to abide by those commitments of recognition of Israel, non-violence and adherence to previous agreements. The Secretary-General also notes that the Palestine Liberation Organization will remain responsible for holding peace negotiations with the State of Israel, a commitment President Abbas has reaffirmed, and hopes that new opportunities for progress toward a two-State solution will emerge soon.
The United Nations stands ready to lend its full support to the newly formed Government in its effort to reunite the West Bank and Gaza, in line with the intra-Palestinian unity agreement of 23 April, under one legitimate Palestinian Authority, including by addressing the serious political, security, humanitarian and economic challenges in Gaza, and holding long overdue elections. Special Coordinator [Robert] Serry discussed those issues with Prime Minister Hamdallah in their meeting today.
The Secretary-General counts on a constructive approach by regional stakeholders, and hopes the international community will not relent in its support to the development of Palestinian economy and Israeli-Palestinian peace.
II. PALESTINIAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE WELCOMES PALESTINIAN NATIONAL CONSENSUS GOVERNMENT
On 4 June 2014, the Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People issued the following statement welcoming the formation of the Palestinian national consensus Government (GA/PAL/1300):
The Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People welcomes the formation of the Government of national consensus of the State of Palestine, which was sworn in on 2 June in Ramallah by President Mahmoud Abbas. The Government, headed by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, is comprised of independent figures, and will report to President Abbas. The Bureau observes that the new unity Government will have a mandate focused on preparing for legislative and presidential elections within six months, and on rebuilding Gaza. The Bureau welcomed the assurances given by President Abbas and Prime Minister Hamdallah that the new Government is committed to respect past agreements, international political initiatives and peaceful solutions.
The Bureau is heartened by the fact that the main Palestinian factions, responding to overwhelming popular desire for unity, have successfully bridged their differences and agreed on a way forward. The international community, including the Committee, as well as the Quartet, has consistently called on the Palestinians to reunify behind the legitimate leadership of President Abbas.
The formation of the new Government is a crucial first step towards the reuniting the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which is a vital interest of all those who sincerely want peace. The Bureau looks forward to a speedy resolution of all outstanding reconciliation issues that would lead to a reintegration of Gaza and the West Bank in the institutional, economic and security spheres, the holding of free, fair and inclusive elections, the reactivation of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access leading to the sustained reopening of the crossings, and the rebuilding of the economy of the Gaza Strip. In addition, the Gaza ceasefire should be solidified, and the Bureau calls on all regional and international stakeholders to work constructively towards this end. In particular, the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip has to end to allow the new Government to effectively address the serious political, security, humanitarian and economic challenges there.
The Bureau expects the new Palestinian Government to continue on the path towards independent Palestinian statehood. It calls upon the international community to support and encourage the Palestinian reconciliation process as it unfolds. The Bureau welcomes worldwide expressions of support, including the recent announcements by major donors of their intention to cooperate with the new Government in line with its commitments, and to maintain funding flows. We look forward to the activation of the Arab financial safety net. The Bureau also welcomes the encouragement for the new Government given by the United Nations and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
At the same time the Bureau denounces the rejectionist stance adopted by the Government of Israel, the occupying Power, including its decision to suspend peace talks, to partially freeze Palestinian revenues, to block the freedom of movement of Palestinian Ministers between Gaza and the West Bank and to obstruct the holding of Palestinian elections.
We call on the international community to seize this opportunity to decisively move the peace process forward in accordance with Security Council resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative, towards our shared vision of two sovereign States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.
III. SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCERNED ABOUT ISRAEL’S ISSUANCE OF SETTLEMENT TENDERS
On 5 June 2014, the Spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued the following statement on the issuance of settlement tenders by Israel (SG/SM/15907):
The Secretary-General is deeply concerned by reports today that Israeli authorities have issued tenders for the construction of over 1,400 new housing units in settlements in the West Bank, including in occupied East Jerusalem. As the United Nations has reiterated on many occasions, the building of settlements on occupied territory is illegal under international law.
The Secretary-General recalls his statement of 1 May, urging both parties to exercise prudence and to avoid taking further diminish the chances of reaching a negotiated final peace agreement. The Secretary-General calls on Israel to heed the calls of the international community to freeze settlement activity and abide by its commitments under international law and the road map.
IV. SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCERNED ABOUT DETERIORATING HEALTH OF PALESTINIAN HUNGER STRIKERS
On 6 June 2014, the Spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued the following statement on the deteriorating health of Palestinian administrative detainees held by Israel who had been on hunger strike (SG/SM/15911-PAL/2173):
The Secretary-General is concerned about reports regarding the deteriorating health of Palestinian administrative detainees who have been on hunger strike for over a month. He reiterates his long-standing position that administrative detainees should be charged or released without delay.
The United Nations on the ground is closely following the overall situation of Palestinian detainees. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recently reiterated to the Government of Israel the Secretary-General’s concerns on these issues. She also expressed concerns regarding a legislative amendment before the Israeli Knesset that, if passed, would permit force-feeding and medical treatment of prisoners on hunger strike against their will under certain conditions, in contravention of international standards.
The Secretary-General has taken note of the related concerns raised recently by various human rights organizations and has responded, reiterating the United Nations well-known positions.
V. UN MEDIA SEMINAR ON PEACE IN MIDDLE EAST CONVENES IN TOKYO
On 9 and 10 June 2014 in Tokyo, the United Nations Department of Public Information convened the International Media Seminar on Peace in the Middle East. The Seminar consisted of five panels, which focused on: the status of peace efforts; shifting narratives in media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Middle East peace efforts; coverage and narratives surrounding Palestinian refugees; Japanese media coverage of the Middle East, including how the Japanese media covers its Government’s support for Palestine; and new tools for the media in covering the Middle East – infographics. The following is the message of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the event, delivered by the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal (SG/SM/15917/PAL/2175-PI/2097):
I am pleased to greet participants at this International Seminar on Peace in the Middle East. I thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and Sophia University for hosting. I applaud the engagement of Japan in our efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East.
Last year, my message to this Seminar referred to renewed hope for the Middle East peace process. I reiterated my belief that the resumption of direct talks was a welcome step, and the only path towards peace between Israelis and Palestinians. I regret that intense diplomatic efforts since then have not yielded the outcome we had all hoped for. Today, negotiations on the two-State solution have reached another impasse. This does not mean, however, that international efforts have stopped. I have repeatedly appealed to the parties and the international community to work diligently and constructively to find a meaningful path forward.
The parties should use the current pause to consider options for the future without taking unilateral steps that would undermine the prospect for the resumption of direct negotiations. There is no contradiction between Palestinian reconciliation and peace negotiations. Palestinian unity is essential for the viability of any peace agreement. The United Nations has consistently supported efforts towards Palestinian unity within the framework of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s commitments, which include the recognition of the right of the State of Israel to exist and the renunciation of terrorism and violence.
The United Nations continues to play a key role assisting people in need. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), for example, continues to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees.
As we face a pause in the Israeli-Palestinian talks, another crisis that threatens the stability of the Middle East — the conflict in Syria — shows no signs of abating. Among the many dramatic humanitarian consequences of the conflict, Palestine refugees in Syria are being displaced again. I am deeply concerned about their plight.
I remain committed to working with the parties and international partners for an end of the occupation that began in 1967 and the establishment of a Palestinian State, living side by side in peace with Israel within secure and recognized borders, and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
I also count on your contributions. As journalists, representatives of civil society, academics and policymakers, you play a critical role in promoting transparency, accountability and public participation, as well as shaping the perception of our most important challenges.
I wish you a successful gathering.
VI. ECOSOC ADOPTS RESOLUTION ON ASSISTANCE TO PALESTINIAN WOMEN
On 12 June 2014, the Economic and Social Council adopted the resolution on the “Situation of and assistance to Palestinian women (E/RES/2014/1), on the recommendation of the Commission of the Status of Women (E/2014/27):
The Economic and Social Council,
Having considered with appreciation the report of the Secretary-General,1.
Recalling the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women,2 in particular paragraph 260 concerning Palestinian women and children, the Beijing Platform for Action, adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women,3 and the outcomes of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”,4
Recalling also its resolution 2013/17 of 24 July 2013 and other relevant United Nations resolutions, including General Assembly resolution 57/337 of 3 July 2003 on the prevention of armed conflict and Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) of 31 October 2000 on women and peace and security,
Recalling further the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women5 as it concerns the protection of civilian populations,
Recalling the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,6 the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights6 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child,7 and reaffirming that these human rights instruments must be respected in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,
Expressing deep concern about the grave situation of Palestinian women in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, resulting from the severe impact of the ongoing illegal Israeli occupation and all of its manifestations,
Expressing grave concern about the increased difficulties being faced by Palestinian women and girls living under Israeli occupation, including the continuation of home demolitions, evictions of Palestinians, the revocation of residency rights, arbitrary detention and imprisonment and escalating settler violence against Palestinian civilians and their property, as well as high rates of poverty, unemployment, food insecurity, inadequate water supply and unsafe drinking water, incidents of domestic violence and declining health, education and living standards, including the rising incidence of trauma and the decline in their psychological well-being, and expressing grave concern about the dire humanitarian crisis and the insecurity and instability on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in particular in the Gaza Strip,
Deploring the dire economic and social conditions of Palestinian women and girls in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the systematic violation of their human rights resulting from the severe impact of ongoing illegal Israeli practices, including the forced displacement of civilians and confiscation of land, particularly in connection with the construction and expansion of settlements and the wall, which continue to constitute a major obstacle to peace on the basis of the two-State solution, and the continued imposition of closures and throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which have detrimentally affected their right to health care, including access of pregnant women to health services for antenatal care and safe delivery, education, employment, development and freedom of movement,
Gravely concerned, in particular, about the critical socioeconomic and humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, including that resulting from Israeli military operations, including those in November 2012, and the continuing imposition of a blockade consisting of the prolonged closure of border crossings and severe restrictions on the movement of persons and goods, as well as the continued impeding of the reconstruction process by Israel, the occupying Power, which has detrimentally affected every aspect of the lives of the civilian population, especially women and children, in the Gaza Strip,
Stressing the importance of providing assistance, especially emergency assistance, to alleviate the dire socioeconomic and humanitarian situation being faced by Palestinian women and their families, and recognizing the essential efforts and support being provided by the United Nations agencies and other humanitarian aid organizations on the ground,
Reiterating the importance of increasing the role of women in peacebuilding and decision-making with regard to conflict prevention and the peaceful resolution of conflicts as part of efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of all women in the region, and stressing the importance of their equal participation and involvement in all efforts for the achievement, maintenance and promotion of peace and security,
1. Reaffirms that the Israeli occupation remains the major obstacle for Palestinian women with regard to their advancement, self-reliance and integration into the development of their society, and stresses the importance of efforts to increase their role in decision-making with regard to conflict prevention and resolution and to ensure their equal participation and involvement in all efforts for the achievement, maintenance and promotion of peace and security;
2. Calls upon the international community, in this regard, to continue to provide urgently needed assistance, especially emergency assistance, and services in an effort to alleviate the dire humanitarian crisis being faced by Palestinian women and their families and to help in the reconstruction of relevant Palestinian institutions, with the integration of a gender perspective into all of its international assistance programmes, commends the implementation of the August 2009 plan of the Palestinian Authority for constructing the institutions of an independent Palestinian State and the significant achievements made, as confirmed by international institutions, including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations, and calls for continued support of these efforts;
3. Demands that Israel, the occupying Power, comply fully with the provisions and principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,8 the Regulations annexed to the Hague Convention IV of 18 October 1907, the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949,9 and all other relevant rules, principles and instruments of international law, including the International Covenants on Human Rights,6 in order to protect the rights of Palestinian women and their families;
4. Urges the international community to continue to give special attention to the promotion and protection of the human rights of Palestinian women and girls and to intensify its measures to improve the difficult conditions being faced by Palestinian women and their families living under Israeli occupation;
5. Calls upon Israel to facilitate the return of all refugees and displaced Palestinian women and children to their homes and properties, in compliance with the relevant United Nations resolutions;
6. Stresses the urgent need for sustained and active international involvement, including by the Quartet, to assist the parties in advancing and accelerating peace process negotiations for the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement that ends the occupation which began in 1967 and results in the independence of a democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its neighbours, on the basis of United Nations resolutions, the Quartet road map to a permanent two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict10 and the Arab Peace Initiative adopted by the Council of the League of Arab States at its fourteenth session;11
7. Requests the Commission on the Status of Women to continue to monitor and take action with regard to the implementation of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women,2 in particular paragraph 260 concerning Palestinian women and children, the Beijing Platform for Action,3 and the outcomes of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”;4
8. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to review the situation, to assist Palestinian women by all available means, including those set out in his report,1 and to submit to the Commission on the Status of Women at its fifty-ninth session a report, including information provided by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, on the progress made in the implementation of the present resolution.
22nd plenary meeting
12 June 2014
VII. SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS ABDUCTION OF THREE ISRAELI STUDENTS
On 14 June 2014, the Spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued the following statement on the abduction of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank on their way back home to Israel from yeshivas in illegal settlements (SG/SM/15946):
The Secretary-General condemns the abduction on 12 June of three Israeli students, including two minors, in the West Bank. He expresses his solidarity with the families of the abducted and calls for their immediate release.
The Secretary-General again expresses his deep concern about the trend towards violence on the ground and attendant loss of life, including today of a child in Gaza as a result of a recent Israeli airstrike. He expresses his condolences to the bereaved family.
The Secretary-General urges all to exercise restraint and lend their urgent support for the release and safe return of the three youths.
VIII. UN SPECIAL COORDINATOR CONCERNED BY ISRAELI OPERATIONS IN WEST BANK
On 20 June 2014, the Office of United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry issued the following statement on Israeli security operations in the West Bank following the abduction of the three Israeli students:
The Special Coordinator is deeply concerned by reports that Israeli security operations in the West Bank since the abduction of three Israeli students have resulted in over 300 Palestinians arrested, many injured, and three Palestinians killed, including one minor this morning.
The United Nations understands that these security operations and tightened restrictions on movement throughout and in and out of the West Bank are part of all possible efforts by Israel to bring the three youths home safely. We continue to call for their immediate release. At the same time we call for restraint and expect Israel to carry out the related security operations in compliance with international law and respect for the lives, dignity and livelihoods of Palestinians. It should thus seek to minimise the impact of security operations on individuals who have committed no offense and investigate allegations of excessive use of force, including the killing of civilians.
The Special Coordinator is concerned that without restraint from all sides in these dramatic circumstances, it will become even more difficult to address an already critical security situation on the ground.
IX. UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL
ON SITUATION IN MIDDLE EAST, INCLUDING PALESTINIAN QUESTION
On 23 June 2014, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman briefed the Security Council on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”. The following are excerpts from the briefing (S/PV.7204):
I brief today against the backdrop of many unsettling developments in the region. Nonetheless, we should not lose sight of the Israeli-Palestinian issue. With peace negotiations suspended since the end of April and despite the restraint initially displayed by both sides, the situation on the ground has turned highly volatile with several disturbing developments. Intensive search operations in the West Bank for the three Israeli students abducted near Hebron are ongoing with a corresponding increase in violence in the West Bank. The hunger strike by Palestinian administrative and other detainees since 24 April is now in its sixty-first day. New settlement units have been announced. And the fragile calm in Gaza was interrupted by multiple rockets fired at Israel, and the Israeli military response. All these issues, on which the United Nations has pronounced itself unequivocally, can be addressed only if the parties act responsibly and with restraint. Only then can any renewed attempt by the parties to find their way back to meaningful negotiations and to address the much lacking political horizon, in order to avert further escalation, take hold. International engagement and support for that effort should remain unwavering.
The reporting period also witnessed significant political developments on both sides. On 2 June, President Abbas announced the formation of a Government of national consensus headed by Prime Minister Hamdallah on the basis of the Palestine Liberation Organization commitments of recognition of Israel, non-violence and adherence to previous agreements. The Palestinian President added that elections would be organized within six months. On 10 June, Israel elected long-time member and two-time Speaker Reuven Rivlin of the Knesset as the next President to succeed Shimon Peres.
The situation in the West Bank — already tense with demonstrations in support of Palestinian detainees — has worsened. In the evening of 12 June, three Israeli students — a 19-year-old and two 16-year-olds — were reported missing. Their abduction has been roundly condemned, including by the Secretary-General, who has expressed his outrage publicly and in a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Israel blamed the abduction on Hamas, an allegation Hamas has reportedly since denied. We nevertheless find Hamas statements glorifying the perpetrators of that act to be outrageous. If Hamas involvement is corroborated, that would indeed constitute a grave development.
Search operations by Israeli security forces have extended to the rest of the West Bank, including in major population centres. Israeli authorities also implemented tightened movement restrictions, including prohibiting men from Hebron between the ages of 20 and 50 years from crossing the Allenby Bridge into Jordan, the only international crossing for West Bankers. We are concerned by reports that over 350 Palestinians have now been arrested, many injured and four Palestinians killed, including one minor on 20 June. The rising death toll as a result of Israeli security operations in the West Bank is alarming. We condemn all killings of civilians and call for an investigation into any such deaths. Reportedly, the Israeli Cabinet also voted to impose harsher conditions on detainees affiliated with Hamas who are in Israeli custody.
As the search for the missing youths continues, we call for restraint in carrying out the security operations, in strict compliance with international law and while avoiding punishing individuals for offences they have not personally committed. Detentions included those of reported Hamas affiliates and members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, notably Speaker Aziz Dweik, as well as over 50 Palestinians previously released as part of the so-called “Shalit deal”.
Palestinian security forces continued their work to maintain law and order. Earlier, on 5 June, Palestinian security forces reportedly uncovered and seized in Hebron explosives, knives, flags and military uniforms allegedly belonging to Hamas.
Overall, since our last briefing (see S/PV.7178), Israeli security forces carried out a total of 607 search and arrest operations and detained an estimated 928 Palestinians. Five Palestinians were shot dead, including during search operations for the missing, and 291 injured, including during demonstrations against the barrier and in support of Palestinians in administrative detention. Twelve Israeli security forces personnel were also injured. We are alarmed that there are significant increases in all of those categories since our last briefing.
Settler attacks, on the rise during this period, resulted in 18 Palestinians injured, including three children, and damage to Palestinian property. Palestinian attacks, mostly consisting of stone- and Molotov cocktail-throwing, resulted in injuries to seven Israelis. The Israeli authorities have not disclosed yet the findings of their investigation into the deaths of two Palestinian youths on 15 May.
Settlement activity, illegal under international law, continued apace with the announcement on 4 June of the issuance of tenders for over 1,400 new settlement units in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, and reports that the Israeli authorities had advanced plans for some 1,000 settlement housing units following Prime Minister Netanyahu’s reported decision to unfreeze planning processes for 1,800 settlement units. On 18 June, 172 settlement units were announced in the settlement of Har Homa, between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
The demolition of 65 Palestinian structures resulted in the displacement of some 112 Palestinians, including 56 children. Israeli authorities destroyed or seized a total of 28 donor-funded humanitarian assistance items, including on 5 June of a water and sanitation consignment en route to a vulnerable Bedouin community in Al-Ganoub, in the southern West Bank.
The Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights remain gravely concerned about the deteriorating health of those Palestinian prisoners on prolonged hunger strikes. Both have repeatedly called attention to the situation of prisoners on administrative detention and reiterated their long-standing position that administrative detainees should be charged or released without delay. The United Nations is concerned about the Government-sponsored legislative amendment before the Israeli Knesset that, if adopted, would permit force-feeding and medical treatment of prisoners on hunger strike against their will under certain conditions, in contravention of international standards. The Government-sponsored bill passed its first reading in the Knesset on 9 June, despite strong objections raised by national and international medical and human rights organizations.
Tensions also continued around the holy sites in the Old City. Since our last briefing, access restrictions were imposed on several occasions on Palestinians, and clashes between worshippers and Israeli security forces resulted in tens of Palestinians injured and detained, including on 13 June. We call on all parties to show the utmost restraint regarding the holy compound and to fully respect the sanctity of holy sites of all faiths.
In Gaza, the prevailing calm started unraveling, especially following the abduction of the Israeli students. Since our last briefing, a total of 39 rockets and four mortar shells were fired towards Israel. Two rockets exploded at launching sites and 17 dropped short in Gaza, injuring two Palestinian girls on 16 June. Three rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome system, but four mortar shells and 19 rockets landed in open areas of Israel, including two near the city of Ashkelon, without resulting in injuries. Israel conducted a total of 5 incursions and 38 airstrikes into Gaza, resulting in the death of a Palestinian militant and a seven year-old child. Another Palestinian civilian died on 8 June from injuries after being shot at by the Israeli Navy on 26 May. A total of 10 Palestinian militants and eight Palestinian civilians were injured by Israeli fire. We continue to condemn indiscriminate rocket firing against civilians as well as any loss of civilian life. We further call on all Palestinian factions to adhere to the calm as per the understandings reached in the lead-up to the unity agreement. Of chief importance is the need to support the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to take up security functions in Gaza and to unify the security forces under one legitimate authority.
The persisting dire socioeconomic situation as the result of a tightened access regime and continued violence has seriously complicated prospects for the new Government of national consensus in assuming its functions and delivering tangible improvements to the lives of Gazans, which the United Nations had pledged to support. The tension over the payment of salaries is but one manifestation of the immediate challenges as the Palestinian Authority attempts to reunify the institutions. Existing acute de-development indicators remain of concern, including rates of food insecurity at 57 percent, and unemployment at 41 percent, disproportionately affecting youth.
Much of Gaza’s challenges still require structural solutions, which remain unaddressed. Following the abduction incident on 12 June and the ensuing rocket firing, the Kerem Shalom crossing was closed from 15 to 17 June but for the transfer of fuel supplies; it has been re-opened fully since 18 June. Since our last report to the Council, there have been no approvals for the resumption of additional United Nations construction projects, and pre-approved work stalled as a result of the crossings being closed. Open crossings, both for goods and people, access to construction material, re-establishing trade links between the West Bank and Gaza, and exports are as urgently needed as ever to kickstart the economy and create job opportunities. Rafah was only open for seven days during the reporting period.
Under the current strenuous circumstances, although it will not be easy, the United Nations will continue to deliver assistance to the people in Gaza in close cooperation with the newly appointed ministers.
We are facing a moment of real crisis that is testing the region in new ways. Negative forces on multiple fronts in the Middle East continue to draw strength by sowing strife and frustrating viable options for a political solution. We should take this as a wake-up call that challenges all of us to work together to restore the prospects for a durable regional peace. In the Israeli-Palestinian context, both sides have a responsibility to exercise maximum restraint in order to contain what has rapidly developed into a critical security situation on the ground, restore calm and create opportunities to return to a negotiating process. This is a time for renewed impetus and political will aimed at ending the conflict and the occupation that have already scarred the lives of far too many Israelis and Palestinians for far too long. We must work together now to build a better future for the people of the region.
On behalf of the Secretary-General, I also want to express our collective appreciation to the Special Representatives and special coordinators of the United Nations, their teams and the United Nations country teams, who are working so heroically and diligently in this region, helping to address the challenges I have outlined in today’s briefing.
X. SPECIAL RAPPORTEURS URGE ISRAELI PARLIAMENT NOT TO AUTHORIZE
FORCE-FEEDING OF PALESTINIAN HUNGER STRIKERS
On 25 June 2014, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan Méndez, and Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Anand Grover, urged the Israeli Parliament not to authorize the force-feeding and medical treatment of prisoners on hunger strike against their will. The following is the related press release:
United Nations Special Rapporteurs on torture and the right to health today urged the Parliament of Israel not to amend the Prisons Act to authorize the force-feeding and medical treatment of prisoners on hunger strike against their will.
The human rights experts’ call comes as the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, delayed its second vote on a bill to amend the Prisons Act to allow forced feeding of prisoners. Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners have been on hunger-strike since 24 April 2014 to protest against the fact that many of them have been detained without charge or trial, and at the treatment they have been subjected to in Israeli prisons.
“It is not acceptable to force-feed or use threats of force-feeding or other physical or psychological coercion against individuals who have opted for the extreme recourse of a hunger strike to protest against their detention without charge and conditions of detention and treatment,” said the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan Méndez.
“The desire of the inmates not to eat must be respected for as long as it is clear that they are making that choice voluntarily. Even if it is intended for the benefit of the detainees, feeding induced by threats, coercion, force or use of physical restraints are tantamount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” Mr. Méndez said.
The amendments would also oblige doctors who refuse to carry out forced feeding to identify a colleague who would agree to perform such measures. This would place an obligation on doctors to act contrary to their professional code of ethics.
“Healthcare personnel may not apply undue pressure on individuals who have decided to go on hunger strike,” the Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Anand Grover, said. “Prisoners’ rights to control their health, body, and be free from interference such as non-consensual medical treatment are fundamental elements of the right to health that must be respected and protected,” Mr. Grover added.
In cases involving people on hunger strike, the duty of medical professionals to act ethically in accordance with the principle of respect for individuals’ autonomy, as set forth in the World Medical Assembly’s Declaration of Malta, must also be observed, the rights expert said.
The Special Rapporteurs urged the Israeli Government to respect and guarantee the rights to life, health and personal integrity of all detainees and refrain from force-feeding and other coercive measures. The human rights experts stressed that the authorities have a duty to look for solutions to the crisis generating the hunger strike, including good faith dialogue with the inmates on their detention, its conditions and treatment. They also echoed the repeated call of UN bodies and the international human rights community to end the practice of prolonged administrative detention.
XI. PALESTINIAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE CONDEMNS ISRAELI MILITARY RAIDS IN WEST BANK
On 27 June 2014, the Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People issued the following statement on Israeli military operations in the West Bank (GA/PAL/1302):
The Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People condemns the continuing Israeli military raids in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which escalated into a massive onslaught on the civilian population after three Israeli settlers went missing on 12 June in the occupied West Bank. The Bureau joins the international condemnation of this abduction, including by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. It wishes to remind Israel, at the same time, that it bears full responsibility for the security of those Israeli citizens that it has illegally transferred to the territory it occupies. Moreover, as the Committee has repeatedly stated, these population transfers constitute a clear violation of article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states, “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”. Currently more than half a million Israelis live in some 150 illegal settlements scattered around the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, built on land confiscated from Palestinians.
The incident and the Israeli reaction shed a new light on the oppressive Israeli policies and actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The recent onslaught resulted in the killing of more than five Palestinian civilians, including a 15-year-old boy, the injuring of more than 100, including at least 28 children, and the collective punishment of the entire civilian population under its occupation, including the restriction of movement imposed on 800,000 Palestinians residing in Hebron. Israel has arrested more than 550 Palestinians during the operation that started on 13 June, and the total number of administrative detainees in Israeli prisons increased from approximately 190 to at least 340.
After more than two weeks of heavy-handed Israeli military operations in the West Bank against the civilian population, mass arrests, closures and intimidation it became obvious that the actual goal of these actions has been to undermine the recently formed Palestinian National Consensus Government, welcomed by the vast majority of the international community, including this Committee.
The Bureau of the Committee condemns the Israeli policies of collective punishment against the Palestinian people, as they manifest themselves in the recent clampdown in the West Bank, but also in the illegal, inhumane blockade of the Gaza Strip, now in its eighth year. It reiterates its condemnation of all acts of violence against civilians, including rocket fire from Gaza into Israel and the harsh retaliation by Israel resulting in the killing and maiming of Palestinian civilians in the Strip.
The Bureau of the Committee calls upon the international community to adopt concerted action to stop Israel’s illegal and provocative actions. It regrets that the Security Council has been unable to uphold its responsibility to act as the guardian of international peace and security and to act decisively against the violation of its numerous resolutions on the conflict. The Bureau calls for the reconvening of the Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to deal with the violations of its provisions against the State of Palestine, a State party to the Convention. Only serious collective action by the international community will compel Israel to abide by its obligations as the occupying Power. Israel has to cease all acts of collective punishment against the Palestinians, including the blockade of Gaza. It has to respect the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people and its other inalienable rights. Only then, efforts to resume the political process and to lead it to a successful settlement of all permanent status issues will have a chance of success.
XII. SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS MURDER OF THREE ISRAELI TEENAGERS
On 30 June 2014, the Spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued the following statement on the murder of the three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank (SG/SM/15990):
The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the murder of the three Israeli teenagers abducted on 12 June in the West Bank. There can be no justification for the deliberate killing of civilians. He hopes Israeli and Palestinian authorities will work together to bring the perpetrators swiftly to justice, and extends his deepest sympathy to the families of the victims.
The Secretary-General believes this heinous act by enemies of peace aims to further entrench division and distrust and to widen the conflict. It must not be allowed to succeed. He calls on all parties to abide by their obligations under international law and to refrain from any actions that could further escalate this highly tense situation.
2 Report of the World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace, Nairobi, 15-26 July 1985 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.85.IV.10), chap. I, sect. A.
3 Report of the Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing, 4-15 September 1995 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.96.IV.13), chap. I, resolution 1, annex II.
4 General Assembly resolution S-23/2, annex, and resolution S-23/3, annex.
5 General Assembly resolution 48/104.
6 See General Assembly resolution 2200 A (XXI), annex.
7 United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 1577, No. 27531.
8 General Assembly resolution 217 A (III).
9 United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 75, No. 973.
10 5/2003/529, annex.
11 A/56/1026-5/2002/932, annex II, resolution 14/221.
Document Type: Bulletin, Monthly Bulletin, Publication
Document Sources: Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), Department of Political Affairs (DPA), Department of Public Information (DPI), Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR), Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Secretary-General, Security Council, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of assembly and association, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the OPT, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO)
Subject: Access and movement, Assistance, Casualties, Children, Closure of institutions, Closures/Curfews/Blockades, Economic issues, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, Governance, Health, Holy places, House demolitions, Human rights and international humanitarian law, Inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, Incidents, Jerusalem, Land, Legal issues, Living conditions, Occupation, Palestine question, Population, Poverty, Prisoners and detainees, Protection, Public information, Security issues, Settlements, Situation in the OPT including Jerusalem, Social issues, Statehood-related, Terrorism, Torture, Women
Publication Date: 30/06/2014