Israeli occupation and natural resource exploitation continued to hamper social and economic development in the occupied State of Palestine and the Syrian Golan, speakers told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) as it discussed those territories today.
Israel had carried out military decisions and discriminatory laws which impacted Palestinian natural resources and economic development, said the representative of the State of Palestine. By taking over his State's resources, Israel had imposed full control on Palestinian trade and guaranteed that its economy would be almost completely subservient to Israel. Israel had also deprived Palestine World Trade Organization (WTO) benefits of 14.5 per cent for transport, transit and shipping fees of low income States.
Although the United Nations had adopted resolutions that determined Israel as the occupying Power of Palestinian territory, he said that Power gave no credence to those resolutions, acting as though it was above the law. Thus, he said that an international boycott of Israeli settlements and companies was a procedure in line with those resolutions and that the international community must end its dealings with Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land.
Qatar's representative, who spoke on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), stated that recent reports attested to a systematic and escalating pattern of human rights and international law violations because of Israel's illegal, oppressive and destructive policies.
Despite calls by the international community to halt those activities, Israel continued its colonial settlement enterprise in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, he said. Israel must be compelled to respect international law, and the Palestinian people could not remain the exception to the responsibility to protect civilians from atrocities.
Yemen's representative, speaking on behalf of the League of Arab States, said Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territory and Syrian Golan had limited socioeconomic development and prevented Palestinians from the free and direct use of their natural resources. The Israelis had erected permanent military blockades on the Gaza Strip, which had exacerbated living conditions there. Noting a link between poverty suffered by Palestinians and Israel occupation practices, he said Israel's daily activities were the primary reason many Palestinians lived below the poverty line.
Regarding the occupied Syrian Golan, the representative from the Syria said Israel had blatantly defied Security Council resolution 497 (1981) and had continued actions that deprived Syrians of their land. Israel and foreign companies continued to seize and exploit natural resources in the Occupied Syrian Golan, including water, gas and oil.
Bangladesh's representative called upon the international community to impress upon Israel the need to put an end to its systematic violation of international humanitarian law, as well as to its restrictive measures, so that a favourable condition was created for the economies of Occupied Palestinian Territories to grow.
In response to those criticisms, Israel's representative said that the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) report was full of false narratives and descriptions that were repeatedly used to bash and incite his country, and failed to mention that Hamas was administering the Gaza Strip through violence, human rights violations and exploitation of natural resources.
Conflict in the area had caused socioeconomic hardship on both sides, including through thousands of rockets that had been fired by Hamas at Israel, he said. The report also did not include the daily terror attacks by Palestinians against Israel. As for natural resources, Israel had recently agreed with the Palestinians on a Red and Dead Sea pipe project, an agreement on cross border sewage, and the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism. Concluding, he said it was surreal that Israel was being accused of human rights violations by some of the world's worst human rights abusers.
Prior to the debate, the Executive Secretary of ESCWA presented the Secretary General's note on the economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan (document A/72/90-E/2017/71).
Also speaking were representatives of Ecuador (for the Group of 77 developing countries and China), Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Namibia, Venezuela, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Brunei Darussalam, Egypt, South Africa, United Arab Emirates and Maldives.
The representatives of Syria, Iran and Israel exercised their right of reply.
The Second Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 25 October, to discuss operational activities.
Introduction of Report
MOHAMED ALI ALHAKIM, Under Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), introduced the Secretary General's note on the economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan (document A/72/90-E/2017/71). He said serious concerns remained about the use of force by the Israeli security forces. Between the period of 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2017, 63 Palestinians, including 19 children, were killed by Israeli army and security forces in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. According to the document, at least 37 of the Palestinians killed were carrying out or suspected of carrying out attacks against Israelis. During the reporting period, 12 Israelis, including 7 civilians, were killed in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory and 162 Israelis were injured in attacks by Palestinians.
Palestinians continued to suffer from settler violence and harassment, he said, noting that during the period there were 39 violent settler related incidents that resulted in Palestinian casualties in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem. Furthermore, Israeli authorities continued the practice of delaying the return of bodies of Palestinians who carried out or were alleged of carrying out attacks. That practice, according to the report, may be contrary to the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.
Concerning detention and ill treatment, he said that as of January, there were 6,500 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons and an additional 536 under administrative detention. According to the report, no criminal investigation was opened into more than 1,000 complaints of torture or ill treatment filed since 2001. Turning to housing, he said that Israel had demolished 726 Palestinian owned structures in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Furthermore, the settler population in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, had doubled since the Oslo Accords to more than 594,000 persons.
On movement and access restrictions, he said the closures in Gaza were tightened after Hamas took over the area in 2007, and successive military confrontations exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which undermined development efforts and resulted in recurrent violations of human rights. In addition, 44 per cent of the West Bank remained off limits to Palestinian construction and development, and by mid December 2016, there were 472 obstacles to movement there.
On exploitation, endangerment and depletion of Palestinian natural resources, he said Gaza continued to suffer from the effect of the 2014 military conflict. Constraints on the rehabilitation of infrastructure left 23 per cent of Gazans disconnected from the sewage network, and damage to electricity and fuel lines had contributed to chronic and electricity and fuel deficit. As a result, about 2 million Palestinians were left with three hours of electricity per day. The chronic electricity deficit exacerbated the water crisis in Gaza and affected more than 300 water and wastewater facilities. By June 2016, the average water consumption by Palestinians in the West Bank was 73 litres of water per capita per day, below the World Health Organization's (WHO) recommendation of 100 litres per day and below the 240 litres to which Israelis had access.
With regards to the socioeconomic conditions, he said the Palestinian economy had improved; however, there were sharp differences between the living conditions in Gaza as compared to the rest of the Occupied Palestinian territory. Food insecurity remained high, and more than 70 per cent of Gazans received some sort of international aid, primarily food assistance. He expressed similar concerns relating to education and public health.
On the occupied Syrian Golan, he said that the Security Council resolution 497 (1981) demanded that Israel should rescind its decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration. Despite that, settlement expansion by the Israeli authorities continued in violation of international law. Furthermore, Israeli and foreign owned companies continued to exploit natural resources after receiving licenses from Israeli authorities.
The representative from the State of Palestine expressed concern over the length of the new report, which was shorter than the previous one. He also raised numerous concerns over specific language and figures which were presented in the report, and said that he would send a list of those concerns to the Committee and the Office of the Secretary General.
ABDULLAH ABU SHAWESH, State of Palestine, associating himself with the Group of 77 developing countries and China, noted that a half century had passed since Israeli occupation of his people's territory had begun. During that time, Israel had carried out hundreds of military decisions and enacted discriminatory laws that had impacted Palestinian natural resources and economic development. It had assumed control of Palestinian water, erected a separation wall and deprived his people of the right to use Dead Sea minerals. Indirectly, Israel had assumed control of his State's resources by imposing full control of Palestinian trade with the outside world. That guaranteed that the Palestinian economy would be almost completely subservient to Israel. It had also deprived the State of Palestine World Trade Organization (WTO) benefits of 14.5 per cent of fees for transport, transit and shipping for low income States. The United Nations had adopted many resolutions that determined Israel as the occupying Power of Palestinian territory. But Israel gave no credence to those resolutions, acting as though it was above the law. International boycott of Israeli settlements and companies was a procedure in line with those resolutions. The international community must end its dealings with Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land.
HELENA YA�NEZ LOZA (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77, said Israel's establishment of settlements in the Palestinian territory , including East Jerusalem, had no legal validity and constituted a flagrant violation under international law. It was a major obstacle to achievement of the two State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. She demanded that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, calling on all States to distinguish between the territory of Israel and the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.
She expressed concern about Israel's exploitation of natural resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and other Arab areas Israel had occupied since 1967. She was gravely concerned about the extensive destruction of agricultural land and orchards in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the severe environmental and economic impact and the widespread destruction to vital infrastructure, including water pipelines, sewage networks and electricity networks. Her Group demanded that Israel cease exploiting, damaging, causing loss, depleting and endangering natural resources in those territories, and recognize the Palestinian right to claim restitution because of Israel's illegal measures.
AHMAD SAIF Y.A. AL-KUWARI (Qatar) spoke as the coordinator for the working group on development for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). He stated that the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) report Economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan (document A/72/90-E/2017/71) attested to a systematic and escalating pattern of human rights violations and violations of international law. Those violations were a result of the illegal, oppressive and destructive policies and measures that continued to be carried out by Israel, he said. Despite calls by the international community for the halting of Israel's illegal policies and measures, that country had intensified its illegal actions, which included its colonial settlement enterprise in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. Israel must be compelled to respect international law, and the Palestinian people could not remain the exception to the responsibility to protect civilians from atrocities.
TALAL ALI RASHED ALJAMALI (Yemen), speaking on behalf of the League of Arab States, said Israeli occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and occupied Syrian Golan over the past 50 years had limited socioeconomic development in those areas. The occupation had prevented Palestinians from the free and direct use of their natural resources, including land and water. The Israelis had erected permanent military blockades on the Gaza Strip, which had exacerbated living conditions there. There was a link between poverty suffered by Palestinians and Israeli occupation practices. Israel's daily activities were the primary reason many Palestinians lived below the poverty line. Israel had used various reasons to confiscate Palestinian territories, including excavations and tourist projects.
MOHD SUHAIMI AHMAD TAJUDDIN (Malaysia), aligning himself with the Group of 77, took note of the latest ESCWA report and condemned what he called ruthless and lopsided treachery of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory as well as in the Syrian Golan. That included the exploitation of natural resources, agricultural lands and infrastructure, demolition of homes and discriminatory allocation of water and access to land. He urged the United Nations system to strengthen its assistance to mitigate the suffering of Palestinians and the Arab population of the occupied Syrian Golan. He reaffirmed his country's strong opposition to expansion of Israeli settlements, urging Member States to garner the necessary political will to act urgently to reverse it and other negative trends on the ground that were creating a one State reality instead of a two State solution.
ROUA SHURBAJI (Syrian Arab Republic), associating herself with the Group of 77, said recent reports demonstrated the slow implementation of mandates on the Palestinian situation and the occupied Syrian Golan. Israel had continued its policies which displaced people, demolished properties, illegally seized land and evicted populations in favour of Israeli settlements. She recalled the numerous Security Council resolutions that addressed those issues, including resolution 497 (1981), which Israel blatantly defied by imposing their racist laws. Israel had continued its illegal activities, including through local council elections and the extension of privileges to Israelis in the Golan settlements. Such actions had deprived Syrians of their land and prevented them from construction and agricultural activities in the area. Israel and foreign companies continued to seize and exploit natural resources in the area, particularly water, gas and oil. To that end, she called upon the international community to force Israel to respect the resolutions and international law. She noted that the report failed to adequately present the issue of Syrians who were detained and imprisoned by Israel. The conflict in her country would not prevent its people from pursuing their rights in the occupied Syrian Golan, she concluded.
MOHAMMED KHASHAAN (Saudi Arabia), associating himself with the Group of 77, said Israel had continued to violate all international resolutions in their actions against the Palestinian people. They had closed mosques and imposed blockades. Stressing that settling the Palestinian issue was at the top of his country's priorities, he expressed hope that a peace agreement could be signed that would guarantee security for all. That agreement would be contingent on Israel leaving the Palestinian territory and Syrian Golan. A Saudi Arabian initiative endorsed by the international community would establish a Palestinian State. Only then would the region find a peaceful solution.
DIPU MONI (Bangladesh), associating herself with the Group of 77, said that the continued occupation of the Palestinian Territories for nearly five decades, as well as the indiscriminate attacks against civilians and the expansion of illegal settlements by Israel, constituted an affront to the rights of the Palestinian people. Gaza continued to face difficulties with water access and sanitation infrastructure, with 23 per cent of its people disconnected from the sewage network. The ECSWA report noted that the demolition of the water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure continued in those territories. Food insecurity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory derived primarily from the lack of economic access to food that was intrinsically correlated with poverty, she said. The principle of leave no one behind applied to all, including people under foreign occupation. She called upon the international community to impress upon Israel the need to put an end to its systematic violation of international humanitarian law, as well as to its restrictive measures, so that a favourable condition was created for the economies of Occupied Palestinian Territories to grow.
SHERWIN LUMBAN TOBING (Indonesia), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the Palestinian people would not be able to undertake transformative steps to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals under the Israeli occupation. That occupation had created severe limitations on social and economic development in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Syrian Golan, and the negative impact of persistent policies and practices � including destruction of property and infrastructure, land confiscation, expansion of illegal settlements and prolonged restrictions on movement and trade � risked reversing Palestine's development trajectory. Calling for special attention to be paid to the diverse needs and challenges of countries and peoples under foreign occupation, including the Palestinians, he said obstacles to realizing their right to self determination must be removed and their sovereignty reclaimed. That would include measures to end the exploitation and depletion of Palestinian natural resources by Israeli authorities and settlers; lift restrictions on the movement of persons and goods; and redouble the international community's efforts to end the Israeli occupation through a political solution.
LINDA ANNE SCOTT (Namibia), associating herself with the Group of 77, called on the Israeli Government to desist from illegal restrictions, construction and settlements that prevented the economy of the Occupied Palestinian Territory from thriving, and urged them to stop the destruction of Palestinian homes and properties. Her country was concerned by the Secretary General's warnings that Israel continued to deploy discriminatory policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the occupied Syrian Golan. She also called attention to the debilitating fuel and water shortages in Gaza as well as restrictions on water accessibility and construction permits in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. She stressed the need to preserve the territorial integrity of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and stood with the people of Palestine in their pursuit of self determination.
Ms. AL-SHAMARI (Qatar) denounced Israeli practices that violated international law and international humanitarian law in the occupied territories of Palestine and the Syrian Golan. She advocated for the protection of schools in the Occupied Palestinian Territory to guarantee the right to education of Palestinian children. She said it was unacceptable for Israel to continue building settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the occupied Syrian Golan. Accordingly, she called upon Israel to end its policies that ran counter to international law, and provide the Palestinian people the opportunity to enjoy their rights in their territory. Qatar intended to continue its efforts for peace and security in the Middle East, she stated.
RAFAEL DARA�O RAMA�REZ CARREA�O (Venezuela) said 50 years of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory had elapsed and there was no indication that the state of affairs would change. Instead, Israel had continued to breach international law, violate the principles of the Organization's Charter and acted in defiance of several United Nations resolutions. Israel had continued to defy and trample the human rights of the Palestinian people through arbitrary detentions, including children. Demolitions of property in the West Bank and East Jerusalem were occurring at a record level. Prolonged occupation of Palestinian territory by Israel was one thing, but the country was also illegally exploiting that State's resources, including water as well as flora and fauna, and limiting its economic development.
Mr. AL KHAFAJI (Iraq) said Israel's occupation and settlement of Palestinian territory was a historic injustice in flagrant violation of United Nations resolutions and human rights. Finding a just solution to that issue would lead to increased stability in the Middle East. The rights of Palestinians to their natural resources, including land and water, were inalienable, yet they were being squandered and endangered due to Israel's illegitimate measures. The benefits of the international community's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development would be inaccessible to Palestinians. Adding that the Palestinians needed international support to alleviate its burden, he called for full international social and political support in the area.
NOUR MAMDOUH KASEB ALJAZI (Jordan), associating herself with the League of Arab States, Group of 77 and OIC, said the Israeli occupation continued to deprive Palestinians of their inalienable rights. The occupation had affected the development of most Palestinians, who continued to face rampant poverty and unemployment. The occupying Power denied Palestinians access to their agricultural territories. It also continued to destroy Palestinian land, while carrying out discriminatory policies over water distribution. Israeli confiscation of land was a major development obstacle, she added, underscoring that only 10 per cent of those in Gaza had access to running water. Development means security and peace, she stressed, emphasizing that development could not exist alongside occupation. She urged the international community to continue to support the Palestinian people and to place pressure on Israel to undertake its responsibilities under relevant Security Council resolutions.
OMAR A.A. ANNAKOU (Libya), associating himself with the Arab Group and the Group of 77, said the illegal separation wall continued to deprive Palestinians access to their fields and farms. The systemic home demolitions continued in violation of international law, he added, emphasizing that Israel had intensified its home demolitions in an alarming manner. Israel continued to build settlements and impose water and mobility restrictions. Gaza was a prison of 2 million people, he said, adding that unemployment was rampant there. Recalling the pledge of the Sustainable Development Goals to leave no one behind, he asked how that could be guaranteed when Palestinians remained marginalized at all levels and suffered from discrimination. Two million people were denied food, medicine and mobility. Occupation authorities continued their settlements activities and also prevented Syrian citizens from going back to the Golan. Israel's actions were a blatant violation of international humanitarian law. We stand by the Palestinian people, he said.
ABHAR AHMAD (Brunei Darussalam), associating himself with OIC and the Group of 77, said the pledge to leave no one behind meant that the plight of those suffering from war, conflict and occupation should not be forgotten. Citing findings by ESCWA that showed the Palestinian people might be left behind due to the Israeli occupation, he said the exploitation of their natural resources and unfair and discriminatory acts � including the illegal blockade imposed in Gaza � were hindering them from realizing their full potential and contributing to global development. The Gaza blockade had reduced the availability of essential services and necessities, worsening its humanitarian crisis and exacerbating poverty rates and aid dependency. The United Nations had the responsibility to galvanize international efforts to bring about a just and durable solution, he said, encouraging all States and international organizations to pursue fair policies and ensure respect for obligations under international law with respect to all illegal practices and measures in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
TIBOR SHALEV SCHLOSSER (Israel) noted that a few days ago the leader of the terrorist group Hamas had told Palestinians in Gaza that the discussion regarding his country was now about its elimination, rather than peace. Hamas was reacting to the international expectation that the Palestinian Government should respect the State of Israel and commit to peaceful negotiations. Hamas' death wish would likely not appear in the 2018 ESCWA report. That biased report was full of false narratives and descriptions that were repeatedly used to bash and incite Israel. It failed to mention that Hamas was administering the Gaza Strip through violence and human rights violations and was exploiting its natural resources. He noted that conflict in the area had caused socioeconomic hardship on both sides, including through thousands of rockets that had been fired by Hamas at Israel. The report also did not include the daily terror attacks by Palestinians against Israel. As for natural resources, Israel had recently agreed with the Palestinians on a Red and Dead Sea pipe project, which would greatly increase their water resources. Israel and the State of Palestine had also come to an agreement on cross border sewage, including a pipeline from the Jordan Valley. Israel was also fully committed to the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism, but that was not mentioned in the present report. Since 2014, that mechanism had enabled the entrance of nearly 10 million tons of construction materials into the Palestinian territory, which had improved living conditions measurably. Concluding, he said it was surreal that Israel was being accused of human rights violations by some of the world's worst human rights abusers.
MOHAMED OMAR GAD (Egypt), associating himself with the Group of 77, OIC and the Arab Group, said the situation for the Palestinian people had become increasingly worse throughout the 50 years of occupation. Development efforts continued to be hampered by the realities on the ground, which were a direct result of Israel's arbitrary policies. He called the practices applied by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territories an affront to international humanitarian law. Palestinian people continued to be forcefully displaced in violation of various international conventions. Meanwhile, Israel's destruction of Palestinian livelihoods and refusal to grant them construction licenses continued to fuel tensions. One out of two Palestinians required some sort of aid, he underscored, calling on Israel to end its occupation and comply with international law.
EPHRAIM LESHALA MAHLATSE MMINELE (South Africa), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that Israel's 50 years of occupation had been devastating to the economic and social development of the Palestinian people. The situation on the ground cannot be allowed to continue, he stressed, adding that unemployment in Palestine was among the highest in the world and that poverty continued to increase at an alarming rate. Palestinians must be allowed to access opportunities for their socioeconomic development and self determination. A Palestinian economy would be essential for a viable Palestinian State, he added. Palestinians must be able to lift themselves out of poverty and engage in economic activities. He also underscored how challenging it was for people living under foreign occupation to realize the Sustainable Development Goals.
Ms. AL AWAD (United Arab Emirates) said Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories and the Syrian Golan had led to socioeconomic deterioration in clear violation of international humanitarian law. Despite Security Council and General Assembly resolutions calling upon Israel to cease the building of illegal settlements, it continued its activities in breach of international law. The confiscation of Palestinian land continued to separate Palestinian families and block their access to essential resources. She emphasized her solidarity with the Palestinian people in realizing their inalienable rights, including the right to self determination. Palestinians had a right to a Palestinian State based on the pre 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. She urged the international community and relevant financial institutions and other donors to support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). For its part, the United Arab Emirates would continue to support the Agency's efforts in rebuilding infrastructure and delivering supplies to the Palestinian people, she said.
ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives) said conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Syrian Golan would not improve without adherence to the principles of inadmissibility of acquiring land by force and non discrimination, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter. He condemned the continued use of force and unlawful killings by Israeli forces, ill treatment towards the large number of Palestinian detainees, including minors, in an environment where there was no proper accountability for torture. He voiced his continued concerned that Israel had also intensified punitive demolitions of Palestinian homes, which, together with the so called Regularization Law passed by the Israeli Parliament in February, and the declaration of vast amounts of land in the West Bank as State land, was forcing displacement of Palestinian people.
Right of Reply
The representative of Syria, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said attempts by Israel to classify her country as a rogue State that did not recognize the United Nations and rule of law were the remarks of a desperate nation. Israel's efforts to fabricate events would not affect Syria's continued commitment to and defence of people's rights. People in the Syrian Golan were not only deprived of their incomes, their homes were being demolished and they were being denied medical attention if they did not carry Israeli identification. None of the Second Committee meetings would have enough time to list all the crimes of Israeli occupation.
Iran's delegate said the Israeli regime wanted to divert international attention from their policies by attacking others. Hamas wanted peace in the region, as demonstrated by its fight against terrorist groups. The region would not rest as long as illegal occupation continued.
The representative of Israel, responding to Iran, said that as long as Iran's leaders continued to express a wish to eliminate Israel, that country could not be considered a respectable member of the international community, but as a regime of terror. In response to Syria's delegate, he questioned how dropping barrel bombs on schools and hospitals were compatible with development.
Source: United Nations