Statement by Mr. Muin Shreim, Counsellor, Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the U.N., before the Second Committee, Agenda item 12: Report of the Economic and Social Council, 48th Session, U.N. General Assembly, 19 October 1993:

Mr. Chairman,

Allow me to direct the focus of my statement today to two elements relating to the report of ECOSOC, item 12 on our agenda, which are the "Economic and Social Consequences of the Establishment of Settlements by Israel in the Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, Occupied Since 1967 and the Syrian Golan", and "Assistance to the Palestinian People".

1. The settlements

The social and economic repercussions of the establishment of settlements by Israel in the Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and its destructive effects are very clear. The Secretary-General, in his report A/48/188, E/1993/78 of 8 July 1993, discussed this issue in detail. We have always believed the building of settlements and their existence to be illegal and still believe them to be so. The settlement issue is considered one of the largest obstacles on the path to the achievement of a lasting and comprehensive resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It also represents a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949. Further, over the years, the United Nations has adopted many resolutions setting forth the basis for solving the settlement problem, the most important of which is United Nations Security Council resolution 465 (1980) which was adopted by consensus.

The establishment of settlements reflected Israeli policies motivated by the mentality of dominance and occupation and aimed at attaining full control of the Palestinian territory, occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem; forcing Palestinian people to leave areas they wished to build settlements upon, and diverting our natural resources to their own benefit. Therefore, in light of the signing of the Declaration of Principles between the Palestinian and Israeli sides, which includes recognition of the Palestinian people and their legitimate rights, it is now logical to expect that the stage is set for the abolishment of the ideological basis upon which the process of establishing settlements was based. The West Bank and Gaza are not Judea and Samaria and the settlements cannot be considered security measures for Israel. On the contrary, they constitute a liability and threat to peace in our area. These policies belong to the past, and should not be taken into the upcoming era.

As we look towards building a sustainable peace, and until negotiations on the final resolution of many important issues begin, including the settlement issue, we expect and we hope that the Israeli government will immediately cease all settlement activities and discontinue all the privileges being extended to the settlers in an effort to encourage them to remain and to expand their activities. This would be considered a confidence-building measure on the part of the Israelis, and it would certainly help to smooth the way for implementation of the agreement, since it is neither logical, nor is it consistent with the spirit of the agreement, to speak about giving peace a chance while the settlement activities continue, as it sends a contradictory and dangerous message to our people. We believe that any continuation of the settlement activities is in direct contradiction to the agreement.

We insist that the international community continue linking assistance to Israel to the status of its settlement activities. Further, we insist that any final settlement should consist of a fair solution to the problem of the settlements, for which Israel bears direct responsibility on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions. It is our sincere hope that full support will be given to the draft resolution that we will later introduce concerning this issue.

2. Assistance to the Palestinian People

The prolonged Israeli occupation has forced our people to endure many hardships and has led to their impoverishment in all facets of society. The Palestinian people have paid a very high price while living under occupation. Thus, and in light of the recent positive developments, we call for the organization of a broad and continuous international effort to compensate the Palestinian people for their immense losses. In this regard, we welcomed the Conference to Support Middle East Peace, held in Washington, D.C. on 1 October 1993, as a first step on this road, which should be followed by direct and practical steps for the immediate implementation of its results. We also believe that it is important for the donor countries to take into account the uniqueness of the Palestinian situation and to channel the assistance through the official Palestinian institutions.

We are confident that our institutions will be able, in close cooperation with the donor community, to establish a fast and effective mechanism for the implementation of assistance programs. In our view, the United Nations has a basic and important role to play in this regard, and it is at this point that we call upon all the United Nations system to start, without delay, a coordinated effort to assist the Palestinian people, and we also call upon them to establish a direct and official presence in the Palestinian territory as they undertake their role in the process of building the new Palestinian society. In this regard, we welcomed the steps taken by the Secretary-General in dispatching a mission to assess the course to be taken by the United Nations, with which we are fully cooperating. Further, we call upon the donor countries to generously support these programs in order to sufficiently carry out the necessary tasks.

Mr. Chairman,

Peace and security cannot survive long without the existence of economic stability and security. What we are working towards is a peace based on economic welfare for our people and our neighbors, based on equitable relationships that are free of political and economic dependence. On this basis, and motivated by the new spirit, we will present you with a draft resolution on Assistance to the Palestinian People that will take into account the recent positive developments and the good intentions that the international community has expressed in supporting the Palestinian people and their needs and priorities. It is our hope that this august committee will send a clear and unambiguous message to our people in the occupied territory by fully supporting this resolution and adopting it by consensus.