Statement by Mr. Marwan Jilani, Counsellor, Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the U.N., Before the Second Committee, Agenda item 12: Report of the Economic and Social Council (Chapter V, Section D): Permanent sovereignty over national resources in the Occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories, 51st Session, U. N. General Assembly, 6 November 1996

Mr. Chairman,

As this is the first time my delegation takes the floor in the deliberation of the second committee, I would like to congratulate you upon your election as Chairman of this Committee, as well as your colleagues in the bureau.

Mr. Chairman,

We attach great importance to deliberation of this item "Permanent sovereignty over natural resources in the occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories", and we believe it merits the serious consideration of this committee. This item deals with a situation in which the Palestinian people are denied the basic right of control over their natural resources.

The violation by Israel, the occupying power, of the rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to sovereignty over their natural resources, has been the cause of grave economic and social injustice for the Palestinian people and the Syrian Arab population of the Golan since 1967. Israel continues to deny the Palestinian people the right to exploit and make full use of their land and water resources and Israel continues to expand illegal colonial settlements, expropriate land and divert water resources for its needs, at the expense of the Palestinian people and the Arab inhabitants of the Syrian Golan.

Mr. Chairman,

There is a worsening shortage of water resulting from the salification of springs, the tapping of hill-streams by the Israeli occupation authorities and the diversion of water for use by Israeli colonial settlements. The West Bank hills produce 600 million cubic meters of water per year, from which Israel, the occupying power, draws 490 million cubic meters and from which the Palestinians receive only 110 million cubic meters. This has been the division since 1967.

The Palestinian people have also lost a great deal of agricultural land to the occupation authorities through expropriation, as a result of which the proportion of the GNP and employment accounted for by agriculture is dramatically falling. The situation is further hampered by the Israeli imposition of a siege of the Palestinian territory and by the unjustified restrictions and controls against Palestinian exports.

Furthermore, Israel continues to steel, exploit and cause damages to the natural heritage and environment of the occupied Palestinian territory including Jerusalem and the occupied Syrian Golan though the theft of archeological ruins and artifacts, the distraction of the natural environment including the uprooting of trees and the confiscation of land and the by-pass roads for the illegal colonial settlements.

These facts do not only indicate the extent of the grave economic and social consequences of such policies on the Palestinian people, but also show the extent of the Israeli violation of international law, international humanitarian law and the will of the international community, which has always affirmed the illegality of these Israeli policies and measures in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and the Arab Syrian Golan.

Mr. Chairman,

The Palestinian People and the population of the Occupied Syrian Golan have the right under the international law to their natural resources including their land, water, archeological ruins, artifacts and geological resources. They have the right to restitution and full compensation as a result of any exploitation, loss and damage to their natural resources.

The General Assembly must continue to monitor such Israeli policies closely and carefully, in an effort to bring Israel’s conduct in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and the Syrian Golan in line with international law and to ensure the protection of the Palestinian economy from arbitrary and unlawful practices and policies.