Secretary-General Prepares His Report on Recent Events in Jenin and other Palestinian Cities Palestine Submits Substantial Report to Secretary-General

Resolution ES-10/10, adopted by the resumed 10th emergency special session (ESS) of the General Assembly on 7 May 2002, requested the U.N. Secretary-General "to present a report, drawing upon the available resources and information, on the recent events that took place in Jenin and in other Palestinian cities".

The request was made to the Secretary-General following Israelís refusal to cooperate with the Fact-Finding Team, established by the Secretary-General pursuant to Security Council resolution 1405 (2002), adopted on 19 April 2002, to develop accurate information regarding recent events in the Jenin refugee camp. Israeli intransigence impeded the efforts to establish the facts in a rapid and thorough manner befitting the extreme seriousness of the situation. Indeed, Israelís refusal to cooperate, in a reversal of its own position on the matter, and its rejection of resolution 1405 (2002), necessitated an alternate mechanism for establishing the facts about what really occurred during the recent Israeli military assault against the Palestinian people. This task was undertaken by the resumed 10th ESS in response to the failure of the Security Council to address the matter of non-compliance with its resolutions.

Thus, pursuant to the request made by the Assembly in resolution ES-10/10, the Secretary-General began preparing his report. Among the steps taken, on 14 May 2002, the U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs sent a letter to the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the U.N., requesting the Palestinian Authority to provide the Secretary-General with any information relevant to the implementation of that resolution. A similar letter was also sent to Permanent Representative of Israel to the U.N. In addition, notes verbale, requesting relevant information on the matter from all U.N. Member States and observers, were also conveyed.

Within its current, limited means and resources, the Palestinian Authority undertook the task of responding to the Secretary-Generalís request to provide the information necessary for an accurate and comprehensive assessment of the atrocities and serious violations of international humanitarian law committed by the Israeli occupying forces against the Palestinian people. Of course, Israelís continuous attacks on Palestinian Ministries and other official bodies and local government institutions, combined with the continuous military siege and the grave situation on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, made this task extremely difficult.

Nevertheless, on 3 June 2002, the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the U.N. submitted the Palestinian report to the Secretary-General on the events that occurred in Jenin and in other Palestinian cities, including Ramallah, Bethlehem, Nablus, Tulkarem, Qalqilya and Al-Khalil. The Palestinian report was composed of three different sections.

Section I comprised the Main Submission by the Palestinian Authority. The Main Submission contained a brief summary of the atrocities and violations of international humanitarian law committed by the Israeli occupying forces, from 29 March to 7 May 2002, in Palestinian cities, including in the Jenin refugee camp. It also presented a concise overview of the legal and political context in which those atrocities and violations were committed. In this regard, the report addressed Israeli actions prior to 29 March 2002 and some of the longstanding policies and practices of Israel, the occupying Power, as necessary for an accurate assessment of recent Israeli actions. This section of the report concluded with several conclusions and recommendations.

Section II of the Palestinian report consisted of various support documents. These documents, included a Compilation of letters of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the U.N. to the Secretary-General, President of the Security Council and President of the General Assembly since 28 September 2000; a Summary on the Israeli position on the Fact-Finding Committee on the Jenin refugee camp/Names of some Israeli persons who might be implicated in the atrocities committed against the Palestinian people; a Chronology of events from 29 March to 15 May 2002 (prepared by the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs), and a Summary of the annexes of the report

Section III of the report consisted of several annexes. For practical reasons, particularly the bulk of the materials, the annexes of the report were submitted to the United Nations Special Coordinatorís Office (UNSCO) in Gaza. The annexes included reports by the following: Palestinian Authority Ministries and municipalities; international humanitarian and human rights organizations; Israeli human rights organizations; Palestinian NGOs and humanitarian institutions; U.N. agencies; the World Bank; the Local Aid Coordination Committee/Donor Support Group; several media reports; a video tape compiled from local and international media archives; and 150 photographs.

The Palestinian Authority submitted its report to the Secretary-General with the intention of assisting him in preparing an accurate and comprehensive report on the issue. In submitting the report, the Palestinian Authority expressed its belief to the Secretary-General that his report should contain specific conclusions and recommendations to Member States and relevant U.N. organs on the matter. As noted above, several conclusions and recommendations were put forth in the Palestinian report to the Secretary-General for his consideration, the complete text of which appears below. As of the date of the print of this issue, the Secretary-General had not yet presented his report to the General Assembly.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The culture of impunity that exists within both the Israeli political and military echelons is of grave concern to the Palestinian Authority because of the resulting daily humanitarian implications of the incessant illegal Israeli practices being carried out against the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem. As noted, it is the on-going failure of the international community to ensure Israeli respect for humanitarian law that has created this dangerous culture of impunity. Moreover, the inaction by States to provide adequate protection for the occupied Palestinian population has placed the burden of protection onto the Palestinian people themselves, seriously undermining the very purpose and indeed integrity of international humanitarian law.

The failure to ensure Israelís compliance with the Fourth Geneva Convention has had, and continues to have, far-reaching, detrimental consequences and implications. Israelís violations and grave breaches of the Convention have not only inflicted severe harm on the Palestinian civilian population but have also resulted in decreased security for both Israeli and Palestinian civilians. The failure to ensure Israeli compliance has also directly and negatively impacted the ability of the Israeli Government and the Palestine Liberation Organization to reach a just, comprehensive and lasting peace.

On the basis of all of the above, the Palestinian Authority wishes to make the following recommendations:

  • The Palestinian Authority calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, Switzerland, in its capacity as depositary of the Convention, and the ICRC to ensure respect of the Convention in accordance with article 1 common of the four Conventions. In this regard, the Palestinian Authority specifically calls upon them, individually and collectively:

    • To intensify their efforts to fully adhere to and implement the Declaration of 5 December 2001 and to take further action based on that Declaration.

    • To consult on and utilize their foreign policy instruments and mechanisms. (For example: Enforcing article 2, human rights clause of the EC-Israel Association Agreement; ensuring the proper application of trade agreement regarding rules of origin; ensuring that sales of military equipment to Israel not be used against the Palestinian population.)

    • To consider mechanisms to enable Palestinian victims of Israeli violations of international humanitarian law to receive compensation as part of alleviating their humanitarian suffering.

    • To arrange their cooperative efforts in such a way as to prevent attempts by States to block enforcement of international humanitarian law.

  • The Palestinian Authority calls upon the U.N. Secretary-General to encourage the above-mentioned actions by the High Contracting Parties and to encourage actions to ensure that the protection of the civilian population under belligerent occupation is not subject to negotiations between the occupying Power and the occupied population.

  • The Palestinian Authority calls upon the U.N. Security Council to fulfill its responsibilities under the Charter of the U.N. for the maintenance of international peace and security, and accordingly calls upon the Council to play an active role and to ensure compliance with its own resolutions.

  • The Palestinian Authority calls upon the General Assembly to continue its valuable work in upholding international law and in support of the realization of the rights of the Palestinian people. It specifically calls upon the Assembly to continue, in the case of failure of the Security Council to act, with the valuable work of the tenth emergency special session, in accordance with Uniting for Peace resolution 377 (V) of 1950.

  • The Palestinian Authority calls upon the United Nations and the Secretary-General to establish an international presence to monitor compliance with international humanitarian law, to help in providing protection to Palestinian civilians and to help the parties to implement agreements reached. In this regard, the Palestinian Authority calls for serious follow-up of the Secretary-Generalís proposal for the establishment of a robust and credible multinational force under Chapter 7 of the Charter of the U.N.

  • The Palestinian Authority calls for efforts by States on the national level to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

  • The Palestinian Authority calls for the establishment of an international criminal tribunal to investigate and prosecute alleged war crimes committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem. It calls for the establishment of such a tribunal by the Security Council or, alternatively, by the General Assembly.