UN Economic and Social Council Adopts Resolution condemning Israeli Occupation

Edited from a UNISPAL Press Release

Palestinian workers lining up at an Israeli checkpoint to get to work (Photo: CJPP)

Palestinian workers lining up at an Israeli checkpoint to get to work (Photo: CJPP)

At the opening sessions of the United Nations Economic and Social Council’s 2015 Coordination and Management meeting on 20 July, the Council adopted a resolution on “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”, by a vote of 42 in favour to 2 against (Australia, United States) with 2 abstentions (Honduras, Panama).

Overview

TARIK ALAMI, Director of the Emerging and Conflict Related Issues Section of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), said Israeli policies and practices continued to violate international human rights and humanitarian law, as well as the right to self-determination and the principle of non-discrimination. Its 51-day offensive against Gaza in July 2014 had led to an unprecedented loss of life and had triggered concerns about war crimes. Palestinians lived under harsh military rule and Israel had created two separate legal systems in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, one for Israelis and one for Palestinians. In addition, Israel had de facto exiled some 250,000 Palestinians from their land, including 14,000 from East Jerusalem.

Describing several pressing concerns, he said that in the summer of 2014, seven United Nations schools that had been designated as shelters had been shelled and Palestinians had been used as human shields. Arbitrary arrests and detentions had continued unabated. During that conflict, some 19,000 Palestinian homes had been destroyed. They had continued to face displacement due to home demolitions, revocation of residency permits and harassment. Referring to a number of other issues, he said [Israeli] Government-sanctioned expansion projects had violated the Palestinian right to self-determination, the West Bank Wall’s continued construction had been declared illegal by the International Court of Justice, and the Gaza blockade, in place since 2007, had amounted to collective punishment. In addition, Israeli settlers in the West Bank had continued to freely exploit natural resources. Meanwhile, high food insecurity rates – 19 per cent in the West Bank and 57 per cent in Gaza, the latter having deteriorated after the 2014 offensive – had persisted, as did the illegal Israeli occupation of the Syrian Golan.

Economic and Social Repercussions of Israeli Occupation

SIMON PONI MAROBE (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced the draft, the text of which was based on the 2014 resolution, with updates to reflect the situation on the ground as well as emerging issues. Mr Marobe said the continuing Israeli occupation was devastating the Palestinian people, with worsening negative trends that had seen high unemployment rates, health problems and aid dependency among other problems that had been exacerbated by the 2014 military aggression in the Gaza Strip.

Syria’s representative, aligning himself with the “Group of 77”, said the relevant reports showed an increase in the suffering of the Palestinian people and in Israel’s illegal actions. There had been “zero” response from the occupying Power, which had disregarded the hundreds of decisions of the United Nations, he said. In addition, Israel was using terrorist groups in the zone of separation as a way to intimidate Syrian citizens and had also provided food and other support to the Al-Nusra Front and other groups, facilitating attacks in Syrian towns, and he called on ESCWA to include such facts in its future reports. He said the picture in the Syrian Golan today was more tragic than ever before, with the population being subjected to a systematic Israeli campaign to force them to abandon their lands. European and American companies had helped Israeli companies steal the natural resources of the Syrian Golan, including oil, he said, stressing that Israel and those supporting it financially and militarily must be held accountable.

The Vote

By a recorded vote of 42 in favour to 2 against (Australia, United States) with 2 abstentions (Honduras, Panama), the Council adopted draft resolution E/2015/L.22.

What does it demand?

By means of the Resolution, the Council reiterated the call for the full opening of Gaza’s border crossings, in line with Security Council resolutions, and called upon Israel, the occupying Power, to cease all settlement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and to end its illegal practices there.

The Council through the Resolution further called on the occupying Power to end the construction of the wall and to remove obstacles to critical environmental projects necessary for addressing health issues and providing access to sanitation and other basic services.

The Council stressed the urgency of achieving an end to the Israeli occupation without delay, and urged the need for increased international efforts in that regard.