Statement by Ambassador Feda Abdelhady-Nasser, Deputy, before the UN ECOSOC, 2015 Coordination and Management Meeting, Agenda item 16: “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”, 20 July 2015:

Mr. President,

On behalf of the delegation of the State of Palestine, I thank you for your skilled leadership of the ECOSOC. I also thank Mr. Tarik Alami for his presentation of the report 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” (A/70/82-E/2015/13) on behalf of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). We express appreciation for ESCWA’s invaluable efforts in this regard and its extensive work regarding the economic and social dimensions of the ongoing plight of the Palestinian people.

Mr. President,

Regrettably, the situation of the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation remains dire due to the repressive, destructive and colonial policies and practices that are being perpetrated by Israel, the occupying Power, in deliberate, systematic and grave violation of international law, including humanitarian law and human rights law. This is being done with total impunity, as the international community continues to fail to hold Israel accountable in accordance with the law. Combined with the Israeli Government’s blatant rejection of peace and relentless provocations and incitement, this situation has deepened the pervasive sense of insecurity among the Palestinian people and hopelessness regarding any possible redress of this appalling injustice. At the same time, the socio-economic, humanitarian and human devastation sown by this occupation for nearly five decades has gravely affected the living conditions of the Palestinian people, compounding socio-economic hardships and severely undercutting any efforts towards sustainable development, despite the assistance provided to the Palestinian people by the international community, including UN agencies on the ground, over the many years.

This illegal Israeli occupation violates all principles of international law and intentionally perpetrates the killing and injury of innocent children, women and men; the theft and colonization of another people’s land, primarily through the confiscation of land and construction and expansion of illegal settlements and Wall; the destruction of homes and properties; the forced displacement and dispossession of thousands of civilians; the imprisonment and detention of thousands of Palestinians under inhumane conditions; the destruction of livelihoods; the desecration and vandalism of holy sites, particularly in Occupied East Jerusalem; the exploitation of natural resources; the segregation, isolation and obstruction of Palestinian movement by numerous measures, including the annexation, apartheid Wall, a permit regime, hundreds of checkpoints; and the systematic collective punishment of the entire Palestinian civilian population.

Here, it is with deepest sorrow that we recall the horror and devastation inflicted by the occupying Power on the Palestinian people in the besieged Gaza Strip last year, in July and August 2014; where the occupying forces killed 2,251 Palestinians, among them more than 550 children and 299 women, and injured another 11,231 Palestinian children, women and men; caused massive forced displacement; inflicted wanton destruction to homes, schools, hospitals and vital civilian infrastructure; and terrorized and traumatized the entire population. In addition to the intense human insecurity caused by this conflict, is the despair and destitution being endured by Palestinians due to the humanitarian disaster deliberately inflicted by Israel via this aggression and its illegal, inhumane eight-year blockade of Gaza.

This humanitarian crisis has impacted every single aspect of life, with vastly negative socio-economic implications, both short and long-term, that are depriving and disfiguring the Palestinian society. This includes rampant abject poverty and high unemployment rates, reaching an unprecedented 43.9%, with youth unemployment at a shocking 60%, as well as widespread food insecurity, with approximately 80% of the population in Gaza now dependent on aid, and massive displacement as more than 110,000 people remain homeless due to the destruction or severe damage caused to thousands of homes by the Israeli occupying forces in last summer’s aggression. As recognized unanimously by the international community, this unjust situation and the consequent loss of hope are totally unsustainable and highly volatile, requiring urgent remedy to stem further deterioration and desperation and avert the explosion of another deadly, destructive cycle of violence.

At the same time, the situation in the rest of Occupied Palestine, including in Occupied East Jerusalem also remains extremely fragile as the occupying Power continues with its settlement activities, arrest and detention of Palestinians and numerous other acts of oppression. Military raids continue daily in Palestinian cities, towns, villages and refugee camps, and casualties continued to be caused by the excessive, lethal force constantly used by the occupying forces against Palestinian civilians, including children and peaceful demonstrators. Settler violence and terror against Palestinians, especially children and farmers, and vandalism and attacks against homes, orchards and religious sites, continue unabated, under the protection and watch of the Israeli occupying forces.

With obvious intent, Israel continues to pursue policies and measures aimed at controlling every aspect of Palestinian life, forcibly oppressing and subjugating the Palestinian people, collectively punishing, intimidating and dehumanizing them, and entrenching its illegal occupation with impunity.

All of these violations must cease and Israel must be compelled to respect international law. Moreover, it is unquestionable that such violations constitute grave breaches of international law, for which Israel must be held accountable. The far-reaching impact of these crimes and multiple human rights being violated and the institutionalized discrimination by Israel against the Palestinian people within this context must also be duly considered. The report before the ECOSOC appropriately addresses many of these violations being committed in the context of the occupation, the source of all of these ongoing breaches, which has impacted negatively all segments of the Palestinian population – whether children, women or women, elderly or disabled, prisoners or detainees, refugees or displaced.

The ESCWA report comprehensively documents the many and serious economic and social repercussions that the brutal illegitimate occupation has had on Occupied Palestine, and reflects clearly with specific figures the vast suffering endured by the Palestinian people as a result of Israel’s constant violations of international law and norms. This 48-year Israeli military occupation is the root cause of the de-development and dire socio-economic conditions in the Occupied Palestine, including East Jerusalem, and this must be the main focus to redress the current crises we face and justly resolve the conflict as a whole.

Mr. President,

As we meet again in the ECOSOC to address a specific aspect of the plight of the Palestinian people under this nearly half-century foreign occupation, we respectfully, yet urgently, appeal to the international community, including the UN through its relevant organs and bodies, to act immediately and collectively to address this crisis in line with international law, UN resolutions and the permanent responsibility of the UN towards the question of Palestine until it is resolved justly in all its aspects. Compliance with international law cannot be selective or voluntary for Member States, but rather obligatory. The viability and credibility of our international system depends on that.

We make this urgent appeal today as we meet one year since the Israeli aggression on Gaza, where the vast human and physical wounds in Gaza remain unhealed and hopes are rapidly fading for any relief from this appalling injustice and for restoration of the rights and dignity of our people. As we speak, the Israeli blockade continues in collective punishment of the Palestinian people, Israel, the occupying Power, continues to obstruct reconstruction and recovery, and not a single Israeli official or soldier has been held accountable for these crimes. We stress that the matter of accountability is as urgent as addressing the humanitarian crisis, for without it Israel’s impunity and depravity against the Palestinian people will surely be further emboldened with disastrous impact. Thus, as we appeal for international aid to alleviate the humanitarian suffering of the Palestinian people and the deplorable socio-economic conditions that they are enduring, we must also appeal for immediate measures to uphold international law and to hold Israel accountable for its crimes.

Mr. President

We affirm, as the report concludes, that in order to end the suffering of the Palestinian people and make tangible progress towards peace, security and prosperity, Israel must end its prolonged occupation and comply with international law, without exception. Failure to expedite this outcome will only increase the human suffering and lead to further destabilization of this grave situation, with far-reaching consequences.

This is also imperative to enable Palestine to pursue genuine development, in line with the sustainable development goals being pursued by the entire international community, and to ensure viable economic and social conditions for the Palestinian people, goals which can never be truly achieved under occupation. We thus appeal for the continued support of all concerned Member States, as well as of the UN and its specialized agencies and programs, to assist the Palestinian people in their steadfast efforts to achieve their rights, including to self-determination and return, and fulfill their legitimate national aspirations and to live in justice and dignity in their independent State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side with Israel, on the basis of the pre-1967 borders in peace and security.

In closing, we call on the distinguished members of ECOSOC to fully support the draft resolution submitted under this item, which is an important contribution to upholding international law and the economic and social rights of the Palestinian people. Thank you, Mr. President.