STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY MS. LUCRESHA BRYAN-FRENCH, FIRST SECRETARY OF THE PERMANENT MISSION OF THE CO-OPERATIVE REPUBLIC OF GUYANA TO THE UNITED NATIONS, AT THE SECOND COMMITTEE SEVENTY-FIFTH SESSION OF THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY, ON AGENDA ITEM 62: PERMANENT SOVEREIGNTY OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE IN THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY, INCLUDING EAST JERUSALEM, AND OF THE ARAB POPULATION IN THE OCCUPIED SYRIAN GOLAN OVER THEIR NATURAL RESOURCES (New York, 19 October 2020)
1. I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
2. At the outset, we would like to thank Dr. Rola Dashti, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, for the presentation of the report for consideration under agenda item 62. We also commend her capable team for their tireless efforts.
3. The Group welcomes the report of the Secretary General contained in document A/75/86-E/2020/62. The report attests to a systematic pattern of human rights violation and violation of international law and international humanitarian law, as a result of the illegal, oppressive and destructive policies and measures that continue to be carried out by the Israeli authorities. It is replete with factual information, statistics and evidence of practices that continue to affect the socioeconomic conditions of the people living under the Israeli military occupation.
4. As reflected in the report, the protracted Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territory and the Syrian Golan continues to have a detrimental effect on the living conditions of the Palestinian and Syrian populations, as well as on social and economic development in the occupied territories. The negative impacts of the occupation and the Israeli policies and practices, are multi-layered and their cumulative repercussions affect the future of the populations living under occupation.
5. The report highlights the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the deepening of the vulnerability faced by the Palestinian people, particularly the population of Gaza, exposing them to even greater risks.
6. In this connection, the report states that the economic fallout of the pandemic remains uncertain, yet it can be expected that its direct economic, social and humanitarian impact in the Occupied Palestinian Territory will only be multiplied because of an anticipated decrease in foreign aid, which would entail further deterioration in the living conditions of Palestinians who are already suffering from hyper-unemployment and poverty, with a disproportionate impact on vulnerable groups, including women and children.
7. Freedom of movement is considered one of the essential bases for development. The report points out clearly that the movement of Palestinians, within their own territories, is subject to physical and administrative obstacles impeding economic and social activities, through a complex system of checkpoints, permits, military roadblocks and settlements.
8. The Group is deeply concerned that Israeli practices and policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem in particular Area C, continue to be almost entirely off-limits for the Government of Palestine, as well as producers and investors. This constitutes 60 per cent of the West Bank and contains its most valuable natural resources. Additionally, the extensive destruction of agricultural lands, including the uprooting of a vast number of fruit-bearing trees and the destruction of farms and greenhouses, has had grave environmental, social and economic impacts.
9. The Group also remains concerned by the application of two different legal systems in the same territory, on the sole basis of nationality or origin; this embodies an inherently discriminatory practice, which violates the principle of equality before the law. The application of the Israeli domestic law to settlers and the Israeli military law to the Palestinian people has brought more complications and restrictions to the daily life of the Palestinian people.
10. The Group is very concerned that the Syrian population of the occupied Syrian Golan faces significant discriminatory building restrictions imposed by Israel, which leads to strained infrastructure and overcrowded conditions. Information has also been received on continued discriminatory policies against Syrians, particularly with regard to access to land and water, for the benefit of settlers.
11. We are also concerned that the change of the land registration system of Israel carries the risk of disadvantaging Syrian citizens who have insufficient proof of ownership and could provide a basis for Israeli appropriation.
12. The current social and economic trends in the Occupied Palestinian Territories indicate that the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals will be out of reach under existing conditions. The Group reiterates that the 2030 Agenda recognizes that sustainable development cannot be realized without peace and security; and peace and security will be at risk without sustainable development.
13. As we reaffirm our support for the Palestinian and Syrian people, it is important not to lose hope that progress can be possible, based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, the norms of international law and the relevant United Nations resolutions.
14. We call for the strengthening of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), to ensure that it can meet the humanitarian needs of more than 5.4 million Palestinian refugees.
15. In closing, the Group reaffirms the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and of the population of the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources, including land, water and energy resources. We issue a call for Israel, the occupying Power, to cease the exploitation, damage or depletion and endangerment of the natural resources of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.
I thank you.