STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY THE PERMANENT MISSION OF THE REPUBLIC OF GUINEA TO THE UNITED NATIONS, ON AGENDA ITEM 64: 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, AT THE SECOND COMMITTEE OF THE SEVENTY-SIXTH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY (New York, 18 October 2021)
1. I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
2. The Group would like to express its appreciation to the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ECSWA) for the presentation of the Secretary-General's report submitted under agenda item 64.
3. The Group welcomes the Secretary-General's report, which highlights, with figures and statistics, the devastating multilayered impact of the occupation and the Israeli policies and practices as well as their cumulative repercussions on the future of the population living under occupation.
4. In the 2030 Agenda, we recognized that there can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development, and pledged to leave no country and no one behind. We also called for further effective measures and actions to be taken, in conformity with international law, to remove the obstacles to the full realization of the right of self-determination of peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation, which continue to adversely affect their economic and social development as well as their environment. The ESCWA report before us today, has revealed that with the current trajectory, and with no drastic positive changes to the existing conditions, the Palestinian and Syrian people would indeed be left behind and would not be able to achieve their sustainable development goals as long as they have no sovereignty over their natural resources.
5. We note with great concern that the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic has struck an already weakened Palestinian economy and compounded the dire economic conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. After three years of economic slowdown and decline in real gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, 2020 was one of the worst years for the Palestinian economy since the recession of 2002, with persistent fiscal deficits, high poverty and unemployment.
6. Furthermore, Education in the Occupied Palestinian Territory had been in a critical state prior to the pandemic, largely as a result of occupation-related policies and practices, including restrictions on access to education, attacks on students and staff and the destruction of education infrastructure. The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated this situation, increasing the number of children in need of education assistance, as has been indicated in the ESCWA report.
7. Area C of the West Bank, which contains the most valuable natural resources, continue to be almost entirely off-limits for the Government of Palestine, as well as to producers and investors, and closures, particularly in Gaza, continue to limit Palestinian access to materials and technologies that could promote the efficient use of energy, water and other natural resources
8. The Group deplores the detrimental impact of the Israeli settlements on Palestinian and other Arab natural resources, especially as a result of the confiscation of land and the forced diversion of water resources, including the destruction of orchards and crops and the seizure of water wells by Israeli settlers, and of the dire socioeconomic consequences in this regard. The water, sanitation and hygiene sector has also suffered from chronic vulnerability, mainly as a result of Israeli restrictions on developing the sector's infrastructure, compounded by climate change, and limitations facing the Palestinian Government and local authorities.
9. The Group also deplores the continuing de-development of the Gaza Strip and the dire humanitarian crisis, severe socio-economic conditions and challenges, including grave inequalities, widespread poverty and unemployment, frail health systems, water, sanitation and energy crises facing the civilian population, in particular as a result of the ongoing Israeli blockade and the lasting and massive negative impact of the successive military aggressions committed by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian civilian population in the occupied Gaza Strip. The Group also deplores the continuing employment of discriminatory practices by Israel against Syrians in the occupied Syrian Golan, particularly in terms of access to land and water. Financial incentives are provided to Israeli settlers to facilitate access to housing, while the Syrians face increasing difficulties in obtaining building permits. The Group is also very concerned over the changes to the curricula currently taught in schools in the occupied Syrian Golan, which are perceived to aim at influencing young students and detaching them from their Syrian identity, and imposing a new ideology that is inconsistent with their local culture.
10. The Group reiterates its calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to comply strictly with its obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, and to cease immediately and completely all policies and measures aimed at the alteration of the character and status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and to bring a halt to all actions, including those perpetrated by Israeli settlers, harming the environment, including the dumping of all kinds of waste materials, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, which gravely threaten their natural resources, namely water and land resources, and which pose an environmental, sanitation and health threat to the civilian populations.
11. The Group calls on the international community to shoulder its responsibilities to provide international protection to the Palestinian people and to continue to actively pursue policies to ensure respect for their obligations under international law with regard to all illegal Israeli practices and measures in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly Israeli settlement activities and the exploitation of natural resources.
12. In closing, Madam Chair, the Group reaffirms the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources, including land, water and energy resources, and demands that Israel, the occupying Power, cease the exploitation, damage, cause of loss or depletion and endangerment of the natural resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, which constitute violations of international law and severely undermine their ability to pursue sustainable development.
I thank you.