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Choice between Settlements or Peace in Israel's Hands, UN Committee Says.

NEW YORK, October 2, 2010 (WAFA)- The UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People adopted Friday its annual draft report of its work, which welcomed renewed direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and reiterated the body's call on Israel to completely halt all settlement activity, including in East Jerusalem.

The 24-page document, which covered the Committee's work as well as provided a detailed overview of the situation on the ground throughout the Occupied Palestinian territory from 7 October 2009 to 6 October 2010, also condemned Israel's continued blockade of the Gaza Strip. In its report, the Committee members called for a comprehensive, credible and independent investigation as well as follow-up action to international law violations committed during the 2008-2009 Israeli military offensive against Gaza and the May 2010 Free GazaFlotilla incident.

The Committee also heard Riyad Mansour, the Permanent Observer of Palestine, deliver a similar message as he updated its members on the latest developments in the Occupied Territory and the political process. Mr. Mansour said Israel must immediately end blockade of Gaza and allow reconstruction to begin, and that the international community must not relent until that occurred.

The Committee decided to forward the report (document A/AC.183/2010/CRP.2) to the sixty-fifth session of the General Assembly for its consideration.

Introducing the report, Committee Rapporteur Saviour F. Borg ( Malta) said the document had been approved by the Committee's Bureau and that its first three chapters covered the Committee's perspective on events this year. Discussing various elements of the report, he said Chapter IV reviewed the situation relating to the question of Palestine and contained a detailed factual account of events during the review period.

Chapter V, he continued, reviewed the action taken by the Committee, including the Chairman's participation in the General Assembly and Security Council debates, among other activities, as well as mandated activities carried out by the Division for Palestinian Rights. Chapter VI gave an overview of related work in the past year by the Department of Public Information, pursuant to Assembly resolution 64/18 (2009), as it continued to implement its special awareness-raising programme on the 'Question of Palestine'.

He said that the last chapter contained the Committee's conclusions and recommendations, in which the members, expressing regret at the resumed settlement construction after the expiration of the declared 10-month moratorium, called upon Israel to completely halt all settlement activity. Expressing disturbance over continued construction of the separation wall and the impunity with which Israel flouted its legal obligations, the Committee called on the international community to take the required action to ensure respect for, and compliance with, the International Court of Justice's ruling, the Fourth Geneva Convention and relevant United Nations resolutions.

Also by its report, the Committee expressed serious concern over the situation in occupied East Jerusalem, saying Israel's dangerous, provocative policies there - expedited settlement construction and expansion, house demolitions, eviction of Palestinian citizens, settler extremism and threats to holy sites, among others - were prone to spark negative reactions on the ground, in the region and by Muslims worldwide. The Committee reiterated that East Jerusalem was an integral part of the Occupied Territory, and that a negotiated solution to the question of Jerusalem was essential for resolving the conflict and creating durable regional peace.

Further, the report reiterated the Committee's condemnation of the continued Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip as a severe form of collective punishment of Gaza's entire population and of Palestinian militants' firing of rockets and mortars from Gaza, as well as reiterated its call for the release of Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit. It urged Israel to open all border crossings into Gaza, and it acknowledged the value of internal investigations and their follow-up into the Israel's military offensive against Gaza and the Free Gaza Flotilla incident.

Furthermore, the Committee stressed that resumed direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations should be based on relevant Security Council resolutions, the Madrid terms of reference and the Arab Peace Initiative, and that regional partners should be directly involved. The Committee backed Palestinian state-building efforts by advocating sustained and generous donor commitment and called for invigorated efforts by all Palestinian factions to help reconcile their positions based on the need for the two-State solution.

Also by the annual report, the Committee recommended that its 2011 programme of international meetings and conferences focus on widening international support for permanent status negotiations and on helping to create a favourable international atmosphere for their conduct in good faith. Meanwhile, the Committee would aim to mobilize increased international scrutiny of developments on the ground, particularly settlement activities, as well as support global campaigns to challenge Israeli impunity and promote the concept of Israeli accountability for its actions towards the Palestinian people.

In line with established practice, the Secretariat would update the draft as necessary to reflect any new developments that might take place before it was submitted to the Assembly.

After its adoption, Turkey's representative proposed several amendments to the paragraphs in the report concerning the Free Gaza Flotilla incident.

In his overview, Mr. Mansour regretted that Israel's colonization campaign against the Palestinians and Jerusalem had persisted. The current situation in Palestine was critical, and Israel had shown no sign of ceasing its policy of displacing people, building settlements and continuing construction of its separation wall. Despite many demonstrations against such activity, the occupying Power would not relent in its campaign to 'expel and ethnically cleanse' 250,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem.

He said the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) would soon issue a specific report on the situation in Jerusalem. The OCHA had done an outstanding job of reporting on issues like settlements, the separation wall and checkpoints. All Committee members should use the report to expose Israel's illegal policies and practices. The so-called 'slight improvement' in the increase in the number of trucks allowed to enter Gaza was merely a small percentage of what was truly needed. Israel's illegal and immoral blockade of Gaza must to be lifted immediately, and reconstruction activities should be allowed to commence immediately.

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Publication:Palestine News Agency (WAFA) (Gaza, Palestine)
Date:Oct 2, 2010
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