Israel’s View on UN Emergency Special Session July 1997
Jerusalem, July 14, 1997
1. The UN Emergency Special Session, and the subsequent report by
the Secretary-General which was the result of the resolution adopted by
the Session, were not responses to a “threat to international security”
but rather a political exercise.
2. The report contains many unsubstantiated allegations based upon
anonymous sources. None of these allegations were presented to Israel for
verification or comment before the report was authored, despite Israel’s
stated willingness to provide all information.
3. The report concentrates on Israeli policies and measures while
ignoring the many well documented violations of the Agreements by the
Palestinians. These violations include, inter alia:
- Failure to amend the PLO Covenant.
- Failure to take meaningful measures against terrorism, including
the failure to prosecute terrorist suspects, the failure to transfer
terrorist suspects to Israel upon request, and the failure to confiscate
- Incitement to violence by Palestinian leaders and official
4. The report fails to mention that Har Homa is located within the
municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, that 78 percent of the land was
expropriated from Jewish owners, and that compensation of approximately
$6.7 million was offered and paid to landowners in exchange for their
land. If Palestinian landowners have not been compensated it is because
they have refused to avail themselves of this option.
5. The contention that the building of the Har Homa neighborhood
“prejudices final status negotiations” is unfounded. Nothing in the
agreements which Israel has signed with the Palestinians prohibits the
building of housing by either side within the areas under their respective
6. The contention that the Har Homa project will isolate Jerusalem
from the West Bank is baseless. If anything, access to Jerusalem will be
improved as significant additions to the transportation infrastructure are
part and parcel of the plans.
7. While claiming that Har Homa “appears to represent in the view of
the Palestinian people the largest single negative factor in the breakdown
of the peace process” some attention should have been given to the
continuing Palestinian violations of the agreements, as mentioned
previously, as well as to the basic fact that the difficulties presently
encountered in the peace process are the direct result of the
Palestinians’ refusal to return to the negotiations.
8. The resort to the United Nations represents a Palestinian attempt
to circumvent direct negotiations and bring outside pressure to bear upon
9. Regarding Arab housing in Jerusalem – The report makes only
cursory reference to the Government of Israel’s commitment to build 3,500
housing units for Palestinians in Jerusalem as well as an additional 2,500
units to be built for Arabs as part of the Har Homa project.
10. The best picture regarding the state of Arab housing in Jerusalem
is provided by the municipal tax records which indicate that in 1967 there
were 12,200 apartments in the Arab sector while in 1995 the number had
reached 27,066 – an increase of 122 percent. The growth in the Jewish
sector during this time period was 113 per cent.
11. Regarding settlement activity – No new settlements have been
established by the current Israeli government in the West Bank or the Gaza
Strip. Israel does not expropriate private land for the purpose of
establishing settlements. Settlements have been established on public land
after confirmation that no private rights have been infringed.
12. Regarding Palestinian residents of Jerusalem – Israel has not
revoked the residency of any Palestinian who is a legal resident of
Jerusalem. These Palestinians, as any other individual who has lived in
Israel continuously, can continue to do so without the loss of any benefit
to which they are entitled. These provisions apply to all permanent
residents of Israel and not only to “non-Jews”.
13. The Fourth Geneva Convention – The report charges that Israel has
not “accepted the de jure applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention of
1949” to the territories. Israel’s position is that the Convention is only
applicable to territory of a High Contracting Party. Neither the West Bank
nor Gaza were previously under the control of a legitimate sovereign hence
the non applicability of the Convention. Nevertheless, Israel has
undertaken to act de facto in accordance with the humanitarian provisions
of the Convention.
The report leaves the impression that the application of the Fourth Geneva
Convention is the norm in cases of occupation. In fact, despite the many
examples of actual occupation by signatories of the Convention, the
application of the Convention’s provisions by Israel is the first and only
time they have been applied in the history of the Convention.
14. Restrictions on movement – It should be remembered that such
restrictions were put in force following a spate of suicide bombings which
claimed the lives of over sixty people, Israelis and others, including
Palestinians. Moreover these bombings occurred as previous restrictions on
the movement of Palestinians into Israel were being relaxed and one was
the specific result of the exploitation of a transfer point for goods from
Gaza to Israel.
At the present time there is in fact no closure per se. Almost 130,000
Palestinians work in Israel, the largest number of Palestinian workers to
do so in 24 months. This number continues to increase, and the flow of
goods to and from the Palestinian areas is unimpeded. Security checks have
become more efficient, enabling trucks carrying commercial cargo to move
on the roads without any undue delay or hindrance.
15. Safe passage, Gaza seaport, and Dahaniya airport – The Report’s
reference to the fact that safe passage arrangements have not been
established and sea port and airport arrangements have not been agreed is
disingenuous, to say the least. In order to be implemented these three
subjects require a series of issues to be resolved between the two sides.
The refusal of the Palestinian side to conduct negotiations with Israel on
these issues is the only obstacle to their implementation.
16. Further redeployment – The extent of the first two stages of
further redeployment, and the question as to which areas will be
redeployed from is not set out in the Interim Agreement but rather left,
in the Agreement, to be determined exclusively by Israel.
17. Security measures – The Report sees fit to raise charges of
administrative detention, mistreatment, curfews and house demolition
against Israel but not to mention the inseparable fact that terrorist
attacks since the start of the peace process have killed 241 Israelis, 143
of them civilians. In the same period terrorists have injured 1,343
Israelis, 669 of them civilians. Nor did the Report see fit to even
consider the agonizing dilemma facing the State of Israel in balancing its
duty to protect the lives of its inhabitants from terrorist attacks and
its obligation to respect basic human rights, including those of
terrorists under investigation.
18. Conclusion – The Report presents uncorroborated reports as fact
and parrots partisan political views without question or criticism. The
focus of the Report is deliberately blinkered: it focuses on Israel’s
security measures in response to terrorist attacks without even
considering the terrorism and incitement that create the need for such
measures. In a deeply troubling display of irresponsibility it blames
Israel for “fomenting unrest” in the territories – thus absolving the
Palestinian side from any responsibility for inciting and escalating such