Statement By Ms. Thilmeeza Hussain, Deputy Permanent Representative On Agenda Item 61 – 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 (26 October 2011)
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
The Maldives thanks the Secretary General for his report on the economic and social repercussions of the occupation on the Palestinian territories and the Syrian Golan. We hope that the findings of this report can be used to alleviate some of the hardship in the occupied territories.
The Maldives strongly believes that the only avenue available, for any substantial measure of economic and social development in the occupied territories, is through the formal international recognition of the State of Palestine, living side by side and in peace with Israel. It is only through legally established statehood that social normalcy, legal equality, economic opportunity and sustainable development can be realized.
The Maldives welcomes Israel’s decision to slightly ease the blockade last year, which allowed more goods into the territories. However, despite disengagement in 2005, Gaza remains under a state of occupation – with its air, sea, and borders being heavily controlled by the occupying power. Even greater controls of movement are true of the West Bank, where – according to the Secretary General’s report - there exist over 500 obstacles to movement and travel. This includes high restrictions in crossing areas like the Jordan River in the West Bank where there is high economic potential in terms of agriculture, trade logistics, and religious and health related tourism.
The Maldives would like to reiterate its concern that settlement expansion continues at an alarming rate. With this expansion, Palestinians have lost access to water, land and energy. For example, the illegal wall built in the West Bank proceeded to isolate $38 million dollars’ worth of fertile land, while an additional $50 million dollars’ worth of land in Gaza is located in restricted zones; thereby depriving farmers of their livelihood. These losses translate to the fishing industry as well, where restrictions are estimated to have caused an income loss of more than $26 million dollars over the last half decade.
In addition to restricted access to natural resources, many resources are being corrupted. Land and water are being degraded, and both land and air are being polluted – undermining the future sustainable development and welfare of the occupied population. Examples of this are plentiful: the settlements alone dump 40 million cubic meters of raw sewerage onto occupied lands. Gaza’s sole water source is an aquifer that is chemically contaminated with dangerous levels of chlorides, nitrates, and other pollutants. And more than 300,000 people in the West Bank are lacking infrastructure to get water and have to rely on cisterns to catch polluted rain water or use tankers, which are on average five times more expensive then water received through a network.
The Maldives believes that the statistics speaks for itself. Unemployment has more than doubled in the last decade. 45% of families deal with Post Traumatic Stress. And over 15,000 children have been detained during the course of this occupation. The international community is ever focused and ever vigilant in attempting to improve the social, economic and environmental conditions of Palestine. But we know that it is time to move forward in this debate.
In that regard, the Maldives strongly believes that for the story of Palestine to move forward, the State of Palestine should hold the primary responsibility for building the territory’s infrastructure. It should be the State of Palestine that guarantees social harmony and security; ensures economic opportunity and fiscal viability; and ensures the protection of the natural environment.
Only a free and independent State of Palestine can lead Palestinians towards shaping their own destiny.