Beirut, 30 July 2003 (United Nations Information Service)--UN
agencies, Arab and international experts gathered in a
consultative meeting aimed to prepare for the Arab-International
Forum on Palestine Rehabilitation and Development to be hosted by
the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia
(ESCWA) early next year, ended their discussions today at the UN
House in Beirut.
Cosponsored by ESCWA, the League of Arab States (LAS) and the
Palestinian Authority, the two-day meeting was organized in
cooperation with the United Nations Conference on Trade and
Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP),
and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human
Rights (OHCHR), aiming at keeping the social and economic issues
and needs in the occupied Palestinian territories on the agenda of
the international community, in-spite of the lack of stability in
the region. Its main task was to define the objectives of the
Forum; to identify its specific themes for deliberations; and to
widen the preparatory process as much as possible.
Participants in the Meeting agreed that the Forum would aim to
develop a Palestinian vision for reconstruction and development;
intensify Arab efforts in support of reconstruction and
development; integrate the efforts of regional and international
organizations in reconstruction and development; and call for the
contribution of donors to achieve reconstruction and development.
At a press conference following the Meeting, ESCWA Executive
Secretary Mervat Tallawy told reporters that due to the
circumstances witnessed by the Palestinian Authority since the
beginning of the "intifada" there has been a lot of destruction as
stated in the annual report prepared by ESCWA on the "Economic and
Social Repercussions of the Israeli Occupation on the Living
Conditions of the Palestinian People in the Occupied Palestinian
Territory including Jerusalem and of the Arab Population in the
Occupied Syrian Golan." "700,000 olive trees were eradicated and
lots of prisoners and disabled have been reported", she pointed.
Tallawy added that due to the fact that two thirds of the
Palestinian people live under the poverty line, an ESCWA mission
was delegated to Palestine to explore the needs of the people, and
that the Israeli occupation was the major reason for the bad
living conditions of Palestinians.
Asked about the outcomes of the Meeting, Tallawy said that the
most important benefit was the remarkable presence of the invitees
and the support of the Palestinian Authority as well as the LAS.
"The presentation of the Palestinian plan in the economic and
social sectors; the role of civil society organizations and the
private sector; the link between the Palestinian economy and that
of the Arab States; and the role of regional-international
organizations in the reconstruction process, will be the main
agenda items of the upcoming Forum," she said.
Participating to the press conference were Mr. Said Kamal,
Assistant Secretary-General of the Arab League for Palestinian
Affairs and Mr. Mohammad Ghadieh Director-General of the
Palestinian Ministry of Planning.
In his statement, Kamal expressed his full support to the call of
the United Nations Secretary-General for sending peacekeepers to
the Occupied Palestinian Territory. "The Palestinian people were
committed to implementing the "Road Map", and they achieved 90
percent of security in the West Bank as recognized by the
Israelis," he added.
On his part, Ghadieh said that the Palestinian people were
convinced with the peace process and with the establishment of two
states but the Israeli leaderships were evading the implementation
of agreements. He added that the economic losses were US$ Billion
100 while the donations amounted US$ Billion 4,5.
On 11 May 2001, ESCWA Member States adopted a resolution calling
for the "Rehabilitation of the Economic Sectors in Palestine".
Since then, the situation has worsened with the systematic Israeli
destruction of Palestinian institutions, infrastructure and homes
reaching unprecedented proportions. The economy has been shattered
while the humanitarian plight of the Palestinian people has
deepened, necessitating urgent action to address issues of
rehabilitation of social and economic institutions in the occupied
It should be noted that ESCWA is the only United Nations
institution where Palestine enjoys full membership. Therefore, the
envisaged 2004 Arab-International Forum on Palestine
Rehabilitation and Development would provide a necessary step
towards the establishment of an independent Palestinian State.