Report of the Secretary-General:
Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine
Date: 29 August 2017
Period: September, 2016 - August, 2017
Pursuant to General Assembly Resolution 71/23, the UN Secretary-General is requested to continue his efforts with the parties concerned, and in consultation with the Security Council, towards the attainment of a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine and the promotion of peace in the region.
The report contains the Secretary-General’s observations on the current Israeli-Palestinian situation in light of international efforts towards a peaceful settlement (including by the UNSC, Russia and France). The UN Secretary-General noted that some valuable improvements have been made to move a number of issues forward, including the September 2016 electricity agreement, the July 10 interim power-purchasing agreement, the nature of the situation remains tense, with spikes of violence, a sharp rise in settlement activity, worsening socioeconomic conditions in Gaza, disproportionate use of lethal force by the israel Defense Forces and vehicle attacks, the adoption of the so-called Regularization Law, as well as shootings by Palestinians targeting Israelis (paras. 10-19).
Ultimately, the report fails to incorporate a gender perspective. While discussing security and humanitarian situation, the UN Secretary-General did not assess the situation of women and their needs in conflict. While highlighting the adoption of the Palestinian National Policy Agenda as a significant step towards strengthening its institutions and improving governance (para. 26), it fails to discuss recent adoption of the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, as well as to assess the role of women in strengthening governance.
Even though the UN Secretary-General raises specific questions around the treatment of prisoners, humanitarian situation and the state of human rights and prisons in Gaza, he does not specifically refer to the state of women. This prevents stakeholders from developing gender-sensitive and inclusive response mechanisms.
The UN Secretary-General noted that worsening socioeconomic situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, delays in reconstruction, continued restrictions of movements maintain the volatile situation on the ground (para. 10). He also expressed his concerns about the lack of political progress and the high risk of further violence and radicalisation. However, the analysis did not assess the state of disarmament and demilitarisation for both parties, which would prevent violence and foster political progress. He also did not describe measures implemented by any stakeholders to prevent the spread of illegal settlements. Without assessing and addressing root causes of violence, the promotion of peace in the region is not feasible.
In this report, the UN Secretary-General does not mention the role of women and/or civil society in the political process and did not describe the ways in which both groups can contribute to conflict resolution and achieving sustainable peace in the region. Initiatives like the 2016 Peace March organised by Women Wage Peace signify women’s willingness to support political solution and a diplomatic agreement to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; however, these initiatives remained unaddressed in the report.
Relief and Recovery
For establishing a political solution of the problem, both states need to be held accountable for their crimes, including under the Geneva Convention, which are (to a certain degree) recognised by the UN Secretary-General in his report. However, gender-sensitive analysis, including in some of the reports by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, is still missing therefore putting transitional justice on hold.
The report should have investigated and analysed the promotion of women and civil society in the ongoing peace process, as well as the protection of women’s human rights. Women and civil society input is vital and must be encouraged at all levels in future peace negotiations and the process in general.
Generally, women’s protection issues were severely under-analysed, and this must be addressed in future reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The challenges faced by women should be specifically identified in order to prevent and effectively address them. While discussing humanitarian situation and displacement, for example, the report should have discussed and analysed the provision of gender-specific supplies and services, such as reproductive health services, sexual and psychosocial services and ensured the participation of women and civil society in the design and supply of refugee camps. The inclusion and purpose of sex and age disaggregated data would also provide necessary information about the context and allow for effective and targeted solutions.
In order to promote peace in the region and provide specific and effective action for the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, the analysis of root causes, including militarisation and inequality, is required. Without understanding the root-causes of violence, sustainable peace is not feasible.
Relief and Recovery
The only way to achieve sustainable peace and security is for Israel, the occupying Power, to end its prolonged occupation, in accordance with international law and relevant United Nations resolutions. As High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention affirmed in their declaration of 17 December 2014, “no violation of international humanitarian law by any party to a conflict can relieve the other party from its own obligations under international humanitarian law”. The UN Secretary-General, along with other relevant stakeholders on the ground, should ensure that perpetrators of crimes by both sides are held to account and that both sides commit in full to the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution on the matter.