F - The environmental situation in the occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories
67. The Executive Director drew the attention of the Council to the introduction to his report on the implementation of Governing Council decision 14111 on the environmental situation in the occupied Palestinian arid other Arab territories (UNEPIGC.15/5/Add.2), which explained the circumstances in which the material for the report had been collected, and emphasized that the Government of Israel had not been involved officially. The full report by the consultant was available, upon request, to any Government that so desired.
68. The observer for Palestine said that the report of the Executive Director was in contradiction with the true facts. The consultant had been unable to make a proper study, because of the restrictions placed on him and the manipulated official statistics with which he had been fed. Furthermore, the situation in the Golan Heights and the South of Lebanon was not covered at all in the report. The Executive Director should not rely on the report he had received from the consultant; he should organize an official UNEP visit instead.
69. The speaker continued that the environmental situation was deteriorating due to Israeli occupation and that the Israeli forces engaged in cruel and inhuman practices. Since the beginning of the Intifada, large numbers of Palestinians had been detained in camps, others had been evicted to Jordan and Lebanon, in violation of international codes and human rights, homes had been deliberately destroyed and the remaining population lived in intolerable conditions. In the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, olive and citrus trees and agricultural produce had been destroyed, land confiscated for Israeli use and wells poisoned. As was well known, Israel possessed nuclear plants and weapons and remained outside international control of its atomic wastes. The situation had been fully documented by international news agencies, and ministers for foreign affairs of several countries had witnessed what was happening. He called on the international community to put an end to those practices and the Governing Council to condemn them.
70. Many representatives supported the suggestion by the observer for Palestine that the report of the Executive Director should not be approved and that he should be asked to send an official committee to investigate the situation. one representative reminded the Council of the statement made by another representative that the environment and peace were indissoluble. The matter was serious and important. He could agree with the suggestion that the report of the Executive Director needed to be reconsidered. Another representative stated that a more comprehensive report was needed since the report before the Council represented only one point of view, which should be integrated into a larger report that presented other views as well.
71. One representative said that the Governing Council had not met to discuss the Arab-Israel conflict and the Intifada. The latter had contributed to environmental degradation by setting fire to forests in Israel. He insisted that no other army in the world would have shown greater restraint in the face of provocation. The Council should appreciate that, during the last two decades, Samaria and the Gaza Strip had seen improvements in health anddesertification had been rolled back. flora and fauna had been protected and safe drinking water made extensively available. In many respects, as stated in the report, the state of the environment was better there than in some industrialised parts of Israel. The Government of Israel deserved praise for the environmental action it had taken over the years. He hoped that peace72. Another representative said that the Council should take fully into account the constraints which the Executive Director had faced in preparing his report. The methods adopted by Israeli forces had had a devastating effect on the environment and his delegation could not agree with much in the report. He thought it would be better, however, to assemble a neutral group of people to make further investigations, after which the Council could continue its discussion on the question.
73. The observer for the League of Arab States supported the suggestion that
an official visit should be organized.
74. Another representative reminded the Council that his delegation had not been in favour of decision 14111 but had joined the consensus. The report submitted by the Executive Director stated what had been found during the visit. His Government deplored the introduction of politics into the deliberations of Council. Although UNEP was not a technical assistance agency, his Government was glad that a joint UNEP/WHO project was under implementation in the areas. He supported the Executive Director's proposals for action by the Council. He noted that the term "occupied territories" was to be interpreted as reflecting the situation created in 1968.
75. The observer for Palestine, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, pointed out that the United States and Western European Governments were now holding meetings with Yasser Arafat, who did not give orders for actions such as burning forests. Intifada was a legitimate activity. Peace-loving forces in Tel Aviv had been demonstrating against the Israeli Government, and the Palestinians sought a just peace.
76. The representative of Israel, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that a dangerous precedent would be created if the Governing Council were to ask UNEP to prepare more and more reports on the same subject. The Council should adopt the Executive Director's report without modification.
77. Responding to comments on the environmental situation in the occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories, the Executive Director stated that the "tourist" was the Head of the Friends of UNEP Committee in the United States of America. He pointed out that UNEP was not competent to send any person or persons to an occupied territory on an official basis: that was for the Secretary-General to arrange if so requested by the Security Council. The Governing Council must first note the report of the Executive Director before it considered it to be incomplete or did not support it on any other grounds, if such was its wish. As he had said at the beginning of the discussion, they were not reading the report of the tourist but that of the Executive Director. He requested the Governments of the countries concerned to send him all the information on the subject in their possession and he would supplement it by setting up an independent group of experts versed in the fields of environment to review the information and present him with a full picture on which he could base a further elaborated report. He appealed to the Governing Council to keep its deliberations non-political.