The Jordan Times
February 20, 2008 - 6:51pm

Jordan on Tuesday warned of Israeli measures that lead to exacerbating the living conditions in the Palestinian territories, describing these practices as a recipe for extremism.

Israeli sieges and closures of roads contribute only to worsening the situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Nasser Judeh told the opening session of a two-day seminar by the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

Judeh, who is also the acting foreign minister, urged Israel to stop aggressions on the Palestinian people and land, including settlement activity and the separation wall, saying the Jewish state should direct its efforts towards ending the state of despair and frustration among the Palestinian people.

The official complained that hopes of progress in the peace process have not yielded benefits on the ground.

"Instead of establishing cooperation and openness, sanctions and blockades have been imposed on the Palestinian people," he said.

"The Palestinian economy cannot improve under such pressure."

Meanwhile, the United Nations urged Israel to halt its "collective punishment" of the 1.5 million population of the Gaza Strip to help improve the impoverished territory's economy.

"It is vital that Israel ceases actions of collective punishment, and allows all legitimate and necessary humanitarian and commercial supplies to reach the population," the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Robert Serry, told the seminar, which was dedicated to discuss aid to the Palestinians.

Serry was delivering a message to the two-day seminar on behalf of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

"I deplore the all-too-frequent breaches of international humanitarian law, including rocket attacks against civilians, excessive uses of force in civilian areas and collective punishment of the civilian population," the letter said.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Monday that Israel would maintain the tighter blockade it has imposed on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip since last month in a bid to stop rocket attacks on its territory.

Serry also called for improving the economy of Gaza, where the poverty rate stands at 57 per cent and food insecurity affects 34 per cent of the population.

In December, international donors pledged $7.4 billion to the Palestinians at a conference in Paris, after Prime Minister Salam Fayyad had formally asked them for $5.6 billion by 2010 to help develop a viable economy for a future state.

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People was established in 1975 by the UN General Assembly, which requested it to recommend a programme of implementation to enable the Palestinian people to exercise their inalienable rights to self-determination without external interference, national independence and sovereignty; and to return to their homes and property.

The committee's recommendations were endorsed by the assembly, to which the committee reports annually.

Also Tuesday, Prime Minister Nader Dahabi stressed on the United Nations political role, voicing hope it would help push forward the peace process in the Middle East to reach the desired outcomes.

During his meeting with Serry, the premier reiterated Jordan’s condemnation of the siege imposed by Israel on the Palestinian people, particularly in Gaza. Dahabi said that Jordan supports the ongoing negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides. He applauded Ban’s letter Serry delivered at the session earlier.


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