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UN meet seeks end Israeli occupation of Palestine

Civil society meeting at UN seeks to end Israeli occupation of Palestine

A new draft plan in support of Palestinian rights adopted by a non-governmental conference committee meeting at the United Nations calls for escalating pressure on Israel to end its occupation and threatens to seek divestment, arms embargoes and other sanctions in the event of non-compliance.

The “2004-2005 Plan for Action to support Palestinian rights through international law and the United Nations” was presented to the International Conference of Civil Society in Support of the Palestinian People on the last day of a two-day meeting at UN Headquarters in New York after being adopted by its Steering Committee.

According to the draft, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) participating in the Conference would work to educate people and pressure governments to move towards strict enforcement of various international resolutions on Palestinian rights.

These include UN General Assembly resolutions calling for Palestinian self-determination and removing Israeli settlements, and a recent International Court of Justice advisory opinion that urged the dismantlement of what it called an illegal separation barrier Israel is building on the occupied West Bank.

If the occupying power continued to violate international obligations, the participants would, as civil society, initiate divestment and other targeted sanctions against the occupying Power, and urge governments to impose restrictions including arms bans, withdrawal of economic privileges, bans against items produced by illegal settlements and travel restriction on violators of international law, the draft adds.

The participants would work towards the realization of the international community’s responsibility to provide serious protection of Palestinians forced to live under Israeli occupation, refugees and exiles, in particular the most vulnerable such as children and women. They would strive for a greater UN role in diplomacy regarding Palestine.

In a message delivered on the opening day of the conference, in which both Palestinian and Israeli NGOs took part, Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for prompt implementation of the Road Map, the plan sponsored by the UN, European Union, Russia and United States, which calls for parallel and reciprocal steps by both sides leading to two States living in peace by the end of 2005.

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