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Middle East: UN Palestinian rights panel urges implementation of Mitchell report

Middle East: UN Palestinian rights panel urges implementation of Mitchell report

Implementation of the Mitchell committee report offers "the most practicable route back" to the Middle East peace process, according to the annual report of a United Nations panel charged with promoting the rights of the Palestinian people.

The report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, released today, calls for the "immediate and comprehensive implementation" of the recommendations of the Mitchell panel, which was headed by former US Senator George Mitchell. Among its recommendations, the Mitchell report called for an end to the violence, the implementation of confidence building measures, and the resumption of negotiations.

"Although both sides have accepted the report, the crisis persisted, preventing the parties from resuming their negotiations on critical interim and permanent status issues," noted the Palestinian Rights Committee. It called on the co-sponsors of the peace process and all concerned "to continue to pursue their efforts, looking for innovative approaches that would allow the parties to implement the Mitchell Committee recommendations and resume their negotiations."

According to the report, since the beginning of the new intifada last year, over 660 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), security forces and settlers, while some 20,000 Palestinians have been wounded, including many who are permanently disabled.

The Committee expresses grave concern over Israel's policies and actions, including its illegal settlement policy, military incursions "unprecedented in scope" into the various parts of the Palestinian Territory, excessively harsh and disproportionate attacks by IDF against Palestinians, the widespread policy of targeted extrajudicial assassinations of Palestinian activists, and the harmful effect of the occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people.

Stressing that the core of the conflict "remains the continuing illegal occupation by Israel of the Palestinian Territory," the Committee reiterates that the problem should be resolved based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) - which embody the principle of 'land-for-peace' - as well as other relevant UN resolutions and the exercise by the Palestinian people of their inalienable rights, including the right to self-determination and an independent State.