1. The Committee repeats its full endorsement of the Israel-Palestine Liberation Organization peace process and again expresses the opinion that the principles and obligations of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination should be an essential ingredient of the peace process. The Committee calls on the parties in the peace process to observe and implement faithfully the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization on 13 September 1993, the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip of 28 September 1995 and other Israel-Palestine Liberation Organization agreements.
2. The Committee confirms its view that the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are not only illegal under international law but also an obstacle to peace and the enjoyment of human rights by the whole population in the region, without distinction as to national or ethnic origin, in accordance with the Convention. The Committee expresses its serious concern that the continuing policies of expansion of settlements and notably the establishment of an Israeli settlement on Jabal Abu Ghenaim in East Jerusalem, all of which change the physical character and demographic composition of the occupied territories, including Jerusalem, give rise to increasing tensions in the region and jeopardize the peace process.
3. The Committee again condemns in the strongest terms terrorism in all its forms. It abhors acts which result in the indiscriminate killing of innocent people, and reiterates that there is no justification whatsoever for such acts. The Committee emphasizes the necessity that all appropriate measures be taken, including those prescribed in article 4 of the Convention, against extremist and terrorist organizations that promote racial hatred, incite to violence and commit terrorist acts. Further, the Committee urges all States parties to prevent such organizations from conducting any activities, including training, recruiting, and fund-raising, in territories under their control.
4. The Committee rejects the closures and blocking of reimbursement of fees and revenues to the Palestinian Authority, imposed by the Israeli authorities on the occupied territories in the wake of the dreadful suicide bombings in Jerusalem on 30 July 1997, that amount to collective punishment contrary to article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.4 Those closures and related measures severely restrict the movement of people and goods in Gaza and the West Bank and result in depriving large numbers of Palestinians from their legal employment and in blocking essential revenues and customs duties owed to the Palestinian Authority. The measures taken by Israel have a devastating effect on the life and well-being of the Arab population of the occupied territories and cause great suffering.
5. The Committee holds that those measures amount to collective punishment and constitute serious obstacles to the peace process, and it urges the Government of Israel to lift those measures forthwith.
6. The Committee welcomes the continuation of the constructive dialogue carried forward with representatives of Israel, and it is ready to contribute to any confidence-building measures which commend themselves in accordance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.