Yearbook of the United Nations, 2006. Part 1, Political and security questions. Chapter 6, Middle East
Events in the Middle East in 2006 illustrated the magnitude of the instability in the region, the ever widening divide between Israel and its neighbours, and the bleak chances for achieving peace and security. The kidnapping of Israeli military personnel by Palestinian groups and Hizbullah in Lebanon in separate incidents, the continued firing of Qassam rockets towards Israel and the strong Israeli military response and ensuing humanitarian crisis were major setbacks to progress made the previous year in rebuilding trust and breaking the cycle of bloodshed. In Palestine, the hope that the democratic process there would lead to a revitalization of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (pa) was dashed, following the victory of the Palestinian resistance group Hamas in the January elections and its adherence to its previously held positions regarding Israel and the peace process. The Middle East Quartet (Russian Federation, United States, European Union, United Nations) set out principles which the new pa Government had to adhere to, including the recognition of Israel and the acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, as well as the road map, against which future assistance to the Government would be reviewed. The pa President, Mahmoud Abbas, asked Hamas to form a government in February. Israel immediately halted tax revenue transfers, causing a severe financial crisis throughout the Palestinian territories. In April, international donor funding to the pa was suspended. The increased firing of Qassam rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel and the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier led to Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip. The Secretary-General dispatched a UN team, headed by Vijay Nambiar, to explore ways to defuse the crisis in the region. By the time a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian factions was announced in late November, scores of Palestinians and Israelis had been killed and hundreds others injured. The Occupied Palestinian Territory also saw bouts of inter-factional fighting between the pa and Hamas supporters. The General Assembly convened its resumed tenth emergency special session in November to discuss the item “Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory”. It adopted a resolution which called, among other things, on the Secretary-General to establish a fact-finding mission concerning the attack against the town of Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip on 8 November and to report to the Assembly within 30 days. The Secretary-General reported in December that the mission could not be dispatched because Israel had not indicated whether it would extend the necessary cooperation. The emergency session reconvened in December and adopted a resolution on the establishment of the United Nations register of damage caused by the construction of the separation wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The Middle East Quartet continued to promote the road map initiative as the best solution to the conflict. The road map, endorsed by the Security Council in 2003, aimed to achieve progress through parallel and reciprocal steps by Israel and the pa in the political, security, economic, humanitarian and institution-building areas, under an international monitoring system. In Lebanon, hostilities between Hizbullah and Israel broke out on 12 July and continued until a UN-brokered ceasefire went into effect on 14 August, though the Israeli naval blockade of Lebanon was only lifted on 8 September. The conflict began with an unprovoked military attack by Hizbullah and the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers. Israel responded with air strikes and artillery fire on Lebanese civilian infrastructure, an air and naval blockade and a ground invasion of southern Lebanon. Over a thousand civilians were killed, mostly Lebanese, and approximately 1 million people were displaced. In an effort to end the hostilities, the Security Council, on 11 August, unanimously adopted resolution 1701(2006), which was approved by both the Lebanese and Israeli Governments, calling for, among other things, Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon, and the deployment of Lebanese soldiers in southern Lebanon, with the assistance of an enlarged United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The Lebanese army began deploying on 17 August and by the end of the year, for first time in over three decades, had deployed soldiers throughout southern Lebanon. Israeli troops withdrew from Lebanon on 1 October. The United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) continued to investigate the 14 February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others. On 10 November, the Secretary-General transmitted to the Lebanese Government a draft agreement between the United Nations and Lebanon on the establishment of a special tribunal to try those responsible for the assassination. The treaty still awaited a formal approval by the Government and ratification by the Parliament. Following the 21 November assassination of Minister of Industry Pierre Gemayel, the Security Council invited UNIIIC to extend its technical assistance to the Lebanese authorities in the investigation of Mr. Gemayel's assassination. The UNIFIL mandate, which was expanded to include tasks related to resolution 1701(2006), was extended three times during the year: in January for six months, in July for one month during the Hizbullah-Israeli conflict in Lebanon, and until 31 August 2007. The mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force in the Golan Heights was extended twice. The military observers of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) were moved from their patrol bases and relocated within UNIFIL, following the 25 July killing of four UNTSO military observers. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East continued to provide education, health and social services to over 4 million Palestinian refugees living in and outside camps in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as well as in Jordan. During the year, the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories reported to the General Assembly on the situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People continued to mobilize international support for the Palestinians.
Yearbook of the United Nations, 2006. v. 60; Vol. 60
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