Yearbook of the United Nations, 2008. Part 1, Political and security questions. Chapter 6, Middle East
The year 2008 was marked by a number of encouraging developments in the Middle East. Bilateral and multilateral efforts intensified to find a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within the framework set out at the 2006 Annapolis Conference. Nonetheless, the goal of a peaceful settlement of the conflict by the end of the year remained elusive, and the situation on the ground in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, remained difficult, hampering political efforts to achieve the vision of two States existing side by side in peace and security. In the Gaza Strip, in particular, prolonged violence and a deepening humanitarian crisis prevailed, complicated by the widening rift between the Palestinian factions in the Fatah-controlled West Bank and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. As part of the recently intensified diplomatic efforts in the Middle East peace process, the good offices of the Secretary-General continued, as well as those of the Middle East Quartet (European Union, Russian Federation, United Nations, United States) to promote the road map initiative endorsed by the Security Council in 2003 and confirmed at Annapolis in 2006. The year 2008 also marked 60 years of Palestinian dispossession. At a special meeting to commemorate that event, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (Committee on Palestinian Rights) reiterated the permanent responsibility of the United Nations towards the question of Palestine until it was resolved in all its aspects in accordance with international law, and urged the international community to continue its support for the Middle East peace process. The Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs in 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 United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, working under increasingly difficult circumstances, continued to provide education, health and social services to over 4 million Palestinians living in and outside camps in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as in Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic. In Lebanon, marked progress was made in returning the country to stability and reconciliation. An agreement among Lebanese political leaders was reached on 21 May that led to the election of General Michel Sleiman as President of Lebanon, the formation of a Government of national unity and the launching of a national dialogue. Despite the improved political climate, however, the country's stability remained fragile and was threatened by a number of serious security incidents involving Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias. Progress towards a permanent ceasefire and long-term solution between Israel and Lebanon remained elusive. The United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission continued to investigate the 14 February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others. The Security Council extended the Commission's mandate until February 2009 to allow for a smooth transition and handover to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which was to begin its work in March 2009. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) continued to cooperate closely with the Lebanese Armed Forces in consolidating the strategic military and security environment in southern Lebanon. UNIFIL mandate was extended in August for another 12 months. Also during the year, the Security Council twice extended the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights. The United Nations Truce Supervision Organization continued to assist UNIFIL and UNDOF in their tasks.
Yearbook of the United Nations, 2008. v. 62; Vol. 62
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