Adopting Six Resolutions by Recorded Vote, General Assembly Concludes Annual Debates on Question of Palestine, Wider Middle East Situation

The representative of Oman was among those who expressed concern about the grave situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory caused by the continuous Israeli blockade and the imposition of a humanitarian crisis on civilians in the Gaza Strip, as well as what many delegations termed “illegal acts” to change the demographic composition of the population and the intensification of Israeli settlement activities.

“It is necessary for the international community to send a clear message to Israel to cease such practices and to call for genuine negotiations that will lead to the establishment of security and stability,” she said. The United Nations had adopted many resolutions and policies, she added, but the issue remained a subject of concern and conflict, which had gone beyond the Middle East. In that context, the world body should change from managing the crisis to pursuing a just and lasting comprehensive political solution that would take into account the interests of the Palestinians and the Israelis, leading to the establishment of the State of Palestine and the State of Israel living side by side.

Syria’s representative asked delegates, in particular those who held good faith in his country, to refrain from discussing the situation in Syria during today’s debate, saying that any discussion on his country’s internal situation would distract attention from the central issue.

Condemning Israel’s aggression in the region, he underscored the need to respect the United Nations Charter and other international instruments, particularly those concerning foreign occupation. Relevant decisions should be followed up and implemented without exception. He did not believe that “any representatives gathered here with expectation that their resolutions would later become a dead letter”. Delegates were meeting countless times to call on Israel to put an end to its occupation, to its violations, to its settlers’ campaign and to its politics of aggression, among other illegitimate acts.

Nevertheless, several delegates expressed grave concerns about the conflict in Syria. Deploring the deaths of many thousands of people caused by the continued violence, Japan’s speaker reiterated its call on all parties in Syria to immediately halt the violence and human rights abuses, and condemned the Syrian authorities for not keeping their own commitments and responsibilities to protect their own citizens. He went on to welcome the foundation of the “National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces” this month, and express support for the coalition.

Turkey’s representative said the situation in Syria remained a grave humanitarian concern, stressing that entering into the cold winter season, the situation was becoming even more dramatic. Further, he said, “the crisis has gone beyond being local and unfortunately spilled over into neighbouring countries” in the form of cross-border artillery fire and the massive movement of civilians seeking safety. Turkey had lost five citizens in a border town, he said, and more had been injured. The country was also host to more than 130,000 Syrians. He stressed that the humanitarian response plans to the Syrian crisis were severely underfunded and required the further attention of the international community.

After concluding the debate on the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East, the Assembly adopted by recorded votes four resolutions on the first topic and two on the second topic. The texts addressed issues including the illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, the work of the United Nations Division for Palestinian Rights and the stymied progress of the Syrian track of the Middle East peace process.

As in previous sessions, the Assembly adopted a wide-ranging text on the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine by a recorded vote of 163 in favour to 6 against ( Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, United States ), with 5 abstentions ( Australia, Cameroon, Honduras, Papua New Guinea and Tonga ). ( Annex IV ).

It also adopted a resolution on Jerusalem by a recorded vote of 162 in favour to 7 against ( Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States ), with 6 abstentions ( Cameroon, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Togo, Tonga, Vanuatu ). ( Annex V )

A resolution on the Syrian Golan was adopted it by a recorded vote of 110 in favour to 6 against ( Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, United States ), with 59 abstentions. ( Annex VI )

Taking the floor again, Syria’s representative said it was regrettable that certain countries, that advocated human rights, imposed sanctions against Syria, while failing to vote for resolutions that would put an end to the Israeli occupation of Syria’s territory in the Golan. Some of those countries voted against resolutions on the Syrian Golan and Palestine — resolutions that enjoyed unprecedented support — demonstrating their political hypocrisy, their bias toward Israel and their “twisted logic”. Israeli occupation would not have lasted were it not for those who had abstained or voted against the resolution on the Syrian Golan. Therefore those countries also bore the consequences of the Syrian occupied Golan.

Earlier today, the Assembly concluded its annual debate on the question of Palestine. Participating in that debate were representatives of Norway, Bolivia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Argentina, Maldives, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Uruguay, Yemen, Iraq, India, Iceland, Ecuador, Viet Nam, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Chile, Qatar and Bahrain as well as observers from Holy See and the League of Arab States.

Also taking part in the discussion on the situation in the Middle East were representatives of Cuba, Malaysia, Pakistan, China, Iran and Indonesia.

Speaking following the Assembly’s action on the resolutions were representatives of Brazil ( also on behalf of Argentina ) and Singapore, as well as the observer for Palestine.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m., 3 December, to discuss recommendations by the First Committee ( Disarmament and International Security ).

Background

The General Assembly met today to continue and conclude its debate on the Question of Palestine and to begin its annual consideration of the situation in the Middle East.

For the first topic, delegates had before them the report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People ( document A/67/35 ) and the Secretary-General’s report on peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine ( document A/67/364 ), as well as relevant draft resolutions ( A/67/L.17, A/67/L.18, A/67/L.19 and A/67/L.20 ). ( See Press Release GA/11317 )

Under consideration for the second topic were the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in the Middle East ( document A/67/342 ), which contains replies received from Member States in response to the note verbale dated 17 May 2012 from the Secretary-General concerning the implementation of the relevant provisions of General Assembly resolutions 66/18, entitled “Jerusalem”, and 66/19, entitled “The Syrian Golan”. The Assembly was to take action on related draft resolutions ( A/67/L.23 and A/67/L.24 ). The Secretary-General’s report ( document A/67/364 ), which was presented for the first topic, remained under review for this portion of the debate.

Introduction of Drafts and Reports on Question of Palestine

Introducing four draft resolutions, ABDOU SALAM DIALLO ( Senegal ), Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said that celebration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on 29 November was no accident. On that date in 1947, 33 Member States had met in Queens and decided to partition Palestine. One of the States that they had envisioned was formed and became a Member of the United Nations.

And yesterday, which marked the celebration of the 2012 International Day, thanks to the overwhelming support of the international community, “the journey of the Palestinian people to freedom and to the building of an independent State took a new turn”. Referring to the Assembly’s historic vote yesterday to accord Palestine non-Member Observer State in the United Nations, he wished the Palestinian people harmony and prosperity and even more, a new perspective for peace with Israel and all the peoples of the region.

The first three drafts he introduced reaffirmed the mandates of the Committee he chaired; the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat, and the Special Information Programme on the Question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information. The fourth draft, entitled “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine”, reiterated the position of the General Assembly on the essential elements of such a settlement and included references to developments of the past year. All four draft resolutions outlined positions, mandates and programmes that were of special interest, particularly at the present critical juncture.

Noting that many Members traditionally abstained from votes on the Committee and the Division, he said that advocating for the two-State solution should be accompanied by support for the only body set up by the Assembly devoted to that goal, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. Recalling that the Organization had a permanent responsibility towards the Palestinian question until it was fully resolved, he said that the Committee was counting on the open-minded cooperation of all Members. “It is time for all of you to take a fresh look at our Committee,” he said, calling on the Assembly to vote in favour of all four drafts.

Taking the floor next, CHRISTOPHER GRIMA, Rapporteur, Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, introduced the Committee’s report. The last chapter of the 10-part report contained the Committee’s conclusions and recommendations, which expressed its concerns that the momentum toward the two-State solution had dissipated due to Israel’s continued expansion of illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and its refusal to commit to the longstanding parameters of the peace process.

The Committee called on the international community to take concrete action to compel Israel to stop its illegal settlement activities and commit to end its 45–year military occupation of the Palestinian Territory and make peace. It called on the Security Council to visit the region to examine the situation and make tangible efforts to advance a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Among other recommendations, the Committee, he continued, called on all Palestinian factions to unite behind the leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas “for a good faith implementation of national reconciliation agreements”, which was the prerequisite for the establishment of a viable Palestinian State. The Committee also reiterated that any sustainable recovery of the Palestinian economy required the dismantlement of the Israeli occupation and its associated settlements, checkpoints and other obstacles.

He said that in the coming year, the Committee would continue to focus its programme of international meetings and conferences on widening international support for the achievement of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. It would also continue to encourage civil society partners to work with the national Governments and other institutions with a view to gaining full support for the work of the United Nations, including the Committee, on the question of Palestine.

Statements

MARÍA CRISTINA PERCEVAL ( Argentina ) said her country was proud to be one of the 70 co-sponsors of the draft resolution on changing the status of Palestine at the United Nations. The adopted text was a long overdue step towards the decision the Organization had yet to take: Palestine’s admission as a full Member State. The requirements for admission of new Member States were clearly established in Art.4.2 of the United Nations Charter.

Since the Organization’s beginning, Argentina had advocated that the Council’s Permanent Members should not be able to exercise their veto right regarding the admission of new members, she said. Argentina noted that even an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice had determined that the conditions for the admission were “exhaustive” and that “the political nature of an organ cannot prevent it from the observance of the treaty provisions in the Charter when they limit its powers or criteria for judgement”. In the current context, the Organization could not ignore the condition of the statehood of Palestine in exercise of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people. She noted that the heads of the Southern Common Market ( MERCOSUR ) also had supported Palestine’s bid to acquire the status granted by the Assembly.

SIN SON HO ( Democratic People’s Republic of Korea ) said his country was aligned with the majority of Member States backing the resolution on Palestine’s new status. He congratulated Palestine for having received absolute majority recognition of statehood by the United Nations. He said that the Security Council had turned a blind eye to Israeli atrocities and had taken now appropriate measures to address them. That was a typical expression of double standards by the United States – taking Israel’s side and seriously damaging the Security Council’s credibility.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had recognized Palestine as an independent sovereign state in 1988 and had established full diplomatic relations, he said. It would continue its unwavering support for the Palestinians and all Arab people. For a lasting peace in the Middle East, Israel’s aggressive and hostile acts against the Palestinians had to be ended and the Palestinian people’s legitimate right to nationhood had to be established. The legitimate status of Palestine as a State in the United Nations had to be granted as early as possible.

TINE MØRCH SMITH ( Norway ) said that the adoption of yesterday’s resolution was a “milestone” and that it was a “truly historic” event. Moreover, the text was not a unilateral step by the Palestinians. “[It] was carefully balanced and sends a clear message that the [Palestinian Liberation Organization] and President Abbas are genuinely committed to resuming negotiations on the basis of the two-State solution, she said, adding further that time was more than ripe for all Palestinians to embrace that non-violent approach. The Assembly’s decision also underscored the recognition that Palestinian institutions were beyond the threshold for establishing a functioning State.

However, the current crisis in the Palestinian economy was of great concern, she said, stressing that it was in the interest of all people to secure a viable economy in Palestine. Yet, a self-sustaining Palestinian economy could not be achieved as long as the occupation remained in place and illegal settlements continued to expand, encircling East Jerusalem and undermining the very concept of a two-State solution. “The ceasefire in Gaza is fragile and deserves our full support in order to make it durable,” she continued, calling for measures that would lift restrictions on goods, construction items and personnel, in accordance with Security Council resolution 1860 ( 2009 ). “Such initiatives would make the ceasefire more robust and help us move forward towards a normalization in the Gaza Strip,” she said.

AMIN JAVED FAIZAL ( Maldives ) expressing solidarity with Palestinians’ inalienable right to self-determination, “even as smoke rises from the ruins of Gaza”, he said that the Maldives would not waiver in its steadfast support for Palestine and would continue to condemn serious injustices committed in the occupied territories, as recently as last week. Only a two-State solution could lead to the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine. The Maldives had backed the Palestinian bid for full membership in the United Nations presented to the Security Council last year, he said. Statehood would bring a sense of leadership, responsibility and compulsion that came with the business of governance. While a sovereign Palestine was the ultimate objective, he called the granting of non-Member Observer State status a landmark achievement.

He further hailed the recent Gaza ceasefire and commended the Egyptian Government, the United States and United Nations for preventing further escalation of the crisis. He condemned military strikes on highly populated areas in Gaza and called on Hamas to cease all rocket attacks on Israel, also stating that Israel’s illegal settlement expansion undermined peace efforts and was at the crux of the stalemate facing the global community. Israel acted with total impunity, “making a mockery of international humanitarian and human rights law”, he continued. As the occupying Power, the onus was on Israel to demonstrate its obligations under international law to cease all settlement activity in the occupied territories.

SALEUMXAY KOMMASITH ( Lao People’s Democratic Republic ) endorsed the statement of the Non-Aligned Movement and congratulated the Palestinian people on passage of the resolution yesterday according Palestine non-Member Observer State status. Calling it a critical issue of global justice and a “defining test” for the Organization, he said that Member States must work towards the realization of the inalienable rights of Palestinians. Those rights included the rights of return and self-determination, as well as their aspirations to freedom, prosperity, peace and justice in an independent sovereign State, based on the pre-1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital. He added that acquisition of United Nations status as a recognized State did not negate Palestine’s commitment to resolving conflict through dialogue and peaceful means.

Further, he said, continued illegal settlement activity on occupied land constituted a breach of international law and impeded the peace process, and that such provocative acts should stop immediately. Looking towards a just, lasting, comprehensive and peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israel conflict, in keeping with relevant United Nations resolutions and the Quartet road map, he called on the parties to resume and accelerate direct peace negotiations towards the conclusion of a final peaceful settlement on that basis. He reaffirmed support for the Palestinian people in attaining their long-delayed goal of a viable, peaceful and prosperous State of Palestine that is a full-fledged Member of the United Nations.

Information Source: Media Newswire

December 4th, 2012 @ 03:35pm