20 November 2008
General Assembly
GA/EF/3232

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-third General Assembly

Second Committee

28th Meeting (AM)


SECOND COMMITTEE APPROVES TEXT CALLING ON ISRAEL NOT TO EXPLOIT,


DAMAGE, ENDANGER NATURAL RESOURCES IN OCCUPIED ARAB LANDS

 


The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) approved four draft resolutions today, including a text that would have the General Assembly call upon Israel not to exploit, damage, deplete or endanger the natural resources of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the occupied Syrian Golan.


By other terms of that text -– approved by a recorded vote of 139 in favour to 6 against (Australia, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, United States), with 4 abstentions (Côte d’Ivoire, Fiji, Haiti, Nauru) -– the Assembly would call upon Israel to comply strictly with its obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, with respect to altering the character and status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  (See Annex for voting details.)


The Assembly would, by further terms, call on Israel to cease dumping waste materials in the occupied Palestinian and Syrian territories, and stop destroying vital infrastructure, including water pipelines and sewage networks.  It would also stress that the wall being constructed by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, violated international law and seriously deprived the Palestinian people of their natural resources.


The observer for Palestine said, in a general statement following the action that the vote sent a clear message, that the Palestinian people had an inalienable right to their natural resources, which were for their own benefit and not that of the occupier.  The message was that the international community stood by the Palestinians and must hold all States to the same responsibilities.  None was above international law.  The Palestinian people would not tire until Israel ended its occupation of their land and the exploitation of their resources, and until it compensated them for their losses.


On the other hand, Israel’s representative said the text neither advanced prospects for peace nor attempted, truly, to deal with the question of natural resources.  It failed to discuss the terror waged by the Palestinians against Israeli civilians or to reflect the progress made over the last year to resolve the conflict.  Rather, it used the same language as had been used in previous resolutions, without taking into account the current reality on the ground.


In other actions, the Committee approved three other draft resolutions, also without a vote.  The first, on the international financial system and development, would have the Assembly stress its concern over the impact of the current global financial crisis on development.  It would call for its impact on financing for development to be addressed at the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus, starting next week in Doha, Qatar.  Further by that text, the Assembly would note the ongoing deliberations in the context of the preparatory process for follow-up to the Doha Review Conference.


By the terms of a text entitled “External debt and development:  towards a durable solution to the debt problems of developing countries”, the Assembly would stress the importance of continuing to substantively consider external debt and development, and request that the Secretary-General submit a report on the subject at the Assembly’s sixty-fourth session.


The third draft, on the International Year of Chemistry, would have the Assembly stress that education in and about chemistry was critical to addressing such challenges as global climate change; providing sustainable sources of clean water, food and energy; and maintaining a wholesome environment for the well-being of all people.  The Assembly would also decide to proclaim 2011 the International Year of Chemistry, and designate the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as the lead agency and focal point for the Year.


The representative of Antigua and Barbuda introduced, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, draft resolutions on commodities; the Third United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries; specific actions related to the outcome of the International Conference on Transit Transport Cooperation; and the role of the United Nations in promoting development in the context of globalization.


Also speaking today were the representatives of Senegal, France (on behalf of the European Union), Zambia, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Peru, Finland and Turkey.


The Second Committee will meet again on Tuesday, 25 November, to take action on outstanding draft resolutions.


Background


The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met today to take action on draft resolutions relating to permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources; international trade and development; and external debt and development:  towards a durable solution to the debt problems of developing countries; and sustainable development.


Introduction of Draft Resolutions


The representative of Antigua and Barbuda introduced, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, draft resolutions on commodities (document A/C.2/63/L.42); the Third United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries (document A/C.2/63/L.39); outcome of the International Conference on Transit Transport Cooperation (document A/C.2/63/L.40); and the role of the United Nations in promoting development in the context of globalization (document A/C.2/63/L.34).


Committee Chairperson UCHE JOY OGWU ( Nigeria) called attention to a draft resolution entitled “Report of the twelfth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development” (document A/C.2/63/L.35).


Action on Draft Resolution


The Committee then proceeded to take action on four draft resolutions.


By a recorded vote of 139 in favour to 6 against (Australia, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, United States), with 4 abstentions (Côte d’Ivoire, Fiji, Haiti, Nauru), the Committee approved the draft on the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources (document A/C.2/63/L.5).  (See Annex for voting details.)


Explanations of Vote


The representative of Israel said it was disappointing that the text was once again being introduced and approved by the Committee.  It neither advanced prospects for peace nor attempted, truly, to share international resources, which had always been done through bilateral negotiations between the two parties to the conflict.  Israeli citizens had been attacked with rockets launched at their towns and cities to kill as many civilians as possible, but that blatant form of terror had not warranted a single mention in the text.  During the past year, substantial progress had been made on the ground concerning the conflict, but the present draft still reflected language from the previous year’s text, making it irrelevant since it continued to bash Israel without reflecting the reality on the ground.  The text was counterproductive.


The representative of Senegal then took the floor to say that, had his delegation been present during the voting, it would have voted in favour, and asked that that vote be reflected in the final outcome.


The representative of France, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the bloc supported the draft, since the violation of the rights of the Palestinian people was illegal under the Geneva Convention.  However, that should be dealt with through final status negotiations, and the text adopted today should not be considered as “prejudging” the outcomes of judgements to be made.


The representatives of Zambia, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize and Guinea all said their delegations had not been present for the voting, but wished the record to reflect that they would have voted in favour.


The observer for Palestine, thanking representatives who had voted in favour of the text, said it was important to the Palestinian people.  It sent a clear message that the international community stood with them and their inalienable right to a life of dignity and prosperity, and that their natural resources were for their benefit and not that of the occupier.  The text clearly demonstrated that no member of the United Nations was above the law.  Israel had attempted to derail discussion of the draft, but it had run out of excuses.


He said Palestinian people would not tire until Israel ended its occupation of their land, gave up the control and exploitation of their natural resources, and compensated them for their losses.  No one in the United Nations could tire until that had been achieved.  While calling for cooperation, Israel was systematically destroying the Palestinian people to a point that far outweighed those calls.


It was customary for Israel to invoke terrorism, but its crushing acts of terror were far too evident to be in dispute or for its claim of Palestinian terror to be accepted, he said.  Israel had adopted a policy of terrorism in relation to Palestine and the Palestinian people.  Its destruction of the Palestinian economy was not an act of God, and it was crucial to keep in mind that most threats to peace in the region resulted from Israel’s oppressive policies.


The representatives of Saudi Arabia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Peru and Finland then said that, had their respective delegations been present during the voting, they would have voted in favour of the draft and asked that those votes be reflected in the final outcome.


The Committee then approved, by consensus, draft resolutions on the international financial system and development (document A/C.2/63/L.41) and external debt and development:  towards a durable solution to the debt problems of developing countries (document A/C.2/63/L.38).


As the Committee took up a draft on the International Year of Chemistry (document A/C.2/63/L.2/Rev.1 and Add.1), which was introduced by Ethiopia, the representative of Ethiopia said the text would coincide with the International Year of Chemistry, and its approval would contribute positively to the education of young people in the field of natural sciences and related academic pursuits.


The Committee then approved that text, also without a vote.


ANNEX


Vote on Sovereignty over Natural Resources


The draft resolution on permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population of the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources (document A/C.2/63/L.5) was approved by a recorded vote of 139 in favour to 6 against, with 4 abstentions, as follows:


In favour:  Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.


Against:  Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), United States.


Abstain:  Côte d’Ivoire, Fiji, Haiti, Nauru.


Absent:  Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Finland, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, Sweden, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Zambia.


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