26 February 2010
General Assembly
GA/10917

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

Sixty-fourth General Assembly                              

Plenary                                                    

72nd Meeting (AM)


General Assembly Requests Secretary-General to Submit Further Report


on Investigations into Violations During Gaza Conflict

 


Resolution Adopted by Recorded Vote of 98 in Favour, 7 Against, 31 Abstentions


Taking note of the Secretary-General’s recent inconclusive report on investigations into possible violations of international law during the deadly 2008/2009 conflict in Gaza, the General Assembly today requested a further report in five months.


By a recorded vote of 98 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Israel, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Panama, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United States) with 31 abstentions, the Assembly also reiterated its call on both Israel and the “Palestinian side” to conduct credible investigations into serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law reported by the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.


In his report submitted to the General Assembly on 5 February 2010, the Secretary-General noted that “the processes initiated by the Government of Israel and the Government of Switzerland are ongoing, and that the Palestinian side initiated its process on 25 January 2010.  As such, no determination can be made on the implementation of the resolution by the parties concerned”.


The report also contains submissions from the Israeli Government, the Palestinian Authority and the Government of Switzerland, as the depositary of the Fourth Geneva Convention relating to the protection of civilians during wartime.


Also by today’s resolution, the Assembly stressed the need to ensure accountability for all violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, and reiterated its recommendation that the Swiss Government reconvene a conference on measures to enforce the Fourth Geneva Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.


Introducing the text was the representative of Qatar.


Israel’s representative also spoke before the vote.


Speaking in explanation of position after the Assembly’s action were the representatives of Panama, Switzerland, United States, Syria, Netherlands (speaking also on behalf of the Czech Republic and Hungary), Norway, Iran, Uganda, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Uzbekistan, Portugal, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Armenia and Belarus.


The Permanent Observer of Palestine also delivered a statement.


In other business this morning, the Assembly took note of dues payments by the delegations of Sudan and Chile, allowing them to participate in the voting.


The General Assembly will meet again at a date and time to be announced.


Background


Meeting this morning to consider the report of the Human Rights Council, the General Assembly had before it the Secretary-General’s report on the Follow-up to the report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict and a related draft resolution.


Introduction of Draft Resolution


NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER (Qatar), introducing the draft resolution on the Follow-up to the report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (document A/64/L.48), said today’s meeting was a crucial step in the international community’s efforts to prevent future violations of international law, end impunity, and promote real peace.  That required serious steps to ensure accountability and justice for the grave breaches of international humanitarian law and human rights committed during Israel’s 2008/2009 military operations in Gaza, which had caused extensive loss of life and destruction and from which the besieged Palestinian population continued to suffer.


He said the text was an important procedural follow-up to resolution 64/10, bearing in mind that the Secretary-General’s report to the Assembly stated that “no determination can be made on the implementation of the resolution by the parties concerned”.  To promote accountability and justice, the Assembly should once again call on the parties concerned to comply with that resolution, he said, calling for the broadest support for today’s text.  The international community must remain steadfast and firm in its efforts to uphold international law and ensure accountability and justice in all circumstances, including in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and in East Jerusalem.  The adoption today of the text would contribute constructively and significantly to those principled efforts, he added.


Action on Draft Resolution


GABRIELA SHALEV (Israel), speaking before the vote, said her country would continue to conduct credible and independent investigations into the aftermath of the Gaza operation, as it did after any military operation, as part of Israeli law and practice.  She asked who, on the other hand, would conduct the Palestinian investigation.


She said it could not be the Palestinian Authority, which had been ousted from Gaza in a bloody coup, or the Hamas terrorists, who targeted civilians, and used schools and hospitals as shields.  Israel would never neglect its duty to defend its citizens, its existence, its democracy and its freedom against Hamas, Hizbullah or any other terrorists, wherever they might be, she declared.  Facing that existential threat, Israel remained committed to acting in accordance with international law and the belief that human life must be protected, she said, stressing that it was a belief that drove its desire for peace.


The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution by a recorded vote of 98 in favour to 7 against ( Canada, Israel, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Panama, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United States) with 31 abstentions. (See annex.)


PABLO ANTONIO THALASSINOS ( Panama) said he had voted against the text because it had the same lack of objectivity and consideration for due process as its predecessor.  Israel and the Palestinian Authority must carry out independent, worthy and suitable investigations, in accordance with international law, whereas the text prejudged those investigations and prematurely declared both parties guilty.  Such condemnation would not lead to a peace process that respected international law and the rights of both peoples to live in peace and harmony, he said, emphasizing that Panama’s vote was not against the Palestinians or in favour of Israelis.  It was a vote against partiality.


HEIDI GRAU (Switzerland), stressing that the Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention should be inclusive and observe international humanitarian law, said it should not replicate previous political discussions, which were appropriate in other forums.  The Conference should be primarily concerned with the need to protect civilians.  It was important that all parties contribute and cooperate during the Conference’s consultations to that end.


ALEJANDRO WOLFF ( United States) said his country remained deeply concerned about the suffering of both Palestinians and Israelis, but the only way to end it would be to reach a negotiated permanent settlement.  Both sides in the conflict should continue credible domestic investigations, he stressed, reiterating that the Goldstone Report was deeply flawed and unbalanced.  It did not acknowledge the nature of the conflict and over-reached in its conclusions and recommendations.  Today’s resolution was similarly flawed and for that reason the United States had voted against it.


BASHAR JA’AFARI ( Syria) said the claims by Israel’s representative implied that her country was presenting a gift to the international community by submitting its report, which showed the dismissive Israeli attitude towards international law.  Syria had voted in favour of the text as part of the quest to ensure justice for the Palestinians and hold Israel responsible for its severe violations.


HERMAN SCHAPER (Netherlands), speaking also on behalf of the Czech Republic and Hungary, said the text was silent on the differences in follow-up thus on the part of both parties, notably that Israel was conducting investigations while the Palestinian Authority had only set up a committee to do so.  The resolution should have reflected those realities, he said.  Concerned that the text called for a Conference of the High Contracting Parties, he noted the lack of full agreement on the need for such a conference, which would be politicized and detrimental to Middle East peace efforts.  Such matters should be pursued in Geneva, not New York, he added.


MONA JUUL ( Norway) said international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians during armed conflict were key issues of human dignity.  At a time when the rights of civilians were under increasing pressure, the Assembly was obliged to ensure that the rules were respected by all parties to conflict and that all were held to account.  Norway supported the resolution’s emphasis on the need for credible independent investigations as well as the Secretary-General’s call for international monitoring to ensure that.


MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE ( Iran) said that while he had voted in favour of the resolution, he was dismayed at the lack of progress in the prosecution of war crimes committed during the onslaught on Gaza, Israel’s subsequent and continuing blockade of the enclave, the damage it wrought on holy sites and the extrajudicial killings it carried out.  Perhaps strong action to prosecute the crimes committed during the conflict would have prevented those new violations, he suggested.


RUHAKANA RUGUNDA ( Uganda) said he had voted in favour of the text because he was convinced that the investigations called for could contribute to confidence-building measures that could lead to the resumption of negotiations, and subsequently to a just and lasting peace.  However, Uganda maintained its position of abstention on resolution 64/10.


YUKIO TAKASU (Japan), taking note of Israel’s ongoing investigation and the process initiated by the Palestinian Authority, said he supported the text because it was based on respect for international law and international humanitarian law.   Hopefully it would contribute to the peace process and that process would continue.


GARY QUINLAN ( Australia) said he had voted against resolution 64/10 last November because of reservations about the text and the flawed nature of the Goldstone Report.  He had abstained from voting on today’s vote resolution, which pointed to genuine efforts.  While Australia’s vote did not change its concerns about the Goldstone Report, or its preference for allowing the parties sufficient time to study the investigations, it was not helpful to drive them apart.  Now was not the time to convene a Conference of the High Contracting Parties as doing so would involve a counter-productive political debate, he said, adding that the prevailing political situation was neither acceptable nor in the interests of Israel, the Palestinian Authority or its neighbours.


JIM MCLAY ( New Zealand) said his country had voted in favour because it supported credible investigations into the conflict, but had abstained from previous votes which endorsed the biased action of the Human Rights Council on the issue.


MURAD ASKAROV ( Uzbekistan) requested that his vote in favour be recorded.


JOSÉ FILIPE MORAES CABRAL (Portugal) said he had voted in favour because he agreed with the need for appropriate investigations.  Resolution 64/10 had played an important role in encouraging both sides to launch an investigation, and Portugal hoped the adoption of today’s text would be a definitive step towards ensuring accountability.


HASAN KLEIB ( Indonesia), stressing that the Goldstone Report should be fully and consistently implemented, said Israel used excessive force and punishment against the Gaza population, who continued to suffer serious humanitarian distress.  Their suffering was disproportionate, and the wording of the text did not reflect an appropriate balance.  Justice must be ensured in the near future, he added.


VATSANA VONGPHYLA (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) and ARA MARGARIAN (Armenia) said they would have voted in favour had they been present.  ALEKSEI TRETYAKOV (Belarus) also requested that his vote in favour be placed on record as it had not been counted due to technical reasons.


RIYAD H. MANSOUR, Permanent Observer of Palestine, said the trend was obvious and clear:  the number of countries opposed to the resolution text and its predecessor texts was shrinking, which was a “victory for the Palestinians and a victory for international law”.  He said he interpreted the observation contained in the Secretary-General’s report to mean that the Israeli “paper” annexed to it did not constitute compliance because it did not meet the call for independent, credible investigations into the serious violations reported by the fact-finding mission, in accordance with international standards.


The Palestinian Authority was in the preliminary stages of conducting an independent, credible investigation, he said.  The Independent Investigative Commission created by presidential decree had set out to fulfil its mandate to ensure accountability and justice, in accordance with the Fact-Finding Mission’s recommendations and resolution 64/10.  In the coming five-month period, the Palestinian Authority would conduct that investigation and submit a substantial response to the Secretary-General.


He emphasized:  “We do not do so on the basis of any symmetry or proportionality between the Palestinian people under occupation and Israel, the occupying Power, for there is no equivalence whatsoever between the scope, scale, intensity and gravity of the Israeli aggression and crimes against our people and actions by the Palestinian side.”  Rather, those actions would be based on adherence to international law and the belief that such efforts would end Israel’s culture of impunity.  The Occupied Palestinian Territory could not remain the exception to the rule in terms of respecting the Fourth Geneva Convention’s provisions aimed at protecting civilians in time of war, including foreign occupation, he said, expressing hope that the Conference of the High Contracting Parties would be held in the timeliest manner, and build on the important Declaration it had adopted in December 2001.


ANNEX


Vote on Follow-up to Report on Gaza Conflict


The draft resolution on the Follow-up to the report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (document A/64/L.48) was adopted by a recorded vote of 98 in favour to 7 against, with 31 abstentions, as follows:


In favour:  Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Chile, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Greece, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Qatar, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.


Against:  Canada, Israel, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Panama, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United States.


Abstain:  Albania, Australia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Czech Republic, Georgia, Germany, Guatemala, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Mexico, Montenegro, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Samoa, San Marino, Slovakia, Ukraine.


Absent:  Afghanistan, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Bahamas, Barbados, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Kiribati, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Myanmar, Namibia, Palau, Philippines, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Suriname, Swaziland, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Tuvalu, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Zambia.


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For information media • not an official record