General Assembly Adopts Six Resolutions, Concluding Debates on Question of Palestine, Wider Middle East Situation

30 November 2011
GA/11180

General Assembly Adopts Six Resolutions, Concluding Debates on Question of Palestine, Wider Middle East Situation

30 November 2011
General Assembly
GA/11180
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-sixth General Assembly

Plenary

68th & 69thMeetings (AM & PM)

General Assembly Adopts Six Resolutions, Concluding Debates

 

on Question of Palestine, Wider Middle East Situation

 

Speakers Focus on Occupation, Regional Uprisings to Demand More Democracy

Stressing that popular uprisings across the Middle East were demanding greater inclusiveness and democracy, General Assembly delegates called today for peace and justice — as well as “re-energized” efforts to resolve old regional conflicts — to reign across the region, as it adopted six related resolutions.

By six recorded votes, the Assembly adopted resolutions on both the “Question of Palestine” and on the wider “Situation in the Middle East”.  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, by 167 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States) with 4 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Tonga), a broad-based resolution on the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine.  (See Annex IV for voting details)

By its terms, the Assembly stressed the detrimental impact of Israeli settlement policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, on efforts to advance the peace process.  It also recognized “tangible” gains made under the Palestinian state-building programme and stressed the need for sustained and active international involvement to support a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

By the terms of a related text, adopted by a recorded vote of 115 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 53 abstentions, the Assembly affirmed its support for the Middle East peace process and requested the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People to continue its efforts to promote the realization of their right to self-determination.  (Annex I)

The Assembly also took action on two resolutions dealing with activities of the United Nations Secretariat, noting its support for the Division for Palestinian Rights and for the Department of Public Information’s special information programme on the question of Palestine.  It adopted the first text by a recorded vote of 114 in favour to 9 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, United States) with 54 abstentions, (Annex II); and the second by 168 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 3 abstentions (Cameroon, Honduras, Tonga).  (Annex III)

Turning to the more comprehensive issue of the situation in the Middle East, the Assembly adopted two resolutions.  The first, which focused on Jerusalem, was adopted by a recorded vote of 164 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 5 abstentions (Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Haiti, Panama, Tonga).  (Annex V) By its terms, the Assembly reiterated that any Israeli actions to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the city would be deemed illegal and therefore null and void.  It also called upon Israel to immediately cease all such illegal and unilateral measures.

By the second text — focused on the Syrian Golan and adopted by a recorded vote of 119 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 53 abstentions — the Assembly expressed its grave concern over the halt in the Syrian track of the peace process. (Annex VI)  The text declared that Israel had failed so far to comply with Security Council resolution 497 (1981), and that its decision of 14 December 1981 to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan was null and void, with no validity.  It further called on Israel to rescind that decision.

Speakers during today’s debate flagged the entrenched Israeli-Palestinian stalemate as an issue requiring urgent action by the parties concerned, as well as by the international community.  “If we don’t see the Middle East peace process concluded in the near term, the prospects of a lasting peace may become remote,” stressed Australia’s representative, adding that, the time was ripe for direct negotiations.

Concerns raised during the discussion on the situation in the Middle East included the recent violent clashes in Syria — which had gone largely unaddressed, some delegations pointed out — and issue of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.  On the latter issue, several delegates underscored their deep concerns about “still unanswered” questions regarding Iran’s nuclear activities, urging that country to comply with the relevant Security Council resolutions and engage seriously in talks on those issues, without preconditions.

Iran’s representative, however, denied allegations that his country possessed “inhumane” nuclear weapons, stressing that Israel was the true threat to international security.  That country unlawfully possessed a nuclear arsenal, and was therefore the unique source of destabilization in the Middle East, he said.  The Assembly should condemn that occupying Power for possessing nuclear weapons and demand that it place all its nuclear facilities under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards regime, he added.

On the matter of Syria, meanwhile, Japan’s representative said his country had repeatedly called on the Syrian Government to end the use of force against its own people.  “It is extremely deplorable that the situation in Syria remains unresolved, in spite of all the efforts undertaken by the international community, including the sanctions imposed by a number of countries,” he said, calling “emphatically” on the Syrian Government to accept the deal proposed by the League of Arab States.

For his part, Syria’s representative – after devoting most of his statement to condemning Israel’s “racist”, “intransigent” and “brazen” occupation of the Syrian Golan — urged Member States to take a true look at public squares throughout his country.  Millions of people across Syria were exercising their right to stand up in support of Government reforms, he said, adding that the protestors were “rejecting outside pressure, sanctions, lies and fabrication”.  Hopefully, Member States that really cared about human rights would heed the calls of those millions and respect their aspirations, he added.

Earlier today, the Assembly concluded its annual debate on the question of Palestine, with delegations expressing broad support for the Palestinian leadership’s September application for full United Nations membership.  While speakers supported the recent prisoner swap between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as recent deal brokered by Egypt that had paved the way for Palestinian elections early next year, they pointed out that such positive actions had been undercut by Israel’s ongoing settlement construction and its recent decision to withhold some $100 million in tax revenues from the Palestinian Authority.

Urging Israel to heed calls by the Secretary-General and the international community to release those funds, Malaysia’s representative said Israel’s actions were not only immoral, but counterproductive to the goal of genuine and lasting peace.  The diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East peace process must compel Israel to end its intransigence, particularly regarding settlement construction, he added, emphasizing the equal importance of political unity among the Palestinians for progress in the peace process and for reconstruction in the Gaza Strip.

Participating in the debate on the question of Palestine were representatives of Algeria, Bahrain, Norway, Viet Nam, Morocco, Sudan, Namibia, Yemen, Tunisia, Venezuela, Sri Lanka, Libya, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Qatar.

Also taking part in the discussion on the situation in the wider Middle East were representatives of China, Pakistan, Turkey, India, Russian Federation and Qatar.

Speaking following the Assembly’s action on the resolutions were representatives of Australia, United States, Singapore, Argentina (also on behalf of Brazil), Iran and Syria.

The representative of Syria and Iran spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

Egypt’s representative presented the draft resolutions on Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m., 1 December, to discuss matters relating to the revitalization of its work.

Background

Meeting to conclude its consideration of the Question of Palestine, the General Assembly had before it the report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (document A/66/35).  It was also expected to consider four draft resolutions on the question of Palestine (documents A/66/L.15, A/66/L.16, A/66/L.17 and A/66/L.18).  See Press Release GA/11179 of 29 November for further background information.

Expected later to take up the situation in the Middle East, the Assembly also had before it the following reports of the Secretary-General:  “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine” (document A/66/367–S/2011/585), dated 19 September 2011; and “The situation in the situation in the Middle East” (document A/66/338), dated 6 September 2011 and containing a reply from Syria to his note verbal of 12 May 2011.

The reply concerns the implementation of General Assembly resolutions 65/17 (2010) and 65/18, respectively titled “Jerusalem” and “The Syrian Golan”.  The latter condemns Israel’s occupation of the Syrian Golan, its intensified settlement building there, tourist excursions to the area, the diversion of water to settlement farms, and the distribution by the Permanent Representative of Israel of products from the occupied Syrian Golan.

Such activities are in breach of various General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, according to the Syrian reply, which demands a response from the international community to prevent persistent and sustained violations.  It also rejects the decision by the Israeli Knesset to hold a referendum on withdrawal from the occupied Syrian Golan and East Jerusalem, reaffirms a request for more pressure regarding Syrian prisoners held by Israel, and the barring of visits to Syria by citizens of the occupied Golan.

The Assembly was expected to take two draft resolutions on the situation in the Middle East, the first on the situation in Jerusalem (document A/66/L.19), by which the Assembly would reiterate that any Israeli actions to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the city would be deemed illegal and therefore null and void.  It would call upon Israel immediately to cease all such illegal and unilateral measures.  It would further stress that a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the question of the City of Jerusalem must take into account the legitimate concerns of both the Palestinian and Israeli sides, and should include internationally guaranteed provisions to ensure the freedom of religion and of conscience of Jerusalem’s inhabitants, as well as permanent, free and unhindered access to its holy places by people of all religions and nationalities.

By the second draft, on the Syrian Golan (document, A/66/L.20), the Assembly would express its grave concern over the halt in the Syrian track of the peace process, and express hope for the resumption of peace talks.  It would declare that Israel has failed so far to comply with Security Council resolution 497 (1981), and that its decision of 14 December 1981 to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan is null and void, and has no validity whatsoever.  The Assembly would call on Israel to rescind that decision.

The Assembly would reaffirm, by other terms, its determination that all relevant provisions of the Regulations annexed to The Hague Convention of 1970 and the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War continue to apply to the Syrian territory occupied by Israel.  It would call upon the parties concerned to respect, and ensure respect for, their obligations under those instruments in all circumstances.  The Assembly would determine that the continued occupation of the Syrian Golan and its de facto annexation constitute a stumbling block in the way of achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region.

By other terms of that text, the Assembly would further call upon Israel to resume the talks on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks, and to respect the commitments and undertakings reached during previous talks.  It would demand again that Israel withdraw from all the occupied Syrian Golan to the line of 4 June 1967 in implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions, and call upon all the parties concerned, the co-sponsors of the peace process and the entire international community to exert all necessary efforts to ensure the resumption of the peace process and its success by implementing Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).

Statements

MOURAD BENMEHIDI (Algeria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, condemned Israel’s continuing illegal settlement-building activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and its continued withholding of Palestinian tax revenues, describing the latter as an outrageous act of piracy and political extortion.  Israel’s unlawful behaviour on the ground provided the starkest evidence of the contrast between its actions and its professed intention to participate in the peace process, clearly demonstrating that it was not on the path to peace and that its only goal was to undermine any future prospects for a peaceful settlement.

He went on to express regret that all serious international efforts to date for the resumption of direct negotiations, including the last Quartet statement of 23 September, had failed largely due to the lack of clear parameters for those talks and Israel’s insistence on continuing with its actions aimed at cleansing the Occupied Palestinian Territory of its indigenous Palestinian population.  He urged the international community to exert all efforts to compel Israel to abide by its obligations and commitments, and to resume final-status negotiations based on clear parameters, including the cessation of all settlement-building activity, an agreed time frame recognizing the urgency of the matter, and the 1967 borders as the foundation and starting point for negotiations.

JAMAL ALROWAIEI (Bahrain), recognizing the crucial role played by the Palestinian Rights Committee, said that in-depth consideration of its report was cause for considerable disquiet given the humanitarian situation arising from the occupation and settlement policy.  On Monday the King of Bahrain had called on the international community to demonstrate solidarity with the Palestinian people and step up efforts to ease their suffering under the occupation.  There was a need to define the parameters for settling the Palestinian question, dealing with the occupation and supporting efforts to establish independence, institutions and a dignified existence.

He described the decision by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to admit Palestine as a fully-fledged member as an important step towards a similar status in other United Nations bodies.  There was broad international unanimity on the question of granting Palestine full membership of the United Nations, as it was time to recognize an independent Palestinian State, based on pre-1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital.  There were also various initiatives recognizing the rights of the Palestinian people, he said, adding that Palestine’s full United Nations membership would in no way hamper efforts to return to peace negotiations.

MORTEN WETLAND ( Norway) said the deep impasse between Israel and Palestine and the standstill in the peace process could not be allowed to endure.  The occupation and Israel’s continuing settlement-building on occupied land remained the main obstacle, he said.  Calling on the parties to resume negotiations with a view to reaching a lasting political solution, he said the United Nations had a major role to play in mobilizing the international community and providing the necessary multilateral framework.

He said his country stood ready to recognize a Palestinian State and would, in the meantime, fully support all international efforts leading to a comprehensive agreement on the outstanding final-status issues.  At the same time, Norway had consistently stood by Israel and supported its inherent right to self-defence, in accordance with international law.  Consistent with Norway’s view of Israeli application for United Nations membership in 1948, both recognition and membership for Palestine would serve as incentives for negotiations to resolve outstanding issues.

Expressing support for steps towards the effective reunification of the entire Palestinian people and territory under a single political authority, he emphasized that recognition of statehood and accession to United Nations membership were issues best addressed within the context of discussions in the main United Nations bodies in New York.  It had been for that reason that Norway had urged a postponement of the vote on Palestinian membership in UNESCO last month, he said, pointing out, however, that his country had eventually voted in favour.

He said Palestinian institutions relied on domestically generated revenues to sustain public services, two thirds of which were collected by Israel and transferred to the Palestinian Authority on a monthly basis.  However, the collection system needed improvement, he said, stressing that it was totally unacceptable to withhold taxation revenues or postpone their transfer.  The recent economic revival and security improvements seen in the West Bank had resulted from the successful, tripartite cooperation between the Palestinian Authority, the Government of Israel, and the international community, he said, adding that the continuation of that cooperation was crucial for stability in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

PHAM VINH QUANG (Viet Nam), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said Israel had yet to cease the construction and expansion of settlements and the separation wall, and its blockade of the Gaza Strip continued to keep millions of Palestinians in dire circumstances while displacing many more from their homeland.  Viet Nam had long recognized the Palestinian people’s fundamental and inalienable rights to self-determination and their right to create an independent and sovereign State, he said, adding that it therefore supported the application by President Mahmoud Abbas for full United Nations membership.

He went on to state that his country also welcomed the recent agreement reached in Cairo between the Palestinian parties to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in May 2012, and for the mutual release of detainees from.  However, in order for all peoples in the region to co-exist and thrive, all parties must pursue dialogue and negotiations along the lines of the Quartet Road Map, the Madrid Terms of Reference, the Arab Peace Initiative and the relevant Security Council resolutions, he emphasized.  Viet Nam called for intensified efforts by the international community, in particular the Security Council and the Quartet, towards a two-State solution.

MOHAMMED LOULICHKI ( Morocco) said the Palestinian request for full United Nations membership had been the logical and inevitable next step in light of the long-deadlocked peace negotiations.  The request had capped a broad institution- and State-building effort welcomed by the international community, and accompanied by a welcome agreement among the Palestinian factions.  He said his country would continue to support the Palestinian request in the hope that the United Nations would walk in the path of UNESCO, which had recently admitted Palestine as a member.

He went on to acknowledge the challenges that the Palestinian people faced, and condemned Israel’s ongoing settlement activity in and around the West Bank, as well as its decision to withhold much-needed tax revenues.  Morocco also condemned Israel’s attempt to change the character of Jerusalem and would urge the international community to exert pressure on Israel to cease its policies and actions to that end, especially given the many faiths that held holy the religious sites in that ancient city.  Calling attention to the dire humanitarian situation of Palestinians, especially in the Gaza Strip, he said Morocco would continue to support all efforts to achieve trust and cooperation among all peoples of the region, including Israel, and to restore the lands belonging to Syria and Lebanon.

HUSSEIN HANIFF (Malaysia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said Israel’s intransigence was clearly demonstrated by its continuing and expanding settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem; its eviction of Palestinians, demolition of their homes and confiscation of their lands, including through the construction of the illegal separation wall; the increasingly violent attacks by extremist Israeli settlers; the imprisonment of approximately 5,000 Palestinians; the imposition of measures constituting collective punishment; and the withholding of $100 million in monthly tax and customs revenues collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.  The latter action — which amounted to withholding two thirds of annual revenues — hampered institution- and State-building gains, he continued.

Urging Israel to heed calls by the Secretary-General and the international community to release the funds, he said Israel’s actions were not only illegal and immoral, but also counter-productive to the goal of genuine and lasting peace.  Israel must pay due attention to the views and sentiments of the 166 countries that had voted in favour of the draft resolution on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.  Israel should also stop all provocative actions, immediately and unconditionally improve the situation on the ground, stop the construction of illegal settlements, lift the blockade on Gaza, address humanitarian needs and improve the atmosphere for negotiations.  The Quartet must compel Israel to stop its intransigence, particularly regarding settlement construction, he added, emphasizing also the equal importance of political unity among the Palestinians to progress in the peace process and Gaza’s reconstruction.

MOHAMED IBRAHIM MOHAMED ELBAHI ( Sudan) said the Israeli occupation authorities persisted in their blatant defiance of the international community by continuing their illegal and inhuman practices against the Palestinian people.  Such violations had been detailed in countless reports and United Nations documents, including the most recent report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  Israel continued to defy international law by blatantly altering the character of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, he said.

He went on to note that the Palestinians also continued to suffer in Gaza, where their lives and livelihoods were under daily pressure through continued restrictions on the movement of goods and people as well as the blockade that obstructed the distribution of humanitarian goods and services.  Calling on Israel to withdraw from the occupied Syrian Golan and from all occupied areas of southern Lebanon, he emphasized that it was the historical responsibility of the United Nations to achieve a just solution to the question of Palestine — the crux of the Middle East conflict — by compelling Israel to abide by hundreds of General Assembly and Security Council resolutions while ensuring the Palestinian people’s exercise of the right to self-determination.

JEROBEAM SHAANIKA (Namibia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed his country’s unwavering solidarity with and support for the right of the people of Palestine to self-determination and independence.  Regrettably, there was a lack of consensus among Security Council members on recommending full Palestinian membership of the General Assembly.  The Israeli occupation also remained a major source of Palestinian suffering and had relegated them to refugee status, he said, emphasizing that a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement of the question of Palestine, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, was imperative for peace and stability in the Middle East.

The people of Palestine, just like any other on Earth, had the right to create a viable State that would co-exist side-by-side with the State of Israel in peace and harmony, he said, adding that they had for too long been denied the fundamental right to self-determination.  They continued to look up to the United Nations to give them hope so that they could join all Member States in declaring that the “people of the United Nations” were determined to promote social progress and better standards of life “in larger freedom”.  If the international community failed to heed their voices, history would reserve a harsh judgement on that collective failure, he warned.

JAMAL AL-SALLAL (Yemen), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, described the commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People as an affirmation of the legitimacy of their struggle against occupation, and their aspiration to establish their own State.  The current meeting had been convened at the very moment when Israel was pursuing its policy of murder, forced evictions and collective punishment by blockading Gaza, in violation of international humanitarian and human rights law.  The escalation of tensions on the ground, generated by that and other Israeli actions, threatened to cause severe damage to the region, he said.

Israel’s insistence on those policies and practices also affected the potential for peace and a sovereign State of Palestine, he continued.  It was solely responsible for the current stalemate as it continued its settlement-building activities despite calls by the international community for them to cease.  A just and lasting peace could only be achieved through Israel’s “full withdrawal” from all occupied territories, as well as the establishment of a sovereign State of Palestine, he emphasized.  In that vein, Yemen rejected any partial or abridged resolution to the question of Palestine.

OTHMAN JERANDI ( Tunisia) said that in light of the historic developments in North Africa and the Middle East, the Palestinian people continued to be denied the right to self-determination and independence.  Israel’s illegal practices continued to undermine prospects for the resumption of peace negotiation talks.  They also contravened international humanitarian law and the aims of the Arab Peace Initiative.  Indeed, after two decades of sterile talks, the deadlock had only hardened in light of Israel’s intransigence and its ongoing settlement-construction in and around the West Bank.  Israel had also begun withholding much-needed Palestinian customs revenues, he noted.

In spite of all that, the Palestinian people had pressed ahead with their demands for a free and independent State, in line with international law, he said.  While there was a historical precedent and a framework for talks leading to a Palestinian State, Israel persisted in blocking all attempts to resume the peace process.  To move forward, there must be an end to the construction of settlements and a cessation of the demolition of Palestinian homes and property, and a lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip, he stressed, adding that attempts to change the character of Al-Quds must be defeated.  Tunisia fully supported the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people and leadership, he said.

JULIO ESCALONA OJEDA ( Venezuela) recalled the late social theorist Edward Said’s description of the systematic violation of Palestinian rights as “the last great cause of the twentieth century”.  Venezuela joined the voices demanding, unequivocally and without further delay, the end of the Israeli presence in the occupied territories, he said, also reaffirming his country’s full support for recognition of Palestine as a full member of the United Nations.  Since the establishment of the Palestinian Rights Committee, the human drama that had accompanied the Arab-Israeli conflict had become more acute, he said, noting “with great concern” the lack of progress in the peace process and the fact that several new Israeli initiatives over the past year had aimed to “blow up” that very process.

He went on to say that those initiatives included the deliberate territorial and economic fragmentation of Palestinian life, and attempts to modify the Occupied Palestinian Territory’s demographic composition; the continuing “untenable” blockade of Gaza; the demolition of houses and construction of settlements in the West Bank, particularly East Jerusalem; and repressive measures to prevent access to land, schools, medical facilities and places of worship.  Those policies and practices threatened the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, as well as the peace deserved by both the Palestinian and Israeli peoples.  They also threatened the legitimacy of the United Nations and seriously called its impartiality into question, he warned.  “The Security Council cannot remain blind and deaf to what happens in Palestine while, in other places, it proceeds expeditiously,” he stressed.  That double standard could only continue at the risk of endangering international stability achieved over centuries of struggle in the fields of human rights, democracy, law and international justice, he said.

PALITHA KOHONA ( Sri Lanka) said that his country’s Government and people remained steadfast in supporting the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and a two-State solution.  The President of Sri Lanka had emphasized the importance of the Palestinian State-building exercise and the emerging internal reconciliation between the relevant local political stakeholders, he said, noting that the international community now had a window of opportunity to usher in an independent and viable Palestinian State “before it is too late”.  It was time for action rather than “more desultory discussion”.

Expressing hope that the Palestinian application for full United Nations membership would enjoy enthusiastic consideration by all States, he called on the parties in the region to ensure a climate conducive to realizing a two-State solution, “which is the only sustainable solution”.  While the recent exchange of prisoners and the limited easing of the blockade on Gaza had been encouraging, the punitive measures taken by Israel following the admission of Palestine as a member of UNESCO had been regrettable and would “dampen the positive momentum needed to resume peace talks”, he cautioned, stressing that realizing the two-State solution “would be the greatest investment in peace” for Israel, Palestine and the wider Middle East.  Sri Lanka would continue to support that goal, he added.

IBRAHIM DABBASHI ( Libya) said that no people on the planet had suffered more as a result of foreign occupation than the Palestinians continued to suffer to the present day.  Only 5 million of the more than 12 million Palestinian people were present in their historical homelands while the rest had been spread throughout the world, having lost their right to those ancestral lands.  Furthermore, what little land they did have was under the complete control of Israeli forces, which had used all methods — including the construction of settlements and forced evictions — to empty Palestine of its original residents and resettle Jews from all over the world.  Such practices left no room for the Palestinians to establish an independent State, despite all the concessions they had made to establish one on a small patch of its former lands, he said.

The international community’s silence, and the blind eye it had turned to Israel’s crimes, only served to prompt that country’s attempts to control more territory, he said.  “The international community cannot remain perpetually motionless” as the Palestinian people continued to live in misery, while their rights to sovereignty and self-determination were systematically violated, he stressed, adding that the Palestinians had the right to use any and all available means to realize their basic rights and freedoms.  The increasing number of countries recognizing Palestine was a tribute to the important role played by the United Nations in helping the Palestinian people realize those rights, he said.  Recalling their recent application for full United Nations membership, he noted that the position of some States on the Security Council that sought to defend Israel’s actions could serve neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis in the long run.  Member States now needed to uphold the rights of the Palestinian people, who would not forfeit their inalienable rights, he said, adding that they would find support from many peoples around the world and realize their rights, even if by force.

KANIKA PHOMMACHANH (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) said that with the Palestinian application for full membership before it, the United Nations would face a “defining test” in moving that process forward.  Member States must therefore work to ensure that the Palestinian people realized their inalienable rights, including the rights of self-determination and of return to their historical homeland, as well as their aspirations to freedom, prosperity, peace and justice in an independent State.  Their move to gain statehood did not negate their firm determination to gain their rights through dialogue and negotiations, she stressed, pointing out that they had maintained that determination even after persisting for decades “without a glimmer of hope” as the international community had remained unable to take any decisive action “at the levels where it would matter the most”.

Pointing out that the Palestinian Authority had decided on its own to take the necessary steps to establish the institutional foundations for international recognition of a Palestinian State, she said that exercise had been welcomed by a broad cross-section of the international community, including United Nations organs and the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee.  While that effort should be welcomed, the challenges it faced must be addressed, including Israel’s ongoing settlement construction and destruction of homes and businesses, which exacerbated the already critical socio-economic situation.  “We therefore call on Israel to completely stop the construction and expansion of settlements and to abrogate all policies and practices that contravene the basic standards of human rights and social justice,” she declared, affirming the Lao Government’s support for an end to the conflict, in line with relevant United Nations resolutions and the Quartet Road Map.

YOUSEF SULTAN LARAM ( Qatar) said his delegation had long held the position that Arab-Israeli negotiations, on all tracks, must adhere to international law as well as the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.  Israel must abide by its legal obligations, which had been reaffirmed in a host of other agreements, including the Madrid Principles and the Oslo Accords.  Qatar, having followed the implementation of those accords for years, had repeatedly been disappointed and concerned by Israel’s continuing intransigence and blatant defiance of international law, he said.

He went on to note that Israeli occupation authorities had continued to tighten their grip on the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  Indeed, Israeli settlements had been laid out in such a way as to hinder the natural growth of Palestinian communities, thus ensuring a devastating socio-economic impact on the Palestinian people, he pointed out.  The question of Palestine, and resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in line with the Arab Peace Initiative, would remain at the heart of efforts to achieve peace throughout the wider Middle East region, he reaffirmed.

Introduction of Draft Resolutions

MAGED ABDELAZIZ (Egypt), taking the floor to introduce two draft resolutions on the situation in the Middle East, noted that the Israeli Government continued to defy the calls of the international community — as well as the opinion of the International Court of Justice and relevant United Nations resolutions — while persisting in its violations of the Palestinian people’s rights.  In order to pursue a just and lasting peace, he said, there must be an end to its illegal settlement activity and a resumption of negotiations, in line with a clear calendar and with follow-up measures in place, he said.

Recalling the September 2011 Palestinian application for United Nations membership, he welcomed Iceland’s “courageous” decision yesterday to recognize the Palestinian State while stressing that the international community must insist on the illegality of any measures designed to ensure demographic changes on the ground.  It must call upon Israel to respect its commitments, in line with the Security Council’s historic resolution of 1981, and withdraw to pre-1967 boundaries, he said.  Presenting the draft resolutions titled “ Jerusalem” (document A/66/L.19) and “The Syrian Golan” (document A/66/L.20) in that vein, he said that, by those texts, the Assembly would reiterate that any Israeli actions to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on Jerusalem were illegal and therefore null and void, as was its decision to occupy the Syrian Golan.

Statements

BASHAR JA’AFARI ( Syria) welcomed the introduction of the draft resolutions, in particular the one on the occupied Syrian Golan, noting that the Assembly was holding its annual meeting to call on Israel to halt its “rabid” settlement campaigns and other illegal activities in all occupied Arab territories.  All such measures were illegal and must be considered “null and void”, he reaffirmed, pointing out that those words were not his own, but direct references to the language contained in relevant Security Council resolutions that rejected Israel’s occupation of the Syrian Golan.  Yet, Israel had made no moves to end its occupation, and instead had only increased its “settlement construction frenzy”, bringing the wider region closer to instability and war.

What was interesting was that such Israeli escalation enjoyed unlimited military support from some of the same States that expressed support for human rights and freedom, he continued.  Some of that support was given openly, but much was provided in secret, he noted.  The recent vows by some of those States to support the Palestinian request for statehood had only been for show because, behind closed doors, they had threatened to veto the Palestinian application, he noted, adding that some of them had also professed to condemn Israel’s settlement construction.  “But we have not seen a single action to criticize or put pressure on Israel,” he pointed out.  “Those States continue to treat the Palestinian people as if they are the ones occupying land and building settlements.”

It was within the framework of that same intransigence and brazen disregard — which enjoyed international complicity — that Israel continued to occupy the Syrian Golan, he continued.  Moreover, Israel persisted in its policy of repression and racial discrimination against the people living in the Golan because they refused to carry Israeli papers or join the Israeli army.  Worse, Israel had begun building a “racist” wall in the Golan, he said, adding that all complaints about that activity, including to the Secretary-General, had “fallen on deaf ears”.  As the Department of Political Affairs had failed even to acknowledge the issue, Israel had only grown bolder and increased its construction activities in the past week, he added.  As the main obstacle to peace in the Middle East, Israel had sacrificed regional stability to strengthen its stranglehold on the territories it was occupying, he said.

In spite of all that, and despite increasing outside pressure, the Syrian leadership was making great efforts to ensure its own stability and maintain its national sovereignty, he said.  Indeed, a national committee tasked with drafting a contemporary constitution that would address the aspirations of the Syrian people had just begun its work, the first phase of which had been completed, he continued.  The draft affirmed national sovereignty, national will and the rights of the people.  Further, a decree issued today would see the release of some 900 citizens detained during the recent crisis “because they have no blood on their hands”.  He called on States professing to support popular will to look at the public squares in various cities throughout Syria where millions of people were standing in support of Government reforms and “rejecting outside pressure, sanctions, lies and fabrication”.  Syria hoped that Member States, if they really cared about human rights, would heed the calls of those millions and respect their aspirations, he said.

GARY QUINLAN ( Australia) said the year had shown almost preternaturally the common human aspiration for peace and justice.  However, Australia was troubled by recent clashes in Egypt, and called on all parties there to work together to restore calm.  Australia recognized the courage of the Libyan people in standing up to a regime that had long since lost touch with its people, and lauded the new Government’s commitment to democracy.  In Syria, meanwhile, President Bashar al-Assad should step aside to allow his people, like others in the region, to pursue peace and justice, he said, calling on the Security Council to condemn the violence in that country and to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court.

He went on to welcome the recent agreement between Yemen’s ruling and opposition parties, and the subsequent announcement of presidential elections to take place there in February 2012.  In the case of Lebanon, he called on all parties to cooperate with the Special Tribunal, which must be allowed to complete its work.  Additionally, Australia remained concerned about Iran’s nuclear programme and “still unanswered” questions about that country’s nuclear weapons-related activities.  Iran should comply with the relevant Security Council resolutions and engage seriously in talks, without preconditions, he urged.  Further, Australia condemned the recent storming of the British embassy and its diplomatic compound in Tehran, and called on Iran to prevent any such future incidents.

It was obvious that recent events in the Middle East were changing wider political dynamics, he noted.  Governments were facing demands for greater transparency, democracy and inclusiveness, and for the re-energizing of efforts to resolve old conflicts.  First among those was the conflict between Israel and Palestine, he said, recalling that his country had called on both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas to renew negotiations.  Australia recognized Israel’s legitimate security concerns, but in the absence of peace, the security situation might worsen in the coming year, he warned.  Both parties should therefore refrain from provocative activities, including new construction of settlements on Israel’s part, he said.

It was also important that Israel maintain its tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority without interruption, he continued.  Australia, for its part, had signed a five-year agreement to fund the State-building programme in the Palestinian territories in the amount of $300 million, he said, adding that it was also increasing its support to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).  Australia remained concerned about the situation in Gaza, which remained serious.  It also condemned ongoing rocket attacks against Israel.  “If we don’t see the Middle East peace process concluded in the near term, the prospects of a lasting peace may become remote,” he warned, stressing that the time had come for direct negotiations.

LI BAODONG (China), describing the question of Palestine as the centre of the issue of peace in the Middle East, said the peace process was currently stalled as the talks between the Palestinians and Israelis remained bogged down by issues such as the construction of settlements.  Such problems should be solved through political negotiations, with the ultimate goal of establishing an independent Palestinian State, living side by side and in peace with Israel.  He urged Israel immediately to cease the construction of settlements and called on the parties to work for the promotion of peace, as well as the creation of conditions in which to rebuild mutual trust and break the current impasse.

The Palestinian Authority’s recent bid for United Nations membership had won respect from the international community, he said, emphasizing his country’s support for the Palestinian people’s just cause in seeking to restore their legitimate national rights.  An independent State was their inalienable right, he maintained, adding that it should be based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.  China welcomed the internal reconciliation agreement reached by the Palestinian factions and hoped they would continue to address their differences through dialogue and consultation.

He went on to welcome the “prisoner‑swap agreement” between Israel and Hamas, as well as its implementation, but emphasized that the security and humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip remained a challenge.  China hoped tensions there would not escalate, he said, calling upon Israel to lift its blockade on the enclave.  He also called for the creation of favourable conditions for the early resumption of peace talks, and expressed support for a larger United Nations role in settling the Middle East peace question.

KAZUO KODAMA ( Japan) expressed his delegation’s deep concern about the rising tensions between the Palestinian and Israeli sides, sparked by certain recent decisions taken by the Israeli Government, including its acceleration of settlement‑building activities in East Jerusalem and the temporary freeze on transferring the taxes it collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.  Settlement construction was in violation of international law and the freeze on transferring tax revenues had exacerbated the Authority’s already precarious financial position, as well as the well‑being of Palestinians, he noted, reiterating Japan’s strong call on Israel to reverse those decisions.

Calling on both sides to cease all actions and provocations that might undermine efforts to maintain stability in the region, he pointed out that the negotiations on a Middle East peace deal had been stalled for more than a year.  Japan understood the Palestinian people’s earnest aspirations to build their own State, and strongly endorsed a two‑State solution, he said, adding that his delegation highly appreciated the Quartet’s vigorous endeavours, including its statement of 23 September and the timetable set out therein.  Japan also expected that the announced meetings of the Quartet and the respective parties would be an important step towards the resumption of direct negotiations.

As for the situation in Syria, he expressed deep concern about the continuing “bloodshed” there, saying Japan had repeatedly called on the Syrian authorities immediately to end the use of force against their own people.  “It is extremely deplorable that the situation in Syria remains unresolved, in spite of all the efforts undertaken by the international community, including the sanctions imposed by a number of countries,” he said, emphatically calling on the Syrian Government to accept the deal proposed by the League of Arab States and swiftly implement all elements of the action plan set out therein.

MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE ( Iran) said that a settlement of the Palestinian crisis would only be achieved if the inalienable rights of the people in the occupied territories were fully recognized, restored and maintained.  Regrettably, it had remained unresolved for more than six decades due to lack of attention to its root causes, which included the continuing occupation and the persistent violations of Palestinian rights.  Iran condemned the Israeli blockade of Gaza, as an “aggressive and savage action” in breach of all international laws and norms, constituting a crime against humanity and posing a serious threat to international peace and security, he said.  The blockade also constituted collective punishment, which was unconditionally prohibited by Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, he added.

Noting that popular uprisings in the region had demonstrated the pressing need for change, he said a stable and economically flourishing Middle East would create an ideal situation for each country there.  Iran’s continued commitment to brotherly relations with its Arab neighbours was thus a goal seriously pursued by its Government, he said, deploring attempts by “arrogant Powers” to sow discord and create divisions among Middle Eastern nations, and thereby selling more and more of their lethal and sophisticated armaments.  Indeed, any foreign military adventurism in the region on the part of outside Powers should be avoided for the sake of peace and stability, he stressed.

Turning to his country’s nuclear programme, he said that, as a State party to the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), Iran had declared “loudly and clearly” that nuclear weapons were inhumane and had no place in its defence mechanism.  Furthermore, the country had striven for the realization of a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East within the framework of the United Nations.  The Israeli regime, on the other hand, was unlawfully in possession of such weapons and constituted the unique source of destabilization in the Middle East, he emphasized.  The General Assembly should therefore condemn that occupying Power’s possession of nuclear weapons and demand that it place all its nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, he said.

ABDULLAH HUSSAIN HAROON (Pakistan), reiterating his country’s support for the Palestinian people’s just struggle for the right to self‑determination, said the peace process leading to a final settlement was effectively stalled by the Israeli regime’s constant expansionist policy.  There was also no reversal in the deteriorating living conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, while Israeli defiance of the international community on the issue of settlements and its high level of impunity were destroying the peace process and inflicting innumerable hardships on the Palestinian people under its illegal occupation.  He called on Israel to ease its blockade of Gaza and to allow the free flow of people and commerce.

The present stalemate in the peace process could not be broken without sustained and meaningful engagement by the international community, he said, emphasizing that it was important for the international community to work on freezing all Israeli settlement activity, helping Palestinians strengthen State- and institution‑building and ensuring progress on the status of the Palestinian United Nations membership application.  Lasting solutions to the wider Arab‑Israeli conflict were essential to comprehensive peace in the Middle East, he said, stressing that it was imperative to address its root cause — the Israeli occupation of Arab territories.  People of all races and religions in the Middle East had suffered for the last six decades, he pointed out, underscoring the need for concerted action and political will to build a lasting peace that could save succeeding generations from the tragedies and tribulations of their ill‑fated predecessors.

ERTUĞRUL APAKAN (Turkey), emphasizing that the people of the Middle East deserved a dignified life and the dividends that flowed from securing democracy and peace, said the Arab‑Israeli conflict must be resolved and the Palestinian people must be able to exercise fully their inalienable rights.  The course of events in the region, spurred by people’s aspirations for freedom, democracy, human rights and higher living standards, had proved that the just expectations of the Palestinian people could go unanswered no longer.  “It is our foremost objective to find a solution to the Palestinian question on the basis of relevant United Nations resolutions, the Road Map and the Arab Peace Initiative, as well as to ensure the realization of an independent Palestinian State,” he said, adding that ensuring Palestinian unity was another top priority.  Turkey rejected all forms of violence, he said, adding that there was no alternative to a negotiated settlement.

Yet meaningful talks towards such a solution could not take place while settlement activity continued, he noted.  Turkey therefore called on Israel to fulfil its responsibilities under international law and end all such construction, he said.  Meanwhile, the situation in the Gaza Strip continued unabated and had thus become an embarrassment for the entire international community, he said.  The unlawful blockade, which had trapped more than 1.5 million Palestinians in the enclave, must end.  The relevant Security Council resolutions on the situation in Gaza must be implemented without delay.  The international community must ensure accountability both for the humanitarian blockade and for Israel’s 2010 attack on an international humanitarian flotilla that had left nine civilians dead and many wounded.  Finally, he said his country strongly supported the Palestinian application for United Nations membership, adding that it was high time for Palestine to take up its rightful place among the community of nations.

HARDEEP SINGH PURI ( India) said the situation in Western Asia was of importance to the entire international community, and quite different today from what it had been a year ago, when the Assembly had last addressed the issue.  While the question of Palestine had taken a historic turn with the Palestinian leadership’s submission of an application for full United Nations membership, the wider region was also witnessing unprecedented events as people in many countries demanded the right to shape their own future.  While the Security Council had been unable to reach a unanimous decision on the Palestinian application, the overwhelming vote in Paris on 31 October, in favour of their admission as a member of UNESCO, had demonstrated the international community’s support for recognition of Palestine as an equal member in the community of nations, he said.

To ensure peace and security on the ground, however, it was necessary to resume direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians without further delay, he emphasized, noting the Quartet’s encouraging efforts in that regard and expressing hope that its diplomatic envoys would pursue with both parties the timelines set out in its 23 September statement.  The biggest stumbling block to direct negotiations was continued settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, he said, calling on Israel to end construction.  As for the Lebanese and Syrian tracks, he said progress on those two situations would be essential to achieving a comprehensive solution in the Middle East.  In light of developments since the beginning of the year, it was necessary to reinvigorate the quest for an end to the Arab‑Israeli conflict while the region’s countries undertook inclusive political processes and implemented the reforms needed to meet the legitimate aspirations of their people, he said.  “It is important that the grievances of the people are addressed through dialogue and negotiations rather than resorting to arms,” he added.

VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said active efforts were being made to break the deadlock and resume the path towards the creation of an independent and viable Palestinian State.  The Russian Federation supported Palestine’s application for full United Nations membership, he said, stressing the importance of diplomatic efforts to resolve the question of Palestine.

Stressing the need to work for the re‑launch of the peace process, in which the Quartet had a key role to play, he said it had unambiguously signalled the importance of renewing negotiations as soon as possible.  In October and November, special Quartet representatives had met in Jerusalem with Palestinian and Israeli negotiators, but a constructive atmosphere for renewed dialogue would not be achieved, given Israel’s settlements policy, which moved the Middle East further from peace rather than closer to it.

He said the terrorist attacks against the south of Israel, as well as Israeli raids against the Gaza Strip had caused civilian suffering and must cease.  Relieving the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip would only be possible with the lifting of Israel’s blockade, he added.  The great turmoil seen in the Middle East should not detract from the goal of achieving a global Arab‑Israeli settlement based on the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, the recommendations of the Quartet, the Road Map, and the Arab Peace Initiative, he emphasized.

SAEED RASHID AL-JARBOEY (Qatar), pointing to the major political changes in the Middle East over the past year, said that several popular movements had been able to effect real change while others remained mired in turmoil.  Qatar hoped that all countries in the region would achieve stability, and the only way to reach that goal was for all Arab States to adapt to current realities.  Those countries must carry out continuous reforms, taking the demands of their people into account.

While new issues and concerns had emerged, several older issues remained troubling, particularly the punishment of the Palestinian people and Israel’s continuing occupation of the Syrian Golan and areas of southern Lebanon, he said.  The international community must exert pressure on Israel to end its expansion of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and to place its nuclear arsenal under the IAEA safeguards regime, he said.  Meanwhile, Qatar supported the aspirations of the Palestinian people and would call for the establishment of a Palestinian unity government as swiftly as possible, he added.

Right of Reply

The representative of Syria, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said his delegation was “truly concerned and surprised” at attempts by the delegations of Australia and Japan to create internal tensions in Syria, especially on a day devoted to ending the suffering of the Palestinian people.  That demonstrated their objectives to divert attention away from the occupation, and the practices that contravened the simplest norms of international law and international humanitarian law.  He strongly condemned the fact that the representative of Australia, far from using diplomatic language, had interfered in the internal affairs of Syria, a founding United Nations Member State, by attacking a symbol of its sovereignty, namely its Head of State.  Such irresponsible statements were an irresponsible incitement to violence and sent a negative message that supported armed terrorist groups, he said.

He noted that the representative of Australia had spoken of Syria, Yemen, Iran, Egypt, Tunisia and Libya today, but had nevertheless pointedly abstained from referring to the item under consideration, which was ending the Israeli occupation and the breach of all relevant laws as well as international norms and values.  Syria had wished to hear at least one statement of condemnation from the representatives of Australia and Japan, acknowledging Israeli violations, he said, adding that he had also wished they had been just as keen to defend human rights and international legitimacy in their voting.  Regrettably, that had not been the case.  Syria would not allow any foreign intervention in its internal affairs, he stressed, noting that his country’s reforms were intended to respond to the Syrian people’s legitimate aspirations, away from any foreign plot that had no place whatsoever in Syria’s internal affairs.

The representative of Iran, also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said he wished to clarify a point regarding a reference to the British Embassy in Tehran.  The Islamic Republic regretted the incident and reaffirmed its commitment, under the relevant international instruments, to take all appropriate measures to protect diplomatic missions and prevent any attack on their staff members, he said, adding that measures had been taken by the judicial authorities to investigate the incident thoroughly and identify the culprits.

Action on Drafts

Taking up the six draft resolutions before it, the Assembly first adopted the text on the Committee on the exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (document A/66/L.15) by a recorded vote of 115 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 53 abstentions.  (For details of the vote, see Annex I.)

The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution on the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat (document A/66/L.16) by a recorded vote of 114 in favour to 9 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, United States), with 54 abstentions.  (Annex II)

By a recorded vote of 168 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 3 abstentions (Cameroon, Honduras, Tonga) the Assembly adopted the text on the special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat (document A/66/L.17).  (Annex III)

The Assembly then adopted the draft on the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine (document A/66/L.18) by a recorded vote of 167 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 4 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Tonga).  (Annex IV)

The representative of Australia said his delegation had moved from a negative vote to an abstention because it had been a constant supporter of a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian question.  It also supported references in the text to the recommendations of the Quartet, the Road Map and the Arab Peace Initiative, which reflected the will of the international community for a peaceful solution.  Such a solution should be based on the 1967 lines and the mutually agreed land swaps, he said.  However, the resolution did not give sufficient recognition to Israel’s legitimate security concerns, he noted, pointing out that weapons continued to be smuggled through Gaza, and rockets to be fired into Israel.

The representative of the United States said his delegation remained troubled by the repetitive, disproportionate and one‑sided annual General Assembly resolutions condemning Israel.  All parties to the tragic conflict had direct responsibility for ending it, and the United States was disappointed that the Assembly repeatedly singled out Israel without fully acknowledging the responsibility of both sides.

While accepting the principle that the Assembly may look into the practices of individual States, only six had been adopted this year, four of which focused on severe human rights abuses, in contrast to the 17 annual resolutions against Israel, he said, reiterating the call for all Member States to re‑evaluate what would actually contribute to the resolution of the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict.  Success would only be achieved if the parties were encouraged to sit down, listen to each other and understand each other’s hopes and fears, he emphasized.  Those supporting a Palestinian State should do everything possible to support the parties’ efforts to bring about a just and lasting peace.  Ultimately, it was the Israelis and the Palestinians who must live side by side, and who must reach agreement on the issues dividing them, he said, stressing that peace depended on compromise by people who needed to live together long after the speeches had ended and the votes had been tallied.

The representative of Singapore said her delegation had voted in favour of the text titled “Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People” on the understanding that language referring to the “achievement of the two‑State solution on the basis of pre‑1967 borders” should be interpreted in the same manner as it was in the text on “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine”, which stated “…two‑State solution of Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security within recognized borders, based on the pre‑1967 borders”.

The Assembly then adopted the text on Jerusalem (document A/66/L.19) by a recorded vote of 164 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 5 abstentions (Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Haiti, Panama, Tonga).  (Annex V)

Taking up the final draft before it, on the Syrian Golan (document A/66/L.20), the Assembly adopted it by a recorded vote of 119 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 53 abstentions.  (Annex VI)

Following that action, the representative of Argentina, speaking also on behalf of Brazil, said the two delegations had voted in favour of the text on the “Syrian Golan” on the understanding that its main thrust was to emphasize the illegal nature of the acquisition of land by force.  However, the vote did not prejudge the content of paragraph 6 (which demands that Israel withdraw from all the occupied Syrian Golan to the line of 4 June 1967 in implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions).

The two delegations believed that the parties should reach a solution on ending the occupation of the Syrian Golan, he said.  With that in mind, they called on the Israeli and Syrian authorities to resume negotiations so as to find a permanent settlement to the situation of the Syrian Golan, in line with relevant Security Council resolutions and the “land for peace” principle, he added.

The representative of Iran said his delegation had voted in favour of both texts just adopted, but would express its reservations on those parts that might be construed as recognition of Israel.  Furthermore, where they made reference to the “peace process” and a “two‑State solution”, Iran considered that a durable peace in Palestine would be possible only through justice, an end to discrimination, an end to the occupation of all Palestinian territories, the return of all refugees, a resort to democratic means in establishing the wishes of the Palestinian people, and the establishment of an independent, democratic Palestinian State, with Jerusalem as its capital.

The representative of Syria took the floor to thank the delegations that had voted in favour of the text on the Syrian Golan, noting it had been consecutively approved by the Assembly since 1981.  Member States had stood up for “right, justice and law”, and continuing international support for all the resolutions adopted was evidence that they held dear the principles of the United Nations Charter.  The adoption of the resolutions sent a clear message to Israel that killing, foreign occupation, forcible land annexation, racial discrimination, settlement construction and repression were to be rejected, he said, adding that all such practices deserved condemnation by the international community.

“The world agrees that just and comprehensive peace can only be based on the well‑known [resolutions of international legitimacy],” he said, adding that such a solution could only be achieved through Israel’s withdrawal from all Arab territories.  Its continuing occupation and inhumane practices contravened the international community’s desire for peace, he said, stressing that no peace effort could be successful unless Israel became a committed partner.  He went on to insist on the full liberation of the Syrian Golan, decrying the blind support that some States provided Israel and the selective manner in which many of them applied international law.  Those very States, many of which claimed to protect and promote human rights while calling for the protection of civilians, had abstained or voted against the draft resolution, he noted, adding that they had also taken no action on behalf of the Syrian civilian languishing under Israeli occupation.  Such behaviour was to be denounced as “political hypocrisy and complete and utter bias towards Israel’s policies in occupied lands”.

Finally, the Permanent Observer for Palestine said the resolutions adopted were consistent with the objectives of peace — the two‑State solution and upholding international law.  They did not aim to obstruct peace or the effort to resume negotiations.  Recalling a statement during yesterday’s debate on the question of Palestine which had presented a “distorted view” of the situation, he said the resolutions adopted today were instead a loud assertion of the truth.  The Palestinian people would not forget the actions taken during the current momentous Assembly session, he said, adding that it was only a matter of time before the international community accomplished the objective of ushering in an independent Palestinian State.  Hopefully at this time next year, he would be sitting, in alphabetical order, among the Member States, in the seat of the State of Palestine, he said.

ANNEX I

Vote on Palestinian Rights Committee

The draft resolution on the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (document A/66/L.15) was adopted by a recorded vote of 115 in favour to 8 against, with 53 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Qatar, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

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

Abstain:  Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tonga, Ukraine, United Kingdom.

Absent:  Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Kiribati, Madagascar, Malawi, Mongolia, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, South Sudan, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu.

ANNEX II

Vote on Palestinian Rights Division

The draft resolution on the Division of Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat (document A/66/L.16) was adopted by a recorded vote of 114 in favour to 9 against, with 54 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Qatar, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

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

Abstain:  Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tonga, Ukraine, United Kingdom.

Absent:  Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Kiribati, Madagascar, Malawi, Mongolia, Niger, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Sudan, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu.

ANNEX III

Vote on Special Information Programme

The draft resolution on the special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat (document A/66/L.17) was adopted by a recorded vote of 168 in favour to 8 against, with 3 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

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

Abstain:  Cameroon, Honduras, Tonga.

Absent:  Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Kiribati, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Sudan, Tuvalu.

ANNEX IV

Vote on Question of Palestine

The draft resolution on the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine (document A/66/L.18) was adopted by a recorded vote of 167 in favour to 7 against, with 4 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

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

Abstain:  Australia, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Tonga.

Absent:  Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Honduras, Kiribati, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Sudan, Tuvalu.

ANNEX V

Vote on Jerusalem

The draft resolution on Jerusalem (document A/66/L.19) was adopted by a recorded vote of 164 in favour to 7 against, with 5 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

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

Abstain:  Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Haiti, Panama, Tonga.

Absent:  Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Gabon, Kiribati, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Tuvalu.

ANNEX VI

Vote on Syrian Golan

The draft resolution on the Syrian Golan (document A/66/L.20) was adopted by a recorded vote of 119 in favour to 7 against, with 53 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

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

Abstain:  Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tonga, Ukraine, United Kingdom.

Absent:  Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Gabon, Kiribati, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Sudan, Tuvalu.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.