Concluding its work for the session, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) today approved 12 draft resolutions and three draft decisions, on special political missions, information, Middle East and organization of work, bringing to 28 the total number of draft texts it forwarded to the General Assembly for adoption.
Among those approved today was Draft B on United Nations public information policies and activities. Prior to action on the text, the Committee Secretary presented an oral statement anticipating that the activities to be undertaken — particularly in the area of achieving parity of information products in all six official languages — in the biennium 2016-2017 in line with the Department’s biennial programme plan for that period, would entail nearly $14 million in additional resources for the period.
As operative paragraph 22 was brought to a recorded vote, several speakers expressed surprise, considering that the text had been agreed by consensus and in good faith during the Committee on Information session, held earlier in the year. Some regretted that the Secretariat had come out with a request for additional funding, when the text had been explicit that no new costs would be incurred.
The Committee decided to retain the paragraph in the resolution by a vote of 116 in favour to none against, with 48 abstentions, and then approved the wide-ranging draft as a whole without a vote. It also approved Draft A, on information in the service of humanity, and a related draft decision on increasing membership of the Committee on Information, both without a vote.
Earlier, the draft resolution on comprehensive review of special political missions was approved without a vote. By that text, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to hold regular, inclusive and interactive dialogues on the overall policy matters pertaining to such missions.
Nine draft resolutions related to the Middle East were approved today, each requiring a recorded vote. Those included four on the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and five texts relevant to the report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories.
The draft resolution on assistance to Palestine refugees was approved by a recorded vote of 165 in favour to 1 against (Israel), with 9 abstentions (Cameroon, Canada, Cote d’Ivoire, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Paraguay, United States).
According to that text, the General Assembly would affirm the need for the continuation of the work of UNRWA and the importance of its unimpeded provision of services for the well-being, protection and human development of the Palestine refugees and for the stability of the region, pending the just resolution of the question of the Palestine refugees.
Other drafts in that group concerned persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities; the operations of UNRWA; and Palestinian refugees’ properties and revenue.
The Committee then proceeded to take recorded votes on the five draft resolutions relating to the report of the Special Committee. The first, on that body’s work, would have the Assembly deplore Israeli policies and practices that violated the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories, and ask the Special Committee to continue to investigate those violations, especially those of the Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949.
It was approved by a recorded vote of 90 in favour to 9 against (Australia, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Panama, United States), with 75 abstentions.
The other texts were on the applicability of the Geneva Convention to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the other occupied Arab territories; Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory; Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people; and the occupied Syrian Golan.
Acting without a vote, the Committee approved a draft decision on the rotation of post of Rapporteur in the Committee from the seventieth to seventy third sessions of the General Assembly, and a draft decision on the proposed programme of work for the seventieth session.
Delivering concluding remarks, the Committee Chair expressed appreciation to all delegations for their cooperation and assistance.
The four draft resolutions on UNRWA were introduced by the representative of Indonesia, on behalf of the co-sponsors. The draft resolution on Special Political Missions was introduced by the representative of Finland.
Speaking in a general statement on that cluster was the representative of Brazil. The representative of Italy, on behalf of the European Union, spoke in explanation of vote.
The representative of Cuba introduced, on behalf of the co-sponsors, the draft resolutions on the Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices.
Making general statements on that group of texts were the representative of Syria and the observer for the State of Palestine.
The representative of Israel spoke on a point of order, following which interventions were made by Canada, United States, Germany, Israel and Australia.
The right of reply was exercised by the representatives of Syria and Israel.
General statements on questions of information were made by representatives of Bolivia, Cuba, Argentina, Iran and El Salvador.
Explanations of position were made by representatives of Italy (on behalf of the European Union), Japan, Canada, Australia, United States and the Republic of Korea.
Special Political Missions
THERESA ZITTING (Finland), introducing the draft resolution on comprehensive review on special political missions (document A/C.4/69/L.18), said those initiatives were a core of United Nations peacekeeping efforts. Those missions were becoming increasingly complex amid new challenges. The aim of the draft resolution was to increase the effectiveness of Special Political Missions, with inclusive and interactive dialogue on the overall policy matters. In comparison to the previous texts, this year’s reaffirmed the importance of women in peacebuilding and at all levels. She welcomed the announced creation of a high-level panel to conduct a review of the United Nations peacekeeping operations and of special political missions. In conclusion, Finland thanked all Member States for their participation in the informal meetings, and Mexico, its co-sponsor.
Action on Text
The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would ask the Secretary-General to submit a report on the overall policy matters pertaining to special political missions, including efforts towards improving transparency, accountability, geographical representation, gender participation, and expertise and effectiveness. It would also request the Secretary-General to hold regular, inclusive and interactive dialogues on policy pertaining to the missions and encourage the Secretariat to reach out to Member States to ensure wider and meaningful participation in the discussions.
Questions Relating to Information
Following the introduction by the Committee Chair of draft resolutions A and B on questions relating to information (document A/69/21), the Committee Secretary presented an oral statement in connection with draft B on the United Nations public information policies and activities.
She first explained the operative paragraph, saying that it would have the General Assembly emphasize the importance of using all the official languages of the United Nations, ensuring their full and equitable treatment in all the activities of all divisions and offices of the Department of Public Information, with the aim of eliminating disparity between the use of English and the use of the five other official languages.
Also pursuant to that provision, she said, the Department of Public Information would support its implementation by making social media available in all six languages; making United Nations products available in all six official languages on the Department’s websites; producing and providing access to news, television packages, information and related multimedia products about the United Nations in all six languages; making available in those languages meetings coverage and press releases for the plenary sessions of the General Assembly, and of the Economic and Social Council and Security Council; and making publications and other outreach products “downloadable” in all six official languages, including through archiving of webcasting products in all the languages.
It was anticipated, said the Committee Secretary, that the aforementioned activities would be undertaken in the biennium 2016-2017 in line with the Department’s biennial programme plan for that period, and would entail additional requirements of $13,821,700 for the biennium under the following areas: post resources to increase parity in the preparation and dissemination of public information products ($7,119,000); general temporary assistance to perform reviewing, editing, proofreading and publishing ($579,600), contractual services for the expansion of the video web platform, translation of press kits ($4,083,700), and general operating expenses, supplies and materials, furniture and equipment ($2,039,400).
The adoption of the draft resolution B, she added, would not entail any additional appropriation under the programmed budget for the biennium 2014-2015. The resource requirements present would be included in the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2016-2017.
LUIS MAURICIO ARANCIBIA FERNÁNDEZ (Bolivia) expressed his surprise at bringing to a vote a resolution that had been agreed by consensus during the meetings. He recalled that the negotiations had been undertaken in good faith.
OSCAR LEÓN GONZÁLEZ (Cuba) also expressed surprise at the voting procedure on the text, recalling that it was usually adopted without a vote. The resolution had been submitted to the Committee on Information by the Group of 77 developing countries and China, and it had been followed by extensive discussions with the Secretariat and Department of Public Information staff. He noted that, during the general debate, all were in agreement on the issue, and he had assumed that the resolution would be adopted by consensus. He stressed the importance of the resolution for the dissemination of work, especially in connection with Internet use and the Organization’s linguistic parity. He also recalled that during the meetings, disparities in the use of the six official languages had come to light.
CARLOS MARÍA VALLARINO (Argentina), agreeing with Bolivia and Cuba, also expressed surprise to see the resolution submitted to a vote. That “raises a red flag” as the resolution was the result of two weeks of discussions during the May session of the Committee on Information and promoted by the Group of 77 and China. He recalled that all parties had reached a consensus. As Cuba pointed out, during the general debate on the issue with the Secretariat all were in agreement, and yet, now, the members were asked to vote.
He also noted some confusion with regard to the oral statement’s point about a greater budget for 2016-2017, while paragraph 21 of the resolution clearly underscored the Secretariat’s responsibilities to incorporate multilingualism in all its activities within existing resources. There had been no discussions about going beyond existing resources. He hoped that multilingualism would be promoted and that it would become a reality, in line with the purpose of the United Nations Charter.
Action on Text
The Committee first took a recorded vote on operative paragraph 22 (document A/69/21), deciding to retain it in the resolution by 116 in favour to none against, with 48 abstentions.
Then, acting without a vote, the Committee approved drafts A and B.
Also acting with a vote, the Committee approved a draft decision, entitled Increase in the membership of the Committee on Information, by which the General Assembly would appoint Iraq as a member, thereby increasing the membership from 114 to 115.
Speaking after the vote on behalf of the European Union, the representative of Italy urged the Secretariat to mainstream multilingualism without extending resources. He was surprised to have received a statement asking for expanded resources for 2016-2017.
He said he understood that the estimate presented in the oral statement was based on paragraph 22, but he did not understand the need for that, and the delegation had therefore abstained. During the meetings, no discussions on an increase of the budget had taken place. Moreover, paragraph 21 of the resolution called on the Secretariat to continue its work in that regard without extending the budget. This resolution could not be seen as requiring a budgetary increase, he said, recalling that the resources presented had not been endorsed by Member States.
In conclusion, he said the European Union strongly supported multilingualism; however, it had abstained from the vote on paragraph 22, but that did not mean the delegation withdrew its support for multilingualism.
The representative of Japan reaffirmed his support for the Department of Public Information and the work of the Information Centre in Tokyo. As in previous years, the Committee had discussed the matter, resolutions had been negotiated and all Member States had come to a consensus. Operative paragraph 21 of the resolution explained that greater parity should be achieved within existing resources. The Secretariat made a “severe mistake” in its interpretation of operative paragraph 22 presenting an increase in the budget of almost $14 million, which was not necessary. He regretted that after six months, the Secretariat had delivered that statement on a budgetary increase while ignoring the language of operative paragraph 21. Japan had abstained and hoped that the Secretariat would find a way to achieve parity in the six official languages without a budgetary increase.
The representative of Canada similarly expressed her surprise regarding the oral statement and budgetary increase of $14 million associated with paragraph 22. Canada did not believe that that was justified. As a bilingual country, it placed great importance on multilingualism, but she recalled that paragraph 21 had asked for that within the existing resources. The adoption of this resolution could not be seen as an agreement on the increase presented in the oral statement. Nor should it be perceived that the increase was approved by Member States today.
The representative of Australia, expressing support for draft resolution B, said he did not agree with additional increase in the budget. For that reason, Australia had abstained; it looked forward to considering the matter in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).
The representative of the United States said her country supported the Department’s critical work in promoting the Organization’s values. Robust debates had taken place in good faith and had resulted in the draft resolutions. The United States supported multilingualism at the United Nations and heard the complaints by Member states that “it was not happening fast enough”. Committee members discussed the Department’s financial constraints and had agreed to resource its activities on a cost-neutral basis and through the development of partnerships with private sectors and other entities. Operative paragraph 21 regarding mainstreaming multilingualism must be implemented within existing resources.
She was disappointed and surprised by the oral statement, and added that the increase presented had not occurred in consultation with Member States. Her country had therefore abstained in the vote and opposed the oral statement.
The representative of the Republic of Korea said the increase had not been considered during the Committee’s discussions. His understanding was that any additional burden on Member States would be studied thoroughly. He also hoped that the matter would be discussed in the Fifth Committee.
HOSSEIN MALEKI (Iran) said he had a question for those who abstained from voting on paragraph 22: As those members had emphasized the importance of multilingualism in all activities of the United Nations, how was it possible to push multilingualism without cost?
RUBEN IGNACIO ZAMORA RIVAS (El Salvador) expressed his surprise at the cost presented in the oral statement, as it seemed that paragraph 21 had been set aside, making it clear that it was the Secretariat’s responsibility to make efforts towards greater parity in the use of the six official languages within existing resources.
Draft resolution B, entitled United Nations public information policies and activities, contained sections on the Department of Public Information’s general activities; multilingualism and public information; United Nations Information Centres; Strategic Communications Services; peacekeeping and peacebuilding; promoting a dialogue of civilization and culture of peace; and news library and outreach services.
By the terms of that wide-ranging text, the General Assembly would underline the responsibility of the Secretariat in mainstreaming multilingualism into all its communication and information activities, within existing resources and on an equitable basis. It would also emphasize the importance of making use of all the official languages of the United Nations, ensuring their full and equitable treatment in all the activities of all divisions and offices of the Department of Public Information, with the aim of eliminating the disparity between the use of English and the use of the five other official languages.
Also according to the text, the Assembly would request the Department to contribute to raising the awareness of the international community of the importance of the implementation of the outcome documents of the World Summit on the Information Society; also, of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information and communications technologies could bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide, including by commemorating World Telecommunication and Information Society Day on 17 May.
The Assembly would recognize that the network of United Nations Information Centres, especially in developing countries, should continue to enhance its impact and activities, including through strategic communications support. The Assembly would also call upon the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of this approach to the Committee on Information at its successive sessions.
By further terms of the text, the Assembly would request the Department of Public Information to raise awareness of and disseminate information on the seventieth anniversary of the founding of the United Nations and the end of the Second World War, and to ensure that multilingualism be mainstreamed into those activities, in a cost-neutral manner.
The Assembly would request the Department of Public Information, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support to continue their cooperation in raising awareness of the new realities, far-reaching successes and challenges faced by peacekeeping operations, especially multidimensional and complex ones, and the recent surge in United Nations peacekeeping activities. It would continue to call upon the three Departments to develop and implement a comprehensive communications strategy on current challenges facing United Nations peacekeeping.
Further terms of the text would have the Assembly request that the Department continued to provide the support necessary for the dissemination of information pertaining to dialogue among civilizations and the culture of peace, as well as the initiative on the Alliance of Civilizations, while ensuring the pertinence and relevance of subjects for promotional campaigns on that issue. The Assembly would also ask the Department to take due steps in fostering the culture of dialogue among civilizations, promoting a world against violence and violent extremism.
The Assembly would stress that the central objective of the news services implemented by the Department was the timely delivery of accurate, objective and balanced news and information emanating from the United Nations system in all four mass media —print, radio, television and the Internet — to the media and other audiences worldwide, with the overall emphasis on multilingualism from the planning stage, and reiterate its request to the Department to ensure that all breaking news stories and news alerts be accurate, impartial and free of bias.
The text would welcome the Department’s efforts to implement the recommendations of its 2011 working group on improvement of the Dag Hammarskjöld Library and reiterate the need to maintain a multilingual collection of books, periodicals and other materials in both hard copy and electronic formats, accessible to Member States and others, ensuring that the Dag Hammarskjöld Library continued to be a broadly accessible resource for information about the United Nations and its activities.
It would encourage the United Nations Academic Impact initiative to take effective steps to facilitate exchanges between the United Nations and institutions of higher education in all regions and support the common principles and goals of the United Nations, while recognizing the role of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
According to draft resolution A, Information in the service of humanity, the Assembly, recognizing the call for “a new world information and communication order”, would urge all countries and organizations of the United Nations system to enhance regional efforts and cooperation among developing countries, as well as cooperation between developed and developing countries, to strengthen communications capacities and to improve the media infrastructure and communications technology in the developing countries.
Introducing four draft resolutions on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) on behalf of its co-sponsors, YUSRA KHAN (Indonesia) said the texts were based on previous ones with appropriate updates. They affirmed fundamental principles and rights of Palestinian refugees and reaffirmed the international community’s strong support for the Agency, pending a just solution to the Palestinian question. UNRWA had provided major support in the aftermath of the Israeli aggression on Gaza, he said, urging the international community for funds commensurate with its needs. He hopes the drafts would receive overwhelming support.
OSCAR LEÓN GONZÁLEZ (Cuba) introduced the draft resolutions on the Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories on behalf of the co-sponsors. He expressed regret at the deterioration of the human rights and humanitarian plight of the Palestinian people and the continuation of Israeli aggressions against them. He hoped that Member States would give their strong support to the important texts that addressed serious issues and would act collectively to uphold the principles of justice and rule of international law to promote the rights of the Palestinian people and a just, lasting and peaceful solution to the conflict.
JOAO PAULO SOARES ALSINA (Brazil) said it was an honour for his country to have been invited to join the advisory committee of UNRWA. The Agency’s continued efforts to help the Palestinian refugees had a crucial role in ending poverty and promoting social and economic development in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Action on Texts
Draft resolution “L.9” on Assistance to Palestine Refugees was approved by a recorded vote of 165 in favour to 1 against (Israel), with 9 abstentions (Cameroon, Canada, Cote d’Ivoire, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Paraguay, United States).
By its provisions, the General Assembly would affirm the need for the continuation of the work of UNRWA and the importance of its unimpeded provision of services for the well-being, protection and human development of the Palestine refugees, and for the stability of the region, pending the just resolution of the question of the Palestine refugees. It would call on all donors to strengthen their efforts to meet the anticipated needs of the Agency and those needs mentioned in connection with the recent emergency, recovery and reconstruction.
Draft resolution “L.10” on Persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities was approved by a recorded vote of 161 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau and United States), with 4 abstentions (Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Paraguay, Vanuatu).
By its terms, the Assembly would endorse the efforts of the UNRWA Commissioner General to provide humanitarian assistance to persons displaced and in serious need of continued help as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities. It would strongly appeal to all Governments, organizations and individuals to contribute generously to the Agency and to the other intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations concerned for the above-mentioned purposes.
Draft resolution “L.11” on Operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East was approved by a recorded vote of 164 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, United States), with 4 abstentions (Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Paraguay, Vanuatu).
By its terms, the Assembly would call on Israel, the occupying Power, to comply fully with the provisions of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949; and to abide by Articles 100, 104 and 105 of the United Nations Charter as well as the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations in order to ensure, at all times, the safety of Agency personnel, the protection of its institutions and facilities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.
It would also call for a full and transparent investigation into all of the incidents affecting the Agency’s facilities during the conflict in the Gaza Strip in July and August 2014, with a view to ensuring accountability for all international law violations. It would urge the Government of Israel to expeditiously reimburse the Agency for all transit charges incurred and other financial losses sustained as a result of delays and restrictions on movement and access. It would also call on Israel to, among others, cease obstructing the movement and access of Agency staff, vehicles and supplies and to cease the levying of taxes, extra fees and charges, which impede the Agency’s operations.
By the terms of draft resolution “L.12” on Palestine refugees’ properties and revenues, the Assembly would urge the Palestinian and Israeli sides, as agreed between them, to deal with the important issue of Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues within the framework of the final status peace negotiations.
That text was approved by a recorded vote of 165 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 4 abstentions (Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Paraguay, Vanuatu).
The representative of Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that, while reconfirming its voting pattern on the drafts under consideration, the Union as a whole had not expressed a legal qualification with regard to the term “forced displacement” used in a number of texts. Furthermore, the use of the term “Palestine” could not be construed as recognition of a State of Palestine and was without prejudice to individual positions of the Member States on the issue and, hence, on the issue of the validity of accession to the conventions and treaties mentioned therein.
The Committee then turned its attention to draft resolution “L.13” on the Work of the Special Committee, approving it by a recorded vote of 90 in favour to 9 against (Australia, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Panama, United States), with 75 abstentions.
By its terms, the Assembly, deploring Israeli policies and practices that violated the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories, would request the Special Committee to continue to investigate those violations, especially those of the Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949, and to consult, as appropriate, with the International Committee of the Red Cross in order to ensure that the welfare and human rights of the peoples of the occupied territories were safeguarded, as well as to report to the Secretary-General as soon as possible and whenever the need would arise.
Draft resolution “L.14”, on the Applicability of the Geneva Convention to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the other occupied Arab territories was approved by a recorded vote of 160 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 9 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Rwanda, South Sudan, Togo, Vanuatu).
That draft would have the Assembly demand that Israel accept the de jure applicability of the Geneva Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, and that it comply scrupulously with the Convention’s provisions. It would call on all High Contracting Parties to the Convention, in accordance with article 1, common to the four Geneva Conventions and as mentioned in the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice of 9 July 2004, to exert all efforts to ensure respect for its provisions by Israel.
By a recorded vote of 157 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau and United States), with 11 abstentions, the Committee approved “L.15” on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan.
According to that text, the Assembly, reaffirming that the Israeli settlements were illegal and an obstacle to peace and economic and social development, would reiterate its demand for the immediate and complete cessation of all such activities there. It would stress that a complete cessation of settlement activities was essential for salvaging the two-State solution on the basis of the pre-1967 borders.
The draft resolution on Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, “L.16”, was approved by a recorded vote of 155 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 11 abstentions.
The Assembly, by that text, would condemn all acts of violence, including the excessive use of force by the Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians, particularly in the Gaza Strip, which had caused extensive loss of life and vast numbers of injuries, including among thousands of children and women, massive damage and destruction to homes, economic, industrial and agricultural properties, vital infrastructure — including water, sanitation and electricity.
The draft would demand that Israel cease all practices and actions that violated the human rights of the Palestinian people, and that it fully comply with its legal obligations in that regard. It would also demand that Israel cease all activities and measures aimed at altering the character, status and demographic composition of the occupied territories, including in and around East Jerusalem, which gravely and detrimentally affected the Palestinian people’s human rights.
The Committee then turned to draft resolution “L.17” on the occupied Syrian Golan, approving it by a recorded vote of 158 in favour to 1 against (Israel), with 16 abstentions.
By its terms, the Assembly would call on Israel, the occupying Power, to comply with the relevant resolutions on the occupied Syrian Golan, in particular, Security Council resolution 497 (1981), in which the Council decided that Israel’s imposition of its laws, jurisdiction and administration were null and void and without international legal effect. It would also call on Israel to desist from changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan.
FEDA ABELHADY-NASSER, observer for the State of Palestine expressed deep appreciation and gratitude to all delegations that voted in favour of the nine resolutions. She also conveyed sincere appreciation to the co-sponsors. The overwhelming majority of votes garnered constituted a strong reaffirmation of the rights of the Palestinian people, which had not diminished with the passage of time. The votes also reflected the indispensable role and support of UNRWA for international humanitarian law. Expressing gratitude to host and donor countries, she appealed for the support of both traditional and new donors in next month’s UNRWA pledging conference. She also stressed the role of the Special Committee and affirmed the applicability in the Occupied Palestinian Territory of the Geneva Convention.
BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria) said Member States, through their support for the resolutions, had sent a clear message to Israel to end its occupation of Arab territories and serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law. On the Syrian Golan, Member States had overwhelmingly rejected Israel’s occupation. Everyone was aware that Israel’s violations of international law were also violations against humanity.
During the Syrian delegate’s statement, the representative of Israel, on a point of order, said that representative’s attempts to hint at Nazi Germany — he also done so last year in the same meeting of the Fourth Committee — were absolutely intolerable. It was downright anti-Semitic and absolutely contemptuous of the memory of the Holocaust and there was no place for it in this or any discussion, certainly not the platform of the United Nations. Since that was a provocation, he asked the chair not to allow such rhetoric again within this forum.
Then, the representative of Syria, saying he wished to finish his statement, said that Israel, the occupying Power, backed terrorism, which had led to a pullback of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) from their positions in the Golan. Those terrorists had also kidnapped some personnel. The most recent report of the Secretary-General on UNDOF clearly indicated that Israel was cooperating with terrorists of the al-Nusra Front, facilitating its passage across borders through the area of operation of UNDOF. What he said there in no way pointed to anti-Semitism, Judea-phobia, or the Holocaust.
He said that Israel was the only country to have voted against the resolution on the occupied Syrian Golan. That suggested its lack of concern for international consensus or international law, or for the United Nations. A country that claimed it was created through the United Nations did not heed the Organization’s decisions. Any hesitation to condemn occupation and annexation sent a wrong signal to those who considered themselves “beyond the pale of the law”. He saw in Israel’s statement a desire to adopt a resolution glorifying its occupation of Arab territories.
The Israeli delegate, like all Israelis, he said, was removed from reality and unaware that Israel was occupying territory. If Israel did not want to see its policies compared to Nazi policies, it had to conform to international law. Once Israel stopped illegally occupying land, the Committee would no longer have to meet on the question. Israel’s representatives acted as if they were messengers of peace, whereas they were “monsters violating the interests of others”.
The representative of Canada said the Syrian representative’s efforts to compare Israel with Nazi Germany were unacceptable.
The representative of the United States deeply regretted and condemned Syria’s characterization of Israel as akin to Nazi Germany.
The representative of Germany said the Syrian representative had made a highly regrettable abuse of history in drawing parallels between Nazi Germany and Israel.
The representative of Israel said it was shameful that such rhetoric was being heard in the United Nations. It was remarkable that the Syrian delegate considered that he had any standing to lecture others on human rights. He represented a country that massacred its own people. Further, Syria shed crocodile’s tears on Palestinian refugees, while mistreating them in its own territory. The Syrian Army had fled the field from Al Nusra and left UNDOF vulnerable. Israel had stepped in on humanitarian grounds.
The representative of Australia recorded his delegation’s deep regret at the manner in which Syria had hinted at comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany, which were historically inaccurate and completely unhelpful.Right of Reply
Exercising his right of reply, the representative of Syria said some delegates had not correctly comprehended his country’s statement. Israel’s violations and annexations had reminded Syria of dark periods of history. Any other interpretation was not correct and was the product of the critics’ imagination. The Israeli representative made his own interpretations of events regarding UNDOF in order to malign Syria. Israel belonged in the Guinness Book of Records for the number of its violations against Arabs. Further, treating terrorists in Israeli hospitals and sending them back into Syria to fight did not constitute humanitarian assistance.
Also exercising his right of reply, the representative of Israel said the Syrian representative’s systematic lying was shameful and unacceptable. The death toll in Syria spoke volumes about its Government’s record.
Responding, the representative of Syria said it was strange how Israel had chosen to deflect international criticism of its policies by levelling accusations against Syria. Israel’s crimes must stop and be accounted for.