Second Committee Approves 8 Resolutions including Text Calling upon Israel to End Exploitation of Occupied Palestinian Territory, Syrian Golan

GA/EF/3489
17 November 2017
Seventy-second Session, 25th Meeting (PM)

Second Committee Approves 8 Resolutions including Text Calling upon Israel to End Exploitation of Occupied Palestinian Territory, Syrian Golan

The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today approved eight draft resolutions, including one calling on Israel to cease exploitation of the occupied Palestinian territory and Syrian Golan.

Also by that text, “permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources”, the General Assembly would call upon Israel to comply with its obligations under international law and to cease all policies and measures aimed at the alteration of the character and status of the occupied Palestinian territory.

The Committee approved the text (document A/C.2/72/L.40) in a recorded vote of 157 in favour, to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, United States), with 11 abstentions.

By other terms, the Assembly would call upon Israel to halt all actions harming the environment, cease destruction of vital infrastructure, remove obstacles to the implementation of critical environmental projects, cease efforts which impeded Palestinian development and export of discovered oil and natural gas reserves, as well as support the immediate and safe removal of all unexploded ordnance.

The Committee also introduced and took action on several other draft texts.

A draft on “oil slick on Lebanese shores” (document A/C.2/72/L.8) would have the Assembly express concern about the adverse implications of the oil slick in Lebanon caused by the destruction of fuel storage tanks by the Israeli Air Force.  Noting that the damage to Lebanon amounted to $856.4 million in 2014, the Assembly would request the Government of Israel to provide compensation to Lebanon for the damage and to other countries directly affected by the oil slick, such as Syria.

By another text, on “unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries” (document A/C.2/72/L.7), the Assembly would call for the elimination of such measures against those States.

Another text, “strengthening the links between all modes of transport to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals” (document A/C.2/72/L.2/Rev.1), would have the Assembly call for the promotion of regional and interregional economic integration and cooperation on transport and transit facilitation.

A further draft, “international cooperation and coordination for the human and ecological rehabilitation and economic development of the Semipalatinsk region of Kazakhstan” (document A/C.2/72/L.28/Rev.1), would have the Assembly urge assistance to Kazakhstan to ensure economic growth and sustainable development in that region.

The Committee also approved a text on “International Year of Camelids, 2024” (document A/C.2/72/L.44), as orally revised, withdrawing a previous text (document A/C.2/72/L.29).  The draft would promote awareness of the economic and cultural importance of camelids.  Similarly, “World Bee Day” (document A/C.2/72/L.32) would have the Assembly designate 20 May as the day of observance to raise awareness of pollinators and their contribution to sustainable development.

Another draft, “Implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development” (document A/C.2/72/L.39) would have the Assembly stress the importance of development and urge support for the full implementation of the New Urban Agenda.

Action on Draft Resolutions

The representative of the United States stressed that international accords, including Agenda 21, were non-binding documents unless expressly agreed otherwise.  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development would assist people to work together, but all countries had their own role to play.  Emphasizing national responsibility in reaching development goals, he said all countries must work in accordance with their own priorities.

He emphasized that the 2030 Agenda would not provide new market access or override World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements, including those on intellectual property.  Trade-related language in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda had been overtaken by events.  Access to concessional finance for middle-income countries should focus on the poorest and least credit-worthy nations, which should also be steered towards alternate sources of funding.

Noting also that the United States had withdrawn from the Paris Agreement on climate change, he emphasized the importance of appropriate language in resolutions while his country was reviewing the accord.  That applied to action on any agenda items before the Committee.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution “unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries” (document A/C.2/72/L.7).  It approved the text in a recorded vote of 116 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 49 abstentions.

Bulgaria’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said she abstained because unilateral economic measures should respect international law and the WTO rules.  In that regard, unilateral economic measures were admissible in certain circumstances as part of integrated and comprehensive approaches.

The representative of the United States said that each Member State had the sovereign right to determine how to conduct trade with other countries.  In that regard, economic sanctions could be a successful means of achieving foreign policy objectives.

Kyrgyzstan’s delegate said she voted in favour of the resolution.  She said no State could take unilateral economic measures to achieve submission of another nation in carrying out its sovereign rights.  Noting that her country continued to confront “unfriendly steps”, which included the use of economic and transport blockades, she expressed hope that the text would reduce the creation of “artificial barriers” which harmed the sustainable development of States.

The representative of Venezuela said he voted in favour of the resolution because unilateral measures went against the United Nations Charter and were counter to international law.  Such measures affected normal political, economic and social development of States and violated human rights.  He expressed hope that the international community would reject such measures, including those imposed on Venezuela.

Syria’s representative said votes against the resolution reflected immoral beliefs, as unilateral economic measures represented power that could be used as a weapon against weak States to advance narrow political interests.  Along with terrorism, such measures against Syria had posed a serious obstacle to development, denied people their rights, impeded the delivery of humanitarian assistance, hampered commerce as well as trade and harmed the Government’s ability to provide services, especially in the energy sector.

Kazakhstan’s representative proposed continued bilateral relations and dialogue with Kyrgyzstan.  He called on Kyrgyzstan to uphold the concessions made to the WTO and Eurasian Economic Union.  He expected the country to agree upon and sign a road map which was drafted during the Prime Minister’s visit to Kazakhstan.

Next, the Committee took up the draft resolution “strengthening the links between all modes of transport to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals” (document A/C.2/72/L.2/Rev.1).

Turkmenistan’s delegate said development of transport enhanced connectivity of strategic interests by stimulating the mutual flow of goods and services.  Transport, which could ensure development progress, enhance the quality of life and protect the environment, needed cooperation among Governments, civil society and the private sector.

The representative of Uzbekistan said his country supported the resolution.  His State was landlocked and was in support of efforts to contribute to the enhancement of transport.  Noting work to boost exports to Afghanistan and the global market, he highlighted transport and infrastructural improvements.  In that regard, he called for other States to support the text.

The representative of the United States said she disagreed with the reference to the WTO in preambular paragraph 29.  As an organization, the WTO did not develop and operationalize international transport and transit corridors.  However, WTO members’ full implementation of the organization’s rules and procedures would make a positive contribution to the resolution’s underlying objectives.

The Committee then approved the resolution without a vote.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution “oil slick on Lebanese shores” (document A/C.2/72/L.8).

Israel’s representative said the Committee’s role was “wasted on this irrelevant resolution”.  Noting that the text had not changed from previous years, she said it was time to remove the outdated resolution from the agenda.  She therefore called for a vote against the resolution and urged States to “put an end to this once and for all”.

The Committee then approved the draft in a recorded vote of 157 in favour to 7 against, with 7 abstentions.

Speaking after the vote, Lebanon’s representative said that for the twelve consecutive years, the Committee had voted in favour of the resolution.  The approval sent a clear message that “time was not a vehicle for impunity” or reliever of responsibilities for such acts.  Lebanon reaffirmed that it would mobilize all resources and legal means to ensure that the text was implemented and compensation collected without delay.

Next, the Committee took up the draft resolution “international cooperation and coordination for the human and ecological rehabilitation and economic development of the Semipalatinsk region of Kazakhstan” (document A/C.2/72/L.28/Rev.1).

Kazakhstan’s representative said today was the ninth time such a draft was to be approved.  His Government was making considerable efforts to tackle the health, environmental and social problems in the region with assistance from donors and the involvement of United Nations agencies.  Noting the remaining work to sustain achievements and maintain a high profile of that issue, which required coordinated international attention, he said Kazakhstan “tabled” the draft resolution.

The Committee then approved the text without a vote.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution “World Bee Day” (document A/C.2/72/L.32).

Slovenia’s representative announced that there were an additional 50 co‑sponsors of the draft which highlighted the importance of protecting pollinators.  She thanked all delegations and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the 105 co‑sponsors for their support.

The Committee then approved the resolution by consensus.

Next, the Committee took up the draft resolution “International Year of Camelids, 2024” (document A/C.2/72/L.44).  The Committee approved the text without a vote.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution “Implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development” (document A/C.2/72/L.39).

Ecuador’s representative recorded amendments to the text of the draft resolution.

The representative of Bulgaria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said she would vote against the resolution for procedural and substantive reasons.  She said Agenda 21 had fulfilled its purpose, having helped shape the 2030 Agenda.  Efforts should now be focused on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda which incorporated Agenda 21.

Switzerland’s delegate said the integration of the objectives of the resolution into other universally adopted texts was a great success.  As a result, he considered it no longer appropriate to have the draft text on the agenda.  Thus, Switzerland and Iceland would not support the resolution.

The Committee then approved the draft, as orally revised, in a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 48 against, with 3 abstentions.

The United States’ delegate said the Committee must focus its limited time and resources on resolutions that meaningfully addressed ongoing issues and concerns.  The one under consideration did nothing but reiterate prior commitments and repeat previous language.  He had voted against the resolution and urged countries to close that agenda item.

New Zealand’s delegate, speaking also on behalf of Norway, said she had abstained to vote on the resolution.  It had an important role in the past, but had outlived its usefulness.  She was committed to Agenda 21, but the accord was best addressed through efforts to fully implement the 2030 Agenda.

Next, the Committee took up the draft resolution “permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources” (document A/C.2/72/L.40).

Ecuador’s representative, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, made a technical correction.

The representative of Israel said the resolution was a shameful and “one-sided attempt” by Palestinians to exploit the Committee.  The draft text diminished the quality of the Committee.  The report and resolution were one-sided and selective in information.  She said Gaza was controlled by a terrorist organization, Hamas, which misused the financial and economic resources at its disposal.  Palestinians failed to take responsibility for their own actions and sought to distract from fundamental issues by “pointing the finger” at Israel.  Her country would vote against the resolution and she urged other States to do the same.

The representative of Saudi Arabia stressed the need for an agenda to end Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.  A comprehensive solution must be found to ensure the growth of the Palestinian economy.  He called on all to uphold humanitarian principles and vote for the resolution in restoring Palestinian land to its people.  Adding that tyranny had reached an unprecedented limit, he said it was time to respect human rights and establish an independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital.

The Committee then approved the draft, as orally revised, in a recorded vote of 157 in favour to 6 against, with 11 abstentions.

Bulgaria’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the European Union, put on record that the use of the term “Palestine” could not be construed as recognition of the State of Palestine.

The representative of the State of Palestine said the resolution confirmed the inalienable rights of his people over their natural resources.  Israel’s occupation of territories and exploitation of resources were in violation of international law.  He called on Israel to cease exploitation of Palestinian natural resources, and end destruction of Palestinian properties and practices that damaged the natural environment.  Noting previous General Assembly and Security Council decisions, he called for an end of attempts to alter Jerusalem, the end of Israeli settlement activities, the cessation of the destruction of Palestinian properties and the displacement of his people.  He called on all States to review their relationships with Israeli settlements on occupied territories and oppose such activities by refraining from investments which supported those settlements.

For information media. Not an official record.