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GA/PAL/1426
20 November 2019
397th Meeting (PM)

Palestinian Rights Committee Recommends 4 Drafts for Adoption by General Assembly, as Humanitarian Coordinator Denounces Underfunding of Gaza Health System

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People today recommended four draft resolutions for adoption by the General Assembly, with Member States scheduled to debate and vote on these drafts on 3 December.

Vice‑Chair Neville Melvin Gertze (Namibia) said the first three drafts deal with the work of the Committee, the Secretariat’s Division for Palestinian Rights and the Department of Global Communications Special Information Programme.  The fourth draft concerns peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine, he added.

Introducing the drafts, Riyad H. Mansour, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, said the first three are a technical rollover from previous years, but the fourth was overhauled to remove certain examples to make it shorter while keeping the key principles intact.

He expressed his appreciation for the support Member States provided to draft resolutions related to the question of Palestine in the Assembly’s main committees.  In particular, the draft to extend the mandate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) for three years received 170 votes in favour, up from 161 three years ago.  Other drafts also received overwhelming support, votes which could be interpreted as “a collective defence of multilateralism,” he stressed.

Turning to the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and developments in the political process, he recalled the Security Council debate earlier in the day, in which he rejected the recent unilateral statement by the United States that Israel’s settlements do not violate international law.  Following that meeting, the Council President spoke to the media, while European Council members issued a common press statement on that matter.  Along with the League of Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Indonesia and Kuwait, his delegation also spoke to the media to represent the international community.

He demanded an independent investigation into Israel’s latest aggressions in Gaza, during which 34 Palestinians were killed, urging the occupying Power to end the blockade of the enclave, where 2 million Palestinians have lived in misery for 12 years.  “Palestine will never surrender or raise the white flag,” he declared.

Also briefing the Committee was James McGoldrick, Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Humanitarian Coordinator, who provided an update on the humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, highlighting the health sector.

He said humanitarian assistance for the people of Gaza is severely underfunded, severely impacting the health sector.  Thousands of people were injured by live ammunition during the “Great March of Return” protests, which began on 30 March 2018.  These patients put a strain on an already overburdened health system, with doctors dealing with overwhelming caseloads of gunshot wounds.  Due to a lack of equipment, doctors cannot perform operations, leaving patients at risk of losing their limbs.

Psychosocial problems are among the other alarming issues, he said, noting that gender‑based domestic violence, drug dependence and suicide rates are all up.  Many children must leave Gaza for treatment without their parents accompanying them because permits are denied.  While electricity supplies recovered to 13 hours a day, hospitals experience a 50‑second delay in switching to self‑generated power.  During that short time span, medical staff must manually operate life support devices for children who cannot breathe on their own.  “This happens every day,” he said, underscoring the need for political commitment to increase funding.  With limited funding, “the future is extremely bleak,” he said.

Also delivering statements were representatives of the League of Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Cuba, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, all condemning the United States for the reversal of its position to endorse Israel’s settlements.

Adela Raz (Afghanistan), Vice‑Chair and Rapporteur ad interim, reported on the Committee’s activities since its last meeting on 4 September.

Committee Vice‑Chair Gertze then announced that the Special Meeting in observance of Solidarity Day will be held on Wednesday, 27 November, and called on Member States to offer their messages of solidarity by Thursday, 21 November.

For information media. Not an official record.