SEVENTY-THIRD SESSION, 42ND MEETING (PM)
29 NOVEMBER 2018
The international community must take urgent action to end the suffering of the Palestinian people, ensure that Israel abides by all international laws and promote the conditions where two‑State talks can flourish, the General Assembly heard today as it began a debate on the question of Palestine.
Many delegates expressed support for the Palestinian cause, condemned Israel for its continued settlement activities in the West Bank and blockade of Gaza and urged all parties to return to the table for talks to realize a two‑State solution, based on pre‑1967 borders. Many recalled the historic significance of 29 November for two historic occasions. In 1947, the Assembly adopted resolution 181 on the question of Palestine, recommending a partition plan of Palestine into two States, and in 1977, the Assembly called for the annual observance of 29 November as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
The Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine expressed concern about recent developments in the region, including the decision of the United States to move its embassy to Jerusalem, defunding United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and attempts to strip Palestinian refugees of their legitimate status and rights. Still, he said, his delegation believes in the authority and capacities of the Security Council and General Assembly to uphold the law. Such faith could seem remarkable considering Israel’s violations and war crimes, which continue to be rewarded, rather than sanctioned, he said.
He appealed for urgent global action, calling on States to uphold international law and affirm support for the Palestinian people, their inalienable rights and the realization of the State of Palestine based on pre‑1967 borders. He urged Member States to ensure accountability, including through practical measures to safeguard respect for the United Nations Charter. “As long as the benefits outweigh the cost,” he said, “Israel will continue to impose its illegal occupation and to trample the Charter and United Nations resolutions.”
Israel’s representative said the United Nations adopts resolutions every year to condemn his country, none of which has ever mentioned Hamas. Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization, steals aid from the Palestinian people to fund tunnels and uses civilians as human shields. If the international community does not condemn Hamas, it is enabling a terrorist organization. Since the 1947 vote, Israel has faced wars, isolation, double standards and anti‑Semitism. As soon as the partition plan passed, the Palestinian people began teaching their children to hate Israel.
“Every time we reach out with an open hand, we are not only faced with a clenched fist, but an armed one,” he said. Noting that 65 per cent of Palestinians are pessimistic about their future, he urged them to reject their corrupt leaders and elect those who have their best interests at heart. Meanwhile, Israel will continue to hold free and fair elections. He also urged Member States “to not fuel the fire of delusion” when the Palestinians bring wasteful resolutions to the United Nations.
In the ensuing discussion, representatives resoundingly called for support to talks leading to a two‑State solution. Jordan’s delegate said the Palestinian question is the key to peace and stability in the Middle East. “The two‑State solution is the only solution,” she said, calling for the establishment of a Palestinian State based on pre‑1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Pakistan’s representative said that ever since the Assembly adopted a resolution partitioning the mandate of Palestine into two States 71 years ago, the tragedy of the Palestinian people has remained an unremitting tale of broken promises. “But, let me remind this parliament of the world that there is nothing normal about the pain and suffering faced every day by the Palestinian people,” she added.
Norway’s representative expressed deep concerns that the period of 11 to 13 November experienced one of the fiercest exchanges of fire in Gaza since 2014. Hamas bears a major share of the responsibility for the situation in Gaza, but Israel must also lift the restrictions on the movement of people and goods.
“Recognition of Israel as an independent State must be accompanied by the recognition of Palestine as an independent State,” Egypt’s delegate said. The annual renewal of efforts by the international community to resolve the crisis is the only silver lining for the people of Palestine, he added, warning against populist rhetoric that will worsen the crisis.
At the outset of the meeting, the Chair and the Rapporteur of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People introduced its report and the following draft resolutions: “Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People” (document A/73/L.31); “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine” (document A/73/L.32); “Special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat” (document A/73/L.33); and “Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat” (document A/73/L.34). Also speaking today were representatives of Libya, Maldives, Kuwait, Argentina, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Bahrain, Lebanon, China, Iraq, Uruguay and Indonesia.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 30 November, to conclude its debate on the question of Palestine and take action on related draft resolutions, then begin its debate on the situation in the Middle East.
Question of Palestine
CHEIKH NIANG (Senegal), Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, introduced the following draft resolutions: “Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People” (document A/73/L.31); “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine” (document A/73/L.32); “Special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat” (document A/73/L.33); and “Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat” (document A/73/L.34).
He commended the General Assembly President for urging the international community to translate solidarity with the Palestinian people into tangible action. However, the current environment is marked by a lack of clear political will to solve the Palestinian‑Israeli conflict. As such, calls for action are more relevant than ever before in the pursuit of a two‑State solution. The Committee will work with all relevant actors to keep the question of Palestine on the international agenda until Palestinians fully enjoy their inalienable rights.
Highlighting the Committee’s approval of the four draft resolutions by consensus, he pointed out that “L.32” would have the Assembly urge States to not recognize any changes to pre‑1967 borders other than those agreed through negotiations. Noting 50 years of Israeli occupation, he said that through “L.31” the Assembly would urge the international community to intensify efforts to reach a peaceful solution to the question of Palestine. Turning to “L.34”, he said the General Assembly would renew the mandate of the Committee. Draft text L.33” would requests the Department of Public Information to continue pursuing efforts to spread awareness of the situation in Palestine. He invited Member States to provide broad support for the drafts to “send a message of hope to the Palestinian people”.
CARMELO INGUANEZ (Malta), Committee Rapporteur, introduced the “Report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People” (document A/73/35), saying it includes a review of the political context relating to the question of Palestine during the reporting period and outlines action taken by the Committee in its engagement with United Nations entities and other relevant organizations. Through the report’s conclusions, the Committee urges the international community to redouble efforts towards achieving a two‑State solution and deems as null and void decisions by Member States to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The report also reiterates a need to reframe the Palestinian‑Is