54th plenary meeting
Monday, 19 November 2007, 3 p.m.
Mr. Kerim …….. (The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia)
In the absence of the President, Mr. Al Bayati (Iraq), Vice-President, took the Chair.
The meeting was called to order at 3.10 p.m.
Agenda items 71 and 72 ( continued)
Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance
Report of the Secretary-General (A/62/324 and Corr.1)
(c) Assistance to the Palestinian people
Report of the Secretary-General (A/62/82)
Mr. Oosthuizen (South Africa): …
The report contained in document A/62/82, entitled “Assistance to the Palestinian People” contains a description of efforts made by United Nations agencies, The report contained in document A/62/82, entitled “Assistance to the Palestinian People” contains a description of efforts made by United Nations agencies, in cooperation with Palestinian and donor counterparts, to support the Palestinian civilian population and institutions. We commend the work of the United Nations in that regard and would like to urge the international donor community to continue its generous support. We need to prevent a further deterioration in the quality of life inside the occupied Palestinian territories and a decline of the Palestinian economy, which could only lead to an increase in the economic, social and humanitarian needs of the Palestinian population. In that, regard we need to stress that the crossing points must remain open in order to allow the Palestinian people to receive food, medicines and other important items, especially fuel. It is important that humanitarian assistance be delivered to prevent further suffering and to allow the Palestinian people to live and work in dignity.
Mr. Tarragô (Brazil): …
Brazil has increased its efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to areas and populations affected by natural disasters and complex emergencies. Those actions are taken in the context of our solidarity and commitment to the promotion and realization of human rights and development for all. They also represent for Brazilian society an opportunity for joint action in humanitarian affairs in a form of participation that is a requisite for the full realization of democracy.
My country has also granted refuge to an unprecedented number of people from Palestine. In 2007, it resettled in its territory more than 100 Palestinian refugees affected by the crisis in Iraq. We have done so in cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Mr. Carmon (Israel): …
Regarding the statement delivered earlier today (see A/62/PV.53) by the Palestinian representative in connection with the report of the Secretary-General on assistance to the Palestinian people (A/62/82), it is regrettable that he once again focused on rhetoric and politics rather than on reality and meaningful solutions to the matters at hand. Surely, there are numerous complexities involved in considering the situation in our region, taking into account Israeli security and Palestinian stability. The internal violence among the Palestinians that we have witnessed lately has squandered too many opportunities for progress. The same applies to the continuation of daily Palestinian terrorism, among other factors. No one can detach himself or herself from this very stark reality, although, amazingly enough, the statement we heard earlier today did.
As many in this Hall are aware, due to the important choices made by the Palestinian leadership, there is a Government today that meets the standards of the international community. Hence, if we look at the reality on the ground, there are a number of initiatives and projects aimed specifically at providing assistance to the Palestinian people. But the statement made today by the Palestinian representative seems to ignore these important developments.
Consider the astronomical difference between my Palestinian colleague’s politicized narrative and the reality on the ground. One reality on the ground is a sewage project, under the direction of the World Bank, under way in Beit Lahia in the Gaza Strip to alleviate a strain on the current cesspools near the village. Israel is working to expedite the building of the plant by tracking down non-metal pipes to be used in the facility.
Another reality on the ground is that, as of today, more than 230 Palestinian trainees in fields such as public health, small business, agriculture, educational planning and empowerment of women and youth are enrolled in projects and seminars sponsored by Israel through its Centre for International Cooperation (MASHAV). Hundreds of others have participated in similar programmes over the past 15 years.
Another reality on the ground is Israeli and Palestinian business leaders holding meetings, such as those between the Israeli Manufacturers Association high-level forum and its Palestinian counterparts, and the Portland Fund’s initiation of an Israeli-Palestinian Chamber of Commerce. Yet another reality on the ground is that Israel has released, contrary to what we have heard today, approximately $250 million in tax and customs revenues, with the remaining sum, nearly $250 million more, to be transferred by the end of the year, in accordance with Palestinian wishes and instructions.
These are merely a few examples of practical steps being taken to assist the Palestinian Government and to create a better environment for progress. Israel believes that this Palestinian Government provides a new opportunity to move forward in the peace process and realize the two-State vision, which is why it has eased movement and removed checkpoints in the West Bank, allowed Palestinian security forces deployment and consented to the transfer of supplies and equipment to those forces.
But no assistance will ever come at the expense of Israeli security or permit actions which would endanger the lives of our citizens. May I remind the Assembly that, while just yesterday Israel considered the release of 441 Palestinian prisoners as a gesture of goodwill, a barrage of more than 20 mortars was fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinians must realize that Israeli security and safety are in their own national interest. As long as the rockets continue to fall on the people of Sderot and other Israeli cities, the crossings cannot operate properly. Terrorism is to blame for restrictions on the crossings and on access. Hence, taking responsibility for its security is the first and foremost step for Palestinians in order to see the promise of a new tomorrow.
The meeting rose at 6.05 p.m.
This record contains the text of speeches delivered in English and of the interpretation of speeches delivered in the other languages. Corrections should be submitted to the original languages only. They should be incorporated in a copy of the record and sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned to the Ch ief of the Verbatim Reporting Service, room C-154A. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.