8 DECEMBER 2016

GA/1170

SEVENTY-FIRST SESSION, 56TH & 57TH MEETINGS (AM & PM)

Responding to Current Humanitarian Crises, General Assembly Adopts Texts Aimed at Alleviating Suffering of Millions, Protecting Civilians, Aid Worker

Tasked with addressing and alleviating the largest scale of human suffering — 130 million dependent on aid for survival — since the founding of the United Nations, the General Assembly took up a plethora of humanitarian issues today, adopting five resolutions on a sector whose workers were increasingly in demand and danger.

Based on the texts, which were adopted without a vote, the Assembly …urged donors to continue aid flows to the Palestinian people and urged Member States to take action to prepare for the effects of climate change and natural disasters.  

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The Assembly, by a draft on “Assistance to the Palestinian people”, urged Member States, international financial institutions and regional organizations to extend economic and social assistance to the Palestinian people.  It also stressed the role of all funding instruments in directly assisting the Palestinian people and called on international donors to expedite the delivery of pledged assistance in order to help the Palestinian people meet their urgent needs.

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During the day-long meeting, speakers shared experiences in giving and receiving assistance.  The Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine said the Palestinian economy had suffered from decades of Israeli occupation with a lack of control over their monetary and fiscal policies, the two main components of a healthy economy.  He called Member States to work “alongside us” and support “genuine” development endeavours.  While citing recent progress, he said economic losses continued, with everything that was being paid to the Palestinian people being “just a bill of the occupation”.  Accessing its resources would allow Palestine to establish a strong economy, making it no longer dependent on international aid, he said.

Israel’s delegate said that the prosperity of the Palestinian people was a direct Israeli interest and that despite the onslaught of terror attacks against its citizens, Israel had continued to provide assistance, including building hundreds of schools, clinics, mosques and parks.  Hamas regularly confiscated, diverted and smuggled resources dedicated to the humanitarian needs of Gaza residents.  There should be zero tolerance for such abuse, terrorism and violence.  The Palestinian Authority must take a constructive path and accept Israel’s repeated calls to resume direct negotiations.

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The Assembly took up the following reports:

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assistance to the Palestinian people (document A/71/87);

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Opening Remarks

PETER THOMSON (Fiji), President of the General Assembly, noted that 2016 marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of that organ’s adoption of resolution 46/182, on “Strengthening the coordination of emergency assistance of the United Nations”, a landmark development for the Organization in establishing guiding principles for the coordination of humanitarian assistance.  “While this is a moment for commemoration, regrettably it is taking place at a time of escalating humanitarian emergency and need,” he said, recalling that ongoing conflicts and the devastating impacts of climate change, extreme weather and natural disasters were compounding and leading to the suffering of millions.  Some 128.6 million people were affected by conflict, violence and disaster, with almost 93 million in need of protection and humanitarian assistance.

Indeed, the United Nations and its partners were currently launching the largest humanitarian appeal in history, seeking $22.2 billion in 2017 to meet the urgent needs of people across the globe, he continued.  Urging all Member States to contribute, he underscored the need to find new ways to sustain peace, resolve conflicts, combat climate change and better manage migrant and refugee flows.  Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction must be prioritized for urgent action, he emphasized.  “Long-term solutions are needed to break the cycles of recurrent crisis and conflict in which the world is currently caught,” he continued, highlighting the urgent need to implement the Sustainable Development Goals effectively and at scale.  Particularly vulnerable were developing countries, especially least developed ones and small island developing States, he noted.

Introduction of Draft Resolutions

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FRANTIŠEK RUŽIČKA (Slovakia) introduced two draft resolutions titled,

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 “Assistance to the Palestinian people” (document A/71/L.31).  /…

Submitting the draft “Assistance to the Palestinian people”, he said it embodied the wish of the European Union and the entire international community to help the Palestinian people.  He reaffirmed the commitment to provide essential assistance to Palestinian State-building efforts, to strengthen the economy and to meet humanitarian needs.  It would also have the Assembly stress the importance of the work done carried out by the United Nations and its agencies, notably in providing humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people, and urge all international actors to provide economic and social assistance.  The Assembly would also stress the importance of free humanitarian access.

By other terms, the Assembly would urge Member States, international financial institutions and regional organizations to extend economic and social assistance to the Palestinian people.  It would also stress the importance of following up on the results of the Cairo International Conference on Palestine.  Further by the text, the Assembly would stress the role of all funding instruments in directly assisting the Palestinian people and call upon the international donor community to expedite the delivery of pledged assistance in order to help the Palestinian people meet their urgent needs.  The Assembly would stress the importance of ensuring free humanitarian access to the Palestinian people and of the free movement of persons and goods.  It would further stress the need to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian personnel and facilities so as to allow them to perform efficiently their task of assisting affected civilian populations.

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Statements

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RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine, emphasized the need to distinguish between rescue and development operations.  The goal should not be just to remain alive, he said, welcoming donor and partner efforts that had provided assistance to the Palestinian people.  The Palestinian economy had suffered for decades from the Israeli occupation — which was a direct violation of international law — with a lack of control over their own monetary and fiscal policies, the two main components of a healthy economy.  Palestinian export activity had severely plummeted after Israeli customs officials had recently gone on strike, affecting the land crossing on the Jordanian border, which Israel controlled.

He said a Palestinian development plan must be established in accordance with the 2030 Agenda.  Calling on Member States to work “alongside us” to adopt a draft supporting those “genuine” development endeavours, he said the Palestinian people were determined to overcome all obstacles and manage a modern State with great efficiency.  Citing recent progress, he said the banking sector had been recognized for its excellent services, agricultural resources were reaching European markets and the illiteracy rate was among the lowest in the world.  Since 2013, the Palestinian Government had reduced its deficit by 40 per cent.  However, economic losses continued, with everything that was being paid to the Palestinian people being “just a bill of the occupation”.  Accessing its resources would allow Palestine to establish a strong economy, making it no longer dependent on international aid.

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ANA SILVIA RODRÍGUEZ ABASCAL (Cuba) said …The heroic efforts of the Palestinian people required special attention and efforts must be redoubled to end the injustice they faced.

ABDULAZIZ BIN AHMED AL MALKI AL JEHANI (Qatar) said …The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip must be addressed with integrity and impartiality, he said, noting that Qatar would remain a reliable development partner to all people.

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DAVID YITSHAK ROET (Israel) said …said economic development led to stability, which developed into prosperity.  Economic growth and prosperity of the Palestinian people was a direct Israeli interest, he said, emphasizing that despite the onslaught of terror attacks against its citizens, Israel continued to provide assistance, including refurbishing more than 100,000 residential units and building hundreds of schools, clinics, mosques and parks.  Noting that Hamas regularly confiscated, diverted and smuggled resources dedicated to the humanitarian needs of Gaza residents, he said there should be zero tolerance for such abuse, terrorism and violence.  While Israel remained committed to supplying humanitarian aid and assistance to the Palestinian people, those efforts alone would not bring about peace and prosperity.  In that regard, he called on the Palestinian Authority to take a constructive path and accept Israel’s repeated calls to resume direct negotiations.

ABDULAZIZ S M A ALJARALLAH (Kuwait) said …The United Nations system, particularly Palestine-focused institutions, must be strengthened to meet immediate humanitarian needs and rehabilitate occupied Palestinian land.  Achieving a lasting, viable, fair and holistic peace in the Middle East depended on working collectively, he said, emphasizing that the international community must compel Israel to respond to and respect relevant resolutions.  /…

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BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria)…Responding to the statement delivered by the representative of Israel, he said attempts to steal Palestinian land to establish a Jewish State and exclude others was the real reason for the region’s conflict.  Israel had introduced racial and religious extremism, intolerance and occupation to the region, and was now protecting and assisting terrorist groups in the occupied Syrian Golan.  Just yesterday, Israel had also launched rockets into the heart of Damascus and Syria could not be faulted for responding to such brazen actions.

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Action on Draft Resolutions

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Statute was a reason why it did not support those provisions and why it supported the proposal made by the delegation of Sudan.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted draft resolutions on…“Assistance to the Palestinian people” (document A/71/L.31),

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Right of Reply

/…The representative of Israel said accusations that had been made against Israel during the meeting had distorted the facts.  Attacking Israel had become a hobby of some of his neighbours and was a failing attempt to distract attention from the brutal crimes that had been perpetrated by the Syrian regime.  The representative of the Syrian delegation had uttered words that were far from reality.  The Government of Syria had killed.  Concerning the Golan Heights, there was no comparison with the situation in the Golan and in Syria.  It was hundreds of thousands times better in terms of welfare and social services and the economic situation.

The representative of Ukraine said the Russian Federation’s actions had a direct link to the dire humanitarian situation in his country. In that regard, he invited delegations to attend a briefing to be held by Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs the following week on the topic.

The representative of Syria said that Israel’s delegate persisted in misguiding Member States in believing that the crisis in Syria would make them forget their arch enemy, Israel, an occupying Power.  Israel’s terrorism had enabled them to build their entity, he said, recalling the actions of Israel’s terrorist gangs.  It was difficult to believe the claim by Israel’s representative that it took care of people when it had, in fact, deprived the Arab population of its rights and freedoms.  Recalling the terrorist role that Israel had undertaken, he said it had bombarded targets in Syria to boost the morale of terrorists.

For information media. Not an official record.