Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
Sixty-ninth General Assembly
31st & 32nd Meetings (AM & PM)
Second Committee Approves Text Calling for Israel to End Exploitation of Natural Resources in Occupied Arab Territories
The General Assembly would demand that Israel cease exploiting, damaging, depleting and endangering the natural resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the occupied Syrian Golan, according to the terms of one of seven draft resolutions approved today by the Second Committee (Economic and Financial).
By other terms of that text, titled “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 Assembly would call for immediate and safe removal of all unexploded ordnance in the Gaza Strip, and for support for the efforts of the United Nations Mine Action Service in that regard.
Furthermore, the Assembly would call upon Israel to stop all actions harming the environment in the territories under its occupation, as well as its destruction of infrastructure, including water pipelines, and sewage and electricity networks. The Committee approved the text by a recorded vote of 153 in favour to 5 against (Canada, Israel, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and United States), with 8 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon, Honduras, Panama, Papua New Guinea, and Paraguay).
The representative of Israel said that the draft did not encourage dialogue and reconciliation between her country and the Palestinians, and there was no place for it in the Committee. She called for investment in “a constructive solution, rather than destructive resolutions”, and was surprised to hear a neighbouring country take the floor to criticize her country.
The Observer for the State of Palestine said that the adoption of the draft resolution by an overwhelming majority was a clear indication of the right of the Palestinian people to have control over their own natural resources. The time had come for the international community to ensure the implementation of international law, and compel Israel to cease its occupation.
Italy’s representative confirmed that the European Union would support the draft, but wished to record that the use of the term “Palestine” in the text could not be construed as recognition of Statehood. Syria’s representative noted that Israel showed no conscience over an issue that the Committee was seeking to resolve.
The Committee then took up the draft on the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian and other Arab populations in occupied lands over their natural resources (document A/C.2/69/L.33). The representative of Bolivia made a general statement, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, stressing that the wall and settlements being constructed by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory were depriving the Palestinian people of their natural resources. In that regard, he called for full compliance with the legal obligations affirmed in the 9 July 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice and in relevant United Nations resolutions. Furthermore, he recognized the right of the Palestinian people to claim restitution as a result of any exploitation, damage, loss or depletion of their natural resources resulting from illegal measures taken by Israel. He also reaffirmed the urgency of “achieving without delay an end to the Israeli occupation”, and a “just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement”.
Making a general statement, the representative of Israel expressed disappointment that the Committee was taking a detour from its important work. The draft neglected the fact that the Palestinian leadership was consistently choosing warfare over people’s welfare, and did not encourage dialogue and reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinians. There was no place for the draft in the Committee, and its only purpose was to single out Israel. Noting her intent to vote against it, she said “let us invest in a constructive solution, rather than destructive resolutions”.
Also making a general statement, the representative of Egypt said year after year, international reports recorded the damage and exploitation by Israel, particularly in East Jerusalem, the territories occupied since 1967, and in the Golan. The Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) always referred to the harm done to Palestinian and Arab populations because of the positions of Israeli occupiers. The occupation violated the Geneva Convention and he pointed to discriminatory policies on water, which caused major shortages and threatened inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza.
Speaking before the vote, the representative of Italy, on behalf of the European Union, confirmed that the Union would support the draft, but wished to record that the use of the term “Palestine” in the draft text could not be construed as recognition of statehood. The Union’s common position did not prejudice the individual positions of Member States.
The Committee then approved the text by a recorded vote of 153 in favour to 5 against (Canada, Israel, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and United States), with 8 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon, Honduras, Panama, Papua New Guinea, and Paraguay).
The observer for the State of Palestine said that the adoption of the draft resolution by the Committee by an overwhelming majority was a clear indication of the right of his people to have control over their own natural resources. It renewed the call to Israel to cease all violations of international treaties, and put an end to its exploitation of the Palestinian land and water. The draft resolution demonstrated the position of the international community once again. The time had come for practical and effective legal measures to ensure the implementation of international law and compel Israel to cease its occupation.
Explaining her position after the vote, the representative of Israel said that the favourite sport of the Palestinian Observer was taking “cheap shots” at her country. It was the only time when he was to be heard speaking in the Committee. Given the devastating terror attacks currently taking place against Israelis, it was time he focused on his own problems. She was also surprised to hear a neighbouring country take the floor to criticize Israel, and she said she wished to recall that Gaza had two entry points.
Also speaking in explanation of position, the representative of Syria endorsed the position of the Group of 77 and China, saying the draft recognized the rights of an occupied people and was nothing new, having been agreed upon several times before. Foreign occupation was the main obstacle to people living under its yoke in achieving sustainable development, and the draft reiterated a truth whereby the Israeli occupying authorities sought to starve and increase poverty among the Arab population living under occupation. He asked for the direct withdrawal of Israel from occupied territories and the ending of the destruction of natural resources. Israel showed no conscience over an issue that the Committee was seeking to resolve, and he hoped the draft would open their minds about their illegal practices, which were the reason for condemnations by Member States.
Speaking in explanation of position before the vote, the representative of Morocco, on behalf of the Arab Group, said he rejected the draft. The Group’s position was based on Israel contravening the rights of Palestinians to development. Their illegal practices continued and prevented development in Palestinian territories. The occupation was an obstacle to energy, agriculture, industry, and other activities, like local and foreign investment. It prevented employment and affected women and children in particular. Israel should therefore not be able to submit such a text and the Group would vote against it.
The Committee then proceeded to a recorded vote, approving the text with 127 in favour, 28 against, and 10 abstentions (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Ecuador, Guinea, Namibia, Mauritius, Mali, South Africa, and Sri Lanka).
Speaking in explanation of vote, the representative of Israel said that the overwhelming endorsement of the text reflected the growing understanding that “empowering entrepreneurs advances sustainable development”. He noted that Arab nations had once again voted against that resolution, and in doing so, had cast a vote against opportunity, economic prosperity and their own people. Today’s vote was yet another attempt by the Arab Group to delegitimize Israel. Few countries knew more about reaping wealth from entrepreneurship than his country, which had, in just six decades, transformed from an impoverished new born State into a “global leader in innovation”. The adoption of that resolution did not mean that their work was done; they must ensure that every person had the opportunity to contribute to his or her community.
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For information media • not an official record
Download Document Files: GAEF3412f.pdf
Document Type: French text, Press Release
Document Sources: Department of Public Information (DPI), General Assembly, General Assembly Second Committee (Economic and Financial)
Subject: Access and movement, Closures/Curfews/Blockades, Fourth Geneva Convention, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, Governance, Human rights and international humanitarian law, Inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, Legal issues, Natural resources, Negotiations and agreements, Occupation, Peace process, Population
Publication Date: 13/11/2014