SEVENTY-FIFTH SESSION, 3RD MEETING (PM)
GA/SPD/718
15 OCTOBER 2020

Français 

As the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) continued its joint general debate, some speakers urged the Organization to fulfil its commitment to decolonization at the close of another United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, while others called for an end to Israel’s impunity in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

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Several delegates decried Israeli activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, with Lebanon’s representative stressing that the people of the Gaza Strip continue to suffer in unliveable conditions.  Meanwhile, Palestinians living in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, endure restrictions on movement, continued expansion of Israeli settlements, settler violence, excessive use of force by Israel’s security forces and house demolitions, he said.  Describing such policies as a clear breach of international law and international human rights law and in violation of Israel’s obligation as the occupying Power, he called upon the international community to pressure that country to refrain from such violations and to end its occupation.

The observer for the State of Palestine declared:  “Allowing Israel to continue getting away with its crimes without consequence will never lead to change.”  Those who believe that Israel has actually suspended or ceased its annexation plans are ignoring the reality of what is actually happening on the ground, she cautioned.  Collective action, in line with international law and the relevant United Nations resolutions, is the only way to chart a more just reality, she emphasized.  That must include legal action, including at the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice, she said.  “Stopping Israeli impunity is as much about salvaging the prospects for just Palestinian-Israeli peace as it is about salvaging the international rules-based order, which has been so damaged and destabilized by the culture of impunity that has been permitted for far too long to our collective detriment and peril.”

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The representative of Thailand, associating himself with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Non-Aligned Movement,…Turning to the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), he highlighted his country’s commitment to the multi-year pledge of voluntary contributions to the Agency for 2017-2021 amounting to $200,000.  Thailand pledged an additional $30,000 at the Extraordinary Virtual Ministerial Pledging Conference in June, he recalled.

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The observer for the State of Palestine noted that the support of the international community has allowed UNRWA to continuously provide Palestine refugees with education, health-care, relief, social and protection services.  “While tending to humanitarian and human development needs, UNRWA also continues to provide a measure of hope to the refugees, at times life-saving and transformative, especially for youth.”  The Agency is also widely recognized for its distinct contribution to stability, in both the refugee camps and host communities, a critical role against the backdrop of pervasive regional turmoil and emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.  Given the prevailing financial challenges faced by the United Nations and donor countries, additional United Nations budgetary support to help cover essential UNRWA’s operational expenses should be seriously considered, she suggested.  Such a contribution would be a tangible investment in regional stability, the long-term goal of peace and an end to the unravelling of the progress made in implementing the 2030 Agenda.

It is difficult to understand how the Assembly can accept that UNRWA’s mandate be so blatantly politicized, she continued, rejecting distorted narratives and attacks against the Agency aimed at negating the status and rights of Palestine refugees.  Those rights are not diminished by the passage of time, she stressed.  In that regard, she pointed out that Israeli measures to obstruct or terminate UNRWA’s operations in occupied East Jerusalem are in violation of international law, the Comay-Michelmore Agreement, the Convention on Privileges and Immunities and relevant resolutions.  Turning to the report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices, she noted that it corroborates reporting by numerous international, Palestinian and Israeli groups, United Nations agencies, academic and legal scholars.  “To those claiming that ‘the same old methods won’t work’, we say — indeed,” she said, adding:  “Allowing Israel to continue getting away with its crimes without consequence will never lead to change.”

Those who believe that Israel has actually suspended or ceased its annexation plans are ignoring the reality of what is actually happening on the ground, she cautioned.  Moreover, Israel persists in its construction of the separation wall, confiscation of Palestinian land, exploitation of natural resources, excavations under holy sites, and violations of the historic status quo at Al-Haram Al Sharif.  Collective action, in line with international law and the relevant United Nations resolutions, is the only way to chart a more just reality, she stressed.  It must include legal action, including in the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice, and other lawful countermeasures to confront Israel’s violations and compel compliance with the law, she added.  Turning to the banning of products from Israeli settlements, she described it as a basic and minimal “ask” and an obligation to ensure that agreements between any State and the State of Israel do not include the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.  She declared:  “Stopping Israeli impunity is as much about salvaging the prospects for just Palestinian-Israeli peace, as it is about salvaging the international rules-based order, which has been so damaged and destabilized by the culture of impunity that has been permitted for far too long to our collective detriment and peril.”

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The representative of Lebanon,…Turning to the work of UNRWA, he said it is especially essential now due to deteriorating socioeconomic conditions and instability in the Middle East that are further aggravated by the pandemic.  Refugees across the region are becoming more reliant on UNRWA for basic services, he noted, emphasizing the Agency’s need for predictable, sustainable financing of its programme budget.  It is the international community’s responsibility to ensure that services are maintained by providing multi-year contributions, he said.  As for the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, he said the people of the Gaza Strip continue to suffer in unliveable conditions.  Meanwhile, Palestinians living in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, endure restrictions on their movement, continued expansion of Israeli settlements, settler violence, excessive use of force by Israel’s security forces and house demolitions.  Such policies are a clear breach of international law and international human rights law and in violation of Israel’s obligation as an occupying Power, he affirmed, stressing that the international community must pressure Israel to refrain from such violations and end its occupation.

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For information media. Not an official record.