ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL
COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN
SIXTY-SECOND SESSION, 13TH & 14TH MEETINGS (AM & PM)
23 MARCH 2018
The Commission on the Status of Women, concluding its sixty‑second session today, approved a set of Agreed Conclusions aimed at accelerating gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls, as well as resolutions on assistance to Palestinian women, the release of women and children hostages and the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and the girl child.
Taking up a draft of other texts, the Commission approved, by a recorded vote of 30 in favour to 4 against (Canada, Guatemala, Israel, the United Kingdom) with 11 abstentions, a resolution titled, “Situation of and assistance to Palestinian women” (document E/CN.6/2018/L.3). By its terms, the Commission recommended that the Economic and Social Council call upon the international community to continue to provide urgently needed assistance to Palestinian women and girls facing a dire humanitarian crisis under Israeli occupation.
Reaffirming that the occupation remained the major obstacle for the advancement, self‑reliance and social integration of Palestinian women, the Council would demand that Israel, the occupying Power, comply fully with the provisions and principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions and other international covenants, to protect the rights of Palestinian women and their families. It would also urge the international community to renew efforts to advance and accelerate the conclusion of a peace treaty, ending the Israeli occupation, in accordance with the internationally recognized two‑State solution.
The representative of Egypt, introducing that text on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory continued to severely affect women and girls. The draft had been updated to reflect current realities on the ground, including a preambular paragraph noting that the Palestinian people had marked the passage of 50 years of occupation in 2018.
Prior to the vote, the representative of the United Kingdom said that in a continued drive to advance gender equality for all, it was important to refrain from singling out one country in resolutions, as the text had singled out Israel. As such, his delegation would vote against the politicized text.
The representative of Israel said the draft had nothing to do with the situation of Palestinian women. Instead, the Palestinians preferred to spend their time and energy targeting Israel, she said, adding that the Secretary‑General’s report had shown that gender discrimination and violence against women existed in Palestinian communities. Israel had called for a vote on the politicized draft resolution and would vote against it.
The representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of several European Union States, raised deep concerns about the impact of the conflict on Palestinian women. As such, her group would abstain from the vote. The European Union was in the opinion that country‑specific issues should not be dealt with in such a manner.
Making a general statement, the representative of the United States said her delegation had long‑standing concerns, including the inclusion of political elements and anti‑Israel bias. The Commission must refocus its energy on shared goals. For decades, the United States had been the largest donor to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and other programmes reaching Palestinian women, she said. But, she raised concerns about discrimination that continued unchecked. Any peace settlement had to be the product of direct negotiations with both sides.
The representative of Canada, speaking after the vote, said her country’s feminist international policy included support for the empowerment of Palestinian women and the provision of gender‑responsive humanitarian aid. However, Canada could not support a one‑sided resolution that did not advance the prospects of a two‑State solution, she said, rejecting any attempt to politicize the issue.
The representative of Brazil voiced concern about the precarious social and economic conditions affecting Palestinian women and called on the Commission to address the issue in a balanced manner, reiterating her country’s support for a two‑State solution that included internationally recognized and mutually agreed borders.
The representative of the State of Palestine, thanking those Commission members that had voted in favour of the resolution, said Palestinian women and their families continued to bear the brunt of the Israeli occupation. The text’s adoption sent a strong message that rights violations by the occupying Power were illegal and must be halted, and that Israel must be held accountable. Her delegation had never claimed that it did not share the same challenges as other women and girls around the world, she said, but only emphasized that it did so while also living under a brutal military occupation.
For information media. Not an official record.