SEVENTY-SIXTH SESSION, 14TH MEETING (PM)
3 NOVEMBER 2021
As the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) concluded its general debate today, several delegates called on the Committee to revise its outdated approaches to the questions of Palestine and Western Sahara, while others voiced varying assessments of the work of United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
The representative of Israel, referring to the raft of agenda items taken up annually on issues related to the Palestinian people, said is time for the Committee to revise its practices and rhetoric on the Middle East and join the region’s growing positive momentum. The work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting Human Rights of Palestinian People and Other Arabs of Occupied Territories — which reports to the Fourth Committee each year — damages the prospect for peace in the Middle East and promotes one-sided propaganda, ignoring Israeli efforts to achieve peace. Turning to UNRWA, he warned that no United Nations agency should pursue a politically motivated agenda and urged the Committee to hold the Agency accountable.
The representative of the United States also expressed his delegation’s opposition to the annual submission of several Committee resolutions biased against Israel, stressing that such a one-sided approach undermines trust between the parties and fails to create the positive environment critical to achieving peace in the Middle East. Highlighting United States $318 million contribution to UNWRA in 2021, he pledged to continue working with the Agency to strengthen its accountability, transparency and adherence to the principles of neutrality and impartiality.
Striking a different tone, the observer for the League of Arab States said the various reports before the Committee confirm the pursuit of unilateral measures by Israel aimed at imposing a new reality on the ground, in violation of Security Council resolutions.
In a similar vein, Turkey’s representative pointed to the disastrous impact of Israeli actions on the economic and humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, especially the Gaza Strip. She rejected allegations made against UNWRA’s educational programme, describing it as an “antidote to hatred and intolerance in the region” and calling on the global community to ensure predictable and lasting funding for the Agency.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the observer for the State of Palestine dismissed Israel’s attempts to libel UNWRA as “shameful” and noted that Israel has become “addicted to believing it is above the law”. Turning to the comments made by the Israeli representative regarding the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices, he stated that the latter’s reports are neither biased nor anti‑Israel, while its findings are corroborated by numerous human rights organizations.
INÁCIO VIRGÍLIO CHICO DOMINGOS (Mozambique)…Urging the international community to put an end the deterioration of the Palestinian people’s human rights, he appealed to Israel and Palestine to implement the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and General Assembly in order to bring peace and stability to the entire region in line with a two-State solution.
Mr. HORSANDI (Israel) said is time for the Committee to revise its practices and rhetoric on the Middle East and join the region’s growing positive momentum. Welcoming the presence of peacekeeping missions in the Middle East, he emphasized that Hizbullah has increased its activities in United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon’s (UNIFIL) areas of operation and continues to use civilians as human shields. By entrenching its military presence in Lebanon, it prevents UNIFIL from fulfilling its mandate, he warned, adding that the group is provided financial and military support by Iran. He went on to emphasize that the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting Human Rights of Palestinian People and Other Arabs of Occupied Territories damages the prospect for peace in the Middle East by undermining the trust of all parties. Indeed, that body has been hijacked to promote one‑sided propaganda and misuses important United Nations resources, failing to mention Hamas attacks launched from populated areas in its reports. Its narrative also ignores Israeli efforts to achieve peace, he said, adding that Israel will vote against the Palestinian package of resolutions. Turning to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), he warned that no United Nations agency should pursue a politically motivated agenda. By not holding UNRWA accountable, the Fourth Committee fails to promote the United Nations core principles.
JEFFREY DELAURENTIS (United States)..Turning to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said his country continues to oppose the annual submission of several Committee resolutions biased against Israel. That one-sided approach undermines trust between the parties and fails to create the positive environment critical to achieving peace. Emphasizing the United States $318 million contribution to UNWRA in 2021, he noted that the Agency still faces a huge budget shortfall and requires additional financial and material assistance. Reiterating his country’s view that UNWRA needs reforms, he pledged to continue working with the Agency to strengthen its accountability, transparency and adherence to the principles of neutrality and impartiality.
GENG SHUANG (China)…On the question of Palestine, he expressed support for a two-State solution, calling on Israel to facilitate the entry of humanitarian supplies and reconstruction materials and put an end to the expansion of settlements. Voicing his support for the Palestinians’ pursuit of an independent State, he lauded UNWRA’s work guaranteeing such basic services as education and medical care for over 5 million Palestine refugees and called upon the international community to scale up is political and financial support for the Agency.
AHMED ABDALLAH (Comoros) observed that repeated incursions on the Al‑Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem have exacerbated tensions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
AYŞE ŞEBNEM MANAV (Turkey), detailing Israel’s human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, pointed to the disastrous impact of such actions on the economic and humanitarian situation, especially in Gaza. Reiterating her country’s support for efforts to hold accountable perpetrators responsible for the crimes committed in Palestine, she went on to note that the final status of Jerusalem will be one of the key parts of a comprehensive solution to the conflict and called upon States to respect Security Council and General Assembly resolutions on the city’s status. Emphasizing that UNRWA’s services are essential for meeting the needs of Palestine refugees, she rejected allegations against the Agency’s educational programme, describing it as an “antidote to hatred and intolerance in the region”. In that context, she called on the global community to ensure predictable and lasting funding for UNRWA to enable the uninterrupted implementation of its mandate.
CAROLYN RODRIGUES-BIRKETT (Guyana)…On the question of Palestine, she noted UNRWA’s critical work in providing humanitarian and other forms of assistance to millions of Palestine refugees. Regarding the question of Western Sahara, she expressed concern over the deteriorating situation in the territory and urged all parties to respect and uphold the provisions of relevant Security Council resolutions.
MAGED ABDELFATTAH ABDELAZIZ, observer for the League of Arab States, associating himself with the Arab Group, and said the question of Palestine is the most important and oldest issue before the Committee. Its reports confirm the pursuit of unilateral measures by Israel to impose a new reality on the ground, in violation of Security Council resolutions. In that context, he called upon the Secretary‑General to hold a high-level meeting to relaunch the peace process in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Furthermore, considering the vital importance of the support UNRWA’s provides, it is essential that donors honour their financial commitments to the Agency and refuse to cede to fallacious accusations which are a vain attempt to liquidate the Palestinian cause. Turning to the question of information, he underscored the importance of media that can combat misinformation and fake news. There is also a need for a global information strategy that prioritizes the freedom the Palestinian people and promotes the periodic reports of UNRWA and other bodies.
Right of Reply
The observer for the State of Palestine, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, stated that the today’s debate demonstrated that the overwhelming majority of States believe UNWRA plays a vital role in providing assistance critical for the well‑being, human development and protection of Palestine refugees and contributes to regional stability. He further dismissed Israel’s attempts to libel the Agency as “shameful” and called upon States to provide political and financial support to it. Turning to the comments made by the Israeli representative regarding the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices, he stated that the Committee’s reports are neither biased not anti-Israel, while its findings are corroborated by numerous human rights organizations. Israel has become “addicted to believing it is above the law”, he said, describing the plight of the Palestinian people and emphasizing that Israel cannot “rewrite history” nor “deny reality”, which has been reflected in more than 800 General Assembly resolutions.
The representative of Iran, responding to the statement made by the Israeli delegation, accused Israel of playing the victim card while committing apartheid policies and war crimes documented by the United Nation. Turning to the 11‑day hostilities which claimed many lives, he stated that Israel committed crimes not only against Palestinians, but against all freedom-loving countries of the world.
The representative of Lebanon, speaking in response to comments made by the representative of Israel, said the latter is trying to divert attention by portraying itself as the victim while it is that country which has invaded Lebanon three times. It is the continued Israeli occupation of parts of Lebanese territory that is causing tension on the border and fuelling conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis, he added.
The representative of Israel said Palestine ignores the potential for a new Middle East. It is a shame that its delegation chooses not to condemn the real perpetrators of violence and ignores violations of human rights by Hamas and other terrorist organizations. Iran’s goal of destabilizing the region could not be clearer, he stressed, noting that its regime seeks to derail the Middle East and any prospect of genuine dialogue in the Assembly hall.
The representative of Iran, taking the floor a second time, said Israel has brought about anger throughout the region and is the top spoiler of international peace and security. Its propaganda against Iran has always been a smokescreen to divert public opinion from its own land-grabbing schemes and other crimes. The General Assembly has a responsibility to condemn Israel’s aggression and ethnic cleansing and hold it accountable for its war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The observer for the State of Palestine, taking the floor a second time, said the Israeli representative is stating fallacies before the Committee. Israel rejects calls for negotiations, and it is incumbent on the international community to hold it to account for its crimes and bring to an end the longest colonial occupation in modern history.
For information media. Not an official record.
Document Sources: General Assembly Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization)
Country: China, Comoros, Guyana, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Israel, Lebanon, Mozambique, State of Palestine, Turkey, United States of America
Subject: Assistance, Human rights and international humanitarian law, Refugee camps, Refugees and displaced persons
Publication Date: 03/11/2021
URL source: https://www.un.org/press/en/2021/gaspd742.doc.htm