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Agenda item 16: Economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan (A/73/87‑E/2018/69; E/2018/L.19 and E/2018/L.27)

  1. Mr. Alami (Director, Emerging and Conflict-Related Issues Section, Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)), introducing the note by the Secretary-General on the economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan (A/73/87-E/2018/69), said that Palestinians continued to experience Israeli discriminatory policies and practices, including the application of two legal systems, which granted more rights to Israelis than to Palestinians, and discriminatory planning and zoning policies that de facto prevented Palestinians in Area C and East Jerusalem from building or undertaking development.
  2. The Israeli army and security forces, in violation of international law, had continued to use excessive force, including unlawful killings, and Palestinians had suffered a sharp increase in attacks and harassment from Israeli settlers, with almost no accountability. Large numbers of Palestinians, including children, were being held in Israeli prisons, some of them in indefinite administrative detention. Since 2013, complaints about the torture and ill treatment of Palestinian prisoners by Israeli security services had quadrupled.
  3. Since 2009, thousands of people had been displaced owing to the demolitions of Palestinian homes and other structures by Israelis, contributing to the coercive environment in the West Bank. Israeli authorities cited the lack of building permits as a reason to demolish Palestinian homes, though such permits were nearly impossible to obtain. Israel also used demolitions and the confiscation of property as a punitive measure against the families and neighbours of Palestinians suspected of carrying out attacks. Such acts could amount to collective punishment, which was prohibited by international law. Those measures, combined with other practices, had also led to what might amount to the forcible transfer of Palestinians, a grave breach of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War that constituted a war crime. In March 2018, the Knesset had passed a new law allowing the Interior Minister to revoke the permanent residency of Palestinians in East Jerusalem if they had committed, inter alia, any “acts that constituted breach of trust against the State of Israel”.
  4. Israeli settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory violated international law and was a major obstacle to peace. Israeli policies also encouraged population growth among the settlers, resulting in a growth rate that surpassed that of both the overall population of Israel and the Palestinian population in the West Bank. In May 2017, Israeli authorities had approved the establishment of a new settlement in Area C for the first time since 1992. In February 2017, the Knesset had adopted a law extending its jurisdiction to matters concerning the private property of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.
  5. The blockade affecting 2 million Palestinian people in Gaza amounted to collective punishment, undermining their rights and affecting the conditions in which they lived. Requirements for the entry of raw materials and the travel of traders and merchants had hindered reconstruction and development projects and programmes in Gaza. In 2017, exits through the Erez crossing had fallen by almost 50 per cent compared with the previous year and the number of valid permits issued to traders had drastically dropped between 2015 and 2017. The approval rate for medical patients allowed through the Erez crossing had also fallen by almost half between 2012 and 2017.
  6. The Israeli army had enforced access-restricted areas along the Gaza border fence and at sea, undermining the right of Palestinian farmers and fishermen to a livelihood. In the West Bank, the construction of the wall, and other constraints on the movement of Palestinians, undermined economic activity and access to basic services. By the end of January 2017, 60 km of roads in the West Bank had been designated for exclusive or near-exclusive use by Israelis, while 17.5 per cent of the West Bank was covered by Israeli firing zones and was off limits to Palestinians.
  7. Israeli policies restricting the repair, rehabilitation and construction of basic water infrastructure in the West Bank resulted in a lack of access to water. In Area C, 95,000 Palestinians received less than 50 litres of water per capita per day, which was half of the minimum recommended by the World Health Organization. Forty per cent of Palestinians in East Jerusalem were not legally connected to the water grid. In Gaza, 95 per cent of water had become unfit for human consumption.
  8. A quarter of the Palestinian population in Gaza was unconnected to the sewage network and pollution levels were four times higher than the environmental health standard. Every day, 108 million litres of raw or poorly treated waste water were discharged into the Mediterranean Sea, and 73 per cent of the shoreline was contaminated by sewage.
  9. Some 2.5 million Palestinians, roughly half of the population, needed humanitarian assistance. Eighty per cent of the population in Gaza relied on aid and lived on a per capita gross domestic product lower than the 1994 level. The unemployment and poverty rates in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the Gaza Strip, were very high. In 2016, one third of the population had been food insecure, a rate that was higher in Gaza and refugee camps. The population that received food aid from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East had increased from approximately 80,000 people in 2000 to more than 993,000 people in 2017.
  10. The Gaza blockade coupled with intra-Palestinian division had led to a sharp deterioration in the availability and quality of health care and a shortage of medical staff, supplies, machines, drugs and disposables. A total of 260,000 Palestinians relied on humanitarian health care owing to the fragmentation of the West Bank, mobility restrictions and lack of infrastructure.
  11. Israel actively supported illegal settlement activity in the occupied Syrian Golan, where, by 2017, an estimated 23,000 Israelis lived in 34 illegal settlements. The 25,000 Syrian residents of the occupied Syrian Golan faced discriminatory policies relating to land and water allocation, planning and zoning, and demining efforts. The Israeli authorities restricted Syrian usage of land for farming to 45,000 acres, while Israeli settlers were allowed to use 350,000 acres. As a result, Syrian villages were overcrowded, had strained infrastructure and experienced harsh economic and social conditions.
  12. The 51-year Israeli occupation had had a detrimental effect on the social and economic development of the people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the occupied Syrian Golan. While humanitarian and development efforts were key to alleviating the suffering of the Palestinians and Syrians living under occupation, cycles of violence would not end until the roots of such violence were addressed. The United Nations maintained its long-standing position that a lasting and comprehensive peace could be achieved only through a negotiated, two-State solution, realizing the vision of two States living side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition, with Jerusalem as the capital of both Israel and Palestine.
  13. Ms. Shurbaji (Observer for the Syrian Arab Republic) said that there had been an improvement in the methods used to prepare the report (A/73/87-E/2018/69). Information provided by the Syrian Arab Republic had been taken into account and reference had been made to the situation faced by the inhabitants of the occupied Syrian Golan. Information had also been drawn from a wider variety of sources. Israeli occupation practices were an integral part of the illegal settlement and annexation policies of Israel. Discriminatory laws were imposed on the inhabitants of the occupied Syrian Golan, while illegal settlers enjoyed various advantages. The Israeli authorities attempted to control and exploit all natural resources in the occupied Syrian Golan, imposed their own education curricula and sought to suppress Syrian identity by imposing Israeli nationality on Syrian residents of the Golan.
  14. Future reports should include a more precise legal description of the situation, pursuant to the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, in particular Security Council resolution 497 (1981). While the authors of the report described practices in violation of international humanitarian law, such as the appropriation of land, restrictions on planning and construction, and the unjust allocation of water for Syrian farmers by Israel, they failed to condemn them explicitly or state the Organization’s official position on them. One of the most serious of those practices had been the announcement by the Israeli Interior Ministry that, for the first time since 1967, elections would be held in four towns in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights on 30 October 2018, in clear violation of Security Council resolution 497 (1981). The Palestinians and Syrians living under Israeli occupation needed the United Nations to demand respect for international law and agreements. Furthermore, the report did not mention the arrests and imprisonment of Syrians living in the occupied Syrian Golan, dozens of whom remained in Israeli prisons. Lastly, it should be noted that Israeli forces had recently been involved in transferring members of the so-called White Helmets, an organization linked to the Nusrah Front, to a third country. The Council must take a firm stance in denouncing all such practices; otherwise the goal of “leaving no one behind” would not be achieved and the 2030 Agenda would not be implemented.
  15. Ms. Fisher-Tsin (Observer for Israel) said that her delegation was deeply disappointed, but unfortunately not surprised, by the report, which was full of shameless bias and presented a deliberately distorted picture of the situation on the ground. The report failed to mention the many important areas in which the Palestinian Authority and the State of Israel successfully collaborated to improve the economic and social conditions of the Palestinian people, including through joint projects on energy, telecommunications, trade, agriculture and employment. For example, there had been a groundbreaking agreement on debt settlement and the sale of electricity, and a trilateral arrangement with Jordan and Japan for a train-the-trainer programme to teach Palestinian agriculture instructors the latest methods of efficient agricultural protection. Israeli high-tech companies were also hiring Palestinian software engineers who worked remotely from home. Those examples did not fit the script that had already been written. The report blamed Israel for all the problems in Palestine and disregarded the fact that the Palestinian Authority had refused to join the Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee and repeatedly postponed decisions on proposals to improve water infrastructure.
  16. Furthermore, Hamas was never mentioned in the report despite the fact that it was an internationally recognized terrorist group that ruled Gaza and still controlled the Palestinians through fear and violence, denying them basic human rights. The authors of the report had also ignored the fact that during the reporting period the number of rockets fired by Hamas had been the highest in four years. Those omissions were highly relevant to the subject of the report and the authors’ obvious and deliberate bias must not be ignored. The well-being of the Palestinian people was a serious issue that must be treated seriously.
  17. The section of the report on the occupied Syrian Golan was even more absurd. The authors had chosen to base themselves on inaccurate information provided by a murderous Syrian regime that the international community had found responsible for gassing its own people. It was ironic that Israel was targeted in the report though it had been providing humanitarian aid to Syrian civilians and had recently helped rescue 400 volunteers of the Syrian humanitarian non-governmental organization known as the White Helmets, whose lives had been threatened by the Syrian regime simply for providing assistance to their war-torn communities.
  18. The report was thus just another example of the ongoing one-sided and inflammatory attacks against Israel at the United Nations, which provided a platform for the Palestinians to win cheap political points instead of helping their own people.
  19. Mr. Bamya (Observer for the State of Palestine) said that Palestine did cooperate with Israel, as prisoners cooperated with their jailer. Within the joint committees mentioned, Israel had given itself a veto right; the rights and development of an oppressed people were thus subject to the goodwill of its oppressors, contrary to the concept of self-determination. Delegations that had recently gained their independence would remember speeches being made about the generosity of colonizers in aiding their development. His delegation hoped that Israel would learn from history. Nothing could compensate a people for being prevented from living freely and in dignity on their own land.
  20. An occupation was generally understood as temporary control by one party to a conflict over part or all of the territory of another party to that conflict, during armed hostilities. The rules and principles that existed to prevent the perpetuation of the situation included the principle of inadmissibility of the acquisition of land by force, the principle that the occupant did not acquire sovereignty over the territory it occupied, the right of peoples to permanent sovereignty over their natural resources and the obligation for the occupying Power to administer the occupied territory for the benefit of the local population. The Israeli occupation violated those rules since what the Israeli authorities sought was the annexation of the maximum land with the minimum Palestinian population, through the forcible transfer and confinement of the Palestinian people and the expansion of Jewish Israeli settlements. By doing so, Israel was undermining the contiguity of the Palestinian territory and taking control of most of its natural resources. Its illegal colonial occupation was being administered for the benefit of the colonizers rather than for the occupied people. That situation, coupled with discrimination based on religion and origin, as demonstrated by the adoption of the Israeli “Jewish nation-state law”, was reminiscent of apartheid.
  21. As indicated in the report before the Council (A/73/87-E/2018/69), the application of two different legal systems in the same territory, on the sole basis of nationality or origin, was discriminatory and violated the principle of equality before the law. The report also correctly indicated that Israeli planning and zoning policies were discriminatory and incompatible with international law. Their objective was to allow settlements to flourish at the expense of the Palestinian State. The economic and social repercussions of such a colonial regime were far-reaching and affected all Palestinian rights, including the right to life, political and civil rights, economic and social rights, access to environment and technology and the ability to build on Palestinian land.
  22. The Palestinian economy was undermined by restrictions on movement and access. The Palestinian people faced forcible displacement, home demolitions, arbitrary detention, unlawful killing and injury, with many in Gaza suffering permanent disabilities after being shot during participation in a peaceful protest against the Israeli occupation and blockade. Gaza was on the brink of collapse. The decade-long blockade and repeated military aggressions had placed pressure on infrastructure and caused the loss of livelihoods, while the population’s coping capacities, hopes and dreams had been depleted. The Jordan Valley, the most fertile part of the Palestinian territory, was off limits for Palestinians but available to Israeli companies, which were selling the products made from those Palestinian resources on international markets.
  23. The Security Council had called on States to distinguish between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967. His delegation urged all States to uphold their responsibilities to respect international law through non-recognition of and non-assistance for illegal actions and through advancing accountability, including by ensuring that their Governments, companies and citizens were not complicit with the Israeli occupation and violations.
  24. The Palestinian people had demonstrated their resilience for over seven decades. Despite hardships, they were creative, able, educated and had an entrepreneurial spirit. If not for the occupation, they would thrive through innovation, tourism, industry, arts and sports. A free Palestine, which would be sovereign, in control of its resources and no longer dependent on aid, would transform the region. That objective deserved the complete dedication of States as much as the worsening reality deserved outrage and opposition.
  25. Palestine was committed to international law without discrimination or exception, believed in a rules-based order and was against the unlawful killing of civilians. It was also against the transfer of the population of the occupying Power into the occupied territory and against any forcible transfer. It was against the withholding of bodies and arbitrary detention. It doubted the capacity of Israel to make the same pronouncements in view of its attacks on Palestinian civilians and the hundreds of Palestinian bodies withheld, preventing families from being able to bury them in dignity. The military courts of Israel had a conviction rate of 99 per cent for Palestinians. The judicial system had exerted its power to detain members of parliament, human rights defenders, children and women and its integrity had been seriously questioned by United Nations experts and B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization. He called on all delegations to vote in favour of draft resolution E/2018/L.19, which was grounded in international law, and to reject any amendment which would perpetuate a biased, incomplete narrative of the conflict.

Draft resolution E/2018/L.19: Economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan

  1. The President said that the draft resolution had no programme budget implications.
  2. Mr. El Ashmawy (Observer for Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, introduced the draft resolution. He said that, while most paragraphs were similar to those in the previous year’s resolution, some updates reflected the current realities on the ground.
  3. Since the issuance of the draft resolution, paragraph 14 had been revised to read: “Calls for urgent attention to the plight and the rights, in accordance with international law, of prisoners and detainees, and calls for efforts between the two sides for the further release of prisoners and detainees, and deplores the practice of withholding the bodies of those killed, and calls for the release of the bodies that have not yet been returned to their relatives, in line with international humanitarian law and human rights law, in order to ensure dignified closure in accordance with their religious beliefs and traditions”.
  4. The Group looked forward to the adoption by consensus of the draft resolution, as orally revised, in order to send a message to the occupying Power and help alleviate the economic and social hardships of the Palestinian and Syrian civilian populations, ultimately contributing to international efforts to bring an end to the injustice.
  5. Ms. Eckels-Currie (United States of America), speaking on a point of order, requested clarification from the President on whether the observer for Egypt was proposing an amendment.
  6. The President asked the observer for Egypt to clarify whether he was proposing a revision or an amendment.
  7. Mr. El Ashmawy (Observer for Egypt) said that he was proposing a revision.

The meeting was suspended at 11.55 a.m. and resumed at 12.10 p.m.

  1. The President asked whether the Council wished to consider the oral revision proposed by the observer for Egypt.
  2. Ms. Eckels-Currie (United States of America), said that her delegation objected to the Council’s consideration of the proposed oral amendment, on the grounds that it had not been properly circulated in advance. Under rule 54 of the Council’s rules of procedure, amendments — whether they were called revisions or amendments — must be circulated to all members at least 24 hours before they were to be discussed or put to the vote, unless the Council decided otherwise. Member States should consider the consequences of disregarding that rule, which gave members of the Council the opportunity to review and consider the substance of proposed amendments.
  3. Mr. Bessedik (Algeria), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that, in the absence of consensus among Council members regarding whether the Council should consider a proposal, the correct procedure was to vote on the issue.
  4. The President suggested that the meeting should be suspended to allow for the circulation of the proposed revision, in line with advice received from the Office of Legal Affairs. The Council would then vote on whether to consider the proposed revision at the current meeting.

The meeting was suspended at 12.15 p.m. and resumed at 12.25 p.m.

  1. The President said that the proposed oral revision had been circulated in writing and that the Council would proceed to vote on whether to consider that proposal at the current meeting. A recorded vote had been requested.
  2. Ms. Eckels-Currie (United States of America), speaking in explanation of vote before the voting, said that her delegation continued to object to the consideration of the proposed oral amendment. Rule 54 of the Council’s rules of procedure allowed the Council’s elected members an opportunity to form their position on the substance of a proposed amendment. If certain States, or non-member entities, were permitted to violate the Council’s rules of procedure with impunity, then chaos would ensue. In the interest of good governance and transparency, the proposed amendment should not be considered by the Council at the current meeting.
  3. It was also a matter of concern that certain member States that normally strongly condemned terrorism by Hamas, seemed to be involved in proposing the said amendment, which appeared to have been concocted by unaccountable entities that were neither States Members of the United Nations nor members of the Council. Her delegation urged all member States to reject such manipulations, which undermined the integrity of the Council’s working methods. Furthermore, if current actions were indicative of the manner in which the Palestinian delegation intended to exercise the presidency of the Group of 77 and China, which it was poised to assume in 2019, then that Group should reconsider its choice of leadership. Sadly, it fell upon the United States to defend the integrity of the Council and its working methods. The United States would defend the rights of member States to be given proper notice of substantive changes to texts and urged all Council members to stand up for their rights in that regard. Finally, she noted that the Israeli delegation had followed the rules of procedure by submitting its own amendment 24 hours in advance.
  4. Mr. Bamya (Observer for the State of Palestine) said that it was important not to mischaracterize the proposed revision, which was in fact an effort by the Group of 77 and China to achieve compromise. It should be noted that Israel — which also was not an elected member of the Council — had asked members to oppose the draft resolution even if the amendment it had circulated was approved. Unfortunately, neither Israel nor the United States had been willing to compromise or engage in negotiations. The Group, in contrast, had taken note of the substance of the Israeli amendment and, where the issues were in line with international law, it had discussed them with other partners before revising its own text in an effort of compromise. It was not the first time an oral revision had been presented on the day of the vote; that happened repeatedly at the United Nations, especially when last-minute efforts were made to achieve compromise. He therefore called on all Council members to support the consideration of the proposed revision and to recognize the value of open dialogue that allowed for such compromises to emerge even in the last hours before a vote was to be held.
  5. Mr. Danon (Observer for Israel) said that the current attempt to bypass the rules of procedure was unfortunate. The amendment proposed by the Group of 77 and China did not address the issue at stake, which was that Hamas was holding Israeli civilians, without releasing information on their whereabouts, and preventing proper burial of Israeli soldiers. It was therefore Hamas that must be named in the draft resolution.
  6. A recorded vote was taken on whether to consider the oral revision to draft resolution E/2018/L.19 at the current meeting.

In favour:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Czechia, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guyana, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Viet Nam.

Against:

United States of America.

Abstaining:

Canada, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Rwanda.

  1. The Council decided, by 40 votes to 1, with 5 abstentions, to consider the oral revision to draft resolution E/2018/L.19 at the current meeting.
  2. Mr. López Ortíz (Spain), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that European Union members of the Council would support the draft resolution with the understanding that the use of the term “Palestine” should not be construed as recognition of a State of Palestine. In addition, such usage was without prejudice to the individual positions of European Union member States on that issue and, consequently, on the question of validity of an accession to the conventions and treaties mentioned in the draft resolution. Moreover, the European Union had not expressed a legal qualification with respect to the use of the term “forced displacement” in the draft resolution and had not expressed itself on the use of certain legal terms therein. In addition, the European Union and its member States understood the term “Palestinian Government” to refer to the Palestinian Authority.
  3. The European Union had worked in an open, transparent and constructive manner in negotiating the draft resolution, and had suggested amendments to improve the text while addressing the legitimate concerns of both sides. The European Union believed that the current revised version of the draft resolution was a balanced reflection of the negotiations. It would therefore abstain on any separate additional amendment on which the Council might be asked to vote. With that understanding, the European Union supported the revised draft resolution and the States members of the European Union that were members of the Council would vote in favour of it.
  4. Mr. Danon (Observer for Israel), introducing the amendment contained in document E/2018/L.27, said that draft resolution E/2018/L.19 was one of the many anti-Israel resolutions submitted every year at the United Nations. While the draft resolution mentioned Gaza at length, it failed to mention the grave humanitarian crimes committed by Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization that continued to hold hostage two Israeli civilians, Abera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, both of whom had mental health problems, and refused to return the abducted bodies of two Israeli soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul. His delegation therefore wished to insert, in the draft resolution, an amendment that was of a humanitarian nature and fell under the Council’s mandate. He called on all Council members to support the amendment, since failure to mention Hamas and to call for the release of the Israelis held in Gaza would detract from the Council’s legitimacy.
  5. The President said that a recorded vote had been requested on the amendment contained in document E/2018/L.27.
  6. Mr. Bamya (Observer for the State of Palestine) said that Israel would have a stronger argument if it was not withholding dozens of Palestinian bodies, in a policy that had been applied for years and was permitted under Israeli law. All withheld bodies should be released, as was called for in the revision to the draft resolution.
  7. Ms. Eckels-Currie (United States of America), speaking in explanation of the vote before the voting, said that the draft resolution made no mention of the actions of Hamas, which did nothing to better the lives of the Palestinian people and served to make such improvements impossible, owing to the ongoing commitment of Hamas to the destruction of the State of Israel. The Council should, at the very least, hold Hamas accountable for keeping prisoners. Her delegation, which called on Hamas to return Israeli soldiers and civilians to their families immediately, would vote in support of the Israeli amendment. All member States should make it clear where they stood with regard to Hamas by also voting in favour of the amendment.
  8. A recorded vote was taken on the amendment contained in document E/2018/L.27.

In favour:

Canada, Colombia, Mexico, United States of America, Uruguay.

Against:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Chad, Ecuador, Guyana, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Viet Nam.

Abstaining:

Andorra, Belgium, Chile, China, Czechia, Denmark, El Salvador, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Spain, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

  1. The amendment contained in document E/2018/L.27 was rejected by 18 votes to 5, with 23 abstentions.
  2. Ms. Herity (Secretary of the Council) announced that Turkey had joined the sponsors of draft resolution E/2018/L.19.
  3. The President said that a recorded vote had been requested on draft resolution E/2018/L.19, as orally revised.
  4. Ms. Eckels-Currie (United States of America), speaking in explanation of vote before the voting, said that her delegation was disappointed at the presentation of a one-sided and biased draft resolution and was unable to support it. It was also very concerned at the decidedly anti-Israel bias within ESCWA, which was apparent in its report and in the draft resolution; such bias did nothing to advance the aspirations of the Palestinians and Israelis for a more secure, peaceful and prosperous future together. The draft resolution and the report were unbalanced and unfairly singled Israel out in a forum that should not be politicized. The document would serve only to inflame both sides of the conflict and complicate the shared goal of peace.
  5. The United States shared with many members of the international community the goal of a lasting and comprehensive peace between Israel and the Palestinians. A comprehensive agreement that ended the conflict could be achieved only through direct bilateral negotiations. Resolutions, reports and proceedings such as those seen at the present meeting were so consistently biased and counterproductive that they had no place in the discourse and would only delay the day when Israel and the Palestinians could peacefully coexist.
  6. Billions of dollars had been invested in Gaza, yet, as the report itself noted, over half the population still lived below the poverty line. Rather than blaming Israel in resolution after resolution at the United Nations, perhaps ESCWA should look at the primary culprit, Hamas, which needed to acknowledge that the existence of Israel was a permanent reality and that the Palestinian Authority was the legitimate governing body in the Gaza Strip. Hamas should stop diverting funds intended for infrastructure to the purchase of weapons or other nefarious uses, and work towards peace and the prosperity of its own citizens rather than nursing its sense of grievance and victimhood.
  7. The United States stood ready to help foster economic security and would work with all parties to improve conditions and promote the cause of peace. However, resolutions such as the one before the Council did nothing to advance that goal. Her delegation therefore had no choice but to vote against the draft resolution.
  8. A recorded vote was taken on draft resolution E/2018/L.19, as orally revised.

In favour:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Czechia, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Ghana, Guyana, India, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Viet Nam.

Against:

Canada, United States of America.

Abstaining:

Cameroon, Rwanda.

  1. Draft resolution E/2018/L.19, as orally revised, was adopted by 45 votes to 2, with 2 abstentions.
  2. Mr. Zalyalov (Russian Federation) said that his delegation had voted in favour of the draft resolution on the basis of the principled position of the Russian Federation regarding a Middle East settlement. However, it had abstained on the amendment proposed by Israel, which did not belong in the draft resolution.
  3. Mr. Locsin (Philippines) said that his Government was committed to the two-State solution and was opposed to provocations that caused delays and made the likelihood of a resolution to the conflict remoter than ever. The answer to bloodshed was not more bloodshed. The Philippines shared the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to achieve sustainable economic development but also espoused the sovereign right of all States to protect themselves. There were over two million Filipinos working in the Middle East and his Government was profoundly concerned for their safety and that of all those affected.
  4. Stability and progress depended on a peaceful solution but any proposed solution must first and foremost be found within in the region and between the two parties. A lasting solution could not be imposed from the outside, either unilaterally or multilaterally. Every effort must be made to find a working solution, to stop provocations and to make the world a safer and more prosperous place.
  5. Mr. Bamya (Observer for the State of Palestine) thanked delegations for their principled support of a draft resolution grounded in international law. He said that United Nations resolutions and international law were sometimes portrayed as an obstacle to peace, but if violations of international law were accepted, it would mean the end of the world system established after 1945. The Second World War and its horrors, including the Holocaust, had shown that international law was essential.
  6. The draft resolution was not anti-Israel; it opposed colonialism and upheld the right to self-determination. Israel had chosen to become a colonial power; if it made a different choice, which the international community should certainly urge and compel it to do, the attitude and the resolutions would be very different. The only possible stance the United Nations could take was to oppose colonialism and support the right to self-determination. The same rules must apply to all. The path to peace was not to sacrifice international law in order to shield Israeli colonialism; rather, it was to uphold international law and allow all peoples in the region to live in freedom, in dignity and in peace. He hoped that one day all Palestinians would enjoy all the rights enshrined in the resolutions and would no longer need to speak of rights of which they were deprived. Until that day, it was the responsibility of the international community to reaffirm those rights, to help Palestine defend them and to hold the violators accountable. Palestine had its flaws but that could never serve as a justification for continued oppression, since the Palestinian people was entitled to self-determination. It was only fair and just for Palestine and Israel to be held accountable to the same standards as each other and everyone else.
  7. Ms. Furman (Observer for Israel) said that her delegation was deeply disappointed at the Council’s rejection of the crucial amendment presented by her delegation. There was no justification for not supporting a humanitarian call for the release of Israeli civilians and the abducted bodies of fallen Israeli soldiers. By refusing to support the amendment, the Council had denied the rights of the mothers of Abera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed to know the fate of their sons and the rights of the mothers of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul to give their sons a proper burial. The draft resolution was yet another example of the one-sided and inflammatory campaign against Israel at the United Nations. Over the years, the Palestinians had seized on any convenient platform to exploit the United Nations system and score cheap political points, which were apparently more valuable than working towards meaningful improvement in the lives of the Palestinian people.
  8. While it emphasized the dire conditions in the Gaza Strip, the draft resolution did not even mention that Gaza was controlled by the terrorist organization Hamas, through violence, repression, the denial of basic human rights and the misuse of economic resources. Incredibly, no mention at all was made of Hamas in the draft resolution. The fact that the Palestinian leadership had never taken responsibility for the welfare of its own people was also ignored. Instead, the Palestinian Authority was commended for improving governance, the rule of law and human rights. In reality, the Palestinian leadership excelled mainly in corruption. It continued to incite enmity against Israel on a daily basis and instil hatred and extremism in the hearts and minds of the Palestinian youth.
  9. It was time for the members of the Council to realize that the draft resolution did not enhance cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians or improve the lives of the Palestinians. Her delegation was therefore truly sorry that it had been adopted.
  10. Mr. Bermúdez Álvarez (Uruguay) said that the draft resolution was a reminder of a problem that must be given urgent attention and of the grave needs of the Palestinian people, which should remain on the Council’s agenda. Regarding the paragraphs on the release of prisoners and the return of bodies, Uruguay had supported both the Israeli amendment and the oral revision on the basis that it was crass to be haggling over prisoners and bodies. It was offensive and even immoral that there was not already agreement on that point. In addition, Uruguay had no objection to naming the groups that stubbornly refused to return the bodies of people who had inadvertently crossed borders. That had been his delegation’s constant position as a member of the Security Council and in other forums where the issue had been discussed. For consistency, therefore, Uruguay had supported all the proposed changes to the draft resolution that referred to improving the condition of prisoners or to the return of prisoners or bodies.
  11. Mr. Mustafa (Sudan) said that his country had voted in favour of the draft resolution, in line with its historical position that the Palestinian people had the right to a viable State with East Jerusalem as its capital, and in order to meet the urgent needs of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Absolute support for the Palestinian people meant supporting freedom, human rights and the right to self-determination, and especially the right of the Palestinians to live in dignity in an independent State with East Jerusalem as its capital, pursuant to the relevant United Nations resolutions.
  12. The President said that she took it that the Council wished to take note of the report of the Secretary-General on assistance to the Palestinian people (A/73/84-E/2018/72).
  13. It was so decided.

The meeting rose at 1.10 p.m.