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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 (E/2021/L.6 and E/2021/L.7)

 

Draft resolution E/2021/L.6: 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

 

Draft resolution E/2021/L.7: Situation of and assistance to Palestinian women

 

  1. The President said the draft resolutions had no programme budget implications.
  2. Ms. Herity (Secretary of the Committee) said that Turkey had joined the sponsors of the draft resolutions.
  3. Ms. Persaud (Observer for Guyana), introducing draft resolution E/2021/L.6 on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that grave concerns were expressed in the draft resolution regarding the detrimental economic and social repercussions of the prolonged Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Territory, including East Jerusalem, with a particular emphasis on the dire situation in the Gaza Strip. Violations of their economic and social rights included the rights to work, to health, to education, to property, to an adequate standard of living and to freedom of access and movement.
  4. The occupying Power was called upon in the draft resolution, inter alia, to the cease its construction of settlements; to cease its construction of the separation wall and to comply with the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice in that regard; to cease its destruction of homes and properties; and to cease its exploitation of natural resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the occupied Syrian Golan, in keeping with the principle of the permanent sovereignty of peoples under foreign occupation over their natural resources. Deep concern was also expressed in the draft resolution regarding the rising incidences of violence, harassment, provocation, vandalism and incitement by Israeli settlers against Palestinians, for which accountability was necessary. Furthermore, the draft resolution highlighted the situation of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, a plight which required urgent attention in accordance with international law.
  5. Appreciation was expressed in the draft resolution for the economic and humanitarian assistance being provided to the Palestinian people and the need for continued assistance commensurate with the increased socioeconomic and humanitarian needs. All States and international organizations were encouraged to continue to actively pursue policies that ensured respect for their obligations under international law with regard to all illegal Israeli practices and measures in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.
  6. The draft resolution underscored the urgency of achieving without delay an end to the Israeli occupation and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement on all tracks. Its adoption would contribute to alleviating the economic and social hardships of the Palestinian and Syrian civilian populations living under Israel’s foreign occupation and ultimately contribute to international efforts to bring an end to that injustice and achieve peace, in line with the Charter of the United Nations and international law, including humanitarian law and human rights law.
  7. Turning to draft resolution E/2021/L.7, she said that it addressed the obstacles and challenges faced by Palestinian women and girls, notably under occupation, and contained a call for continued international support for them with the aim of ensuring respect for their rights and providing them with the necessary protection and assistance.
  8. Limited but significant additions had been made to the draft resolution. In particular, note was taken of the importance of giving high priority to the swift adoption of the Family Protection Law to ensure that women and girls were protected from gender-based violence, including domestic violence. It also welcomed the adoption by the Palestinian Government of a national action plan for the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000), and the adoption of initiatives at the legislative, administrative and security levels to advance women’s rights, notably in relation to family law and combating violence against women.
  9. The draft resolution reaffirmed the importance of increasing the role of women in peacebuilding and decision-making with regard to conflict prevention and the peaceful resolution of conflicts, as part of efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of all women in the region, with an emphasis on women’s equal participation and their involvement in all efforts for the achievement, maintenance and promotion of peace and security.
  10. In addition, the draft resolution reaffirmed that the Israeli occupation remained a major obstacle for Palestinian women and girls with regard to the fulfilment of their rights and their advancement. Israel, the occupying Power, was therefore called upon to immediately cease all measures contrary to international law and all discriminatory legislation, policies and actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, that violated the human rights of the Palestinian people.
  11. In the draft resolution the international community was urged to continue to give special attention to the promotion and protection of the human rights of Palestinian women and girls, and to intensify measures to improve the difficult conditions faced by Palestinian women and their families, including those living under Israeli occupation and as Palestine refugees, and to continue to provide them with urgently needed assistance.
  12. Lastly, in the draft resolution the parties were called upon to comply fully with their obligations, including as States parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. It reaffirmed the obligations of States and all parties to armed conflict to comply with international humanitarian law and international human rights law and stressed the need to ensure accountability and end impunity. Moreover, draft resolution E/2021/L.7 also stressed the need for Palestine to fully implement its obligations under the instruments to which it had acceded in order to protect the rights of women and girls.
  13. Mr. Bamya (Observer for the State of Palestine) said that Palestine was a unique place located at the crossroad of three continents and was blessed by its weather and fertile land. However, that uniqueness and location had heavily influenced its history and the history of its people. Palestine was potentially rich and its people were educated and talented, with a true entrepreneurial spirit and a proven steadfastness. Palestine had the human and natural resources it needed for tourism, agriculture, industry and technology. It could be a high-technology country, the number one destination in the world, a hub for high quality and ecologically friendly products. The nation had an unbelievable potential that, if unleashed by freedom and independence, would change the lives of millions of Palestinians. However, it was being deprived of the ability to exploit those resources and the dire economic and social conditions of the Palestinian people were a direct result of the occupation.
  14. Since 1967, Israel, by design, had confined Palestinians in the areas where they already lived and had expanded its settlements in the most fertile and holy parts of Palestinian land, with the aim of annexing the maximum amount of Palestinian land with the minimum number of Palestinians. Sixty per cent of the land in the occupied West Bank was virtually off-limits to Palestinians, including the Jordan Valley, a reservoir rich in water and resources and the gateway to the world. East Jerusalem, the natural political, economic, cultural and touristic heart of Palestine, had been unlawfully annexed and severed from its Palestinian environment. The Gaza Strip had been under a blockade for 13 years. It was a miracle that, despite the fragmentation of Palestinian land, the oppression of its people and the theft of its resources, the Palestinian people, with international support and national resilience, were still able to cope. Palestinian youth were systematically targeted, suffered from mass arbitrary imprisonment, faced high unemployment rates and had been largely cut off from the rest of the world. That should have meant a lost generation, yet the invention and connectivity they had displayed in the most difficult conditions was nothing short of impressive.
  15. Draft resolution E/2021/L.6 reasserted the Palestinian people’s economic and social rights in the face of persistent violations that undermined their ability to fulfil any of the Sustainable Development Goals and their most basic and fundamental rights. The Palestinian people were grateful for the international community’s political, economic and social support to Palestine in order to precipitate the day where they could unleash their true potential, changing not only their reality but the region and the world.
  16. The Council would also be adopting a draft resolution on Palestinian women, who were among the most vulnerable to the policies and practices of the Israeli occupation. Draft resolution E/2021/L.7 focused on what needed to be done by Israel, the occupying Power, by the State of Palestine and by the international community in order to transform the current reality for Palestinian women. While the occupation remained the main obstacle to the fulfilment of their rights, the State of Palestine also acknowledged its own obligations, including as a State party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and as a country committed to the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000). That included aligning its national legislation and plans with its international obligations, notably through the swift adoption of the Family Protection Law. That approach did not stem from some foreign diktat but from the history and national vision of Palestine as encapsulated in its Declaration of Independence. The Palestinian women’s movement had been established in the late nineteenth century and almost immediately had been forced to conduct a parallel struggle against the denial of Palestinian national rights and in favour of Palestinian women’s rights. One of the greatest honours of his own life was to be the son of one of the most committed representatives and passionate advocates of the Palestinian women’s movement.
  17. Mr. Nayyal (Observer for the Syrian Arab Republic) said that 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/75/86-E/2020/62) detailed the numerous ways in which the long-standing Israeli occupation had affected the livelihoods and future of civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the occupied Syrian Golan. In particular, it was stated that an Israeli media outlet had reported on a government plan to expand settlements in the occupied Syrian Golan and to increase the settler population in the area to 250,000 by 2048, and that Israel had issued demolition orders and initiated a process aimed at zoning some of the rare land usable for the expansion of Syrian villages as a national park. The Syrian Arab Republic denounced those initiatives in the strongest terms possible; instead of extending the occupation to 2048, Israel, the occupying Power ought to comply with its obligations under international resolutions by bringing an end to the occupation and working towards a just and comprehensive peace.
  18. It was also a matter of concern that the Syrian population of the occupied Syrian Golan faced significant discriminatory building restrictions imposed by Israel, which led to strained infrastructure and overcrowded conditions. Those problems had been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the Israeli occupation authorities were imposing new curricula on schools in the occupied Syrian Golan, in an endeavour to deprive young people of their Syrian identity. The occupation authorities had also imposed a new land registration system that carried a risk for most Syrians, whose land was registered under the old system and could therefore be vulnerable to confiscation.
  19. His delegation urged all Member States to vote in favour of draft resolution E/2021/L.6 in order to curb the discriminatory practices of Israel, the occupying Power, and uphold international law.
  20. Ms. Fisher-Tsin (Observer for Israel) said that draft resolution E/2021/L.6 was deeply flawed in its content. Year after year, the resolution and report upon which it was based had been picked apart for their unsupported accusations, deliberate lack of content and shameless lack of balance. To add insult to injury, procedure was now being ignored for political ends. The purpose of the current meeting was to take action on draft resolutions submitted during the Council’s previous session. However, the draft resolution had not been submitted during the 2020 session, which had now concluded. In accordance with the rules of procedure, there was no legal basis to consider the draft. The authors of the current draft had decided not to submit it at the previous session, presumably because it contained nothing new and only politicized content.
  21. The authors of draft resolution E/2021/L.6 also seemed oblivious to the global COVID pandemic, which was no oversight on their part. Statements of United Nations officials and press releases from United Nations had detailed the strong positive cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in addressing the pandemic. As usual, however, when facts did not support a narrative, they were conveniently omitted. The facts were that the Government of Israel had strengthened its cooperation with the United Nations and the Palestinian Authority in order to mitigate the disastrous effects of COVID-19. Israel had called upon the international community to direct international aid to the Palestinian Authority and had organized a meeting in which multiple stakeholders had discussed how to better coordinate national and international efforts to aid the Gaza Strip. On the ground, ongoing cooperation had yielded many results, such as joint consultations and deliberations between expert level officials, training and guidance for Palestinian medical teams and the delivery of COVID-19 related aid. Israel had also delivered hundreds of testing and protection kits to the Gaza Strip. At the Security Council briefing held on 30 March 2020, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority had praised the far-reaching measures that both Israel and the Palestinian Authority had taken to try to contain the spread of COVID-19.
  22. Over the past six months world leaders and the senior United Nations leadership had stressed that it was no time for business as usual. She therefore urged the members of the Council to support those calls and to vote against the draft resolution.
  23. Ms. Goebel (Germany), speaking on behalf of the European Union and its member States, said that while the European Union would continue to support draft resolution E/2021/L.6, the use of the term “Palestine” in the draft resolution could not be construed as recognition of a State of Palestine and was without prejudice to the individual positions of European Union member States on that issue, and hence on the question of the validity of accession to the conventions and treaties mentioned therein. Furthermore, the European Union had not expressed a legal opinion with regard to the term “forced displacement” or certain legal terms used in the draft resolution and considered that “Palestinian Government” referred to the Palestinian Authority.
  24. Mr. Mack (United States of America) said that his delegation was once again disappointed by the submission of a one-sided and biased draft resolution that was virtually identical to those previously considered by the Council. Neither draft resolution E/2021/L.6 nor the accompanying report (E/2020/12) did anything to advance the aspirations of the Palestinians and Israelis for a more secure, peaceful and prosperous future, as both were unbalanced and unfairly single out Israel in a forum that was not intended to be politicized. The only realistic path to end the conflict was through negotiations aimed at achieving a comprehensive and lasting peace.
  25. There was no place for such biased and counterproductive resolutions and reports and, rather than perpetuating them, the international community should rally around productive and tangible efforts that improved the situation on the ground. For example, the historic recent Abraham Accords Peace Agreement was the most significant step towards peace in the Middle East in over 25 years. The United Arab Emirates was the first Arab State to have recognized Israel since the signature of the Treaty of Peace between the State of Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on 26 October 1994; and, only the previous week, the Kingdom of Bahrain had also established full diplomatic relations with Israel. Under the Accords, the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain had committed to the exchange of embassies and ambassadors and had begun cooperation in a broad range of fields, including education, health care, trade and security. Expanded business and financial ties between those thriving economies would accelerate growth and economic opportunity across the Middle East. The deal provided a foundation for further advances towards regional peace in the future. The Accords would allow further exploration of the United States Vision for Peace, which laid out the path for a comprehensive, fair, realistic and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians and in the region.
  26. The United States stood ready to help promote economic security and would work with all parties to improve conditions and promote the cause of peace. As the current draft resolution did nothing to improve the situation, his delegation had no choice but to vote against it.
  27. A recorded vote was taken on draft resolution E/2021/L.6.

In favour:

Angola, Armenia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Botswana, China, Colombia, Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Luxembourg, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sudan, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uruguay.

Against:

Australia, Canada, United States of America.

Abstaining:

Brazil, Malawi, Togo, Ukraine.

  1. Draft resolution E/2021/L.6 was adopted by 47 votes to 3, with 4 abstentions.
  2. Ms. Fisher-Tsin (Observer for Israel) said that the procedural flaws she had outlined in the consideration of draft resolution E/2021/L.6 also applied to the consideration of draft resolution E/2021/L.7. Any violation of the procedure, especially for narrow political ends, created a worrying precedent.
  3. At a time of great change and uncertainty, when the international community’s full attention should be focused on the fight against COVID-19, the Council was once again discussing a draft resolution that presented a biased narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While Palestinian women faced many challenges, including gender-based violence and discrimination, the draft resolution placed the blame for such problems entirely on Israel. The true motivations for the draft resolution were therefore clearly political and no real attempt was being made to solve the problems of Palestinian women. The few changes made to the text reflected the fact that domestic social issues and policies, especially with regard to the situation of women, should be the focus of the debate. If Palestinians genuinely wished to improve the situation of Palestinian women, they should focus on their efforts at the domestic level rather than presenting a one-sided draft resolution to the United Nations. Indeed, there was no other Council resolution dedicated to a specific group of women. Voting against the draft resolution would send a strong message to Palestinian leaders to take responsibility for the challenges that their people faced.
  4. Mr. Mack (United States of America) said that his country wished to underscore its long-standing concerns about the draft resolution presented again at the current session and its continued opposition to it. The Council’s insistence on including political elements and one-sided condemnations that detracted from the real challenges at hand was troubling. Instead, the Council needed to refocus its energy on shared goals. The politicization of issues only called into question the impartiality of the assistance that so many provided to assist Palestinian women.
  5. The United States remained concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza, including reports that Hamas authorities had undertaken efforts to limit women’s ability to appear in public and to move freely. It was also concerned that the punishment of women for so-called “ethical” crimes continued unchecked.
  6. The United States would continue to pursue the path that President Trump had set out in January 2020 when presenting the United States Vision for Peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The only realistic path to end the conflict was through negotiations aimed at achieving a comprehensive and lasting peace. Politicized efforts in international and multilateral forums would do nothing to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The United States would continue to advance efforts to create a brighter and more prosperous future for all.
  7. Mr. de Souza Monteiro (Brazil) said that he wished to express his country’s deep concerns about the dire social and economic conditions in Palestine that disproportionately affected women and girls, especially in the Gaza Strip. Brazil was in favour of urgent measures to ensure full respect for the human rights of all women and girls in Palestine and remained firmly committed to the rights and guarantees provided for in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and in the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.
  8. Draft resolution E/2021/L.7 highlighted, inter alia, the central role of women in achieving, maintaining and promoting international peace and security, especially in the Middle East. However, it contained substantive elements that made the text imbalanced by selectively addressing the situation of Palestinian women and attributing solely to Israel responsibility for violations of the human rights of women in Palestine, including in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. By singling out Israel, the draft resolution did not contribute to peace and mutual understanding in the region. Brazil would therefore abstain from the vote and hoped to see a more constructive and balanced resolution in the future.
  9. A recorded vote was taken on draft resolution E/2021/L.7.

In favour:

Angola, Armenia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Botswana, China, Colombia, Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Ghana, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malawi, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sudan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uruguay.

Against:

Australia, Canada, United States of America.

Abstaining:

Brazil, Germany, Jamaica, Montenegro, Netherlands, Switzerland, Togo, Ukraine.

  1. Draft resolution E/2021/L.7 was adopted by 43 votes to 3, with 8 abstentions.

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