Fourth Committee Approves Approved Six Texts Concerning Israeli-Palestinian issues – Press Release (GA/SPD/743) (Excerpts)

SEVENTY-SIXTH SESSION, 15TH MEETING (PM)
GA/SPD/743
9 NOVEMBER 2021

Français

Taking up draft resolutions relating to topics discussed over its recent weeks of substantive work, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) today approved six texts concerning Israeli-Palestinian issues and eight on decolonization matters — as well as six additional drafts on various subjects — to be forwarded to the General Assembly for adoption.

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Taking up three draft resolutions related to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the Committee first approved a text titled “Assistance to Palestine refugees” (document A/C.4/75/L.9) by a recorded vote of 160 in favour to 1 against (Israel), with 9 abstentions.  By its terms, the Assembly would note with regret that the situation of Palestine refugees continues to be a matter of grave concern.  The refugees continue to require assistance to meet their basic health, education and living needs.  Further by its terms, the Assembly would call on all donors to continue to strengthen their efforts to meet the Agency’s anticipated needs and commend the Agency for its provision of vital assistance as well as its role as a stabilizing factor in the region.

Taking up a draft titled “Operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East” (document A/C.4/76/L.13), the Committee approved it by a recorded 156 votes in favour to 5 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, United States), with 9 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Fiji, Guatemala, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uruguay).  By its terms, the Assembly would express its grave concern about attempts to discredit UNRWA despite its proven operational capacity and consistent implementation of its mandate.  It would also urge Israel to expeditiously reimburse the Agency for all transit charges incurred and other financial losses sustained as a result of delays and restrictions on movement and access imposed by that country.  Moreover, the Assembly would call upon Israel to cease obstructing the Agency’s movement and access as well as to cease levying taxes, extra fees and charges.

The Committee then approved a draft resolution titled “Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues” (document A/C.4/76/L.14) by a recorded vote of 156 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, United States), with 9 abstentions (Australia, Brazil, Cameroon, Fiji, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, South Sudan, Togo).  By that text, the Assembly would request that the Secretary-General take all appropriate steps to protect Arab properties, assets and property rights in Israel.  Further, it would call upon Israel to render all facilities and assistance to the Secretary-General in implementation of the resolution.  The Assembly would urge both the Palestinian and Israeli sides to deal with the important issue of Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues within the framework of final-status peace negotiations.

Members went on to take action on three texts related to Israeli practices and settlement activities in the Occupied Territory, approving a draft titled “Work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli practices and settlement activities affecting the rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories” (document A/C.4/76/L.7) by a recorded vote of 77 in favour to 17 against, with 74 abstentions.  By the terms of that text, the Assembly would demand that Israel cooperate with the Special Committee in implementing its mandate.  It would express grave concern about the critical situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory as a result of unlawful Israeli practices and measures and call for the immediate cessation of all illegal Israeli settlement activities and the construction of the wall, among other measures.

The Committee went on to approve a draft titled “The occupied Syrian Golan” (document A/C.4/76/L.8) by a recorded vote of 144 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 22 abstentions.  By the terms of that text, the General Assembly would call upon Israel to desist from changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan, and in particular to desist from establishing settlements.  Further, the Assembly would call upon Israel to desist from imposing Israeli citizenship and identity cards on the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan.

The Committee also approved — by a recorded vote of 142 in favour to 7 against (Micronesia, Israel, United States, Hungary, Canada, Marshall Islands, Nauru), with 16 abstentions — a draft resolution titled “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan” (document A/C.4/76/L.9).  By its terms, the Assembly would condemn Israel’s settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory as violations of international humanitarian law.  It would deplore Israel’s construction and expansion of settlements in and around occupied East Jerusalem, as well as its ongoing settlement activities in the Jordan Valley, which further fragment and undermine the contiguity of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  By other terms, the Assembly would also condemn Israel’s demolition of Palestinian buildings in the neighbourhood of Wadi al-Hummus, in the village of Sur Bahir, south of occupied East Jerusalem.

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The Committee then took up a series of draft resolutions (documents A/C.4/76/L.12-L.14) relating to “Assistance to Palestine refugees” (L.12); “Operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)” (L.13); and “Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues” (L.14).

Introducing those resolutions as a cluster, the representative of Indonesia noted that these drafts are based on those adopted during the seventy‑fifth session of the General Assembly with minimal updates.  He further noted that the resolutions reaffirm the rights of Palestine refugees and the international community’s support for UNRWA’s mandate.  They also draw attention to the ongoing hardships faced by Palestine refugees as a result of their prolonged displacement and continued denial of their rights, as well as operational challenges and funding deficit of the Agency.  Pointing to the Agency’s contribution to regional stability, he voiced his hope that the resolutions will garner wide support.

Turning specifically to the draft resolution titled “Assistance to Palestine refugees” (L.12), he said that text reaffirms UNRWA’s mandate and notes with regret attacks on its reputation.  It also spotlights the situation of Palestine refugees, who continue to require vital health care and education services provided by the Agency.  He further noted that the draft resolution contains an additional preambular paragraph, new this year, underscoring UNRWA’s commitment to operate in line with the humanitarian principles of neutrality, humanity, independence and impartiality — hallmarks of all United Nations institutions.

The representative of South Africa introduced two other resolutions in the cluster, namely those titled “Operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East” (L.13) and “Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues” (L.14).  He said the former reaffirms that UNRWA’s support for more than 5.7 million Palestinian refugees remains essential to alleviating their plight, which has been exacerbated by the deteriorating socioeconomic situation in the region.  The text calls upon UNRWA to continue providing that assistance and reaffirms the rights of the displaced persons to return to their homes in the territories occupied by Israel.  It further acknowledges UNRWA’s reform efforts and funding shortfalls and calls on Israel to cease obstruction of the Agency’s work and comply with the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Turning to the draft resolution on “Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues” (L.14), he said it reaffirms that Palestine refugees are entitled to their property and income derived from it.  It urges the two sides to deal with property rights in the final stage of negotiations, he added.

The Committee then turned its attention to a raft of texts submitted under the agenda item “Israeli practices and settlement activities affecting the rights of the Palestinian People and other Arabs of the occupied territories”.  The representative of Namibia made an introductory statement under that item, while also introducing the draft resolution titled “Work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories” (document A/C.4/76/L.7).  Expressing regret that Israeli violations escalated during the last year, he said the Special Committee’s debate reflected the international community’s serious concerns over those activities and their impact on the civilian population.  Israel continues to impose an illegal blockade on the Gaza Strip, gravely impacting humanitarian conditions there.  Meanwhile, the construction of settlements has forcibly dispossessed and displaced hundreds of Palestinians and many remain under threat of forced transfer, undermining the prospects for a two‑State solution.  Among other things, he said the resolutions on that agenda item reiterate the General Assembly’s calls for Israel to end its violations and make immediate efforts to reverse negative trends on the ground, as well as calls for accountability for Israel’s past activities.

The representative of Cuba introduced the draft resolutions titled “The occupied Syrian Golan” (document A/C.4/76/L.8) and “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan” (document A/C.4/76/L.9), noting that they outline Israel’s illegal settlement activities and violations of Palestinians’ human rights.  The text on the Syrian Golan recalls previous resolutions wherein Israel is called upon to put an end to its occupation, and states that Syrians are subject to grave violations of their human rights.  The texts call on the occupying Power to reverse trends that jeopardize a two‑State solution and halt its construction of settlements and demolition of Palestinian property.  They also underscore that occupation must be a temporary situation and call for measures of accountability to address Israel’s past activities.

The representative of Israel, making a general statement, said those texts are highly political and reflect an unbalanced and distorted image of the Middle East.  Emphasizing that the drafts are disproportionate, one‑sided and biased against Israel, she called on the United Nations not to consider them.  Pointing to the Organization’s “never‑ending anti‑Israel agenda”, she described the funding of Committees and Agencies that target Israel as a tragic and unprecedented misappropriation of resources.  Noting that UNRWA uses its funding to pursue the “hateful indoctrination of children” in classrooms, she called upon the Agency to show a genuine commitment to transparency and accountability.  Noting that her country continues to strengthen relations with countries across the region, she urged the United Nations to leave behind the narrative of conflict and hatred and instead focus on tolerance and dialogue.

The representative of the United States said Israel and Palestine deserve equal measures of freedom, dignity, security and prosperity.  Stressing that the package of resolutions does not support that goal and disproportionately singles out Israel, he stated that the United States strongly opposes the annual submission of resolutions biased against Israel.  Appreciating the modest efforts aimed at reducing the number of resolutions, he warned that those texts distract from real efforts to achieve peace.  Turning to draft resolution “L.12” on UNRWA, he pointed to the United States’ provision of more than $318 million dollars to the Agency and welcomed the inclusion in the text of references to the humanitarian principles of neutrality, independence and impartiality.  Noting that UNRWA needs reforms to improve its financial system, he urged Member States to support the Agency not only in word but in action.

Taking action on the three draft resolutions related to UNRWA, the Committee first approved the text titled “Assistance to Palestine refugees” (L.12) by a recorded vote of 160 in favour to 1 against (Israel), with 9 abstentions (Cameroon, Canada, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, United States, Uruguay).

Taking up the draft titled “Operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East” (L.13), the Committee approved it by a recorded vote of 156 in favour to 5 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, United States), with 9 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Fiji, Guatemala, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uruguay).

The Committee then approved the draft resolution titled “Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues” (L.14) by a recorded vote of 156 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, United States), with 9 abstentions (Australia, Brazil, Cameroon, Fiji, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, South Sudan, Togo).

The Committee then turned to draft resolutions relating to “Israeli practices and settlement activities affecting the rights of the Palestinian People and other Arabs of the occupied territories” (documents A/C.4/76/L.7-9).

It narrowly approved a draft titled “Work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories” (L.7) by a recorded vote of 77 in favour to 17 against, with 74 abstentions.

By a recorded vote of 144 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 22 abstentions, the Committee approved a draft resolution titled “The occupied Syrian Golan” (L.8).

Turning to the text titled “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan” (L.9), the Committee approved it by a recorded vote of 142 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Hungary, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, United States), with 16 abstentions.

The representative of Slovenia, speaking in explanation of position on behalf of the European Union in its capacity as observer, said the bloc has not expressed a legal qualification on the term “forced displacement”.  In addition, the term “Palestine” cannot be construed as a recognition of the State of Palestine.  She went on to welcome efforts by the permanent observer mission of the State of Palestine to streamline the work of the Committee.

The representative of Iran said the adoption of all the resolutions in the current cluster demonstrates that members of the Committee support the plight of the people of Palestine and condemn the illegal activities of the occupying regime.  Unfortunately, that regime’s non‑compliance has prevented the international community from finding a resolution to the conflict.  The developments of recent years show that Palestinians have no choice but to resist the occupying Power, he said.

The observer for the State of Palestine, making a general statement on both agenda items, expressed gratitude for the support of Member States and said it is a critical contribution to addressing the profound issues Palestine has faced over the past 50 years.  While implementation of the resolutions remains absent, her delegation is grateful for the reaffirmations contained therein.  The clarity and strength of the calls contained in the texts are more important than ever, she said, calling for the Assembly to remain engaged in the events on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  She went on to emphasize that the resolutions are based on international law and respect for universal human rights, while describing the decision by a few States to shift their positions away from support for Palestine as unfortunate.

The representative of Syria said the support for resolutions related to Israeli practices demonstrate Member States’ rejection of the occupation of the Syrian Golan by force.  Refraining from supporting the Israeli occupation is an important step towards dismantling the settlement regime, she said.  Draft resolution “L.9” reaffirms Syria’s right to recover the Syrian Golan, she said, stressing that measures taken by Israel to change its natural demographics are null and have no legal impact.

 

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Information media. Not an official record.

 


2022-01-21T11:26:02-05:00

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