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64th plenary meeting
Wednesday, 16 December 2009, 10 a.m.
In the absence of the President, Ms. Štiglic (Slovenia), Vice-President, took the Chair.
The meeting was called to order at 10.15 a.m.
Agenda item 70 (continued)
Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance
(b) Assistance to the Palestinian people
Draft resolution (A/64/L.35)
The Acting President : ...
The Assembly has before it a draft resolution issued as document A/64/L.35. The Assembly will now take a decision on the draft resolution.
I would like to announce that, since the introduction of draft resolution A/64/L.35, the following countries have become sponsors: Benin, Cape Verde, Chad, the Congo, the Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Namibia, Peru, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, the United States of America and Zambia.
May I take it that it is the wish of the Assembly to adopt draft resolution A/64/L.35?
Draft resolution A/64/L.35 was adopted (resolution 64/125).
The Acting President : One representative has asked to speak in explanation of position on the resolution just adopted. May I remind him that explanations of vote or position are limited to 10 minutes and should be made by delegations from their seats.
Mr. Weissbrod (Israel): I would like to share with Assembly members the fact that Israel has joined the consensus on resolution 64/125 concerning assistance to the Palestinian people.
Unlike so many resolutions regarding our region, the resolution just adopted is constructive in its approach, as it seeks to assist the Palestinian people in increasing their economic and development capacity. These are issues that Israel has supported for many years and remains committed to.
In this respect, I would like to draw the attention of the Assembly to the fact that, due to Israeli measures, economic growth stands at 8 per cent in the West Bank, while construction and development projects that improve the lives of countless Palestinians are moving forward at an exceptional pace. The Allenby Bridge now operates until midnight, and numerous checkpoints have been removed or expanded their hours of operation to promote freedom of movement and economic growth. Israel continues to explore additional measures that would augment this progress while ensuring that Israel’s serious and legitimate security concerns are not compromised.
Israel maintains certain reservations regarding particular aspects of the resolution, in particular regarding the policy of assistance to the Gaza Strip. It is necessary that such provisions reflect Israel’s security needs with regard to delivering assistance and other issues.
However, Israel joined the consensus on this resolution in order to support the broader principle of assistance and development for the Palestinian people. Furthermore, Israel calls upon the Palestinians to return to negotiations in order to reach a peace agreement. Only through bilateral negotiations can we achieve the vision of two States living side by side in peace and security.
The Acting President: I now give the floor to the observer of Palestine.
Ms. Abdelhady-Nasser (Palestine): I would like to make a general statement after the adoption of resolution 64/125.
I would like to express Palestine’s gratitude to the Assembly for its unanimous support of resolution 64/125 on assistance to the Palestinian people; to the presidency of the European Union, Sweden, for its efforts in drafting and promoting this resolution; and to all of the sponsors for their valuable support.
International assistance in its many forms remains a vital component of the subsistence and steadfastness of the Palestinian people, both for the Palestinians living under Israel’s military occupation and for the millions of refugees living in exile in the region.
This assistance has taken on heightened importance and urgency in the context of the severe socio-economic difficulties prevailing in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, in recent years. Indeed, this assistance has become a virtual lifeline for thousands upon thousands of Palestinian families, particularly in the Gaza Strip, where, regrettably, the overwhelming majority of the population has become impoverished and is now dependent on aid for survival as a direct result of Israel’s illegal blockade. Assistance via United Nations agencies and programmes and direct assistance from the donor community in all fields have helped to alleviate such suffering through endless periods of instability, uncertainty and crisis.
However, this assistance has not been limited to ameliorating Palestinian hardships. It has also been central to the development of the boundless human potential, capacity and institutions of the Palestinian people. Educational scholarships, training and a multitude of development projects supported by donors from around the globe have greatly contributed to and enhanced Palestinian efforts to rebuild, reform and develop their national institutions in all sectors.
Such assistance has become increasingly important in the context of the plan launched in August 2009 by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. That plan aims to establish within two years the solid foundation of the future independent State of Palestine, wherein the Palestinian people can exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and all of their other human rights as a dignified, resilient and self-reliant people living in peace and security with all of their neighbours. We thank all States that have expressed their support for that important plan, and we continue to appeal for their firm and generous support.
While the resolution was adopted by consensus, we cannot ignore the fact of the continued obstruction by Israel of humanitarian and other forms of assistance to the Palestinian people. Nine months later, the generous pledges made by the international community at the Sharm el-Sheikh donor conference have yet to reach the Palestinian people, and reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, including repair of millions of dollars’ worth of donor projects destroyed by the occupying Power in its military aggression last winter continue to be deliberately obstructed by Israel’s blockade of Gaza.
Clearly, these illegal Israeli policies and measures are gravely undermining the potential of donor support to the Palestinian people, and that requires serious redress by the international community. Thus, although it has joined the consensus on the resolution, Israel should not be absolved of its responsibilities and accountability for the negative role it has played and continues to play in obstructing assistance to the Palestinian people, whether by the blockade of Gaza or by the settlements, the wall and checkpoints throughout the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
Israel has clear obligations under international law, including humanitarian and human rights law, with which it must be compelled to comply. Only is such important issues are addressed can the support of the international community, in line with the commitment reaffirmed here today, truly turn the process of assistance to the Palestinian people from one of humanitarian relief efforts, poverty alleviation and crisis management to one of genuine development and State-building with a view to the day when the occupation that began in 1967 is finally ended and an independent, viable and contiguous State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, has been established.
In conclusion, I reiterate Palestine’s deepest gratitude to the entire international community for the assistance and support so generously extended to the Palestinian people over the years.
The Acting President : May I take it that it is the wish of the General Assembly to conclude its consideration of sub-item (b) of agenda item 70?
It was so decided.
The meeting rose at 11.25 a.m.
This record contains the text of speeches delivered in English and of the interpretation of speeches delivered in the other languages. Corrections should be submitted to the original languages only. They should be incorporated in a copy of the record and sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned to the Chief of the Verbatim Reporting Service, room U-506. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.