The draft, approved by a recorded vote of 134 in favour to 2 against (United States, Israel), with 14 abstentions, would also have the Assembly urge all States, specialized agencies and organizations of the United Nations system to continue to support the Palestinian people in their quest for self- determination. (For details see Annex II.)
The observer of Palestine told the Committee the approval of the resolution reflected the importance of the role of the United Nations in support of the struggle of the Palestinian people to recover their inalienable right. However, the representative of Israel, speaking in explanation of vote, said he had voted against the draft because it was intended to predetermine the outcome of the permanent status talks. Thus, it contradicted the obligations undertaken by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in the Declaration of Principles signed by Israel and the PLO and the principle of direct negotiations without preconditions.
In explaining his vote, the representative of the United States said permanent status issues should be covered at a later stage of the political process. The parties themselves had agreed to that, so the United Nations should not take a position on an issue supported by one party, but opposed by the other.
Other statements on that text were made by Norway, Russian Federation, Turkey, Iran, Argentina, Japan and Libya.
Committee Work Programme
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this afternoon to take action on drafts concerning the elimination of racism and racial discrimination and the right of peoples to self-determination. In addition, the Committee will hear the introduction of three draft resolutions on social development questions.
By a 34-Power draft resolution on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination (document A/C.3/50/L.8), the General Assembly would reaffirm the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and express the hope that they would soon be exercising that right in the current peace process. It would also urge the international community to continue to support the Palestinian people in their quest for self-determination.
The draft is sponsored by Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Gambia, Guinea, Indonesia, Jordan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Quatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Also, the following previously circulated draft resolutions on social development questions will be introduced in the Committee: the text on the follow-up to the International Year of the Family (document A/C.3/50/L.10); the draft resolution, on a mid-decade review against illiteracy (document A/C.3/50/L.11); and the draft on opportunities for persons with disabilities (document A/C.3/50/L.12). (For background on those resolutions, see Press Release GA/SHC/3310, issued 30 October.)
Introduction of Draft Resolutions
Next, the Committee took up the draft resolution on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.
The Secretary of the Committee made oral amendments to the text. Kuwait, Guinea Bissau, Lesotho, Mozambique and Bahrain joined in sponsoring the text.
Speaking before the vote, the representative of Israel said that his country had long advocated the principle of direct negotiations with no preconditions as the only framework to advance peace in the Middle East. Again and again, that principle had been vindicated by every achievement in the efforts to bring peace to the region since the signing of the Camp David Accords and the treaty of peace between Israel and Egypt more than 15 years ago. That principle had formed the basis of the peace process that began in Madrid.
He said that in the Declaration of Principles signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), both parties agreed that issues relating to permanent status would be negotiated by the parties themselves at a later stage. In a letter to the Israeli Prime Minister on 9 September 1993, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat said that the PLO committed itself to the Middle East peace process and to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides, and declared that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status would be resolved through negotiations.
The draft resolution, prepared by the PLO, was intended to predetermine the outcome of the permanent status talks, and thus stood in contradiction to the obligations undertaken by the PLO in the Declaration of Principles, he continued. It also contradicted the principle of direct negotiations without preconditions, which formed part of the agreed basis of the ongoing peace process. Because the draft resolution called into question the inviolability of the peace process and the agreements it had produced, Israel would vote against it.
The representative of Norway said that his country supported the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. The final status of the Palestinian territories was a subject for negotiations between the PLO and Israel according to the Declaration of Principles of 13 September 1993. The Israeli-Palestinian Agreement on the Declaration of Principles was based on mutual recognition and cooperation between the two parties. The Assembly should be careful neither to add nor detract from what only the parties themselves could decide. Norway would, therefore, abstain in the voting on the resolution.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination by a vote of 134 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 14 abstentions (see Annex II).
Speaking after the vote, the representative of the Russian Federation said his country supported the Palestinians' right to self-determination based on the ongoing negotiations. However, because his country considered the process a complicated one, he had abstained on the draft resolution.
The representative of Turkey said his country had voted in favour of the text. He supported the right of all States to live in peace and in conformity with one another. He wished for an uninterrupted peace process in the region.
The representative of Iran said he voted in favour of the text. However, he wanted to register reservations regarding the last preambular paragraph, concerning recognized borders, and the second operative paragraph, which deals with the exercise of self-determination. He did not believe that recent agreements would lead to the full restoration of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. For that reason, and in line with the position of his Government on the issue, he wished to be dissociated from those paragraphs.
The representative of Argentina said he had abstained because he did not want to prejudge or alter, in any way, any part of the peace process.
The representative of the United States said that the signing of the interim agreement and its implementation made it clear that the process which Israel and the Palestinians had embarked on was creating a new relationship between the two. The international community should do all in its power to support that process, including support for the Palestinians as they built new institutions and sought to build a better life.
The parties to those negotiations had agreed in their Declaration of Principles signed on 1 September 1993 in Washington D.C. that permanent status issues should be covered at a later stage of the political process on which they had embarked, he continued. The parties recognized that some issues were so complex and sensitive that they must only be dealt with after an interim period. If the parties themselves agreed to that, the United Nations should not take a position on an issue supported by one party, but opposed by the other. The United Nations was not the forum to debate permanent status issues, which were for the parties to discuss and resolve.
The representative of Japan said that adopting the resolution, which called on the international community to support one party and not the other, was not a useful contribution to the peace process. Japan supported the position that the matter should be handled by means of negotiations.
The representative of Libya said that his country voted in favour of the draft resolution based on its long-standing support for the Palestinian people and support for their self-determination. That vote in no way meant recognition of the State of Israel by Libya. The realization of just and lasting peace could not take place unless all Palestinians returned to their territory.
The observer of Palestine said that adoption of the resolution, with so many countries voting in favour, reflected the importance of the role of the United Nations in support of the struggle of the Palestinian people to recover their inalienable rights. She expressed appreciation to Egypt and other delegations that voted in favour of the draft and appealed for the understanding of those that had abstained. She hoped that they would reconsider their positions when the draft resolution came up in the General Assembly. Palestinians had suffered for too long and should be able to enjoy their inalienable rights just like other people.
Vote on Palestinian Self-Determination
In favour: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Cote d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Against: Israel, United States
Abstaining: Argentina, Cameroon, Fiji, Gabon, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Marshall Islands, Norway, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Rwanda, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Uruguay.
Absent: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Grenada, Guatemala, Iraq, Kyrgyztan, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Sao Tome Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Yugoslavia, Zaire.
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