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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York


GA/EF/2852
16 November 1998



GENERAL ASSEMBLY ASKED TO CALL ON ISRAEL NOT TO EXPLOIT

NATURAL RESOURCES IN OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY

Economic Committee Text also Seeks Right of Restitution; Israel, Opposing,
Says Move Unnecessary in View of Ongoing Peace Negotiations


The General Assembly would call upon Israel not to exploit the natural resources in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, by a draft resolution approved in the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) this morning.

Approved by a vote of 116 in favour to 2 against (Israel and the United States), with 8 abstentions, the draft on the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory would also have the Assembly recognize the right of the Palestinian people to claim restitution as a result of any exploitation, loss or depletion of, or danger to, their natural resources. The Assembly would also express the hope that the issue would be dealt with in the framework of the final status negotiation between the Palestinian and Israeli sides.

The representative of Austria, for the European Union, said that those countries supported the resolution because the natural resources of any territory seized by force of arms should not be used inappropriately or illegally by the occupying Power, but approval of the draft must not be considered as prejudicial to the outcome of the final status negotiations between the Israeli and Palestinian sides.

The representative of the United States, voting against, said the resolution inappropriately injected the General Assembly into the direct negotiations between the parties to resolve the very issues in question. It attempted to predetermine the outcome of negotiations, using one-sided and judgemental language.

The representative of Israel said the resolution was superfluous because the issue of natural resources had been addressed in peace process agreements. It was regrettable that the Second Committee would discuss a resolution aimed at predetermining the outcome of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to settle outstanding issues.

Explanations of vote were also made by the representatives of Syria and Japan.

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Action on Draft Resolutions

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The Committee decided to hold a vote on a third draft, on the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources (document A/C.2/53/L.22). The draft was sponsored by: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Malaysia, Mauritania, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Palestine, Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam. Bahrain, Malta, and Oman were subsequently added to the list of sponsors.

By the text, the General Assembly would call upon Israel, the occupying Power, not to exploit, to cause loss or depletion of, or to endanger the natural resources in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.

The Assembly would recognize the right of the Palestinian people to claim restitution as a result of any exploitation, loss or depletion of, or danger to, their natural resources. The Assembly would also express the hope that the issue would be dealt with in the framework of the final status negotiation between the Palestinian and Israeli sides.

Speaking before the vote, the representative of Israel said his country expected help from the international community in efforts to reach peace in the Middle East. Apparently, its expectations were too high. The draft was superfluous, because the issue of natural resources had been addressed in peace process agreements. Any separate discussion could not ignore such agreements. Israel and the Palestinian Authority were resolved to settle outstanding issues through negotiations. The Wye River Memorandum was important to the attainment of a comprehensive and sustainable peace. It was regrettable that the Second Committee would discuss a text aimed at predetermining the outcome of the negotiations.

The representative of the United States said the draft inappropriately injected the General Assembly into the direct negotiations between the parties to resolve the very issues in question. It attempted to predetermine the outcome of those talks using one-sided and judgmental language. His delegation rejected the use of the term "sovereignty", which prejudged the outcome of negotiations. The United States would continue to oppose references to "the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem", which had no effect whatsoever on issues of sovereignty, and inappropriately prejudged the permanent political arrangements in territories that could be determined only by the direct negotiations to which the parties had committed themselves.

The representative of Syria said the draft re-confirmed the international community's condemnation of continuing Israeli practices in the occupied territories, including Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The peace process was based on United Nations resolutions as well as the principle of land for peace. Any complementary agreement that may be signed could not be taken to nullify those resolutions.

The draft resolution contained in document A/C.2/53/L.22 was then approved by 116 votes in favour to 2 against (Israel and United States) with 8 abstentions (Bahamas, El Salvador, Georgia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Panama, Paraguay and Swaziland). (For details see Annex.)

Speaking in explanation of vote, the representative of Austria, for the European Union, said that the European Union had voted in favour of the draft, believing that the natural resources of any territory seized by force of arms should not be used inappropriately or illegally by the occupying Power. The European Union reaffirmed the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to the occupied territories and reaffirmed that any infringement of the rights of the Palestinian people with regard to that Convention was illegal. The resolution must not be considered as prejudicial to the outcome of the permanent status negotiations in the ongoing Middle East peace process.

The representative of Japan said his Government had followed the process to help Palestine and it would continue to pursue that policy. He noted that paragraph 4 of the resolution would have the General Assembly express the hope that the issue would be dealt with in the framework of final status negotiations. That paragraph voiced the Assembly's hope for a settlement of the matter; support for the resolution did not constitute any prejudgement of the outcome of negotiations.

The representatives of Suriname, Guyana and Lebanon said they were not in the room during the vote, but would have voted in favour of it.

The representative of Bulgaria said his delegation wished to ally itself with the statement made by Austria, on behalf of the European Union.

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ANNEX

Vote on Palestinian Sovereignty in Occupied Territory


The draft resolution on Palestinian sovereignty in occupied Palestine territory (document A/C.2/53/L.22) was approved by a recorded vote of 116 in favour to 2 against, with 8 abstentions, as follows:

In favour: Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstain: Bahamas, El Salvador, Federated States of Micronesia, Georgia, Marshall Islands, Panama, Paraguay, Swaziland.

Absent: Albania, Barbados, Belize, Bhutan, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Fiji, Gambia, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, India, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Mauritania, Mauritius, Monaco, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Tajikistan, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Zambia, Zimbabwe.


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