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


Fifty-fifth General Assembly
Second Committee
34th Meeting (AM)
GA/EF/2941
15 November 2000



SECOND COMMITTEE APPROVES TEXT ON SUBJECT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

IN OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN AND ARAB TERRITORY


Committee Also Approves Texts on International Year
Of Mountains, El Nino Phenomenon and International Year of Freshwater


The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning to take action on a number of draft resolutions before it.

By the terms of one, the General Assembly would call on 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. That text, on the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources, was approved by a vote of 131 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 3 abstentions (Federated States of Micronesia, Kazakhstan, Marshall Islands). (See voting annex for details.)

Speaking before the vote, Israel’s representative said that the issue of control over natural resources was already covered by the Israel-Palestinian Interim Agreement, signed on 28 September 1995. The subject of natural resources would be negotiated within the framework of a final peace settlement. It was regrettable that the Committee was conducting its discussion with the aim of predetermining the outcome of issues to be directly negotiated between the parties themselves. The draft resolution was yet another example of an attempt to intervene in matters relating to the peace process.

The observer for Palestine, speaking after the vote, said that the vote was a show of the support by the international community for the peace process. There was no contradiction between the negotiations in the peace process and the upholding of international law. Unilateral action, such as the building of illegal settlements, worked against international law. His delegation remained committed to the procedures of the peace process, which had been agreed upon at the Madrid Conference in 1990.

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Committee Work Programme

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Permanent Sovereignty of the Palestinian People Over Their Natural Resources

Also before the Committee was a draft resolution on the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources (document A/C.2/55/L.7/Rev.1). By its terms, the Assembly would call on 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. It would also call for an immediate resumption of negotiations within the Middle East peace process, on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967 and 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973, and the principle of land for peace, and for the achievement of a final settlement on all tracks.

Also, the Assembly would reaffirm the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the population of the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources, including land and water. Further, 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, and express the hope that this issue would be dealt with in the framework of the final status negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides.

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Introduction of Drafts

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Next, the Committee turned to the draft resolution on the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources.

MARGARET KELLY, Second Committee Secretary, informed the Committee that operative paragraph seven had been omitted from the Arabic version of the text.

The representatives of Morocco, Malta and Mauritania informed the Committee that their countries were missing from the list of co-sponsors to the text.

Speaking before the vote, Israel’s representative said the draft resolution contributed nothing to the Committee’s consideration of the global issues now of paramount importance. He expressed the regret of his delegation that the debate in the Second Committee was being used as a platform from which to level accusations against another Member State, Israel, and to pass a draft resolution that was completely superfluous. The issue of control over natural resources had already been covered by the Israel-Palestinian Interim Agreement, signed on 28 September 1995. Furthermore, Israel and the Palestinian Authority had agreed to resolve all outstanding issues through direct negotiations.

The Middle East was at a critical crossroads, facing two distinct possibilities, he said. The first was to resume negotiations based on the ideas discussed at Camp David. It should be stressed that at the Summit, Israel had displayed an unprecedented willingness to compromise for the sake of peace. In a recent letter to world leaders, Prime Minister Ehud Barak had made no secret of the fact that Israel would accept the existence of a Palestinian State, provided it was achieved within the framework of a comprehensive bilateral agreement. The second possibility was the route of violence, which would create a source of continuous instability in the region and threaten to undo all the progress of the past seven years.

Israel, he said, had repeatedly made clear that its objective was a negotiated peace settlement that would bring calm and security to all the people of the region. The subject of natural resources would be negotiated within the framework of such a peace settlement. It was regrettable that this Committee should be conducting its discussion with the aim of predetermining the outcome of issues to be directly negotiated between the parties themselves. This draft resolution on sovereignty over natural resources was yet another example of an attempt to intervene in matters relating to the peace process.

Israel would vote against the draft resolution, he said. He urged delegations that supported the peace process and the path of direct negotiations to do the same.

The representative of Egypt said that his delegation wanted to clarify that it was not that the draft had not received consensus, it was that one delegation had requested a vote. He urged other delegations to vote in favour of the resolution and to reaffirm their commitment to the resumption of the peace process. Until a successful and just conclusion of the Middle East peace process was reached, Egypt would be presenting this resolution every year.

The representative of the United States said that her delegation continued to oppose the resolution for several reasons. It was inappropriate to interject the General Assembly into issues that were the subject of negotiations between the parties. The outcome of those negotiations should not be prejudged by United Nations resolutions. Despite the many difficulties on the road to peace, the two parties continued to reiterate their commitment to returning to the negotiating table.

The United States also objected to the reference to “the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem” as another attempt to prejudge the final status negotiations, she said. The United Nations must focus on strengthening its role as a facilitator of the peace process. She would welcome the opportunity to vote for a resolution that demonstrated the support and encouragement of the international community for the peace process. Unfortunately, the present unbalanced resolution did not meet the test. The United States would vote “no” on the resolution and urged others to do the same.

The Committee approved the text by a vote of 131 in favour to 2 against (Israel and the United States) with 3 abstentions (Federated States of Micronesia, Kazakhstan and Marshall Islands).

The representative of France, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the Union had voted in favour of the draft resolution because it believed that the natural resources of any territory seized by force of arms should not be used inappropriately or illegally by the occupying power.

He wished, however, to take the opportunity to express the Union’s interpretation of certain aspects of the text. The Union reaffirmed the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to the occupied territories and also reaffirmed that any infringement of the rights of the Palestinian people with regard to that Convention was illegal.

However, he said, the issues referred to in the draft resolution were matters which were to be dealt with in the framework of the permanent status negotiations of the Middle East Peace Process, of which the Union wished the resumption as soon as possible. The resolution adopted today must not, therefore, be considered as prejudicial to or pre-emptive of the outcome of those negotiations. Any action or statement which might be seen as doing so had to be avoided.

The representative of Japan said that his Government had been deeply concerned over the recent clashes between the Israelis and the Palestinians, which had caused two hundred deaths and thousands of injuries. It deplored the fact that the clashes were continuing in spite of the understanding that the parties had reached on ending the violence. Japan strongly called upon the parties concerned to fully carry out all the commitments they had made, in order to halt the vicious circle of violence and restore calm in the region as soon as possible.

He said a negotiated peace was the only way to solve all outstanding issues and achieve a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace in the region. Japan would continue to fully support the parties concerned in their efforts to that end. It was in this spirit that Japan had voted in favour of the draft resolution. Japan felt strongly about the second part of the operative paragraph four of the draft, which expressed the hope that the issue discussed in the draft would be dealt with in the framework of the final status negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides.

Japan’s support for the draft was not intended to prejudge the outcome of the final status negotiations, he said. Also, its acceptance of the words “permanent sovereignty” used in the draft did not imply any changes in its position on the legal status of the “occupied territories.” The Second Committee was not a suitable forum for considering draft resolutions such as this one, which dealt with a matter that was fundamentally political in nature.

The observer for Palestine expressed his sincere thanks to those who had voted for the adoption of the draft resolution and to those who had sponsored it. The vote was a show of the support by the international community for the peace process. His delegation did not believe that there was a contradiction between the negotiations in the peace process and the upholding of international law. Unilateral action, such as the building of illegal settlements, worked against international law. His delegation remained committed to the peace process and to the procedures of the peace process, which had been agreed upon at the Madrid Conference in 1990.

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ANNEX


Vote on Permanent Sovereignty of the Palestinian People in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources.

The draft resolution (document A/C.2/55/L.7 and Rev.1) was approved by a recorded vote of 131 in favour to 2 against, with 3 abstentions, as follows:

In Favour: Algeria, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bhutan, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstain: Federated States of Micronesia, Kazakhstan, Marshall Islands.

Absent: Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Costa Rica, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Fiji, Gambia, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Kiribati, Lebanon, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nauru, Nicaragua, Palau, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Suriname, Tajikistan, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu.




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