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1. Mr. Kleib (Indonesia) introduced the four draft resolutions under agenda item 51 (A/C.4/65/L.8-L.11), which, inter alia, reaffirmed long-standing principles and positions upheld by the international community with respect to Palestine refugees and acknowledged the vital services that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was providing to them and the Agency’s contribution to the stability of the region.
2. The draft resolutions were based on the resolutions adopted at previous sessions but had been updated to reflect the situation on the ground. In draft resolution A/C.4/65/L.8 on assistance to Palestine refugees, he highlighted paragraphs 6 and 7 renewing the Agency’s mandate and inviting Kuwait to become a member of its Advisory Commission. In draft resolution A/C.4/65/L.9 on persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities, he stressed the provisions regarding their right of return and their continuing need for humanitarian assistance.
3. Draft resolution A/C.4/65/L.10 on the operations of UNRWA addressed the difficulties faced by the Agency and the continuing needs of the refugees in all fields of operation. It inter alia called upon Israel to abide by the provisions of the Charter and the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, cease obstructing the movement of the Agency’s staff, reimburse it for all transit charges and losses incurred and lift restrictions on the import of construction materials. Referring to paragraph 10, he noted that, since the report of the Secretary-General on the strengthening of the financial management capacity of UNRWA had not been finalized, it should be amended to read:
5. Ms. Deman (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union and recalling its statements in explanation of vote of the previous year on items related to Palestine, said that the draft resolutions addressed a broad range of issues and principles. The European Union recognized the efforts of the Palestinian delegation to streamline the texts and reduce the number of resolutions, fully supported a two-State solution and deeply appreciated the invaluable work of UNRWA. Both parties should remain calm and avoid rhetoric or any actions that could undermine the peace process.
6. The Chairperson invited the Committee to take action on the four draft resolutions under agenda item 51, noting that they had no programme budget implications.
Draft resolution A/C.4/65/L.8: Assistance to Palestine refugees
7. Ms. Herity (Secretary of the Committee) announced that Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mali, Malta, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine had become sponsors of the draft resolution.
8. A recorded vote was taken.
18. Mr. Windsor (Australia) said that, as in the past, his delegation had voted in favour of the draft resolution on the operations of UNRWA, which it supported fully. While he welcomed the changes made to the language of the draft, he felt that a greater effort should have been made to ensure a balanced text that would include, for example, condemnation of rocket attacks by Hamas. His delegation supported the right of Israel to defend itself.
19. Mr. Sheck (Canada), underscoring Canada’s active support since 1950 for the vital operations UNRWA was conducting, and the need for all parties to protect civilians, said that his delegation had nonetheless abstained in the vote on draft resolution A/C.4/65/L.10 because of its concern that some of the language did not promote a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in focusing blame solely on Israel without recognizing either its legitimate security concerns or the fact that Hamas rockets fired against Israel civilians had caused the 2008/2009 conflict in Gaza. Such one-sided language did not belong in a resolution supporting the good work of UNRWA.
Agenda item 52: Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories (continued) (A/C.4/65/L.12-L.16)
20. Ms. Hernández Toledano (Cuba), introducing the five draft resolutions under agenda item 52 (A/C.4/65/L.12-L.16), said that they called for an end to Israel’s illegal practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan and compliance with the Charter of the United Nations, the Fourth Geneva Convention and international law in general.
21. Draft resolution A/C.4/65/L.12 on the work of the Special Committee emphasized the need to end the Israeli occupation and the violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people. In draft resolution A/C.4/65/L.13 on the applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the other occupied Arab territories, she highlighted paragraphs 1 to 4. In draft resolution A/C.4/65/L.14 on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan, she drew attention to the twelfth through fifteenth preambular paragraphs expressing grave concern about the construction and expansion of settlements and the continuing unlawful construction of the wall and to paragraphs 3, 4 and 6, which, inter alia, reiterated the demand for the immediate and complete cessation of all Israeli settlement activities and the prevention of all acts of violence and harassment by Israeli settlers. In draft resolution A/C.4/65/L.15 on Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, she reviewed the applicable international instruments cited in the preamble, highlighting the eighteenth and twentieth preambular paragraphs detailing Israel’s ongoing systematic violations and the deteriorating situation in the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of its recent military operation there and made particular reference to paragraphs 2, 8, 9 and 10. Noting that the text of draft resolution A/C.4/65/L.16, on the occupied Syrian Golan, was essentially the same as those that had been used since 1982, she underscored its strong message against foreign occupation and annexation and recalled that Israel’s decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration had been declared by the Security Council.
22. She expressed the hope that Member States would give their full support to those resolutions, which dealt with issues of vital importance to the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories.
23. The Chairperson invited the Committee to take action on the five draft resolutions under agenda item 52. He indicated that they had no programme budget implications.
Draft resolution A/C.4/65/L.12: Work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories
24. Ms. Herity (Secretary of the Committee) announced that Mali had become a sponsor of the draft resolution.
25. A recorded vote was taken.
38. The Chairperson invited delegations to explain their votes or to make general statements.
39. Mr. Sahraei (Islamic Republic of Iran) said that his delegation had voted in favour of all the draft resolutions as an expression of solidarity with the Palestinian people, whose legally established government and national aspirations it supported unwaveringly. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be settled only when the international community recognized the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to self-defence against aggression. Lasting peace would come only with justice, an end to the Israeli occupation and its violation of Palestinian rights, the return of the Palestinians to their lands, and the establishment of a freely chosen, democratic Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital.
40. Mr. Ja’afari (Syrian Arab Republic) said that his delegation had voted in favour of draft resolutions A/C.4/65/L.12 and A/C.4/65/L.15, because the Syrian Arab Republic was convinced of the justice of the Palestinian cause and of the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to struggle for liberation from occupation and the establishment of an independent Palestinian State. His Government understood the relevant paragraphs to mean that implementation was directly contingent upon Israel’s compliance with the demand that it cease its systematic violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people, including the excessive use of force; the use of collective punishment; the confiscation of land; the continuation of settlement policies; the construction of the racist separation wall; the detention of thousands of innocent Palestinians; and all other actions by it designed to change the legal status and demographic composition of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
41. The two resolutions contained paragraphs that were not satisfactory to his delegation. In particular, the ninth preambular paragraph of draft resolution A/C.4/65/L.12 and the twentieth preambular paragraph of draft resolution A/C.4/65/L.15 were worded in such a way as to give the impression that there was equality of arms between the aggressor and the victim, thus sending the wrong political message to the Israeli occupation authorities and encouraging them to continue with their aggression and inhuman practices in the occupied Arab territories. He recalled that it was Israel that occupied Palestinian land and that it was Israel that had attacked Gaza, using internationally prohibited weapons to kill civilians, including children, older persons and women.
42. The fact was that peoples under occupation had a right to resist occupation. The Syrian Arab Republic would never accept any attempt to derogate from that right and allow injustice and murder to prevail over justice and the law. His delegation would continue to reject all comparisons which placed the occupier on the same footing as the person struggling to end foreign occupation; such comparisons had no validity whatsoever and were contrary to the Charter and the spirit of the human rights principles that the United Nations had advocated for decades.
43. Mr. Sheck (Canada) expressed concern about the disproportionate emphasis the Committee placed on the situation in the Middle East and the number of its draft resolutions that singled out one country for blame. The resolutions and the debate on Arab-Israeli issues ought to be fair-minded, reflect the responsibilities of all parties concerned and seek to advance a negotiated peace.
44. Canada had voted in favour of the two draft resolutions that touched on key issues — draft resolutions A/C.4/65/L.13 and L.14 — because of its long-standing position that Israel was bound by the Fourth Geneva Convention, and that Israeli settlements were a violation of that Convention. It had done so even though some of the language was divisive, at a time when the goal should be to bring the parties back to negotiations and help them achieve the two-State solution that alone would secure a peaceful future for the Middle East.
45. Mr. Ja’afari (Syrian Arab Republic) said that the wide support for the draft resolutions adopted under agenda items 51 and 52 reflected the international community’s rejection of occupation by force and human rights violations. The resolutions sent a clear message to Israel to end its occupation of all the occupied Arab territories and cease its violations of the Geneva Conventions of 1949. The adoption, by a majority vote, of the resolution on the occupied Syrian Golan (A/C.4/65/L.16) furthermore confirmed that the Israeli decision to endeavour to annex the occupied Syrian Golan and impose Israeli laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Golan, to build and expand settlements and to pursue racist practices against the Syrian people of the Golan were null and void and without international legal effect. Indeed, in the occupied Syrian Golan, Israel had committed a grave, twofold violation of international law, compounding its occupation of Syrian territory with the imposition of invalid laws, in particular the decision to annex the Syrian Golan. That measure recalled the darkest days of modern history when, at the beginning of the Second World War in Europe, a particular State had attacked and annexed parts of other countries.
46. The adoption of the resolutions underscored the importance of the work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices, and he called on all States to assist the Special Committee in bringing Israel’s crimes to light. Any attempt to undermine the Special Committee would only provide Israel with the cover it needed to pursue its practices and settlement activities in violation of human rights and international humanitarian law.
47. The Syrian Arab Republic had frequently expressed its commitment to a fair and just peace, but the Israeli response to its initiatives and overtures had been to prevaricate and continue with its well-known practices in the occupied Arab territories, including the continued detention of thousands of Palestinians and the maintenance of the blockade on Gaza. Likewise, settlement activities continued at an intensive pace in the West Bank, especially East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, notwithstanding international condemnation. A peace process had no chance of success if one side, the Arab side, was working to promote it, while the other side, Israel, was doing its utmost to undermine it. What the peace process needed was an Israeli partner that was really committed to a peace based on internationally recognized principles.
48. His delegation called on those few delegations that had abstained from voting on the draft resolution concerning the occupied Syrian Golan to join the international consensus and vote for the resolution when it went before the General Assembly in coming days. Any failure to condemn the Israeli occupation and annexation would only send the wrong message to those who broke the law, suggesting that the law of the jungle had now taken the place of international law and that law-breakers enjoyed impunity. Noting that the Israeli delegation had been the only one to vote against the resolution on the occupied Syrian Golan, in defiance of international law, he invited that delegation to put itself in the position of the Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the Syrians in the occupied Syrian Golan for just one day in order to understand the terrible suffering that those people had endured for over six decades.
49. Ms. Abdelhady-Nasser (Observer for Palestine), expressing her gratitude to the sponsors of all the draft resolutions just adopted and to those who had voted in their favour, said that it was of paramount importance to uphold international law and adherence to United Nations resolutions, especially at that critical juncture when Israel’s illegal policies and practices and its intransigence on all core issues were imperilling the two-State solution for peace. Palestine was heartened by the commitment the resolutions reflected to respect the principles of international humanitarian and human rights law, to protect the human rights of the Palestine refugees and to support the tireless work of UNRWA on their behalf. The international community had been unequivocal in holding Israel to all its obligations under international law, and the occupying Power should heed those demands, cease its defiance and breaches of the law, and allow efforts towards a peace settlement to move forward.
50. The calls for compliance with international law should be seen as complementing current peace efforts, not as impeding them. Continued appeasement would only foster further impunity, whereas respect for legality would bring about a real change in the situation on the ground, and create the right environment for negotiating a just and lasting settlement that would allow the Palestinian and Israeli peoples to coexist in peace and would bring stability to the region.
51. Mr. Weissbrod (Israel) said that he would not go over Israel’s well-known positions regarding the resolutions adopted by the Committee. Speaking, however, in exercise of the right of reply to the Syrian Arab Republic, he observed that it was really preposterous that a country which was sabotaging peace daily by delivering arms to terrorist organizations in Lebanon, in the Gaza Strip, should lecture others. The Syrian Arab Republic should look first at itself and consider how it might instead further peace. Its actions certainly showed no will to peace.
52. Mr. Ja’afari (Syrian Arab Republic), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the terrorism perpetrated by Israel was the worst on the planet. Israel was an entity established by terrorist gangs, and its heads of government had committed aggression and collective massacres in the 1940s and 1950s in Palestine, later going on to other Arab countries such as the Syrian Arab Republic, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, and even reaching as far as Tunisia, the Sudan and other regions of the world. Such an entity had no right to speak of legality. It was an outlaw and so considered by the international community, as evidenced by the votes just recorded. International law condemned the occupation of other countries. Israel had introduced nuclear weapons into the region and threatened to use them, and it was now blackmailing the United States, its closest ally, to get concessions on the false pretext that it would freeze settlements — a clear form of terrorism — when instead it was expanding its settlements dangerously. Israel had not a single ally that believed in peace — all of them were warmongers, schooled in provocation and oppression.
53. Israel should keep silent and be ashamed, and not force his delegation to say more to expose it.
54. Mr. Weissbrod (Israel) said that the Syrian statement spoke for itself, and showed where that country really stood. Instead of supporting terrorism and regularly supplying weapons to Hamas, the Syrian Government should show the world it wanted peace. The burden of proof was on its shoulders.
55. Mr. Ja’afari (Syrian Arab Republic), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that Israel was responsible for committing acts of State terrorism in the Middle East. The Palestinian people and the Lebanese people could in no way be accused of terrorism for mounting a legitimate resistance to the Israeli occupation of their land. Of the scores of resolutions adopted on the question of Palestine, not a single one had ever expressed support for the Israeli occupation of the Arab territories. It was Israel that occupied Arab land, violated human rights, built illegal settlements, carried out attacks and rejected peace initiatives. There was no concealing the truth; it was Israel that was responsible for committing acts of State terrorism in the Middle East.
56. Mr. Ramadan (Lebanon), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, reminded Israel that Hizbullah was a member of Lebanon’s Unity Government and had begun as a popular response to Israeli occupation of his country. It was nothing but a resistance movement that had fought honourably to liberate most of the occupied land.
57. The results of the day’s vote were the best answer to Israel: the real international community, as opposed to the small group of protectors of Israel, was on the side of the rule of law and condemned it for its illegal practices everywhere, including in Lebanon. Such an entity, two of whose senior officials had been issued arrest warrants, should be careful when making accusations.