On other issues, the situation in the Middle East was again the source of great concern. At its resumed tenth emergency special session (in November), the Assembly called for new momentum in the stalled peace process and condemned Israeli settlement activity. A majority of Member States also supported holding a conference on applying the Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians in time of war to the occupied territories. A draft proposal that would confer on Palestine, in its capacity as observer, the same rights and privileges of participation as those conferred upon Member States, with the exception of voting and candidature, was withdrawn by the sponsors, after the defeat of a proposal to nullify an amendment that would have delayed putting the measure into effect.
The General Assembly took action on a broad range of issues concerning peacekeeping, information questions, decolonization, Palestinian refugee relief, Israeli practices in the occupied territories, the peaceful uses of outer space, and the effects of atomic radiation, based on the recommendations of its Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization).
On the question of Palestinian relief and Israeli practices, it acted on recommendations relating to the reports of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, as well as of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
Among its actions, the Assembly reaffirmed that Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan are illegal and an obstacle to peace and economic and social development. It demanded complete cessation of the construction of the new settlement in Jabal Abu Ghneim and of all Israeli settlement activities in the occupied territory. It deplored those policies and practices of Israel which violate the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories.
The Assembly commended the Israeli Practices Committee for its efforts and demanded that Israel cooperate with it. It called on UNRWA to continue contributing towards economic and social stability in the occupied territory, and called on Israel to respect the safety of the Agency's personnel and facilities. Israel was again called upon to compensate the Agency for damage to its property and facilities resulting from Israeli actions.
In an address to the Fourth Committee, Peter Hansen, Commissioner-General of UNRWA, drew attention to the financial crisis that the Agency continues to undergo, about which many representatives expressed concern.
With respect to information questions, the Assembly adopted two resolutions and one decision based on the Fourth Committee's recommendations. By a text on information in the service of humanity, it urged all countries, organizations of the United Nations system, and all others concerned to cooperate, with a view to reducing disparities in information flows at all levels, by increasing assistance for the development of communication infrastructures and capabilities of developing countries.
* In Press Release GA/9390 of 22 December, the meeting number should be 79th.