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51st plenary meeting
Monday, 14 November 2005, 10 a.m.
The meeting was called to order at 10.15 a.m.
Agenda item 73
Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance
Report of the Secretary-General (A/60/223 and Corr.1)
Draft resolutions (A/60/L.18 and A/60/L.20)
(a) Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations
Reports of the Secretary-General (A/60/86, A/60/87, A/60/89, A/60/227, A/60/302 and A/60/432)
(c) Strengthening of international cooperation and coordination of efforts to study, mitigate and minimize the consequence of the Chernobyl disaster
Report of the Secretary-General (A/60/443)
Draft resolution (A/60/L.19)
(d) Assistance to the Palestinian people
Report of the Secretary-General (A/60/90)
The President : I now give the floor to the representative of Malaysia, who will introduce draft resolution A/60/L.20 on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Mr. Hamidon (Malaysia): ...
I now turn to the next part of my intervention, which is a national statement on sub-item (d) of the agenda item, entitled “Assistance to the Palestinian people”.
My delegation would like to express at the outset its appreciation to the Secretary-General for his report submitted under agenda item 73(d), entitled “Assistance to the Palestinian people”, in document A/60/90.
It is clear to us from the report that the humanitarian situation and the daily living and socio-economic conditions in the occupied Palestinian territories have not improved since the last report. The report, especially paragraphs 8 through 13, contains revealing and disturbing accounts and figures concerning the deteriorating situation. The international community should be concerned with the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, since it has been well documented in the reports by other United Nations agencies, in particular the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Given the prevailing circumstances, the role played and efforts made by the relevant United Nations agencies, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, and the World Bank, as well as other humanitarian organizations, in extending the necessary humanitarian and emergency assistance in the occupied Palestinian territories remain crucial and indispensable.
However, my delegation regrets that such assistance has been and continues to be provided under difficult circumstances, owing primarily to the repressive and restrictive measures imposed by Israel. My delegation concurs with the observation made in paragraph 58 of the report that those restrictions clearly violate established principles of international law and have resulted in increased costs for operational agencies, which are ultimately borne by the international community.
Unless significantly eased, such policies and measures will continue to pose serious obstructions to economic recovery and development opportunities for the majority of Palestinians. We wish to reiterate our call to Israel to allow unfettered access to staff members of United Nations agencies and humanitarian workers in the occupied territories, so that they can carry out their work effectively. As a matter of priority, Israel must ease restrictions and work closely with United Nations agencies, donor countries and humanitarian organizations to ensure that aid and development projects are delivered in a timely and comprehensive manner.
My delegation also wishes to reiterate its call to Israel to comply with the Advisory Opinion concerning the separation wall, rendered by the International Court of Justice in July 2004, and with General Assembly resolution ES-10/15. As highlighted in paragraphs 13 and 73 of the report (A/60/90 ), the separation wall and its associated regime has had, and will continue to have, an adverse impact on the humanitarian situation and the living and socio-economic conditions of the Palestinian communities affected by its construction and completion. The separation wall and its associated regime also pose, and will continue to pose, problems, in terms of movement and access, for staff members of United Nations agencies and humanitarian workers in carrying out their work in the occupied Palestinian territory.
My delegation commends the performance of all United Nations agencies for their efforts and for carrying out programmes to provide a variety of types of economic, humanitarian and social assistance to the Palestinian people and public institutions, as reflected, in considerable detail, in paragraphs 14 through 53 of the report. The remaining challenges, as well as the unmet and emerging requirements, as documented in paragraphs 67 through 74 of the report, require particular attention. We believe that all those efforts and programmes that have been identified by United Nations agencies could, if successfully implemented, create an environment that could contribute to the achievement of sustainable peace in the region. All of those efforts and programmes require financial and other resources. We urge the international donor community to continue to contribute generously to that cause. For our part, the Government and the people of Malaysia will continue to extend assistance, within our limited means and capacity, to the people of Palestine.
My delegation is pleased to note that, as called for by many delegations in the past, the relevant United Nations agencies and parties have established, and will continue to undertake, measures to harmonize and coordinate their humanitarian and emergency assistance efforts and programmes, under the coordination of the Office of the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority and with the participation of the Palestinian Authority.
My delegation welcomes the launch of a new media-related inter-agency coordination mechanism aimed at drawing attention to and providing information about the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and the United Nations presence in the region.
We need to understand that financial resources and other technical assistance made available to the Palestinians will not, by themselves, resolve the political crisis affecting the lives of the Palestinians. The solution remains to urge Israel to end the occupation and respect international law and relevant United Nations resolutions. We must achieve a peaceful resolution to the conflict based on a comprehensive political dialogue and follow-up to the parties’ respective commitments and obligations under the road map. My delegation considers the Israeli disengagement from Gaza to be a positive move that could contribute to peace and stability and to economic improvement in the area.
In this connection, it is vital for both Israel and Palestine to establish and maintain close coordination within the context of the road map. Peace will remain elusive unless all parties concerned — those in the region and the wider international community — are prepared to play their part responsibly, in good faith and with a high degree of political will to seek a long-lasting peace.
Mr. Siv (United States of America): ...
The United States is the largest single donor to humanitarian and development programmes that benefit the Palestinian people. Working within the United Nations system, our substantial financial contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) amounted to $108 million in 2005. Since 1998, we have contributed $588 million to UNRWA’s General Fund in support of its educational, health, and employment programmes serving 4.2 million Palestinian refugees.
In addition, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), we have provided more than $1.7 billion in economic assistance since 1993. USAID operates six programmes for the benefit of the Palestinians: the promotion of democratic reform, infrastructure and water resources, the revitalization of the private sector, community services, health and training, and higher education. The United States encourages other countries, especially countries from the region, to increase their contributions to UNRWA’s core budget and to other humanitarian and economic needs in that area.
Mr. Al-Shamsi (United Arab Emirates) (spoke in Arabic): ...
Total contributions made during the 2004-2005 period by the Government of the United Arab Emirates and the country’s Red Crescent Society for reconstruction operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and some occupied Palestinian cities and for finalizing the fifth stage of the Emirates Solidarity Program for mine clearance in South Lebanon — which was completed in May 2004 and resulted in the removal of 61,829 mines in an area of 4 million square metres — have exceeded $500 million.
Following the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and the evacuation of some West Bank settlements, the international community expected to see some improvement in the tragic humanitarian conditions of the Palestinians. However, more than two months later, Palestinian living conditions have deteriorated miserably due to the continuing control of the Israeli forces over border checkpoints and commercial sites in Palestinian cities, as well as the continued imposition of repressive closure policies and restrictions on movement. Moreover, the continuing attacks on Palestinian citizens and their property and the policies of collective punishment policies and extrajudicial killings have resulted in the deaths of more than 4,000 innocent civilians, and tens of thousands more have been injured or disabled.
Moreover, Israel, the occupying Power, is continuing to build the illegal expansionist separation wall, which has resulted in the confiscation of Palestinian lands, the destruction of wells and an increase in the number of internally displaced persons. That has led to huge losses for the Palestinian economy, an increase in the number of Palestinian civilians, up to two thirds, who live under the poverty line, and the spread of malnutrition among large numbers of children.
According to international reports, the international humanitarian assistance provided to the Palestinians in the occupied territories is not adequate for alleviating their suffering. This can happen only if the Israeli occupation comes to a complete end and an independent and viable Palestinian State is established. We therefore call upon the international community once again to force Israel to immediately stop its attacks against civilians and to end its policy of closures and siege. It must cease building and dismantle the constructed part of the illegal expansionist wall, in accordance with internationally binding resolutions and the principles of international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention and human rights instruments, and to withdraw completely from all Arab territories occupied since 1967, in accordance with the relevant international resolutions. In the meantime, we urge donor countries and international financial institutions to continue providing necessary assistance to the Palestinian people until the Palestinian occupied territories are liberated and an independent Palestinian State is established, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.
The meeting rose at 1.15 p.m.
This record contains the text of speeches delivered in English and of the interpretation of speeches delivered in the other languages. Corrections should be submitted to the original languages only. They should be incorporated in a copy of the record and sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned to the Chief of the Verbatim Reporting Service, room C-154A. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.