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The meeting was called to order at 3.10 p.m.
Agenda item 39 (continued)
Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance
(c) Assistance to the Palestinian people
Draft resolution (A/59/L.24)
The Acting President: Members will recall that the Assembly already held the debate on agenda item 39 and its sub-items (a) and (c) at its 51 st and 52nd plenary meetings, on 11 November 2004.
I give the floor to the representative of the Netherlands to introduce draft resolution A/59/L.24.
Mr. Van Loosdrecht (Netherlands): Before introducing draft resolution A/59/L.24, I should like to announce that, since the publication of the draft resolution, the following countries have joined the list of sponsors: Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cuba, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mali, New Zealand, Norway, the Russian Federation, South Africa and the United States of America.
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and to introduce the draft resolution entitled “Assistance to the Palestinian people”. Under this draft resolution, Member States, international financial institutions and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations would be urged to extend economic and social assistance to the Palestinian people as rapidly as possible. Moreover, by adopting this draft resolution, the Assembly would express its appreciation for the work of the Secretary-General and his staff in the field of humanitarian assistance and in the Middle East peace process.
As the drafter of this document, the European Union inadvertently deleted a paragraph that we would like to see reintroduced. Therefore, I would like to make the following revision to the draft resolution. After operative paragraph 1, we would like to reintroduce a paragraph that appeared last year. The paragraph reads:
It is our sincere hope that this draft resolution can be adopted unanimously, as it has been several times in the past.
The Acting President: The Assembly will now take a decision on draft resolution A/59/L.24, as orally revised.
May I take that the Assembly decides to adopt draft resolution A/59/L.24, as orally revised?
Draft resolution A/59/L.24, as orally revised, was adopted (resolution 59/56).
The Acting President: I shall now call on those representatives who wish to speak in explanation of position on the resolution just adopted. May I remind delegations that explanations of position are strictly limited to 10 minutes and should be made by delegations from their seats.
Mr. Cohen (Israel): Israel voted in favour of the draft resolution as a demonstration of its continued support for humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people. In exceedingly difficult security conditions, Israel continues to do all that it can to help the Palestinian people meet their humanitarian needs. While difficulties remain, we have consistently worked to permit the flow of food, medicine, humanitarian assistance and other necessities to Palestinian areas to the greatest extent possible.
We are pleased to say that this year, revenues have been transferred from Israel to the Palestinian Authority on schedule each month and account for $50 million monthly. Israel is developing a much more efficient working relationship with humanitarian organizations and with relevant Palestinian authorities on the ground. The number of roadblocks has been considerably reduced, and new operating procedures have been instituted to speed the transfer of humanitarian shipments and ambulances as well as the movement of people and goods. In addition, the implementation of the Israeli Government disengagement plan will help stabilize and improve the security and humanitarian situation for both peoples and, it is to be hoped, will jump-start the peace process.
Helping to end suffering and working to improve the security, welfare and prosperity of all peoples in the Middle East are crucial components of successful peace initiatives and primary objectives of the Israeli Government. Israel welcomes the efforts by Member States and international agencies to ease the hardship of innocent civilians and endeavours to facilitate humanitarian work to improve the living conditions of Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. At the same time, for such humanitarian work to be effective, it is important that it be properly coordinated with the relevant authorities and that organizations not operate without a clear mandate and agreed terms of reference.
We would reaffirm the importance of recognizing that terrorist activity by Palestinian groups endangers both Israeli and Palestinian civilians and has a direct negative impact on humanitarian assistance and on the capacity of humanitarian workers to do their job effectively and safely. Israeli security measures are made necessary by that ongoing terrorist activity, and the humanitarian situation cannot be properly considered without an appreciation of the context that has compelled Israel to adopt those defensive measures. We also believe that the issue of humanitarian assistance is one that should be devoid of selectivity and politicization.
Israel’s decision to join the consensus on this resolution is a reflection of its support for humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people. It should not be construed as implying an endorsement of certain terms that appear in the text that are not consistent with the language used in the agreements between the parties or their spirit. We would also stress the need to acknowledge the fact that civilians on both sides, Israeli and Palestinian, are suffering, and the importance of working to ensure that both sides live in security and dignity, free from violence and fear.
Ultimately, the well-being of both Palestinian and Israeli civilians will come from the mutual implementation of obligations, from mutual recognition and from mutual compromise in accordance with the road map process. As recognized by many States over the past few days in this Hall, there is now a window of opportunity in the Middle East. We are hopeful that with responsible leadership, effective institutions and a commitment to end violence and terrorism and promote peaceful coexistence, Israelis and Palestinians can work together to ensure peace and security and bring better living conditions to both our peoples.
The Acting President : We have heard the only speaker in explanation of vote after the vote. May I take it that it is the wish of the General Assembly to conclude its consideration of sub-item (c) of agenda item 39?
It was so decided.
The meeting rose at 5 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.