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Let me now introduce the draft resolution presented by the 27 members of the European Union on assistance to the Palestinian people, which has been shared with Member States. As in previous years, the European Union expects the draft resolution to be adopted by consensus.
The European Union reaffirms its commitment to provide assistance to the Palestinian people. Sustained support from donors of the international community is essential to assist Palestinian State-building efforts, to strengthen the Palestinian economy and to meet the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people.
The draft resolution on assistance to the Palestinian people that I am introducing today embodies the wish of the European Union, and of the international community as a whole, to help the Palestinian people. The draft resolution stresses the importance of the work of the United Nations and its agencies, notably in providing humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people.
The draft resolution urges all actors of the international community to provide economic and social assistance to the Palestinian people. It also urges Member States to open their markets to exports of Palestinian products based on the most favourable terms.
Moreover, the draft resolution stresses the importance of the work carried out by humanitarian personnel and organizations to provide assistance to the Palestinian people, and stresses the importance of unhindered humanitarian access to the Palestinian people.
The European Union wishes to express its gratitude to the delegations that requested inclusion on the list of sponsors of the draft text.
The Acting President: I now give the floor to the observer of Palestine.
Mr. Mansour (Palestine) (spoke in Arabic): Cooperation and assistance among nations is one of the main human values that must be preserved in the world, in which many peoples are facing serious and fateful challenges.
Like many peoples, the Palestinian people have received a substantial amount of aid in recent years, which has helped to ease some of the difficulties, hardships of life and suffering that they endure under the yoke of Israeli occupation, and provided them with a minimum level of decent living. We express once again the gratitude of the Palestinian people and their leadership to all peoples, countries and international organizations that have provided such assistance. We affirm that the objectives of that assistance have almost fully been met. That, in turn, is helping us to see the light of hope at the end of the tunnel of the gloomy Israeli occupation. It is the hope of realizing the Palestinian dream of achieving the independence of a free and sovereign State, on the basis of the 4 June 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and of building a prosperous and bright future for our people and the peoples of the region as a whole.
As the international community is fulfilling its obligations in providing assistance to the Palestinian people, the Palestinian people and their leadership are fulfilling their own commitments by utilizing that assistance to the fullest possible extent and with the highest degree of professionalism and transparency. Those cumulative efforts have brought us to where we are today. The international community is witnessing our able performance and is stressing the readiness of Palestinian national institutions to effectively work in the independent State of Palestine. We are proud of that testimony, because it shows that we have indeed achieved those goals in cooperation with our partners. It reasserts our determination to control our destiny, as we have continued to build in spite of the continued Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories, its violations of international law and its attacks on all aspects of our lives.
The reports submitted by the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund during the meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for the Coordination of the International Assistance to Palestinians and other donor countries, which was held at Headquarters in New York on 18 September, commended the performance of Palestinian national institutions and their achievements in the implementation of the Palestinian Government’s programme, entitled “Palestine: ending the occupation, establishing the State”, from August 2009 to August 2011. During that period, the Palestinian National Authority, under the auspices of the Palestine Liberation Organization, made significant progress in the construction and development of vital sectors such as governance, economic development, infrastructure and social development. Assessments by the heads of the sectoral working groups of donor countries have also confirmed those achievements.
The international community has recognized that the main obstacle to achieving stability and development in Palestine is the continuation of the Israeli military occupation. Palestinian achievements and the positive international assessments were accompanied by an accurate reading of the current situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, as indicated by the title of the United Nations report presented at the meeting of donor countries, namely, “Palestinian state-building: an achievement at risk”.
In addition, a report by the World Bank concluded that it was impossible to sustain achievements in State-building and economic growth under the continued Israeli occupation and its practices, which are destroying the prospects for development in all sectors. Indicators clearly show, for example, that the growth of gross domestic product decreased to 7 per cent, as opposed to the 9 per cent expected in 2011, and that the unemployment rate rose again to more than 27 per cent. The percentage of Palestinians living below the poverty line, especially in the Gaza Strip, increased to almost 38 per cent.
The International Monetary Fund has recognized that Palestinian fiscal policy has made significant progress in the management of the public funds sector; for example, the Palestinian Government was able to increase the proportion of self-reliance and decrease the budget deficit by increasing local revenues and reducing the need for external assistance for current expenditures from $1.8 billion to $1.1 billion.
However, we now face a stifling financial crisis. On the one hand, that is due to the reluctance of some donor countries to fulfil their financial obligations towards the Palestinian National Authority in the time frame specified. On the other hand, it is also due to the Israeli Government’s repeated illegal practice of withholding taxes and customs revenues owed to the Palestinian people. That situation not only constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and international conventions, but is also a form of collective punishment of the Palestinian people, and undermines the ability of the Palestinian National Authority to meet its obligations to public sector employees as well as to the private sector.
The report submitted by the Palestinian National Authority at the meeting of donor countries in September affirms that, despite our attempts to invest in development programmes and to strengthen the trend to move from the stage of receiving aid for relief to a stage of development and self-reliance, our efforts, made in cooperation with our partners, are constrained because of the continuing Israeli occupation of our land. The transition from relief to development requires us to be able to have control over our natural resources and to ensure freedom of movement for people and goods, as well as to be in charge of our international outlets. All of that, in other words, requires us to achieve our independence.
Yet Israel, the occupying Power, remains determined to deprive us of achieving our independence, and daily defies the international community and international laws and resolutions by continuing its occupation of Palestinian territory, confiscating our lands and building illegal settlements, along with the apartheid annexation wall in occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.
Israel also continues to control our natural resources and to exploit them illegally, depriving us of access to them, as well as to impose restrictions on the movement of people and goods, both internally and externally. The imposition by the Israeli occupation of more than 500 military checkpoints fragments the West Bank and isolates it from occupied East Jerusalem.
Israel also continues to impose its illegal and inhumane siege on the Gaza Strip, deepening the poverty and suffering of our people there, 75 per cent of who now survive on aid. Moreover, Israel, the occupying Power, continues its policy of preventing the fulfilment of the pledges made by the international community at the Sharm el-Sheikh conference for the reconstruction of what Israel destroyed in its brutal military aggression against the Gaza Strip at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009.
Today more than ever before, the international community is called upon to generate real political will that can be translated into effective action to put an end to this odious occupation and its criminal practices, which undermine our collective effort to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace through the establishment of an independent State of Palestine, within the 4 June 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital, living in peace with its neighbours, including Israel.
The Palestinian leadership, represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian National Authority, is working tirelessly to fulfil its commitments, first towards its people and secondly towards the international community. We would like to reaffirm that we will continue our hard work to build upon our achievements of recent years, during which we have completed the readiness stage of our institutions. We will spare no effort to remove the main obstacle before us, which is the ruthless Israeli occupation, with a view to enabling those institutions to function effectively in the sovereign and independent State of Palestine, where the Palestinian people can live in freedom and dignity.
Mr. Quinlan (Australia): ...
Australia is very pleased to have co-sponsored each of the draft resolutions to be adopted today (A/66/L.26, A/66/L.27, A/66/L.28 and A/66/L.29). In terms of the draft resolution on assistance to the Palestinian people (A/66/L.27), we have a long history of providing timely humanitarian and development assistance. We are continuing that support through a new five-year partnership from 2012 with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The partnership will provide an increased amount of money and predictable and unearmarked financial assistance designed to allow UNRWA to deliver more effective results for Palestinian refugees. We have also increased our direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority through a new partnership agreement signed in September.
Mr. Al-Jarman (United Arab Emirates) (spoke in Arabic): ...
The Palestinian people continue to suffer from difficult economic and humanitarian conditions, especially in the Gaza Strip, which has been subjected to the blockade imposed by the Israeli occupying forces for the past four years. In that connection, we call upon the international community to insist that Israel, the occupying Power, lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip, open all the crossings immediately to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the people, end its occupation of Arab territories and resume the peace negotiations, in accordance with relevant international resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative. We also urge donor countries to continue their assistance to the Palestinian people and Government in anticipation of the end of the Israeli occupation of their land and the establishment of their independent State.
The United Arab Emirates is committed to continue to provide humanitarian and development assistance to the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority until the liberation of their land from the Israeli occupation. The United Arab Emirates is one of the major contributors to emergency humanitarian assistance and development projects, as well as directly to the budget of the Palestinian Authority. Our contribution in 2010 alone amounted to $98.6 million earmarked to support the Palestinian Government and its development projects.
We reaffirm our support to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and stress the importance of its role in assisting the Palestinian people in the occupied territories. We demand ease of access for UNRWA workers and aid to Palestinian refugees in all areas of its operations. Furthermore, we underscore the need to provide UNRWA with sufficient financial support so it can continue its humanitarian and developmental activities in the region.
I now give the floor to the representative of the Syrian Arab Republic.
Mr. Jawhara (Syrian Arab Republic) (spoke in Arabic): My country’s delegation wishes to exercise its right of reply to respond to the statement made by the representative of Canada, who spoke on agenda item 70.
In further supporting our assertions, we wish to remind representatives attending today’s meeting that the delegation of Canada, which expresses great concern regarding humanitarian matters, voted against resolution 66/80, on Israel’s occupation of the Syrian Golan, as well as against other relevant resolutions regarding the Palestinian people and their cause. If the Canadian delegation truly had such concerns, they should have joined the majority of Member States and international legitimacy, which have categorically rejected Israel’s ongoing occupation of Palestinian territories and the Syrian Golan. The Canadian representative should have also explicitly condemned the inhumane blockade and comprehensive siege by Israel over the past four years against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Israel is also hindering humanitarian access to the stricken Gaza Strip. We would have liked for the Canadian representative to have condemned the attack against United Nations officials who protect and provide humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territories. We also would have liked for that representative to have condemned the Israeli destruction of schools established by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East during Israel’s barbaric attack on Gaza in 2008.
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 U-506. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.