A draft resolution reaffirming the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination was approved by a vote of 138 in favour to 2 against (Israel and the United States), with 11 abstentions (see Annex). By its terms, the Assembly would express the hope that the Palestinian people would soon exercise that right in the current peace process. It would urge all States and the United Nations to continue to support and assist the Palestinian people in their quest for self-determination.
Committee Work Programme
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this afternoon to continue its examination of human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. (For background information see Press Releases GA/SHC/3388 of 13 November, 3390 of 14 November, 3391 and 3392 of 15 November and 3393 of 18 November.) The Committee was also expected to take action on a number of draft resolutions.
Another draft resolution before the Committee is a text on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination (document A/C.3/51/L.25). By that text, the Assembly would reaffirm that right and express the hope that the Palestinian people would soon exercise it in the current peace process. It would urge all States and the United Nations system to continue to support and assist the Palestinian people in their quest for self-determination.
The draft is sponsored by Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Cyprus, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Finland, France, Greece, Guinea, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Lesotho, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Viet Nam, Yemen and Zambia.
Action on Draft Resolutions
The Committee then took action on a draft resolution on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.
The representative of Egypt added the names of Niger, Japan and the Lao People's Democratic Republic to the list of co-sponsors. Andorra and Kyrgyzstan were also added to the list of co-sponsors.
The representative of Israel, speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, said the issue in question was not the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination but the commitment to the agreement signed by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel, as well as the principles of the negotiations. Again and again the approach had been vindicated, and the principle had formed the basis of the peace process begun in Madrid in 1991.
Israel looked forward to progress with the other parties in the peace process, he said. The PLO had agreed that issues related to the permanent status would be negotiated by the parties at a later date. Unfortunately, the draft resolution was intended to predetermine the peace talks, therefore undermining the principle of direct negotiations. Israel urged all Member States that supported the peace process to vote against the resolution.
Israel would make every effort to bring the peace process to a successful conclusion.
The representative of the United States, speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, said it was committed to the achievement of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, a process which had been launched in Madrid in 1991. The international community should do everything in its power to support this process, including aiding the Palestinian people in building institutions to bring about a better life for themselves. However, both sides had agreed that all questions regarding permanent status would be discussed at a later date. Therefore, his Government believed that this was not the forum to debate permanent status issues and that the United Nations should not take a vote on this resolution.
The Committee then approved the resolution by a vote of 138 in favor, 2 against (Israel and the United States), with 11 abstentions.
The representative of Syria, speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, said his Government welcomed once again the adoption of the resolution on Palestinian self-determination by a large majority. The support reflected the Member States' intention to end the suffering of Palestinian people and to allow them to achieve economic and social progress. Syria's vote in favor showed support for the just struggle of Palestinian people, and it also showed support for peace based on the principles of land for peace. The fourth preambular paragraph asserted that Israel was continually impeding the peace process and placing obstacles in its path by refusing to recognize the inalienable right of the Palestinian people, including self-determination, and by refusing to implement commitments and agreement that were part of the peace process.
The representative of Iran, speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, said while he had voted in favor of the resolution, he would like to register reservations regarding the fourth preambular paragraph. The agreements listed in the paragraph would not aid the self-determination of the Palestinian people. Iran therefore disassociates itself from that paragraph.
The representative of Norway, speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, said he supported the right of the Palestinian people to self- determination. However, since peace negotiations had been initiated, he urged the parties to go ahead with negotiations and cooperate fully. The Committee should not add or detract from what the parties would do or how they would act, so Norway had abstained.
The representative of Argentina, speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, said he had abstained because he did not want to participate in a decision that might undermine or damage the Middle East peace process.
The observer for Palestine, speaking after the vote, said she would like to express her appreciation to all States that sponsored the resolution and voted in its favor. She wished to thank Egypt for its considerable efforts that led to the satisfactory result. She also strongly welcomed the co- sponsorship of some other States for the first time, which illustrated that self-determination would enhance the peace process in the Middle East. The right was enshrined in the United Nations charter and other international instruments. The resolution did not mean to prejudge the success of the peace process. She hoped that the draft resolution would be adopted unanimously at the later stage.
Vote on Right of Palestinian People to Self-Determination
In favour: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyz Republic, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Papua New Guines, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Against: Israel, United States.
Abstaining: Argentina, Estonia, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Marshall Islands, Norway, Republic of Moldova, Uzbekistan.
Absent: Belize, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Dominica, Gabon, Gambia, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Palau, Panama, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Vanuatu, Zaire.