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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York


GA/9528
7 December 1998


ASSEMBLY URGES GLOBAL COOPERATION ON LIKELY EFFECTS OF
YEAR 2000 COMPUTER PROBLEM; RISKS TO POORER COUNTRIES STRESSED


Texts on Safety of Humanitarian Personnel, Aid for Developing Nations,
Links with OAU Also Adopted; Committee Vacancies Filled

By the terms of a draft on assistance to the Palestinian people, introduced by the representative of Austria (on behalf of the European Union), the Assembly called on the United Nations system to intensify their assistance in response to the urgent needs of the Palestinian people, in accordance with the Palestinian priorities set forth by the Palestinian Authority. It also called on the international donor community to expedite the delivery of pledged assistance to the Palestinian people to meet their urgent needs. The text was adopted without a vote.

The Assembly adopted a draft decision on assistance to the Palestinian people, introduced by the representative of Egypt, by a vote of 131 in favour to 4 against (Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and United States) with 0 abstentions. (For details of voting see Annex.)

By its terms, the Assembly requested that the Secretary-General continue to use the term "Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem", when appropriate, in accordance with General Assembly resolutions, in relevant reports to the General Assembly, including the report under the item entitled "Assistance to the Palestinian people".

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Assembly Work Programme

The General Assembly meets this afternoon to consider: global implications for the year 2000 date conversion problems of computers; strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations; implementation of the United Nations new agenda for the development of Africa in the 1990s; cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity (OAU); causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa; the situation in Central America; appointment of members of the Committee on Conferences; and reports of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).

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Assistance to the Palestinian people

By the terms of a draft resolution (document A/53/L.54/Rev.1) on assistance to the Palestinian people, the Assembly would call on relevant organizations and agencies of the United Nations system to intensify their assistance in response to the urgent needs of the Palestinian people in accordance with priorities set forth by the Palestinian Authority, with emphasis on national execution and capacity-building. It would also call on the international donor community to expedite the delivery of pledged assistance to the Palestinian people to meet their urgent needs.

Also, the Assembly would urge Member States, international financial institutions of the United Nations system, intergovernmental and non- governmental organizations and regional and interregional organizations to extend, as rapidly and as generously as possible, economic and social assistance to the Palestinian people in close cooperation with the Palestine Liberation Organization and through official Palestinian institutions.

It would also urge Member States to open their markets to exports of Palestinian products on the most favourable terms, consistent with appropriate trading rules. Further, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to submit a report to the Assembly at its next session, through the Economic and Social Council, on the implementation of the present text, containing: an assessment of the assistance actually received by the Palestinian people; and an assessment of the needs still unmet and specific proposals for responding effectively to them.

Co-sponsoring the draft are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and United Kingdom.

By a further draft on assistance to the Palestinian people (document A/53/L.56) the Assembly would reiterate the same as draft resolution L.54 but would also request the Secretary-General to use the term "occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem" in his reports, and would request its use in other reports issued by the Secretariat or the subsidiary organs of the United Nations. The text is co-sponsored by: Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Palestine.

By the terms of a draft decision on the same question, assistance to the Palestinian people (document A/53/L.65), the Assembly would request that the Secretary-General "continue to use the term Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, when appropriate, in accordance with General Assembly resolutions, in relevant reports to the General Assembly, including the report under the item entitled 'Assistance to the Palestinian people', bearing in mind the need to take account of future relevant General Assembly resolutions and progress in the Middle East peace process". Co-sponsoring the draft are: Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Mauritania, Oman, Tunisia, Yemen and Palestine.

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Action on Draft

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HOSSAM ZAKI (Egypt) introduced draft decision A/53/L.65 on assistance to the Palestinian people, noting that after numerous consultations, it had been possible to reach a formula that enjoyed the consensus of the parties. He requested the Assembly not to put the draft resolution A/53/L.56 under the same title to a vote. He said the decision, in which Djibouti had joined as a co-sponsor, was reached after long negotiations and he appealed to all delegations to vote in favour of it.

Mr. MANZ (Austria), on behalf of the European Union, introduced the draft resolution on the Assistance to the Palestinian people (document L.54./Rev.1). He said the co-sponsors of the text continued to attach particular importance to the issue. As a major donor in assistance to the Palestinian people, the European Union was pleased once again to initiate the draft resolution. It hoped the Assembly would adopt the text without a vote, as it had done in previous years.

AARON JACOB (Israel), in explanation of vote, said that in years past his country would join the consensus on the draft resolution A/53/L.54 Rev.1 entitled "Assistance to the Palestinian people". For many years, Israel had been cooperating fully with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Relief and World Agency (UNRWA) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), as well as with other international organizations in implementing programmes to improve the living conditions of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Promotion of the economic well-being of the Palestinians was an essential element in the promotion of peace and stability, and it could only be advanced through cooperation. The holding of conferences and seminars could not and should not replace direct economic and development assistance.

He said Israel's participation in the consensus on the draft should not be construed as implying any position regarding the present status of the area referred to as "occupied territory". Its support also did not carry any implication regarding Israel's position on the permanent status of those territories, which was a matter to be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians in the framework of the permanent status negotiations, which had just recently reconvened.

On the draft decision contained in document A/53/L.65, he said that Israel would vote against it. It was yet another attempt to prejudice the outcome of the bilateral negotiations between the parties through a decision of the General Assembly. As stipulated in the terms of reference of the peace process and the agreements achieved to date, all outstanding issues were to be resolved through direct negotiations between the parties themselves. Israel regretted that contentious political elements had been introduced into the issue of assistance to the Palestinian people.

Of all parties, he said, the Palestinians themselves should be most sensitive to the value of maintaining wide support for that issue, which had been most recently manifested in the last week's conference of donor parties held in Washington, D.C., in which Israel had willingly participated. It was regrettable that the Palestinian observer delegation had seen it fit to introduce extraneous and controversial political terminology into the subject.

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Action on Drafts

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The draft resolution on the Assistance to the Palestinian people (L.54/Rev.1) was also adopted by the Assembly without a vote.

The Assembly then took action on the draft decision on assistance to the Palestinian People (A/53/L.65) which was adopted by a recorded vote of 131 in favour to 4 against (Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and the United States) with no abstentions. (For details of voting see Annex.)

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FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said his delegation had joined the consensus on resolution L.54/Rev.1. Syria supported the operative paragraph aimed at providing assistance to the Palestinian people so that they could overcome the great challenges they faced. His delegation, however, had some reservations on the preambular paragraphs because they did not reflect the development of the crisis faced by the peace process in the Middle East. Syria believed the right path to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people meant eliminating the real cause of their suffering, namely the Israeli occupation of Arab territories since 1967.

He said Israel should not be allowed to continue its policy of enclosure and siege of Arab territory. All of those actions affected the economic development in Palestinian territory. Israel's earlier statement to the effect that while they supported efforts to help Palestine they did not consider the territory occupied showed a lack of respect for the international community and resolutions by the Security Council.

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ANNEX

Vote on Assistance to Palestinian People


The Assembly adopted the draft decision on assistance to the Palestinian people (document A/53/L.65) by a recorded vote of 131 in favour to 4 against, with 0 abstentions, as follows:

In favour: Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, United States.

Abstain: None.

Absent: Afghanistan, Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Bolivia, Burundi, Cameroon, China, Comoros, Costa Rica, Croatia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Fiji, Gabon, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Palau, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Suriname, Swaziland, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam.


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