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UNITED
NATIONS
A

        General Assembly
A/62/PV.65
10 December 2007

Official Records

General Assembly
Sixty-second session

65th plenary meeting
Monday, 10 December 2007, 3 p.m.

New York

President:Mr. Kerim ........ (The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia)


The meeting was called to order at 3.30 p.m.


Agenda item 18 (continued)

Question of Palestine

Draft resolutions A/62/L.18, A/62/L./19, A/62/L.20/Rev.1 and A/62/L.21/Rev.1

The President : Members will recall that the Assembly held a debate on this item at its 58th and 59th plenary meetings, on 29 and 30 November 2007.

I give the floor to the representative of Senegal to introduce the draft resolutions.

Mr. Badji (Senegal) (spoke in French ): During my statement on 29 November, at the 58th meeting, on the occasion of the debate on agenda item 18, I described the context in which the question of Palestine developed. It is in that very same context – also emphasized by a large majority of Member States – that I wish to present to the Assembly here and now the four draft resolutions approved by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People: draft resolutions A/62/L.18, A/62/L./19, A/62/L.20/Rev.1 and A/62/L.21/Rev.1.

The first three draft resolutions (A/62/L.18, A/62/L.19 and A/62/L.20/Rev.1) relate to the work of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the Division for Palestinian Rights and the special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information. The important mandates granted to these bodies by the General Assembly are reaffirmed in these texts. As in the past, the Committee proposes to profitably make use of the resources made available to it to carry out all the planned activities in its annual programme. These three draft resolutions contain updated data.

Before going any further, I wish to take this opportunity to dispel certain misunderstandings concerning the mandate of the Committee. The positions of the Committee on the settlement of the Palestinian question are similar in many respects, if not identical, to those of the majority of the other groups of Member States, and the European Union in particular. As Permanent Representative of Senegal and the Chairman of the Committee, I have had many opportunities to discuss the role of the Committee with my colleagues from different regional groups.

For example, recently, under my direction, a delegation of the Committee held a series of discussions with the representatives of European institutions in Brussels. The fact is that the Committee has periodically held consultations with delegations from the European Union and the European Commission and their successive presidents since 1996. Throughout the years, it has appeared that the positions of the Committee and those of the member States of the European Union come together basically on a certain number of points.

I wish also to emphasize that the Committee has consistently supported the peace process in the Middle East, and especially since the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991, which launched the political process on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and the principle of land for peace. While demanding the end of the occupation of Palestinian territory, it has firmly supported the objective of a two-State solution, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security within the pre-1967 borders. The Committee welcomed the Road Map established by the Quartet and asked the two parties to implement it.

As I have already said, the Committee has welcomed the Quartet’s efforts and those of the Arab Peace Initiative. It has favoured the deployment of the European Union Police Mission for the occupied Palestinian territories and the establishment of a temporary international mechanism to facilitate the provision of economic and humanitarian aid, for which the Palestinian people have so much need. It also hails and supports the important work carried out by Mr. Tony Blair, the special envoy of the Quartet, to promote the economic development of Palestine, the maintenance of order and the efficiency of the institutions of the Palestinian Authority.

The Committee favours the creation of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian State in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in the Gaza Strip — a State that is to bring together all Palestinians. And, as to security, I remind the Assembly that the Committee firmly condemns any activities of one or another party to the conflict that would blindly target the civilian populations.

In a communiqué that was published last week, the Bureau of the Committee welcomed the results of the Annapolis international Conference and declared that the Conference marked a decisive stage in the negotiations on the permanent status destined to end Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and to establish a viable Palestinian State within secure and recognized borders, living in peace and security side by side with Israel and its other neighbours in the region. We are pleased in particular by the commitment taken by all parties to work towards the attainment of this objective.

However, in spite of very well known positions which go back a long way, certain Member States abstain or refuse to support the Committee’s mandate. I would like to invite the delegations concerned to reconsider their attitude and to vote, as they should, for the draft resolution concerning the Committee and the Division for Palestinian Rights. As members know, the Division helps the Committee fulfil its task by providing it with technical services and the necessary staff to carry out its mission.

The fourth draft resolution, entitled “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine” (A/62/L.21/Rev.1), aims to reaffirm the position of the General Assembly on the essential elements of a political settlement by evoking also the events of the past year. They welcome, in particular, the strengthening of international efforts aimed at resuming the peace process, including the initiative taken by the President of the United States of America to organize an international meeting in Annapolis, the reaffirmation of the Arab Peace Initiative and The fourth draft resolution, entitled “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine” (A/62/L.21/Rev.1), aims to reaffirm the position of the General Assembly on the essential elements of a political settlement by evoking also the events of the past year. They welcome, in particular, the strengthening of international efforts aimed at resuming the peace process, including the initiative taken by the President of the United States of America to organize an international meeting in Annapolis, the reaffirmation of the Arab Peace Initiative and follow-up measures taken by the Arab States, as well as the activities carried out by the Quartet and its special representative.

The four draft resolutions that I have just presented enunciate positions, mandates and programmes that are of vital importance, especially at the current stage of development of the question of Palestine. I would thus ask the General Assembly to kindly adopt these draft resolutions and to support the important objectives contained in them.

The President: We shall now proceed to consider draft resolutions A/62/L.18, A/62/L.19, A/62/L.20/Rev.1 and A/62/L.21/Rev.1.

Before giving the floor to the representative of Panama, who wishes to speak in explanation of vote before the voting, may I remind delegations that explanations of vote are limited to 10 minutes and should be made by delegations from their seats.

Mr. Soler Torrijos (Panama) (spoke in Spanish ): We are taking the floor to explain our vote with respect to draft resolution A/62/L.18, entitled “Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People”. We also wish to make some comments on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The Republic of Panama firmly believes in the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, independence and national sovereignty, rights that are indispensable to the solution to the question of Palestine. At the same time, we recognize the right of Israel to live in peace among its neighbours.

Panama supports all the efforts undertaken by the United Nations to obtain these objectives and its special efforts made on this particular issue. We recognize that the United Nations has an ongoing responsibility on the question of Palestine and that this will continue until a satisfactory solution, in all its aspects, is found. This is why we have often voted in favour of draft resolutions introduced on this issue. Panama will continue to do so as long as they contribute to achieving those aspirations and will continue to support the role of the United Nations in its objective of establishing sustainable peace in the region.

We are concerned by the lack of efficiency in the General Assembly in resolving the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. We would like to point to the large number of resolutions that have been adopted by the United Nations on a broad range of issues, many of which have had very low impact on these matters. We all realize that the solution to the Palestinian/Israeli — as with any other important issue dealt with by the international community — does not lie in the number of the resolutions produced, but in the consensus we reach, so that concrete action can be undertaken to obtain the desired objectives.

On this occasion, Panama wishes to abstain in the voting on this draft resolution because we feel that with the current situation in the Middle East, and especially following the progress made in the negotiations among the concerned parties, the General Assembly should rethink its role in finding a resolution to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. The Assembly created this Committee more than two decades ago and, since then, great efforts have been made by the United Nations and we feel that other initiatives already undertaken should be reinforced.

According to the Charter, one of the main functions of the General Assembly is to make recommendations to resolve peacefully any controversy. This is why we feel our debate in the plenary should aim at formulating proposals helping to resolve conflicts. In our opinion, under the present circumstances, the functions and the continuation of the Committee should be re-evaluated in this context.

The President: The Assembly will now take a decision of draft resolutions A/62/L.18, A/62/L.19, A/62/L.20/Rev.1, and A/62/L.21/Rev.1.

We turn first to A/62/L.18, entitled, “Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People”. There are additional sponsors: Brunei Darussalam and Gambia. A recorded vote has been requested.

A recorded vote was taken.

In favour:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Qatar, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Against:

Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Palau, United States of America

Abstaining:

Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tonga, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay, Vanuatu

Draft resolution A/62/L.18 was adopted by 109 votes to 8, with 55 abstentions (resolution 62/80).

[Subsequently, the delegation of Bosnia and Herzegovina advised the Secretariat that it had intended to vote in favour, and the delegation of Hungary advised that it had intended to abstain.]

The President: We now turn to draft resolution A/62/L.19, entitled “Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat”. There are two additional sponsors, Brunei Darussalam and Gambia. A recorded vote has been requested.

A recorded vote was taken.

In favour:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Qatar, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Against:

Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Palau, United States of America

Abstaining:

Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tonga, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Vanuatu

Draft resolution A/62/L.19 was adopted by 110 votes to 8, with 54 abstentions (resolution 62/81).

[Subsequently, the delegation of Bosnia and Herzegovina advised the Secretariat that it had intended to vote in favour, and the delegation of Hungary advised that it had intended to abstain.]

The President: We now turn to draft resolution A/62/L.20/Rev.1 entitled, “Special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat”. A recorded vote has been requested.

A recorded vote was taken.

In favour:

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Against:

Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Palau, United States of America

Abstaining:

Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Malawi, Tonga, Vanuatu

Draft resolution A/62/L.20/Rev.1 was adopted by 161 votes to 8, with 5 abstentions (resolution 62/82).

[Subsequently, the delegations of Bosnia and Herzegovina and of Hungary advised the Secretariat that they had intended to vote in favour.]

The President : The Assembly will now take a decision on draft resolution A/62/L.21/Rev.1, entitled, “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine”. A recorded vote has been requested.

A recorded vote was taken.

In favour:

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,

Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Against:

Australia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Palau, United States of America

Abstaining:

Cameroon, Canada, Côte d’Ivoire, Tonga, Vanuatu

Draft resolution A/62/L.21/Rev.1 was adopted by 161 votes to 7, with 5 abstentions (resolution 62/83).

[Subsequently the delegations of Bosnia and Herzegovina and of Hungary advised the Secretariat that they had intended to vote in favour.]

The President : The Assembly has thus concluded this stage of its consideration of agenda item 18.

Agenda item 17 (continued)

The situation in the Middle East

Draft resolutions (A/62/L.22 and A/62/L.23)

The President : Members will recall that the Assembly held the debate on this item at its 60th plenary meeting, on 30 November. We shall now proceed to consider draft resolutions A/62/L.22 and A/62/L.23.

We turn first to draft resolution A/62/L.22, entitled, “Jerusalem”. There are two additional sponsors: Brunei Darussalam and Gambia. A recorded vote has been requested.

A recorded vote was taken.

In favour:

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Against:

Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Palau, United States of America

Abstaining:

Angola, Australia, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu

Draft resolution A/62/L.22 was adopted by 160 votes to 6, with 7 abstentions (resolution 62/84).

[Subsequently the delegations of Bosnia and Herzegovina and of Hungary advised the Secretariat that they had intended to vote in favour.]

The President : Draft resolution A/62/L.23 is entitled “The Syrian Golan”. There are two additional sponsors: Brunei Darussalam and Gambia. A recorded vote has been requested.

A recorded vote was taken.

In favour:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Unite d Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Against:

Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Palau, United States of America

Abstaining:

Albania, Andorra, Angola, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tonga, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Vanuatu

Draft resolution A/62/L.23 was adopted by 111 votes to 6, with 56 abstentions (resolution 62/85).

[Subsequently the delegations of Bosnia and Herzegovina and of Hungary advised the Secretariat that they had intended to abstain.]

The President : I shall now call on those representatives who wish to speak in explanation of vote on the resolutions just adopted. Before giving the floor to the speakers in explanation of vote, may I remind delegations that explanations of vote are limited to 10 minutes and should be made by delegations from their seats.

Mr. Lemos Godinho (Portugal): I have two explanations of vote, and I will read them subsequently.

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union (EU). The Candidate Countries Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Montenegro and Serbia, as well as Ukraine, align themselves with this declaration.

The European Union has voted in favour of the draft resolution contained in A/62/L.20/Rev.1, on “Special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat”. The European Union welcomes new elements introduced in the resolution this year. In the light of the ongoing peace process, we encourage the Department of Public Information (DPI) and the parties to reflect upon ways to improve the contribution of the programme to enhance dialogue and understanding between Palestinian and Israeli societies. The European Union stands ready to work with DPI and the parties towards the achievement of this goal.

I pass to the second explanation of vote, with the President’s permission.

I would like to explain the vote by the countries of the European Union on the resolution on “The Syrian Golan” contained in A/62/L.23. The Candidate Countries Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia, as well as the Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, align themselves with this declaration.

The European Union remains concerned about the situation in the Middle East. In that context, the European Union stresses the crucial importance of the Annapolis Conference and the renewed commitment to a two-State solution. We commend the efforts of President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and congratulate them on their decision to take the historic step of immediately launching final status negotiations on all core issues, as specified in previous arrangements. The European Union also welcomes the pledge made by the parties concerning reaching an agreement before the end of 2008.

The Annapolis Conference represented a turning point for regional and international parties to effectively support a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

There can be no military solution to the Middle East conflict. A settlement of the situation in the Middle East, including on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks, must be based on Security Council resolution 242 (1967) — which emphasized the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the region can live in security — and on the subsequent resolutions 338 (1973), 1397 (2002) and 1515 (2003). It must also be based on the Madrid terms of reference, in particular the principle of land for peace, as well as on the implementation of the Road Map and all existing agreements between the parties. We reiterate our intention, as a part of the Middle East Quartet, to continue working relentlessly with the regional parties towards that goal.

The European Union would like to reiterate that a final peace settlement will not be complete without taking account of the Israel-Syria and Israel-Lebanon aspects. Negotiations should resume as soon as possible with the aim of reaching an agreement. It should be recalled that, on 26 November, the European Union voted in favour of draft resolution A/C.4/62/L.18, on the Syrian Golan, in the Fourth Committee, which called upon Israel to desist from changing the demographic composition of the occupied Syrian Golan and, in particular, to desist from the establishment of settlements. We believe that resolution 62/85, on the Syrian Golan, under today’s agenda item contains references that could undermine the process of bilateral negotiations. For that reason, as in previous years, the European Union abstained in the voting on the resolution.

Finally, in the spirit of rationalizing the work on the agenda of the General Assembly, the European Union would prefer to have only one resolution dealing with this issue before this body.

Mr. DeLaurentis (United States of America): The United States could not support resolution 62/85, entitled “The Syrian Golan”, under agenda item 17. We continue to disagree with the text, which prejudices final-status issues that must be negotiated between the parties. Considering that members of the international community recently met in Annapolis to discuss the way forward towards Israeli-Palestinian peace and a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, this resolution is particularly unhelpful in that regard.

The United States policy on Syria is well known, and our position on this resolution remains unchanged from last year.

Mr. Salsabili (Islamic Republic of Iran): My delegation, along with the overwhelming majority of Member States, voted in favour of the resolutions just adopted on the question of Palestine, in order to reaffirm its solidarity and sympathy with the Palestinian people.

Our positions with regard to the question of Palestine are well known, and therefore we wish to place on record our reservations regarding certain paragraphs of the resolutions, which may not be in line with the stated positions and policies of my country.

As everyone is aware, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been unwavering in its full support for the Palestinian people in their endeavours to attain their national rights, dignity and aspirations, and has supported the legal and democratic Government of Palestine. In that context, the Islamic Republic of Iran is of the view that the issue of Palestinians’ internal differences is a matter of a purely internal nature and should therefore be addressed by the Palestinians themselves. The references made to certain internal issues of Palestine in a number of these resolutions are not helpful and may be construed by many Palestinians as outside interference in their domestic affairs. As a consequence, they may further exacerbate the current dangerous situation. Indeed, internal issues of Palestine should be dealt with internally and through national dialogue and a process of national reconciliation.

The Islamic Republic of Iran continues to emphasize the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, who have been suffering from the occupation and from brutal suppression for decades. We stress the importance of the support of the international community for the Palestinians’ struggle against that occupation and aggression.

The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that a settlement of the Palestinian issue can be achieved only if the inalienable rights of the people of occupied Palestine are fully and unconditionally realized. Regrettably, the past initiatives aimed at a settlement of the issue have not contributed to the solution of this long-standing crisis, owing to a lack of attention to the root causes of that crisis. The recent Conference seems to be meeting the same fate.

Mr. Gillerman (Israel): The Israeli delegation voted against draft resolutions A/62/L.18 to A/62/L.23, which all promote a single biased and inaccurate narrative of the situation in the Middle East and of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The ritualistic recycling of these outdated draft resolutions shows that the Assembly remains utterly oblivious to the bilateral nature of the peace process and the momentum witnessed at the Annapolis meeting less than two weeks ago.

In that regard, I wish to briefly highlight some obvious areas where these resolutions fail to promote a process of peace and to reflect the reality on the ground.

Draft resolution A/62/L.21, “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine”, neglects to mention the greatest impediments to reaching a peaceful settlement, namely, terrorism, the suicide bombings and the daily barrage of Qassam rockets and mortar fire at Israeli towns and cities, in particular Sderot. Since June 2007, Palestinian terrorists have fired a rocket at Israel, on average, every three hours. A resolution calling for a peaceful settlement cannot ignore that glaring fact.

Nor can we ignore the fact that 19 months have passed since Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists. While it is admirable that some Member States have called for his immediate release, this resolution wholly ignores those calls and is completely silent on his plight. An end to the Qassam rockets and the immediate release of Gilad Shalit are the basic criteria for the way forward. A resolution that fails to mention those fundamental issues can have no impact on the efforts to find a peaceful settlement to the conflict.

Similarly, despite attempts to find agreeable language on draft resolution A/62/L.20/Rev.1, entitled “Special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat”, it is regrettable that an amenable text could not be reached. Such a text would have enabled other delegations to lend their support and the Assembly to reach a consensus. Efforts were made to seek a balanced text that might be agreeable to both sides, representing the narrative of the conflict and its solution rather than only one side of the conflict. Such a text would have enabled Israeli officials to participate in activities and seminars of the Department of Public Information. But, again, instead of working together to bridge differences, the Palestinians chose a resolution that only widens those gaps.

In their predetermined, unrealistic, impractical and completely biased conclusions, these resolutions feed the Palestinians’ addiction to the culture of victim hood and give them a fictitious sense of reality and a discourse of rights without responsibilities. Aside from the damage done to our region, they render the United Nations completely incapable of playing a role in addressing the conflict.

Israel feels that efforts, energy and resources could and should be diverted to more practical, relevant and realistic goals. In that respect, and directly connected to the texts being voted upon today, let me quote the words of former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who said in a statement last year:

“Some may feel satisfaction at repeatedly passing General Assembly resolutions or holding conferences that condemn Israel’s behaviour. But one should also ask whether such steps bring any tangible relief or benefit to the Palestinians. There have been decades of resolutions. There has been a proliferation of special committees, sessions and Secretariat divisions and units.” ( S/PV.5584, p. 4)

Hope for the Palestinians cannot be found in General Assembly resolutions that insist on maximal and zero-sum solutions. Hope cannot be found in these very resolutions, not one of which even mentions the Hamas terrorists controlling the Gaza Strip and the vicious and devastating acts of violence and murder they have carried out and continue to carry out.

Hope cannot be found in political manoeuvring by Member States that choose to promote pieces of paper instead of peace. Hope can be found, however, in the hearts and minds of the people and their leaders committed to peace. Hope for the Palestinians lives in the actions they must take on the ground to end the violence, terrorism and incitement. Hope lives in the road map and the insistence on both parties’ abiding by their obligations and embracing their responsibilities.

The spirit of Annapolis, which launched and reaffirmed the bilateral process between Israel and the Palestinians, is alive and felt in our region. The moderate Arab and Muslim States that were present at Annapolis with the intention of supporting the process have created the proper atmosphere that provides momentum to begin substantive negotiations.

The bilateral process is the only way for Israel and the Palestinians to reach a peaceful settlement. The resolutions that this Assembly considered today are completely detached from that process. If anything, they show that this world body is not interested in supporting the bilateral process and, I dare say, even jeopardizes the potential for its success.

Mr. Argüello (Argentina) (spoke in Spanish ): I should like to explain the voting of the delegations of Argentina and Brazil on resolution 62/85, adopted by the General Assembly a few moments ago.

Argentina and Brazil voted in favour of the resolution because we understand that its most important aspect concerns the unlawful nature of the acquisition of territory by force. Paragraph 4 of Article 2 of the United Nations Charter prohibits the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity of any State. That is an imperative norm of international law.

At the same time, I wish to clarify our delegations’ position in connection with paragraph 6 of resolution 62/85. Our votes do not prejudge the content of that paragraph, in particular the reference to the line of 4 June 1967. On this occasion, on behalf of the Governments of the Argentine Republic and the Federal Republic of Brazil, I urge the authorities of Israel and Syria to resume negotiations to find a final solution to the issue of the Syrian Golan pursuant to Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and the principle of land for peace.

Ms. Gatehouse (Australia): Australia remains concerned about the disproportionate and duplicative allocation of Secretariat resources dedicated to Palestine, including the Division for Palestinian Rights and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

The annual resolutions endorsing those work units do nothing to streamline or rationalize the Secretariat’s structure or to make its work more balanced. Similarly, the Special Information Programme on the Question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information is not a constructive use of United Nations resources.

Australia considers that these resolutions make little contribution to the cause of peace in the Middle East.

The President: We have heard the last speaker in explanation of vote.

Mr. Lemos Godinho (Portugal): I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.

The European Union stresses the necessity of a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine. In that context, the European Union welcomes the joint understanding reached at the Annapolis conference between Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas immediately to launch good faith bilateral negotiations in order to conclude a peace treaty before the end of 2008 that should lead to the establishment of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza that will unite all Palestinians, living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours.

In order to consolidate the progress achieved so far and fulfil the potential of the process, it is essential that the parties desist from any actions that threaten the viability of a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement, in conformity with international law. Progress in negotiations, enhanced cooperation on the ground and building Palestinian institutions should be concurrent and mutually reinforcing processes. In that regard, the European Union recalls the importance of the parties’ implementing their road map obligations in parallel with their negotiations.

The European Union reiterates its concern about all forms of violence against Palestinians and Israelis alike. Stopping all acts of violence and terror is of the utmost importance to furthering the Middle East peace process. While recognizing Israel’s legitimate right to self-defence, the European Union calls on Israel to exercise the utmost restraint and underlines that action should not be disproportionate or in contradiction with international law. The European Union also reiterates that it strongly condemns the firing of rockets into Israel.

The European Union is determined to accompany the new momentum by supporting the parties in their negotiations in a sustained and active manner and working closely with the other members of the Quartet and partners in the region. The European Union stands ready to adapt and enhance its activities in such areas as security, law and order, institution-building, good governance, civil society contributions and support for the Palestinian economy in order to foster a new, substantive and credible peace process.

In that context, the European Union underlines the importance of the donors’ conference due to take place in Paris, and encourages donors in that regard to increase their direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority, in accordance with its governance programme, in order to enable it to build a viable and prosperous Palestinian State.

Mr. Ja’afari (Syrian Arab Republic) (spoke in Arabic ): My delegation wishes to express its deep gratitude and appreciation to the General Assembly, which, as it has been doing since 1981, has again adopted resolutions on the Syrian Golan, on the question of Palestine and on the situation in the Middle East, and has done so by a vast majority of votes in favour of justice, rights and the law.

The fact that the international community is still supporting these resolutions reflects its continued support for the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. This buttresses our right to recover our lands occupied by Israel for more than 40 years, which is supported by a great Power and by a small number of other countries.

Without a doubt, the adoption of these resolutions sends out a clear international message to Israel: that occupation, murder, expansionist and aggressive policies, the building of settlements, the creation of a fait accompli and the annexation of the territories of others are practices rejected and condemned by the entire international community.

It is obvious that Israel needs to be reminded that the international community has rejected its provocative anti-peace policies. This is especially true since its Government has confiscated more Palestinian land in East Jerusalem, and has decided to build 300 new units for settlers there. This comes just two days after the Annapolis meeting.

The delegation of the Syrian Arab Republic wishes to reiterate its thanks to all countries that voted for draft resolution A/62/L.23, on the Syrian Golan. I reaffirm my country’s appeal for a just and comprehensive peace and our insistence, more than ever before, that the Golan be liberated from Israeli occupation by all means available under international law. We urge the international community to help us achieve this objective in order to prevent war, through continuing pressure on the side that stands in the way of peace: Israel. Israel should be pressured to accept a just and comprehensive peace that would guarantee a prosperous future for the region and its peoples.

Israeli occupation of the Golan is a twofold crime under international law: it involves not only Israeli occupation of the Golan, but also Israel’s illegal annexation of the Golan in 1981. That prompted the Security Council to adopt its resolution 497 (1981), which decided that the Israeli decision to annex the Golan was null and void, and without legal effect.

In spite of that clear-cut truth, we hear unfortunately from some colleagues flimsy justifications for their votes against the resolution, which are votes against international law. They justify their negative votes by claiming that certain paragraphs prejudge the results of final status negotiations between Syria and Israel, as if there really were negotiations between Israel and Syria, or as if we should reward the occupation by handing over part of our occupied territories and accepting a fait accompli — or as if those colleagues believe that negotiations mean that we should somehow abandon our rights at the negotiating table.

The bitter truth is that our people live under the yoke of Israeli occupation in the Golan. The international community, in accordance with the principles of the Charter, should condemn this occupation and this annexation, just as in 1939 the international community condemned Nazi Germany’s annexation of the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia and of Danzig in Poland. But ultimately, tolerating the Nazis’ annexation of those two European areas led to a situation where the occupier expanded and occupied its neighbours. In our opinion and that of many delegations in this Hall, the Golan is no less important than the two areas I just mentioned. That is why the international community must condemn Israel’s occupation and annexation of the Golan so that Israel will not continue to violate international law and the rights of the States in the area that are trying to bring about a just and comprehensive peace.

The Annapolis meeting took place on 27 November 2007 to restart the Arab-Israel peace process. The Syrian Arab Republic participated in the meeting and in the discussions because of our desire to contribute to any international effort to bring about a just and comprehensive peace in the region on all tracks of the peace process. The majority of Conference participants reaffirmed the importance of bringing about a just and comprehensive peace in the region, and stressed that the peace process should involve all tracks, especially the pivotal issue of the occupied Syrian Golan. This process requires that Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, of the Syrian Golan and of the Lebanese Sheba’a farms be brought to an end.

Mr. Mansour (Palestine): Mr. President, allow me at the outset to thank all the countries that sponsored the draft resolutions that we have voted on today and to thank all the countries that voted in favour of those resolutions. In this connection, we again express our gratitude to the General Assembly for the fact that the number of votes in favour has increased in comparison to last year, on an average from four to eight votes.

Our reading of the international community and that of the General Assembly is that these votes are a confirmation of the international community’s efforts. It has expressed the same sentiment in the General Assembly tonight as it had demonstrated in Annapolis. It has upheld international law by setting forth in five pages of a resolution entitled “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine” all of the details of what is required, in the view of the international community and under international law, for a just and comprehensive solution to this question.

That resolution is the narrative of the international community, a multilateral narrative of how peace based on justice could be accomplished, in spite of the insistent efforts of one delegation to disqualify the international community, in Annapolis and in the General Assembly, from playing a role. The 50 countries and organizations that participated in Annapolis and the 192 countries plus observers in this General Assembly refuse totally to be disqualified from playing a positive, constructive role in bringing peace and justice to the Middle East.

Thus, the assertion that bilateral negotiations between the two parties are the only way is a false assertion. If the assertion were true, then we need an explanation why this large number of countries, representing all countries in the General Assembly, participated in Annapolis.

I think it is high time for Israel to conclude from what we do every year — with all blocs, the European Union, the African countries, the Rio Group, the Arab Groups, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of the Islamic Conference. We have worked with all groups in order to arrive at language that reflects the consensus of the international community for finding peace and helping the peace process.

Only one delegation keeps insisting, at the verbal level, on rejecting the consensus or the great majority position of the international community as we see it in the General Assembly. And more dangerously, Israel’s action on the ground is in total contradiction to the spirit of peace. Otherwise, how can we explain the action of a country that only a few days ago, after the return of delegations from Annapolis and after the understanding that there will be a freeze on settlements, they continue with the construction of settlements in East Jerusalem? How can we explain the maintenance of hundreds of checkpoints in the West Bank? How can we explain the continuation of the suffocation of our people in the form of collective punishment in the total prison that is the Gaza Strip?

The actions of Israel speak much louder than all of their assertions that they are interested in peace. Those who are interested in moving the peace process forward have to change their behaviour. They have to act in such a way that contributes to an atmosphere conducive for moving the peace process forward.

They claim that we enjoy being victims. We totally reject this assertion. Our people are truly suffering from the occupation. They are suffering everywhere, with 11,000 prisoners, with what is happening to our people in Gaza, with the isolation of Jerusalem, with the continuation of settlements, with the construction of the illegal wall, and the list goes on and on.

This is the behaviour of the occupying Power, and if anyone thinks that living under such a brutal occupation means we enjoy being victims, I would say to them “Wake up and look at reality, really and properly”.

There could be no greater pleasure for us than to do away with all these resolutions, if we saw our independent Palestinian State, after the termination of the occupation, established next to Israel in all of the land that they occupied in 1967, with East Jerusalem as our capital, with a just and agreed solution to the refugee question on the basis of resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948.

If that were to happen, we would not trouble any delegation to consider any more resolutions or spend any more time or spend any more money on all of these programmes that are advancing the cause of peace in the Middle East in the form of the programmes of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat or the Department of Public Information unit. We are genuinely interested in peace and in putting an end to the occupation and the agony of our people, and in moving in the direction of development and constructing our own State.

The international community is trying, as always, to help in that endeavour and we hope that the Israelis will learn a lesson from this message from people who are not hostile to Israel but are interested in upholding international law and in helping the peace process to move forward.

We look forward during the year 2008 to concluding a peace treaty with the Israelis in order to put an end to the occupation and to allow our long-awaited Palestinian State to be born, so that the General Assembly can discuss, in the year 2008 or 2009, issues other than the many issues that we have debated in the General Assembly, in the Security Council and in other places on the question of Palestine.

Again, Mr. President, I want to conclude by wishing everyone happy holidays as we are about to finish the deliberations of this session.

The President : The General Assembly has thus concluded this stage of its consideration of agenda item 17.

/...

The meeting rose at 6.30 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.



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