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74th plenary meeting
Monday, 17 December 2007, 10 a.m.
The meeting was called to order at 10.15 a.m.
Agenda item 71 ( continued)
(c) Assistance to the Palestinian people
Draft resolution (A/62/L.36)
The President : I now give the floor to the representative of Portugal to introduce draft resolutions A/62/L.36 and A/62/L.38.
Mr. Lemos Godinho (Portugal): Allow me at the outset to express my sincere condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives last week in the tragic events in Algiers.
It is my pleasure, on behalf of the European Union, to introduce draft resolutions A/62/L.38, entitled “Safety and security of humanitarian personnel and protection of United Nations personnel”, and A/62/L.36, entitled “Assistance to the Palestinian people”.
I will now turn to draft resolution A/62/L.36, which is entitled “Assistance to the Palestinian people”. The European Union reiterates its commitment to the provision of assistance to the Palestinian people. Sustained donor support from the international community, working with the parties, is crucial for an improvement of the Palestinian economic and social infrastructure and to address the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people. For its part, the European Union has been consistently increasing its assistance. The overall European Union assistance to the Palestinian people, including humanitarian an d non-humanitarian assistance, as well as contributions to the temporary international mechanism, will this year exceed €900 million, which represents an important increase from last year, and again makes us the single biggest donor.
The European Union r emains determined to support the ongoing negotiation process between the parties launched at Annapolis and stands ready to work closely with the Palestinian Authority, the Quartet and regional partners to contribute to the Palestinian economy’s revival and development. The European Union recently adopted an action strategy in order to adapt and enhance its activities in areas such 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.
We would also like to underline the importance of the role of the Quartet Representative, Mr. Tony Blair, and to welcome the work already done, in particular the recent announcement of a number of quick-impact projects.
The European Union, however, remains gravely concerned about the humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people, particularly in the Gaza Strip, and calls for the opening of crossings for both humanitarian reasons and commercial flows. We welcome the recent opening of a crossing for the export of agricultural goods as an important first step.
Today, the international donors are meeting in Paris in a conference that represents an essential building block of the political process launched at Annapolis and constitutes a unique opportunity for the international community to back up its commitment to assist in the economic and financial development of a future viable and prosperous Palestinian State. The European Unio n again demonstrated its support to the Palestinian people today, pledging the sum of €440 million for the year 2008.
I would to express our gratitude to the delegations that requested to be included in the list of sponsors of draft resolution A/62/L.36. The European Union and our fellow sponsors hope that this draft resolution will be adopted by consensus. We would also like to thank the Palestinian and Israeli delegations for their cooperation during the negotiations.
The President : Draft resolution A/62/L.36 is entitled “Assistance to the Palestinian people”. Since the introduction of the draft resolution, the following countries have become sponsors: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, Croatia, Guatemala, Japan, Kuwait, Moldova, Monaco, Nicaragua, the Russian Federation, Senegal, Serbia, South Africa, Timor-Leste and Ukraine. May I take it that it is the wish of the Assembly to adopt draft resolution A/62/L.36?
Draft resolution A/62/L.36 was adopted (resolution 62/93).
The President : I now call on the representative of Israel, who wishes to speak in explanation of position on one of the resolutions just adopted.
Mr. Cohen (Israel): Israel joined the consensus on draft resolution A/62/L.36, entitled “Assistance to the Palestinian people”. Israel has long supported humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people, although, in the past, owing to realities on the ground, my delegation was compelled to abstain in the voting on draft resolutions on this subject. This year, as the current Palestinian leadership meets the standards of the international community, we are glad to join the consensus.
Israel’s support for this resolution, however, should not be misunderstood as an unconditional endorsement of all its elements; rather it should be seen as support for the overall concept of assistance to the Palestinian people. In fact, there are many aspects — omissions, in particular — that we still find highly problematic.
The resolution’s failure to mention Hamas, whose violent takeover of the Gaza Strip is causing a humanitarian situation there, highlights one of our most grievous concerns. Assistance to the Palestinian people, under the direction of the United Nations, cannot ignore Hamas’s terrorist rule of Gaza.
Similarly, it is regrettable that the resolution lacks anything more than a passing reference to Annapolis. Israel views the Annapolis meeting as a major positive step forward. This momentum should be reflected in the approach of the United Nations to our region. Assistance to the Palestinian people, under the direction of the United Nations, cannot ignore the push for peace and negotiations between the two parties.
Surely, there is no monopoly on suffering. In the conflict in our region, Israelis and Palestinians have both suffered unjustly, and it is the obligation of all parties to respect the rights of one another and to adhere to the rule of law. The security of Israelis, who are under daily siege from the rocket barrages launched by Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip, cannot be neglected. Late yesterday, a rocket fired by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza hit a house in Kibbutz Zikim, an Israeli communal farm less than a mile away, and wounded a 2-year-old boy. Assistance to the Palestinian people, under the direction of the United Nations, cannot ignore Israeli security concerns.
Similarly, we are disappointed also that the resolution fails to mention Corporal Gilad Shalit, who is now in his nineteenth month of captivity, held since June 2006 by terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
The international community should support the Palestinians in meeting their obligations under the Road Map, and should not allow States to obstruct and jeopardize the process.
Israel, for its part, will continue to support the Palestinian Authority, the Government of Prime Minister Fayad and President Abu Mazen, as it is a leadership that embraces the Quartet’s three basic conditions: recognition of Israel, an end to violence and terrorism and abiding by previous agreements.
In that connection, earlier today, at the donor conference in Paris, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni spoke of Israel’s interest in helping to stabilize the Palestinian economy and giving political support to the newly relaunched peace process between us and the Palestinians:
The Acting President: I now call on the observer of Palestine.
Ms. Abdelhady-Nasser (Palestine): International assistance in its many forms remains vital for continued Palestinian subsistence and steadfastness during the critical period of grave socio-economic difficulty and humanitarian crisis being faced by the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, as well as for the building of the foundations of a future independent Palestinian State. The assistance that has been provided over the years, both through the United Nations and through direct donor assistance to the Palestinian people, has helped to alleviate hardship through endless periods of instability, uncertainty and crisis. It has also been instrumental in helping the Palestinian Authority repair, rebuild, reform and develop its institutions and its public-sector capabilities. On behalf of the Palestinian people and their leadership, I today express our deepest gratitude and appreciation for all that assistance.
We thank all of the sponsors. We also thank the members of the European Union for their leading sponsorship of the resolution and for their consistent generosity, as displayed once again today in Paris alongside the rest of the international community, pledging much-needed assistance.
Palestine promoted and is appreciative of the spirit of consensus on this resolution. We believe that it sends an important message, particularly in the context of the important donor conference convened today in Paris in follow-up to the international Conference held at Annapolis. We are hopeful that all of these efforts will enhance coordination and cooperation and will lead to increased assistance to the Palestinian people and their leadership at this time.
At the same time, however, it must be made clear that, while it has this consensus, Israel, the occupying Power, should not be absolved of accountability for the negative role that it has played and continues to play in obstructing assistance to the Palestinian people. This is demonstrated, in particular, by its continued siege and closure of the Gaza Strip, its destruction of millions of dollars’ worth of assistance projects and its daily creation of new reasons and needs for assistance to the Palestinian people through its ongoing illegal actions in the occupied Palestinian territory. These actions include the ongoing construction of settlements and the separation wall, and its continuing imposition of restrictions on the movement of persons and goods throughout the West Bank — all of which cause the continued deterioration of socio-economic conditions, further aggravate the humanitarian situation and seriously undermine assistance efforts at all levels, with wide-ranging consequences.
Israel has clear obligations under international law, including humanitarian and human rights law, in terms of its actions as the occupying Power — obligations with which it should be compelled to comply. In that regard, moreover, the international community’s responsibilities under international law to respect and to ensure respect are clear.
Only by addressing such important issues can the international community, along with the commitment reaffirmed here today in the General Assembly and the pledges and commitments being made in Paris, truly turn the process of assistance to the Palestinian people from one of humanitarian relief efforts, poverty alleviation, repair and crisis management into one of genuine development and state-building with a view to the day when the occupation has become history and a viable, contiguous and independent Palestinian state has been established.
While meeting the basic humanitarian needs of the Palestinian civilian population for food, medicine and other essentials at this time remains paramount, we must simultaneously focus efforts on vital infrastructure projects, the development of industry and employment generation, in order to truly address the high levels of unemployment and poverty that have been inflicted upon the Palestinian people. Combined, such efforts can promote real change in the socio-economic situation and promote the financial stability of the Palestinian Authority; real economic recovery and development, including the development of strong and capable Government institutions; and security for both peoples, as security is not an exclusive Israeli right, but a mutual right and need of the Palestinian and Israeli peoples.
On this occasion, we reaffirm our deepest gratitude to the entire international community in all corners of the globe for the assistance support so generously extended to the Palestinian people over many years. We express our thanks to all donor countries for their important assistance, no project or effort of which is too small and all of which is deeply appreciated. We also express once again our sincerest thanks to the United Nations, which, with the support of Member States and through the work of its many agencies on the ground in the occupied Palestinian territory, has been providing the Palestinian people — including the Palestine refugees — with vital assistance for decades.
The Acting President : On behalf of the General Assembly and its President, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ambassador Hoscheit of Luxembourg for undertaking the task of holding consultations and negotiations on the resolutions adopted under agenda items 71 and 72.
May I take it that it is the wish of the General Assembly to conclude its considerations of sub-items (a) to (c) of agenda item 71 and agenda item 71 as a whole?
It was so decided.
The meeting rose at 12.05 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.