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The meeting was called to order at 3.05 p.m.
Agenda item 20 (continued)
Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance
(a) Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations
Draft resolutions (A/56/L.14, A/56/L.51 and Corr.1, A/56/L.55)
(b) Special economic assistance to individual countries or regions
Draft resolutions (A/56/L.39, A/56/L.49, A/56/L.52, A/56/L.53, A/56/L.54, A/56/L.56, A/56/L.58 and A/56/L.60)
(c) Strengthening of international cooperation and coordination of efforts to study, mitigate and minimize the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster
Draft resolution (A/56/L.57)
(d) Participation of volunteers, “White Helmets”, in the activities of the United Nations in the field of humanitarian relief, rehabilitation and technical cooperation for development
Draft resolution (A/56/L.50)
(e) Assistance to the Palestinian people
Draft resolution (A/56/L.59)
The President : I give the floor the representative of Belgium to introduce draft resolution A/56/L.59.
Mr. De Loecker (Belgium) ( spoke in French ): I have the honour to introduce, on behalf of the European Union and other sponsors, draft resolution A/56/L.59, entitled “Assistance to the Palestinian people”. I am pleased to tell the Assembly that since the draft was circulated, the following countries have joined in sponsoring the draft resolution: Belarus, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Guinea, Japan, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Turkey.
The European Union attaches great importance to the issues addressed in this draft resolution. We hope that, as in years past, the Assembly will adopt it by consensus.
The situation in the Middle East is extremely grave, and under those circumstances, it is with increasing urgency that the question of assistance to the Palestinian people arises.
In the draft resolution, the General Assembly expresses its appreciation for the efforts to provide assistance to the Palestinian people. Furthermore, it expresses its gratitude to the Secretary-General and to the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Mr. Terje Roed-Larsen, for their efforts and achievements.
The General Assembly urges all the actors involved to extend, as generously and as rapidly as possible, financial and social assistance to the Palestinian people. Furthermore, the Assembly calls for the intensification of assistance in response to the urgent needs of the Palestinian people in accordance with the priorities set forth by the Palestinian Authority, with emphasis on setting up institutions and capacity-building. It calls upon donors to expedite the delivery of pledged assistance to the Palestinian people in order to meet their most urgent needs.
The draft resolution urges Member States to open their markets to exports of Palestinian products on the most favourable terms, consistent with appropriate trading rules, and to fully implement existing trade and cooperation agreements.
The draft resolution stresses the need to ensure the free passage of aid to the Palestinian people and the free movement of persons and goods. It should, however, be noted that Israel’s policy of blockade over the past year, and its measures to restrict freedom of movement, have led to a very serious deterioration in the economic, social and humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories. That policy constitutes a serious impediment to the provision and the functioning of social and economic development assistance programmes and continues to be an obstacle to humanitarian agencies and their ability to provide assistance. Security measures must not prevent the daily management of assistance projects. Nor should they unduly restrict the deployment or access of staff who provide such humanitarian assistance. The European Union calls on the Israeli Government to facilitate the access of such staff and of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian population.
The draft resolution also stresses the need to implement the Paris Protocol of 1994, in particular with regard to the full and prompt clearance of Palestinian indirect tax revenues. That should make it possible effectively to prevent any worsening of the current economic and humanitarian crisis and guarantee conditions necessary for the proper functioning of the Palestinian economy.
Finally, the draft resolution includes this item on the agenda of the fifty-seventh session of the General Assembly, and requests the Secretary-General to submit an ad hoc report assessing the implementation of the draft resolution.
The President : We shall now proceed to consider draft resolutions A/56/L.14, L.39 as orally revised, L.49, L.50, L.51 and Corr.1, L.52, as orally corrected, and L.53 through L.60.
The President : The General Assembly will now take a decision on draft resolution A/56/L.59, entitled “Assistance to the Palestinian people”.
I should like to announce that since the introduction of draft resolution A/56/L.59 Slovenia has become a sponsor of the draft resolution.
May I take it that the Assembly decides to adopt draft resolution A/56/L.59?
Draft resolution A/56/L.59 was adopted (resolution 56/111).
The President : Before giving the floor to the representative who wishes to speak in explanation of position, may I remind delegations that explanations of vote or position are limited to 10 minutes and should be made by delegations from their seats.
I call on the representative of Israel.
Mr. Govrin (Israel) ( spoke in Arabic ): I wish at the outset to convey my country’s appreciation to the delegation of Belgium, which holds the current presidency of the European Union, for having introduced draft resolution A/56/L.59 on behalf of the Union. Israel joined the consensus on that draft resolution, and I should like to reiterate our position on this issue.
The provision of assistance to the Palestinian people is an essential element of Israeli policy based on our conviction that enhancing Palestinian economic growth and well-being is essential for the future of the region. Despite the security disturbance increasingly bedeviling Israel, we have consistently tried as far as possible to permit the flow of food, medicine, humanitarian assistance and other necessities. We have taken special precautions to facilitate the performance of Ramadan rites. We have made every effort to ensure that legitimate security precautions on our part are as light as possible and cause the least possible harm to daily life and economic activities.
Moreover, we welcome the efforts of Member States and of international agencies such as the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and the United Nations Children’s Fund intended to improve the living conditions of Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israel has ensured that those agencies enjoy complete freedom in carrying out their humanitarian and development activities.
I wish to emphasize once again that our having joined the consensus on draft resolution A/56/L.59 should not be interpreted as implicit evidence of any position with respect to the present or future status of occupied Palestinian areas. We stress that a final decision on those areas will be reached through direct bilateral negotiations between the parties. Despite the fact that tension persists in the region, we hope we will be able to return to those negotiations at the earliest possible date. That is the only way to ensure peace and prosperity for the peoples of the region.
The Israeli people yearns for a time when violence will cease and when we will be able once again to engage seriously in negotiations with a view to achieving genuine, permanent peace between our two peoples.
The President : We have heard the only speaker in explanation of position after the adoption of these draft resolutions.
May I take it that it is the wish of the General Assembly to conclude its consideration of sub-items (a), (c), (d) and (e) of agenda item 20?
It was so decided.
The President : Further, the Assembly has thus concluded this stage of its consideration of sub-item (b) of agenda item 20.
The meeting rose at 4.30 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-178. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.