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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
15 December 2006


General Assembly
GA/10561

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-first General Assembly
Plenary
80th Meeting (PM)

GENERAL ASSEMBLY FILLS VACANCIES IN SUBSIDIZING BODIES, INCLUDING COMMITTEES

ON CONFERENCES, PROGRAMME COORDINATION
 
Also Hears Explanations of Position on Resolution Concerning Assistance
To Palestinians, Security of Humanitarian Personnel, Humanitarian Coordination


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Background

The Assembly met this evening to conclude its consideration of several resolutions on strengthening the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including assistance to the Palestinian people, and to fill vacancies on a number of its subsidiary bodies.

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A resolution on Assistance to the Palestinian people (document A/61/L.47) was adopted by a vote of 159 in favour, with seven abstentions ( Israel, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, United States, Nauru and Palau).  Time ran out before the Assembly could hear speakers in explanation of vote on the texts, and it is expected to do so today.  (For Background, please see Press Release GA/10559 of 14 December.)

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Explanations of Vote

Speaking in explanation of vote on the draft resolution on assistance to the Palestinian people, Israel’s representative said that, this year, his delegation could not support a resolution that ignored major political changes in the region.  Hamas, whose main goal was to destroy Israel, now headed the Palestinian Government, and that group continued to ignore the will of the international community to, among other things, recognize Israel, eschew violence and abide by previous agreements.  Therefore, Israel had abstained on the text.

He stressed that Israel recognized that a hungry neighbour was not a good neighbour.   Israel was always working on the ground -- even under terrorist attack -- to provide relief to the Palestinian people.  He drew the Assembly’s attention to a host of relief shipments and thousands of deliveries into the Palestinian Territory over the past year, including some 17,000 food transports from one entry point into Gaza.  He added that thousands of Palestinian merchants had been able to earn their living in the West Bank.   Israel was working closely with international organizations to ensure continuing tangible assistance that went directly to the Palestinians in need of it and not through the mechanisms run by terrorists.

The representative of Australia said that she had voted in favour of the resolution, in order to show her delegation’s strong support for the humanitarian needs of Palestinians.  Her Government had contributed 16.2 million Australian dollars in humanitarian aid and remained committed to finding a lasting solution to the conflict.

She was disappointed, however, that, within the resolution, it was not possible to include a clear call for Hamas to accept the Quartet principles.  Indeed, Hamas needed to renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept previously-made agreements.  She further urged both parties to work together in bringing about a just and comprehensive peace.

Liechtenstein ’s representative said that, throughout negotiations on the resolution dealing with the safety and security of humanitarian personnel, his delegation had asked for inclusion of references to the Convention and the optional protocol, which expanded the scope of application of the Convention on United Nations personnel.  He saw no justification for the deletion of that reference.  Combating impunity was the most effective tool to combat violence against humanitarian personnel, something which was criminalized by the Rome Statute.

He said this year’s resolution was taking a step backward by merely noting the work of the International Criminal Court.  He also stressed the need to reflect, in the text, the fact that national aid workers were targeted more than international personnel.  His delegation had joined consensus, because safety and security of human personnel was a topic of the utmost importance.  While valuing the importance of consensus, the principal of consensus could be reconciled with a text that did justice to the subject matter.

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The representative of Iran said he had voted in favour of resolution 47, as well as the resolutions contained in documents A/61/407 and 408, regarding the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and Israeli practices affecting the human rights of Palestinians and other Arabs in the occupied Territories.  By voting in favour of those resolutions, he shared the international community’s concern at the Palestinian’s pain caused by Israel’s practices.  Durable peace would be possible only through an end to discrimination, an end to the occupation of all Territories, the return of refugees, and the establishment of an independent Palestinian State with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.

Taking the floor to explain her vote on draft document L.47, concerning assistance to the Palestinian people, the representative of Canada said that her Government would continue to respond to the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people, mainly through contributions to UNWRA and other United Nations agencies.  However, she did want to point out that there was a difference between assistance to the Palestinian Authority and to the Palestinian people.  Though there was no reference to the Quartet principles in the draft, a clear commitment to those, by the Palestinian Government, was indeed essential.  Nevertheless, Canada would continue to respond to the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people.


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For information media • not an official record

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